Every time I despair at the dreadful nonsense from the Discovery Institute, I can reliably turn to Answers in Genesis and despair harder. They’ve just announced that “after two centuries of research”, they’ve finally determined the dates of the Ice Age. They’ve even announced that they’re going to have a chat on their facebook page at 2pm ET today if you really want to learn more. They have figured out the dates of the Ice Age (singular) from reading their Bibles closely.
You might quibble and say that the Bible doesn’t say anything about glaciers or ice sheets or changes in climate, so how could they possibly determine anything about Ice Age(s) from that book? Easy. They make shit up.
First step: build everything around a chronology derived from the catalog of patriarchs in Genesis.
The Bible gives us an inerrant chronology for marking historical events. It tells exactly how many human generations passed from the Flood to Abraham’s birth: eight.1 God’s judgment occurred at Babel sometime during the days of Peleg, who was the fourth generation after the Flood.
Second: reject all of the science that says the Ice Ages occurred between roughly 3 million and 10 thousand years ago.
Though this range is clearly not accurate because it lies outside the Bible’s total timeline of 6,000 years, several lines of evidence support the choice of the Pleistocene layers for the Ice Age.
Pay attention to that last line. They’re accepting that the Ice Ages and the Pleistocene occurred concurrently. But the third step is a devious one: reject the dates set by the radiometric and other data, and simply compress and shift the entirety of the Pleistocene into a Biblical window: it started in 2250BCE, and instead of lasting 2½ million years, it was only 250 years long. They’re only off by four orders of magnitude.
Wait. That puts the Pleistocene smack in the middle of the Bronze Age. How can they do that? Fourth: by ignoring the actual dates and making sweeping, simplified claims about human technology.
Knowing these things, how can we use the human history described in the Bible to shed light on the Ice Age’s beginning? Well, for one thing, no human tools or fossils appear anywhere on the earth until found in deposits from the beginning of the Ice Age.8 (God appears to have wiped away all remains of pre-Flood man; see Genesis 6:7.) Since their earliest remains suddenly appear throughout the Old World (Asia, Africa, and Europe), it appears that these are the people who scattered from Babel.
It’s not true: the earliest stone tools are found in the late Pliocene. But setting that aside, it’s a cunning game they’re playing. They can say that they accept the science, that modern humans appeared in the Pleistocene and that they built stone tools, and make the case that they accept the evidence real scientists have uncovered. It’s just that they’ve redefined the Pleistocene to be a brief sliver of time in a window that occured only about 4,000 years ago.
It’s a bit like saying I believe the historians when they say Charlemagne existed, and I think the primary documents and accounts they have are just nifty, but they read the dates wrong, because I had a burger with him at White Castle last week. Only worse.
Fifth: that old reliable standby, the argument from incredulity. They point to stone tools, and say it’s absurd that human beings would use such crude and ugly things for millions of years. We’re smarter than that! Doesn’t it make much more sense that the Stone Age only lasted for a few decades?
Huh. I look at the Bible, and see how stupid it is, and wonder how it stayed popular for thousands of years instead of being laughed at and discarded after a few minutes. Maybe people are often willing to stay with what works for them for a long period of time?
Sixth: Polish the turd. They’ve come out with a fancy poster with a map and timeline to illustrate their glorious theory, which is theirs (pdf). I’m sure it will be going up on walls at homeschools and bible colleges everywhere. Here’s just the timeline part.
Let’s ignore all of history. Let’s take various peoples with rich and elaborate histories preserved in cuneiform tablets and weathered monuments scattered all over the centers of human civilization. Erase the entire Egyptian 6th dynasty; obliterate Sargon of Akkad; ignore the civilizations thriving in the Indus or Yellow River valleys; delete the entirety of humanity except eight mythical figures living on an impossible boat with an impossible zoo.
They’ve plopped their ridiculous timeline right on top of known, documented historical events. They don’t care. They claim to accept the scientific evidence, except the stuff that contradicts their fairy tale…which is all of it. They’re unconcerned. These bozos are anti-science, anti-history, and anti-knowledge, all because they’ve decided that their holy book is the only arbiter of truth. But they are serenely confident in their ignorance, and many people will accept that as a reason to believe.
Another amusing perspective: if the creationists really accept all the data, what happens if you try to cram the Pleistocene climate record into 250 years?