"Omphalos" it was!
- Nathan, on the coCBanned list was, I believe, proposing that the first
Adam had a belly button and that the first tree had at least one ring to
match Adam's belly button.
I mused that I thought there had been a book written about that.
Doing a quick check, I found this brief review of that "Omphalos" book
Philip Henry Gosse
(April 6, 1810 - August 23, 1888)
2 His best-known book, Omphalos
His best-known book, Omphalos
The problem of the age of the earth was a vexed one for much of the 19th
century. The work of James Hutton had suggested that the earth had to be
much, much older than those who trusted biblical chronology could
Regardless of whether one believed James Ussher's date of 4004 BC to be
the true date of Earth's origin, no biblically reconstructed date for
the creation of the earth was long enough to be close to the time that
was implied by geology or, later, zoology.
Various theories had been proposed prior to the publication of Omphalos.
Among them was the notion that the biblical "days" were metaphorical and
corresponded to much longer periods of time (so-called "interval
theory"). Another proposed that time may have worked differently before
the Fall, and still others made a forthright appeal to God's
omnipotence, meaning he could cause apparently long geological ages to
occur in short periods of time.
Gosse, however, pointed out that life ran in cycles: birth and death and
birth again; rain to river to ocean to cloud to rain. Chicken from egg,
egg from chicken. If one assumed a creation from nothing, there must
always be traces of previous existence that never actually existed,
otherwise certain things would not work. The name Omphalos hearkened
back to the earlier Christian debate over Adam's navel, the existence of
which would have implied his non-existent birth from a non-existent
mother -- Omphalos being Greek for "navel".
Gosse compiled several hundred pages of examples of similar thoughts,
then tied it all together by stating that when creation occurred,
apparent records of events occurring that actually did not occur -- he
called them "prochronic", meaning "outside time" -- must have been rife
throughout the world. Was it not reasonable to argue that fossils and
geologic strata and so on were merely prochronic artifacts of a
non-existent time pre-dating the actual Creation? This idea became known
as the Omphalos hypothesis.
Gosse's theory was unsatisfactory to both sides of the debate, and his
book was savaged by critics on both ends of the spectrum. Those of a
scientific bent and those of religious mind generally rejected the
theory on the grounds that they could not accept that God would play
such an enormous hoax. There was simply no point to it, and some other
explanation was deemed necessary.
Two years later, Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species was published,
and another exit from Gosse's endless ring became apparent: rather than
a circle, the history of life was an ever-widening spiral, emanating
from a single point in the distant past. Fossils and so on were the
record of that spiral.
I guess the apparent age/mature age folks to today have the same
problem; they don't fit in with legitimate science types and have a real
problem with the YEC folk and others who try to maintain that God does
not play tricks on us.