REPLY #20b TO
"EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM"
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
This is the second of a three-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
(R) Here's a critical question: When there are discrepancies about a rocks age
when the actual age is known, do you suppose there might be similar
discrepancies regarding rocks of totally unknown age?
(MB) Only if the same invalid methods or samples are used to date the unknown
rocks. When tests are performed properly, the results always check out.
(R) Can we assume these ages are correct when the only tests performed were made
on the volcanic ash overlying the artifacts?
(MB) Again, you wish to use volcanic samples to support an argument. This has
already be shown to be invalid. It's interesting how Creationist arguments can
say that K-Ar is unreliable and then hold up dates produced by that method to
"prove" other arguments.
(R) The following familiar discoveries were all "dated" by the radiometric
tests on volcanic (ash) material overlying the actual artifacts.
1. Skull "1470"- 2.8 million (National Geographic 6/73)
2. "Lucy" -3 million (National Geographic 12/76)
3. Footprints -3.6 million (National Geographic 4/79)
(MB) And again, more volcanic samples... Out of
curiosity, what do you think that the proper datings of these samples should be?
(R) Other famous finds have produced some helpful added data. [ Source
Radiocarbon (journal), vol. 11, 1969]
1. Australopithicus -Ethiopia
- publicized as 1 to
2 million years by KAr date for the overlying rocks.
- mammal bones in the same deposit produced a C-14 date of 15,500 years
(MB) Here's the famous invalid use of C-14 dating to try to date samples which
are millions of years old. Since C-14 has a half-life of only approximately
5730 years, it cannot possibly be used to date million-year old samples. Any
attempt to do so and to "support" a claim from the results only demonstrates
another example of the inability to use a proper tool to do a proper job.
(R) 2. Zinjanthropus -Kenya
ash gave a KAr age of 2 million years old.
-Mammal bones in the same deposit were dated by C-14 at only 10,000 years
(MB) Here's more C-14 misuse combined with volcanic samples dated by a method
the Creationists attack as "unreliable". Why the combination of the two invalid
methods should be any sort of "proof" that the Earth is very young or that all
methods of radiometric dating are to be dismissed is beyond comprehension.
(R) Tree roots were fossilized in moments when a high voltage line fell near
Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada (1973).
(MB) Since the process of fossilization does not involve electricity in any
amount, this example is clearly mistaken.
(R) Scientists at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, were asked what the
results would be if these specimens were dated by KAr. They said the test "would
be meaningless; it would indicate an age of millions of years because heat was
involved in the petrification process." ( Mclean, Glen S., personal interview in
(MB) This is similar to the explanation for why one cannot reliably date
volcanic rock samples by the K-Ar method.
(R) Did you catch that? Heat? What about all the hot volcanic ash we've been
finding at other sites?
(MB) What about it? We already know that volcanic samples can't be dated
accurately by K-Ar, so what's your point?
(R) Let me illustrate how radiometric dating is unreliabe: Imagine appearing in
a sealed room with nothing but a candle that's been burning there and you are
asked to determine how long the candle has been burning.
As you assess the situation you realize the utter impossibility of meeting
the challenge. You might think of figuring how long the dripping wax took to
accumulate. Or you could get very technical and try to measure the relative
amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide gases in the room compared to outside.
(MB) Why would this be anything even remotely impossible to determine? One
could easily measure the rate at which the candle is burning. One could also
easily measure the maximum possible initial height of the candle as constrained
by the height of the room's ceiling. This would be enough data to produce an
upper limit for the length of time the candle had been burning. One could then
measure the total mass of melted wax, determine how long it would have taken to
accumulate and find the lower limit of time for the burning of the candle. The
actual burning time would lie in between the two limits -- most likely close to
the lower limit.
(R) But how can you know if someone had ever opened and re-shut the window?
Could any past condition have caused it to burn faster? Was it put out and
(MB) One can pile on arbitrary conditions and suppositions ranging from the
trivial to the ludicrous. How many candles had previously been burned in the
same spot? Is the composition of the candle a conglomerate of different types
of waxes or other substances? Has the temperature and air pressure of the room
been constant? Have extraterrestrials changed the flow of time or the laws of
physics within the room? What purpose is to be served by this scenario? It
certainly doesn't relate to the process of radiometric dating of rock
To refute radiometric dating techniques, Creationists are going to have to
support a nearly complete rewriting of the laws of physics which concern
radioactive decay. Since the odds of this happening are roughly equal to the
odds of my turning into a three-legged pink hyena with blue and green spots
before I finish typing this sentence, there is no reason to take their arguments
(R) If you think about it, evolution by chance isn't too logical. In all
actuality it's very illogical.
