When Matt Walsh writes an article or makes a video I normally find his comments thoroughly well considered, particularly as he addresses points his opposition typically wants to keep out of a discussion. As one who acknowledges facts don't care about human feelings, for myself it's always refreshing when someone recognizes the reality of any given situation as contrasted with the self delusion Western society seems to have elevated to an art form. Matt regularly offers this breath of fresh air in a world filled with toxic leftism. For those familiar with Douglas Adams, one might recognize the current social/political landscape is, and for at least a decade has been, much like the physical landscape of the fictional Vogshere, ready to slap down anyone willing to think for themselves. Despite this oppressive climate, Matt is one of those willing to think independently.
But on the matter of Young Earth Creationism, I think he's ventured outside his normal milieu both in practice and study. In the sphere of social and current events Matt's view is usually spot on by recognizing clear facts, brutal logic, and dangerously explicit common sense. But that's not what Matt demonstrated in his video explaining why he's not a young earth creationist. Ironically, on this topic, Matt's perspective is rather selective and limited to the predominant view of the situation, rather than his more thorough and independent approach I've come to expect. So I'll take this opportunity to respond to his video point by point.
First, Matt is right when he points out the false dichotomy of the question between a figurative or literal understanding of the scriptures. One good example Matt offers is that no one thinks Jesus literally became a piece of wood latched to a h*** in the wall when he called himself a door. But there are other things that, at least in the Christian faith, are understood as quite literal, such as the events of Jesus' literal death on the cross and his literal resurrection from the dead.
Also, we recognize the different forms of writing in the scriptures, such as the fact the Psalms are songs (poetry) and the Proverbs are advice (not laws). There are literal and there are figurative statements in the Bible and it reveals either a lazy or dishonest perspective of the questioner who suggests someone might interpret the entire Bible as one or the other. This was a good place for Matt to begin his commentary on the topic of YEC.
And yet, the majority of Matt's comments are trapped in the refutation of a literal meaning of the word "day." I know of no where else in Western history where the meaning of the world "day" is so hotly contested, but Matt ostensibly makes the mistake of thinking all members of the YEC community insist the "days" of the Genesis creation account mean and must only mean a literal 24 hour periods. Surely Matt recognizes the difference between a preference for and the insistence of an idea. I, for example, do prefer a literal 24 hour reading of the days of this passage but I don't insist this is the only valid reading of it. To my knowledge, most YEC share my view on this point.
To further unpack the literal/non-literal issue, Matt naturally segues into the book of Genesis. Unfortunately, he begins this section of his video by asking lazy or dishonest questions. He asks "is it a science textbook", "is it meant to be read as a precise scientific account of the origins of the universe", "does (God) want us to study it like we study a science book", "if you were to isolate Genesis and put it in a section of the bookstore by itself, would it be in the science section", and he continues with other smug questions clearly designed to steer one away from looking at Genesis as a source for scientific understanding. But another, more plain question arises here: who would answer "yes" to any of these questions? The answer to this is obvious: no one. Perhaps his social media discussions led him to conclude the typical YEC would answer "yes" but I've not encountered anyone who would. Perhaps this is unintentional, but Matt is misrepresenting the YEC view in painting that side of the argument in such reductive and obtuse terms and making himself look the same.
Here, Matt has borrowed from a secular argument against theism. The fact is none of the adherents to a YEC view claim Genesis is a science book. That is a lazy or dishonest allegation from the skeptics trying to put words in someone else's mouth. In reality much of the secular criticism against the scriptures are devoted to attacking the book of Genesis on scientific/archaeological grounds. Thus those YEC who defend the scriptures and seek scientific or archaeological evidence are merely responding to the criticism. Scientific attacks merit scientific defense. No one on the YEC side of the discussion thinks of Genesis as a science book, they are responding on the grounds of the attacks. I've addressed this issue in another essay on YEC.
Matt cites many names of well respected thinkers in the world of Christendom and claims none of them believe(d) in a literal 6 24-hour day creation week. I've done some reading on this and admit there is still more reading I need to do, but let me offer two quotations included in my previous essay, from Augustine.
In the City of God, Book XII, chapter 10 is titled “Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past.” Here is a short excerpt, though the whole chapter is worth reading:
They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which
profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning
by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.
Also, in chapter 12, titled “How These Persons are to Be Answered, Who Find Fault with the Creation of Man on the Score of Its Recent Date” Augustine further states:
As to those who are always asking why man was not created during these
countless ages of the infinitely extended past, and came into being so
lately that, according to Scripture, less than 6000 years have elapsed
since He began to be, I would reply to them regarding the creation of
man, just as I replied regarding the origin of the world to those who
will not believe that it is not eternal, but had a beginning, which
even Plato himself most plainly declares, though some think his
statement was not consistent with his real opinion.
