|Comment:||This was my
first visit to your website. I love the layout, the colors,
the graphics, etc. The ONLY thing I didn't find was the "ON
CREATION" section on you "must read" pages.
Yes, I read your "read this first" before complaining page. It simply said that most of the site is biased toward evolutionism. Well, I found that to be true. So, why masquerade as a serious discussion forum, when only one side of the discussion is SERIOUSLY entertained or explored? If I wanted to be spoon-fed evolution I wouldn't have come here. So, bye, and have fun thinking that you're all so "open-minded" and professional. NOT!
|Response:||This is not
a discussion forum. There is no claim, anywhere, to be a
The discussion forum most closely associated with this web site is the Usenet discussion group talk.origins. Check it out. It would be a good idea to read the FAQ Welcome to talk.origins first. I hope to see you there.
|Comment:||So, you say that the age of the earth and evolution can be accepted as part of religious theories such as creation. You also say that the global flood could not have happened. You cannot accept that the global flood did not happen, and believe in the Bible because the Bible states the global flood as fact. I don't see how both Christianity and the views expressed in these texts can coincide.|
also says that there is a solid firmament atop the sky. (It
is part of the Flood story, in fact.) According to your
reasoning, you cannot accept the absense of such a
firmament and believe in the Bible. Yet I know of nobody
professing belief in the Bible who does believe in a
The Bible contains words, not ideas. The words lead to ideas, but the ideas belong to the people thinking them, and each person's thoughts are their own. I can understand how you can have trouble understanding another person's thoughts; I have have the same trouble understanding how people could accept many aspects of creationism. An important point, though, is that you don't need to understand how a person can accept both Christianity and no Flood. Just be aware that many millions do.
|Comment:||WOW! I was looking for a site on word origins and suddenly found you...interesting how you come upon something when you least expect it. Your site is spectacular, interesting, made me smile and laugh and feel good that there are realistic people out there who think as I do! I have always, going on 45 plus years now, I have been an a beliver in some form of evolution- and raised my son as open mindly as possible- and he too agrees...we do not know all the answers, but to have a site such as yours to just walk into now and again will be a joy.|
|Comment:||I recently read a book about australian history, it describes the excistence of aborigionies (excuse the spelling) in australia hundreds of thousands of years before civilised man anywhere else, there is no evidence of unintroduced primate life in australia. how did they get there? surely they didn't posses advanced nautical skills hundreds of thousands of years before the rest of us could walk upright. I have considered continental drift and do not find this a satisfactory answer.|
came to Australia in several waves up to as recently as
12,000 years ago, but the earliest possible date is about
60,000 years ago.The nearest relatives of the aboriginal
population are the Naga people in India, the Ngandong of
Java, and the people of Papua New Guinea, with whom they
share a number of physical characteristics. They came from
the Indonesian Archipelago and use boats to cross the Timor
sea, which 12,500 years ago was smaller with the lower sea
levels. Even today, people in canoes can reach Australia
from Indonesia or PNG.
There is no evidence whatsoever that humans arrived in Australia before that date. However, there is considerable evidence that Homo erectus, an earlier hominid and possibly our ancestor, lived in Asia many thousands of years before that, and possibly reached Australia as well.
|Comment:||I would like to make a comment about the article A Debate between Duane Gish and Hugh Ross. In this debate Hugh Ross states that Hinduism and Buddhism say that time has no bigging or end, and that the big bang theory is proof against these relgions. I'm Buddhist and this is not true, Buddhism teaches that nothing is permanent not even time, and that everything with a beginning also has an end. This is one of the biggest philosophies of Buddhism, to say this shows that Hugh Ross has little or no knowlege of non omni-thiest religions, (or in the case of Buddhism, atheist-no belief in a 'god')|
|Comment:||You are insisting that evolution is a proven fact. The truth is that evolution is not a law of physics. The first law of thermodynamics is nothing can be created or destroyed. Yet you insist that all the matter in the universe (Single spoken sentance.) came from nothing. The universe is everything that was ever created. You claim that there was no worldwide flood (4400 years ago). If not why is the oldest desert less than 4400 years old? If not why is The Great Barrier Reef less than 4400 years old? If not why is the oldest tree less than 4400 years old? I have a suggestion, a worlwide flood occured 4400 years ago. Why don't you debate Dr. Hovind in public if you think he is telling nothing but lies. Why don't you tell him you're unhappy with the offer he is giving out instead of talking about him behind his back. All of your missing links (linking humans to apes) have been proven a fraud. The only exceptions are "apes" that are exactly like humans. So What's the difference?|
already dealt with the factual claims in your letter. I'd
like to deal with the last part, concerning "Dr" Hovind.
