Turning rocks into diamonds

One thing science does well is self-criticize.  It’s part of the way we work.  We scientists hold up a theory or a conclusion and ask our colleagues to find a hole in our argument.  The goal is to shave off the rough edges and weak spots.  Every one of the most beautiful diamonds was first picked up as a very unimpressive rock that was made into something very different through careful but ruthless surgery. Skepticism is a good thing!  So are critical thinking, investigation, and decision-making that isn’t attached to an ideology.

This is in part why I’ve been speaking and writing quite a bit lately against Intelligent Design (ID). As a believer and a scientist, I’m not trying to eliminate belief in general, but to cut off those parts that don’t stand up well to scrutiny.

So, ID: the idea that some incredibly smart and powerful architect carefully planned and crafted life and the universe.  And let’s be honest.  Most ID proponents have a Christian agenda, or at least a theistic one, so in their minds the architect is God himself (though most will be careful not to actually state that).  Such an architect is not simply “incredibly smart and powerful,” but is all-knowing and all-powerful.

My concern with ID is that it’s not a slam-dunk idea: it’s open to all kinds of criticism and counter-arguments.  It hasn’t been thought through carefully enough.

What’s worse, it sets up naïve young believers for a big fall.  After promising to find complete agreement between science and faith … in fact, promising to use science to bolster faith … some expert in that particular area of science points out a fatal flaw and the embarrassed believer’s faith is bruised. If that happens a few too many times, their faith is eventually discarded.

Death by a thousand cuts.

Or they insulate themselves from that experience by retreating from the world of non-believers and talking only with fellow believers who speak the same language. What kind of witness is that?

ID proponents are often keen to use it to explain the incredible complexity of genetics and certain carefully selected aspects of biology/physiology. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too.  If you’re going to claim an organism is intelligently designed on the basis of ID’s explanatory power for certain things, then you also need to apply it to other biological aspects of that organism as well.

Including the really cringe-worthy aspects about which I blogged previously.  I won’t repeat those points here: today’s blog-post will focus on a completely different category of argument against ID: those aspects of our biology/physiology which are merely head-scratchers.  The latter don’t produce major theological or moral problems like the former.  Instead, they’re just simply hard to attribute to an all-powerful and all-knowing designer who’s building his greatest of many creations … the pinnacle species … mankind. (but they’re very easy to explain using Natural Selection).

There are many examples of these “head-scratchers” … our ability to twitch our ears … fingernails and toenails … the appendix … the recurrent laryngeal nerve … our “tail” … to name a few.  But when I used the example of goosebumps in a recent radio interview, I was barraged with emails and comments.  This example was even referred to as “trivial.” It seems many didn’t get the point I was/am trying to make.  So I’ll use that particular example as a test case, then use it to draw out a general take-home message which applies to all the others.

But before diving straight in, let me use an analogy to illustrate my point.

Imagine NASA wants to launch a space probe to Alpha Centauri, our nearest neighbor galaxy almost 4.5 light years away (a gajillion kilometers away).  One of many things they would want is a radio communication system that works reliably over such vast distances.  You’d expect them to design a powerful, carefully sculpted satellite dish with equally sophisticated electronics, right?

Would you be surprised if instead they built a much smaller antenna that barely had enough strength to reach Mars, and that they had the on-switch connected not only to the navigation and imaging systems (to make sure that radio communication only happened when earth was properly lined up for reception), but curiously also to the fuel tank sensors (which meant that radio communication was also triggered whenever one of the tanks signaled that it had gone empty)?

Or what if you found out they just took a car antenna, soldered that onto a cheap GPS unit which they modified to produce radio signals, and replaced the on-switch with a car garage door opener.  You could call this resourceful and inventive, but is it an example of truly impeccable design?

It would all sound quite strange, right? Very much unlike NASA?  Would you feel reassured if NASA-defenders pointed out that the transmitter worked perfectly fine for sending a signal from the east coast to the west coast of North America?  Or that they showed how their garage door opener works perfectly well (while failing to acknowledge that there are no garage door openers outside of our solar system)?

So now let’s look at goosebumps: the tiny little hairs on certain parts of your skin that stand up on end whenever you get cold or are scared witless, pulled up to attention by a tiny muscle attached to their base.

Most would agree that they help keep us a little bit warmer, trapping a thin and fragile layer of air around us like a blanket, which explains why they’re triggered by the cold.  But they’re hardly sufficient to the task: they’re only found on certain parts of our body (more on that in a moment), and they certainly don’t do anything for us when we’re shirtless and it’s five degrees out, let alone minus twenty degrees.

Which is just like the under-powered radio transmitter designed by NASA.

A couple commenters writing to me went so far as to claim that those tiny muscles even generate some additional heat when they contract.  Again, even if that were true, the fact remains that you won’t last long shirtless in the middle of winter.  But in fact, that muscle is a specialized type called “smooth muscle,” which has been my area of scientific expertise for several decades.  Unlike other types of muscle, smooth muscle burns very little energy, so very little heat is generated.

Most other muscles like the heart and all the ones attached to bones (like your biceps) contract briefly and then relax for a short while to recover and regenerate their energy supply. In the process, they generate a little bit of heat.  That’s why you shiver when you get really cold. That’s your body’s last-ditch effort to get some heat production before the whole system crashes.

Smooth muscles, on the other hand, remain contracted for very long periods of time … some even for your entire lifetime! Smooth muscle around your arteries and veins never rests, but is constantly contracting to keep your blood pressure within a narrow range.  Your sphincters remain contracted your entire lifetime except when you want to go to the bathroom. The one in your iris is constantly adjusting for subtle changes in light (and your mood!?).  Smooth muscles generate sustained contractions which don’t require a constant supply of energy.  Hence, very little heat production.

