I Get Mail – Unanswerable Questions from a Creationist


There are apparently a series of questions running around of “totally” unanswerable questions. The mailer identifies as a Christian Creationist and has sent in a list of questions that are supposedly unfieldable…

So I used my day off to write up a list of answers…

Here’s a few that I still haven’t heard any reasonable explanations for:

Just because there are no reasonable explanations doesn’t mean that the answer is a “god”. And remember, “no one knows exactly” is a very very honest explanation.

What actually caused the Big Bang to violate the 1st Law of Thermodynamics?

The Big Bang doesn’t violate the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. The Big Bang Theory assumes there was a singularity that contained all of what became the mass and energy of the universe. In essence, the first law states “you can’t get something from nothing” and the big bang assume there was something to start from – even if we can’t exactly define what that something was.

In addition (yes… I read Mano Singham’s work) the total Positive energy (things like fuel) is equal to the total Negative energy (things like gravity) in the universe. The net energy of the universe is therefore “Zero”.

How did the matter expanding outward from the Big Bang began rotational movement?

Gravity and collisions impart rotational movement as do the content of the heavenly bodies. And not all galaxies “spin” in the same direction or even spin at all.

How did that matter coalesce into stars?

Gravity. Gravity affects all masses. Gravity causes the gathering of masses to specific areas. And it’s cumulative since the more mass you acquire the greater the gravity you possess pulling mass towards you at a faster pace. Once enough hydrogen gas has clumped into an area, the mass of that gas becomes so strong that it starts to squeeze itself to the point of causing nuclear fusion. Thus, you have a star. This effect is widely observed and stars at every stage of formation have been detected..

How did those stars organize into galaxies, those galaxies into clusters, and those clusters into superclusters, violating the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?

Again… Gravity. And order at the cost of net disorder drives the universe.

Why is it that, if the first stars had only hydrogen and helium, but then exploded, forming heavier elements, the oldest stars we can see have heavier elements?

The elements a star can produce depends on a few things such as the stars mass and temperature

How is it that the hydrogen and helium jumped the nuclear gaps at mass 5 and 8?

That doesn’t make any… sense.

Atomic Number =/= Atomic Mass. Atomic number is the number of protons (and electrons). Atomic Mass = the (rough) number of protons and neutrons. The “gaps” in Atomic Mass are due to stability of atoms. A normal hydrogen atom is 1 proton and 1 electron, but you can have “heavy” hydrogen with 1 neutron too. The gaps are (often) filled by isotopes (Same Atomic No. Different Mass) which are rarer. The periodic table deals with the most COMMON arrangement.

How did the heavier elements coalesce into planets?

Gravity again. Same method as the stars.

How did planets such as Venus and Uranus begin rotating backwards?

A planet apparently will rotate (or not) based on what it’s made out of.

Solid planets are less likely to rotate than planets where there is stuff to “slosh about” like our oceans and our molten core. Now Uranus rotates backwards because Uranus has had had collisions with non-universal bodies. In addition? We must remember that the orbit of heavenly bodies does not occur within a flat plane.

Why does the Moon have only 2 to 3 inches of dust on it, when the rays of the Sun would have produced 20 to 60 miles of it by now if the Moon was 5 to 10 billion years old, whereas 2 to 3 inches is the amount we would expect for 6 too 8 thousand years?

Dust doesn’t come from the Sun. The lack of an atmosphere or moving water or plate tectonics don’t allow for the formation of dust in vast quantities as we have on the earth. That’s just a stupid point.

How can the Moon be very old if it is moving away from the Earth fast enough that it would have hit us 20,000 years ago?

Okay, here goes. Because gravity falls off with distance, there is a differential in the Moon’s gravity across the Earth. This differential is call a tidal force. The tidal force raises bulges in the ocean called tidal bulges. If nothing else interfered, these tidal bulges would align with the Moon.

The Earth, however, rotates. As it does so, friction between the Earth and the tidal bulges tries to drag the bulges along with the Earth. As a result, the tidal bulges lead the Moon a little. The moon tries to pull back on the bulges, but this alos means the bulges pull forward on the Moon. This transfers angular momentum from the Earth to the Moon. The Moon tries to speed up in its orbit. But doing so causes it to climb into a higher orbit and the Moon recedes from the Earth.

