Another passel of creationist lies

By Phil Plait | July 18, 2007 11:04 am

Usually, when someone spouts creationist garbage, it’s because they’ve been misled. We have a case of this, in spades, in the Evansville (Indiana) Courier Press, where a highly deluded creationist has written an editorial so full of crap I’m tempted to call a septic cleaning crew.

To be clear, I think the author is just wrong, but he has clearly been heavily misled — some would say lied to — to by people from Answers in Genesis, a creationist (hahahahahah) think tank.

Check this out:

…then a little more than a year ago, we again were privileged to hear lectures by former evolutionist and atheist Mike Riddle and astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle.

To be clear: Mike Riddle and Jason Lisle are from the evil, lying organization Answers in Genesis.

How can I assert this? Assuming the editorial writer is on the level…

Riddle, a former Microsoft trainer, spoke of the Miller experiment, which produced amino acids inside a test tube. When oxygen was added, the experiment failed. Imagine, this key element to life prohibits any organic molecules from forming.

The Miller-Urey experiment put the contents of the Earth’s original atmosphere (methane, ammonia, hydrogen, water — much like the present atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn) into a chamber, and hit it with a spark representing lightning. Amino acids were produced. This shows that the building blocks of life were easy to produce in the primitive conditions on Earth. As the idea goes, later, once life took hold, it evolved to produce oxygen (which can provide a lot more energy to the life process). Oxygen is highly corrosive, and so that changed everything. Eventually, in the adapt-or-die conditions, life adapted to use the gas. But before it did, oxygen was essentially poison. So it’s no surprise that it would mess up the Miller-Urey experiment.

In other words, if Riddle used this to promote an anti-evolution stance, he is not telling the truth, when the truth is easy to find and has been accessible for decades. What does that make him?

Incidentally, the MU experiment was never meant to be the be-all and end-all of how life arose; it was the first of a long series of such experiments that are still ongoing. How life first arose is a fascinating question, and I guarantee that no creationist will be able to figure it out… unless they follow the tenets of science. But scientific method to a young-Earth creationist is like holy water to a vampire.

To continue…

According to Lisle, laser reflectors left behind on the moon’s surface by the Apollo astronauts revealed that our lunar neighbor moves a little over an inch farther away from us each year.

How many billions of years earlier was it scraping our mountaintops?

It doesn’t work this way. The Moon recedes from the Earth due to tides, but the rate at which is recedes depends on many factors. In the past, it receded more slowly than it does today. It formed much closer in to the Earth, but there is no problem with it taking billions of years to get to its current distance. Typically, young Earth creationists take current values of things and extrapolate them billions of years into the past without considering that the values might have changed.

This argument has been debunked for many years. Decades. If Lisle really is an astrophysicist and he said this in a talk, he is either incompetent or a liar. Or both.

One of Lisle’s associates calculated the amount of emissions given off by the various belts of Jupiter shortly before the Voyager probe visited it in the early ’80s. The data returned was in sync with the thousands of years that the mathematics Ph.D. had suggested. The spacecraft had no knowledge of the Bible.

This statement is a total mess, but what I think he means is the prediction by creationist Russel Humphries, before Voyager got to Uranus and Neptune, of their magnetic fields. But his guess was that they were intermediate in strength between Earth’s and Saturn’s, which is a pretty safe bet given their masses. Also, while it’s true that the magnetic fields of those two planets are weird, Humphrey’s model (that God made the planets from water which was then transformed into various other substances) doesn’t predict any of the other odd features (like the tilt of the fields and that they are off-center). He claims it does, but his claim on how some of the odd features formed isn’t really any different than a model assuming the planets are old; in other words, his model doesn’t actually predict those features.

Even a randomly fired gun will sometimes hit the target… by accident.

Years ago my science textbook had illustrations suggesting that our sun gave birth to the Earth and other planets, but this was not the apparent case in a section of the Orion nebula known as M22, where “orphan” planets exist, some orbiting each other without any nearby star.

He either misread his textbook, or it was woefully wrong. Planets and stars form together, with the planets forming in a disk around the star. It’s not uncommon to get gravitational interactions between forming planets which can kick them out of the system; "rogue" planets have been predicted for quite some time and are a successful prediction of the disk-formation theory (which has many dozens or hundreds of other successes).

In Glen Rose, Texas, some have asserted, there are fossilized human footprints alongside ones made by dinosaurs, as they existed together inside a dried-out riverbed.

The Paluxy Tracks? Are you kidding me? This is long, long debunked.

My favorite part of this whole horrifying editorial, though, is the last bit:

It is not my intent to start an argument or debate; please save your hate mail for someone else. However, as some scientists are brassy enough to skip from theory to fact without all the evidence, it is only fair to make others aware that we do not have all the facts, and that additional exciting information is arriving in our generation — data so simple even a cave man can understand it.

That first sentence is the killer. Yes, I am going to write all sorts of nonsense, long-debunked offal, and promulgate outright lies, but please, don’t bother replying. La la la la la la la. I can’t hear you.

If this guy wants to argue evidence, then he should find sources that don’t lie about it. But he clearly doesn’t want to argue at all. All the data point toward an old Earth, an old Universe. Furthermore, it directly contradicts a young Earth.

I disagree with his last statement, too: I don’t think a caveman could understand the data. But I know an "astrophysicist" would. Which doesn’t leave much wiggle room if you claim to have the One True Word, does it?

Tip o’ the blinders to Red State Rabble.

Comments (112)

  1. Even his basic, easy to check facts that don’t really require understanding of any principles of science are off: The Orion Nebula isn’t M22, it’s M42.

    Additionally, to my knowledge no “rogue planets” have ever been discovered. Brown Dwarves sure, but definitely nothing that can be classified as a planet. The best way we have to even detect planets (doppler wobbles) requires that they be around a star. Gravitational lensing could be used, but again, the threshold for that can’t detect anything smaller than Brown Dwarves from what I’ve heard.

  2. SLC

    Re Russell Humphries

    Since Dr. Plait has brought up the subject of Russell Humphries, he might want to consider refuting the latters’ claim that gravitational time dilation could lead to a 10,000 year old earth being consistent with galaxies billions of lightyears away. This was brought up on Rosenhouses’ blog several weeks ago and, in my opinion, was never properly refuted (the Talk Origins site only refers to a note by old earth creationist Hugh Ross).

  3. Christian Burnham

    Yes, anyone who disagrees is automatically writing ‘hate-mail’.

    Once again, the religious claim a special right not to be offended by opposing views. The strategy works. When was the last time you heard a leading Democrat denounce the idiocies of religion?

  4. Well, be careful. Because if we ever discover a “rogue planet” that would PROVE the literal truth of the book of Genesis.
    Oh… wait, it won’t? Damn.

  5. Oh man, if there is a rogue planet anywhere nearby, the PX people are going to go stupid(er)

  6. andy

    While planetary-mass objects have been found which aren’t orbiting stars (e.g. Cha 110913-773444), it is not known whether they have been ejected from a planetary system. In fact, they may have formed in a star-like manner by collapse of a molecular cloud, and it might be better to regard them as “sub-brown dwarfs”.

    On the other hand, the configuration of the outer two planets in the Upsilon Andromedae system suggests that in the past, a fourth planet may have been ejected from the system. However for us to detect a rogue planet it must be quite young so it still emits a lot of infrared radiation: thus I’d guess that detectable ejected planets would probably be located quite close to a star system, and to my knowledge none of the candidate “rogue planets” are.

  7. I appreciate the obvious pains you’ve suffered in maintaining your stance against these lunatics. I wonder if you’ve ever converted a member of the opposition; someone known to you directly? I’m just curious. I’m sure the real conversions are happening every day out there among the silent minority. Keep’em up, slugger.

    Offtopic: Incidentally, I just lent 2001 to a young buddy of mine. He’d never heard of it, much less seen it. He loved it. Do you remember your first time? If I remember correctly I found your site by searching for confirmation of my long held certainty that you cannot see stars when a bright object like a planet or sun is in frame. Even Kubrick got this one wrong, bless his heart.

