AIG: Why Scientists Are So Wrong

This is a very entertaining article from from Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. AIG is the online creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia.

Try to imagine what life is like for Hambo and his minions. They associate only with with their fellow creationists. They wander through their creation museum and dream of building a replica of Noah’s Ark. They live in their own little world of 500 years ago — before the astronomical revolution of Nicolaus Copernicus and then Galileo, before James Hutton developed the science of geology, before Darwin’s theory of evolution, before the scientific method as we know it had been formalized, when nothing had yet been discovered that challenged the primitive Babylonian worldview that prevailed when the Old Testament was written. That is the intellectual ghetto in which they confine themselves and they’re wondering why scientists disagree with them.

To see how they explain the fact that everyone is wrong but them, you need to read their latest article: How Could Most Scientists Be Wrong? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

What better place to teach geology than the Grand Canyon? Exposed there is a large slice through the rock record of a major part of earth history. Every year we take groups through the Grand Canyon, and people see in-depth the compelling evidence for the global, cataclysmic Genesis Flood.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Stay with us, it gets better:

Overwhelmed by this evidence, a common response is: “How could most scientists be wrong about its formation?” If the evidence for the catastrophic accumulation of the rock record and its contained fossils in only a year or so, rather than over millions of years, is so compelling, why don’t all geologists accept the evidence and agree that the biblical Flood accounts for the rock and fossil records?

As we said, they’re living in their own little world. Let’s read on:

The only facts are that the rocks and fossils are observed in layers. They can be measured and tested repeatedly in the present. When it comes to explaining how the rocks and fossils formed, however, those are events that occurred in the past. They can’t be repeated and observed. Thus, explanations about how rocks and fossils formed in the past are interpretations, not facts.

Like the ancient Babylonians and their scripture-writing contemporaries, the creationists look around in wonder, and can’t imagine any way to figure anything out. We continue:

Sure, we can observe and study today how sediments are deposited in layers. But to say that sediments have always accumulated in the past at the rates we observe today is an assumption. It’s an interpretation based on man’s ideas about the past and is not a proven fact.

Have you ever noticed that when creationists ignore current observations of physical processes — that are never seen to vary — and assume that the speed of such things was different the past, they somehow never assume that things used to be slower? No, it’s always faster — much faster. Why? Because that’s the only way to make sense of Genesis, and Genesis is the only reason for their imaginary variable laws of nature. Here’s more:

Ironically, repeatable measurements and field observations today are demonstrating that sedimentary rock layers had to accumulate rapidly.

They have a footnote for that which cites a creationist book. We’ll ignore it and move along:

Past events can be confirmed on the basis of eyewitness testimony, just as court cases depend on eyewitness testimonies. God’s Word provides us with an eyewitness testimony of the earth’s early history — Creation, Corruption, and Catastrophe (the Flood). God was present and He has told us what happened.

Uh, except that in court cases, the witness has to give his testimony in person, and be subject to cross-examination. The creationists’ eyewitness never shows up to testify. But that doesn’t bother the creationists. In fact, they can’t imagine why you’re not convinced. They say:

How then could most scientists be wrong? Easily! As we emphasize in the Creation Museum, scientists’ interpretations of the evidence begin with, and are framed by, their starting point. Put another way, who or what are they going to trust? Can scientists by their own observations and reasoning alone establish what happened in the past?

Yeah — what makes you think you can rely on observations and reasoning? What are you, some kind of fool? Creationists reject such nonsense. Here’s another excerpt:

That’s how most scientists are wrong. They have chosen finite, fallible man’s word over the Word of the infinite, infallible, all-powerful Creator God. It’s an issue of who is the ultimate authority.

It couldn’t be more clear. Skipping to the end:

No matter how impressive the apparent weight of evidence as interpreted by most scientists may seem, to take our eyes off God’s Word as our ultimate authority will never lead us to the truth about the earth’s past. The fear of the Lord—not man—is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom [scripture link].

