New creationist tactic: telling the truth?

By Phil Plait | October 14, 2009 11:00 am

Young Earth creationists can be sneaky. First, years ago, they loudly proclaimed their religious beliefs. Then when they got smacked hard in the courtrooms when they wanted to teach religion in schools, they evolved: they changed their snake oil to Intelligent Design and tried again.

And again they got whooped. ID was shown to be creationism in disguise — what some might call a bald-faced lie — so that again fundamentalists could attempt to teach religion in the classroom, despite the Constitution of the United States.

I have wondered aloud what they would do next. After all, when facts are slippery things, able to be misused as openly and ridiculously as so many creationists do, then clearly they won’t just give up. They’ll move on to the next deceptive technique.

And now I have to wonder if we’re starting to see it. Could this new tactic be: telling the truth?

Greg Fish of the blog World of Weird Things clued me in to a post on the execrable Answers In Genesis website talking about black holes. In this essay, creationist astronomer Jason Lisle discusses the topic with clarity and actual accuracy. He uses decent analogies, doesn’t let them run away from him, and makes a good case for the existence of black holes.

Wha wha whaaaa?

Of course, in the end, he says this:

Black holes provide an observable confirmation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Such physics is the basis for several young-universe cosmologies, which allow light from the most distant galaxies to reach earth in thousands of years or less. Scientific discoveries, such as black holes, are not only interesting, but they give us a small glimpse into the thoughts of an infinite God (Psalm 19:1).

Well, he certainly drops the ball there, letting it fall down (ha! haha!) a black hole. Cosmologies which abuse basic physics to change enough to allow a young Universe tend to be wrong in their basic assumptions.

But the point here is that the article itself is pretty much factually correct, making me wonder what’s going on here. Maybe the folks at AiG are hoping that by writing an article not filled with fallacious reasoning, they’ll reap the benefits of Google links (though not from me, since I put a rel=nofollow in the above link to the site). It’s hard to say. But given the sheer amount of nonsense on their site, it’s hard to ascribe noble motives to them.

And let me add an irony: on that page is a description of dark matter. I find that humorous, because dark matter was originally proposed to solve the mystery of how individual galaxies in clusters can move so quickly but still stay bound to the cluster itself. The gravity from the visible matter in the cluster was too weak to hold on to such rapidly-moving galaxies, and therefore, if the clusters are to not fly apart over the age of the Universe, there must be invisible matter holding them together.

So dark matter was originally proposed because we know the Universe is old. Of course, now we know that dark matter has influence all over the place, and would have been found even if we hadn’t studied clusters. But the irony still tickles me.

Anyway, what do we do here? Well, if creationists want to actually describe the Universe for what it really is, then I guess we let them… as long as they do so, pardon the pun, faithfully. But as soon as they step over that broad, broad line into territory clearly denied by the evidence, then they need to be called on it.

Eternal vigilance.

Comments (147)

  1. That was an excellent article, I got a kick out of the rel=no follow bit, way to stick it to them. I do find it odd that they would write such a truthful article, then completely throw it away at the end, but I guess they’ve got nothing left but to agree with what’s been proven, then attempt to throw a twist in at the end just to keep to their side. Either way, nice article, interesting stuff on the dark matter, I know close to nothing about a lot of that (I was looking at Hubble images before I ended up here), but it’s very interesting. I may have to bookmark the site and come back later, I’m definitely interested in the sciences beyond our planet, just never really find time to read up on them.

  2. We do, as you say — it’s what any reputable referee would do — call the writer on any fallacious thinking in their writing. Why let these fakegeeks slide just because they’re using some imaginary guy in the sky who allegedly screws with the laws of physics just for the hell of it as their excuse for showing wilful scientific ignorance? A correct paper with a lie in it is still suspicious and needs to be called out. A lie is a lie, no matter why the writer tells it.

  3. Best I can tell, black holes don’t directly violate their religious dogma, so there’s less incentive to invent nonsense about what they are or how they work, especially if they’re going to twist them into supporting a young universe. Sort of how they don’t deny the existence of radioactive decay, they just discard most of the conclusions from it and twist others to meet their agenda (e.g. polonium halos).

  4. Rob Moss

    I’d be wary. It could be an attempt to say, “Hey, this is what mainstream science says. Ask any scientist what they think.” It will make them look more credible so they can add enough of their creationist crap to still get their message across.

  5. “So dark matter was originally proposed because we know the Universe is old.”

    And I’m sure that a creationist would counter with an argument about dark energy seemingly driving the universe apart faster and faster even though dark energy is a function of space itself, light still travels at the same speed and an event that takes us billions of years to see, still happened billions of years ago. But then again, if they didn’t abuse and twist the facts, they would come up with the Standard Model at the end and they simply can’t have that…

    Once, I had a devoted YEC advocate make the argument that we can’t know the Earth is more than 6,000 years old because “time is relative” and “the speed of light is slowing down,” both statements physically hurting my brain as I read them. And yes, that really happened

  6. Jim

    “which allow light from the most distant galaxies to reach earth in thousands of years or less.”

    why is it so important to ignore the speed of light and prove a young earth? what exactly does it prove to them?

  7. Creationists have actually been doing this for awhile. They’ve been putting out a lot of pretty basic, factual stuff so that you’ll be lulled into a false sense of security and then not look to hard at their other crap. This website is a pretty good example, but it’s been around awhile.

    Additionally, if you look at the Creationist “journal” I summarized, most of their facts are more or less true, but they quibble about terms and draw really weird conclusions from it.

  8. tacitus

    This is actually fairly typical of AIG. They claim not to dispute “the facts,” which are, according to them, the things we can see with our own eyes as plainly evident and things that can be recorded through experimentation, they simply claim to have a different “interpretation” of the facts when it comes to anything that might appear to run counter to their young Earth creationist beliefs.

    Thus, as Naked Bunny mentions, black holes don’t directly violate their belief system — superficially anyway, which is more than enough for their purpose. Most of their readers don’t care to know the messy details like how long it would take to form a black hole, and since we can’t see that formation process with our own eyes, the millions or billions of years scientists claim was involved can be dismissed as “one interpretation”.

    If you take a look at other AIG and ICR articles that are not direct attacks on evolution or some other old-Earth theory you likely find that they likewise contain plenty of uncontroversial scientific information — especially when it comes to describing the basic facts of stars and planets, for example. Jupiter and Saturn are cool even if you don’t happen to explain how they might have formed and why there are so many craters on some of their moons.

    So this isn’t really anything new. They’ve been doing this for years, and will continue to do so long after they cease to be a threat to the American public education system.

  9. bald-faced lie

    huh. I always thought it was “bold faced”.

    What is a bald face?

  10. Nemo

    @Jim:

    why is it so important to ignore the speed of light and prove a young earth? what exactly does it prove to them?

    Why, the literal truth of Bible, of course. Bishop Ussher dated the beginning of the world to 4004 B.C.E., by counting up begats and such. The Jewish calendar gives a similar figure, with this being the year 5770 since the creation of the world.

    There are more reasons, too. They have a very cramped and narrow view of the Cosmos, which really only fits with a short timespan. If the Universe was created 14 billion years ago, and humans only maybe half a million years ago… well, it doesn’t really look like we’re the center and purpose of creation, does it? But if humans have been here since day six, that makes more sense, from their point of view.

  11. I’m hoping to not regret this.

    I am jumping in the conversation as a man of the Christian faith. I believe in God. I believe that He is indeed the creator. I can’t stand it when Christians screw up science. I hate it when people apply faith principles (largely about the unseen and unmeasurable) to the physical sciences (inherently seen and/or measurable). I get frustrated when I, as one who claims a certain belief, am asked to state as fact, those things which are neither proved, nor disproved, through the current body of knowledge available to us.

    Example One: Evolution vs. Creationism
    The creationist asserts that Evolution is wrong because God made everything just the way it is. They then do mental gymnastics to get around issues such as the fossil record, the dimensions of Noah’s Ark and the available species, etc.

    The evolutionist then takes the THEORY (emphasis intentional, please review Scientific Method, etc.) of Evolution and states it as fact, denying that there are any scientific issues at all: Carbon Dating is based on assumptions about the beginning state of carbon on earth and is wildly inaccurate, there is fossil evidence suggesting mutation of a species (modern birds resemble prehistoric), but very shaky evidence of new species creation (that I am aware of), etc.

    As a man of faith, I choose to believe God is/was involved. As a scientific thinker, I have to concede some points that a ‘fundamentalist’ might not. At the same time, is it really out of line to wait for conclusive evidence for a Theory? There are more than just these two theories out there, in fact, and none have the evidence required to get them over the theoretical hump. I am more than OK with that.

    Example 2: The whole Big Bang thing
    Creationists take issue with the big bang, etc. And the ‘young earth’ idea sure does slam into some scientific land-mines. Speed of light, for one. Pick your next dozen scientific inaccuracies. Drives me nuts.

    ‘Big Bangers’ (what do you call this school of thought?) again state, as fact, things that they believe to be true. This happened, then That, then this Other Thing, largely ignoring the truth that we have barely scratched the surface of this topic. We’ve not been studying it long, the data can be hard to come by (what with the thousands of years it takes to get observable data from a source — speed of light, etc) and ,our understanding of what is happening changes and expands frequently on this topic. Again, the Big Bang is a theory — a solid, evolving theory with a lot of weight to it, but still, a theory.

    I don’t bring all of this up to say “Stop picking on my friends”. You referenced a You Tube video where a gentleman suggested that Earth was the only place water existed and used that as evidence for God. Flawed science. Flawed logic. I’m not going to try and defend his science, because his science was awful.

    I don’t bring this up to say “You are wrong too”. The leading theories of the day are leading theories for a reason – the evidence is pointing in that direction. I’m not going to try and bend science to make my heart less nervous.

    I guess the reason I am bringing this up is two-fold:
    First, not all “believers” of a faith system have turned their back on science — and not all of us are afraid of it. I personally believe that God gave us brains in the hopes that we would use them. I also believe that science is an awesome way to use a brain.

    Second, is it possible that the “two sides” of this issue are wrestling with the uncertainty of it all? The mystery of it? The scientist doesn’t know all about the moon, so he looks at it, sends some folks up there, slams a couple of spacecraft into it, trying to figure it all out. I like that and I am into that. But these things we say we ‘know’ in science… so many are nothing more than really strong theories. The best option available, most of the time. But if we’re certain it’s the way it works, why are we doing all of this research?

    I guess what I am trying to say is this: my personal struggle has been with scientific thinkers who are as unwilling to admit that we don’t know as religious extremists are. The creationist says “God did this” when science clearly has called that into question. The scientific extremist says “this is what happened” when the evidence doesn’t fully support that conclusion. I am choosing the path of “let’s find out”.

    Sorry this got long, thanks for reading.

  12. Chris A.

    @TechSkeptic:

    I believe the original term was indeed “bald-faced lie,” as in the sort of lie told by someone too young to be capable of growing facial hair, and thus clumsily executed, e.g. “a monster ate all the cookies.”

  13. Charles

    Well, you’ve got to read this piece by the same author on AIG entitled “Does Distant Starlight Prove the Universe is Old?” It’s just crazy. Link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/does-starlight-prove

    It seems that the author, Jason Lisle, has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from University of Colorado. He’s even written a book called Taking Back Astronomy. The book is also online: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tba

    I’m up for a bit o’ astronomer fisticuffs. Perhaps you can toss him into a black hole, Phil.

  14. Minos

    Jon Voisey has it exactly right. It’s a common tactic in politics, too. Go on for a while about things everyone will agree with until your audience has lost enough focus to not notice the leap of logic you’re about to lay on them.

  15. mike burkhart

    Black holes disprove a young universe it takes billons of years for a large star to colapse into a black hole I would like to point out that the Catholic church no longer teaches that the world begian in 4004 bce or that it was created in 6 days in fact Pope John Paul the second said that the book of Genises is not a theory of human antherpolgy now I think that fundeamentlist let ther faith be chalged and so insteed of acomidateing science as many other Christans like me do they simply actack it and even claim that evelotion is some kind of conspircy agast the Christain fath ( wicth it is not) . O when I said that God created the universe to be a big puzele that astronomers have to continuealy solve I was trying to be philosophic the fact is I find the universe to be strange p.s. no one knows the mind of God

  16. When I attended the astronomy lecture at the Seattle Creation Conference last Friday, the lecturers wove a confusing hodge podge of various theories including “fast growth”, short cuts through space and time, and appeals to relativistic physics. It felt embarrassing just to listen to them.

    Pierre

  17. Given a long enough time line the Creationists will someday “rediscover” the theory of evolution. ;)

  18. Charles

    @Mike burkhart–a few periods would be in order. Antherpology? That’s not the half of it.

  19. “it takes billons [sic] of years for a large star to colapse [sic] into a black hole”

    Not always, but at least a few hundred million for a really enormous sun.

    Either way, the 6,000 year old estimate is based on little more than rough guesses. The Bible doesn’t actually try to provide an accurate chronology and now there’s even the question of whether Genesis is the beginning of the universe or the beginning of the narration by the Hebrew high priests where a previously uninhabitable world ruled by monsters is altered for human life.

  20. tacitus

    why is it so important to ignore the speed of light and prove a young earth? what exactly does it prove to them?

    Biblical literalism is the short answer. The longer answer can be explained in two parts:

    1) The argument goes that if you can’t trust one part of the Bible (i.e. Genesis) then how can you trust that the rest of the Bible, in particular the Resurrection of Jesus, is true? In other words, you can’t pick and choose. If you don’t believe the whole Bible, then you have no basis for believing any of it.

    2) Without a literal Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, and The Fall, there is no basis for the Doctrine of Original Sin, and thus the Resurrection of Jesus was unnecessary. If we are not fallen creatures then we do not need to be saved.

    These are the arguments made by fundamentalist Christians, and in particular young-Earthers. The fact that there are hundreds of millions of Christians who are perfectly happy in their faith even though they accept an old Earth and old Creation does not appear to register with them at all. In fact many YECs say that these people are not real Christians, and are not “saved”.

    While they claim that belief in the Bible is the foundation of their faith, my personal take is that Biblical literalism of this sort is a nothing more than convenient crutch. It places their faith ultimately not in God but in the Bible. They are so dependent upon the Bible being literally true that they would prefer to twist and warp everything else in the Universe to bring it into line with the Bible rather than admit that the possibility that the Bible is not 100% literally true.

  21. Brady Duga

    Oh intertubes, how I hate you! Having always assumed it was a bald-faced lie, I got curious and dug around a bit (’cause what else am I going to do at work?) and found a pretty good discussion (with actual references) here: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-bal2.htm

    Basically, both are used, but to avoid confusion do what the Brits do and say “barefaced lie”. Also, adopt their use of periods outside of quotes.

  22. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    @ TechSkeptic,

    From WikiAnswers:

    Q: Is the correct term “bold-face lie” or “bald-faced lie” or another variation?

    A: The correct term is bald-faced, and refers to a face without whiskers. Beards were commonly worn by businessmen in the 18th and 19th century as an attempt to mask facial expressions when making business deals. Thus a bald-faced liar was a very good liar indeed, and was able to lie without the guilt showing on his face.

    The more correct term is “bald-faced lie” or “bare-faced lie” (bare is more common in Great Britain). It refers to a “shameless” or “brazen” lie. One where the teller does not attempt to hide his face while telling it.

    It’s just the last 5 yrs or so that “bold” has come into usage. It refers to typeface. It is used metaphorically in speech. In the same way that a typesetter uses bold face type to highlight specific text and set it apart, a bold face lie stands out in such a way as to not be mistaken for the truth.


  23. Lawrence

    13. Bill – you are on the right track, but I think you make the mistake by putting “absolutism” on both sides. Science recognizes that there is still much that we don’t know – hence its ability to adapt, change, and put out either new theories or make corrections/adds to existing theories.

    YEC and other Christian Fundamentalists do not adapt, change or other revise their doctrine – “God Did It” is pretty much the answer for everything. Of course, over the last couple of thousand years, Science has explained quite a bit of what people used to say “God Did” like Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and all sorts of other natural processes.

    So, I would expect that over the next couple of thousand of years (if we are still around), quite a bit more that people claim “God Did” will get explained by new technologies, new ideas, and new evidence.

  24. North of 49

    Orac at Respectful Insolence has written several times about another version of this “tell the truth” ploy in reference to alternative-medicine “healers” and gurus. He mentions naturopaths as particularly guilty of this tactic, and Andrew Weil in person as one of its highest-profile, and therefore most dangerous, practitioners.

    The trick with these scammers is to start off offering up sensible advice, the kind you quite routinely get from your family doctor: quit smoking, drink in moderation, limit your fats and sugars, eat more fruits and vegetables, and get some exercise. The mark — sorry, patient — hearing this well-understood if not universally practiced good advice, is lulled into thinking (well, no, not “thinking”, precisely, just… lulled) that everything in the list is going to be as reality-based as the first bits, and it’s at that point that the woo is slipped in.

    Religious fundamentalists, New Agers, alties, and neo-conservative economists, pundits and politicians, all use this trick to one degree or another. I haven’t been able to figure out which group invented it first; perhaps it predates all of them. Or perhaps it’s just an attribute of that kind of organization or movement.

    The only thing I’m sure of is that those four groups have a great deal in common: they all, for example, have fantasy belief systems, all allow belief to trump evidence, all follow authoritarian figures that claim infallibility, all believe they are victims of vast conspiracies. I call them the Four Horsemen of the Endarkenment. And the media that gives them all a free pass? The stableboy.

  25. bigjohn756

    Phil(and everyone else, too), you need to subscribe to(free) and read Acts & Facts the magazine of the Institute for Creation Research. It is a beautiful magazine crammed full of facts about biology, astronomy, and other scientific things. Maybe you already read it; I am pretty sure that PZ reads it religiously. The thing is the facts are generally accurate, but, the conclusions are a bit bizarre.

  26. I know it is getting cooler out but not that cold, I guess the devil needs to invest in long johns.

    As someone said yesterday a broken clock is right at least twice a day.

  27. MC

    How come scientist know such a little about religion and religious people know such a little about science? Sounds like different side of the same coin to me. If scientists say they don’t know what is in 90 % of the universe, how can they discount a God? If religious people say there is a God, how about really telling the truth about Him and not playing churchy churchy? What about outrageous claims made by scientists that either turned out to be a load of balderdash. What about alarmist claims made that never came true. They took facts fitted them together in a puzzle, making the pieces fit into a nice theory that sounds nice, is palatable and looks great, but the foundations are as shaky as the religious group. Scientists are just as guilty as the religious….so pick you place. If you feel you want not to know a God…fine…go your way. If the religious choose their path…fine..let them go their way. If you are a fence sitter, there is place for you too. Why is there not place for people have the freedom to choose what they believe?

