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Saturday, December 04, 2010

The making of a thinking Creationist part one...life in the field as an agnostic

In response to many requests, I am going to do a series on the making of a thinking Creationist = me.  I will probably do a completely personal narrative every other post for awhile.   Allow me to preface this by saying that I do NOT think I am the smartest person in the world and in fact there are geniuses all over the place, whereas I am one of those odd birds who is almost at that level in many areas but absolutely not really gifted at one thing.   I am a genius at taking tests if at all.  I am not a math genius or a great artist or poet or visionary philosopher or ground-breaking scientist and I know it.   SO during this narrative if I sound like I am saying I was arrogantly aware of my intellect and thought I was smarter than I actually was...you are right.  I did.  It is part of the story.  If you then try to say that I am therefore revealed as being stupid?  Hey, everyone has an opinion.  I am being honest and exposing parts of my past to the light for a purpose.

A comfortable nest

You need to know as I start that I was taught carefully at home by smart and loving parents before I ever set foot in school.   Sadly, my parents abandoned church before I was aware of anything and I grew up in an agnostic setting where reason and learning and humor and talent were valued highly.   I knew my parents and aunts and uncles and grandpas and grandmas all loved me and until I was in high school I spent much of summers and holiday breaks visiting relatives and keeping family bonds strong.   Ah, some of the family has grown apart, but I just talked on the phone with my brother today, with my mother-in-law this morning and chatted on facebook last night with my sister.   I call my mom every week.   Three of our kids live at home and the other three are all within 45 minutes of us.   We value family ties highly.

I was labeled as very smart at a young age and unfortunately was placed in an enriched learning program in grade school.   Being labeled a brain eventually made me a dork and I had a strange circumstance growing up.  For awhile I was so popular that I was class leader in third grade and class president in fourth and fifth grade.  By eighth grade all the girls considered me a dork and only my neighborhood friends and my football teammates were actual friends going through high school.   Then in college, in a new environment, I was a big man on campus somehow, friend to all-American (small college) football players, asked to practice with the basketball team, invited to hang out at the SAE house without pledging and having girls asking me out for dates before I could ask them.   I had experienced wanting to kill myself because I was such an outcast and later I experienced being so full of myself I pretty much owned the world.    

Tromp the woods, keep your shoes on in the water, don't get bit!


I grew up in Southern Indiana, around the Connersville and Bedford area of the state.   It was a great place for kids to go exploring in the woods back in the 1950's and early 60's.   In those days the careful eye could spot arrowheads and spearheads (and even a hatchet head once) while walking out away from civilization.   My cousin and I would make us a couple of crawdad sticks made from a tree branch which would be about a three foot long stick that forked at the end, the forks being around an inch or so long.   With a crawdad stick, you could walk the limestone bed creeks, stop still, and wait for the big crawdads to sneak out from under their rock lair.  Once the claws were all the way out, you stabbed the stick behind the claws.  Crawdads (crayfish) always scoot backwards to escape danger and so their first move was of no avail as we would reach down, grab them behind the claws and toss them in the bucket.   It was fun trying to catch the biggest crawdad and at the end of the day we would usually just put them back in the water and let them find new homes.   Once in a while my cousin would toss one up into the water tank that was spring-fed that provided water to their house.  We would climb up to the top and peer down into the tank and see the distinctive outline of a living crawdad waiting for whatever comes next.  Boys are weird, right?

Crawdad sticks could be used to catch snakes, if you were fast, pinning them behind the head.   Being very good with a crawdad stick probably saved my life once, when I had three cottonmouths attack me at once and only two of them were chased away by rocks.  They also call them water moccasins.  Mean, aggressive snakes!   If you see one just get away.  Sometimes they stand their ground but sometimes they will literally chase you, especially if you are in water!

