Creationism?

100


Discussion by: Vivien Cooksley

I wish to apologise in advance.  My knowledge in science is rather limited – so my questions will probably seem stupid to most people here.  In fact, I was sent to a catholic private language school in my youth – which led me to speak 5 languages fluently by the time I was 18… The down side was: to that date I had never had education in Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Astronomy other than the books I bought and devoured (with more of less understanding) on my own… I proceded to get a masters degree in music.  After that, a deep interest in behaviour and behaviour modification – led me to an institute of animal behaviour modification where I did a 2 year course in behaviour mod. including the basic background of neuroscience and biology.  

Recently, I was having a discussion with a friend… We were talking about behaviour similarities between some mammals and humans (things like fear and escape behaviours) and tried to explain, that in the evolution of the brain, the inner layers developed earlier and are older than the outer parts that developed later.   Emotions/Instincts seeming to be an older necessity for survival (fear was essential to survival) while logical thinking and descerning, language, mathematical skills etc….seem to have evolved later.

To cut a long story short: I got attacked as an illiterate moron – because I should know by now that the theory of evolution has been disproved and is utterly wrong… She started explaining, that the age of the earth is no more than maximum 11,000 years because we have no definitive way of even measuring beyond that… I was under the impression that radiometric dating is somehow more or less reliable?  Then followed a lot of babbling about 60 scientists that have completely disproved the evolution theory and that it is absurd to believe we are derived from monkeys???  I kind of didn't think that in the first place… Weren't there different animals developing parallel to each other evolving into different species? I thought the main argument was a common ancestor not a direct lineage where a monkey some day gives birth to humans???  Of- course that is preposterous – but that is not what I was saying???

I was stumped – since I really AM illiterate on this subject – but the little I did think I know apparently is wrong???  I live in Austria in a region where there is an excavation of a fossil oyster riff that is dated at around 16 million years old…. Dr. Harzhauser, who also works at the natural history museum in Vienna – sometimes gives guided tours at this location "Fossilienwelt" (Fossil world) and was also talking about dates like this…a time when this area was actually under water!!! Is it possible that paleontologists are not up to date on the latest findings in evolutionary biology?

Is there any definitive proof for the theory of evolution?  Are the alternative views of creationist scientists in any way plausible?  How might one go about trying to sort through the different opinions to get to what we actually know as opposed to what we think.

Thanks in advance for any ressources that may be available… Is it true that one would have to have a phD to even begin comprehending the subject?

Best regards,

Vivien.

100 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Vivien, those are all reasonable questions. Other people here know a lot more about biology than I do so I’ll leave most of the details to them but I just wanted to comment on a couple of points. First regarding those “60 scientists” it’s not that hard to find some scientists somewhere who will support just about any theory no matter how absurd. Contrary to the anti-science propaganda science doesn’t pay that well compared to say being an investment banker and especially for the mediocre scientists there is always a demand for people to take controversial positions essentially for money. When I was a kid (OK that was a while ago but not that far back) there was a real group called “the flat earth society” who really believed the Earth was flat.

    When you throw in the prestige and media appearances you can get by being a “Science guy for Christ” there is a lot of incentive to spout nonsense. It’s why there is also still a “controversy” over the settled science about climate change.

    Regarding the chimps, that one is easy so I’ll take it. We aren’t descended from chimps but of all the existing species chimps are our nearest relative. We are descended from a common ancestor to chimps which is now extinct. I.e., at some point a long time ago there was a mammal that had descendents who turned into us and other descendents who turned into chimps and that mammal has long been extinct.

    I would suggest you check out the book by Prof. Dawkins called The Magic of Reality. If you have an iPad get the interactive version it’s cool. That book has a lot of the basic facts about evolution, the age of the Earth, etc The book was designed so that kids could read it but it’s fun to read for adults too.

  2. Hi Vivien:

    I strongly suggest reading Dawkins’ “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. He touches on literally everything you ask here. It was the second science book I read (out of about 15 at this point) and he has managed to make evolution my favorite subject. I am a lay person, and come from a fundamentalist background.

    Also, as a suggestion, if you’re more of an auditory learner I suggested listening to the audiobook. I find that listening to them helps me feel more like Dawkins is writing specifically for ME, all important man of the universe:-D

  3. You’ve tapped a rich vein here. There are a great many experts in the field who will supply you with high calibre explanations and examples. Not me unfortunately. I thought I was well versed in the topic, but there are
    many more capable than I am, at explaining evolution and debunking creationism.

  4. The alternative to evolution, is “God” did it, (by magic). But the evidence for evolution is overwhelming, and accepted by the vast majority of scientists, many of whom are religious, (eg.Christian). Religion aside, the evidence is what stands out as worthwhile. Some good books, which are not too hard to understand, are:-

    Jerry A Coyne: Why evolution is true.

    Kenneth R. Miller: Only A Theory ~ Evolution and the battle for America’s souls.

    Daniel J Fairbanks: Relics of Eden ~ The powerful evidence of Evolution in human DNA.

    Adam Rutherford: Creation ~ The origin of life.

    Robyn Williams: Unintelligent design ~ Why God isn’t as smart as she thinks she is.

    Read that lot, and you might have some good tools to use in the ID vs. Evolution battle, (if you want to be informed and have a response to those evolution deniers). ID is cobblers. Evolution is a thoroughly researched and well understood branch of biological science. It is also the root of much medical understanding – our health is better because we understand that evolution is the key to life.

    By the way, I think it is a good idea, when anyone of the ID, evolution denying brigade makes a claim that is supposed to undermine the ToE, (Theory of Evolution), look into it, and find out whether or not the specific claim is warranted or not. With regard to the age of the earth, we know that the natural formation of most oil and coal deposits has taken millions of years to achieve.

    Note that evolution is a capital “T” Theory, not a lower case “t” theory – ie. it IS an established body of knowledge, and NOT a speculative guess.

  5. I don’t have a degree in biology, and I understand evolution. How life can self-organize into structures using random mutations and natural selection is really fascinating to learn about. I’ve been reading “The Logic of Chance” by Eugene Koonin about that.

  6. Evolution is solid. We are cousins to monkeys with a common ancestor.
    The Earth is very very old and there is a great deal of evidence to demonstrate that fact.

    Your friend is a nutter.

  7. Hello Vivien.

    You don’t have to be formally qualified to understand evolution, as I well know personally, but a wide range of reading materials and multiple readings are necessary to understand how the simple basics of evolution by natural selection worked out over billions of years.

    Note: Evolution is a fact (browse those words to see the links) while Evolution By Natural Selection is the explanatory theory for how Evolution operates. Understanding this wording helps in absorbing all the information. Some folk will say that ‘evolution is only a theory’ which is a sad but common misunderstanding of evolution, theory & the scientific method….

    There are good recommendations here for books that clearly explain all the facts & evidence that mutually buttress the reality of evolution, the millions of paths it has taken through different circumstances, the ways it generated what looks like design & the fact that all life is descended from a single lineage using the same DNA digital code. The multiple scientific ways that these facts can now be uncovered makes the mountains of evidence both indisputable & finely connected.

    If there are future changes in the theory of evolution by natural selection, it will be in the details but not in any basics, since any new theory would have so much evidence to explain it could only be a refinement rather than a very different theory. The last 100 years have seen a fundamental change in what science can do, due to new methodologies, mechanization, statistics, computerization, electronics, microscopy, telescopy, information exchange, etc. All these wonderful scientific explorations have recently explained the realities of our planet, solar system & universe that humans in the 19th century could hardly even dream about.

    The clinging to faith-based mythologies & one of 1000′s of mutually incompatible gods is the result of finely-evolved religion viruses that through childhood indoctrination, societal control & strangulation of freethinking generate brain-dulled mind-slaves who cannot even imagine the actual reality of the world around them if it conflicts with what they were told to believe by ignorant, celibate, old men in dresses.

    As an example, try to forget any of the native language you learned as a child – you now know 5 languages, but you didn’t forget the original one & the others were learned & are used ‘in the light of’ your original tongue. Even people of faith who grow up & remove the chains of their childhood beliefs have a hard time overcoming some of the memes & habits of the past, while many of them still harbour ‘Belief in Belief’ in themselves & others.

    I’m very lucky to never have had any religious faith or beliefs, so I can more easily see the effects in others & it often shows here in our discussions where folk in various stages of transition from faiths struggle with the remnants of their indoctrination. It can take a lot of reading & study over many years to become mostly free of the habits so cleverly introduced when we were young or gullible by the faith-managers & enforcers of various god-gangs around the planet.

    Some folk can compartmentalize modules of their brain to hold clearly incompatible versions of reality & still function in their lives, but theist & atheist concepts of reality are not mergeable into a single, logical, evidenced, coherent knowledge system.

    I wish you well in your quest for a fact-based comprehension of reality & for successful interactions with your friends & society as you learn & mature in your understanding of the big questions we all ponder.

    I recommend all of Professor Dawkins books for your enlightenment & feel that each one needs several readings to deeply appreciate them as you absorb other information from other sources over the years…. Mac.

  8. Then followed a lot of babbling about 60 scientists that have completely disproved the evolution theory …

    Against that, I would put up Project Steve, which sampled only scientists with the first name “Steve” and has over a thousand supporting the Theory of Evolution. The idea was that, if that is your restricted sample, you might get some idea of how widespread it is in general.

