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Thursday, August 21, 2008

McCain=Obama: My one political post

Here's what I don't get about America. We have people who seem to think that these two are polar opposites when a careful examination shows they are fraternal twins. The 'issues' that are claimed to separate the two are manufactured by people within each party. Electing either one of these career politicians is not a vote for change but a vote for the perception of change. Yet, we are stuck with an idiotic two-party system. In part this is because the american electorate has succumbed to the notion of either/or and they manufacture issues in order to make differences seem real. If Obama wins, we get no real change. If McCain wins, we get no real change. In spite of this we get rabid arguments about the patriotism, religious beliefs and experience of each of the candidates as if it really matters. This election, like the last, the one before that and then one before that is all about a politician seeking to cement their legacy. Our apathy has led us down a path were real vision is lacking and real leadership is an illusion.


Joe Meert

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

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bigfoot found

Again. This time the hoaxsters are going to provide DNA evidence of Bigfoot and also pictures of the creature in a freezer. Right. If this is really Bigfoot, then I am going to have to confess that I've bagged a chupacabra (oh wait, they found one of those this week too!). Well, at least the Montauk monster frenzy has subsided.


Joe Meert

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Indian Basins getting older

Last month a new paper by my research group was published online (Precambrian Research). The paper will appear in print on July 30,2008.

We have been working in the Vindhyan Basin (one of a half-dozen or so "Purana" basins) in north-central India. These Purana basins were assumed to be Neoproterozoic in age, but we think that the new ages for the Vindhyan have a lot to say about life on earth and the evolution of the Indian subcontinent. National Geographic did a decent job of writing this up.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Dr. Ron Carlson takes over for Kent Hovind

Ugh, I listened to a 10 minute rant by Dr. Ron Carlson. The video can viewed here. The number of factual errors in this 10 minutes makes me happy that they cut off the video. I do pity the people who had to listen to more of his nonsense. It seemed eerily reminiscent of a Kent Hovind seminar and proves once again that young earth creationism is built on a bed of lies. I e-mailed Carlson with the following points. We'll see if he responds.

Dr. Carlson,

I watched the video on Worldview and was surprised at how poorly you spoke about paleontology and geology. Your video contained many factual errors. I'd be surprised if you'll correct these, but I don't believe that it should be the duty of a Christian to misrepresent science in order to further a worldview. So here are some of the errors I noticed:

(1) The circular reasoning argument- False. You said fossils are dated by the layers they are found in and the layers by the fossils they contained. If true, it would indeed be circular reasoning. It's not true. The geologic column was assembled without knowledge of absolute (years) ages. It was based on the observation that the layers of rock seemed to be the same worldwide. For example, trilobite fossils are found in layers beneath dinosaurs and dinosaurs beneath fossils of humans. At the time, geologists like Lyell and Hutton made the assumption that the layers were in a correct relative order with the oldest rocks on the bottom. Rock layers are dated using radiometric methods. That's how the years were put into the geologic column, by actually using radiometric methods to determine their ages. What was so cool is that those age determinations confirmed the logic of Lyell and Hutton and the lower layers were found to be older than the upper layers. The correct argument is "Fossils are dated by radiometric dating of the rocks they are found in". Nothing circular.

(2) Lyell did not know how old the earth was and is not credited with the currently held age of 4.5 billion years. The age of 4.5 billion is based on work in the 20th century long after Lyell died. At the time of Lyell (or shortly thereafter), the earth was thought to be 20-70 million years or less (based on work of Kelvin, de Buffon and Joly).

(3) The Jurassic is not 65 million years ago. That date is the end of the Cretaceous. The Jurassic began around 199 million years ago and ended 145 million years ago.

(4) Lyell was trained in geology by William Buckland. He chose law as a first career and later decided to work in geology. He was, by all measures, a good scientist. It seems strange that you would criticize him for being a lawyer doing geology when you are a theologian speaking about paleontology. Do you criticize Einstein for being a 'dead patent clerk'?

(5) The Grand Canyon strata are in the correct order of the geologic column. There are some time periods missing, but the ordering of the strata is correct. Furthermore, the top layer in the Grand Canyon can be traced laterally to the bottom of the younger Zion Canyon and the top layer in Zion Canyon can be traced laterally into Bryce Canyon. The so-called "Grand Staircase" spans over 1 billion years of earth history.

(6) The geologic column has been found nearly complete in several places on earth. I suggest you google Glenn Morton and take a look at what this former young earth creationist and geologist has to say about this issue.

(7) Evolutionary events are not presented on every geologic column, but even if they are, so what? The layers were directly dated and thus have absolute ages. What such a picture shows is the history of life on earth. One can even deny that those organisms 'evolved', but their history on earth is accurately depicted. It's similar to creating a family tree based on date of birth.

I know that most creationists don't bother to correct facts. I corrected Kent Hovind and lo and behold, he never changed his spiel. However, at least I can remind you of this e-mail if I ever do hear your speech again.


Joe MEert

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