Field of Science

Opinion piece uses 14th century ideas as a counterpoint

The last day of July 2012 went out with a fizzle in the Twin Cities. This is the day the Star Tribune, arguably the paper of note in the 20th largest population area in the USA, published a counterpoint piece in the Op/Ed section. The initial article described how a creationist learned about the scientific evidence of evolution and came to change his opinion. It's a quite personal account that does a great job personifying the issue. The article yesterday by Ross S. Olson (not to be confused with less ignorant Ross Olson's) is a supposed counterpoint to Peter M. Leschak's initial article.

Olson starts with the premise that he went from being a creationist to a supporter of evolution back to being a creationist. 
Peter Leschak described his change from belief in biblical creation to evolution. I went through that transformation, too. But later I went beyond it -- back to young Earth creation, backed up by scientific evidence.
Note the 'backed up by scientific evidence.' We'll deal with that, but first Olson seems to have gone from being a supporter of evolution to young earth creationist when he read "The Creation of Life" by A.E. Wilder-Smith (published 1970). Wilder-Smith argued that the order seen in life requires intelligence to arise.
"The Creation of Life," which showed clearly that order of the kind seen in life does not arise spontaneously by natural law and requires an intelligent intervention.
Three Stooges Rock Formation
Ripples in underwater sand

Obviously order can not occur naturally and interesting and inspiring rock formations were carved by Hephaestus and underwater sand ripples were put there by Poseidon.

Why was I never shown this evidence before? I began to read widely.
Because a book is not evidence, although it can contain evidence. By widely read, I assume you mean Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 with additional Christian literature, but no scientific journals.
We recognize an arrowhead as a product of intelligent manipulation -- even though it is theoretically possible that erosion might form one. A living cell is as complex as a city; the human brain is as complex as the Internet; no natural process produces things like the Encyclopedia Britannica. In fact, time and chance degrade information.
Ftz expression in Drosophila
I think Olson is trying to use Paley's discounted watchmaker analogy without actually saying so. Basically if Olson doesn't understand how something arises, ergo god. If we kick up the sand ripples or smooth them out, does Olson think angels descend from heaven to pile them up into beautiful patterns? Does Olson think the Archangel Michael creates the pattern of gene expression observed in a fruit fly maggot?

Then comes the warblegarblefarble. How is a cell complex like a city? Do bacteria have wifi or is that only eukaryotes? In what way is the human brain like the internet and what does that make a squirrel's brain like? Obviously no natural process could produce something like an encyclopedia. I mean only humans, which are totally fucking unnatural, could have done such a thing (It's life Jim, but not as we know it.)
The mathematical odds of forming, by chance, a single protein molecule from its component parts can be shown to be so unlikely that it could not have happened anywhere in the known universe in 30 billion years. Much less could it be combined with the hundreds of other components to form the simplest possible living cell.
Been there, done that. The nice thing about creationists is that the arguments never change, once you write a response, you can simply link back when the next idiot shows up.
Similarity of form does not prove common ancestry. It can also mean common design. (Young Earth creationists believe that the original Genesis kinds were intrinsically capable of great diversification, something we have seen with the breeds of dogs -- who remain dogs, nonetheless.) And fundamentally, fossils require rapid burial. Closed clams, seen all over the world, were covered before they could open in death.
Similarity of form could indicate common descent or common design I suppose. However, we have a lot more information than that. First, the similarity of our protein sequences demonstrates common descent. The amino acid sequences of our proteins are essentially identical to our nearest relatives the chimpanzees, which are more similar when compared to a mouse, which are more similar when compared to a frog, which are more similar when compared to baker's yeast. Same for our nucleotide sequences. Second, the order of our genes on the chromosome is essentially the same as the chimpanzee. This is not necessary to 'design' a human or a chimpanzee and strongly demonstrates common descent. Indeed the order of genes is similar in a mouse, which is more similar than the order in a frog, and not similar to baker's yeast. These facts support descent not design. (Importantly, descent was hypothesized long before we knew anything about DNA, genomes, or protein structure). Third, within our genomes are the remnants of dead viruses. Many of these dead viruses are found in the exact same positions in the genomes of our nearest relatives (primates). This demonstrates either common descent or design by a capricious and evil little shit of a god.

