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Print 62 comment(s) - last by MrHanson.. on Apr 28 at 3:32 PM


Gentry's polonium halos are a classic creationist argument. The claim that they somehow prove a young Earth was made by an untrained geologist and disproved 20 years ago, yet creationists still cite it as fact to this very day.  (Source: Talk Origins)
Desperate minds seek desperate arguments

In case you missed it, paleontologists, digging in South Africa have discovered the remains of a new species of hominid, Australopithecus sediba, buried in a cave.  This little discovery is of tremendous importance as anatomical evidence points to the species being a close evolutionary relative to man, perhaps even a direct ancestor.

I wrote a little story on the topic, analyzing the find, while briefly touching on the pertinent creationism vs. modern evolutionary theory debate that continues to rage to this day in America.  I expected the story to get a few comments.  I never expected, though that it would get over 575 comments, making it perhaps the most commented on story in 
DailyTech's history.

I think it's great that so many people are chiming in and sharing their thoughts, and I think its a real sign of our site's diversity and popularity.  However, amidst those comments I saw some that really bothered me as a person who has worked in the fields of engineering and biochemistry in addition to my time here at 
DailyTech.  

Take one reader, who writes:

Absolute Scientific Proof the Evolutionary Theory is Dead.
A story about two friends from day one.

http://www.biblelife.org/creation.htm" rel="nofollow

This comment was rated up to a 3, so obviously some people agreed with it.  However, the site and "proof" it cites, from a scientific perspective, are utterly worthless.

The site is full of inaccurate and egregious jewels.  Among them is the claim that granite is called a "creation rock" by geologists and can not be created on Earth today.  This is patently false.  If such a term were ever used, it has no place in the field of modern geology.  Further, granite is to this very day being produced in small quantities by metamorphism in amphibolite and granulite terrains.  There's nothing magical about it.

The other "friend" that the site refers to is polonium, a radioactive heavy element.  Polonium makes halos in granite, which a researcher named Robert V. Gentry claimed, starting in the 1980s, were proof that the Earth was only 6,000 years old, as the literal reading of The Bible claims.  Gentry was by all reports a decent researcher who was blinded by his obsession in proving creationism, which led to him reaching far outside his field of expertise (physics) into foreign fields like geology.

In this case, as with most of his arguments for a "young Earth" his "evidence" was shown to be completely wrong.  There was indeed uranium in the exact deposits Gentry sampled from, he just failed to follow basic principles of geological sampling.  Of course this is understandable -- Gentry was no geologist.  So his "proof" was just another red herring.

Here is a very informative read on the topic: "The Geology of Gentry's 'Tiny Mystery'".

The site also implies that there's something "magical" about polonium making its way into granite.  Consider that silicon dioxide, the primary component of granite melts at 1925 K, while 527 K.  Thus polonium would be molten and could easily make its way into cracks and crevices in granite that had cooled to a solid.  Again, the claims are patently false and there's nothing magical or unknown here.

Basic science invalidates many of the supposed "proof" of creationism and a young Earth.  Yet, while it's easy to disprove a bad argument, its hard to kill one.  As I mentioned, here was an argument that was literally disproved over two decades ago, but there's a site out there still using it as evidence and one of our readers are referencing it as fact.  And worse yet, apparently some in our readership were misled enough that they rated up the comment.

I don't have the time or energy to rebuke every falsehood set forth by a handful of the commenters in that thread, so I hope this was an informative example.

It's fine to believe whatever you want when it comes to evolution.  An all powerful deity such as Xenu or the Christian God, could in theory create a reality with evidence to the contrary of the creation itself.  Every single atom could have been set into motion perfectly to deliver an elaborate, yet misleading picture.  Yet to scientists, we must interpret the picture that we see, and that picture clearly points that evolution created the species we see today and that the earth is billions of years old, not 6,000 years old.  Believe what you want, but try not to reference false "facts" to justify your beliefs -- that's called spreading misinformation, and it's disingenuous.



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RE: Is this really necessary?
By Descenteer on 4/13/2010 9:31:33 PM , Rating: 4
I am science camp, but I also believe in God. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

It's my experience that the opinions one brings to the table are the same opinions one leaves with, regardless of the logic or evidence presented at said table. At least, at the internet tables.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By Flunk on 4/13/2010 10:13:17 PM , Rating: 1
I think you're missing the point. Belief in god is not creationism. Creationism states that the creation myth as laid out by the bible is literally true. It's not possible to believe in both creationism and science, the two are indeed mutually exclusive.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By freeagle on 4/18/2010 9:46:48 AM , Rating: 2
They are not mutually exclusive, because the interpretation of the bible was constantly changing to adapt to new discoveries. In the beginning, I'm sure people took everything in the bible literally. Today when you ask non-creationist how to interpret genesis, he tells you you need to take it metaphorically, as the days are not real days but rathers eras/ages. My question is, where is the line between literal and metaphorical? Because it seems that every time science comes up with a new discovery, this lines moves towards the metaphorical end. From my point of view, it seems to converge in a point, where god is a metaphore as well


RE: Is this really necessary?
By adiposity on 4/19/2010 1:17:49 PM , Rating: 1
Those that choose to move towards the metaphorical to make religion compatible with science basically support the idea that the book is widely open to interpretation. When something is that open to interpretation, it's use as a guide decreases drastically.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By freeagle on 4/19/2010 5:29:02 PM , Rating: 2
While the others that chose to take it literally need to rely solely on their faith and ignore any scientific discoveries that disprove almost everything related to the creation of universe and things within it. It can hardly be seen as not mutually exclusive.


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