These passages make quite a different case than what I've typically heard old earthers claim (Matt sounds like a old earth creationist, not merely an Intelligent Design advocate). By these comments it seems Augustine may have embraced the YEC view of the universe. I don't doubt Matt's claims that other persons he mentioned were not young earthers, but there is some disagreement on the claim Augustine was one of them. I would welcome a discussion on this if Matt is interested.
Next, Matt moves to the fourth day of creation where the stars of the sky are created. In this section he makes a very bold claim: "the light on day one is not a physical light". He doesn't offer this idea as a possibility but as fact. In my previous essay I addressed this matter in responding to the old earth views of Dr. William Lane Craig. The reality of this particular issue is that none of us knows what this day one light was. I don't, Dr. Craig doesn't, and neither does Matt Walsh. There is indeed a legitimate implication in the biblical description that the day one light may have been something nonphysical, but an implication is not a fact. Matt is being presumptuous here.
Also, while in the midst of arguing against a literal reading of the creation week, Matt none-the-less seems to accept the literal order of things as described in the creation week, that the stars were created AFTER the plants. According to secular science the standard view is that stars form BEFORE planets, let alone any lifeforms on those planets. Likewise Matt seems to accept the biblical description of the earth being formed first out of water. According to the scientific consensus, that is not how planets are formed. So if Matt is going to argue against the YEC view based on modern science, there is even more of the biblical account he needs to argue against. Instead he seems to accept the sequence and aquatic descriptions of the creation account literally, which could easy get him labeled "anti-science" by the standard scientific consensus.
Similarly, he takes it quite literally that the earth was a "formless void" as is described in Genesis 1:2. This description has scientific implications that others have investigated. Likewise, if Matt is going to accept the sequence of events as an accurate description of creation, there is the problem of allowing the days of the creation week to be millions or billions of years while having plants created on the earth on day 3, but the physical light on day 4. If we are to insist on a naturalistic understanding of things, how would plants survive on the earth for billions of years without physical light?
Next, Matt addresses the matter of the scientific meaning of "day", referring to the fact the earth rotates on its axis. Here Matt makes another presumptuous claim: the earth is not rotating on an axis on day one. How does he know this? How does he know a physical 24 hour day does not yet exist? In his video it doesn't sound like a possibility he's suggesting, but a claim of fact. Perhaps Matt is demonstrating a mistake his YEC interlocutors could have committed in their discussions with him. Perhaps he doesn't dogmatically insist the earth was not rotating on day one, but he certainly sounds like he insists on such a thing in this video. Could it be his YEC discussions on social media encountered a similar problem, especially on Twitter? It's indeed feasible that someone arguing for a literal 24 day may have mistakenly impressed Matt that the typical YEC view dogmatically insists upon that meaning, especially on a platform that allows only 280 characters. If we are to give Matt the benefit of the doubt here surely he could extend the same courtesy to others.
The fact the terms "morning" and "evening" are used even before the physical lights of the fourth day imply (but not prove) that the earth could have been rotating on an axis. After all, if we're going to refer to real science, we should expect a mass of liquid in the vacuum of space to form a sphere regardless of whether any foundations are built into it, or is it going too far to assume gravity would have been created by that time as well? Does Matt interpret the phrase "formless and void" as literally meaning it can't have been a sphere at that point in creation? Or could it mean the earth had no rock foundations and no means of supporting life yet? Is Matt suggesting this description is clear and straightforward, something he explicitly argued against in his video?
If Matt has truly encountered people who think the Hebrew word for day ("yom") cannot mean anything other than a physical 24 hour period, I'd like to apologize to him on their behalf. Matt is right when he says the word "yom" can be used in the same ways as our English word "day" with its multiple meanings. I also address this in my previous essay.
If the day one light were "different and transcendent" as Matt says (which I also find to be highly likely, especially if it was God's shekinah glory) I think it's presumptuous to say it CANNOT be a physical light as Matt claims. As argued in my previous essay, we don't know how God's shekinah glory would manifest in space. It could be a physical radiation of some kind but Matt argues it can't be, which is something he simply can't know. On the contrary, we have very good biblical reasons to believe God's shekinah glory does in fact radiate physical light. Moses on the mountain of God, Jesus on the mount of Transfiguration, and the book of Revelation tell us in no uncertain terms that God's glory emits visible light (unless someone is going to insist each of these examples were only metaphorical light).
