Let’s be honest for a moment and acknowledge something about creationism that we all know. To most unbelievers, creationists seem, not just ignorant, but downright silly. And while it may be easy to label a nonbeliever as having his heart and mind darkened by vain philosophy or a lack of knowledge about creationism, the reality is that for most of us, we’ve earned the reputation we have.
There is one turn of phrase that creationists use that has often turned my stomach. Creationists who employ this phrase think they are being smart or saying something of profound faith. But the reality is that it’s a phrase that is nothing more than a cop out. It’s something we say when we don’t have an intelligent way of making our arguments. What is that phrase? Hold tight. You’re not going to like it, because you’ve used it. Everyone has used it. Even me. Here it is.
“God could have…”
Now, when it comes to creationism, we use this turn of phrase right before we are going to say something profoundly stupid. Let me illustrate this by using two significant problems that young earth creationism routinely faces. These are the starlight transit problem and the lack of human fossils with dinosaurs.
The starlight problem essentially says that since the universe is 13.8 billion light years across, it must have take millions or billion of years for that light to reach us, depending upon how far we are away from the source. Young earth creationists deny this because in their theology, the universe is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old. So, the YEC person needs an alternate way of explaining this problem to keep it in fitting with his world view.
The second problem is the lack of human fossils with dinosaur fossils. If the earth is so young, then dinosaurs must have lived with man and they were wiped out in the flood. Flood geology holds that it was Noah’s flood that laid down the layers of dirt and sediment that fossilized the dinosaurs. However, there are no fossilized remains of human from that period. Normal scientists then conclude that humans did not live with dinosaurs since there is no fossil evidence of such. But creationists argue that God must have destroyed the evidence. Is this reasonable?
YEC answers to this are mere speculation, not examinations of evidence. For instance, when they say, “God could have done this or that,” they are not giving evidence but only stating what they believe might be possible. That’s not evidence, that’s speculation. Here are some examples of YEC claims that are speculation, that are routinely used to argue against science or an old earth view. Read carefully. Some of these are just silly.
“God could have ‘grabbed’ the light from a truly exploding supernova and ‘super-pulled’ it across the universe to Earth” (What Is The Problem With Starlight In Transit, July 2d, 2016, creation.com).
“God could have rapidly ‘matured’ the universe, bringing the light from distant objects to the earth in a way similar to trees instantly sprouting and rising to full height” (Seeing Stars In A Young Universe, November, 1, 2017, “Answers In Genesis”).
“God could have miraculously solved the light travel time problem on Day Four, before putting the laws that govern light travel into effect” (Seeing Stars In A Young Universe, November, 1, 2017, “Answers In Genesis”).
“God could have miraculously translated the light across 170,000 light-years’ distance of space instantly” (Critique: Faulkner’s Miraculous Translation of Light Model Would Leave Evidence,November 19, 2014, “Answers In Genesis”).
“It would be no problem at all to say that God could have created a whole chain of photons (light particles/waves) already on their way” (Young Universe, Old Stars, Christiananswers.net).
“I guess God could have “vaporized” all the human remains after the Flood” (Creation Science Rebuttals, Old Earth Ministries, February 2003).
“There may be some human fossils somewhere in the world” (Why Aren’t There Fossils Of Human From Noah’s Flood?, December 29, 2010, “Kids Answers”).
“The drowned carcasses may have then ‘bloated and floated’ and were either eaten by sea creatures, washed ashore later and consumed as carrion, or decomposed and composted naturally” (Where Are All the Pre-Flood Human Fossils? August 7, 2018, “Answers In Genesis”).
None of these answers provide any evidence of anything. Really, they are nothing more than guesses backed up by mere speculation. Speculation is not something to put your faith in. It’s never about what God is capable of doing, it’s about what God is actually doing. Saying God could do something is a testimony to his power, but it is not a testimony as to how he used that power. It’s speculation, even wishful thinking. To some degree, it’s also a cop out. “I don’t have the answers, but God can do anything.” That’s not an answer. It’s a non-answer that communicates nothing.
“Light could have traveled faster in the past.” Really? Why? Where is the evidence? The evidence would seem to deny this.
“God could have made time run faster elsewhere in the universe.” The available evidence says that yes, time passes at different rates relative to gravity, but there’s no evidence that it happens millions of times faster that what we normally experience.
“God could have wiped out evidence of humans with dinosaurs by the flood.” If this is the claim, then it is a claim that asks us to believe something for which there is no evidence. IE, believe the lack of evidence because the lack of evidence is evidence. This is silly. It is not possible for God to work in the world and not leave any evidence that he is the one doing what he is doing.
To compound this further, creationists often say, “God could have,” in combination with scripture that would seem to back up their statement. For instance, they will quote Mark 10:27, which says, “All things are possible with God.” Or this one from Luke 1:37, “Nothing will be impossible with God.” But these statements have nothing to do with the breadth of God’s total power. They were said under a specific set of circumstances. Such statements can be evangelistically used to say God created light in transit or God can create gas-powered flying monkeys. When you turn a phrase of scripture to say anything is possible, then none of it is valid. And, to be frank, it makes the believer look like an idiot to the nonbeliever.
Now, to be fair, young earth creationists aren’t the only one to use holy hogwash. Even old earth creationists have sometimes used the refrain, “God could have,” as an answer to what they don’t know. But the reality is that young earth creationists have refined this Christin cop out to a fine art. So, whenever you hear anyone, from any side of the aisle, use such a statement, you should think skeptically, because the reality is, they don’t know. They don’t have a real answer and they are trying to hide that fact. The reality is that it’s better to say that you don’t know than to wash over your ignorance by saying, “God could have.”