Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Young/Old earth

  1. May 13, 2004 #1
    I am aware that this is a more or less controversial topic among creationists and evolutionists; however, my AP Biology class is having an inclass debate on the topic. Essentially I have been chosen, along with another, to defend the old earth viewpoint, and I would like to know what you 'all thought would be good arguments, counter arguments, and resources.

    Any help is appreciated,
    -Lnx990
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2004 #2

    Janitor

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I go through phases of listening to Christian radio and TV. (Last night, for instance, they were claiming on TBN that Jan Crouch, the hostess with the purplish wig, has undergone a PET scan and she has been found to be absolutely free of colon cancer.) On the way home from work today I listened to the local Christian station. The guest was Tom Vail. He is a raft guide in the Grand Canyon in Arizona. He has written a book that is sold in a bookstore within Grand Canyon National Park. The book pushes the Biblically-literal point of view that the Earth is just a few thousands of years old. He gave this website address:

    http://canyonministries.com/

    I have spent a few minutes looking at the website today, and so far I have not found anything I can sink my teeth into on the issue of whether there is good evidence in the Grand Canyon for a Young Earth. I suppose he wants you to have to buy his book to see what his evidence is.
     
  4. May 13, 2004 #3
    Why is creation even being brought up in a biology class? It has no science relation whatsoever.

    But anyways, the list of evidence supporting the fact that Earth is indeed 4.6 billion years old is quite heavily substantiated and irrefutable. There are fossil records, radioactive dating, etc. Just tons of evidence.

    Here are some sities listing some of them:

    http://wrgis.wr.usgs.gov/docs/parks/gtime/ageofearth.html [Broken]
    http://www.millennium-debate.org/ind11janu8.htm
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  5. May 13, 2004 #4

    enigma

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Talk origins.

    Anytime you are debunking creationist garbage, first stop should be talk origins.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-youngearth.html

    The only folks who believe there is a controversy are those who are uneducated in the facts. There hasn't been a controversy among any scientists, whether they are biologists, geologists, cosmologists, or any other "ist" for over 200 years when creationist geologists (there wasn't anything else back then) went looking for evidence of the flood and couldn't find any evidence other than that of an old earth.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2004
  6. May 13, 2004 #5

    Janitor

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Thanks for the links, guys.

    The radio guest that I mentioned was proud that so many people with advanced degrees in science were on his side of the issue, so such people can be found out there.

    I haven't believed in Creationism since I was a kid. I can remember feeling guilty when I first read in National Geographic and in other literature about how the universe was billions of years old, and that the Earth was a fair fraction of that age, and that life itself was on the order of a billion years old.

    It seems to me that Believers in the young Earth could reasonably refer to their Deity as "The Great Deceiver." Of course they wouldn't dare do that!
     
  7. May 13, 2004 #6
    Aren't there a bunch of scientists researching trying to find that the Earth was created by God or a higher being? Of course, more and more evidence that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old seems to just keep piling up, and I don't think the creationists have hardly any evidence.
     
  8. May 13, 2004 #7

    enigma

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    No. Creationists would love you to think that there are though... Yet another case of lying for Jesus.

    There are a few organizations that claim to be... Answers in Genesis is one which comes to mind.

    The truth is that they don't do any research. All they do is go around the country and the world peddling pseudoscience. There hasn't been a single article submitted to any scholarly journal seriously trying to prove a young earth. Please note, that's not: "we submitted our research, but they can't drop their dogma and give it a look"... that's "we haven't done any research to submit".
     
  9. May 13, 2004 #8

    enigma

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Not to mention the fact that you don't do research to find something... you do research and then draw conclusions based on what you find.

    If I wanted to do research to prove that Leprechauns lived in my backyard, I'm sure I could find something which "proved it".
     
  10. May 13, 2004 #9
    I think that's the organization that I heard of that was doing it. But you're right. I haven't heard of any evidence that supports their claims.

    That brings up something that I don't really understand. Why, if the evidence supports evolution, still so strongly believe in creationism? I guess that's just what they were brought up to believe. I don't know.
     
  11. May 13, 2004 #10

    enigma

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Religion. If evolution is true, then a literal interpretation of the bible is false.

    The fact that a literal interpretation of the bible falls flat on many more levels than just Genesis doesn't matter much to them...

    Science is something which those who are uneducated or undereducated don't understand and may even be afraid of. That means it's easy to demonize it.
     
