Posts Tagged ‘Science’

My Thoughts on Creationism

Before I begin this post, I have an announcement to make. It is the end of March and two things have happened.

1. I finally took my Christmas tree down. I put it up in December before I left for China and was too lazy to take it down when I got back. Eventually, I grew so used to seeing it that it blended in with the rest of the furniture until mum came to me and reminded me that it was there. Epic fail!

2. My Teen Vogue horoscope did not come true. I have no idea how I got a subscription to it. One day in the mail I got a sample issue and one of those little cards to fill out to get a subscription and… I didn’t fill it out and Teen Vogues kept coming. I usually just flip through it to laugh at the horoscopes and the last one said that the end of March would be the most romantic time for me the whole year. Well, I’m still boyfriendless. Epic fail!

And now onto more profound news…

I apologize for making such a long blog post that probably doesn’t look like it’s worth reading. I imagine that as you scroll down your attention is already slipping from fear of having to read all that junk. If you do read all of that, all the better, but at the very least watch the video at the bottom. It will most likely anger you without my profound explanation of why it so deeply pains me.

In Break the Science Barrier, Richard Dawkins filmed a scene in the Oxford Museum in a room filled with fossils and other treasures of science. He called the museum a “spiritual home” for him, saying that it was a wonderful place where you could find fascinating things and expand your mind.

Indeed, I as well have a bit of my own “spiritual home” in a museum. Every other weekend, I volunteer in the Space Odyssey exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. You know what? I love that museum with a passion, and not just for the free food that they occasionally leave in the volunteer lounge. Every time I go there, I have an absolutely splendid time.

The moment you walk in the door, the first thing you see are plesiosaur fossils hanging from the ceiling, and a T-Rex. Upstairs, they have even more fossils in Prehistoric Journey. Further into the museum, they have another ancient creature hanging from the ceiling, this time a fin whale. There’s a small mummy exhibit, a gems and minerals hall filled with shiny crystals and eye candy, an IMAX theater, and the Space Odyssey exhibit and planetarium where I volunteer, but most of the rest of the museum is devoted to diorama halls with taxidermied animals. It’s great fun just to walk through it.

But, I gain even more enjoyment out of volunteering there. DMNS is unique in that it has a small army of volunteers to keep the place from dying with the salaries of staff members. But also, the volunteers function as educators in the exhibits. It provides visitors with a much more interactive visit having an actual person to learn from. Sometimes, I’ll put things in vacuum chambers for them. Other times, I’ll give them a short tour of the Solar System using a computer program that has pictures of all the planets and some of their moons in three dimensions.

It really is quite a wonderful feeling sharing knowledge with other people. Occasionally, I’ll take out the spectroscopy cart. Some people may remember their Chemistry classes when the teacher sent electrical charges through little gas tubes and then gave you a spectroscope or little glasses. In case anybody needs a refresher, what happens is that when you have a lot of energy the electrons in the atoms will jump to a higher level of orbit, and when they come back down they release photons of light at different wavelengths depending on how far the electron fell. The spectroscope or little glasses function as a prism and break down the light released into the wavelengths which it is being released at. If you have, say, Helium, you’ll see two red bars, a yellow bar, a turquiose bar, a blue bar, and an indigo bar. Every element has a different pattern of bars.

I like to start by asking them if they’ve ever wondered how we know what the stars are made of. Of course they wonder how we know. You can’t exactly go to one… they’re millions of light years away! But, if you look at the light they’re emitting through a spectroscope, you can look at the pattern of bars and tell what is inside. I’ll explain this to them, and turn on a hydrogen or helium gas tube and hold up a short chart of elements and their patterns to let them try to guess. With younger children, it’s pretty much just pretty lights and that’s fine, but older children, even adults, will often have sudden moments of understanding.

“That’s so cool…” they say, and they don’t just say it the way you say “that’s so cool” when your friend gets a new cell phone. When they say “that’s so cool” it’s almost as if there’s an entirely different definition because their voices are so saturated with awe and wonder. I suspect that they’re not just saying it because of the pretty lights, but as a way of remarking about how amazed they are that they can understand it. I think that they’re remarking about how simple spectroscopy really is, and how cool science is when you understand it with little effort.