I've had the experience of trying to arrange a debate with
Kent Hovind, several years ago. After initially agreeing to
everything, including the date, time and specific subject,
he pulled out of the arrangement. It was a debate he had
initially challenged ME to, after I had written to him to
challenge him on the age of the earth and flood geology.
Since that time, many people have challenged him to a
written debate to be posted on the web where everyone can
view it. He absolutely refuses to participate in a written
debate. Why? The answer is obvious. It eliminates the
advantages he has during an oral debate. I coached debate
for several years, and his strategy is age old. Hovind's
style is to spit out literally dozens and dozens of claims,
no more than a sentence or two. They are always
oversimplified, often just plain false, but by the time
you've refuted the first one, 20 more have been thrown out
like a machine gun. This used to be referred to as the
"Gish Gallop", in honor of Duane Gish. These days I like to
call it the Hovind Hustle. The audience during such a
debate can't check a citation or reference because none is
provided. But in a written debate, references can be
demanded, offered, examined and refuted. The audience at
one of his debates doesn't have the material on hand that
shows that many of the arguments that Hovind uses were
debunked even by creationists, sometimes decades ago.
Hovind is very smooth and comfortable in front of an
audience, and he can throw out arguments faster than a
gatlin gun. But he avoids any forum where his arguments can
be examined in any detail like a hemophiliac avoids paper
As far as his offer is concerned, I have told him in e-mail, over the phone, and in person that his "challenge" is a transparent fraud. I have even offered, on the web where everyone, including him, can see it, that I would give him $1 million if he can prove ANY historical claim using the same criteria he used in his challenge. The reaction: total silence. Again, the reason is obvious. He knows that his challenge can't be met, ever, under any circumstances, by anyone trying to prove anything. It is a complete and utter fraud. And if you think this is "talking behind his back", rest assured that you are completely free to forward this to "Dr" Hovind, along with my e-mail address.
|Comment:||What happens when plate tectonics rub against one another? What happens when they move away from each other?|
Plate tectonics is the study of how the plates of the Earth's crust move and rub against each other. There are four types of plate boundaries:
Plates that rub against one another create faults, or cracks, and tend to generate earthquakes. A famous fault is the San Andreas fault, which runs along most of California. Plates that spread apart create new crust from the magma (molten rock) lying underneath the plates. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a well-known divergent boundary.
The U.S. Geological Survey has an excellent on-line publication, This Dynamic Earth, which discusses plate tectonics and is aimed at the layman. Houghton Mifflin also has a nice set of links called GeologyLink, which includes an entire section on plate tectonics.
|Comment:||Hi I'm a teacher who is just wrapping up a unit on evolution for grade 12 biology in Ontario. I have used your website to introduce the topic, Evolution is a fact and a theory and to conclude it with current ideas on evolution, just wanted to say a big THANK YOU, your web site is excellent, it is facinating, well written, intellectual, thorough and most important has made me feel comfortable and confident teaching this sometimes touchy topic. No body ever argues about the mechanisms of photosynthesis! I'll be back to use this site some more. Thanks again Susan|
may be one of the most priceless resources for good science
on the planet. I was wondering how it is funded. Do you go
through the university, rely on your own pocketbooks, or
get public support? I can't say enough good things about
Talk.Origins, so I'll merely say that I hope it sticks
around and grows. If you do rely on public support, let me
know how I can give mine.
The site was originally created and maintained by Brett Vickers. He single-handedly put together the bulk of the site. Brett stills pays the bills for web hosting, but has passed the responsibilities for maintenance of the content to a group of volunteers. So far as I know, the only funding the site receives comes out of Brett's pocket. Everything else is done by volunteer effort. We are particularly fortunate to have a good group of people who take the time to respond to feedback messages.
a resource as the many FAQs on your site have proven to be
for me, I find your feedback section to be the most
enjoyable by far, bordering on the addictive.
What a wonderful deal. Not only do I get to learn, I get to laugh.