So there you are. There’s also a bible-based cartoon at the end of the article. You may find it persuasive.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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40 responses to “AIG: Why Scientists Are So Wrong

  1. Weren’t creationists able to force the Grand Canyon museum/tourist center to sell creationist literature on the GC that says it’s young and all the result of the big world-wide biblical flood?

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    Sorry Hambo, there is not enough facts in the bible to support the observable world and universe. Trusting and relying in the bible is not enough. If the bible didn’t say that sediment accumulated faster, than you are just relying on a fallible human, no better than a scientist. FAIL.

  3. A major fact that Ham chooses to ignore (or more likely, he’s totally ignorant of) is that not all the layers of sediment in the Grand Canyon were deposited by water. The sandstone formations that exhibit cross-bedding started out as wind-deposited sandstone. The Coconino Sandstone formation is an example. Cross-bedding happens in sand dunes.

  4. First, being from Appalachia, I can assure you there is no ayatollah there. Second the idea of the literal translation of Genesis did not arise until just prior to those important scientific discoveries that were mentioned. Many erroneous ideas flourished in Europe in the middle ages that previous societies knew were false.The ancient Hebrews knew the world was round for example. I fully believe in evolution. I also fully believe in creation. It is not hard to reconcile the two. Many things in Genesis perfectly match evolution. “The first life was in water” is stated by both. These so called creationist want to force people to make a choice between their religion and their science. I have never been told by an atheist that if I accept science I have to reject religion. That is a personal choice. Science should be confined to those things we can observe and test. Creation science or Intelligent design are for Sunday school not public school. I am currently seeking a degree in Biology education. I will not teach anything that is not science!

  5. I should have added that the area of Colorado Plateau, which contains the Grand Canyon, was once a vast desert — about the opposite of a global flood.

  6. That is the intellectual ghetto in which they confine themselves…

    That’s it. AIG = Appalachian Intellectual Ghetto. Works for me.

  7. Charles Deetz ;)

    @retiredsciguy: Were you there? You are relying on “historical science”. The bible is the witness to the past. We all know Moses got lost in the desert, and it most certainly wasn’t in Colorado. You humanist, you!

  8. AiG said:

    Thus, explanations about how rocks and fossils formed in the past are interpretations, not facts.

    Ah, yes, the “Were you there?” defense. Frankly, everything you’re studying is in the past. When you conduct an experiment, you’re reporting results that are in the past. It’s merely a matter of scale.
    And the idea that “Past events can be confirmed on the basis of eyewitness testimony” is baloney. Eyewitnesses are the worst form of evidence. My wife teaches psychology and memory. She does an experiment in which something happens in her class, then asks the students to report what they saw. If you get a class of 90 students, you’ll have 90 different responses. The coarse details may be somewhat close, but the fine details will be all over the place.

    Oh, @Charles Deetz: Can I be a humanist, too? Don’t want to leave RSG out in the cold by himself.

  9. There are several popular Crime Scene Investigation, CSI, programs on TV. Events leave evidence, and CSI is the use of modern scientific knowledge to study that evidence and recreate the events. I wonder if we would have more luck getting our point if view accepted if we showed how our work is like that seen in the popular CSI programs.

  10. @Toby Carmack: “First, being from Appalachia, I can assure you there is no ayatollah there.”

    Also missing from Appalachia: the Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah.

    “Second the idea of the literal translation of Genesis did not arise until just prior to those important scientific discoveries that were mentioned.”

    Source? The doctrine of Biblical inerrancy is most definitely post-scientific revolution and a reaction against attempts to interpret the Bible in historical context (that is to say, scientifically) rather than as revealed truth.

    “Many erroneous ideas flourished in Europe in the middle ages that previous societies knew were false.The ancient Hebrews knew the world was round for example.”

