"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Monday, May 28, 2007

Creation Museum opens today

For creationists and supporters of the historicity of Genesis like myself, today's opening of the Creation Museum is big news. For the past year or so I've been reading updates on the museum's construction and target date for the grand opening in the AiG newsletter I receive.

Ken Ham, director of Answers in Genesis, spoke at my church in April 2006 and was promoting the museum, then in the beginning stages of construction.

I, for one, can't wait to visit it for myself. They've spared no expense on the museum, raising the entire cost of the project through donations.

There was an article in yesterdays Boston Globe about it, which is worth a read.

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At 08 June, 2007 09:02, Blogger Lui said...

This "museum" is an absolute joke, filled with lies stacked upon lies. That this is happening in the world's most tehcnologically sophisticated society is a complete disgrace and will likely make America the laghing stock of the Western world. Frankly, I don't see how you're not embarrassed promoting something so mind-bogglingly idiotic.

And no, dinosaurs and human beings didn't coexist. That's garbage, pure and simple. You really need to stop wasting your time reading creationist nonsense and get your head into some real science. Being an adult, you owe it to yourself not to be taken for a ride and made a fool of.

At 08 June, 2007 10:50, Blogger green said...

lui: thanks for responding.

Sure you are entitled to your opinion, and a biased one at that and I am entitled to mine, equally as biased.

However, I respectfully disagree in that I think you are the one being taken for a ride and being made a fool of.

Still, I'd have hoped for something better from you. Criticizing a museum you've never been to from half a world away gives your opinions little weight.

The evidence for these great geologic ages in which dinosaurs came millions of years before man is spotty at best, ludicrous at worst and relies on many suppositions, which are unverifiable and unprovable. And don't even start on the geologic column and layers of strata where fossils were found to prove your arguments because there is no ideal geologic column anywhere in the world that yeilds definitive answers.

You go ahead and believe all of the fairy tales you want in the name of "science". And I'll continue to rely on the truthfulness and reliability of the Biblical record, in this case Genesis 1-11. We'll see who is right in the end. Don't be surprised when it's not you.

At 10 June, 2007 00:49, Blogger Lui said...

"Sure you are entitled to your opinion, and a biased one at that and I am entitled to mine, equally as biased. "

Sorry, it has nothing to do with "bias". I only care about the evidence. Saying that it's about bias is just an excuse for you to continue believing in that which flatly contradicts the best science.

"However, I respectfully disagree in that I think you are the one being taken for a ride and being made a fool of. "

In the eyes of the wilfully ignorant, yes. But since they don't know jack about science anyway, why should I care? The same science that built your computer is the science that allows us to date rocks, scan the genome for mutations involved in disease and send probes to Jupiter. What you do with your blog is use the fruits of science to badmouth the process that brought you that fruit. In other words, you’re acting like a spoilt brat, and frankly it’s embarrassing. Whenever the science disagrees with what your religion tells you to believe, you reject it and invoke ridiculous conspiracy theories instead of acting like an adult and acknowledging that perhaps it's you who's wrong. Science is at lest humble enough to admit of the possibility of error and to acknowledge where it might be wrong. Often you'll see in scientific journal articles a hypothesis being accepted or rejected with an error bar to tell the reader what the margin of uncertainty is. I have seen nothing comparable with you. With you, it's all about absolutes. Well, too bad. The world doesn't work that way. As a grown adult, you should know that perfectly well. Yet you demand absolute certainty in order to accept a proposition about the universe. Yet science - which you use when it suits you - could never have gotten off the ground it was based in absolutes. It's about investigation and coming to closer and closer approximations of the truth by testing. It's about ADMITTING our ignorance and devising ways to separate ourselves from systematic human bias as best we can, so that the results aren't tainted by our prejudices and preconceptions. As Carl Sagan said (roughly his words): "What they want is the prestige and high-standing of science but without the rigours of its methodology. They forget that the of science is a consequence of its methodology."

"Criticizing a museum you've never been to from half a world away gives your opinions little weight. "

Any museum that shows humans and dinosaurs living together quite frankly isn't worth the plane ticket fare. It’s really that simple. The museum is made for the ignorant and gullible, and it necessarily HAS TO distort what science says about dinosaurs (and many other things) if it's to showcase such outlandish absurdities with a straight face. I happen to know something about dinosaurs (I'd even hazard to say that I know more than Ken Ham does). I happen to know that dinosaurs with avian traits have been discovered that blur the distinction between "reptiles" and birds as distinct groups. There is a smooth continuum of feathered theropods, on towards things like Archaeopteryx, which was a mosaic of features of both groups, to later species that retained some "reptilian" features like teeth and claws on their wings but that were becoming more and more like we would associate with modern birds. There is even a fossil bird with a beaked upper jaw but not a beaked lower jaw. This all makes perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective invoking gradual change, and these are the types of things we should expect to find if evolution is true. From a creationist perspective, you would have to assume that God simply made a whole suite of animals that looked for all the world as though they had evolved. The same goes for whales, apes and marsupials. It’s like he was going out of his way to make us accept evolution.

