Does evolutionary theory provide any useful scientific benefit?


#414

But it is so much fun to imagine that all of the world’s physicists somehow overlooked these “obvious” problems----but a group of evolution-denying entrepreneurs and their followers who just happen to share very similar religious beliefs just happened to figure out what the PhD experts who’ve spent lifetimes studying radiometrics couldn’t. What an ego-boosting experience!

Yes, when I was a Young Earth Creationist who was a fan of creation science, it was a real rush telling myself that I was actually a better scientist than those real scientists who spent many years trudging through all of those tedious textbooks and laboratory procedures!

Yet, the Bible explained my problem: the sin nature within me grasped tightly at anything which stoked my pride. I loved it when my favorite pastors and guest speakers (e.g., Duane Gish, and the Moody Science Films shown on Saturday nights at my church) told me that because I was a child of God, I was personally acquainted with the Creator of the universe and the Holy Spirit delivered “special revelation” to me that was not available to those “godless scientists”. Thus, I didn’t need to spend years studying the physics. I didn’t need to look at the evidence. God had given me a shortcut because I was special! (And everybody who managed to believe the exact same things as my church was also special qualified for that “bypass” to the science education process.) I couldn’t seem to find a Bible proof-text describing this divinely-imparted science knowledge, but it surely must be in there someplace in the scriptures or Drs. Gish and Morris wouldn’t say so that dogmatically! (After all, are you saying that you are smarter than Dr. Gish and Dr. Morris? Of course not! And seeing how their doctrinal positions were very similar to mine, it just wasn’t possible that God would allow them to teach anything from the pulpit at my church which was contrary to Biblical truth and the realities of the scientific world.)

Of course, that divinely-imparted shortcut was also explained as the reason why “creation science” didn’t have to go through the peer-review process. It was a direct revelation from God. (Of course, why Gish, Morris, and various other YEC speakers could never seem to all get their stories straight so that they all taught the exact same things was never explained. But at least they all agreed that “The scientists are all wrong and we are 100% right!” And when I pointed out such logic contradictions to my pastor and friends, they all agreed “You are thinking too hard! You must live by faith, not by sight.”)

Yes, it is fun to imagine that I know better than all of the physics professors at all of the world’s top universities. (Even though I realized that I wasn’t qualified to teach grad-level physics at a university, I nevertheless thought I knew enough to claim that the Theory of Evolution defied that 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and that radiometric dating was hopelessly flawed. Apparently my divinely revealed superiority in science was narrowly restricted to particular bombastic claims. The details must not have been important to God and to my ministry or else God would have imparted in me a more complete science education.)

Yes. I’m thankful that really good, Genuine True Christians™ can rest assured that they have a big advantage over those brainy scientists who obviously hate God and who are plotting a world-wide conspiracy to embrace an old earth and a long history of evolutionary processes. God obviously authored both the universe and the Bible but somehow man’s fallibility renders his interpretations of the evidence found in the universe invalid—but there’s one segment of the Church which escapes those fallibility problems when it comes to interpreting the evidence found in the Bible. (Thus, beware: God’s Bible is trustworthy, but God’s Creation is not. So only pay attention to the former and not the latter. Sort of. It depends on whether you are a good enough Genuine True Christians™ who learned his/her science correctly from the witness of the Holy Spirit. So many of the born-again, Evangelical Christians in the sciences—even Dr. Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project—should learn their science from Gish, Morris, Ken Ham and other Genuine True Christians™ despite their lack of relevant science training.)


#415

This has already been done. I have given the example previously, and you can search for it yourself. You can also find it on the creation.com website. And you do not understand what a “Quotemine” is, nor do you understand what honesty is. And thus have no understanding of dishonesty.


(James McKay) #416

John, when you give responses such as this, can you please, please, please, please, please provide links to them?

What you are asking us to do here is to do a Google search where it’s uncertain exactly what keywords we should use, and which will inevitably give several results which will vary depending on which keywords we guess that you intend. You’re then expecting us to guess which one of these results is the one that you have in mind, and probably get our guesses wrong.

In other words, you’re asking us to read your mind.

I’m sorry, but in the absence of links to the resources you are talking about, I’m going to have to call “not answering the question” on this one.