For the rotation of the earth (and the terms morning and evening) to have any meaning, it is reasonable to assume there was some sort of reference point to which the earth could be compared while rotating. If God's shekinah glory physically manifested itself in the beginning as light (as the Bible gives us multiple reasons to believe) before the stars were created, that feasibly could be that reference point. I'm not claiming to know this, I'm merely saying it's presumptuous to discount this possibility.
Many of us in the YEC camp recognize our view is merely one of several "traditional" views of creation. We're not all a monolithic club on this point. But while Matt is criticizing YEC as a dogmatic club with rigid views, his assumptions I've pointed out above seem to be dogmatic claims of his own. Matt is right to criticize those who claim the Genesis creation account is clear and straightforward. That is indeed a reductive view. However, it's also reductive to criticize YEC as if it were a monolithic club.
Matt rightly recognizes we are dealing with things beyond us when discussing anything about God, and his particular meaning was focused on creation. But while he cautions us against insisting on particular time measurements (while, ironically, insisting the days of the creation account CANNOT mean literal 24 hours periods) he seems to insist on some alleged scientific matters I've addressed above. Suffice it to say, I agree with Matt when he says in the creation account there are clearly things happening that are beyond our grasp. I also caution Matt against reducing YEC to a mere obtuse "literal" reading of the scriptures, as he seems to be doing. Some may do exactly as Matt asserts, but we don't all oversimplify the scriptures or science.
Matt is making the same mistake he accuses YEC of making: oversimplifying. It's true that none of us knows the earth was rotating on an axis or even had an axis on day one, or how fast it was spinning if it was spinning at all. But that's just the thing, Matt doesn't know any of this either, yet he makes it quite clear those of us who lean in that direction must be wrong. To insist either way on this is a stretch of reason and Matt is equally guilty of it.
Matt makes a surprisingly lazy reference to 2 Peter chapter 3 where it says a day is like a thousand years to God. Matt knows very well there is a difference between a statement of fact and a simile (LIKE a thousand years) and he knows 2 Peter 3:8 has nothing to do with the creation account in Genesis. And he's right that this particular reference further shows a day is not necessarily always a literal 24 hour period. Most of us on the YEC side already know this, so there's no need to belabor the point. Except for one thing: Matt is stating as though it were a matter of fact that whenever God mentions a day for him it IS NOT the same as a day for us - which is a rigid, dogmatic claim if I'm understanding him right.
Matt devolves into inane misrepresentations of the YEC view with his insistence that the "circle" of the earth should mean a flat earth, and the earth being fixed on its foundations. Ironically, the geocentric view of the solar system, with the earth as the center of the universe, was the Church's attempt to make human understanding of the scriptures accommodated the scientific consensus of the day (see how I used the word "day" there, in a non-literal way?). That is precisely what Matt is urging his audience to do - make sure our reading of the Bible matches the knowledge offered by science.
This view of the solar system was popularized by the Greeks centuries before Christ walked the earth and no one had a better "scientific" explanation of things until Copernicus. That's well over 1000 years of the geocentric model being the dominant view. Matt's description here and secular criticism of the Bible both pretend the Copernican controversy was ONLY a matter of interpretation of the scriptures vs scientific evidence. That is simply not so. The primitive science of the day had a strong influence on the church's position on this issue. This is not the thorough Matt Walsh I'm accustomed to. As Matt recounts the criticisms of Martin Luther and John Calvin on the idea of a moving earth, we should not overlook the irony in that they were arguing for not only a biblical consensus of the day but also for the scientific consensus. Copernicus was the outlier, the one whose findings challenged the predominant "scientific" AND biblical view.
On the issue of when a day begins, we get a glimpse of Matt's real motivation for making a video on this topic. He suggests the biblical description indicates each day in the creation week begins with the phrase "and God said", and yet the first act of creation "in the beginning" where the heavens and the earth are created doesn't mention this phase. Matt first says the timing of these things really doesn't matter, but he makes sure to push his view that we should make room for billions of years. Here I'm persuaded Matt's impetus for his video is much the same as Dr. Craig's impetus for his comments on YEC - namely that they are not motivated by their reading of scripture (exegetical) but rather they are motivated by the secular science (eisegetical) and trying to make the scriptures fit the deep time paradigm. I'll address scientific cheating later, but the recognition of Matt's intent is important. I'm glad Matt recognizes the YEC view as one that can be reached theologically from the scriptures, while I also acknowledge one does not have to. But my concern here is that Matt is trying to force the Bible to fit his view of science, and he seems to have a blind faith in the latter.
Matt makes what he treats as an ancillary point of his commentary on the YEC topic, but I think lends a great deal to a divergence that I believe is quite necessary. The necessary point I want to bring attention to is the difference between science and scientists.
