Almost a year ago, Creation Ministries International released an article called “the Glasses of Deep Time” which made a number of, possibly intentional, errors in an attempt to assert a Young-Earth viewpoint by discrediting modern scientific understanding. The article seeks to demonstrate the claim made by the little description below the title, that “the assumption of long ages determine the results because it is assumed before the evidence is considered”. It’s probably fairly easy to deal with it then and there (see the article at TalkOrigins titled “The Age of the Earth” for a rather comprehensive rebuttal), but perhaps there’s more to their claims than I think.
I’m not one-hundred percent sure of the exact position held by CMI, though from the outset it appears that they take the Young-Earth standpoint. The answer that comes with that, less than 10,000 years old, is in direct contradiction of the currently accepted scientific point-of-view. 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years (for the Earth) and 13.789 ± 0.037 billion years (for the Universe). Of course, they’re entirely guilty of what they’re precisely trying to discredit -assuming a time-frame and trying to find evidence to support their position. The one thing that they would be correct on is that this is not how science is done. You draw a conclusion from the evidence, you don’t fit the evidence to meet a presupposition.
Now, their article is less an article and more a series of responses to e-mails or letters (whether it’s one or the other is irrelevant, really). Let’s get into it.
“He is demonstrating that he does not understand how paradigms in science work. When uniformitarians discover something that is not explained within their paradigm they do not say, “Oh, our paradigm is wrong.” No, they say, “What is going on? How do we explain this (within our paradigm)”. They never articulate the bit in brackets—they don’t realise themselves what they are doing.” — Dr Tas Walker, correspondence with “D”.
How Science Uses Checks And Balances As A Safeguard Against Human Error, and Intellectual Dishonesty
That’s a nice piece of nonsense by the second paragraph of Dr Tas Walker’s (demonstrating his particular brand of lunacy) response to “D”. One needs only look at the basic principles behind the scientific method to recognize that he’s being deliberately dishonest. The processes of hypothesis, experimentation, peer-review and discussion specifically make such dishonesty (among the scientific community) highly improbable. Implicit here is the suggestion that the entire body of geologists are outright lying, albeit without realizing it themselves. This, of course, is nonsense.
If the data is inconsistent with the model, then one of two things could be wrong. Either the data is inaccurate (this is why repeating experiments is important) or the model is. If successive experiments show that the data was erroneous, then it’s likely that the model is still fine and that there was something wrong with the premise of the experiment. Human error, most often, is responsible for erroneous data. If the model is wrong, then scientists revisit the model.
A great example of this, presently, is the floundering that theoretical physicists are currently engaging in while they try to explain the discrepancies between General Relativity and the Standard Model of particle physics. They recognize that both models are wrong–though they’re sufficient for their fields of use–and that there must be a better model to fit with the data. This is science at work. It is a self-correcting understanding of nature. Opinion and personal bias rarely play a large role in the outcome and, even if it does, it’s quickly corrected during the process of peer-review. It would be exceedingly ridiculous to claim that because one scientist has a biased position that every other scientist within his field of study has the same biased position. This is nonsense. Scientists are able to gain far more credibility in their fields by disproving a hypothesis than they are to be complicit with bad ideas.
Of course, the creationist would never come out and admit it, but they are vastly more guilty of what they’re accusing geologists of. A creationist looks at the data and then tries to fit it into his model (in this case the model is, of course, the Bible, but you can insert any other religious holy-text from almost any other religion and you’ll get their fundamental creationists trying to do the same thing). This is not science. It’s insulting when such a biased opinion masquerades itself under the misleading name of “creation science”.
The Search For Evidence Within The Confines Of A Presupposition Is Not Science
He goes on to quote Mike Oard (Michael J. Oard) who, similarly, is a creationist with the same creationist stand of “the Bible is right, what can we find that validates it”. It makes the mind boggling assumption that anyone other than a creationist would either care or accept the findings of another creationist, let alone that it would further validate the claims of yet another creationist. These aren’t dissenting or divergent views (though they clearly squabble as much among themselves as they do us), but rather a chorus of dishonest fools patting one another on the back.
Is it any surprise that what Mike Oard says supports what Tas Walker says? Worse still, the quote he’s citing is from elsewhere on the same website. This is absurd. If, perhaps, the comment was being made in a mainstream, peer-reviewed, scientific journal or magazine it would have some convincing aspect to it. Instead, it just shows how silly they tend to cite their sources–they can’t even look further than their own website for other opinions.
The next fellow to respond to a letter is Dr. Jonathan Sarfati (a little information on him). Somewhere in there, the guy he’s responding to (I’m assuming it’s a guy, admittedly, based on nothing) makes the claim, “I was a born again Christian until someone tried to tell me that creation was absolute!” To which he, rather magnificently, displays his ineptitude and ignorance by asserting, “I find that hard to believe: that your professed Christianity was so fragile that one person telling you something is enough reason to throw it away. Seems like an emotional decision not a reasoned one.” We have here a truth claim and a rebuttal. It’s ironic that, while later pointing out an equivocation fallacy, we have him demonstrating his own appeal to incredulity. He’s clearly not thinking rationally already.
The Equivocation Fallacy
And what about the equivocation fallacy? It’s in regards to the statement that “there is evolution and it has been proven”. Now, an equivocation fallacy is taking a word with multiple meanings and freely substituting the intended meaning with one of your choosing. It’s a pretty big thing for a creationist to say, particularly in light of how they tend to use the word “evolution” (see here for how another “creation scientist”, Kent Hovind, defines the word “evolution” and decide who’s guilty of an equivocation fallacy). I would argue in favour for the correspondent. That he is using the word “evolution” in the, what I believe to be, most common sense of the word as it’s used today–in reference to biological evolution by means of natural selection. In this sense, he is absolutely correct. Biological evolution stands supported by a huge volume of evidence. As Richard Dawkins has said, to the effect of, “evolution is as supported in biology as Christopher Columbus is in history”. It stands as strong as Newton’s Theory of Universal Gravitation, possibly even stronger! It’s not in question any more–evolution by natural selection is a fact, get over it.
Man, Who Is Fallible, Has Decided That God Is Infallible
He also makes the bold claim that God is infallible (let’s grant that he is, for the sake of argument) and, thereby, the Bible is also infallible (being written by man but “superintended” by God). If this is the case then slavery’s okay, homosexuality is bad and disobedient children are punished by being stoned to death. If this is the case then bats are birds, and light, the Earth, plants and animals all existed before the Sun. If this is the case, then the natural laws can be set aside at whim in order to turn water to wine, have a man walk across water and raise people from the dead. This is nonsense. It’s a truth claim which can not be substantiated.
In an ironic twist, they never actually get around to demonstrating that there is no “deep time”. This is because there is no evidence to support the position, other than what the Bible (or the Torah or the Koran) has to say on the matter, and a huge body of evidence which contradicts it. Again, it’s a factual claim which can not be substantiated. Since, as a myriad of people have said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, such unsubstantiated nonsense can be dismissed out-of-hand. The burden is not on us to prove you wrong, but for you to demonstrate that your model is correct. This is how science works. This is how people (all people) make informed decisions about their lives.
Stop Calling Your Brand of Nonsense Science. Call it what it is. Call it Faith.
And, yes, the video is only partially related to what’s being discussed. We’ll get around to the problems in the video itself in the future. Namely, there is no evidence to support a recent creation other than an altogether too fallible book, written two thousand years ago by anonymous authors and uncorroborated by any contemporary historians at the time. Yeah, we’ll definitely get to that soon.