  8. Phil, old man, it’s “misled”, don’tcha know. Didn’t you ever see “How Green Was My Valley”?

    You should have pointed out the continued existence of obligate anaerobic archaea and bacteria to this day. Without that, in fact, your argument anent the MU experiment reads like special pleading.

    “He either misread his textbook, or it was woefully wrong.” Well, I am old enough to have been taught the Jeans stellar-near-collision hypothesis, myself, although the reformed nebular hypothesis was coming into favor around the time I was born, and had pretty much triumphed by the time I was in high school.

  9. Redrefractor

    Wow. Just…Wow. And all these years I actually believed in all the guff that Dawkins, Sagan, Gould and–dare I say it?–Plait were handing out. I actually believed in an an enormous, OLD Universe, with complexity and chaos, fusion and speciation, trilobites and globular clusters, and a process that diligently, slowly worked to answer the important questions through investigation and experimentation, promising no revelations, no final “aha” that would resolve all issues, only the reward of the quest for knowledge.

    And now I see the Light. I understand. The Universe really IS six thousand years old, mankind and all the other species on our planet were created practically simultaneously by an act of will on the part of a Creator who delivers predestination and free will in equal measure, and all I really need to understand or know is contained in a book. The book must be right, because it says it is. It’s a best-seller, after all.

    Well, THAT makes things much easier, doesn’t it? No worries, Mate!

    P.S. The thunder outside my cave entrance scares me, and it is SO dark…

  10. zeb

    You know, if you actually take the 1.5-inch-per-year figure for the moon recession, and blindly extrapolated it back in time, you’d find that the moon would have only been about a hundred thousand miles closer 4.6 billion years ago. So, either creationists are ignorant of how far away the moon actually is, or really bad at math…

  11. Yakko

    isn’t gravity an inverse square force? It gets weaker the further an object is away from the source? Wouldn’t that mean the moon HAD to recede slower in the past just by the nature of the force?

  12. “isn’t gravity an inverse square force? It gets weaker the further an object is away from the source? Wouldn’t that mean the moon HAD to recede slower in the past just by the nature of the force?”

    Not without doing the actual math. The deceleration is due to the tides, which are due to the same gravity, so a mathless argument could go either way.

  13. Tom McVeety has just been BLOWN up! haha

    Great job breaking all that down BA.

  14. Daffy

    Just for the record, I did have a college astronomy professor, Fred Johnson, author of “Voyage into Astronomy,” who claimed that stars did indeed belch out planets. He was by no stretch a creationist…but he was quite serious, with math to back up his point. I wish I still had the book.

  15. Leon

    Great debunking, Phil!

    To nitpick for a moment, though: that should have been “misled” (the past tense of “mislead”) in the first and second paragraphs.

  16. A few minor notes —

    The majority of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere was mostly built up by plants and blue-green algae, so living organisms were already established here prior to the presence of the oxygen. Life didn’t have to form from primitive amino acids at that point.

    Tidal forces work such that an object orbitting inside of the radius of a planet’s geostationary orbit tend to decay while orbits beyond the geostationary orbit radius tend to be ejected. As an example — Phobos, with an orbital period of about 8 hours, will eventually crash into Mars. Meanwhile the moon is slowly being driven away. The geostationary point itself seems to me to be somewhat unstable. Since it sits at the decay/eject decision point, the tidal forces there must be next to nil and therefore the rate of ejection near that point must be considerably smaller than the rate at the moon’s radius/orbital period.

  17. Mark Martin

    Daffy,

    That’s amusing about your prof. How did he dodge the fact that, at the very least, a planet ejected from a sun (at less than escape velocity) will tend to swing right back into the sun and go *splat*?

  18. Daffy

    Mark,

    Unfortunately, the book was tossed by an ex some years ago, so I can’t look it up. If I recall, the gist of it was that the planets were spit out at the same speed the star was rotating early in its life, which gave them some sort of stability. This was a LONG time ago (the ’70s) and my memories are a bit fuzzy. I believe the book is still available at used book sites, though; I may try to pick one up.

    His theory was still that the planets were burped out millions or billions of years ago.

    I am not backing it up, mind you. Just making the point that the notion is not unique to creationists…or even invented by them.

  19. Nigel Depledge

    To add to other comments in the same vein, keep fighting, Phil!

    Although they’re right about the misspelling of “misled”.

    Adding to the mention by John W. Kennedy of obligate anaerobes (microbes to which oxygen is toxic in any significant concentration): the leading hypothesis for the evolutionary origin of oxidative metabolism is that it arose from a mechanism for detoxifying molecular oxygen.

    It goes something like this…

    Early photosynthesisers emitted molecular oxygen as a waste product (but, hey, the advantage was that they could “fix” carbon from the air!). As the atmospheric concentration of molecular oxygen increased, some microbes evolved the ability to react oxygen with metabolic reducing agents to make harmless H2O. Subsequently, these microbes acquired the ability to “couple” this reaction to other reactions, so that the energy released by the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to make water was partly harnessed to drive other chemical reactions, ones that required energy in order to occur. These reactions produced “high-energy” molecules that could be used as a source of “fuel” to drive other reactions. Later still, some of these microbes invaded other cells and eventually became symbiotic, and thus all eukaryotic cells possess mitochondria. Mitochondria have their own DNA, which is separate from the nuclear (“genomic”) DNA, and generate ATP (adenosine triphosphate) for the rest of the cell to use as “fuel”.

    Apologies for the over-simplification, but I hope the core point is clear.

  20. My first reaction was shame at being a Hoosier. We seem to have an over-abundance of nuts around here. Then I read Tony’s replies to that article and my shame lessened. It’s good to know that there are still rational minds in Indiana.

    OEJ

  21. SLC

    Re John W. Kennedy

    Actually, the sun ejection hypothesis predates Jeans as it was first proposed in 1903 by Moulton and Chamberlain. It is usually referred to as the Planetesimal Hypothesis. The major problem with it is that most of the angular momentum in the solar system resides in the planets and there is no mechanism to transfer that angular momentum from the pre-ejection sun to the ejected matter which, under the theory, formed the planets. The revised nebular, proposed by von Weizsäcker attacked this problem by hypothesizing that the fraction of the total matter in the nebula, as opposed to the central sun was much larger then was proposed by Laplace and Kant.

  22. Josh B

    I checked it out on Google. If, to set a standard rate, the Moon has moved away from the Earth at the rate of one inch per year, even for 4.57 billion years (the age of the Earth), the Moon would have covered a distance of merely 72,127.5253 miles (116,078 kilometers), which would have put its starting point (counting from its current altitude of 238,857 miles (384,403 kilometers)) at 116,729 miles (187,857.116 kilometers), which is not nearly close enough to scrape even Mt. Everest (~5.5 miles or ~8.8 kilometers).

  23. SteveT

    Phil,

    Be careful when tossing around phrases like the following:

    “Typically, young Earth creationists take current values of things and extrapolate them billions of years into the past without considering that the values might have changed.”

    I have heard it argued by creationists that radioactive dating gives the wrong answer for the age of the Earth (etc), because the atomic decay rates were NOT constant in years past. I can just picture the comment above being “cut-and-pasted” to some creationist website with an accompanying crow of triumph at having finally caught a scientist admitting that they (the creationists) have been right all along!

    Mind you, we all know that there are sound scientific reasons why the rate of recession of the moon might change with time, while radioactive decay rates do not, but THEY certainly wouldn’t point that out!

    Other than that, awesome post!

  24. Cameron

    I just turned on the TV to see Sylvia Brown spraying her filthy lies all over a Montel audience…I turn her off, open the blog, and find YEC crap. The world is full of idiots.

  25. I was looking through the comments after the editorial and even withing Christendom there is debate as to the merits of YEC.

    One question I have for the anti-YEC faith camp, if that makes sense, how do they square with both Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11 with the commonly accepted timescales for evolution. I have heard the RC church did this some how. In those passages the Hebrew word used for day is locked into the 24 hour period by the phrase in Genesis 1 “Morning and Evening” and Exodus 20:11 is referencing the working week in a set up for the announcing of the Sabbath rule.

