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Friday, February 12, 2010

Biology Professor arrested?


And how long before evolution is to blame? I bet within 24 hours


far too easy for me.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Jesus the Pooh

So I was reading this book called "The Holy Bible" the other day and was fascinated to read the story of Jesus of Pooh. In reading the gospel according to Matt, I learned that Jesus' mother "Maury" was impregnated by a martian who came down in a spaceship and told her that she would be the mother of God. Fascinating. It turns out that Maury and her husband "Joe" were on their way to a Nazareth concert one December long ago and could find no room in any of the hotels. It's unclear why the hotels were all booked, but Matt speculates it was due to either it being so close to Christmas or simply a lot of Nazareth fans. Anyway, that part was not real clear to me.

Joe, the father of Jesus did not seem all too ticked off that a martian was the father of his child. Joe, was a talented garbage man at the time and assumed that whatever god wanted was good enough for him. So jesus was born in a converted garage of some friends they had and a whole bunch of people found out and brought gifts including goalposts, Frankenstein dolls and myrrh (whatever that is). Jesus grew up and apparently was very confrontational. At 13 he argued with a bunch of old men with beards and told them they were going to hell. The old men said "Christ you're not bringing that crap up again" and that is how jesus earned the nickname "christ". Apparently people began to hate Jesus because he kept taking all the good fishermen away and making them work for him (for free). At one point they were about to lynch Jesus but the guys learned to bake bread and caught a whole crapload of fish so that kept everyone happy for a while.

In the end though people didn't like Jesus the Pooh and he was stabbed outside a deli. He didn't die (even though everyone thought he did) and was having lots of fun spooking people by suddenly appearing at dinner parties and saying "Boo!". Then one day he just up and disappeared and no one has seen him since. He has attracted a large following of 'Christ'ians to this very day.


Joe Meert

PS: I wrote the above for one reason only. Often I am approached by young earth creationists and asked to 'well explain this problem with science I've found?'. When I read the 'problem' it becomes apparent that they've completely mangled the real science such that they are asking me to defend/refute a straw man. My answer is to ask them to defend why they believe in the story of Jesus the Pooh as told in the bible (above). If truth be told, my parody of the story of Jesus is at times far more true to the bible then some of their depictions of science.

Continuing on the Austin Chalk

So, the challenge for me by my creationist friend was to explain the Austin chalk because he apparently believes its existence is supportive of a global flood. I don't know where he got the idea that massive Cretaceous chalk deposits were evidence for a global flood because they are typically held forth as evidence AGAINST the global flood. Nevertheless.....

As I noted yesterday, creationist Steve Austin places the Cretaceous chalk deposits in the latter part of the year-long flood. Austin creates a scenario through which the photic zone in the turbulent, volcanic-laden, rain-soaked oceans manages to be 5 times thicker than in normal oceanic water and argues that such turbulent conditions favor blooms.

As fantastic as that sounds, I was more intrigued to learn that Austin actually placed these deposits within the 'latter stages of the flood'. This is important because I've long taken creationists to task for not being able to specify what rocks are pre, syn and post flood. So, at least we know that the Cretaceous chalk deposits are late 'syn-flood'. While that does not tell us specifically where all the rest of the geologic column was formed during the flood, it does allow us to make a few conjectures. So here goes:

(1) In creationist geology, the flood must be THE defining event in the rock record. There is no other mechanism by which to form the vast thicknesses of sedimentary rock on the globe absent the flood.

Based on (1) and the conclusions of Austin, I think it is safe to say that what geologists call 'Jurassic' and "Triassic" strata must also be syn-flood sedimentary deposits. That means that during the deposition of these strata, the world was covered with water and that water was turbulent and that massive rain was falling on the ocean and that massive volcanic eruptions were occurring as the fountains of the deep ruptured (based on creationist Austin's description).

I have some questions :). How were termites able to build giant nests during this global tempest? Below is a photo of a Jurassic termite mound discovered by Dr. Steve Hasiotis

Furthermore, how is it that we had forest fires during this global flood. Below is a photo of petrified wood (burnt) from the Chinle Formation (Triassic) in New Mexico:

(Photo by J. Meert).

