Wednesday, July 02, 2014

An Exercise in Futility and a Real Time Waster OR Why Practicing Scientists Don't Take Young Earth Creationists Seriously

One person wrote a comment on my BioLogos post that went like this:
here is more then 100 evidence that the erath is younger then 4.5 bilion years:

and about human “evolution” see this great article:
 I went and looked at the first site.  On it are some 101 so-called "evidences" of a young earth and a global flood.  I decided to tackle it and the further I got in, the madder I got.  Finally, I just gave up because I saw where it was going and because I didn't have time to devote to it.  The first site is put together by Carl Wieland, a medical doctor who quit practicing in 1986 so he could be a full-time young earth creationist.  Going through the list reminded me of why practicing scientists absolutely can't stand dealing with creationists.  Here are the first fourteen.
My responses are indented.

1.     DNA in ‘ancient’ fossils. DNA extracted from bacteria that are supposed to be 425 million years old brings into question that age, because DNA could not last more than thousands of years.
a.    Probably modern contamination.  The best we can hope for is one million years for DNA
2.      Lazarus bacteria—bacteria revived from salt inclusions supposedly 250 million years old, suggest the salt is not millions of years old. See also Salty saga.
a.    This point is indistinguishable from the first point
3.     The decay in the human genome due to multiple slightly deleterious mutations each generation is consistent with an origin several thousand years ago.
a.    No it is not.  This assumes that everyone inherits all of the mutations and passes them on.  Mutations occur throughout the life of an individual and are not, necessarily passed on during the reproductive years. 
b.    Sanford completely misunderstands or misrepresents Kimura’s results dealing with mutations, completely omitting the conclusions that Kimura reached that build up of deleterious mutations would have no long term effect on a species.
4.     The data for ‘mitochondrial Eve’ are consistent with a common origin of all humans several thousand years ago
a.    Not in any formulation of the out-of-Africa theory are the dates several thousand years ago.  When Cann, Stoneking and Wilson came up with the theory in 1987, they formulated a modern human origin of between 140 and 280 thousand years ago, in Africa.  Subsequent genetic results have not only found that modern humans and Neandertals split around 500 thousand years ago but that there was interbreeding between these two groups, between 30 and 70 thousand years ago.  This point is not only without support as stated, but simply wrong. 
b.    The author quotes Carl Weiland, a young earth creationist--not a geneticist--who writes “But these dates were based upon ‘molecular clock’ assumptions, which were calibrated by evolutionary beliefs about when certain evolutionary events occurred, supposedly millions of years ago.”  The events are independently confirmed by the fossil record and other genetic studies.  So what if it is based on “evolutionary” beliefs?  Those “beliefs” are based on hard, scientific inquiry and constitute over 150 years of research.  Armchair quarterback comments won’t change that.
5.     Very limited variation in the DNA sequence on the human Y-chromosome around the world is consistent with a recent origin of mankind, thousands not millions of years.
a.    From the paper quoted by Dorit et al.: “A coalescent model, with its assumptions of random mating, equilibrium population size, and exponentially distributed bifurcation times, provides an expected date for the last common male ancestor of 270,000 years (with 95% confidence limits of 0 to 800,000 years). Increasing the population size or nonrandom mating would lower this estimate. A lowest limit for the age of the last common ancestor of all Y lineages is derived by assuming the rapid branching and subsequent independence of all Y lineages since the last common male ancestor (known as a "star" phylogeny); such a pattern provides an estimate of 27,000 years, with 95% limits of 0 to 80,000 years. A mixed model, involving local (regional) coalescence, would produce intermediate times (15).” The zero date represents a possible error, not the actual date estimated.  This is misdirection.
6.     Many fossil bones ‘dated’ at many millions of years old are hardly mineralized, if at all. This contradicts the widely believed old age of the earth. See, for example, Dinosaur bones just how old are they really? Tubes of marine worms, ‘dated’ at 550 million years old, that are soft and flexible and apparently composed of the original organic compounds hold the record (original paper).