  9. … the age of the earth is no more than maximum 11,000 years because we have no definitive way of even measuring beyond that..

    We can count tree rings to over twice that old, and snow layers in ice cores to 800,000 years ago. Geological layers to hundreds of millions of years, and yes, radioisotope decay to billions of years. And, don’t forget the tracing back of the expansion of space-time itself to the start of our Universe 13.8 billion years ago.

  10. Always good to check sources. Just been googling up some “creationist scientist” and browsing there background and arguments for Creationism.

    All the ‘creation scientists” I found were clearly much more committed to their faith than there studies in the sciences and did not provide any scientific proof against evolution but simply liked to defend their faith (as people do)

    http://creation.com/creation-scientists

  11. ” I got attacked as an illiterate moron – because I should know by now that the theory of evolution has been disproved and is utterly wrong..”

    What a foolish comment! And to be stated so emphatically as well! You need a few obvious examples that you can use as a quick- fix reply. I’d suggest the fact that pest exterminators need to continually change the bait used when getting rid of cockroaches because a resistant strain evolves so quickly. ( this is within the experience of most people,). Perhaps you could also illustrate your point by referring to antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. If you become too technical your audience is going to glaze over, so I’d use simple example to begin your argument while reading up on some of the excellent literature that has been suggested already. My personal favourite is Dawkins’ “Greatest Show on Earth”. ( loved that book).

    I suggested the cockroach example because I was faced with a similar challenge some years ago. I was bombarded with tales of irreducible eyes and all the other crap that goes with creationist reasoning. The only time I got a glimmer of hope was with the fast-evolving cockroaches. My opponent eventually had to concede that the principle worked with cockroaches. It was a small victory, but I was happy to make a start.

      • In reply to #34 by bluebird:

        In reply to #12 by Nitya:

        …Dawkin’s ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ (loved that book)

        Too right!

        The book is available for purchase right here, at the store.

        I like a bit of salesmanship thrown in! :-)

        This book should sit on everyone’s bookshelf.

  12. You should probably also check out http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html . It will help focus in on specific claims rather than asking you to read whole books before you know how to answer specific points.

    Also if a creationist is talking to you and you don’t know how to answer them, it might be worth trying to shift the topic to how they “feel” about evolution. Of course this should have no bearing on the truth of evolution, but I suspect for most creationists their anti-evolution stance is motivated by a concern that it will lead to a breakdown of society or something like that. So you might also want to read up on some moral philosophy and critical thinking.

  13. The right thing to do is to ignore the lunatic.
    Otherwise refer them to project Steve. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Steve
    Set against their list of semi-accredited scientists claiming no evolution, the project Steve finds just as big a list of scientists only from the ranks of people called Steve (or Stephanie or similar).
    It is a fun and clever way to refute the claim of authority.

  14. If we are looking to authority to evaluate evolution/creationism:-

    “Inspired by Project Steve R. Joe Brandon initiated a four-day petition of scientists in support of evolution in October 2005. During the four days of the petition, [the petition] received signatures at a rate 697,000 percent higher than the Discovery Institute’s [creationist] petition.”

    (from Wikipedia)

  15. You were right on all these counts. Others have suggested good literature, but even Wikipedia will suffice for most of it. The evidence for evolution is simply overwhelming and the consensus in the scientific community is unanimous. You want a short and easy way to disprove the biblical literalists?

    Well, since as far as I know the creationist viewpoint is that not only the world but the universe is only a few thousand years old I suggest looking at the night sky, a bit below the right curve of Kassiopeias’ bright ‘W’. On a clear night you will see a blurry spot, if you take a picture of it with an exposure time of a few seconds you can make out that it’s a galaxy. That’s the Andromeda galaxy and you are looking back in time for about 2.5 million years, with your bare eyes.

  16. The most common arguments against evolution are generally the least informed. Typical examples include the accusation of evolving from monkeys or apes (which has never been the posited in science, it has always been that man and ape evolved from a common ancestor), attempts to undermine radiometric dating (which is not under anywhere near the scrutiny creationists seem to to think) and of course my favorite: why aren’t things evolving right in front of us? (evolution takes place over a very long time and things are evolving around us. Being a short lived species as we are the expectation is a bit ridiculous).

    As many have mentioned here, it does not require a scientist or that level of expertise to see the validity of evolution to understand how sound it is. Just some informed research and proper reading on the subject. Many creationist and other evolution deniers post and publish pseudoscientific work under the guise of science and try to pass it off as fact.

    Modern science is very much based on our understanding of evolution, and nothing that has been railed against it has been even close to valid. As I said, most claims come from an ignorance of some or all knowledge of what evolution is. While it is true that evolution is complex and can be hard to explain it is sound and no other explanation for the diversity of life and how things exists even comes close.

  17. The other thing to remember is creationists and ‘creationist scientists’ (spits) have started with their conclusion and have worked backwards. The bible is true and god is real therefore, the earth and universe must be less than 11,000 years old and animals didn’t evolve, but were created. They can then happily fill in the gaps, ignoring anything which disagrees with this, and pretend its science.

    Real scientists start with the facts, the observed universe, and test and discard hypotheses until one fits the facts perfectly. Darwin saw the bewildering diversity of life, and also the obvious similarities between some species, and went to work on his theory. The theory was an attempt to explain the world. And since then no evidence has come to light that casts this in doubt, but a lot of evidence has been discovered which informs our knowledge of the precise processes.

  18. @OP – To cut a long story short: I got attacked as an illiterate moron – because I should know by now that the theory of evolution has been disproved and is utterly wrong…

    As you seem to be into neurology and psychology, you should recognise this as Psychological projection . You were attacked BY a scientifically illiterate moron!

    She started explaining, that the age of the earth is no more than maximum 11,000 years because we have no definitive way of even measuring beyond that…

    This is rubbish! There are numerous independent ways of confirming the age of the Earth, the age of the Solar-System, and the age of the Universe. It’s just that creationists, are ignorant of most of them, ignorant of the measuring methods, and only read contradictory rubbish written by other creationists.

    I was under the impression that radiometric dating is somehow more or less reliable?

    It is reliable. List of radioactive isotopes by half-life

    Then followed a lot of babbling about 60 scientists that have completely disproved the evolution theory

    They can probably find 60 cretinists with some scientific credentials in limited or irrelevant fields. There are NO creationist studies confirmed in ANY reputable scientific journals. The YECs do have their own garbage-grade pseudo-science magazine which they call a journal.
    There must however be over 60,000 reputable scientists who have confirmed evolutionary biology working in their specialist fields.

    and that it is absurd to believe we are derived from monkeys??? I kind of didn’t think that in the first place…

    This simply demonstrates their lack of study and ignorance. Monkeys and apes have a distant common ancestor, while humans and other apes (Orang-utans, Gorillas, Chimps and Bonobos) have a more recent common ancestor.

    Weren’t there different animals developing parallel to each other evolving into different species?

    That is correct, http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evograms, but is incompetently disputed by creationists.

    I thought the main argument was a common ancestor not a direct lineage where a monkey some day gives birth to humans??? Of- course that is preposterous – but that is not what I was saying???

    There is a huge diversity of creationists’ straw-man arguments – which simply demonstrate the ignorance and incredulity of those making them.

    I was stumped – since I really AM illiterate on this subject – but the little I did think I know apparently is wrong???

    No! You were right, but it is a creationist tactic to seek out areas of biological complexity or uncertainty, lie about them to their followers, and then tell them challenge unqualified persons to disprove their stupid claims while they sit in smug denial – resting on the fake “authority” of scripts from their self proclaimed “pseudo-experts”!

    I live in Austria in a region where there is an excavation of a fossil oyster riff that is dated at around 16 million years old…. Dr. Harzhauser, who also works at the natural history museum in Vienna – sometimes gives guided tours at this location “Fossilienwelt” (Fossil world) and was also talking about dates like this…a time when this area was actually under water!!! Is it possible that paleontologists are not up to date on the latest findings in evolutionary biology?

    I do not know about the details of this. The limestones and fossils of the Alps were certainly formed on an ancient seabed. Creationists do set up fake “science” museums, and sometimes get involved on the fringes of real scientific work, fossil digs etc. to try to add to the credibility of their ludicrous claims which are based on biblical literalism.

    Their young Earth claims are based on Bishop Ussher adding up the ages of biblical characters to calculate the age of the Earth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ussher_chronology. They then lie about any science which contradicts this flawed sytem of measurement!

    Is there any definitive proof for the theory of evolution?

    Basically ALL of modern biology and genetics. Tens of thousands of studies!

    Are the alternative views of creationist scientists in any way plausible?

    No! They are devious, dishonest, ignorant, and laughably incompetent! Creationism is about “faith” ( Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. – http://www.thefreedictionary.com/faith) – which is the opposite of the scientific method of using testable evidence. “Creationist Science” is a contradiction in terms There is only “creationist pseudo-science”!

    Their pseudo-biology is based on “kind of animals” from Noah’s Ark!!!!!

