Khramov Alexander

Did God create fossils? Notes on the history of an idea

Khramov Alexander (2022) "Did God create fossils? Notes on the history of an idea ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2022, vol. 104, pp. 29-45 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI2022104.29-45


The subject of the paper is prochronism, e.g. the teaching which says that the world was created with the appearance of old age. It is shown that the sources of prochronism could be traced to the medieval doctrine of double truth and philosophy of Descartes, who suggested that cosmological theories on the origin of the Universe are purely conditional, while in fact the world was instantly created complete and mature. The idea of apparent, but non-existent past gained much credence during the first half of the 19th century, when paleontological and geological discoveries raised a question on how to square the age of the Earth and the life on it with the six days of Genesis. The hypothesis of prochronism was most fully developed in «Omphalos: an attempt to untie the geological knot» (1857), the book by the English naturalist P. Gosse. During the Darwinian time the interest in this doctrine was shown not only by Christian thinkers, but also by secular philosophers and science fiction writers. Elements of prochronism were also present in the writings of Scriptural geologists in the 19th century and their successors, the young earth creationists in the 20th century. The main objections against prochronism are critically considered. According to the most popular of them, if God had made the world appear older that it is, He thus would have deceived people. But from the point of view of prochronism, the creation of traces of never existed past was necessitated by the logic of causality, which required God to actualize all the consequences of historical epochs skipped by Him. The link between prochronism and the problem of pre-human sufferings is outlined. The conclusion is made that this doctrine, despite being counter-intuitive and rather notorious, is intellectually consistent and immune to the criticism.


science and religion, evolutionism, six days of creation, young Earth creationism, occasionalism, Divine hiddenness,


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Information about the author

Khramov Alexander

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Biology;
Place of work: Paleontological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences; SS Cyril and Methodius School of Post-Graduate and Doctoral Studies; 4/2, Building 1, Piatnitskaia Str., Moscow 115035, Russian Federation;
Post: postdoctoral researcher;
ORCID: 0000-0002-6888-5162;
Email: a_hramov89@mail.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.