Recently in Bible as Science Category

Science is not about certainty

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That is the title of an interesting article in The New Republic by the theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli. I read it mostly because it had been quote-mined by Elizabeth Mitchell here. Professor Rovelli’s article was perhaps a bit windy, and I could take issue with some of his discussion, but it was not all that hard to understand. One of his main points is that science has been extremely successful and any new theory will have to reduce to existing theory in the appropriate limit:

The scare quotes are my gloss, but that is the headline of a credulous Dallas Morning News article on the “research” being conducted at the Institute for Creation “Research.” The article quotes Pat Robertson to the effect that it is silly – or, rather, looks silly – to deny the clear geologic record, but mostly the author appears to take the “research” seriously. Indeed, he makes the point that Charity Navigator gives ICR a 3-star rating, which, to my mind, means only that they waste contributions efficiently.

Buried at the tail end of the article, no doubt for “balance” (using a lot of scare quotes today; sorry), the author interviews Ron Wetherington, an anthropologist at Southern Methodist University. Professor Wetherington observes, correctly, that ICR puts the cart before the horse:

The problem is, they’re not scientists. They cherry-pick data in order to use it to justify the Genesis account of creation.

Sure enough, the ICR scientists claim that spiral galaxies, ocean salinity, and the (surprising) existence of soft tissue in dinosaur bones are clear evidence against what they call evolutionary naturalism. Real scientists, notes Prof. Wetherington, constantly test their hypotheses, rather than simply “line up facts to support a hypothesis.”

Professor Wetherington is careful not to disparage anyone else’s religion, which I suppose is a laudable position. But frankly when a scientist’s religion teaches something that is contrary to known fact and by his own admission prevents that scientist from getting a real job in a real research laboratory, then maybe it is time to admit that it is the religious view, not the science, that needs drastic modification.

Acknowledgment. Thanks are due again to Alert Reader for providing the link.

A follow-up on the Nye-Ham debate in the Reports of the National Center for Science Education: Andrew J. Petto said it wasn’t a real debate, which is sort of true, but the most interesting observations, to me, were those made by John W. Patterson. Prof. Patterson, an engineering professor, correctly gives Ken Ham credit for not obfuscating, for not pretending that creationism is based on anything but his interpretation of the Bible. He thinks that other creationists may fault Mr. Ham for his candor, but he argues that

there will be far less public confusion about the distinctions between legitimate evidence-based science and the faith-based biblical varieties so successfully propounded by creationist debaters. In contrast, Ham’s approach lays bare what’s really behind all creationism, from the young-Earth biblical literalism to the more inchoate ‘intelligent design’ models.

Kentucky geologist Daniel Phelps yesterday sent us a press release noting that AIG’s Allosaurus fossil will go on display this weekend; see the AP release by Dylan Lovan here. Mr. Lovan quotes Mr. Phelps to this effect:

Daniel Phelps, president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, said in a release Thursday that the Creation Museum “has decided, without doing research, that the dinosaur fossil is evidence of Noah’s flood.”

What Mr. Lovan left out is far more interesting.

noahmovie.jpg

Well, AiG’s Ken Ham has seen the movie “Noah” starring Russell Crowe, and boy, is he steamed!

Friends, I just arrived home after seeing the Hollywood (Paramount) movie NOAH tonight. It is MUCH much worse than I thought it would be. Much worse.

The Director of the movie, Darren Aronofsky has been quoted in the media as saying NOAH is ‘the least biblical biblical film ever made’, I agree wholeheartedly with him.

I am disgusted. I am going to come right out and say it-it is disgusting and evil-paganism! Do you really want your family to see a pagan movie the has Noah as some psychopath who says if his daughter-in-law’s baby is a girl, he will kill it as soon as it’s born. And then when two girls are born, bloodstained Noah (the man the Bible calls righteous Noah-Genesis 7:1), brings a knife down to one of the baby’s heads to kill it and at the last minute doesn’t do it-and then a bit later says he failed because he didn’t kill the babies. How can we recommend this movie and then speak against abortion! Psychopathic Noah sees humans as a blight on the planet and wants to rid the world of people.