  19. Is there any definitive proof for the theory of evolution?

    no just mountains of incontravertable evidence

    Are the alternative views of creationist scientists in any way plausible?

    yes, in the same way peter pan is plausible. if all of science is wrong and the reality you experience is one fed to you by a deity with serious issues

  20. I think an encycolpedic knowledge of science would be wasetd on this person. if you must engage i’d stick to the logical fallacies in their argument. in particular their evidence (which will be a book, which must be true because the book says it’s true: tautology), quoting 60 scientists: argument from authority (scientists) and argument from polulatity (60). ask who they are and investigate them individually.

    i suggest ypou read the books recomended for your own interest though, avoid discussing with creationists. maybe just disdcuss religion with them maybe ask them to explain the contradictions

  21. She started explaining, that the age of the earth is no more than maximum 11,000 years because we have no definitive way of even measuring beyond that

    One of the most stupid claims I’ve ever heard.

    Even if it were true (it isn’t) that we had no definitive way of measuring beyond 11,000 years, it is not a logical conclusion to state therefore that the earth is no more than 11,000 years old!

    If you only have a 30ft tape measure, it doesn’t mean nothing can be longer than 30ft!

    • In reply to #24 by Simon Tuffen:

      She started explaining, that the age of the earth is no more than maximum 11,000 years because we have no definitive way of even measuring beyond that

      One of the most stupid claims I’ve ever heard.

      Even if it were true (it isn’t) that we had no definitive way of measuring beyond 11,000 years, it i…

      Like it. Furthermore I’d love to know where they can get their definitive date of 11,000 years from! Unless they are allowing for the outlandish claims about the pyramids etc. being deliberately aligned to the star positions of 10,400 BP, which is surely none biblical to start with as I thought that was tied into the myths of Atlantis.

      Furthermore I would assert here, that if they start accepting such psuedoscience as genuine, then why reject the scientific answer? there is only 1 answer, the vast majority of information within modern mainstream science casts doubt over everything in the bible, so to accept our dating is to accept that the bible is false. Its a matter of them and us.

      • In reply to #27 by Malaidas:

        the age of the earth is no more than maximum 11,000 years because we have no definitive way of even measuring beyond that…

        Love the reasoning. Reminds me of Jurassic Park. The book, I don’t think this part made it into the movie:

        (spoiler)
        They knew where all the dinosaurs were because they had dinosaur-detecting sensors. And they knew exactly how many dinosaurs they had, so when they’d detected that many, they stopped. Because, like, they’d tracked them all, hadn’t they? And then came the discovery that they were breeding in the wild.

        • In reply to #65 by OHooligan:

          In reply to #27 by Malaidas:

          the age of the earth is no more than maximum 11,000 years because we have no definitive way of even measuring beyond that…

          Love the reasoning. Reminds me of Jurassic Park. The book, I don’t think this part made it into the movie:

          (spoiler)
          They knew where all the…

          Thanks, although I think you might have clicked reply to the wrong post here. my argument in this post was simply that I don’t where the date of 11K BP comes from except perhaps from the Atlantis nuts.

  22. Its her who is as near as can be shown, completely wrong. She has been misinformed or is deliberately misinforming you, presumably the former in this case.

    Evolution, far from being disproven has been confirmed by every bit of experiment data provided by real scientists. Creation Scientists, ID, call it what you will, are not scientists in a real sense because they do not properly follow the scientific method, if they did they would disprove their own theories. However they start with the axiom that the bible is 100% correct, this is simply bad logic, you don’t start with something being assumed correct if you can help it and such CAN readily be shown to be false, if you choose to accept the evidence of your eyes and reason, over ‘faith’. As their claims are made with such an axiom, the axiom being wrong invalidates any proves they wish to make.

    Note that Science itself is not axiom free of course, it is difficult if not nigh on impossible given the problems of infinite regress to make any claim that are completely axiom free. However the axioms of science are minimal, such as “there exist a set of laws that are (independent of any possible divine meddling) consistent throughout space-time”. This is the basis upon which all science is grounded and has never yet been shown to be wrong. Conversely its also an important axiom for anyone wishing to make a claim for a god existing from reasonable evidence. Reliable evidence of the laws of nature not being consistent would stand as evidence of divine intervention, as I said, such has never been shown.

    Now as to the specifics of time

    The earth is most certainly more than 11 thousand years old. There are trees living that are as old as that. Proper dating, reveals that the earth is a staggeringly 4.3 billion years old or there or there abouts. This, (unless we are being fooled), can be shown to be plain FACT. Therefore the biblical dating schemas can be shown to be false.

    The scientific evidence is such that we can almost conclusively say there is no god necessary at all, never mind the case for a revealed god.

    The sources for information on this subject are too numerous to quote. But any decent geology textbook, or biology textbook, that is to say those covering science, rather than religion masquerading as science will show you that she is wrong. A good start however for handling such arguments are the books of Richard Dawkins. Perhaps the God Delusion, would be a good start.

    Now as for the idea of us being fooled. This makes no rational sense and can be shown to be so, from the claims of religion itself, it doesn’t need empirical evidence. I’ve argued this on another thread. But briefly, god cannot be good and fair etc. and at the same time be fooling us as follows,

    1) God created man, not Satan

    2) God therefore gave us the power to reason, not sinfulness

    3) If god is good and fair he/she cannot judge us for using what he/she gave us

    4) Using our reason, we are able to study the universe and see that the facts don’t match what the bible claims

    5) God must have known we would, he/she is afterall omnipotent and therefore the only reason can be that he/she is deliberately trying to disprove his/her own existence.

    6) If as the bible says we are supposed to follow gods laws which include accepting the bible as truth, disproving his/her own existence makes no sense. The Faith argument cannot hold water here. He/She cannot judge you for having no faith, because he/she is a fair god and as he/she has deliberately disproved his/her own existence and given us the brains to see this, judgement would be unfair. Unfortunately this very problem disproves the biblical claims, upon which the argument for the Christian/Hebrew god is rooted. He/She must be fooling someone, if he/she also wrote/inspired the bible!

    7) Therefore you are left with a basic problem as a theist. The fact that the evidence contradicts the bible, disproves the bible based not only on rational thought but by the nature of its own claims. Only an evil god could be fooling us in that way. The resulting problems of such a proposal are difficult, you can trust in nothing that science or the bible says and should believe nothing because he/she could be fooling you at any time and in any place. Such an amoral god is a terrifying thought. Of course we can fall back on Occam to get out of this, such a universe is very much more complex than one that doesn’t have such a god and instead just follows the laws of nature. In the circumstance its unlikely to make much difference, such a sadistic god would likely torture everyone in an afterlife, whether they had been good or not.

  23. Are the alternative views of creationist scientists in any way plausible?

    You can probably answer this yourself:_

    **Proof of:- **
    Bishop Ussher’s … (Son of …. . . .. ..son of Abraham … . . . . son of Adam, son of god) – calculations on the age of the Earth “created in 6days” . – (see link @21) and a global flood extiction, with Noah’s Ark providing ALL the animals and plants of the entire Earth!

    Versus

    ALL the modern scientific journals on biology, genetics, geology, palaeontology, nuclear physics, astronomy and cosmology!

    No contest really!!!

  24. Hi Vivien,

    I am no expert either but I’ll make a couple of points I have not seen above.

    1. Radiometric dating relies upon the decay of radioactive elements. If you were to look at any atom of a particular kind say potassium you would not be able to predict when it would loose a proton but averaged over billions of the little buggers they do so in a reliable and measurable manner. Nuclear clocks use the ticks to measure the time with extreme accuracy. So accurate in fact that if you lift them up a couple of meters they can measure the time dilation caused by the slightly higher radius and speed you are now travelling. These clocks are what allows GPS satellites to keep accurate time. So does your ignorant friend use GPS? If so she is a GPS denier. Likewise nuclear power and weapons work off the same principles does she deny these also? Radiometric dating is calibrated against many other methods of dating like tree rings, ice cores, and much more, completely proven and reliable within known margins of error.

    2. DNA provides the best evidence that evolution is true. For example you have genes that occur in particular locations not because they need to to work but because of the history of when they evolved in our ancestors. Could a eye colour gene occur on a different chromosome, yes because we have all the genes we need in each cell. So if created God could simply have shuffled the gene orders and blown evolution out of the water. But what we see if we look at close relatives is genes not only occurring in the largely the same order but with the same genes around them (with minor variations). This did not have to be so but the relationships between genes matched exactly what we would expect if we evolved and all shared a common ancestor.

    So either god wants us to believe in evolution or evolution is just a fact. Frankly I go with the latter. But if your ignorant friend wants to believe we were an act of creation she needs to ask herself why her deity wishes to play silly buggers with her.

    • In reply to #28 by Reckless Monkey:

      Hi Vivien,

      I am no expert either but I’ll make a couple of points I have not seen above.

      Radiometric dating relies upon the decay of radioactive elements. If you were to look at any atom of a particular kind say potassium you would not be able to predict when it would loose a proton but average…

      Precisely!!!! My point in a nutshell. Unfortunately they are liable to answer along the lines of test of faith etc. My longer proposition shows that such cannot be the case, and the biblical idea of god be true at the same time.

  25. She started explaining, that the age of the earth is no more than maximum 11,000 years because we have no definitive way of even measuring beyond that…

    Regardless of the veracity of dating techniques, if the Earth were “no more than maximum 11,000 years” then we as humans would have noticed a lot more of ancient history happening right before our eyes: Lascaux cave paintings, Meteor Crater in Arizona, The Toba supereruption, and geological phenomena such as the Deccan Traps.

    “Hey look, it’s the Grand Canyon.”

    “No way, that wasn’t there last year.”

