Manure Dumped on Young-Earth Dogma

This is about a nice bit of research, tidily done, but at first glance it’s not the sort of thing that would excite a blog which is primarily focused on evolution. Your Curmudgeon, however, is afflicted with a peculiar malady — probably the result of years of exposure to creationist blather. It is our burden that we read all science news with one primary question: What will the creationists do with this?

Today we’re concerned with something we found at PhysOrg: Manure used by Europe’s first farmers 8,000 years ago. A few excerpts will give you the general idea, with a touch of bold font added for emphasis:

A new study says Europe’s first farmers used far more sophisticated practices than was previously thought. A research team led by the University of Oxford has found that Neolithic farmers manured and watered their crops as early as 6,000 BC.

How did they figure that out? We’re told:

It had always been assumed that manure wasn’t used as a fertiliser until Iron Age and Roman times. However, this new research shows that enriched levels of nitrogen-15, a stable isotope abundant in manure, have been found in the charred cereal grains and pulse seeds taken from 13 Neolithic sites around Europe.

Here’s a link to the paper, which is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Crop manuring and intensive land management by Europe’s first farmers. Only the abstract can be read without a subscription, so we’ll stick with PhysOrg, which says:

Lead author Dr Amy Bogaard from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford said: ‘The fact that farmers made long-term investments such as manuring in their land sheds new light on the nature of early farming landscapes in Neolithic times. The idea that farmland could be cared for by the same family for generations seems quite an advanced notion, but rich fertile land would have been viewed as extremely valuable for the growing of crops. … ”


The research is based on stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of 124 crop samples of barley, wheat, lentil and peas, totalling around 2,500 grains or seeds. The charred remains represent harvested crops preserved in Neolithic houses destroyed by fire. The samples were from archaeological excavations of Neolithic sites across Europe, dating from nearly 6,000 to 2,400 BC.


The cereal and pulse samples were taken from sites spread across Europe: in the UK, they included Hambledon Hill in Dorset and Lismore Fields near Buxton in Derbyshire. Other Neolithic sites included in the research were in Greece, Bulgaria, Germany and Denmark.

That’s enough. You can read it all if you like. As we said, it’s a nice bit of research.

But this is where the Curmudgeonly Counter-Conceptual Concern (the CC-CC) kicks in. The young-Earth creationists are always babbling (no pun) that the world was miraculously created about 6,000 years ago, and everything those wicked “secularists” teach about things that existed prior to then are lies, to be contemptuously dismissed by sneeringly asking: “Were you there?”

According to Wikipedia’s article on the Ussher chronology, which most young-Earthers accept, James Ussher, the Archbishop of Armagh, calculated that “the first day of creation began at nightfall preceding Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC.”

Oops! Then how do we find rather unambiguous evidence of sophisticated farming methods being used 2,000 years earlier than the date of Creation? Did the Devil spread that evidence around to deceive us?

It gets increasingly difficult for any creationist to maintain his position without simultaneously declaring himself to be among the most incurable of idiots, but such people do exist — in great abundance. Okay, let’s see how they deal with this new research that — shall we say — dumps manure on their fanatically deranged beliefs.

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13 responses to “Manure Dumped on Young-Earth Dogma

  1. This one is easy, SC. You know that creationists refuse to even accept the concept of isotopes. “Stable” ones, used to “date” anything, will fire the “unwarranted assumptions in dating methods” circuits.

  2. Garnetstar is entirely correct in his supposition here.

    For the Young Earth Jihadis, the fact that “carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis” gives a date inconsistent with the infallible Scripture is simply proof that the analytical method is hopelessly flawed and unreliable!

    Why would you choose to place your faith in mere earthly isotopes rather than in the written Word of God Him/Her/It Self–unless it was because you want the licence to commit fornication, incest, cannibalism, genocide, bestiality, onanism, fornication (again), and loitering with intent?

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    Creationists have been spreading manure only since Henry Morris started it. Bonus, they ‘were there’ and thus have the proof. Any conjecture that manure was spread before that is highly suspect of just being evolutionist BS (pun intended).

  4. So our Mesolithic farmer is out putting poop on his pea plants when he sees a flash and hears וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר. And he thinks to himself, ah the universe is getting created woo hoo!

  5. Megalonyx confesses that his faith in isotopes empowers him to: “commit fornication, incest, cannibalism, genocide, bestiality, onanism, fornication (again), and loitering with intent”

    Olivia sensed that you were a deeply troubled man, which is why she fled at the first available moment.

  6. Well, if a day is one thousand years long – and God created plants and land before He created humans, then is could be possible that God pre-fertilized the land with manure before there were any farmers yet.