As far as the recession being faster when the Moon was younger, its not that simple. There are a lot of factors besides the difference in gravitational attraction. The friction between the Earth and the tidal bulges has a huge effect. Reduce the friction and the bulges lead the Moon by less and thus pull forward on the Moon less, causing a lower recession rate.
The continents play a large role in determining this friction. Because of plate tectonics, the continents weren’t always in the configuration they are now. In fact, in the past they were clustered together in one landmass centered on the pole. In this configuration, they offered little resistance to the tidal bulges and the friction between Earth and the bulges is greatly reduced causing a much smaller recession rate then otherwise. – Quoted from Janus who probably knows more about this.

Why is it that no meteorite craters or traces of nickel from meteorites have been found on Earth in deeper strata beneath the surface?

You mean unlike all the Iridium we keep mining? And there are plenty of craters to analyse on the Earth’s surface.

How can the Earth be very old if its spin is gradually slowing so that 5 billion years ago the Earth would have been shaped like a pancake?

Earth’s rotation is slowing as rotational energy is transferred to the moon via tidal effects. This would take around 40 billion years to balance out… The pancake thing is just “weird” and I couldn’t find any reference to that.

How can the Earth be very old if 20,000 years ago the magnetic force would have been enough to liquefy the planet?

The magnetic force of what? The earth? The sun? Neither of these have changed except in direction. And we regularly build magnets more powerful than the earth. The earth is just a very very big but very weak magnet (0.5 Gauss) while my MRI machine can hit 30,000 Gauss… Industrial and Experimental MRIs can reach 600,000 Gauss… At no point do  these liquefy anything.

How is it that we still have natural gas, which is slowly escaping through shale, and oil reserves still have enough pressure to cause a ‘gusher’ every time one is first tapped into?

There is a lot of natural gas and the rate at which Natural Gas escapes is lower than the rate at which it formed over the time period.

How can it be ensured that radiocarbon samples have no loss of carbon-14 from water, that in the past there was the same amount of carbon in the atmosphere, that sunspot production has always been approximately the same (other than during the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, from 1420 to 1530, or from 1639 to 1720), that neutrino radiation levels have always remained the same, that the Earth’s magnetic field has always remained the same, that there has always been approximately the same amount of moisture in the air, and that the Earth has remained approximately the same temperature, any one of which would throw off radiocarbon dating? (Many more recent radiocarbon datings have been shown to be false — mortar from an 800 year old castle was dated at 7 thousand years old, freshly killed seals have been dated at 1300 years old, living wood has been dated at 10000 years old, and living mollusks have been dated at 2300 years old.)

Carbon-14 dating does not rely on any of the things you mentioned. And as for these anomalies, there are specific reasons as to why they would date incorrectly. Many parts of Mosques in Cairo date back 4000 years to 5000 years despite that pre-dating Islam. (If you want to play a fun game? Write your answers to why that would occur out in the comments!)

How is it that, even if we did have everything necessary for the creation of organisms, those organisms would have come to life?

“I don’t know”. To date we don’t know how life started on the planet. We don’t know how a living cell can form from semi-organic materials. But to say that there must have been an incredibly complex organism who magically appeared and invented them is a silly conclusion.

There is a clear line of development in biology. Prions – Viruses – Prokaryotes – Eukaryotes – Multicellular Organisms…

Abiogenesis is cutting-edge biology where there is a lot to be learned and a lot of us will probably die before we have the answers. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s powered by magic. Looking back historically, a lot of things believed to be evil spirits turned out to be very mundane things.

How can we have no evidence of the reducing atmosphere required for the creation of life, and early iron deposits are partly oxidized?

There is an entire field dedicated to that called Paleo-climatology.

How would primitive lifeforms have survived in a reducing atmosphere with no ozone to protect them from ultraviolet rays?

Early organisms could easily have been resistant to the effects of UV rays. In addition the major issue with UV rays is that they are mutagenic. In other words… To early life the haphazard exposure to UV rays may have driven evolution.