"The evidence for these great geologic ages in which dinosaurs came millions of years before man is spotty at best, ludicrous at worst and relies on many suppositions, which are unverifiable and unprovable."

Absolute rubbish. The evidence that they lived millions of years before us is no longer open to serious contention; it is confirmed by many different methodologies all saying the same thing. Even the most conservative estimates place them in time frames way outside anything that young earth creationism would be comfortable with. The evidence that they coexisted is non-existent. Completely and utterly non-existent. Appeals to mythical beasts like Leviathan don't constitute scientific evidence, by the way. I'm talking about evidence to CORROBORATE those tales, not the tales themselves.

"And don't even start on the geologic column and layers of strata where fossils were found to prove your arguments because there is no ideal geologic column anywhere in the world that yeilds definitive answers."

Why shouldn't I "start on the geologic column and layers of strata" if I clearly know more about it than you do? Who are you to tell me not to start on something as though you know anything about it in the first place? It’s funny how you think you can just dismiss all of modern geology simply because it isn’t perfect (catch a clue: NOTHING is perfect). In your view, something either has to be perfect, or it has to be totally rejected. Clearly, you know nothing about geologic columns and layers o strata, so at least have the decency not to pretend that you do. Have you heard of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge? If not, then I urge you to look into it, because it’s hard to imagine a more “perfect” piece of evidence for plate tectonics. As you should know by now if you had any real interest in how science works, it isn't about "definitive answers". It's about testing hypotheses and modifying theories to accommodate the evidence. In so far as the evidence for a particular theory or hypothesis is strong, we tentatively accept it until (and if) new evidence comes in that warrants a refinement or even a complete overhaul of the prevailing view. So far, the evidence that the Earth is billions of years old is so strong that, for all intents and purposes, it is considered a fact. It MIGHT be wrong, but the probability of that is so vanishingly small that it can be written off. There are some things that are so well confirmed by the evidence that we can accept with beyond any reasonable doubt. Still, there's nothing like making excuses about atheism out to get Christianity when creationism has no evidence in its favour. It's as though you think that somehow science is obligated to vindicate Christianity, otherwise its findings don't count. Too bad for you that it works just fine without having to pander to the Bible.

"You go ahead and believe all of the fairy tales you want in the name of "science"."

Sure, "fairytales". Everyone working in the biological and earth science faculty at my university are all engaged in simply believing in fairytales then. It must drive you crazy, though, that creationism hasn't yielded a single practical application to date. No wonder it's nowhere to be seen in the scientific literature, which relies upon clear, unambiguous evidence to be presented and reviewed by leading exerts in the field. It's a tough, pitiless process, but this acid test is what helps to ensure that nonsense doesn't have a good chance of making it through. You can't say "I really, really, really like this hypothesis. Please publish my article." Evolutionary theory is extensively used in ecology, farming, fisheries management, and disease control. It's used in these things because it WORKS; it gets results that you only get if what you're saying has a strong nugget of truth. There's a geneticist in Hong Kong whose job it is to track the evolution of the bird flu. He uses mathematics and evolutionary theory, not prayer. We NEED to understand how viruses and bacteria evolve in order o effectively counteract them. This entails knowing about their rates of mutation, their vectors, their infection rates, how quickly the human immune system can respond, etc. Want to work in biotech to develop vaccines and antibiotics but don't have an extensive knowledge of evolution? Forget about it (it's not "discrimination", by the way, or if it is, then so is refusing to hire someone to design a fighter jet fuselage who knows nothing about aerodynamics is discrimination); it's about life and death necessity, and profit for the people who pay you to do a job. A corporation isn't going to waste money on someone who can't deliver the goods. If creationism had anything better to offer than modern evolutionary genetics, these corporations would have a strong financial motivation to adopt it. That they haven't done this is telling, because these are the people who have a strong (and legally-binding) motive to use whatever works, and for something to work it has to be built largely upon the truth. Want to work in ecology and conservation but lack any knowledge of natural selection and population growth? Again, you're wasting your time. To be an environmental scientist and conservationist, you need to know about population ecology, predator-prey dynamics, and have some idea of how genetic variation will impact upon the odds of saving this species verus that, and hence what compromises and choices should be made in conservation efforts. It is also useful to know about how species have co-evolved, and how destruction of a certain habitat will affect the species concerned. Will they be able to evolve quickly enough to cope with the threat? What can their relatives tell us about that? What will be the long-term ramifications if this species, that this other species relies on, goes extinct? Or say you’re hired to assess the impact of releasing selectively bred fish into the wild system. Will these fish be able to cope with the selection pressures at work in the wild? Will they be able to mate readily enough? How quickly will they evolve away from their artificially-bred state and perhaps converge back towards their ancestral state? Or what if you’re faced with a pest species of insect that eats your crops? How long will it take for them to evolve resistance to a genetically engineered strain that stops them from consuming it? These are all things that involve real economic significance. Who are you going to pay to manage these things if not the scientists who, for all your snide dismissal of them as mere fairytale-mongers, are urgently needed more than ever to help implement effective solutions to the world’s problems? Or would you rather not even acknowledge the necessity of evolutionary theory? Are you willing to take that risk, just to satisfy YOUR personal religious beliefs? What price do you want society and the planet to pay for this selfish indulgence, just so you can feel secure in your beliefs?

