No Option is Better Than CAPITALISM!

So broadband internet in the United States is going to be reclassified as a Title II utility. A high level overview of that is that the government will have some control over the speeds available and pricing models available to customers, as well as having a huge amount of say as to which markets broadband providers can enter into. This opens the door to government corruption, I will fairly admit this, but it closes the door on latent, active corporate corruption.

Anyway, some weeks ago (months, now?) I got into an argument with a libertarian and Google never forgets. Related to that, I use Google Now extensively; it is a service that delivers me information it thinks I will find useful. Because of my head first dive into libertarianism, it has been sending me libertarian news articles with stunning regularity since then (I can finally relate to a line by Weird Al “I only watched Wil and Grace one time, one day, wish I hadn’t because Tivo now thinks I’m gay.”). With the FCC voting yesterday on the Title II provisions, Libertarians are in a bit of an uproar about government overreach.

Specifically, this article was what Google Now decided was important to me–and being as I feel this article completely ignores vast swathes of the argument I thought I would write about it here.

The article compares Title II classification with a grocery store. Certainly, in grocery stores, having a position on an endcap or being placed at eye level are valuable, and the article argues that you can’t be “neutral” because someone gets to be on the end cap or at eye level. Surely, it is the greatest ill if the government is the one to choose, rather than that holy talisman “market forces.” I think this metaphor is terrible, but I am going to need to lay some groundwork before I can explain why.

Internet Service Providers have signed regional agreements promising certain levels of “broadband penetration” in the States (usually in the 90% and up range), for which subsidies are given to them from the government. The subsidies are for infrastructure investment allowing the ISP to meet this agreement, and is the incentive for this agreement to be signed.

Previous to recent legislation, “broadband” was defined in the United States at 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up–which really barely allows for streaming of Netflix these days. Tom Wheeler (a man is slowly gaining my trust) is the FCC chairman, and he has stated he will pass legislation defining Broadband as 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up. The ISPs have fought this tooth and nail, because they will have to *spend money* on infrastructure to meet their infrastructure agreements with the government. Here is where I have to put a BOLD NOTE that the libertarian will, I hope, read; for all the amount of Market Forces you are leaning on where it comes to ISP infrastructure, they are accepting government aid (often at the municipal, state, or even federal level) that is earmarked for infrastructure, and then not using it.

That isn’t capitalism, that is corporate greed… And the fact that Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon fought bitterly against Tom Wheeler redefining what “broadband” is, we can infer that they would continue to not invest in infrastructure if they were left to their own devices. The waters are about to get a bit muddy, but here’s the thing; no matter whose numbers you choose, ISPs are making a great deal of money. An article I was reading was saying that Comcast’s margins are razor thin, as though they were about to go bankrupt, despite the fact that they cleared a market value of $100 billion in 2012. A rebuttal to that argument claimed that they were making only a 4.5% net revenue–but think about that for a moment–that is over $4.5billion in profits that the executives can put in a pool and swim in. That is revenue after they have paid themselves lavish bonuses. That is revenue they have earned after outsourcing their customer service to the worst firms anyone has ever had the displeasure of phoning. It has become almost a sport to post recordings of gross negligence and outright lies on the part of Comcast support centers.

Edit: It has been pointed out that my understanding of business profit reporting is sorely lacking, and I accept that. I am not business analyst. That being said, clearer numbers can be found here for those with a mind to reading them.

Now, let’s work back, now that I’ve laid some ground work. Redefining “broadband” doesn’t even mean ISPs are in any way required to meet the higher standard of 25/3, it just means that on paper their high “broadband penetration” numbers will plummet precipitously, and they will have to invest some money into their infrastructure to bring them back up. A very potent example showing that the ISPs are sitting back on their profits to the dismay of their customers is the story of what has happened in Kansas City with Google Fiber. There was “competition” in Kansas City, before Google entered, in that Comast and Time Warner both had a large presence in the region. Their prices were ungodly, their speeds below the national average, and there seemed more collusion to profit than competition for consumers (which became blatantly obvious when Comcast and Time Warner petitioned to merge, which would have screwed the people of Kansas City royally). Then Google Fiber came in, some real outside competition, and things got spicy. I can’t go into detail, I am afraid if I traced every thread of the weave of this story, we’d never finish writing.

What I am saying here is traditional competition was not serving the consumers, market forces be damned. And if you call Google a “Newcomer” or “Internet startup”, I am going to have to ask you kindly to leave. The only company that could even afford to compete with the incumbent services is a $400 billion company that could afford to lay an entire city’s worth of infrastructure and not break a sweat (more accurately, they bought a massive amount of dark fiber, but that’s a story for another day). Do you think a new startup could compete with the incumbents? Lay infrastructure to bring real internet speeds to the people of Kansas City? No, Comcast and Time Warner were making money hand over fist by colluding to screw the customers. Is that how market forces work everywhere? I am not so naive as that, but the ISPs in the United States have traditionally been a terrible bunch, filing spurious lawsuits and backing anti-competition bills. I think in this arena forcing a change is important.

 Now let’s go back to our grocery store analogy. Imagine we’ve got a modest city of 5,000 who has one Wal Mart and one Whole Foods. Wal Mart carries the cheap groceries, Whole Foods the expensive, higher quality groceries. A small family shop opens up, but Wal Mart buys the full stock of the cheap groceries, Whole Foods the whole stock of the expensive groceries. The new startup can’t keep anything on their shelves, and they go out of stock. Whole Foods and Wal Mart, having killed the smaller grocery stores and not directly competing with each other (separate demographics for expensive and cheap groceries) increase the price on everything in their stores by $2.00. Your $.99 chocolate bar? $2.99 now. New Startups can’t enter the city because Wal Mart and Whole Foods like the little empire they have built, and like that people are forced to pay their higher prices because Market Forces allow it. There is no competition, despite both being grocery stores.

That is an accurate grocery store analogy to current ISP competition in the States.

Now, I have to make my own counter points. This certainly does open the door to government corruption, government overreach. The really funny way is all of the news I have been reading is paranoid that the government will do something markedly evil and anti-capitalism, but no one seems to know what that would be. The author of the top linked Libertarian complaint piece thinks that this means that the ISPs will again control everything, because lobbyists and government, and evil overlords. Well, you are right, there will always be lobbyists, but the fact that Comcast is staunchly opposed to this, so opposed in fact that they are suing the American Government to have the decision reversed, and the fact that they have the most lobbyists in Washington, should at least show that this isn’t what they want.

