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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 ThePooBurner on 4/14/2010 5:58:41 PM , Rating: 0
While i am a staunch creationist, i also believe in good science. Science that is controlled and repeatable and explainable. The universe is quite large and complex, and we have only been able to make good observations, with good instruments, into how it works for a very short period of time. However as science advances i find my faith in God and His creation is strengthened, not weakened. Let me explain why.

1) As has been pointed out in another comment, the bible makes no statements of time about how long it was between the creation or, as in it says in the original Hebrew, formation of the world and The Fall of Adam. There is also strong support that the periods of creations (which mirror the scientific periods) as referred to in the bible are not Days as we know them, but just periods of time called days. So the week of creation as related in the bible could very well be talking about billions of years and is just calling each stage in the process a "day".

2) The Bible, and most other religious texts, explain that God is infinitely more intelligent than we are and that He knows everything. Scripture also talks about how God's purpose is to help us become like He is and to know everything He knows.

3) It also says that we are his children and that we are created in His image and likeness. This could be literal (my choice) or figurative. (How many people who are working on a major project call it their "brain child" or even just as their child?) Depending on your take that phrase give us as a species a lot of room for potential and growth. This point works into point 5.

4) Most of the time God is seen working, it is through some means that at the time is not understood (yet), but is usually a natural process. A lot of His hand working in our lives comes from people being in the right place at the right time to give the help that is needed when it is needed, for example. The only miraculous thing about that is the means by which God inspires people to go and see someone (However the spirit is a creature of light, and with how much we are able to use light to send information, there is no reason that He wouldn't be able to do the same. This ties to point 5).

5) As we progress in science the better we understand how stuff works, and we make incredible advances. We have the ability to (citing articles I've read on this site or on others): make custom pieces of DNA into cogs or other shapes, genetically engineer bacteria to produce gas and jet fuel from waste materials, alter a virus to split water into hydrogen, build an object atom by atom, write company logos with atoms into the chips they make, clone animals and fruits, harness the power of the atom to create energy, harness the power of the atom to make really big explosions, create magnetic fields capable of containing large energy fields and hot gases, create machines that collide particles together at relative velocities of almost twice the speed of light, implant electrodes into a brain and give the ability to control prosthetic limbs through mind control, etc., etc.. And usually the most advanced scientific means are those which harness the power of nature to do what we want (such as in the case of the viri to split water).

6) Assuming all of the forgoing is true, which to a religious person it is, there is no reason to believe that a being of intelligence *greater* than ours isn't capable of using natural means to create the world and everything in it from scratch. Such a being wouldn't even need to start from nothing to make humans. He could engineer the whole species at once just as we do with simple organisms like bacteria. No evolution necessary. However, if it turns out that a process of evolution yields a better result it's equally feasible that He would choose that processes.

In learning to harness the natural processes of things and create things we are becoming more and more like God every day. Everything that we do and learn strengthens the idea that someone who knows more than we do about the order and processes of the universe could create the world. There is nothing in the scientific world that creates anything but evidence and support FOR the existence of a being that knows more than we do. We can do more than they could 1000 years ago. Stuff we do now wasn't even considered plausible back then. It couldn't have even been dreamed of. All that our advancements have shown is that people who know more can do more, and Scripture makes it very clear that God knows more than we do, His ways are higher than our ways, and that at current we are not capable of understanding what He understands. That doesn't have to be cryptic and limited only to the spiritual. Indeed most of the time there is a temporal *and* a spiritual meaning to the things He says. So He very well could be telling us that the scientific means he works through we can't yet understand. It would be like handing a quantum physics book to a kinder-gardener.

And if he is a true scientist then he knows that there is no greater way to understand and learn than through trial and error and finding out for one's self. So i don't expect to get a cheat sheet any time soon. I just expect us to keep on making advances, line upon line, precept upon precept, fundamental principle upon fundamental principle.