I feel dirty-as if I have to somehow wash the evil off me.

Nye-Ham debate an hour away

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And you may watch it here on NBC or here on WCPO, Cincinnati.

Piers Morgan will interview the debaters on CNN at 9:45 EST, and MSNBC will interview Bill Nye during the 10:00 hour, EST. C-Span will rebroadcast the event Wednesday, February 19 at 8 p.m. EST, according to WCPO.

If you cannot wait till the end of the debate, you may leave comments below at any time. I suggest that we allow comments from (many of) our creationist trolls, as long as they are coherent. I will not allow comments that are merely insulting.

Dan Phelps, president of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, will participate in an “extended interview” with Terry Mortenson of Answers in Genesis. The participants will discuss the question, “Is teaching creationism harmful to children, society?” at 11:00 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, Thursday, January 30, on WEKU of Richmond, Kentucky. It looks like you can get it streaming. I will refrain from noting that modern journalism thinks there are two sides to every question, even when there are not.

Does any reader know of any other, similar warm-ups or “extended interviews”?

The Creation “Museum” in Kentucky recently acquired an Allosaurus fossil, according to an AP release by Dylan Lovan yesterday. The proprietor of the Creation “Museum,” Ken Ham, seems to think that the mere acquisition of a dinosaur fossil gives his “museum” credibility and makes it a real museum. The fossil was donated by the Elizabeth Streb Peroutka Foundation of Maryland, about which I have so far managed to learn virtually nothing.

The article quotes geologist Dan Phelps, a perpetual thorn in the side of the Creation “Museum”:

The folks at Uncommon Descent are accusing me of being a Nazi (“Nick Matzke - Book Burner?”, “Will Our Darwinist Friends Be Telling Us Next That ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’?”, It Gets Even Better) for using my free-speech rights to criticize the prestigious publisher Springer for publishing crypto-creationist/ID meeting held at Cornell (but not sponsored by Cornell) in 2011. They seem to think that I, single-handedly, with the mighty power of the Panda’s Thumb blog, crushed the otherwise inevitable publication by Springer.

Yesterday, I received a letter and a booklet from an organization called Day Star Research. The booklet was written by the president of Day Star, Fred Heeren, who writes, among other things,

Day Star Research is committed to

* Promoting healthy dialogue between the religious and non-religious.

* Fighting irrational extremism with rationality.…

* Encouraging Christians to reverse their reputation for anti-intellectualism, insensitivity, and judgmentalism.…

Snopes.com yesterday verified that a “science” test (below the fold) given to 4th graders at a sectarian school is in fact real. Answers in Genesis, meanwhile, vilifies anyone who objects to such nonsense being taught as science, calling them “intolerant atheists” who “viciously attack [a] Christian school.”

AIG live chat on “When was the Ice Age in Biblical History?”

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This ought to be good. In a comment, diogeneslamp0 alerts us to a live chat on that topic scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) on the Facebook page of AIG’s Answers Magazine. Diogeneslamp0 notes

On the topic of how kangaroos got to Australia after Noah’s Flood: at 2pm tomorrow, April 16 Answers in Genesis will hold a live chat at Facebook about AIG’s marvelous Super-fast Ice-Age Timeline and Map (which has the Ice Age lasting from about ~2220 to ~2115 BC, and all recorded human civilization post-2100 BC). I predict that any pointed questions they receive will be deleted quickly and permanently, so if you want some entertainment you will have to monitor it live. You may want to copy and archive any choice questions they receive before they’re deleted.

I presume that AIG’s “2:00 pm” is Eastern Daylight Time (=1800 GMT). Diogeneslamp0 has some representative questions one might ask at the linked comment.