I absolutely love hearing them say it and seeing their eyes light up. It feels like I should be thanking them as they walk away to their planetarium show.

Another wonderful feeling I get is when I go up to Prehistoric Journey. I’ve heard that in some museums, they show dinosaur fossils with little or no mention of evolution. That’s not the case in DMNS. Evolution is everywhere in that exhibit. I love seeing families take their children there. After watching parents turn to their children and say that the universe is 6,000 years old every time I show them a 4.6 billion year old meteorite far too many times, it is deeply refreshing to see them turn to their children at a model of Lucy and say “did you know that humans used to look like that?”

Well, actually that statement is slightly scientifically inaccurate… but I won’t be too nit-picky. I love that exhibit because it educates people about evolution, the true story of how life got on Earth. But… then I saw this video on YouTube.

After watching that, do you feel angry? Annoyed? I assure you, it’s probably nothing compared to what I feel. Those poor children… those cute, poor children… You can tell that they are genuinely interested in science, but they’re having one of the greatest scientific truths kept from them.

I walked through Prehistoric Journey yesterday, recognizing all those places where those poor, poor, sweet children were being lied to and… it honestly brought tears to my eyes. Like I said, DMNS is for me as the Oxford Museum is for Richard Dawkins… a spiritual home. Mine has been invaded and is being tarnished by lying bigots.

We (the volunteers) are told that if somebody ever tries to argue with us about the age of the Earth, we are never going to get anywhere and should therefore get out of the argument as quickly as possible. The next time a parent turns to their child and say “the Earth is 6,000 years old!” I will do that, but not before I make this statement:

It is certainly your right to believe that, and it’s certainly your right to teach your child whatever you want, but I think that it ought to be your child’s right to know the truth, and at the very least it ought to be your child’s right to know that when I say that the Solar System is 4.6 billion years old it’s not a statement of faith but a statement backed up by evidence. Now, if you’re interested in knowing how I know that…

Update:

And in case anybody else decided to infer from my post that I am somehow a fascist, you can see the e-mail I sent to James Randi.

The Denver Museum is NOT ignorant of the BC tours, nor is it choosing to
remain ignorant. I took the opportunity to ask about BC tours after I saw
the video and blogged about it
(https://splendidelles.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/creationists-are-pure-evil/).

They are very aware of BC Tours and they despise them very much.
 
I once asked one of the staff members what I should do if a visitor insisted
on saying the Earth is 6,000 years old. That's when he first told me about
BC Tours, and how when they showed up, everybody would say "they're here" in
a spiteful manner.
 
Unfortunately, there is nothing they can do. The museum is a public
institution and people can go there and have their own tours if they wish,
so long as they don't harass anybody in the exhibit. That's the only time
when they're allowed to kick the creationists out.
 
They were able to get them to stop putting the museum logo on their website,
and got one of the "tour guides" to stop wearing a lab coat because they
want to make it clear that BC Tours do not represent the museum.
 
If there was anything more the museum could do, they would... But, to
protect our freedom of speech, we have to protect theirs.

You’re Welcome

Two years ago, back in those long since misted-over days of middle school, I went with a school group to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. It was only a few months before this that I had first run into Answers in Genesis, a splendid collection of bull shit which gave me a good laugh at first, but then made me rather depressed as I realised that people actually believed that tosh.

It wasn’t until I went to Space Camp that I actually met a full-blown young earth creationist, who I will call James T. Kirk in this post to protect his anonymity. Truthfully, little did I know but most of my classmates were young earth creationists, and it was only after I met James that I found out that they were… but that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, one of my friends who had also come to hate Answers in Genesis with a passion came to me and told me that she had found out that he was a creationist, and so… we began debating him.

