Jake Hebert Insults your Intelligence

Annals of the WorldThat is to say, if you’re a non-YEC Christian. Those of us who don’t believe at all are instead “suppressing the truth,” but we’ll get to that later.

So in this month’s edition of Acts & Facts, the ICR’s monthly newsletter/magazine, Jake Hebert has written an article called “Earth’s Age: Science or Consensus?” This false dichotomy does not head an article that attempts to actually talk about, you know, the science behind how we know that the Earth is old, but instead discusses why some scientifically-minded Christians would not accept a young Earth. The point of the article seems to be to persuade the ICR’s own flock not to listen to the compromisers, for they have been deceived. He opens:

Many scientifically trained Christians are urging the church to accept the doctrine of an old earth, saying that the arguments for a 4.6-billion-year-old earth are simply too numerous and convincing to deny. These Christians would argue that they believe in an old earth simply because of the strong scientific case for it. But how can this be when few of them have actually studied old-earth arguments in detail?

You’re probably aware of the argument that people should “believe” in evolution and related subjects because there is a scientific consensus. That is to say, the vast majority of scientists agree on these matters, and so if you’re not prepared to launch your own in-depth investigation of the evidence that would be the best answer to pick. But to listen to Hebert this is the only reason why people would take an old-Earth position: they haven’t looked at the evidence like he has.

Most scientists are simply too busy with their own research to seriously investigate old-earth claims. And if someone has never thoroughly studied an old-earth argument, then how can he really understand it? Nor is this conclusion changed by specialized training: A scientific background in one field—even at the Ph.D. level—does not confer all-around expertise. And thinking that it does is as fallacious as thinking that a dentist is qualified to perform brain surgery!

In a moment of clarity Hebert acknowledges what we all know: that having a Ph.D. doesn’t make you an expert in everything. For example, according to his ICR bio Hebert got his masters studying optics, and his own Ph.D. is called “Atmospheric electricity data from Mauna Loa Observatory: Additional support for a global electric circuit-weather connection?” He doesn’t explain, however, why we should trust the folks at the ICR and their irrelevant degrees over actual geologists and evolutionary biologists. Presumably it’s because he has more time on his hands to write patronising articles.

He goes on:

Science—in the sense of genuine knowledge and understanding—is not the real reason many scholarly Christians accept the doctrine of an old earth. Rather, they accept this doctrine for the same reason that laypeople do: They trust the secular scientific community’s conclusions—the majority consensus—on the subject.

As I said, we atheists are deceiving the gullible “scholars.” Hebert is aware that some people might not take this assertion standing down, and says:

The old-earth Christian academic might bristle at this suggestion. He may insist that, unlike most laypeople, his belief in an old earth is based on genuine knowledge and understanding. He may very well be acquainted with many of the arguments for an old earth, but acquaintance is not the same thing as in-depth comprehension. Old-earth arguments may seem convincing on the surface, but this is because many involve oversimplifications and fail to acknowledge the unspoken but critical assumptions that go into them, assumptions that often implicitly deny even the possibility of creation and the Flood.

To translate: “you haven’t spent as much time on this as I have, however much that may be, so you’re wrong. Also, something something assumptions.” Time for some bible quotes:

Secular scientists may be quite knowledgeable in their specialty fields, and many people naively assume that claims about an old age of the earth couldn’t possibly be motivated by anything other than a simple desire for truth. However, it’s important to recognize the human mind’s natural hostility toward the things of God. Without faith in Christ, we are characterized by “enmity against God” (Romans 8:7) and described as those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Many Christians who advocate accommodation with old-earth ideas would unhesitatingly affirm these statements from Romans, but they also argue that an old age for the earth and universe cannot be questioned. But an old earth and universe simply cannot be reconciled with the plain meaning of Scripture.

So, non-Christians are inherently anti-Christian, and you shouldn’t trust a word they say. If they insist that the sky is blue you’d better run over to the ICR to ask their opinion. He goes on like that for a couple more paragraphs, before concluding:

Both scientific and historical data can be interpreted in more than one way. In a courtroom, prosecuting and defending attorneys can offer radically different interpretations of the very same forensic evidence. Because a given interpretation may seem superficially plausible, opposing sides are allowed to cross-examine one another. Probing questions may reveal problems in an interpretation of events, problems that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Despite popular hype, the preponderance of the evidence clearly favors the truthfulness of the Bible’s account of a young earth, and a biblical worldview is the key to making sense of both the scientific and historical data, as well as the meaning of life itself.

So on the one hand, the evidence can be interpreted in many ways, but on the other Hebert is definitely right. He doesn’t give us any evidence – neither directly about the age of the Earth, nor about how non-YECs formed their opinion – but he’s not an atheist, so he’s inherently trustworthy.

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20 thoughts on “Jake Hebert Insults your Intelligence

  1. Gee… Like a YEC who believes the Bible first is going to be a proper judge of the evidence. In that case, have I got a deal for you…

  2. “But an old earth and universe simply cannot be reconciled with the plain meaning of Scripture.”

