Night Owl Mk. II

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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized 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).

(R) The moon is leaving the Earth at a rate of 2 in. per year. If the Earth is 6,000 years old this wouldn't be a problem. The moon would have moved about 1,000 feet. If the Earth is old then 1,200,000,000 billion years ago the moon would have been touching the Earth and 5,000,000,000 billion years ago the moon would have been so far in the other direction you wouldn't have been able to see it!
(MB) This one is actually based on guesswork calculations first performed in the late 1800's without the benefit of more accurate modern measurements and research. Why Creationists still uphold 100-year-old faulty equations as gospel (pardon the pun) is beyond most thinking people.
    Essentially, what's missing in those old calculations is an understanding of the braking effects that oceanic tides have on the Earth's rotation. Because of the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum, if the Earth's rotation slows, the lost energy can't "disappear". That energy goes into moving the Moon to a slightly higher orbit and increasing its speed. This conserves the total energy of the Earth-Moon system.
    The efficiency of tidal braking depends strongly upon the configuration of the Earth's oceans. Since continental land masses move, the shapes of the oceans change over time and tidal braking effects increase and decrease accordingly. At the present time, the rate of braking is unusually high due to the tidal force being close to a resonance in the response function of the oceans.
    A paper published in 1982 by Kirk S. Hansen, "Secular effects of oceanic tidal dissipation on the moon's orbit and the earth's rotation" (Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics, 20:457-480) calculates the Moon's distance from Earth 4.5 billion years ago was no closer than 38 Earth radii (152,000 miles). A 1993 study published in Astronomy Today by Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan calculated the Moon's distance at that same time to be 155,000 miles.
    Thus, the Creationist objection is conclusively refuted once the actual data is examined. This objection is yet another example of the dangers of invalid extrapolation of a current measurement back through time without considering all factors involved.

(R) If you've toured a limestone cave, or read about them in a book, you were most likely told that the formations of dripstone developed very slowly over a period of more than 100,000 thousand years. What is the evidence?
(MB) Since such formations are created by deposition of minerals carried by flowing water, and since rapidly flowing water would carry the minerals away instead of allowing them to accumulate, it will take a considerable amount of time for large structures to form.
    Also, the sediment layers in these formations contain evidence of climatic changes (e.g., dissolved oxygen isotopes) that have taken place over the eons and which could not have gone back and forth so rapidly in a mere 6,000 years. In fact, such deposits are excellent direct evidence of the dates, lengths, and effects of the Earth's Ice Ages.

(R) Under the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., stalactites had grown to 5 feet in less than 50 years. Other evidence shows that cave formations could be easily accounted for in Tens of thousands of years at most.
(MB) To answer this, I refer to "Speleology: The Study of Caves", George W. Moore and Nicholas G. Sullivan, 1978 (p.47)...
    "Many people have found that stalactites forming on concrete or mortar outdoors may grow several centimeters each year. Stalactite growth in these environments, however, bears little relation to that in caves, because it does not proceed by the same chemical reaction. Although cement and mortar are made from limestone, the same rock in which the caves form, the carbon dioxide has been driven off by heating. When water is added to these materials, one product is calcium hydroxide, which is about 100 times as soluble in water as calcite is. A calcium hydroxide solution absorbs carbon dioxide rapidly from the atmosphere to reconstitute calcium carbonate, and produce stalactites. This is why stalactites formed by solution from cement and mortar grow much faster than those in caves. To illustrate, in 1925, a concrete bridge was constructed inside Postojna Cave, Yugoslavia, and adjacent to it an artificial tunnel was opened. By 1956, tubular stalactites 45 centimeters long were growing from the bridge, while stalactites of the same age in the tunnel were less than 1 centimeter long."

(R) Why is it that the oldest tree on Earth, the bristle cone pine tree, is only 5,000 years old, roughly the same time of the global flood?
(MB) Actually, that would be about 600 years older than the Flood, but it doesn't matter. Why should the age of any living thing (like a tree) be an indicator of the age of any non-living thing (like the Earth)?
    BTW, pine trees aren't the oldest living plants on Earth. The King Clone creosote bush, today a patch of shrubbery 70 by 25 feet in the Mojave Desert about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, goes back 11,700 years! (This item comes from The Washington Post, December 10, 1984 and was noted in the Creation/Evolution Newsletter of November-December, 1984.) That means that this bush, too, survived the supposed Flood intact and unaffected.

(R) Why aren't there trees at least 8,000 years, or ten or fifteen thousand years?
(MB) Trees *do* go back at least 8000 years without showing any evidence of having been disturbed by any sort of Noachian flood! Dr. Charles Ferguson of the University of Arizona has, by matching up overlapping tree rings of living and dead bristlecone pines, carefully built a tree ring sequence going back to 6273 BC (Popular Science, November 1979, p.76).

(R) If trees like this have lived 5,000 years they could have certainly lived longer.
(MB) Why? All living things have an upper limit for their lifespans. Just because something lives much longer than Man is no indication that it could live for any given length of time.

(R) In fact trees, when under much stress, produce more than one ring per year so the bristle cone pine tree could possibly be younger!
(MB) Bristlecone pines, like most species of pine/fir trees, form double rings extremely rarely (Dr. Ferguson found only three examples of double rings among the total number of rings in over 1000 trees studied). In fact, they are far more likely to exhibit *missing* rings. This would mean that such trees are almost always older (by about 5 percent) than their rings would otherwise indicate.

