Saturday, July 02, 2011

P.Z. Myers Takes Apart Ken Ham

One of Ken Ham's favorite questions is “Were you there?” and he reserves it for people who argue that the earth is billions of years old or that evolution has occurred. Recently, he received a letter from a nine-year old girl. He writes about it here. She wrote:
I went to a NASA display of a moon rock and a lady said, "This Moon-rock is 3.75 billion years old!" Guess what I asked for the first time ever?

"Um, may I ask a question?"

And she said, "Of course."

I said, in my most polite voice, "Were you there?"

Love, Emma B
Ham's response is priceless. He writes on his blog:

Each time I give examples in my blog posts of children who have been influenced by AiG, the atheists go ballistic on their blogs. They hate to read of instances like this. They want to teach these children there is no God and they are just animals in this hopeless and meaningless struggle of this purposeless existence.

Praise the Lord, Emma has such a strong foundation in God’s Word and won’t fall for the atheist lies in their attempts to shake their fist at their Creator God.

His rejoinder to the obvious answer to the question of “no” is that we weren't but God was and he gave us his word to go by. This response is, at once facile, scripturally ignorant and logically unsound. P.Z. Myers, in a very restrained and civil fashion, takes what Ham says and and runs with it in an unsent letter to Emma B., in which he writes:
One serious problem with the "Were you there?" question is that it is not very sincere. You knew the answer already! You knew that woman had not been to the moon, and you definitely knew that she had not been around to see the rock forming 3.75 billion years ago. You knew the only answer she could give was "no," which is not very informative.

Another problem is that if we can only trust what we have seen with our own two eyes in our short lives, then there's very little we can know at all. You probably know that there are penguins in Antarctica, and that the Civil War was fought in the 1860s, and that there are fish swimming deep in the ocean, and you also believe that Jesus was crucified two thousand years ago, but if I asked you "Were you there?" about each of those facts, you'd also have to answer "no" to each one. Does that mean they are all false? Of course not. You know those things because you have other kinds of evidence.
This strikes at the heart of the idiocy of Ham's answer. The response is facile and logically unsound because the obvious answer is “no” and Ham knows it. The problem is that neither was he. And if we can't rely on historical and prehistoric sources for our knowledge, why is the Bible any different? After all, the reason we have the Bible in the first place is because We weren't there. It is the record of God's interaction with humans through history, written down by many different people in many different literary styles. Without this record, we would have no knowledge of God. The only thing that makes it different from other historical sources is that we believe it to reflect the nature of God and how we should relate to Him. If we weren't there to see the 3.75 million year old rock created, then we weren't around to see the Bible written down either.

It is scripturally unsound because it places an odd dualism between the word of God and the observable universe. As far as Ham is concerned, any evidence that the earth is 4.5 billion years old is a Godless, atheist lie, no matter how convincing. Yet, if God is the creator of the universe, then He is reflected in his creation. And right now, it looks for all the world like his universe is around 13 billion years old. Every line of observable evidence points to this. It also looks for all the world like the life around us (including us) has evolved over for over three billion years. Every line of evidence points to this, as well. If we ignore this evidence, or distort it to fit a preconceived interpretation of the Bible, what does that say about our attitude toward God's creation? Are we not rejecting the evidence that He, Himself has put forth? To accept God's word and reject His creation is theologically unsound at best.

It also places Ham in a position of authority over all of the scientists who have ever lived that have studied the age of the earth and all of the geological, astronomical, palaeontological and radiological factors that go into determining its age and he is in a position of authority over all of the theologians who argue that a literal interpretation of the creation stories is theologically simplistic. In effect, he is not just saying that they are wrong, he is saying that by disagreeing with him, they are not walking with God. Pompous, a bit?

I hope that Emma is found by a Godly teacher who can also inform her that the science surrounding the age of the earth is sound and that most of the people who did the science that revealed this age were devout Christians. Asking “Were you there?” is just ignorant.

11 comments:

  1. "And if we can't rely on historical and prehistoric sources for our knowledge, why is the Bible any different? "

    I can just imagine tearing you up over this quote. Don't get me wrong; you make a fine point. It's all quite logical. But I believe that with the YECs, such pondering is not allowed. They believe the Bible to be above such questions. And I have seen them pull such statements and use them in a "look at the level of evil we here at YEC are dealing with among people who claim to be Christian" kind of way. It sends the message, if you're a Christian, you had better not think this way.

    I think of it the same way I do the Pharisees or any other ultraconservative group. It's about control. You're a Christian? Well, I'm a Christian and I don't drink...I'm a Christian and I don't have a television...I'm a Christian and in my Bible the words of Jesus are in red!