  28. @Lawrence (24):

    I agree fully with you that “Science recognizes that there is still much that we don’t know…”, in fact it is one of the things I like most about it. I love that scientific discovery is driven by curiosity.

    My frustration comes from scientists who, finding a legitimate fault with a creationist argument, counter with ‘facts’ that are typically theories. For example, it is possible to say “These are the flaws in your assertion that the speed of light has been changing and is not, in fact, constant.” without adding “and therefore we know this is how it happened.”

    I suppose the deeper frustration is that this is often paired with an expectation that I abandon my religious beliefs because religion “was wrong” and science “was right”.

    I have also appreciated @tacitus’ observation that the religious side of the argument can be driven by a need/desire for literal truth. I am uncomfortable with the idea that the Bible (or any religious text, really) is a “handbook for life” in the literal sense: “this really IS how everything works and all knowledge is summed up in here.” Do I believe that the Bible has a truckload of wisdom in it? I sure do. But wisdom and knowledge aren’t the same thing, are they?

    Also, as much as I agree with your assertion that the next 1000 years will reveal truths that many had thought to be mysteries of God, my experience says that we’ll have even more unanswered questions at that point! It seems that every discovery brings two questions along with it. I’m not sure we’ll ever know it all.

    Thanks also for your thoughtful reply. I was fearing a flame war, as I have often been ‘labeled a heretic’ by scientist and creationist alike. Thank you for being willing to talk/debate.

  29. dean

    Intelligent Design isn’t the same as young earth creationism. I believe in intelligent design but would not be caught dead around young earth creationists. Many intelligent design scientists believe in old earth etc, and i would argue that many of them have pretty interesting arguments and theories. two books that don’t cling to the young earth craziness are “Case for a Creator” (which isn’t super technical but interesting) and “darwins black box” which i am sure you are all familiar with.

    I believe God created the universe and science, therefore they shouldn’t contradict each other… therefore the young earth creationists are irrational and annoying. I have an open mind and see no reason anywhere that science disproves or could not coincide with an intelligent designer, but thats just me. took me awhile to get there.

    first time posting on here, but love the bad astronomy blog haha.

  30. the bug guy

    Bill,

    Yes, evolution is a theory, but I’d suggest you go back and check the scientific method, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Evolution is also a fact. The evidence is there and there are no real scientific issues with it beyond working on the details. Any controversy is purely the product of creationist propaganda.

    Carbon dating is one of many radiometric dating methods that are internally consistent and useful. They are not “wildly inaccurate” as you state.

    Look closely and you will find excellent evidence for speciation. Talk Origins has an excellent guide

    Actually, just go through the Talk Origins FAQ. It pretty much has all the information you need to learn about evolution.

  31. Brian

    Ha! I’ve never heard “bold-faced lie” before — that’s funny.

    Now I want to go to Sorrento so I can practice telling italic lies.

  32. Mittop

    This article made me think of this awesome webseries by CDK007 concerning why young earth creationists must deny gravity. Check it out.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/cdk007#grid/user/5975FF2FEECF90D3

  33. Lawrence

    28. Bill – I fully respect the beliefs of others & would never denegrate anyone just on the basis of their particular belief system. If a person or people feel the need to base their own particular set of morals around Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or whatever they may come up with, as a way to live their live, that’s fantastic.

    Now, when those same people try to use their particular set of beliefs as the “absolute” evidence of “why things are the way they are” – that’s another problem.

    You complain that scientists refute Creationist ideas with “theories” – well, at least Scientific Theories have a basis of evidence supporting them, while proponents of ID have only the Bible. And, we all know here that the majority of people have a complete misunderstanding of what a “Scientific Theory” really is. It is still referred to as the “Theory of Gravity” but no one would argue that it isn’t as close to fact as you can get with the scientific method.

    There is also a fundamental misunderstanding of current evolutionary theory, that is quite far from what Darwin put together, since we’ve had new technology and evidence to help better shape our understanding of the underlying processes of evolution (like the discovery of DNA).

    I brought up the point earlier regarding the “mysteries of the natural world” & assigning their origins to “GOD” because in no way does out further understanding of the natural world negate t beliefs of people two thousand years ago – they just didn’t know any better and didn’t have the tools to understand the underlying processes around them.

    It is a shame, in today’s world, that people can use religion as a convenient excust to ignore mountains of scientific evidence (and in a lot of cases, use it to attack scientific thought) – claiming that “Science” is attacking them – when all the Scientific community is trying to do is better understand and explain the world around us (as is really is, not how some book, put together by a committee, about 1600 years ago, says it should be).

    There really isn’t a “literal” truth of the Bible, since it has been changed and manipulated so much over time – the History Channel did a great job of examining the few dozen books that weren’t included in the Christian Bible – which included at least three additional creation stories.

  34. Caleb Jones

    @bugguy
    “Yes, evolution is a theory, but I’d suggest you go back and check the scientific method, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Evolution is also a fact. The evidence is there and there are no real scientific issues with it beyond working on the details. Any controversy is purely the product of creationist propaganda.”

    And that right there is why so many people walk away from encounters with people defending evolution with a bad taste in their mouth. Yes, evolution is definitely occurring now (we can measure it in action!). Yes, the evidence that it has occurred over the earth’s history (billions of years) is overwhelming. But to immediately label anyone who has questions (likely to their not understanding things properly) or alternate theories as “creationist propaganda” just reduces your argument to ad hominem.

    The same thing happens with discussions on global warming. As soon as someone has a different theory or questions models/assumptions commonly used, they are labeled as a “denialist” in an effort to discredit them.

    If someone has a question, answer it with excitement in a manner in which they can undertand. If they have an alternate theory, ask for the measurements backing it. If they can’t produce measurements, then suggest a more accurate theory that does have measurements and let them decide whether to accept it or not. Don’t debate the theorist, debate their theories.

    The “you’re either with us or against us” mantra is, itself, propaganda and it irks me to see so many people fall into that trap. The power of science is that it is concerned with WHAT’S right, not WHO’S right. As soon as you’re concerned about who’s right more than what’s right you’re involved in petty politics, not science.

  35. Kevin

    Wait, we haven’t had anyone ring in about how this is an Astronomy blog, so why is Phil talking about Creationists!

    I’ll take care of that:

    “OMG THIS IS AN ASTRONOMY BLOG I SIGNED UP TO LOOK AT STUFF ABOUT SPACE NOT HEAR PHIL TALK ABOUT MEDICINE OR CREATIONISM OR RELIGION OR POLITICS OR PONIES!!! OMG I’M SO LEAVING!”

    Dang, I failed – not nearly enough bad grammar or poor spelling in that.

    Anyway, YEC is a very silly prospect. Even I as a religious person agree that science is probably close to the right answer – dunno if they’re 100% correct, but they’re close.

  36. Aerimus

    @Bill

    Bug guy pretty well hit the part about “Theory” meaning something different that what it has come to mean in our everyday usage. Personally, I still hate saying that it’s fact, but rather that it the best idea that we have given the evidence we have. The Theory may not be complete, it may have errors, it may even be proven wrong later, when more concrete data is gathered, but based on what we can observe and test in the here and now, it’s the best explanation.

    Another way to think of it is that a Theory is like the investigative journalist who goes to the scene, questions witnesses, does background research, and follows the leads to get to their story. This is opposed to our everyday “theory”, which is the investigative journalist who, upon getting the assignment, goes back to his desk and just starts to write whatever they find plausible without doing any of the work. One of those stories is going to be closer to the truth, and chances are, it’s going to the first one, even though it might contain it’s own errors.

    As for the scienstist who take a Theory and “states it as fact, denying that there are any scientific issues at all”, I can’t say that I’ve run across many of them. Well, yeah, the stating as fact thing happens a lot, see above, but I’ve seen a lot of scientist who recognize that (1) their pet Theory could be proven wrong at any moment given valid evidence, (2) for every question that they answer, they are likely to to raise many more and/or (3) would love to be the guy to make history by finding the data, the subsequent new Theory, when that Theory shattering evidence does come in

  37. Well…as long as the lies and the insults stop, I’m fine with it.

  38. @Caleb Jones: thank you for putting into clearer terms what has been nagging at me. “Don’t debate the theorist, debate their theories.”

    I think that the church (or at least the part that I hang with) has largely failed at this. Refusing to debate out of fear that God can be disproved by science (and if He can, maybe God was too lofty a title….), but you put well my mirrored frustration: I am willing to learn, to reason, to change my mind. I desire to think things through and find truth, even when that truth may be upsetting to me. That being said, I am most often met with ridicule or simply ignored if I reveal that my current conclusion is that I believe in God.

    @Lawrence: well put and dead on. I hadn’t realized until today that much of my understanding of evolution is still informed by the non-Darwinian mish-mash that popular media and schools (at least a few decades ago) put out there. I need to read up on that.

    Also, the canonization process for the Bible has always made me scratch my head. I have looked into it and wrestled with what it means for my faith. It is one of the reasons I concluded that the Bible = science textbook was an ignorant conclusion.

    @the_bug_guy: my assertion that carbon dating is inaccurate is based on a case where bone fragments from a recently slaughtered cow were sent to different labs for carbon dating. Each lab returned a number vastly different from the rest, none were close to teh truth. Unfortunately, half of my library is packed in boxes right now, so I can not check on my source. It may be a poor study or poorly documented. I don’t know. I should have done my homework and chosen a better example.

    I’ll look over the site you referred.

    @Aerimus: that was actually the point I was trying to make (and apparently failing to do so) — ‘scientist’ was a poor word choice in that sentence. I know that most scientists know that Theories are just that. I do not know a good label that doesn’t paint with too broad a stroke, but my personal experience has as many religious lunatics as it does people who claim the science is infallible, conclusive, and final.

    Thanks for the good discussion, folks. I have kids to pick up at school.

  39. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Old creationist argumentation:

    A ⇒ B. (“Evolution implies entropy decreases.” [Except that it doesn’t, of course.])
    ¬B. (“Entropy increases.”)
    C. (“Therefore gods exist.”)

    New creationist argumentation:

    A ⇒ B. (“Black holes implies general relativity.”)
    B. (“General relativity is correct.”)
    C. (“Therefore gods exist.”)

    See? Big difference!

  40. The “you’re either with us or against us” mantra

    The mantra I see repeated is “show us your work”. Show us your evidence, your theories, and your predictions. Creationist spend so much time trying to “disprove” evolution that they forget to put forth their own theory of origins, much less explain how it does a better job.

  41. Lawrence

    40. Bill – I can certainly appreciate your desire to learn more, both about your faith and
    Science in general. They do not need to be mutually exclusive – one can act as a moral compass & the other can show us how the natural world works.

    Unfortunately, people in general accept what popular culture tells them or presents to them without any consideration for what may or may not be accurate. Therefore, I always encourage people to make up their own minds, after carefully researching and weighing the evidence (for just about any issue – scientific, political, etc).

    I appreciate your input into the discussion and wish you the best of luck on your continuing education.

  42. the bug guy

    Caleb, calling a failed argument what it is, creationist propaganda, is not attacking the person. And that is an accurate description. All the talk about controversy comes from places like the Discovery Institute, which the Dover case clearly demonstrated was using Intelligent Design as a wedge to teach Creationism.

    Bill, one partially remembered article does not undermine an entire, well-developed research technique. To further elaborate, C14 dating is only good for about 50,000 years or so (plus or minus). Therefore, it is actually only used for recent materials and is mostly used in archeological situations. For older materials, other radiometric methods are available and the strength is that they overlap and are consistent with each other. Talk Origins again has an excellent explanation.

    You are correct that most people learn a very distorted and inaccurate version of evolution and that leads to many of the misunderstandings that occur. That results in the frustration that many of us feel as we repeatedly read the same inaccurate information and find ourselves having to explain over and over why they are inaccurate.

  43. Mike

    Magicians should be familiar with this tactic, it’s called misdirection. I believe Penn & Teller do a bit about it in their stage show.

  44. Doug Little

    Bill, I’m sure that this has been pointed out to you already but here goes.

    Evolution is both a fact and a theory. It is a fact that life has evolved over time (Richard Dawkins has just released a new book citing the evidence for such, you should read it), and the theory explains how it evolved. Darwin’s major contribution for explaining the how was natural selection and this is still to this day (150 years since it was proposed) a major component of the theory of evolution. Since then other mechanisms have been added to explain some of the finer detail but all the ideas are complementary to one another and all are used to explain, to a high degree of accuracy, the change over time we see in all living creatures. Creationism on the other hand explains nothing, it is vacuous and as such is not a competing theory, in the scientific sense.

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that science is reluctant to say that we don’t know, the reason why science works as possibly the greatest explanatory tool for reality is because we accept this fact and get on with it. Hypotheses are postulated to explain a set of observations and new experiments are devised based on predictions made by the hypotheses, these predictions are then tested by more experimentation and the hypothesis either gains more weight as more evidence is gathered or is discarded or modified when evidence is contradictory. Overtime the evidence builds to a point that we are confident to a high degree that the theory is an accurate explanation of the evidence.

    You mention the Big Bang, again this is a theory that explains the observed evidence to a high degree of accuracy, predictions have been made from it and these predictions have been confirmed with additional experimentation. The fine details are argued about but the basic idea that the universe started off small and expanded to its current size is not in dispute.

    When a scientist says we know this or we know that it is because there is so much evidence in support of a theory it would be stupendous to think otherwise.

  45. The three most powerful words in the English language: “I don’t know.”

    These words should be followed by another three powerful words: “Let’s find out.”

    If you substitute the three words of “god did it.” then you have conceded defeat, and will never find out more. And you close the case to ever saying three other powerful words: “I was wrong.”

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Gross over-simplification, but it really strikes at the heart of things as far as where many people’s understanding really lies.

  46. MadScientist

    It’s a simple trick which had been employed by hucksters through the ages:

    1. Statements A, B, and C are The Truth
    2. Therefore statement D, which has nothing to do with reality, must also be true.

    It is a simple matter of a disguised non-sequitur:

    1. Black holes exist and this is some of the evidence
    2. Therefore the universe is only 6000 years old

    That nonsense deserves a spanking just like any ID claims because it is a clear attempt to deceive people and associate religious beliefs with scientific facts which actually contradict the myths. I wonder if it’s an organized effort; it’s not that long ago since Kirk Cameron teamed up with other IDiots to publish an “Origin of Species” book which (according to various biologists) contains an actual version of Darwin’s work but is prefaced by an entire 50 pages of religious nonsense to prime people into believing that Darwin was all wrong.

    @Larsson #41: The difference is subtle. In your set #1 you have the Ontological Argument – an alleged “proof” which is based entirely on falsehoods; in essence it is a non-sequitur following on incorrect statements (I almost wrote ‘premises’ – but non-sequiturs have no logical premise and that constitutes the fallacy). In #2 you have a straightforward non-sequitur; A and B may be true, but C does not logically follow.

  47. Wayne on the plains

    @ Bill and other similarly-minded people,

    It is common to feel all alone or caught in the middle for those who embrace both faith and science, but there are a LOT of us out there who agree with you. I recently jointed the American Scientific Affiliation and have a very positive opinion of this group so far. Although they avoid taking an official position on controversial issues, my experience has been that most members are extremely dedicated to understanding their faith and the Bible without sacrificing the objective truths found from studying the natural world. I think it’s important for our voice to be heard, even though the ideas on the fringes of both sides seem to sell better.

  48. FriendlyPrimate

    I think one problem is that “we-the-people” are simply not exposed to good and interesting science. For example, up until about a year ago, I never understood how scientists could possibly figure out that the Earth is over 4 billion years old. I knew it had something to do with Uranium decay, but I (like everyone else) wondered “yea…but how do they know how much Uranium and decay products there was to begin with back then?” Then I read an article on how they use Zircons to reliably date rocks. The concept seems so simple and elegant, yet I was never exposed to it in high school, college, or the media.

    So I guess I chalk it up to horrible overall science education in this country.

  49. Joel

    that essay was chalk full of answers that did not come from Genesis. Where do they get off condemning science as an elitist dictatorship and then using it to their own ends?

  50. TheBlackCat

    my assertion that carbon dating is inaccurate is based on a case where bone fragments from a recently slaughtered cow were sent to different labs for carbon dating. Each lab returned a number vastly different from the rest, none were close to teh truth.

    Carbon dating cannot be used on something that young, it will not give accurate results. Further, carbon dating it cannot be used on anything that lived since the 1950’s since nuclear testing has screwed up the atmospheric carbon composition. Every radioactive dating method has a certain range it is useful over, and will give wrong results for anything else. Also, each radioactive dating method has certain sorts of materials it can date, and will give wrong results for any other sort of material. On top of that, each dating method has a certain margin of error, and I guarantee the margin of error for carbon dating is a lot longer than a few days.

  51. TheBlackCat

    two books that don’t cling to the young earth craziness are “Case for a Creator” (which isn’t super technical but interesting) and “darwins black box” which i am sure you are all familiar with.

    Both books have been thoroughly demolished on scientific grounds. The intelligent design community has been extremely reluctant to provide any sort of evidence backing up their position or to explain specifically what their arguments are, but those few arguments and little evidence they have provided has already been discredited by the scientific community (in many cases before they even presented it). For instance, the way for evolution to produce what Behe calls “irreducibly complex” structures was determined long before he even got his PhD, not to mention writing his books.

  52. Pete

    Why are they telling the truth here? Because they have to set you up for the lie later – half-truths are like half-bricks , you can throw them farther.

  53. Bunk

    This is a little off topic (not as bad as my usual post), but a few years ago you had a post about how the speed of the expansion of a ring and it’s distance precluded the possibility of light changing it’s speed because God wanted to fool everyone. I assume it was a nebulae from a supernova, but certainly don’t remember for certain. Does anyone have to searchfoo to find that. I distinctly recall the logic being quite ironclad, but the actual logic part has escaped me.

    Just got DftS this week from Amazon. Did you know they’re selling the hardback for 50 cents less than the paperback?

  54. ND

    ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake,
    [angels sing]
    her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur
    from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I,
    Arthur, was to carry Excalibur.
    [singing stops]
    That is why I am your king!

    Logical and irrefutable.

  55. Caleb

    @bugguy

    Agreed. It is very frustrating to deal with a large population that is uneducated on the topic. It’s even more frustrating when there are so many people which insist on spreading misinformation. But you have to fight the good fight and repeat yourself as much as possible as respectfully as possible. However, we must be careful to never label or demean anyone since that only perpetuates the irrational side of the argument. Rational people will see the soundness and clarity of the argument and they’ll come around.

    That said, the current problem, as I see it, is that public education just doesn’t focus on instilling critical thinking skills so there is simply too many irrational people around to be able to dispel misinformation. As long as people keep graduating from HS/college w/o strong critical thinking skills, misinformation will always be around.

    As an aside, I see the intensity of this debate (which intensity seems to be somewhat unique to the US) as a bi-product of the Christan remormationist roots upon which America was founded.