a.    The Ediacaran fossils are still fossils.  The preservation is remarkable but they are, nonetheless, fossils.  They are encased in Pyrite in an anaerobic setting, aided by bacteria.  From the ORIGINAL PAPER: “They were originally soft and plastic as has been demonstrated by their postmortem ductile deformation and the occasional preservation of twisted tubes without breakage. The tubes were sufficiently robust and thick-walled (Fig. 1.7) to be preserved in such a way and then extracted from the sediment without disintegrating.  It is the level of preservation that is unusual.  Besides which, even if you could explain these, and some of the fossils that are partially mineralized, what about the countless fossils that do exist that are completely mineralized?  How do you get those to form in a few thousand years? 
7.     Dinosaur blood cells, blood vessels, proteins (hemoglobin, osteocalcin, collagen, histones) and DNA are not consistent with their supposed more than 65-million-year age, but make more sense if the remains are thousands of years old (at most). 
a.    Once again, one example of this in the face of thousands of counterexamples does not a case for a young earth make.  And further, it was “soft tissue,” not dinosaur blood cells. 
b.    Carl Wieland took this and ran with it, getting many things wrong and misinforming his public about the find. 
c.     Wieland said: “The fact that this really is unfossilized soft tissue from a dinosaur is in this instance so obvious to the naked eye that any scepticism directed at the previous discovery is completely 'history'.”  Wrong, wrong and wrong.  It was not unfossilized, it was a quarter of a millimeter in size and only visible through a scanning microscope and the criticisms of his position on dinosaurs was unaffected. 
8.     Lack of 50:50 racemization of amino acids in fossils ‘dated’ at millions of years old, whereas complete racemization would occur in thousands of years. 
a.    He mentions the Green River Formation and the Fig Tree Chert in South Africa.  The Fig Tree chert has been dated by Samarium-Neodymium to around 3.1 billion years old. 
b.    Also, from the ORIGINAL PAPER: “The rate of racemization or epimerization of amino acids under diagenetic conditions proceeds at such a slow rate that equilibrium mixtures of stereoisomers are generated within several tens of millions of years.  Kvenvolden et al (1972) have reported the presence of D-amino acids in Green River Oil Shale of Eocene age which are not equilibrium mixtures of stereoisomers.  They have suggested that either the rates of racemization in oil shale are very slow or that the original amino acids have been partially contaminated by more recent amino acids of the L-configuration.   This latter explanation is supported by the optical configuration of amino acids in hydrolysates of the bound fraction of fossil fish scales and bones were obtained from the Messel Oil Shale of Eocene age (50 x 106 years)  Wieland conveniently did not mention this.
9.     Living fossils—jellyfish, graptolites, coelacanth, stromatolites, Wollemi pine and hundreds more. That many hundreds of species could remain so unchanged, for even up to billions of years in the case of stromatolites, speaks against the millions and billions of years being real.
a.    So what?   Sharks have remained unchanged for millions of years also.  All that means is that they are remarkably well-adapted to their environment.  Species only change if there is a selective pressure for them to do so.  If there is not, they won’t.  This constitutes no evidence against evolution.
10.  Discontinuous fossil sequences. E.g. Coelacanth, Wollemi pine and various ‘index’ fossils, which are present in supposedly ancient strata, missing in strata representing many millions of years since, but still living today. Such discontinuities speak against the interpretation of the rock formations as vast geological ages—how could Coelacanths have avoided being fossilized for 65 million years, for example? See The ‘Lazarus effect’: rodent ‘resurrection’!
a.    The Coelacanth (Latimeria) is related to the sarcopterygians that lived during the Devonian but is also very different from them, besides which there are other lobe-finned fish around—the Queensland lungfish.  As with the point above, this just means that they survived intact.  We see plenty of evolution of some branches of lobe-finned fish into the early tetrapods.  That doesn’t mean they all did. 
11.  The ages of the world’s oldest living organisms, trees, are consistent with an age of the earth of thousands of years. 
a.    How is this relevant?  Why would we expect anything older than 4,500 years to be still alive?  It has no bearing on the fossils that came before that represent past, extinct life.  My father is 92.  By this logic, that is consistent with the earth being 92 years old. 