Boys think they are never going to die and we took lots of stupid chances crawling up the sides of rock formations and swinging from vines like Tarzan over ravines and that kind of thing.  But we loved to find caves, find the shambles of old settled houses long abandoned, old rusted cars, and especially fossils.   You see, there are all kinds of sedimentary rock formations in those parts and not just limestone either.  There is slate and shale and limestone and mudstone


Scientists are often w-w-w-w-w-w-w-wrong

Much of our wanderings would be along creeks that fed the Whitewater River or on and around the branches of the river.  The whitewater and creeks feeding it often will be rock-bedded, so that often there is no mud or dirt at all for long stretches, just layers of limestone, often with overhangs, providing shelter for crawdads and fish and etc.   There was an abundance of fish and turtles, amphibians and snakes, and even a very few river otters.  River otters, according to my Zim/Hoffmeister mammal Golden Guide handbook, did not live in Indiana and I realized that the scientists were wrong about this.  (In fact I have found a recent map that still shows Indiana to be devoid of river otters).  This was the first time I realized I knew something in a science publication was wrong.   Later on I found that the reptiles handbook was wrong about the range of at least three snakes (cottonmouth/rattlesnake/copperhead) as well.   Fortunately for us only the cottonmouths are aggressive.   In fact I have picked up a copperhead right out of Sugar Creek with a canoe paddle and that guy just wanted to fall off into the water and serenely swim towards the shore. 

cottonmouth above, copperhead below



I do regret the day I found the legendary hair snake!  It was light brown with dark brown eyes or eyespots and I had it cupped in my hand...I was taking it to show my Dad, who had never seen one and often talked of finding one someday...but it slipped through my fingers and escaped.    I suppose it to be a kind of Horsehair Worm, although I have never seen a picture of one that quite matches what I had cupped in water in my hand.  In any event, I wish I had kept it long enough to show my Dad but then again I had brought him an array of fossils and lizards and salamanders and snakes to peruse to the point that I had become a living personal zoologist for him.   Anytime I caught anything I thought he'd never seen before, I would lug it home in the bucket or the big ball jar with holes poked into the top.   The bucket would hold crawdads and most fish and turtles but a big snake would just crawl out and probably bite someone as well.

I can personally attest that rattlesnakes in Indiana live on up to the area around Lake Michigan as do cottonmouths.   I know a pond in Lowell, Indiana on the back end of a range for milk cows that has a few cottonmouths, so all the locals know to keep their children away from the area.   I have observed a copperhead living north of Indianapolis.   Scientists are not always right.

The same holds true for the Cincinnatian rocks.   My cousin and I found bivalve fossils continually to the point of boredom.   Most of them were upright as if living when buried.  Long rock formations would be exposed with nothing but upright bivalves as far as you could see.  Rarely do you find piles of shells in fossil form, mixed, with the individual halves going every which way as you do in normal life.   When mussels die, for instance, they soon separate and more often than not the shiny inside part winds up facing upwards.   We also found trilobites in abundance, so much so we never bothered to keep any unless by chance we could tap or pluck an entire one from it's surround rock.   They were everywhere.   But we also found fish fossils a couple of times and fern fossils lots of times and some very odd fossils that at the time we could not identify.  Later I discovered one of my fossils was possibly dinosaur poop!   Sadly for me, when I was drafted I gave my sports magazine collection and all my fossils and arrowheads to my brother in case I would up being shot and killed.   He lost track of it all.   I had four years of the Sporting News in pristine condition sorted by dates and probably worth a few hundred bucks to a collector all gone now.  Blah.  But I did not get shot and killed and my brother is happily living in California so that is the most important thing.

Just as the Golden Guides were wrong about the reach of populations of river otters and cottonmouth snakes, the Darwinists are wrong about the rocks around the Tri-State area of Indiana and Ohio and Kentucky.   My years of exploring showed me that virtually any fossils we found were of things that were buried alive...all right-side up with bivalves and trilobites with very few exceptions, for instance.   Meanwhile in real life we saw that things died, were scavenged and rotted and not preserved at all.   Even bones would not last long.
There is a reason why most fossils are rapidly buried living animals but yet there are some scavenged fossils.  There are great reasons why there would be areas where dinosaur tracks and egg layings seemed stacked up.  We will explore these reasons later. 