    False, unless you meant “round as in flat, ie, a two-dimensional circle” which is most probably not what you meant. The Hellenistic Greeks knew the Earth was spherical, and measured the size of the earth pretty accurately. The ancient Hebrews most certainly knew no such thing. The Bible, in several instances, describes the earth as flat and only dishonest mistranslations and outright denial allows Christians today to lie to themselves about what the ancient Hebrews actually believed.

  11. Charles Deetz ;)

    On a more serious note, re-reading it to decide why it is so FAIL, I get down to this statement:

    Christians who are scientists are also wrong if they do not choose God’s Word as their ultimate authority. Peer pressure, academic respectability, and human pride are all snares. It’s hard to stand against the tide of the secular scientific consensus.

    This is not a scientific answer to the article’s title. It is an assumption, hand-waving if you will. And I just don’t see how this accounts for most scientists. It is a made-up answer to suit the given conclusion … just like everything else they do. FAIL.

  12. Past events can be confirmed on the basis of eyewitness testimony, just as court cases depend on eyewitness testimonies.

    Lawyers (like me) have long known that eyewitness are just about the worst evidence in court cases. Such things as DNA evidence are much more reliable. And hearsay (to a multiple degree … somebody wrote down what Moses supposedly said God supposedly said) witnesses are rightly excluded from any court case.

    What I want to know is AiG willing to support the freeing of all murderers, rapists, etc. who were not identified by eyewitnesses and were, instead, convicted on the basis of finite, fallible man’s science? Can we send them all to Petersburg, Kentucky and set up a tent city for them on a certain open scenic space?

  13. johnpieret asks: “What I want to know is AiG willing to support the freeing of all murderers, rapists, etc. who were not identified by eyewitnesses”

    Oh no. They say that the laws of nature were different back then, but they’ve been pretty reliable since the Flood. That is, they like to have it both ways.

  14. @crock
    Yes the Ayatollah of rock and rollah, How could that have slipped my mind?
    John Wycliffe (1330-84) and John Huss (1369-1415) were among the first to interpret the Bible literally. Yes, the big response to the scientific revolution did bring the doctrine to the forefront.
    On the ancient Hebrews. Their description was circular, with land “resting” on the ocean and covered by a dome. No lie, just reading into that. If one applies that description to several places around the planet you get the picture of a sphere. The Greeks did have a much better idea and description. That was aided by their mathematics which was much more advanced than that of the Hebrews.

  15. The bible mentions the four corners of the earth. A solid with four corners is a tetrahedron. Why is there no bible based Tetrahedral Earth Society? Incidentally there were two Greek estimates of the diameter of the earth. Columbus was familiar with the smaller estimate, and actually thought he had traveled far enough to reach India.

  16. Unsurprising. Their evidence is: “Were you there?” But you know, maybe they have a point: Why, oh why, won’t those foolish, highly trained, logically thinking professionals not listen to the words of the wizard in the clouds? Don’t they realize that people living in the ancient Middle East knew WAY more about how the world works than they do? Of course it’s magic! What else could it be?

  17. I’ve been a geophysicist active in the international oil and gas exploration industry for almost 40 years, and I don’t know a single exploration or petroleum company that uses “Biblical Science” or “Creation Science” or “Flood Geology” or any of the Hamster’s other “science” ideas.

    Petroleum companies are hard-nosed and reality oriented. They spend billions of dollars every year exploring successfully for oil and gas all over the world using fact and reality based science . .. . not the looney-tunes fairly tails of the Hamster or any other side show carny.

    There is not a single shred of evidence in the geologic record to support the Hamster’s kindergarten level “creation science”.

    The drooling “scientists” at AiG should be ashamed of themselves. They quit being scientists the instant they signed the infantile statement of faith required of them. Yuck.

    Time for a shower.

  18. I was thinking there was one oil company that used flood geology, “Zion Oil”. Apparently there is a bible verse Deuteronomy 33:24 “Let him dip his foot in oil” so they went and drilled in Israel. The venture was unsuccessful. While I assumed they used flood geology they in fact were using top notch scientists. Forestdevil is correct.