Keep up the excellent work.
|Comment:||Your website is of huge importance in combatting superstition and some very bad "science" that is propagated by those in the Creationist camp. Keep up the excellent work!!|
|Comment:||I find this site to be very interesting. I've recently read that evolution cannot be proved using the scientific method. Is this true?|
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
|Response:||No. Nothing can be "proved" if you are strict enough, and evolution is as well confirmed as any other scientific theory or program.|
|Comment:||Hello! I am
a Canadian science writer who is writing a book (Oakville:
Castle Quay Books Fall 2003) on the controversy between
evolution, creation, and intelligent design.
I have a question about ring species, as follows:
I came across a very interesting paper on the talkorigins site, in which Douglas Theobald offered information on ring species. My question appears below the relevant excerpts from the paper.
"There are countless cases of distinct species which can, in unusual or limited circumstances, form hybrids. One example is the West European raven and the Asian hooded crow, which have distinct ranges meeting in a narrow "hybrid zone." Another are the Platte river species of sucker fish of the Catostomus genus which live together and only rarely interbreed (Futuyma 1998, p. 454).
"One of the most striking instances of partial or incomplete speciation are the numerous 'ring species.' Ring species, such as the salamander Ensatina, form a chain of interbreeding populations which loop around some geographical feature; where the populations meet on the other side, they behave as completely different species. In the case of Ensatina, the subspecies form a ring around the Central Valley of California - the subspecies freely interbreed and hybridize on the east, west, and north sides of the valley, but where they coexist on the south side they are incapable of hybridizing and act as separate species (Moritz et al. 1982; Futuyma 1998, pp. 455-456).
"Another example of a ring species is the gull genus Larus. L. argentatus and L. fuscus were originally identified as distinct species in England. However, there is a continuous ring of Larus hybrids extending to the east and west all the way round the North Pole. Only in England are they incapable of interbreeding.
"The Great Tit, Parus major, similarly forms a ring species around the mountains of Central Asia, freely interbreeding everywhere except in Northern China (Smith 1993, pp. 227-230)."
Presently, I am aware of two different approaches to the concept of "species." In one approach, two species cannot interbreed and produce fertile offspring. In another, they simply do not interbreed, often because their mating habits differ.
But "do not" is not, perhaps, the same thing as "cannot." Perhaps, if thrown together without other mates, they would in fact breed, as wolves and dogs do, and produce fertile offspring. Indeed, some of our dog breeds have been regularly infused with "wolf blood" as a matter of breeder policy.
My two questions regarding "ring species" are:
1) Let us say that there are six species in a ring, and 1 and 6 do not mate. Will 2 and 5 mate, or only 2 and 3?
2) Has anyone studied whether mating can in fact take place between those ring members who meet but do not now customarily mate? Has anyone done in vitro experiments to see if viable offspring can be produced and implanted? Do they produce fertile offspring?
We should, of course, expect to see at least some processes of speciation in action, and ring species would appear to be an example -- but what definition of species is being used?
I apologize if the answers to this question are well known.
|Response:||It does not
depend so much on the species definition as the way the
organisms themselves behave. Granted, the step intermediate
tend to be classified somewhat arbitrarily, because there
are "lumpers" and "splitters" in taxonomy (an old problem)
and some will lump two or more forms as a single species
while others will not.
The standard biological species definition includes both those that do not mate successfully because of some biological cause and those that do not because of some behavioural cause. In fact, the standard divisions since the beginnings of the modern synthesis are:
Anything that prevents mating occurring can form a species just as anything that prevents a zygote from forming or coming to term and later reproducing in its own right.
Ring species are, in effect, species in the process of being born (in statu nascendi in biological Latin). There are no hard and fast rules about how big a genetic, or developmental, or ecological, or behavioural difference has to be. In the case of genetics, species with tens of thousands of genetic differences can sometimes successfully hybridise, while at other times, a few crucial differences can be enough. Sometimes the genetic changes aren't great but they cause major differences in the developmental timing of the fetus.
A classic case of one kind of ring species known as a "superspecies" which consists of chromosomal races (each race has a different number or arrangement of their chromosomes) is the Israeli Naked Mole Rat (Spalax erenberghi) which has been studied in depth by Eviatar Nevo. This is not the famous eusocial mole rat, by the way.
Here, such chromosmal differences are not enough to make the adjacent races unable to breed, but the more distant ones cannot interbreed, and one rampant bulldozer would instantly create two species where there were only one before. It is worth noting that this situation appears to have remained like this for around three million years.
|Comment:||I'm an out
and out atheist, and have no problem defending evolution
from the creationists.
