Creationism seems to be the subject I’m stuck on this month. As a result of this article I wrote for American Chronicle, wherein I shat all over the new Creation Museum in Kentucky, I’ve been writing back and forth with several creationists who are attempting to defend the “science” on their side from me, a 27-year-old layman. It’s been fun, and educational. I pointed out to two of the people I’ve been writing to that Genesis has God saying “Let there be light” before he actually creates the Sun, which we know now to be the source of virtually all useful natural light on our planet. They both responded with something like “God doesn’t need the Sun to make light; he can do whatever he wants.” One guy even said that since he has light in his room at night (via an electric lightbulb) without the Sun, God must also have found a way to create light before the Sun. Which to me begs the question: Why create the Sun at all, then?
There are several major arguments that creationists (and I’m talking mostly about the young Earth variety, the ones who take the Book of Genesis to be literally true and believe that since the “begats” add up to about 6,000 years of history, that’s how old the universe must be) use to dispute the idea of an old universe, and to argue against biological evolution. Most of them are pretty silly and a few are incredibly convoluted, since it ain’t easy to take data that points to a 15+ billion-year-old universe and make it appear to point to a 10,000 year-old one. Shit no.
Not being an expert on any of this, I’ve had to turn to other resources to support my arguments for evolution and old-universe cosmology. There are two excellent websites which I highly recommend — John Stear’s No Answers in Genesis and the Talk.Origins Archive. Both have an extensive library of articles written by scientists with relevant expertise who argue convincingly and consistently that evolution is a hell of a lot closer to the truth than creationism.
No Answers in Genesis also has a lengthy section that debunks the common creationist arguments. For instance, that radiometric dating is unreliable for determining the age of rocks. One of the emails I got about my article contained this argument; the guy said that knowing the half-life of, for instance, uranium-238 doesn’t help us determine the age of the object since we can only measure the amount of uranium currently present, and without knowing the original amount we can’t possibly know how old it is from the rate of decay.
Except that we can figure out how much uranium-238 there was originally, because isotopes don’t just decay into nothing — they decay into other elements. In the case of uranium-238, it decays into lead-206; measuring the amount of lead-206 in the object gives us a pretty good guess as to the original amount of uranium-238, and thus makes the age measurement accurate. Plus, multiple methods of dating are used whenever possible. If other elements are present within the object being examined that can be used for radiometric dating, they are also used to estimate an age, and if all the methods used more or less agree, it lets us be even more certain of the accuracy of the date. The creationist claim that radiometric dating is unreliable just ain’t true.
I could go on, but I’d only be rewriting what people who actually know what they’re talking about wrote already. There are some humdingers from the creationists — that the Earth can’t be 4.5 billion years old because it’s rotation is slowing down, therefore it would have been rotating far too fast millions of years ago to support life; that the rate of sediment build-up in the ocean suggests the ocean ought to be filled-in with dirt after 4.5 billion years; that the speed of light was much faster in the moments after the big bang and that the Earth actually is in the center of the universe — all of which are disproved by the rational, objective application of science. So check out those websites. And don’t miss the Creationist Frauds page on NAiG — there’s a write-up about my old buddy from TBN, Carl Baugh. What a maroon.