World Net Daily Pushes Young-Earth Creationism

Posted: August 6, 2013 in religion, science
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Over at my Exposing PseudoAstronomy blog, young-Earth creationism (YEC) was my bread-and-butter for a long time. I’m pretty familiar with their arguments (I read the three main YEC sites daily). So, I had to roll my eyes at the story published yesterday by an anonymous staff writer or writers: “That Whale Fossil Is How Old?” (emphasis theirs).

To quote the relevant paragraphs:

When scientists at a Maryland museum announced the discovery of the fossil of a whale skull on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia, they calculated the age to be approximately 15 million years old.

The age, according to a Washington Post report Monday, was determined by the geologic formation in which it was found, the Calvert Formation.

Scientists call this the relative method of dating, which assumes the fossils in a particular sedimentary layer are within the same geological epoch.

But how do scientists know the age of the formation? Most believe various methods of radiometric dating, based on the rate of nuclear decay of radioactive elements, provide a reliable estimate.

Georgia Purdom, however, a researcher with Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis who earned a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Ohio State University, contends research by creation scientists has shown that the decay rate is variable, making radiometric dating an unreliable method.

Basically, to get a 6000-year-old planet, you have to fake a lot of things and say a lot of wrong things. I’m being blunt here. This blog is about me being blunt and opinionated as opposed to the normal measured statements from my other blog and podcast.

In this case, they’re referring to the RATE study which has been debunked. The study was done by a bunch of creationists to try to prove that radiometric dating isn’t reliable. As opposed to all of the thousands of radiometric testing that’s been going on since the study of radioactivity just over a century ago and found to be consistent. One outlier by those with a vested interest in disproving something does not a paradigm change.

But, YECs really just rely upon sewing doubt. By just stating that a study has shown that radiometric dating might not work in all cases, to an uncritical lay person, that puts a giant question mark on this stuff. To someone who wants to believe, then it provides an out to all that new-fangled science stuff.

The comments, as one would expect with WND, are mainly full of people demonstrating the failures of the American education system. “rbuce62” has the second-highest-rated comment of the 318 with 14 up-votes and 1 down. If anyone needed a near textbook example of a strawman argument, this would be it:

How do you determine the age of a fossil?
“Well we carefully examine the strata containing the fossil and know that the fossil is as old as the strata containing it.”

How do you know how old an Earth strata is?
“Well primarily by examining the fossils contained within the strata thus proving that the strata is as old as the fossils contained in the strata.

Are there any other aging methods used?
“Well yes we measure certain radioactive isotopes in the fossil and extrapolate backwards using the calculated half-life of the isotope to an origin date and then cross check that date with the age we believe the fossil to be based on the strata containing it or of the strata based on the fossils contained therein.”

So regarding radioactive dating; what do you know about the original amount of material present that has broken down over time, about the consistency of the rate of decay of the substance and whether any of the isotope existed before your calculated date of origin?
“Nothing really. With proven science like this you just have to make assumptions based on what you know to be true…. and then get “high fives” from your peers.”

So don’t these methods only go back about 50,000 years? How do you arrive at dates of millions of years?
“Haven’t I already explained about the fossils and the strata repeatedly? Next question!”

Yeah, as I said, horrible state of education.

To end this post on a slightly positive note, there are some science-minded people responding, pointing out the misconceptions and why YEC is fairly ridiculous. For example, we have “Jessie Armentrout” with 7 up-votes and 3 down:

“…research by creation scientists has shown that the decay rate
is variable, making radiometric dating an unreliable method.”

I would love to see one peer reviewed study that supports that claim. Decay rates have never been seen to vary and are extremely accurate. Atomic clocks are based on isotope decay rates. Reliability and lifespan of nuclear weapons is determined based on the same.

Of course, the response by MDKTT20 shows the average thought process of a WND supporter and a creationist who has blinders on who doesn’t care what evidence says what, it’s all bad because Goddidit:

Jessie, that is according to man , who knows almost nothing about God. and Most in the science field are unbelievers in God and Christ.
Remember we dropped two atomic bombs on Japan., But thousands of people now live in those areas today . the isotope decay rates are false also. it wasn’t even 10 years before people started to rebuild in those areas of japan. Perhaps people haven’t thought about that fact.

People don’t realize that many things in modern life work the way they work because of fixed, stable, known radioactive decay rates.


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