One question that stumps me, however, is when they ask, "But where did matter and the laws of physics come from in the first place? How can something come out of nothing? Someone must have set the ball rolling in the first place."
How would you handle that question?
|Author of:||The Recession of the Moon and the Age of the Earth-Moon System|
reaction is to ask what's wrong with "I don't know"?
Creationists react to this simple phrase as if it were some
kind of huge victory, proving that creationism is right.
But in real life, we often have to settle up with our own
ignorance and admit that we just don't know. In the
empirical sciences, it's almost always the case that we
don't know something. It's that lack of knowledge that
spurs further research, whereby we answer the old
questions, while at the same time inventing a whole set of
But even if we don't know, that does not mean we are quite helpless yet. The idea that the universe popped into being ("something from nothing") is based on a very literal interpretation of general relativity (GR). In GR the initial state of the universe is undefined (it is a singularity). That leads to the conclusion that the universe came into existance at the "bang" of Big Bang cosmology, something from nothing, creation ex-nihilo.
But we have long recognized that GR has a major shortcoming. It is not a quantum theory, and some form of quantized GR is necessary to describe the initial state of the universe. Once we realize that, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. The new fields of quantum gravity and string theory have created a cottage industry in the new area of pre Big Bang cosmology. One recently publicized theory would have what we call the "bang" of the Big Bang be a collision between 5-dimensional surfaces called "branes", in a higher dimension universe (the cyclic universe of Paul Steinhardt).
Granted, its more math than physics for now, but it is a popular area of scientific research. And some people like it even better than I don't know.
|Comment:||I have read
some comments about certain creationists on the site and
believe that some main points have not been addressed.
I am specifically referring to comments made about Kent Hovind. I'm not the type to believe anything that any individual says just because an apparent authority says it. If I believe a piece of information is questionable, I will investigate. Yes, Kent is colorful and has many different theories about creationism. Notice I say theories. Evolution is a theory as well. Probably no question about that from anyone.
I personally believe that the bible is the inspired word of the living God. Thus I believe in creation. I could write a lot about my opinions on this subject but to be brief, I think that this site's opinion on Kent's 'agenda' or the nature of his ministry is not correct. I perceive this site's opinion to his ministry is the belief that Mr. Hovind hangs his hat on the fact that evolution can not be proven, or that creation is the only way that life began. While he does provide a lot of scientific information discerning the two positions, I believe that his main point is to prove that evolution is in fact a religion and therefore should not be taught as fact. The rest of the information, both scientific and his own personal beliefs, merely add to this main concept.
The article I read from this site about his $250K challenge doesn't provide any pertinent information in regards to his apparent dodging of the list of questions that were provided to him. The whole point of his challenge is that it is impossible to claim. This is because evolution is not a valid theory of the origins of life.
There is no current factually based scientific method (mathematical or otherwise) that can inherently prove the Earth is billions of years old. With that in mind, humans have a choice. Believe the Bible or believe in their own interpretation (guess) and hope they are correct.
|Author of:||Creation Science and the Earth's Magnetic Field|
Quote: There is no current factually based
scientific method (mathematical or otherwise) that can
inherently prove the Earth is billions of years old.
People are always free to believe whatever they choose to believe. I won't labor over what I believe about Kent Hovind at the moment. However, I will labor over that which I know to be a fact. The statement that I quoted above is, as a matter of fact, false. One is still free to believe it, but that belief does not turn a falsity into a truth. As far as the word "prove" applies to the empirical or natural sciences (as opposed to the absolute nature of proof in mathematics), it is a fact proven, beyond any doubt or question whatever, that Earth is billions of years old. There are no valid counter arguments.
In this archive, see the many Age of the Earth files for detailed discussions of how one can show, beyond doubt, that Earth is billions of years old, and how one can show that creationist counter arguments are not just "false", but trivially so, embellished as they are with woeful blunders and misrepresentations.
|Comment:||This is so stupid! God created Adam and then Eve first. They weren't from monekys or bacteria. If you belive in this please, please, please start to think about that because other wise you won't be in heaven when you die.|
about the implications of a God who bars people from heaven
for failing to have a sufficiently literal view of Genesis.
This is an evil, repellent theology.
Unbelievers are not going to be concerned about such threats. Most believers recognize such threats as unbiblical, and no basis for failing to consider modes of handling the bible which do not require a strict literalism that is disproved by science.
This threat is aimed at existing creationists. It is part of a crude cultish mind control aiming to make creationists fearful of questioning a very restrictive and shallow brand of fundamentalism.
