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As an example this question has, as of this writing, 4 votes to close, and some critical comments.

I see this question as an example of a formula, which could be repeated practically infinitely.

That format would be:

How do (young-earth) creationists explain [specific scientific phenomenon which appears to contradict a young earth or other creationist doctrine]?

One comment on the question makes the claim:

This question doesn't have anything to do with Christianity - it could be answered just as well by creationists of any faith tradition. So I think it is off-topic for this site

I don't really agree with the sentiment of this commentator, as I believe Christianity does have a more or less de-facto monopoly on the concept of a young-earth. While there's certainly room in other religions (Islam and Judaism seem like obvious candidates, since they share the same Genesis creation account), Judasim has for the most part rejected the concept, and my impression is that Islam mostly takes a "we-don't really know or care" attitude.

But even if other faith traditions do support a young earth, no doubt their flavor is slightly different. Jews and Muslims won't use Romans 8 as support for a young-earth view, for instance.

And such questions would be either completely off-topic on Biology, Physics, or other sciences-related sites, or if not directly off-topic, certainly looked down upon, scolded, and without relevant YEC-experts around to answer them

So I think these questions should be on-topic here, and they should be encouraged.

  • Well, Christianity is not a Science and these question are inherently about science, not Christianity, per se. However, if worded "How do they explain x" it sounds close enough to me to be on-topic. – fredsbend Feb 18 '14 at 22:04
  • I made a close vote on your example question because it just poorly thought through. – fredsbend Feb 18 '14 at 22:05
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    @fredsbend: Only a YEC Christian "scientist" can answer that type of question. It's really a question about interpreting scientific observation in light of a specific, narrow religious world view. Sure, it's about science, but it's also at least as much about Christine doctrine. – Flimzy Feb 18 '14 at 22:06
  • @fredsbend: Can you offer suggestions to improve the question? I'm not sure what you think it's lacking--it strikes me as a good question. – Flimzy Feb 18 '14 at 22:06
  • I made a comment on the original. It is assuming that God made the gene broken on purpose and put it into Adam. There is no reason to think such a thing and it is elementary to think that the gene worked in Adam, but broke sometime after. – fredsbend Feb 18 '14 at 22:08
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    This question is quite relevant: Christianity.SE 's experts are Christians, not scientists. That may lead us to conclude this question is on topic however, it's poorly constructed as currently posed and lacks suitable framing. (creationism by itself is not a scope as there are too many flavors for it to be a narrowing convention) – wax eagle Feb 18 '14 at 22:13
  • @Wax Yes, I knew there was another post, however, if we keep it limited to what they say, whether it is pseudo science or not, it seems on-topic to me. It is what some Christians teach. Whether it is real science or not is for a different site. Maybe skeptics. – fredsbend Feb 18 '14 at 22:14
  • Actually I found this very interesting. Christians seem to hold monopoly on evolution debate and textual criticism. The jews and muslims don't question their textual variants. I got to give credit to cristianity and western civilization in general for always questioning what beliefs. – Sharen Eayrs Feb 22 '14 at 5:51
  • @fredsbend, while "Christianity" is not science, science is very much a part of Christianity. – rob Feb 24 '14 at 17:34
  • Also a thought...what if there are christian scientists on this group??? Or would it be better to have a group dedicated to christian science??? – rob Feb 24 '14 at 17:42
  • @rob: Are you talking about Christian Science? Or scientists who are Christians? And what is your question exactly? – Flimzy Feb 24 '14 at 18:02
  • @rob we might get a few participants here who are scientists by profession, but I bet they are quite few. Most people on the SE network are some kind of tech professional (programmers, web developers, etc.) and have an interest in the site they participate in most. Some, however, are indeed professionals in the site they participate. We have a few pastors, and have had authors and former higherups in a certain church post a few times. – fredsbend Feb 24 '14 at 18:52
  • @Flimzy, I talking about scientists that are christian, not the religion/doctrine of that denomination. And what I was meaning was have a group dedicated to the science of the Bible. – rob Feb 24 '14 at 20:09
  • @fredsbend,I underdtand...its hard to ask a scientific question, I'll use me as an exsample, has a pastor I have theological knowledge and as a student of other denominations in study I can speak with some authority on those matters. But as I am not a scientist I can only comment on what I read, more like hear say as opposed to being able to give first hand expert testemony on science. So had most on this group fit my description its why questions like this may be discuraged....to much left to ...well lets say opinion and speculation? Or second hand knowledge. Would that be how its looked at? – rob Feb 24 '14 at 20:16
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These are on-topic so long as they can stick to "what Christian Creationists say about it." There can be no speculation or analyses of new science that is out. As this post says, we are not scientists and peer review is not the point of this site. The point is to lay down what Christians of all flavors teach, which includes Creationists, old and young variety.