Then there is the little issue of the vast number of paleosols found throughout Triassic and Jurassic strata. How exactly did those form during the global flood? These complete with infilled burrows (photo by Steve Hasiotis)!!

So, you see I never would have chosen the Austin chalk as an example of the global flood. Too many problems that are not easy to hide---unless you can rationalize those problems away with unrealistic invented scenarios---

I'll repeat my challenge to ye-creation geologists and their supporters:

a. Where can a geologist find, on a global basis, the pre-flood/flood boundary? You will not find a continent-by-continent listing of formational names and type sections for this boundary in the creationist literature.

b. Where can a geologist find, on a global basis, strata laid down during the peak of the global flood (i.e. globally correlatable strata all deposited under water)? You will not find a continent-by-continent listing of formational names and type sections for these rocks in the creationist literature.

c. Where can a geologist find, on a global basis, the flood/post-flood boundary? You will not find a continent-by-continent listing of formational names and type sections for this boundary in the creationist literature. To be fair, creationists have a little more leeway in defining this boundary since the flood waters receded over a slightly longer time interval, but it still should be possible to provide considerable detail.


Joe Meert

Monday, February 08, 2010

On the global flood

So a creationist on facebook has challenged me for an explanation of the "Austin chalk line". I take it for some reason that the existence of the Austin Chalk is evidence for a global flood. I must admit that were I ever to return to young earth creationism, I would not use the Austin chalk as evidence for the great flood, let alone a young earth. In fact, I would be very careful not to mention chalk deposits like this one (or the white cliffs of dover) in the hope that the old earther I was debating would forget to bring it up. Why is this such a poor example for flood geology?

There are several arguments relevant to chalk deposits that are often used to counter the flood model. The first has to do with the incredible density of microscopic organisms required to make up the deposits if they were deposited in a single year. A second problem has to do with the time it takes for chalk deposits to form. These are microorganisms that rain down on the seafloor. In surface water, the dead tests of these organisms can be carried by currents and remain suspended for some time though eventually they will fall to the seafloor and accumulate. Even if the massive blooms required for the chalk deposits were formed in a flood, the tests would not settle down in such pure layers during the flood. Most, if not all, would remain suspended in the water column. The third problem with chalk layers is where they reside in the rock record. For the most part the large deposits of chalk are Cretaceous in age and that forces flood geologists to pin down at least part of the flood during this interval in the rock record. So let's look at the creationist explanation.

Creationist like Steve Austin (aka evolutionist Stuart Nevins) claims that chalk deposits are not problematic for the flood. While I encourage you to read the entire article, I want to highlight several 'explanations' given by Austin:

(1) Creationist geologists may have different views as to where the pre-Flood/Flood boundary is in the geological record, but the majority would regard these Upper Cretaceous chalks as having been deposited very late in the Flood.

Interesting claim by Austin, more on this in a moment.

(2)Quite clearly, under cataclysmic Flood conditions, including torrential rain, sea turbulence, decaying fish and other organic matter, and the violent volcanic eruptions associated with the ‘fountains of the deep’, explosive blooms on a large and repetitive scale in the oceans are realistically conceivable, so that the production of the necessary quantities of calcareous ooze to produce the chalk beds in the geological record in a short space of time at the close of the Flood is also realistically conceivable.

Now there are many things to take issue with in Austin's article, but these two are problematic in their own right. Let's start with point #2. Austin concedes the conditions under which these organisms form. Torrential rain, sea turbulence and violent eruptions are the stated conditions. Now let's review the biology of these microorganisms. Coccoliths and forams that make up these deposits are planktonic. Indeed the most abundant form of coccolith occupies the photic zone (upper 100 m of surface waters), but reread Austin and note that he places them in water depths 5x the 'norm' and this in turbulent, cloudy waters of the flood. In short, he changes the entire ecosystem and claims that these conditions would 'foster' blooms of these organisms! Secondly, Austin tries to deal with the population density problems outlined by Glen Morton who astutely points out the ridiculous population densities required by flood proponents. Austin's sleight of hand many be difficult for the creationist to grasp, but the simple answer is that Austin deals with the population problem by essentially assuming that these are the only things in the ocean. Morton discusses the physics and life cycle issues in far more detail than Austin and I encourage you to read Morton's discussion as well as the discussion of land fossils in that essay.