    • In reply to #30 by Tyler Durden:

      She started explaining, that the age of the earth is no more than maximum 11,000 years because we have no definitive way of even measuring beyond that…

      Regardless of the veracity of dating techniques, if the Earth were “no more than maximum 11,000 years” then we as humans would have noticed a lot…

      Ahh but its simple you see, they didn’t actually happen, because the bible doesn’t mention them! ;)

  26. @OP – To cut a long story short: I got attacked as an illiterate moron – because I should know by now that the theory of evolution has been disproved and is utterly wrong.

    It is part the irrational creationist thinking, that if they can cast doubt, or “prove” evolution, radiometric dating etc. wrong, then they think all arguments default to “god-did-it-by-magic” (or with equal invalidity, – leprechauns, fairies, goblins elves, Zeus, or Harry Potter etc – did-it-by magic)

    They are very fond of arguments from false authority: – Some clown tarted up as an “expert” on a creationist website said so, so it must be correct!

    “Creationist Science”, is an unsupported asserted claim, NOT an academic scientific subject.

    Young Earth Creationism is usually a blend of:- illogic, collected fallacious circular arguments, pseudo-authority false assertions, scientific illiteracy, nonsense published by fellow scientific illiterates, or published by a few semi-scientific liars for faith, combined with the Dunning-Kruger confidence of the truly clueless.

    Many of them believe the Bible is a history book, and have no knowledge of the history of that period at all – not even the history of how the books of the bible came to be written!

  27. @ the OP,

    So many awesome answers here. I love this topic and can offer insight into it in many places, but most have been covered by the excellent posts you’ve elicited. I’d like to simply point out one glaring issue with your friend’s world view:

    That the age of the earth is no more than maximum 11,000 years because we have no definitive way of even measuring beyond that…

    I do not know on what she is basing her age (11,000 years). However, this is the current maximum chronology attained by using tree rings is 11,000 years. The field of work is called dendrochronology and using it, we have a remarkable accurate history of time going back 11,000 years. We can even accurately deduce the time of year when the tree was felled as well as the climate for given years….
    Also, past 11,000 years ago, the tree ring data gets patchy but extends another 3,000 years or so with less accuracy…

    The thing is, scientists can (and do), use this data to calibrate and CHECK the other dating techniques. These techniques are so so so strong and reliable that the VATICAN uses them to date their precious relics. The Shroud of Turin would be an example. Radiocarbon dating is definitive and verifiable. Your friend is a shithead.

    Also, what if you were very wealthy and wanted to insure your precious Van Gogh painting for the 12 million dollars you thought it was worth IF IT WAS REAL. How would you and the insurance company PROVE that the painting was, in fact painted in the appropriate time? That’s right!!!!!

    They would not consult your ignorant friend. They woud not pray or tear the head off of a chicken and see what the blood drops revealed. They would use science — and you should too.

  28. I aplogize for the minor threadjack, but a previous post reminded me of an aspect of evolution I am unclear on and wish to ask the question in the hopes someone could provide the answer.

    It is my understanding that the near certain probability of a species becoming extinct occurs when its population dwindles to the event horizon of x individuals (not just the last one, as we would intuitively assume).

    A major premise of evolution is genetic mutation, starting with one individual to pass on its mutated gene to descendants.

    How does the mutation ‘spread’ without collapsing on itself before the event horizon as would inversely occur with a species on the brink of extinction? IOW, what gives it the momentum to go in the opposite direction of extinction? I’m first inclined to think the adaptive mutated gene explains it, but does it explain it all?

    • In reply to #35 by Lilium:

      I aplogize for the minor threadjack, but a previous post reminded me of an aspect of evolution I am unclear on and wish to ask the question in the hopes someone could provide the answer.

      It is my understanding that the near certain probability of a species becoming extinct occurs when its populatio…

      I don’t know about the extinction “event horizon”. Not saying what you said was wrong just that I’m not familiar with that concept either way. But I think I can answer the other question. To start remember that if you have species X and that some mutation occurs that makes X a little better that doesn’t mean you have a whole new species. What you have are two populations of X’s. The original X and X1 with say better vision. X1 children can still mate with X children. So there are plenty of opportunities for X1 to reproduce and some of those offspring will also be X1′s (some will still be X’s). What will eventually happen is that as you accumulate more and more of these small changes X23 will be so different than X that if you had any X’s left over they could no longer breed.

      So the question really isn’t who is X1 mating with and how does X1 survive but why does X1 usually dominate and eventually all the descendents are now X1′s rather than X’s? And you can see that with just a little math, create a tree of descendents and then calculate that the X1′s have say 10% better chance to reproduce (to create sub-branches of the tree) than the X’s and you will see, in surprisingly short time no more X’s it’s all X1′s.

      It’s why when people talk about adaptations there is still to this day confusion. People will talk about evolution as some grand progression to “better” species or will talk about how a mutation is “good” in some way (e.g. good for the species) even though it doesn’t help to increase the probability of reproduction. If it doesn’t increase the probability of an individual to reproduce then it won’t spread, at least not by the normal rules of natural selection. There are still other factors (disasters, human breeding, genetic drift) that can influence the process as well.

    • In reply to #35 by Lilium:

      I aplogize for the minor threadjack, but a previous post reminded me of an aspect of evolution I am unclear on and wish to ask the question in the hopes someone could provide the answer.

      It is my understanding that the near certain probability of a species becoming extinct occurs when its populatio…

      I may have misunderstood here and if so I apologise, but it seems you may be under a slight confusion over the definition of species. Speciation is not a digital process, rather its a progressive change build from effectively random mutations. Therefore if a near extinction event takes place for a given species (in so far as this has any meaning), that individual (if the mutation gives it an advantage) might still be able to mate with a slightly different but related form. in isolation obviously the mutation will die out, but if there is availability of a compatible organism, then the gene will survive.

    • In reply to #35 by Lilium:

      I am unclear on and wish to ask the question in the hopes someone could provide the answer.

      It is my understanding that the near certain probability of a species becoming extinct occurs when its population dwindles to the event horizon of x individuals (not just the last one, as we would intuitively assume).

      The basis of the confusion, is that the genetic pool of a species is not just the genes of an individual. There is a diverse collection of genes in the interbreeding population, so if the population is reduced down to one or two individuals, a large number of the genes of that species have been lost beyond recovery. These could be genes for consuming particular foods, resisting particular diseases, or having particular capabilities to resist seasonal changes in climate etc. The species is then weakened by this loss of diversity and adaptability.

      A major premise of evolution is genetic mutation, starting with one individual to pass on its mutated gene to descendants.

      The odd mutation may float around in a population for many generations before an environmental change or opportunity, gives an advantage. In evolution we need to think in terms of populations of genes, not just individual organisms.
      This is one of the factors which makes the story of Noah’s pairs of animals even more silly!

  29. Thanks Red Dog, Malaidas and Alan4discussion.

    My difficulty is seeing how an adaptive mutation gains momentum beyond the first few generations when we consider that the original mutant gene, by probability, transmits it to one in four of its direct descendants. At the onset, the opportunities and probabilities of transmission are scarce. However, Red Dog makes a good point, imo, when he/she says ‘then calculate that the X1′s have say 10% better chance to reproduce (to create sub-branches of the tree) than the X’s and you will see, in surprisingly short time no more X’s it’s all X1′s.’ Perhaps there lies the subtlety: for it to be successful, the mutant gene needs to be ‘noticeably’ adaptive (relatively speaking).

    Eta: Much clearer now, thank you. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

    Edited again: correction, one in two probability of transmitting the gene, one in four to have the characteristic. Alan’s response ties it all up for me.

    • In reply to #39 by Lilium:

      Thanks Red Dog, Malaidas and Alan4discussion.

      My difficulty is seeing how an adaptive mutation gains momentum beyond the first few generations when we consider that the original mutant gene, by probability, transmits it to one in four of its direct descendants. At the onset, the opportunities and probabilities of transmission are scarce.

      Another factor where human centred thinking causes confusion, is numbers of offspring. Humans usually take a long time to produce and raise one to maturity. Many plants, fungi, octopus etc produce thousands of eggs/seeds/spores each season.

      Giant Pacific Octopus. A female will lay up to 30,000 eggs only once in her lifetime, and she will brood and guard the eggs until they hatch. http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2013/04/thousands-of-giant-pacific-octopus-eggs-hatch-at-alaska-sealife-center.html

      the original mutant gene, by probability, transmits it to one in four of its direct descendants.

      The numbers then stack up quite differently when we look at 1 in 4 of 30,000 !

  30. Another thing I’d like to throw in;

    Leading creationists, the ones who appear on tv and write books and write websites are out-and-out fraudsters and charlatans.
    They get a lot of publicity from lying about science, and make a lot of money from it.

    Not only do I think that a lot of them know full well what they are saying is BS, many of them are not even religious believers.
    They are conmen. And the con still works.

    • In reply to #40 by bob_e_s:

      Another thing I’d like to throw in;

      Leading creationists, the ones who appear on tv and write books and write websites are out-and-out fraudsters and charlatans.
      They get a lot of publicity from lying about science, and make a lot of money from it.

      Not only do I think that a lot of them know full…

      For graphic example of this note the erroneous claims about entropy, which have fooled many people. They quote the laws of thermodynamics specifically regarding entropy’s tendency to increase but then forget the all important fact that this only applies within a closed system. Without this fact, they can argue that evolution breaks the laws of thermodynamics. With this simple FACT, which is in the original laws, the entire claim falls apart. However to the ignorant this seems like real science, throwing real doubt on evolution.