Is this a perfect solution? No, it isn’t. That being said, it protects consumers in one tangible way already; ISPs have been champing at the bit to create tiered packages (for lack of a better analogy, something akin to TV channel packages, though I am aware this is inaccurate), and this has headed them off. They had already extorted money out of Netflix for equal access to their environment. That is what Market Forces drove; they drove the owners of the infrastructure to treat competition like second class citizens, and I think it should count as a very deep conflict of interest for an ISP to host their own video streaming service in competition with another company, then charge that other company extra to even be allowed to offer their services. If that is what libertarians what, if that is what market forces demand, I think stepping in must be done. If the people can’t, the government can.

There may be problems with this approach in the future, maybe. Maybe. But right now, citizens in the United States have very few options. (That is a joke about how much “competition” there has been between colluding ISPs.) I am no anti-capitalist–if your product is legitimately better, or legitimately more affordable, I want the market to support you. If your product is inferior, causing you to blackmail your competitors so that you can even get a foothold, then capitalism has failed. It failed spectacularly. It failed horribly. It failed to provide the consumer anything useful.

Mr Mises guy, got spend some time with 4Mbps internet, download a few pieces of news, try to watch some streaming news sources, then come back and tell me the market is functioning perfectly.

Unless you are of the opinion that it is the personal responsibility of farmers or rural municipalities to build their own network infrastructure? Because right now their options are sit on a dick eating cake, or sitting on a cake eating dick — and that is not a choice that should be forced on anyone. And unless you can propose a better option (and keeping in mind the horrible failure that is the market forces with regards to available internet bandwidth…), stop standing in the way of people who have put forward a good option.

And before you attack what I just said as though it is a gaping hole in my armor, please do know that I always try to to make citations of people who have proposed a better option–I don’t just tear things down, I try to build something in their place. Not always my own idea, but from what I have read of so many articles lately, the general sentiment is “Government evil, corporations good, because capitalism is always right. Right? For those not clicking on that, it is an article counting the deaths that Nestle has caused in South Africa with their baby formula — but it’s ok! Obviously NESTLE DID NOTHING WRONG, because the people bought the formula on their own, something something CAPITALISM!

Sorry, but people who just blindly state “market forces are good,” and who completely ignore evidence to the contrary drive me CRAZY. AUGH!

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To Tweak the Design

The below is a plea for help in understanding … something. I don’t even know what it is I could understand. I would like to understand your belief, theoretical Christian reader. It may help me return to the Church. I want to understand the mind of God, but I know all I generally get is platitudes about no one understanding His plan, so I guess that is off the table. I want to understand the Bible better, but my questions are difficult, they are hard, they are pointed, they are directed. Please help me answer them, if you can, it would help me return to the Church, if such a thing is even remotely possible any more…

“Everything according to His plan,” a refrain often stated when worst meets worse to comfort those affected. I don’t want to take away the comfort you feel, but I do want to know what it is about this that gives you comfort. What is God’s design?

I’ve written about my opinions on this several times in the past, but I thought I’d take another crack at it. I think my writing is getting better, that I am able to more clearly articulate what I want to say, and maybe I can pour something of my soul onto this page as a sort of continued self-therapy. And maybe you’ll enjoy it? I guess?

I have never understood the justice of God, I am comfortable saying that. He has always seemed to have a stunning parity with an abusive parent; giving commands He knows you won’t follow, and punishing you horribly when you do not. You don’t have to go very deeply into the Bible to see what I mean, this is exactly how He treated Adam and Eve.

Step back and think about the story; God put a tree that they were not allowed to eat from in the middle of their home, put a serpent in there that was obviously evil (if Sin didn’t exist before Eve ate the apple, I guess the serpent did nothing wrong), and then let everything play out. But it is worse than that, isn’t it? He made these humans, with all of the foresight available to a being who can apparently see the future as though it were this very moment.

So think about that; He made Adam and Eve knowing that they would almost immediately disobey him, and if the modern understanding is to be believed, every human ever born until Jesus died was sent to the pit, or purgatory, or hell, or some kind of stasis. But why? How is that justice? I need one of the faithful to explain it to me, because I (in my limited experience and understanding) cannot make sense of the story, and a huge portion of my peers seem to take it without a second glance that it was the human’s fault, not God’s. As though the humans had the tools to even properly follow the rules?

God did not write them down, did not tell Adam and Eve the details. He just said, in His infinite wisdom and ability to see the future, “Don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Think about that, though; if they did not know good from evil, how would they even have known what they were doing was wrong? Like a child who is told not to stick a fork in the wall socket; a good parent will cover the wall sockets because they do not want the child to electrocute themselves to death. But God did not cover the tree of good and evil with a socket cover; he put it in the middle of the garden, apparently in plain sight, with nothing stopping the very young and inexperienced Adam and Eve from eating of it aside from telling them not to. You have to remember, given the Young Earth ages presented, Adam and Eve could not have been more than a few years old at the time, and whether they were given adult bodies or not, they likely didn’t have any real world experience built into them.

Regardless of what Adam and Eve did, even God shows some restraint in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, in that He claims that He will only punish a child unto the fourth (maaaayyybbbeeee tenth) generation for the sins of his or her parents, and yet here we are (what is this, the 27th generation?) apparently being punished specifically for Adam’s sin. Apparently in the Bible writer’s mind, women were so inconsequential that we are not even punished for her sin, only all females for all time, what with the monthly bleeding and birthing pains (God’s justice is so level handed).

But we go even deeper, in that God created everything and (we are told) it was Good. But He could see the future. When He created humans, He knew (before ever saying a single word) that we would almost instantly break His commands, and the (again) very even handed punishment is an eternity of torment in hell for all humans save for a select few who number fewer than my available digits. Well, at least until Jesus, but again showing all that love and foresight God is known for, He decided to wait another 4000 years before sending His only begotten Son to redeem our sins. And He only sent this son after threatening to kill all of his chosen people several times.

Given that we disobeyed Him almost instantly (one source seems to think we did it within 45 minutes of creation, and at that point I can do nothing but respect the speed at which the Serpent operates), one would think that God (in His infinite wisdom) could have tweaked the design of free will just a hair? Maybe give us a few thousand years of paradise? The thing is, God gave only two humans paradise, and even then only for a very short amount of time (and given the staggering numbers of humans who have lived, one finds that God seems to have a very limited sense of fair play).

I’ve made numerous analogies and metaphors in regards to how I view God as operating towards His people, but I think some need to be restated for emphasis.

I stand by what I said; God is a worse parent than the mother who puts plug stops on the electrical outlets. I’d liken God’s sense of parenting to keeping the liquor under the sink, and not having any child locks. Probably keeps Drano under there, too–not even because He needs to use Drano, but because He wants to see if we’ll drink it. Given what I know about people (and the fact that I have a friend whose brother downed a bottle of isopropyl alcohol…), my own guess would be that yes, yes there are many who would drink that Drano.