Then we come to a second aspect of this “head-scratcher”: why would those hairs which serve to keep us warm be triggered by strong visceral emotions, like a rabid dog barking in our face, or the thought that one had seen a ghost, or even the opening of a powerful symphonic piece?

This would be like NASA connecting the satellite dish controller to the ‘fuel-empty’ gauge.

Some pro-ID commenters proposed other explanations, like: “the muscles help squeeze oil on to the skin” … “provide extra sensitivity to touch” … “help us to detect parasitic infections” … “contribute to the healing of damaged skin” (because stem cells tend to hang out around these anatomical structures).  That may be true: the hair follicles that produce goosebumps may well do all those things, but this doesn’t explain why goosebumps are only recruited when we get uncomfortably cold or frightened.

The central point for ID-proponents to understand is that it’s not enough to find some function for a given system: even a broken coat-rack with no hooks can be used as a door stop or a defense against a snarling dog, but you wouldn’t declare that the broken coat-rack is intelligently designed. Besides, even Darwinian Evolution predicts function in a given system (through Natural Selection). The important question is whether a designer, faced with a particular problem, would have designed that system in that particular way, using miscellaneous re-purposed pieces.

Like whether NASA would use the car antenna, cheap GPS unit and car garage door opener to make a mission-critical communications system.

Finally, one writer claimed that they “also help in the cooling process by keeping perspiration in an even layer rather than dripping off.”  So which is it: they’re useful in keeping us warm, or helping us cool down?  Do those sparse hairs really keep perspiration in an even layer?  And why would many other parts of our bodies which get very sweaty not have goosebumps (face, chest, abdomen, insides of legs and arms, groin area)?

Instead, aren’t those diverse functions better explained as vestigial remnants from an evolutionary process? They serve two very useful functions in animals which are thickly covered by them: keeping warm when it’s cold outside, and helping the animal to look more intimidating when threatened. Even a kitten suddenly arching its back and fluffing up its fur will hold off the family dog.   But we humans have lost most of those hairs over the millions of years, and our sparse coverage is just not up to the task of keeping us warm anymore (thank goodness for animal skins and control of fire!).  They might also have been part of that intimidation-defense mechanism in our ancestors: isn’t it interesting that goosebumps are more prominent on the upper and forward-facing parts of our bodies, and peculiarly absent from those parts which wouldn’t be seen by a threatening opponent if we happened to be crouching down on our hands and knees.  But they’re no good to us anymore: do you really believe that a mugger/thief/murderer or some other aggressor is in any way deterred by their victim exhibiting goosebumps?

So my take-home message to the pro-ID crowd is this:

Finding a function for a peculiar design is not the same as turning a poor design into an excellent or “intelligent” design, nor does it discriminate between ID and Darwinian Evolution. Both world-views predict biological parts will have a function: Natural Selection will “try” to hang on to those parts that serve a useful function, even those which are cobbled together from spare parts, and to lose those that don’t serve any useful function.  What does discriminate ID from Darwinian Evolution is asking whether the part looks like that which a designer would fabricate from scratch to serve that particular function, or whether it looks instead like pre-existing parts were modified or MacGyver-ed to play the role.

Before identifying a function and declaring “Aha, therefore: Intelligent Design,” consider whether a designer (especially an all-powerful one) would have created that function in that particular way if they were starting completely from scratch, or whether evolutionary mechanisms had to modify previously existing designs.

For example, I’ve frequently heard that pelvic bones in whales are evidence for ID because they serve as attachment sites for muscles: this point was alluded to during the radio interview. If a designer had wanted a bony attachment site for muscles, would he/they have fashioned two separate bones, one of which has a bulbous end that looks like the head of a femur? On the other hand, if the legs of this animal were being phased out through Darwinian mechanisms (they only increase drag during swimming), wouldn’t it make sense that the external parts of the limbs would be lost, but the more internal parts would be retained since they already serve as attachment sites for the muscles which are already in place?

As always, I feel the need to remind readers that I’m not challenging Christian faith.  Instead, my target is an explanation for how things came to be the way they are, one which includes our best scientific information on the question. Despite Job’s explanation for the weather (just look at chapters 37 and 38), most Christians turn to the Weather Channel to see what naturalistic mechanisms like pressure gradients, solar input and moisture content have to say on the matter. Very few expectant mothers who are Christian will ask their doctor whether their potter’s wheel (Job 10:8–9) or knitting needles (Ps 139:13) are OK.

So when it comes to questions of origins, let’s be more careful and honest. My goal is not simply to oppose ID, but to raise the dialogue to a more rigorous and critical level. I look forward to good, healthy, productive exchange on this.

Bring it on …

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47 thoughts on “Turning rocks into diamonds

  1. Nice presentation of the problems with ID in support of an interventionist deity. However, I have yet to see you write in support of Original Sin in the context of solid scientific findings that there was no “First Human” and that humans are more cooperative and altruistic than any of our closest biological relatives. The latter point is a challenge to the whole concept of Original Sin. No Original Sin, no need for a Savior. No need for a Savior, no need for Christianity. https://understandrealitythroughscience.blogspot.com/2016/11/humans-animals-and-original-sin.html

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  2. You probably won’t ever see me writing in support of Original Sin, because I’ve moved quite far away from the version of that concept which was originally developed by St. Augustine and which is held by many Christians today.

    That idea points directly to Genesis chapter 3, which is a Jewish text, and yet Judaism does not at all interpret that event as the source of all sin and death. The Jewish sacrifices and purification rites for sin were instituted two thousand years after the Fall-in-the-Garden story (if you take Biblical chronology literally), and make no mention at all of that story! That’s like the World Health Organization launching a global immunization program against a certain viral epidemic, without ever mentioning what the virus is. Likewise, Christ never referred to that seminal event in Jewish history.

