Pharyngula

The Ice Age in the Bible

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?

same-tools-different-views

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.

ice-age-timeline

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.

Comments

  1. #1 Eric Lund
    April 16, 2013

    The assumptions here are that (1) the Bible can be taken literally, (2) the Earth was created in 4004 BCE., and (3) Noah’s Flood wiped out all evidence of humans (but not dinosaurs or trilobites) before that time. The Adam to Noah genealogy has the flood occurring 1697 years (with a few years of margin due to roundoff error) after creation. So this putative Ice Age start date comes between 50 and 65 years after the Flood. Even under the warped premises they are assuming, this makes no sense.

  2. #2 Nick Theodorakis
    April 16, 2013

    Funny you should mention Charlemagne, inasmuch there is another (also silly) conspiracy that the middle ages didn’t exist:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_time_hypothesis

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/conspiracy-watch-were-dark-ages-faked

  3. #3 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
    April 16, 2013

    I think the phantom time hypothesis is dead now. In much of western and central Europe, the time in question is so poorly documented (and Charlemagne in particular such a mythologized figure) that it isn’t a big deal to declare it all fictitious. However, this works only if the rest of the world (East Roman empire, Caliphate, Persia, China, even Ireland and England to some extent) is completely ignored, and the astronomy doesn’t add up either.

  4. #4 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
    April 16, 2013

    Uh, it’s not “the middle ages”. It’s just the time between 614 and 911.

  5. #5 Dunc
    April 16, 2013

    David, the period in question is now generally referred to (in English anyway) as the “Early Middle Ages”, since the term “Dark Ages” has fallen out of favour in academic circles over the last decade or so, due to it being both inaccurate and pejorative.

  6. #6 John Haigh
    April 16, 2013

    Wow, an ice age developed and retreated in only 250 years, in the process of which it created all the huge glacial features that we can see today, including the Fjords. That was one hell of a rate of erosion, you must have been able to hear the noise from China!

  7. #7 Beth
    ohio
    April 16, 2013

    What is the sound of mass face-palming? Find out today at 2pm ET on facebook.

  8. #8 Theo Cyrene
    Arizona
    April 16, 2013

    I asked why the article only addressed one ice age when there have been at least 5 and “poof” it was gone within a minute. AiG was seriously unprepared to answer questions. They just deleted and blocked anyone who asked a question they couldn’t answer. The whole “live chat” was an absolute joke.

  9. #10 Oh really
    April 17, 2013

    We can already think of places in the bible that the writers skipped generations… So saying the Bible’s time line is 6,000 years is inaccurate, they skipped generations.. The question is how many generations did they skip.

    Go to youtube and watch “(Christianity vs Evolution)? By inspiringPhilosophy.

  10. #11 Charles Crookenden
    VA
    April 17, 2013

    Have you considered anger management therapy? It may help you in your writing.

  11. #12 Russell
    April 18, 2013

    Anachronism ? What anachronism?

    6,000 years is more than adequate !

  12. #13 Green Eagle
    Los Angeles
    April 18, 2013

    What is so unbelievable about the dark ages theory? Just ask any Republican and you will discover that the period between 2000 and 2009 never happened either.

  13. #14 Russell
    April 18, 2013

    Where would the Anthropocene be without the Neoconian epoch ( 4-13 BP) ?

  14. #15 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin
    April 18, 2013

    David, the period in question is now generally referred to (in English anyway) as the “Early Middle Ages”, since the term “Dark Ages” has fallen out of favour in academic circles over the last decade or so, due to it being both inaccurate and pejorative.

    …Uh, yes, it’s always been called Frühmittelalter in German. I don’t see what your point is; mine is that saying that 614–911 never happened isn’t the same as saying that the entire Middle Ages never happened, and the latter is what comment 2 implied.

    What anachronism?

    Aaaah, the latest version of an oldie but goodie… :-)

    What is so unbelievable about the dark ages theory? Just ask any Republican and you will discover that the period between 2000 and 2009 never happened either.

    Thread won.

  15. #16 Secular Homeschooler
    Minnesota
    April 18, 2013

    I know it’s popular to stereotype homeschools, but that timeline is more likely to find a home on my neighbors’ walls (multiple homes, all with children in public school, all fully religiously indoctrinated and thoroughly reinforced among their peers) than in this homeschool. We’re too busy reading _The Magic of Reality_ and studying Coursera’s _Introduction to Genetics and Evolution_, among other many other activities.

    (Yes, there are religious homeschoolers. But you were careful to specify _bible_ colleges — why not do the same courtesy to secular homeschoolers, and not lump all of us together? Thanks.)