b.    Bates uses the tree-ring method to explain that there are no trees that are older than 7500 years.  However, using this method, we can also explain ice cores, which have been excavated from Greenland and the arctic and which provide “rings” of years that stretch back 40 to 50 thousand years.
12.  Scarcity of plant fossils in many formations containing abundant animal / herbivore fossils. E.g., the Morrison Formation (Jurassic) in Montana. See Origins 21(1):51–56, 1994. Also the Coconino sandstone in the Grand Canyon has many track-ways (animals), but is almost devoid of plants. Implication: these rocks are not ecosystems of an ‘era’ buried in situ over eons of time as evolutionists claim. The evidence is more consistent with catastrophic transport then burial during the massive global Flood of Noah’s day. This eliminates supposed evidence for millions of years.
a.    This information is simply wrong.  Examination of the Morrison formation show that the climate was very dry, like a savanna.  What were found were conifers, tree ferns, rushes and the like.  This constitutes no evidence whatsoever against an old earth.  I was not able to run down the reference listed but, based on what I have read so far, I am certain they were misquoted.  Much of the Coconino sandstones were deposited by water.  Of course it was devoid of plants.  They were an ecosystem, just not the ones that Snelling, Austin and Wieland thought they were.  The depositional environment was varied, however.  Some of the deposits are only consistent with being made on dry sand.  There are also fossilized raindrops.  This was not a mass burial of any sort.
13.  Thick, tightly bent strata without sign of melting or fracturing. E.g. the Kaibab upwarp in Grand Canyon indicates rapid folding before the sediments had time to solidify (the sand grains were not elongated under stress as would be expected if the rock had hardened). This wipes out hundreds of millions of years of time and is consistent with extremely rapid formation during the biblical Flood. See Warped earth (written by a geophysicist).
a.    This is a classic example of one, seemingly unexplainable geological formation is extrapolated to cover the entire earth, even though there are no such formations outside of the Grand Canyon.  The young earth explanation completely ignores the fact that rock formations can bend and twist after they have been laid down based on stresses that are placed on them.  Many kinds of rocks are formed this way—they are called metamorphic. 
b.    But even if we had trouble explaining this, and it was evidence for a catastrophic flooding of the area, how can you explain surface features such as:
                                              i.     Rain drops
                                            ii.     Dunes
                                          iii.     Beaches
                                            iv.     Soil
                                              v.     Desiccation cracks
                                            vi.     Footprints
                                          vii.     Coral reefs
c.     There are countless other examples.  Most of those are from Mark Isaac’s Problems with a Global Flood, which airs out most of the evidence. 
14.  Polystrate fossils—tree trunks in coal (Araucaria spp. king billy pines, celery top pines, in southern hemisphere coal). There are also polystrate tree trunks in the Yellowstone fossilized forests and Joggins, Nova Scotia and in many other places. Polystrate fossilized lycopod trunks occur in northern hemisphere coal, again indicating rapid burial / formation of the organic material that became coal.
a.    All that this means is that there are some instances of rapid deposition.  What is not noted about the Joggins formation is that some of the forests show evidence of forest fires.  How would that happen in a global flood?  
Do I need to continue?  Every single “evidence” of a recent creation is wrong, misunderstood or misconstrued.  Wieland selectively quotes from what he wants, leaves out what doesn’t fit his preconceived ideas, and misdirects his readers away from the true points of an article in a way that can only be called dishonest.  
The amazing thing about the voluminous list is that every claim has been refuted in one place or another, some decades ago and yet, the page was updated on May 8 of this year?  Why haven’t the bogus claims been removed?

Once again, this is why practicing scientists despise dealing with creationists.   

UPDATE: I just noticed that the moderator has removed the comment. 
UPDATE 2: now the comment is back but mine is gone.  Weird. 

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