Exquisite Preservation Of Two Turtles

There is a great mystery abounding with evolutionary paleontologists who reject a global flood on earth. The mystery consists of trying to figure out how two turtles who are mating become fossilized so quickly. Nine pairs of turtles have been discovered thus far in the fossilized world.

One very unscientific conclusion was raised by the BBC which says…

“Researchers think the turtles had initiated sex in the surface waters of the lake that once existed on the site, and were then overcome as they sank through deeper layers made toxic by the release of volcanic gases.

“The animals, still in embrace, were then buried in the lakebed sediments and locked away in geological time.”

“We see this in some volcanic lakes in East African today,” explained Dr Walter Joyce of the University of Tübingen. “Every few hundred years, these lakes can have a sudden outburst of carbon dioxide, like the opening of a champagne bottle, and it will poison everything around them.”

What a romantic tale! Too bad it’s not backed by science. First of all, one has to ask, wouldn’t the two turtles have separated from mating while spiraling down to the lake’s floor? Also, wouldn’t the bodies of those two turtles (let alone nine pairs in total) laying on the bottom of the lake decay before an adequate amount of sediments would bury them?

How long does turtle mating last in a lake? It can’t be that long and we are expected to believe that turtles remained in their mating position while sinking to the bottom of the lake where they awaited their burial. The only other media outlet that questioned this unscientific conclusion is nature news which says…

“Edwin Cadena, a doctoral student in palaeontology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, agrees that the study shows “strong evidence to consider this the first case of coupling captured in the fossil record of vertebrates”. More controversial, he says, is the interpretation of what the Messel lake was like.”

“The notion of a stratified lake works as an explanation for the turtles’ fate, Cadena says, “but not so well for other fossils found at Messel, for example bats or birds or even other small mammals”. If the upper layers of the lake were inhabitable, Cadena asks, then what caused the death of airborne and terrestrial animals? The turtles are just part of an ongoing fossil mystery.”

Constraining the framework within the geological time frame (slow and gradual) evolutionary paleontologists have created their own mystery out of nature in order to try to fill it in within this particular time frame using either a unscienific story or leave it open for a future explanations using slow and gradual.

What is being discovered and observed are animals nearly instantaneous burial which can be caused by catastrophic conditions! Other fossils like fish swallowing other fish,  or a giant reptile known as ichthyosaurs which was fossilized while giving birth.  Catastrophic events over slow and gradual  explains the awesome and exquisite preservation of these fossils!

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32 thoughts on “Exquisite Preservation Of Two Turtles

  1. Michael: “evolutionary paleontologists”

    There are no ‘evolutionary paleontologists’. There are paleontologists.

    Michael: “One very unscientific conclusion …”

    After which follows a perfectly scientific conclusion quoted by the BBC.

  2. Eelco, I’d argue that the existence of even one “creationist” paleontologist would justify modification of the noun, since they would necessarily have a different approach to the evidence. Three young-earth creationist paleontologists with PhDs that I know of are Kurt Wise, Marcus Ross and Elaine Kennedy-Graham. I would agree that one would have to define first what one means by “scientific” and “unscientific” before using them as modifiers.

  3. Eelco, I’d argue that the existence of even one “creationist” paleontologist would justify modification of the noun, since they would necessarily have a different approach to the evidence.

    SJ, is correct, Eelco. They are different, and they have a different approach to the evidence.

    A mainstream geologist approaches the evidence for the purpose of formulating and testing theories so as to predict and possibly even control them. Discussion of evidence and criticisms of theories take place by publications addressed to peers. Experiments for testing theories are encouraged.[0] Evidence can, and often does, force additions and changes to theory. Theories must comport with evidence from other fields, such as atomic theory and astronomy.

    A creationist geologist approaches the evidence for the sole purpose of justifying a preconceived theory, and has no interest in a deeper understanding. Evidence can be selected, and contrary evidence ignored. Publication is to lay audiences for persuading them, rather than to peers for criticism.[1] Consistency with other scientific fields is not required. The theory cannot be overthrown, but only confirmed. Experiments and tests are not encouraged.[2]

    So the two classes of geologist would be “scientific geologists” and “apologetics geologists.” In the first class, evidence trumps belief; in the second, belief trumps evidence.

    .

    A case in point. Like his contemporaries,[3] James Hutton was religious, and a young-earth creationist. However, the evidence he marshaled, even with the crude tools of the time, convinced him that currently observable processes had operated for millions of years in the past to produce the present topography. That is, he modified his belief because of the evidence.. Evidence trumped faith. Others have developed more and more evidence, until Sutton’s position today is universally accepted.[4]

    Conversely, SJ changed her views because of her new-found belief. Evidence which had previously convinced her, subsequently did not. Faith trumped evidence.[5].

    ===============

    [0] The purpose of experimental science has changed over the years. Robert Boyle, for example, conducted his experiments as public shows in order to settle philosophical questions—such as whether or not a vacuum could exist.

    [1] Read the Guidelines for Authors for AiG’s Answers Journal, for example. Published papers must advocate young-earth creationism—in fact, a specific named interpretation thereof. If a competing theory is so much as mentioned, it must be disparaged, and alternative “acceptable” theories must be presented and argued. SJ can read this for herself—in case, unlike the other geologists she has named, she might consider writing for them.

    [2] It’s easy to see why. At best, a test could only add confirmation to a theory that is a priori held to be true. The downside is that a test could lead to contrary results, which would have to be swept under the rug.. Therefore,there is no point in conducting experiments.

    [3] Such as Nicholas Stenonsis, Charles Lyell, and Abraham Werner. All creationists, all converted to old-earth scenarios.

    [4] Even a dozen creationist geologists makes no statistical dent in the thousands upon thousands of geologists worldwide. There are a lot more psychologists who believe in witchcraft than there are geologists who believe in a young earth.

    [5] Therefore she is reduced to cherry-picking data which might be “consistent” with a young earth, and converting every unknown in mainstream geology into a victory for her position. (This is known as a “false-dichotomy: fallacy.)

  4. Olorin,
    You raise a very good point about evidence being viewed differently before and after my conversion, one that my skeptical attorney husband has pointed out to me before! I think what that demonstrates is the equivocal nature of most geologic data, and the power of confirmation bias—one man’s anomaly becomes another man’s overwhelming piece of evidence. I don’t think it’s religious faith per se that’s the determining factor here—if that were so, there should not be the diversity in views that there is among Christian geologists, the majority of which hold an old earth position. And it should be noted that the decidedly non-Christian neocatastrophists argue for a much reduced age of the earth based upon some of the evidences also used by the YECs (see (1) below). I also think you attribute a little more objectivity to mainstream geologists than is really the case, based upon my personal experience! Individual features of theories may be up for debate, but there are certain fundamental axioms that are non-negotiable (see M. King Hubbert’s quote,(2) below).

    I am also not persuaded by arguments from consensus—the history of science is too littered with vindications of the lone dissenter to make consensus a convincing argument. I would rather argue from the data with someone who is in agreement with me on fundamental axioms. As I’ve said before, I believe that the true debate in this issue is not between young earthers and old earthers, or even between evolutionists and creationists, it’s between atheists and theists, between those who believe that what is observed by the senses is all that exists, and those who believe in an order of being beyond that of the purely material.

    (1) From “The Lately Tortured Earth,” by Alfred de Grazia, Ch. 31, p. 576, available at http://www.grazian-archive.com/quantavolution/QuantaSeries.htm: “We have been arguing, in the whole of our Quantavolutionary Series (and see page 497
    below), that all of the preceding ages probably have occurred within a million years, and especially that major elements of the Holocene, Pleistocene, Tertiary, Cretaceous and Carboniferous have occurred within the time usually allotted to the Holocene, namely some 15,000 years or less.”