I propose that when answering these kinds of questions, a primary source is required. You cannot give your own interpretation of the science. This is not a scientific site. You must use a primary, Creationist source to prove that what you write is something that Creationists do in fact teach. A link to Answers in Genesis should suffice for most of these.

Now whether any science discussed in such an answer is actually valid is not on-topic at all in any way. Any comments to that end are off-topic and should be deleted. Any ensuing arguments about it should be taken to chat immediately. Any clarification about the science itself can be migrated to Skeptics.se, Biology.se, Physics.se, Chemistry.se, Geology.se, or any other SE site where peer reviewed science is their business.

  • I like this answer, especially the part about requiring a Creation Science reference. – Flimzy Feb 22 '14 at 23:24
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    Hey...what happens if Ken Hamm does join??? Hehe...kinda joking kinda serious. – rob Feb 24 '14 at 17:39
  • @rob: Then he can ask and answer questions, and we will welcome his input. I don't understand your question :P – Flimzy Feb 24 '14 at 18:02
  • @flimzy, haha...I was just meaning, well fred said this " we are not scientists" but if Hamm joined it would change that dinamic...as would if other scientists on this page stepped forward if there are any. They could be the authority to answer such questions as above. IMO. – rob Feb 24 '14 at 20:22
  • Wait - so if, say, Catholics have a pro-science view, they can't express it because it's scientific, and any Evangelical that makes false scientific claims (like a lot of stuff in AiG) is allowed to be unchallenged? – Sklivvz Jul 6 '14 at 19:57
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    @Sklivvz Can you explain where you are drawing that conclusion from? The meta question here is specifically trying to make policy for stringent YEC questions. We are trying to make policy for avoiding scientific claims altogether. We strive to discuss what others claim as Truth, not what is actually Truth. In this case, it would be "What do Young Earth Creationists say about ... ?" The Catholic perspective would not fit well as an answer to this question, because that's not what they asked for. – fredsbend Jul 6 '14 at 20:05
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    @fredsbend AiG, which you would allow as a source, makes many pseudo-scientific claims, such as "Fossils Can Form Quickly". It's a scientific claim -- a false one -- not a religious one. Should it be allowed here without any correction? Would this make the internet better? – Sklivvz Jul 6 '14 at 20:09
  • @Sklivvz It would be allowed on a question asking about what YEC's teach, because that is, indeed, what YEC's teach. So the question would be "What do YEC's teach about this?" And the factual answer would be this "pseudo-science". Read the last paragraph in my post. The actual validity of any science is strictly off-topic. – fredsbend Jul 6 '14 at 20:29
  • @fredsbend I disagree, because it's not a statement about the Christian religion at all. "What do Creationists think about <scientific phenomenon not mentioned in the bible>" tells you nothing about their religious beliefs, and something about their wrong scientific beliefs. How fossils are formed is not a matter of religion, of faith or beliefs. It's a matter of science. – Sklivvz Jul 6 '14 at 20:39
  • @Sklivvz The line between religion and science is blurred for YEC proponents. Though I have never heard the "proofs" for YEC declared as dogma, they are as wholeheartedly defended as the YEC position it's self. Would you propose then that YEC is off-topic entirely? Not a rhetorical question; if that's what you are thinking I would like to hear your entire thoughts. I guess another answer here would be the best place. – fredsbend Jul 7 '14 at 0:28
  • @fredsbend I think there are core beliefs and tangential ideas. In particular, I do believe that stating, as an example, that fossils are formed quickly, has absolutely nothing to do with biblical literalism or religion. They are simply the non-religious speculations of some people to justify their beliefs, and not beliefs that have been part of Christianity for any significant time, not even of their own group. A biblical literalist would certainly see the difference between something that comes from the Bible and a man-made idea. – Sklivvz Jul 7 '14 at 0:41
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    @Sklivvz Indeed, but your argument is a straw man. The study of fossils and the current scientific understanding of the age of the Universe is not too much older than the YEC movement that responds to it. So you do think that YEC, in general, should be off-topic? Plenty of Churches dogmatically believe YEC. It goes to follow that they will have responses to the science that contradicts it. If what they say happens to be pseudo-science, we cannot complain. That's how they respond. – fredsbend Jul 7 '14 at 1:21
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Sklivvz Jul 7 '14 at 1:22
4

