Young-Earth Creationism Is Good for Science

There is a great article on the Creation Ministries International website called “Why Young-Age Creationism Is Good for Science.” The author (Brent W. Smith) makes some excellent points, so I would like to summarize what he says and then add one thought. You can tell Mr. Smith is a philosopher by how he summarizes his argument:

The basic idea is that [young-age creationists] offer to the current origins science establishment a competing rational viewpoint that will augment fruitful scientific investigation through increased accountability for scientists, introduction of original hypotheses, and general epistemic improvement.

If you don’t know what “epistemic improvement” means, you just need to know that epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and limitations of knowledge. It attempts to understand how we know things, how knowledge is acquired, and what knowledge actually is. Thus, in this case, “epistemic improvement” means an improvement in our understanding of what we can know through scientific inquiry.

Obviously, young-earth creationism will improve the epistemology of science, because it continually argues with the establishment about what we can learn from scientific data. For example, the fact that soft tissue has been found in fossils that are supposedly millions of years old can lead us to make one of (at least) two different conclusions: (1) Soft tissue can be preserved over time periods previously not thought possible or (2) The fossils aren’t really millions of years old. Those who believe in a billions-of-years old earth tend to support option (1), and young-earth scientists tend to support option (2). Each side tends to look for data that support its position.

If it weren’t for young-earth creationists, option (2) would not be considered. Thus, scientists would assume that option (1) is what we can learn from the data, and they would go on their merry way, never wondering if the data could mean something else. Young-earth creationists, however, will collect data to try to support their position, which will at least allow for some evaluation of what we can learn from the fact that soft tissue has been found in these fossils. If option (1) ends up being correct, then at minimum, there has been an evaluation of what this fact tells us rather than just an assumption of what it means. If option (2) ends up being correct, then a long-running mistake in science will be fixed. Either way, science wins!

In his article, Smith gives an example of how a young-earth scientist has helped to improve science within his field. Young-earth paleontologist Leonard Brand studied fossil footprints in a geological formation in Arizona. He interpreted them in the context of Flood Geology and decided that they were best understood in the context of animals trying to escape rising floodwaters. As a result, he did careful experiments that demonstrated that the footprints were most likely made while the animals’ feet were underwater. This was a shock to paleontologists worldwide, as it had always been assumed that those footprints were made in dry sand.

Now whether or not you believe in Flood Geology, you have to admit that it is nice when scientific mistakes are fixed. Thus, even if you think Flood Geology is nonsensical, it was used to correct a long-standing mistake about footprints in a particular geological formation. At least in this specific case, then, a young-earth theory (Flood Geology) helped science.

Smith lists several other specific cases of where young-earth creationists have done groundbreaking research that casts doubt on other strongly-held beliefs in science. Now, if these researchers end up being right, other scientific mistakes will be fixed. However, even if the researchers are shown to be wrong, science will still benefit. If nothing else, those strongly-held beliefs will be more solidly confirmed, because they will have survived what was thought to be adversarial data. Either way, science wins!

So the article is definitely worth a read, since it truly does show how young-earth creationism actually benefits science, regardless of what people who don’t like science say about it. I do want to add something, however. As a science educator, I can conclude that young-earth creationism will aid science in another way. It will produce a lot of well-qualified scientists who will continue to learn more about the world around us.

Why do I think young-earth creationism will produce these scientists? Because it already has! As I have pointed out previously, students who use my textbooks (which are written from a young-earth creationist view) are wildly successful in university-level science courses. Many of them are already working in the sciences, and some are still studying for advanced scientific degrees. In the end, the fact that these students are so successful in the sciences indicates that there is a benefit to at least some forms of young-earth creationist education.

There is something else, however. I generally get two kinds of E-MAILs and letters thanking me for my textbooks. The ones I like the most are those I mentioned above – they come from students who have used my books and are incredibly successful at university-level science. However, I actually get more E-MAILs and letters telling me that my books have changed students from “science haters” into “science lovers.”

Several of the students who have written to tell me about their change in perspective specifically mention that they like how my books challenge notions that other science books simply take for granted. This makes the science a lot more interesting to the student, and it helps the student learn that he or she should evaluate all scientific positions – regardless of what the “scientific consensus” is. What’s wonderful about this is it produces students who love science and learn to question everything – and that’s just what science needs to continue to improve.

So whether we are talking about scientific research or science education, young-earth creationism is good for science. It’s just unfortunate that there are so many science-haters out there who think otherwise.

51 Comments

  1. Ben Michael Fournier says:

    Dr. Wile,

    I think that the people who, in effect, hate science don’t see themselves as hating science. It is for this reason: they don’t know what science is. To an extent I think that people have reverted to the system of accepting mainstream thought as fact… I don’t know the actual term though. Basically, what I’m referring to is the time after the Greek classical era when people just read the works of the philosophers and scholars who had written treatises, accepted them more or less, respected their work as if they were the final authority on the subjects, and did little to nothing to advance past what was already known or thought to be known. I think that people have, to a degree, adopted a similar attitude today. They accept the words of the mainstream popularizers of subjects without really bothering to question them, possibly due to a respect of them or something like that. But it is essentially just a blind acceptance of the words of people who are currently popular. The people who spout Dawkin’s or any of the other atheistic missionaries who feed internet trolls, these people think they love “science”, but they don’t even know what science is… they mainly know just what their heroes say about science and think that is science itself.

    1. jlwile says:

      Ben, you have hit the nail on the head. There are a lot of people (even a lot of scientists) who think science means accepting the scientific consensus rather than looking at the data for yourself and evaluating it for yourself. Of course, if all scientists thought that way, science would never improve!

  2. James says:

    Astronomers Assess the Age of the Universe – http://www.reasons.org/astronomers-age-of-universe

    Geology and Earth History – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc6uhQWQQMQ

    1. jlwile says:

      James,

      You really need to look at the data here rather than reading and listening to propaganda. Here are some articles that will help you learn what real science says about the age of the earth:

      Lots of data related to the age of the earth.

  3. Jorg says:

    “Each side tends to look for data that support its position.”