    I disagree completely with your statement: “No Original Sin, no need for a Savior.” Anyone who reads the newspaper knows that humanity needs a Savior. We’ve made such a mess of things, not just environmentally, but relationally. Every one of us would do well to look at the example Christ modelled for us, putting personal interests after those of others … working against the selfish driving force that was hammered into us by evolution (do everything it takes to survive and reproduce, even if it means stealing, killing, raping) and culturing the selfless driving force that he modelled perfectly (give, help, love, heal, forgive).

    I no longer see God saying “I forgive you, but first I‘ve got to see somebody hurt.” Instead, I see God saying “I love you and know you can do better. Here’s the bar that Christ set before you. Aim for that.”

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    • Yes, humans are capable of being selfish, but are also capable of selflessness. The human brain is amazing in its features, but it is flawed. That said, it is because of empathy and cooperation unmatched in the animal kingdom that humans have progressed as they have. In fact, since the advent of our species, we continue to be advancing in the qualities that humans consider good: https://www.amazon.com/Better-Angels-Our-Nature-Violence/dp/0143122010.

      So why do you think humanity needs a Savior and why is it Jesus? Both of these claims are unsupported with evidence.

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    • “I disagree completely with your statement: “No Original Sin, no need for a Savior.” Anyone who reads the newspaper knows that humanity needs a Savior. ”

      The problem with this statement is that God and Jesus are not savior’s. A savior would do something about what happens in the newspaper. God just ignores it.

      “Every one of us would do well to look at the example Christ modelled for us, putting personal interests after those of others …”

      Except Jesus never models this type of behavior.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Honestly, I can’t see why people of faith are so reluctant to take the discussion to this level. Life is full of mystery. Whatever our intelligent creator actually is, it is way more than I can easily wrap my head around. I think we have to seriously put the bible into perspective and quit making it a “magic book.” We know so little about things around us and what they mean, the significance of little tiny events that are seemingly random. Molecules dancing around. Energy surging unseen on all sides. We know so little!

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  4. You say that you are not challenging the Christian faith. However, you really are making powerful arguments against it.

    All the arguments you make against ID, are also just as powerful and relevant against a god that “guides” evolution. Which means it could be argued that if there is a god, (S)he doesn’t really care about humans because we were just an accident of random mutation and natural selection. Which of course is diametrically opposed to the ideas of the personal god that is at the heart of the Christian faith.

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  5. In my opening paragraph, I referred to how scientists welcome criticism of our ideas (from learned colleagues who know what they’re talking about, not from those who make unfounded arguments solely to defend an ideology), because it helps us shave off the garbage and leaves the diamond underneath. In the same way, I’m not arguing against Christian belief, just aspects of it that may not be worth hanging on to. And I’m trying to do it in a way that invites those that still want to defend that way of thinking to provide useful counter-arguments so that we can find the truth.

    I’ve blogged previously about Clement of Alexandria, a fellow truth-seeker who ardently believed that the best of Greek learning could/should blend seamlessly with Hebrew scriptures and Christian thinking. I’d invite you to check that blog out as well …
    https://lukejjanssen.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/faith-and-science-compatible-ask-a-2nd-century-greek-philosopher/

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    • “I’m not arguing against Christian belief, just aspects of it that may not be worth hanging on to. ”

      When you present arguments that completely torpedo the core of the claims made by the religion, then I would say the aspects that you are demonstrating shouldn’t be hung on to include the core beliefs of the religion. When you do that I think it is fair to say that you are indeed arguing against the belief as a whole.

      I’m glad that you think there is a way to blend Christianity and science, however you are making arguments that demonstrate the core ideas of the religion are demonstrably false. When science is demonstrating that Christianity is just wrong, there is nothing left of Christianity to blend in with science.

      The christian god is supposed to be a creator god. You are demonstrating that there was no creation. That evolution is the process that provided humanity, and it didn’t have to.

      How exactly do you blend a creator god into a world that can be demonstrated isn’t a creation?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Let’s assume that human were truly evolved from furry animal that needed to good temperature control mechanism that keeps the hairs up/down to regulate the core temperature. Therefore, it makes sense to conclude that human goosebumps are vestigial organ that serves no purpose in temperature control as we evolved to current state.

    However, if we are created human from the day God formed Adam from dust of the ground (Gen 2:7), do we still need massive furry hair temperature control mechanism? I suspect Adam & Eve didn’t need that before the original sin since water canopy served provided the green house effect to keep them comfortable. And, they and their offspring didn’t (still don’t) need that as they (and we) started wearing cloths. When viewing for this worldview, human goosebumps seem like a good mechanism to keep us comfortable in non-extreme climate changes.

    I guess it all depends on our worldviews to determine how we interpret what we observe.

    Personally, I don’t believe the universe was designed for evolution (chemical, cosmic, stellar, organic, macro evolutions) to take place but was designed as is where micro evolution can take place. God said it was GOOD after each creation as described in Genesis 1. However, sin came into the world through Adam and now the world is less than ideal. Hence, the deficiencies we observe in many less than ideal designs (or your evolved organs).

    I love science. I don’t think science and Christian faith are opposing one another. Our interpretation on “evidence” may lead us to conflicting conclusions but Bible has stand the test of time as far as I can see. Therefore, I would suggest to re-examine our interpretations and conclusions before we reinterpret/rewrite the Bible. 🙂

    Cheers!!!

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      • We know for a fact that no such water canopy ever existed. Since we know that no such thing has ever existed, we know that any idea put forth including it isn’t correct.

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          • Physics, geology, biology, historical record, etc. Take your pick. You can demonstrate, for a fact, that it never existed using just about all of the physical sciences you can name. If you are curious as to how, feel free to pick a science and I would be happy to provide the details.

