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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 9ballrun on 4/15/2010 10:44:09 AM , Rating: 2
Hold on, science shows that the earth and it's contents are old and also shows how things form without "and poof there it was". The Bible, which is the "true word of God" states that the earth went "poof" and there it was. You can't believe in God and not belive in what he/she/it is told to have done. Seeing how the "proof" of his existence is tied to the same book that explains what he did.

Another thing I find odd, if God really did create the Earth and all life, why did he make it so complex? If I was capable of making stuff out of nothing and making it move on it's own, I'm making something that looks like a tofu block, not something that's made out of billions of small things that in turn form millions of other small things and so on. Oh wait, there is the "God works in mysterious ways" argument which immediately nullifies any logic one tries to use. A rock should be made out of ONE Rock Thingie, not tons of smaller particles that form it, now that would be something that's just created out of nothing.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By Mclendo06 on 4/15/2010 7:31:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Another thing I find odd, if God really did create the Earth and all life, why did he make it so complex?

Why was Leonardo da Vinci not content to merely draw stick figures?

I see the deep complexities in the fundamental foundations of nature as evidence of an omniscient creator. The very existence of that complexity is a testament to something behind it. In fact, it seems more plausible to suggest that if the universe just happened apart from any creator, that the natural order of things would have assumed a much simpler form that what we now observe. Complex systems don't generally stand up well on their own.

I also find it interesting that as one who apparently doesn't believe in God, you appeal to a fundamental (albeit flawed) interpretation of scripture to refute its validity. The point I made in my previous post was that the Bible is not a science book. Nowhere does "poof" appear in Genesis. Genesis describes creation as occurring in stages, which it calls "days". Never mind that the sun and the moon weren't created until the 4th "day" (Gen 1:14-18). The point to the creation story is not the how or the when, but the Who . As to the "poof" of God's own existence in the Bible, that's another place that you miss the mark, and in a very big way. The Bible never suggests that God "wasn't". God is eternal; He exists outside of nature and has no beginning or end.

Finally, please don't try to project a position of weakness onto me. I never appealed to an argument that "God works in mysterious ways". There are things about God that I don't understand, but why He put such complex intricacy into His creation is not one of them. Scripture states that we are created in God's image. Our love of fine art, beautiful music, advanced technology, and other "complexities" is a reflection of His image, His character. It is that character that led him to create, and to me, Science is the act of working to understand more and more of that creation.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By JediJeb on 4/18/2010 1:11:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Hold on, science shows that the earth and it's contents are old and also shows how things form without "and poof there it was".


So how did all the matter in the universe form? According to science there was nothing before the big bang then nanoseconds later there was all the matter in the universe. That sounds a lot like a "and poof there it was" explanation to me. Seems when taken back to the very beginning both science and religion have the same explanation.

Neither science or religion can tell you what existed before the universe existed except that religion says God existed, nothing more. One side attacks the other yet when pushed back to a complete origin of everything neither can prove the other wrong. Science is based on proof, religion is based on faith. Yet for science to exist you have to have faith in your proofs, and for religion to spread you need at least some proof of your faith. Science and religion will always argue between each other like two people who are just too much alike to ever get along.

quote:
Another thing I find odd, if God really did create the Earth and all life, why did he make it so complex? If I was capable of making stuff out of nothing and making it move on it's own, I'm making something that looks like a tofu block, not something that's made out of billions of small things that in turn form millions of other small things and so on. Oh wait, there is the "God works in mysterious ways" argument which immediately nullifies any logic one tries to use. A rock should be made out of ONE Rock Thingie, not tons of smaller particles that form it, now that would be something that's just created out of nothing.


I guess it depends on the complexity of the mind of the one doing the creating. The way I would build something versus the way Einstein would build something versus the way Rube Goldberg would build something would all be totally different in design and complexity. Maybe God knows enough to know that if it was made too simply, it would not function properly. Or maybe He just wanted to make man have to work hard to figure it all out.


RE: Is this really necessary?
By avxo on 4/22/2010 7:53:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
According to science there was nothing before the big bang then nanoseconds later there was all the matter in the universe. That sounds a lot like a "and poof there it was" explanation to me.


Except that's not what science says, and whoever taught you that simply had no idea what they were talking about. May I suggest you ask for your money back?

quote:
Neither science or religion can tell you what existed before the universe existed except that religion says God existed, nothing more.


So let me get this straight. Religion can't tell me what existed before the Universe, but it tells me God existed? That's a neat trick! Almost like having your cake and eating it too...

quote:
Yet for science to exist you have to have faith in your proofs


No you don't. Scientific proofs are based in logic, and logic and faith aren't just two different tools in the toolkit of understanding. Faith is blind acceptance in the absence of evidence or proof. It's the diametric opposite of logic.


"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

















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