(MB) No, it is just at odds with the literal Fundamentalist Christian
interpretation of the two mutually-exclusive creation stories told in the Book
(R) No matter how you look at it, the theory of evolution must trace back to a
point where inanimate matter became a living form.
(MB) Inanimate matter does not "become a living form". Matter particles merely
combine into an arrangement that produces effects and processes that we define
as "living". This is similar to how they combine in other ways to produce
effects and processes that we define as "rusting", "burning", "decaying",
Living organisms are made out the exact same set of elements that comprise
everything else in the universe. The only thing "special" here is that one
particular self-ordering arrangement of a particular combination of these
elements results in the production of something which can contemplate its own
existence. This fact does not invalidate the process which produced it.
(R) Look at the foundation of evolution.
UNKNOWN CHEMICALS in
the primordial past...through...
which no longer exist...produced...
UNKNOWN LIFE FORMS
which are not to be found...but could, through
METHODS spawn new life...in an...
UNKNOWN OCEANIC SOUP
UNKNOWN TIME and PLACE.
(MB) You are talking about the initial creation of organic materials and of
living organisms and not about evolution. Evolution is concerned with how
living organisms have diversified *after* they first appeared. This is another
fundamental misunderstanding which is a hallmark of the Creationist model. If
you wish to return to this old, debunked argument, you'll need to address it
towards biology and biochemistry instead of evolution.
In any case, none of your "unknowns" are truly unknown. The basics have
been known for nearly 50 years and the processes can be reproduced in the
laboratory. The only thing that can't be reproduced in the lab is the billions
of years of accumulated reproduction and mutation that caused the original
living organism(s) to evolve into the rich diversity of life now present on
(R) Is it any wonder why many scientists like Dr. Henry Morris (who proposed the
above idea) insist that evolution does not even constitute a bona fide
(MB) Morris' Ph.D. is in hydraulics -- not in biology, chemistry, paleontology,
geology, or any other discipline that has a direct relationship to any part of
evolutionary theory. He is also a Creationist and not a "scientist". In fact,
the group he founded, the Institute for Creation Research, demands that members
sign an oath which states, in part, that in all cases where science and the
Bible may be in conflict, that the Bible is automatically assumed to be correct.
This is the antithesis of science and anybody who would sign such an oath
cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, call himself a "scientist". Any
attempt to portray such an individual in that way is either misleading or
Morris and his ilk don't even agree on their definition(s) of what a
"scientific theory" is supposed to be. First, they say evolution isn't
"scientific" because it isn't falsifiable. Then, they turn right around and
attempt to show how they can falsify it -- which, obviously, invalidates their
first claim. Some will then go on to say how evolution is "only a theory" since
it isn't yet proven. Since it isn't proven, they continue, it must be wrong.
They say this while remaining seated in their chairs through the operation of
something else that is "only a theory" and unproven -- Newtonian gravity.
Finally, while blindly patting themselves on the backs after repeated
delusional attempts at "disproving" evolution, they posit an idea called
Creationism. This idea has no evidence to support it, its basic premise is not
falsifiable, its details are all demonstrably wrong, and, by definition, it can
never be proven. In fact, its proponents vehemently deny that their idea even
bears any burden of proof -- while, at the same time, claiming that they apply
the same standards of evidence and reason to their idea that they demand for all
others. Is there a coherent explanation for such behavior?
(R) Evolutionists are far from a solid foundation. Isn't it more than being bit
lucky that we're here by chance? Those are incredibly good chances!
(MB) Because something is unlikely does not mean that it is impossible. In
fact, life is not even an unlikely occurrence given the self-ordering nature of
its components. Combine this with a planet rich in the proper components and
billions of years for it to happen and you arrive at the realization that it
would have been far more unlikely for life *not* to have appeared here.
(R) So, you believe in the Oort Cloud? The wild theory that states: "When a
stray star passes by the Oort Cloud it shoots off comets into our Solar System?"
There is no evidence whatsoever for this "Oort Cloud."
(MB) The Oort Cloud was first proposed in 1950 by Dutch astronomer Jan Oort.
His proposal was based on a study of the orbits of several long-period comets.