Even worse, even before becoming a parent, God is a child who demands a puppy, gets it, and lets it run around the house — but when it pees on the carpet, the carpet He never trained it not to pee on, He beats it. Not just once, either. He ties it to a beating post for the rest of its life, for that single incident. Not only that, but He breeds it. He breeds it, then beats His dog’s puppies, because his dog peed on the carpet He never trained it not to pee on. 

I may sound angry and bitter, but really I am not. What I truly am is confused. I am confused how someone can believe there is a loving God at work. If you believe there is a loving God at work, I am confused as to how. I am confused as to how God’s justice is supposed to work, and I am confused as to how you call it justice. When I ask those faithful in my life this question, generally the response I receive is along the lines of “God makes the rules, therefore everything He does is just.”

That just raises the eternal question: Are moral actions moral because God said they are moral, or did God just tell us what was moral? If God told you to rape a small child, would that be considered moral because God said so? These are theoreticals, and often ignored by anyone who still has the patience to talk to me; “Well, obviously God wouldn’t tell me to do that.” That doesn’t answer the question.

How about God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? If Abraham had gone through with it, would that have been moral? Again, many who have spoken to me have raised the fact that God did not let Abraham do the killing, and while I am not angry at God, per se, I do get angry with the excuses. These are blind excuses, excuses designed to give God an out in whichever situation He finds Himself written into.

How about the tale of Jephthah? He said if he won the upcoming battle, he’d sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house. Now, barring the fact that this is possibly the most short sighted thing anyone could say (what was going to come out of his house to greet him upon his return? Not his wife or daughter, obviously!), God sits back and lets this all happen. And God does not stop Jephthah from sacrificing his daughter. Does God’s tacit approval make this sacrifice moral? God could have let that battle go the other way, or told Jephthah not to bother with the daughter sacrifice (He did intervene on Isaac’s behalf, one must remember).

All of this has just been a brain dump, because too few people will talk about this subject with me. They feel attacked, and I suppose it could come off that way (in fact, of course it would come across that way), but if you can’t answer the hard questions how can I find my way back to the fold? I have hard questions, questions I need answered before I could ever consider returning to the Church, and the best I seem to get is that I shouldn’t ask these questions.

Are the people I talk to afraid of them? Is Christianity built on the principles of “Don’t ask questions!”? Is God too fragile for my hard questions? No, I would never think that, but I am afraid that my questions are a plague in the mind of the believer; once they really start to consider the story, they have very few options. They can answer my questions, though no one has taken this option. They can ignore the questions (a perennial favorite). They can just say they trust in God (to my own mind, this adds up to the coward’s way out, for the person and for God). But if I am to return to the Church, I need these answers, and every day that passes, every person I ask who gives me uncomfortable shrugs or tells me that I am disrespecting them by even asking these questions, or ignores me, or gives me words that they use to comfort themselves, I drift further and further from God.

What advice is there for one like me? Go read the Bible? Oh, I have been reading the Bible, and all I can find is more questions and few answers. The Bible is great, if you are willing to believe the words “I love all my people!” But if you read the actions as much as the words (communication is 80% nonverbal, or whatever the number is), the actions that follow God’s professions of love are often “Man, I am going to kill like… a TON of people. Lots of them will be Israelites.” Those are the exact actions of a man who beats his wife under the umbrella of “I hit you because I love you, and you made me do this.”

What is it that humans have forced God to do? Is that what it is? We have forced God to hit us? Seems odd for us to force God to do anything.

Help me. I am asking for help here. Help me understand God’s… “love.” Help me understand God’s… “justice.” Help me understand how God is anything but the father with a belt, a strong strapping arm, a lot of time, and maybe some boredom. I really am asking for your help, as much as my words make that difficult to believe.

I can’t see you so I’m invisible

Perhaps it was just something that happened in my small corner of the world, but there was a time when small children would cover their own eyes and then declare themselves invisible. I suppose it is a weakness of myself as a writer that I had to explain my own title for clarity, but that title was far too appropriate to this topic to just let it slide by.

This may surprise you, but I was reading more AiG this weekend, and this article really helped me clarify some things. The first is that even the people of the highest education at AiG are completely blind and/or lacking awareness of way too much of the world. The second is that apparently adults are just as happy to scream the title of this blog post with all apparent earnestness.

The above linked article is about the five senses and how they fit into the world view of science versus how they fit into the world view of Christian theology. At several points, the (and I am quoting here, he calls himself this) “Ph.D. scientist” claims that trusting your five senses means you believe in the Bible, and any atheist who trusts their senses has inadvertently admitted to being a closet Christian. How is this wild leap of logic attained?

I will quote directly, I do not want to paraphrase and miss the meaning. “… It makes sense in the Christian worldview that our senses would be basically reliable. An all-knowing God designed and created both the universe and our senses, so it makes sense that those two things would “go together”—that our senses can reliably probe the universe… You want to reject my reason, but unfortunately, you don’t have a good reason to reject my reason, and you have no alternative. The evolutionist has no rational reason to trust his senses based on his professed worldview. Evolutionists believe things with absolutely no good reason.”

I have, in a past post, given my reason for trusting my senses–but I cannot recall exactly which post contained that bit of logic so I’ll present it here in direct contrast to the opposing view. I think that better, and probably more fair.

The above statement could be true, if all atheists existed in a vacuum–and by that I mean that we all existed and never talked to each other. Even science has told us to not trust our eyes, not nearly with the depth and clarity of what this Ph.D. scientist has expressed, anyway. In fact, even something that should be our most reliable sense, touch, can be very easily fooled. So for my first point of rebuttal, I think I’ve stated clearly (if quickly) that our senses are not granted by a great omniscient deity–or if they were, he did a very poor job of it (another example would be how the human eye is upside down, backwards, and prone to failure–not to mention has a blind spot that is not present in octopuses.). To address the points in parentheses previous, Creationists have frequently argued that the eye is not poorly designed, that everything works as it should — but to that I have always asked this: Why is the octopus eye so much better than ours, in terms of blind  spot? Or why is the eagle eye (and actually most bird eyes) so much better than ours, in terms of overall clarity and focus? For God’s own chosen species (taking racism up one level to specism), we really got the short end of the stick. How about sense of smell? Well, we have always relied on dogs to scent things, so obviously we have shortcomings there. Hearing? I think it is well known that bats, dolphins, and many other species have us beat quite badly on that sense.

OK, I think I’ve covered that part sufficiently, and that wasn’t even my goal here. The second part has to do not with why I believe we are not created, but why I trust my senses with any respectable surety.