    Garbage. We look for all data, and are willing to change our position depending on observation. YECs look for confirmation; a real scientist tests possible falsifying scenarios, among other things. What would it take to falsify your position to you? Oh, I forgot: nothing. You hold your religious beliefs by faith, and as an a priori commitment. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t confuse it with science, or even an interesting philosophy.

    1. jlwile says:

      Jorg, you seem to be rather ignorant of my views. That’s not surprising. Perhaps you have not bothered to read much of my blog. Instead, you read something with which you disagree and then immediately thought I must hold to my position by faith. I certainly do not. In fact, at one time I did believe in an old earth. I have no theological problem with an old earth. Indeed, I have written entries supporting the theology of old-earthers. You can read them here, here, and here. Instead, I hold to a young-earth position because the majority of the convincing data indicate a young earth, and because an old-earth position is scientifically irresponsible given what we know right now. As Dr. Russell Humphreys says:

      There is a little-known irony in the controversy between creationists and evolutionists about the age of the world. The majority of scientists— the evolutionists—rely on a minority of the relevant data. Yet a minority of scientists—the creationists—use the majority of the relevant data.

      If you want to think rationally about this issue, then, you need to look at all the data. I am a young-earth creationist because the majority of the convincing data indicate the earth is young. You could easily “convert” me to an old earth position if you were to show me data that are more convincing than the data that indicate a young earth. Right now, however, the majority of the convincing data is on the young-earth side. Perhaps if you actually investigated this issue rather than fervently clinging to your preconceived notions, you would learn this.

      Don’t confuse what you are doing with science. The “high priests” of science say the earth is 4.6 billion years old, and you simply believe it. You don’t look at the data, and you don’t consider contrary views. You just accept what they say with blind faith. That’s religion, and it has nothing to do with science. Discuss the data, and then you will be doing science.

  4. Josiah says:

    “Garbage. We look for all data”

    I recently found myself talking to a group of friends at school who believed, reasonably for that is what they had been told, that evolution is the scientifically proven origin of life. I had planned to respond by giving them a few spots of evidence pointing the other way, hopefully prompting at least few in the room to look things up for themselves.

    I discovered that not only were my arguments completely novel to them, most did not even know what evidence was meant to support evolution, which I was trying to cast into doubt. Granted, these are High Schoolers, (as am I) but it might make you reconsider your first statement.

    1. jlwile says:

      Well said, Josiah!

  5. Ben Michael Fournier says:

    “There are a lot of people (even a lot of scientists) who think science means accepting the scientific consensus rather than looking at the data for yourself and evaluating it for yourself. Of course, if all scientists thought that way, science would never improve!”

    Indeed, science would stagnate in such a condition.

  6. James says:

    Mr Wiles, your laughable claim that you were convinced of a young earth by the scientific data had me in hysterics – it’s a good one, I’ll give you that. Since you link to Answers In Genesis and appear on their website, I’ll assume your views agree with theirs, i.e. a literal intpretation of the Bible, from the creation of the universe some time in the last 6,000-10,000 years. If this is indeed your position, on what scientific basis do you accept;
    – recent genetic bottleknecks (in the time frame mentioned) for large taxonomic groups
    – the migration and diversification outwards from the Middle East of various taxonomic groups?
    – the appearance of all life forms, extant and extinct in the fossil record, within the same week

    Please cite the literature that supports these ideas and point me to the place in the fossil record where I can see them.

    1. jlwile says:

      James, I definitely think you need to read things a bit more carefully. First, my last name is WILE, not Wiles. Second, as you can read in the description of the Answers in Genesis link, “While the theology leaves a lot to be desired, the science discussed on this website is pretty solid.” Thus, I clearly DO NOT agree with their interpretation of the Bible. However, the majority of science points to an earth that is about 10,000 years old, so because I am a scientist, I am forced to believe that is roughly the age of the earth.

      The fact that I was convinced from an old-earth position to a young-earth position is, indeed, a “good one,” because it is true. The fact that you laugh about it indicates you haven’t really investigated the issue at all. Of course, that’s not surprising. Most people don’t want to think for themselves. Thus, they just accept what their high priests tell them to believe.

      Recent genetic bottlenecks are best explained by a recent global flood. A peer-reviewed discussion of that can be found here .

      A good peer-reviewed discussion of post-flood human migration can be found here. A good discussion of the post-flood migration of land vertebrates can be found in John Woodmorappe’s “Causes for the Biogeographic Distribution of Land Vertebrates After the Flood,” Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Creationism, 1990, Vol. II, pp. 361-370).

      The fact that you ask about “the appearance of all life forms, extant and extinct in the fossil record, within the same week” shows you know very little about what creation science has determined. I don’t know any creation scientist who thinks that “all life forms” appeared during creation event. Instead, God created specific KINDS of organisms, and part of His creative genius was to include in their genomes the ability to adapt to changes in the environment. Of course, the range of such adaptation is limited by the information in each genome. I think a simple primer like this one will help you catch up to what creation science has determined. Once you have caught up, you can learn about the details in this peer-reviewed article.

      When you ask where you can see things in the fossil record, I think you are a bit confused. The evolutionary view of the fossil record is rife with assumptions and contradictions. To learn about a superior way to understand the fossil record, you might read this peer-reviewed article. If that’s a bit too tough for you, here is a simpler discussion.

  7. Ben Michael Fournier says:

    And then there are people who fulfill 2 Peter 3:3-5ff.

    1. jlwile says:

      Ben, you are quite right. I don’t have a problem with scoffers, though. Scoffing is a cover-up for the fact that they can’t back up their arguments.

  8. Josiah says:

    “Since you link to Answers In Genesis and appear on their website, I’ll assume your views agree with theirs”

    Is that to say that he also agrees with most of what appears on Pharyngula? That doesn’t seem like a very good argument.

  9. James says:

    I apologise for misspelling your name, however you have provided nothing that supports any of what you claim to believe. The flood event would have caused genetic bottlenecks across all of the various groups (cat ‘kind’, dog ‘kind’, etc), not just among humans. There is precisely zero evidence for this and massive evidence against it. Even with regard to humans there is no evidence the human population has ever been below several thousand individuals, Biologos has just had a post on this – http://biologos.org/blog/does-genetics-point-to-a-single-primal-couple/ .