How is it that the long, low, steady spark used in all artificial creation of amino acids could have been represented by a lightning bolt?

It’s a scale model. We cannot (yet) summon lightning in our labs. The notion is that the long steady current will mimic repeated lightning strikes.

How could left-handed amino acids have been created without right-handed amino acids?

Levo-Chirality may have existed but ultimately if Dextro-Chiral amino acids became the precursor to our life then Levo-Chiral life simply didn’t occur.

How could all of the ingredients of life have come together without forming precipitates or condensing?

This can happen. They could form condensates and precipitates. Life however does exist and these parts can come together in the right circumstances. While rare they are infinitely more probable than the belief that magic is required to achieve this.

How could proteins have been formed in the sea, but instantly moved to a completely waterless environment?

Beaches? Where you can move from water to dry in seconds due to the tide? And by “instant” this process could have taken weeks, years, decades, centuries and even millions of years.

How could anything as complicated as a protein have been created naturally? (The chances for the creation of a single protein molecule have been calculated at 1 in 10210 . The probability of creating all 124 proteins is 1064489. For For perspective, there are 1018 seconds in a year, 1020 words in every book ever published, 1.33×1050 atoms in the Earth, and 1080 protons, neutrons, and electrons in the universe. Anything over 1 in 1050 is considered scientifically impossible.)

That’s not quite how probability works. If you randomly draw amino acids out of a hat and assemble them then YES the chance of a specific protein being formed is astronomical. However that isn’t the issue. It is believed that if we shuffle a pack of card till true randomness strikes and then I deal out the entire pack… that order is 1:52!

A massive number. But the order of the cards doesn’t mean anything without the method by which they are assembled. Some proteins are small and simple to assemble. Some proteins naturally take up specific shapes. Evolutionarily speaking the proteins that did things were more likely to survive than those that didn’t.

How could all 2000 enzymes required in every living organism have appeared in even 20 billion years?

Enzymes are protein based. See above.

How is it possible for anything as complicated as DNA could have formed naturally? (The chances for the formation of a single DNA molecule have been calculated at 1 in 10600, which is far beyond the official “scientifically impossible” number of 1050. In order to code all 124 proteins, on average, you would need 1089190 DNAs. That many DNAs would weigh 1089174times as much as the Earth, and would fill the universe several times over. The DNA necessary to code 200 billion people would fit in an aspirin tablet.)

Again your probability is terrible.

DNA came from simpler structures. RNA is like DNA, but much shorter and simpler. Gene shears are like RNA, but even shorter still. Viruses are also like tiny strands of DNA, just a few genes in length. So are proteins and enzymes. All of these things have been made, modified, cut, copied, broken, re-joined and created in the lab and spontaneously in nature.

How could anything to translate DNA have been formed naturally?

In exactly the same way as proteins are formed. We are still researching into which came first (the translation or the data storage/the protein or the DNA) but it’s better than saying “magic” did it.

How could amino acids, protein, DNA, and enzymes all have been created in the same creature, and if they weren’t, how could any creature have reproduced without them?

These things don’t have to interact within the same creature. The progression of complexity of life shows that many of these things are self assembling (such as phospholipid bilayers and fat micelles) that don’t require complex mechanisms to function.

How could sexuality develop?

Sexuality is in effect a method of transfer and mixing of DNA to improve survival. At it’s simplest form, one can consider the F Plasmid as the simplest form of Sexuality. There is not just one method of effective gene transfer. From the suicidal mating of various organisms to the parasitical mating of angler fish to indeed “us”. It’s basically just genetic transfer between two organisms to ensure genetic diversity in either the same or the next generation.

How could enough beneficial mutations to create a single new species occur? (The odds of getting two related mutations are 1 in 1014 . The chances of a single mutation being beneficial are rated at 1 in 101000 .)

It’s not beneficial mutations that determine a species. It is also allele frequencies that help do so and epigenetic changes. Sometimes a point mutation can have drastic changes. The idea here is that the vast majority of mutations are negative which is incorrect. The vast majority of mutations are silent.