    A Christian reformationist (by definition) derives their authority from the correctness of their interpretations of certain scriptures. As a result many reformationists insist on a strict closed cannon with rigid interpretations. Thus, when a mountain of evidence builds which contradicts an interpretation (ie: age of the earth), rather than do what science does and adjust definitions, axioms, theories, etc., some reformationists feel the need to attack the evidence or the people bringing the evidence to light.

    These kinds of people are more concerned about being right than what’s right. And what’s more condemning to them is they are more concerned about being right than they are showing charity and compassion towards others.

  56. As first author on the paper “The river model of black holes”
    by A. J. S. Hamilton and J. P. Lisle, I feel obliged to give
    a little of the history behind this paper.

    Jason Lisle joined the University of Colorado as a graduate student
    in astrophysics around 1998 (that might not be the correct year,
    but it was around then). During his first semester, he came
    to me and explained how he had written a little windows graphics
    program that modeled trajectories of particles around a black hole.
    He did not know much general relativity, but he had modeled
    the trajectories as if space were falling inward, like a river,
    at the Newtonian escape velocity. At each time step, he
    Lorentz-boosted particles using the change in river velocity.
    He told me that the resulting set of orbital trajectories seemed
    to match the usual results for a Schwarzschild black hole.
    For example, he got the correct result for the radius of the
    photon sphere, where photons orbit in circles.
    He asked me if his idea was correct.

    I told Jason I had never heard of this idea, and it did not appear
    in any relativity textbooks. I said it therefore seemed unlikely
    that his idea was correct, though I did not know for sure.

    In Spring 2001 I taught graduate general relativity at CU, and took
    the opportunity to revisit Jason’s idea. Much to my surprise,
    a few straightforward manipulations of the usual Schwarzschild
    metric led to a different metric that indeed seemed to describe
    space falling into a black hole at the Newtonian escape velocity.
    In the general relativity class I called it the Lisle metric,
    but outside that venue I started calling it the free-fall metric.

    From that time I began teaching undergraduate classes on relativity
    about this “river model” of black holes. It seemed by far the
    best way to understand black holes conceptually.

    In Spring 2003 I visited the Haydn Planetarium, and gave a
    talk there on black holes. Several folk from Columbia University
    showed up, including Brian Greene (author of Elegant Universe).
    Part of the talk involved the “river model”, and I asked the
    audience if anyone had met the free-fall metric before.
    To my suprise, someone in the back put up their hand, said yes,
    that’s the Painlevé-Gullstrand metric, invented by Painlevé back
    in 1921. The person told me the Painlevé metric was not widely known,
    but had gained some attention lately in the GR community.
    Later I would discover that actually Gullstrand discovered
    the metric before Painlevé, though Gullstrand’s published
    work appeared later. So it should be called the Gullstand-Painlevé
    metric, not Painlevé-Gullstrand. Allvar Gullstrand was himself
    a Nobel prize-winner. He was on the Nobel prize committee that
    considered Einstein for a Nobel prize, and was instrumental in
    ensuring that when Einstein won the Nobel prize, it was not for
    relativity.

    In Fall 2003 I started researching the Gullstrand-Painlevé metric
    more seriously. I wanted to see if some analogous metric worked
    also for rotating black holes. Nothing seemed to work. I was
    almost ready to quit, when I decided to try something different.
    Instead of requiring that the river spiral into the black hole,
    I would allow the river to fall in without spiralling, and instead
    give the river a twist. The velocity in that case was not just
    a 3-dimensional thing, but a 6-dimensional Lorentz bivector.
    Amazingly (to me), that worked.

    By that time Jason was near to finishing up his PhD thesis, something
    to do with the Sun (not black holes), advised by Juri Toomre.
    Jason was busy, but willing to discuss with me the mathematics of
    the model that from my perspective he had originally invented.
    I invited him to co-author, and he agreed.

    We submitted the paper “The river model of black holes” to a
    refereed journal. It was the second paper I had ever written
    on general relativity (despite a large bibliography on astrophysics
    and cosmology). The paper was initially rejected. The first referee’s
    report began “This paper is interesting, but uninteresting…”,
    and expressed the view that there was no need for an alternative
    view of how black holes worked, because the existing view was
    quite adequate. It was my first taste of general relativistic
    culture. Eventually, the paper was published in the American
    Journal of Physics, a journal that specializes in physics pedagogy.

    During all of this time Jason never told me his creationist views.
    I only learned of them later, after Jason had completed his PhD
    and left. Someone brought my attention to creationist writings by
    Jason on the web. I tried emailing Jason, but his CU email no longer
    worked, and I could not find any email address for him.

    Ben Brown, another graduate student of Juri Toomre’s, told me that
    Jason had discussed his views with Ben. Ben told me that Jason
    had been most bothered by Supernova 1987A. This supernova was
    observed to explode in Feb 1987 in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
    It’s expansion velocity is measured from its spectrum, and that
    velocity, together with the observed size of the object and its
    known age, yield a distance. The distance is about 150,000
    lightyears away. This would mean that the supernova actually
    exploded 150,000 years ago. Which is longer than Jason’s supposed
    6,000 year age of the Universe.

    Jason’s creationist website did not mention the simple case of
    Supernova 1987A. Instead, he discussed the unusual orientation of
    the magnetic field of Uranus, which he argued pointed to a young
    Universe because the magnetic field should quickly change to a
    different configuration. I do not understand why Jason would base
    his argument on some tricky and poorly understood problem like the
    magnetic field of Uranus, and choose not to mention something as
    simple and straightforward as Supernova 1987A.

    So Jason, my view is that whoever your God is, he is not a God of truth.
    If he were a God of truth, he would have no problem with the scientific
    truths that emerge from observation. Your God is a God of lies and
    deception. Your God asks us to have faith in things that blatantly
    contradict observation. He is not a God that I can subscribe to.

  57. amphiox

    Bill, as others have alluded to, “theory” and “fact” are not gradations of the same kind of thing, with one being more rigorous, or closer to “true” than the other. They are in fact completely separate. A fact is like a single stamp in a stamp collection. By itself it is meaningless and useless. A theory is akin to the way in which a stamp collection is organized, so that one can easily classify all the stamps, find the ones you want when you want, and put them into context with each other.

    Facts without theory have no utility. It is just a jumble of disorganized information. You cannot use it to plan for future actions, whether it is designing an experiment, or attempting some practical application like building a bridge.

    A theory with absolutely no facts at all to back it up is actually still very useful. It still provides a framework with which you can get things accomplished, and it provides predictions on what you should expect to see, which means that the theory itself provides the means by which you can find out wherever the theory is in error, and improve it.

    On a related point, the evidence for speciation is far from shaky, as you previously asserted. It has, in fact, been both historically documented and observed directly in real time, on multiple occasions. The new species are of course very similar to each other, which is exactly what the theory of evolution predicts, but they are true, new species.

  58. awesomekip

    Haha, I just realized AiG shares its acronym with that other AIG.

  59. @awesomekip

    Well they’re both bankrupt – morally.

  60. I stand corrected.

    wow, i’ve been wrong on that one a long time.

  61. Brian

    Woohoo! Fundy versus fundy! Both you and your creationist enemies exhibit the same arrogance and self-righteousness, which is ironic since you both tend to express rigid certainties in areas where there can not possibly be any certainty. And you both have your “evidence”. And of course neither of you are biased in your view of “the evidence” .

    But please, carry on. I can’t decide if this adolescent battle is actually negative or just irrelevant.

  62. SB

    As a Brit, I have to go with #23 (“barefaced lie”). Support: http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/errors/baldfaced.html

    Re. periods (“full stops”) outside of quotes – I didn’t realize that was thought to be a British thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark#Punctuation suggests it is less clear cut. However, *I* agree you with that “outside” is obviously Correct.

    Also, use ISO date format. This is not directed at anyone in particular. Just do it. :-)

  63. alfaniner

    I can just see the headline they are aiming for: “Scientists Agree — Creationist Site Posts Facts!”

  64. Just me

    The creationist and ID-ist objection to evolution being “only a theory” is based on the erroneous meme that “theories” graduate to become “laws” once they’ve met certain prerequisites. So, “evolution is only a theory” aka “speculation” whereas we have the “law of gravity” or “laws of motion” or “laws of thermodynamics”. In other words, “theories” haven’t been sufficiently tested to become “laws”. “Laws” have been tested sufficiently to be “proved”, which is why they’re “laws”. This misconception was adopted in the movie “Event Horizon” where they talked about Einstein’s “Law of Relativity” — in other words, Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity” had been sufficiently “proved”, so it graduated from a theory to a law.

    As I understand it, science doesn’t really use that hierarchy anymore. Basically everything these days are theories and don’t graduate to become laws. So, saying “Evolution is only a theory” is nonsense.

    But just to satisfy my curiousity, could someone briefly explain the current differentiation between “theory” and “law”? My understanding is that the difference is a relic of the age of “royal societies” and victorian-era hierarchical structures or something like that?

    It seems that creationists and ID-ists have adopted a strategy similar to what Chuck Palahniuk uses for his novels: He said that he does meticulous, detailed research such that at least 99% of the “facts” in his novels are correct, to earn our trust, so that we’re more likely to believe the 1% of the stuff he makes up.
    In fiction, it’s appropriate and intriguing. But what creationists and ID-ists do is dishonest. And they go a step further, which is to use science when it suits them and dismiss science when it doesn’t.

  65. Snoof

    The problem I have with intelligent design “theory” is it doesn’t go far enough. It postulates that all life on Earth was designed by an intelligent being, and then it stops. See, if _I_ thought that there was some kind of intelligent entity responsible for creating all life, I’d be asking further questions like, “Why do it?” and “How was it done?” and “What constraints was it working under?” and “Can _we_ replicate it?” and “Why not?” as well as questions like “How do you know there’s only one designer?” and “Why did it do such a lousy job?” Unfortunately, whenever I ask these questions to people who do think there was a designer, I either get a lot of incoherent wibble about the “transcendent essence of being” or “And then that designer sent his son to Earth to save us from our sins”, neither of which follow from the initial propositions or evidence or make a lot of sense.

    Also: mike burkhart, let the glory of punctuation and spelling into your life. I can’t tell whether I agree with you or disagree with you because your post is basically unreadable.

  66. For those not in the know, Creationists get their 6000 year old earth from Ussher’s chronology (no, not the fancy spelling of the hip-hop artist, this guy here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ussher_chronology )

    Basically, it reads like a Tolkien appendix, which states all the ages, dates and geneologies of the characters in the story.

    I am amazed that Jason “Liar for Jesus” Lisle has changed his tack on proving a young universe. He did, once upon a time, support the idea that “light traveled faster in the past”. (Am looking up a link to where I saw this. It was one of the early interviews)

    Here is a collection of creationist bunk trying to backflip and propose “models” in which light speed is variable, among other things. http://www.4thdayalliance.com/articles/distant_starlight/

    And a clip of their planetarium show which is pretty impressive (if you can stomach the logical fallacies conveniently dropped in) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RqRQo9Kin4&feature=related

    It all comes down to the same thing to Lisle et al: Bible is right; any science which refutes it is wrong.

  67. This would be easier if scientists used pre-emptive terminology. Like calling “dark matter” something more religio-sinister, say “black mass”, instead. Wouldn’t ever hear creationists doing the black mass shtick to conjure up a young sinful Earth, etc.

    Sorry, bad joke.

  68. @Brian
    Both you and your creationist enemies exhibit the same arrogance and self-righteousness, which is ironic since you both tend to express rigid certainties in areas where there can not possibly be any certainty. And you both have your “evidence”. And of course neither of you are biased in your view of “the evidence” .

    Care to provide some examples of “rigid certainties in areas where there can not possibly be any certainty”?

  69. Stuart van Onselen

    I always read threads hoping to see if the anti-science crowd can come up with any new arguments. I am always disappointed.

    All we ever get are the same old twaddle. “God of the gaps”, “You’re too mean to us!” and my personal un-favourite “Both sides are very sure of themselves and arrogant, therefore they’re both wrong. And I can state this as absolute truth, with maximum arrogance and rudeness, without being wrong by my own criteria”.

    But I do love the responses. The writers here always come up with new and imaginative ways of explaining old facts. I either learn new things, or I learn new metaphors to use when I explain things to others.

    And thus I keep coming back to threads like this.

  70. Sean

    I’ve never understood the people who state that since something’s ” only” a theory that it must be false. Or that Intelligent Design is automatically a theory because it’s what someone thinks. Theories can be tested and proven or disproven and plenty of sound theories have had weaknesses in their statements pointed out and thus corrected.

    Without the scientific method Newton’s take on physics would’ve been the end all be all and we’d accept as rote fact that some deity must be the one who keeps the gravitational pull from falling into entropy after 100 years of activity. That being said, while I’m not a theist I think as long as this isn’t playing out in a courtroom there should be some modicum of civility(I’m not saying you agree with them) when discussing it with the believers, pointing out that the existence of their designer isn’t provable isn’t the best way to go about things.

  71. Spectroscope

    creationist astronomer Jason Lisle discusses the topic with clarity and actual accuracy.

    Shouldn’t that be creationist “astronomer”? Its not like anyone believing that guff could be a *real* scientist of any sort! ;-)

  72. Then Again

    Cosmologies which abuse basic physics to change enough to allow a young Universe tend to be wrong in their basic assumptions.

    Or so you assume but then *you* are also coming off a separate set of basic and wrong assumptions here.

    If you assume there is no God then you have to take a starting point which excludes the evidence for God.

    Everyone starts from certain assumptions that bias their interpretation of things. To assume a God and then see His handiwork is one. To assume atheist rules and then deny, mock and ignore any and all contradictory evidence is another less valid and untrue set of assumptions.

    For instance, millions, more accurately hundreds and hundreds of millions of Christians have direct personal experience of Jesus Christ, have a prayerful relationship with God and can testify as to His reality. Yet atheist science blankly rejects their testimony. It then further insults them with “scientists” like Richard Dawkins claiming they are all “insane” or “deluded” for not seeing things exactly as Dawkins does and not making the same false, dangerous and soul destroying assumptions that Dawkins makes.

    Funnily enough, many people – not all of them Christian or fundamentalist – would say that the deluded one (and the minority extremist) here is truly Dawkins not the Christians. More people accept Religion and look to it for answers than Science and you are thus heavily, massively out-voted. You just might want to think about why this is so and whether you are really as smugly superior as you seem to think you are.

    The Bible is not just a science textbook – but it is the Word of God. God does not lie. If you start with those basic assumptions if you view His Creation, our cosmos, through that lens you will see and interpret things in another more truthful, very different way than you will beginning with assumptions that deny God and refuse to look at the evidence in His favour. Evidence that has immensely helped and brought love and wonder to millions of real living breathing people. Assuming that those assumptions above are wrong is an assumption in itself and not one I think is warranted.

    Maybe the folks at AiG are hoping that by writing an article not filled with fallacious reasoning,

    What fallacious reasoning? Once again this is your own *assumption* based on its own fallacous reasoning – to deny God you will not look at the real evidence in His favour and deny anything that confirms or implies His existence coming up with all sorts of theories and rationalisations and ad hoc “explanations” all designed to ignore and rule out “God.” These ad hoc excuses and frequently changing speculations you then claim as “fact” when they are in fact the fallacious bits of reasoning overlooking the Divine alternative.

    You too have your “no God exists” conclusion in place before you even look and refuse to allow it to be contradicted by the Truth.

    But given the sheer amount of nonsense on their site, it’s hard to ascribe noble motives to them.

    You calling what’s on the AiG site “nonsense” does not make it so.

    Your difficulty in accepting that the motives of those who disagree with you may be “noble” and that they may be telling the truth reflects your own prejudices and bias.

    Creationists honestly believe and have indeed got noble good motives for their work. God is good and bringing His Word and his Truth into people’s lives to save them, fighting the emptiness and evil of self-worshipping arrogant, deluded men like Dawkins *is* a good and noble cause.

    At least that’s how I and many other good and truthful people see things. I suppose Dawkins himself believing his own atheist delusions view things in the reverse manner and thinks himself the good one. We think he is fooling himself – or perhaps is fooled by Satan who is the “prince of lies” * and has fooled many folks who think themselves clever, even too clever for God. Notice that I don’t say your motives aren’t “good” in your own eyes – although I see your preaching of atheist materialism as very much “evil”.
    _____

    * Yes, Satan’s worst and most successful lie has been convincing all too many people that neither he nor God Himself exist.

  73. Geek

    @Then Again:

    … or perhaps is fooled by Satan who is the “prince of lies”

    No no, the Flying Spaghetti Monster did the fooling. The evidence for Him is overwhelming, by the way, but if you assume there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster then you have to take a starting point which excludes the evidence for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    You have your “no Flying Spaghetti Monster” conclusion in place before you even look and refuse to allow it to be contradicted by the Truth.

    At least that’s how I and many other good and truthful people see things.

  74. Sean

    @72 Then Again:

    Alright since you’re being a dick about this: Why doesn’t God just kill Satan? He’s omnipotent right? Or is Satan one of God’s employees like Avram was? Additionally, why didn’t god just see that the Fall was coming and get Lucifer counseling? Or replace the apples with pears.

    I have no quarrel with people of faith, but faith by its very definition isn’t provable. If it was then it’d be called fact, which is what science attempts to explain. If anything you should appreciate science for the ability to show you the framework of the universe that you believe your creator made, there’s an elegance to real science that isn’t replicated by the mental gymnastics of Intelligent Design.

    But if you’d like to then bring me a theory involving god as a crucial component of a natural phenomenon. This theory must be able to be tested and rigorously examined according to the scientific method. I won’t hold my breath.

  75. Stuart van Onselen

    @72 Then Again

    Reality simply does not agree with your book of Iron Age fables. It does not matter which set of assumptions you start with, if you examine the universe honestly and open-mindedly, you inevitably reach the conclusion that saying it is 6kY old is simply ridiculous.

    And to the other theists out there: People like “Then Again” is why you get grief from atheists and pro-science theists. We tend to assume that you’re made in the same mold. Especially since a lot of people who think like TA are dishonest little bastards who pretend to be “honestly questioning”. (At least TA is an honest delusional head-case.)

    So anyway: TA, take your delusions and spill them over some board that cares. Childish babble isn’t going to win many converts here.

  76. Lawrence

    72. ThenAgain – I would love to see your “evidence.” I have fossils, DNA, direct observations, and more. You claim to have the “Bible” as the absolute word of God? As explained earlier, the Bible as we know it today is an amalgamation of several different books, designed by committee (commissioned by a non-Christian even, Emperor Constantine of the Eastern Roman Empire) with plenty left out – perhaps dozens of books that different Christian sects used at various times, including an additional three creation stories.