    You are arguing in circles and attempting to change the subject. You claim to have been convinced by evidence and yet when asked for evidence you provide nothing. The YEC model claims that pretty much everything; plants, fish, reptiles, mammals etc have all existed since the beginning of life on earth. You clearly know the fossil record shows this is not true. Nor can you point to any fossil evidence even remotely resembling a diversification outwards from the Middle East.

    If this is too complicated for you, I’d suggest you see Dennis Lamoureux’s lecture – http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/4_predictions/index.html

    1. jlwile says:

      James, your apology is accepted. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that you didn’t bother to read well enough to learn how my name is spelled. It seems you haven’t bothered to read any more closely, as the links I gave you specifically address exactly what you asked. There is massive evidence for the flood event, and the fact that you don’t know this indicates you haven’t looked into this issue at all.

      You are the one arguing changing the subject. I have given you exactly what you asked for, and you refused to even read it. Instead, you are trying to distract from the fact that I have answered your questions by bringing up yet another silly idea – that there is no evidence for a low human population. That, of course is not true at all. The biologos post is WAY behind the times. It still promotes the idea that there is a lot of “junk DNA.” That is clearly not true. Also the idea that what biologos errantly calls “defective genes” shared by humans and chimps support common ancestry has been shown to be absurd. You definitely need to learn more about genetics if you want to understand these issues!

      Lamoureux’s lecture shows the same kind of ignorance of YEC ideas as you have shown in your comments. It is no wonder you think that it is a good lecture! For example, he claims that a global flood should produce a fossil record that has all animals in all layers. That shows he hasn’t even looked at what YECs have written, as NO YEC says that. Instead, YECs have shown that a global flood produces EXACTLY the geological column that we see today. If you or Lamoureux would bother to learn about these issues, you would both know that.

      In order to give you the opportunity to actually LEARN something, I will give you those links again, so that you can begin to educate yourself:

      Peer-reviewed article on the human genetic bottleneck

      Peer-reviewed article on the human migration

      Primer on genetic variability

      Peer-reviewed article on genetic variability

      Primer on how a global flood explains the fossil record

      Peer-reviewed article on how a global flood explains the fossil record

      Once again, you need to have the courage to actually read them!

  10. Ben Michael Fournier says:

    Dr. Wile, I think for the most part they don’t even try. They consider us as a form of heretics, and thus we must, in their view, be inferior to them. Their beliefs in the origins issue are drilled into them, force fed by rout, and in the government schools they are constantly tested upon their memorization of this catechism.

    Worst then that, the whole issue of, “Lights! Cameras! Space ships! Look what science can do! Evolution is Science, and there are people who don’t believe in Evolution, so they don’t believe in Science!” Crudely simplified and paraphrased, but people are taught in such a way as to deify the subject of science and make it an object to be learned by rout rather than actually understood.

  11. If you admit a certain fact “can lead us to make one of (at least) two different conclusions”, why do you always frame your answers with only two options? Where have you allowed more than a strawman argument and your preconceived conclusion to be the two choices? When have you ever allowed the main conclusion to be “We just don’t know”?

    Here’s an excellent take on new hominin research from Carl Zimmer. He deals with this exact type of problem very well. You would do well to emulate his journalism in your posting.

    I’m looking forward to reading and commenting on the latest (or is it? there’s no date) Creation Ministries International essay mentioned here. A quick scan of capitalized words reveals God, Thomas Kuhn, Leonard Brand (a young-age creationist paleo-ntologist?!?), Russell Humphreys and his zircons, and Werner Gitt. Add in some amateur philosophy of science and it looks like more of the same-old young-age/earth spiel. But, still, I’ll read it for the good of yourself and your readers.

    Just don’t forget to thank me. If nothing else, I’m improving arguing creations science.

    1. jlwile says:

      Shooter, once again three posts on one topic, all right in a row, and they all contain irrelevant links. I have obviously hit a nerve! What fun!

      I frame my answers with the most reasonable conclusions. There are other ones, but they are not as reasonable and thus do not merit any discussion. I think letting the main conclusion be “We don’t know” is very valid when the data are not clear. In this case, however, the data are VERY clear, so there is no need for such a conclusion.

      Your link to Zimmer’s article (and the others) is not at all relevant to this discussion, indicating that you are really grasping for straws here. That’s okay. I am use to that. I agree with him that the “missing link” phraseology doesn’t apply to evolution anymore, because when evolution’s prediction of fossil lineages was falsified, it was explained around by saying that you will never find direct lineages, just the “leaves” on the branches of evolution’s “bush.” It is a nice way of getting around the fact that the fossil record doesn’t show evolution, but it is not scientific! What is interesting about the skeleton is that it is relatively complete.

      You ask where Australopithecus sediba fits into a creationist view. I haven’t seen the scientific paper yet, so I am not sure. However, if the assigned genus is reasonable, then it is a specific species of ape and is not related to people in any way. We know this because the Australopithecus genus is not related to humans in any way.

      I know you are trying to distract from the fact that you can’t support your arguments, but could you please make your links at least RELATED to the post? Surely you can do that.

  12. Whoops, I see it’s from December 2008. Here’s another good article about the new australopithecine fossil find. From your third favorite atheist, Jerry Coyne.

    How does this new species fit into a creation science “worldview”?

  13. Whoops again, the post is by Greg Mayer, a co-blogger. Here’s a great graph showing the multiplicity of hominin species (from 2 genera) living concurrently. Here’s the article.

  14. Ben, I have a name for this:

    the time after the Greek classical era when people just read the works of the philosophers and scholars who had written treatises, accepted them more or less, respected their work as if they were the final authority on the subjects, and did little to nothing to advance past what was already known or thought to be known.

    Europe in the Dark Ages. Thanks, Catholic Church! And, can you give me your definition of science?