    It makes me wonder if these YEC ministries are more like cottage industries, with pronouncements designed to keep you coming back for more and safely in their (money donating) fold.

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  2. "You don't even have to believe in hereafter, just believe in ME!"
    --Banks/Collins/Rutherford

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  3. When Ken Ham asked if you were there he was primarily asking were you there at the time of creation. Do you know for sure how old the earth really is? Only God does. In actuality those million and even billions of years needed to allow evolution from non-life to life to even have a chance of occurring do not even seem to exist based on C-14 dating of dinosaur bone collagen and other bone fractions to coal and diamond and other fossils. You might start with the C-14 projects of Dr. Andrew Snelling and Baumgardner of ICR/AIG and then go to www.sciencevsevolution.org and www.dinosaurc14ages.com. Modern scientific research is catching up with Christ, His words in scripture and the church fathers on origins. Pacem!

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  4. James, you are correct that only God knows for sure how old the earth is, but He has left some very good clues behind so that we can construct some very good theories about it. Why would I go to the C-14 projects of Andrew Snelling and John Baumgardner to date dinosaurs when dinosaur remains aren't even dated using Carbon 14. C14 only goes back around 50 000 years. Before that, it is unreliable. Those two know that but they use it anyway just to show that it is unreliable for samples like that. Talk Origins responded to the claims here. Even Reasons to Believe, a Christian organization, thought something was Rotten in Denmark and investigated the claims. Like all young-earth arguments, they fell apart very quickly.

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  5. James, the other article that comes to mind is the one by Randy Isaacs, executive director of the American Scientific Affiliation, also a Christian organization. He writes:

    The authors also acknowledge that if the C-14 dating on these samples were valid, there would still be a problem because the rocks are ten times older than expected from some biblical interpretations. To achieve the desired age of 5,000 years, it must be postulated that the relative concentration of C-14 to total carbon in the atmosphere was 500 times lower before the Flood than it is today. John Baumgardner rationalizes that the total amount of carbon in the biosphere must have been “300–700 times the total C relative to our present world” on the basis of the vast amount of carboniferous material in the earth.
    Assuming that the total amount of C-14 was approximately the same as today, the ratio of C-14 to total C would have been 1/500 of today’s value, bringing the age of the rocks to the preferred value of 5,000 years. The isotopic ratio might have increased dramatically during the Flood because “accelerated nuclear decay during the Flood would have converted substantial amounts of crustal N to C-14” (p. 619). This circular reasoning and the lack of credibility of interpreting traces of C-14 for dating purposes make it evident that C-14 does not provide evidence for a young earth.


    Read the whole thing.

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  6. Here is my response after much deliberation, life's many interruptions and revisions [also attached in separate file for your editing]. We can use this on others also to try and entice them to "Date the fossils and NOT the rocks st----!" Have fun! Hugoc14 alias Hugh the elder

    I can’t help but wonder: How can a sane, adult person believe that a frog could turn into a prince? But much of academia believes in a similar fairy tale only they call it evolution! But somehow to them it occurs over millions, even billions of years. Of course they propose bacteria or hydrogen to begin with instead of a frog. Yes and some even say God did it – Yup, the great computer programmer. Yes and they get huge paychecks just sitting around making up stories how evolution of life from non-life could have happened and then get their fairy tales peer reviewed and published. They also send highly trained field researchers into the Earth's fossil record looking for the Prince's missing links. And, they call that science? Hey guys, the only reason that there are fossils there is because of one or more massive cataclysms so date the fossils, not the rocks to see how old they are. Direct dating of the fossils will also help you extricate your head from the sand so you can see how to perform real research.

    It’s easy, just use the highly respected C-14 dating methodologies on dinosaur bone collagen and other dino bone fractions to convince yourselves that these various fractions give concordant ages like has been reported in www.dinosaurc14ages.com [under pages for C-14 dating] and www.sciencevsevolution.org [Abstracts] in the range of 23,170 ±170 to 30,890 ± 200 RC years BP for Hadrosaur and Triceratops femur bone collagen respectively with the other fractions concordant in age; they even extracted and dated the contaminants in the pretreatment purification steps and dated other dinosaurs like the Acrocanthosaurus from Texas, Allosaurus from Colorado and another Hadrosaur from the North Slope of Alaska. That’s the same age and location range as for mammoth, mastodon, saber tooth tiger, giant sloth, giant bison and Neanderthal; also 24,600 C-14 years BP for an alleged 70 Mya marine reptile on exhibit in the Paris Museum of Natural History after careful removing of contaminants by the acid-base-acid pretreament. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0019445 So where’s the beef? Also EWTN news item from 2009 on a major conference in Rome http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=98421

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  7. Why don’t you “God did it” guys just accept His Word in Genesis 1-11 – But, if you prefer putting it into more modern scientific terms than He did you can say: “God did it by creating all life forms abruptly (like He said He did in Scripture) using DNA information mechanisms having the built-in ability of the “different kinds” to make micro-changes depending on the subsequent environment.” Perhaps He might buy that!