Matt rightly says "the Bible is all about why, why we're here. We're here to love and serve God. Science has nothing to say about that one way or another." I assume everyone in the Christian faith agrees with the first part of that statement. I'm not really sure the second part, about science, is true.
The scriptures give us multiple reasons to think creation is a testimony to the glory of God.
“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10)
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)
“Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
“Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.” (Psalm 148:1-6)
Luke 19:40 gives us the impression that even stones could cry out in praise of God. While people can debate about whether science has anything to offer us on these theological matters, I don't believe Christians can truthfully say the same of creation. Modern science has its paradigm which is decidedly resistant to even recognizing the existence of God, let alone to the idea of confirming his glory. But the scriptures tell us that is one of the purposes of creation. Proverbs 9:10 tells is fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. How wise can modern science be if it is inherently against even acknowledging the Lord? But that brings to light another limitation if science: science is supposed to be about fact, not wisdom. Reality is more than mere facts.
Gregor Mendel is a good example of how a Christian (in this case a monk) was studying creation (the book of God's works) to better understand the majesty of God. In doing so, Mendel essentially invented the modern scientific field of genetics. The science of genetics is, today, dominated by atheists. Do these atheists research genetics with the intent of understanding the majesty of God? Of course not. This distinction, between the science and the scientist, is vital for understanding the general discussion of YEC.
Another irony in this situation is Matt seems to have fallen for the same reliability trick that has fooled the majority of our culture. Our secular culture would have us believe the Bible is simply not reliable. While Matt assures us he does not question the truth of the Bible, our culture also teaches us that science is only about the facts and religion is merely about belief. This is flat out untrue. Matt gives the impression of having been successfully programmed to think interpretation of the scientific data is not up for debate, as if the majority of scientists' agreement on something makes it is scientifically verified (as if consensus somehow substitutes for fact). Thus, one's interpretation of the Bible is to be treated as flexible and sometimes wrong, but we are to forget the same applies to science. So when science and the Bible are pitted against each other, science is to be treated as solid and unchanging despite knowing it changes constantly. Matt seems to support trying to make the scriptures fit with ever shifting science.
Matt hesitates a bit when saying "science tells us the Earth is around 4 billion years old, and the universe is about 14 billion". I don't think this hesitation is a moment of realization, where he recognizes he has blindly accepted a narrative of science, without recognizing a difference between data and the interpretation of data. If fact and opinion are different things, so too are data and the interpretation of data - and for the same reasons. He continues his smug suggestion that YEC rejects "modern science" because what science shows is so starkly different from what YEC holds.
But that raises a very interesting question: is modern science still science or has it become a religion in its own right? Matt plays to logical fallacy when he asserts "you will be hard pressed to find a legitimate geologist, or cosmologist, or physicist, or astronomer who believes BASED ON HIS STUDIES that earth and the universe are 10,000 years old." Has Matt never heard of the Institute for Creation Research or Creation Ministries International? These organizations have been around for decades. Or is he playing the "if I don't agree with your view, you're not a real scientist" game? From his comments in this video, I don't believe Matt has spent much time actually studying YEC resources.
In the political sphere it's easy to find leftwing political views. For anyone who has not completely unplugged themselves from the news you would be hard pressed to avoid being inundated with the leftwing view on any given topic. On the other hand, it's not easy to find the actual rightwing view of things, but very easy to find leftwing mischaracterizations of it. Likewise, it's not easy to find the actual YEC view, and therefore not so easy to refute what they actually believe. What their critics accuse them of believing is often quite different from what they actually believe.
These two YEC organizations have tremendous amounts of scientific data, usually discussed in articles quite accessible to the non-scientist, which address the distinction between measurable evidence and the predominant secular narrative imposed upon that evidence. Our culture and many scientists embrace what I'd call an exclusivity fallacy, that the predominant scientific view of the evidence is the only actual scientific view, and any competing view must not be science. This is not science, this is an elitist and religious view called scientism. Scientism is rampant all across the world, especially since most people don't recognize it; they think they are actually learning about science when really they are being sold a worldview. In another context, Matt is very well aware of this problem. Let's look at that for a moment.
In the political sphere, something more Matt's forte, there is a similar elitist exclusivity fallacy. And it's reinforced by a wider collusion. The leftwing perspective of any given issue is offered to Western civilization as though it were the only legitimate view. If an American didn't vote for Barrack Obama, you were racist. If you questioned whether compulsory health insurance was really a good idea, you didn't care about people - and were racist. If you believe marriage is between one man and one woman you hate and are dehumanizing gay people - and are racist. If you still maintain the belief that gender is binary, you're transphobic and anti-science - and racist. If you insist immigrants be admitted to your country legally, you're anti-immigrant - and racist. If you didn't instantly believe Brett Kavanaugh was guilty as accused, you don't care about violence against women - and you're racist. If you don't support a woman's right to dismember her own child in her womb, you're anti-woman - and racist. Notice a pattern?