    You also claim that we blindly reject God – which is untrue, there are plenty of scientists that are religious, they just don’t let their beliefs color their work or promote bias in their processes. You really don’t seem to understand the difference between the Scientific Method, which requires rigorous tests of new ideas vs. your own beliefs, which require nothing at all.

  77. Gonzo

    My frustration comes from scientists who, finding a legitimate fault with a creationist argument, counter with ‘facts’ that are typically theories.

    @Bill: It would appear you fundamentally misunderstand the concept of theory as it applies to teh science. Suggest re-reading some basic works on the scientific method. This is a general mistake of the faithful, creationist or not.

  78. Gonzo

    But please, carry on. I can’t decide if this adolescent battle is actually negative or just irrelevant.

    @Brian (62): Your comment would have been less wordy if you just typed, “I don’t really know, I don’t know if you know, and I don’t care to find out.”

  79. MarkW

    Then Again @#72:

    Would you like some cheese to go with your whine?

  80. Chris

    @Bunk

    Are you talking about this? http://www.outersystem.us/creationism/ancientproof/SN1987A.html

    I’ve got it saved as a bookmark for some reason lost to the mists of time…

    EDIT: ah no, sorry, that one’s just a distance calculation that relies on the speed of light being constant. I do remember the one you mean though, it was a similar scenario, but demonstrated that the speed of light hadn’t changed. I wonder if I can find it…

  81. Nigel Depledge

    Bill Kracke (13) said:

    The evolutionist then takes the THEORY (emphasis intentional, please review Scientific Method, etc.) of Evolution and states it as fact,

    This sounds like you have swallowed some of the creationist lies about evolution.

    First, evolution is a fact : Populations of living organisms change over time.

    Second, evolutionary theory explains how this occurs. All of the mechanisms for biological change that are described in evolutionary theory have been observed to occur. They are therefore also facts.

    Universal common descent (a principal prediction of evolutionary theory), whether from a single ancestor species or from a population of several ancestor species that promiscuously indulged in lateral gene transfer, has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. That is, while common descent is not a proven “fact”, it is so strongly supported by the available evidence that it is unreasonable to treat it as anything other than a fact, unless new evidence comes to light to cause us to question it.

    So, biologists quite reasonably treat evolutionary theory as if the bulk of it really is fact. And if evidence comes to light that calls it into question, it will indeed be called into question. But it will be questioned by people who understand it in the first place, not by creationist amateurs who do not even bother to check that their claims about evolutionary theory are correct.

    The effect of all this is that we can state with confidence that modern evolutionary theory (MET) is either correct or is a very good approximation to reality.

    denying that there are any scientific issues at all: Carbon Dating is based on assumptions about the beginning state of carbon on earth and is wildly inaccurate,

    This is a red herring created by the creationists.

    Carbon dating is not used in relation to the age of the Earth. Carbon dating is used mostly by archaeologists, because it is limited to measurements roughly 50,000 – 100,000 years ago. The ages of rocks (and hence of the fossils they contain) are measured using a range of several different radionuclides (e.g. K-Ar and U-Pb dating) and the techniques are actually pretty sophisticated. They do not rely on any assumptions, they rely only on measured facts and logical reasoning.

    there is fossil evidence suggesting mutation of a species (modern birds resemble prehistoric), but very shaky evidence of new species creation (that I am aware of), etc.

    Speciation events, while rare from a human perspective of time, have been observed.

    Go and have a browse through TalkOrigins. There is a great deal of information there, that has been compiled by people who really know about this stuff, and who explain it in fairly straightforward language.

    As a man of faith, I choose to believe God is/was involved. As a scientific thinker, I have to concede some points that a ‘fundamentalist’ might not. At the same time, is it really out of line to wait for conclusive evidence for a Theory?

    At what point, though, do you discard the wrong theories and move ahead with the assumption that the one remaining theory is correct? When 90% of the evidence favours it? When 99.9% of the evidence favours it? Or when 100% of the evidence favours it?

    There are more than just these two theories out there, in fact, and none have the evidence required to get them over the theoretical hump. I am more than OK with that.

    And you’re wrong, because this is another lie propagated by the creationists.

    100% of the available evidence (that is many hundreds of millions of individual facts) favours MET over all of the rival explanations. Precisely NONE of the alternatives proposed (whether by scientists or creationists) has withstood rigorous comparison with the facts.

  82. Nigel Depledge

    Bill Kracke (13) said:

    Big Bangers’ (what do you call this school of thought?)

    I call it humanity’s best effort at understanding the universe.

    again state, as fact, things that they believe to be true. This happened, then That, then this Other Thing,

    Big Bang Theory (BBT) is another one that has triumphed over all rivals.

    Whether it is true in every detail or not (and many leading physicists and cosmologists have problems with aspects of the existing BBT, such as the trigger for inflation and the origin of the anisotropies), it is still humanity’s best attempt at understanding how the universe began.

    We know that the entire universe is expanding. Therefore, in the past, everything was closer together. The further back in time you look, the closer together everything must have been. Wind the clock back far enough, and you reach a stste where the universe must have been exremely hot (billions of degrees) and extremely dense. Let the clock wind forward as the universe expands from this state, and our knowledge of physics, combined with measurements like the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background, tells us what MUST HAVE happened, and in what order.

    largely ignoring the truth that we have barely scratched the surface of this topic. We’ve not been studying it long, the data can be hard to come by (what with the thousands of years it takes to get observable data from a source — speed of light, etc) and ,our understanding of what is happening changes and expands frequently on this topic.

    Nevertheless, there are key components of BBT that are the same in all versions. Your point about how long it takes for light to reach us is irrelevant – light has been arriving at the Earth from all over the observable universe for 4.3 billion years, and continues to do so now.

    And, in general, every attempt to understand how the universe began must account for the facts that are also accounted for by BBT.

  83. Nigel Depledge

    Bill Kracke (13) said:

    First, not all “believers” of a faith system have turned their back on science — and not all of us are afraid of it. I personally believe that God gave us brains in the hopes that we would use them. I also believe that science is an awesome way to use a brain.

    If this is true, then how come the YECists are left to their own devices by most moderate Christians? Why were they not stomped on for bringing the religion into disrepute and reality-denial?

    It is true that there are a handful of religious scientists speaking out against YECism and ID and so on, but there are far too many moderate Christians who have just stood aside and let the YECists do what they will.

    Second, is it possible that the “two sides” of this issue are wrestling with the uncertainty of it all? The mystery of it?

    No. SCience is a process of investigation and learning. Creationists usually claim that they already have all the answers, and their claims would stifle further inquiry.

    The scientist doesn’t know all about the moon, so he looks at it, sends some folks up there, slams a couple of spacecraft into it, trying to figure it all out. I like that and I am into that. But these things we say we ‘know’ in science… so many are nothing more than really strong theories.

    But what actually is a “strong theory”?

    In modern science, our strongest theories have one thing in common – if they were wrong in any gross kind of way, we would already have found out. Therefore, we know them to be, at the very least, good approximations to reality.

    Surely it is both reasonable and parsimonious to assume that these theories are correct unless we find evidence that indicates they are not.

    The best option available, most of the time. But if we’re certain it’s the way it works, why are we doing all of this research?

    Many reasons. Partly to test that our understanding is correct. Partly to fill out details. Partly to understand the relative significance of different parts of a theory. And partly because there are several areas where our best theories don’t quite fit with reality. A good example of this is general relativity and quantum mechanics. Both are extremely successful theories, but there are certain circumstances where they appear to contradict one another. Hence the various attmepts to formulate a theory of quantum gravity.

    I guess what I am trying to say is this: my personal struggle has been with scientific thinkers who are as unwilling to admit that we don’t know as religious extremists are. The creationist says “God did this” when science clearly has called that into question. The scientific extremist says “this is what happened” when the evidence doesn’t fully support that conclusion. I am choosing the path of “let’s find out”.

    The path of “let’s find out” is indeed the path of science. However, science also contains a great many things that we have already found out. So, the argument that we should reserve judgement until all of the facts are in largely ignores the point that all of the facts we have currently support the current scientific theories (except as noted above).

    How many times must a theory be tested and found good before we accept it as probably true?

  84. Nigel Depledge

    MC (29) said:

    How come scientist know such a little about religion and religious people know such a little about science?

    This is a false dichotomy.

    There are many scientists who are religious, and many others who have read the works of theologians, so know as much as or more than many religious people.

    There are some religious fanatics who know quite a bit of science. Mike Behe is one (until ID, he was a biochemist working on DNA structure). Jonathan Wells is another (kind of), except that he specifically went to get a PhD at the behest of “Reverend” Moon with the intention of destroying evolutionary science.

    Sounds like different side of the same coin to me.

    Not so. Science always tests its explanations against reality. Creationist versions never do.

    If scientists say they don’t know what is in 90 % of the universe, how can they discount a God?

    They cannot, and you will find that they do not.

    God is irrelevant in science, because there is no evidence to examine.

    If religious people say there is a God, how about really telling the truth about Him and not playing churchy churchy?

    I have no idea what this means.

    What about outrageous claims made by scientists that either turned out to be a load of balderdash.

    Such as what?

    What about alarmist claims made that never came true.

    Again, give some examples. I suspect that most of the alarmist claims were over-hyped by the media, but without a specific case to discuss, all I can do is guess.

    They took facts fitted them together in a puzzle, making the pieces fit into a nice theory that sounds nice, is palatable and looks great, but the foundations are as shaky as the religious group.

    I am not aware of any part of science for which this is the case. Is this the result of research on your part, or are you simply making stuff up, or regurgitating stuff your minster has told you?

    Scientists are just as guilty as the religious….

    You have failed to demonstrate this. Either take it back, or back it up with some actual facts.

    so pick you place. If you feel you want not to know a God…fine…go your way. If the religious choose their path…fine..let them go their way. If you are a fence sitter, there is place for you too. Why is there not place for people have the freedom to choose what they believe?

    When it comes to spiritual matters, anyone is free to believe any nonsense they choose. That is not what this is about.

    The creationists have been trying (for most of the last 50 years) to re-write science so it will fit with a near-literal interpretation of scripture. The trouble for them is that reality is what it is no matter how hard they wish it otherwise.

  85. #47 Larian: That may be an over-simplification, but it’s also the best brief summary of “science versus religion” I’ve read in a long time! I must send it to my creationist friend…

  86. #65 Just me: The difference between a theory and a law:
    A law is a statement of something which has been discovered empirically ( by experiment and observation ), which describes something which happens in nature, and can ( usually ) be expressed mathematically. An example is Newton’s Law of Gravitation, which states that “Every object attracts every other object, with a force which is directly proportional to the product of their masses, and inversely proportional to the square of their distance apart”, or mathematically as F = Gm1m2 / r2.
    This can be proved, by repeated experiments and measurements.
    A theory is an attempt to explain how and why something in nature happens the way it does. Currently, the best explanation of gravity is that given by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.
    A theory does not “become a law when proved”, because, strictly speaking, it’s impossible to prove a theory correct; that would require testing it to infinity! All we can say is that a theory has passed all the tests applied to it, and is the most likely explanation of the observed phenomenon.
    We can, of course, prove a theory wrong! If a theory is wrong, then it will eventually be proved wrong, when evidence is found which does not agree with the predictions made by the theory. Then it’s time to modify the theory accordingly. As scientists say, a theory must be falsifiable.
    This is, of course, precisely why creationism and ID are not, as their proponents argue, “valid alternative theories” to evolution – because they are, by definition, not falsifiable! These ideas depend on the concept of “the supernatural” – something which is not bound by the laws of the natural Universe – and therefore can’t be tested by means of the scientific method.
    Hope this makes it clear!

  87. #72 Then Again:
    “Faith is the ability to believe what you know not to be true.”
    Mark Twain

  88. Nuke3d

    Wow, you guys trying to write a book here?

  89. SLC

    Re MC @ #29

    How come scientist know such a little about religion and religious people know such a little about science? Sounds like different side of the same coin to me. If scientists say they don’t know what is in 90 % of the universe, how can they discount a God?

    The above sentence taken from Mr. MC illustrates the logical fallacy known as god of the gaps. The argument goes something like, “scientists can’t explain X, therefor god did it.” The problem with this is that the history of science shows that it has been all too successful in the past at filling in the gaps. A couple of examples follow.

    1. In his 1996 tome, “Darwins’ Black Box,” Prof. Behe claimed that the theory that whales evolved from a wolf-like land animal was an unsupported hypothesis and queried as to where the intermediate forms were. Unfortunately for the good professor, since that time, at least a dozen intermediate forms between the land animal and modern whales have been found (Basilosaurus, Ambulocetus, etc.). Thus, the good professor was forced to concede the evidence for common descent in his Dover testimony.

    2. After Issac Newton developed his universal law of gravitation (i.e. the inverse square law) and showed that it produced elliptical orbits as observed by Kepler, he became concerned that the gravitational interactions between the planets would eventually cause the solar system to be come unstable. Instead of attempting to compute these effects, he proclaimed that the stability of the solar system was maintained by the intervention of god every so often as necessary. About 100 years later, Laplace performed the calculations using perturbation theory and showed that the interplanetary interactions would not disturb the stability of the solar system over long periods of time. When he presented his treatise on the subject to Napoleon, the latter queried him as to the part that god played. Famously, Laplace responded that, “I have no need of that hypothesis!”

  90. Doug Little

    Then Again,

    If you assume there is no God then you have to take a starting point which excludes the evidence for God.

    Everyone starts from certain assumptions that bias their interpretation of things. To assume a God and then see His handiwork is one. To assume atheist rules and then deny, mock and ignore any and all contradictory evidence is another less valid and untrue set of assumptions.

    Science, your doing it wrong.
    Science looks at the evidence first, then formulates a hypothesis that explains that evidence. Creationists, on the other hand, try to make the evidence fit their hypothesis.

    You talk about contradictory evidence but supply none, the scientific world is waiting. Is that the imaginary evidence that your imaginary friend is holding in his hand?

  91. Ken

    “To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The Heavens declare the glory of god; and the firmament shows his handiwork”. (Psalm 19:1)

    I seem to miss where talking to the Chief Musician about the heavens declaring the glory of god had anything to do with black holes?

    And if we could just get RID of religion, FOREVER, we’d all be a much happier species. No wars or genocide over which religion is best/right (Crusades, Inquisition, etc), no wars/genocide/scuffles over who owns what land because a supposed “god” gave it to them (Iran/Palestine). Sure, we might still have had a few Hitlers (because it wasn’t just about “god”), but we’d most likely all be more united than we are now.

    Heck, we all might even already be on Mars if we didn’t kill off half of our population. Africa might even be a world “super power”, due to them not being torn apart externally/internally. I mean, the damned Catholic Church is STILL telling them not to use contraceptives or to take certain vaccines. Go ahead, die from Auto Immune Disease, but don’t have other people die from it just because you believe that your god told you to tell them not to do it.

    Anyway – Remove religion from the plate, and we’d all be a smarter people, more united, who would get more done rather than squabble all the damned time. We’d still have our fights, but there wouldn’t be as many of them. I can’t wait until we can rip a hole in space, step through it, and travel to another dimension with no religion!

  92. Ken

    Besides, i doubt very highly that gods plan had something to do with the numerous miscarriages that my wife and i went through before we finally had our first child, or the billions of lives lost that could have otherwise been avoided if religion were taken out of the picture.

    And don’t give me that “god has a plan” talk, either. Theoretically, you could say “God let that happen because it was according to his plan. Perhaps a child or group of children in that group who perished would have grown up to be an evil man and take many lives!”. Ok, well…then how the heck did we still end up with Stalin, Hitler, Bin Laden, Bush, etc?

  93. Lawrence

    92. Ken – trust me, we’d find plenty to fight about even if religion wasn’t around.
    You could say that Marxism was a religion – and plenty of other isms that qualify as a “belief” system.

    I don’t knock people for being religious if they also use their brains to realize what is and isn’t true out there.

  94. astroquoter

    @ 85. Neil Haggath Says:

    A theory does not “become a law when proved”, because, strictly speaking, it’s impossible to prove a theory correct; that would require testing it to infinity!

    But in fairness, a lot of people claim *exactly* that level of proven-ness & certainty when it comes to many theories such as Evolution – and, yes, gravity, heliocentric solar system, Relativity, etc … as well.

    In common parlance, if not ‘science philosophy class’ people incl. many scientists will indeed seem to say a theory has been proven and that this is certain.

    While you may consider this hair-splitting, I don’t see too many scientists coming out and admitting as your line there would seen to conclude :

    “No evolution is not 100% proven and never can be.”

    @ 52. TheBlackCat Says:

    “my assertion that carbon dating is inaccurate is based on a case where bone fragments from a recently slaughtered cow were sent to different labs for carbon dating. Each lab returned a number vastly different from the rest, none were close to the truth.”

    Carbon dating cannot be used on something that young, it will not give accurate results. Further, carbon dating it cannot be used on anything that lived since the 1950’s since nuclear testing has screwed up the atmospheric carbon composition. Every radioactive dating method has a certain range it is useful over, and will give wrong results for anything else. Also, each radioactive dating method has certain sorts of materials it can date, and will give wrong results for any other sort of material. On top of that, each dating method has a certain margin of error, and I guarantee the margin of error for carbon dating is a lot longer than a few days.

    This seems to raise a very big question :

    If we know carbon dating doesn’t work for things that are young, things that have dates we can actually verify then why the blazes should we believe it for dates that are old when we don’t know how old things are?

    Seriously. If we can’t trust carbon dating for telling us yesterday’s date accurately why trust it for telling us about thousands of years in the past?

    Also while I don’t entirely agree with all of ‘Then Again”s comment I do think he(?) may have some sort of point when noting that scientists and atheists – like religious people – start off with their own assumptions, preconceptions and biases. I don’t think this factor should be overlooked.

    (Nor do I think Dawkins is possessed by Satan or that the Bible is to be taken literally and as inerrant 100% of the time but that’s another totally separate issue.)

    Point is, if you come in already assuming and (pre) concluding that God doesn’t exist then you’re going to interpret things in a very different way than if you come in thinking God exists.

    The other thing I would like to ask the atheists here is how they do feel about the personal testimonies of many religious (not just Christian) people who claim to feel /encounter / have a relationship with God / Jesus / Allah / Buddha, etc ..

    In many cases individual people will say and have considerable personal evidence that “God” has changed their life and their nature. Apollo 16 astronaut & Moon-walker Charlie Duke* is an example of such people – one of, well, yes, millions of others. Does what they all say count for nothing? Really?

    I know some of these people (not Charlie Duke alas, him I just read about*) and I wouldn’t just say they were insane which does seem rather close to what Dawkins is saying. Also while I’d agree that people like ‘Then Again’ can be a big turn-off for science-minded folk, equally I do think scientists and militant atheists like Richard Dawkins who seems to relish attacking and insulting religious people are a big turn-off for many religious even agnostic folk too.