Now turning to point #1 placing these blooms in the latter part of the flood. Ok, let's assume that Austin is correct and that the Chalk beds represent the latter part of the flood. That means that the earlier part of the flood waters would be represented by strata of Jurassic, Triassic and Paleozoic age. But let's forget about the Paleozoic strata and look just to the strata that immediately pre-dates the Austin chalk (namely Jurassic and Triassic). We will use these terms without any absolute time connotation and assume that what normal geologists call Jurrassic and Triassic are all less than 6000 years old and that they were deposited in the year of the great flood.

More to come.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Answers to some questions

I received the following questions from a young earth creationist on facebook. Not much room to answer there, so I've posted them here:

Question 1: Are we (eg humans) energy?

Answer: No, humans are not energy though we are composed of energetic particles that form the matter in our bodies. An assembly of energetic particles does not necessarily equate to a living being.

Question #2: Does energy die?

Energy is neither alive nor dead, so the question is unanswerable because it is based on a false premise.

Question 3: Is there evidence to show that man and dinosaur coexisted?

Answer: Of course, this depends on what you call a 'dinosaur'. Birds, by scientific consensus are in the dinosaur family tree and we certainly co-exist with birds. If by dinosaur you mean "Did man ever hunt t-rex?" the answer is no. T-rex died out 60 million years before the first hominids appear on earth. There are people like Carl Baugh who claims that human and dinosaur footprints are found together at Paluxy; however careful analysis refutes this claim.

Question: Is there evidence for a global flood?

Answer: No, there is no evidence for the type of flood described initially in the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh (later incorporated into the Hebrew legend of Noah). There have been large floods in the past, but none that completely enveloped the globe and killed all living organisms except for a few on a boat. In fact, there is a wealth of evidence refuting the flood and creationists refuse to specify just what constitutes the flood interval in the geologic record.

Question: Is there proof for evolution?

This answer could be very long, but I'll make it short because it is based upon a lack of background. Evolution is observable and verifiable and is also profitable in that it leads to useful predictions and retrodictions about life.

Question: Is there any prophecy that has been refuted?

Answer: By prophecy, I assume you mean biblical prophecy? It doesn't matter most 'prophecy' is always interpreted in hindsight and the true believer will find someway to justify that prophecy. let's take the case of the messiah. Jewish people don't believe that the prophecy has come to fulfillment yet. Christians make the claim that it did. So how are we to judge this very simple prophecy that two religions disagree upon? Similarly, you'll find proponents of Edward Cayce who claim that he is prophetic. Velikovskian followers tout his prophecies, but I would have to say that all prophecy is largely viewed as 'true' or 'false' depending on whether one wants it to be true or false not on evidence. But I'll give you one prophecy at the beginning of the bible that was false. God supposedly told Adam that on the day he ate from the tree of life he would surely did. He did not die on that day. Prophecy was wrong. Sure I know that the believers try to argue that because he eventually died (if he existed at all) the prophecy was true, but that's simply rationalization. Biblical literalists can't have it both ways. The bible clearly shows that Adam did not die on the day he ate from the tree.

Question: Where is the grave of Yeshua?

Answer: Who knows and who really cares? I don't, but if you are arguing that the absence of a grave means that he rose from the dead, then apparently so have many millions of other people who have no marked grave. I can't believe that even the most ardent thinking Christian would argue that the resurrection is true based on the absence of a grave!!

Question:What writings are more reliable than the bible?

The question assumes a priori that the bible is the most reliable book. I would argue that nearly any modern book is far more reliable than the bible, but every book contains errors, omissions, misinterpretations etc because books are written by humans who are prone to errors. I would also ask 'which bible?'. There are many different bibles out there with different contents and words. So when you ask is the bible the most reliable book I would say not even close.


Joe Meert

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