True Science and True Religion go hand in hand with one another.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By William Gaatjes on 4/16/2010 6:50:10 PM , Rating: 2
As soon as the true science starts to conflict with religion, the science will be abandoned or a pseudoscience will start where based on the evidence only conclusion are allowed in favour of the creation myth as described by the religion. And there is where you will always fail. Religion and science can only exist together when the religion is not interfering with science. And that means a whole different form of religion that is totally different then what is popular now which happens all to be based on ancient stories out of Sumer. It is either that or finding your own personal truth to your god trough science. YOu want to come close to your god ? Seek your god...


RE: Is this really necessary?
By ThePooBurner on 4/19/2010 11:14:48 AM , Rating: 1
You missed my point. I said True Science and True Religion. As in absolute truth. The 2 mix harmoniously and perfectly in agreement with each other. There are Zero conflicts. The problem that we face is that few have either, and only 1 of them is currently possible.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By morphologia on 4/19/2010 4:55:52 PM , Rating: 2
"While i am a staunch creationist, i also believe in good science."

I'm finding it very hard indeed to process this sentence without drowning in irony. Creationism by definition eschews "good science." It's based on a dedication to propagating spurious criticism of "good science"(witness, all the efforts to use false or exaggerated "proof" to disprove evolution). It's all well and good to carry out such mental exercises in a philosophical frame of reference, but the problem is that for creationism to be considered valid science, it would require at least some scientific validation for its foundations...including the existence of a creator.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By ThePooBurner on 4/20/2010 2:20:30 PM , Rating: 1
Did you not read what i wrote? The evidence i am putting for for our Creator is the fact that we are creators. If we can do it, why can't someone else who is smarter and knows more than us? You guys are making assumptions about Creationism and totally disregarding the points i put forth.

quote:
Creationism by definition eschews "good science."
No It doesn't. It simply states that we were created by someone else. Someone who knows everything. Scientific progress itself says that this is possible. With sufficiently advanced technology and knowledge anything can be done, and it can be done in such a way that technology doesn't even seem to exist. Is it so hard to accept that there could be someone smarter out there than us? The Universe is a huge place.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By freeagle on 4/21/2010 4:46:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, it is hard to accept that the whole universe was created by an omnipotent very intelligent being. Not because it sounds strange, but because the more we know about our universe, the more I'm convinced it's made up of a very very simple rules, that created all the complexities. Like fractals, or the game of life. Therefor, there is no need for an intelligent creator.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By FITCamaro on 4/22/2010 10:02:47 PM , Rating: 1
And where did that universe come from? The Big Bang? What caused that? Some theorize that black holes lead to other universes or maybe create other universes. Where did those come from?

In the end we'll never know. But belief in a god isn't so far fetched when considering these questions.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By freeagle on 4/23/2010 4:30:26 AM , Rating: 2
Stating that "we'll never know" is even more far fetched than the idea of god. People do have some, maybe vague, ideas, where did our universe come from. Or any other universe. Truth is, that those are more or less wild theories with no facts at all, exactly the same like saying there is a god behind it. However, there were a lot of things in the nature we could not explain and we always put either god behind them or came up with wild theories. Homework for you, find at least one, where the theory of god prevailed ( not just christian god, any god, even pagan one. They are the same, just with different context )


RE: Is this really necessary?
By FITCamaro on 4/23/2010 10:11:36 PM , Rating: 2
Having a crazy theory or believing in god does not take away from the fact that we'll never know. There is absolutely no way we will ever be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt where the universe came from or how it was created. Unless of course god is real and he "speaks from the heavens" to the entire human race. Even if we invented time travel, you can't go back past the big bang.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By freeagle on 4/24/2010 4:16:21 AM , Rating: 2
Or unless we create another universe. For me the idea that there really is only one UNIverse seems crazy, equally egocentric to the belief that the earth was the center of everything. I know we have no proof so far, or even clue, that there are other, but from what we already know, the idea seems plausible. If god really exists, for me it would be the only thing that does not make sense at all.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By ThePooBurner on 4/26/2010 6:43:31 PM , Rating: 2
I would say that's because you don't actually know or understand who He really is or have any idea of His actual attributes.


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