    James, the links were excellent! I’m sending the video link to my Christian homeschooling sister (the reason I found this blog). From the other link:

    Faulkner does not present evidence for a universe thousands of years old but rather makes claims for isolated inconsistencies in the case for great age. While it is common scientific practice to look for holes in well-established theories, the new contrary evidence must either be very strong to counter the existing evidence for the theory or else be supported by a new theory that readily explains both the new evidence and the old. We judge that the “inconsistencies” pointed out by Faulkner do not meet either of these criteria. In some instances the observations are completely consistent with our current understanding of these physical systems in the context of an old universe; in others, while universally accepted interpretations don’t exist today and our knowledge is often still incomplete, such explanations are likely to be forthcoming as observations and theory progress. It is our professional judgment that the weight of the evidence overwhelmingly supports a universe that is billions of years old.Dr. Wile, are you using Faulkner as a pen name?

    1. jlwile says:

      Shooter, we now have a fourth comment on this. You really are bothered by the fact that young-earth creationism is good for science, aren’t you? That’s great!

      No, I do not use Faulkner as a pen name. He is an astrophysicist and professor at USC Lancaster who clearly knows more about science than you do!

      The link that James gave is nothing more than propaganda. A bunch a scientists who agree with Ross watched presentations by Ross and Faulkner and ended up saying that Ross was right and Faulkner was wrong. Imagine that! Of course, you agree with it, too, so you think it is a great piece. Imagine that!

      In fact, Ross makes a whole lot of mistakes. Even the statement you quote is a mistake. Faulkner does not just make “claims for isolated inconsistencies in the case for great age.” That’s what the propagandists want you to believe. What he does is give an enormous amount of data that set upper limits for the age of the universe. Since you don’t know much about science, you don’t understand that setting limits (upper and lower) is a standard part of scientific evaluation.

  15. Dr. Wile, are you using Faulkner as a pen name? (Damn closing html tags!)

    Please, I do look down on your ridiculous individual arguments. I’m trying to expose your readers to current scientific research and how to correctly interpret it. Now if that is off-topic, I’m a monkey’s cousin. No, wait, I am. I got to stop using that line!

    As to A. sediba, please do read the paper, because the significance of the fossils is that Homo characteristics evolved piecemeal from Aus. A. sediba had long legs stiff feet, but also long arms and curved hands. The mosaic theory is what it is called. Do try to keep up, this was published hours ago!

    And multiple comments just reflect a “I can spare a moment now” constraint, not anything related to the strength of my arguments.

    1. jlwile says:

      Shooter, I answered your question about Faulkner before. You really need to learn to read. As you can see if you follow the link, he knows a LOT more about astrophysics than you do.

      You look down on my arguments because you don’t understand science. I get that. Of course, your comments demonstrate that you don’t understand science, so the other readers of this blog probably get that as well. Your comments also demonstrate your need to cover up your lack of arguments by constantly bringing up irrelevant links.

      I do plan to read the paper, but unlike you, rather than just accepting what the high priests of science say about the fossil, I will actually examine the data. I know you don’t like to examine data, as they contradict your fervently held beliefs. That’s fine. As long as you read this blog, you are at least being exposed to SOME good science.

  16. Ben Michael Fournier says:

    Shooter, did the Dark Ages begin 400 years before the Catholic Church? The acceptance of the authority of philosophers and scholars began even prior to the civil wars of Rome, while Rome was still a Republic. The Catholic Church wasn’t even founded until the 4th century A.D., and Christianity was not the state religion until about 380 AD. Constantine’s Edict of Milan in about 330 AD only permitted Christians the right to not be tortured to death and to own property. So, neither the Catholic Church nor Christianity was not responsible for the attitudes towards scholars versus towards veracity.

  17. Ben, no they didn’t. By Dark Ages, I mean from about 500 to 1200 CE, and only in Europe. During this time frame and place, learning was stifled by the Catholic Church, the pre-eminent institutional power throughout that time and place. If there is any broad disagreement with this conclusion, I’d like to hear it.

    My question still stands, what is your definition of science?

  18. Ben Michael Fournier says:

    No Shooter, the attitude toward Greek scholarship, holding it in such a high regard practically blindly, was their even prior to the fall of the Republic.

    Why do you want a particular definition of science from me? So that you’ll have an imperfect definition to nitpick for any error or to showcase any atheists which don’t completely hate science according to whatever definition I write and also present any poor examples of creationists scientists or apologists who don’t completely utilize it? No, go play your word games with yourself alone.

  19. Ben Michael Fournier says:

    There, not their.

  20. Ben, it’s immaterial to my argument when any blind acceptance of dogma started. My point is that the Catholic Church impeded Western scholarship for hundreds of years. Do you disagree?

    You said: “The people who spout Dawkin’s or any of the other atheistic missionaries who feed internet trolls, these people think they love “science”, but they don’t even know what science is”. So I would assume you had a definition of science to show that Dawkinites don’t know what science is. So, what is your definition that shows “these people … don’t even know what science is”?

  21. Ben Michael Fournier says:

    Yes, I disagree. If it weren’t for the Catholic Church, all learning and scholarship would have been lost after the collapse of the Roman Empire.

    I’ll tell you what science is not: it is not blindly accepting the words of popularizers on the basis of their supposed authority.

    Some of the things which science is: the discovery of the normative operation of the physical universe.

  22. I finally finished the original article from Creation Ministries International. I love it when you actually discussion creation science’s output, rather than try to poke holes in science, because then it is just so easy to see how barren and bankrupt creation science is. This article is a great case to highlight that point because it’s aim is the exact opposite.

    I’m going to start with the conclusion, which I will reproduce here:

    If scientists really are looking to find truth, and if they really think science is the way to find it, they should welcome YAC as a competing voice in the speculative science of origins. They should take comfort in the knowledge that intelligent and determined individuals are doing every ethical thing they can to save them from any mistakes they may make. They should value the ‘outlandish’ hypotheses of individuals like Brand, Humphreys and Austin because such hypotheses sometimes lead to discoveries that may never have happened without young-age assumptions. They should pursue the epistemic improvement YACs offer to science through broadening her epistemic base to include a theory’s ability to solve conceptual problems among its potential merits. All scientists should accept YAC as legitimate science because YAC is good for science.

