Not all sins are stupid and not all stupidity is sinful, but young-earth creationism is both

Not all sins are stupid and not all stupidity is sinful, but young-earth creationism is both September 24, 2012

Here’s a paraphrase of a recent comment from Bill Nye, the science guy:

“The atomic number of oxygen is not 43. It’s not. And if that conflicts with your beliefs, I strongly feel you should question your beliefs.”

This is not a controversial statement. This is not an anti-religion statement.

“Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not ‘Every man for himself.’ And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up. “

It is simply an undeniable fact that the atomic number of oxygen is not 43.

When undeniable facts “conflict with your beliefs,” then you have only two options. You can, as Nye said, “question your beliefs,” to see if they can be reconciled with the undeniable facts. Or you can reject the facts, shut your eyes and your ears to the world, and cling white-knuckled to beliefs that you’ve already seen are false, fortifying them with whatever urban legends and outright fabrications you find useful.

No one, anywhere, can defend the proposition that the atomic number of oxygen is 43. It’s just a ridiculous claim. It’s simply wrong — demonstrably wrong.

It’s as demonstrably, ridiculously wrong as the claim that the Earth is only 6,000 or 10,000 years old. And that, actually, was what Bill Nye really said:

The Earth is not 6,000 or 10,000 years old. It’s not. And if that conflicts with your beliefs, I strongly feel you should question your beliefs.

Nye is correct. His statement is not controversial, nor is it even slightly anti-religion.

What is anti-religion is promoting a demonstrably false gospel that elevates fabrications and rejects reality.

The Earth is not 6,000 or 10,000 years old. The claim that it is cannot be defended. At all.

It’s not just a scientifically indefensible claim, it’s a morally indefensible claim. Young-earth creationism is simply immoral.

Not all sins are stupid and not all stupidity is sinful, but young-earth creationism is both.

* * * * * * * * *

• Is this soda tasty? Irrelevant! Is the ad for this soda funny? Irrelevant!

Can we pretend to be outraged by it to score points for our tribe? This is all that matters!

(James McGrath remixes the ad, delightfully.)

• Curiosity captures a nifty photo of Phobos transiting the sun.

The Laputian astronomers may have discovered the moons of Mars more than 150 years before the rest of us did, but centuries after Gulliver’s visit, the Laputians still don’t have a space program capable of landing a “nuclear-powered one-ton mobile chem lab” on another planet. So there.

Killer whales need their moms, just like humans.

• “Study: DNA Barcoding Can ID Natural Health Products

Fully 81 per cent of natural health products made from animals correctly matched their commercial label. The rest contained everything from cheaper alternatives to fragments of protected species. One product labelled as tiger shark fins actually contained a catfish species.

Wasn’t this the plot of The Freshman?

Hemant Mehta notes that the proposed “Creation Science Hall of Fame” has failed to include a single woman in its list of inductees. I nominate Marie Curie. Without her pioneering discoveries about radioactivity, creation scientists a century later wouldn’t be able to pretend that radiocarbon dating doesn’t work.

Ken Ham is, of course, among the inaugural class of “Creation Science Hall of Fame” inductees. That makes sense, because Ken Ham is to science everything that Ty Cobb was to sportsmanship.

• Oh, and Ken Ham really doesn’t like feathers.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Mary Kaye

    As a geneticist I’m weirded out by attacks on evolution that rely on attacking the fossil record.  Maybe I’m prejudiced, but I think the fossil record is, while convincing enough, almost irrelevant when compared to the genetic evidence.

    Other than Last Thursdayism, I flatly cannot think of another explanation for the genetic evidence than common descent with modification.  Either humans and chimpanzees are very closely related–related via processes that we can measure in the lab today–or someone falsified them so that they look related.

    Take the gene HLA-DR.  It is highly diverse in both humans and chimps, but the alleles fall into broad classes, and both species share the same pool of allele classes.  There are *more than four*  classes shared between humans and chimps.  So if you assume humans came from a single progenitor couple (maximum of four alleles) then there must have been subsequent mutations in humans that magically recreated alleles existing in chimpanzees.  Not just single mutations but clusters of up to 9-13 mutations.  On the other hand, if you assume a common ancestor, all of these alleles are straightforwardly explained as coming from diversity in the common ancestor.  The only puzzle left is how so much diversity could be maintained for so long (other genes in the genome are not like this) and that can be explained by HLA-DR’s role in the immune system, where diversity is highly favored.