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            • This is the first time I’m hearing this. I know that geologically (alps formation, canyon structures, fossils, etc.) and historically (over 300 flood legends in various culture) we can tell that there was a global flood. Let’s start with physics or biology…

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              • It wouldn’t have been possible for the alps to have formed by a global flood. Plus we already know that they were formed by plate tectonics. Canyon structures also can’t be contributed to a global flood. The layering would never happen in a flood and the rock would have to be the consistency of sugar in order to form the canyon from a flood. The fossil record is also another piece of evidence against the flood because the way they were laid down would be impossible to achieve in a flood. And even though there are flood legends in various cultures that are by rivers that annually flood, there are no cultures that can be demonstrated to have ended because of a flood. In fact if you map out the timeline for all the various cultures that have existed during that time frame, all of them didn’t end when the biblical flood was supposed to have happened.

                We can go into more detail about any of that if you wish, but you had asked about physics and biology. I will just give one piece of evidence from each, and we can dig deeper if you want to, but each of these evidences are enough by themselves to demonstrate the flood never happened.

                Physics

                In 1985 a couple of geologists did the maths. When water is added to an ecosystem a lot happens. I reference the paper with all the calculations below, but the summary is this.

                Since we are talking about a water canopy, we are talking about rainfall. In order for the global flood to happen, there would have to be 3 times the amount of water currently on earth to be added to the ecosystem. That is about 4.4 billion cubic kilometers, that would have to be introduced in a matter of 40 days. We can run the calculations and figure out the results if such a thing actually happened.

                Atmospheric pressure would have been increased 840 times, the atmosphere would have turned pretty much to water, making it impossible for anything to breath it, That includes people and animals on a boat. There are also the thermodynamic considerations that are outlined in the paper.

                The paper for full details, including calculations: http://nagt-jge.org/doi/pdf/10.5408/0022-1368-31.2.134

                Biology

                Genetics is rather fascinating. I’m not sure what your background is, but if we need to go into more detail, let me know and I will get the specifics. However we can determine when bottlenecks occur in our population. Here is an article that gives an overview with details in the cited sources.

                http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v475/n7357/full/nature10231.html

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                • Sorry for taking so long to reply. I’m kinda busy with my day job…

                  I have a quick look-up on tectonic plate movement and found that the movement isn’t consistent but chaotic (random). That means the movement may cause the land to go up AND come down. Therefore, to say that alps are the results of plate tectonic movement maybe a little too far fetch. On the other hand, Noah’s flood may well explain the formation of alps:

                  Gen 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, in the seventeenth day of the month, in this day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of the heavens were opened up.

                  Where “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up…” suggests that there was a catastrophic bursting out of underground water. If this was true, it would be reasonable to assume that the alps were the results of this great bursting of water pushing outward and land piling up. The same flood also explains the sea creature fossils on mountain tops. By the way, we also know that fossils don’t really formed “slowly” as described in textbook but under rather rapid and extreme condition. Also, fossilised fish eating fish, fossilised creature giving birth and polystrate fossils are best explained by rapid fossilisation.
                  Mount St Helens eruption in 1980 showed to the world that canyon structure formation can take place in days, not millions of years as taught in textbooks.

                  Ancient China history shows that the civilisation started about 3500 years ago. Some claim that ancient Egypt started some 3200 BC but highly questionable. Scholars generally agree that the New Kingdom (1550 BC onward) history records are credible. Kindly provide sources of “surviving culture” for further investigation.

                  Additional 4.4 billion cubic kilometers of water needed for Noah’s flood was based on the assumption that that there was no landscape changes before and after the flood, which is highly unlikely in catastrophic event such as Noah’s flood. Note that Genesis 1:9 “…Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together to one place…” suggests that the land was in one single place. There’s no indication of how high was the highest mountain before the flood.

                  By the way, I’m a mechanical design engineer who specialised in machinery design.

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                • “Therefore, to say that alps are the results of plate tectonic movement maybe a little too far fetch.”

                  You may find it so i suppose, but it is scientifically proven to be the way it happened. Here is a good documentary that explains it. https://youtu.be/2c_usOpyBwI It also includes some reasons why we know it wasn’t the flood.

                  “On the other hand, Noah’s flood may well explain the formation of alps:”

                  Not possible. Since you are a mechanical design engineer, you actually have the tools at your fingertips to demonstrate it wouldn’t happen. All you have to do is figure out the pressures involved. You can find the total mass of the rock involved, including the forces involved with the tectonic plates, and then compare it to the forces applied by rain and water, and include the direction of the forces that the water would have on the rock below it.

                  “Where “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up…” suggests that there was a catastrophic bursting out of underground water. If this was true, it would be reasonable to assume that the alps were the results of this great bursting of water pushing outward and land piling up.”

                  The document I previously provided already demonstrates that isn’t a reasonable assumption.

                  “The same flood also explains the sea creature fossils on mountain tops.”

                  Actually it doesn’t. You should look into the process of fossilization.

                  “By the way, we also know that fossils don’t really formed “slowly” as described in textbook but under rather rapid and extreme condition.”

                  Can you provide evidence for this?

                  “Mount St Helens eruption in 1980 showed to the world that canyon structure formation can take place in days, not millions of years as taught in textbooks.”

                  Can you provide evidence for this? And how it compares to something like the grand canyon.

                  “Ancient China history shows that the civilisation started about 3500 years ago.”

                  We know more than that: https://www.ancient.eu/timeline/china/ Can you provide the evidence that shows where the great flood destroyed china and then the culture restarted?

                  “Some claim that ancient Egypt started some 3200 BC but highly questionable.”

                  How so? During the Egyptian history (https://www.cemml.colostate.edu/cultural/09476/egypt02-01enl.html) where did the flood happen that destroyed the culture and then was restarted?

                  “Additional 4.4 billion cubic kilometers of water needed for Noah’s flood was based on the assumption that that there was no landscape changes before and after the flood, which is highly unlikely in catastrophic event such as Noah’s flood.”