    Personally, look I don’t claim to know and I’m unsure. I’m not an expert and it’s something I struggle with. I’m certainly not a creationist but I don’t know that evolution is 100% right and that god played no role in creating the universe either. I’d describe myself as an agnostic who can see both sides and thinks each makes good points but is entirely convinced by neither side here.

    Mainly, I just think it’s not as simple as the straw men caricatures and gross over-generalizations and over-simplifications made by extremists of both science and religion would have us believe.

    ****

    * From ‘Moondust : In search of the Men who fell to Earth’ by Andrew Smith (Thorndike Press, 2005.), Pages 483 – 500 interview with Charles & Dotty Duke – summed up from that :

    Charlie Duke became a completely different – & much better – person after converting to Christianity – prior to this he’d had a terrible temper, was a stern father, a flirt, had a ‘critical spirit,’ etc .. Afterwards he became a different person, much more relaxed, faithful, patient and happier. Charlie Duke even stated he’d choose his faith over the Moon landing.

    P.493 : Smith – “We so badly want to believe that we’re not alone, don’t we? With a pang of envy, the thought occurs to me that the Dukes are lucky because they don’t think they are.”

    NB. Duke wrote a Book & made a video ‘Walk on the Moon. Walk with the Son’ on his experiences. Noted on Page 498 ‘Moondust’ Smith, 2005.

  95. Ken

    @Lawrence
    “I don’t knock people for being religious if they also use their brains to realize what is and isn’t true out there.”
    True, but that’s just the problem – more often than not, people who are religious don’t use their brains, and just accept what is as something that was put in place by a god. You could say that MOST people today don’t use their brains, however more harm than good has come from our religious side than our non-religious side.

  96. As first author on the paper “The river model of black holes” by A. J. S. Hamilton and J. P. Lisle which lies behind Jason’s article, I feel obliged to give a little of the history behind this paper.

    Jason Lisle joined the University of Colorado as a graduate student in astrophysics around 1998 (that might not be the correct year, but it was around then). During his first semester, he came to me and explained how he had written a little windows graphics program that modeled trajectories of particles around a black hole. He did not know much general relativity, but he had modeled the trajectories as if space were falling inward, like a river, at the Newtonian escape velocity. At each time step, he Lorentz-boosted particles using the change in river velocity. He told me that the resulting set of orbital trajectories seemed to match the usual results for a Schwarzschild black hole. For example, he got the correct result for the radius of the photon sphere, where photons orbit in circles. He asked me if his idea was correct.

    I told Jason I had never heard of this idea, and it did not appear in any relativity textbooks. I said it therefore seemed unlikely that his idea was correct, though I did not know for sure.

    In Spring 2001 I taught graduate general relativity at CU, and took the opportunity to revisit Jason’s idea. Much to my surprise, a few straightforward manipulations of the usual Schwarzschild metric led to a different metric that indeed seemed to describe space falling into a black hole at the Newtonian escape velocity. In the general relativity class I called it the Lisle metric, but outside that venue I started calling it the free-fall metric.

    From that time I began teaching undergraduate classes on relativity
    about this “river model” of black holes. It seemed by far the best way to understand black holes conceptually.

    In Spring 2003 I visited the Haydn Planetarium, and gave a talk there on black holes. Several folk from Columbia University showed up, including Brian Greene (author of Elegant Universe). Part of the talk involved the “river model”, and I asked the audience if anyone had met the free-fall metric before. To my suprise, someone in the back put up their hand, said yes, that’s the Painlevé-Gullstrand metric, invented by Painlevé back in 1921. The person told me the Painlevé metric was not widely known, but had gained some attention lately in the GR community. Later I would discover that actually Gullstrand discovered the metric before Painlevé, though Gullstrand’s published work appeared later. So it should be called the Gullstand-Painlevé metric, not Painlevé-Gullstrand. Allvar Gullstrand was himself a Nobel prize-winner. He was on the Nobel prize committee that considered Einstein for a Nobel prize, and was instrumental in ensuring that when Einstein won the Nobel prize, it was not for relativity.

    In Fall 2003 I started researching the Gullstrand-Painlevé metric more seriously. I wanted to see if some analogous metric worked also for rotating black holes. Nothing seemed to work. I was almost ready to quit, when I decided to try something different. Instead of requiring that the river spiral into the black hole, I would allow the river to fall in without spiralling, and instead give the river a twist. The velocity in that case was not just a 3-dimensional thing, but a 6-dimensional Lorentz bivector. Amazingly (to me), that worked.

    By that time Jason was near to finishing up his PhD thesis, something
    to do with the Sun (not black holes), advised by Juri Toomre. Jason was busy, but willing to discuss with me the mathematics of the model that from my perspective he had originally invented. I invited him to co-author, and he agreed.

    We submitted the paper “The river model of black holes” to a refereed journal. It was the second paper I had ever written on general relativity (despite a large bibliography on astrophysics and cosmology). The paper was initially rejected. The first referee’s report began “This paper is interesting, but uninteresting…”, and expressed the view that there was no need for an alternative view of how black holes worked, because the existing view was quite adequate. It was my first taste of general relativistic culture. Eventually, the paper was published in the American Journal of Physics, a journal that specializes in physics pedagogy.

    During all of this time Jason never told me his creationist views. I only learned of them later, after Jason had completed his PhD and left. Someone brought my attention to creationist writings by Jason on the web. I tried emailing Jason, but his CU email no longer worked, and I could not find any email address for him.

    Ben Brown, another graduate student of Juri Toomre’s, told me that Jason had discussed his views with Ben. Ben told me that Jason had been most bothered by Supernova 1987A. This supernova was observed to explode in Feb 1987 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It’s expansion velocity is measured from its spectrum, and that velocity, together with the observed size of the object and its known age, yield a distance. The distance is about 150,000 lightyears away. This would mean that the supernova actually exploded 150,000 years ago. Which is longer than Jason’s supposed 6,000 year age of the Universe.

    Jason’s creationist website did not mention the simple case of Supernova 1987A. Instead, he discussed the unusual orientation of the magnetic field of Uranus, which he argued pointed to a young Universe because the magnetic field should quickly change to a different configuration. I do not understand why Jason would base his argument on some tricky and poorly understood problem like the magnetic field of Uranus, and choose not to mention something as simple and straightforward as Supernova 1987A.

    So Jason, my view is that whoever your God is, he is not a God of truth. If he were a God of truth, he would have no problem with the scientific truths that emerge from observation. Your God is a God of lies and deception. Your God asks us to have faith in things that blatantly contradict observation. He is not a God that I can subscribe to.

  97. Kevin

    @Ken:

    Religion is not the cause of all of the world’s ills. It can be traced to causing a lot of hardships, undoubtedly, but even if the history of the world went without religion, I would guarantee we would have as many, if not more, wars and trials in the history.

    Humans are a violent, hateful people. We are overly proud. Every ill of humanity can be called back to the single thought, “I am better than you.” Every war was for that reason. Every robbery, murder, hateful speech, and violent action is for that reason.

    Religion is cited as the necessity for certain actions and events, but it’s not why they were done. The Crusades were a Holy War, sanctioned by the Church because the Pope wanted to free the Holy Land from the Muslims because he thought it belonged in the hands of Christians. They were started because the Christians thought the Muslims were unworthy of living in Jerusalem. I truly doubt it would have been much different if there was no religious reason, instead it would have been done because the Muslims were Arabs and had different skin-color and culture and the European people thought they were better than them.

  98. Nigel Depledge

    Bill Kracke (30) said:

    My frustration comes from scientists who, finding a legitimate fault with a creationist argument, counter with ‘facts’ that are typically theories. For example, it is possible to say “These are the flaws in your assertion that the speed of light has been changing and is not, in fact, constant.” without adding “and therefore we know this is how it happened.”

    I’m not aware of any scientist that has (in print, anyway) tried to counter a creationist claim by citing theory as if it were fact.

    Too often, there is no need, as the creationist claims are almost always deeply flawed logically or directly contrary to known facts.

    I have also never seen a scientist use the form of argument that you describe here.

    Curiously, what you accuse some scientists of here (i.e. the claim “you are wrong because of X, therefore I am right”) is a common creationist tactic. Many creationist “arguments” depend on creating a false dichotomy – the choice between evolution and creationism, for instance. What creationists try to do is pick holes in evolutionary theory (which, incidentally, they fail to do, but they invariably assume they are correct) and then crow that this demonstrates that creationism is true.

    This argument fails because demonstrating “Not A” (even assuming they did this in the first place) in no way validates the argument “B”. Unless you are able to rule out every conceivable explanation for a phenomenon apart from A and B, you can never prove one thing to be correct by proving something else to be false. In some cases, science has actually progressed this way – but only where there are only a very limited number of conceivable explanations or outcomes (e.g. in dissecting the mechanism of an enzyme-catalysed reaction, stereochemistry of a chiral centre may be retained or inverted, and those are the only two possible outcomes).

  99. astroquoter

    NB. I haven’t read Duke’s book just seen it mentioned in that other one so can’t say any more about it.

    At least one other Apollo astronaut and moon-walker, the late Jim Irwin also became strongly religious and became a Christian preacher after his moon-walk & space career whilst the admittedly somewhat, er, eccentric former Moon-walker Ed Mitchell from Apollo 14 was (still is?) into New Age spirituality.

    Remember these astronauts were all tested and selected to fly on the basis of being in exemplary mental – as well as physical – health. They were Americas ‘creme de la creme’ at the time and not idiots or delusional types. This would seem to contradict labelling all religious folks as dumb and deluded as Dawkins and some other extreme atheists seem to either imply or state outright.

    Now I’m not saying this makes Duke, Irwin & Mitchell 100% right or the ultimate authorities on anything either but isn’t it some food for thought too?

  100. Keith (the first one)

    @ asrtoquoter Re: Carbon dating.

    You ask “If we know carbon dating doesn’t work for things that are young, things that have dates we can actually verify then why the blazes should we believe it for dates that are old when we don’t know how old things are?

    “Seriously. If we can’t trust carbon dating for telling us yesterday’s date accurately why trust it for telling us about thousands of years in the past?”

    That is about as sensible as me asking why I should trust my bathroom scales to read my weight correctly when it won’t correctly weigh a sheet of paper. There are other ways of verifying the age of a specimin, and that’s how we know the age ranges that different dating methods work for. It’s called using the right tool for the job.

  101. astroquoter

    @ 96. Ken Says:

    @Lawrence “I don’t knock people for being religious if they also use their brains to realize what is and isn’t true out there.”

    True, but that’s just the problem – more often than not, people who are religious don’t use their brains, and just accept what is as something that was put in place by a god. (Emphasis added.)

    I don’t think that bolded line there is either a supportable or a fair assertion.

    Instead its the sort of off-putting prejudice that turns people off what militant atheists are saying.

    You could say that MOST people today don’t use their brains,

    Now that’s probably true! ;-)

    But this ..

    .. however more harm than good has come from our religious side than our non-religious side.

    Well, I’m not so sure. Part of the problem is that you can’t really divide religion off from politics. Often (eg. Palestine-Israel conflict, Catholic Church policy and leadership, religious crusades and jihads) the religious and the political /power /land seeking aspects are inextricably combined.

    So its not *just* religion that’s a factor – and often what is being advocated is utterly at odds with other different ideas of what the religion is actually about.

    Religion- like science – can, is and often has been misused, politicised and exploited for personal selfish ends.

    Finally, there are a lot more religious people in the world and especially in history than atheists. This needs to be taken into account when looking at historical events and blaming religion for everything or when you say “look at what all these bad religious folks did”. Given human nature and the number of people it isn’t hard to find examples of “bad religion” but given the fewer numbers and even fewer nations ruled by atheists it may be rather harder to find cases of “bad atheism” – that said, atheism can’t really boast too loudly that religion-free individuals and nations are that much better – Stalin, Mao and Fidel Castro are all avowed atheists after all.*
    So no religion is clearly NOT the “root of all evil” and atheists are not all angels, pacifists and humanitarian heroes.

    —-

    (*Altho’ as has been noted by someone, Marxism could just about count as a religion, ditto capitalism perhaps.)

  102. Nigel Depledge

    Astroquoter (95) said:

    But in fairness, a lot of people claim *exactly* that level of proven-ness & certainty when it comes to many theories such as Evolution – and, yes, gravity, heliocentric solar system, Relativity, etc … as well.

    I have never seen anyone claim that evolutionary theory (or whichever) is as solid as a law.

    However, our best theories really do come pretty damn close. So close, in fact, that it is irrational to argue against them unless there is some new evidence that indicates that something is wrong.

    we can state with confidence that our best theories are at the very least a good approximation to reality. If they were not, we would already know by now.

    In common parlance, if not ’science philosophy class’ people incl. many scientists will indeed seem to say a theory has been proven and that this is certain.

    Well, some scientific theories are as certain as anything ever gets in life. How certain are you that the sun will rise tomorrow? I’m pretty damn certain, but that certainty relies on our theories of gravity and nuclear fusion being correct. Or close enough to correct that it makes no odds.

    While you may consider this hair-splitting, I don’t see too many scientists coming out and admitting as your line there would seen to conclude :

    “No evolution is not 100% proven and never can be.”

    This is because it depends what you mean by “evolution”.

    As I have stated previously (and you obviously did not read), evolution is a fact: populations of biological organisms change over time.

    It is also a theory that contains descriptions of mechanisms of biological change. These mechanisms have all been observed to occur.

    One of the predictions of the theory is that all life is descended from one or a few ancestral species. This has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, but can never be 100% proven. Science and reality do not operate in a world where absolute proof is possible (for instance, could you ever prove to me that there are no pink swans in nature?). Instead, science accepts the preponderance of evidence, and accepts the explanation that fits the evidence best.

    If one theory explaining a phenomenon fits the evidence far, far better than any proposed alternative, science accepts it as provisionally true, and just gets on with learning stuff about the world. If evidence contrary to that theory comes to light, the theory will be re-examined and either modified or discarded. But for a theory to be discarded, we need something better with which to replace it.

    Consider Newtonian gravitation. Even though the failure to predict the motion of Mercury was known for several decades, Newtonian gravitation itself was not replaced until a better theory (general relativity) was available.

  103. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ MadScientist:

    The difference is subtle. In your set #1 you have the Ontological Argument

    Personally I wouldn’t try to tease out the illogic, since any logical error can be used to show anything. (Follows form that an error can show a contradiction, which in turn is known to have this property.) Similarly I wouldn’t try to tease out the contrafactual, since any theological or philosophical belief can be used to support any claim.

    In reality the example is nonsense, since “the evidence implies the theory” is a scientific model error that crackpots like creationists and inductivists like to use.

    The method we all use is the popperian “the theory predicts the evidence” combined with testing for false theories, which works.

    [And happens to be supported by deductive reasoning up to the point of selecting between equally predictive theories, not that it matters. For logic lovers, parsimony can also be deductively tested, both against predicting minimized errors and maximized robustness against change in observation, and possibly more.

    But I don’t think the rest of the “beauty contest”, such as it is at times, have been rigorously axiomatized. Nor would I expect it to. Nature and science seems both to live in the larger world of algorithms and fact values (and so testability), not in the smallish subset of axiomatic deductive models on truth values.]

    But I do see what you mean by roughly squaring it all away as non sequitur. That is what theology is and religion propose.

  104. Lawrence

    95. astroquoter – once again, where is the evidence? People’s personal statements aren’t evidence of anything. I can believe that the Flying Spaghetti Monster has had a major effect on the course of my life, but that doesn’t mean that the FSM created the Universe – or vice-versa.

    You assume that Scientists are pulling this stuff out of thin air (just like religious folks are), totally ignoring the testing, evidence, and other materials that Scientists have put together over the past thousand years.

    When you can present any kind of evidence for empirical testing regarding the existence of God – then please, do so.

  105. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Wotp:

    I recently jointed the American Scientific Affiliation and have a very positive opinion of this group so far. […], even though the ideas on the fringes of both sides seem to sell better.

    AFA is the fringes. It isn’t reasonable to reconcile facts (not “objective truths” – for example “we don’t know” is a proper fact value) with beliefs, because the purpose of science is to replace ignorance with knowledge. Especially using anti-science creationist litterature that IIRC AFA refers to:

    “The ASA has no official position on evolution”

    [“This page points to PSCF and other sources that focus on the religious significance of the creation/evolution issue and concerns over the evidence that supports evolution. The ASA has no official position on evolution; its members hold a diversity of views with varying degrees of intensity. Advocates and foes of evolution alike have often gone far beyond the science of the subject to advance various causes. Despite the cries of those who claim a corner on the Truth, the importance of “beliefs” and “feelings” on all sides reduces the chances for consensus. Too often, would-be authors are not familiar with current research. Scientists, philosophers and theologians are rightly concerned with those who would speak learnedly about fields with which they have only a surface knowledge. [Bold and italics removed.]”]

    Since evolution is the basic science of biology, this tells us that ASA rejects sound and accepted science in favor of keeping anti-scientific sentiments alive and painting science as belief. This isn’t a science organization, and it is decidedly a fringe way of presenting science.

  106. Doug Little

    astroquoter,

    Also while I don’t entirely agree with all of ‘Then Again’’s comment I do think he(?) may have some sort of point when noting that scientists and atheists – like religious people – start off with their own assumptions, preconceptions and biases. I don’t think this factor should be overlooked.

    I have already said this one so I will say it again, This is not how scientist’s conduct science. They look at the evidence first and then formulate a hypothesis the explains this evidence, not the other way round.

    Carbon dating does work to within ~1% accuracy of the sample dated.We know this because we have another independent much more accurate way of dating relatively young pieces of wood (~10000 years old) via Dendrocronology when compared against the carbon dated result they always agree. Carbon dating relies on knowing the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere at the time the organism was alive, this can be gained from deep ocean sediment cores, lake sediment varves, coral samples, and speleothems (cave deposits).

    There is no question that carbon dating is an accurate way to date organic samples <50,000 years old.

    The other thing I would like to ask the atheists here is how they do feel about the personal testimonies of many religious (not just Christian) people who claim to feel /encounter / have a relationship with God / Jesus / Allah / Buddha, etc ..

    They are just that personal testimonies, this does not constitute credible evidence for anything. The human brain is notoriously bad at eye witness accounts, what about the personal testimonies of alien abductions, men in black, UFO’s, ghosts, the boogy monster are you going to give equal weight to these eye witness accounts too.

    Point is, if you come in already assuming and (pre) concluding that God doesn’t exist then you’re going to interpret things in a very different way than if you come in thinking God exists.

    Sure, but this is not how science is done. The evidence is examined and a hypothesis formulated. It just so happens that the hypothesis of a creator (as defined in the bible) does not line up with the evidence.

