Opinions on faith and life

Poor Logic Makes Poor Scientists

2011-12-11

What do you call faith in a person or entity that no amount of contrary evidence can shake? Religious or blind, and certainly unscientific. Yet many, mostly atheists but including many professing Christians, have a blind faith that no matter what scientific evidence may be lacking for (or having evidence against) the Theory of Evolution (ToE), it will eventually be proven true. They use “we just don’t know yet” as an excuse for gaps of knowledge in their own position but deem such a defense invalid for others.

So tell me why faith in the ToE isn’t religious/blind. After all, if they can call their faith “rational” because it’s allegedly based upon observable fact, then so can I: Jesus’ resurrection as attested by eyewitnesses both friendly and hostile (or disillusioned) is a valid and rational basis upon which to trust that the rest of God’s Word will be proven true.

I happen to have read another example of poor reasoning skills in this article about “YEC nonsense on the Grand Canyon” after a search on the canyon that formed after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980. Its statements and claims, which I’ll highlight shortly, show how quickly the self-proclaimed rational, scientific, “free thinkers” will abandon all of those principles when their faith is threatened by “inconvenient truths” (a phrase which reminds us of another “scientific” fact: that the Global Warming alarmist scientists would have been believed had their self-incriminating emails not been discovered). The whole article could be picked apart but I will limit my remarks to the paragraphs concerning Mt. St. Helens, toward the end (do a ctrl-f [find] on the page for Helens, paragraph beginning with “This is a classic example...”).

the gorge cut into the side of Mt. St. Helens is *not* a hardrock canyon *because* it takes hundreds of thousand of years for erosion to create a hardrock canyon...
A fine example of tautology (arguing in circles): we presume that hardrock canyons require thousands of years of erosion, then use that presumption as proof aginst the conclusion drawn from actual observation. I.E., “We know this can’t be a hardrock canyon because it didn’t take thousands of years to form.” The scientific response would be to say that they tested and demonstrated by measurement/analysis that the area of the canyon was not hardrock. My point here is not to determine whether the area was in fact hardrock, but that the reason given in the article was circular.

(For convenience I will refer to the YEC apologist as Helen and the evo as Darwin.)

1) Scale. Although the gorge at Mt. St. Helens is a few hundred feet deep, it is really of no comparison to the dimensions of the Grand Canyon.
When Helen says “The only difference is scale” and Darwin responds “This is an invalid objection because of the scale”, Darwin has committed a non-sequitur; his response makes zero sense. Darwin is actually agreeing with Helen yet using that agreed-upon fact to dispute her claim. Of course the dimensions can’t be compared, that’s what Helen just said. Had Darwin gone on to explain how or why scale makes a difference in Helen’s argument, it would have been a huge (depending on scale!) improvement. Scale can be signficant in some situations but certainly not in all, and Darwin failed to point this out or give scientific data which makes geologic scale a significant factor here.

2) Time... Both [Mt. St. H.] deposits were laid down over a very short period of time as opposed to the sediments of the Grand Canyon which were deposited and lithified over millions (billions...) of years...
Tautology again: “We presume that the GC took millions of years, so since the MSH canyon didn’t, it doesn’t apply as any kind of evidence for a young GC.” The point of debate is whether the observed quick formation of the MSH canyon can be used as evidence that the GC was also formed quickly, but Darwin here wants to turn it into “Ways in which the MSH canyon is not like our ToE presumptions about the GC.” The scientific observation is that the MSH canyon formed quickly while appearing to be only different in scale from the GC, so Darwin needs to find ways to prove that the GC could not possibly have formed in a relatively short period of time.

3) Lithology. The gorge at Mt. St. Helens is composed of volcanic sediments, not rocks. Sediment weathers MUCH more easily than rock. This was stated before and is so obvious that it seems almost ridiculus to state it, but I felt the need here.
Without taking time here to investigate whether the material the gorge was carved out of was already composed of volcanic sediments (or whether such sediments are not real rocks), one must ask whether Darwin grasps the difference between the gorge the eruption formed and the material that it displaced. Of course the lava flow is what did the gorging; the question is what was disgorged. Darwin needs to find a better way to either comprehend what he reads or express his alleged scientific objections with clarity and precision.

4) Lithology again.. There is no question that volcanic ash is laid down rapidly. When it is observed in the rock record it is never interpreted as being the result of slow deposition of sediments...
Is Darwin actually claiming that the layers of the MSH canyon are all composed of volcanic ash and no actual rock? This source begs to differ:
Before the May 18, 1980, eruption, the streams on Mount St. Helens were crystal clear. After the eruption, streams were choked with rock and mud. When water mixed with rock and mud, it created volcanic mudflows (also called lahars) that were able to move down the volcano’s slopes. On the steepest slopes, the mudflows traveled up to 144 kilometers per hour (90 miles per hour). Some of the mudflows were as high as a six-storied building!
And what is lava made of, if not molten rock? Darwin here would have us believing that lava is merely ash. Neither side denies that there can be ash observed in the rock, but Darwin wants to change the MSH canyon to being entirely composed of ash. For some reason I’m beginning to connect some dots between this Darwin and the climate change scientists. At best. So this claim is just a straw man.

