Don Stoner's Challenge:

-- reference links updated 2009.08 --

It is my assertion that there are no valid young-earth arguments - not even one. Whether scriptural or scientific, they all contain errors. If there is even one valid argument which actually proves the earth is young, I still haven't seen it. I challenge any young earther to demonstrate otherwise.
On the other hand, the arguments for old age from starlight (the age of the heavens) and from varves (the age of the earth) are both valid. If there is a valid young-earth explanation for either of these, which allows for a truthful God, I still haven't seen it either.

-Don Stoner

In His book, "A New Look At An Old Earth", [all quotes here sourced from the 1996 hypertext version] and congruent with the challenge, Don Stoner seems favorable to Progressive Creation as a means to see Christianity more scientist-sensitive. To accomplish this, he may even insist that all Christians now abandon any "young earth" apprehension of Genesis Creation. The exigency to adjust? As Doug Gilliland has written, "The positive side effect of Don's position is that it removes all apologetic stumbling blocks when dealing with non-Christian science geek types. It's one less unnecessary stumbling block out of the way."

Don Stoner writes, "Scientists are now quite willing to concede that a moment of creation was possible." [A New Look... ch. 6] Much more than a "moment of creation," six 'morning and evening' of divine Creative work [Genesis 1,2] remains a universe away from one big bang-clang constructed by men. And yet, Don further writes, "Although correct in substance, the big bang theory is often couched in terminology which assumes atheism. This, unfortunately, makes Christians reject it without even considering it logically.", and, "In any case, the moment of creation has been conceded. Modern science has come as far as giving us a description of how the universe began which even matches the details of the Biblical account." [A New Look... ch. 6]

Must Christian Faith Transform in order to Save Scientists?

Don Stoner briefs his objectives with, "One goal of this book is to prepare Christians to lead scientists to Christ. In order to accomplish this, we must first remove the 'plank' from our own eye; this means the young-earth position must be refuted (Chapters 3, 4 and 5)." [A New Look... ch. 2], and, "Consequently, the church must abandon the young-earth position. This applies to all of us - not just the relatively small number of vocal creationists who are promoting the young-earth error in their lectures and books. Leaders without followers are not really leaders at all. Therefore we are all responsible and must all do what we can to correct the error." [A New Look... ch. 7]
Don further reasons, "There were not two separate creations - one for the information in the first chapter of Genesis and another for the information seen through telescopes. It follows that there should be no contradictions between the two accounts." [A New Look... ch.4] This rationale seems to be missing the obvious container that men have limited access to infinite knowledge [Psalm 147:4,5]. As Don Stoner has noted, "Like its age, no one has yet figured out exactly how large the universe really is either." [A New Look... ch.4] Although... Don also writes, "Scientists can easily determine the age of God's creation." [A New Look... ch. 1] Against that contrasting second point, I here contest.

Scientific Method

Consider this outline and confession for contemporary scientific method:
Scientists approach a problem by first inventing a number of speculative hypotheses. Then a critical test case is chosen where each hypothesis predicts a different observation. The observation is made, and hypotheses making incorrect predictions abandoned or modified. Hypotheses that have been confirmed are used to formulate a theory, which is a higher-level explanation.
Theories may change through time, even well-accepted ones. For example,Newton's theory of motion was believed correct until it failed at high velocities and in strong gravitational fields. Einstein's Theory of Relativity then superceded and subsumed it.

Predictions and observations are often indirect, as scientific theories often involve things that are microscopic, or far away in space or time. For example, the electron is too small to be observed directly, but the assumption that electrons exist allows correct prediction of the operation of electronic devices, etc. Similarly, history can't be repeated, but the assumption that evolution has occurred allows correct prediction of innumerable fossil discoveries, biochemical structures, etc. Thus, there is residual uncertainty about the reality of both the electron and of evolution, but both are accepted beyond reasonable doubt.
--George S. Bakken, National Center for Science Education

Great Age?

Popular science, not the Bible, demands billions of years of antiquity. It is science that would invite us to empirically test all things, rather than to continue in the essential test by Spirit and Word of God. Finite knowledge (i.e., Ptolemaic astronomy) is like a cove capable for shipwreck. 20-20 hindsight for both ourselves and our telescopes? A Christian (even one who is a scientist) is set free from the temporal-binding proposals of this world. With humility, let us remember our frame of reference for so many observations, and for Whom or what that frame is.
The history of science shows that what is deemed certain in one generation may be totally overthrown by new information in the next. A certain story may seem to fit all the known facts. But that turns out to be only because we didn't have access to all the facts - a totally new framework may be found that ties in not only all the previous facts, but the new ones as well. (Throughout recent history, we have frequently seen critics claim that "the Bible is wrong" in one area or the other because of what we were told was "assured knowledge," yet when new evidence came to light, the Bible was shown to be right after all.)"
--Ken Ham, Andrew Snelling, Carl Wieland.