    (2) M. King Hubbert, Jr., geologist and founder of peak oil theory, in “Critique of the principle of uniformity,” in Uniformity and Simplicity, 1967, 3-33:
    “History, human or geological, represents our hypothesis, couched in terms of past events, devised to explain our present-day observations. What are our assumptions in such a procedure? Fundamentally, they are two:
    (1) We assume that natural laws are invariant with time
    (2) We exclude hypotheses of the violation of natural laws by Divine Providence, or other forms of supernaturalism.”

  5. SJ, before we even start on specific points, creationism is a non-starter as a scientific theory even if the earth could be shown to be only 10K years old. Because creationism is vacuous–of no use except to make its believers feel smug.

    The purpose of a scientific theory is to provide a deeper understanding of physical phenomena, both observed and not yet observed.. The purpose of the understanding is to predict future observations,[1] to gauge the effects of proposed actions, and to control our physical environment. The concept that permits this is explanatory closure, put forth as early as the 12thC by Abelard of Bath.

    The problem with gods is that, by definition, they are an unruly lot, and are not bound by laws. Therefore, when creationists attribute an event to God’s direct action, they foreclose any deeper scientific inquiries:[2] “God did it.” becomes the ultimate answer to every question. And, a the cosmologists say, a theory that explains everything explains nothing.

    Mainstream geology can explain phenomena such as rock strata by measuring sedimentation rates, and projecting them back to the past. This aids geologists in predicting future shorelines and paleontologists in finding fossils of a specific age.[3] Then more detail is added: e.g., the apparent exception of an overthrust by a movement of its tectonic plate. This knowledge in turn helps geologists identify past topographical changes and predict potential earthquake zones.

    What would creationism have to say? Rock strata were deposited rapidly, over a single short period of time. Why are they horizontal, continuous, and of different compositions? God did it. What caused overthrusts? It just happened that way during the Flood.

    That’s the fundamental gravamen with creationism. It simply can’t explain anything. Certain feature may be consistent with a young earth,but that tells you zippo abut how it happened, or what the consequences of that might be.

    Perhaps another way of putting it is that creationists sock 100% of their effort into the age of the earth, but 0% into explaining what difference that would make.[4]

    Here’s an example. Elsewhere, SJ has proposed testing supposedly ancient coal for 14C levels, which should disappear after 50K+ years. Well, this has been done. And, mirabile dictu, measurable14C has been found occasionally. A creationist concludes that the earth is young. Period. Nothing else. A scientific geologist, says, hm, where to you suppose it’s coming from. And he (or she) finds a strong correlation with surrounding rocks undergoing U-Th decay. Take-away: if you find coal with 14C, you’ll find potentially valuable thorium close by. That is, scientific geology has elicited useful information, whereas creationism comes up empty-handed.[5]

    So, even if there is some evidence consistent with a young earth and unexplained by current knowledge, there is no point to creationism, because it is feckless and futile.as to any practical value.[6]

    ==============

    [1] Did you notice that North Carolina is trying to legislate how much the sea level will be permitted to rise in the next 50 years? “Sea versus Senators,” Nature 486:450 (28 June 2012),

    [2] Even theologians have pretty much given up on divine primary causation. It creates not only scientific dead ends, but logical inconsistencies as well.

    [3] For example, Neil Shubin needed a tropical brackish coastline from 350-400Mya to look for the first tetrapod. Based upon geological theories, he chose a small island in the frozen wasteland of the Arctic. And found Tiktaalik—a prediction of paleontology, based upon a geological theory.

    [4] This difference is blindingly evident in biology. Creationists write a couple papers a year that living organisms are designed rather than evolved. How were the designed? What can we learn given the design hypothesis? What are the practical consequences of design? Not a word, Just “they are designed”; end of discussion. About 2600 journal papers per year are written about evolution. But their purpose is NOT to prove that evolution occurred. Rather, they discuss HOW the tetrapod transition took place, or HOW a 450My old protein functioned, or WHY current approaches to endangered fisheries are failing, or novel means for HOW to avoid drug resistance in the future. A recent study on the evolution of the 4-chambered heart led to a treatment for a significant birth defect.

    [5] Also, of course, the creationist geologist has the problem of explaining the majority of coal deposits that have no levels of 14C. If the earth were <10K years old, then ALL coal should have significant amounts of 14C.

    [6] SJ claims that she practices geology much as any other geologist. Three points here: (1) if the practices and results are the same, then what does creationist geology do for you? Nothing. (2) How does creationism explain the vast majority of evidence that favors an old earth? Such as uranium-series dating indicating billions of years, or 3-daughters dating that incorporates its own internal error checking. (3) Since creationism has no theories to describe geologic processes, geology becomes a branch of butterfly collecting, guided only by ad-hoc rules. E.g., that you should look for nickel if you find iron, because thay commonly occur together. (Why? Who knows. Why is there a single thin layer of iridium worldwide at a particular depth? Who knows.)

    [7] Well, this turned out much longer than expected. And I haven't even started on the specific aspects of SJ's comment. (How did Fidel Castro comes up with his signature 4-hour speeches. Easier than you might imagine.)

  6. . . . . . . . . . . . .NEWS FLASH

    Michael will be interested to know that the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science will publish a series of papers on evolution and the brain. The papers were originally presented at the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium of the NAS. Topics include the evolution of protosynaptic gene expression networks and a hierarchical model of brain specializations. Francisco Ayala is a co-author of the introduction to the series. Text is available on-line.

  7. And it should be noted that the decidedly non-Christian neocatastrophists argue for a much reduced age of the earth based upon some of the evidences also used by the YECs (see (1)

    The problem is that the non-Christian[1] neo-catastrophists are nuts and cranks. They have no positive evidence fro their positions, but only observations that may be “consistent” therewith. They offer no tests nor predictions. They flunk most or all of the Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science.[2]

    SJ mentions Alfred deGrazia, a political scientist with no credentials whatever in any form of science. His quantavolution “theory,” expressed mostly in gobbledygook[3], has gone nowhere for at least 15 years. deGrazia made me think of Velikovsky.[4] And indeed, deGrazia’s starting point was as a pusher for the thoroughly discredited Immanuel Velikovsky.[5] Velikovsky, a psychiatrist, likewise had no background whatever in any form of science.

    Other names mentioned in this category seem to be most conventional, not young-earth advocates, and mostly from Serbia.[6] A quick search reveals no references implying that M. King Hubbert was a neo-catastrophist,[7] and was certainly not a young-earth advocate.

    No, young-earthers all ground their claims on a religious document, and not upon any scientific evidence.

    ===========

    [1] Not necessarily that the people are not Christian, but that they do not use religious belief as a basis for their claims.

    [2] See Robert Parks, J.Higher Ed. 49:B20. Parks, the author of Voodoo Science (Oxford U. Press 2000) was a physics professor at U. Maryland who was asked to represent the American Physical Society in Washington. In that capacity, he came into contact with a number of pseudo-science advocates, including perpetual motion (Joe Newman) and cold fusion (Pons & Fleischmann). They sparked an interest, and he continued the earlier work of Irving Langmuir and Vannevar Bush.

    [3] deGrazia,,”Q-CD vol 1: Quantavolution and Catastrophe, Introduction,” p. 26

    10. Schizoid Humanization. During a quantavolution, Homo
    Sapiens originated in a sudden gestalt as a schizoid species
    controlling multiple selves, and preferably to be called Homo
    Sapiens Schizotypicalis.
    …………
    11. Mass Amnesia and Sublimation. Primeval Homo Sapiens
    experienced a traumatic suppression of memory and acquired a
    sublimatory psychological complex.

    [4] E.g., Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (1950) and Ages in Chaos(1952).

    [5] At the time, the joke was that the astronomers admired his grasp of archeology, but his physics was impossible. The archeologists thought that his physics was impressive, but his archeology was crap.

    [6] E.g., Cirković, Vukotić,Dragićević, Berić-Bjedov,

    [7] In fact, King is often quoted for his statement that uniformity of laws underlies not only geology, but all sciences.

  8. Quoth SJ

    As I’ve said before, I believe that the true debate in this issue is not between young earthers and old earthers, or even between evolutionists and creationists, it’s between atheists and theists,….