If you care about truth and integrity, forget about fears of hell and punishment and consider the witness of the natural world. That is all science really is; looking to see what we may learn directly from the natural world.
to John and his November, 2002, feedback entitled 'Re
Greenland ice core project:', I would like to offer a more
The most obvious way to observe present-day accumulation of Greenland snow and ice is to lay a marker, like a one-meter square piece of stiff plastic on the surface, and come back one year later and collect a one-square centimeter column of snow and ice on top of it. Then by melting the snow and ice, and measuring the height of the equivalent one-square centimeter column of water, you know what the annual accumulation was, in an equivalent thickness of water. Other kinds of markers can be used, but I think you get the idea.
This has been done for many, many years. The average equivalent accumulation over the last 150 years, or so, is about 0.25 meters of equivalent water. (See 'Snow Accumulation at GISP2 Summit, Greenland' ) This number can be compared to visible layering in the snow and ice, especially the top layers where annual measurements have been made. By direct observation one visible layer is one year's worth of accumulation.
Individual visible layers have been counted downward with slightly increasing uncertainty as you go deeper. (See GISP2, on-line which discusses the conservative age error estimates of +/-2% from 0 to 11.64 kyrs, +/-5% from 11.64 to 17.38 kyrs, and +/-10% from 17.38 to 40.5 kyrs, Alley, et. al. 1993; or on the CD-ROM available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado at Boulder, and the World Data Center-A for Paleoclimatology, National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder, Colorado.) But down to a depth of about 1680 meters in the borehole named GISP2 the individual layers counted stand at 11,640 and that count is quite accurate. (See GISP2 Layer Counted Timescale and the Meeser/Sower official GISP2 timescale discussed on A Note on the Timescales.) This point in time, approximately 11,640 years before 1950 A.D., marks the end of the event called the Younger Dryas. This event is the global weather phenomenon used to delineate the transition from the Pleistocene Epoch to the Holocene Epoch, the Holocene being the geological time period we live in today, also called the Recent. It is a very illuminating exercise to plot various different data logs from the GRIP and GISP2 boreholes and observe this climatic event leaving its mark on so many of them.
Greenland is covered by a continental glacier that is 3,000 meters thick at the 'continental divide' or the 'summit,' being the approximate geographical center. Deposition of ice has been recorded in the recent past and continues today. In analogy to geological sedimentation, the oldest deposition is at the bottom and younger deposition sits on top, becoming progressively younger from bottom to top. In Geology this is known as Steno's Law of Superposition, first explained in print by the Dane, Nicolaus Steno, in the late 1600's. Some Young-Earth Creationists deny this simple, logical premise with regard not only to the Greenland ice but to all of Geology as well. (See 'Those Remarkable Floating Rock Formations'.)
If there are any physical differences in the ice as one descends through the depths, then those physical differences might be able to be used to date the ice and to discern something about Earth's climate over that time period. Boreholes have been drilled, and cores have been recovered. (Core drilling uses a cylindrical drill bit that cuts a circular ring of material away while leaving the interior material undisturbed. At certain intervals, like a few meters, this 'core' is broken at its base and physically removed up the borehole to the surface where it is preserved for study.)
A host of physical measurements have been made both in the boreholes and on the cores. These include visual observation of layers, electrical conductivity, concentration of various chemical ions, concentrations of Deuterium, concentrations of Oxygen isotopes, Carbon-14 dating of entrapped carbon dioxide, volcanic ash, borehole diameter, borehole orientation (boreholes are not perfectly vertical nor perfectly straight), temperature, and more.
Layering is visible in almost all of these logs. Deuterium and Oxygen isotope concentration logs, for instance, depend upon the surface temperature of the oceans from which the water came. During evaporation the seasonal differences in surface temperature make for different partial pressures of water composed of Oxygen-18 and Oxygen-16, and between common water molecules with Hydrogen and molecules with one Deuterium and one Hydrogen. The process of depletion of one isotope at a higher rate than the other continues to depend upon the temperature of the water as it travels from the ocean to the Greenland Summit. Summers are warmer and winters are colder, even in Greenland. Thus we see a record of seasonal temperature variations in the two different isotope concentration logs - Oxygen-18 vs. Oxygen-16, and Deuterium vs. Hydrogen. (See GISP2 Bidecadal Oxygen Isotope Data and Deuterium data cited below.)