Continued work on this proposal have produced statistics in more recent years
which support the existence of the Oort Cloud and put it at a distance of 50,000
AU (1.3 light-years).
To further refute the Creationists' nonsense, I will draw heavily from Damond
Benningfield's 1990 article, "Where Do Comets Come From?", Astronomy, Vol.18,
No.9 (September 1990), pp.28-36....
During the 1980s, astronomers realized that Oort Cloud comets may be
outnumbered by an inner cloud that begins about 3,000 AU from the Sun and
continues to the edge of the classical Oort Cloud at 20,000 AU. Most estimates
place the population of the inner Oort Cloud at about five to ten times that of
the outer cloud -- say, 20 trillion or so -- although the number could be ten
times greater than that. The innermost portion of the inner Oort Cloud is
relatively flattened, with comets extending a few degrees above and below the
ecliptic. But the cloud rapidly expands, forming a complete sphere by the time
it reaches several thousand AU.
This inner cloud of comets is called the Hills Cloud. Originally, it was
thought that short-period comets were merely long-period comets from the Oort
Cloud which had been converted by close encounters with Jupiter or the other
large outer planets. That may well be true for some of them, but modern studies
of short-period comets have identified their probable origin in a region of
space now named the Kuiper Belt, which resembles a flattened ring just beyond
the orbit of Neptune. Computer simulations show that such a source would
account beautifully for the low-inclination, short-period, prograde orbits, and
other features associated with short-period comets. The Kuiper Belt probably
has around 100 million to several billion comets, which probably formed at that
location when the planets formed, and the gradual pull of the giant gas planets
over time sends a few of them continually towards the sun. Thus, the
short-period comets are replenished.
Theoretical calculations indicate that the great bulk of comets were
originally formed in the region between Uranus and Neptune. They represent
planetesimals which escaped being gobbled up by the outer planets. Gravitational
interactions tossed them into elliptical orbits which took them thousands of
astronomical units (AU) away from the sun.
Oort determined that comets tossed into highly elliptical orbits by Uranus
and Neptune would be nudged into more nearly circular orbits by encounters with
passing stars. Stellar encounters also would scatter comets above and below the
ecliptic plane, creating a sphere of comets instead of a flattened disk. After
four decades of refinements to Oort's original ideas, astronomers today believe
the Oort Cloud extends from about 20,000 to 100,000 AU (almost 2 light-years)
from the Sun and contains as many as two trillion comets with a total mass
several times Earth's.
A star passing within a few light-years would likely perturb the orbits of
the comets in the Oort Cloud, sending some of them towards the sun. Statistical
calculations indicate that about 5000 stars have passed that closely during the
earth's lifetime. An encounter with a giant molecular cloud, which is likely to
happen every few hundred million years, as our sun orbits the galaxy would also
perturb the Oort Cloud.
Another newly discovered agent for perturbing Oort Cloud comets is
gravitational tides. Created by the gravitational force of material in the
Galactic disk, these tides could alter the orbits of Oort Cloud comets. In fact,
some astronomers estimate that as many as 80 percent of the long-period comets
entering the inner solar system for the first time were shoved from their
previous orbits by the gentle tug of Galactic tides.
Once in a great while, estimated at about 9 times during the lifetime of our
Earth (Astronomy, February 1982, p.63), a star will pass so close as to stir up
even the Hills Cloud of comets (the innermost Oort Cloud which is shaped
relatively like a disk). A collision with a giant molecular cloud would have a
Occasionally, though, a star or giant molecular cloud passes directly
through both Oort Clouds, scattering comets like a cue ball striking the neatly
racked balls on a billiard table. Such an event kicks many comets into the outer
cloud, replenishing those lost to other processes.
(R) Read this information I've obtained from a secular magazine telling you that
there's no evidence for it:
"There is no evidence that any cloud of cometary material surrounds the solar
system -- the so-called Oort Cloud. Its creation in the minds of some was done
to preserve the multi billion year age of the solar system."
The excerpt clearly states that there's no evidence at all for it. It was
only invented to give an explanation on why there are still comets in the solar
(MB) The excerpt "clearly" only is two sentences. No proper citation (volume,
page, or authorship) or context for the quotation is given. Since Creationists
have a long history of misquotation and drawing statements out of context to
"prove" their points, your insufficiently cited excerpt means little. In light
of the massive literature which disagrees with the Creationist view, one can't
help but be skeptical about the nature of your excerpt and certainly can't
believe that there is "no evidence" for the Oort Cloud.