Creationist Wisdom #372: Plenty of Evidence

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Victoria Advocate of Victoria, Texas. It’s titled Plenty of evidence supports creationism.

Plenty of evidence? Great! This is what we’ve all been waiting for. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. Because we don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians or otherwise in the public eye), we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Okay, here we go:

Evolution is an implausible theory based on unproved assumptions. The evidence for both evolution and creation is the same; it’s all around us. Which tenet of faith is the most logical?

M’god — what a beginning! We’ve got an “implausible theory,” based on “unproved assumptions,” and it’s a “tenet of faith.” We assume that’s in contrast to creationism, which is entirely plausible, rests only on proven assumptions, and isn’t faith-based at all. Okay, now we’re ready to proceed:

Consider age: We make assumptions about a person’s age by our perception of looks, clothing, manners, etc. It’s the same with most things, but what kind of life has the person lived? Have they been sick or maybe had some plastic surgery? There are also variables in nature that can affect the perception of age.

Ah yes — that explains it. The Earth is really young, but it’s been leading a terrible life, doesn’t get enough exercise, has bad eating habits, and therefore its isotopes are all run down. That’s why it appears to be billions of years old. Let’s read on:

Until the 1500s, the consensus of opinion was Earth was only about 6,000 years old. It was Charles Lyell, a lawyer, who made the theory of uniformitarianism popular and convinced people the world was old. Most true modern geologists do not believe that theory.

Aaaargh!! It was James Hutton (1726 – 1797), not Charles Lyell (1797 – 1875), who first proposed the principle uniformitarianism. However, it may indeed be a fact that no true geologist thinks that way — depending, of course, on one’s version of The Truth.

This is a great letter, so far. But can the letter-writer maintain this same level of quality all the way through? We continue:

The Institute for Creation Research sent samples of coal to several different totally independent testing laboratories, from different layers and locations. The results came back all the same ages.

Powerful evidence from a reliable source! We can’t be certain, but he’s probably referring to this article from 2003, posted at the ICR website: Carbon Dating Undercuts Evolution’s Long Ages. Yeah, that’s gotta be it. That same article claims that Lyell is responsible for the idea of uniformitarianism. Here’s more from today’s letter:

There are two volcanic flows in the Grand Canyon. The top one consistently ages older than the one several rock layers deeper.

We haven’t bothered to look that one up. Debunking it is your assignment, dear reader. Your work is probably already done by this item at the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims. Moving along:

Creationists have no problem with micro evolution; that’s just a term for genetic adaptation within a kind. Dogs will always be dogs; people will always be people and so on.

Yes, dogs will always be dogs. Just as wolves will always be wolves. Oh, wait — well, never mind. Skipping to the end, this is the letter-writer’s final blow against evolution:

If you are going to put your faith in evolution, you will be disagreeing with the likes of Pasteur, Lord Kelvin, Newton, Charles Boyle, Gregor Mendel and many other creation-believing scientists who developed the fields of science we study today.

We’ve dealt with most of those names before. But … Charles Boyle? That’s a new one. Wikipedia lists several men by that name, but the likeliest one is Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1706. Darwin didn’t publish his theory until 1859, so there’s not much we need to say — about that Charles Boyle or any other. Perhaps he meant Charles Boyer? We’ll probably never know.

So there you are, dear reader. The letter promised us evidence for creationism. Now you’ve seen it. The rest is up to you.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #372: Plenty of Evidence

  1. The writer was probably aiming for Robert Boyle (of Boyle’s Law fame) when he mentioned a Charles Boyle; since Robert Boyle died in 1691, your demolition is still valid.

    Although Hutton was indeed the one responsible for uniformitarianism, it was Lyell who brought the notion into the public eye through his staunch advocacy of it in Principles of Geology (1830-3), so the writer is correct in saying that Lyell “made the theory of uniformitarianism popular and convinced people the world was old”.

    His sneer about Lyell being a lawyer is misplaced, though; as Wikipedia says (in unison with all sane histories of science), Lyell “was a British lawyer and the foremost geologist of his day”.

  2. Also many scientists of the age had day jobs, unless they were independently wealthy. Benjamin Franklin started put as Postmaster for the Americas while conducting his hobbies of scientist and over thrower of governments.

  3. Curmy elaborates—

    “The Earth is really young, but it’s been leading a terrible life, doesn’t get enough exercise, has bad eating habits, and therefore its isotopes are all run down. That’s why it appears to be billions of years old.”

    I submit that you too would look quite a bit older than your years if you were repeatedly violated and ravished by the loutish unreason of creationists. Ooops…

  4. that really was a lot of evidence

  5. Here’s the probable source of the ‘two volcanic flows’ claim. It’s Steve Austin, as one might expect for a creationist geology claim.

  6. RBH says: “Here’s the probable source”

    Thanks, Richard. That Austin article is from 1992. It’s surprising it hasn’t shaken up the field of geology by now. It seems the letter-writer gets all his evidence from ICR.

  7. We’ve been through this before but Louis Pasteur and Gregor Mendel were probably evolutionists. To repeat the obvious:

    Louis Pasteur: “Virulence appears in a new light which cannot but be alarming to humanity; unless nature, in her evolution down the ages (an evolution which, as we now know, has been going on for millions, nay, hundreds of millions of years), has finally exhausted all the possibilities of producing virulent or contagious diseases — which does not seem very likely.” [Louis Pasteur. The Man and His Theories, 1965]

    As for Gregor Mendel, the creationist claim that he was a creationist seems to be built entirely on the fact that he was a monk– even though his monastery was famous for academic research and heretical thinking.