    How was this done? It would be nice to put this one to bed so faith and science can be joined once more, as it was in the beginning, and we can stop this needless fighting. One of the commenter’s on the editorial also mentioned the one about sin and death, which seems quite a powerful argument, so I suspect a reconcilliation is not due anytime soon.

    :(

  26. GaterNate

    I agree with Cameron. Our species seems hell bent on never evolving past it’s current point. If we don’t kill ourselves off we’ll probably just sit around watching Nascar until the sun expands.

  27. That’s the kind of god they want people to believe in, a small, pathetic, vindictive god, creator of a tiny little world, 6 thousand years old. Above, a black material of some kind, painted with white dots, and then some.

    A really ridiculous version of their own small minds, and vast pretentions :S

  28. Daffy

    Sticks, when were faith and science joined? The notion of “faith”—believing in something with no evidence at all—is the exact opposite of science where there should be no belief whatsoever. Merely the preponderance of evidence one way or the other regarding theories.

  29. If this guy is getting his info from AIG, he should probably take a look at the page on their site listing arguments YECs shouldn’t use anymore because they keep getting their asses handed to them.

  30. TheBlackCat

    Sticks, the proper term is “old-earth creationist”. And they make the two agree the same way young-earth creationist make the first and second creation stories in Genesis agree and how all Christians make Jesus’s teaching to turn the other cheek with his teaching to sell you cloak to buy a sword if you don’t already have one. That is, they ignore the problem entirely and rationalize it away or dodge the issue if someone presses them on it.

  31. Skepterist

    Something was bothering me about the moon comments, and I finally figured out what it was. If, according to current hypotheses, the moon was actually created 4.xx billion years ago when a Mars-sized object collided with Earth, then of course at one time the moon did more than just scrape our mountaintops. It was actually part of the earth.

    And, like others have said, the moon is on average 15,133,858,252.28 inches from the earth. Subtract an inch a year, and that’s 15 billion years ago that it might have touched the earth.

    So, I wouldn’t say that Lisle is a liar. I’d say he’s either a moron who can’t perform 2nd grade math, or completely ignorant of that big bright circle in the night sky.

    B-)

  32. ioresult

    At one inch per year, it would take 15 billion years for the moon to move from mountain tops to where it is right now. More years that the age of the universe. Yeah.

  33. Leon

    Yep. IF the rate of the Moon’s recession is constant. But if, as has been pointed out is happening, the rate of recession is slowing, that changes the calculation entirely.

    Similarly, if you took an average of my movements during the work day today and extrapolated from that how long it would take me to get home tonight, you’d have me still inside the office at the end of the year…

  34. Folcrom

    The limitations of the creationist mindset,
    should be turning people away from creationism in droves.

    Saying “every thing” we need to know is in one book,
    would make our reality boring, completely knowable and just plain stupid.

    It’s nice to live in a universe that can’t easily be pinned down.
    One in which we have to strive to understand it.
    One that keeps our minds restless and ever thinking.
    It makes life interesting.

    The creationist universe is a universe of stagnation.

    Folcrom.

  35. tacitus

    Sticks, Christians who do not take the Bible as the literal, infallible Word of God do not have a problem with the early chapters of Genesis. Events and places described in Genesis, like the Creation Week, the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Flood, etc. are simply regarded as part of Christian mythology. At best they are considered as allegorical stories illuminating some aspect of the relationship between Man and God.

    In other words, there is no need to square anything.

    Now, I do know that many creationists will argue that if you don’t believe that Genesis is true, then how can you trust that anything in the Bible is true, all the way down to the signature supernatural event, the Resurrection?

    That is a fair point, but I would argue that placing absolute faith in the contents of a book as the word of God is a cheap dodge that allows many Christians to avoid confronting many of the difficult aspects of their faith. I’ve lost count of the number of arguments I’ve seen end with “if it’s in the Bible, then it must be true”. That does not exemplify a strong, reasoned faith.

  36. tacitus

    I agree with SteveT in that:

    Typically, young Earth creationists take current values of things and extrapolate them billions of years into the past without considering that the values might have changed.

    is backwards from the usual YEC argument. I have been involved in several long winded debates with YECs about all of the myriad “natural clocks” we have available to us that shows that the Earth could not possibly be less than several hundred thousand years old at least, and you always get the response:

    “How do you know? Were you there? Why couldn’t conditions have been different in the past? We know Noah’s Flood changed everything…” and so on, ad nauseum.

    Uniformitarianism is one of the YEC’s greatest enemies, and they know it.

  37. Chris C.

    Quoth Daffy: “I am not backing it up, mind you. Just making the point that the notion [that the planets were ejected by the Sun] is not unique to creationists…or even invented by them.”

    No. Just achingly, embarrassingly obsolete. A real, honest-to-God (or honest to anyone else, for that matter) astrophysicist ought to have known that.

    I remember reading the same thing in some of the various science books we had around the house when I was a kid. (What was the name of that series? Blue covers with colored illustrations on the front, and the volume numbers on the spine in yellow rectangles. On the order of 10 volumes. They were in nearly every library back in the day; early to mid-1960s.) So this is the kind of thing that a 40-ish guy might have learned as a child, but he should have outgrown it when he received a degree in astrophysics.

  38. kilooneniner

    Hey, this story is very popular on Digg at the moment. Congrats.

  39. Kent

    Phil writes: “The Miller-Urey experiment put the contents of the Earth’s original atmosphere…”

    Earth’s _hypothesized _ original atmosphere.

    Phile writes: “This shows that the building blocks of life were easy to produce in the primitive conditions on Earth.”

    Um, no.

    It demonstrated that _some_ of the building blocks of life can be produced when the conditions are right, but it ain’t easy. (Some of the best yields were only 2% of the resulting product, and that was racemic (both left- and right-handed molecules).

    The Miller-Urey experiment was a good experiment, and has led to lots of productive follow-up and thinking, but it’s relevance to the origin of life is akin to the relevance of a wind-and-water-carved letter “S” on a beach rock to the works of Shakespeare. At best, it’s a very minuscule first-step.

    Wikipedia (although not a particularly reliable source) has a pretty fair entry on the Miller-Urey experiment — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller-Urey_experiment

    Of course, the Miller-Urey experiment has nothing to do with Astronomy, good or bad … ;-)

  40. bassmanpete

    Be careful when tossing around phrases like the following:

    “Typically, young Earth creationists take current values of things and extrapolate them billions of years into the past without considering that the values might have changed.”

    I agree with SteveT on this. One of the YEC arguments I read some years ago was that the speed of light had changed over the years. I can see them grabbing this sentence & using it against you Phil.

  41. Lincoln

    Awwwwwww, the poor wil “scientist” didn’t like what the big bad meanie creationist said! Sheesh, grow some balls you bunch of fags.

  42. Cecil

    You really haven’t responded to the issue very well. It is all just emotional hype. There isn’t much science refuting the Creationist ideas here.

    It’s very hard to open your mind to new ways of thinking. I’m afraid you may just have been a little brainwashed. Have you thought originally about the Evolution vs Creation debate for yourself? Or have you just followed whatever your side of the argument has told you is true?

    Most people on the Evolution side of the camp have not thought critically about the science – it has been taught to you that way since you were a third grader and you have never doubted it once. You yourself will admit that this is bad scientific practice.

    Most people on the Creation side of the debate form poor arguments which can easily be laughed at by Evolutionists, but at least they are thinking freely and not just responding to brainwashing.

  43. shayne

    Re changing C

    I remember first hearing the nutty argument about the speed of light changing over time thus explaining how astronomical predictions are consistent with a ‘young’ universe, maybe 10 years ago.

    At the time I was an English Lit Undergrad, and was drinking at the university tavern with some friends, one of which was a rather clever but highly enibriated Post grad Physicist whos name eludes me , alas.

    I put it to him to tell me what the implications would be. My drunken physics friend gave a very funny answer.

    He said “First off, you’d have to presume C has been slowing down somewhat dramatically over time. On a rough guess things would of been very very hot 6000 years ago”.
    “How hot?” I enquired.
    My friend hiccuped and said “Well. This creationism is very clever, for this seems to explain the creation of the moon. If we assume through some diabolical equation the amount of kinetic energy created by Adam and Eve shagging is equivalent to that produced by the drinking of a six pack of beer. With the value of “C” being as high as it was, the shag would be that explosive, it would cause an explosion so big, it’d blow a chunk of the earth off the size of the moon.”