Todd Wood has just announced that Bryan College is discontinuing support for the Center for Origins Research (CORE). I am actually kind of sad about this. Wood was almost the sole representative of critical thinking in the creationist movement. He also had the virtually unique trait of understanding what modern evolutionary biology actually said before opening his big mouth about it. I can’t think of a time when he quote-mined Gould’s punctuated equilibrium quotes or blamed Darwin for Hitler or used the other careless, bottom-of-the-barrel tactics ubiquitous with creationists of the ID or AIG varieties. And I can think of many times when he called shenanigans on creationists engaging in those sorts of sins.

The science of antediluvian plushies

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One creationist claim that's commonly laughed at is this idea that 8 people could build a great big boat, big enough to hold all the 'kinds' of animals, and that those same 8 people were an adequate work force to maintain all those beasts for a year in a confined space on a storm-tossed ark. So the creationists have created a whole pseudoscientific field called baraminology which tries to survey all of taxonomy and throw 99% of it out, so they can reduce the necessary number of animals packed into the boat. Literally, that's all it's really about: inventing new taxonomies with the specific goal of lumping as many as possible, in order to minimize the load on their fantasy boat.

In the past, I've seen them argue that a biblical 'kind' is equivalent to a genus; others have claimed it's the Linnaean family. Now, Dr Jean K. Lightner, Independent Scholar (i.e. retired veterinarian), has taken the next step: a kind is equivalent to an order, roughly. Well, she does kind of chicken out at the Rodentia, the largest and most diverse group of mammals, and decides that those ought to be sorted into families, because otherwise she's reducing the number of animals on the ark too much.

“Documentary” on Ark Park

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Dan Phelps, author of a recent PT article on the Creation “Museum”, sent us this link to a “documentary” on “replicating” the Ark. The “documentary” is a three-part series and has supposedly been produced for PBS stations.

Mr. Phelps says he could not find any PBS stations that are actually airing the “documentary.” Can any reader point to a PBS station that has shown it or plans to show it?

***Update, October 10: Joe Sonka, in an article for the Louisville newspaper LEO Weekly, reports that PBS has no knowledge of any documentary. He quotes Ken Ham, however, as saying that PBS had agreed to three documentaries. Perhaps Mr. Ham is exaggerating.

The director of the “documentary,” Johan Bos, incidentally, is associated with an oddball outfit that offers classes in film production and guarantees, “This class is a Christian safe environment. This class does not teach secular or worldly views.” A Christian-safe environment. I had no idea that Christianity was so fragile.***

Save Siccar Point!

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rocksdontlie.jpg I recently acquired the new book “The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood” by David Montgomery. It’s a splendid read, and very much applicable to the readership of Panda’s Thumb. The book has some excellent pictures and discussions regarding Siccar Point in Scotland, “…celebrated as the place where Scottish farmer James Hutton discovered geologic time..” Siccar Point graces the cover of Montgomery’s book.

Just last Thursday, I cited Siccar Point in a lecture on the Flood for our new social studies class at New Mexico Tech in Socorro. (See slides 56-58). I have resolved to visit Siccar Point - it’s on my bucket list.

That’s why I found this announcement from the Facebook group “Save Siccar Point” to be quite disturbing. They are alarmed that developers are “ruining the geological mecca of Siccar Point, the location of Hutton’s unconformity.”

More info here:http://www.savesiccarpoint.co.uk/

From the site comes this urgent plea:

The deadline for objections has been extended to 23 September 2012 - the day before the application is considered. If you want to lodge an objection you have some time to do it. Please don’t forget!

It still not too late to object…keep them coming.

You can object by email if you want. Here’s how:

  1. In the Subject Line put “12/00929/FUL Objection Comment”
  2. Add your comment in the email body
  3. Send your email to [Enable javascript to see this email address.] or [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

If you want to CC anyone else into your email, you might want to consider:

  1. Scottish Natural Heritage: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]
  2. Scottish Environmental Protection Agency: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]
  3. Crown Estates: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]
  4. Dunglass Estate: [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

I have sent along my objections - will you?

(Don’t forget to be polite!)