    In other words, scientists might have just discovered evidence of the Good Lord’s very own poop!

  7. It may be a mistake to assume that the current crop of semi-literate creationists would have any loyalty to the reckonings of Archbishop Ussher. Their treatment of information leaves any statement being little more than a stage prop that can be changed or removed at whim. Generations of believing that certain peoples stories are always based in fact have left them with little facility to frame concepts that are outside the mystical realm. To be fair though, a large number of people who reject excessive use of fantasy have as difficult a time understanding how the mystical minded survive past childhood.

  8. Oh boy! I dread the sure to come ID/Creationists next movie/book to be released about the pooh us sciency peoples will sink to in order to discredit the facts of Gods Word. Isoropes? Yea right…… Deoxywhatever acid? Acid burns things it don’t build things you dumb Darwinianists. Geesh.

  9. Hi Megalonyx,

    Actually, I’m a she. You couldn’t have known that, so no problem. I just don’t want to parade under the false colors of the lordly Adam, when I’m actually one of those evil temptresses who is to blame for the fall and all our subsequent suffering.

  10. Sorry, Curmudgeon, you’ve got it wrong. It’s not the 15N evidence for manure that’s the problem for creationists; s**t is one thing they are never short of anyway. No, it’s the dating of the sites, which is based on completely different data anyway. So actually, the manure work doesn’t add anything new to ther pre-existing difficulties.

    Criticising creationists may be a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, but even at that one should take care to aim straight.

  11. Paul Braterman says: “Sorry, Curmudgeon, you’ve got it wrong.”

    Wrong? Any time I can mention creationism and manure in the same post I’m gonna do it.

  12. “This one is easy, SC. You know that creationists refuse to even accept the concept of isotopes.”

    It’s scary that I have to preface this with a reminder that no one opposes the antics of anti-evolution activists (what most of you mean by “creationists”) more than I do. But the fact is that most of them have no problem with isotopes or the ages in millions and billions of years concluded from them. And even self-described YECs have no problem with 8K, even 10K. Strict “Ussherists” are a very small minority of the activists, who are themselves at most 1% of the public.

    The huge problem is how those activists have fooled the public, most of whom can’t even name one of them. with their misleading sound bites. Now ~1/4 of the public (Americans, high school age or older) are irreversibly in denial of evolution. Even they mostly not YECs, but the main point is that they cab be practically ignored, since they are a minority. But another ~1/4 has various vague doubts about evolution, mostly because they rarely give 5 minutes’ thought beyond the sound bites (very “fit memes”). And another ~1/4 says things like “I guess something like evolution is true, but it’s fair to teach both sides.”

    Add it up, and you have a majority defending the “creationists.” Critics of the anti-evolution movement have been doing a decent job at controlling the “supply” (Dover, etc,) but a terrible job at controlling the “demand.”

  13. Sorry to keep disrupting the toilet humor, but this comment deserves to be unpacked:

    ”Creationists have been spreading manure only since Henry Morris started it.”

    Exactly. Evolution-denial predates that by 100 years, and literal interpretation of scripture predates it by 1000s. But Morris formalized the “evolution of creationism” from honest, misguided belief to full-blown pseudoscience.

    Morris’ careful (natural?) selection of heliocentric YEC ~50 years ago was a compromise between the OEC that was endorsed by most “educated” deniers (e.g. W. J. Bryan) and the geocentrism and flat-earthism still popular (but fading) among the “masses.” The strategy of cherry picking evidence, defining terms to suit the argument, quote mining and other logical fallacies, all to make evolution look weak and a pre-selected alternative look validated, was textbook pseudoscience. Millions bought it. But many anti-evolution activists did not. Most notably, OEC astronomer Hugh Ross.

    “Creationism,” even as pseudoscience, had no choice but to evolve and “speciate.” The fittest variety was, of course, that which made the fewest testable (& falsifiable) claims about its own alternate “theory,” particularly the basic “what happened when.” It used the tricks of pseudoscience merely to promote unreasonable doubt of evolution, and left it to the audience to infer whatever alternate (OEC, YEC, flat-earthism, panspermia, etc.) they were comfortable with further. And it evolved into ID when it became a selective advantage to omit the designer’s identity.

    If one’s main problem with “creationists” is their personal belief in either some literal interpretation of scripture, or merely that “Goddidit,” then one is ironically doing more to help them than anything. Their real “sin” is misleading the public about evolution and the nature of science. And for that their strategies keep evolving to suit their needs, even if it means a steady retreat into “don’t ask, don’t tell.”