    With that he staggered off to the bar to buy another vodka.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he was right on the money.

  44. Jon

    Freaking moron. All these creationists love to spout off at the mouth and can’t even back their findings! Save it you morons! This guy can’t even get his Messier Objects right! IT”S M42 IN ORION!!!! M22 is in Sagittarius!!! And to top it off it’s a Globular Cluster!!GOD get it right!!! How in the hell can you expect anyone to believe you if you can’t get the G.D. facts straight??!! Take your, Privileged Planet movie and S.T.F.U.! Do you have any idea how dumb you look? If you are going to present this movie to a group of amateur astronomers be ready to defend it! I know you all are trained to have the last and only word in a discussion. Just because you say it does not make it true! Also on the same note, don’t make fun of scientific theories because they make the cover of the astronomy mags! The just seem more plausible than God did it! Fools! You all will see will one see what a joke Kansas has become because of you narrow minded views! I laughed at how in Catholic Jr. high that the dinosaurs were made by the devil in hell!!! And God removed them with the great flood!!! HAHAHA!! The religious types love war! They divide the united to expose emotions! They prey on the weak! If they laugh and call you names no one will look at them and all the cracks in the facade. They know we all don’t buy into the devli’s music anymore. Gotta fill the seats and give them more tax free money. They call us fags so we don’t see their own leaders doing their own research on alter boys!

  45. shayne


    How was this done? It would be nice to put this one to bed so faith and science can be joined once more,

    Why is this join necesary? Faith and science talk about different things.

    You dont need kirkegard to tell you that if you need a guy in a white lab coat, ESPECIALLY a guy in a white lab coat whos lying thru his teeth (creation ‘science’) , to reassure you that your ‘faith’ is strong, then your faith isnt really that strong at all.

    If you believe in god, stop looking for him in the gaps and look inside your self. There are PLENTY of scientists who find no conflict in physics, biology, geology, astronomy and their faith. One field talks about god, the other fields talk about science. Dont confuse them.

  46. CR

    Well… I lost yet another post to the ether. What is up with this blog software, anyway? Very inconsistent for a lot of people, to put it nicely.

  47. CR

    Some of the things Cecil said are intersting…”Have you thought originally about the Evolution vs Creation debate for yourself? Or have you just followed whatever your side of the argument has told you is true?” This part could apply to both creationists an evolutionists.
    But the rest of the post indicates that Cecil is more on the creationist side. The last part “Most people on the Creation side of the debate form poor arguments which can easily be laughed at by Evolutionists, but at least they are thinking freely and not just responding to brainwashing.” is laughable. When was the last time a creationist thought freely? If any thought goes against what the creationist’s religion preaches, it’s wrong. Period. What kind of free thinking does that allow?

    And I’ll even go so far as to point out that Christians in general, creationist or not, tend to be ‘brainwashed’ to some degree. How many times do they recite The Lord’s Prayer by rote in church? Make the sign of the cross at the first notice of something troubling?

    I’m not saying all Christians don’t think for themselves, but rather, not all people who favor science think that evolution is the infalible ‘Holy Grail’ of science.

  48. tacitus

    Cecil said: Most people on the Creation side of the debate form poor arguments which can easily be laughed at by Evolutionists, but at least they are thinking freely and not just responding to brainwashing.

    What?? You’re kidding right? Creationists don’t think freely. They cannot. Their hands are completely tied by what they believe the Bible tells them. When you have been told all your life that you cannot be a Christian if you don’t believe the Bible is the literal, inerrant word of God, what freedom do you have to explore the wonders of the Cosmos with your mind? Nothing can be allowed to contradict the Bible.

    If there is any brainwashing in science, it is completely swamped by the creationist brainwashing many church-goers hear from the pulpit on a weekly basis. Really, you should listen to it some time. Perhaps 10% of it reaches the relative sophistication of the propaganda put out by ICR oe AIG, the rest is so dumb even a grade schooler could pick it apart in five minutes. You know, things like claiming evolutionists believe that a cat could evolve from a dog, or that rocks can evolve legs and start walking around.

  49. Skepterist

    Leon, I agree. If we had any control whatsoever over the entire phenomenon of extrapolation and relativity, then time would move much slower when we are sitting at the bar drinking a brew after work than it does when we are at work, rather than the other way around. ;)

    Kent: A) The Miller-Urey experiments show without a doubt that over 500 million years, even at a 2% success rate, it would only take 10 million years (a mere fraction of the 4+ billion year the earth has existed) to produce amino acids, and subsequently, oxygen-producing life forms. And B) as we have said entirely too many times, if you would pay attention, this blog is not solely used for Bad Astronomy, but to fight against Bad Science. ESPECIALLY against those who bash science in the name of Bad Religion.

    Lincoln, bite my shiny metal ass.

    Cecil, are you kidding? You must be. I think you have things totally basackwards. But, don’t take my word for it. If one or ten of the other folks who frequent this blog don’t show you the error of your ways, then let me know, and I will gladly respond with minimum pain and maximum information.

    B-)

  50. tacitus

    CR: Just a quick hint. Before you click the Submit button after typing in a long post, select all of your text (Ctrl-A) and copy it to the clipboard (Ctrl-C). Then, if the post doesn’t show up, you can simply paste the text back into the text area (Ctrl-V) and resubmit.

    Doing this regularly has saved me countless hours of frustration!

  51. Marsh

    Cecil,

    I think you are rather missing the point of the arguments. The Evolutionist side is using well reasoned arguments that came not from us, but from people who have actually put in depth research and experimentation into the field. If we were to come up with our own arguments on a whim without any substantial knowledge of the field we would most likely be dead wrong.

    This debate isn’t about being creative, it is about having the facts on your side. He has, in fact, presented well reasoned scientific refutation of what was said. Believing in these is no more brainwashing than being able to say 1+1=2. You learned that even before grade school, but have you ever in your life just decided to doubt it.

    Being forced to come up with new arguments constantly with only the flimsiest of evidence to back them without ever stopping to consider that you are probably wrong in the matter is a surer sign of brainwashing than using the same arguments over and over again, especially if those arguments have yet to be refuted by other evidence.

  52. CR

    tacitus, thanks, but I did that and still managed to lose the post. Well, not exactly. I kept getting repeated “Cannot find server” messages, and then I finally got to the board after clicking submit, but my post didn’t show up. This happened a few months ago (when I first started copying my posts before submitting), and when I tried to re-submit by pasting my copied post, I’d get a “You already submitted that comment” message, even though the comment never showed up on the blog.

    Anyhoo, I typed my ‘frustration with the software’ message as a test to see if I could post anything else. When it worked, I pasted my original post and re-submitted it. Hooray, it worked that time!

    But hey, to anyine else having problems, try what tacitus suggested! When it works, it’s a great way to avoid having to re-type alot of stuff.

    Now, back to the topic!

  53. P.K.

    Mario: as opposed to believing in a small, pathetic, vindictive atheist poster on a meaningless comment thread? Tough call.

  54. MoonBastard

    Bill, earlier up on the list said most of the planets oxygen came from plants and there wasn’t much before it. What actually happened was cyanobacteria and other early lifeforms’ waste was Oxygen, which was the first pollution on earth. While plants did produce more, they were not the first.

  55. I’m not going to argue one way or another about Creationism. I will say that I, personally, am a Creationist – but not in the “common” sense. I’m no astronomer, I’ve only taken a couple of classes in Astronomy and done some reading on my own time. Nothing that weighs out the issues surrounding Creationism/Evolution.

    For the love of Astronomy, I love hearing theories on how things formed, how this or that developed, heck, even how species evolve (gasp!). I believe in a God that loves us and that, for whatever reason, he created us. That statement alone does not mean I am a staunch advocate of a week-long creation period with no evolution following.