    Please tell us how that statement comports with what you said earlier in the same comment—

    I don’t think it’s religious faith per se that’s the determining factor here—if that were so, there should not be the diversity in views that there is among Christian geologists, the majority of which hold an old earth position.

    The problem is that you fail to understand the difference between
    (a) methodological naturalism, which is embraced by all scientists, and
    (b) philosophical naturalism, embraced by all atheists.
    These two sets of people are far from coextensive.

    ==============

    You fudge the facts by allowing only “a majority of” Christian geologists to be old-earthers. ALL of them are, except for the half dozen that you have mentioned specifically. So, a half dozen young-earthers out of how many Christian geologists?

    There are about 120,000 geologists currently working in the US. Say double that for world-wide. Let’s say half of them are Christians. Then we have , uh, about 99.995% of Christian geologists who hold old-earth positions. I think these numbers are conservative; if you disagree with them, please provide sources.

  9. Olorin,

    The first statement was about a priori assumptions, while the second was about interpretation of data. Many of the data sets used by geologists are equivocal with regard to their historical origin, and, depending on the assumptions, can verify more than one hypothesis. For example, under the old earth-Darwinian paradigm, the fossil record can be viewed as a record of appearance and disappearance of organisms in time, while under the young earth-special creation paradigm, it becomes a record of worldwide catastrophic burial and ecological zonation. Similarity of organ systems between organisms could have resulted from common descent or from a common designer. That is why I say that groups of people with different faith assumptions, such as Christians and atheists, can come to the same conclusion as to the historical origin of particular geologic features.

    The fundamental tenets of methodological naturalism are summarized in the M. King Hubbert quote that I gave you, and are used across the sciences and not just by geologists. However, unless one is a strict materialist, there is no inherent reason to exclude a priori the possibility of supernatural causes or to presume that natural laws have been invariant throughout time. This does not mean that a miracle must be proposed for every unexplainable phenomenon, but it does mean that miraculous causes should not be automatically excluded. For one who accepts the possibility of the supernatural, the requirements of logic and reason are satisfied by the practice of preferring the natural explanation unless there is a theological reason to do otherwise, and in fact, this is the position of the creation geologists I mentioned.

    However, you have said at least twice that creationist geologists use the “god of the gaps” argument. Can you point to any specific examples outside of creation ex nihilo where creation geologists have used a supernatural explanation for geologic phenomena? You have said they have no explanatory framework. May I ask if you have read enough of the technical literature written by creationist geologists to accurately characterize their positions, or just what’s written about them by their critics? If you would like to find out more about their work, I would suggest browsing the online Answers Research Journal (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v4/n1) and the archives of the Creation Research Society Quarterly (http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/articles_chron.htm) and the Journal of Creation (http://creation.com/journal-of-creation-archive-index).

    I will cheerfully agree with you that 99.995% of geologists, Christian or otherwise, hold the old earth/evolution hypothesis. It is a fallacy, however, to claim that a hypothesis is true simply because most scientists believe it. Methodological naturalism as an exclusive approach to all scientific investigation is as much an act of faith as is belief in a deity, and I would in fact argue that those Christian geologists are being inconsistent who practice methodological naturalism in the workplace, and then go to church on Sunday and proclaim their belief that a man was born of a virgin and rose from the dead.

  10. Hi S.J

    You say, “Methodological naturalism as an exclusive approach to all scientific investigation is as much an act of faith as is belief in a deity”I believe it takes more faith to believe in evolution than God.

    Before the 18th century, most of the geologists were creationists who believed in the global flood. Skeptics would never claim that creationists were right simply because most geologists back then agreed with creationism. And if geologists today changed there minds, they would be outraged to say the least! lol I agree, the majority doesn’t necessarily confirm a hypothesis to be factual simply based on agreeing with each other. Planetary scientists were in agreement with all kinds of ideas within their hypothesis, but when data came back from the spacecraft, it confirmed that their expectations were wrong despite the fact they all agreed…lol Now if we didn’t have any spacecrafts exploring the surfaces of different moons in the solar system as well as other planets, their ideas would have been thought as factual when reality they were not. To me it is circular reasoning when they use that argument about the majority’s expectations and predictions about the reality of the universe.

  11. To me it is circular reasoning when they use that argument about the majority’s expectations and predictions about the reality of the universe

    Michael, we keep asking you to look up “circular reasoning” in the dictionary. You look even more ridiculous when you get such an elementary concept so wrong so often..

    Skeptics would never claim that creationists were right simply because most geologists back then agreed with creationism. And if geologists today changed there [sic] minds, they would be outraged to say the least! lol

    Skeptics would never claim that,and never have claimed it. Read some history, for once, instead of just making it up.

    Scientists would be outraged if geologists changed their minds merely because of a consensus. You have it backwards. They change their minds because of evidence; consensus then isa general agreement as to the weight of the evidence among those qualified to judge it. Consensus follows evidence, not vice versa.

    The creationist opinion of th 18thC geologists was not a consensus. It was the most common view, but it was not based upon any evidence. At that time, there was no physical evidence as to the age of the earth, one way or the other.

  12. However, unless one is a strict materialist,[1] there is no inherent reason to exclude a priori the possibility of supernatural causes or to presume that natural laws have been invariant throughout time.

    If you do not exclude supernatural causes, then you have left the pale of science. Explanatory closure—the explanation of materiel effects solely in terms of material causes—has been a fundamental principle of science ever since Abelard of Bath in the 12thC. If you admit miracles, then it may be something else, but science it ain’t.

    You can see the necessity for this. The ultimate purpose of science is prediction and control of natural phenomena. By definition, miracles are arbitrary and unpredictable; otherwise, God would be a mere machine, subject to natural laws. So miracles should not be allowed in science.[2]

    Even creationists believe this. If they didn’t, then they would be hard at work trying to discover the mechanism by which a non-material entity could affect matter. This is the problem proposed by Descartes, but creationists sidestep it entirely.

    Time invariance is similar. If laws varied with time, then they would be useless for prediction and control of physical phenomena.[3]

    [T]he requirements of logic and reason are satisfied by the practice of preferring the natural explanation unless there is a theological reason to do otherwise, . . .

    That’s the whole point. Science does not admit of theological reasons. The justification is similarly bound up with the purposes of science. Different people have different theological positions. Allowing theological reasoning would therefore lead to different predictions of different physical phenomena by different people—an unacceptable result. To the extent that you allow theology, what you’re doing is not science.[4]

    I have no qualms with your religious beliefs.[5] But please not to call them science.

    =================

    [1] This term has no meaning. The two kinds of naturalism are methodological and philosophical.

    [2] Actually, almost all Christian theologists have also given up on direct divine primary causation even in theological matters, and hold that God acts only through secondary causation. Occasionalism just presented too many logical paradoxes.dead.

    [3] Of course, time can always be an explicit parameter. For example, /\ in Einstein’s field equations could turn out to be /\(t).

    [4] For a fictional account of a world where science is practiced by priests, and experiments are performed in cathedrals, read Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. (Unfortunately, the movie sidesteps all of the interesting philosophy of this book.) Like C.S. Lewis’ The Narnia Chronicles, this book runs much deeper than its superficial story.

    [5] See Michael Shermer, Why People Believe Weird Things (Holt; Rev. Ed. 2002).

  13. However, you have said at least twice that creationist geologists use the “god of the gaps” argument. Can you point to any specific examples outside of creation ex nihilo where creation geologists have used a supernatural explanation for geologic phenomena?