    I could imagine getting along with a god who playfully falsified evidence–a trickster god, to be sure–but one that then punishes you for believing the evidence, no.  Such a god could exist but they’ll get no worship from me.  That’s just mean.

    For another line of evidence, very recent research looked for rare, divergent alleles in the European genome.  They found a good collection of genes which contained rare, highly unusual alleles.  They then went into the Neanderthal fossil DNA looking for those alleles–and found them.  But not in African lineages, which fits perfectly with the restriction of Neanderthal bones and tools to Eurasia.  If humans came from a single couple 6000 years ago, what does that predict about the origins of divergent alleles in modern Europeans compared to modern Africans?  Anything testable at all?

  • Yes, he’s copying from his site. Which is one of the most amazing displays of scientific ignorance I’ve seen in a while.

  •  I too have a cat named Pumpkin. She’s 2 in November and is a ginger shorthaired tabby. She’s the most lovable thing ever.

    I presume your Pumpkin is orange as well?

  • Hawker40

    When we got a cat, I wanted to name him “El Gato Valador”, Spanish for ‘The Cat Destroys”.  My wife shot it down.  My daughter named him Perro, Spanish for “Dog”.

  •  That’ll do a lot to combat the stereotypical cat-dog enmity.

  • Worthless Beast

    A cat who got an adult raccoon.  Your cat is a badass. 

    The cat who owns my household… she’s an ex-feral that my man adopted. He named her Welsper  – after a character in a Japanese manga/comic who (according to him, he’s more a fan of the title referred to than I am), is a male demon serving a cosmic punishment by being trapped in the body of a female cat.  We sometimes refer to our kitty as a “demon” or just “Rotten Little Fuzzball.”

    The Dr. Pepper “Not for Women” campaign made me want to swear off Dr. Pepper forever, even though I rarely ever drink it in the first place.  I’ve developed an addiction to Ramune (a kind of Japanese soda in distinctive bottles). The plain version is like 7Up while there are flavored versions – lychee, melon… etc.  I’m also a huge fan of Stewart’s sodas, when they are on sale, orange cream, cherry wishniack, really *good* root beer…

    I was on TV Tropes last night (I’ve perfected the art of self control on there that allows me to click a few tropes and get off without losing Tuesdays). I think I was looking at the “Genetic Memory” trope and someone listed a theory under “Real Life” that “some scientists think the Flood in the Bible and other myths may be genetic memory of when our evolutionary ancestors left the sea.” – It was not citied and I am annoyed since I’d like cititation on something so far-out. WHICH SCIENTITISTS?  Wish you could tell me, anon Troper.

  • vsm

    I could imagine getting along with a god who playfully falsified
    evidence–a trickster god, to be sure–but one that then punishes you
    for believing the evidence, no.

    “You fool, that was one of God’s easier tricks!”

  • Ah yes, the “Satan is a dick” theory of evolution!

  • Kiba

    I presume your Pumpkin is orange as well?

    He’s silver-grey and white. Pye is orange and white. 
    First picture is Pye

    Second is Pumpkin

  • christopher_young

    I’ve seen renditions of ornithopods sporting quills, and they’re not even saurischian!

    Not an ornithopod, but definitely an ornithischian, this Psittacosaurus specimen has what appears to be bristles on the tail. I think this is what such reconstructions are based on. Similar structures apparently also existed on a Chinese heterodontosaur called Tianyulong, so it’s possible they were quite widespread, but there isn’t enough evidence yet to be sure.

  • AnonaMiss

    Also, does Ankylosaurus have to be feathered just because some of its relatives were?
    Not at all. I was speculating that feathers may have evolved with (or shortly after) warm-bloodedness, in the dinosaur family tree, since all of the warm-blooded animals currently alive have insulating body coverings, save a few who’ve lost them after the fact – primarily from subterranean living. 

