Common Questions: 4
What does ID say about the age of the Earth?
Intelligent Design (ID) is committed to interpreting scientific data accurately and following the evidence where it leads. Most ID proponents, especially those who examine the fossil record, work on the basis of the accepted old age of the Earth . However, if sound evidence is found to suggest otherwise, then that’s where we should go.
This question often arises because, in origins science, what you think about the age of the Earth has become a touchstone for whether you can be taken seriously or not – a kind of PIN number for intellectual respectability. People who think the Earth is not as old as claimed are automatically labelled as ‘Young Earth Creationists’ and regarded with pity and disdain. In the popular mind this is associated entirely with a religious position based on a literal interpretation of the early chapters of the book of Genesis in the Bible.
ID, however, is based on empirical scientific data about the universe and life. It is primarily concerned with the evidence for design in Nature and this is not inherently dependent on the age of the Earth. Whether the Earth is old or young, the evidence still suggests it is designed.
The scientific community concludes that the Earth is old, largely on the basis of cosmological, geological and radiological data, and argues that various strands of the evidence point consistently in this direction. Typically, ID proponents are content with that conclusion. However, as some assumptions have to be built into any method of dating the Earth, conclusions about its age cannot be absolute.
What ID has highlighted more generally is that some scientific theories, and especially the theory of evolution (which is closely associated with an old Earth), are to be regarded as beyond any legitimate dissent or criticism. That is neither healthy nor appropriate for science. It is always important in science to keep an open mind, especially if evidence contrary to the consensus emerges.
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