      • In reply to #41 by Malaidas:

        Without this fact, they can argue that evolution breaks the laws of thermodynamics. With this simple FACT, which is in the original laws, the entire claim falls apart. However to the ignorant this seems like real science, throwing real doubt on evolution.

        That’s standard YEC garbage! They find scientific textbooks and papers, and see the words, but usually cannot understand the science, so the claims are full of science-duffer-schoolboy errors – like in this case – missing out key factors.

        These comical errors do not seriously affect their standing with their sheeple followers, as the followers just parrot what they they have been told, and usually have no idea if bits are missing or not.

        There must be numerous examples in the archieves on this site, or some YEC believer throwing in a “conclusive cretinist-pseudo-science-show-stopper-item” -only to be to dumb to recognise when the real scientists have shot it down in the first responding comment!

        They quote the laws of thermodynamics specifically regarding entropy’s tendency to increase but then forget the all important fact that this only applies within a closed system.

        Yep! I had that one pulled on me – and when I pointed out that neither the Earth nor the Solar-System were closed systems, the muppet claimed I would have to prove that, as science was “uncertain”!
        They just parrot tripe that they copy without any understanding from organisations like this! -
        Answers in Genesis

        • In reply to #45 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #41 by Malaidas:

          Without this fact, they can argue that evolution breaks the laws of thermodynamics. With this simple FACT, which is in the original laws, the entire claim falls apart. However to the ignorant this seems like real science, throwing real doubt on evolution.

          That’s standa…

          It beggars belief that they would even try to suggest that it was to be honest, the fact we can see the stars springs to mind! Unless they believe that somehow these are painted onto the top of the earth’s atmosphere. How can people accept this kind of tripe? [shakes head]

          • In reply to #49 by Malaidas:

            It beggars belief that they would even try to suggest that it was to be honest, the fact we can see the stars springs to mind! Unless they believe that somehow these are painted onto the top of the earth’s atmosphere. How can people accept this kind of tripe? [shakes head]

            You must remember that many of them have been home-schooled by ignoramuses using YEC-drivel like this as “science”! –
            http://www.pathlights.com/ce-encyclopedia/sci-ev/sci-vs-ev-TOC.htmOver 3,000 scientific facts which annihilate evolutionary theory
            This book is based on extensive research and is highly recommended by [pseudo] scientists and educators. (allegedly – according to liars for Jebus who omit to mention that their pseudo-scientific drivel has been refuted and condemned by all major scientific bodies!)

            Remember these preaching ignorant authors are what passes for YEC scientists with expertise!

            They have no understanding of chemistry, biology, or physics but have found some books and papers and copied a few big sciency words.

            @ Vivien Cooksley – This is probably the sort of rubbish that has been fed to your gullible friend.

            You should see some of them trying to explain colour – The “ethereal” red-ness of red!!!!!

  31. Hi Vivien,

    I would like to also answer a bit at the bottom of your question, which doesn’t seem to be addressed. No you certainly don;t need a phD to understand evolutionary biology in general, specific details, and cutting edge developments require a greater understanding of the subject. Although it helps to have knowledge greater than given say (in British terms) by a GCSE. This can certainly be self taught from none technical texts available from such people as Richard Dawkins etc. At the end of the day its all about a very simple mechanism of building complexity from simplicity, or as Dawkins put it Climbing Mount Improbable. By itself the concept that human kind just came into existence is laughable, but through process of natural selection, coupled with chance mutation and given sufficient time, it becomes probable. The formation of the first cell, that spark of life was a one off chance event, only made possible by sheer time and probability, after that evolution took place in tiny steps, governed by natural selection, and external factors causing extinction events etc.

    Its not a smooth directed process though, its a haphazard random one. If ID were the case, you’s expect things to be a little better designed, and you would not expect to see the relationships between genomes that you do. Much of the relationships are hidden, not expressed in the organism’s biology, there is no reason for them to be there in the case of ID, unless you accept the ‘god’s fooling us’ argument I disproved earlier.

    It certainly doesn’t take a phD to appreciate this fact. We are not perfectly designed, far from it. A perfect designer surely would have done a better job.

  32. It’s nice to see so many informed and intelligent answers to the OP, whom I notice has not re-appeared yet. I hope not yet another hit and run posting ? Quite how the YEC gets the age of the Earth as 11,000 years is beyond me. Archbishop Ussher’s chronolgy was actually a serious attempt to work out the age of the Earth, using the best available methods of the time. He was a scholar. By using the Bible as his primary source among other methods, he came to the conclusion that the Earth, (and therefore the universe), was created by God on the 23rd October 4004 BC. Now that’s well below the 11,000 years mentioned by the YEC. What happened to the other odd 6096 years ? Where do they get this figure ? Have they no faith in Ussher’s date ? Or are they wily enough to realise that the first human writing is actually older than the universe ? That maybe they should stretch out Ussher’s dating a bit to cancel out ancient civilisations and their artifacts ? Obviously to even dream of “stretching out” Ussher’s specific date for the Earth’s creation, they are being dishonest. A hallmark of all YECs. From Ken Ham, to Kent Hovind, to Ted Haggard, to the “banana man” Ray Comfort, to the women YEC unnamed in Austria, they all distort the facts to prove their hypothesis.

    Conmen, the lot of them. In the words of that Steve Miller song:

    Take the money and run“!

    • In reply to #46 by Mr DArcy:

      It’s nice to see so many informed and intelligent answers to the OP, whom I notice has not re-appeared yet. I hope not yet another hit and run posting ? Quite how the YEC gets the age of the Earth as 11,000 years is beyond me. Archbishop Ussher’s chronolgy was actually a serious attempt to work ou…

      Totally agreed, this is what is confusing me about the claim also. Dating by the bible is plainly wrong by the evidence, but at least it was in theory a rational process. Where have they got 11k from?

  33. My education took place in the 30′s and 40′s. I was not exposed to evolution at all during that time. I was raised as y.e.c. And was exposed to the bible. By the time I was 16 I figured the bible couldn’t be trusted as factual. Observation of the world around me caused me to switch sides. I got interested in Evolution and read what I could. It made much more sense to me than creationism and as I traveled it became more and more obvious to me that the earth was very old and the way the world operates is exactly the way one would expect of a world driven by evolution. A created world have far less suffering and fewer tornados to name a few.
    To me, creationism is a synonym for idiocy.

  34. My first reaction was “why bother”. If your friend is a dyed-in-the-wool creationist there is probably nothing that will make them change their opinion, and trying to do so would be an excercise in frustration.

    You don’t need a PhD to understand evolution, but you do need an open mind. On the website of Creation Ministries, under the section “What we believe”, there is this: “The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the Earth and the universe.”

    In other words these people have an a-priori belief and nothing you say will change their minds.

    For every piece of evidence you present, they will find a counter-argument, no matter how ridiculous. Bobby Henderson parodied this brilliantly with his Flying Spaghetti Monster; a supreme being in the form of meatballs and spaghetti who created the earth and then cleverly disguised his handiwork by leaving thousands of false clues for unsuspecting scientists to follow.

    Having said this, if your friend is in fact a more open-minded type and at least willing to consider alternative views, I suggest starting here:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

    It’s pretty comprehensive and demolishes most if not all of their claimns.

    Also don’t forget that evolution is a theory and is being continually refined. For example, one of the leading creationist arguments refers to the discovery of dinosaur soft tissue. How, they argue, could these have survived hundreds of millions of years? A possible answer is here: http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21590874-how-remnants-dinosaur-tissue-have-survived-millions-years-life

    Thank science again!

  35. Just to correct the figure of “missing” years in my post above (46), the discrepancy between Ussher’s age of the Earth of 4004 BC, and the 11,000 years of the Austrian YEC, should be 6996, not the 6096 I mentioned. Typo I’m afraid. But even worse for the YEC point of view !

  36. In reply to #51 by Alan4discussion:

    Now I cannot say they don’t have a right to print such drivel, afterall freedom of speech and all that, but perhaps the answer is to have world wide literary standards through which you can claim expertise and grounds for support from the scientific community, with appropriate penalties for not doing. I’m sure they’d find some way round them, that ignorant and wishful theists would still read real expertise, but it would be a start, and would make plain their pseudo-scientific basis.

    obviously this would have to be proper law applied to all distributed documents and not just those going through publishing houses, which might make things a little tricky.

    Thinking about UK tobacco law, which reasonable demands that health warning are printed on all packets, perhaps they should be required to print on the cover of all such books that they are not mainstream science and the contents of which would not be accepted by the scientific community as a whole. Better still that they are pseudo-science, but that might be a little difficult to define.

    This couldn’t be reasonably construed as an attack at faith because the same would go for people peddling Saturn theory etc. and to be honest would cover more reputable theories, if they are dealing with concepts not currently accepted as factual. Although I guess some sort of rating system like the Film Classifications would be in order,

    • In reply to #53 by Malaidas:

      perhaps the answer is to have world wide literary standards through which you can claim expertise and grounds for support from the scientific community, with appropriate penalties for not doing.

      The best we have, is the peer-reviewed journals of specialist scientific bodies and learned societies. Very occasionally the creationists slip an article through and get it published – but it is then shredded by the specialist readership and withdrawn by the organisation!