In combination this takes a fairly long time by the standards of one generation, however these little changes add up to big ones. Dogs show how much variation can occur within a single species. If we continued true breeding then eventually the Chihuahua and the Great Dane would end up as two different species.

A classic example of natural selection is the giraffe — its neck kept on getting longer in order to allow it to eat higher leaves. However, if this is true, why are there still so many short-necked grazers on the savannah, and why are female giraffe’s necks two feet shorter than male’s necks?

Ah the “if man evolved from apes, why are there still apes?” argument. If you came from your parents then why do you have uncles?

Giraffes exploit a specific niche of tree browsing. Most animals are much more generalised. And the short browsers still have their own method of survival, it’s just that Giraffes due to their niche don’t have (much) competition for the food they eat. Giraffes actually have a fair few disadvantages. Drinking water is fraught with peril and child birth involves a 6 foot fall.

And a lot of animals have things which don’t increase survival in any significant way. A lot of animals actually TRADE survival in order to reproduce better. Male Peacocks are very short lived in the wild as they are very visible and slow thanks to their tails. Yet peacocks still survive because any disadvantage from the tail is offset by increased chances of mating.

Male Giraffes may be expressing sexual dimorphism and also regularly fight and act as protectors for the herd. So their extra size may be related to survivability and indeed breeding.

Is there a single definite example of natural selection or mutation creating a new species? (Pepper moths, resistant bacteria, and galapagos finches are all within species. Also, in the case of resistant bacteria, where one genome is obviously more advantageous than other genomes, the resistant bacteria were overall weaker and when antibiotics were removed the culture returned back to normal within a short period of time.)Is there a single example of a transitional fossil? (Archaeopterix has been revealed to be a hoax.)

During human existence? You can do a simple lab experiment…

The best-documented creations of new species in the laboratory were performed in the late 1980s. William Rice and G.W. Salt bred fruit flies using a maze with three different choices of habitat such as light/dark and wet/dry. Each generation was placed into the maze, and the groups of flies that came out of two of the eight exits were set apart to breed with each other in their respective groups. After thirty-five generations, the two groups and their offspring were isolated reproductively because of their strong habitat preferences: they mated only within the areas they preferred, and so did not mate with flies that preferred the other areas. If you keep doing this eventually you will begin to see speciation.

In 1985, claims were made that Archeopteryx was a hoax. Most of the evidence for a forgery was based on unfamiliarity with the processes of fossilisation. They proposed that based on the difference in texture associated with the feathers, feather impressions were applied to a thin layer of cement or plaster without realizing that feathers themselves would have caused a textural difference. They also claimed that slabs would not split so smoothly and that one half of a slab containing fossils should have good preservation, but not the corresponding counter slab. These are common properties of Solnhofen fossils because the dead animals would fall onto hardened surfaces which would form a natural plane for the future slabs to split along, leaving the bulk of the fossil on one side and little on the other. They also misinterpreted the fossils, claiming that the tail was forged as one large feather, In addition, they claimed that the other specimens of Archaeopteryx known at the time did not have feathers which they clearly do…

These suggestions have not been taken seriously as the evidence was largely based on misunderstandings of geology. The number of feathered specimens has increased since then. In addition the total lack of air bubbles in the rock indicates that archeopteryx is pretty real and authentic. 

We are all transitiional species. A non-transitional species would be a dead end evolution. The thylacine is a non-transitional species (because it is extinct and it has no relatives).

Is there a single fossil that can definitively be cited as a precursor to man?

What? A single “Adam/Eve” fossil that was a precursor to all humans? That’s a bit of a tall order…

What we do have is a series of fossils which are precursors to human evolution

How is it possible that fossils can be located in several strata? (sometimes called “polystrate fossils”)

You mean like sharks? Because they have existed for millions of years in relatively unchanged forms resulting in deposition in various strata? By just being a species or a bunch of animals with a very similar body type that have existed in relatively successful forms for long periods of time. You may as well ask how come there are still humans if everyone who was alive in 2000 BC is now dead and buried.