    First sentence: YAC* was welcomed as a competing voice. In fact, it was the exclusive view of scientists for literally thousands of years. But starting in the late 18th-century another voice started to make itself heard. From that time through the development of plate tectonics in the 1960’s, YAC was demolished and is no longer a scientific viewpoint. The current date for the age of the earth has an error bar that is thousands of times greater than the age posited by YACs. Saying it’s not close is an enormous under-statement.**

    There were hundreds of other 18th century ideas about natural philosophy (i.e. science) that have also fallen into disrepute. But is there any other 18th century scientific idea that still has a vocal tiny minority who is trying to resurrect it? No.***

    Third sentence: Name one discovery that may never have happened without young age-assumptions. One.

    Fourth sentence: “among its potential merits”? What are the other potential merits of a scientific theory beyond solving conceptual problems?

    Fifth sentence: Even if you grant that YAC is good for science, which I don’t, it is ridiculous to say that is a reason to accept it as legitimate science. Substitute astrology, homeopathy, crystals, etc. and then grant that they also develop good questions or are a check on science and I suspect you won’t accept them as legitimate science.

    * Which, like the author, I prefer to YEC because it avoids the interpretation of a belief in a thousands-year-old earth, but a much older universe.

    ** Comparing the true age of the Earth (4.54 billion years) to the age quoted by creationists (6,000 years) is like measuring the width of North America and coming up with an answer of 25 feet.

    *** Dr. Wile, you truly are the fringe of the fringe as a YAC that says he has no theological basis for his views, as this article makes clear.

    1. jlwile says:

      Shooter, you really didn’t understand the article, did you? That’s not surprising, given that you start by contradicting yourself:

      “First sentence: YAC* was welcomed as a competing voice. In fact, it was the exclusive view of scientists for literally thousands of years. But starting in the late 18th-century another voice started to make itself heard. From that time through the development of plate tectonics in the 1960’s, YAC was demolished and is no longer a scientific viewpoint. The current date for the age of the earth has an error bar that is thousands of times greater than the age posited by YACs. Saying it’s not close is an enormous under-statement”

      If it was the EXCLUSIVE view of scientists for thousands of years, it was not a competing voice. I do think I need to send you a dictionary!

      You would like to THINK that YEC was demolished and is no longer a scientific viewpoint, but the data clearly say otherwise. You can ignore the data if you like, but then you can’t claim to be using science.

      Error bars on a measurement are only valuable if the measurement is made using accurate tools. The tools used to produce an ancient age for the earth are not accurate. Indeed, they are scientifically irresponsible. Thus, the error bars have no meaning.

      You say, “There were hundreds of other 18th century ideas about natural philosophy (i.e. science) that have also fallen into disrepute. But is there any other 18th century scientific idea that still has a vocal tiny minority who is trying to resurrect it? No” That actually adds weight to the YEC argument. If a scientific idea is not supported by the data, it is discarded and does not make a comeback. However, scientific ideas that are supported by the data make comebacks, even if they fall in disrepute for a time. For example, the particle view of light fell into disrepute when the wave model seemed to do a better job at explaining the data. After a while, however, the particle view came back and was blended with the wave view, specifically because the data supported it. In the same way, Einstein’s “cosmological constant” fell into disrepute, but now some astrophysicists are bringing it back, because they think the data support it. YEC is coming back because the data support it. Thanks for giving yet another reason for why YEC is good for science!

      You say, “Name one discovery that may never have happened without young age-assumptions. One.” Of course, one was mentioned in the article that you obviously didn’t read very carefully. The footprints in the sandstone formation studied were shown to be made underwater, even though the “scientific consensus” was that they were made on dry land. Once again, you need to hone your reading skills. Of course, I can name others as well. The discovery of excess helium in zircons would not have been made without YEC research. The fact that many organic samples that are supposedly millions or billions of years old have detectable amounts of C-14 would not have been made without YEC research. Radiohalos would not be well characterized if it weren’t for YEC research. The discovery of a model for planetary magnetic fields that actually has predictive power would not have been made without YEC research. These are just a few of the discoveries courtesy of YEC.

      You ask, “What are the other potential merits of a scientific theory beyond solving conceptual problems?” Once again, you really need to learn about science before you comment on scientific articles. Many theories have direct applications to technology or further research. For example, if YEC is true, it would help us with technical issues. For example, for a while there was a popular idea of taking nuclear waste, putting it into torpedo-shaped containers, and allowing the containers to sink in certain mud deposits deep in the ocean. However, that was abandoned because of certain assumptions regarding how long the mud has been there and the geological forces that might interefere with it now. If YEC is true, those assumptions are wrong, and that method of nuclear waste disposal might be feasible.

      You say, “Even if you grant that YAC is good for science, which I don’t, it is ridiculous to say that is a reason to accept it as legitimate science. Substitute astrology, homeopathy, crystals, etc. and then grant that they also develop good questions or are a check on science and I suspect you won’t accept them as legitimate science.” The difference is that astrology, homeopathy, crystals, etc. don’t have serious data to back them up. Thus, they do not provide a check against other views of science. To provide a check against other views of science, you must have data. The YEC view has a lot of data to back it up, which is what really upsets you about it.

      I actually prefer YEC, because general relativity clearly does allow for a thousands-of-years old earth (or other regions of the universe) in a universe that also has regions that are billions of years old. Thus, if you believe general relativity, YEC is a possibility. As a result, it is more scientific to use YEC when discussing the earth. It is not surprising that you don’t like the more scientific term.

      You say, “Comparing the true age of the Earth (4.54 billion years) to the age quoted by creationists (6,000 years) is like measuring the width of North America and coming up with an answer of 25 feet.” Not at all. First, 4.54 billion years old is definition not the “true” age of the earth. Second, there are many legitimate means of measuring the width of North America, and none of them come up with an answer like 25 feet. However, there are many legitimate means of measuring the age of the earth, and they come up with all sorts of different answers. Thus, the data are not clear on the age of the earth, and the most scientific view is to follow the bulk of the data. The bulk of the data support a young earth, so that is the most scientific view to take.

      You say that I am on the “fringe.” Thank you very much. Galileo was on the “fringe” of science for his day. So was Newton. So was Einstein. I appreciate your compliment!

  23. You are most literal reader I’ve ever encountered. If I leave out a conjunction or modifier that is easily assumed, you can’t even understand my sentences.

