Answers in Genesis astronomer Danny Faulkner attended last year’s Flat Earth International Conference (FEIC) in Dallas, Texas, and he was not impressed. See, at Answers in Genesis, belief that the earth was created out of nothing 6,000 years ago is mandatory, but belief that the earth is flat is a bridge too far.
I grew up in a young earth creationist home and church community, and I don’t remember Answers in Genesis ever feeling the need to rebut the claim that the earth is flat. Clearly, that has changed. When I first heard claims that the flat earth conspiracy was gaining followers, I dismissed them. That seemed absurd. It was when I noticed that Answers in Genesis has come to see this conspiracy as something it needs to forcefully rebut that I realized that something was actually up.
Scientists employed by Answers in Genesis insist both that the earth was created out of nothing 6,000 years ago and that those who say the earth is flat are off their rockers. What amazed me, in reading Faulkner’s coverage of the flat earth conference he attended late last year, was both how similar this conference sounds to young earth creationist events I have attended and how painfully unaware of this similarity Faulkner seems.
For example, have a look at this bit:
One of the more interesting presentations was “Testing the Moon: A Globe Lie Perspective” by the Englishman, David Marsh. … [He] acknowledged the problem of the daily motion of the stars around the south celestial pole south of the equator for a flat earth. He illustrated this with his own time-lapse videos of the stars. But rather than questioning whether the earth is truly flat, David talked about the stars spinning around two magnetic poles, one near the North Pole, and the other near the edge of the flat-earth model, along the Antarctic ice wall. I don’t see how this could possibly work.
This from a man who gets around the problem that we can see stars that are millions of light years away—a reality that would seem incompatible with a universe created only 6,000 years ago—by arguing that God temporarily accelerated the speed of light so that that Adam and Eve would be able to see the stars.
I mean really, have a look at Faulkner’s work:
As a part of God’s formative work, light from the astronomical bodies was miraculously made to “shoot” its way to the earth at an abnormally accelerated rate in order to fulfill their function of serving to indicate signs, seasons, days, and years. I emphasize that my proposal differs from cdk [a young earth creationist proposal that the speed of light has decayed over time] in that no physical mechanism is invoked, it is likely space itself that has rapidly moved, and that the speed of light since Creation Week has been what is today.
Frankly, I don’t see any substantive difference between young earth creationists trying to solve the problem of distant starlight and flat earthers trying to solve the problem of the motion of the stars. Faulkner seems to think he’s a reasonable person walking among crackpots at that conference, when actually he’s a crackpot walking among crackpots.
Faulkner responds as follows to a flat earth presentation arguing that the stars and planets may merely be illusions:
[T]o seriously suggest that astronomical bodies are illusions without any plausible explanation amounts to handwaving. And such a proposal ought not to please most Christian flat-earthers because the Bible says that God made the astronomical bodies on day four. It says nothing about God making illusions of astronomical bodies on day four.
I mean, the Bible also says nothing about God accelerating the speed of light on day four, but Faulkner thinks that’s reasonable while viewing the idea that stars might be optical illusions as absurd. Can he not see this?Oh, but it gets even more interesting!
At last year’s FEIC, Bob attempted to disprove the Apollo moon landings. Using the inverse square law of the distance, he computed what the brightness of the moon would be at the lunar surface. Of course, the result was fantastically, blazingly bright. When one compares the photographs of the Apollo moon landings, the lunar landscape isn’t nearly that bright. Hence, Bob claimed to have debunked the Apollo moon landings using NASA’s own photos. However, Bob blundered in doing his calculation as if all the lunar surface (half of the total) that we see from earth would be visible from any location on the moon. This obviously is incorrect, because only a tiny portion of the lunar surface is visible from the moon. In my report of last year’s FEIC, I made the proper correction for this and showed how wrong Bob was. I spoke to Bob a couple of nights before his presentation this year. I provided him with that information. It apparently didn’t change his mind, because he repeated the same discredited conclusion this year. But the crowd didn’t care—they were very enthusiastic in their response.
This is basically a description of how every legitimate scientist who has ever debunked a young earth creationist talking point feels all the time. Does Faulkner have any idea how many times scientists have explained that this argument or that argument used by young earth creationists is factually wrong, or built on a misunderstanding, only to have young earth creationists repeat it anyway?
I must say, though, I feel a strange sense of poetic justice reading Faulkner’s frustration with flat earthers. It’s almost comforting to see Faulkner experience the same frustration with regard to flat earthers that so many scientists have experienced with young earth creationists over the past half century.
I just wish he were self aware enough to recognize this.
In his presentation, “Flat Earth 101,” Nathan Thompson presented what he thought were several impossibilities if the earth were a spinning globe. Of course, there are relatively simple answers to each one of his claimed impossibilities, though I doubt many people in attendance knew this.
Okay, that’s it. Irony is dead. I repeat, irony is dead!
This is a thing that happens all the damn time with young earth creationists. They point to a supposed impossibility in evolution and then claim to have disproven evolution, when there are actually relatively simple answers to their supposed impossibilities. It’s just that the people in attendance at their events, listening to them drone on about how impossible evolution is, don’t know that these answers exist. How can Faulnker criticize flat earthers for this without recognizing a tactic the young earth creationist organization he works for uses all the time? How can this much cognitive dissonance exist in one person?
I could say more about what Nathan said in his presentation, but you get the drift. As I said, there are relatively simple answers to each of his supposed impossibilities.
I just. Folks. I can’t. This is too much.
Faulkner, by the way, is the author of a book debunking the flat earth conspiracy. As he explains at the end of his article on his experiences at last year’s flat earth conference:
I didn’t write it to convince flat-earthers that they are wrong. I wrote the book to answer questions that people have about flat earth. Flat-earthers aren’t looking for answers, because they believe that they already have the answers.
How he can write this with such utter lack of self awareness I have no idea.
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