5) Time again. The gorges at Mt. St Helens are a transient feature on the landscape. The very rapidity of their erosion ensures that. Take a look at any active volcano that hasn’t had a major eruption in the last 100 years and guess what - no gorges. The Grand Canyon was nearly completely formed over a million years ago... - the gorges at Mt. St. Helens won’t see the 22nd century.
What? Seriously, what? Darwin here is saying that the MSH canyon will disappear in a relatively short period of time, and on the sole basis of other volcanos that have been dormant (or is it active? Darwan can’t seem to decide) not having canyons! He could at least have cited the evidence that there ever were canyons at those volcanos, and measured the time it took for them to fill in to the point they left no trace. Without at least that, the charge of “nonsense” against YEC is wearing thin.

I couldn’t find mention of radiometric dating in this article, but another common objection to a young GC is that the only reason the layers of the MSH canyon are dated at millions of years is because the lava (rock!) they are made of was deep in the earth and therefore old (i.e., Helen would argue that since radiometric dating measures the layers of the MSH canyon in millions of years then that method is very inaccurate). Yet for this argument to be valid, we would expect two things to be true: that the lava somehow spewed its oldest/deepest material first, and that this is consistent all over the earth. Yet by their own measuring methods, it’s lower=older; in fact this is one of the basic alleged proofs for evolution. Yet even a young child could tell you that volcanos erupt out the top, not the bottom, and that there’d be no other way for the older rock material to be laid down before newer. At best we should expect layers formed by volcanos to all be roughly the same measured age. Have the MSH canyon layers been measured and shown them all to be nearly the same age, or did they measure the lower layers as older than the upper ones? Darwin doesn’t bother to say.

But consider the implication of the “lava measures old because it’s from earlier rock” argument. If this is true, then how can anything be measured? Since everything is made from something pre-existing and ancient, then everything should measure the same age. The scientific response, of course, is that science can only (claim to) measure when the layering took place, not how long the material had existed before that event. Otherwise the layers could not be used as proof of long ages. That is, if lower layers are measured as being older than higher layers, the measurement must be of the relative timing of the layers, not the actual ages of the various materials. And yet again, if rock ages can be measured, then it’s their actual “creation” date that’s being measured, not the time they were laid in chronological order. So any way you slice it, rock dating does more to support the “special creation” of rocks than Darwinian theories.

Returning to the topic of the canyon formed by the MSH eruption, the point is how fast the layers were put down, not the measured ages of the layers. Knowing that these layers are actual rock and not merely ash, and that the layers of the GC are also rock, the YEC correlation between the two canyons remains valid. We have observed that rock layers do not prove long ages of erosion, so we must re-evaluate our presumptions about how other canyons formed when no one was around to observe these events. After all, true science is all about observation, such that theories about unobserved processes must remain in the realm of conjecture and not be touted as indisputable facts against which only morons would argue.

The writer of this article is mostly quoting someone from a Yahoo group who is quoting someone else. None of them (as far as I know; I didn’t put much effort into finding out) are claming to be reputable geologists, and neither am I, so take such discussions for what they’re worth. My point today is not to try and correct scientific errors but logical ones, and to caution against swallowing scientific-sounding claims without examining the logic used to come to various conclusions. Scientists, the educated, etc. are not immune from fallacious thinking, so because of their influence we must be all the more dilligent in putting their claims under scrutiny. And as Christians we must be especially careful to do this concerning anyone claiming to be a teacher or spiritual leader.

3 Comments

Paula Fether

A short article on rock dating methods can be found here.

Osaat

Science would be our best attempt to understand our world by taking in information and formulating opinions based on such. I don’t have to bother disputing individual points here. You’ve formed an opinion and are attempting to, from that formed opinion, prove a point. This is antithetical to any reasonable debate. You may as well say, "this offends me, I don’t like it, here are post hoc justifications as to why!" An open mind and clarity in logic are wonderful things.

SaberTruth

Osaat, the whole reason I wrote this was precisely because I DO know what science is, and what it is not. Not bothering to dispute individual points is an excuse never tolerated by atheists but used when it suits them, and when they have no logical, scientific response. You formed an opinion too, so how are you not also guilty of being "antithetical to any reasonable debate"? I used logic and science to back up what I said. So it’s really you who are saying "this offends me, I don’t like it", and you don’t even try to justify it. I hope that you will take your own advice about an open mind and clarity in logic.