In breaking news Your Origins Matter informs us that Jason Lisle, the ICR’s Director of Research, was recently (though briefly) on CNN as part of a story on U.S. congressman Paul “lies straight from the pit of hell” Broun. You can see the clip, which also features Bill Nye, here (Lisle starts at 1:57). Lisle says:
The idea that the universe is sort of- is a big cosmic accident, well if that’s the case then why would it obey laws? Like E=mc2. That’s kinda convenient, isn’t it? I mean, if it’s just a big accident why would it obey nice neat mathematical laws that the human mind can understand. It doesn’t make sense for it to just be a big explosion. It make sense that it was created by the mind of God.
But before you jump to the conclusion that Lisle only has at his disposal the kind of arguments that a ten year old would come up with, he said on the YOM facebook page:
They cut about 95% of what I said in the interview – including specific examples from science that confirm creation. I also refuted radiometric dating as an infallible method, pointing out that it gives wrong answers on rocks of known age. And I gave specific examples that confirm a young earth, c-14 in diamonds, etc. I gave concise, sound-bite answers, so they could have used many more.
Ok, you can jump to that conclusion now.
The argument that made it into the news segment is of the ‘why are there rules’ style. I fundamentally disagree that it requires a God for there to be laws to the universe, though I have yet to find a way to properly explain this. In short, a universe without rules is a contradiction in terms: not having rules is itself a rule. Physical laws are merely a description of what we observe – they needn’t actually reflect reality – and not actual rules that have been made for things to follow. If we observed a rule-less universe, our laws of physics would be along the lines of ‘there are no rules, everything is uncertain.’ We know from quantum physics that uncertainty and randomness can themselves be tamed by statistics and other mathematics. And if it comes down to it, the “nice neat mathematical laws” that we think we have found and that “the human mind can understand” may just turn out to be a giant case of the Dunning-Kruger effect – I hope not, however.
The arguments that Lisle claims he also made – at least the ones that he names – are old PRATTs. Carbon-14 in diamonds, as I have mentioned many times before, is due to the fact that a background level of 14C is produced by other radioactive decay processes which will ensure that there is always some quantity of the isotope in any sample of anything. You can do testing on that, you even can produce a “date” from it, but you’re stupid if you think it’s going to tell you anything about the age of the sample being tested.
The “rocks of known age” are most likely an allusion to radiometric age dating attempts made by creationists of rocks from volcanic eruptions, particularly Mt St Helens. The techniques they use are analogous to using a meter ruler to measure the thickness of a piece of paper. You will get an inaccurate result from such a measurement, and you should not expect anything otherwise. This isn’t the only flaw with these tests, either…
The YOM post – Congressman calls evolution ‘lies straight from the pit of hell’ – is itself of interest. You’ve probably already seen a fair number number of posts and articles about Broun’s speech. The parallels between YOM’s post defending Broun and those articles – which are very much against – are quite amusing. First, in what capacity did Broun make his comments?
It would be good to keep in mind the context in which these words were given – a Baptist church, with a predominantly Christian audience; not a public venue or political event – yet that simple statement has offended those with opposing views.
I’m not sure that “offended” is the word, but I’ll let it past. Broun may well have been inside a church, but he was at a ‘sportsman’s banquet’ where the organisers had brought in a member of congress to talk to them for the better part of an hour. He may have been within his rights to say what he did, but he’s also fair game to be made fun of etc.
It’s worth noting that he also went on to say:
And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.
I’m pretty sure that you’re not supposed to do that in the U.S.
YOM also says:
Broun asserted that, “a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old; I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says” (emphasis YOM). This 40-second comment out of a 47-minute talk has drawn a barrage of fire from the “other” side.
And later on:
Unqualified? Really? Paul Broun has a B.S in chemistry from the University of Georgia and a medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia. These schools are not exactly bastions of creationism!
Broun is a doctor, something that other articles pick up on quite a lot. Doctors aren’t scientists, and a B.S in chemistry doesn’t change that. After all, he did say that it was “that stuff I was taught” that came from the pit of Hell – it would appear that little actually sank in.
It’s times like this that I’m even more glad than usual that I don’t live in the “land of opportunity” (for nutcases) known as the USA. The associate minister for education in my country, John Banks, is known to be a creationist himself. But at least he said:
That’s what I believe, but I’m not going to impose my beliefs on other people especially in this post-Christian society that we live in and especially in these lamentable times.
Compare that with what Congressman Broun’s comment about his voting record. It’s almost a shame, really, that Banks’ chances of re-election in 2014 are so slim.