The Paths of the Seas

Launch of SAC-D/Aquarius, June 10 2011

“This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”

Launched on the 10th of June this year the Argentine satellite SAC-D is better known as Aquarius after its main scientific instrument. Aquarius is built and run by NASA for studying ocean salinity, and is expected to operate for three of the satellites five years in orbit.

It may not be immediately obvious, but tracking the salinity of different parts of the ocean also allows you to get a look at ocean currents. Now, ocean currents are vital for life (as we know it, mind) on Earth. And you should know by now the creationist reaction to that kind of thing. Hence the latest DpSU title: NASA’s Ocean Currents Study Confirms Providential Care.

The Ocean Currents of the World

The idea that the wonderful things that are ocean currents prove the existence of a benevolent Dictator Creator is flawed from the start. You have a large, irregularly shaped fluid body, interacting with another, differently irregularly shaped fluid body of different composition on top of it. Both bodies are heated irregularly also, from below and, at differing times, from above, and the solid object they lie on is a rotating spheroid. Give it a moon as well, if you’re feeling extravagant. While not having them is certainly doable – and has happened one or twice during Earth’s long history – you are frankly more likely than not to turn up with a planet with ocean currents, or the nearest equivalent. And it should be pointed out that if ocean currents not being here here would mean that we could not survive, and there weren’t any ocean current, we wouldn’t be here, and you wouldn’t be reading this. Thus the question of the odds of ocean currents coming into existence via naturalistic means, considering that they do exist, is frankly irrelevant.

Assuming that I’m reading it correctly – this is just another nonsensical thing on a crazy day, after all – Brian Thomas (the author of the DpSU, as usual when they are remotely science related) is trying to take the argument I mentioned above, along with the fact that the founder of the field, a Matthew Maury – who was raised to be deeply religious – credited God “not Nature” for the existence of the currents, to prove that God made the currents. Curiously, despite Maury’s religiosity, this is the best quote Mr Thomas could find:

[R]eason assures us that they move in obedience to some law of Nature, be it recorded down in the depths below, never so far beyond the reach of human ken; and being a law of Nature, we know who gave it, and that neither chance nor accident had any thing to do with its enactment.

Mr Thomas was kind enough to provide a google books link to a free version of the book that this quote is from, from which I can assure you that the above quote is indeed on pages 124 to 125. Interestingly, despite the ICR being located in Texas, the link is from books.google.ca. Weirder and weirder, I’m telling you…

Despite what B.T. said, Maury is crediting Nature for the currents – he’s just then crediting God for the laws of nature. To me this is a bit like finding a fulgurite in the sands, and correctly attributing it to the lightning, but then attributing the lightning to Thor, because this is a beach in Norway in the year 427 and you know no better. Indeed, it is perfectly possible that crediting god for the origin of the laws of nature will go the way of the lightning soon enough. Also, as that edition of the book was published in 1855, 4 years be for the Origin of Species, the ‘neither chance nor accident’ phrase is unlikely to be a dig at evolution as it would be if it was written later, although that is still possible.

Anyway, who honestly cares about the personal philosophy of such a long-dead scientist? Traditionally, scientists are remembered for their work (and Maury was certainly a Giant in his field at the time, no doubt about that), and not for what they believed beyond their field. Creationism seems to be about the only crazy thing that Nobel Prize winners don’t believe in, for example. But you can’t take a scientist’s reputation in one field to support their opinions in another, especially so long after their death. Newton may well have been a creationist, but he was also an alchemist. This does not make either concept any more plausible.

To finish, Maury was apparently inspired by a reference in Psalm 8:8 to the “paths of the seas.” This quote is not uncommonly used as an example of so-called ‘biblical scientific foreknowledge,’ as B.T. does in linking to this old Acts and Facts article, by the famous Duane Gish. Quite frankly, there is no mention there of the water moving, only the things that “passeth through” said ‘paths,’ and it could be perfectly accurate if it was simply talking about, say, common marine migration routes. And the whole Psalm is filled with figurative language anyway: the heavens were apparently made with God’s fingers, specifically, rather than any other part of Him, if you believe verse 3 for example.

Perhaps I’ve been doing this too long (already), but it seems to me that the quality of DpSUs has dropped somewhat lately. If you’re reading this, Mr Thomas, this needs to change. Andrew Schlafly can only provide so much amusement, after all…

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