Posted by jlwile on April 19, 2011
Last Friday and Saturday, I spoke at the Association of Peoria Area Christian Home Educators (APACHE) conference. It was held in the Peoria Civic Center, which is a very nice facility. Interestingly enough, the home education convention was sharing the facility with a pool and darts convention, which led to some interesting overlap. For example, I wasn’t sure exactly where to go at first, and I ended up walking into an exhibit hall to see what was going on there. I figured I was in the wrong place when a saw a booth with a beer tap!
Once I found where I was supposed to be, I had a great time. Since I am not selling anything these days, I really don’t need a booth. However, the APACHE conference was kind enough to give me one, and it was nice. I put a small card table in the middle of the booth and just sat there, waiting for people who wanted to talk with me. I guess it seemed inviting, because a lot of people sat down and talked with me at length. I got to know several homeschooling parents as well as their children/students.
I ended up talking with two students who had graduated homeschool and are now in college. One was pursuing mechanical engineering, and the other was pursuing crop science, probably with an emphasis in genetics. It was great to hear how well they are doing in their coursework and how much they are enjoying science. Those kinds of conversations really lift the heart of this science educator.
I got two interesting questions that are worth discussing, both related to science.
The first one I want to discuss came after my “Ask the Beasts” talk. This talk starts with Job 12:7-10, where we are told to ask the beasts and let them teach us. We are also told to speak to the earth so that it can teach us. I interpret this passage as indicating that we should study the beasts and the earth so they can teach us about their Creator. As a part of this discussion, I spend a lot of time talking about how special the earth is, and one special aspect of the earth is its sun. I compare the sun to many other stars in the universe, demonstrating that it is really quite rare as stars go.
As a part of that comparison, I show models of different stars. Some of those models are yellow, some are white, and some are red. A student asked why we use yellow to represent the sun, since it looks white when we see it in the sky.
Well, to begin with, the sun generally looks white to us because it is producing all colors of light, and when all colors of light mix together, the result is white light. However, even though the sun produces all colors of light, it tends to produce more yellow light than the other colors. Our eyes aren’t really sensitive to the overabundance of yellow light, but many scientific instruments are. Because it produces more yellow light, the sun is called a “yellow star” and is typically drawn yellow in scientific drawings. Other stars produce more of other colors of light. Some stars, for example, produce more blue light than others. Not surprisingly, they are called “blue stars.” Others produce more red light and are called (surprise!) red stars.
What causes this difference in color production? Ultimately, it is the temperature of the star. Blue stars are hotter than yellow stars which, in turn, are hotter than red stars. When various stars are drawn, then, you will often see them depicted in different colors, which represent their different temperatures.
The other question came after my “Why I Believe in a Young Earth” talk. In this talk, I discuss the theology of Genesis to show that the Bible really doesn’t make a clear-cut case for the age of the earth. You can certainly read it in a way that indicates a young earth, but you can also read it in a way that indicates an ancient earth. As a result, I think that true Bible believers can be open-minded when it comes to the age of the earth. This allows us to analyze the scientific evidence more objectively than those who are committed to evolution, since evolution requires an ancient earth. I then go through the scientific evidence for a young earth to show why I think the earth is young.
After the talk, a student asked why dinosaur fossils and human fossils haven’t been found together. I told her that some people claim they have found human and dinosaur footprints together, but I am rather skeptical of those claims. However, I really don’t see a problem with the fact that human and dinosaur fossils have not been found together. Dinosaur fossils are very rare in the fossil record, and human fossils are even more rare. Thus, the chance of finding them together is very low.
More importantly, however, there are lots of fossils that we do not find with human fossils, despite the fact that the creatures represented by those fossils live today, right along with human beings. Of course, the most famous example of this is the coelacanth, a fish that is found in the fossil record only in Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurrasic, and Cretaceous rock. Human fossils are found only in Quaternary rock. As a result, those who are committed to an ancient earth and therefore force geology into an old-earth interpretation concluded that coelacanths and humans never lived at the same time. Of course, we now know that to be incorrect, thanks to the discovery of living coelacanths.
If this were one isolated case, it wouldn’t be all that illuminating. However, there are many, many such cases. Tuataras, Laotian rock rats, and wollemi pines come to mind. They are all examples of organisms whose fossils have not been found in the same rock as human fossils, but they all exist today, right along with us. From those examples and more, it is clear we cannot conclude that two organisms didn’t live at the same time just because their fossils aren’t found in the same type of rock. As a result, the fact that human and dinosaur fossils are not found in the same rock really means nothing when it comes to whether or not humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time.