    All creationist arguments are based upon God-of-the-gaps, because they cherry-pick isolated pieces of puzzling data and claim that science has no current explanation for them. The selected data items have little relationship to each other, except that science has not explained them. They do not form any kind of coherent framework as a positive theory of special creation,with any kind of explanatory mechanism. The arguments all follow the rubric—“If Theory A has no explanation.for this event, then Theory Z must be correct.” The logical fallacy here is a non sequitur—specifically, a false dichotomy.[0]

    The most prominent example I can think of in geology is polonium halos. Answers in Genesis was all over that one. These rocks must be young, because no one could explain how the 218Po got there otherwise. (As the link notes, this argument is still current, even though geologists have since explained the phenomenon, and even thogh other aspects of the layering pointed to an old configuration )

    Several years ago, AiG published a photo of a supposedly million-year-old rock with a plastic toy car embedded in it. They crowed that natural law could not have produced this. Curious, I wrote to AiG, and got a reply that their geologist had analyzed it and verified it. The rock looked very different from its surrounding matrix, so I asked an acquaintance who is a government earth scientist in Maui. He said it was almost certainly not a rock, but a brain coral. I e-mailed the AiG geologist, who admitted that the photo was taken in the AiG rock garden, and not on the seashore where the rock was found. He totally ignored the coral part. Not only a gaps argument, but one based upon deception.

    A quick Google search revealed several other references to “God of the gaps” arguments in geology. WordPress kicks out comments with too many links, so I’ll only mention a couple. Answers in Genesis touts th fact that the fossil record is incomplete—not every intermediate has been found—as evidence for a catastrophic world-wide flood.. The (old-earth creationist) American Scientific Affiliation notes gaps arguments, and decries them.

    Although our esteemed host Michael only pretends to knowledge in geology,[1] he regurgitates the gaps argument continually> Science can’t explain “Saturn’s Rings, Io and Enceladus: Showing Youthfulness” (June 15)—therefore, God. Geologists can’t explain Italian dolomite formations (June 2)—therefore, God. Science has no explanation for the rapid formation of kimberlite—Goddidit. The current dynamo theory doesn’t fully explain the earth’s magnetic field (May 19)—God. And that’s just within the past two months.

    Actually, we don’t even have to revisit previous posts. Michael’s argument for catastrophism in the current screed basically says that the turtles must have been caught suddenly in the act, BECAUSE the fossil was entombed so suddenly. The possibility has escaped him that, as the authors suggested, the turtles could have died quickly in the poisoned lake. Then the burial and preservation could have taken millenia or more. (Sea turtles, have claspers which engage each others’ shells during copulation. They don’t let go until the turtles release them.)

    Gaps arguments are more common in cosmology[2] and most common in biology. The entire argument against the natural origin of life is that scientists have no eyewitness accounts from the Hadean age to tell us EXACTLY how it happened—or even what the earth’s environment was then.[3]

    .

    As to creationist literature, I have followed Answers Research Journal ever since it started, and manage to peek in at the others occasionaly. (I’m retired, and get bored easily.) Not just the geology—actually more of the cosmological and biological.

    Of course, they only pretend to be peer-reviewed.[4] If you think that mainstream journals are slanted toward the orthodox, read the for Answers; on p. 9, we read—

    The following criteria will be used in judging papers:
    . . . .
    3. Is this paper formulated within a young-earth, young-universe framework?
    4. If the paper discusses claimed evidence for an old earth and/or universe, does this paper offer a very constructively positive criticism and provide a possible young-earth, young-universe alternative?
    . . . . . .
    6. Does this paper provide evidence of faithfulness to the grammatical-historical/normative interpretation of Scripture? If necessary, refer to: R. E. Walsh, 1986. Biblical hermeneutics and creation. Proceedings First International Conference on Creationism, vol. 1, pp. 121–127. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship.

    The editor-in-chief will not be afraid to reject a paper if it does not properly satisfy the above criteria or it conflicts with the best interests of AiG as judged by its biblical stand and goals outlined in its statement of faith. [Emphasis supplied]

    In other words, orthodoxy trumps truth.

    The papers that I read are not actually written toward peers—especially in the biology field. They are aimed toward lay audiences. Many of them consist largely of mainstream background material that would be already known to adepts. Enough sciency stuff is included to overawe the layman; they don’t understand it, but looks really impressive.[5] Assumptions not only abound, but are piled high and deep.

    For example, Snelling’s “The Geology of Israel within the Biblical Creation-Flood Framework of History” is almost all mainstream material, with his creationist bits based totally upon assumptions, which are thereafter used as if they had been experimentally demonstrated. Certain rock formations “were obviously deposited by catastrophic debris avalanches as the pre-Flood supercontinent began to break up,” (abstract). No indepndent evidence for this process, or how it could have occurred. At least two different episodes of significant changes to atomic decay rates are required, and assumed, without justification.[6]

    So, yes, I have read the creationist literature. It looks desperate, aimed toward holding back the decreasing size of available gaps.

    The American Scientific Affiliation is a group of creationists who broke off in the 1930s and ’40s in protest over the increasing levels of deception and misleading tactics that were becoming prevalent in the creationist camp. They say of gaps arguments

    And so it went on. God was not getting further away – just smaller and smaller. The effect can be the same, in the right light. But old Jehovah was fading away, like one of those little chalky feeding blocks you drop in the fishtank before you go on holiday…..

    Geology too. When nosey geologists started digging the ground up and peering too closely at what they found, God had no choice but to call it a day and fake a load of strata, fossils, ancient coastlines, coal deposits, drifted continents and all the other paraphernalia to make it look like the Earth was an extra few billion years old. Like a pile of sweets surrounded by four-year-olds, the Lord just kept getting smaller.

    And that is where we find Him today. In the cracks and gaps in our scientific knowledge. Unlike God, scientists are not omniscient, and so there are still plenty of gaps for God to hide in, and be invoked as an ideal explanation at a moments notice. The inexorable progress of science, like a bulldozer on autopilot, is slowly filling in the gaps, making poor old Jehovah vacate them and find some even more obscure hiding place.

    Science cannot explain THIS, they cry, That is sure proof of God’s existence and cleverness. Look what we’ve found, they shout, the only possible explanation is our God (as defined in edition 27a of this particular translation of the Bible). How could anyone possibly argue with such damning evidence?!?

    ================

    [0] Like saying that, if astronomers cn’t explain why there are exactly 8 (or 9, or 10, or whatever the current tally is) planets, then it must be because God ordained this number. (The ancients thought there HAD TO BE 7 planets, because that was the number of platonic solids. At least that was some kind of reason.)

    [1] We would understand if you wished to disclaim Michael’s geological acumen.. Anyone who describes zinc as a “complex organic compound,” or copper residue in fossil marrow as “soft tissue,” simply is not in possession of all his agates.

    [2] E.g., nobody knows what dark matter “is.” Therefore, no big bang (April 22). Huh?

    [3] See, e.g., Daniel Meyers The Signature in the Cell (HarperOne 2010). Six hundred pages of God of the gaps. The entire theme is that biologists have not shown how specified information and biological complexity can arise without a designer. The theory of complex systems tells us how (Auyang, Foundations of Complex-System Theories, Cambridge U. Press, 1999), but Meyer won’t believe it until every evolutionary pathway is mapped out in detail. In other words, until all the gaps are filled.

    [4] Look at the review policy and reviewers list for Answers RJ sometime.

    [5] Read one of them next to a research paper in Science or Nature, and you will spot the difference in style immediately. (Well, I used to do a lot of technical writing, so perhaps am more sensitive to the pretentious mien and framing.. Most papers in Answers peg my BS meter.)

    [6] This is a favorite of creationist geologists. But a change in these rates would have killed the fusion reactions that power the sun. So the sun would have gone dark. This is the kind of thing that peer review catches. Ignoring huge, basic errors.

    [7] If all the HTML tags turn out OK here, I will be astounded. Nevertheless, it’s worth a try.

  14. Olorin, wonderful action on the polonium haloes (British spelling, I know …).
    I have had some interest and discussion with creationists (mostly i the UK) on this subject, and thought it had died already, but apparently not.

    A brain coral … good you found somebody who can distinguish that from a rock !

  15. Many of the data sets used by geologists are equivocal with regard to their historical origin, and, depending on the assumptions, can verify more than one hypothesis.

    The essential underdetermination of theory from fact was mentioned by Kuhn, and emphasized by Feyerabend. However, this does not imply that one hypothesis is as good as another. This holds even if both hypotheses explain the known facts equally well.

    A scientific hypothesis (theory) that covers only known data is useless. It adds nothing; we already know those facts. To have any value, the theory must allow the prediction of facts not yet known. This is what guides further research, and what allows control of physical phenomena.

    Creationism is feckless in this crucial aspect. In the two centuries since its gestation as “natural theology,” creationism has not advanced the state of knowledge about the world in any field of knowledge. No suggestions for experiments, no predictions of as-yet unknown facts, no proposals for controlling physical forces.[1]

    For example, browse through “The Origin of Oil—A Creationist Answer,” ARJ 1:145-168. Matthews asserts that oil was created during or immediately after the Flood, and the migrated to its present location.[2] But the important point is that nothing in his hypothesis predicts anything—not a word about where oil deposits might be located, or what tools might find or evaluate the deposits, or what other geologic characteristics might be associated with them. The entire paper can be summed up in one sentence: “Oil is where it is because it is where it is.”

    Contrast this with Neil Shubin’s discovery of Tikaalik. He was looking for a warm, brackish, shallow coastal formation about 375-400Ma old. Evolutionary theory predicted the first tetrapods at that age in that environment. Standard geology predicted that Ellesmere Island, now an isolated island in the Arctic Ocean, met the criteria—What a stretch! Yet, after 3 years of bone-chilling work, Shubin unearthed a primitive tetrapod fossil in the predicted location. A prediction of evolutionary and geologic theory led to a major discovery.

    Several years ago, a research team was studying the development of 4-chambered hearts from their 3-chambered progenitors, as shown by the vertebrate phylogenetic tree. The team found that a single gene was responsible for building the wall to divide the reptilian ventricle into two ventricles. An incomplete wall is a significant congenital defect in humans. A discovery in evolution led to control of a pathological condition.

    The totality of creationist papers are devoted to arguing that the biblical account[3] is true. None of them address HOW the geologic, biologic, and astronomic processes occurred, or what mechanisms might be involved. Science papers, on the other hand, spend very little effort in showing THAT evolution occurred, for example. Instead,the papers describe HOW it occurred in certain aspects. These then become the bases for further research and control.

    But not a single creationist paper has ever employed biblical principles to produce a new discovery about how the world works or how to bend physical effects to the benefit of human goals.

    For that reason alone, creationism is a bootless pursuit of no practical value. Remember what happened to the olive tree that failed to produce fruit after being encouraged several times.

    =================

    [1] This would be frowned upon, in any case. Attempts to control the actions of a deity are called “sorcery.”

    [2] Note that the author offers only biblical reasoning for his hypothesis, and fails to deliver on his claim of technical evidence.

    [3] Aided by reams of exegesis and extrapolation, of course. (Which seems ironic for a literalist.)

  16. SJ recommended I read up on the the creationist literature.

    Here’s on that caught my eye: Tom Hennigan and Jerry Bergman, “The Origin of Trees”, CRSQ Vol 47 No 4 pp 259-270 (Spring 2011). The entire argument is that trees did not evolve because there were no intermediate fossils of primitive woods.

    Within the past month, both Science and Nature reported the discovery of just such primitive wood plants.. Unlike modern wood, it was structurally weak, and did not support the plant’s weight. In fact, Michael even commented on this discovery not too ling ago in one of his posts.

    Another gap slammed shut. Yet another creationist claim shot down.

    SJ, be careful what you wish for.

  17. Another laugh courtesy of the creationist literature. In this case, a review of Stephen Hawking’s The Grand design, written by Johnathan Sarfati. (Journal of Creation 25:25-29, April 2011)

    What caught my eye was Sarfati’s claim that naturalistic physics cannot explain the universe because—

    . . . . a ‘theory of everything’ is a fantasy that founders on Gödel’s incompleteness proof: that in any theoretical system as complex as arithmetic or above, there would always be true statements that cannot be proven within the system.

    This is beyond stupid.

    Gödel’s theorem applies to formal systems—mathematics and logic. It has absolutely nothing to do with any physical phenomenon or scientific theory. This would be like saying that Euclid’s triangle theorem prohibits planets larger than Jupiter.

    Sarfati’s statement may sound sciency to those of limited knowledge, but it is laughable to a mathematician or to a physicist. Whether Safarti is grossly ignorant or purposely deceptive is left as an exercise for the reader.

  18. Continuing the odyssey thru the creationist—you will excuse the term—literature.

    Bruce Oliver and Eugene Chaffin wonder “Could Magnetic Monopoles Cause Accelerated Decay?” (CRSQ 48:204-211, Winter 2012)

    The authors claim that the release of huge numbers of magnetic monopoles in magnetic-field reversals during the Flood “could have”[1] produced accelerated beta decay of 40K atoms. Thus, of course, affecting secular dating methods. From the conclusion—

    In conclusion, our research has not uncovered any reason why magnetic monopoles, released via magnetic field reversals of the earth during the Genesis Flood, could not have caused a significant amount of accelerated decay.

    This is like saying that the HIV virus could have originated in unicorns, then spread to humans when we ate the unicorn droppings.

    In other words, this paper follows the creationist pattern of assuming something, then treating it as proven, then piling another assumption on top of the first, then treating the second as proven, and. . . . Well, you get the idea.

    The first assumption is that magnetic monopoles exist. Altho some current theories allow them, experiments have revealed none anywhere in the universe.[2] Yet the CSRQ paper not only requires them in the earth’s core, it requires them in astronomical numbers: at least 200 trillion per square centimeter of the earth’s surface every second during every magnetic reversal! Now that’s a lot of unicorns

    The second assumption is that all these unicorns—excuse me, monopoles—somehow got crammed into the earth’s core. The authors propose no mechanism for this. No way it could have happened, except by magic.

    The third assumption is that all of the earth’s magnetic reversals occurred within one year of the Flood. All of the evidence is to the contrary, of course: magnetic reversals happen at irregular intervals a million or so years apart. Also, monopoles in the earth’s core would not have affected decay rates elsewhere—such as the ages measur4es for meteorite material from pace, Mars, the moon, and so on. Just assumed away—of course unicorns ave no shadows.

    Another assumption involves the use of Maxwell’s equations to determine the force on the (assumed) huge number of the (assumed) monopoles. BUT—Maxwell’s equations do not admit magnetic monopoles. So, if there were such unicor—monopoles, the equations would not hold.[3]

    The authors further assume that all radiometric dating involves beta decay only, a condition necessary for the (assumed) Maxwell results from the (assumed) vast quantities of magically placed (assumed) monopoles). Because the authors’ calculations hold only for beta decay. It is for this reason that they study only K-Ar dating, which involves beta modes exclusively.[4] Why do the authors not mention many other series used for radiometric dating? Such as U-Th, U-Pb, Sm-Nd—or even the ubiquitous 14C method? These are kept hidden in the unicorn cave because they involve alpha decay, neutron capture, spontaneous fission (“fission tracks”) and other modes.

    The authors’ results would not apply to those modes, even if all of their other assumptions were true. This would, of course, lead to huge discrepancies in dates between measurements from, say K-Ar and U-Th methods. No such unicorn poop—er, discrepancies have been found.

    There is nothing real about the tower of assumptions presented in this paper. It is a phantasm that vanishes upon any close inspection.

    ===========================

    [1] That is, at best, the authors claim that their hypothesis might not be inconsistent with mainstream physics. A weak claim, even if fully supported.

    [2] (“Searches for Magnetic Monopoles”) Also, the authors admit that monopoles would be extremely massive—about 10^16 GeV, or .06 microgram each! That is, about 10 trillion times as heavy as the other particles that make up the earth’s interior. At the required flux densities, their mass would affect the earth’s gravity, thus perturbing the orbit of the moon. No unicorn tracks here, either.

    [3] Maxwell’s equations could be modified to include monopoles. However, it would then produce results differet from the one the CRSQ paper calculates.

    [4] 26Al dating is briefly mentioned. That method also involves only beta-decay transitions. It is rarely used, because 26Al is an extinct species.

  19. Todd Charles Wood discusses “The Current Status of Baraminology” in the December 2006 issue of CRSQ.[1]

    Creationist papers in all fields employ the strategy of making an assumption, then treating it as proven, then use that unsupported assumption as the basis for further unsupported assumptions, building a diaphanous web to the sky.

    But no area of creationist endeavor is so thoroughly and pervasively suffused with assumptions as is baraminology, the augury of divining which animals and plants were directly created by God.[2] Indeed, baraminology not only employs assumptions, it is founded upon assumptions.

    This subject presents what my theologian cousin calls a crisis of hermeneutics—when the volume of commentary so overwhelms the amount of original source material that the commentary begins to feed upon itself.

    Genesis 1 says that there are “kinds” (plural) of plants & fruit trees, creatures of the sea, winged birds, livestock, and wild animals.[3] The only operational definition of “kind” is Genesis 1:11—

    .
    And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so.

    But the biblical classification is never used by creationists to suss out what might constitute a kind! No creationist claims that, say, all “wild animals” constitute a kind—or even that wild animals (say, a wild boar) should be classified in separate kinds from livestock (say, a domestic pig). Wood’s paper makes a specific note that reproductive groups should not be a basis for differentiating kinds.[4]

    So, since these people who call themselves biblical literalists will not follow the Bible’s own categorization, they must strike out on their own. Without the Bible as a guide, and forswearing evolution’s common-descent organizing principle, they are left with snatching assumptions out of thin air.

    Price (1924) originally based baramins upon morphological similarity. ReMine (1990) used “discontinuity systematics” which was never defined more than vaguely. Marsh (1941) proposed a hybridization model.[5] Clark (1939) separated according to unspecified “design patterns.” Price (1938, 1942) proposed the family as a baramin unit, based upon common descent—since after the Flood, of course. There is only one iron-clad requirement of all classification schemes: Humans cannot be lumped into the same baramin as any other animal, existing or extinct.[6]

    These bases for classification are pure assumptions, having no basis in either science or biblical exegesis.[7]

    Wood’s paper also shovels a lot of words on touting statistical methods for implementing baraminological schemes. Present methods, ironically enough, derive from evolutionary population genetics. Terms such as “multivariate” and “character space” attempt a sciency air.[8] More specific statistical methods are just over the horizon—and have been for 30 years. However, all of them rest upon the unsupported assumption that certain features are characteristic of baramins. Wood admits this:

    Robinson and Cavanaugh (1998a) defined the baraminic distance as a percentage of characteristics that differ between two taxa, while ignoring unknown characteristics. The baraminic distance is a modifid simple matching coefficent (Cox and Cox, 1994). Because the characters used to calculate baraminic distance depend on the selectivity of a researcher, and because different created kinds seem to vary to different extents, the raw baraminic distance is not a measure that can be used directly to infer baraminic membership.

    There you have it. Baraminology is fundamentally subjective, and rests entirely upon assumptions. All the impressive statistical foofaraw only tries to determine how to tell the hoof prints of different unicorns apart—if there were any unicorns.

    Wood’s paper finally descends to the ultimate defense of baraminology—

    It is also possible that baraminology could become a “too-complex-to-evolve” argument if used as an apologetic rather than as a technique to understand organisms.

    The purpose of science is understanding. The author here admits that the purpose of baraminology is not understanding, but rather the defense of a preconceived theory that accords with his religious belief.[9]

    ==============

    [1] Vol 43 No 3, pp 149-158.

    [2] Thus supplying creationists their “orchard” to offset evolution’s”tree.”

    [3] Fungi, bacteria, and viruses present a major embarrassment. The Bible does not say that they were even created at all. Perhaps they evolved from biblical literalists.

    [4] Probably because too may people would look at ring species and laugh out loud at the logical contradiction. In a ring ABCD, the pairs A/B, B/C, and C/D can hybridize, so were not created separately. Yet A/D cannot hybridize, so A & D were created separately!

    [5] Which was seen as an inclusive-only test. That is, non-hybridizing plants/animals could still be bunk-mates in a single baramin. (So ring species might be OK; see [4] above.)

    [6] This is actually the whole point of baraminology—The biological uniqueness of humans. Otherwise, creationists would not give a rat’s patootie for categorizing animals at all. Do they classify stars into different creation types? No. Even though God said that their purpose is to mark different sacred times. (Genesis 1:14).

    [7] Two of the methods, families and hybridization, do have biological bases, but the reason for choosing either of these bases is still arbitrary—that is, a pure assumption.

    [8] I know something about arcane classification techniques, having spent 10 years at IBM Research in the field of machine pattern recognition.

    [9] Wood has published several books on this subject. Understanding the Pattern of Life: Origins and Organization of the Species (B&H Publishing 2003); Animal and Plant Baramins (Wipf & Stock 2008); Genesis Kinds: Creationism and the Origin of Species (Wipf & Stock 2009). Amazon shows only 0-2 reader reviews for each, and has only a couple of musty copies available. Amazon has sample text on-line. Enjoy.

  20. The above random walk thru the literature suggested by SJ was intended to show how creationists pile assumption upon assumption to achieve a predefined unchangeable goal—to show, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the earth—and all that therein is—is less than 10,000 years old. (This, of course, still does not get creationists closer to any evidence that the world was created in six 24-hour[1] days according to the narrative of Genesis 1.

    To this end, we have romped through creationist papers on paleontology, cosmology, earth sciences, and biology, showing how they are all grounded upon pure unsupported assumption.[2]

    What all of these papers say is essentially “If we had some ham, we could make ham and cheese sandwiches, if we had any cheese. And if we could hold it all together with you guys’ scientific bread.”

    It’s past time for Michael to offer up a new post to tear apart.[3] So this little tour (Tourette?) will end. But you get the idea.

    ============

    [1] Perhaps allowing for the occasional leap second here and there as the earth’s rotation rate changes. Someone should write a paper on how leap seconds prove that the earth is only 3 weeks old.

    [2] Creationists may remonstrate that, say, string theory or Eelco’s favorite quantum loop gravity also assumes undemonstrated entities. The research on these theories, however, is aimed at producing predictions that can be employed to test them, while the creationist theories only attempt to justify what is, without any predictions or tests. Nor any hope of using them to control physical phenomena for the benefit of humankind. Or of any other kind.

    [3] Old dino feathers get a little rancid after 9 days..

  21. It’s been more than a month, and we haven’t heard back from creationist geologist SJ.

    Too bad, Michael. The only person who has even tried to support your geological fantasies with any argument has folded her tent and fled. But creationists are like that. Make outrageous claims, then disappear—or change the subject.

  22. Olorin, I was following your comments, and was glad to see that you have read some of the creationist literature; however, you never answered my original question, which was to locate an instance of a creationist geologist using a god-of-the-gaps explanation. I also would rather not pursue a combox thread that regularly resorts to ad hominem arguments as a form of debate. If you would like to discuss the issue on the data without resorting to character attacks, I would be happy to continue; otherwise, the discussion has failed to become fruitful.

  23. [H]owever, you never answered my original question, which was to locate an instance of a creationist geologist using a god-of-the-gaps explanation.

    Asked and answered

    Since I have zero background in geology and have not followed the creationists who muck about in that area, those examples were pulled from a cursory internet search, so the number is less than that for other fields.

    Your actual question was not god-of-the gaps, but this one—

    Can you point to any specific examples outside of creation ex nihilo where creation geologists have used a supernatural explanation for geologic phenomena?

    Examples of these abound. In fact, a world-wide global flood of biblical proportions itself requires multitudinous miracles. The total water in, on, and above the earth is something like 80 times to small to produce such a flood—thus requiring a miracle. The amount of rainfall would be on the order of 400 inches per hour during the flood. This in itself is miraculous, but it also requires a miracle to prevent the inhabitants of the ark from drowning trying to breathe the air. After the flood, the vast quantity of water disappeared without a trace, requiring another miracle. Then, sorting out the marsupials to Australia, all the turkeys to North America, yet keeping all large animals off of oceanic islands, sending all of the polar bears north but all of the penguins south, is beyond the power of natural law, requiring yet other miracles.

    A bedrock assumption of creationist geologists requires changes in the decay rates of atomic species—without a scintilla of physical evidence. These changes would disrupt the fusion processes that power the sun, causing the sun to go dark. Unless a miracle occurred. Oliver & Chafin try to explain this with magnetic monopoles, but they in turn require at least 3 miracles:: (1) that monopoles were created; (2) that, given their existence, trillions of them were emplaced in the earth’s interior; (3) that, given their existence and concentration in the earth’s core, they all miraculously burst through the surface at a brobdingnagian flux level perfectly timed to a global flood.

    .

    My reviews of random creationist papers was centered around the theme of piling up unsupported assumptions. Perhaps, SJ, you would indulge a velleity and explain why those papers were ultimately based upon anything more than wishful fantasies?. For example, the magnetic-monopole tower of cards outlined above.

  24. If you would like to discuss the issue on the data without resorting to character attacks,

    When I read a paper in Science, Nature, or PNAS, I can trust what it says. The paper has been vetted, peer-reviewed, and published for criticism. Others frequently criticize these papers. Very occasionally,a paper is retracted because the results are not as robust as claimed, or cannot be replicated[1] or were fraudulent.[2]

    I cannot trust a paper from Answers Journal or CRSQ. First, their avowed purpose is not to advance knowledge, but to persuade people toward a religious doctrine. This difference is reflected in the authors’ guidelines that I mentioned previously.. Peer-review is explicitly for doctrinal orthodoxy, not for factual accuracy or scientific merit. Creationists complain that they have no access to mainstream journals—but they never submit papers advancing any positive evidence for creationism.

    Geologist Andrew Snelling publishes both scientific and creationist papers. But the former are based upon an old-earth model, the latter upon a young-earth model. It would seem there is a lack of integrity in one or the other

    The intelligent-design movie “Expelled” stole an expensive video from Harvard, then overdubbed it to make it appear to support creationism.[3] The transcripts from the Kitzmiller v Dover trial are replete with the exposure of misleading statements and outright lies by the creationist witnesses. Creationist biochemist Michael Behe had to be forced to answer many questions, and the answers he did give conflicted with previous statements.[4]

    The American Scientific Affiliation is a bunch of Christian scientists who split from Morris, Price, and other early creationists because of their continuing deceits as to scientific facts and theories.[5] They continue to oppose these practices, maintaining an index of false and misleading claims.

    Scientists do not dismiss creationism because it is wrong. They revile it because its acolytes seem to lack the basic intellectual honesty required for science. As far as I can see,this reputation is well deserved.[6]

    Therefore, you will not be able to convince me of anything merely because thus it was said by a creationist or written in a creationist paper. Further proof will be required. This is not character attack; it is simple prudence.

    ==============

    [1] Viz. arsenic-based life.

    [2] Hwang Woo-suk stem-cell research.

    [3] They also stole a John Lennon song and another musical piece.

    [4] I viewed this trial from both a legal and a scientific background. William Dembski had previously wished for a chance to confront “evolutionists” in a courtroom where they were under oath and could not dodge questions. His wish was granted,, but it turned out rather badly for his side. Dembski himself reneged as an ID witness, after hearing Behe get trampled in cross-examination. The faith of his convictions? Dean Kenyon pulled the same stunt in Edwards v Aguillar, fleeing his hotel room in the middle of the night before his testimony.

    [5] Ronald Numbers, The Creationists (Harvard, 2d Ed, 2006) . Numbers himself is a former creationist, of the Seventh Day Adventist stripe.

    [6] Our host himself lies whenever it serves his purpose. Michael tells his readers that zinc is a complex organic compound, and that copper residue preserved in fossils is soft tissue. On June 10, he told us that “countless experiments” have turned up no evidence for evolution. On July 9, he falsely told us that humans have protofeathers like those found on dinosaurs. Then he quote-mined an article to claim that ecologists have decided to save species with big brains from extinction over smaller-brained animals (July 21). And so it continues.

  25. Olorin,
    The exact phrasing of my original question was:

    “However, you have said at least twice that creationist geologists use the “god of the gaps” argument. Can you point to any specific examples outside of creation ex nihilo where creation geologists have used a supernatural explanation for geologic phenomena?”

    I would also gently suggest that it’s inconsistent to claim that “examples abound,” when you have not researched creationist geology beyond a “cursory internet search.”

    However, I think that it is very important to be clear about definitions and assumptions in any discussion, so the following is proposed for the definition of a “god of the gaps” argument:
    An act of God as the explanation for an unknown phenomenon, which is a variant of an argument from ignorance fallacy. Such an argument is sometimes reduced to the following form:
    • There is a gap in understanding of some aspect of the natural world.
    • Therefore the cause must be supernatural (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps)

    For the definition of supernatural, the following is proposed :

    The supernatural is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernatural)

    By these definitions, I would argue that the examples you cite are not instances of “god of the gaps” reasoning, unless you assume that all non-mainstream explanations for anomalous phenomena are ipso facto supernatural.

    (1) Current YEC geological thinking is that polonium haloes argue for rapid rate of granite formation, at different times during the earth’s history, not just at the moment of creation ex nihilo.
    http://creation.com/radiohalosstartling-evidence-of-catastrophic-geologic-processes-on-a-young-earth

    (2) The toy-in-the-brain-coral example you cited was used by AiG to show that rocks can form rapidly. I will assume that you are correct about the mistaken identity of the specimen in question, but will also point out that there are many other examples of rapid rock formation, including the process that produces common concrete. The main issue here, however, is that supernatural origin is not what was argued for in this instance.

    (3) It is common for people to assume that earth’s surface would have been the same before the Flood as it is now. However, all the YEC geologists that I know of propose that the earth’s surface was far different before the Flood, and was altered by immense geologic forces both during and after inundation. Jonathan Sarfati also points out that “… if the entire Earth’s surface were levelled by smoothing out the topography of not only the land surface but also the rock surface on the ocean floor, the waters of the ocean would cover the Earth’s surface to a depth of 3 kilometres (1.8 miles). We need to remember that about 70% of the Earth’s surface is still covered by water.”
    http://creation.com/images/pdfs/cabook/chapter12.pdf

    (4) I am not a physicist, and cannot claim the ability to fully critique Chaffin & Oliver’s paper, but my reading of it is that it proposes a physical model based upon the work done by Lipkin, Carrigan, and other non-creationist researchers. You may legitimately disagree with their model, but their proposal does not meet the criteria of “god of the gaps” reasoning, unless you assume that any other explanation for the currently observed ratios of parent-daughter isotopes in rocks besides that of an old age for the earth is by its very nature supernatural.

    Be all that as it may, I realize this discussion can only end in impasse. I am sorry you view all creationists as dishonest or deluded. I appreciate the challenges you have put forth in this thread, and have learned much from it.

  26. S.J.

    You have done an outstanding job in your responses! He can only resort to “dishonest or deluded” because many of the arguments that is posted now changes in the future with new discoveries. The theme in evolution always has been, ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of reality.

  27. Michael, this issue has always been one that attracts strong feelings, and I have seen people on either side of the issue use derogatory language about those who disagree with them. What I try to teach my children is that we will never know the complete truth until we die, and until then, the best thing we can do is to try and understand the arguments of both sides, and to treat all participants in the debate with respect.

    Also, the Flood water level quote should have also included attribution to the other co-authors of the “Creation Answers Book,” which was coauthored by Sarfati, Don Batten, Carl Wieland and David Catchpoole.

  28. Quoth Michael—

    He can only resort to “dishonest or deluded” because many of the arguments that is [sic] posted now changes in the future with new discoveries.

    Michael, there is a difference between “incorrect” and “dishonest”. An argument that turns out to be wrong because of new evidence is not therefore dishonest. On the other hand,an argument that deliberately ignores or distorts new evidence is dishonest.

    The theme in evolution always has been, [sic] ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of reality.

    Michael unintentionally gets this one right—although he meant it in a pejorative sense. Science is ever learning, ever striving to explain more physical phenomena, and to integrate theories in different fields with each other, but always provisional and still far from complete. Over the past 400 years, anyone has to admit that it has made great strides toward that goal in every area of endeavor.

    Creationism, on the other hand, is mired exactly where it has been for the same length of time: Things are the way they are because God made them that way. All the sciency scrimshaw boils down ultimately to a series of assumed miracles. For example, SJ solves the problem of insufficient water for a global flood thus:

    Jonathan Sarfati also points out that “… if the entire Earth’s surface were levelled by smoothing out the topography of not only the land surface but also the rock surface on the ocean floor, the waters of the ocean would cover the Earth’s surface to a depth of 3 kilometres (1.8 miles).

    She attempts to explain a miraculous amount of water with a miraculous leveling of the earth’s crust. A different miracle, but a miracle nonetheless.

  29. My working definition of GotG involved attributing a phenomenon to God (a miracle) when either science does not have a sufficiently detailed answer under known natural law, or when the phenomenon contravenes very well established physical law, and thus requires. a miracle. All of the examples in my comment fit under one or the other of those conditions. As to the examples you cited specifically:
    (1) Young Po halos argue that the young polonium was placed in a geological bed where the rest of the formation appears old. Why would this not require a miracle?[1]
    (2) There are examples of rapid rock formation. However, it is so unlikely, under known geological forces that continue to operate today, that it would require a whole series of miracles to have deposited them suddenly on a worldwide scale..[2]
    (3) The ” immense geologic forces” accompanying a world-wide flood would have been beyond the power of natural forces. A miracle. Then that such immense forces could deposit the extensive thin laminae seen throughout the world requires another miracle. (You may wish to calculate the magnitude of the forces involved.) The placement of different animal and plant groups after this rampaging flood is yet another miracle.
    (4) Chaffin & Oliver’s model covers the effect of monopoles on beta decay rates. Even if their model were correct,[3] a miracle would be required to modify the alpha decay series used in radiometric dating.[4]

    Be all that as it may, I realize this discussion can only end in impasse. I am sorry you view all creationists as dishonest or deluded. I appreciate the challenges you have put forth in this thread, and have learned much from it.

    I do consider the claims of creationism as science to be inherently fraudulent. Creationism shares neither the purpose not the methods of science, and therefore carries a powerful built-in incentive to misrepresent and mislead. Creationist pretend to science only because science is highly regarded in modern society, and scientists are generally held to be creditable.[5]

    Sorry, SJ. I’m with your husband—and not just because we’re both lawyers.

    .

    Young-earth creationism as theologically unjustified—although not fraudulent in that respect.[6] There are other means for preserving your literalist beliefs without compromising science. Omphalism is an example.

    ==================

    [1] Many of the halos cannot be reconciled with any known alpha decay energies that Gentry requires.. A miracle. Gentry argues that Po decay rates have remained constant while i]other rates have changed. Another miracle. (There are several possible natural sources for the halos, including U-Th decay and radon-series decay.)

    [2] You called my toy rock a “misidentification” by AiG. Any geologist who can’t tell a rock from a coral must be a creationist.

    [3] The clincher is their use of the Maxwell equations to calculate the effect of the monopoles, without modifying them to include monopoles!. You can see for yourself: Maxwell’s Del.|B|=0 is not the same as Del.|B|=g/h0, where g is some vast monopole density, and h0 is permittivity. A stupid—or deceitful—mistake like this would never get through a peer review.

    [4] So perhaps this could be classified as a fraudulent shell game, rather than a god-of-the-gaps argument. But a miracle yet lurks in the supposed nonconformity of beta to alpha decay, which contravenes atomic physics.

    [5] This explains, I think, the growing efforts of creationists to proclaim all instances where a theory is modified under new evidence, or results are exposed as not robust or reproducible. Or to portray science as inherently atheistic. It’s basically a matter of political power..

    [6] Creationists are generally theologically naive and ignorant of history. This is in fact why fundamentalism began—as a reaction against increasingly complex science and theology around the beginning of the 20thC.

    .

  30. Ratz. Dropped a blockquote on my foot again. One of these days I’ll invest in an HTML editor.

    .

    Those who delve into ‘creation science’ have done some work in baraminology and flood modeling among others. I would not comment on the effectiveness of their work as most are still in infancy. However, if you care for what they are researching, why not send them a mail and post their reply?

    I do follow the creationist attempts at research sporadically. Several papers on different subjects are reviewed my comments in this blog, from July 13 through July 18. The emphasis there was on the necessity for miracles—no matter how many “scientific” steps were described, a miraculous assumption had to appear somewhere in the chain to make it work.[1]

    These papers also demonstrate other facets of creationists claimed research. None of the papers suggested any sort of test that could confirm or falsify their hypotheses.[2] None of the papers offered any sort of experimental results; they consisted entirely of argument from data that had been gathered by real scientists. None of them made any predictions as to what their theories might find in the future.[3]

    I read every issue of Science, Nature, Sigma Xi’s American Scientist, and other journals. Comparing their papers to those in AiG’s Answers Journal and CSRQ is risible. The creationist journals are not written for peers in the field at all; they are written to impress laymen—great gobs of highly footnoted but elementary mainstream science as introduction, then a paragraph or two of creationist claims, introduced by, “If we assume that….” without any evidentiary support. They frequently conclude with “Future investigation will confirm that….” .

    Creationist organizations claim poverty and youth for lack of results. However, they seem to be well-funded The Creation Research Society has been in business since the 1950s, and operates a graduate school in Texas.[4] The Biologic[5] Institute was founded by the Discovery Institute in 2005, but has rebuffed reporters, claiming that its “research is being conducted by the institute in secret to avoid the scrutiny of the scientific community.” The only work to appear in print has been a paper proposing an evolutionary model of written characters in the Mandarin language. The DI lists a number of staff members for the Biologic Institute, but it has no street address or physical facility.

    Such is the stuff of creationist research. There is good reason for them to avoid actual experimental studies. Confirmatory results would merely reinforce what they already know to be true. On the other hand, untoward results would constitute major egg on the face, and have to be explained away.[6]

    ================

    [1] My favorite was a paper proclaiming that magnetic monopoles could affect radioactive decay rates to account for a young age of the earth. Tracing the steps, their explanation required the existence of monopoles, which have never been found and which are in fact prohibited by Maxwell’s equations. The paper required them concentrated in the earth and nowhere else, and in such vast quantities as to choke a unicorn. BTW,the authors used Maxwell’s equations to calculate the necessary monopole flux, even though these equations prohibit monopoles! Then, if one looks at what the paper did not say, we find that their theory would affect only one of the dozen decay processes that are used in radiometric dating. And only on the earth, leaving rates measured on other planets—and in space—unaffected. AND THEN another paper in AiG—by one of the co-authors—contradicts the monopole hypothesis, by proposing a different, incompatible reason for altered decay rates. This is a good example of why creationists do not submit to peer review. The reviewers would laugh their heads off.

    [2] It is of course standard practice in science to offer results for replication and testing.

    [3] The purpose of a scientific theory is to predict as-yet unknown data. As Kuhn pointed out, many theories can be made to fit data that is already known. (“The overdetermination of theory by facts.”) The value of a theory is to extend knowledge to other situations. No creationist theory has ever made a valid prediction about the physical world.

    [4] Last year it was denied academic accreditation. An appeal affirmed the denial.

    [5] Get it? BIO(logical) LOGIC. Heh heh.

    [6] In contradistinction, a number of scientists have proposed that AAAS establish a Journal of Negative Results where hypotheses from failed experiments could be published so that others could avoid having to repeat them.

    [7] Please pardon the lack of explicit attribution for quotations. Michael’s WordPress filter kicks out comments with too many links as probable spam.

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