"New earth" proofs undergo various "half-life" changes as additional observations and explanations are offered. A similar syndrome is on-going for "old earth" observations and data.

What Proof?

It is not necessary to somehow prove the new earth in order to refute the old earth position(s). Neither is it needful to submit the faith granted us by God in His Son Jesus, by whose hand all things were created, [Colossians 1:13-17; Revelation 4:11] to the perpetual revisionisms of science. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen." [Hebrews 10:38-11:1] On the worst, last or first day, faith extends far beyond the reaches of science for the hour. Is our God pleased that we would establish His truth in conformance with our points of view? Believe what you will about the Creation. Believe it in that God has spoken it, not because men subscribe to it.
...while scientists can provide us with valuable information about events that happened a long time ago, they cannot provide us with answers that are as final as those about things taking place today. Because of that uncertainty, we can expect the philosophy of a scientist (Conservative Christian, Liberal Christian, Orthodox Jew, Reformed Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist) to affect the conclusions they'll make."
--Lane P. Lester, Ph.D.

Origins Science To Fill Gaps?

What part of the new, old earth is subject to the rigors of the scientific process? Unless someone has a magic trick up their sleeve, the minor league of origins science must not dine at the same table with scientific facts. As example, scientists would submit that a reason for present gaps in the "evolutionary fossil record," is that many fossils are yet to be unearthed. This, "may we be excused" theme being sufficient cause for no man to lean on science's work-in-progress as an authoritative commentary for the Bible. Much of the labor to discover the date/origins of the Creation has extended itself as patterns of effort to fill for gaps and inconsistencies within various "accepted" theories. In truth, all of the "old earth", "evidence" is assembled guess upon guess; today adjoined by Don's summons that we agree with the intelligent guessers, so that they might more easily agree with God. The very scientists Don Stoner seeks to meet half-way, after they have propounded further concessions for our consideration, will at some point reject fuzzy earth-age "science" to his/our own shame. Should there be any doubt as to just how far secular reasoning, in the name of "science," would nudge us, observe... {url-link article n/l/a}
It is obvious then that Progressive Creationism is a belief which opposes both atheistic evolutionism and historic Christianity's understanding of biblical creationism. The teachings of Progressive Creationism are not new or original, but only recently have the views of Progressive Creationism received unprecedented wide and favorable publicity through Christian radio, television and magazines.
--Mark Van Bebber


Additional "evidences list" refs:

Atlas To Move The Evidence?

Has Don Stoner addressed all of the "new earth" arguments, as well as all of the "old earth evidence" problems? Even if at some point in the future he might accomplished this, at current rates for origin hypothesis publication, Mr. Stoner would need create a revision of his work about every six weeks for (presumably) the next million earth days! Further, if one alternative explanation indeed crumbles the hypothesis, the same would apply for old-earth or new-earth advocacy.

Old God or New?

The marvelous work of Creation reflects the greatness and infinite knowledge of the Creator, God. However, endless consideration of His works cannot raise to canon truth what, from this fallen world, may be observed by men from earth-present. Such would be apologetic to humanism; an adventure in Deism; the incorporation of heresy. And yet, Don Stoner writes, "The physical universe is the work of God. Like His Bible, God's universe will always tell us the truth. Such a witness can never contradict itself because truth is not like that. It follows that once the universe has testified that it is either young or old, it should always do the same." [A New Look... ch. 5] But then, it is philosophically consistent for scientists to be bidding Christian orthodoxy either elevate science or step back.

Greater Than Scientific Means or Method

Is "origins science" correctly the domain of true science? From Job 38:4,5,6,7,8,12,14,18:
Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you do understand. Who marked off its dimensions, since you would know? Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who enclosed and gated the sea, when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb?... Have you ever in your life commanded the morning?... The earth is changed as clay to which a seal is pressed, and things stand out like a many-coloured garment. ... Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Us, if you truly know all these things.