Everyday during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we would shout over the table at each other about evolution. Goodness, it was loads of fun in retrospect, but I don’t think any creationist has raised my blood pressure so much since James. We would pick apart the arguments that were infecting his mind, pick them apart, but he would stubbornly change to something else like the start of the universe. It seemed entirely hopeless.

But, by the end of the week, I finally got him to admit that the Solar Nebular Theory was possible. I was unable to continue my meal-time debates with him at the end of Space Camp, but when we went our separate ways at the end, he came to realise on his own that if he were to value reason, he couldn’t be a young earth creationist, and became a theistic evolutionist.

I’m still working on the theist part…

James, I still love ‘ya pal… but not in that way. More in a Jesusly sort of way. You’re one of the few people who valued truth enough to discard (one of) your dearest delusions for it.

But what truly surprised me is that James thanked me last night. He said that since he met me and my friend at Space Camp, he had become even more interested in science and was very glad that he was able to shift more towards the mainstream. In short, disillusionment rocks.

Well James, you’re welcome. I’ve still got a bit of work to do, but may there be many more of you to come. You’ve given me hope that not all the young earth creationists are brainwashed by Answers in Genesis.

You’re welcome, and thank you.

I Feel Satirical

This is in response to the 12 counties in Florida that now have anti-evolution resolutions.

I want to express my admiration for those concerned parents and school board members in their continuing fight against scientific orthodoxy, who have been applying pressure on the school boards in Florida to allow their children the right to hear all sides of the story.

We must take this as an opportunity to further the cause of ridding schools of scientific orthodoxy, and continue fighting the enemy and their constant attempts to push their bleak, materialistic view upon our children.

As a student in a Chemistry Honors class, I am appalled to find that our textbook is laced with references to atoms.

The atomic theory of matter is called the atomic theory of matter for a reason. It’s only a theory, not a fact…

They claim that they’ve conducted numerous experiments to prove the existence of atoms, but how can they be sure that their experiments are correct? Satan could be fooling them into thinking that the results they’re getting are true. After all, evidence is subjective.

And yet, my textbook and teacher continue to prat along about these atoms as if there were mountains of empirical evidence for them!

I propose that we teach, instead, Empedocles’ alternative theory of the four elements (earth, air, water, and fire), or, at least, give equal time to Aristotle’s four elements and the atomic theory of matter. After all, this is America! The land of the free! We are a democracy, and we should treat all things with equality, including scientific theories.

While I’m at it, I find it absurd that they still teach the germ theory of disease in Biology classes. Equal evidence can be given that diseases are induced, not by pathogens, but by demons and spirits, as mentioned in the Bible. Just as the evil minions of scientific orthodoxy are pushing God out of the creation, they’re pushing evil out of the cause of disease.

Our children must be aware that if they succumb to the influences of Satan, they will be punished with disease. If they believe that it’s not their fault that they are ill, our society will fall into anarchy, just as if they believe they are animals, they will behave like animals.

So what if you can see bacteria underneath a microscope? You still have to prove that it’s the bacteria that cause the disease. For all we know, God could have just put the bacteria there because He was bored… just like how he left vestigial appendages in us and other animals. He is probably testing our faith.

And in Astronomy, I can not help but notice that they teach us the heliocentric (sun-centered) model of the Solar System. There’s no end to the thirst of the evil minions of scientific orthodoxy’s conspiracy to push God, philosophy, evil, and the divine status of man out of the science curricula of our children.

While all these “scientists” make fun of creationism for not standing up to common sense, my common sense plainly tells me that the sun revolves around the earth and not vice versa!

Instead they give us this outrageous model that says that the earth is moving! How is it that when I’m in a moving car, I can feel myself moving, yet here I am on this planet, and I feel perfectly stationary?

Plus, if our children learn that they are not at the center of the universe, just think what effect that will have on their self-esteem! If they do not believe that man is the center of the universe, they won’t feel all chosen-by-God and special anymore!

These hypocrites need to be put in their place!

March onward, soldiers of God. Rage against scientific orthodoxy. Rage against it!