                  Can you give evidence that this assumption is true?

                  “There’s no indication of how high was the highest mountain before the flood.”

                  Geologists, who do this for a living and look at the actual evidence would disagree with you. Can you provide evidence that demonstrates the bible passage you quoted is actually true?

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  7. “How exactly do you blend a creator god into a world that can be demonstrated isn’t a creation?”
    Now that, my friend, is really the crux of the matter. The jury is still out on that question.

    My personal inkling, at the present time in my own musings, for what it’s worth, is that the creator is akin to a happy, optimistic gambler. The designer of the Ultimate Randomness Machine, which has a potentially very, very dark side, but at the same time is also the producer of an infinite variety of expressions of immense beauty and wonder. And we humans, with our amazing little imaginative, transcendent minds, and our technological knack, are playing a unique role in it. Whether this was the main plan or not I don’t know. But we can’t escape from the present reality of our existence as humans that we are sentient beings surrounded by others, and that in some mysterious way, what each of us does matters.

    This idea of a creator leads me to develop a sense of wonder and humility, and to keep my eyes and ears open to everything around me. Each day’s random events is a series of opportunities to respond. Not to be approved, or saved. But to quietly be part of the flow.

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    • “My personal inkling, at the present time in my own musings, for what it’s worth, is that the creator is akin to a happy, optimistic gambler. ”

      You could definitely go that route I suppose. But if you do you are describing a god that is diametrically opposed to the one described in the christian bible. So you are talking about a different god than the christian one and you aren’t blending Christianity and science, you are creating a brand new god to fit the science.

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  8. Can’t find the reply button of Darren’s last reply…

    Thanks for sharing the documentation. However, most of the “facts” (ages claim, Noah’s flood, etc.) in the documentary are assertion without any supporting evidence. For example, how did solid rock folded without cracking (around 9:00 in the video) if it was a slow process by tectonic plate movement?

    Dating the ages of rocks and fossils is another interesting topic that we may want to discuss in the future. Checkout http://creation.com/geologist-steve-austin, https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j18_1/j18_1_45-46.pdf, http://creation.com/radioactive-dating-fatal-flaw & https://answersingenesis.org/geology/radiometric-dating/radiometric-dating-problems-with-the-assumptions/.

    How does slow fossilization process explain fossilized fish-eating-fish http://www.fossilmuseum.net/Fossil_Galleries/GreenRiverFish.htm? Or, fossilised animal giving birth, https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26975-stunning-fossils-mother-giving-birth/? These can’t be slow fossilisation process that we were told. By the way, dead creatures in the seas don’t usually fossilized because they float and get rotten or eaten. Checkout rapid fossilization from http://creation.com/hundreds-of-jellyfish-fossils.

    Flood legends around the world can be found here, http://nwcreation.net/noahlegends.html.
    And here’s, China history, http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/china-history/the-xia-dynasty.htm. Note that many historians believe that Xia dynasty was just a myth now in the light of new evidence.

    The water source of Noah’s flood were 2 – from the sky and underground. We have seen how deltas are formed by slow river flow. Just imagine how much more the effect of “great deep were broken up”. I would also imagine that there were volcano eruptions too.
    How rapidly can a canyon formed? Check out http://www.icr.org/research/index/researchp_sa_r04/.

    As you can see, we all have the same evidence but we have different interpretation to them.

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  9. I usually don’t weigh in on discussions like this, because I sincerely am trying to promote open and honest exchange. But it is my own blog site which is hosting it, and sometimes I feel it necessary to clarify where I myself stand on things.
    Challenging radiometric dating is just such an old issue, I’m surprised it still continues to bubble to the surface. I find it hard to summon the energy to compose a proper reply which explains why this is a dead issue … it’s like trying to counter those who still insist that the earth is flat or that the moon landings were just Hollywood productions. The challenges only come from people who are not experts in the area: those who have the expertise to know are totally comfortable with the technique, while recognizing its limitations. The primary challenge is always the assumptions which need to be made. But almost everything in life requires assumptions to be made. But we move on from there … we don’t have to confirm every time we’re about to sit in a chair that it is actually going to hold our weight. We just sit on it, assuming that it will hold up. And the standard AIG “were you there” argument? Please.
    Slow fossilization? All you need is to suddenly cover over the body and exclude oxygen … a sudden mud-slide, for example, or settling into a crevice which has been made anoxic through a variety of chemical mechanisms … and then you’ve got lots of time to fossilize an animal in the middle of giving birth or with its meal still in its mouth.
    Flood legends? Floods are common. So what? Legends of talking animals are also found all around the world, but I don’t think you’ll accept that as evidence that animals once commonly spoke in the local dialect. If you see this as evidence that Noah’s flood was a global one, then how do you explain survivors telling the story within those diverse civilizations, thousands of miles away from Mesopotamia. Do you think the Chinese are descendants of one of Noah’s sons only four thousand years ago, who then migrated from Mesopotamia and in a blink of an eye established a tremendous civilization which by all accounts looks much more ancient than that?
    The water sources? As Darren pointed out at the end of his post, a tremendous number of experts who have spent decades studying the mechanisms which would need to be involved just don’t even consider that as a realistic possibility. Non-experts can continue to choose to differ, but need to come up with equally compelling evidence.

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  10. I remember one expert says, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” while another expert commended on the statement, “nonsense remains nonsense even it is uttered by expert”. Another expert says, “Nothing is not nothing. Nothing created everything.” while another expert says “Nothing is nothing, it has no potential, no creative power.” Which expert should I listen to?

    Just a question, how long do you think it is needed to populate the world with 7 billion people? From biblical record, Abraham started with 70 and about 5,000,000 came out of Egypt 430 years later.

    Anyway, I sense that we are talking pass each other here. Perhaps, it’s time to drop this discussion and move on. Nevertheless, it has been fun to interact with Darren and Luke. Cheers!