From the tops of mountains, to the depths of valleys, the world is a work of art

As an adult I have climbed around on all sorts of mountain ranges and in valleys, studied sedimentary rock formations in earnest in the far north and the far east and south and west of the USA and Canada.   Wherever you find sedimentary rocks, you find them in layers with neat, identifiable boundaries with the occasional exception where additional catastrophism must be considered.   But whether you are studying the layers of the Grand Canyon or the Appalachians or the Cincinnatian formations you see water-formed layers of sediment.   You see evidence of upheaval that caused pliable mudrock to be folded like taffy.   You see rocks supposedly millions of years old exposed to the elements and literally turning back into mud.  You also see how ludicrous that Darwinist geological column really is.   Everywhere I go to study rock formations there are differences.  But there is one common theme - when you find fossils, you mostly find living things buried alive and preserved that way.  No scavenger marks.  No signs of decay.  Crinoids are the only fossil I have consistently found that are separated.   We called them "Indian Beads" in part because some of the local tribes had used crinoids taken from mudrock as beads, according to my grandfather.  Later research proved him right, go look for yourself.   Google.  You know the drill. 

Have you ever seen a major flood?  I have.  I've seen entire houses being carried downriver by a big flood event a few years back on the Illinois River (I believe the Missouri and Mississippi had flood issues at the same time).   I saw cars not-quite submerged flow by.   We were on a higher road that was untouched by the flood, but the raw power of it...I tried to imagine the frantic scrambling of people trying to get away when suddenly their house or car is in water moving with fearsome power and they suddenly have no thoughts in their minds but to get away.   I also remember a couple of years ago when the Missouri was way over flood stage and calling a friend to make sure he was okay.   He built his house on a hill by the intersection of two highways.  Both highways were under water and the hill was mostly submerged but he and his house were at the top, high and dry.   He told me about all the helicopters going by and so often hovering over his house taking shots for television.   He waved away a rescue copter, assuring the Sheriff's staff that no flood could get high enough to reach him.   He was right.  But little floods that go a few feet past flood stage kill people, wipe out houses and sometimes entire towns.   Local floods.  Imagine a year-long world-wide flood with volcanic activity and earthquakes with rapid tectonic plate subduction and possibly a comet strike thrown in.

So even when I moved up north, I began exploring the forests and bogs and swamps and lakes of Michigan and every summer I would get to visit relatives down south and we would spend time "tromping the woods" as we called it.   Back then I assumed that there was probably a God but it didn't much matter, as boys are invincible and immortal and never consider the possibility of death except sometimes while watching a Twilight Zone episode.   Back then I was quite sure that there had been millions of years of evolution and I kept hoping to find a dinosaur fossil somewhere, anywhere, but mostly fish, ferns and lots of mollusks plus a lot of arrowheads was what we brought home.  Oh, and geodes, of course, and we found a few caves as well.  My cousin and I wanted to be Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn with a big dose of Tom Swift added in.  But boys grow up and I had it all planned out.   Honor roll through high school, scholarship, University, high grades, go make lots of money and chase pretty girls.

GI stood for get intoxicated

Being drafted knocked me off-course.  I was enraged at the whole world and I was never able to be completely happy knowing the Army owned me.  I got into drugs of all kinds and metaphysical mumbo-jumbo like hanging out with self-styled witches and warlocks and learning mind control techniques and manipulative behavior.   If you have a good memory and a quick wit you can lie like crazy and get people to do things you want them to do.   In the midst of the drug days I became convinced that I actually did possess supernatural powers others did not have.   Anyway, I was a masterful and clever liar, building backstories to things and keeping them in order in my mind.   I really did take acid before working in the Pentagon one day, just so I could see if I could get away with it.   In fact I often went days smoking pot and taking LSD and drinking alcohol and never being anywhere near sober.   Sometimes I would go until I passed out and then, upon waking, would light a cigarette to smoke while I rolled my first joint of the day.   Then I would be ready for a bite of food and then I would take some microdot or some third eye or some windows or whatever variety of acid that was available at the time and go on with the day.   All this while reporting to work each day with a top secret clearance to an office that was in the Washington Navy Yard.   Oh, how I hated it when we moved to the Pentagon!

