Split Opinion on Young Earth in an Individual. Or Split Personality?

| February 17, 2007 | 3 Replies

I was sent this New York Times article in which a Young Earth Creationist gets a real PhD in paleontology.

How does he do it?

Dr. Ross said, the methods and theories of paleontology are one “paradigm” for studying the past, and Scripture is another. In the paleontological paradigm, he said, the dates in his dissertation are entirely appropriate. The fact that as a young earth creationist he has a different view just means, he said, “that I am separating the different paradigms.”

This reminds me of the official church view on the heliocentric model of the universe between the time of Copernicus and Galileo: In the rarefied view of math, the planets move around the sun, but in truth the Earth is the center of creation. Well before Galileo, the church accepted sun-centered orbital dynamics. But not from the pulpit. Galileo then pointed his lens upward, noticed moons orbiting some of these planets, and mocked the pope in the media for his public position. Hence his censure.

It seems that schizoid tendencies are revered in Christianity. You couldn’t be a Saint unless you demonstrate what are now known to be several symptoms of Schizophrenia: Hearing voices and knowing them to be real, projective charisma, supernormal strength or agility, preternatural sensitivity to other’s thoughts, and so on. The bible and chronology of Saints document many textbook cases of schizophrenia. It usually manifests in women at the onset of adolescence (e.g: Joan of Arc) or men at the end of adolescence (pick anyone from Moses forward).

Back to Dr. Ross, paleontologist. (Not the one from TV.) He has managed to compartmentalize his personal belief in a Young Earth safely away from his apparently quite competent scientific mind. Comparing mosasaur migration data, radiography, stratigraphy, and so on for sound scientific analysis of their age and habits has no effect on his belief that the world is really 3,000 years younger than the oldest excavated middle-eastern city. Much less 65 million years younger than the age he himself attributes to the subjects of his degree.

I don’t mind scientists who have invisible friends. However, Dr. Ross has expressed his intent to use his credentials to further the teaching of Creationism and Intelligent Design. Not his skills, his credentials.

Perhaps I was too optimistic in my recent response to The Evangelical War on Evolution.

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Category: Communication, Education, Evolution, History, Meaning of Life, Religion, Science

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (3)

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  1. Dr. Smug says:

    I'm not sure where I stand on this one. A viewpoint which caught my eye…(also see comments to the post)

    http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2007/02/why

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    "Not his skills, his credentials."

    Excellent observation, Dan! Indeed, that distinction is at the heart of YEC beliefs about science. They seem to believe that science, like their religion, is more about degrees and titles than about evidence and reasoning. More than once, I've been in an informal debate with an evangelical, and their replies have not confronted my logic but, rather, demanded my credentials.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the YECers gain a few followers with scientific credentials. Many YECers seem to believe that their dreams will be answered — that a few well-credentialed followers will sweep creationism into public schools alongside evolution. They are headed for a great disappointment, not unlike the one that struck Christians more than a century ago: <a target="_blank" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Disappointment"&gt <a href="http://;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Disappointment” target=”_blank”>;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Disappointment.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Humans are exquisitely able to cordon off toxic thoughts (meaning thoughts that seem toxic to THEM). See here.  Dr. Ross is an incredible example of the extent that this is true. I don't get how even a hack like Ken Ham can wear such cumbersome science blinders to preserve his young earth Christianity. 

    I don't get how Dr. Ross could have the discipline to study for such an advanced degree. Everything he needed for passing his exams and writing papers had to be jammed into his brain as a hypothetical.

    It might be, someday, that Ross's young earth believes will become too heavy to keep carting around. That's what happened to Michael Shermer, a former born again evangelical Christian who is now a leading skeptic. Here is Shermer's account of how he made the switch in college.  

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