      In “creation-speak” this shows the “conspiracies” of the atheist scientific establishment, who normally refuse to publish the sort of creationist drivelogy which would fail school science tests!

      They have produced some fake creationist “journals” reviewed by creationists who see that they are YEC compliant with the usual preconceptions and circular “reasoning”!

      Are Creation Scientists Real Scientists and Do They Do Real Research?

      There you have it. It’s abundantly clear that YECs do not practice science or carry out legitimate research, and let there be no mistake, they know it. That they denigrate real science in the process means little to them, regardless of the harm they do, especially to children whose gullible parents allow them to be educated within the narrow and unscientific confines of creationism. In the world of YECism the end justifies the means.

      Though they claim to be practising real science in order to maintain their support base, they have absolutely no credibility among legitimate scientists. It matters not that some of them have degrees in science; they remain YECs and their insistence that scientific evidence supports a literal Genesis is absolute nonsense.

      The stuff I linked @51 is pretty much standard drivel: – Some scientific illiterate who claims to be a scientist, (and may even have some credentials) denies the age of the Earth, lies about solidly evidenced science, makes a few silly assertions illustrating their utter incompetence, and then dishonestly says lots of “scientists” agree with their idiot views claimed to be “scientifically detailed AND consistent with the truths of Genesis 1–11″!

      If innocent children were not being de-educated by this stuff, it would be a real comedy show!!!

      • In reply to #54 by Alan4discussion:

        “The best we have, is the peer-reviewed journals of specialist scientific bodies and learned societies. Very occasionally the creationists slip an article through and get it published – but it is then shredded by the specialist readership and withdrawn by the organisation!”

        I understand this, but it unfortunately doesn’t stop people publishing drivel through the mainstream publishing houses etc, peer review covers journals, but journals aren’t what the joe public reads .

        I was a subscriber to Nature at one point, but in the end, it was too much to keep reading all of it, what I really wanted was layman descriptions for the most part, or summaries, not detailed claims for science on an experiment. This is the job of Journals and an important one, its the publication of scientific fact, if I need definitive facts, that or another journal such as SA I will use. However if you want to just get a basic understanding of a subject you need a less technical text, which is where pseudo-science thrives.

        The conspiracy theory angle seems to speak of some inbuilt function of the brain, thankfully one I seem to have been desensitised to, which makes me doubt any claim made under such. On my journey to atheism I almost got suckered in by pseudo-scientific, (as I now know), but seemingly honest claims of an electric universe, until I saw the conspiracy theory claim, which woke me up and made me look for counter evidence which was ample.

        “If innocent children were not being de-educated by this stuff, it would be a real comedy show!!!”

        My biggest reason for becoming a so called militant atheist, is the protection of children from indoctrination, as we have discussed on another thread.

        • In reply to #55 by Malaidas:

          In reply to #54 by Alan4discussion:

          My biggest reason for becoming a so called militant atheist, is the protection of children from indoctrination, as we have discussed on another thread.

          Given my interests in biology and space sciences, YECs “pseudo experts” usually get dismissed and their claims demolished, with short shrift.

          I actively support scientific integrity, so really dislike liars and fraudsters.

          BTW: If you put in a few > or >>>>s at start of quoted lines, and leave an extra linespace at the end of paragraphs, it makes the presentation of comments clearer.

          • In reply to #56 by Alan4discussion:

            BTW: If you put in a few > or >>>>s at start of quoted lines, and leave an extra linespace at the end of paragraphs, it makes the
            presentation of comments clearer.

            Thanks for this.

            Given my interests in biology and space sciences, YECs “pseudo experts” usually get dismissed and their claims demolished, with
            short shrift.

            I do my best to do the same here. Although my knowledge is somewhat out of date, not being in the academic world any more. I simply can’t keep up with all the new developments and also keep up with technological advances which are of more direct importance to my work. One good thing which has come up more recently however the opportunity to have regular discussions on such topics, which has got me more actively involved. As I said on another post, we don’t need a congregation, but sometimes having at least someone who is interested in talking about such things is both supportive, educational and I’ll also now add into the mix: motivating.

            Not that we always agree on things, far from it, but that makes it more interesting. Especially when we get down to more philosophical concerns which cannot be answered definitively through empirical evidence. Sometimes a good old wrangle about the nature/existence of freewill and what it means to know something and how this relates to belief is a great deal of fun. For the record I maintain we have no freewill, its an illusion and that all fact is still by its very nature belief, belief is nothing to do with theism or deism, its a matter of what we think is true. epistemologically this is a plain… a fact is a justified true ‘belief’. The counter being that the meaning has shifted and that belief is now the same as faith. I still await reasonable counter to the concept of there being no real freewill. Perhaps I’ll post a discussion here on the matter.

          • In reply to #58 by Malaidas:

            Especially when we get down to more philosophical concerns which cannot be answered definitively through empirical evidence.

            Any solid philosophical chain of reason has to ultimately be grounded in empirical evidence. That grounding is typically missing in theological arguments.

          • In reply to #59 by Quine:

            Any solid philosophical chain of reason has to ultimately be grounded in empirical evidence. That grounding is typically missing in theological arguments.

            I agree in theory. However there are some things about which we have opinions which we are not (yet at least) able to be answer definitively, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a rational opinion on the subject. The two I mention are classic examples. one philosophical concerns over the nature of what it means to know and to what extent you can ever truly know, are by their very nature abstract concepts. The notion of freewill is pervasive and yet, from a scientific a point of view, we are just collections of atoms, interacting according to the physical laws of the universe and therefore there can be no real freewill. The philosophical/sociological consequences of which can be interesting to discuss, but again its not something which can be definitively answered at the moment; they make interesting discussion because there is no simple answer, that would put such beyond discussion. You can’t discuss for instance the gas laws, they are as near as can ever be claimed, solid fact. At least within the bounds of model determined reality.

            Putting it simply, you have no real right to clam a rational point of view, when there is definitive empirical evidence. Point of view doesn’t come into it, you are either right or wrong, as determined by the evidence. Only where there is doubt, can you rationally have more than one point of view, and if you cannot both have a different point of view, there is no point in discussing it.

            I most certainly agree about theological arguments, if from nothing else than the fact the empirical evidence points to them being wrong.

          • In reply to #56 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #55 by Malaidas:

            In reply to #54 by Alan4discussion:
            BTW: If you put in a few > or >>>>s at start of quoted lines, and leave an extra linespace at the end of paragraphs, it makes the presentation of comments clearer.

            A big thank you! At long last I’ve mastered the art.
            >

  37. Dear Vivien,

    I would recommend “Why Evolution is True” by Jerry A. Coyne in addition to other worthy tomes recommended by others herein. You do ont need a PhD to comprehend, just a willingness to educate yourself. Your will have an up hill battle with people like the creationist you describe… their standard of proof for the things they want to believe is set remarkably low, nor is it predicated on the same criteria you might employ i.e. respect for the facts, logic, critical thinking and so forth rather truth is determined by their subjective feelings dignified and deified with the term “faith”. Rather than listen to what you have to say they will merely dismiss you as a bad (possibly demon possessed) person.

    My conversations with evangelicals and fundamentalists re: the age of the earth (which you touch on) invariable go something like this… the theist insists the bible is a viable source of truth indicating inerrantly that the earth is approx 6,000 years old (little bit of wiggle room here apparently). Cornering them on this one is actually realatively straight forward by reference not only to radiometric dating but the growth rates of coral, annual snow layers in the Antarctic, mineral deposition rates on stalagtites/stalagmites, annual sediments layers going back millions of years in lakes/oceans, dendrochronography, the list of dating methods that must all be wrong for the theist to be right goes on. At this point the theist will generally shut down the conversation possibly referring to scripture to the effect the natural man does not understand the word of god.

    Your best approach I feel is that taken by Dr. Peter Boghossian in “A manual for creating atheists”. Cut to the chase… faith is not a viable means of discerning truth as witnessed by the miriad of different faiths humanity has on offer past and present.

    Very best wishes!

    • In reply to #61 by QuestioningKat:

      Hi Vivien,
      When you get a chance, could you please stop in and thank the contributors to this post?

      Thanks,
      Kathryn

      Well that would be nice, but not really essential. It would however be good to see you join in, ask further questions etc,, rather than us simply debating amongst ourselves.

  38. Hi Vivien,

    I’ve been off this site for a very long time, but this thread happened to catch my eye. I’m a Christian so my answers may differ from those on this site.

    I think the first thing to understand is that the term creationism simply means the belief that a Creator brought the universe into existence. The person you spoke to was a certain type of creationist called a scientific creationist (which is a misnomer because they truly butcher science). Scientific creationists are common in American evangelical churches, and they believe in several preposterous ideas such as the universe being on 6,000 years old, no animals died before sin came into the world, and evolution has no evidence to support it. I am surprised you came across this person in Austria because I thought Europe did not have this brand of creationism. Apparently I was wrong.

    There are other types of creationists who believe in an old universe and earth but do not accept evolution, and there are many creationists who accept all current scientific theories and evidence about the age of the universe and evolutionary development of species.

    I just wanted to clarify this discussion a little bit but identifying and differentiating between these different brands of creationism.

    Enjoy your evening!

  39. Nordic11:

    I think the first thing to understand is that the term creationism simply means the belief that a Creator brought the universe into existence.

    Agreed.