The Deuterium log has been recorded at high resolution in GISP2 down to a depth of 194 meters, with an age of 680 years, or 680 warm-cold cycles, with an average sampling interval of about 3 centimeters, and about 16 samples per warm-cold cycle near the top, and about 9 samples per warm-cold cycle near the bottom. (See GISP2 Stable Isotopes (Deuterium) data file deltad.dat available on-line at GISP2 Stable Isotopes (Deuterium, High Resolution).) This data shows that there are no higher 'frequencies' of warm-cold cycles in the the ice, higher than one cycle per annum. These highly detailed warm-cold cycles correspond to the visible layers. This is another, independent confirmation that one visible layer is one annum.
Using the best available methods and the best available data for layer counting and for determining the time period for each layer, scientists have developed a time scale for the Greenland ice cores. The ice is more than 100,000 years old at the base. (See the Meese/Sower timescale, GISP2 Meese/Sowers Timescale, for time of deposition versus depth in GISP2 and GRIP Depth Age Scale from Flow Modeling for time of deposition versus depth in GRIP based upon flow modelling.)
Young-Earth Creationists oppose the interpretation of the Greenland ice cores as a continuous record of Earth's climate for the past 100,000 years, or more. If true then these ice cores, and the logs of various data recorded from the boreholes and from the recovered cores themselves, offer positive evidence that the Earth is at least 100,000 years old and certainly not less than 10,000 years old as the Young-Earth Creations insist.
Young-Earth Creationists attempt to discredit the Greenland ice cores at all costs because they destroy the very foundation of their belief in a young Earth.
One way they attempt to discredit the Greenland data is to insist that the layers are not annual layers but individual storms that occur more frequently that once per year. Never mind that the layering in the Oxygen isotope and Deuterium logs represent alternating warm and cold deposition. (Why would many tens of thousands of storms alternate between one warm storm and one cold storm for so many thousands of storms in a row? The Young-Earth Creationists respond by saying that the physicists must have gotten it wrong. There must be another explanation for the layers other than warm/cold deposition. Perhaps there was evaporation between storms, they argue in desperation.) They simply distrust the layer counting as annual layers and say "we just don't know" when asked to explain how the layers came about.
When presented with demonstrable evidence that present-day deposition is precisely equivalent to visible layering near the surface (and therefore one layer per year) they insist that in the past there must have been more than one visible layer per year. They offer no explanation of how this could have happened.
Young-Earth Creationists deny the efficacy of radiocarbon dating. They throw out the age dating of the ice from entrapped carbon dioxide. Because one radiocarbon date may have been wrong once in the past (due to perfectly well-known reasons, it should be noted) they throw out all radiocarbon and all radioisotope dating. (The radiocarbon dates of the Greenland ice agree with the layer-counting dates but are almost always a few hundred years younger. The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere circulates down into the firn until the firn becomes ice and entraps the carbon dioxide.)
Young-Earth Creationists deny the correlation of the Greenland ice cores with known volcanic eruptions. They say that the record of the ash in the ice shows peaks where no one can name a corresponding volcano, and shows no peaks where volcanoes are known to have occurred. Thus correlation with volcanoes cannot be trusted. They ignore the multitude of positive correlations of known volcanic eruptions with ash in the Greenland ice.
Another way to discredit the accepted Greenland ice dating is by seeking independent evidence of the age of the ice without reference to other methods. This line of investigation is a valid means of research. But it is easy to misuse, to misconstrue, and to arrive at conclusions that will not stand up to critical scientific analysis.
One Young-Earth Creationist, with a Ph.D. in Physics, has published on a creationist website a document arguing that the Greenland ice is younger than scientists claim. (See 'Ice Cores and the Age of the Earth'.) His argument depends upon the World War II airplanes found buried in the ice recently. He demonstrates how their depth, divided by their known age, corroborates a young age for the ice, without considering the sinking of the airplanes into the ice and the thinning of the layers deeper down as the ice flows toward the sea. Then he applies an overly simplistic, and improperly chosen, average of the layer thinning observed from a coastal borehole to the thickness of the summit ice in order to compute a slightly older, but still young, age for the ice.
Strangely he says his calculations are in good agreement with annual layer counting but fails to mention that there are about 12,000 annual layers down to a depth of about 1,700 meters in the ice, increasingly thinner with depth on average. How many more annual layers are there in the lower 1,300 meters of ice? More than 12,000 to be sure. Layers become increasingly more difficult to count individually with increasing depth, but in the lower 1,300 meters of ice it is estimated, based on good science, that there are at least 98,000 additional annual layers. The Creationist mentions none of this.