How is it possible for overthrusts as large as Heart Mountain, the Lewis Overthrust, the Mythen, the Matterhorn, or the entire Appalachian Mountains to have slid around at all, and if they did, how did they not crumble under the friction?

They are formed by friction and compression. Place your fingers tip to tip and push. You should end up with your fingers steepling.

That’s how ridged mountains are formed. That’s how places like the Himalayas and indeed the Rockies and Andes and Alps are formed.

Is there a single example of a truly vestigial organ that could have been useful in some previous species?

You mean like our nictiating membranes that provide a transluscent “dust cover/second eyelid” that protects the eye in grassy areas? The wings of flightless birds? The tail in humans? Eyes on cave fish?

There are plenty of vestigal organs out there.

How is it possible for species that supposedly are closely related to have vastly different numbers of genes and chromosomes?

Because you do have chromosome formation events and you do have genetic changes. The closeness of relation is based on how many such changes exist. If we look at bacteria we see extra DNA “mini-chromosomes” added all the time. Variable chromosome number is a common virulence factor in Yeast. Eukaryotes are a lot more stable in chromosomes as diversity increases through random assortment and sex, but the principle remains the same. The issue is comparative rather than “number and chromosomes” as well.

And how is it possible, if any of these have no answer, for there not to have been a Creator?

Just because you don’t know the answer to a question, it doesn’t mean that the answer is a god. It means you do not know.

In fact if you took these questions and said “If a creator existed then…” before each one you would actually end up with fewer answers that told you anything about how the world functioned.

Comments

  1. otranreg says

    Cracks appeared in my patience at the weird question about H and He jumping on a pogo stick from 5 to 8.

    I stopped reading at the next question (How did the heavier elements coalesce into planets?). This is grade A ignorance.

    “Stop wanking and get an education you illiterate ninny” would have been my answer.

  2. Compuholic says

    @otranreg:

    My reaction exactly. The author of this email fails spectacularly at so many levels. I suspect that he does not really comprehend the questions he is asking himself. He probably lifted those “unanswerable questions” from various websites. I admire the patience of Avicenna but I suspect his explanations will wasted in the end. So much scientific ignorance cannot reasonably expected to be cured in a single post.

    It also shows that he has not even made the slightest effort to educate himself. Many questions could have easily been answered by reading the fucking Wikipedia articles.

  3. says

    Well said!

    One addition, re. life being based on left-handed amino acids:

    We see excesses of left-handed amino acids in meteorite samples. The implication is that they formed this way due to photochemistry in the protoplanetary disc around the young Sun (there are reasons we’d expect this due to polarization of sunlight passing through the disc). The meteorite excesses are nowhere near 100%, but the initial slight asymmetry was amplified by later cycles of reactions until there were no right-handed amino acids being used in biochemistry on Earth.

  4. NitricAcid says

    The question about sexuality reminds me of a question a creationist friend asked me- how could a bacterium turn into a man? How could he reproduce without anyone to have sex with?

  5. Myoo says

    How is it possible that fossils can be located in several strata? (sometimes called “polystrate fossils”)

    This one is not actually referring to different identical fossils being found in different strata but rather a single instance of a fossil (mostly trees) that has parts of itself in different strata. It is a common theme in creatonist nonsense, I even saw it in a Chick tract once. The actual geological term is “upright fossil”, not “polystrate fossil”.

    There’s a Wikipedia entry on it that explains their formation if you want to check it out:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upright_fossils

  6. brucee says

    The one about radiocarbon dating of mortar is silly. The point of C14 is when did the C stop living. What is the living carbon in mortar? Well, when were the chalk cliffs alive? All C14 experts have explained this many times. These creationists are boring. Thanks to Avi for pointing this out.

  7. says

    Wow, what a gish gallop.

    One big important point: “Here’s a few that I still haven’t heard any reasonable explanations for:”
    a) Just because you haven’t heard it doesn’t mean nobody else has.
    b) You might not understand the correct answer being only human and all. I’m sure Stephen Hawking struggles with bits of biology or geology, and I know that Richard Dawkins struggles with astrophysics. And since you clearly despise science I suspect you haven’t studied any of it very much.
    c) Reality is not in the least obliged to follow your idea of what’s reasonable. (I suspect that’s the bit that really upsets you.)
    d) As Avienna says, even if nobody knows, that doesn’t mean nobody will ever know, or that the answer was a god, much less your god out of the thousands that humans have worshipped.