    Both old Earth, and young Earth creationism are just that, “beliefs”. There is not one tiny little smidgeon of evidence in favour of the existence of a “creator”. To date science has done a pretty good job of explaining many things about the world and universe around us, that the various religions have got completely wrong. E.g. the age of the Earth. The 11,000 years of the YEC in the OP is based on nothing but guesswork, whereas, the 4.5 billion years of the Earth’s existence is soundly based on empirical evidence.

    The YECs are quite happy to dismiss the Big Bang, but are very happy to use their smartphones and computers, – dissing science whilst reaping its benefits. They are hypocrites.

    • Hey Mr. DArcy,

      You’re right. There’s no scientific evidence of a Creator. He can’t be observed, measured or experimented on.

      Enjoy your evening!

      In reply to #64 by Mr DArcy:

      Nordic11:

      I think the first thing to understand is that the term creationism simply means the belief that a Creator brought the universe into existence.

      Agreed.

      Both old Earth, and young Earth creationism are just that, “beliefs”. There is not one tiny little smidgeon of evidence in favour of th…

      • In reply to #68 by Nordic11:

        You’re right. There’s no scientific evidence of a Creator. He can’t be observed, measured or experimented on.

        One of the infinite number of things you are totally ignorant of and can say nothing about.

        • Hey Aldous

          That’s what I like about the majority of atheists on this site- their kind and welcoming demeanor toward those who believe differently than them. It’s such a mystery why more people don’t just jump aboard the atheist cruise liner with all its fun people.

          Good luck on changing the world.
          In reply to #70 by aldous:

          In reply to #68 by Nordic11:

          You’re right. There’s no scientific evidence of a Creator. He can’t be observed, measured or experimented on.

          One of the infinite number of things you are totally ignorant of and can say nothing about.

          • In reply to #71 by Nordic11:

            Hey Aldous

            That’s what I like about the majority of atheists on this site- their kind and welcoming demeanor toward those who believe differently than them. It’s such a mystery why more people don’t just jump aboard the atheist cruise liner with all its fun people.

            Good luck on changing the world…

            I can’t tell whether aldous was being deliberately confrontational or if he simply misread your “can’t” for a “can”. The former seems completely unnecessary and rude.

          • In reply to #71 by Nordic11:

            Hey Aldous

            That’s what I like about the majority of atheists on this site- their kind and welcoming demeanor toward those who believe differently than them. It’s such a mystery why more people don’t just jump aboard the atheist cruise liner with all its fun people.

            You’re confusing wanting to hang around this website with being an atheist. You’re an atheist if you don’t hold any beliefs in gods. What you believe in shouldn’t be unaffected by how nice or nasty the other believers or disbelievers are. Newton by all accounts was thoroughly unpleasant but it doesn’t stop me believing in his laws of motion. If the quality of other atheists was enough to make anyone a theist five minutes at PZ’s site would have us all back at the altar on bended knee. Although I guess I’d need to go to the confessional first. “Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been 2000 weeks since my last confession and … “

            Michael

          • In reply to #73 by mmurray:

            In reply to #71 by Nordic11:

            Hey Aldous

            That’s what I like about the majority of atheists on this site- their kind and welcoming demeanor toward those who believe differently than them. It’s such a mystery why more people don’t just jump aboard the atheist cruise liner with all its fun people.

            Y…

            Yes, being nasty is universal doesn’t matter who you are and what your ontology is. That doesn’t make it right. Moderate theists like Nordic deserve to be treated without bile, they are not the rabid animals of the theist world who need to be put down. True nobody can challenge anyone’s right to say something how they want to, providing it is not ad hominem. However that doesn;t make it right to be deliberately rude.

          • In reply to #73 by mmurray:

            In reply to #71 by Nordic11:

            Hey Aldous

            That’s what I like about the majority of atheists on this site- their kind and welcoming demeanor toward those who believe differently than them. It’s such a mystery why more people don’t just jump aboard the atheist cruise liner with all its fun people.

            Y…
            Hi Murray,

            I understand your point, but certainly respect and civility should be part of any discussion group composed of intelligent, thoughtful people. If not, why be a part of it?

            I also object to the bigotry and hypocritical nature of the statement. On this site, rational thought is highly prized, but it is irrational to dismiss someone has ignorant of “an infinite number of things” just because they happen to believe in God. I doubt that such statement would be made on this site about people of different color, sexual orientation or culture. That would be considered unfair and out of line, but the same courtesy is not applied to theists from this particular member. I doubt if even Newton would be so acerbic.

            Enjoy your weekend and thanks for your thoughts.

          • In reply to #79 by Nordic11:

            In reply to #73 by mmurray:

            In reply to #71 by Nordic11:

            I understand your point, but certainly respect and civility should be part of any discussion group composed of intelligent, thoughtful people. If not, why be a part of it?

            I agree personally but if you look at the wider internet it’s certainly not the case.

            Enjoy your weekend and thanks for your thoughts.

            And you – Michael

          • Mike,
            I have seen and read such horrendous comments and behavior on this here internet thing. I come to Dawkins as often as I do for reasons that have many layers. One of those reasons is certainly the demeanor of most of the posters. I do wish there were more spirited debates with believers (like the “old days”), but even trying to comment on stories in my local newspaper is futile due to the least common denominator and the anonymity that commenting affords them.

            People go to race and then insult one another’s jobs and “welfare status” and it just degenerates into dog crap and you cannot roll around in dog crap without standing back up and stinking!

            In reply to #85 by mmurray:

            In reply to #79 by Nordic11:

            In reply to #73 by mmurray:

            In reply to #71 by Nordic11:

            I understand your point, but certainly respect and civility should be part of any discussion group composed of intelligent, thoughtful people. If not, why be a part of it?

            I agree personally but if you look at…

        • In reply to #70 by aldous:

          In reply to #68 by Nordic11:

          You’re right. There’s no scientific evidence of a Creator. He can’t be observed, measured or experimented on.

          One of the infinite number of things you are totally ignorant of and can say nothing about.

          Perhaps a little harsh mate. It is true that yes, the fact that we cannot measure something, means ‘believing’ in it is a bit irrational from my point of view. However not all theists are ignorant. Nordic seems to be from the Moderate crowd who accepts science is genuine but thinks there is something more, which don’t deserve to be flamed on forums. As I said in another thread, its fundamentalist liers and fraudsters which get my back up and should be the ones that get any rational thinker’s back up, whether atheist or deist or even theist to be honest. Putting it bluntly, they are urinating in the fountain of truth.

          • In reply to #76 by Malaidas:

            In reply to #70 by aldous:

            In reply to #68 by Nordic11:

            You’re right. There’s no scientific evidence of a Creator. He can’t be observed, measured or experimented on.

            One of the infinite number of things you are totally ignorant of and can say nothing about.

            Perhaps a little harsh mate. It is t…

            Well said (written)! You’re right on the money!

  40. Hey Alan. Great to hear from you as well! The chemo really took me down hard last spring, and the summer and fall were OK but still a struggle. I’ve felt great the last three weeks though. It has been a long battle, 8 years with cancer and 5 years of continuous chemo, but I’m still teaching and writing, and I do my best to be the best dad I can for my boys. I’m taking them to Belize this summer to dive off the barrier reef and explore some Mayan ruins.

    If I feel up to it, I’ll check out that thread this weekend. I’ve been following this topic for about 20 years now, but the SC arguments seem to get weirder by the year. My oldest son is nearly 14, and he and I check out their websites and have a good laugh, but it’s sad really. The hard core ones will never change so it’s best to leave them be.

    Enjoy a great weekend!

    • Nordic11,
      Nice to hear from you again. Diving, teaching, fathering, battling….. I admire you and am envious of your children; they clearly have an awesome dad. Stick around ( both proximally and distally!!!!)

      In reply to #67 by Nordic11:

      Hey Alan. Great to hear from you as well! The chemo really took me down hard last spring, and the summer and fall were OK but still a struggle. I’ve felt great the last three weeks though. It has been a long battle, 8 years with cancer and 5 years of continuous chemo, but I’m still teaching and…

      • In reply to #74 by crookedshoes:

        Nordic11,
        Nice to hear from you again. Diving, teaching, fathering, battling….. I admire you and am envious of your children; they clearly have an awesome dad. Stick around ( both proximally and distally!!!!)

        In reply to #67 by Nordic11:

        Hi crookedshoes. So nice to hear from you again as well! Thanks so much for the compliment!. Having cancer sucks big time, but the one blessing of not knowing when my time is done is that I treat every moment with boys (and my wife) like it will be my last. Never a day goes by without me telling them I love them and am proud of them. I hate this disease but without it, I wonder if I would take them for granted? anyway, I do the best I can with the time I have left.

        Have a great weekend!

        Hey Alan. Great to hear from you as well! The chemo r…

        • In reply to #80 by Nordic11:

          Having cancer sucks big time, but the one blessing of not knowing when my time is done is that I treat every moment with boys (and my wife) like it will be my last.

          None of knows what life has in store for us.

          I was in the prime of life (for my age) and up a tree doing tree surgery last July, when I was hit by a falling log and wedged against a branch 20 feet up. I got a week in hospital for that mistake or misfortune, instead of the holiday my wife had booked. Without a prompt CT scan, modern diagnosis and surgery it would have killed me! – I’m fine now.

          • Wow, alan I’m glad you’re OK. Sounds like that was the brush with grim reaper himself.