  19. @ Curmudgeon:

    Oh no. They say that the laws of nature were different back then, but they’ve been pretty reliable since the Flood.

    WERE THEY THERE at all those muders, rapes, etc.? … if so, maybe we should be asking some other hard questions!!!

  20. Toby Carmack notes:

    These so called creationist want to force people to make a choice between their religion and their science.

    Exactly. The explicit aim of the Wedge strategy and soi disant “Creation Scientists” is not to mount a legitimate challenge to science, or to develop a coherent ‘alternative science’ (whatever that might mean), but simply to chip away at science as a pillar of the achievements of the Enlightenment, which was the antithesis of superstition.

    And please note I have been careful to say ‘superstition’, not ‘religion.’ One of the best characterisations of how science simply does not included religion within its scope comes from Ben Goldacre, who pressed in recent interview as to whether he harboured specific religious beliefs or was an atheist, replied along the lines of, “Neither — as a scientist I am an apatheist, someone who has no professional interest in the topic of religion”

  21. AIG reminds me in a weird way of a bunch of kids playing D&D that get carried away with the fantasy world they’re playing in and start to believe its real.

  22. I don’t have the time to actually do it, but sometimes I fantasize about playing a troll on these boards. I would actually play two trolls, one a Biblical YEC like AiG folk and the other a “don’t ask, don’t tell” Discoveroid. In the meantime I’ll just leave the usual reminder to any readers not yet fully aware, that the Discoveroids buy none of that Biblical stuff. And before anyone takes the bait on Dembski’s “Flood” speech – one I’m convinced was concocted at least as much to make us “Darwinists” jump than to keep his job at the seminary – he made it clear that he encourages only the belief, and admitted that there’s no evidence. He is also clear that he fully agrees with the old-earth-old-life chronology that AiG and ICR deny.

    It’s also sad that I have to say this, but none of that is meant to defend the Discoveroids in any way. They are far more devious than the quaint Biblicals. So why, in the unidentified, unembodied intelligent designer’s name, would anyone want to help them with their big tent strategy?

  23. Frank J states:

    I’ll just leave the usual reminder to any readers not yet fully aware, that the Discoveroids buy none of that Biblical stuff

    Not sure I concur, unless you mean they’re not specifically wedded to YEC rubbish.

    Their ‘Wedge Strategy’ document is explicit, their primary goals are

    “To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies”
    and
    “To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God”

    IOW, on Goal 1, your basic common-or-garden reactionaries politically, and on Goal 2, who for expediency maintain a theological ‘big tent’ until Goal 1 achieved. Mind you, were they ever to achieve Goal 1 (may the Flying Spaghetti Monster defend us!), you can bet we’d all soon be back to the era of inquisition and friendly neighbourhood heretic burning

  24. A couple of posters have brought up a similar point (and this has often been raised before), but I can’t resist commenting on this: They have chosen finite, fallible man’s word over the Word of the infinite, infallible, all-powerful Creator God.

    How do the YECs who accept the heliocentric model of the Solar System allow “finite, fallible man’s word” to change their interpretation of the Bible when it clearly says that the Earth is fixed and the Sun moves around it? Everybody, for something like 2000 years, accepted that the Bible taught geocentrism, and today’s heliocentrists differ only because they accept naturalistic evidence and human reasoning.

    I’d like to hear any YEC-heliocentrist tell us why they think that the Earth is a planet of the Sun. I’d bet that they can’t put up as good an argument as there is for evolution. I’d bet that they can’t do better in interpreting the Bible. I’d bet that they can’t present a model as detailed as Tycho’s.

  25. @Troy
    They were drilling for olive oil?? No wonder they were unsuccessful.

  26. @ Ellie

    I shudder to think how they might have gone about producing Baby Oil…

  27. Personally, I think the bible is not the word of God, it was formed by rapid accumilation of sediments in a flood.

    Just because floods don’t create books now, you can’t prove they didn’t used to do so.