By Dan Phelps, [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

Dan&Ken.JPG

Dan Phelps, right, armed for battle, with his new friend, Ken Ham.

On July 28, 2012, Answers in Genesis (AIG) held a “Behind the Scenes” event at the Creation “Museum’s” Legacy Hall. The event was free but with RSVP required via the Ark Encounter website. I made it a point to register well in advance and ask for a space for a guest. I invited reporter Joe Sonka from LEO Weekly to come along since he has done numerous critical news articles and blog postings on the Ark Park. Indeed it was Joe who asked Governor Beshear and Ark Encounter representatives some embarrassing questions revealing that the Ark would have dinosaurs on it when the project was announced in December, 2010. What follows is my account of the event and summary of the status of the proposed park.

Investors of the lost Ark

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I wish I had thought of that title, but it is actually an article by Joe Sonka in the Louisville newspaper, LEO Weekly. According to Sonka, the Ark Park (properly known as Ark Encounter) will have to raise $22 million before it can even start construction, and $44 million an additional $22 million to complete the project (it was unclear to me whether that is an additional $44 million, above the first $22 million). Sonka further estimates that the project will take at least 3 years to complete, and an estimated $53 million will have to be invested over the next decade. If the project takes that long to complete, however, they will presumably lose at least some tax incentives.

But cheer up! There is hope: If you invest $100,000, the minimum investment, they project a 20.6 % return on investment. At this point, I am torn between a quotation attributed to P. T. Barnum and a myth concerning the sale of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Ken Ham, the driving force behind the Ark Park, claims that PBS will air a documentary this fall, but I could find nothing on the PBS website besides this broadcast, a year ago. According to Sonka, Ham claims that the PBS documentary will net the Ark Park 2 million visitors per year, an attendance that Sonka says would rival that of a big amusement park in Cincinnati, a city of roughly 300,000. Grant County, by contrast, has a population of around 25,000 and is located at least an hour’s drive from any major metropolitan area.

The Sensuous Curmudgeon lays it on creationism

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One of my favorite bloggers is The Sensuous Curmudgeon. He exemplifies the holy writ of curmudgeonhood, “The Curmudgeon’s Handbook,” a compendium of extracts from historical curmudgeons (Mencken was prominent among them) that I read more than four decades ago and can no longer find. I can only dream of aspiring to the heights SC regularly reaches. He recently vented about creationism in a post titled The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Creation Science. (Well, he actually vents regularly, but this one is a keeper.) Highly recommended!

Ark Park goes nowhere

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LEO Weekly, an alternative weekly published in Louisville, Kentucky, reports that fundraising for the Ark Park has gone virtually nowhere since last May. Groundbreaking, if it was ever planned at all, has been postponed and postponed and postponed until next spring at the earliest.

LEO Weekly reports that the Ark Park has raised only about $1 million since last May and has raised a total of $4 million altogether. Its goal is to raise approximately $25 million. A representative of the Ark Park says, “Funding is progressing, a little slower [sic] due to the very slow economy.” He says further that they are 3-4 months behind schedule and adds, “We are considering a few options to help speed up the construction and possibly open to guests earlier than our original schedule. Once we have more information developed I’ll update you – probably by the first of the year.” LEO Weekly estimates that at the present rate groundbreaking might be scheduled for 2024.

My own estimate is that their timescale is skewed by their belief that the Earth is around 5000 years old. It is in fact more like 5 billion years old. Thus, if we take 3-4 months and multiply it by the ratio of 5 billion years to 5000 years, we estimate that the groundbreaking ceremony will take place in 3 million months, or 250,000 years.

Anyone who wonders where the money may be going in the meantime might consider the review by a volunteer named Roxy, posted at Charity Navigator. Additionally, comments to the LEO article claim that the Ark Park itself is a for-profit venture, but the Ark Encounter Website is not completely clear (to me, at least), and I cannot independently verify the claims. I cannot, however, find Ark Encounter in IRS Publication 78 .

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