In any situation, the glib leftwing view is that their perspective on the matter is reality, and if you challenge their view you are automatically considered not merely wrong, but evil. The leftwing view and the reality of the situation are supposedly the same thing, and God help you if you have the gumption to say something out loud in disagreement with a progressive. This is the same problem YEC faces in the realm of science.
Another problem Matt recognizes in the political sphere that YEC experience in the scientific sphere is the problem of conspiracy. Let's look at a couple examples.
In 1991, Clarence Thomas was nominated to the US Supreme Court. Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment. The political left told us, in no uncertain terms, character matters. When Hill had difficulty producing corroborating evidence for her claim, we were told women don't lie about this sort of thing. We were told the nature of the evidence is not what matters, but only the seriousness of the charge. We were told the allegation itself is evidence. Any criticism of Hill for being unable to provide evidence or keep her story straight was construed as being anti-woman. In fact, in light of the Brett Kavanaugh scandal, we are now told Justice Thomas had committed not only the crime of sexual harassment, but of sexual assault (with the utterly dishonest rhetorical sleight of hand treating these two things as if they were the same).
Not long after the Thomas confirmation hearings, president Bill Clinton's sex scandals started gaining national attention. But this time we were told precisely the opposite of what we were told during the Thomas hearings. In defense of Clinton, we were told explicitly that character does NOT matter. We were told women lie about this sort of thing all the time. The women claiming to have been mistreated by Clinton were excoriated and an all out effort was launched to utterly destroy them with the full support of the mainstream news media. The president's wife was one of the leading warriors in that effort. We were told a man's private life has nothing to do with his professional life, we were told "bimbo eruption", we were told "vast rightwing conspiracy." To this day there still those on the left who think a vast rightwing conspiracy is a real thing.
Contrast that with an actual vast conspiracy. To presume Clarence Thomas guilty, with no corroborating evidence, was a choice made by the overwhelming majority of those in our news media, academia, and entertainment industries. To presume Bill Clinton innocent, despite mountains of evidence, was also a choice. To make a movie about Anita Hill portraying her version of events as the real story was a choice. To presume Brett Kavanaugh guilty, with no corroborating evidence, was a choice. To encourage students to "resist" president Trump is a choice. To make students sing praises to president Obama was a choice. To speak of Antifa as a peace loving, non-violent group is a choice. To suspend rightwing social media accounts for raising legitimate points while allowing clearly hateful rhetoric from the political left or from anti-American voices is a choice. To call Bush's economy the worst in 50 years was a choice, while Obama's economy arguably was the worst in 50 years it was called the "new normal" instead. That was also a choice. Matt's employer The Daily Wire has an article by Ashe Schow revealing that days before the Kavanaugh confirmation vote NBC had information undermining the reliability of some of Kavanaugh's accusers, but NBC chose not to publish that information until just recently. And there are innumerable other examples. To remain a conservative in this environment would require one to believe the news media, entertainment industry, academia, social media, and the Democratic Party are all colluding together. And you know what, from his work in the political sphere over the years, my guess is that's exactly what Matt Walsh believes. And he would be right to do so.
There is a vast leftwing conspiracy. Matt sees it everyday. So do I. The people in these arenas don't have to meet and plan out their collusion. They are all on the same ideological team and naturally work to reinforce each other's narrative. Look at how Kanye West was treated after coming out in favor of Trump. I'm not a fan of West, but oh, the irony in Democrats telling him how black people should vote.
Another politically charged issue posing as scientifically driven is the transgender movement. We now live in a world where a science (i.e., biology) seems to be regarded as bigotry, but opinions and feelings are treated as science. Chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, and external genitalia (the things real science can actually work with) are no longer to be considered scientifically valid means of determining sex. Given the apparent ease with which this new notion has overtaken Western civilization in relatively little time (perhaps as much as a decade) I find it hard to believe it was the science that was so powerfully convincing. In this climate we are justified in wondering whether anyone even knows what science is anymore.
Back to the topic at hand, in order to adhere to YEC, one would have to believe there is a vast conspiracy between various major scientific fields. We would have to believe there is some sort of non-scientific bias that unites the sciences whenever ultimate ideological implications arise. What could that bias be?