    Because warm-bloodedness was/is common to all dinosaurs, if feathers coevolved with it, that would imply that ankylosaurids most likely had feathers. Which, to go back to my original point, would look ridiculous.

  • Not that I haven’t been drinking the stuff, but now I don’t feel as bad
    about enjoying Dr. Pepper Ten so much (they had a very unfortunate ad
    campaign for the longest time about how it’s “Not For Women”).

    I haven’t personally bought Dr. Pepper since that unfortunate ad campain rampant ugly demonstration of misogyny and gender-policing on their part, myself.

    Riling up evolution-deniers with their latest campaign doesn’t make me feel less bad about their previous woman-bashing, macho-posturing campaign.

  • NoDoubtAboutIt

    We just got two emergency kittens – it was take ’em in or they’d be on the street.   They are sisters, about 10 weeks old, and the cutest and friendliest animals I’ve ever seen.  We named them Agnes and Tallulah.  

  • Jenora Feuer

     As in, if you say it out loud, it sounds like ‘C for cat’.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh. Okay.

  • The_L1985

     “Which, to go back to my original point, would look ridiculous.”

    To us, admittedl.  But then, we’re used to the sort of dinosaurs you see in The Land Before Time.

  • I think I may have tasted Dr. Pepper once. I don’t recall liking it very much.

  • Maniraptor

    See above re: Tianyulong + Psittacosaurus.

    It looks like the immediate ancestors of dinos probably had something quilly that then evolved into feathers in some theropods (and were probably lost entirely in some other dinos, since we have some skin impressions without feathers). Ptero-fuzz may be homologous as well. IIRC the current theory is that feathers were less common on larger dinosaurs, but it’s not really clear since feathers are rarely preserved.

    I would guess if ankylosaurs had anything it’d probably be more like hair (not actually proper hair, obviously) and less like feathers as we know them now, but there’s no evidence of anything except that it’s entirely plausible they could have had something. At least, no evidence yet.

  • At the point I’m so accustomed to Marketing Spin that I automatically unconsciously translate “Not For Women” as “May Cause Birth Defects”.

  • Maniraptor

    (Also, since I don’t think I can edit my last post, feathers are at least as likely to be for sexual display as for insulation, and probably if you’ve got as much ornamentation as an Ankylosaurus you don’t need much more of that! I still think quilly ankys would be cool though. Although not nearly so cool as proper paravian wings all over dromaeosaurs, natch.)

    I like dinosaurs…

  •  I looked through the biographies for their speakers.  An educator/administrator, two aerospace engineers, a (now-deceased) carpenter that is “lacking in formal education,” and a civil engineer.  Why I (or anyone else) should consider them authorities on biology, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, or any of the other fields relevant to to the exploration of evolutionary theory eludes me.

  • Tricksterson

    Slam his head against the wall a few times?

  • Tricksterson

    Awww, kittikittiekitties!

    My own cats have many names.  The ones we give the vet for their records are Salem  (from the original owner) and Rennie (short for rennaissance Cat)  Salem, a big grey, is also called Sill Silkie Salem and Squirrel Cat.  Rennie who is splotch colored is variously called Sillicat, Flower Face (because her face has a pattern similar to a pansy) and Spare Parts Cat because her ears, eyes and tail more resemble those of a bat, owl and lizard respectively.

  • The_L1985

    Because they’re passionately sincere.

  • The_insane_protagonist

    My cats (still living as far as I know) back home were a brother and sister named Mike (a shaggy brown beast) and Mo (a fatass classic tabby).  Best cats ever.

    I think they must be about 15-16 years old by now. 0_o

    My sister has a (old-style) tortie-point siamese named Nellina. 

  • Joshua

    I mean, feathered ankylosaurs? How would that even work? 

    Gah, blasphemer! Ankylosaurs were feathered to make them more comfortable for Jesus when He rode them to work in Galilee! It says in the BIBLE that the stones of the ground would not hurt His feet!

    What other explanation could there be?