    Apart from that, I only feel qualified to talk about the astronomy.

    How did that matter coalesce into stars? How did those stars organize into galaxies, those galaxies into clusters, and those clusters into superclusters, violating the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?

    Avienna is quite right. Gravity, gravity, gravity, and billions of years. We can see galaxies getting larger as they get older. We can see the lumpy bits where Andronmeda recently swallowed a couple of dwarf galaxies. (This is the astronomical version of “recent”.)

    Why is it that, if the first stars had only hydrogen and helium, but then exploded, forming heavier elements, the oldest stars we can see have heavier elements?

    They don’t. You are misinformed. The oldest galaxies are made of hydrogen and helium. Heavier elements turn up sooner than expected, but the oldest galaxies are made of hydrogen and helium.

    How is it that the hydrogen and helium jumped the nuclear gaps at mass 5 and 8?

    I think this is a garbled question about the triple alpha process.
    First hydrogen burns to helium. There are several nuclear reactions, but mostly two protons join and eject a positron and a neutrino, making a standard hydrogen nucleus, which then fuses with another proton to make a helium3 nucleus. Two helium three nuclei fuse and eject two protons, leaving helium with an atomic mass of 4.
    Sometimes you get another proton fusing with the helium nucleus to make lithium (with an atomic weight of 5, which is unstable and usually decays back to helium and hydrogen). Mostly you get two helium nuclei fusing to form beryllium (with an atomic weight of 8), which is also unstable. But once the star starts to run out of hydrogen, the core shrinks and the pressure goes up, and then the beryllium fuses with a third helium nucleus to make carbon (with an atomic weight of 12) before it decays. Carbon is very stable and the universe is full of it. There are small amounts of lithium, and beryllium in stars, just not much.

    I’m sorry that I don’t have time to explain this more simply.

    How did the heavier elements coalesce into planets?

    Yup, gravity. Plus the lighter elements are baked out of the planets nearest the star. That’s why our solar system has four rocky planets nearest the sun, followed by four gas giants farther out.

    How did planets such as Venus and Uranus begin rotating backwards?

    Something large and fast whacked them. The rotation of a planet after an impact depends on the size and speed of the incoming body and the exact angle of impact.

    Why does the Moon have only 2 to 3 inches of dust on it, when the rays of the Sun would have produced 20 to 60 miles of it by now if the Moon was 5 to 10 billion years old, whereas 2 to 3 inches is the amount we would expect for 6 too 8 thousand years?

    Where do you get the 20 to 60 miles from? I know that, pre-Apollo, they wondered if it might be metres thick, but I’ve never, ever heard anyone suggest that it ought to be miles thick. Plus sunlight hitting dust 20 miles thick isn’t going to affect the rocks underneath much, is it? Heck, an asteroid hitting dust 20 miles thick might not hit bottom. My guess is that once you get 2 to 3 inches the process largely stops.

    How can the Moon be very old if it is moving away from the Earth fast enough that it would have hit us 20,000 years ago?

    There’s a creationist video out there which slips a decimal point. First they confuse 3 cm per year with 3 inches per year, and then they multiply 3×4 and get 1200. Is that where your 20,000 years comes from?

    Let’s do this in metric, as it makes the arithmetic easier. The moon is 362,600 km away at it’s closest approach. 362,600 km is 362,600,000 m is 36,260,000,000 cm. Divide by 3 cm/year and you get 12,086,666,666 years, or 2.68 times the age of the earth. Besides, as Avienna says, this process happened much slower when the continents were in different positions, allowing the tides to slosh right around the equator.

    How can the Earth be very old if its spin is gradually slowing so that 5 billion years ago the Earth would have been shaped like a pancake?