Science is Just Another Religion That Wants World Domination!

I’ll try to ease up on the sarcasm from here on out…

I’m in a bad mood today. Last night, my friend “Yitaru” (well, that’s obviously not his real name but that’s his name in the chatroom) came into the atheist chatroom and asked the following question:

Why should science replace religion for our morals?

We tried to make clear that we didn’t think that morals should be derived directly from science, but that science and logic should be used to influence moral decisions. The example we used was abstinence-only education. I ran two thought experiments.

Two teenagers who have been educated about safe sex use condoms and therefore do not contract any STDs or have any pregnancies.

Two teenagers who have been through abstinence-only education break their abstinence vows (the average time is 18 months after taking them), have sex, but are told that condoms don’t work and therefore don’t use them. Their chances of contracting STDs or having pregnancies increases.

However, he sort of leeched onto the “philosophy” part of it, calling religion a philosophy just like science. Well, in a sense, science is a philosophy, but it’s different from other philosophies for the following reason.

Evidence. Again. I think I’ve already made a post about evidence being what separates science from Intelligent Design somewhere…

Of course, evidence and logic are the shoes on your two feet. You can get further with both than with just one (that’s a Babylon 5 quote that’s been modified, for the record).

And then he said that logic is subjective (?!?) because what seems logical to one person is illogical to another person. Ha!

And then when we were trying to explain to him why (again) science is not another religion and expressed our frustration, he claimed that we had been personally attacking him and said that we were all like a bunch of Creationists and left (damn… run-on… and I’m too lazy to fix it). When I talked to him privately later, he said that the Creationists and the Atheists are like two children fighting over whose toy is better. That science has no reason to say that other philosophies are wrong because it itself is a philosophy. I then had the pleasure of listening to him flaunt his “agnosticism” and say that he had “seen the light.”

Well, it’s a shame that I have lost an ally to postmodernism, that dreadful enemy of reason. But I think I’ll address the “my toy is better than your toy” analogy.

Let’s take… a Barbieist (supporter of the Barbie doll) and a Legoist (supporter of Legos). Let’s imagine that they support their toys for the same reason that religious people support their religions (in other words, think of a Muslim and a Christian arguing).

Barbiest: My toy is better than your toy.

Legoist: No, my toy is better than your toy.

Barbiest: Is not!

Legoist: Is too!

Now, let’s have the Barbiest ask the Legoist why the Lego is better than the Barbie.

Barbiest: Why are Legos better than Barbie dolls?

Legoist: Because my parents played with Legos.

Barbiest: Well, my parents played with Barbie dolls too!

In other words, they believe what the believe because of tradition. What’s another popular reason why religious people believe? Authority.

Legoist: Well, the CEO of the company that makes Legos says that Legos are better.

Barbiest: Well, the CEO of the company that makes Barbie dolls says that Barbie dolls are better.

The other reason would be revelation…

Legoist: I just have a feeling inside that Legos are better.

Barbiest: I just have a feeling inside that Barbies are better.

I think that this argument seems absurd, and I hope it’s quite obvious why. Richard Dawkins ended his book, A Devil’s Chaplain, with his letter to a ten-year old daughter that highlighted a good reason for believing in something (evidence) and three bad reasons for believing in something (tradition, authority, and revelation). However, when an evolutionist gets in an argument with a creationist, I have found that it almost always ends like this:

Creationist: It’s something called faith! Something that you will never understand!

So let’s change the argument a bit.

Barbiest: I think that Barbie dolls are better than Legos.

Legoist: I think that Legos are better than Barbie dolls and here’s why. You can build stuff with them, building stuff is fun. It’s also useful to develop those skills if you want to become good at Math, or if you want to become an engineer.

Barbiest: I still like Barbie dolls better because I believe they’re better because I believe they’re better.

Bottom line. Science is better because we know why. We know why because of evidence and logic.

But logic is subjective! What’s logical to one person isn’t logical to the rest of us!