  • P J Evans

     true, and you can tell when a cat is transiting you, because a cat is a moving dead zone for sound. (That is, they absorb sound when walking past you, and you get a silent spot.)

  • Kiba

    Pyewacket was a rescue kitty. I got him a few months after my cat, Gertrude, had to be put down (she was 17 yrs old). Originally his name was Sherman but I didn’t think he looked or acted like a Sherman and changed it. I don’t think he liked that name either since he took to Pyewacket instantly. 

    He use gets called Pye, Pye-pye, or Fat Ox (when he decides to take a nap across my grandmother’s legs/feet).

    Pumpkin gets called Punkin more often than not. He and his two siblings started life solid white but that changed over 3 months or so. He and Tater looked similar and Oscar went from white to a dark Siamese color (with the most beautiful dark blue eyes). 

    Last picture is Oscar and Tater sleeping in the bathroom trash can. 

  • P J Evans

     There’s a long-term experiment going on with E. coli.  In 56,000 generations, some of them have evolved the ability to metabolize citric acid. (It’s the result of three successive changes.)
    If you figure human generations are 10 to 300 years, that’s somewhere between 18,000 and 19,000 years. (The oldest known cities are about 7,000 years old.)

    You can’t throw out radio-isotopic dating unless you;’re going to throw out all of physics and chemistry, because they all use the same basic principles. And so do your car, your TV, your telephone, and your computer.

  •  “Erroneously, the article states:”The Earth is not 6,000 or 10,000 years
    old. The claim that it is cannot be defended. At all.”God tells us He
    made the earth in six days, and the reason why:  Exodus 20:1,8,11 (NIV
    1984Bible)The Ten Commandments1 “And God spoke all these words …8
     ‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy ….11 For in six days   
     the LORD made the heavens and the earth,      the sea, and all that
    is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.Therefore the LORD blessed
    the Sabbath day and made it holy.'”

    The age of the Earth and how long it took to “create” it are two entirely different subjects. You fail first paragraph out of the gate.

  • P J Evans

     One of my friends likes to speculate on T. rex developing a collar of plumes in mating season. Preferably in pink.

  • P J Evans

    My parents liked to get two kittens from the same litter, so they’d have company. The first pair started out as Climber and Greykin, but Climber turned into Tiger somewhen. (My father was Tiger’s person.)
    The next pair was Sammy and Harry (officially Samantha and Harriet, but never called those). They were long-haired barn cats, but Sammy got all the guard hairs (4-inch long hair, srsly) and Harry got all the down. (My father was Sammy’s person, but I was Harry’s.) Sammy liked high places, and could actually end up in spots you wouldn’t think she could get into (top of opened door; walking on half-inch-wide branches in trees, getting into the pantry – which we never did figure out – and trying to get onto the light fixtures a foot below the ceiling). I learned to watch Harry’s eyes when playing with her, because she’d go into hunting mode and forget to pull her swipes.

  • PorlockJunior

     “I also know that when scientists figured out the archaeopteryx, you lot
    stopped whining about there being no transitional fossils between
    dinosaurs and birds and started whining about their being neither
    transitional fossils between dinosaurs and archaeopteryxes nor
    transitional fossils between archaeopteryxes and birds.”

    In fact, people have been pointing this out recently: Whenever you find a transitional form to fill a gap in the record, you end up with *two* gaps.

    Our most recent amazing gap filler was Tiktaalik, or anyway the most recent one I know. The story of how they found it would satisfy any possible rational being who somehow had doubts about whether the biologist guys know what they’re saying or are making it up as they go along. So why should anyone bore people by relating it? It will only affect rational beings.

    Really, though, it’s a great story, and the guy who did it happens to have written a small book called Your Inner Fish, which tells that story and a whole lot more.

    Meanwhile, science marches on, creating more gaps in the fossil record, though narrower ones, all the time!

  • Gotchaye

    I hear that (creationists can’t consistently accept other science) a lot, but I’m not really convinced.  Sophisticated modern creationists are typically pretty careful not to deny science in a very falsifiable way.  Lots seem to like to deny what Wikipedia calls uniformitarianism – they’re not objecting to any claims science makes about stuff now, but they maintain that the laws that science has discovered to be operative in the world today were not always valid.  My little brother’s tried to come out with crap about the speed of light changing over time being some unifying cause of all of the observations we make today which seem to contradict a 6000 year old earth.