    See previous answer – you’ve slipped the decimal point. 620 million years ago the day was 21.9 hours long. That’s 2.1 hours in 620,000,000 years. So even if we assume a constant rate until the beginning of the earth, that would mean that the day was about 14.7 hours shorter, or 9.3 hours long. That would probably mean a bigger equatorial bulge on the earth, but nothing remotely like a pancake.

    Well there’s your answers. It took me a while to double-check my facts and write them out, but I suspect you won’t even bother to read them.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    How would primitive lifeforms have survived in a reducing atmosphere with no ozone to protect them from ultraviolet rays?

    It’s called “water”, fella. They were under it.

    TL;DR – Go soak your head.

  9. says

    In addition (yes… I read Mano Singham’s work) the total Positive energy (things like fuel) is equal to the total Negative energy (things like gravity) in the universe. The net energy of the universe is therefore “Zero”.

    This is stated clumsily–it would be better to give kinetic energy as an example of positive energy. Worse yet, it is a complete conjecture. You should not state it as fact. Nobody knows if the net energy of the universe is zero. Some simple calculations suggest that there is enough binding energy (which is negative) that it might be so–but whether it identically zero is (and forever will be) unknown.

    At best you should say: the universe might not be something from nothing, it might just be nothing from nothing, with nothing separated into equal but opposite parts. It might be.

  10. jaxkayaker says

    If the creotards really wanted answers to such questions, they’d go check out talk.origins or something similar. These questions have been addressed over and over, but the less ignorant, more dishonest creotards keep repeating them as though they haven’t been answered and the more ignorant ones just repeat what they’ve been told so that they can confirm their preexisting notions instead of applying some critical thinking and doing some research themselves.

    Have we seen a new species form? We don’t expect to see many, given that we expect the pattern to usually be gradual, but we actually have seen new species form in the form of polyploidy events, which also addresses the question about how closely related species can have wildly different chromosome numbers.

  11. Thaliana says

    Those “unanswerable questions” aren’t new, but the fixation on creating exactly 124 proteins (why? why not 123 or 125?) is one bit I hadn’t seen before. 10 seconds of googling later, it seems like the source of (this particular formulation of) the whole “but but but probabilities with lots of zeroes! Proteins can’t exist!” section is a 1976 creationist book. Talk about an old strawman.

  12. Alverant says

    Too bad this person couldn’t be bothered to look up the answers. Instead it’s, “I can’t think of an answer right now, therefore no one else has and God exists.”

  13. lpetrich says

    Seems like a Gish gallop, after a favorite debating technique of the late Duane Gish. I’ll take a stab at some of those questions.

    (Why is it that, if the first stars had only hydrogen and helium, but then exploded, forming heavier elements, the oldest stars we can see have heavier elements?) Because they are not the oldest — the H/He-only “Population III” stars were likely too massive to last long. But the heavy elements they produced increased the opacity of the interstellar medium, making it glow brighter as it formed stars, thus losing more energy, and enabling lower-mass stars to form.

    (How is it that the hydrogen and helium jumped the nuclear gaps at mass 5 and 8?) Very quickly, in the cores of massive stars. He4 + He4 -> Be8, which is unstable, but a He4 can come along and do Be8 + He4 -> C12 + gamma ray.

  14. Robert B. says

    “How can the Moon be very old if it is moving away from the Earth fast enough that it would have hit us 20,000 years ago?”

    Wut? The Earth-Moon distance is increasing by about 38 mm per year, while perigee is currently 380,000 km. With a linear extrapolation, that has the Moon hitting the Earth about 10 billion years ago, which is more than double the age of the Sun, let alone the Earth or the Moon. Of course it’s probably not linear, since tidal forces go as the inverse cube of the distance, but a time span as short as 20,000 years would only put an error of about 1% in a linear extrapolation, so we can definitely rule out that time frame.