As a physicist he should know that the ice near the surface, called firn, is riddled with air-filled pores and is much less dense than solid ice. As a physicist he should know that airplanes are much more dense than firn, or ice, and that they sink with time. As a physicist he should know that simplistic computations on data from the edge of a glacier (averaging values from the surface and 'near the bottom' instead of applying integration and curve fitting) should not be applied to the center of a continental glacier hundreds of kilometers away.
His computation of the short number of years needed to deposit more than 3,000 meters of Greenland ice is an extrapolation of his faulty annual deposition, overly simplistic math, and his failure to recognize that glacier edges are different from continental glacier centers.
It strains credulity that a Doctor in Physics can overlook these errors. Such is the scholarship, or integrity, of Young-Earth Creationists.
|Comment:||I was wondering why the POTM for this month was taking so long. Now I know. Excellent job. It definitely helps to reinforce that what you are doing on this site is not in vain and there are those that will come to see the facts as they are.|
|Comment:||you have all the evidence, but it seems that the scientific community is beginning to lean toward intelligent design. why is that?|
|Response:||I can't imagine what evidence leads you to the conclusion that the scientific community is beginning to lean toward intelligent design. The advocates of Intelligent Design remain the same small group they have been for years, funded largely by the same set of foundations, and talking mostly to one another. They have yet to present a testable model to the scientific community, or even to submit a paper outlining a testable hypothesis to a refereed journal. They may talk loudly, but the notion that the "scientific community" is leaning in their direction is, to be blunt, utter nonsense.|
site. The amount of information is impressive. I've come
across one question in almost all of my debates. How
exactly are fossils/artifacts/rock layers dated? I've read
that dating methods are ad-hoc and sometimes inaccurate,
and that C14 dating has produced numerous errors (snail
shells being dated at 27,000 years old and a freshly-killed
seal being dated at abuot 1,050 years old). I know that C14
dating only accurately works on items less than somewhere
between 50 and 70 thousand years because of the amount of
material available gets smaller in so many half-lifes. So
my question is, what method do scientists use? Is
Potassium-Argon dating used? What about magnetic dating
(not for sure this is even real, just came across it in
this site)? I've read articles that say scientists date
fossils by the layer of geologic strata they're found in.
In addition, i've read that scientists date the layers by
the index fossils found in them (isn't that circular
reasoning?). I'm confused by this because there is not one
specific method used that I've come across in my reading. I
am grateful for you listening and for the time you spend in
replying. Thank you.
|Author of:||Isochron Dating|
methods can give inaccurate results when mis-applied. For
example, carbon dating only works on carbon derived from
the atmosphere. Because molluscs and seals build their
bodies from carbon that ultimately comes from other
sources, they are not suitable for cabon dating. This does
not, however, support the creationists' implication the
method is therefore entirely unreliable and all
"inconvenient" (to them) results can be ignored.
There isn't a single method that geologists use; there are dozens of methods, with varying difficulty, applicability, and strengths/weaknesses. Potassium-argon is one parent-daughter pair that several different assessment methods utilitze (and it is also a common name for one particular assessment technique involving that decay sequence). For an introduction to isotopic dating, see my Isochron Dating FAQ. For more detail, I'd recommend Faure's Principles of Isotope Geology or Dickin's Radiogenic Isotope Geology -- two excellent introductory textbooks on the subject.
The creationists' claim of "circularity" is, simply, a lie. The relative sequence of formations in the geologic column was worked out -- solely from vertical position that was discovered across Europe -- a century before isotopic dating methods were possible, and therefore cannot depend on isotopic ages. "Index fossils" are distinctive fossils that are used to match up formations of the same age, not to invent a sequence out of thin air. In my opinion, the "circularity" charge is so fundamentally dishonest that there is no legitimate excuse for creationists to propagate it. Andrew MacRae's excellent Radiometric Dating and the Geological Time Scale FAQ addresses this as well.