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    • “Abraham started with 70 and about 5,000,000 came out of Egypt 430 years later.”

      Actually we know this is false. As I’ve already pointed out, and provided links to, we can measure bottlenecks in out genome. There was never a time when only 70 people lived.

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    • Tian, I hope you haven’t given up on this discussion completely because I also once took the Bible literally, and it nearly killed my own faith!? And I’ve since learned its better not to hang one’s faith on biblical infallibility/inerrancy because that too often fails.
      It’s evident to me that you take a “high view” of it because of your reference to Abraham’s clan growing from 70 to 5,000,000 in only 430 years … you’re obviously referring to Gen 46:27, Exodus 12:37 and Numbers 1:45-47. I understand where you get the 5,000,000 from (factoring in the wives and children of those 600,000 men). So I’d like to walk you through a little exploration of that to see if it really stands up to scrutiny.
      Even if the Israelites marched like a regimented army, in rows an arm’s length apart, with ten people per row, five million people would make a column almost 500 miles long; this doesn’t factor in additional space needed for flocks of animals, or for the tendency of people to walk in a far less organized manner, so the group would be much larger than that. To put this in context, the distance from Cairo to Jerusalem is less than 300 miles.
      At an average walking speed of 3.1 miles per hour, and walking continuously for 12 hours per day, it would take almost two weeks for the entire nation to arrive at or walk past any given point. Think about what that means when they came to any given watering hole, or walked through the Red/Reed Sea.
      Think about the trail that this walking army-nation would leave behind it … the garbage, broken pottery, discarded and tattered clothes, animal bones, human and animal feces. Or the trail of dead bodies, since the texts say that the entire adult generation died off over the course of 40 years … an average of 164 people dying every day. There’s no trace of such a trail in the sands of the desert.
      I’d also like you to consider what would happen to the Egyptian economy if five million people just picked up their bags and left: a sudden drop in population like that would devastate the economy. And yet there’s no mention of this massive social upheaval in the ancient literature. Sure, one could ask why the Egyptians would want to record this embarrassing event, but what about the neighbouring nations who were Egypt’s rivals, and would have relished this kind of propaganda.
      Instead, I think it’s entirely realistic to look at that story in a very non-literal way. There are many ideas out there which explain where the Israelites came from, where the Biblical texts came from, and how to read the Bible differently. I’d encourage you to consider the possibility that you can still be a Christian and not take the Bible so literally.

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      • Thanks, Luke, for the advise. I believe in plain reading of the Bible where Noah’s flood was global scale and creation days were normal 24-hour days. However, I’m not reading the Bible so literally that Jesus is a physical ROCK that we build our church building on it.

        Personally, I find it hard blend evolution with Christian faith without compromising the Word of God – the creation sequence, the original sin.

        By the way, Deu 29:5 says, “Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.”

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        • When the “word of god” contradicts the mountains of evidence we have about the world, why would you continue to think it is actually the word of god?

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  11. Thanks again. I found this world population chart weeks ago. I’m curious as to how they obtained the numbers between 10,000 BC to 1,000BC, and what assumptions were used in the estimates…

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        • The base assumptions are that the universe is real and that we can know things about it. Can’t really get more specific without a more specific question.

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          • For one, radiometric-isotope dating assumes that no daughter elements exist in the fossil when it was formed. This is an assumption, not fact, that can change the dating results significantly.

            Most natural diamonds are believed to be formed some 1 to 3.3 billion years ago. However, we can still find traces of C14 in them but we know any C14 in diamond should have completely decayed under 100k years since it has relatively short half life.

            Check out http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/science/at-400000-years-oldest-human-dna-yet-found-raises-new-mysteries.html. When did human race actually came on stage again? 400k, 200k, 100k or 10k years ago?

            What about Genetic Entropy that suggests that human race is moving towards extinction rather than evolving to super human, http://thetruthwins.com/archives/the-human-race-is-dying-dna-degeneration-would-eventually-lead-to-the-total-extinction-of-humanity.

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            • “For one, radiometric-isotope dating assumes that no daughter elements exist in the fossil when it was formed. This is an assumption, not fact, that can change the dating results significantly.”

              Can you give any evidence of this actually happening in the mainstream radiometric dating labs? Or is this just something someone told you on your creation sites that you are taking on faith is true? If you can’t demonstrate it actually happens, then this isn’t an argument against radiometric dating, it is just something someone made up that you are repeating.

              “Most natural diamonds are believed to be formed some 1 to 3.3 billion years ago. However, we can still find traces of C14 in them but we know any C14 in diamond should have completely decayed under 100k years since it has relatively short half life.”

              Do you actually know the details of this? Or is this something that you are just repeating, but haven’t actually looked into? What are the actual measurements supposed to be? What is the error bar of the tools making the measurement? Were they able to rule out all form of contamination? There are multiple ways to form C14, (ie, radioactive material being in the rock with the diamonds, since diamonds are pure carbon). Were you able to rule out these alternate forms of C14 formation?

              “Check out http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/science/at-400000-years-oldest-human-dna-yet-found-raises-new-mysteries.html. When did human race actually came on stage again? 400k, 200k, 100k or 10k years ago?”

              Homo is the human genus, which also includes Neanderthals and many other extinct species of hominid, including Denisovan. Modern humans are the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens, which differentiates them from what has been argued to be their direct ancestor, Homo sapiens idaltu. The article you are talking about is about Homo sapiens denisovan.

              So to answer your question, The human race (Homo) has been around for about 10 to 2 million years. They are still gathering data. The Denisovan branch of the human race is at least 400,000 years old if they are finding their DNA that far back.

              Modern humans (homo sapiens sapiens) has been thought to be around for about 200,000 years ago. Though if we find evidence that pushes that back, I’m sure it will change. But 200,000 years is what we can verify is true at this point in time.