    I am really tired of moronic voices for Creationism being heard (such as in this article). I’m tired of Creationism being linked with the easily-manipulated, “this is what pastor bob told me last week at church camp”. (Stop the straw man attacks.) I’m tired of the finger pointing (on both sides). I believe in Creation, but I believe we (mankind) are discovering more and more HOW things were creating/evolved under the laws of physics set forth by a God. (I would like to think there is a GUT that God knows and is enjoying watching our species come to his conclusion.)

    Fanciful? Possibly. Provable? Hardly. Will I persuade you one way or another? I don’t really care, I do hope that you realize there are intelligent, non-finger-pointing Creationists out here that don’t swallow every tidbit of information (propaganda?) fed them by other Creationists/Evolutionists.

    Can’t we all just get along and further our scientific understanding with good, factual discoveries instead of bickering about what is/is not permissible into our worldviews?

  56. tacitus

    Tommy, you sound like a theistic evolutionist, which is a very different animal to the young-earth creationists BA usually calls out on this message board. Yes, if you call yourself a plain-old creationist, you will get lumped in with those others more often than not, and I can see how that would get very frustrating, but the target of BA’s ire is not directed at people like you.

    I’m tired of Creationism being linked with the easily-manipulated, “this is what pastor bob told me last week at church camp”. (Stop the straw man attacks.)

    Sorry, but I have listened to too many sermons on American Christian TV and radio containing ridiculous and nonsensical attacks on evolution and an old Earth/Universe to believe that good Christian folks aren’t being manipulated into agreeing with their pastors that those “unBiblical” theories are dangerous and stupid. And I have heard many congregations snickering and laughing as their pastor lampoons evolution with ridiculous and insulting caricatures of the theory.

    Can’t we all just get along and further our scientific understanding with good, factual discoveries instead of bickering about what is/is not permissible into our worldviews?

    Sure, so long as the creationist movement stays out of our schools in its attempt to subvert the science being taught there (which is bad enough as it is). What are we supposed to do when a student objects to a teacher saying that the Earth is over 4 billion years old? Should we agree that the student’s view that the Earth is only 6,000 years old is a valid scientific theory so that we can all just get along? If you place all the scientific theories that conflict with creationism off limits in an effort to get along, there would be barely any physical or biological sciences left for us to work with.

    There is a huge difference from saying that God created the Universe in a way we may one day be able to divine through scientific discovery (which is what I think you are saying) and saying God created the Universe in six days, 6,000 years ago as stated in the Bible, and all science that does not conform to that worldview is dead wrong.

    Science cannot co-exist with the latter worldview. Science simply does not work that way.

  57. bassmanpete

    Can’t we all just get along and further our scientific understanding with good, factual discoveries instead of bickering about what is/is not permissible into our worldviews?

    No, because there have already been good factual discoveries too numerous to mention that YECs deny. Plus they would love to impose their beliefs upon everyone else by way of a theocracy.

  58. Darth Robo

    Hey Phil, you can’t link to talkorigins, doncha know? Along with PT and talkreason, (according to contrarian) they’re all run by just one single “closed-minded fanatic”. Apparently. LONG LIVE ID!

    ;)

  59. Gaijin51

    Doesn’t there come a point where serious scientists should just ignore YECs and other Woos? They can keep spouting fallacies forever, but don’t we have better uses of our time than to patiently refute each one?

    I suppose that it is good training for rookie skeptics, to hone their fallacy detectors, but eventually one tires of the repetition and futility (because pointing out the fallacies doesn’t have a discernable effect).

  60. andy

    Gaijin51: the point presumably comes when they stop trying to force beliefs in opposition to reality down everyone’s throats at every opportunity through the legal system.

  61. What bothers me is that scientists have to spend so much time making arguments against these wingnuts. I hate to think how much valuable research time has been squandered to explain the obvious. Sadly, the wingnuts will never be convinced, so one would think we could ignore them. But when crazy people have a say in policymaking, this is what you get.

  62. khazar

    I’d say Creationists have a conflict of interest in studying any science.

    “No apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.”

  63. Mark

    This is what makes people into atheists. It’s people spouting creationist garbage that makes me want to puke.

    Just because I am a religious person does not mean I am an idiot and take the bible literally. Yes there are some major events in the bible that have been verified that they did in fact occur. Accuracy of the written text not withstanding considering they do not have the level of understanding of the world we do now. But as for taking everything as FACT it is ridiculous.

  64. Nathan

    You write that the Answers in Genesis organization is evil. Appealing to a concept such as evil is antithetical to your position as a non-creationist. You might prefer to say “inefficient” or “deluded” or something of that nature. Leave morality out of the equation when you are taking the position of an atheist. To a true athiest, there is no ultimate morality, merely efficiencies and optimal paths to a goal, however temporary that goal may be.

    In fact, to be so hostile against creationists is an inefficient use of the limited amount of time you have on this planet, unless you do it merely for your own entertainment. Attempting to ally others to one position or another, as a true atheist, is ultimately pointless; nothing has meaning anyway. In the end, it all gets burned up and is lost forever.

  65. Daffy, faith and science were together at the begining, if you can get a hold of the book “Gods in the Sky” by professor Alan Chapman, he goes into this in great detail. If you recall, Capernicus was actually a Roman Catholic Priest.

    In fact, for at least the RC faith there is some co-operation as the Vatican has it’s own observatory which regularly makes contributions to science.

  66. Daffy

    I think I didn’t make myself clear, Sticks. I realize some early scientists were Christians…Bacon pretty much invented scientific method and was a Christian. Many of them believed in Astrology, too. Does that mean science and astrology should go hand in hand?

    I mean, come on, The Catholic Church used to imprison, torture and murder people for using science. I can only wonder where we would be today without the church’s influence slowing things down. This is revisionist history at its worst.

  67. Daffy

    Nathan,

    Apparently you need fear of retribution to behave in a moral fashion. I, for one, do not. Saying atheists are amoral is the exact opposite of the truth.

    Who is more moral? An atheist who does not murder because it’s wrong? Or a Christian who does not murder because he is afraid of punishment?

  68. And the lunatic fringe marches on.

    This just in today:

    ‘Mark of the Beast’- Unmasking its Mystery

    I publish these press releases sometimes because we need to see how these people think. Very sad, indeed.

    They’re using fear to govern their flocks. Sound familiar?

  69. It’s both sad and, in a cruel way, amusing that some people should mistake an inability to understand science as an exercise in debunking.

    What folks of this ilk really need to understand is this: THE UNIVERSE DOES NOT FUNCTION IN A WAY NECESSARILY INTUITIVE TO APES.

    This is the basis of the “common sense” trajectory of argument — a poor litmus considering how our very limited sense of common sense is calibrated by our short history as a race in one tiny corner of space. The scale is the world is beyond the imagination of the African Savannah.

    When a lack of understanding equates incoherence of the object of criticism, we’re all doomed.

    Love,
    Cheeseburger Brown
    http://cheeseburgerbrown.com

  70. DJ

    1 mile 5280 feet = 63360 inches

    At a rate of 1.5 inches per yer it would take 42240 years for the moon to float 1 mile a way from us….

    The estimated age of the earth is 4.6 billion years old so
    4,600,000,000 / 42240 = 108901.5151515151..etc
    the moon is currently 238,857 miles from us, that would make it 129,955 miles 4.6 billion years ago.. but then you have tides and such affecting all this…

  71. Daffy

    Gary,

    The Thought Police come in many guises. Your link was frightening. Make no mistake: the YEC nonsense is just the tip of the iceberg; if they succeed with that, they will move on to the next…with the ultimate goal a religious dictatorship.

    This is not paranoid speculation; I worked with those people in the 1970s (I was very hungry), and that is EXACTLY what they want. “What we need is a military coup,” was said to me back then a locally prominent religious broadcaster (I can’t name him, because I have no documentation).

    Truthfully, I don’t think they will ever accomplish this…as long as good people stay alert.

  72. Daffy, I think I confused things here

    Alan Chapman’s treatise goes back before the start of Christianity into really ancient times, and yes astrology did play a part sort of, if you consider it a religion.

    In order for the high priests to get key dates right for the festivals, they needed to make observations, which was an early form of scientific data gathering. (This supposition holds even with evolution) So at that time faith and “science” were together.