Specific Replies:

Don Stoner writes:
If you choose to deny the immutable evidence which God's own creation supplies, and Scripture which endorses that evidence (e.g. Romans 1:20), I guess you will never see any. But the evidence is there just the same - U.S. 191 just south of the southern edge of the Ashley National Forest (north of Price, UT). Look at it or ignore it - it's your choice.
I, too, am fascinated by God's own handiwork. However, if you expect us to infer that Romans 1:20 supports the quest to establish "old earth" evidence... Maybe we would all as well marry sound theology to human observation? God forbid!
Don Stoner also writes:
If there isn't even one scriptural reason to claim the "days" of Genesis were consecutive 24-hour periods, then Christians need to stop insisting that the earth is young - denying all of the scientific evidence. God made the earth billions of years ago. Denying this truth makes Christians look foolish. The witness which young-earthers are presenting to the scientific community is terrible. I challenge young earthers either to show proof that they are interpreting the Bible correctly or to be quiet.
Not entirely correct that Christians are [widely] "insisting that the earth is young..." Christians believe that the Bible describes a "young earth" from the "Creation of man and beast" envelope. The secular scientific community and theistic creationism both burrow to undermine the same. My friend, Christians rightly anticipate their appearing foolish before the world. [1st Corinthians 1:20-29] "...proof that they are interpreting the Bible correctly or be quiet."? And, what sort of proof would you require? Would the evidence of faith absolve your consternation?
Don Stoner also writes:
Prove me wrong - give me a Scriptural reason why the Genesis "days" should be understood as 24-hour periods.
Conferring more than just a "shadow," though void of a bone for science, internal cause is found in Exodus 20:9-11; 31:14-17. [Ezekiel 46:1]
Concerning sediment layers and "varves"...
1) The sediments were a result of Noah's flood.
2) The sediments resulted by reasonably natural processes spanning about ten thousand years or less (before the lake dried up and the Uinta Mountains were cut out of its sediments).
3) God created a false appearance of age by fabricating the layers as part of the original creation... Also please notice that these "exhaustive" possibilities are "young- earth" possibilities, that I have refuted #1 and #2, and that #3 is theologically unacceptable. But, of course, if you know of another possibility, let me know and I will be happy to consider it.
#3 may appear more "theologically unacceptable" by the form in which it is here presented. For example, it may be that our own deprivations so incline us to resolve elements of great age within the works of God. Not everyone agrees on what the data represents. Which leads an introduction to #4: That we are misunderstanding, misapplying and/or misrepresenting our own observations, possibly in some worthless hope to augment God's own direct revelation.
Don Stoner further writes:
The Green River Formation is only unavailable for test if you don't go there and study it. What I'm telling you is that it's real and it's as big as the Grand Canyon! You can perform as many tests on it as you like. You can grind up the sediments and try to get them to settle into layers. You can add fish and try to duplicate the fossils. You can measure the argon-40 content of the two volcanic layers. You can analyze the iron concretions found in the upper layers and construct experiments which attempt to duplicate them. You can measure trace elements and figure out which years (and which season) nearby volcanos were errupting. You can count major storms in each year. You can do any of a million measurements and calculations.
Size won't be of much help. Age-date conclusions coming from our iron measurements and trace element results would be controvertible. Argon-40 testing data floats without proof of reliability that is not in its own method dependent upon an "old earth". When a theory provides the calibrations for its own hypothesis, any data forthcoming can no longer be objectively evaluated.

Saving Scientists?

God's message to scientists is the assurance that they/we can know the truth in Him; that all the endless searching for the next bit of relevant evidence will not change His sovereignty and purpose upon the earth. He alone has infinite knowledge; the Lord of All welcomes our trust. If a man does not think himself small enough to take God at his word without adding-in devices, that man may not yet be prepared for the walk of faith in Christ Jesus.
Progressive Creationism favours deism; confuses "operation science" with "origins science" in the determinism of its conclusions; subjugates faith to reason. It undermines the "inerrancy of the Bible" tenet, in addition to taking a passing-shot at "original sin", the ever existence of a paradise Eden, and the extent of the flood in Noah's day.
Liberal Protestantism can be fairly simply identified. It is a tendency which regards human reason as paramount and which begins its theologizing from the agenda of the secular world. It thus appears as a continual impulse to modernize the faith, to abandon the confines of the historic creeds, and to accommodate the thought and practices of the churches to those of the secular world.... In many ways, liberal Protestantism was (an)... attempt to create an intellectually supportable version of Christianity, in the face of massive {Reformation-Protestant} divisions within the body of those who claimed to worship the same God.
--Frank Schaeffer, from "Dancing Alone"

Try as it may, the loess of science and philosophy cannot wrestle Creation from the Creator. Creation is not, has never been, the domain of men. Let God be found true, and all scientists liars.
As a friend has recently written me: "I used to try and reconcile science with the Bible, but, I have since decided that science is so new, and things we may believe today may be proven wrong tomorrow, so, I ... trust what God tells us is true."

That humble advice being worth in wisdom more than all of Creation.