    A couple of key questions: (1) Collagen is a mixture of three proteins which can be as high as 25 % of proteins in normal bone after death but decompose over time so that there should be none remaining after say 30,000 to 100,000 years according to accelerated testing by some pretty top scientists (Bada, 1992 and much more). How then can Mary Schweitzer and other scientists still find some collagen in dinosaur bones? Could it be that they are NOT 65 million years or older? (2) Scientists world-wide in studying the sedimentary rocks and how they form have discovered that they appear to have been deposited in 0.01 to 0.05 % of the time claimed by Lyell and Darwin in moving waters. What perhaps does this suggest to you??? (3) And since there is NO evidence that heliocentricism is valid and no real evidence that says geocentricism is false why is academicians and the Dawkins of this world not trying to investigate one or the other? You only get one guess, Ha!



    Now please go tell your friends in academia to date the fossils NOT the rocks. AND be rather careful in pushing the fallible words of men like Dawkins ad nauseam and some clergy of many Christian faiths who have fallen for their evol fairy tales. Your Creator might not appreciate such deceptive propaganda. Pacem!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can’t help but wonder: How can a sane, adult person believe that a frog could turn into a prince? But much of academia believes in a similar fairy tale only they call it evolution! But somehow to them it occurs over millions, even billions of years. Of course they propose bacteria or hydrogen to begin with instead of a frog. Yes and some even say God did it – Yup, the great computer programmer.

    Yes and they get huge paychecks just sitting around making up stories how evolution of life from non-life could have happened and then get their fairy tales peer reviewed and published. They also send highly trained field researchers into the Earth's fossil record looking for the Prince's missing links. And, they call that science?

    Hey guys, the only reason that there are fossils there is because of one or more massive cataclysms so date the fossils, not the rocks to see how old they are. Direct dating of the fossils will also help you see how to perform real research.

    It’s easy, just use the highly respected C-14 dating methodologies on dinosaur bone collagen and other dino bone fractions to convince yourselves that these various fractions give concordant ages like have been reported in www.dinosaurc14ages.com [under pages for C-14 dating] and www.sciencevsevolution.org [Abstracts] in the range of 23,170 ±170 to 30,890 ± 200 RC years BP for Hadrosaur and Triceratops femur bone collagen respectively with the other fractions concordant in age; they even extracted and dated the contaminants in the pretreatment purification steps and dated other dinosaurs like the Acrocanthosaurus from Texas, Allosaurus from Colorado and another Hadrosaur from the North Slope of Alaska. That’s the same age and location range as for mammoth, mastodon, saber tooth tiger, giant sloth, giant bison and Neanderthal; also 24,600 C-14 years BP for an alleged 70 Mya marine reptile on exhibit in the Paris Museum of Natural History after careful removing of contaminants by the acid-base-acid pretreament. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0019445 So where’s the beef?

    Also see the EWTN news item from 2009 on a major conference in Rome http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=98421

    Why don’t you “God did it” guys just accept His Word in Genesis 1-11 – But, if you prefer putting it into more modern scientific terms than He did you can say: “God did it by creating all life forms abruptly (like He said He did in Scripture) using DNA information mechanisms having the built-in ability of the “different kinds” to make micro-changes depending on the subsequent environment.” Perhaps He might buy that!

    A couple of key questions: (1) Collagen is a mixture of three proteins which can be as high as 25 % of proteins in normal bone after death but decompose over time so that there should be none remaining after say 30,000 to 100,000 years according to accelerated testing by some pretty top scientists (Bada, 1992 and much more). How then can Mary Schweitzer and other scientists still find some collagen in dinosaur bones? Could it be that they are NOT 65 million years or older? (2) Scientists world-wide in studying the sedimentary rocks and how they form have discovered that they appear to have been deposited in 0.01 to 0.05 % of the time claimed by Lyell and Darwin in moving waters. What perhaps does this suggest to you??? (3) And since there is NO evidence that heliocentricism is valid and no real evidence that says geocentricism is false why are academicians and the Dawkins of this world not trying to investigate one or the other? You only get one guess.