  28. waldteufel,,amen to your post…….
    no creation science in oil and gas exploration as you point out……
    Unless of course, your brain is made of jello, in which case, exploration would be be just like gambling, that is, totally random as to whether a given well will be a discovery or not.
    Creation exploration,,,,,,,,,,,, that would be a great gimmick for AIG. I’m surprised they haven’t started an oil and gas exploration company and sold shares to the rubes who go to their “museum” and read their articles.
    amazing stuff Hambone………..thanks for sharing . I needed a good giggle

  29. SC: “They say that the laws of nature were different back then, but they’ve been pretty reliable since the Flood. That is, they like to have it both ways.”

    If the laws of nature have been reliable since the Flood, and AiG is saying that the Flood laid down the sediment layers exposed in the Grand Canyon, then how in hell do they explain the amount of erosion that would have had to take place AFTER the the Flood to form the Grand Canyon? You just don’t get that deep a canyon in 5,000 years.

    Waldteufel is absolutely, positively correct — “Total rubbish!”

  30. retiredsciguy says: “If the laws of nature have been reliable since the Flood …”

    Hey, that’s the word from ICR. Here’s their article on it: Observing Creation.

  31. Megalonyx: “Not sure I concur, unless you mean they’re not specifically wedded to YEC rubbish.”

    Keeping in mind the even bigger tent of all pseudoscience, any hint that one pseudoscience peddler is “not specifically wedded” to a similar, but not identical pseudoscience, can be safely interpreted as an admission that they strongly disagree with its claims. But as you note by bringing up the Wedge, they have to downplay their differences for a larger common goal. In fact most Discoveroids, especially Behe, have gone much further than mere hinting that YEC is nonsense. Not by criticizing YEC of course, but by occasionally stating their own positions that flatly contradict it. Even the supposed YEC Discoveroid, Paul Nelson, has given some clues that he might be faking his belief. Years ago I asked him to comment on the speculation that he might be a closet Omphalos creationist. A peddler of “scientific” YEC or OEC would have no problem giving me a prompt “no!” But he evaded the question while replying to others on the thread. My interpretation is that he favors a “YEC-like approach” because he thinks it sells better than admitting old life and common descent, or just playing dumb. Other Discoveroids politely disagree. The multi-pronged approach itself may be a deliberate strategy to fool the largest audience possible.

  32. retiredsciguy asked If the laws of nature have been reliable since the Flood, and AiG is saying that the Flood laid down the sediment layers exposed in the Grand Canyon, then how in hell do they explain the amount of erosion that would have had to take place AFTER the the Flood to form the Grand Canyon?

    They do it by positing that the Grand Canyon was itself created during the Flood and immediately following the Flood by the massive run-off of all that water. See here for a particularly well-illustrated example. They also invoke erosion of unconsolidated material following the eruption of Mt. St. Helen’s to show how a canyon can be formed rapidly. See here for an example.

  33. I would like to point something out about the whole global-flood thing, which I’m sure many other people have pointed out before. Where the hell did all the water go? I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that, even if you melted all of the frozen water on the earth right now, it wouldn’t flood every single inch of land (mind you, I know it would cause a lot, but I don’t think it would be global). So, basically, where was the water going? A creationist would likely say that it was simply removed from the earth by god. But if that were so, then how did runoff form the Grand Canyon?

  34. @Caleb Exactly. Thank you, Caleb. You had already written the thoughts I was preparing in my mind while I was reading Richard B. Hoppe’s post.

    Moreover, if there had been a massive run-off, there had to be a much lower place — devoid of water — for all that water to go to. But if there was a global flood, there would have been no such place. Besides, the very layers of sedimentary rock that the creationists say was deposited by “The Flood” contain the trace fossil footprints of land-dwelling, air-breathing reptiles. I guess the GEICO gecko was wearing a tiny little scuba tank.