(R) A news wire report of March 23, 1980 made the surprising statement: "The sun's diameter appears to have been decreasing by about one tenth percent per century!"
(MB) It was in 1979 that astronomers John Eddy and Aram Boornazian presented a paper and published its abstract: "Secular Decrease in the Solar Diameter, 1836-1953." In the April 1980 issue of ICR's Impact series (Impact #82), Russell Akridge picked up the report and naively extended the shrinkage rate of 5 feet/hour into the indefinite past. As that soon led to an impossible situation, he concluded that the earth was much less than 20 million years old. Soon, Walter Brown, Thomas Barnes, Henry Morris, Hilton Hinderliter, James Hanson, and other creationists were in on the act, and the shrinking sun argument became a part of creationist legend.
    Incidentally, the full text of the study was never published, as serious flaws in the study's methodology and errors in its data were soon uncovered and the entire paper was quickly discredited. Creationists, of course, seem not to care about this. As long as they can find any published data (no matter how wrong) that they can twist into "support" for their nonsense, they'll beat it into the ground forever. After all, their audience is certainly not scientifically literate, nor are they likely to have read the refutations of the initial study.
    Just as an exercise in scholarship, however, let's debunk this nonsense yet again...

(R) Scientists have been watching for over a hundred years and the evidence is conclusive. Every hour the sun is shrinking about five feet!
(MB) This is not correct. Besides the aforementioned fact that the data which inspired this Creationist legend has been discredited, such statements also ignore the basic physics of stars.
    Our Sun, like all other stars, has a slightly varying diameter due to the forces produced by the effects of the nuclear fusion reactions that allow it to shine. In short, gravity causes the Sun to shrink. This intensifies the fusion reactions and causes the Sun to get hotter. As it gets hotter, it expands. As it expands, it cools. As it cools, gravity takes over again and the cycle repeats.
    Any measured shrinkage of the Sun is the rate at which gravity compresses it during the cooling cycle. It is not shrinking "constantly" and inevitably cycles back to expansion yet again. The latest data indicates that the Sun may have an 80-day oscillation cycle.

(R) Of course five feet an hour isn't much when you consider the sun is 840,000 thousand miles in diameter. But what are the implications?
    If the sun is shrinking 1/10 % per century then it totals 1 % per millennium.
    Now if you believe the Earth's age is only 6,000 years there's no real problem. In that time the sun will have shrunk only 6%. But what do you have to contend with if you believe the billions of years idea?

(MB) You contend with the fact that there is no such constant shrinkage of the Sun taking place.

(R) If the sun existed only 100,000 years ago it would have been double its present diameter. And only 20 million years ago the surface of the sun would be touching the Earth!
(MB) Out of curiosity, from what source are you quoting all this old nonsense? As I mentioned previously, it was Akridge who started this particular fairy tale, but many subsequent Creationist story tellers have echoed it.

(R) As far as researchers can tell this rate of shrinkage has been consistent since the origin of the sun.
(MB) I'm not sure what "researchers" you are referring to here, but they certainly aren't real scientists. There have been numerous studies on this subject and none have found any evidence to support the Creationist claims. As an example, you may wish to check the January, 1988 issue of Gemini (the official journal of the Royal Greenwich Observatory). There are no studies which support the Creationists.

(R) From the pure simple evidence it is clear that life would have been totally impossible on Earth even a million years ago.
(MB) From the pure simple evidence, a million years ago, your ancestors were roaming around in East Africa. Perhaps they didn't have much of a life, but they were, presumably, working on it.

(R) Or perhaps the sun and Earth just aren't all that old!
(MB) Or, perhaps, it is just the Creationist nonsense that is old.

(R) You may have heard something similar to what I'm about to say. If we drove to Mount Rushmore and I told you that those faces, on the mountain, were eroded over a long period of time and so happened to look like some famous presidents -- by chance -- I'm sure you and anyone else I told this to would think I lost my brain somewhere along the trip! Then why is it that you think that LIVING, BREATHING, THINKING, FEELING, BEINGS were undoubtedly formed by chance.
(MB) Because living organisms are composed of self-ordering molecules while Mt. Rushmore is not. The organic components of living organisms can only successfully assemble in a limited number of ways - each of which will produce some organism. The inorganic rocks of Mt. Rushmore can be eroded in any number of ways -- only one of which would produce the faces of four particular past Presidents. Therefore, the probability of self-ordering components producing a living thing is essentially infinitely higher than that of erosion producing a particular pattern on Mt. Rushmore.

(R) Another example would be if you walked into a room and found a computer on with all kinds of information on it. You'd obviously think someone had been there before. It would be nuts to think that the computer just happened to be their --by chance-- through accidental natural causes over a long period of time.
(MB) Once again, the computer is not something that can assemble itself by any method. It cannot be compared to a living organism.

(R) If you noticed, in both of these examples, the logic is lacking here.
(MB) I noticed. The lack of logic is rather glaring on the Creationist side, isn't it?

(R) Think about this.
(MB) I have. That's why I know that Creationism is the purest piffle. Doesn't Creationism have any arguments that aren't old and throughly debunked and which might appeal to somebody with a functioning mind and a basic knowledge of science and mathematics?
    Also, doesn't Creationism have any direct evidence which supports its own claims instead of having to claim support by lobbing rotten tomatoes at science?

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