So eventually I was reassigned to be assistant editor of a military paper in Texas and got connected with the meth lab biker gang, began distributing speed, got hooked, did the needle, did the cold turkey, finished my Army term, got my honorable discharge, came back home and slapped myself in the face, figuratively.   I told myself to get a job, get back in college, get a reliable car, no more psychedelic or needle drugs, get my degree, start over again.   I should have given up pot, too, but I "knew a guy" so I could buy it by the pound, sell three quarters of it and keep one quarter for me.   Make money, keep a buzz, selling to college kids, piece of cake!

So I worked for an engineering company and I went to an Indiana University campus, where they taught me that the book of Genesis was written by four different guys and was not from Moses at all.  I bought that.  I loved Political Science.   There were lots of girls.   I found a mint condition 1965 Studebaker Cruiser with a 289 engine owned by a retired couple who could not drive and people thought it was cool.  I was giving up on the concept of God and getting into the whole work hard, play hard, make piles of money mentality.  

It looked like this, only mine had factory wheels and more chrome.

So even though I had walked the earth studying rocks and fossils for many years, collecting specimens, a few college classes and general media indoctrination had convinced me that life evolved and that it was unlikely we could actually know if there was a God or not.  So eat, drink and be merry!  As I came to the end of my first quarter of a century on Earth I thought I had it figured out.   Decent job, GI Bill to pay for school, friends, girls, time...and since this was before the Internet Revolution, plenty of time to read lots of books, too.  I had survived the military and I tested 99th percentile on the ACT (defunct now) and I was going to have the classic great American life.

I been busted, and disgusted

Oh, I had seen lots of bad stuff, guys beating girls, fights, somebody trying to kill me, attempted rapes, maniacal rants by depressed and besotted people trying to kill themselves, all sorts of bad stuff.   I had known love between a man and a woman that seemed stronger than simply chemistry, I had seen awesome beauty, like sunset in the mountains when you know you are so far from anyone else a scream would not be heard, and sunrise in the desert when the sun finds every color in the palette to paint the sky and the rocks on its way to beating down on you with yellow heat if you were to stay there.  I had been so happy that my heart wanted to explode.   I had seen strange things that would be remarkably hard for me to explain even now.  I'd had friends as close as brothers.  I'd been attacked by people with the moral code of sharks.

Approaching age 25 I thought I could figure life out for myself.   I figured I could beat up anybody within fifty pounds of my weight.  I expected that most girls would think I was handsome.  I was in perfect shape, could run a mile in close to five minutes, play basketball for hours on end, played tackle football almost every weekend, lifted weights consistently.  I was absolutely full of myself.  I just had one major glitch.  Morality.


I had nice guy disease

The big weird was the "nice guy" thing.  Girls that liked bad boys were not often attracted to me.   I never felt like being cruel to people.  I loved hitting a guy so hard on the football field I could actually knock him out, but I would be the first one talking him back to reality and giving him a hand back up.  I was a happy drunk and a mellow head.  I had "nice guy" disease.   It was what kept me from getting into the inner circle of the drug gang.   I would not sleep with a married female no matter how hot she was.  I had, inexplicably, some kind of internal moral code that was completely at odds with the lying and manipulating I had learned to do as a matter of course.   So I didn't have myself figured out.  What was it, was it being raised with good values?   Was there some intrinsic internal behavior gyroscope that set off alarms when my life was going sideways?  Did I need to deliberately do some really bad stuff to knock that gyroscope out?  Why didn't I feel comfortable cheating people?   I would lie to get what I wanted, but later I would begin to feel guilty.  Boiling it all down, I could not understand why I would have a conscience.   It was inconvenient.  I found myself fighting off temptations I really wanted to overtake me.  A friend's wife.  An underage neighborhood teenybopper.  A drunk girl only half-aware.  I would heroically resist the temptation and the next darned day I would be mad at myself.   It was almost like a Gollum-Smeagol conversation going on in my mind, minus the insanity.  (Canucklehead already thinks I am insane anyway, so what the heck).