  107. Doug Little

    Kevin,

    Humans are a violent, hateful people. We are overly proud. Every ill of humanity can be called back to the single thought, “I am better than you.” Every war was for that reason. Every robbery, murder, hateful speech, and violent action is for that reason.

    Project much?

  108. astroquoter

    @ 100. Keith (the first one) Says:

    @ asrtoquoter Re: Carbon dating.

    You ask “If we know carbon dating doesn’t work for things that are young, things that have dates we can actually verify then why the blazes should we believe it for dates that are old when we don’t know how old things are?

    “Seriously. If we can’t trust carbon dating for telling us yesterday’s date accurately why trust it for telling us about thousands of years in the past?”

    That is about as sensible as me asking why I should trust my bathroom scales to read my weight correctly when it won’t correctly weigh a sheet of paper. There are other ways of verifying the age of a specimin, and that’s how we know the age ranges that different dating methods work for. It’s called using the right tool for the job.

    (Your bathroom scales won’t accurately weigh a piece of paper? Is that so? Never knew that. Haven’t got one to test this out either. ;-))

    Maybe so but I still have to wonder about why that is & why we should trust carbon-dating to be reliable over millennia when we know its not reliable for shorter timespans.

    what are these other ways and how reliable are they? Can we really be that sure about carbon dating and why? Not meaning to be argumentative but curious and somewhat skeptical here.

    Same for my other questions raised in post # 95 here – can you please answer these for me :

    1) If religious people begin with “God exists” in mind then how exactly is this worse or even much different from coming in with the opposite pre-judgement assuming that “God does NOT exist.” Aren’t both assumptions equally baised and don’t both equally lead to seeing what you want to see (or not see) in the evidence?

    2) Millions of religious people – incl. many highly intelligent, highly sane ones – have personally experienced “God” in various forms and had a special amazing relationship with Him – and this has often dramatically changed their lives for the better. (eg. Charlie Duke.) Should their experiences not count for anything? Really? Aren’t their lives a type of evidence in favour of the reality of God (and even Gods nature) and if not then why?

    3) Aren’t both sides – science as well as religion – guilty of over-heated over-simplified rhetoric and unfair demonisation of the oposite side at times? Might it not be possible to find some common ground and admit some uncertainity – that neither science nor religion alone is necessarily the whole one and only answer or source of answers? Maybe both Science and Religion have valid things to say and both can answer questions in different ways?

    Personally, I see fundamentalism being as bad when its scientific fundamentalism as when its religious fundamentalism and I see Dawkins being as much a dogmatic, inflexible and intolerant extremist as Jerry Falwell or the Ayatollah Khomenei. (Albeit of course Dawkins isn’t running a country and doesn’t have the sort of power the Ayatollah did. Which is a good thing. In My Humble Opinion Naturally.)

  109. Doug Little

    Torbjörn Larsson,

    The method we all use is the popperian “the theory predicts the evidence” combined with testing for false theories, which works.

    Yes that is a better way of putting it. The predictive nature of a theory is what makes it useful.

  110. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ #65 Just me:

    But just to satisfy my curiousity, could someone briefly explain the current differentiation between “theory” and “law”? My understanding is that the difference is a relic of the age of “royal societies” and victorian-era hierarchical structures or something like that?

    Not exactly. During the era of hierarchal, inductivist and, yes, religious thinking a strawman “propagation of merit” was invented and used much as you say. I think scientists at large nowadays may hesitate to use “laws [of nature]” for this reason.

    But you can make sense of “laws” by their nature of observability and universality. That is, you can often choose promote certain observations as “laws” if they don’t have too much contingency and/or model specificity connected to them. For example, it is a putative “law” of nature that cells procreate but it isn’t much of a “law” to note that humans often procreate in monogamous relationships.

    There is a certain arbitrariness to the process of promotion. [As well, in practice it is often done by the society of scientists, naming them for the guys or girls who discovered and/or explained them.]

    OTOH “laws” are almost always robust observations cum predictions that can make or break theories, and they are certainly convenient explanatory and mnemonic devices. (Sometimes a “law” is not a law. Many examples of correlations turns out to disappear later and have no theory that could predict them.) And of course theories can predicts “laws” as much as any type of observation.

  111. Doug Little

    astroquoter,

    Already answered #1 twice and #2 once in previous posts.

    #3 No, when you have one side examining the evidence and the other lying for Jesus I’d say that pretty much tells you where the over simplified rhetoric is coming from. If you wish to take on a position of deism then yes I think that there can be common ground. The idea of a personal god is ridiculous and does not in anyway shape or form fit the evidence we see, in this case it is a resounding no. Religion and science are two completely different things they are in essence incompatible with one another.

  112. MarkW

    “Dawkins is an extremist”? To be labelled a religious extremist you tend to have to go out and kill people, to be labelled a “scientific extremist” you just have to write a couple of books.

  113. TheBlackCat

    Maybe so but I still have to wonder about why that is & why we should trust carbon-dating to be reliable over millennia when we know its not reliable for shorter timespans.

    All measurement techniques have certain ranges they are effective over. I challenge you to show me a single measurement tool that works over all possible measurement ranges. By your logic there is not a single measurement tool we can use because no measurement tool can measure everything. You are not going to be able to get an accurate measurement of the size of a book with a car odometer, you are not going to get an accurate measurement of the thickness of a piece of paper with a ruler, and you are not going to get an accurate measurement of the size of a cell with calipers. That does not mean calipers are useless, it does not mean rulers, are useless, and it does not mean car odometers are useless. It just means you have to use the right tool for the right purpose. For the sake of argument, if carbon dating has a 40 year error margin, you are not going to want to use it to measure something 1 week old, but it is perfectly fine to measure some ten thousand years old because 40 years is small compared to ten thousand.

    what are these other ways and how reliable are they?

    There are a lot of radioisotope measuring techniques. Some are inherently self-checking, that is if there is something wrong they simply will not give an answer. Further, there are ones based on fixed seasonal variations, like tree rings, coral growth rings, ice cores, sediment cores, etc. Like all measurement tools they have certain ranges they work over and certain error margins, but they are accurate when used for the right purposes.

    Can we really be that sure about carbon dating and why? Not meaning to be argumentative but curious and somewhat skeptical here.

    Because we measure the same things with the different tools and the answers all agree. For instance if the principals behind ice cores, tree rings, and radioisotope dating were all flawed, they should all give completely different answers when looking at the same thing. They don’t, they all agree. The techniques have all been compared to each other and they all give the same answers, when used properly. That would essentially impossible if they were based on a flawed premise.

    1) If religious people begin with “God exists” in mind then how exactly is this worse or even much different from coming in with the opposite pre-judgement assuming that “God does NOT exist.” Aren’t both assumptions equally baised and don’t both equally lead to seeing what you want to see (or not see) in the evidence?

    Yes, but that is irrelevant. Science does not assume “God does not exist”, as people have pointed out to you repeatedly.

    2) Millions of religious people – incl. many highly intelligent, highly sane ones – have personally experienced “God” in various forms and had a special amazing relationship with Him – and this has often dramatically changed their lives for the better. (eg. Charlie Duke.) Should their experiences not count for anything? Really? Aren’t their lives a type of evidence in favour of the reality of God (and even Gods nature) and if not then why?

    Because they have personal experiences with completely different, mutually exclusive gods. The religious experiences of Hindus and Christians, for instance, are very similar but the gods they have relationships with are totally different. They can’t all be right, which means that religious experience is a useless tool for determining the existence or non-existence of something.

    3) Aren’t both sides – science as well as religion – guilty of over-heated over-simplified rhetoric and unfair demonisation of the oposite side at times?

    Probably.

    Might it not be possible to find some common ground and admit some uncertainity – that neither science nor religion alone is necessarily the whole one and only answer or source of answers? Maybe both Science and Religion have valid things to say and both can answer questions in different ways?

    I’ll admit the possibility, but until religion show some capacity to provide correct answer questions that science cannot answer then I see no reason to trust answers it claims to have. The possibility exists, but religion has provided no indication that has any ability to provide valid answers to anything that cannot be found out in other ways, while science has provided ample indication that it can. I am open to be proven wrong in the future, but until then I am not going to accept the answers something provides unless it has even a decent track record of providing good answers. Science has done that, the very fact that we are able to communicate in this manner is proof of that. Religion does not, and the answers it does give are contradictory.

  114. Kevin

    @Doug Little:

    A little bit. I am by nature an egotistical, self-centered jerk. I just try not to be as egotistical and self-centered as my mind wants me to be.

  115. Lawrence

    108. astroquoter – so, how do you “know” that they’ve personnally experienced “God?” Where is the testable data, where is the actual evidence of anything related to what “God” has done or not done?

    As far as carbon dating – it would be foolish not to check the results against other dating methods & when scientists did (as has been pointed out above) they got the same results – hence Carbon Dating is an accurate measure of time, within certain date ranges.

    I’d love to see one of the YEC or IDers admit some uncertaintly on their part – because up until now, they claim to have ALL of the answers. Scientists will admit, on a daily basis even, that they don’t know everything – but they are at least trying to find the answers – as opposed to the dogmatists, who say they already have all the answers & we should stop looking.

    There isn’t any middle ground – since Scientists aren’t going to stop looking for real evidence of how things are, and the real fundamentalists aren’t going to admit that their beliefs are wrong. Religion needs to stop trying to address scientific questions & science has nothing to do with someone’s religious beliefs.

    Actually, here is a very good question. Since science has explained so much over the years (electricity, volcanoes, DNA, all sorts of weather processes, put a man on the moon, allowed for the creation of our modern society through various inventions, progress, etc), why, all of a sudden, can’t Science also fill in the rest of the gaps? A lot of these particular areas were once prescribed to “God”, so what happens when the next big scientific breakthrough explains something that the YECers or IDers say “God does?”

    I know that there will always be questions & there are some things that Science won’t be able to 100% explain because of distance, technology, etc (100% certainty across a few thousand light years is probably asking for a bit much). Since Science has taken us this far, why attack it now?

  116. Kevin

    @Lawrence:

    “Religion needs to stop trying to address scientific questions & science has nothing to do with someone’s religious beliefs.”

    Can I get an Amen?

  117. Doug Little

    Kevin @114,

    I wasn’t looking for an answer, but that’s pretty funny none the less :-).

  118. Kevin

    @Doug Little:

    Glad I could provide for amusement.

    Also, these Jellybeans are all melted to each other… dang.

  119. mike burkhart

    I forgot about the dark matter we know it there it has a gavatational efect on matter the thing is we can’t see it and it passes thro matter so this would make studying it hard (I’ sorry about the spelling I was terrable at it school i’ll try to improve it)

  120. Yojimbo

    @65 & 110

    On the difference between “law” and “theory” – Like many people, I learned in school that there was a sort of hierarchy where a hypothesis became a theory which became a law. I think that idea is still common, and I don’t know if I mis-learned it then or if the usages have changed, but AFAIK, this is no longer correct usage.

    The way I understood it now, a law is a description, usually mathematical, of something that is believed to always happen under described circumstances, while a theory is a model that tries to explain why it happens that way. This is why we have both rock-solid Laws of Gravity, and Theories of Gravity which are currently not very satisfying (or useful).

    Laws occasionally require refinement (like the law of Parity in physics), and sometimes the term is badly chosen (especially in the “soft” sciences), but generally we expect them to be pretty much invariant. On the other hand, we expect theories to either evolve with, or be further confirmed by, new evidence. No amount of information can turn a theory into a law because they are not the same type of description.

  121. Tony Nguyen

    One of my major problems with ID is that it has an inherently Judeo/Christian basis. You never hear about Buddhist or Hindus arguing that that their views of creation and the universe should be taught in science class as an alternative to evolution. This is probably one of the clearest signs that ID does not have a scientific basis, but is instead a philosophical world view.

    That being said, when viewed as a philosophical school of thought, ID has a lot going for it, such as an inherent ethical framework that implies both a duty towards environmental conservation and preserving human life, worth and dignity (Everything was created by some greater being so therefore everything and everyone has value). These are good things, and almost every major religion and school of thought include some element of this moral framework. However, these issues of ethics and philosophy are unrelated to scientific theory (they are related to the application of scientific theory, but again that’s ethics not science). This isn’t to say however that they are any less important than science, just that they are two unrelated subjects, much like math and grammar. No one would say that math is more important than grammar or vice versa, then again I don’t see people insisting that plural nouns be taught as an alternative to multiplication tables.

    In my opinion the real problem is that the current public school curriculum does not include even an introductory philosophy/ethics course. This would be the perfect medium for presenting concepts such as intelligent design along side other philosophical theories and view points. The fact that young people are being taught history, social studies and the three RS, without even a glimpse of the ideas and concepts that are the foundation of human thought is kinda ridiculous.

    Creating a basic philosophy curriculum for public schools would allow children the opportunity to understand some of the wonderful ideas and viewpoints that are humanity’s philosophical legacy, which include among other things, the principles and ethics underlying the philosophy of intelligent design. Plus, it would do so in an environment completely separate from scientific theory, which is based upon a completely unrelated set of principles/goals (again math vs. grammar).

    I’d like to think that at their hearts, intelligent design proponents would be much more fulfilled with the opportunity to impart the ethical and philosophical values of their school of thought upon young People than with the somewhat petty goal of “disproving” evolution and scientific thought. Incorporating basic philosophical education into the public school curriculum would create a forum for teaching intelligent design as a philosophical theory (as opposed to a scientific theory, which one must accept that it is not) as well as other philosophical theories and schools of thought. This would be much more constructive and enriching to students than engaging in a pointless and somewhat silly debate.

    I really think that this is the best answer to this ridiculous argument, as it recognizes the value of both evolution as a scientific theory and Intelligent Design as a philosophical theory. Plus it allows Intelligent Design to be taught in schools in an appropriate setting along with other philosophical theories and viewpoints (and if you’ve ever sat in a philosophy class, you’d find that the basic ethical concepts and principles of different philosophies often overlap and reinforce each other). Most importantly, creating a basic philosophy curriculum would be enriching and valuable to students.

    If ID proponents really want to enrich students by expanding the scope of public education, they would accomplish a lot more by promoting the addition of a basic philosophical curriculum than by continuing to insist that intelligent design be taught in science class. Similarly, scientist should also rally around this cause as a way to finally end a petty squabble that has cost a lot of time and energy and has a lot more to do with politics than with science.

    To intelligent design proponents:
    On the one hand you have the opportunity to create an enriching “revolution” in education that allows you to present you views in an environment free of controversy that actually impacts student’s thoughts and viewpoints. On the other hand you continue a petty dispute that is little more that a “no it’s not!” argument.

    To evolutionary proponents:
    On the one hand you can help create a generation of people with a better understanding of ethics (including scientific ethics) while distinguishing between scientific theory and philosophical thought. On the other hand you can continue to have to deal with a distracting and incessant political concern that often distracts from real scientific discovery and ethical issues.

  122. Thorne

    @Tony Nguyen :
    You overlook one rather important point, though. Proponents of Intelligent Design (at least here in the USA) aren’t really interested in teaching ethics, but in pushing their own archaic religious beliefs into the minds of children. The last thing they want is to have these children actually thinking for themselves. That might allow them to see the idiocy behind the Creationist claims.
    Additionally, any ethics class such as you propose would have to include arguments from diverse religious belief systems, many of which might contradict those of the ID’ers. Again, this allows the children to think for themselves, something they don’t want.
    As for your analogy of teaching grammar in competition with the multiplication tables, what we are seeing is that the Creationists are preaching that the multiplication tables are evil and sinful and that only grammar explains why 2×2=5, because the Bible tells us so!

  123. Doug Little

    That being said, when viewed as a philosophical school of thought, ID has a lot going for it, such as an inherent ethical framework that implies both a duty towards environmental conservation and preserving human life, worth and dignity (Everything was created by some greater being so therefore everything and everyone has value)

    Really, ID is ethical and has an inherent ethical framework, That’s a good one. I’ll be sure to let the guys at the Disco’tute know that they now have an ethical framework that they can use to continue to lie for Jesus. No really, where is this framework outlined? what ethics can be determined from said framework? What part of

    “An intelligent agent is required to explain the diversity of life we see today”

    contains any ethics.

    If ID proponents really want to enrich students by expanding the scope of public education, they would STFU

    There fixed it for ya.

    On BTW you can define grammars with mathematics.

  124. MarkW

    Tony Nguyen:

    If ID is ethical, why do its major proponents have no qualms about lying to their audience?

    And at this point, the IDers are indeed lying; they know that they have nothing, (Kitzmiller showed that) they know that we know that they have nothing, but they still put up the façade.

    How very ethical.

    Also, if you had been paying attention, you might have noticed that the idea of morality being independent of theism has been around since, ooh I don’t know, at least 2400 years ago. Google Euthyphro’s dilemma.

  125. Mark Hansen

    Tony Nguyen, your statement “…(Everything was created by some greater being so therefore everything and everyone has value)…” works equally well for a universe where a god or gods do not exist. Consider: No god/gods means this is our one and only shot – we screw this planet and we’re done for. So, truly, everything and everyone does have value and Occam’s razor claims another victim thereby.

  126. Just me

    @ 87. Neil Haggath

    Thanks for the clarification. That’s more or less what I thought, but I’ve been away from school and particularly a science classroom for a very long time, so I wasn’t quite able to put it into words. So thanks!

  127. Andrew

    Creationism is a form of Satanism and should be rejected as such. It is not a coincidence that Hitler was a creationist who banned the works of Darwin, nor that the proponents of creationism (and “Intelligent Design”) lie routinely about God and his works. Nor is it a coincidence that most of the scientists who proved that neither of the creation allegories in Genesis is an accurate description of the actual history of Earth were devout Christians. I will pray for “Then Again” to give up his apostasy and return to Christianity.

  128. astroquoter

    @ 113. MarkW Says:
    “Dawkins is an extremist”? To be labelled a religious extremist you tend to have to go out and kill people, to be labelled a “scientific extremist” you just have to write a couple of books.

    “Extremist”, to me, is defined as ‘a person holding an extreme view or attitude on something.’ I think Dawkin’s extreme anti-religious views and statements while not causing physical harm are certainly causing other people emotional pain and suffering. Besides your premise there is false -Jerry Falwell and Fred Phelps have never actually killed anyone (as far as I know) yet both would be considered “religious extremists” by nearly everybody. (Incl. me.)

    Another sign of extremism is an utter rejection that the other side may have any merit and an absolute unwillingness to compromise or admit the other side may sometimes have a point too. Dawkins’ certainly fits that definition of extremist as do a number of other notable recent atheists, eg. Christopher Hitchens. Dawkins’ has for instance stated that religious people are all deluded, that parents who raise their kids in their faith are child abusers and that the Amish way of life and culture should disappear. I find all those statements by Dawkins extremely extreme as well as offensive and intolerant.

