Archive for September, 2009

California as an Island: a book review

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

This is a book review I submitted to Amazon after reading the excellent historical account of California as an island:  The Island of California: A History of the Myth.   It will be interesting to see if Amazon keeps it posted.

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Polk has written a scholarly review of the history of California as an island, although, as one notices from the title, a completely biased one that assumes from the beginning that California never was, nor could ever have been, an island.

Polk devotes most of the book to a historical account of how the west coast of the new world was explored, from the early Spanish explorers on the heels of Columbus, to the English looking for a Northwest Passage, and finally to Father Kino, who, two hundred years after Columbus, walked to California from New Mexico, establishing California’s connectedness.  Polk is obviously the student of history, as she excels in the details of the story, which is full of interesting quotes from the original sources.  Polk spends an inordinate amount of time looking for evidence in history that it was a preconceived belief in California’s islandness that kept the explorers from the truth.  One wonders if, ironically, Polk’s preconceived belief that “all is as it has always been” keeps her from the truth, or at least from considering any view out of the main.

I was obviously disappointed in the one sided view of the possibility of Califonia’s  islandness.  Polk refers to the Peri Reiss map of North America, made famous by Charles Hapgood in “Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings”, but makes no mention of Hapgood or his book on the incredible accuracy of maps predating the Greeks.  One gets the feeling that to mention Hapgood would be violating the sacred teachings of the liberal world that the ancient world was full of knuckle dragging Neanderthals incapable of mapping the world.  Yet the ancient maps existed, showing California as an island, copied and passed down until they reached the map makers of Columbus’ day, who used them to document an unknown world.

Polk makes little mention of the geographical features on Island California maps, preferring to focus on the history of discovery in the 1500-1700s.  Of note is how pathetically little  was known of the geography of the west coast of America.  In spite of this the island California maps show remarkable and inexplicable detail of a supposedly mythical coastline, including a very accurate drawing of the shoreline of the ancient Lake Gosuit in Wyoming.  Yet at the same time, as Polk relates to us, the explorers after two hundred years were still not sure if it was the Colorado River at the north end of the Gulf of California, or an opening into the Northwest Passage.

This is a good book for a student of history, especially California history, but it’s not the whole story.

The Hugh Ross Worldview

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

A Reasons to Believe speaker presented a lecture in our area a few months ago on why we can believe the Bible based on “Science”.  I went up afterward just to say hello and introduce myself, since the emcee had made it a point to mention that a few young earthers had shown up.  After a little discussion on the topic, the speaker asked me what my response would be if “Science” found an evidence of the earth being billions of years old that could not be refuted.  I said something about having to think hard about my interpretation of the Bible, thinking all the while that I need not worry about such a thing happening, since the earth is young, after all, the Bible says so.

Unfortunately, that was the wrong answer, as I realized later.  That I responded that way is evidence of my conditioning to analyse the Bible in light of “Science”, a conditioning that we are all subjected to as we go through public school, and of which we are mostly unaware.

The correct response would have been that since we interpret all things in light of the Bible, rather than interpret the Bible in light of all things,  we would interpret whatever evidence we would ever find in light of the Genesis account of the six day creation.  The difference between my first response and the correct response highlights the error in Reasons to Believe’s approach to the Bible.  That they could even ask their question reveals that their approach is to put the Bible in subjection to the scrutiny of “Science” as a baseline or measure against which religion must align.

There are of course, many evidences that have already  been discovered that have been interpreted to “prove” that the earth is billions of years old.  For example, the quantity of radioactive decay products in granite could only be there after billions of years of years of time.  The old earth interpretation is of course that the earth is old.  This conclusion is based on the principle of “Science” that the present is the key to the past: whatever is happening today is whatever happened in the past, and we know the rate of decay today, so we know the rate of decay since the beginning. Having assumed an old earth, the old earth interpretation of radioactive dating of rocks proves the earth is old.  One gets dizzy from the circular logic.

There are, and this may surprise some people, other interpretations of radioactive decay products in rock.  ICR took a hard look at this problem and discovered that there is more to the story:  billions of years of radioactive decay in granite would produce a calculable amount of Helium, which , since Helium is a very small and mobile atom, would have diffused away from the granite in a short time, geologically.  ICR found the Helium to still be in the granite.  The Helium would not still be there if the earth were billions of years old, so the only conclusion we can reach, from an honest perspective, is that the rock is young, and the rate of radioactive decay has not been constant.  It either varies by some mechanism we don’t know about, or it started out very fast and slowed, or God caused it to speed up for a time.

There are other examples, but this illustrates my point.  We err when we fall into the trap of using any man made interpretations of what we see around us to interpret the Bible.  The Bible stands alone as the inspired word of God, against which all things are measured.  It reveals truth to us that we cannot know by any other means, because while science can study the world we see, it cannot tell us what happened in the past.  It can only speculate.  God was there and has revealed the history of the world to us in the Bible, and the Bible is the authority against which we will measure all that “Science” attempts to tell us.