Olson the pediatrician then tells us that all of geology and physics is wrong. This means that the methods used by oil companies to find new deposits is wrong because it's based on science that disagrees with his interpretation of the bible. One thing I want to note:
Recently the project called RATE has shown that rocks contain too much helium to be millions of years old and also there is measurable carbon 14 in all fossils, oil, coal and even diamonds when it ought to be totally gone, implying a young and similar age for all those materials.
It is true that there is carbon 14 in things like coal. Since carbon-14 has a half-life of 5730 years, it should be gone after several tens of thousands of years. Olson therefore concludes that these deposits cannot be millions of years old. Most carbon-14 we think of comes from neutrinos smashing into nitrogen in the atmosphere. However, that's not the only place it comes from. The radioactive decay of uranium-thorium in rock generates carbon-14. Microbes, which will contain some amount of carbon-14, can and will contaminate the deposits as they are mined. Of course, we won't mention those well known sources of carbon-14 in the editorial. Olson also ignores all the really long lived isotopes, like potassium-argon, that demonstrate an old earth. 
Evidence of coexistence of humans and dinosaurs is vigorously opposed by the evolutionary establishment but is actually quite convincing. Human and dinosaur tracks have been found in the same strata and have been uncovered on film to prove that they were not manufactured.
Really? Human and dinosaur tracks? We doing that one again? I'm surprised that human fossils have not been found in the same strata as dinosaurs then. Why no bunnies in the precambrian? 
Recently a T Rex bone was found that contained blood vessels, cells and collagen fibers in the marrow cavity. Rather than admit that this specimen could not be 65 million years old, the response was to claim that we need to rethink how soft tissue is preserved for long ages. In a demonstration of the incredible power of professional peer pressure, the discoverer, a self proclaimed evangelical Christian, claimed that young Earth creationists were "hijacking" her data.
This is probably the paper he's referring to. Note Olson's approach, when we get new data, we do not think about it. It's funny because the 'widely read' Olson doesn't need to think about information like genome similarities, the fossil record, biogeography, the entirety of physics, geology, biology,  chemistry, archaeology, and paleontology.

Also note how the conspiracy is everywhere. The lead author capitulated to those evil scientists. And although Olson never comes out and says it, all those biology and physics programs in universities and colleges all over the globe are caught up in a vast conspiracy to hide the truth of young earth creationism. That must be the case because the alternative is that a dimwitted pediatrician is wrong.
But bucking peer pressure, plant geneticist J.C. Sanford, asked, "Can natural selection improve the human genome?" The result is in his book, "Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome."
The conclusion? Natural selection cannot improve the human genome. It cannot even prevent steady deterioration. There are at least 100 new mildly deleterious mutations in each surviving individual with each generation. (The severe defects do not survive.) The overall fitness of the human race is decreasing by about 1 to 2 percent per generation. He concludes that we are headed for extinction as a race and that the human genome cannot yet be a thousand generations old or we would already be extinct.
"Natural selection cannot improve the human genome." Clearly, Sanford, a UMN alum (horticulture) does not understand natural selection. He also doesn't understand sexual reproduction (condolences to his wife if he has one). If he were correct that fitness deteriorates by 1-2%/generation, how come bacteria haven't gone extinct already? or most flowers? or most insects? or almost all animals except the few with long generation times?
This, of course, is contrary to evolution but fits completely with the Biblical account of a perfect creation, spoiled by sin and with a world that will someday -- perhaps very soon -- come to an end.
BWAHAHAHA. If creation was so fucking perfect, how could it be spoiled by sin? Maybe your definition of perfection and mine are not the same. Anyway, thanks Star Tribune for publishing any old horse shit you can find. Next week, please publish an opinion on the use of astrology to make important decisions or homeopathy to cure malaria or how scientology is the one true religion. Dumbasses.


Anonymous said...

You're an associate professor and find it necessary to load up your argument with all kinds of expletives and mocking, defamatory comments?

Not a great indicator of intelligence, unfortunately.

Bjørn Østman said...

Lorax: descent.

Anon, you think professors don't curse? Why on Earth not? It is so nicely used to express annoyance.

The Lorax said...

@Bjorn DOH! Don't know how I missed that, thanks and corrected!