Now, as I’ve discussed the fact that eyewitness testimony is terribly unreliable, I have indirectly admitted that my own sense of sight is unreliable. How can I trust it, then? Well, as listed above, my sense of sight is not unreliable all the time, which leaves me a window through which to escape; I can trust my sight through the timeless art of speaking with others. If there are three of us in a room, and two of us see the same thing but the third sees a seemingly fantastic room, we can generally assume that the two are more likely correct — though the margin for error is high, and I’ve just left a glaring hole for the creationist to attack. How about we shore up our defenses a little.

In the United States, there are some 330 million people. For the sake of argument, I usually say that I trust my eyes at least 80% of the time, with the remaining 20% being times where I have to rely on those around me for confirmation (“Man, are you seeing this right now?!”). Whether we agree on the interpretation or not (where I see science you see God), we both generally see the same thing, as made clear by our ability to describe what we see intelligently to each other. So taking that load, the 330 million person load, and dividing it to help us confirm whether what we see is trustworthy, we come to an astonishingly low margin for error. The math gets a little complicated, to the point where there are numbers the human mind is ill equipped to handle, so let’s settle for ten people in a room, all of whom trust their sight 80% of the time, and all of whom are seeing the same thing. The chance that all are wrong is given by this very rough equation of 10*0.2*0.2*0.2*0.2*0.2*0.2*0.2*0.2*0.2*0.2, which gives us the chance they are all hallucinating the same thing as something in the area of 0.0001%. These numbers are obviously not binding but they paint a picture; by this method, the scientific mind can reasonably assert that what the ten people present are seeing is a true representation of the world. (Group psychology throws some of my math out the window then pees on it, very clearly demonstrated by the Fatima incident. I’ve added that for fairness.)

I think a more easily digestible example would be that of the sense of smell. Say you have forty people in a room, because we are at a social gathering. Some time into the night, one particular patron comments that they smell toast, and someone has burned it badly–what is your first reaction? I would imagine for some number north of 99% of the readers, this would not seem as though God’s designed senses are working as intended; you’d be calling 911, because someone in the room is suffering from a stroke, because not one of the other 39 people smell said toast. Why would God give us such a sense that so easily misfires?

To extend that example of using others to confirm your senses, what about the rubber hand experiment linked above? The premise of the experiment (and it is one of my favorite experiments of all time) is that you convince your brain (or the brain of some unsuspecting friend) that a rubber hand is, in fact, their hand. After you do this, you smash the rubber hand with a mallet, and the person upon whom the experiment is being performed will feel that mallet smashing their own hand, because our brain is easily tricked. It is only through realizing that your own hand has not been hit, or through further experimental means of tricking your brain back into believing that your hand is perfectly safe that the pain will instantly (and MAGICALLY!) subside–and one way of doing this is by using the others in the room as reference material.

We as atheists are not so quick to trust ourselves, either, but this is not a game of chicken–something I fear that many YEC adherents forget. It is not the first person to admit fault (jump out of the way of the train) who loses; in this analogy, actually, the atheist jumping out of the way of the train is far more likely to live a long and productive life. Anyone who grew up in a town with train tracks has heard of someone getting killed by a train playing chicken. No, this is real life, not a game — and in the fullness of time, as Sam Harris so succinctly stated, “One side will really win, and one side will really lose.”

Just because you do not understand how an atheist would see the world does not mean the atheist is completely blind. We just see through a different set of glasses. The problem is, your glasses seem to have this odd feature where it makes you shout that anyone wearing any other glasses is wrong (and probably a heathen), and then we have to spend valuable time defending our own vision. I mean, look at me; I just spent over 1500 words defending my own side. Tell me that this isn’t a waste of valuable internet space!

It’s funny, though — I wouldn’t even feel the need to defend myself if your logic didn’t seem so convincing to so many people. It wounds my own sense of the power of the human mind to admit that your side is claiming as many members as my side is (though, thankfully, it seems we’re headed towards a reversal).

I don’t feel like I really have a choice; I either have to defend science, or allow irrational belief to sweep this world I cherish, and tear it to the ground.

Speaking of, this gentleman felt the need to say his beliefs were rational and those of the atheist irrational. He believes these things because of something implied by a book written starting 3000 years ago, by hundreds of different hands. His whole idea of rationality is that “This religious document says that there is a God, and that is the entire basis for my rationality.”

Please, you have a PhD, give me some reason that is better than that. I respect the effort that it took you to get that PhD, but I do not respect the intellectual dishonesty you show, and the shame you bring to the very title. I respect your religion, but only insofar as it does not negatively impact the world — and too often it does just that.

You are in a position of power; show some decorum is what I am saying here. If you are going to call me (indirectly) irrational and wrong, please give me a better reason than that a 3000 year old book told you to insult me. I think I’ve given you good reasons defending my side, I’ll patiently await your rebuttal.

Missing the Mark

More AiG reading, in response to yesterday’s celebrations of Charles Darwin’s 206th birthday, and I find myself again reading too much into things and then writing stuff about those thinkings.

You see, in response to the scientific world celebrating the venerable scientist’s birthday, AiG published this article, declaring that February 12th be celebrated by the Church as Darwin was Wrong Day. Never mind the fact that I can find nothing of the Biblical teachings of love and tolerance in this proclamation from the great prophet Ken Ham (PBUH), the article itself makes so many cringe-worthy statements that it actually blew my mind a little. There were gems like “The evolutionary worldview is an attempt to explain the universe and life without God.” I think that misses the mark; it assumes that evolution started with the intent to write God out of science, which is just patently untrue; evolution was stumbled upon while trying to understand how the world works, and understand our place in it. The fact that we were looking and could not find God is not our problem, because our goal never had the word God in it in the positive or negative. How about the fact that we understand things like antibiotic resistant bacteria through the lens of evolution? I know it is your opinion, theoretical young earth creationist, that genetic information cannot be created — so how is it, then, that MRSA has become so resistant. Did it always have the ability to resist bacteria? Did it just have to believe in itself? Is it the plucky nerd in the 1980s romantic comedy that science clearly represents? Or did its actual genetic makeup change to allow it to resist the killing influence of traditional antibiotics?

Accidental self awareness is one of my favorite forms of comedy, and this statement made me laugh ruefully: “Sadly, many Christians buy into this religion and simply squeeze God into the gaps somewhere.” As though you don’t squeeze God into the gaps everywhere? When science says it doesn’t know something yet, you completely ignore the word “yet” and scream victory from the top of mountains, declaring that science doesn’t know so God did it. And that doesn’t constitute using God as some kind of mortar in the brick wall of knowledge? (If that metaphor missed the mark, as many of my own tend to, I was using the gaps between bricks as the gaps God fills.)

