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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Snelling makes some refreshing comments

At the recent creationist convention in Philadelphia, creation geologist Andrew Snelling made one of the final presentations. He described, quite frankly, the problems that young earth creationism is having with being taken seriously. After reading his powerpoint slides, I am now placing Snelling on an even keel with Kurt Wise who has been similarly honest about the lack of scholarship associated with YEC'ism. Mind you, that's not an admission on my part that YEC'ism has any scientific merit, but it's very nice to see some self-reflection on their part. So, here is the list provided by Jason Rosenhouse. I make comments on each point.

1) Organizationally we are in very poor shape!

I would agree. Creationists are in poor shape because there is no rigor to their science and they feel that anything that attacks evolution is good enough to forward to their intended audience.

a. there is a lack of unity

This is a troubling statement taken at face value, but see point (b,c,d) below and my comments.

b. there are schisms and inter-personal animosities

c. there are too many different personal agendas

d. there is too much apparent competitiveness

There are personal agendas, schisms, competitiveness and inter-personal animosities in real science as well. The difference, I think, is that in real science all those agendas, schisms are hashed out in the literature. One can have a very strong personality and be very competitive, but if the science is bad, it doesn't mean a thing. So, what is Snelling getting at here? I'm not sure, but apparently he seems to think that there should be a unified front against evolution. Indeed, despite the fact that conventional science suffers from all these 'weaknesses', we don't really argue too much about the basics. Evolution happens, we argue about how and why, but not about whether or not it occurs.

2) We have several strong advocacy organizations and lots of unaccountable individuals.

I suspect this is a Ham-slam (or a Hovind dunk). It's true. Ken Ham has decided that evidence be damned, there is a hell of a lot of money to be made by pushing anything (good, bad or dishonest) appearing to support YEC'ism. I think this led to the schism between the Australian and American AIG groups.

3) We have enormous varying scientific quality control standards.

I don't mean to be flippant, but from what I've seen, there are NO control standards other than the following..."if it supports yec'ism, it's good enough to get published". Even in Snellings own writings, there is no hint that there might be any problem with the analysis. Interestingly, these suggestions do come out elsewhere in creationist writings.

4) We thus have confusion over advocated scientific models, because our constituency thinks that all such models are equally valid scientifically, when they are not.

That's because of your starting point. Creationists are quite clear in their philosophy that anything that supports YEC'ism is valid science. It doesn't matter if that 'science' is flawed, illogical or scientifically dishonest. The ends (holding the masses to a YE-model) justify any and all means (including lies, damned lies and statistics)

5) But how well have we done at building the Creation Model?

Abysmal! But you're gonna admit that aren't you?

6) If we are honest, by looking at the current status of the Creation Model, the answer would have to be “poorly".

Ok, I said abysmal, you said poorly.

a. we do not yet have a unified cosmological model

You don't even have a start on one!

b. even nearly five decades after The Genesis Flood we still have no comprehensive model of earth history explaining the geologic (strata and fossil) record that includes general agreement on Creation Week rocks. Pre-Flood/Flood and Flood/post-Flood boundaries.

Not five decades Andrew! Well over 400 years (and I'm being generous). The flud 'hypothesis' has been around far longer than 50 years. It was one of the reigning ideas of the 16th and 17th centuries. What I am pleased about is to read a YEC acknowledging something I've been harping on for more than a decade. In short, according to creationists the 'flud' is THE defining geologic event on earth. Everything else is miniscule. So why is it so hard to define the time line? One can read the first few paragraphs of this to see my challenge.

c. We are even still arguing about the nature of the geologic record, whether there really are rock sequences that can be traced across continents and correlated between continents.

To be fair to Snelling, this is also true of real geology so I can hardly fault creationists on this one.

d. We still don’t hav a complete understanding of radiometric dates (e.g. concordant dates, meteorite dates), RATE notwithstanding.

We do! What's even better is that our explanations are internally self-consistent and have withstood test after test after test. RATE has simply looked desperately for a few examples where radiometric dating APPEARS flawed. In each and every case, conventional geology can explain these 'anomalies (this is one of Snelling's assertions)'

Anyway, I thank Andrew for being honest about the overall failure of YEC'ist geology. I suspect he will either look deeper into this matter and be forced (ala Glenn Morton) to admit that YEC'ism is vacuous or retrench into the self-denial that YEC'ism demands.


Joe Meert


At 2:05 AM, Blogger RBH said...

My bet is retrenchment. It takes way more intellectual courage than Snelling has to admit the size of error necessary to do a Morton.

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe it took an entire three weeks to notice you were back - shame on me!

Good to have you posting again, and much congrats on the paper and NatGeo writeup.

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Pam said...

Bravo! Keep posting! People need to read this!Not only read this but quit equating creationism with salvation!. Since when does one have to believe in creationism for their salvation as some evangelicals believe. My husband is a geologist too, if I didn't know any better I would have thought that was a picture of him at the Clavert Cliffs of MD or some other place where there are marine sediments. Good trilobite hunting up our way.

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Reginald Selkirk said...

Here's an opportunity for you to rant about RATE.


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