Field of Science

Bride of the Creationist Science Fair

Not sure if it was just me but it seemed like the fair was smaller this year, not a lot smaller, but smaller. Also, I noticed that the vast majority of posters were analogous to posters you would see at my son's  public school science fair. There were no posters that I saw using a motor to prove intelligent design, or sand to prove the Noahic flood made the Grand Canyon, etc. Mostly the posters were the book report demonstration variety posters you see at elementary school science fairs.

There were a few experimental posters, one was particularly striking. This student wanted to know if your dominant eye allowed for faster reflex responses than the non-dominant eye. I liked this one, because it was internally controlled (same person, two eyes).

Another had to do with reading versus color perception. This one had the names of colors written in the color, ie purple red blue, compared to the same word order in mismatched colors, ie purple red blue. The student measured how quickly a person read each page. Pretty clear cut differences in response times were shown. I wish I could have spoken to the student, because I really liked the approach, but once I saw the data and experimental set up I wondered if a person reading the first page realizes the words/colors match and then stop reading and just look at the colors. (This is not a critique of the student or poster, this is how science is done. We come up with a question/hypothesis, test it, and then based on the results revise/repeat. We also look at the experiment/results and see if other possibilities are suggested.)

Anyway, there is nothing new here from previous years. Same organizers, looking all cro-magnanish, as the last few years. So I don't have much to report, however I did come away with some insights that I thought I'ld share. Clearly, Jesus is lord and evolution is a lie foisted upon us by the liberal fascist Muslim commies. Wait that wasn't it.

This year my 8 year old joined me (so we could go swimming afterwards). Looking at a poster on birds, my son asked me to read some of the panels (they were in hand cursive...young child free hand cursive, so he ask me to interpret). So I read the bible verse for the poster which was about the fifth day of creation old testament style: and on the fifth day God created the birds. Again, this poster was on birds. My son then asked me a question that kind of rocked my world.

Son  "What does that say, I can't read cursive?"
Papa  "On the fifth day God created the birds."
Son  "How do they know?"

That's it right there. A scientific world-view in a nutshell, an 8 year old nutshell. "How do they know?" That also demonstrates more clearly than I can explain the difference between science and religion. "How do they know?"

From here
How do creationists know birds were created on the fifth day by the God of the Jews? Because it says so in Genesis chapter 1 verses 22-23, which in my New American Standard bible reads, 'And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.' In religion, at least the fundamentalist versions, you look at the text and there's your evidence. Actually, maybe it's better to say that in religion, at least the fundamentalist versions, you look at the text and there are your conclusions. Since you have a conclusion, not a hypothesis, there is really no need to get data to support it. Basically, you can say on the fifth day God created birds. Q.E.D.

With science it doesn't work this way. Yes, you can find statements written in books stating that birds evolved over millions of years likely from a dinosaur ancestor. So really its just the same as the bible right? You can place the Bible and The Origin and Evolution of Birds side by side and see that one says Day 5, ~6,000-10,000 years ago, and the other says that 150,000,000 years ago a lineage descended from the dinosaur gave rise to what would ultimately be modern birds. I mean both depend on the written word of some text right? Wrong.

See in the former case, the Genesis verse is the conclusion from the beginning. There is no question about the matter. There can be no evidence to the contrary because the matter is established fact. In the latter case, the book sentences are a conclusion based on several hundred years of data, analysis, and understanding. However, the former book (Bible) always said that birds were created several thousand years ago. Indeed the Bible has said that for ~3000 years. In the intervening time, which led up to the current textbook description, we have learned much about the universe, the planet, life, evolution, etc. For example, when the Genesis story was first established, we did not know anything about radioactive decay, or even radiation, or atoms, or molecules, or microscopic things. In fact, anything affecting a person's life that was due to a microscopic thing would be blamed on a macroscopic invisible ethereal entity, like a ghost, angel, demon, etc. When the Genesis story was established the diversity of life was not appreciated, because so little diversity was known. DNA was not known, fossils were ignored, in fact most of a person's time was spent trying to survive until tomorrow. When the modern textbook on bird origins was written, someone didn't wake up one morning and shout Eureka! and rewrite bird history. No, the latter book (textbook) was written over the course of two thousand years, with most of the writing occurring over the last couple hundred years. Words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters have been written, edited, and deleted as more information and detail has been obtained (almost all of this information occurring in other areas of science!).

So when my son and I have this conversation:

Son  "What does that say, I can't read cursive?"
Papa  "Modern birds are descended from dinosaurs like the T-rex."
Son  "How do they know?"

I have answers, not answers like "Well on page 5 line 22 and 23 of 'The Origins and Evolution of Birds' says that". No, I can talk to him about how we know and the cool thing is that if I don't know 'how we know that', he and I can find out together. Personally, I find that much more fulfilling than 'Well this book says so'.


Monado, FCD said...

Interesting that they seem to be taming down a little. I wonder why?

Good for your son! A very scientific question.

I looked at the bird tree of life but did not see the older-fashioned birds, e.g. cassowaries and emus. Still, it wasn't blatantly false.

The Lorax said...

I doubt the numbers are really dropping, this could simply have been a down year, my memory could be wrong about last year, etc.

I actually have been thinking about my son's question is relation to science. I think kids have a natural inquisitiveness and desire to understand things and want to know why? who? when? where? how? etc. I expect parents and societal influences beats this out of them.

Thanks for the input on the bird tree of life. Im no expert, but I liked the image and it fit with the overall theme of the post.