    It can be argued that astronomy does owe it’s existance to astrology, even though astrology is bunk and does not work. Most of the early astronomers were employed as astrologers. Once Astronomy broke free, it was able to soar away to the proper science it is today, leaving that pseudo science / religion astrology behind.

    Moving forward into the Christian era, we were taught that the early church fathers considered that it was their duty, not only to study the Bible, but God’s second book, the book of nature and so studied natural philosophy, which would later become modern science.

    What the RC church did with Galileo was an abomination, especially as the geocentric system owed more to Ptolomy than the Bible. People picked up on phenomenal language, which we all still use today, like sunset and sunrise etc, to try and make the Bible agree with Ptolomy. My point about the RC church, is that today it has cleaned up it’s act, and actively contributes to science through the work at the Vatican Observatory. I beleive the former director there even spoke out against that theological dead end, Intelligent Design

    Science and Faith did co-exist and can co-exist, unfortunately the question of origins seems to remain one of the last road blocks in reconcilliation.

  73. Daffy

    Sticks, your thoughts are well reasoned (if you don’t mind me saying) and I am enjoying this discussion.

    Still, I have to make a couple of points:

    You said, “It can be argued that astronomy does owe it’s existance to astrology, even though astrology is bunk and does not work. Most of the early astronomers were employed as astrologers. Once Astronomy broke free, it was able to soar away to the proper science it is today, leaving that pseudo science / religion astrology behind.”

    I would suggest the same thing may be said of taking the Bible literally, and science. A generalized “faith” is a different thing…but is still the opposite of science, which rejects belief with no evidence.

    “Science and Faith did co-exist and can co-exist, unfortunately the question of origins seems to remain one of the last road blocks in reconcilliation.”

    That is the only one people are generally talking about. The conflicts between the Bible and observable reality are many (the value of pi is one example); Creation is the only one people are all upset about. I wonder why?

    Btw, I am not exactly an atheist. Just for the record.

  74. Very good article, thank you. Revisionists self-confidence never cease to amaze me… Although I’m not sure we have that kind of problem in Europe, this is becoming serious.

  75. Rob

    I checked out the ADS on Lisle. There is a Jason P. Lisle, who doesn’t appear to have published anything since his PhD in 2004 but had 4 refereed papers (2 ApJ, 1 PASP, one Solar Physcs) prior to that (there is also a John T. Lisle, but the papers can be disentangled).

    He does not appear to have ever worked as a professional astrophysicist (except at Answers in Genesis, and I’m not entirely sure that counts), although he was a grad student in solar physics. Calling him an ‘astrophysicist’ seems somewhat misleading (but not surprising).

  76. Darth Robo

    Nathan candidate for undercover fundie? Anyway…

    “astronomy does owe it’s existance to astrology”

    Don’t think I agree with that one, sticks. While both may at the time have been considered to be the same thing by the people who did it, it would be more accurate to say that astrology was born out of astronomy and a wild imagination.

  77. Scott

    Perhaps some of the Creationist-supporters need a reminder of the agenda of the Creationist movement:

    http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

    The Wedge document very clearly spells out their intention:
    “· To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
    · To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.”

    In short, their goal is the complete destruction of science. With that as their “Governing Goal” what does it matter if they lie a little bit along the way? For that matter, how can they even AFFORD to be honest … at ALL?

  78. Gary Ansorge

    The opposition to atheistic rationalism as being w/o moral guidance is spurious. Even chimps have a survival dictated ethic, though it is doubtful they conceptualize it. In other words, the imprecation to not kill(members of your own tribe) leads to survival of the tribe.

    Long before the bible(old testament version), people developed behavioral guidelines, which are ingrained in our genetics. These genetic predispositions to a “moral” pattern of behavior enable our survival. When we developed writing, they became ethical abstractions, set in stone, authorized by some higher power that no one could refute.

    We are not the only species smart enough to mourn our deceased. For all I know, even elephants may have some desire to believe they will all be together in some heaven,,,but the desire to believe in such doesn’t make it true.

    We are NOT killer apes,,,we ARE predator apes and like other predators we kill for food and to protect out tribe, but tolerate our own, even when they are obviously twits. Even the great carnivores protect their young and members of their pride. I doubt they received this “moral” teaching from on high,,,indiscriminant killers would not long survive as a species.

    Perhaps L. Ron Hubbard had the right idea, in trying to create a rational religion.
    ( I know, he started the whole Scientology thing to make gobs of money).
    People seem to have some need to believe in a “higher” power. Probably comes from bowing to the tribal leaders, believing they have a pipeline to some higher intellectual power that will save the tribe.

    Gary 7

  79. Alec

    I think that religion can only survive in our ever changing world of scientific progress if it becomes self aware. Religion is not an explanation for what we already know, it is for the unknown: the philosophical implications of why are we alive, how are we aware, and who we are. The bible is a book written by man, and it can be taken in a figurative sense to mean whatever you want, but it should not be taken literally. Religious people have to see religion as a pastime and not as a way of life.

    If I was religious I would just say that I believe that god is the reason why I am self-aware, he is the one who gave me my soul, and he breathed life into me. Couldn’t they just adapt the interpretation of the bible to fit with the creation of the universe (the big bang was god?). The bible is a group of stories that have value to these people, but unless they are aware it is a book, they are doomed. The bible is just a 1000-6000 year old book which has not released new editions since the invention of science itself.

    What would you say if I came to class with a science book from the 1800s and tried to apply it to today’s world? Now imagine using a book over 1500 years old, with no scientific basis, that will never be updated, and actually believing it.

    It is just unfair that these religious nuts are so stubborn about their beliefs that they scramble to fit the world to religion. Whereas science uses to world, meticulously pieces together facts to create theories and laws, always checking itself for errors and amending its theories. Science does all the work, while faith smuggly sits in the corner pointing out small inconsistencies in the scientific record as evidence for their gospel. It is to the point now where they will point to a small inconsistency and claim it debunks all of science. Even correctly disproving a small fact does not prove any alternate theory.

    The more scientists piece it together, the more religion’s case falls apart. Luckily, science itself does evolve, and religion plays a role in this evolution. Without critics (‘peers’ if you will) to point out possible flaws and errors, science could not itself become so advanced. Religion does not benefit from criticism like science does, and the harder they struggle to keep adam and eve at the helm of their ark, the more they allow the rest of us to benefit from these advancements.

    Suppose I put aside my toys from the 1980s in a time capsule. If I look at them everyday and play with them and talk to them, can I travel back in time? Absolutely not. Religion needs to step out of the time capsule, uncover its ears, and evolve, or it will cease to exist.

  80. Dave

    Phil, thanks for the article – I enjoyed it.

    It is interesting to see various comments attacking Christians as idiots and fools because some of them believe in a created young earth. I was under the impression that Christians were people who attempted to follow the teachings of Christ, a demonstrated historical figure, because of how he lived and what he taught about treating other people. Further, I don’t recall Jesus ever saying the earth was x number of years old.

    I think there is a confusion here between numerologists who take various bits of the Bible and then calculate the age of the earth and people who believe in Christ. Personally, I admire people who truly attempt to emulate Christ and his teachings because they make good neighbors and friends. I can say the same for Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and atheists from person experience. The problem is the people who decide they must tell us how we are to think and believe, rather than quietly demonstrating their beliefs with their lives.

    I think the difference between scientists and fanatical believers is that scientists hold their beliefs most loosely and know that these beliefs may change given new evidence. However, I might be wrong.

  81. changazn

    Alec, you are. . . stupid.

    What you think you KNOW, can never be proven.

    Yes, the Bible was written by man, but the men were writing it as God told them too.

    And whats with all this religion bashing? Evolution is also a religion. You BELIEVE that life was formed after an infinitesimal speck of nothing exploded 4.6 billion years ago and expanded faster than the speed of light and that the Earth was a gigantic rock after it cooled down and that chemicals caused rain to pound the earth for millions and millions of years and that life rose up from this ‘soup’.

    And the Bible is flawless, so why revise it? It was not written based on a man’s idea, It is the word of God.

    Religious nuts? Stubborn? YOU THINK YOU CAME FROM A ROCK.