It's no surprise that the majority of scientists are said to be atheists. After all, that was a driving force behind the scientific endeavors of James Hutton, Charles Lyell, and Charles Darwin - they wanted a form of studying nature that did not invoke God in any way. And they admitted as much in their writings. These men have made the strong impression that pursuit of understanding was not their goal, the explanation of nature while excluding God was their goal. This bias is alive and well in science today. It rears its head whenever ultimate ideological implications arise in scientific inquiry.
Matt accuses the YEC scientists of trying to make the science fit into their worldview. He's right to say this is not how science works, but I think he's accused the wrong group of manipulating science this way. The sad fact is there are innumerable examples of mainstream science doing this very thing.
In his diatribe Matt continually insists the YEC side of the debate insists the word "day" can only mean a literal 24 day period. His contempt of this insistence clouds his judgement in his entire argument. There are plenty of us on the YEC side who don't insist a literal 24 hour period is the only possible meaning of the word "day" in the creation account even if we think that is the least strained reading of it. If Matt could separate his contempt and his presumption that YEC is a monolithic club, he might be able to see the YEC side in a more open minded fashion. And he would be able to recognize intellectual dishonesty in the sciences.
Matt shows us science is not his forte not only by admitting he is not a cosmologist or geologist (few are), but he confesses to his audience he is wiling to defer to the "consensus" of scientists with no apparent awareness their ostensible goal is to omit God from science. In other contexts Matt knows fact and opinion are not the same thing, but the same is true of fact and consensus. Just like facts don't care about human feelings, so too facts don't need consensus. The scientific consensus is too seldom an acknowledgement of fact, it is very often an agreement among scientists to espouse things they cannot prove. Scientists can be corrupted by their worldview and cheat in their work even if YEC don't insist on a singular meaning of the word day. These two things have nothing to do with each other. Matt could more easily see the problems in modern science if he could check his presumption that a literal interpretation of the word "day" is the only reason YEC challenge the consensus. There are in fact major evidentiary problems with many claims made by modern science.
Matt asks a legitimate question on what's more plausible between a vast scientific conspiracy or a wrong reading of scripture by YEC. The same can be asked of the political sphere. In the political realm, many people on the left believe in a vast rightwing conspiracy and many on the right believe in a vast leftwing conspiracy. It shouldn't be untenable for Matt to recognize a similar conspiracy exists in the realm of science.
But then Matt asks an absurd question. "What's more plausible: that modern science is completely wrong, or that YEC are misinterpreting it?" I humbly remind us that science, even modern science, has been embarrassingly wrong on numerous occasions. There are many articles, even recently, announcing discoveries that suggest modern science in one particular field or another may have to completely rethink their disciplines. It was merely a century ago when physicists thought they had the universe figured out, and then the quantum realm was brought to their attention. It was LESS than a century ago that the scientific consensus held that the universe was eternal, and they only reluctantly acknowledged it had a beginning (something the scriptures taught as a literal reality all along) AFTER they found a non-theistic way of interpreting that evidence. (See this Daily Wire article by Ben Shapiro covering a political equivalent, a New York Times story essentially describing why the political left so often ignores anti-semitism - because they can't find a good way of blaming the political right.) Did science "prove" the universe was eternal and didn't need a beginning? If so, we really need to reexamine the methods used to reach that conclusion, which again would show us a difference between evidence and the interpretation of evidence. If it wasn't actually proven that the universe was eternal, why was it the scientific consensus? I humbly suggest it was not because of evidence but because of a preconceived worldview. That problem hasn't gone away, and unfortunately is it not properly checked today on these larger worldview issues.
It's worth nothing that Matt himself doesn't embrace everything science teaches. He accepts the scientific fact that the universe had a beginning, but does he treat the assertion that the universe created itself out of nothing as a scientific fact? Of course not. But why not? It's the scientific consensus, after all. Does Matt believe life emerged on its own via completely unguided natural processes? I don't think he does. But why not? That is the scientific consensus. Or does he have the audacity to argue for a difference between data and the interpretation of data and that the consensus might be wrong on some of these details? No one on the YEC side argues the scientific consensus is "completely wrong" or "wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong". That's a reductive and lazy mischaracterization of the YEC side. We gladly recognize the points on which modern science is right, such as the fact the universe had a beginning.
Thinking people should insist on distinguishing between fact and opinion, and between data and the interpretation of data. This is the approach YEC takes, and for some reason Matt simply cannot bring himself to recognize this plain fact - partially because he hasn't taken the time to study the scholarship offered by YEC. While Matt implies he's not willing to question the scientific consensus (which would be an embarrassing admission that he's not willing to think for himself) the fact he doesn't accept everything in the consensus shows that he is willing to think for himself, at least occasionally, even where he doesn't possess much knowledge. We all need to be willing to question the scientific consensus even if we are not experts.