Why didn't you do it? (it would have been rape, it would have been adultery, it would have been criminal.) 

She was hot!  (she was vulnerable.)

It would have been fun.  (it would have been wrong.)

What's wrong with you? (what's right with me?)

Was I going to charge through life and grab all the gusto I could, or was there some purpose and plan and force behind the material world, an unseen ideal or eternal truth that was like a magnet pulling on me to align myself in one particular way?

To be continued...

7 comments:

Jon Woolf said...

"In response to many requests, I am going to do a series on the making of a thinking Creationist = me."

I could say some rather snarky things in response to that ... but this is your blog, so I'll forbear. Instead I'll spend a few minutes demonstrating that you should have thought a bit more, and not simply jumped to the conclusion that because some things said in a five-dollar pocket nature guide were wrong, the entire body of accumulated scientific knowledge was therefore suspect.

"The same holds true for the Cincinnatian rocks. My cousin and I found bivalve fossils continually to the point of boredom."

Accuracy is important. Did you find lots of bivalves, or did you find lots of brachiopods? They're not the same thing. Bivalves are rare in Cincinnatian rocks, while brachiopods are common as crabgrass.

You should also be specific in which rocks you're talking about. To a geologist, "Cincinnatian" refers specifically to a certain stage of the upper Ordovician period. In Indiana, Cincinnatian rocks are exposed only in the southeastern corner of the state. The Bedford area lies atop rocks from the Mississippian Period.

"But we also found fish fossils a couple of times and fern fossils lots of times and some very odd fossils that at the time we could not identify. Later I discovered one of my fossils was possibly dinosaur poop!"

Unlikely, since as far as anyone including the USGS knows, there are no Mesozoic rocks, and therefore no dinosaur fossils, in Indiana. Indiana bedrock is virtually all Paleozoic in age. You may have found some kind of coprolite, but not from a dinosaur.

"But there is one common theme - when you find fossils, you mostly find living things buried alive and preserved that way. No scavenger marks. No signs of decay."

Small fossils, yes -- sometimes. Large fossils, no. The larger the fossil, the less likely it is to be intact. As I've said before, in many hours of searching Cincinnatian (Ordovician) rocks, I've found very few intact fossils and many fragmentary ones.

"But whether you are studying the layers of the Grand Canyon or the Appalachians or the Cincinnatian formations you see water-formed layers of sediment."

Not in the Appalachians you don't. The Appalachians are largely metamorphic-sedimentary rocks, liberally mixed with igneous and igneous-metamorphic rocks. There are also plenty of igneous strata in the Grand Canyon.

Learn some real geology, Radar. You might be surprised by how much those geologists of yore actually got right.

radar said...

Jon Woolf, I have pictures taken in the Appalachians in which the rock layers like layered cake are clearly visible, so you are wrong there. In fact you are spectacularly wrong. Maybe you should spend more time there?

First, that "Golden Guides" were incorrect and often remain incorrect is not an indictment on all of science but it is evidence that a scientific paper, textbook or paradigm can be completely wrong.

Secondly, numerous bivalve fossils are found or were found in Whitewater limestone with regularity as well as trilobites. I have walked on hundreds of them during many years of hiking and studying the area.

Third, Cincinnatian is a phrase I should not use since geologists keep changing what they say about the area. Let's just say that the area has multiple rock layers that are sedimentary and rich in fossils. Most of them are bottom-dwelling sea creatures but fossils of ferns and fish and other things are also found. The probable coprolite I found is lost forever, much to my regret.