    Whoever said that the meaning of Scripture was plain? Among its many other crimes, Young Earth Creationism reduces the rich palimpsest of the scriptural text to a cardboard cutout.

    “Probing questions may reveal problems in an interpretation of events, problems that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.” Indeed they may, if there are any; so where are they?

    Actually, I have friends who do ask probing questions (sensitive high resolution ion micro probing, acronym SHRIMP, to be precise) for a living, and they do indeed find problems in the interpretation of events, like working out when this grain of zircon was reheated, or that grain had the chance to grow further outer layers. But these godless scientists never find evidence that the Earth is less than 4.5 billion years old! Shame on them!

  3. This article smells of desperation. Perhaps Hebert can feel the clutch slipping in the aftermath of the Nye/Hamm debate. It’s interesting to watch these folks form an ever tighter defensive circle as they continue to isolate themselves from mainstream society.

  4. For me one of the saddest things is that YECs like Jake Hebert (whom I have not met, but as another example, also as YECs like Danny Faulkner whom I have met and even broken bread with) insult NOT ONLY the intelligence of others but their OWN intelligence. For as sad to see as are folks are diligently willfully ignorant, even sadder yet are those who KNOW better but pretend to be ignorant in an effort to keep ignorant those around them who have misplaced their trust in them.

    In any event (and as I’ve said before), it seems there are few (if any) more potent psychological forces than cognitive vigilance deployed in defense of cherished notions against inconveniently contradictory objective evidence.

  5. I had trouble with the link above but found the Hebert article here:
    http://www.icr.org/article/7887/
    “Old-earth arguments may seem convincing on the surface, but this is because many involve oversimplifications and fail to acknowledge the unspoken but critical assumptions that go into them, assumptions that often implicitly deny even the possibility of creation and the Flood.”
    This is NOT science. It is fundamentalist religion.
    Assessing and drawing rational conclusions from the copious available scientific evidence for a very old Earth and even older universe is “enmity against God”.
    Thus God is anti-science apparently. Well young Earth creationists certainly are.
    This article looks like a biut of theological mud-slinging – telling Christians in effect that these people (well some of them) doubt God’s existence – thus they are NOT objective and therefore must not be trusted!

  6. So – an honest or dishonest person comes to faith in Christ and acknowledges a God of Truth.

    And then is faced by the dilemma “shall I be honest or shall I be biblical regarding the science of origins?”

    Funny old world.

  7. Hebert’s comments are readily and entirely dispelled by the fact that YECism is rejected not only by the vast majority of secular scientists, but most Christian ones as well, including most who have studied the scientific evidence at least as much as Hebert. Moreover, it is clearly the camp where one finds a higher portion of followers who are scientifically illiterate, and who are, basing their views largely on preconceived beliefs and misleading young earth propaganda like Hebert’s current comments, I agree, they smell of desperation, and are probably a “damage control” effort after the Nye/Ham debate. One can only imagine how much more they would be on the ropes if someone with a better handle on YEC arguments had taken Ham on.

    • “Hebert’s comments are readily and entirely dispelled by the fact that YECism is rejected not only by the vast majority of secular scientists, but most Christian ones as well, including most who have studied the scientific evidence at least as much as Hebert.”

      Which makes it rather amusing when Herbert claims …

      “These Christians would argue that they believe in an old earth simply because of the strong scientific case for it. But how can this be when few of them have actually studied old-earth arguments in detail?”

      Herbert seems to have neglected to mention an ex-colleague of his by the name of Glenn Morton. Morton would certainly qualify as one of the “few that have actually studied old-earth arguments in detail.” In fact, one who has used Old Earth data in the real world in a productive manner.

      “In order to get closer to the data and know it better, with the hope of finding a solution, I changed subdivisions of my work in 1980. I left seismic processing and went into seismic interpretation where I would have to deal with more geologic data. My horror at what I was seeing only increased. There was a major problem; the data I was seeing at work, was not agreeing with what I had been taught as a Christian. Doubts about what I was writing and teaching began to grow. Unfortunately, my fellow young earth creationists were not willing to listen to the problems. No one could give me a model which allowed me to unite into one cloth what I believed on Sunday and what I was forced to believe by the data Monday through Friday. I was living the life of a double-minded man–believing two things.”
      [...]
      “But eventually, by 1994 I was through with young-earth creationISM. Nothing that young-earth creationists had taught me about geology turned out to be true. I took a poll of my ICR graduate friends who have worked in the oil industry. I asked them one question.

      “From your oil industry experience, did any fact that you were taught at ICR, which challenged current geological thinking, turn out in the long run to be true? ,”

      That is a very simple question. One man, Steve Robertson, who worked for Shell grew real silent on the phone, sighed and softly said ‘No!’ A very close friend that I had hired at Arco, after hearing the question, exclaimed, “Wait a minute. There has to be one!” But he could not name one. I can not name one. No one else could either.”