#417

This sounds very much like what Mormon believe. They know they have a testimony directly from God, which amounts to a nice warm feeling in their hearts. How wonder and important it makes them feel! What an ego trip! They repeat what they “know” and it reinforces their belief. They therefore feel justified in rejecting all information from non-believers. Mormons are also told to read only faith-affirming material. Sometimes when they go to their bishops in a spiritual crisis, he will have them read anti-Mormon material followed by approved pro-Mormon material… After each reading the person is asked how it made them feel. Of course the truth made them feel bad and the cultic stuff made them feel good. So they would usually go with the good feelings. And that’s how they are controlled, by feelings. (In addition to other techniques)

Of course, some do make it out of the cult.


(Jon) #418

Can’t wait to see it!


#419

No, John, the ol’ dodge-and-dive won’t suffice. Here’s the challenge once again:

@johnZ, I challenge you to post an example of a peer-reviewed academic journal where a radiometric specialist did anything like what you are describing. Full citation with page numbers, please, along with the “smoking gun” evidence in the scientist’s own words. (No, a dishonest quote-mine from a Young Earth Creationist website or book is not a reliable citation. That, as you say, “…is an old canard.”) If you are telling the truth, this challenge will pose no problem for you. You won’t have to play games.

Academics cite primary sources----not a copy of a copy of a copy of a misrepresentation in the tradition of a Young Earth Creationist ministry’s hearsay (aka dishonest quote-mining.)


#420

Remember when we were in grade school there was always that kid who bragged: “Sure I can lift that 100lbs barbell over my head. I can do it any time I want. I can even do it with one hand. I’ve done it lots of times. But I just don’t feel like it at the moment.”


#421

And last time you said I didn’t understand basic English. So many deficiencies. If I let it, this could really shake a guy’s self-confidence!

Yet, despite all of these personal obstacles, I managed to survive in the academy. Go figure. (Low standards, I guess. It’s part of the world-wide conspiracy.)


(Jon) #422

I bet you’re also on the increasingly long list of people he claims don’t understand radiometric dating.


#423

He also said I didn’t understand dishonesty. Sure I did! I already said that I read The Genesis Flood (1962, Henry Morris & John Whitcomb Jr.)


(James McKay) #424

John, on another matter, let’s just assume for a moment that you’re right here. In this case, can you answer me the following questions:

  1. How many samples do you think require this kind of treatment?
  2. What percentage of samples do you think require this kind of treatment?
  3. How much money do you think is being wasted on results that are being discarded?
  4. Where are the accountants and managers who are creating a stink about the amount of money that is being wasted on results that are being discarded?
  5. How do you explain the percentage of samples that do not require this kind of treatment?

(Jon) #425

Excellent questions. Of course it would be useful to see evidence of the process he describes, actually happening in real life. Where are all the cases of stuff like “keep measuring and remeasuring and find new material, until the dates match and everyone is happy” taking place in real life as opposed to in YEC imaginations?


(Casper Hesp) #426

I would like to follow up on that kind of reasoning. “What if John is right about his claims…”

@johnZ, let’s assume that you’re right on everything concerning radiometric dating. For the sake of the argument, let’s say it’s a horribly unsound method. Let’s just take for granted that thousands and thousands of experts who have been working with this method for their whole lives are completely mistaken on this.

In this case, please answer the following questions:
1) Why does carbon dating correspond perfectly with age estimates based on varves? The method of counting varves is based on assumptions that are completely independent of carbon dating.


(copied from Joel Duff)

2) Why do radiometric dating methods correspond so well with the progressive deterioration of DNA in biological tissue? Such deterioriation completely messes up the YEC timeline, see the table below for a comparison.

(see link for original table)

3) Why do radiometric dating methods correspond with the GPS measurements cited by @Socratic.Fanatic?

4, 5, 6, …) [insert other dating methods which provide cross-validation for radiometric dating, e.g., stalactite/stalagmite growth]

The problem is, even if you assume the lack of reliability of a single method… You end up with a huge problem when you have to explain how all these completely independent methods have managed to produce coherent results completely accidentally. Not a single YEC ministry has managed or even attempted to do so!


(Jon) #427

It’s pretty hard to argue with your basic varve.


(Chris Falter) #428

Hi John -

Hope you are enjoying God’s grace today.

As a software architect, I am painfully aware of how it is that well-built systems with strong reliability guarantees can suffer the occasional mysterious error. Sometimes it is impossible to track down the error to its root cause.