    The bulk of the evidence shows that Mendel probably believed in evolution, as discussed in detail here.

    This is from his Pisum paper:

    The success of transformation experiments led [Carl Freidrich von] Gärtner to disagree with those scientists who contest the stability of plant species and assume continuous evolution of plant forms. In the complete transformation of one species into another he finds unequivocal proof that a species has fixed limits beyond which it cannot change. Although this opinion cannot be adjudged unconditionally valid, considerable confirmation of the earlier expressed conjecture on the variability of cultivated plants is to be found in the experiments performed by Gärtner.

    Mendel corresponded for many years with Carl Nägeli, who was famous as a defender of evolution. In the early 20th century creationists made up lists of scientists who supposedly were anti-Darwinist (“there’s a controversy!”) and some of the people on the list, like Nägeli, were actually Darwinists. Sound familiar?

    In Mendel’s introduction to his Hieracium experiments in 1869, he wrote:

    The question of the origin of numerous and constant intermediate forms has recently acquired no small interest since a famous Hieracium specialist [Carl Nägeli] has, in the spirit of the Darwinian teaching, defended the view that these forms are to be regarded as [arising] from the transmutation of lost or still existing species.

    In his final letter to Nägeli in 1873, Mendel wrote:

    the naturally-occurring hybridizations in Hieracium should be ascribed to temporary disturbances, which, if they were repeated often or became permanent, would finally result in the disappearances of the species involved, while one or other of the more happily organized progeny, better adapted to the prevailing telluric and cosmic conditions, might take up the struggle for existence successfully and continue it for a long stretch of time, until finally the same fate overtook it.

    In the context of the time, the phrase “struggle for existence” would be interpreted as Darwinian. David Allen concludes that Mendel “was allying a theory of descent through hybridisation with the Darwinian notion of the struggle for existence as the mechanism for the selection and survival of species. It follows that a belief in decent through hybridisation cannot be simply equated with a position that is ‘anti-evolutionary’ or ‘anti-Darwinian’…Mendel’s investigations into constant hybrids suggest, in fact, that he saw hybridisation as a possible factor in the origin and evolution of new forms…Mendel was looking for constancy in hybrids—which would actually prove the mutability of species…”

    Allen demolishes ID proponent L.A. Callender’s attempt to portray Mendel as a creationist: “What is dangerous is the way that his [Callender's] claim that Mendel was a ‘Linnaean’ (i.e. ‘special creationist’) has been accepted by some as if it is a fact, rather than seen for what it is: a blatant propagandist ploy by the ID/creationist camp.” [David Allen, "Mendel in Darwin's Shadow"]

  8. Possibly that creationist conflated the author of Charles’ Law, Jacques Charles, with that of Robert Boyle, to get Charles Boyle. The two are often mentioned in textbooks together. Boyle’s Law described the behavior of gases at constant temperature where pressure is inversely proportional to volume for a fixed amount of gas: Charles showed that in a fixed amount of gas, the volume is directly proportional to the absolute temperature.
    Charles worked in the late 1700s, so probably was a creationist, as was Boyle, a century earlier.

  9. Bob Carroll suggests: “Possibly that creationist conflated the author of Charles’ Law, Jacques Charles, with that of Robert Boyle, to get Charles Boyle.”

    I think he combined Charles de Gaulle and Milton Berle.

  10. When I discuss evilution with xtians. I don’t really bother, Ijust ask one question…
    Since creationism is true,when are all these brilliant creation scientist going to do something really cool for the world??? Let me know when you hear of something, I’m not holding my breath waiting.

    So far none of them have gotten back to me about their great discoveries.

  11. @Bob Carroll

    Possibly that creationist conflated the author of Charles’ Law, Jacques Charles, with that of Robert Boyle, to get Charles Boyle.

    That seems very plausible.

  12. “The Institute for Creation Research sent samples of coal to several different totally independent testing laboratories, from different layers and locations. The results came back all the same ages.”

    First off, carbon dating only works for dating once-living organisms less than about 50,000 years old. C-14 has a relatively short half-life (5,730 years), so it’s almost all decayed by then. Coal, on the other hand, dates from the Carboniferous Period — 345 million to 280 million years ago. So yes, all the samples of coal would come back with the same age — “between 280 million and 345 million years old.” In other words, coal cannot be dated by the carbon-14 method.

    It seems that the only “research” that the Institute for Creation Research does revolves around finding new ways to fool the science-illiterate public.

  13. @retiredsciguy Wouldn’t the responses all come back: “More than 50,000 years old”? Assuming, that is, that the samples were not contaminated by the handling that they had been subject to. I recall hearing about someone sending off a sample to a lab, and the lab reporting that they could not perform a meaningful dating because of obvious contamination, but the senders insisted that they knew that, and that they wanted a date anyway, so the lab gave them a date.

  14. @TomS: Yes, that’s correct. The point I was making is that there is no way an isolated sample of coal sent to a lab could be dated (unless it contained an index fossil), so if ICR demanded dates anyway, each lab might simply respond, “The sample of coal you sent us is between 280 million and 345 million years old”, since it’s a safe bet each sample was from the Carboniferous Period.

    So yes, each sample would come back with the same age, or as the semi-literate letter-writer awkwardly put it, “The results came back all the same ages.”

  15. It isn’t just Austin, The Woolf’s Den also mentions the dating problem:
    http://www.jwoolfden.com/gc_rocks.html

    It appears to be a real thing.