Matt's uncareful critique is not limited to accusing YEC of rejecting all of science. He also shows his disinterest in thinking through the issues related to YEC and Noah's ark. While the majority of YEC does believe Noah brought dinosaurs aboard the ark, where in the scriptures or in YEC literature is it claimed that these were adults? That's an assumption Matt and most skeptics make, and one that reveals little thinking on the part of assumer. Again, instead of relying on twitter debates it would be more beneficial for Matt to look into the YEC scholarship on these matters. I would be happy to direct him to some sources, since they are evidently so difficult to find.
Let's return to a comment Matt made earlier in his video, when he says "the Bible is all about why, why we're here. We're here to love and serve God. Science has nothing to say about that one way or another." He continues that thought in saying "but when it comes to our interpretations of the how and whens" then science becomes useful. The first suggestion is certainly true, science is very good at helping us understand the "how" of things. But as to the "when", that can become very sketchy very quickly. Matt seems unaware of problems in the sciences as to determining "when" something happened. In fact, real science is about figuring out how things work now; learning how things worked or what happened in the past is arguably beyond the scientific method. Physical science doesn't prove Julius Caesar existed, a different discipline does that.
Matt raises the discipline of archaeology. He claims there are "artifacts that are clearly older than 10,000 years, significantly older." Really? Matt apparently has little knowledge of how scientific dating actually works, or of the problems built into those methods. The amount of assumption required to make such methods work should raise skepticism in anyone interested in understanding science. But Matt references artifacts as if their ages were beyond doubt, which looks less like a well informed perspective and more like cursory knowledge or even blind faith. There is bias even in the field of archaeology.
Biblical archaeologist Dr. Steven Collins reveals this problem in his discipline. He quotes one Dr. William Dever who claims "no responsible scholar goes out with a trowel in one hand and a Bible in the other." In Dr. Dever's comment we see an overt anti-Biblical bias. One irony in this example is in Dever's disbelief in a biblical story (and in the cities it mentions) that I presume Matt Walsh accepts as a true and literal event: the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Another irony in this instance is Dr. Collins' discovery of what may very well be the actual Sodom and Gomorrah. And this raises yet another point of concern in blindly accepting the consensus of any given discipline - archaeology often holds that such and such ancient city never really existed, until it has been discovered by modern archaeology. It would be less embarrassing for such scholars to take a neutral stance on these matters rather than out right deny the existence of places mentioned in antiquity.
And yet another point of irony I've gathered from studying the resources of those outside the mainstream consensus is that it is common practice for archaeologists to tout dating methods when they confirm what the professional wishes to believe, and to ignore such dating results when they don't. That's cheating, but one would not likely be aware of such cheating if the "consensus" was all one was ever exposed to. But here again, Matt plays the game of "you're not a legitimate scholar if I don't agree with you" and reduces the YEC position on such things to absurdity pretending young earthers reject entire disciplines rather than reject the cheating and assumptions posing as facts.
Now we get to what may be the best way to show Matt the anti-theistic conspiracy plaguing science and, frankly, the blind faith so many people place in science: the light travel time problem.
Matt gives a good explanation of the general cursory knowledge of cosmology in describing the simple equation of the speed of light plus the distance of stars far away. Matt calls this an "insurmountable problem" for YEC. Matt, like so many others in the world, acts as if this simple equation is all one needs to know to see YEC is wrong, that the universe has to be more than 10,000 years old. Yet modern science, in this case the standard cosmological model, also has a light travel time problem which Matt does not mention. Let's look at that.
The CMB (cosmic microwave background) is a measurable radiation believed to be the remnants of the big bang, the explosion of nothingness into the physical universe (try to wrap your head around that). Assuming the big bang is in fact what caused the universe to come into being (a theory which insists on a self-creating universe) there is no reason to assume this radiation would have been evenly distributed throughout the universe, and every reason to assume it would have been unevenly distributed. Yet, upon observation, this background radiation appears equalized at roughly 2.5 to 3 Kelvin in every direction. How can this energy be so uniform now? Basic physics tells us areas of high energy and low energy would have to exchange energy to equalize. Now here's the problem. We can see roughly 10 billion lightyears away from Earth. If we look 10 billion lightyears in one direction and 10 billion lightyears in the opposite direction, that's 20 billion lightyears apart, yet we see the CMB has been equalized. How fast does this energy travel? At the speed of light. So how much time would it have for taken this energy exchange to take place? A lot more than 14 billion years, the supposed age of the universe. By this reckoning, to borrow from Matt's comments, this situation seems to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the universe is far older than science teaches - therefore the scientific consensus is wrong.
