by David C. Wise
Written 1990
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.