But here’s the thing: as long as the number of errors is tiny compared to the number of successfully completed transactions, we don’t condemn the system and throw it out. We find the system to be very useful and successful, and learn to live with the occasional anomaly.

I would not want you to be managing any of the software projects I work on, if you were to apply your understanding of radiometric dating to software. You seem to think that a tiny number of anomalies should warrant the casual rejection of an enormous number of successful results.

Now if you could show me that 75% of the radiometric datings end in anomalies, I would agree that the field has a serious, even fatal problem.

So do tell me, John, what percentage of samples are unable to be successfully dated? Is it a large enough percentage that I should be concerned with systematic error? Or is it just a tiny percentage of the effort? What can you show me from the peer-reviewed literature?

I am open to your argument if you can supply me with supporting data.

Best,

Chris Falter


#431

Thanks for your decent question, Chris. The problem with coming up with an answer to this, is whether something bigger than a few anomalies is playing a role. These radio methods measure different things, but in some cases, they seem to agree and other cases, they do not. For example, when identifiable dna material, blood cells, and other organic material is found in dinosaur fossils, we either have to extend the life of this organic material beyond credible limits, or we have to question the methodology that placed these materials in the millions of years of age. When organic carbon 14 is detected in these samples, the general dating method would indicate this should not happen for samples of this supposed age, so this is not just an anomaly, but a contradiction. Even anomalies need explanations. But if 75% of samples were anomalous, this would be absurd, because they would no longer be considered anomalies; they would be the norm. But still, even anomalies need viable explanations.

Most radio metric methods measure igneous rock only. C14 does not, but measures previously living organic material. And our forensic experience measures material and events by normal biological processes. We know that dna and biological material cannot survive for millions of years. Thus it is reasonable to conclude that a method that claims such material survives for millions of years is faulty.

In addition, we know based on half life C14 measurements, that C14 would not be found above background levels in organic material that is claimed to be millions of years old, since C14 would be undetectable after 60,000-100,000 years of age. So when any C14 is found in material claimed to be billions of years old, we know there is a problem.

When the K-Ar method gives an age of 300,000 to 3.5 my for igneous rock which is lava from a volcano that is less than 50 years old, we know there is a problem.

In the case of your software example, we know that software is continuously replaced. The old stuff worked good, and may even continue to work good, but it does not meet the demand of the user in some way, usually because it is not compatible with some other software that has been developed. In the same way, dating methods need to fit with the known fact that dna, blood cells, and ligaments cannot survive for millions of years, and yet have been discovered in dinosaur bones, some of which have been only partially fossilized.

Anomalies do not throw out a theory, because they are anomalies. But the argument is that these things are not anomalies, but fundamental problems within the scope of what we know and can examine. Much of the other measurements cannot be independantly verified other than by using the same methods which are in question.

But, if you merely consider them anomalies, then my points will not convince you, and that is your choice.


(James McKay) #432

No John. You have to provide a link. Saying “search it for yourself” is a refusal to answer the question, for reasons I have already pointed out.


#433

Good question. We know that based on present day examples and experiences, such as Mt. St. Helen’s, that varves do not require an correspondence of one varve to one year. So measuring varves is an invalid way of trying to measure age, because we have no way of knowing how many varves formed per year. Although sometimes one might form in a year, sometimes many might form.

So why does it correspond to C14 levels? Good question. You seem to be suggesting that varves can be verified by C14 levels, but the problem is that if that is the only way they can be verified, then they cannot be used on their own. And if the C14 method is in question, since it does not correspond to the many mill year age of coal or oil in which C14 is still found, then where are we? Using a method which is rejected for validity in dating coal or oil, but assumed valid for dating of varves, to about the same “age” level of 50,000 years?


(Phil) #435

There is easily accessed info on line to explain the difference. Here is one site that gives a good explanation of many of your points:
http://www.oldearth.org/varves.htm


(Casper Hesp) #436

You seem to be ignoring my question…

Somebody who asserts that all of these different methods of age determination are false, at least needs to answer the question: Why do they all correspond, despite being based on completely independent assumptions?

For example, suppose you believe that C14 is spurious and counting varves is spurious… Then how can they agree so perfectly “spuriously”? The same holds for other findings that correspond with C14.