  12. May 14, 2004 #11

    Janitor

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    In the circles I was raised in, there seemed to be an eagerness to group certain types together. Evolutionists <--> atheists <--> Communists <--> Satanists <--> Union members <--> homosexuals <--> ACLU members <--> Mormons <--> etc. I guess it was sort of a domino theory. You start by accepting evolution of life, then you move on to believing this or that other thing.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2004
  13. May 14, 2004 #12
    And I thought that this place was hardly ever visited.

    Nothing more to add on the subject. :tongue2:
     
  14. May 14, 2004 #13

    Phobos

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    As enigma said, go to Talk.Origins.

    The Grand Canyon "proof" tends to be a claim that the Grand Canyon was formed (or "could have been formed" if they're playing the "reasonable doubt" card) in a rapid catastrophic event (e.g., the Flood) rather than slowly over millions of years of being carved out by the Colorado River. He may point to other canyons that were carved out from a natural disaster (e.g., volcano eruption that caused a flood/mudslide that carved into the land)...of course, those do not look like the Grand Canyon...and they do not have the layering rocks and fossils that show the expected age changes over time.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2004
  15. May 14, 2004 #14
    Well IIRC on the bottom of the ocean there are numerous canyons, rift valleys, etc only to expose stratified layers that can be dated being progressively older. But it's very unlikely that rivers carved them out. It looks that we are only beginning to understand tectonics, if at all. For instance, when India -moving northwards tectonically- hit the Asian contintent it really started to accellerate, pushing up the Himalayas. No it's not on the net. I happen to know the geologist who investigated it.
     
  16. May 14, 2004 #15

    Janitor

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Thanks. In fact, I kind of remember the fellow saying something along those lines while he was in the radio studio. He certainly offered no evidence, at least during the fragment of the program that I listened to. I have read that there is a place up in the northwestern U.S. where geologists think an ice dam broke and the resulting large flow of water through that bottleneck left evidence. Of course, that sort of idea doesn't do Young-Earthers any good, since it probably has been dated back to one of the Ice Ages, farther back in time than the Young-Earthers are willing to admit time goes.
     
  17. May 15, 2004 #16
  18. May 15, 2004 #17

    jcsd

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I do find it amazing that thte topicx should even be brought up, you might as well febate whether the moons made out of cheese or not.
     
  19. May 15, 2004 #18
    Well those debates are not that silly. It may raise some interest and it may set a lot of misinformation straight.
     
  20. May 15, 2004 #19

    Janitor

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Andre, thanks for the link.

    The linked page says, "When Glacial Lake Missoula burst through the ice dam and exploded downstream, it did so at a rate 10 times the combined flow of all the rivers of the world." Now that's impressive!

    I have been somewhere that had a large 3D relief map (15 feet by 15 feet or so) that included the area in question. I'll bet it was either in the visitor's center at Flaming Gorge Dam, or in the visitor's center at Craters of the Moon, Idaho.
     
  21. May 15, 2004 #20

    Janitor

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I caught a small portion of a program on the Animal Planet channel this morning. They showed a male sea louse pulling a female down into a borehole in the sand to impregnate her. She stays in the hole, along with any other females he has captured. Her offspring literally eat out her insides, killing her.

    It might be a neat tactic to describe this process, and then ask you opponent: "Um, on which of the six days of creation did God create the sea louse? And why did He design it to behave in this particular way? Why did He look at it and say 'It was good'?"
     
  22. May 16, 2004 #21
    Well, if you check upon biology in general, it's one big string of vicious assassinations and murders. I'm not sure if appealing to ethics subjectively would really enhance the position against creationism.
     
  23. May 16, 2004 #22

    Janitor

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Andre,

    My point is that the murdering done by carnivores and parasites is not particularly puzzling if today's biosphere is the result of amoral evolution. But Creationists always believe in the existence of some deity which came before life on Earth, a deity which presumably would continue to be interested in the welfare of living things on Earth and wouldn't just wash His/Her/Its hands of things and walk away at some point after creating life, let alone design a murder instinct into it right from the start.
     
  24. May 17, 2004 #23

    Janitor

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I tuned into Christian radio for a few minutes this morning. The program was Hank Hanegraaff, "The Bible Answer Man," who is president of the Christian Research Institute (CRI). He invites listeners to call in. One caller was a minister who asked Hank for a five-minute monologue he could give to convince people that creationism is correct and evolution is wrong.

    I'll give a quick summary, by memory, of Hank's answer.