I do appreciate the journalistic integrity in this sentence, as the word “known” could have been left out to solidify his beliefs, but it plays nicely into my own narrative as written: “There are no known exceptions to this law.” The law in question is the law of Biogenesis, where life comes from; and they claim that life and only come from life. But as I’ve mentioned, we haven’t found the way life originates from non-life conclusively yet, though we are making strides. Richard Dawkins has a very good theory, I think, it’s just too bad we don’t live for 100,000 years to test it — we may never see it happen in nature or in a lab, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look.

“Yet, according to evolution, the law of biogenesis had to have been broken at least once when the first single-celled life emerged from non-living matter.” Therein lies the rub, friend; how many particles are there in the earth? How many atoms, how many molecules, how many bacteria — and, forgive me for my limited ability to observe, but you’d be hard pressed to watch every molecule in the Earth all the time every day. Who is to say that there are not new forms of single-celled organisms popping up in the deepest craters of the Earth every day? Just because we haven’t seen it yet doesn’t mean it can’t happen, and given the statistical numbers at play here, the chance of it happening could be very remote, and yet the law of large numbers need only account for one of them.

I don’t want to spend a whole paragraph on this one: “There never was a time when life arose from non-life because life came directly from the Life-giver, our Creator God, just as it says in Genesis. And that’s what observational science confirms!” Where did God come from? What evidence have you that He Himself never had a beginning. I mean, an infinite life form raises some serious concerns, like what was He doing before creation? Why did He choose to Create when He did? He was just randomly strolling through chaos for infinity quadrillion years, then created us?

“There is no known mechanism that can change one kind of animal into a totally different kind.” That one is false, and can be proven so using their own definition of kind without a great effort. This article explains it more thoroughly than I could, but suffice it to say that if a kind is an animal that can interbreed, then we have observed kinds changing into other kinds, and it happens all the time. Long story short, while a reptile may still be a reptile, it cannot breed with other reptiles that its parents can breed with, therefore it is a different kind. Perhaps I have misunderstood your definition of “kinds”, but I was under the impression that “kinds” can always interbreed.

“However, most mutations are negative or neutral to the organism.” This author is fighting their own conscience, I fear. Read that sentence over and over again, it is the greatest he has written, and possibly the most accidental. “Most”. That single word changes the sentence, ruins the picture, spills ink all over it. His admission that “most” mutations are neutral or negative leaves the door wide open for those very few, those rare, those amazing mutations that allow evolution to function. Yes, 99,999,999,999/100,000,000,000 mutations may be bad — but given the population of our wonderful planet, that still leaves the door wide open for beneficial mutations to function on an evolutionary level. Even in your 6,000 year old Earth, denying evolution based on the “most mutations are bad” argument is incredibly facile.

Now, this quote is going to be a long one, but bear with me for just a moment. “Evolution predicts that the human body should be filled with vestigial organs. These are supposed to be largely useless leftovers from our evolutionary past that have either lost their function or have reduced functionality. Over the years, around 180 organs have been labelled as vestigial, such as our appendix, coccyx, and pineal gland. This label hindered research into the actual function of these organs because, well, why bother researching a leftover of evolution?” (Emphasis mine)

That is the ultimate argument for our side, and I have no idea what level of cognitive dissonance allowed the writer to make that argument in favor of the YEC side. Their entire stance is predicated upon the idea that “The Earth is 6,000 years old, so why would you even want to research ways to tell its age?” That is the exact argument they just accused scientists of making, and then they made it for their side and I don’t even wblwblwblbwlwblbwlbwlwb. Woah, sorry. My brain went into a reboot condition there, the amount of willpower it takes to hold up that level of cognitive dissonance doesn’t fit into my mind’s calculation space.

Now I’ll give you a pair of quotes from that article, make of them what you will.

First: “God created the original kinds in Genesis and placed within each one the genetic information needed to survive in a changing environment. God knew that the Fall and the earth-changing global Flood of Noah’s day would come and, in His wisdom, He designed organisms with the genetic variability to be able to survive.”

Second: “Of course, because of the Curse and the Fall, things do not work quite the way God designed them to.”

Allow me to make one point of my own in this rebuttal, if you would indulge me. How do you account for things such as Cancer and Down’s Syndrome, in a world crafted by your loving God? These come not from some outside influence, not from some sin, but from our own genetics rebelling against us. Even accounting for mutations, why does the genetic information required to create cancer exist, if no new information can be generated by mutations? Are you saying God wrote cancer into our DNA?

Just a thought.

Shortsighted Science

Due to my proximity with at least one other person crazier than I am, I have started to read the subtext into what a lot of people say. Honestly, it may not be entirely fair of me to do so; inferring subtext is more of an art than it is a science, but when you stop scraping the surface and actually dig into what people say, you can find some surprising things. I was reading AiG again (SURPRISE!) and something clicked into my head that was always there, but that I personally had not considered.

AiG likes to press the issue of Historical versus Observational science like a dealer pushes his best product at twice its going price. I know this has never sat well with scientists, a false dichotomy that lowers the level of discourse in the scientific field, but in a country where some 47% of the populace responds that they believe the universe is at most 10,000 years old we do have to address their concerns head on, or allow them to swell their numbers based on a tacit assumption that our lack of fighting back means we can’t. Ah, but there’s another rub, isn’t there? Very intelligent, rational people are like “Ignore them and walk away; they’ll burn themselves out.” What we have seen based on that is a groundswell of support for their ideas, and I think people like Bill Nye, who have taken the fight back to them, are becoming more in the right. Even the famous quote “If I were to debate you, it would look great on your CV, not so much on mine,” is adding to the problem–because they will go to a populace who do not follow the behind the scenes of these things, and tell them that “Oh, these atheists are afraid to debate us because they know we’d win.”

Read the above, and try to tell me that isn’t a grade school logic… And yet here we are. So let’s talk about historical and observational science. What I seem to understand, reading young earth arguments, is that they believe “historical science” (herein referred to as “science” for obvious reasons) is hand waving and sleight of hand, and that we cannot test these things, and that they have no predictive power, and that they are functionally useless lies. I think that is an accurate encapsulation, anyway; my response will be built upon this framework, anyway.

Geology may seem like low hanging fruit, but let’s start there; certainly geological aging techniques and studies are a huge point of contention for the YEC, so let’s talk about their short shortsightedness, and see how they draw their lines in the sand. No one will argue the study of plate tectonics, nor their application in predicting areas prone to earthquakes; certainly, if they did, they would be the only ones surprised when an earthquake hits San Francisco. Now, here’s the rub; the study of plate tectonics have allowed us to give a general idea of the age of the Earth based on the movement of the continents and on the geographic formations based on (again) the movement of tectonic plates (Reference). These aren’t perfect numbers, but they allow us to make predictions (such as the formation of mountain ranges, changes in the sea level of land masses, movement speed of continents, etc). If our future predictions are correct, then we can make inferences on the past. Are these inferences absolutely, definitely correct? No, nothing is, but we make statistical analyses, and use other methods of science to form a picture.