|Comment:||Hey, nice site. There really is a lot of information here. I bow to your superior knowledge. I only have one thing to say. In your welcome pages, you present that this website expresses the opinions of mainstream science. Yes, the scientific community is incredibly bright. There are no arguments against that. But, didn't "mainstream" science also believe that our solar system, the entire universe to be more precise, was geocentric? That the earth was flat, held up by giant turtles all the way down? (What kind of turtles were they; leatherback or snapping turtles?) Did not mainstream science also believe that we are alone, that there is no other life, in the vastness of the universe? They even believed that you could cure a tarantula bite by dancing the tarantella. The facts are undeniable. Mainstream science believes in what is reasonable AT THE TIME. But sooner or later, some other theory will come around, and that will be accepted as true by mainstream science. I'm not saying that you are wrong. You could very will be right. And, as I already stated, you do have more knowledge than I do at the moment. But there are times when science doesn't know as much as it thinks it does. Two hundred years ago, scientists believed that there was nothing left to find out, to discover (If you want evidence of that, read "A Brief History of Time", by Stephen Hawking and "Who's Afraid of Schrodinger's Cat", by Ian Marshall and Danah Zohar). Then came Einstein, and Bohr, and Heisenberg. They showed science that they were wrong. If I have not already expressed it, I truly believe that ideas come and go as the tides and the grand Theory of Evolution will be just like many others (like the above theories and the idea of the static universe).|
|Author of:||Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution|
|Response:||Most of the
beliefs you list at the beginning were not believed
by mainstream science. The flat earth and tarantella were
mainstream folklore. Earth supported by a turtle is from
Asian mythology, and the "turtles all the way down" story
is folklore itself, quite likely never believed by anyone.
To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a
scientific consensus about the existence of extraterrestial
You are correct that some scientific ideas change, but you overstate the extent. Old theories are almost never overturned completely. Instead they are modified. The theory of evolution itself has changed since Darwin's day to incorporate what we now know about genetics, symbiosis, horizontal gene transfer, and other things. Einstein, Bohr, and Heisneberg didn't eliminate the old Newtonian physics; they added to it. (And scientists 200 years ago did not think there was nothing left to discover; heck, study of the natural history of the New World had barely begun. Rather, some scientists thought that someday everything might be discovered.) Scientific revolutions typically come from opening up a new field, not overturning an old one.
Most important, the changeability of science is a big part of its strength. It allows mistakes to get corrected and new discoveries to get added. Fields which don't allow this sort of growth don't allow their faults to be fixed. Never trust anyone, whether scientist, religious leader, or whomever, who claims inerrancy.
Expect the theory of evolution to change in the future, but don't expect fundamental changes or disappearance. The changes will only correct what weaknesses and faults the theory has now, making the theory stronger.
|Comment:||Check out "the origins of life" by Mike Riddle. He also has a very challenging video called "fossils and rocks". It would be interesting to see your response. He's a mathmatician and claims that the odds of a living cell forming out of the great chemical soup would be 1 in 10 to the 191st power. Can you confirm any evolutionary theory that can convincingly contradict this statement?|
|Response:||I guess ANY
evolutionary theory can convincingly refute that statement.
I regret I cannot comment directly on the figure you give here. But basically, the common flaw with all such arguments is that they simply ignore any evolutionary effects, such as cummulative selection.
You don't actually give the calculation, which is a pity. The number itself does not mean anything unless we know how it is calculated and what model is used. But I am completely confident that any model used to get a number like 10 to the power of 191 is going to ignore cummulative selection, which means (roughly) that it is a calculation of a cell forming without evolution.
Beware of trusting numbers given simply with the personal authority of a self declared expert, rather than a number given with the backing of a model and formula that is available for examination.
I am more of a mathematician than Mike Riddle; which is not actually all that difficult. Riddle is often described as a mathematician. The truth is simply that he has an an undergraduate science degree with a major in mathematics. His graduate work was in education, he worked in computers for many years. He is now full time as a touring creationist speaker. To be fair to Mr Riddle, I suspect he is mainly described as a "mathematician" by others; his own pages speak simply of having a degree "in mathematics".
I have an undergraduate science degree with majors in computing and mathematics, and a PhD in mathematical automata theory.
The fact is, having a degree in mathematics does not mean very much. Setting up a good mathematical model able to characterise complex phenomena in biology is very hard work; and the major expertise required is in biology. The maths is complex, but it is much more straightforward than the problem of making a realistic model of the biological and chemical processes to which maths may be applied. This is where creationist abiogenesis probability figures fall apart, and this is where I expect Mr Riddle's maths to be worthless as well.
Sight unseen, I would guess that the actual maths involved in Riddle's number is at a high school level, and that the physical model on which it is based is inmitigated codswallop. If anyone knows the model used, I am sure the talk.origins newsgroup would love to hear about it.