    I think people like Dawkins’ may find that their outspoken, hateful, polemic actually backfires and makes people less likely to agree with them. In just the same way, absurd claims by “religious” folk like Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad (spelling?) the Westboro whackjobs and Jerry Falwell are used as “aren’t those religious folks” nuts by Dawkin’s etc..

    As a general rule of thumb, I think the people on the far fringes of every issue are most often wrong with the truth usually somewhere in between towards the moderate centre.

    @ 114. TheBlackCat : Thanks. Point taken. Carbon dating works.

    @ 112. Doug Little Says:

    astroquoter, Already answered #1 twice and #2 once in previous posts.

    Oops, yes, looks like while I was responding to one post I missed several others – too busy writing to finish reading others. My bad.

    Going back to those earlier ones then:

    @ 107. Doug Little Says:

    astroquoter, “Also while I don’t entirely agree with all of ‘Then Again’’s comment I do think he(?) may have some sort of point when noting that scientists and atheists – like religious people – start off with their own assumptions, preconceptions and biases. I don’t think this factor should be overlooked.”

    I have already said this one so I will say it again, This is not how scientist’s conduct science. They look at the evidence first and then formulate a hypothesis the explains this evidence, not the other way round.

    Is that really so? I’m know that’s the idea of it but I’m not so sure that’s true in practice.

    Science is conducted by fallible human beings and every scientist comes in with their own set of preconceptions, their own personal views and assumptions. I think that’s unavoidable. There is a human factor here and while the model and philosophy stated by you there is how its meant to be, I don’t think that’s *necessarily* how science really is conducted in the actual world as opposed to the textbook ideal. I could be wrong but that’s how I see it.

    Scientists are after all educated in certain ways and to think in a certain mindset. Scientific curiosity is restricted and channelled by pre-existing external factors like available funding, like scientific peer pressure and colleagues opinions, like what can and can’t be published in a particular journal which will focus and twist things a particular way and do some sort of censoring regarding what can be said and what that’s based on. Scientists can’t really just follow their own curiousity and own instincts or publish in their own way or even really look at whether their own education is too, well narrowly focused and could be excluding things that aren’t amenable to plotting on a graph or mathematical formula.

    For example, scientists can for examples look at hormones and pheromones and whatver and physical reactions to love yet this may not tell you much about what love is or how it feels from the inside. It is limited to finding formula and calculations, analysing fossils and stars and all these awesome – and useful – things. However, science can’t say why we love this person or that one, explain emotions like awe or sadness, it can’t tell us what our dogs dream or how our cats perceive the world around them or why a poem or song affects us so strongly.

    In short, I think science does have its blind spots and limitations and I wish more scientists would sometimes be more humble and less arrogant and esp. less dismissive of other non-scientific truths or methods of understanding.

    They are just that personal testimonies, this does not constitute credible evidence for anything.

    We may have to agree to disgaree over what’s “credible evidence” then.

    Not everything can be experimented on in a lab or subjected to statistical analysis or so forth. If you have religious friends who you know are honest and a good people, if you see the difference religion can make in people’s lives well, its not really something you can do science on. But I still think it counts for something. You can’t do science on love or friendship or artistic ability either – but that doesn’t mean those things don’t exist!

    I think a better approach from the scentists would be to admit there are some things beyond science and maybe reconsider how they approach these things and areas? If you have to make a tough decison on something then I think given a choice between listening a friend and being bombarded with logical deconstructionism and mathematical calculations and formula, most people with go with the friend. Given a choice between going with your heart and listening to music or reading a science textbook most will opt for the former – although, of course, it all depends on the context. I’m not sure if you’ll get what I’m trying to say here; I guess I’m just trying to say, great as science is, there’s a lot more to life and a lot of other valid ways to decide on the truth or otherwise of things.

    The human brain is notoriously bad at eye witness accounts, what about the personal testimonies of alien abductions, men in black, UFO’s, ghosts, the boogy monster are you going to give equal weight to these eye witness accounts too.

    Depends who the eye-witnesses are and what condition they were at the time but, yes, why not? Eyewitness testimony can be used convincingly in court cases – why should science disrespect personal eye-witnessing (is that a word?) so much? Most astronomers accept visual eyewitness accounts when it comes to, for example meteors and comets, sketches of what we see of different nebulae and lunar features and so on and some of these eg. TLP, “stones falling from the sky” have proven accurate when scientists at the time doubted them.

    #3 No, when you have one side examining the evidence and the other lying for Jesus I’d say that pretty much tells you where the over simplified rhetoric is coming from.

    I talk about over simplified rhetoric and you respond by shouting that those who disagree with you are “lying for Jesus.” Thanks for proving my point – but I’d rather you thought a bit before typing there.

    Just suppose, ask yourself please: What if the ID-Creationist people *aren’t* lying? What if they’re telling what they think is the truth based on how they see the evidence? Is it not possible that they may have a case after all? (I’m not necessarily saying that they do, just asking the what if question for you to consider.)

    Even if not everything they say is right, even if the way they phrase things and view things is quite different and contradictory to yours; does that really make them “liars”?

    Is every detail you say accurate either? Is it not possible that you can learn something from them – look at their interpretations seriously and admit: “yeah, well we may not agree exactly but they could have some small point there or the perspective here isn’t how we do things but there’s some validity to it anyway?”

    Could the different ways of seeing reality – Creationist and Evolutionist (for want of a better word) – be like, say, how a cartoon differs from a photo differs from an oil painting but each is beautiful and valid in its own way? Or to use a more scientific example is water “truly” ice, liquid or steam? Couldn’t truth similarly be both religion, science and art all at once? Or maybe like the spectrum where visual, X-ray and infra-red all show different thinsg that are all real and true at the wavelength they’re viewed from but all look quite different. Could there be a sort of spectrum where things are viewed in a religious light and a scientific one and maybe others too?

    I don’t know here, I’m just raising the possibility for consideration.

    If you wish to take on a position of deism then yes I think that there can be common ground. The idea of a personal god is ridiculous and does not in anyway shape or form fit the evidence we see,

    For a “ridiculous” idea the notion of a personal God sure has a lot of believers! If its such a “ridiculous” notion and so opposed by all the evidence then why do so many intelligent, compassionate and reasonable people believe in it? There are even a number of people – famously C.S. Lewis and Professor Anthony Flew – who used to be devout atheists but converted back to believing in God. Also, look at how Russia which was forced to be atheist under Soviet rule, was swept by a wave of religious revival back to Christianity as soon as communism there collapsed. If the notion of a personal God is just so ridiculous then why do you suppose that would happen?

    I think calling the notion of a personal God and people having a personal relationship with Jesus “ridiculous” is hyperbole on your part and offensive and alienating hyperbole at that. And I, personally, am not certain God or Jesus exist myself.

    .. in this case it is a resounding no. Religion and science are two completely different things they are in essence incompatible with one another.

    Stephen Jay Gould and Galileo Galilei would disgaree with you there. As do I. At least on the “incompatible” bit anyhow. I think Gould’s idea of Non-Overlapping Magisteria and Galileo’s statement that “Science tells you how the heavens go not how to go to heaven” are a lot closer to the mark. I think religion and science both have a role to play in, well everything, and trying to exclude one or the other from life and/our society is ubalanced and harmful. I think a balanced approach, a balanced life, needs something of both the religious and scientific elements. (Yeah & the chemical ones too!)

    This is how I feel at some deep level even if I can’t completely rationalise it clearly to folks here. I’d like to see people consider this more and not be so quick to simplify and attack others.

    Thanks everyone for your rsponses and thanks ‘Bad Astronomer’ for giving us the opportunity to discuss all this.

  129. astroquoter

    @ 116. Lawrence Says:

    108. astroquoter – so, how do you “know” that they’ve personnally experienced “God?” Where is the testable data, where is the actual evidence of anything related to what “God” has done or not done?

    I know what people have said & how they act, I know what I feel when I ask the question “is there a God” and something in my heart says “yes.” Am I sure? No, I’m not. I don’t claim any certainty here and I guess its something that everyone needs to think about and decide for themselves.

    But to dismiss out of hand what other people say and think and experience when it clearly matters to them (and others) just because it doesn’t fit an ideal idea of some scientific experiment or fails to be calculated using the digits of pi and the square root of 42 or whatever sounds pretty silly too! Because God can’t be confined to a lab or spotted through a telescope or electron microscope or whatever doesn’t necessarily mean He doesn’t exist.

    There’s no formula or mathematical calculation for love, for hope, for music yet those things all exist. Science doesn’t try and pretend love, hope or music aren’t real even though they are areas outside of science – so why does it do so with religion? Why do so many scientists and atheists seem so furious and intolerant of religion playing any role in people’s lives? Why do they feel they need to destroy or at least exclude religious faith from everything when it helps and is so important to so many?

    As far as carbon dating – it would be foolish not to check the results against other dating methods & when scientists did (as has been pointed out above) they got the same results – hence Carbon Dating is an accurate measure of time, within certain date ranges.

    Alright. I’ll accept that.

    I’d love to see one of the YEC or IDers admit some uncertaintly on their part – because up until now, they claim to have ALL of the answers.

    Do they really? Out of curiosity – how sure are you that that’s what they’re saying? Do you know this first hand through seing what they say directly or only second hand through hearing others opposed to them saying that’s what they’re saying?

    Scientists will admit, on a daily basis even, that they don’t know everything – but they are at least trying to find the answers – as opposed to the dogmatists, who say they already have all the answers & we should stop looking.

    But biologists do seem to keep stressing how certain they are that Darwin was right and to note one famous example Richard Dawkins’ is vehemently, intolerantly adamant that there is no God and won’t admit any doubt in the matter at all.

    There isn’t any middle ground – since Scientists aren’t going to stop looking for real evidence of how things are, and the real fundamentalists aren’t going to admit that their beliefs are wrong.

    Are you sure that’s how it is? What if, just hypothetically, the “fundamentalists” as you call them stumbled upon some clear and real bit of evidence contradicting Darwinian evolution? Would they scientists really look at their evidence? Would they assess it fairly? If a breakthrough happened that disproved the theory of evolution would the scientists admit they were wrong and the creationists right? I can’t see that happening to be honest with you! ;-)

    (& not just because I’ll agree that finding such evidence is unlikely. In the improbable but remotely concievable event of some clear evidence proving evolution wrong, I just don’t see scientists accepting it.)

    Religion needs to stop trying to address scientific questions & science has nothing to do with someone’s religious beliefs.

    Probably true but isn’t it possible there’s occassional overlap and that sometimes religion can shed light on scientific questions or science affect religious beliefs? Aren’t there always exceptions to the rule? ;-)

    I may, of course, be wrong but, personally I kind of like the idea that there may be some exchange of knowledge or insight between these two areas. That each can learn or gain something from the other.

    Since Science has taken us this far, why attack it now?

    I don’t think I am attacking Science necessarily as much as saying hey, great as it is there’s more to life and more areas and aspects that we can learn from than just Science. Religion and science are both important aspects of life to most people so why can’t religion and science share and tolerate each others presence? Is that such a bad notion?

  130. Lawrence

    130. astroquoter – I’m definitely not sayingthat Religious beliefs and Science are incompatible – there are quite a few Scientists, both today and in the past that have been religious & fairly outspoken about their beliefs , but they don’t let their own personal beliefs get in the way of staying true to the Scientific method.

    If they did, they would be just as guilty of the same bias you claim above.

    Here is the problem – a religious person is going to say, “I believe” whereas a Scientist is going to say, “I can prove” that is the fundamental difference. Religious beliefs are accepted upon faith, whereas Scientific thought is based on evidence and testing.

    If the IDers or YEC (and it has been pointed out that Christians make up the majority, if not all of these believers) had any sort of tangible evidence , I’m sure they would be shouting from the highest rooftops (and FoxNews would be running 24/7 coverage). That hasn’t happened – in fact, they spend almost all of their time attacking supposed “gaps” in the Science (replacing everything with – well, God must have done it) without providing anything on their end of the equation as an alternative.

    And saying – “It must be God” is a false answer anyway. Too many times in the past, people have labeled the unknown with “It must be God’s work” only to have Science come along and actually figure out what causes something to happen.

    I am not trying to invalidate religious thought – if a person holds a set of beliefs, as a moral compass, if you will, that is a perfectly valid thought process. The moment you try to substitute that same thought for explaining why stars go Supernova or claiming all fossils were put on this Earth by Satan to trick man into disbelieving in God, well, that’s just not right.

    Now, I know that covers only the most extreme part of the spectrum – but those are the same people that shout the loudest and have the most negative impact on the discussion today. Science is never about attacking “Faith” – it is about understanding the world around us – and if some people take that as an affront to their religious beliefs, well, that is a personal issue between them and their own beliefs.

    Faith is not evidence – Christianity isn’t the only religion (in fact, there are more Muslims in the world than any other religion), so stay off of the dogmatic high horse and keep religion out of science and get it back into the churches & personal lives of believers, where is belongs.

    And yes, I do my own research – I make up my own mind based on the evidence, and I am always skeptical – but there comes a time when the elephant in the room is just too overwhelming to ignore – so when you have your evidence that supposedly invalidates hundreds of years of scientific work, you let me know.

  131. Nigel Depledge

    Doug Little (107) said:

    Sure, but this is not how science is done. The evidence is examined and a hypothesis formulated. It just so happens that the hypothesis of a creator (as defined in the bible) does not line up with the evidence.

    I’m not sure I agree with this.

    Sure, the biblical account does not agree with reality at all, but the concept of a creator is not in itself at odds with reality. Instead it violates the principle of parsimony, because it requires an extraordinary assumption (that an omnipotent, omniscient but undetectable being exists) for which there is no reasonable basis.

  132. Nigel Depledge

    Astroquoter (109) said:

    Maybe so but I still have to wonder about why that is & why we should trust carbon-dating to be reliable over millennia when we know its not reliable for shorter timespans.

    This illustrates that you have not the slightest clue about how carbon-dating works.

    Radioactivity is a deeply interesting phenomenon, and one where the quantum world meets the world of large-scale behaviours. While radioactive decay is a random (i.e. unpredictable) process for individual atoms, when it is aggregated over thousands or millions of atoms it becomes extremely predictable.

    You may have heard the term half-life. This is the length of time it takes for half of a sample of radioactive material to decay. It is also the time it takes for the radioactivity emitted to halve. The half-life of C-14 is of the order of 5,000 years (I can’t recall the exact figure and I can’t be bothered to look it up for your benefit – if you want to know, you know where wikipedia is). This means that the radioactivity of a sample containing C-14 will halve over that time period. It also means that over very short time periods (say, a decade), the radioactivity changes by a very tiny amount.

    Since every measurement of radioactivity contains a little bit of uncertainty unless your sample is very large, the shorter the time scale, the harder it becomes to get an accurate C-14 date (this applies only to small fractions of a half-life – once you are beyond about 10% of a half-life, the measurements have very good accuracy).

    At the other end of the time scale, you have a different problem. After about 10 half-lives or so, the amount of radioactivity left in the sample is very small, and it starts to get hard to distinguish this from background radiation. So C-14 dating should be good for time periods between about 500 and 50,000 years. Outside that range, it gets less accurate, but within that range it is very accurate.

    I am surprised that the bathroom scales analogy passed over your head, as it was a simple illustration of the same principle. A device designed to measure weights of things between about 10 and 150 kg cannot accurately weigh something that is a mere 0.01 kg. (NB for the pedants – yes, I am assuming equivalence of weight and mass at the surface of the Earth).

  133. Nigel Depledge

    Astroquoter (129) said:

    Dawkins’ has for instance stated that religious people are all deluded, that parents who raise their kids in their faith are child abusers and that the Amish way of life and culture should disappear. I find all those statements by Dawkins extremely extreme as well as offensive and intolerant.

    Well, I haven’t found these statements of Dawkins at all. References, please.

    I think people like Dawkins’ may find that their outspoken, hateful, polemic actually backfires and makes people less likely to agree with them.

    Please provide an example paragraph to illustrate Dawkins’s “hateful, polemic” [sic]. He seems to me to be a mild-mannered kind of guy. I’d be interested to see what he has written to make you think of him as “hateful”.

  134. MarkW

    Richard Dawkins’ is vehemently, intolerantly adamant that there is no God and won’t admit any doubt in the matter at all.

    Wrong. Dawkins has clearly and repeatedly said that, given evidence that he finds convincing, he would change his mind. This is where accusations of dogmatism fall down of course, and it suggests to me that you’re not actually listening to Dawkins, you’re listening to those of his critics who wilfully misrepresent him. A “straw-Dawkins” if you will.

    If a breakthrough happened that disproved the theory of evolution would the scientists admit they were wrong and the creationists right?

    If the famous “rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian” were ever found, the most likely explanation would be “pious fraud” by creationists. But even so, granting for the sake of argument that evidence could exist that would overturn the whole of current understanding of evolution:

    1) Scientists would be all over it in a rash; it’s career-defining stuff to overturn long-standing theories. You’re talking Nobel Prize material. So scientists (at least the vast majority of them) when confronted with evidence that they are wrong, will admit it.

    2) It would not prove creationists right. The new evidence would have to be the genesis for a new theory which would have to explain the mountains of data that is currently explained under the theories we have. Creationism fails this test, it explains nothing about the evidence we have.

    In fact creationism failed the test more than 200 years ago. Geological and palaeontological discoveries disproving the bible account were made while trying to confirm it.

  135. Doug Little

    Nigel,

    Sure, the biblical account does not agree with reality at all, but the concept of a creator is not in itself at odds with reality. Instead it violates the principle of parsimony, because it requires an extraordinary assumption (that an omnipotent, omniscient but undetectable being exists) for which there is no reasonable basis.

    Yes, I probably should have expanded a little bit by what I meant there, Occam’s razor comes to mind. I do think that the concept of a Xian god that can influence the physical world is at odds with the evidence, There is no evidence of any of the physical laws breaking down momentarily so that Suzy get’s that pony for Christmas.

  136. Nigel Depledge

    Astroquoter (129) said:

    Science is conducted by fallible human beings and every scientist comes in with their own set of preconceptions, their own personal views and assumptions. I think that’s unavoidable. There is a human factor here and while the model and philosophy stated by you there is how its meant to be, I don’t think that’s *necessarily* how science really is conducted in the actual world as opposed to the textbook ideal. I could be wrong but that’s how I see it.

    You are ignoring the first thing that is drummed into every PhD student: that you can only claim what your data will support.

    While it is true that you sometimes see over-interpretation of data in the literature, a consensus in the scientific community is only formed when both the data and the conclusions are rock-solid. The entire reason for publishing one’s methods as well as one’s results and conclusions is to open oneself to criticism. Even if a paper’s reviewers miss a flaw, it will be spotted sooner or later, most probably by someone else working in the same field.

    Any scientist whose preconceptions get in the way of drawing correct conclusions from their data will simply not survive in the intensely competetive arena of modern science.