    How’s this: “YAC was welcomed as a competing voice. In fact, it was much more than a competing voice, it was the exclusive view of scientists for literally thousands of years.” Does that make sense to you?

    What is your data that show that YAC is making a comeback? Can you refute statements by international academies of science or American academies of science or the American Association for the Advancement of Science?

    I used discovery because that’s the word this paper used. But what is meant is a discovery that produces an accepted scientific theory that leads to fruitful future research. Publishing a paper in a creationist source is not a discovery. A discovery is something like general relativity or the structure of DNA or the germ theory of disease. Name one creationist “discovery” that had been accepted as a new scientific theory and creates new research opportunities. Lets lower the bar even more. Name one creationist paper that has been cited in a non-creationist paper. One.

    The Galileo Gambit! Nice. From Orac at Respectful Insolance:

    For every Galileo, Ignaz Semmelweis, Nicolaus Copernicus, Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, etc., whose scientific ideas were either ignored, rejected, or vigorously attacked by the scientific community of his time and then later accepted, there are untold numbers of others whose ideas were either ignored or rejected initially and then were never accepted–and never will be accepted. Why? Because they were wrong! The reason the ideas of Galileo, Semmelweis, Copernicus, Darwin, Pasteur, et al, were ultimately accepted as correct by the scientific community is because they turned out to be correct! Their observations and ideas stood up to repeated observation and scientific experimentation by many scientists in many places over many years. The weight of data supporting their ideas was so overwhelming that eventually even the biggest skeptics could no longer stand. That’s the way science works. It may be messy, and it may take longer, occasionally even decades or even longer, than we in the business might like to admit, but eventually in science the truth wins out. In fact, the best way for a scientist to become famous and successful in his or her field is to come up with evidence that strongly challenges established theories and concepts and then weave that evidence into a new theory. Albert Einstein didn’t end up in the history books by simply reconfirming and recapitulating Newton’s Laws. Semmelweis and Pasteur didn’t wind up in the history books by confirming the concept that disease was caused by an “imbalance of humours” (although Semmelweis probably did hurt himself by refusing to publish his results for many years; his data was so compelling it remains puzzling why he did not do so). I daresay that none of the Nobel Prize winners won that prestigious award by demonstrating something that the scientific establishment already believed. No! They won it by discovering something new and important!

    1. jlwile says:

      Shooter, you call me a literal reader because you are such a sloppy reader. You can’t even read an article and understand its basic point. Thus, it is not surprising that you think I read things too closely! Your new statement, “YAC was welcomed as a competing voice. In fact, it was much more than a competing voice, it was the exclusive view of scientists for literally thousands of years.” is still rather unclear. When was it a competing voice and when was it the exclusive view? Obviously, it cannot be a competing voice if it was the exclusive view. I think what you are TRYING to say is that at one time, a young-earth view was the exclusive view of science. Over time, the old-earth view came in as a competing view, and it eventually became the exclusive view of science. That is certainly true. Now the pendulum is swinging back, and that causes you no end of frustration. This is a common theme in the history of science. Good ideas are discarded because of a poor understanding of the data, but they often come back when the data are better understood. This is exactly what happened with the particle view of light, and it is exactly what is happening with YEC.

      Of course I can refute that statements made by such groupd. I do in many of my posts – giving data that clearly argue for a recent creation. That’s what upsets you so much about this blog, and that’s why it is so fun for people to read your comments!

      My data that YEC is making a comeback is simple – look at the recent history of science. How many YEC materials were written 50 years ago? How many are there today? How many scientists were openly YEC 50 years ago? How many are today? In every measurable way, YEC is more popular today than it has been in the recent past. Thus, YEC is clearly making a comeback.

      I agree with Orac’s statement. There are many on the fringe, but the ones whose ideas end up revolutionizing science are the ones who have the data to support their views. I have the data to support my views, so once again, I thank you for your excellent compliment!

  24. Ben Michael Fournier says:

    Robert Boyle would have also been considered “on the fringe” for being skeptical of Alchemy. It’s a good thing he was though.

  25. “How many YEC materials were written 50 years ago? How many are there today? How many scientists were openly YEC 50 years ago? How many are today?”

    I have no idea. Which is why I asked you to provide data, not your unfounded statements and more unanswered questions. But if there are more YAC materials being published today, it is because of the increasing Christian homeschool movement, not anything related to science. Apologia Ministries, Inc. et al. are making money off a market that was virtually non-existent 50 years ago. That is why there are more YAC materials.

    Why is your “data” completely come from within the creation science sub-culture? How many creation science “papers” are published each year and from how many authors? How does this compare to the thousands of non-creationist journals producing hundreds of thousands (conservatively) of non-creationist papers each year? Are there any creationist publishers in Germany or Japan?

    Or my previous unanswered questions: Name one scientific discovery like the structure of DNA that has been produced by creation scientists. Name one non-creationist paper that cites one creationist paper.

    1. jlwile says:

      Shooter, I thought you were at least less ignorant about the prevalence of YEC literature than you are about science. I guess I was wrong about that. The first twentieth-century YEC book was The New Geology by George McCready Price. The next major one to hit the scene was The Genesis Flood in 1961. Thus, 50 years ago, there were two major YEC books. This year, there are well over 300 major YEC books – some for the layman and some for the technical reader. Thus, it is clear that YEC is making an amazing comeback. That, of course, is because science is on the YEC side.

      Of course you are wrong about the correlation between homeschooling and YEC. The homeschooling movement in the U.S. is generally recognized to have started with John Holt in 1977 when he started publishing the magazine Growing Without Schooling. It did not become popular in the United States until the early 1980s. The Institute for Creation Research was founded in 1970, (seven years EARLIER than homeschooling started) and became popular long before the early 1980s. Also, a large fraction of YEC literature is not even used by homeschoolers. Indeed, a large fraction is targeted to scientists, not young people.

      My data are not completely from the creation science sub-culture. In fact, you often complain about the fact that I don’t only quote from creationist literature. I know you can’t be consistent and still be an atheist, but please try. I get my data from all sources, which makes my conclusions more reliable. This is one thing that really frustrates you!

