Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Brother Jed at KU: 5/6/08 - A whole lotta stupid

Brother Jed and his companions made a trip to the University of Kansas today. At one point, we managed to get his older, portly companion on the topic of the age of the Earth. I was there with a grad student in Geology. It quickly became apparent, that despite Jed's companions claims to formal training in Geology are grossly exaggerated and he presented either gross ignorance or outright lies.

For example, one of the claims this person made is that uplift due to plate tectonics has never been observed. This was directly refuted by the Geology student with numerous examples and a quick Google search returns just such measurements from Papua New Guinea's Finisterre mountains.

He also claimed that convection zones in the Earth which drive tectonic activity must be square. A thorough search for this information returned no results. Searching scientific journals returned no results. Even a check against common sense shows how silly this claim is. Just try drawing a square (not rectangle) inside a circle. It requires that the material MAGICALLY change direction with no forces acting on it far from the core. Talk about miracles!

This person also attempted to invoke polystrate fossils (ie, trees cutting through many layers of deposited sediment) as indicative of a young Earth. What he neglected to mention was that these fossils are only found in places where you should expect frequent deposition rates (ie, near rivers or regions of volcanic activity). When actually dated, radiological dating confirms this prediction. Rather, Jed's companion hypocritically dismissed this, after having just previously argued against uniformitarianism.

Many of the other arguments he presented are so poor, that the major Young-Earth Creationist organization, Answers in Genesis, suggests they not be used. Among them that Jed's companion invoked:
- Plate tectonics is fallacious.
- There are no transitional forms
- Paluxy tracks prove that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.
- Moon-dust thickness proves a young moon.

If many of this person's BEST arguments are refuted by even Creationist organizations and simply searching Google, I hate to think what this says of his intellectual honesty and scholarship concerning his other arguments. Nor is his character much better. When presented with contradictory evidence, this person did not provide a rebuttal, but instead chose to reply by calling us "Morons!" I was personally called a "moron" five times.

I never caught this person's name, whoever this Santa Claus look alike, fisher hat wearing jerk was, he's an embarrassment to an already embarrassing ministry. I seem to recall St. Thomas Aquinas having something to say on how disgraceful it is for Christians to show ignorance in science due to it suggesting that they are ignorant to truth in general. Perhaps Jed's companion should learn from him.


Anonymous said...

I think it was actually Saint Augustine.

Jon Voisey said...

I think you're right. Silly Saints having names that start with "A" just to confuse me. I can't remember my students names half the time.

Anonymous said...

You know, dude, you should really try to tone down the hostility, ok? (Maybe strive to be the "Unhappy Astronomer" before you have a coronary.)

I'm a lab supervisor with 16 years of profressional experience and a degree in chemistry from LSU. I share the beliefs of the scientific community, and I'm by no means a religious man.

But I also realize that all of the evidence that has been gathered on a multitude of scientific topics, from evolution to plate tectonics, is just that. Evidence. Scientific theory, as I'm sure you well know, is essentially the crafting of an idea which agrees as closely as possible with all available information. Aristotle (if memory serves) used his observations to postulate the "crystal sphere" theory. Oops (and that's from one of the most famous minds in mankind's history). Newton described his laws of motion, and they're pretty darn good, but they break down eventually. Oops. Einstein summarized relativity, and even it has its limits. Oops.

My point is that we don't know everything. Science is about refining its available knowledge when new information presents itself, and should always keep in mind that information may arise that turns its current theories on their collective ears.

At the very least, we as scientists should not demonstrate the kind of arrogance for which we are so often reviled, and strive to keep an open mind to allow for the remotest of possibilities that even the most far-flung views might actually be proven one day. I mean, as a younger man, I would never have dreamed that life could survive in boiling water with a high sulfur content--until I saw the actual pictures and videos from underwater submersibles, that is.

If you're an astronomy student, you're obviously not a dummy (personally, physics gave me a raging headache). I say, use that intellect to gain the clarity of internal vision that would let you see that you are only a man, and not privy to all of the universe's secrets.

Do I agree with Brother Jeb? No, I think his interpretation is way too literal. Can I say, with 100% surety, that he's wrong? Not even for a second.

Anonymous said...

Lab Rat, just like you said, everything in science is a theory based on evidence that supports it, even something as easily observable as gravitation. On the other hand, the bible/quran folks have zero evidence to support any of their beliefs. It's not a question of being open-minded, it's about reasoning and reality versus insanity.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I found this site. It's always nice to read material from someone who feels the same way I do about ignorant (usually right wing conservative)Christian fundamentalists. Please, stay "angry."

Anonymous said...

Just found this site. I agree with Jeff. Stay angry. I think "lab rat" must work for NASA and is used to people telling him what information gets public exposure and what information is "edited".

Anonymous said...

LMAO, 2nd anonymous...how you made the leap from "admonishment to remember to keep an open mind in case the 1 times ten to the negative googleplex scenario turns out to be correct" to "must work for NASA" is a subject of great curiosity for me....

Your teacher of logic would be proud....

And where, exactly, did I advocate censorship? Perhaps I overestimate my ability to communicate with the written word....