            In reply to #83 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #80 by Nordic11:

            Having cancer sucks big time, but the one blessing of not knowing when my time is done is that I treat every moment with boys (and my wife) like it will be my last.

            None of knows what life has in store for us.

            I was in the prime of life (for my age) and up a tree doin…

  41. Getting back to the discussion a little late, but, I’d suggest reading “The Ancestor’s tale”. I took an entire sumer (I am a teacher) and read and annotated my copy and I use the examples and stories in it almost DAILY in my classroom. It is the very best book on the topic I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. But, it is HEAVY! Allot adequate time and grab a pen and an iPad. You are in for quite an intellectual treat.

  42. Moderators’ message

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  43. Nordic11, we’re all in this together. You believe in the supernatural and I don’t. But we are both human beings and both headed for the same destination, – death. Whilst we are lucky enough to be alive, maybe we should try and deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune ? Best of luck mate !

    • In reply to #82 by Mr DArcy:

      Nordic11, we’re all in this together. You believe in the supernatural and I don’t. But we are both human beings and both headed for the same destination, – death. Whilst we are lucky enough to be alive, maybe we should try and deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune ? Best of luck m…

      You’re absolutely right. We’re a breath on this planet. The best we can do is try to make it a better place when we leave it than when we arrived.

  44. Hi Vivien,

    I guess a lot of people here are reading this with a mixture of compassion and amusement.
    Mostly every argument used for young earth creationism is brought up here. First of all it is not correct, that a radio carbon measurement only can date things up to 11 000 years. What is correct is that the different carbon dating methods can measure different things with different accuracy. But an earth age between 6000 and 12 000 years is absolute nonsense. Geology can proof that the earth is about 4.5 billion years.
    The second thing you already have absolutely right. We do not derive from monkeys but they and us share a common ancestor. This is a typical misunderstanding in terms of the theory of evolution bases on the difficulties to imagine geological time scales. Therefore the understanding of the fact, that the direct relatives (parents, grandparents, great grandparents in one direction, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren a. s. o. in the other direction) always belong to the same species. It’s the enormous time scale that makes little slight changes to become fundamental changes.
    There is not one definitive proof for evolution by natural selection but many. If you take the findings in the different branches of science together (palaeontology, genetics, chemistry and all the others) you’ll end up with a picture, that leaves no space for another answer as we have developed by an evolutionary process based on natural selection. The best proof I guess can be found in genetics. Because the genetic code is written information you can compare easily every living creature on base of this code with everything that has lived and left DNA to investigate in. This is from my point of view (and it hurts my pride as a geographer) by far the best form of evidence we have.
    Creationist arguments are no alternative arguments. Here in Europe there are groups trying to reinstall the religious cult of the Celts. The fact that these people try to do this does not make the idea of the Celtic cult more true.
    The reasons for creationist fundamentalism to argue against all we know today by science is to be fond in the fact that not everyone is able to leave the baggage of our ancestral history behind. We want to be special and oversee therefore that we are special. We are so special that we are able to ask for that and to start searching for entities that are as special as we are so that we can communicate with them.
    Superstition – a typical aspect of the human mind – was necessary as long as we had no science to explain the world around us. Now that there is science to do it we transport it to other things (I use to talk to my motorcycle, fully aware that this is stupid!) but some are not ready for it.

  45. Hi Vivien,

    I guess a lot of people here are reading this with a mixture of compassion and amusement.
    Mostly every argument used for young earth creationism is brought up here. First of all it is not correct, that a radio carbon measurement only can date things up to 11 000 years. What is correct is that the different carbon dating methods can measure different things with different accuracy. But an earth age between 6000 and 12 000 years is absolute nonsense. Geology can proof that the earth is about 4.5 billion years.
    The second thing you already have absolutely right. We do not derive from monkeys but they and us share a common ancestor. This is a typical misunderstanding in terms of the theory of evolution bases on the difficulties to imagine geological time scales. Therefore the understanding of the fact, that the direct relatives (parents, grandparents, great grandparents in one direction, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren a. s. o. in the other direction) always belong to the same species. It’s the enormous time scale that makes little slight changes to become fundamental changes.
    There is not one definitive proof for evolution by natural selection but many. If you take the findings in the different branches of science together (palaeontology, genetics, chemistry and all the others) you’ll end up with a picture, that leaves no space for another answer as we have developed by an evolutionary process based on natural selection. The best proof I guess can be found in genetics. Because the genetic code is written information you can compare easily every living creature on base of this code with everything that has lived and left DNA to investigate in. This is from my point of view (and it hurts my pride as a geographer) by far the best form of evidence we have.
    Creationist arguments are no alternative arguments. Here in Europe there are groups trying to reinstall the religious cult of the Celts. The fact that these people try to do this does not make the idea of the Celtic cult more true.
    The reasons for creationist fundamentalism to argue against all we know today by science is to be fond in the fact that not everyone is able to leave the baggage of our ancestral history behind. We want to be special and oversee therefore that we are special. We are so special that we are able to ask for that and to start searching for entities that are as special as we are so that we can communicate with them.
    Superstition – a typical aspect of the human mind – was necessary as long as we had no science to explain the world around us. Now that there is science to do it we transport it to other things (I use to talk to my motorcycle, fully aware that this is stupid!) but some are not ready for it.

    • In reply to #89 by Joseph Wolsing:

      I guess a lot of people here are reading this with a mixture of compassion and amusement. Mostly every argument used for young earth creationism is brought up here. First of all it is not correct, that a radio carbon measurement only can date things up to 11 000 years. What is correct is that the different carbon dating methods can measure different things with different accuracy.

      It is also a favourite ploy of scientifically illiterate YECs to quote carbon dating as if it was the only form of radiometric dating.

      (It probably is the only one they have heard of when they copied the “refutation” from a YEC drivel-ology list.)

      (Isotopes Commonly used for Radiometric Dating – http://anthro.palomar.edu/time/table-of-isotopes.htm )

      With a half life of 5,730 years Carbon-14 is not suitable for dating objects millions of years old. YECs will use this to incompetently or dishonestly claim that this “proves” the dating of Dinosaurs etc is wrong!

      This only proves that they are too clueless to know about the other isotopes which are used for dating more ancient events.

      • In reply to #95 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #89 by Joseph Wolsing:

        I guess a lot of people here are reading this with a mixture of compassion and amusement. Mostly every argument used for young earth creationism is brought up here. First of all it is not correct, that a radio carbon measurement only can date things up to 11 000 y…

        As ever, misinformation rather than information as we have previously discussed, however I am not certain many some cases that this is innocent. I seems so hard to believe that educated men and women could actually so misunderstand the facts.

  46. I do not have a PhD of any kind and I don’t think it takes having an upper level science degree to be able to use simple deduction. I have; however participated in a plethora of social science classes which deals more with human nature in groups or individually. One thing that you will notice about the different theories (creation and evolution) is that one was derived at by observation and fossilized evidence of steps moving in the direction of more current species that proved to be more adapted to their ever-changing environments. How could one ignore the fact that Peruvians live high in the mountains where there is less oxygen and just happen to have larger lungs and hearts; that native Alaskans just happen to have eyes perfectly suited to prevent snow blindness and flatter facial features which just happen to counteract the effects of arctic winds, and the list goes on. In the case of the god hypothesis, we are told to just accept that there is a god at the very onset, which literally comes out of nowhere, and all of the scientific “proof” is built around supporting that unsupported myth that we are just supposed to accept. That’s not scientific deduction. Could you imagine what would have happened if Newton or Einstein or Copernicus had just settled on an answer that they like before coming up with the surrounding data to support their theories? Science would be a joke. We certainly would not be where we are today. Look at the data surrounding the theory that the world was flat. There were lots of very intelligent scientists of that time who were building all kinds of ridiculous theories around what they deemed a fact … and which turned out to be quite inaccurate. It took one person to not accept fiction as fact, and to look at the evidence FIRST. Your colleagues are using intellectual intimidation on you and it seems to be working. The good news is that attacking someone is usually a sure sign of insecurity in one’s beliefs. I used to be Bible thumper because I didn’t believe a word of what I was saying and thus read extensively on the subject, and debated constantly, in an effort to prove to myself what I was so afraid to deny. Then I grew up because death happens. It sounds to me like you are intellectually miles ahead of the people who are trying to intimidate you, PhDs or no. Some of the most inept people I have ever come in contact with were PhDs. Just because you are in expert in one field doesn’t mean you are genius in another. I tried to show a neurosurgeon how to use a Nextel Phone’s walky-talky. I gave up after several tries. He might have been brilliant at diagnosing and treating neurological issues, but he could not use a walky-talky to save his life. Read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. You’ll get some answers to those pressing questions.

    • In reply to #93 by Simon Crase:

      So she found 60 Scientists against evolution?

      It is a favourite ploy among biologically and geologically illiterate creationist pseudo-scientists, to claim that they are the TRrrrroooo scientists!

      “Disproved”, to a YEC pseudo-scientists simply means, “inconsistent with their fundamentalist preconceptions”. – It has nothing to do with scientific evidence or rational thought processes!

  47. Vivien, try Googling “Lake Suigetsu”. It is a lake in Japan with a set of bottom sediments that have recorded well over 40000 years of deposition, right up to the present. The lake experiences severe winters and warm summers. This annual cycle produces characteristically banded sediments known as varves. These can be counted and have been. Lake Suigetsu alone demolishes the young earth creationist claim.

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