      Why I Left Young-Earth Creationism by Glenn R. Morton

      I would imagine that Glenn Morton’s name, like Voldemort in Harry Potter, is the name they dare not speak at ICR. Sad, really. Sadder still is the way his colleagues treated him, as described in his post that I linked to above, when he attempted to reconcile his beliefs with the evidence and asked for their help in doing so. Further reference at Glenn Morton’s Pages: Home

  8. An ICE PACK of lies?
    http://www.icr.org/article/8007/
    Well it mentions a rapidly recently moving Greenland glacier. And then changes the subject and asserts without elaborating that the evidence for multiple ice ages is “actually quite weak”. And assures us that a fellow YEC thinks the Milankovitch theory is ‘inadequate’. And fails even to mention ice cores! And cites this article claiming that it shows that secular geologists accept that “multiple-till layers can actually be the result of glacial advances and retreats within a single ice age” (that would I am sure be a ‘single ice age’ over the last few millions of years, NOT the 500 or so years that YEC ideologues and fantasists have to INSIST upon because of ‘biblical timescales’):
    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/241070679_Limits_of_Successive_Middle_and_Late_Pleistocene_Continental_Ice_Sheets_Interior_Plains_of_Southern_and_Central_Alberta_and_Adjacent_Areas
    Hebert goes on to assure us that the YEC ‘post-Flood Ice Age’ fantasy would have involved “rapid oscillations of the ice sheet edges” and that THIS “would have helped to produce the deposits that secular scientists erroneously interpret as evidence of multiple ice ages”. Do ‘secular scientists’ only examine deposits at ‘ice sheet edges’ past or present? No, I’m sure they do not. But Hebert fails to explain why a (probably impossibly rapid) ice age glaciation triggered by Noah’s Flood and NOT by the Milankovitch astronomical theory would leave abundant evidence of repeated oscillations between glacials and inter-glacials (such as the present day). Such as the “locations where glacial deposits are separated by deposits that are apparently not of direct glacial origin” which he acknowledges have been found.

    I once challenged fellow YEC and ‘flood geologist’ Tas Walker on this topic.
    http://biblicalgeology.net/blog/preliminary-age-calibration-for-post-glacial-maximum-period/
    He appeared short of direct answers.

    It’s a pity Bill Nye did not debate one of the simpletons at the ICR. Their material is endlessly simplistic and downright weak and lazy.

    Hebert does indeed insult the intelligence. Another anti-science ideologue out to fool the religious foolish.

    Am adding this at the BCSE community forum since the ICR prevent me from communicating directly with them – much less do they publish ANY sceptical responses to their ‘science’ (though they seem to allow some criticisms on their Facebook page).

    • Ashley, Henke’s 1999 article that I referenced above is relatively “recent”, in that as far as I know virtually everything in it is still sound and valid, and it effectively refutes YEC claims about ice ages (including recent claims). I’m not challenging your preference to read even newer material, but I hope you are not suggesting that anything >15 years old is largely outdated and dubious. That would eliminate tens of thousands of articles that are by any reasonable measure still very relevant and sound. Looked at another way, we will keep finding more and more evidence that refutes YECism, but that does not mean any of the evidence already accumulated is not worth reading and referencing.

  9. Yes, I agree, and many times they not only cite articles and books far older than 15 years old, and full of dubious or refuted material (especially when quoting other YEC works). Don’t get me wrong, in general I think fresher works are more relevant, However, some works even decades old can stay largely valid, whereas others (especially in the YEC press) are heaps of garbage from the moment they are written.

  10. Rikki Tikkii,
    I agree about Glenn Morton. My journey was similar to his, in that I once tried to make YECism work also, and like him, found that the more I studied the field evidence, the more it flew in the face of YECism. This was especially noticeable when I studied the alleged human prints at Paluxy, which ICR still tries to depict as “mysterious.” The biggest mystery however is why ICR cannot frankly face what the great bulk of evidence shows. Naturally, I and Morton are both thorns in the side of ICR, as are many other former YECs who rejected YECism on the basis of first hand geologic research. We far outnumber any who did the opposite. Indeed, the few YECs I know of who claim to have switched from “evolutionist” to YEC on the basis of field study are among the most disreputable YECs like Carl Baugh and Ian Juby. The bottom line is, the vast majority of both Christian and nonChristian scientists who have studied the empirical evidence in depth accept evolution and an old earth–which is entirely opposite what Hebert implies.

    • Hi Glen, I’m sorry for the belated reply and I hope you catch this.

      Thanks for sharing that as well as the other comments you’ve made in the past as I’ve found them interesting and informative. Speaking of the Paluxy tracks I really like your website, especially the page on the “Human Tracks” controversy that catalogs the various alleged prints. Good stuff.

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