  35. I meant to say “trace fossil footprints of land-dwelling, air-breathing reptiles.”

    I know the creationists claim the all the fossils of land animals we find in the fossil record are merely the victims of “The Flood.” Kinda hard to explain footprints that way. I know they believe in dead man walking and all, but dead lizard walking? What, is this some new deity?

  36. Indeed it is! Welcome to the Church of the Holy Iguana!

  37. The whole truth

    If there was a world wide flood (a very violent one) a few thousand years ago as asserted by bible thumpers, and that flood carved the Grand Canyon, then why are there hills and mountains on Earth, and why aren’t there Grand Canyons everywhere, and why isn’t the entire Earth a canyon, or why didn’t the Grand Canyon and all other canyons get filled with sediments as the flood settled down?

    Th Grand Canyon is a very cool place but it’s just a speck on the Earth. What makes the thumpers think that that particular canyon is some sort of proof of a raging world wide flood? And what about a bigger, deeper canyon like the Mariana Trench? Why don’t the thumpers try to use that as an example of the effects of the flood? Or the Snake River Canyon? Or Copper Canyon in Mexico?

    The so-called biblical flood is one of the most ridiculous fairy tales ever conjured up.

  38. Reality check: Those who insist that the evidence supports a global flood are less than 1% of the population. Maybe another 25% parrots them, but most of them retreat to OEC or Omphalism when they give it more than 5 minutes thought. So am I the only one who finds it curious every one of that 1% has a radical, authoritarian worldview to which they are demonstrably far more committed than to their half-hearted defenses of global floods and young life?

    You are all probably saying “well, duh!” But think about it. The Discoveroids also object to methodological naturalism, “religiously” confuse it with philosophical naturalism, and have a radical, authoritarian worldview. Call me Huntsman-crazy, but if I truly believed that the “evidences” supported a global flood, with all life popping up only a few 1000 years before that, concurrently on land and sea no less, the first and possibly only thing I’d do is pester the Discoveroids, and OEC groups like RtB – until they “see the light.” They accept death before the Fall – and often even common descent just like “Darwinists”! (warning: turn off irony meters) So why on Earth would I waste my time arguing “evidences” with “Darwinists” who are too blind to see that methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism are the same thing, that quote mining is a good thing, and that “convergence, neither sought not fabricated” is overrated?

  39. The Whole Truth: “The so-called biblical flood is one of the most ridiculous fairy tales ever conjured up.

    Actually I would argue that, millennia ago, when that story was written, it was a reasonable hypothesis given the paucity of evidence. Same for the “kinds” popping up all at once. If anything, proposing that it was 1000s of years ago instead of 2 or three lifetimes might have been considered as radical as evolution was when it was first proposed.

    By the 20th century, however, even Biblical literalists were conceding an old Earth, and often much more, to mainstream science. They didn’t like it, but their obedience to “thou shalt not bear false witness” gave them no other option. What is far worse than a “ridiculous fairy tale” is what happened in reaction to that. Creationism went from “honest, if misguided belief” to full-blown pseudoscience. Some people found that if one takes evidence out of context and plays other word games, one can convince most nonscientists, maybe even oneself, that childhood fairy tales are supported by independent evidence. But even that is rather quaint and potentially self-defeating compared to the all-out scam known as ID.

  40. @Toby Carmack

    Yes, it’s the fundamentalists, or biblical inerrantists, who can’t reconcile science with their faith. The “controversy” , or evolution vs ID is really a theist construct and applicable only within the context of religion, namely fundamentalists vs nonfundamentalists since there is no such controvery within the scientific community. I hope you are successful in educating those who mull over this artificial problem, as they are victims of a concerted effort by control-seeking scammers. Those wolves in sheeps clothing do not stop at constraining freedom, potentially harming our economy – or even their own children to maintain their 1) personal comfort zone, or 2) means of profiteering.