Sunday, July 1, 2007

An Evolution-Related Challenge

Many Young Earth creationists believe that methods used to date fossils and rock strata that rely on the decay of radioactive isotopes do not give reliable results.

In my limited understanding creationist thought, this would seem to pose some very serious problems for modern technology. If the physics on which the use of radio-isotopes to date fossils and geological strata is "wrong," to use common parlance, then how do the myriads of devices that rely on this erroneous theory work?

The challenge to Young Earth Creationists: if radio-isotope dating is based on erroneous physics, THEN how are MRI's, smoke detectors, lasers, quantum computing, and the like to be explained?

For any of my readers who are familiar with the relevant physics, what would have to be different about the world for the results from radio-isotope dating to be not only wrong but more or less consistent with a 10,000(+/-) year old earth? Think of it as speculative fiction.

As for the Creationists who believe that God created the earth with dinosaur bones in place, do you really want to portray your God as a Deceiver and first runner-up for the title of Prince of Lies?


  1. And in Arkansas you must have lots of people on whom to try out this argument. How is that going for you?

    However, I do like this line of reasoning. I have been trying to hammer it down to discrete connected ideas. That way one can use in Socratic teaching to lead someone at least part way down the road to more rational self-assessment of their belief system.

    Still, do I agree with everything you say? Of course not for if you were always correct that might make you an avatar of an omniscient being and you would need to disappear in your own personal puff of logic.

    I also struggle with the absolute knowledge of atheists that they know the limits and bounds of creation (or big bang or cyclic brane collisions or steady state - yes somewhat out of favour with the faithful of science.) The fact that scientists do not take anything on faith is at least prima facie a good thing. Nevertheless, if one examines the scientific method, the average scientist frequently falls into the trap of faith. For example examine the history of water on Mars. By this I mean not the currently accepted theories but rather the history of currently accepted theories wherein planetologists oscillate between Mars having a wet history, a dry history or perhaps a mixed wet/dry history based on their interpretation of the latest data point. These sententious pronouncements are typically absolute in scope underlining the issue that scientist too easily fall into the trap of faith even in their own field and end up appearing as buffoons to the religious masses and are easily mocked or discounted.

    Richard Dawkins is in my opinion the most egregious representative of this world view who alienates others far more than he in welcomeing to those who might consider a middle ground. If you can get the 90% of the world who embrace some faith - explicit or abstract - to edge a little bit closer to that middle ground there will be a far greater enlightenment than strident declamation which convinces none who are not already convinced and entrenches those who disagree. I think it is worth noting that very few atheists burn witches.

  2. George,

    From my blog, it might appear that I am quite the firebrand, but I'm terribly mild-mannered and intensely dislike pointless verbal confrontations. I'm more of a shut-in down here than I was when we lived in NYC. Hopefully, this summer we'll be relocating to Boston.

    Anyway, I haven't had a chance to try this arguments out on bona fide believers down here. I'm also unlikely to. I don't think reason and rationality are particularly persuasive on their. If Evangelicals have taught me anything, it's that personality and character largely determine one's predilection to reason and empirical-mindedness.


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