    Science does not use ‘facts’ to create theories and laws. It uses inferences to make its theories. Scientists are NOT piecing anything together. If you think they are, give me an example.

    Radio carbon dating? Living snails have been radio carbon dated at 27,000 years old.

    And whats that about going back in time in a time capsule? The belief in God is not the only ‘religion’. As stated above, Evolution is also a religion. You can not prove that there was ever an infinitesimal speck the size of nothing at the beginning of time 4.6 billion years ago. If I ask you, you’d say “I dunno. . .”, and after that, I know you’d ask me where God came from, and I dunno either, but that’s what make EVERYTHING a religion.

  82. changazn: Even an child knows that the theory of evolution does not even attempt to explain how life started not to mention the Big Bang (WHICH IS NOT AN EXPLOSION).

    I think you need to read less bible and more science books because you are way off.

  83. Stop taking the Lord’s name in vain, and stop bearing false witness. If you actually read the Bible, instead of worhiping it as an idol, you would know that those are sins.

    By the way, the Bible itself says that it isn’t written by God.

    Repent while you still can. Fundamentalism is just another word for devil worship.

  84. Skepterist

    John W, to whom are you preaching? Where does it say in the bible that it isn’t written by God, and if so, why do so many denominations preach the bible as “The Word of God?”

    changazn, evolution is no more a religion than gravity or magnetism is. I don’t have to “believe” in gravity. I can prove it to you by throwing a rock into the air. Its only slightly more difficult to prove that live evolves, but only because of the lifespans of most living organisms. Perhaps you can take a lesson or three in biology. And even after you are proven wrong, I still wouldn’t call you stupid. Just ignorant.

    B-)

  85. Tom

    Which translation of the bible is the word of God?

    On a serious note, does anyone here know of a good rebuttal to CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity?

  86. Irishman

    Regarding biogenesis (i.e. how did life originate), the Miller-Urey experiment is famous, but hardly the only scientific study. Currently there is active research into the topic.

    Just watched Nova Science Now from a couple of weeks ago. One scientist is putting simple organic molecules into high pressure and heat environments (i.e. sealed in a gold tube and placed in a chamber), then after a week or so, opening and placing the results in water. Bingo – self-organizing structures of complex organic molecules. Still a far cry from creating cells from scratch, but no biologist assumes that cells were a quick, simple development from organic molecules.

    A previous episode discussed other research, including how some forms of clay can serve as scaffolds for oranic molecules to form. Again, hints at how order and complexity develop via natural processes.

    changazn said:
    > And whats with all this religion bashing? Evolution is also a religion.

    Incorrect. You saying it is does not make it so.

    > You BELIEVE that life was formed after an infinitesimal speck of nothing exploded 4.6 billion years ago and expanded faster than the speed of light and that the Earth was a gigantic rock after it cooled down and that chemicals caused rain to pound the earth for millions and millions of years and that life rose up from this ’soup’.

    First off, in the strict sense none of that is “Evolution”. Evolution deals with how life diversified and spread across Earth. I suppose one could extend “Evolution” to talk about biological development all the way back, but scientists don’t use it that way. But yes, what you are describing is the naturalistic development of the universe, from origins to life on Earth.

    Second, what you are describing is a somewhat oversimplified version of the results of scientific investigation. We “BELIEVE” in this because it’s what the data shows, in the same way we “believe” objects fall because of gravity, or light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

    Part of your problem is the use of the word “believe”. There is much confusion over that word. Some people use it as a synonym for faith. However, this is misleading. Some people try to distinguish belief from knowledge, however that is an intricate philosophical distinction. Rather, consider that a belief is “an idea that is held to be true”. Note that my definition of belief does not indicate the basis for the determination of true, only the conditional judgment.

    There are two main methods of determining truth that are the standards being argued. One is Faith – belief despite evidence. The other is Empiricism – following the data. Science is founded on empiricism, not faith. For me to “believe” in the Big Bang, universal expansion, Earth coalescing out of the dust cloud, cooling of Earth leading to complex chemistry that eventually led to life, does not equate to me holding these beliefs based upon faith. I hold them based upon evidence, and am open to reevaluating them based upon more evidence.

    Religion is a belief structure that relies upon Faith rather than evidence. So by definitions, belief in the findings of science is not a religion.

    > YOU THINK YOU CAME FROM A ROCK.

    Genesis 2:7 – the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,

    Apparently, you do, too.

    > Radio carbon dating? Living snails have been radio carbon dated at 27,000 years old.

    Cite, please.

  87. Daffy

    Changazn,

    “Yes, the Bible was written by man, but the men were writing it as God told them too.”

    Please provide any evidence for this statement.

  88. Oh man, all the no-true-atheist malarkey has been trotted out. *barf*

    “Alec, you are. . . stupid.

    What you think you KNOW, can never be proven.

    Yes, the Bible was written by man, but the men were writing it as God told them too.”

    The irony is strong with this one.

    I like how creationist wingnuts try to denigrate proper science as a religion, without realizing how poorly it reflects on the nonsense they themselves believe in.

    Just another lame round of special pleading with a dash of tu quoque fallacy.

  89. tacitus

    LOL – I believe changazn has managed to confirm just about every stereotype us regular folks believe about young-Earth creationists in one short message.

    Well done, chan! That was so good, I half suspected that you are just a troll. So hard to tell with YECs.

  90. MattFunke

    SLC: Since Dr. Plait has brought up the subject of Russell Humphries, he might want to consider refuting the latters’ claim that gravitational time dilation could lead to a 10,000 year old earth being consistent with galaxies billions of lightyears away.

    If distant galaxies being visible were the only piece of evidence that the Earth is old, I might give the idea of a young-Earth-within-an-old-Universe some processing time on the old brain. It isn’t, not by a long shot, so I won’t.

    There are many evidences on the Earth that the Earth is old. No isotope with a half-life shorter than 75 million years exists in detectable levels on this planet (unless it is the daughter of a much longer-lived isotope). Large formations exist that cannot have formed quickly (e.g., the Great Coral Reef). Continuous records of various processes go back many, many years (e.g., ice layers in Greenland and Antarctica). We see formations in the geologic column that could not have formed underwater. Investigation of rugose coral indicates shorter days in the distant past in a way consistent with the Earth’s slowing through tidal interaction with the Moon.

    That ought to get you started.

    Yakko: isn’t gravity an inverse square force?

    Ye, it is. But the Moon is receding because of tides, which is an inverse cube force (being gravitational force integrated with respect to distance). Worse, it’s as a result of tidal friction, which is very difficult to predict. The current recession rate of 1.5 inches per year is near maximum, according to NASA.

    Daffy: I did have a college astronomy professor, Fred Johnson, author of “Voyage into Astronomy,” who claimed that stars did indeed belch out planets.

    The Sun stays together in spite of the pressure created by its intense heat because of its overwhelming gravity. Do you remember if your professor had an explanation for why the planets didn’t dissipate under their own heat after the Sun flung them off?

    SteveT: I have heard it argued by creationists that radioactive dating gives the wrong answer for the age of the Earth (etc), because the atomic decay rates were NOT constant in years past.

    Here’s the thing. It’s fairly easy to show that the rate of the Moon’s recession must have been different in the past. We’ve submitted radioactive materials to every test we can think of, and nothing alters the speed of their decay. Which do you think is more reasonable as a metric to use for aging things?

    I can just picture the comment above being “cut-and-pasted” to some creationist website with an accompanying crow of triumph at having finally caught a scientist admitting that they (the creationists) have been right all along!

    Sticks: One question I have for the anti-YEC faith camp, if that makes sense, how do they square with both Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11 with the commonly accepted timescales for evolution.

    Simple. The Sabbath doesn’t always refer to one day in seven, even in the Bible. There were Sabbath years, for example. God was setting up the one-in-seven pattern, not saying that it took Him a week to create everything.

    Note that the seventh “day” never ends in Genesis. In fact, Hebrews 4 tells us that it’s still going.