    Now please go tell your friends in academia to date the fossils NOT the rocks. AND be rather careful in pushing the fallible words of men like Dawkins ad nauseam and some clergy of many Christian faiths who have fallen for their evol fairy tales. Your Creator might not appreciate such deceptive propaganda. Pacem!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I can’t help but wonder: How can a sane, adult person believe that a frog could turn into a prince? But much of academia believes in a similar fairy tale only they call it evolution! But somehow to them it occurs over millions, even billions of years. Of course they propose bacteria or hydrogen to begin with instead of a frog. Yes and some even say God did it – Yup, the great computer programmer. Yes and they get huge paychecks just sitting around making up stories how evolution of life from non-life could have happened and then get their fairy tales peer reviewed and published. They also send highly trained field researchers into the Earth's fossil record looking for the Prince's missing links. And, they call that science? Hey guys, the only reason that there are fossils there is because of one or more massive cataclysms so date the fossils, not the rocks to see how old they are. Direct dating of the fossils will also help you to see how to perform real research.

    It’s easy, just use the highly respected C-14 dating methodologies on dinosaur bone collagen and other dino bone fractions to convince yourselves that these various fractions give concordant ages like has been reported in www.dinosaurc14ages.com [under pages for C-14 dating] and www.sciencevsevolution.org [Abstracts] in the range of 23,170 ±170 to 30,890 ± 200 RC years BP for Hadrosaur and Triceratops femur bone collagen respectively with the other fractions concordant in age; they even extracted and dated the contaminants in the pretreatment purification steps and dated other dinosaurs like the Acrocanthosaurus from Texas, Allosaurus from Colorado and another Hadrosaur from the North Slope of Alaska. That’s the same age and location range as for mammoth, mastodon, saber tooth tiger, giant sloth, giant bison and Neanderthal; also 24,600 C-14 years BP for an alleged 70 Mya marine reptile on exhibit in the Paris Museum of Natural History after careful removing of contaminants by the acid-base-acid pretreament. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0019445 So where’s the beef? Also see EWTN news item from 2009 on a major conference in Rome http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=98421

    Why don’t you “God did it” guys just accept His Word in Genesis 1-11 – But, if you prefer putting it into more modern scientific terms than He did you can say: “God did it by creating all life forms abruptly (like He said He did in Scripture) using DNA information mechanisms having the built-in ability of the “different kinds” to make micro-changes depending on the subsequent environment.” Perhaps He might buy that!

    A couple of key questions: (1) Collagen is a mixture of three proteins which can be as high as 25 % of proteins in normal bone after death but decompose over time so that there should be none remaining after say 30,000 to 100,000 years according to accelerated testing by some pretty top scientists (Bada, 1992 and much more). How then can Mary Schweitzer and other scientists still find some collagen in dinosaur bones? Could it be that they are NOT 65 million years or older? (2) Scientists world-wide in studying the sedimentary rocks and how they form have discovered that they appear to have been deposited in 0.01 to 0.05 % of the time claimed by Lyell and Darwin in moving waters. What perhaps does this suggest to you??? (3) And since there is NO evidence that heliocentricism is valid and no real evidence that says geocentricism is false why is academicians and the Dawkins of this world not trying to investigate one or the other? You only get one guess.



    Now please go tell your friends in academia to date the fossils NOT the rocks. AND be rather careful in pushing the fallible words of men like Dawkins ad nauseam and some clergy of many Christian faiths who have fallen for their evol fairy tales. Your Creator might not appreciate such deceptive propaganda. Pacem!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Date the Fossils Not the Rocks writes: "Why don’t you “God did it” guys just accept His Word in Genesis 1-11 – But, if you prefer putting it into more modern scientific terms than He did you can say: “God did it by creating all life forms abruptly (like He said He did in Scripture) using DNA information mechanisms having the built-in ability of the “different kinds” to make micro-changes depending on the subsequent environment.” Perhaps He might buy that! "

    That is just it! The Bible isn't a science textbook and no amount of hoping it is will turn it into one.

    Question 1: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/331334/title/Dino_proteins_could_have_been_sheltered

    Question 2: This does not have much to do with the age of the earth since there are more than enough non-hydrologic deposits to work from and plenty of deposits that have marine deposits interspersed with non-marine ones.

    Question 3: ?? If there is evidence against heliocentrism, there is evidence against geocentrism since the earth orbits the sun. Even the Greeks knew that.

    About that deceptive propoganda: your interpretation of scripture is at odds with that of St. Augustine, St. Basil, Ireneus, John Calvin, C.S. Lewis and quite a few others. Is it just possible, maybe just possible that your interpretation of scripture might be in error?

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  11. James writes: "I can’t help but wonder: How can a sane, adult person believe that a frog could turn into a prince? But much of academia believes in a similar fairy tale only they call it evolution!"

    This reminds me of the arguments that I hear from people who don't accept evolution because they have never seen a dog give birth to a cat. If that ever happened, it would be staggering evidence against evolution. Do you know what evolutionary theory actually teaches or are you just happy to hurl invective from afar?

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