    Similarly, the Earth’s rotation is slowing by about 10 microseconds per year. Again, a linear extrapolation would suggest that five billion years ago, the day was shorter by 50,000 seconds (out of 86,400), which is admittedly not trivial. The roughly-tripled centrifugal force would likewise triple the equatorial bulge… to about 1% of the planet’s radius. An interesting effect, but it in no way merits use of the word “pancake.” Linear extrapolation is again just an estimate, but since the slowing of the earth’s rotation is due to transferring angular momentum to the moon, we can figure the maximum past rotation speed by putting all that momentum back into the Earth. That would actually have us spinning ten times faster than we do now (a three hour day), which would make the equatorial bulge about three percent. Still not a pancake.

    Those are just the ones I immediately knew how to check. (I used Wikipedia and undergrad-level science and math, btw. I have a more advanced physics degree, but I didn’t need it for this one.) Basically, these “unanswerable questions” are based in either ignorance or lies. The things they ask you to explain are simply, and checkably, not true. These questions don’t deserve answers – at most, an explanation of why they are false in their premises.

  15. gshelley says

    It looks like he came across a list of questions and repeated what he remembered, but didn’t understand them so garbled them. Half of them (at least) are in the index to Creationist claims, which is ten years old at least. The moon dust is ancient, and IIRC, is one of the ones that even AiG says not to use

  16. jon says

    that’s what I used to do: other people’s homework. It’s how I earned my first racing bike.
    What are you charging?

  17. pedrocadiz says

    Why is it that no meteorite craters or traces of nickel from meteorites have been found on Earth in deeper strata beneath the surface?

    No Meteorite craters? What’s this then?

    No traces of nickel from meteorites?
    What are these?

    Has this guy been spending his life with his head up his ass? The Barringer crater is featured in documentaries on the discovery chanel all the time!

  18. says

    Why are there questions we don’t have answers for? Because we think up the questions first. The answers come later.
    Creoturd, in all the hundreds of thousands and all the billions and billions* of questions that have ever been answered, why does the answer never turn out to be God? I mean the 99.999%* of questions that have been answered?

    *Just my estimation of the number of known facts we have.

  19. dgrasett says

    I am not well enough educated to answer those questions, although I am well enough educated to know that Goddidit wont fly. But on the question about Nickel – Has our questioner ever heard about Sudbury? There is a bit of evidence for you. Just a bit.

  20. garnetstar says

    Stickleback fish have also been observed to form distinct species in their natural habitat.

  21. says

    (series of science questions considered unanswered)
    does not lead to “god” unless god is the embodiment of “I don’t know”

    That those questions are even askable is a sign of how successful science has been at answering the kind of questions that the faithful consider unanswerable. “What is the sun?” Well, it’s not Apollo’s chariot. “The 1st law of thermodynamics” does not address the mystery of the trinity (a clear violation of conservation of diety laws) – that anyone would think these questions somehow embarrass scientists is an illustration of how comfortable religion is with ignorance!

    Here are some questions in a similar vein:
    1) How does the process of ensoulment work? Please make sure your answer addresses the remarkable ability of souls to remain undetected and unmeasured.
    2) What is god made of?
    3) How does prayer work? Does god passively monitor all prayer activity or does a person praying emit some sort of particle such as a prayon that is collected by god?
    4) How does the hand of god work? When god alters physical reality what is the mechanism by which this is done and how does it remain undetectable?
    5) Why do probability distributions remain unaffected by prayer, yet prayer worksas an epiphenomenon for god’s chosen people(s)? (I.e: why isn’t one religion dominating world affairs completely, due to the long-term benefits of being elect?
    6) How does divine sacrifice transfer guilt? What is the moral argument for the idea that a god who chooses to be killed somehow takes into itself the sins that its father assessed against a collective?
    7) How does paternity transfer blame? What is the moral argument for the sins of the fathers being visited on the sons?
    8) Why is god such a misogynist?
    9) If god is good, why is there evil?
    10) If god is evil, why is there good?
    11) What is the relationship between the brain and the soul?
    12) How many angels, (assume a standard round angel as an approximation) can fit on the head of a pin? What conservation laws does this violate?

    etc.

  22. pakicetus says

    Has that ever heard of the paper that appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by Lenski, showing (as before) speciation occurs.

  23. says

    Wow, isn’t anyone going to answer my questions above? I guess that means there’s no god and I win? Isn’t that how this game is played?

  24. says

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