Last Update: 15 Aug 00
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REPLY #72 TO
"EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM"
(R) School is out for the summer, and I, a lonely biology teacher in Central Florida, am searching for new information about the evolution vs creationism debate. What a delight it was to run across you website, where I read several replies to your fine essay.
(MB) Thank you! I hope that the discussion has provided you with useful information. This is one area where the signal-to-noise ratio has been rather low and I'm hoping that my forum can make a contribution towards turning that around.
(R) As I try to teach evolution to our fairly conservative protestant youth, I am often frustrated to their unwillingness to search for truth.
(MB) Sounds like a theme for our times. Unfortunately, it's easier for these kids to blindly accept dogma through indoctrination from early youth than to learn something where they would have to display some understanding and reason. The problem is that lazy youths grow up to be ignorant adults who go on to perpetuate the problem. My hat is off to anybody who tries to do their part to help solve the problem.
(R) I try to carefully debunk very old stank Creationist arguments (trying not to step on sensitive toes), and so far I have not suffered too many bloody noses. I get a few phone calls, and lots of literature, but I do not feel too threatened.
(MB) That's a good approach, although there's a time and place for tromping on a few toes, as well. Usually, those toes belong to those who are as ignorant in their opposition to science as they are loud in their objections.
(R) I do have a question for you that arose from a very intelligent young man in my 9th grade biology class last year. We were discussing the dating of fossils, where I tried to teach how carbon14 is used along with the other techniques. They grasped the concept of half-life and that carbon 14 was in such minute amounts that only things of about 20,000 years old could be measured accurately. My student's question was, where is new carbon14 being generated? His implications were, if living things take in C14, and it is decaying, and there is only a finite supply, then the equations for dating could be in question. We all understand the carbon cycle in nature, but C14 is decaying constantly. Could you help me out with this one?
(MB) Sure! Carbon-14 is produced naturally and continuously in the atmosphere through the bombardment of nitrogen by free neutrons. C-14 is found in carbon dioxide molecules and, therefore, is absorbed by plants. Animals acquire it by eating those plants.
The flaw in your student's argument is the assumption that the Earth possessed an initial supply of C-14 which has been declining ever since through decay. Since C-14 is always being produced in the atmosphere (the crucial fact that Creationists always leave out of their version of "science"), the Earth's total supply is in no danger of declining to zero (or anywhere near zero) even though the Earth has been around for 4+ billion years.
Keep enlightening your students! I promise you that they will be better served by your doing so.
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