  137. Nigel Depledge

    @ Doug Little (136) – agreed!

  138. Nigel Depledge

    Astroquoter (129) said:

    For example, scientists can for examples look at hormones and pheromones and whatver and physical reactions to love yet this may not tell you much about what love is or how it feels from the inside. It is limited to finding formula and calculations, analysing fossils and stars and all these awesome – and useful – things. However, science can’t say why we love this person or that one, explain emotions like awe or sadness, it can’t tell us what our dogs dream or how our cats perceive the world around them or why a poem or song affects us so strongly.

    You missed out a really important word from every sentence in this paragraph: “yet”. Who knows what science may one day be able to tell us?

    To presume there are things we will never understand is to give up trying to understand them.

    In short, I think science does have its blind spots and limitations and I wish more scientists would sometimes be more humble and less arrogant and esp. less dismissive of other non-scientific truths or methods of understanding.

    OK, that’s a good one.

    Please can you explain – in detail – what a “non-scientific truth” may be? Pay particular attention, please, to how these “truths” may be demonstrated to be true.

    Also, since science is the process of understanding the physical world, what other methods of understanding are there?

    If you refer to personal human experience, all I can say there is that science is not yet able to elucidate this. But it may one day be possible. After all, neuroscience and psychology are both moving forwards, increasing our collective understanding of the brain and how it works.

    But then, who really can claim to understand love?

  139. Doug Little

    Science is conducted by fallible human beings and every scientist comes in with their own set of preconceptions, their own personal views and assumptions. I think that’s unavoidable. There is a human factor here and while the model and philosophy stated by you there is how its meant to be, I don’t think that’s *necessarily* how science really is conducted in the actual world as opposed to the textbook ideal. I could be wrong but that’s how I see it.

    I’ll give you the fact that science is conducted by humans. And the beauty of science is that it is held up to the scrutiny of other scientists. In effect it is self correcting, as through the process of peer review the bad science gets weeded out. Any bias or preconceptions or if you will fraud will be eventually be discovered through this process. Scientists are required to cite evidence and how they came about that evidence, ie what observations they used or experiments they conducted as part of the process so that other scientists can also examine the evidence to see if their conclusions from the evidence is valid. If experimental results can’t be repeated or there is something wrong in their reasoning then they get called on it.

    Scientists are after all educated in certain ways and to think in a certain mindset. Scientific curiosity is restricted and channelled by pre-existing external factors like available funding, like scientific peer pressure and colleagues opinions, like what can and can’t be published in a particular journal which will focus and twist things a particular way and do some sort of censoring regarding what can be said and what that’s based on. Scientists can’t really just follow their own curiousity and own instincts or publish in their own way or even really look at whether their own education is too, well narrowly focused and could be excluding things that aren’t amenable to plotting on a graph or mathematical formula.

    Science is a well defined framework that has great explanatory power. If you fall outside this basic framework then it’s not science. There are no biases here if you follow the scientific framework, go through the process of peer review then you will get published. I think you have been reading too much ID propaganda, here’s a heads up, they are lying to you. There is no conspiracy here within the scientific community, time and time again the ID people are asked to do the work, provide some evidence for their assertions, come up with a testable hypothesis, you know do the actual science, and what do you think we get back in return…. cricket chirps. Anyone is free to follow their own instincts and curiosity, we just ask that they adhere to the scientific framework so that their conclusions can be verified.

    There’s no formula or mathematical calculation for love, for hope, for music yet those things all exist

    False dichotomy, just because science can’t fully understand these things yet, btw they are working on it and making progress, doesn’t give any more weight to the existence of a creator.

    What if the ID-Creationist people *aren’t* lying? What if they’re telling what they think is the truth based on how they see the evidence? Is it not possible that they may have a case after all

    But they are, pure and simple, if they had a case they would do the science instead of appealing to the court of popular opinion.

    I think a better approach from the scentists would be to admit there are some things beyond science and maybe reconsider how they approach these things and areas

    Again that’s not science. We don’t presuppose anything, remember. There is no evidence that we should make this assumption. It might very well turnout to be true, but to accept the status quo is inherently a religious trait.

    Eyewitness testimony can be used convincingly in court cases

    It’s been shown time and time again that eyewitness accounts are not reliable, even in a court of law. A conviction would require other evidence to back up the eyewitness account. No one is going to be convicted solely on an eyewitness account.

    Could the different ways of seeing reality – Creationist and Evolutionist (for want of a better word) – be like, say, how a cartoon differs from a photo differs from an oil painting but each is beautiful and valid in its own way

    No, religion is not reality based, faith has no basis in reality which is the cornerstone of religion.

    Is every detail you say accurate either? Is it not possible that you can learn something from them – look at their interpretations seriously and admit: “yeah, well we may not agree exactly but they could have some small point there or the perspective here isn’t how we do things but there’s some validity to it anyway

    Sure, if they would only just DO THE SCIENCE!

    For a “ridiculous” idea the notion of a personal God sure has a lot of believers! If its such a “ridiculous” notion and so opposed by all the evidence then why do so many intelligent, compassionate and reasonable people believe in it? There are even a number of people – famously C.S. Lewis and Professor Anthony Flew

    Appeal to authority doesn’t make my point any less valid. Like you said people are prone to make mistakes, Flew was a deist, and was in mental decline at the end of his life.

    I think calling the notion of a personal God and people having a personal relationship with Jesus “ridiculous” is hyperbole on your part and offensive and alienating hyperbole at that

    OK, how is deluded for you then. Oh and your concern is noted.

    I think religion and science both have a role to play in, well everything, and trying to exclude one or the other from life and/our society is ubalanced and harmful

    That’s not what I said. I said the science and religion are incompatible. Religion by it’s very nature requires blind faith, science requires evidence, faith is at odds with evidence, you see where I’m going…. This of course doesn’t mean that you can’t be a good scientist and religious at the same time, it called compartmentalization.

    You keep your religion out of my science and everything will just be fine. But don’t ask me to treat creationism (ID) in a scientific way, until they do the science it cannot be treated as science.
    Religion does play a role in a lot of people’s lives whether for the bad or good, I’m not denying that, I will disagree with you about it being a requirement for a civil society though, I don’t see how bronze age thinking can be beneficial at this point in time. Our governmental and legal systems are doing a fairly good job of it.

  140. TheBlackCat

    As a general rule of thumb, I think the people on the far fringes of every issue are most often wrong with the truth usually somewhere in between towards the moderate centre.

    There is no “moderate center” on the question of whether something exists or not. Either it does, or it doesn’t.

    Is that really so? I’m know that’s the idea of it but I’m not so sure that’s true in practice.

    Out of curiosity, how many scientists do you know? How many scientific conferences have you attended? Why should we think you have even the slightest clue how science is done in practice?

    Science is conducted by fallible human beings and every scientist comes in with their own set of preconceptions, their own personal views and assumptions. I think that’s unavoidable. There is a human factor here and while the model and philosophy stated by you there is how its meant to be, I don’t think that’s *necessarily* how science really is conducted in the actual world as opposed to the textbook ideal. I could be wrong but that’s how I see it.

    Once again, how much science have you actually seen? Yes, scientists as individuals may have biases, that is why science always has to be reproduced by other people with different biases.

    Scientists are after all educated in certain ways and to think in a certain mindset. Scientific curiosity is restricted and channelled by pre-existing external factors like available funding, like scientific peer pressure and colleagues opinions, like what can and can’t be published in a particular journal which will focus and twist things a particular way and do some sort of censoring regarding what can be said and what that’s based on. Scientists can’t really just follow their own curiousity and own instincts or publish in their own way or even really look at whether their own education is too, well narrowly focused and could be excluding things that aren’t amenable to plotting on a graph or mathematical formula.

    Utter baloney. Everything you said in this paragraph is flat-out wrong. You obviously don’t know anything about how science is done in practice, you just listened to the anti-science propaganda of the creationists and accepted it at face value.

    For example, scientists can for examples look at hormones and pheromones and whatver and physical reactions to love yet this may not tell you much about what love is or how it feels from the inside. It is limited to finding formula and calculations, analysing fossils and stars and all these awesome – and useful – things. However, science can’t say why we love this person or that one, explain emotions like awe or sadness, it can’t tell us what our dogs dream or how our cats perceive the world around them or why a poem or song affects us so strongly.

    Actually, scientists are making a lot of progress in all of these fronts and there is no reason whatsoever to think we won’t be able to answer all of these questions.

    In short, I think science does have its blind spots and limitations and I wish more scientists would sometimes be more humble and less arrogant and esp. less dismissive of other non-scientific truths or methods of understanding.

    What non-scientific truths are those? What other methods of understanding are those? Religion? As I already pointed out, but you completely ignored, religion is useless for finding out what is true or not. Different people get completely different, mutually-exclusive answers to the same questions. I challenge you to give me one “truth” that comes from religion, cannot be determined by any other source, and is agreed upon by all religions. I can give you thousands of such things from science.

    Depends who the eye-witnesses are and what condition they were at the time but, yes, why not? Eyewitness testimony can be used convincingly in court cases – why should science disrespect personal eye-witnessing (is that a word?) so much? Most astronomers accept visual eyewitness accounts when it comes to, for example meteors and comets, sketches of what we see of different nebulae and lunar features and so on and some of these eg. TLP, “stones falling from the sky” have proven accurate when scientists at the time doubted them.

    No, eyewitness testimony is not sufficient in court. You need at least some physical evidence, for instance that a crime had actually occurred. And when all of the supposed eyewitnesses claim they saw something completely different, I guarantee you the accused is going to go free.

    Just suppose, ask yourself please: What if the ID-Creationist people *aren’t* lying? What if they’re telling what they think is the truth based on how they see the evidence? Is it not possible that they may have a case after all? (I’m not necessarily saying that they do, just asking the what if question for you to consider.)

    They have been caught blatantly lying on numerous occasions. Not just about the intepretation of scientific facts, but claiming people said things they did not say, saying that people didn’t say things that they are on tape saying them, cherry-picking data, ignoring corrections, blatantly misrepresenting data. The list goes on and on. You simply have not done your research if you think this is a matter of honest disagreement on interpretation of facts.

    Is every detail you say accurate either? Is it not possible that you can learn something from them – look at their interpretations seriously and admit: “yeah, well we may not agree exactly but they could have some small point there or the perspective here isn’t how we do things but there’s some validity to it anyway?”

    We did that a long time ago. Their arguments have been around for 200 years, they have nothing new. We’ve looked at the evidence they claim supports them, we look at their arguments. We look for anything that might have even the slighest bit of validity. It doesn’t exist. You are assuming we are just dismissing them out of hand without actually looking at what they are saying. That is not the case. We have looked, we have looked very carefully. There is nothing there.

    As someone pointed out earlier, the people who originally proved the world was old were all young-earth creationists themselves. They were looking at it from that bias, but as the evidence accumulated it became obvious that this perspective was wrong, so they changed their minds.

    Do they really? Out of curiosity – how sure are you that that’s what they’re saying? Do you know this first hand through seing what they say directly or only second hand through hearing others opposed to them saying that’s what they’re saying?

    No, a lot of us have read their original material. They have no doubts. In fact many creationist organizations require that its members sign statements explicitly saying they have no doubts, and that they will reject any evidence that contradict their beliefs. You, once again, have shown you have not done much research on this matter.

    But biologists do seem to keep stressing how certain they are that Darwin was right and to note one famous example Richard Dawkins’ is vehemently, intolerantly adamant that there is no God and won’t admit any doubt in the matter at all.

    No, every biologist on the planet knows that Darwin was wrong about a lot of things. He had some good ideas, and some thing he said have been overwhelmingly supported by the evidence, but a lot of other stuff he said was flat-out wrong. You are once again buying the creationist propaganda, that we are unquestioningly devoted to Darwin’s idea. We aren’t. Evolution has progressed enormously in the last 150 years and there is huge amounts we now know that Darwin could not have even dreamed up.

    What if, just hypothetically, the “fundamentalists” as you call them stumbled upon some clear and real bit of evidence contradicting Darwinian evolution? Would they scientists really look at their evidence? Would they assess it fairly? If a breakthrough happened that disproved the theory of evolution would the scientists admit they were wrong and the creationists right? I can’t see that happening to be honest with you!

    Of course it would. It would take some convincing, there is a massive amount of evidence supporting evolution so the amount of evidence overturning would have to be massive as well, but it would certainly happen. Actually, it has happened. Several times in fact. There has been at least 3 major revolutions in evolution since Darwin’s time. They still kept the core natural selection mechanism, but additional, substantial parts were added, refined, and/or expanded. As I said, the modern theory of evolution is substantially different than Darwin’s, and Darwin’s big idea, natural selection, is just one of a number of known evolutionary mechanisms.

    I may, of course, be wrong but, personally I kind of like the idea that there may be some exchange of knowledge or insight between these two areas. That each can learn or gain something from the other.

    I agree that would be great. But first religion would need to show some capacity to tell us stuff that is true and can’t be found out by other means. So far, it has not demonstrated an ability to do that. Everything it tells us can either be determined by other means or is not consistent amongst religions and therefore is unreliable.

  141. There are several science oriented podcasts that the AIG group puts out. By and large, they treat the science accurately but they never fail to bend science around the bible, or the bible around science. (e.g. the half-life of C-14 can’t be used to determine ages of fossils beyond a few hundred thousand years – but the C-14 half-life seems specifically designed to allow man to know the history of the earth back to biblical times). So, it’s an interesting game to figure out where they go wrong. After a while, you become familiar with all their arguments. But they do a good job at explaining the science in detail.

  142. Nigel Depledge

    Astroquoter (131) said:

    I know what people have said & how they act, I know what I feel when I ask the question “is there a God” and something in my heart says “yes.”

    OK, so please may I borrow your heart? because I need an arbiter of truth in an experiment I’m conducting.

    Oh, wait … how, exactly, did your heart communicate with your conscious mind?

    And, tell us, how are you able to distinguish that “yes” feeling from an hallucination?

    Am I sure? No, I’m not.

    Oh, right, so the foregoing is irrelevant, then.

    I don’t claim any certainty here and I guess its something that everyone needs to think about and decide for themselves.

    Well, yeah, but a lot of kids aren’t given that choice, because they are “protected” from anything that might prompt them to think.

    But to dismiss out of hand what other people say and think and experience when it clearly matters to them (and others) just because it doesn’t fit an ideal idea of some scientific experiment or fails to be calculated using the digits of pi and the square root of 42 or whatever sounds pretty silly too!

    Why? Since when has popular opinion defined how the physical world works?

    Because God can’t be confined to a lab or spotted through a telescope or electron microscope or whatever doesn’t necessarily mean He doesn’t exist.

    But it does mean that we have no reason to assume a god exists. Therefore, assuming the existence of a god violates parsimony and is thus irrational.

    There’s no formula or mathematical calculation for love, for hope, for music yet those things all exist.

    Actually, people have written computer programmes that compose music, so that one at least can be reduced to mathematics.

    As for love or hope, there are a lot of clever people investigating emotions and how they work and so on. We may one day be able to write down a formula for love.

    You are assuming that, because such a thing is not known now, it can never be known. That’s a common creationist mistake.

    Science doesn’t try and pretend love, hope or music aren’t real even though they are areas outside of science – so why does it do so with religion?

    Simple – it doesn’t. IIUC, scientific studies have been conducted on religions or religious thought. From the perspective of anthropology or psychology. Science does not ignore religion – but we do know that religion offers no information that is not better obtained by another means.

    Why do so many scientists and atheists seem so furious and intolerant of religion playing any role in people’s lives?

    Again, you have this backwards. Almost all scientists (and most atheists who aren’t scientists) don’t care one way or another what role religion plays in others’ lives. However, when creationists start to make claims about the physical world and about science and scientists, those claims will be assessed with the same rigour that scientists assess other claims.

    And, guess what? Pretty much everything that the creationists claim that science has got wrong is a lie, or a misunderstanding.

    Why do they feel they need to destroy or at least exclude religious faith from everything when it helps and is so important to so many?

    They don’t. And, I daresay that, if you tried to support this statement with some actual evidence (instead of simply assuming you are correct), you would agree with me. Scientists don’t do this.

    There are one or two scientists who are also prominent atheists who will talk about atheism and science in the same paragraph, but that does not allow you to generalise amongst all scientists.

    Finally, religiou faith has no place in science because it gets in the way of understanding. By forcing you to think along specific lines, it limits your options, and it may blind you to what the evidence is telling you.

  143. @ 131 Astroquoter,

    Why do so many scientists and atheists seem so furious and intolerant of religion playing any role in people’s lives?

    As Nigel Depledge states, most people do not object to religious people being religious.

    Here in the US it is written into the Constitution that the government has no role in religion. There are a lot of people, who do not understand that along with this, religion has no role in government. You may look in your Bible/Koran/Torah/Dianetics/. . . and see what it says about issues that you are voting on, and vote as that Book tells you to, but you do not get to use the law to begin a domino effect of religious rules. Of course, none of the people trying to do this ever expect that any other religion would be passing laws that they do not like. That is exactly why the Constitution was written the way it was. Some people did anticipate this. It is as much to protect the religious as it is to protect the rest of the citizens.

    The problem is that the Creationists – we’re not even talking a lot of the religious, but certain particular sects, that choose to interpret their religion in a specific way. No problem with that, but they feel the need to force their unscientific beliefs on others. That is wrong.

    You complain that science cannot explain love and religion and other things. So what? How many scientists are demanding to come into your church to force their views on you?

    On the other hand, the Creationists, who have no clue about science, are demanding to come into the science classroom to force their religion on public school students.

    As you mentioned, religion and science do not have much in common.

    You keep your religion out of the science classroom and you will realize that scientists have no interest in coming to preach science in your church.

    There is no scientific evidence supporting Creationism. There are just a lot of Creationists demonstrating ignorance of science. If you want to bring religion into a discussion of science, expect to be ignored. Science does not care what you want to believe. Science is not a belief.

    Science is just a method of finding out the truth.

    Creationism is not the truth.

    If you want to believe in Creationism, that is your right.

    If you want to teach Creationism in science classrooms, then if you are in America, I will oppose your attempts to destroy the Constitution of the US. Too many people have died to defend the Constitution. Yet, you anti-Americans continue to attack it. If you want to live in a theocracy, there are plenty to choose from. Keep your jihad out of American classrooms.

  144. christina knight

    if the milky way galaxy is approx. 100,000 light years across and the universe is only 6000 yrs old how can a creationist accept the existence of other galaxies? Or for that matter, how would they address Olber’s paradox? wouldn’t life have been extinguished on our planet by the enormous amount of exposure to radiation presumed if the universe is only 6000 yrs old(one must assume that if the universe is only 6000 yrs old that all of the observed stars and galaxies are no further than 6000 light years distant)?

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »