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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dating methods - Russell Humphreys gets first shot

Below is an article with very good references and links that addresses a great deal of the basis for the dating of the Earth as a young Earth. Commenters, I have agreed to never link anything to Dr. Dino or give that site any credit. I promise you I consider talkorigins as the same kind of phony discredited site so any links you use to make an argument will be ignored out of hand. Both Dr. Dino and talkorigins proved to me that they do not really care first and foremost about whether what they say is true, but rather simply post what may convince the uninformed.

Why most scientists believe the world is old1

Beliefs foster further beliefs

by Russell Humphreys

Published: 1 April 2010(GMT+10)
there is much evidence for a young age of the earth

There are many categories of evidence for the age of the earth and the cosmos that indicate they are much younger than is generally asserted today.

There is a little-known irony in the controversy between creationists and evolutionists about the age of the world. The majority of scientists— the evolutionists—rely on a minority of the relevant data. Yet a minority of scientists—the creationists—use the majority of the relevant data.2 Adding to the irony is the public’s wrong impression that it is the other way around. Therefore, many ask: “If the evidence is so strongly for a young earth, why do most scientists believe otherwise?” The answer is simple: Most scientists believe the earth is old because they believe most other scientists believe the earth is old!

Going round in circles

They trust in what’s called ‘circular reasoning’, not data. I once encountered such a clear example of this misplaced trust, that I made detailed notes immediately. It happened when I spoke with a young (in his early thirties, career-ambitious, and upwardly mobile) geochemist at Sandia National Laboratories, where I then worked as a physicist. I presented him with one piece of evidence for a young world, the rapid accumulation of sodium in the ocean. It was ideal, since much of geochemistry deals with chemicals in the ocean.

… he did not want to examine the evidence for himself, because, he said, ‘People I trust don’t accept creation!’

I wanted to see how he explained possible ways for sodium to get out of the sea fast enough to balance the rapid input of sodium to the sea. Creationist geologist Steve Austin and I wanted the information in order to complete a scientific paper on the topic.3 We went around and around the issue for an hour, but he finally admitted he knew of no way to remove sodium from the sea fast enough. That would mean the sea could not be billions of years old. Realizing that, he said, “Since we know from other sciences that the ocean is billions of years old, such a removal process must exist.”

I questioned whether we ‘know’ that at all and started to mention some of the other evidence for a young world. He interrupted me, agreeing that he probably didn’t know even one percent of such data, since the science journals he depended on had not pointed it out as being important. But he did not want to examine the evidence for himself, because, he said, “People I trust don’t accept creation!”

Faith, not science

I asked him which people he was relying upon. His answer was, “I trust Steven Jay Gould!” (At that time Gould, a paleontologist, was still alive and considered the world’s most prominent evolutionist.) Thus the geochemist revealed his main reason for thinking the earth is old: “people I trust” i.e., scientific authorities, had declared it. I was surprised that he didn’t see the logical inconsistency of his own position. He trusted Gould and other authorities but ignored highly relevant data!

Perhaps the geochemist thought it so unlikely the earth is young that he wasn’t going to waste time investigating the possibility himself. But if that were the case, then it shows another way the old-world myth perpetuates itself—by intellectual inertia.

Many scientists are not the independent seekers of truth the public imagines, so the public should not trust them blindly

I remember having similar attitudes when I was a grad student in physics, while I was still an evolutionist. I was wondering about a seeming inconsistency in biological evolutionism. But, I told myself, surely the experts know the answer, and I’ve got my dissertation research to do. I had no idea that (a) the experts had no answer for it, and (b) the implications were extremely important, affecting my entire worldview.

Before I became a Christian, I resisted evidence for a recent creation because of its spiritual implications. The geochemist might also be resisting such implications, and was merely using scientific authority as a convenient excuse.

The bottom line

Many scientists are not the independent seekers of truth the public imagines, so the public should not trust them blindly. For a variety of reasons, scientists depend on other scientists to be correct, even when they themselves have some reason for doubt. Unfortunately, as most creationist scientists can tell you, the young geochemist’s reaction is not at all exceptional. Many scientists, without serious questioning, trust the opinions of their own ‘experts’. However, I’m happy to report that others, when presented with creationist data, have become very interested and have investigated it. Many have become creationists that way, as I did.

Your support of this ministry helps turn people’s thinking around. It did mine, so, thank you for your continued prayers and support. It does make a difference.

Related articles

References

  1. First appeared in a CMI newsletter, December 2008. Return to text.
  2. Humphreys, D. R. Evidence for a young world, ICR Impact No. 384, June 2005. Archived at . Return to text.
  3. Austin, S. A. and D. R. Humphreys, The sea’s missing salt: a dilemma for evolutionists, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism, Vol. II, Creation Science Fellowship (1990), Pittsburgh, pp. 17–33, order from http://www.icc03.org/proceedings.htm. Archived at . See also a simplified article on this research — Salty seas: Evidence for a young earth. Return to text.

9 comments:

radar said...

Next dating post takes on carbon 14 dating...

creeper said...

And the (somewhat content-free) fallacy circus continues: special pleading and an ongoing ad hominem - never mind the utter hypocrisy of attempting to discredit all content on one website due to an alleged lie while endorsing another website that publishes actual, demonstrable lies (see Family Research Center).

In any case, both the special pleading and your ad hominem dismissal of talkorigins (which as you may know features contributions from all kinds of contributors on all kinds of subjects) only amounts to one thing, as should be evident to all readers, no matter which side of the debate they are on: you are trying to dismiss inconvenient facts.

Such underhanded tactics can't be a good sign for the position you're attempting to bolster, Radar.

Fortunately, it's not like talkorigins is the only one featuring critiques of Humphreys' work. Jon Woolf had an excellent comment on this subject here, which also featured this debunking, among others.

Not only that, but you don't have to go all the way to talkorigins for rebuttals - you don't even have to go to any oh-so-evil atheists for that. Here are some refutations from Christian sources. So much for that "worldview" excuse, huh?

-- creeper

Jon Woolf said...

As creeper notes, one doesn't have to go anywhere near talk-origins to get rebuttals to young-earth arguments. The "sodium levels in the oceans" argument is answered in a number of places, such as here and here. In particular, note that using other metals besides sodium yields different "maximum ages" for the oceans. This is what I meant in a previous comment when I said that the methods used by YECs don't converge on a single answer, and therefore should not be trusted.

Your snarking at scientists also fails. Of course a "young geochemist" is going to trust that those who came before him knew what they were talking about! That's the whole point of having a science system with a written history: no one can know everything, or check all the old results for him/herself, so new scientists have to assume the old scientists got it basically right, unless and until they see real evidence that the old scientists got it wrong.

Not to mention the fact that you do the same thing, relying only on creation-scientists for your YEC evidence and ignoring or handwaving aside all evidence that is inconsistent with a 6000-year-old earth. They who live in glass houses...

WomanHonorThyself said...

as usual..trying to absord this all my friend..thank you for the thorough research!

radar said...

Yell all you like, talkorigins is a fake site like Dr. Dino and neither of them get any credit here.

As it happens, you guys never found and answer to specified variation, which means that Darwinism is aleady dead in the water. I am just going step by step through some issues and presenting scientific evidence that support young ages for Earth.

Usually the more someone like creeper calls a post a "circus" or a "fallacy" it is because the information hits home. Also, talkorigins has been dismissed for cause so it is not ad hominem.

creeper said...

"Yell all you like, talkorigins is a fake site like Dr. Dino and neither of them get any credit here."

And yet the lying Family Research Center does, thus demonstrating your hypocrisy, as I mentioned earlier.

By the by, did you miss the part where Jon and I provided several debunkings that were not from talkorigins, including from Christian sources? No "worldview" excuse there.

"As it happens, you guys never found and answer to specified variation, which means that Darwinism is aleady dead in the water."

You haven't even started your promised posts on dating methods (just two meandering, wishy-washy, fallacious introductions), and already you're trying to move the goalposts? Oh boy, this is getting weaker with each post and comment, Radar.

"I am just going step by step through some issues and presenting scientific evidence that support young ages for Earth."

You're being awfully coy about it. So far we have "worldviews" (which is hogwash, you're just attempting a special pleading) and Humphreys making some vague allegations that scientists believe what other scientists believe and (I guess) do so blindly and in contradiction of the facts. Nowhere does he actually answer his own title "Why most scientists believe the world is old". It's a pretty lazy little essay.

"Usually the more someone like creeper calls a post a "circus" or a "fallacy" it is because the information hits home."

Nice try. Except:

1. There was no information that could hit home.

2. There were fallacies, and they were clearly and specifically pointed out. Maybe you can fool someone as uninformed as The Woman That Honors Herself with methods like this, but you haven't managed to present any scientific evidence that indicates a young Earth.

"Also, talkorigins has been dismissed for cause so it is not ad hominem."

No, it is very clearly an ad hominem. An ad hominem is if you don't engage the facts and arguments at hand, but instead point at the person who is presenting them and say that person is not credible, therefore the argument is invalid or should not be addressed. It's crystal clear that that's what you're doing in this case. See the comment section here. Opposing arguments are presented; you dismiss them because of their origin, thus avoiding the substance of the argument in any way whatsoever. That's a textbook case of an ad hominem.

In those comments you also make the unsupportable claim that "we have already shown that talkorigins deliberately posts and defends disproven data as a matter of course" when all you have is a single case in which you disagree with them.

But as we already pointed out, this doesn't need to be about talkorigins at all. If you don't feel like you have any other option than to engage in ad hominems, then that's your problem. The failures and shortcomings of the RATE project are amply documented elsewhere.

The fact of the matter is that RATE's claims were widely dismissed, including by Christian sources, and you're just trying to deflect that failure away by claiming the usual conspiracy and worldview nonsense. If facts were on your side, you wouldn't be in this desperate position.

Doesn't the fact that fellow Christians can believe in the Bible and find it consistent with the discoveries of science (which to a believer amount to the mere examination of God's creation) give you pause? Ranting about "Darwinists" and atheists really doesn't amount to anything as long as Christians can come to the same conclusion from a scientific perspective.

-- creeper

Jon Woolf said...

Creeper: Doesn't the fact that fellow Christians can believe in the Bible and find it consistent with the discoveries of science (which to a believer amount to the mere examination of God's creation) give you pause?

If Radar is anything like other fundamentalists I've encountered, the answer is no. See, to them, Old-Earth creationists, and especially theistic evolutionists, are far worse than people like you and me. We're just unbelievers. OECs and theistic evolutionists are heretics, which is far worse.

creeper said...

Good point, Jon. And perhaps it irks Radar that the inconvenient existence of these people completely mangles his claim that "Darwinists" are only atheists who conspire to foist fake science (in what must be the most enormous conspiracy that humanity has ever witnessed) on a witless populace so that they can live immoral lives.

-- creeper

Chaos Engineer said...

I'd add that even if you believe in a young earth, you can still justify living an immoral life.

If you're forced to abandon Atheism, you can adopt some flavor of Deism or Gnosticism and believe that God doesn't care about human sinfulness. You could even stick with Atheism and argue that Earth was colonized 6000 years ago by humans from another planet, who lost all their advanced technology in some unknown disaster.

If your back is really to the wall and the evidence is compelling you to believe in a personal God, you can just redefine "immorality" and claim that God approves of whatever it is that you want to do.