              “What about Genetic Entropy that suggests that human race is moving towards extinction rather than evolving to super human, http://thetruthwins.com/archives/the-human-race-is-dying-dna-degeneration-would-eventually-lead-to-the-total-extinction-of-humanity.”

              What about it? The idea has been put forth by a plant geneticist that hasn’t been able to demonstrate that his claims are true. If he can’t demonstrate his claims are true, why should we care what he thinks about something that has mountains of evidence that demonstrate he is wrong?

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            • Tian, this would be a case in which you yourself are making assumptions. You’re assuming that the C14 found in diamonds (or coal) comes through the same radiological mechanism that allows carbon-dating on plant-derived materials (including living organisms that eat plants) … which is neutron capture of atmospheric nitrogen. But C14 also comes from impurities in the diamond (or coal) being converted by neutron capture underground . We *know* that diamonds (and coal) have a variety of impurities … these are what give each diamond its unique colors and flaws (or coal its different ‘flavors”). Those impurities include C13, N14, O16, and O17. All four of those elements can be converted to C14 through neutron capture via radioactive substances underground. Imagine a diamond or a bed of coal sitting beside a seam of some radioactive element, constantly being bombarded by radioactive particles from the latter over millions of years: that diamond/coal will contain C13, N14, O16, and O17. It’s no surprise then that a million-year old diamond or lump of coal might look like it’s only a hundred thousand years old.

              As an aside, if you’re going to criticize what is taught about human evolution, you should use current studies from scientific sources, not an old article from the NY Times, let alone an old article from someone’s blog site (if you look at the “TheTruthWins” website, every article is written by Michael Snyder, as are also all the books and CDs advertised on those webpages. I tried to learn more about who this guy is, and the most useful information I found was http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Michael_T._Snyder. If you find something better, let me know … I’m open to being corrected).

              Don’t take this as an attack on your viewpoint. I’m glad you’re researching and thinking, and considering good questions. I just want to help others do it more completely, and to be more careful about their sources. Keep it up.

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  12. Thanks for the input. As you pointed out, since there are so many possible impurities in the subject that may affect the dating results, how can anyone tell the actual age of the rock/fossil? http://www.cs.unc.edu/~plaisted/ce/dating2.html

    Here are some examples of rocks from lava flows being radiometric dated:

    Hualalai, Hawaii, 1800-1801, dated to be 1.6 million years old
    Mt. Etna, 1792, dated to be 0.35 million years old
    Mt Lassen, 1915, dated to be 0.11 million years old
    Sunset Crater, Arizona, 1064, dated to be 0.27 million years old
    Mt St Helens, 1980, dated to be 0.35 to 2.8 million years old

    Also check out what David Berlinski’s interview on the subject, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6ElA0–JNg.

    I have read lots of evolution fraud about neanderthals, Pitdown-man, Java man, Peking man, etc. Do we actually have evidence for these so called homo- whatever?

    Are we saying that there is no evidence for genetic entropy? By the way, how many cases of beneficial mutations (increase of information) that we observed to-date? Also, how many cases of bad mutations (loosing information) we observed to-date?

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  13. You’ve missed the point, Tian.

    And once again, I’ve got to ask you to check your sources before you accept whatever you read/hear. The article you cite … your primary source of information … links to a blog-site which states “Unless otherwise indicated, all articles are written by David Plaisted” A quick check of who David is shows him to be a computer programmer at the University of North Carolina. Not a geologist, nor a biologist. David Berlinski … a PhD in Philosophy. Both are probably very smart, but whatever they know about those two subjects, they taught themselves. That needs to be taken into consideration, especially if they’re going to challenge the consensus of a large body of experts in the area.

    Finally: fraud? There’s fraud on both sides of this particular argument. And there’s also fraud in sports. In finances. In government. In entertainment. In relationships. In advertising. In medicine. In law. I could go on. The point is: just because we find fraud in a given topic/viewpoint, should we just declare the entire topic fatally-flawed and dismiss it?

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  14. Let me see, Stephen Hawking is arguably the best physicist alive in this age. However, his remark, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”, isn’t making much logical sense at all. Forgive me for not having high confident in experts’ claims. Shouldn’t we need to exercise logical and critical analysis on each argument rather than reject an argument just because of a person’s background? For example, I (not a physicist) know that the law of gravity (that describes how gravitational force works) exists because matter exists. Therefore, the law cannot CREATE the universe from NOTHING.

    It is true that we shouldn’t just declare the entire topic fatally-flawed and dismiss it just because we find fraud in it. Shouldn’t we also give young earth evidence the same level of attention?

    By the way, what’s your take on radiometric dating error on rocks that we know when they were formed. If the results can be so wrong on rocks that we their ages, how can we confidently accept those rocks where the ages are unknown?

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    • Science is many times illogical and counter-intuitive. Logic and intuition will never trump evidence in understanding reality. I cannot belief there is a discussion going on with one party attempting to support a young earth. That is dogma run amok in this day and age. SMH

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      • Let’s examine the data/information from both sides of debate. Please provide the evidence if you think the universe is old so that we can compare the evidence from both sides.

        By the way, do you believe that NOTHING can produce EVERYTHING as what Stephen Hawking believes? I personally find it unbelievable from naturalistic and scientific standpoint.

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  15. “Here are some examples of rocks from lava flows being radiometric dated:” “By the way, what’s your take on radiometric dating error on rocks that we know when they were formed. If the results can be so wrong on rocks that we their ages, how can we confidently accept those rocks where the ages are unknown?”

    I’m not sure where they are getting their information from where they are saying that lava flows are being dated to millions of years. Here is an article that lets you know how actual scientists that are studying lava flows are dating them and what dates they are getting: https://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/archive/2006/06_12_07.html

    “I have read lots of evolution fraud about neanderthals, Pitdown-man, Java man, Peking man, etc. Do we actually have evidence for these so called homo- whatever?”