      There are roughly 100 authors who are producing solid creationist research, and the three peer-reviewed creationist journals produce more than 200 articles of original research every year. Indeed, the oldest peer-reviewed creationist research journal has been publishing for more than 40 years now and has a worldwide circulation. Once again, YEC is clearly on the rise, and that frustrates you!

      Of course there are creationist publishers in German and Japan. Wort and Wissen is probably the biggest German creationist publishing organization. Remant publishing is probably the biggest creationist publishing organization in Japan. Please note that homeschooling is illegal in German and frowned upon in Japan, showing that once again your idea that homeschooling is why YEC is on the rise is just nonsense.

      I answered your question about creationist discoveries, and you promptly tried to redefine the word “discovery” because you didn’t like the fact that YEC has produced a lot of significant discoveries. Sorry – just redefinitions don’t work on me. They may make you sleep better at night, but they show that you can’t defend your position.

      Once again, you need to hone your reading skills, because the very article you claim to have read talks about a noncreationist paper citing a creationist paper – ” … Brand and Tang are to be congratulated for a thorough experimental study, which presents more Coconino track data than have appeared at any time since the inaugural studies of Gilmore.”

      I think the trailer quote from Land of the Lost is appropriate at this point – “Do you ever get tired of being wrong?”

  26. Ben, you are missing the point entirely. If Robert Boyle was never born, someone else would have come along and been skeptical of alchemy. The person and the personality have nothing to do with the broad trend of ever advancing scientific knowledge.

    As Dr. Wile endlessly says, it’s the DATA. He can claim there is data against evolution and an old earth until he is blue in the face, but there is no DATA that show God created kinds of animals ex nihilo. None. Or for a 10,000 year old earth (doesn’t that round number by itself suggest skepticism?). Or any other theological tenet of creationists. None.

    1. jlwile says:

      Of course Shooter couldn’t be more wrong by saying, “If Robert Boyle was never born, someone else would have come along and been skeptical of alchemy.” He wants to believe that, and he is very adept at believing things with no data to back them up, but I won’t let him get away with such nonsense on my blog. Of course there is no way of knowing whether or not modern chemistry would have developed without Boyle.

      Of course, Shooter also wants to claim “but there is no DATA that show God created kinds of animals ex nihilo. None. Or for a 10,000 year old earth.” That, of course, is not true, as this blog (and Shooter’s frustration over this blog) clearly shows. Shooter can deny the obvious to help himself sleep at night, but those of us who are actually interested in science will continue to follow the data.

  27. This one is amazing even for you, the full quote on Brand and Tang is:

    Even Brand’s critics have praised his work as legitimate and fruitful science. Martin G. Lockley of the University of Colorado disagreed strongly with the conclusions of Brand and Tang’s 1991 work. Such disagreement is to be expected on the adversarial model of science. Despite his differing opinion, Lockley acknowledged that Brand and Tang had made a helpful contribution to the field, saying, ‘ … Brand and Tang are to be congratulated for a thorough experimental study, which presents more Coconino track data than have appeared at any time since the inaugural studies of Gilmore.’

    Where is the statement that Brand and Tang produced “legitimate and fruitful science”? The non-creationist merely said they provided data, which non-creationists could use productively with non-creationist science. If I had access to the full paper, I’m sure I could pick some devastating quotes to counter this simple thanks for the data. The author is doing the same thing as movie poster copy editors. Pull one short positive quote from a respected source and slap it on. And that was in 1992. Have any non-creationists accepted Brand and Tang’s conclusions yet?

    The same thing occurs in the next sentence:David B. Loope of the University of Nebraska acknowledged Brand’s positive contribution to historical geology even as he voiced his disagreement with Brand’s conclusions. He wrote,

    ‘Brand and Tang (1991) have brought some very puzzling aspects of these spectacular trace fossils to the attention of a broad audience … Although I strongly disagree with Brand and Tang’s conclusion, I find their experimental approach very useful, and hope to incorporate it in the testing of my own hypothesis.’

    Wow. I wonder what is cut out with the ellipsis? That was also in 1992. What’s happened since? I’ll tell you – Brand and Tang (1991) has not caused any non-creationist to believe that Noah’s Flood occurred. It has been basically ignored in non-creationist publications. Note also that Brand’s original publication was produced in 1978. Over 30 years and nothing to show for it.

    1. jlwile says:

      Shooter, I love it when you get annoyed! FIVE comments on this since yesterday, all seething with frustration. I really hit a nerve on this post, didn’t I? What’s even better is that YOU suggested that I blog on an article from creation.com! I guess it shows that you need to be careful about what you wish for!

      Since you know so little about science, you probably don’t understand what it means when one scientist says that another has “made a helpful contribution to the field.” That means the person produced fruitful science. You can desperately hope that the author of the paper is leaving something out of the quotes, but that just demonstrates how little the data mean to you. I am sure you can put your faith in what you imagine exists in the ellipses. I will focus instead on the data.

      So you did some looking into the German creationist publisher (which you didn’t think existed) and found that its books aren’t accepted by the German ministry of education. Does that really surprise you? I am sure the German ministry of education is just as anti-science as the U.S. Department of education, so it makes sense that it wouldn’t support a book about real science. When you say “At least they are upfront about their theological basis,” I know what you mean. Evolutionary science is driven by theological concerns, and very few evolutionists admit that. Of course Dr. Hunter’s Blog continues to point this out, so at least someone is exposing the theological underpinnings of evolution.

      I don’t consider AiG Japan to be a Japanese publishing company, since it is really just an international arm of AiG, which is a U.S. company. You wanted a JAPANESE publishing company, and Remnant is that. I am not sure why you think it odd that Kubo’s book is low on the Amazon site. Amazon is focused on the U.S., not Japan.

      You ask, “Why are there so many ex-something-science-related people in the creationist sub-culture?” There are no more “ex-something-science” people in creationism than in any other field. You tried to float that idea before, and I thoroughly refuted it. You really don’t learn do you?

      Now I know you are not such a poor reader that you have missed all the data on this blog that clearly demonstrate a recent, ex-nihilo creation. As I told you quite some time ago, just click on “Age of the Earth” to see the data the clearly demonstrate a recent creation. The very fact that you try to claim it doesn’t exist when it is right in front of your face shows how you simply ignore any data that disagree with your theological views.