That’s about the same as saying that where one person thinks there’s a cliff edge, another person won’t think that there’s a cliff edge. Logical fallacies can be considered subjective, but real logic is objective.

If P then Q, then if P then Q. If you haven’t taken symbolic logic, that might not make a lot of sense… But let’s say that P means that it’s raining. Let’s say that Q means that the sidewalk is getting wet. Therefore, if it is raining, then the sidewalk is getting wet.

However, there is room for fallacy here. If Q then P. If the sidewalk is getting wet, then it must be raining, right?

Not necessarily. The sidewalk could be getting wet because a sprinkler is broken. Maybe a child spilled something. Maybe a block of ice is melting. We can probably figure out which it is by observing the immediate area around the sidewalk, to gain evidence to figure out what is causing the sidewalk to be getting wet.

Let’s take the following “proof”:

1. Richard Dawkins is happily married to Lalla Ward.

2. Richard Dawkins was introduced to Lalla Ward by Douglas Adams.

Conclusion 1: Douglas Adams is a good matchmaker.

3. I have the same birthday as Douglas Adams.

4. If I have the same birthday as Douglas Adams, then I was exposed to the same astrological energies, and Douglas Adams and I are the exact same person.

Conclusion 2: I am a good matchmaker.

5. If I am a good matchmaker and I think that two people would make a good couple, then they will make a good couple.

6. I think that Richard Dawkins and I would make a good couple (Well… not really… there’s sort of a half century and two years age difference).

Conclusion 3: Richard Dawkins and I would make a good couple.

Ergo,

Richard Dawkins and I are meant for each other.

So! Is Richard Dawkins going to read this “logic” proof, divorce his wife, and come marry me?

Of course not! Why? Let’s play spot the fallacies… I think that they’re blatantly obvious, so I’m not going to go through it and pick it apart.

The point is, no matter how logical I think something sounds, that does not mean that it actually is logical.

But philosophy does not necessarily use fallacies!

True, but it doesn’t take evidence into account either. To Aristotle, and to your and my common sense, a ball weighing 100 cubits that is dropped at the same time as a ball weighing 10 cubits will hit the ground before the ball weighing 10 cubits. We know this is not true, however, because of the laws of physics, but also because a little known scientist named Galileo tested that claim. The evidence was that they hit the ground at the same time, and now our laws of physics are more correct.

But who was right? The philosopher? Or the scientist who went out and tested the claim?

You’re right. Science is just another philosophy, but it’s right, and the reason why is because… we tell you why.

Again. Evidence.

Today I received the following comment on my last entry:

“When I was looking at the trailer, the question that struck me is, “How smart do you have to be to design a universe?” Is it possible that someone or something is even smarter. (Not to be confused with America’s most smartest model.)

The theory that everything was design doesn’t tell us how or why,and really not who. Without those answers, I’m not sure what the value of theory is. Creationism tries to answers those questions but it’s really all on faith. In fact, it all may simply be made up by relatively primative people.

Science on the other hand often acts like a religion and resists challenges to a lot of basic doctorine. Today, it tends to go where the research money is. Try discussing global warming sometime. It’s treated as hierarchy if you don’t tow the party line. Science by consensus is not science. How many times has the lone dissenter been right?”

To Steve:

The first part of that was appreciated. However, I’d like to talk a bit about why science is not a religion.

There are too many lone dissenters in history to count exactly how many time they’ve been wrong or right. You can come up with dozens of examples of when the general consensus was wrong and the lone dissenter was right, and you can come up with dozens of examples when the general consensus was correct, and the lone dissenter is still considered a nut case. Galileo can be considered a lone dissenter, and so can Darwin… as can people who believe in aliens. The difference between them, and revolutionary scientists like Galileo is… EVIDENCE!

I’d also like to point out that dissenters whose ideas are accepted today were dissenters in a time when the scientific method was not what it is now. Back then, and in Creationism today, Bible quotes were used as evidence. The Great Flood was considered an actual historic event… until contradictory evidence was brought up.

That’s the difference between science and religion.Science Vs. Religion