    (1) There are no transitions between kinds, only within kinds. [Hank definitely used the word "kind," and did not make use of terms like "species" or "genus" which may be more sharply defined biological terms.] Darwin can be forgiven in this regard, says Hank, because in Darwin's time fossils were still a rarity. Now that we have a great deal of fossils in collections throughout the world, we can see (says H) that there simply are no transitional organisms.

    (2) In Darwin's time people thought the fertilized human egg was a simple ball of protoplasm. We now know it is incredibly complex. Nothing that complicated could have arisen by chance.

    (3) The Earth is precisely located in its orbit around the Sun; not too hot, not too cold. The Moon is just the right mass to form some tides on Earth, but not to make really huge tides. Only a caring God could have arranged this.

    (4) The mind is not equal to the brain. Science cannot explain this. Also, we cannot explain ethics without a God.

    Hank speaks with great sincerity in his voice. I get the feeling he truly believes creationism is how it happened. He probably believes that only people who have been blinded by the wiles of the Devil could ever swallow the pack of lies that he believes evolution theory to be.

    I pass these ideas of Hanegraaff on since they might be used by your debate opponent, and you should be prepared to rebut them.

    Here are my own thoughts, with the understanding that I have never done much reading on biology and am far from any kind of authority on that subject...

    (1) Aren't horses and donkeys an example of one species (or "kind" if you prefer) caught in the process of diverging into two species? You can mate them, and sometimes they will give birth to a live offspring called a mule, but the mule is always (?) sterile, so you could say that the mating process is only partially successful. Also, I saw recently in a magazine (I think it was Scientific American) where a fossilized imprint of a dinosaur with feathers has been found in some place like Mongolia. Would this satisfy Hank as being an example of a transition between the dinosaur 'kind' and the bird 'kind'?

    (2) "Chance" is kind of a misleading term to use for evolutionary change, isn't it? Evolution is not teleological, but there is a natural selection aspect to it which weeds out things not good at reproducing.

    (3) Given how many stars there are in the universe, if even ten percent of them have planets, that is a staggering number of planets. So it seems reasonable that here and there, peppered throughout the universe, there are planets which are amenable to life getting started. Once life does start, evolution gives it the ability to adapt to slow changes in things like temperature, humidity, windiness, and so on. Ice Age coming? No problem. Migrate to a tropical latitude, or migrate to lower altitude, or evolve somewhat thicker fur. Why a creationist should be so concerned with tides, I don't know, and Hank did not say why. Isn't it evolutionists who suggest tidal pools as a good environment for getting life started?

    (4) AFAIK, science has not yet been able to say much about this issue. I don't doubt that in a thousand years we will know much more about how consciousness and even a sense of ethics can arise from a few pounds of brain tissue.

    I have just thrown some of my thoughts out here as to how to answer these four objections that creationists have. You may well be able to do better.
     
  25. May 17, 2004 #24

    enigma

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Why oh why do you subject yourself to willful ignorance like that?

    And his "objections" are ludicrous.

    (1) If you look through the fossil record a clear pattern emerges of animals evolving into other types. You can even look at silliness of current animals's DNA to prove it. e.g. chickens have an inactive gene which causes them to grow teeth. Explain to me why an "intelligent" designer would put redundant DNA which causes a feature which a creature a) wouldn't need and b) (according to creationism) never had.

    (2) For the upteenth time... It isn't chance which caused evolution. It is chance + selection + time. Noone is claiming a fully formed egg materialized out of the ooze.

    (3) Anthropic Principle. 'Nuff said.

    (4) Inability to fully explain thought (yet) is not a disproof of evolution. Ethics can (and has... see "The Selfish Gene" by Dawkins for one take on it) be explained without God.

    I cannot stand luddites.
     
  26. May 18, 2004 #25

    Janitor

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I just get a kick out of hearing viewpoints that are so different from my own. If there was a Muslim hour or a Satanist hour or a Hindu hour on the radio, I would probably tune in now and then to those programs as well.

    Was it Izzy Stone who wrote, "If I can only afford the time to read one newspaper, let it be the newspaper of the opposition?" I kind of admire that philosophy.

    Maybe I listen because it takes me back to my childhood. I spent many thousands of hours in a church where most of the congregation would have denied evolution.

    I will tell you a story from my churchgoing days. One woman in the congregation was convinced that a foodmaker (Procter & Gamble, if I recall) was promoting Satanism. Her evidence was that they had a logo showing a moon and stars on the labels of their soup cans. Somehow--I have forgotten how--she tied that symbology to the Devil. She urged the adults to write letters to the company demanding that they drop this symbol from their labels. That gives you an idea of the mindset of some of the adults I grew up around.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2004
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook