It has been a while since I’ve been able write. There has been quite a bit of news the last two weeks and I thought I would briefly comment on a few items that are relevant to my most recent posts:
The Salt Chronometer
Since I published my series on the salty seas (Part I, Part II, Part III) as a measure of the age of the earth two prominent young earth proponents have spoken or published on this topic. First, Dr. Jeanson gave a seminar in Montana last month that highlighted the lack of salt in the oceans as a strong piece of evidence for the earth being young. In was Jeanson’s seminar 6 months earlier that spurred me to write me series of posts. Geochristian reviewed (Nathanial Jeanson of the Institute for Creation Research in Montana, part 4) Jeanson’s recent seminar and it appears he made no changes to his presentation since the last time he spoke. Second, Answers in Genesis has been running a series on the 10 Best Evidences from Science that Support a Young Earth. This week they arrived at reason #9: Not Enough Salt in the Sea. The short text provided is by Dr. Snelling and rehearses the same argument that they have made for 20 years.
Included in that article is a short section at the end responding to critiques which includes the following: Long-agers also argue that huge amounts of sodium are removed during the formation of basalts at mid-ocean ridges,6 but this ignores the fact that the sodium returns to the ocean as seafloor basalts move away from the ridges. The problem is that the criticism they respond to is one that was made by one person 15 years ago and their response isn’t even a good one. What is worse is that there have been many much much more significant criticisms of the sea salt argument, many of which I made in my prior posts, which are never acknowledged leaving the audience of these articles at AIG to believe that they have answered their critiques. Are they ignoring all the evidence presented by other Christians, have they just not even bothered to read the primary literature or other Christian books? I don’t know, but the lack of scholarship displayed here is quite profound. I am willing to chalk some of the lack of scholarship up to the very small numbers of active professional scientific creationists and so they are overwhelmed with the topics for which they need to stay current on. But when you are going to use a piece of scientific evidence and claim it is one of your top 10 evidences, you would think that you would want to be sure you had a very solid understanding of that evidence. The top 10 nature of this evidence should be highly disconcerting to anyone who thinks that creation scientists are providing a legitimate alternative explanation of the earth’s history.
Ken Ham Shares a Letter from a Concerned Church Member
This week, on his blog, Ken Ham shared a letter (Chicago church compromiser) sent to him from a concerned church member about his churches hiring of a non 6 day creation pastor especially in light of their creationist history. In that letter the author recounts a discussion with the pastor and includes this comment:
He then handed me a book to read written by John Walton who is a professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois. The book entitled “The Lost World of Genesis” claims that by studying ancient Near Eastern cultures we are able, for the first time, to know what God was trying to tell us in Genesis and what it all means. I politely left the book on his desk when I left.
He then states that he searched from reviews about the book and makes some rather distorted statements about Walton’s conclusions. He criticizes the pastor for not being able to support his position but then when he is given a book he leaves it behind. This is exactly what Ken Ham wants his followers to do – not to even give the other side a hearing. I’m not sure that Walton’s book would be the best choice but a full appreciation for the issues involved in the creation debate is not suited for a short discussion. Reading several books is necessary to get a fuller understanding of the issues. This author of the letter admits that the creation science literature have answered all his questions. Ham constantly warns against listening to any compromiser and so the reaction by YECs is often to simply rely on the reviews of books like this by Ham himself to get the “other” side. I expect this author has also heard a creation seminar in which the salty sea was provided as a scientific evidence for a young earth. He will never read Davis Young’s book or 20 other Christian scientists books, or my blog, that refute that argument because we are labeled compromisers. As I state in my first part of my salt series, there is a confidence bias at work and this person is demonstrating how effectively it can be by simply only listening to once source and dismissing all others out of hand.
The Next Generation of Creation Scientists
I recently asked where the next generation of creation scientists would come from. In that article I said that the lack of trained scientists in the creation science movement should be a great concern for the first generation creation scientists. In the past week, a newsletter item entitled “Wanted: Young Creation Scientists” appeared on the Institute for Creation Research website and presumably in their widely circulated newsletter. The letter states that “there is much work that still needs to be done, and this work is hindered by a lack of trained scientists.” This was one of my main points and I wondered how they are going to attract fresh scientists to the movement after noting that their experiment with their own graduate school in the 80 and 90s seemed to have failed (ie. produced less than a handful of active academic creation scientists). I found the strategy laid out in this letter to be a telling change in direction for them. For example:
For those who do have an interest in science, we wish to offer a few words of advice. Work hard to get the best possible grades and push yourself to truly understand the material. When choosing a school, choose one with a rigorous academic program and a research program that truly interests you. Although you should not be dishonest about what you believe, it’s probably prudent to not draw attention to your creationist beliefs while you are a student, particularly if you are in a field that directly touches upon the origins controversy (such as paleontology, biology, or geology).
The stress here is to go strong secular school and survive the experience and then come and work for a creation science organization or presumably teach and do research at a small private college that supports young earth views. What I find especially interesting is that they are not suggesting that students first attend a college like Cedarville College in Ohio which has a creationist geology program led by one of their own graduates. They seem to know that a geology degree from Cedarville will not likely get a student anywhere in graduate school but more importantly I think what ICR wants are creationists they can claim have PhDs from good secular programs. They believe this will lend credibility to their science while graduates of their own school would not be able to used as trophy cases of compromise resistance. Of course the problem with the strategy is that opposed to their usual advice of avoiding the influence of compromisers, they are now advising students to stare right in the face of the devil and learn all his secrets. I am fairly certain that this strategy will be a failure because it has already proven to be failure. There are a few “successes” like Dr. Lisle (PhD in astrophysics, U of Colorado) and Dr. Purdom (PhD in Molecular Genetics, Ohio State U) but for every success I know personally of multiple failures and I am sure there are hundreds of failures. When forced to actually confront the evidence and actually collect and analyses their own data, a sever crisis of confidence in their prior views is inevitable. The response to this crises can be varied but in most case leads to rejection of the creation science worldview and may or may not lead to a rejection of their Christian faith. Students brought up on YEC materials in school and church are most susceptible because they are the most naive but it is exactly these students that ICR is encouraging to go into science and become the next generation of scientific creationists.