I'm going to go against the grain and recommend that we handle these on a case-by-case basis, but that we lean toward making these off-topic, and direct those users to chat. (If they have sufficient reputation to chat, that is.)

Initially, I agreed with @Fredsbend's take on this, since our usual advice for keeping things constructive is to limit discussion on what group X say, not whether group X is correct.

However, there are other factors to consider. The main one is that not all Young-Earth Creationists agree on everything. This is the same problem addressed in Is it valid to ask if “Christianity” teaches anything?. While there is certainly commonality, there isn't always a consensus. As such, questions like this are making the same category mistake, and are simply not focused enough to avoid becoming "list questions". (Ken Ham says X, Kent Hovind says Y, David Stratton says Z, etc.)

Beyond that, when you do find the common ground, it's often the same answer. Over. And. Over. And. Over. Again.

  • We reject dating methods because...
  • We interpret that data differently because we have a different set of root assumptions than the Naturalist
  • The evidence for the naturalist view is not compelling because...

I understand that an argument can be made for keeping that type of question on-topic, but I cant get past the category error inherent in "What do Creationists say about Y?" It's simply not focused enough to avoid devolving into list questions, opinion, and speculation.

I also see a potential issue of trolls posting that formula question indefinitely with each and every "evidence" they can pick up from the Skeptics site for an old earth. I know it's not valid to close questions because they're annoying, but I really also can't see that being good for the health of the site.

The question, to me, boils down to "is it good for the health of the site?" I'm not so sure that this type of question really is good for the site.

Even among the Young earth creationists, answering distinct points isn't a doctrinal issue. The belief that the earth is young, created in six literal days may be doctrinal, but how to account for the fact that we can see stars millions of light years away isn't.

  • I gave you a plus one because you make a very good point. I'm not convinced it will turn out like this, but if it gets bad, I'll switch sides on this; it is something we need to watch out for. As someone deep within the YEC subculture, I can see that the proofs and explanations are practically vital to the faith. Yes, they aren't doctrine, but nearly every church I know has spent at least five sermons a year on the topic. They are so important that it is almost hard to express how dogmatic some churches are about YEC and its proofs and explanations. – fredsbend Feb 20 '14 at 18:28
  • Im learning, this is doctrinal page and not a scientific page correct??? – rob Feb 24 '14 at 20:25
3

Thank you for raising this meta question; and let me come out of the closet as the quoted commenter who thought the Vitamin C question was off-topic.

My judgement was that the issue of defective genes is really about intelligent design, since it questions the intelligence of the proposed designer, and not YEC. In some respects the intelligent design movement is "Christian creationism in disguise", though they do try not to come off this way - but in any case, I felt that the question was more in the territory of "general philosophical questions" that did not seem to demand a specifically Christian answer.

That said, Rick actually did give a Christian answer (which I think is accurate in terms of being a common interpretation of the Fall, and one that has been used by Christians in response to the "poor design" argument) so I was probably wrong here. On reflection, I think I do have a bias against this kind of question as they tend to provoke fruitless arguments and speculation, so I've tended to treat them as having a higher bar to clear. My mental non-constructive-ometer was ticking up, as well as the philosophy-ometer.

Also, I'm personally very far from YEC or OEC. I've tried to vote purely on the merits of the questions and answers, in terms of how well they represent the stated viewpoint and whether they are well-cited. I have certainly upvoted answers which I strongly disagreed with on a personal level. Every time I do so, I imagine my wife (a biology professor) giving me a Look, so the memories are quite definite in my mind. It's impossible for me to be totally unbiased, and I hope others will be willing to call me out in a polite way if I am off the mark. For this question, I do not think that my opinion of the merits of intelligent design played a role.

I agree with what fredsbend says in his answer, as these guidelines should help answers and comments remain in the desired territory.

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