      Since you are such a poor reader, I am not sure what you think Siegfried Scherer’s quotes mean. I actually agree with all of the quotes you gave. I am not in favor of creationism or intelligent design being taught in public school. I also think that ALL students should learn evolution, which is why my biology book covers evolution. I agree with him that a large majority of biologists believe in evolution. I agree that Biblical statements should not be used in natural history courses. I guess that means you support me as well. Thanks!

  28. Whoops again. Blockquote is supposed to be around “David B. Loope … ” not my “Wow. …”

    Nice resource for international creationists. I am disappointed to see creationists have any type of following anywhere in the world. So depressing, but I have to admit there are lots of fundamentalist Christians around the world. Maybe the pedophilia scandal will have some impact on German Christians. One can hope.

    Germany’s Wort und Wissen does publish an elementary textbook. It does seem to have sold well. But here’s a quote about it:

    “It has been translated into several European languages (Russian, Serbian, Finnish, and Portuguese), was awarded with a German textbook prize (sponsored by private conservative Christian associations), and is used in some public schools. However, the textbook is not accepted by the German Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs as an official schoolbook, in spite of several lobbying attempts by German creationists. Positive book reviews are largely restricted to periodicals published by Bible-educated Christians.” Link

    And this:

    “[The textbook authors] are supported by a team of co-authors; several are scientists at German universities, but no professional evolutionary biologists are among them. The aim of this book is summarized in the preface of the fifth edition (2001), wherein the authors point out that ‘there exists an alternative to the (unproven) assumption of macroevolution that is motivated by the revelations of the Bible — the theory of creation.’ ” Link. At least they are upfront about their theological basis.

    I can’t believe you dissed Answers in Genesis Japan! Remnant can’t hold a candle to AiGJ, my opinion. Remnant’s English site. The president, Arimasa Kubo, wrote the “best book to understand the Scientific Creationism.” And this is the best? (Just under sales rank 4,000,000,000) I’d hate to see even the second best. What about the best tract? Not so good, methinks. And this: “Written by Dr. Seikou Tsukioka (Ex-lecturer at the department of technology of Yamagata University in Japan)” Why are there so many ex-something-science-related people in the creationist sub-culture?

  29. If this blog has published data that shows that God created kinds of animals ex nihilo and/or that the earth is 10,000 years old, I have missed it. Where is it exactly?

  30. I should have known better than to ask if there were creationists in Germany and Japan. Of course there are. But I did learn something, so that’s good.

    Siegfried Scherer, one of the co-authors of the German textbook, is not a creationist. From Google Translate of his website:

    “The book is not an alternative to an approved school textbook designed to be, neither in biology nor in religion.”

    “The theory of evolution is without doubt the overwhelming majority of biologists as an interpretation of biological data represented by and is included in the curriculum of biology instruction (must also be a Christian-oriented students, the teaching of evolution have understood also in).”

    “Statements of biblical texts can not be the subject of a natural history lesson. Therefore, creation would have seen teaching methodology also no room in biology class when significant number of biologists would hold true for one of. Creation is and will remain subject of religious education.”

    If he’s a creationist, then I support creationists!

  31. Another general article about Wort und Wissen:

    According to Wort und Wissen, though, the book is solely “additional informational material for teachers and students, who want to deal with scientific arguments critical of evolution or alternative interpretations of biological data”. Wort und Wissen said that it did not seek to introduce creationist theories into biology lessons and that these should remain in religious education.

  32. Ben Michael Fournier says:

    Shooter, I consider your opening sentence of your 4th from last current sequence of replies to be an excellent summary of your argumentation. “Whoops again.” That just sums it up nicely.

  33. So you don’t think your HS biology textbook should be used in natural history courses, because it cites Genesis and Romans.

    1. jlwile says:

      This isn’t rocket science Shooter, keep up. Of course I don’t think my biology book should be used in ANY public school course, including a natural history course. My books should be used by people who CHOOSE to learn real science. It should not be used by people who are FORCED to learn what the state mandates.

      BTW, thanks so much for the suggestion about using creation.com as a reference in one of my posts! I love watching you get frustrated by the data!

  34. I’m wondering how you read my mind from my comments. You are always right! I AM so frustrated, really, how did you know?

    “I agree that Biblical statements should not be used in natural history courses.”

    I don’t see any mention of public vs. private in that statement. So you agree that your textbook, which uses Biblical statements, should not be used in natural history courses. Great, glad to see you’re talking some sense.

    I haven’t even addressed anything in the ridiculous creation.com article except the conclusion. The rest is equally crazy. I’ll try to post on the body of the “paper” this weekend.

    1. jlwile says:

      Shooter, it is easy to see your frustration. I think anyone reading your comments can see it, mostly because you simply refuse to look at the data, and you keep bringing up irrelevant things to distract the reader from the fact that you can’t face up to the data. Those are the hallmarks of someone who is frustrated.

      What is really funny is that you claim that I “distort” articles by quoting them out of context, and then you deliberately quote me out of context. Please read the full quote, “I am not in favor of creationism or intelligent design being taught in public school. I also think that ALL students should learn evolution, which is why my biology book covers evolution. I agree with him that a large majority of biologists believe in evolution. I agree that Biblical statements should not be used in natural history courses.” Note the words in the FIRST sentence: “public school.” I am not the one who pulls quotes out of context, Shooter. You are.

      My biology book should not be used in any public school course on natural history. Now, of course, for students who want to learn REAL natural history and are thus not in public school, my biology book (especially Module #9) should be one of the primary texts.

      I am glad that you are actually reading the creation.com article. You usually close your eyes, cover your ears, and yell loudly in order to ignore the data that disagree with your unscientific ideas. At least in this case, you are reading something that exposes you to sound logic and scientific reasoning. Your comments indicate that you have a very hard time learning, but if you expose yourself to serious science from time to time, perhaps at least SOME of it will wear off!

      Given that your comments on the conclusion of the article were so laughable, it should be very entertaining to read your other comments. I look forward to it!

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