Or here's one I always love to bring up: if evolution is false, why do humans and chimps share hundreds of fossil genes with each other? These genes are homologues of functional genes, but they have mutations that have degraded their functionality and in most cases switched them off altogether. So they either have, by design, the same genetic fragments that aren’t doing anything by design, or they inherited them from a common ancestor. Many of these fossils are homologues of genes associated with olfaction (smell); mammals in general use that sense more than we do, but there has been a general trend within the primates for more emphasis on the sense of vision, so natural selection did not penalise mutations that had the effect of lowering olfaction ability in the order Primates, because it would have used resources that could more effectively have been allocated elsewhere. Our genomes show the history of our origins. It isn't JUST that humans and chimps share most of their genes with one another (at the genetic level, chimps are closer to us than they are to gorillas, and where we differ is mainly in terms of developmental genes that are switched on for longer, for example in the brain); while that's very interesting, what's more interesting are the types of things that shouldn't be there if were intelligently designed by God. Fossil genes are one example.

But no, it's all just one big coincidence that evolutionary biology actually works. It's a conspiracy by atheists. That makes "sense". The elite scientists are all just engaged in self-delusion to piss off God.

This is extremely arrogant and small-minded. You’re living in a bubble, talking crap about the men and women who actually contribute daily to humanity's knowledge about the universe and using that knowledge to improve the environment, human health and our sense of wonder in general, and then saying that a Bronze Age text written by nomads is somehow more worthy of our respect and adulation. Really man, get real. It’s odd that you should today’s castigate society for being selfish and egocentric, and yet look at what you’re doing. All you’ve said so far is “I’m special because I read the Bible, that tells me such and such. Therefore, you should accept my views and make them pre-eminent, or else you’re not being fair and you’re oppressing me. If reality contradicts what I’ve taught, then all the worse for reality, and if society pays the price for it, then it’s because we weren’t praying hard enough.” Even the most arrogant scientists don’t come close to this obnoxious, childish idiocy. I’m really not telling you this to be abusive, even though I may well come across as such. I’m doing, if anything, to help empower you, to get you into habits of thinking that make you resistant to spurious claims, and to have a deeper appreciation of WHY it is that science is so powerful, not just THAT it’s powerful. Understanding this is more important than ever before in the high-tech society you live in. To make informed decisions, we need to know something about science.

You know, there's a good reason why virtually all of the serious scientists don't have time for the nonsense you partake in. It's because it wastes time that could be spent doing real work, the type of work that you can read about in any good textbook or popular science book. To get you started, I recommend that you read a good book about statistics, then read Matt Ridley's "Genome" or Richard Dawkins’ "Climbing Mount Improbable". Both are accessible to general audiences and you don't need extensive scientific knowledge to grasp their message. But please, for goodness sakes, don't cocoon yourself from at least knowing what the real scientists are saying before you write it off as "fairy tales". The last time someone was as wrong as you are was when the Soviet national anthem read “Unbreakable Union of Freeborn Republics”.

At 10 June, 2007 00:53, Blogger Lui said...

Meant to say in the Sagan quote: "They forget that the prestige of science is a consequence of its methodology."


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