So here is the rub. On the YEC light travel time problem, the general attitude (which Matt demonstrates quite well) is a reductive skepticism, with a tinge of "not worth considering". His word was "insurmountable". In conversations and debates I'm aware of, among atheists this problem is even used to argue theism itself is not worth considering. But what is the attitude on the CMB light travel time problem? Is it an attitude of "we've got this figured out, and it's an insurmountable problem?" No. Quite the opposite. We see an eagerness to solve the problem, and a recognition that we don't have it all figured out. Do we see Matt or the general scientific community eager to solve the YEC light travel time problem? No. This eagerness is one sided and it is not impartial reason. It's bias.
But the situation gets worse. What solution has the scientific consensus come up with for this light travel time problem? Cosmic Inflation theory. This is a mathematical theory claiming there was a time, shortly after the initial big bang, in which all energy was expanding at a rate much faster than the speed of light. Let's hold right there and look at a few more problems.
What does science teach today about the speed of light? We are told it is the ultimate speed limit, that nothing can travel faster than light. That's what Albert Einstein believed, someone Matt admittedly respects. And yet the scientific consensus holds to a theory that violates this basic tenet of physics. To see so many people embrace this theory without the slightest hesitation astounds me, and should be shocking to those who value serious thinking.
Second, what is the nature of Cosmic Inflation theory? It's fancy math plus a lot of speculation. Some amazing things have come out of theoretical physics and theoretical math. But the last I checked, math + speculation does not substitute for fact. There must be physical evidence to support it for it to qualify as science.
Third, we are not talking about the soft sciences here. We're talking about physics. If there were one non-negotiable requirement of the hard sciences it would be empirical testing. Where is the empirical test for Cosmic Inflation? Some tests raise serious doubts around the theory. Some of the particle physics on the matter relies heavily on ad hoc modelling. And these are just the beginning of the problems. One might even start to wonder whether cosmology even qualifies as astrophysics. You can ask Dr. Richard Lieu, astrophysicist and Distinguished Professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, about that.
One of the big bang theory's most severe problems is addressed by a convoluted, unproven, and highly problematic theory. But the scientific consensus seems ready to accept the could/might/maybe/possibly-type explanation as though it were a did-type explanation. Reason does not lead people to do this. Bias does. Look at the tremendous effort being expended to protect the conjectured explanation that the universe created itself. Most people, regardless of their beliefs about God or the age of the universe, accept the conclusion the universe had a beginning, but the whether it created itself is a separate point entirely. To doubt the second point is not the same as doubting the first. And yet, if Matt were to express his doubt on the second point it is very likely he would be called anti-science in the same way he is accusing YEC of being anti-science, by two separate but related points being confused.
The YEC side certainly needs to provide evidence for its claims, as any side of any debate should. But, contrary to Matt's accusation, the YEC arguments I study don't claim the fields of science they challenge are wrong about everything. The main problem YEC points out in modern science is two fold: (1) bias and (2) the confusion between fact and opinion, between data and the interpretation of data, which is often a result of bias. The YEC I study does not claim God put fossils into the ground to fool us, and in fact urges proponents to NOT claim God created beams of light in space reaching the earth. Even YEC proponents who do make the absurd claims Matt says they do, I doubt they reject "all of modern science". That is a dishonest mischaracterization, putting words in other people's mouths, the same sort of mischaracterization Matt suffers in the political realm regularly. Likewise, just as political conservatives recognize the Vogsphere climate in the political realm, so too does YEC experience a Vogsphere climate in the scientific realm.
Matt has taken a casual approach to science, more of the mere-exposure effect rather than time devoted to scientific study. This is very common in the world. He knows what many scientists claim and what twitter users claim, but the data don't necessarily match those claims. In fact, I'm not aware of any critic of YEC who actually knows what YEC teaches. If laymen on social media are to be considered expert representatives of YEC, the laymen of any debate should be representatives of their side as well. Experts in any field should shudder at such a notion. Thinking people ought to make an effort to learn the official claims of any controversy.
The YEC I study asserts creation is one form of God's revelation to us and that real science does not contradict scripture, as Matt also confesses to believing. Sadly, when these ultimate ideological implications arise, it's surprisingly difficult to find "real" science that is done without cheating. As lengthy as this writing is, it hardly scratches the surface of the problem. If Matt is interested in truly understanding what science is and isn't I offer to discuss such matters with him in as much detail as he wishes. If he's willing to make time for this, just maybe he would end up finding YEC more palatable. If nothing else, perhaps I could at least help him make a better case against YEC by helping him avoid straw man arguments.