Given that we use the same science to predict future movements and general age of the earth, young earth geologists have to draw a line in the sand. This line is fairly arbitrary, and I would call it very shortsighted; we can use it to predict, and it will show us an accurate picture back 6000 years without breaking a sweat. It will give us a picture of what things looked like 100,000 years ago, 1,000,000 years ago, 65,000,000 years ago… All using the exact same system. But here’s the funny thing; the YEC geologist will say “Yeah, geology is accurate as to what the Earth would have looked like 6,000 years ago, but taking it any further than that is BLASPHEMY (for some reason),” despite the fact that it uses the exact same system. In fact, their arbitrary line in the sand may actually be even more recent, as recent as 4400 years ago — since the face of the Earth was catastrophically rearranged at that time (even though we have unbroken histories of… Say… The Egyptians right through that time…).

So how does your historical science and observational science differ, in this case? We are using the same math to predict forward as we are to go backwards, so why does the math just magically stop working some arbitrary number of years ago?

There is also the much more egregious issue in the field of cosmology, for which the YEC cannot even supply any scientific reason for their belief in certain things. For example, the speed of light is universally accepted to be the rate limiting factor in all cosmological events and transfer of information, and based on that we can look into the night sky and see back further than 6000 years with our naked eye. Give me a weak telescope and I can see one or two billion years into the past, and easily make predictions based on that (This is one of my favorites). Again, we have to draw a line in the sand, but while the YEC will have spurious scientific reasons for doing so in respect to geology (respect? Pah, poor choice of words) they don’t even have spurious reasons in the cosmological field. You don’t have a flood story that would have thrown the universe around, and the Hubble UDF (Warning: that link takes you to the full size, 60MB picture. You may need a few minutes while it loads, and to prepare to weep at the beauty of space) makes it easy enough to see that there is nothing that would happen on an Earth-level scale that could account for what we see.

Now, as I’ve pointed out, we make observational predictions using this data; the Milky Way-Andromeda collision. So how is it that we have untestable historical something something not science here? Well, this is where we see the true hole, the true flaw in the reasoning; when asked about it, YECs reply simply with “God formed the Galaxies with their light en route to Earth. Duh.” This is the lowest level of special pleading, a type of special pleading that raises no evidence, and is in absolutely no way testable. I mean, I can’t… I can’t understand how strong the cognitive dissonance is, where you can say “You make claims that aren’t testable! But our God made the universe with light en route to Earth that just happens to align with your theories of how old the universe is. Which is totally testable, somehow?”

By that very logic, everything could have come into existence 5 seconds ago, with all the everything in place and memories fabricated, and God just wants to watch us fight for his own amusement. In any case, why would you God who wants everyone to realize that He exists and worship Him put so much evidence in place that points to an old universe? Why would he have put the light en route? Just think of the beauty of the sky had he not; every day, every year, every decade, the night sky would be lighting up for our wonder and amazement. We would see stars seemingly wink into existence, if the universe was 6000 years old and light only started to travel when it was created. I mean, Adam would have had a very boring universe for the first few years, but there are stars only four years away from us. Just imagine the wonder he could have felt, had he seen the very first star wink into existence one night.

In any case, we can successfully predict the future to an extent, and use that confidence to successfully predict the past. Your arbitrary sand line, without so much as any support outside of special pleading, does not help anyone.

Now, let’s talk about your observational/operational science. You rightly say that certain sciences do not rely on other branches of science to function, and it is by this that creation scientists such as Newton made their strides, or by this that the MRI was invented. I won’t take that from you, I have never been one to say that no creationist can do science; perhaps it is even admirable what you have accomplished despite your hamstring in certain fields. But again, we end up with strange lines drawn arbitrarily in the sand. For example, we’ll call translation a science for the purposes of this; certainly hermeneutics is a scientific field (basically the science of understanding what people with old languages meant to say), but why is it observational rather than historical in your mind? I mean, you weren’t there to see the original Hebrew scriptures written, it is only through non repeatable tests that you are able to guess at their meaning in English. Certainly, that scientific field does not let us make predictions about the future. So why does that science count?

There is another odd thing about observational and historical science in your world. We don’t try to discover the age of the Earth specifically to make you angry; we do so to test our scientific theories, see how well they can predict things, refine them, and use them to understand what is coming in the future. When you tell us that you have discovered through Geology that the Earth is 6000 years old, what does that help us? It seems almost like you don’t want to prove anything except that you believe science is wrong, which, as per the title of this post, seems shortsighted. We don’t do science out of some arbitrary feeling of wanting to know, we do science so that we can understand and predict the universe we live in, thus allowing us to better prepare ourselves for what is coming. Does shouting that the world is 6000 years old prepare us for discovering an asteroid on a collision course with Earth? Orbital mechanics also allow us to date certain objects; why do you want to shout that they are only valid up until your arbitrary 6000 year date? Even if you were to use orbital mechanics to discover said oncoming asteroid, how do you justify the fact that this asteroid’s theoretical trajectory could place its origin in the Mars/Jupiter asteroid belt some 150,000 years ago? (I chose those arbitrary numbers to prove a point; I am afraid I am not astrophysicist). Perhaps, tracing the orbit of said body of mass we find that 6000 years ago it was in the middle of nowhere, on a collision course to Earth. Did God create that giant space rock at the beginning, on a path to Earth, just to mess with us? (And, incidentally, ruin our day?)

Please remember, when you are trying to argue historical science, that science goes forwards and backwards, and that historical science (which is a distinction most scientists would not make) is really just a branch of observational science that looks backwards instead of forwards. If you think we can look forwards with observational science, at what hasn’t happened yet, what is it that makes it so hard for you to believe that we can’t look at what has happened? We have even more evidence for what has happened than we do for what will happen, so I cannot resolve your cognitive dissonance.

And here we are, with me ranting about it.

Where it all Started

I am going to preface this post by saying I need to give myself a self-imposed ban from AiG. I mean, I know there are people who like it when I write things (at least, they tell me they do…), so maybe I should go back more often–but as it stands, every post I read sparks something that I feel I need to write down. And then I make multiple posts in a single day, and there is no stemming the tide, and eventually people decide I am too wordy and never come back.

That is a concern for another day; my concern right now is the true root of the issue, the point that Ken Ham has tried to hammer home with the force of one thousand suns, and which seems to slide by so many people unnoticed. Certainly, it slid by me unnoticed; I’ve written about this very issue, but somehow missed the point over and over and over again. Certainly, it is an application of Occam’s actual razor; not the popular iteration (easiest solution is best solution), as that iteration is: a) not Occam’s razor, and b) leads to very incorrect application.

Occam’s razor states that among competing interpretations of the same data, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be taken as correct. Now, the razor is non-binding, meaning a more complicated solution could be correct, but let’s grab this idea and run with it for a second. In the article I was reading, the writer makes reference to Bill Nye’s assumptions muddying the waters of good science. So you know what? Let’s step back and think about some assumptions.

I’d like to start with the very beginning of the universe. How did the universe start? Well, we have the two primary competing theories, that the universe was created, pitted against the idea of the Big Bang.

What are the assumptions underlying each? Well, we can start with offsetting assumptions; the Christian will assume a God, and the scientist will assume the matter involved in the Big Bang. No points to either side, there. We move along, the YEC assumes that the universe had very different laws in the first six days of creation; this can be inferred easily by the fact that plant life was created before the Sun; you have to assume that plants had some system that allowed them to live without sunlight, or that God is in fact a leading source of your daily UV intake (something that seems silly to me, but whatever). What about the assumption that physics somehow supported a Hydrosphere above our current atmosphere that contained all of the water that now covers the Earth? We also assume that modern biology (less than 6,000 years old) somehow survived the pressure of the atmosphere getting cut not just in half, but probably more than that. Those are some large assumptions.

Obviously, someone may come back saying that the Big Bang is an assumption that things happened and then stuff existed, but I think you are making an error of judgment in making that call. We didn’t start from the assumption that the big bang existed, we took the relative velocities of hundreds of thousands of galaxies (more than that now, but we are talking the early days of the theory), and performed a ton of mathematical equations on them. Doing the math, then applying it in reverse with respect to time, we end up at a singularity.

“Ah!” You may counter. “But what about the geologists who assume an old universe?” Thank you for conveniently bringing that up right when I needed it, theoretical reader who doesn’t exist probably!

They don’t assume an old universe; they defer to an expert. To clarify, any geologist could go to a cosmologist, and ask to see the math that indicates the universe is old, and get an educated answer.

“AHA!” You reply with great vehemence. “How is that different from me deferring to God as an expert on all things?”

Deferring to God (or the Bible, but there’s another assumption; you are assuming the truth of a book that claims it is true, a bit of semi-circular reasoning I discussed with fervor yesterday) is not like a geologist deferring to a cosmologist. A cosmologist can show their work; the answer provided by the Bible doesn’t show work, it doesn’t explain the physics. Does the Bible explain how the plants lived without the Sun? No, we have to make that assumption. Aw man, assumptions are piling up on the YEC side.

Now, we do the math in reverse until we arrive very near to the singularity. We aren’t there yet, don’t have all of the answers we need, but do you know what? We don’t assume the answer. Tomorrow, we may find some evidence that proves us wrong. But do you know what? You know what is really funny? We make so many fewer assumptions, despite the YEC tendency to assume wild amounts of things. How about some other assumptions that underlie the 6000 year cosmology?

Assumption: God is infallible.
Assumption: The Bible is infallible.
Assumption: God exists outside of time.
Assumption: The rules of science change to fit your view.
Assumption: Humans wrote down the Bible correctly.
Assumption: Translators made no errors. (We can pretty much objectively prove this false, and easily so in the case of the KJV)

Oh, I am not going to get on an arrogant horse and say that science makes no assumptions. We just make fewer. For example, in the Big Bang example I’ve been using, I have to rely on math. We have to assume 1+1=2, for without the ground work what good does it do us? But beyond that, all math is basically a function of that truth. We don’t make assumptions regarding the data, we make analyses of the data; analyses that we do not necessarily posit to be infallible, but which work best with what we know.

So try to find assumptions. The age of the Earth? While this is built upon the pillar of an Old Universe cosmology, it does not assume an Old Earth. The better part is that it doesn’t assume a lot of science you seem to think we assume; do we assume carbon dating works? No, we match carbon dating to things that are easier to quantify. Things like tree rings. “Ah, but you assume that tree rings happen once per year! AHA!” Not necessarily, friend; we know that there are certain rare cases where tree rings form at different rates, but they are just that–rare. But even then, we don’t rely on tree rings; we also correlate those to ice layers. “AHA! But you assume ice layers form at regular rates!” I wish you’d stop interrupting me like that, reader, it is slowing us down. Ice layers don’t necessarily form at rates of one per year either, but even in cases where they form faster, we can tell which year they formed in.

“HOW YOU DO DAT?!”

Reader, I feel like you are getting petulant. Well, it should come as no surprise that temperatures are changing on the planet, even if you don’t believe humans are doing it, and with that (correlating data, not causal data) the CO2 levels are changing. The atmosphere plays a part in the composition of ice, the carbon levels in the ice, for example. So if five ice layers form in a year, but all have the exact (p<.001, we’ll say) same levels of carbon in them, we can infer that they happened in the same year. But we don’t rely on that, assume that, either.

What we have done, though, is tied these pieces of evidence into a giant circle. It is a piece of circular reasoning, of course; we know the age based on tree rings because that lines up with the age based on ice cores because that lines up with carbon dating because that lines up with coral deposits because that lines up with ice ages because that lines up with crust deposits moved by glaciation because those line up with tree rings. The YEC strategy seems to be to knock out one pillar, and assume the whole structure will come crashing down. But you know what? This calls for my trademark MSPaint skills.

SCIENCE!

SCIENCE!

They seem to believe that if they remove one element, it will all fall apart, but that is clearly not the case. If you remove one, or two, there are still one hundred pieces left, held up by the other 99 pieces that all paint the same picture.

We don’t make the assumption that these are all correct, but I will give you that we assume that at least one of the million pieces of the puzzle is correct. If one is correct, then we have an old earth.

The issue is that you only have one piece of the puzzle, upon which everything relies. If we prove that one piece wrong, that one single piece, what will you fall back on? Keep attacking our science with your arguments, that is OK; science gets stronger as we learn more, and if you find a true flaw science will grow stronger for repairing it.

The problem is for every discovery we make, there are fewer pieces of the Bible to lean on. The issue is your “rock solid” stance that the Bible should never change; as it crumbles below you, you stand firm, until the day it is gone and your world falls apart — and I believe that day will come.

If the foundations we build upon crumble, we either repair them or move. There have been thousands of theories and hypothesis that have been jettisoned for their incorrectness. There have been thousands of flaws pointed out that took brand new branches of math and science to fill. We could not describe the universe without calculus, and before calculus existed we did not understand — but instead of being satisfied that “God did it,” Isaac Newton discovered an entirely new form of math to describe the solar system, and new discoveries are made every day, hundreds of years later.