    It’s an updated version of the micro-evolution but not macro-evolution thing, but now it doesn’t even depend on shoddy math.  It’s just the expression of the mere possibility that the laws of physics aren’t constant in time, therefore trying to deduce things about the distant past using science is useless.  Though they’re certainly not above also using the shoddy math to try to actively cast doubt on the scientific version of geo-history.

    Similarly with climate change.  Denialists are typically careful to avoid opposition to general principles of science upon which the actual working of things like computers depends.  Instead it’s worries that the research isn’t complete enough, that there’s researcher bias, that the models have too much uncertainty, etc.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    “Many worldwide natural processes indicate an age for the earth of 10,000 years or less. These include population kinetics,”

    Citation needed.

    The… the rate at which drugs are absorbed among different bio-demographic groups?  The hell?

    ” influx of radiocarbon into earth’s atmosphere,”

    Citation needed.

    You do realize ‘radiocarbon’ (Carbon-14) is unstable, right?  It goes away on its own…

    Alternative theory: based on extrapolation from the data of the previous decade, clearly the carbon saturation should be much higher than it is!

    “and decay of earth’s magnetic field”

    Once again, CITATION NEEDED.

    The ‘decay’ he’s speaking of is the cyclic nature of the magnetosphere – it gets weaker, stronger, and even changes polarity as the core oscillates (I believe it’s core oscillation.  We know the ‘it is cyclic’ bit because we can measure the orientation of ferrous minerals laid down near the mid-ocean ridge.  It’s stratified.)

    “There is no gradualism in the fossil record, no intermediate types”

    The lungfish, Homo erectus, Archaeopteryx, and Australopithecus africanus would like to have a word with you. And that’s just a few transitional species I can think of off the top of my head.

    If we had complete record of every being that ever lived on this Earth, they’d demand proof of a transitional stage between your great-great-great grandfather and your great-great grandfather.

    I still think quilly ankys would be cool though.

    Because clearly it isn’t well-protected enough!:P

    You can’t throw out radio-isotopic dating unless you;’re going to throw out all of physics and chemistry, because they all use the same basic principles. And so do your car, your TV, your telephone, and your computer.

    Their basic technique is to bleat about how Carbon-14 has a relatively short halflife, and decays to trace amounts in a few thousand years.  Which is why carbon-dating is used for recent events, and other methods for older substances.  Samarium-147 could be used to track the date of events to trillions of years in the past…

  • Joshua

    Sophisticated modern creationists are typically pretty careful not to deny science in a very falsifiable way.

    Ah, well, I must have not met any “sophisticated” ones, then, out of the many that I have met.

    What is it that creationists actually believe which is incompatible with the principles relied upon to build computers?

    In my experience, every detailed statement made by creationists about creationism is a unique and special snowflake, bearing little resemblance to what even the same individual will say on a different occasion to a different audience. Working out from that what they actually believe, apart from the obvious “Bible yes! Brain no!”, is an exercise in futility.

    However, let’s take that speed-of-light-changing thing which I have also heard, and generously assume they actually believe it and aren’t just trolling. If the speed of light really did change, relativity is bunk, and therefore GPS doesn’t work. Not all computers I admit, but most cellphones these days.

    Also, if there was a literal flood that literally covered the entire world, including Mt Everest, well, there’s nowhere for that water to go. Therefore, computers shouldn’t work because they should be miles underwater and even ruggedised ones are not *that* waterproof.

  • Albanaeon

     There have been fossils found of  Psittacosaurus and a relative of Heterodontosaurus that have quill projections on their tails.

    Since its a fairly late arrival in the fossil record, and separate clades of ornithischian, there’s some speculation that feather-like projections might have been the norm not the exclusion, at least among the smaller types.  Larger animals would have had a hard time getting rid of excess body heat as is, so they can probably remain safely “scalely.”