    Sticks: In those passages the Hebrew word used for day is locked into the 24 hour period by the phrase in Genesis 1 “Morning and Evening”

    Not true. The same word for “day” (yom in Hebrew) is modified by “morning and evening” (singular in the Hebrew, but not in English translations) in Daniel 8:26 to refer to the contents of a vision that goes from Daniel’s time to the end of the world — at least 3000 years by any metric. “Morning and evening” is a common way to refer to long, indefinite stretches of time in Hebrew (and in all Semitic languages, for that matter).

    Sticks: One of the commenter’s on the editorial also mentioned the one about sin and death, which seems quite a powerful argument, so I suspect a reconcilliation is not due anytime soon.

    I’ve refuted those comments on that page. The relevant passages never say that death in general did not exist before Adam sinned.

    tacitus: “How do you know? Were you there? Why couldn’t conditions have been different in the past? We know Noah’s Flood changed everything…”

    I know this isn’t your argument, but in a sense, you were there, because there is here. In much the same way a forensic scientist reconstructs a crime from the evidence left behind, we can reconstruct the Earth’s history using the clues left for our examination.

    Cecil: Most people on the Evolution side of the camp have not thought critically about the science – it has been taught to you that way since you were a third grader and you have never doubted it once.

    I can’t speak for most, but it’s certainly not true for me. I was a young-Earth creationist for most of my life. I’m now an evolutionist — that is to say, a regular old scientist — who believes in an old Earth.

    changazn: Evolution is also a religion.

    Yes. Just like Utah is also an overweight hamster. Evolution is a theory subject to revision in the light of fact and evidence. Religion is not.

    chanagazn: Radio carbon dating? Living snails have been radio carbon dated at 27,000 years old.

    Cite, please.

  91. MattFunke

    Cleaning up some sloppinesses, though I’m sure I won’t catch them all:

    Me: the Moon is receding because of tides, which is an inverse cube force

    Ack. Tides aren’t a force. They’re the result of a force.

    And sorry this got misattributed; it was stated by SteveT, not me, though I totally agree.

    I can just picture the comment above being “cut-and-pasted” to some creationist website with an accompanying crow of triumph at having finally caught a scientist admitting that they (the creationists) have been right all along!

    Unfortunately, there’s little you can do about quote mining.

  92. 1 Corinthians 7:12.

    “Word of God” is an honorific phrase. Small-o orthodox Christians believe that the Bible has a special and unique place in the relationship between God and Man. But the idea that it was somehow verbally dictated to a host of amanuenses playing Tiro to God’s Cicero is naïve at best, at worst, just one more excuse for the prideful to say, “I’m better than you,” to the world.

    Fundamentalism (where it is not the product of innocent ignorance or feeble-mindedness) is wicked and un-Christian, and I’m tired of having the name of my religion dragged through the mud by these people.

  93. Rob

    lol Nathan…. :)

    Not an astronomer here but enjoyed reading the articles and responses.

    One thing I note for sure in all your discussion is the unwillingness to acknowledge holes in one side of the argument by those who propagate that argument.

    For me, reading to all the theories of the facts of evolution without also hearing those who vouch for it be realistic and list out the problems we also encounter seems to me to resemble very much the ‘hands on ears’ approach that the author of this article very much resents!

    I do know this universe is amazing and incredible and for us to have found answers that completely satisfy all the variables is not likely..

    ..whole truth please!

  94. Daffy

    MattFunke,

    “The Sun stays together in spite of the pressure created by its intense heat because of its overwhelming gravity. Do you remember if your professor had an explanation for why the planets didn’t dissipate under their own heat after the Sun flung them off?”

    Only vaguely…had something to do with the lower temp of sunspots, I think. In his theory, they were flung off as solid bodies, I remember that.

  95. Buzz Parsec

    Matt – Do I understand correctly that the bible says the 7th day, the sabbath, hasn’t yet ended? If so, then in honor of the sabbath, I should be resting and not working… I and my hero (Wally from Dilbert) thank you!

  96. tacitus

    Matt, I understand your point about us “being there, i.e. here” but creationists will always insist that is not good enough. They claim you must have eyewitness evidence (despite the fact that it is often among the most unreliable form of evidence available!) and that since only God was there, the Bible is the only valid eyewitness testimony for prehistoric times.

    I once asked a creationist what he would believe if aliens stopped by Earth and dropped off video recordings they’d made of Earth’s billion-year history. He quite honestly replied that he would believe that the recordings were faked.

  97. MattFunke

    Buzz Parsec: Do I understand correctly that the bible says the 7th day, the sabbath, hasn’t yet ended? If so, then in honor of the sabbath, I should be resting and not working… I and my hero (Wally from Dilbert) thank you!

    Go for it. Call it your religious conviction or something, based on one man’s interpretation of one translation of one chapter of one book. Of course, on that basis, no one would call it a serious religious conviction.

    Oh, wait… ;)

    tacitus: They claim you must have eyewitness evidence (despite the fact that it is often among the most unreliable form of evidence available!) and that since only God was there, the Bible is the only valid eyewitness testimony for prehistoric times.

    Which evidence would you hope would sway the jury in your trial for murder: the eyewitness who says he saw you do it, or the forensic evidence that indicates you couldn’t possibly have done it? Is it simply the case that the eyewitness testimony is stronger? Should they both be given equal weight?

    For a literary example, consider To Kill a Mockingbird. A poor fellow is being tried for a crime he couldn’t possibly have committed because of a serious handicap. “Eyewitnesses” say that they saw him do it. He is convicted. There is no doubt left in the reader’s mind that the verdict is grossly unjust and that the jury is at fault. If eyewitness testimony is the only kind that “counts”, how could the jury possibly have been at fault for an unjust verdict? The jurors were acting on the basis of the best available evidence!

    tacitus: I once asked a creationist what he would believe if aliens stopped by Earth and dropped off video recordings they’d made of Earth’s billion-year history. He quite honestly replied that he would believe that the recordings were faked.

    That’s when you know you’re talking to someone to whom evidence doesn’t matter.

    No matter what you believe, I think it’s valuable to ask yourself: What would I need to see or understand in order for me to accept that what I currently believe is not true?

  98. Alan B.

    For those of you wondering about the lunar recession figures, here’s how AiG explains it: “For the technical reader: since tidal forces are inversely proportional to the cube of the distance, the recession rate (dR/dt) is inversely proportional to the sixth power of the distance.” I have only ever seen this to be asserted, never justified. They put this into a footnote as if it were common, accepted knowledge. I doubt that any of the many, many other creationists who spread the lunar recession argument understand the math, much less ever bother to check it.

  99. MattFunke

    John W Kennedy: 1 Corinthians 7:12.

    Just to play devil’s advocate: What about 1 Corinthians 7:10 (not too far above it)?

  100. djlactin

    here’s a very interesting article that uses fossil evidence (fossilized tidal flats!) to show how close the moon was during the archaean epoch.

    http://scienceblogs.com/highlyallochthonous/2007/07/where_the_moon_was_at_32_billi.php#more

    way cool stuff.

  101. Skepterist

    John W Kennedy, darn. I was hoping for something a little less subjective. But then again, most of the Bible is subject to interpretation.

    Its just a little strange that you would say the Bible is not the word of God, when every modern day major religious denomination would say otherwise. In the Lutheran faith, they say, “The Word of the Lord” after reciting bible passages. Likewise in the Presbyterian church. Baptist ministries shout on television that the Bible is the actual voice of God. If you are saying that these “small-o” churches are dragging your religion through the mud, then I’d say you have a lot to complain about, since over 50% of Christians in the US belong to a Protestant branch.

    Again, we are sidetracked from the point of this discussion, which is about Young Earth Creationists and their attacks on science, not about Christianity or religion in general. However, I think that the YEC’s all start out learning from the mainstream religious groups, then get led astray somewhere along the line. I can see how that could easily happen whenever you teach children that your religion is correct, and everyone else’s is wrong.

    B-)

  102. Dewes

    There is indeed a rogue planet, and it has a little prince over it!

  103. mcveety

    The reason I wrote that I did not want to start an argument was simply that I didn’t want one to develope. There was no reason for it. I also have a unidentified person sending me hate mail. I simply wanted to state my case and have a take it or leave it mentality. Instead some have referred to thier reproductive organs in their rebuttles, lowered themselves to insults, and have not objectively looked at all of the evidence.

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