Isaac Newton didn’t have all the answers, though; famously, when considering the Solar System, he could not make the math work, and even that great mind said “Well, God did it!” But minds that followed, minds that stood on the shoulders of that giant, discovered greater shoots off of that great branch of science that allowed us to describe the universe better.

Do we know what happened to start the Big Bang? No. Do we know the physics of the Big Bang? No.

But we stand on the shoulders of the greatest minds in history, and we move closer to that knowledge every day. Your standing there, shouting “We have the answer, stop looking!” will put you on the wrong side of history.

Your religion may never put you on the wrong side of history, and I think it is incredibly important to mention that. Isaac Newton was a religious man, wildly so — he was an alchemist, and that turned out to be wildly incorrect (and probably shortened his life), but he is on the right side of history and science, while still being religious.

So take your religion in hand, because sitting down and screaming that you won’t believe science will make you look, in historical retrospect, exactly like a child throwing a tantrum in a public space.

You can believe as you wish, but stop making one thousand assumptions, then accusing science of making a single assumption. I think there was a Bible verse that said that exact thing in almost the same words. 

Slightly too Complicated for Children

More reading down the anti-science hole, I came across a blog post by Ken Ham (PBUH), prophet of the Young Earth Movement. I didn’t find it overly offensive for the most part, it mostly was just him reiterating the Young Earth Script–but eventually I came across a line that kind of caught my attention: “… Children can easily see that complicated life can’t be built up on the basis of mistakes…”  Yes, but can they see why kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch?!

The reason that line jumped out at me is that it is so disingenuous it hurts, as though Ken Ham is trying to imply that all complicated science should be understood by children. I would argue this isn’t the case. An example, perhaps: Spacex is launching a rocket with a probe on it, and I am sure kids don’t understand the physics that go into that. You know what that means, right? It means God did it. God launched that rocket. The thousands upon thousands of man hours that went into it? NASA just made those man hours up. Kids could launch a rocket, if they just something something GOD.

Or how about the drastic oversimplification of the theory of evolution? I know how they do love to stand on the crutches of “Observational Science,” but there are some deep flaws in their idea of what constitutes this version of science that they themselves created. First, they seem to be of the mind that since we have never seen it, it can’t happen. Life from non-life? That’s crazy. Life from the word of the mouth of an eternal being? Totally a more viable solution. Again, though, the subtext is important; “We have the answer so YOU HAVE TO STOP LOOKING FOR AN ANSWER.”

They are right, we haven’t managed to create life in the lab yet. We don’t necessarily know how it started. But ignorance is both the best friend of science, and its worst enemy; ignorance lets us know where we have to look to find new knowledge, but it is also something to be eradicated over time. Science has been a powerful force for only 150 years; in the grand scheme of cosmic evolution, I would need to invoke a LOT of leading zeroes to give you the percentage of history that covers. Even in your 6000 year cosmology, we have only really been using science (as we’d understand it in the modern era) for only 2.5% of history, and you expect us to have all of the answers? And of course, if we admit even once that we don’t have the answer, you claim some sort of victory, as though the sum of all human discourse has all of the maturity and gravity of some middle school playground.

The funny thing, the thing that makes me laugh, is the petulance on display. If they would just sit back and let us “do science,” as the common parlance goes, maybe we’d discover that they were right all along. Obviously, I think that is (at best) very unlikely, but if they are so overwhelmingly confident, why do they act like they are being pushed around so badly? Theirs is the type of confidence (arrogance) that should be able to step aside, a knowing glint in their eye, as the children find all the answers on their own. Surely, with that level of confidence, they could trust that we would all arrive at their conclusion eventually.

And there’s the rub, there’s the whole thing, they know (deep in their hearts) that science is coming closer and closer, inexorably, from invalidating their world view. Of course, the confidence they have will not be pricked by evidence (that is already clear), and they will believe as they do in full opposition of irrefutable evidence. That’s ok, I just think it is ironically hilarious that I could so easily employ a simple word replace and make Romans 1:18-21 say exactly what is happening.

18 The wrath of [science] is being revealed from [humans] against all the [ignorance] of people, who suppress the truth by their [ignorance], 19 since what may be known about [science] is plain to them, because [humans have] made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world [science has] been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

You know what? I actually like that set of verses. I might actually print them off, because I think they say a lot about the human condition, our ability to stand by our beliefs in the face of evidence, of statistics, of physics, of history. I am not immune to it, though I do try to step back and validate my beliefs regularly. Like any human, I know I fail to recognize all of my failings, but dammit, I give it a strong effort.

Young Earth Creationists do not give an effort to find their failings, but that is not to take away from the fact that they put a huge amount of effort; the amount of man hours they put into creation science is stunning… And almost admirable. The only problem is that the only way they manage to keep their ship floating is through disingenuity. One major example is the formation of fossils and stalagmites; they have created it rapidly under a rigidly defined set of conditions, and reproduced that in the lab. They are right, of course, calcification can be a rapid process, in some conditions–you’d be hard pressed to disprove that. But then they make a huge leap; they have decided since it could happen quickly that it did happen quickly.

I think a far more egregious example is that of the discovery of dinosaur soft tissue. As soon as it was discovered, it was hailed as the final piece of the puzzle proving recent dinosaur life by young earth creationists. Why, how could you have soft tissue surviving for 65 million years? That is just absurd. And then scientists tried to explain it! THE GAUL OF THEM! Can’t they clearly see the answer? There is no process that could possibly make this happen, and even by looking the scientists are showing that they are stupidheads, and anti-religion, and scientifically ignorant!

Except in a short order, they discovered a function of high iron content that could have allowed this to happen. Quietly, the YECs stopped trumpeting that discovery, though it still has a place (as last I heard) in the Creation Museum in Kentucky, there to deceive the ignorant. Of course, that isn’t an insult; they are ignorant because people have a vested interest in keeping their blindfold on, and the fact that soft tissue is still in the Young Earth playbook, despite its having been explained by science, is proof of that.

So let’s stop pretending you are doing science. You are accusing scientists of viewing evidence with a presupposition of the age of the Universe, while you grab evidence, look at it through a magnifying glass that has mirrors and dials in it that read “6000 years old” then interpret that evidence accordingly.

The fewer mirrors you put in the way, the fewer assumptions you make about the evidence, the more you realize that 10,000 different threads in the weave of time paint a similar picture — and it is only through your smoke and mirrors, young earth creationist, that you are able to even create the illusion of a 6000 year old world.

So let’s not kid ourselves (heh… Kid) into saying evolution is silly because a child could say it is wrong. That’s not even an argument. That’s not even a thought.

Let’s all go back to the scientific lab of our choice, make as few assumptions as possible, and do some science.