Category Archives: Science

Pluto Has Water and Blue Sky

NASA photo of Pluto

NASA photo of Pluto

This will send the creationists into a frenzy. The NASA website has this news: New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto. Here are a few excerpts:

The first color images of Pluto’s atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue. “Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It’s gorgeous,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado.

But that’s only half of the news:

In a second significant finding, New Horizons has detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on Pluto. The discovery was made from data collected by the Ralph spectral composition mapper on New Horizons.

Egad! First, NASA announced water on Mars. Now on Pluto. When will this nightmare end? Let’s read on:

“Large expanses of Pluto don’t show exposed water ice,” said science team member Jason Cook, of SwRI, “because it’s apparently masked by other, more volatile ices across most of the planet. Understanding why water appears exactly where it does, and not in other places, is a challenge that we are digging into.”

Large expanses of Earth don’t show water ice either. One more excerpt:

A curious aspect of the detection is that the areas showing the most obvious water ice spectral signatures correspond to areas that are bright red in recently released color images. “I’m surprised that this water ice is so red,” says Silvia Protopapa, a science team member from the University of Maryland, College Park. “We don’t yet understand the relationship between water ice and the reddish tholin colorants on Pluto’s surface.”

What will the creationists do? There’s water on Mars and on Pluto. And there’s water on Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Oh, we know — they’ll say it’s evidence that the universe is young. Or maybe it has some connection with Noah’s Flood. They’ll think of something. They always do.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

Creationist Definitions

This is intended to be one of our reference posts, to which we will link from time to time when it seems appropriate. We’ll be adding to it as we think of new material.

Whenever we hear people speaking of “faith in science,” or “faith in evolution,” we cringe. Why? Because it’s a complete misuse of the word “faith.” In Hebrews 11:1 (King James version, of course) we’re told: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” That’s the unique thing about faith — it doesn’t require any evidence. And of course, that’s what makes it so different from science.

One of the definitions of faith commonly used in on-line dictionaries is “belief that is not based on proof.” In the context of science, however, a more rigorous definition would be: “Faith is belief that is not based on verifiable evidence or logical proof.” Beyond that there’s what we might call brain-dead faith — belief that is flat-out contradicted by evidence or logical proof. That extreme kind of faith is pure reality denial.

So what’s the appropriate word to use when one understands a scientific theory and accepts it, based not only on the verifiable evidence, but also on the fact that in all the theory’s tests, it has never been disproved? Obviously, “faith” is inappropriate. Our preferred word is “confidence,” that is, one has confidence in the theory — which is justified as long as the theory is consistent with the evidence.

There’s an intermediate area. What about matters where we have no expertise, but which we accept anyway? An example is the functioning of aircraft — assuming one isn’t an aeronautical engineer with a solid understanding of such things. We routinely board aircraft, assuming that we will safely arrive at our destination. Is that an act of faith?

No, of course not. Regardless of our lack of technical knowledge, we literally see that aircraft fly, and we know people who have traveled in them. It may not be the same degree of confidence we have in something like evolution, about which we know the theory and the evidence, but we are nevertheless justified, based on our observations, in having confidence that such things are indeed functional. So here too, “faith” isn’t involved. The term “faith” should be reserved for things about which we literally know nothing.

While we’re talking about definitions, we’ll discuss a few others. Creationists love to confuse their drooling followers about the meaning of “theory,” attempting to equate it with a poor definition of “hypothesis,” so that it becomes nothing more that a wild guess — or even an arbitrary assumption.

Creationists are skilled at generating confusion about such matters. They often resort to dictionary definitions of “faith” and “theory” in an attempt to mislead their drooling followers. But when a creationist reaches for the dictionary, you may be sure of two things: First, he has no other non-scriptural reference book; and second, he’s going to select the least appropriate definitions he can find, which have no relevance to scientific work. To counter their shoddy practices, it’s useful to have meaningful definitions available, so we’ll provide a few sources:

A good set of definitions is provided by the National Academy of Sciences: Definitions of Evolutionary Terms. There’s also this: Scientific Hypothesis, Theory, Law Definitions. The National Center for Science Education has definitions right here.

And for the ultimate in creationist distortions of definitions, we must mention Ken Ham’s re-definition of science itself — see Creationism and Science, in which we discuss ol’ Hambo’s bizarre distinction between historical and observational science, with the result that science — as defined by him — can’t tell us anything about the past. Only the bible can do that.

Creationists also like to use a dictionary to “prove” that evolution — and all of science (or atheism, which they equate with science) — is just a religion. Often they’ll quote the fourth definition of religion in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” They skip over the more commonly-used definitions given earlier, such as “the service and worship of God or the supernatural,” and “commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.” Ol’ Hambo did that here: Ken Ham: A Collection of Creationist Clichés.

To be continued.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

Further Thoughts on Creation Science

Mesopotamian scribe

Mesopotamian scribe

We’ve written about this before, for example The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Creation Science, but we herewith offer some additional thoughts.

The people who wrote Genesis weren’t stupid. They did the best they could with the naked-eye observations available to them in a limited area of the world. It’s not surprising that they thought the world was flat, covered by the dome of the sky, and that everything in the heavens revolved around the Earth, which “obviously” was in the center of the universe. Scripture preserves their views — see The Earth Is Flat! and also The Earth Does Not Move!