    And do you know how they are determined to be frauds? The scientists that have actually learned about and study the subjects for a living, determined they are frauds. If you want to find a small fraction of the the evidence we have for the human line, all you have to do is go to the Smithsonian. Its online http://humanorigins.si.edu/education/introduction-human-evolution

    “Are we saying that there is no evidence for genetic entropy?”

    I have yet to see any, and I did look for it.

    “By the way, how many cases of beneficial mutations (increase of information) that we observed to-date? Also, how many cases of bad mutations (loosing information) we observed to-date?”

    Billions, of both. Dogs are a good example. All dog breeds started out as a Wolf. That means that every difference you see between a wolf and a Chihuahua is one or more mutations in the DNA.

    “Let me see, Stephen Hawking is arguably the best physicist alive in this age. However, his remark, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”, isn’t making much logical sense at all.”

    That is because you don’t have the mathmatecal or scientific background he does. If i am remembering correctly, Hawking is a proponent of M-Theory, which is a form of string theory. The math of those theories (and in this case i am using theory in the colloquial sense and not the scientific sense) when combined with other cosmological math formulas drives the math to conclude a multiverse. The quantum multiverse the math proposes is formed on the foundation of a quantum vacuum.

    So when Hawking is talking about nothing. He is talking about the nothing of empty space, except on a quantum level. He isn’t talking about the philosopher’s nothing.

    “Forgive me for not having high confident in experts’ claims. Shouldn’t we need to exercise logical and critical analysis on each argument rather than reject an argument just because of a person’s background? For example, I (not a physicist) know that the law of gravity (that describes how gravitational force works) exists because matter exists. Therefore, the law cannot CREATE the universe from NOTHING.”

    I don’t mean to be rude, but your analysis of gravity being able to create a universe is exactly why the person’s background actually does matter. You have taken nothing to mean one thing, when the expert in the field has a different definition of nothing than you do. Because of your lack of understanding of what ‘nothing’ means when said by a physicist, you have been coming to the incorrect conclusions. Your logic and analysis of the argument is flawed because you don’t understand what is actually being proposed.

    “Shouldn’t we also give young earth evidence the same level of attention?”

    We are. That’s actually kinda the problem for you. All of your “evidence”, as we have pointed out, don’t actually argue for a young earth. You are trying to poke holes in fields of study, where the holes just don’t exist.

    What i think you are missing is, just because you can misuse radiometric dating to get incorrect dates, doesn’t mean if used properly, that you don’t get correct dates.

    If you really want to demonstrate that radiometric dating is unreliable, you have to demonstrate that the dates are actually wrong. And not the misuses of it. But the uses of it that scientists are actually taking seriously.

    For example, earlier you has said that scientists were making certain assumptions that would cause errors in the lab. But you never actually demonstrated that they were making those assumptions or that the assumptions they were making were actually causing a problem in the lab. I had asked you to provide evidence that it was actually happening, but you weren’t able, or were unwilling, to do so. If you could provide actual evidence that it was happening, you would have a real case. But siting radiometric errors in lava flows, when scientists don’t actually radiometric date the flows themselves isn’t actually evidence of the dates being wrong. It is just evidence that scientists are actually smart people and they understand the limitations of the tools they are using. So they find ways that they can verify are accurate to date things.

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  16. Now we are getting somewhere…

    You can get the failed radiometric dating data from https://answersingenesis.org/bios/steve-austin/. Of course there are many articles that try to discredit the findings but the facts remain the same –rocks with known ages were dated wrong! The article, https://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/archive/2006/06_12_07.html, that you provided is assuming that the level of C14 production is constant but it is not! Besides, if I hand over to you (or a lab) a rock that I know how old it is without telling you where I got it from and when it was formed, can you (or a lab) tell me the age of the rock with any certainty? If not (which is what we are seeing), how can we trust the method?

    Check out http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~martins/isohydro/carbon1.html, – the assumption that C14 production is saturated and constant is flawed, yet we are told to that the conclusion is correct. Do we know for sure that the half-life of the elements is constant? There are researches suggest that the half-life of radioactive isotopes aren’t constant – they are affected by the sun to say the least.

    The link you provide on evolution is full of assertions without any evidence. Kindly provide evidence.

    Dog speciation is a process of losing information, not gaining information as the Evolution theory suggests.

    Multiverse is a suggestion to do away with creation. It is neither provable nor disprovable – it is NOT science. By the way, where is the evidence of Multiverse?

    I have checked Lawrence Krauss’ NOTHING – it isn’t nothing. He redefined the word NOTHING. So, should we redefine every word we used in the conversation now? This sound like “switch and bait”…

    Please help me to understand the “fields that without holes” as I don’t see the solid ground for those fields but assertions without evidence as I pointed out above. Should we just ignore the evidence that contradict those fields?

    Shouldn’t we first try to demonstrate that radiometric dating is reliable? Have we actually demonstrated that in the first place? For example, we assumed that there isn’t any daughter element when the rock was formed. Can we actually know that? Also, can we actually know that the half-live of the element is constant? Do we have any verification to show that these assumptions are true and valid? I tried searching for theseand can’t find any. Kindly provide if you have.

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  17. At this point, I’m going to call an end to any further discussion about dating methods: this discussion has degenerated way too far. Any further postings on that subject will be deleted. Please feel free to discuss/debate any aspect of the original point of this blog post (perhaps one has to read it again to remind themselves?). And if anyone in this present discussion simply migrates the question of radiometric dating over to another posting, I’ll just delete that as well (unless for some reason that particular posting actually addresses Young Earth vs Old Earth ideology). So let’s agree to move on from defending/critiquing that long-dead horse.

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