by David C. Wise
Originally posted in the Science & Religion Library on CompuServe
The Omphalos Argument was advanced in 1857 by an experimental zoologist, Philip Henry Gosse, who was obsessed with the need to protect his extreme fundamentalist view of special creation from the geological evidence against it. The argument derives its name (Omphalos means "navel" in Greek) from an old theological question (of the same general class as counting angels on the head of a pin): Since the navel is evidence of a past event (i.e. having been born of a woman) and Adam was not born of a woman but rather was created whole and fully formed, did Adam have a navel? The answer is: if it would have so pleased God for Adam to have the appearance of having been born of a woman, then he would have had a navel. In his book, _Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot_ (1857), Gosse argued that everything was created with the appearance of a history; everything was created fully-formed with evidence of its growth and development and pre-existence, all of which had never actually happened. Thus, any scientific findings supporting the earth's great antiquity could immediately be discounted as false evidence of a non-existent past. The earth only appears to be ancient because it was recently created with the appearance of great age. It isn't that the scientists have gotten the story wrong, it's just that they don't realize that it is ONLY a story. So the apparent fossil remains of non-existent creatures were created in the strata to give the false impression of evolutionary change. The proper ratios of parent and daughter isotopes were created in new rock to lend it spurious age. Light was created in space with the proper Doppler shift to make it appear that the distant galaxies had produced it. And so on. Indeed, Gosse himself developed this effect of "Indeterminate Creation" to its logical conclusion. Why assign the Creation to 6000 years ago? Why not 4000 years ago or 1000 years ago or 100 years ago or 10 years ago or 10 days ago or even a few minutes ago? If the Creation had occurred a few minutes ago with all the false evidence of pre-existence, even down to our individual memories, intact, then how could we know it? Of course, the Omphalos argument fell into disrepute with everybody almost immediately. Many just laughed at it, but others were deeply offended by the idea of God being a lying and deceitful prankster who had written an enormous and superfluous lie in the rocks. But even worse for many believers was the thought that the events of the Bible, most importantly the Resurrection, might have never happened and so their faith might be based solely on a Divine Hoax. So why bring it up again? Because it is still being used. Some months back, a Forum member tried to argue for the Creation of an "established earth" along with all its apparent geological history. More recently, another Forum member tried to argue that life only appeared to be interrelated because of common themes used by the Creator. Even the ICR will use Omphalos on occasion, but not by name. The argument that the light from the distant stars and galaxies were created en route is pure Omphalos. In his standard textbook, _Scientific Creationism_, Morris states that the universe was created with the appearance of age.
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First uploaded on 1997 July 02.
Last updated on 2011 August 02.