Fourth, since Darwinist geologists have a fractured view of the makeup of the rock layers, their labels (igneous, metamorphic, what have you) are nonsensical. Until they give up their uniformitarian concepts and admit to the catastrophic nature of the rock layers they are knowingly ignorant or stupid, take your pick. Uniformitarianism in any form just doesn't match what is found in the field, period.

Suppose you tell me why my cousin and I could find such a wide variety of fossils easily? I can tell you that the flood produced multiple layers of sedimentary rocks, some during the start, some during the primary flood event, some during the run-off phase and some during the after-flood phase which included an ice age and the period that much of the surface features of the Earth were created.

But you are ahead of that dialogue. I am discussing a personal journey from being an agnostic who did not even question Darwinism to a Christian who is dedicated to exposing Darwinism for what it is. In this particular narrative at the moment I am an agnostic, living for myself, something of an excessive party animal type who was going back to college after a stint in the military.

Jon Woolf said...

"Jon Woolf, I have pictures taken in the Appalachians in which the rock layers like layered cake are clearly visible, so you are wrong there."

I have similar pictures myself. Your arrogant disdain for real geology has (yet again) led you to step squarely into a bear-trap.

I said that the Appalachians are largely metamorphic-sedimentary rocks, mixed with igneous and igneous-sedimentary rock. "Metamorphic-sedimentary" means that the rock in question was once sedimentary rock, but was metamorphosed (that's a fancy word for 'changed') by heat and pressure into some type of metamorphic rock. For example, slate is metamorphosed shale, and marble is metamorphosed limestone.

Incidentally, strong layering can be observed in igneous and metamorphic rock. The mere appearance of layers is not enough to say for sure that the rock is sedimentary.

"Fourth, since Darwinist geologists have a fractured view of the makeup of the rock layers, their labels (igneous, metamorphic, what have you) are nonsensical."

[ROFLMAO]

Those terms have nothing to do with Darwin or evolution. They're the result of two millennia of direct observation of Nature, and their first uses date back to long before Darwin ever even thought about evolution. Congratulations, Radar, in your increasingly desperate attempts to defend YEC, you've now thrown more than three centuries of geology on the trash heap, along with the two and a half centuries of palaeontology and four centuries of biology that you had already scrapped. Millions of man-hours of hard work and hard thought, all gone because little Radar doesn't want to believe he got snookered by a snake-oil salesman.

Even most of the other creationists I've known haven't been that sweeping in their dismissal of science and scientists. Pathetic, Radar, Truly pathetic.

Jon Woolf said...

Oh yeah, as for this:

"Suppose you tell me why my cousin and I could find such a wide variety of fossils easily?"

Because Indiana, like the rest of the old North-West Territory, has a surface geology that consists largely of recent topsoil over relatively unaltered sedimentary strata. For four hundred million years that region of North America went back and forth between shallow sea and coastal plain. So depending on exactly where you go and what rocks you look in, you can find fossils of organisms from marine, tidal, freshwater, and lowland habitats.

All of which is perfectly ordinary conventional geology, as you would know if you had ever bothered to read any real geology books.

Anonymous said...

"Even most of the other creationists I've known haven't been that sweeping in their dismissal of science and scientists. Pathetic, Radar, Truly pathetic."

Pathetic, yes, but isn't this what is necessary to prop up the inane YEC hypothesis?

Anonymous said...

I wonder where your grandiose sense of "self importance" comes from, Radar? It wouldn't have anything to do with a belief system wherein you are in constant contact with the creator of the entire universe, does it? Anyway I digress...

TIL - "slate is metamorphosed shale, and marble is metamorphosed limestone" - Thanks Jon.

- Canucklehead.

Anonymous said...

The above link doesn't work, my bad. It's here: http://www.proof-of-evolution.com/