Those long-ago authors didn’t have what we now know as the scientific method. Oh, sure, the ancients knew a lot. They blundered around trying different things, and they developed agriculture and metallurgy adequate for their needs. What we now call the scientific method wasn’t formally described and accepted until the last few centuries. It was natural for the ancients to attribute anything they didn’t understand — lightning, disease, etc. — to the mysterious actions of deities. Their way of “explaining” things that were otherwise inexplicable is now recognized as a fallacy we call God of the gaps.

When scribes in the days of the Babylonian empire wrote down their society’s ancient myths and speculations about the world, which eventually found their way into Genesis, they were doing the best they could to describe and explain things. The bible also includes the ancients’ views of politics (monarchy was all they knew) and ethics, which accepted the then universal practice of slavery.

Despite its inevitable flaws, the bible is a valuable work. It reveals the thinking of our ancestors, and it contains a lot of wisdom which is still worth studying. That’s also true of the Iliad and other works from past. But as a science text, the bible fails catastrophically, compared to what we’ve learned in the last few centuries. This is not a condemnation of the ancients. They did the best they could, and — unlike today’s creationists — they didn’t reject good information when it was available.

There’s a lot we still don’t know, and we frequently correct our beliefs whenever new observations indicate that such corrections are necessary — see Wikipedia’s list Superseded scientific theories. Learning to reject one’s incorrect ideas is, perhaps, the most difficult aspect of science — but it’s essential.

So what can we say in defense of those among us who — contrary to all currently available evidence — insist on clinging to the “science” in myths transcribed by the ancient Mesopotamians? We can’t think of anything to be said in their defense. Fanatically adhering to the useless, demonstrably false beliefs of ancients is what astrology buffs do, and they are correctly regarded as a pathetic fringe of the modern world. So it is with creationists.

But let us be clear. We have no quarrel with religions that don’t reject reality, and that includes a number of mainstream Christian denominations — see the National Center for Science Education’s list of Statements from Religious Organizations supporting evolution. It’s fine with us if someone uses religion to supplement his understanding of reality, but not as a replacement for reality. It’s a subtle, but vital distinction, which eludes the creationists. This is their problem, and we shouldn’t let them make it ours.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

AIG’s Head Buried in the Sands of Mars

The first creationist response to NASA’s announcement of flowing surface water on Mars comes from the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo). They just posted Mars Water: Much Ado About Very Little.

AIG’s author is Danny Faulkner. Here’s their biographical information about him. They say he taught physics and astronomy until he joined AIG. His undergraduate degree is from Bob Jones University. A few excerpts from his new article should be sufficient. The bold font was added by us:

In the search for life elsewhere in the universe, liquid water is the Holy Grail. Liquid water is absolutely essential for life, so in the estimation of many scientists, the presence of liquid water on another planet at the very least opens the door to the possibility of life there. While water is a common substance in the universe, the earth is the only place that we know for certain where liquid water exists. That is, until Monday, September 28, 2015, when NASA officials announced in a press conference the discovery of evidence of liquid water on the surface of Mars. Or, maybe not.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Then, after some technical gyrations, Faulkner says:

While the data are not direct evidence for liquid water, it is indirect evidence for liquid water. So, for now many scientists are convinced that at least small traces of liquid water seasonally exist on the Martian surface.

Faulkner is a skeptic, except for what’s in the bible. Let’s read on:

In many respects, this is not a new story. We have known for decades that water once was abundant on the Martian surface. At one time, there was a northern hemisphere ocean as much as a mile deep. Planetary scientists now agree that there was a global or near-global flood on Mars, where liquid water, if it exists at all, is extremely rare today. Yet these same scientists would scoff at the idea that there once was a global Flood on Earth, a planet awash in water.

Lordy, lordy — he managed to bring Noah’s Flood into his article. He continues:

Given that liquid water once was abundant on Mars, it should be no surprise that at least a few vestiges of that largess may still exist in cloistered corners of Mars. At least such a thing is possible in a worldview where Mars is only thousands of years old, not billions of years. Planetary scientists generally think that Mars has been dry for two billion years or more. The question is, could significant liquid water have survived since this time?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! If there’s water on Mars, that means Mars is young! This is great creation science. Here’s more:

Furthermore, even if bacteria were found on Mars today or it were shown that bacteria existed on Mars in the past, that would not prove that evolution occurred there, any more than the existence of bacteria on the earth proves that evolution has occurred here. All such a discovery would prove is that bacteria either existed in the past or now exist on Mars.

They’re getting ready for what may be NASA’s next discovery, and their response will be: Bacteria don’t prove much of anything! Moving along:

No one has ever observed the spontaneous generation of bacteria or the evolution of bacteria into something else. Besides, bacteria are a long way from conscious, intelligent life.

Faulkner ain’t no kin to no bacteria! And now we come to the end:

The continued hype about water and possible life on Mars is all wishful thinking of evolutionists desperate for some evidence that the evolution of life has occurred somewhere.

Get that? NASA’s announcement shows that evolutionists are the ones who are desperate — not creationists. AIG’s creation scientists say we can forget about Mars. NASA has found nothing. Nothing at all.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article