Thursday, 7 January 2010

A Gargantuan Error

It's important to grasp just how big an error is being alleged that scientists are making in the age of the earth. Because when one says 4.5 billion compared to 6 thousand, our brains just aren't really able to deal with the scope of gap between the two numbers. It's a factor of about 750,000, that is to say that if young earth creationists are correct - the scientists who have based their age on measurement are wrong by about 750,000 times.

This is an error of gargantuan proportions. Basically the creationist is alleging that a room about 7 metres wide is being measured to 5,000km. That's it, imagine you're standing in a house in Sydney and looking west, the scientist is through measurement coming up with an answer that would go past Perth and into the Indian Ocean.

Are they honestly saying that the scientists are that bad at their jobs that they could make such an astounding error? Well, it's not the scientists but the tools they use - allegedly. That the radiometric dating techniques are inaccurate. Again, even if they are inaccurate, why is it that so many different dating techniques with different half-lives all converge on the same data points?

In terms of analogies, what seems more likely is that in terms of the distance between Sydney and Perth, a creationist is one who alleged the distance is no more than the width of a typical bedroom. Or better yet, that the width of the room is 10 microns. When someone bases their age on the contents of a myth while the other tries to find the answer by measurement, is it really more likely that the ones doing the measurement will be off by almost 6 orders of magnitude?

5 comments:

JD Curtis said...

But what percentage of Christians argue for a Young Earth? I really don't know. I do know that WLC and Stephen C Meyer don't argue for a young earth though..

Kel said...

It's not a matter of percentage, but the absurdity. The anti vaccination movement is a tiny but vocal minority. There are something like 40,000 scientologists worldwide so should that be any reason to refrain from criticising their alternative to therapy for those who are vulnerable?

I also know that Michael Behe doesn't argue for a young earth, but that doesn't mean that there aren't the likes of Rick Warren, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Ray Comfort, and Ted Haggard; with all the hordes of believers that come with them.

I don't think they represent the majority of Christianity, and I don't think that they represent intellectually the theologians of the day. Nevertheless, it is a vocal group and it's having a political impact.

JD Curtis said...

Ray Comfort has openly stated that he doesnt know how old the Earth is. Who cares what Ted Haggard says on the matter being that he isnt a minister?

Of all of the arguments put forward by YECers, one that I don't hear rebutted often is that of paraconformities.

Also, this recent article in Nature suggests rapid speciation like creation scientists have been talking about all along.

That being said, I believe that the majority of evidence argues for an old earth. Additionally I would add that I couldnt care less about the age of the earth and am much more interested in the state of my relationship with God.

Kel said...

I remember hearing about that red queen hypothesis on the Nature podcast. They were talking to the scientists who made the paper. Funnily enough, it wasn't taken as an evolution killer at all.

Rorschach said...

"That being said, I believe that the majority of evidence argues for an old earth."

Do you drive a car ? What does it run on? Sheesh...

From the "Nature" article:

"Dr Pagel said that the research shows speciation is the result of rare events in the environment, such as genetic mutations, a shift in climate, or a mountain range rising up. Over the long term new species are formed at a constant rate, rather than the variable rate Pagel's team expected, but the constant rates are different for different groups of species."

Take note JD Curtis, the article doesnt say Goddidit.
This is the scientific method, our knowledge increases when new phenomena are observed.
You are still using your brain the way St Augustine wanted people to use it 1600 years ago,: Goddidit, and things are as it's written in the bible.People have moved on since then, you know.