Quantcast

«

»

Jan 25 2013

The present is the past, the past is the present

Ken Ham is preaching about what science is again. He’s accusing the secular activist Zack Kopplin of being “brainwashed” by evolutionist propaganda, and to support this claim, he once again drags out the tired proposition that there are two kinds of science, historical and observational, and that only the observational kind is valid; well, unless the historical version is based on the Bible, which in his dogma is an unassailable compendium of absolutely true facts about the past.

What’s more, Kopplin—like almost all evolutionists—confuses historical science with operational (observational) science. Operational science is indeed observable, testable, falsifiable, and so on—but none of those words describes evolutionary ideas! While biblical creation may not be provable through tests and observation, neither is molecules-to-man evolution (or astronomical evolution). And in fact, the evidence that is available to us concerning our origins makes sense in the biblical creation-based worldview, not the evolutionary one. Of course, secularists mock creationists for separating out historical science and operational science. But they do that because the secularists want the word science to apply to both historical and operational science so that they can brainwash people (like Kopplin) into thinking that to believe in creation is to reject science.

This is utter nonsense. It’s a phony distinction he makes so that he can bray, “Were you there?” at people and pretend that he has refuted anything they might say about the past. It is a set of appalling lies from a know-nothing hidebound fundamentalist who knows nothing about science, and who happily distorts it to contrive support for his ridiculous beliefs.

It is false because of course I can observe the past. The present is the product of the past; if I open my eyes and look around me, I can see the pieces of history everywhere.

I live in the American midwest. I can go into my backyard and see on the surface the world as it is now; fenced and flattened, seeded with short grasses, surrounded by paved roads and houses. But it takes only a little effort to observe the past.

In ditches and pioneer cemeteries and dry unplowable ridges, traces of an older world, the prairie, still persist. I can find clumps of tallgrass, scattered forbs, rivers fringed with cattails, turtles like primeval tanks on the banks, frogs and salamanders lurking in tangled undergrowth, fragmented bits of the pre-European settlement. I can see relics of a changing human presence; there are places where flint arrowheads turn up regularly, and to the south are the native pipestone quarries. I can walk along the increasingly neglected railroads, and trace how they contributed to our presence here; small towns sprinkled along the railroad right-of-way, acting as central depots for tributaries of wagons on dirt roads, hauling corn to the granaries. It’s all here if you just look; it’s not a story told by fiat, poured into books that we accept as gospel. That history lies in scars in the land, observable, testable, falsifiable.

I can dig into the ground with a spade and see the rich dark loam of this country — the product of ten thousand years of prairie grasses building dense root systems, prairie dogs tunneling through it, the bison wallowing and foraging. This isn’t an illusion, it’s the observable result of millennia of prairie ecosystems thriving here, and it’s the source of the agricultural prosperity of the region. I can sieve through the muck that has accumulated in prairie lakes, and find pollen from the exuberant flora that grew here: clover and grasses, wildflowers and the flowering of the wetlands. I can track back and see the eras when the great eastern deciduous forests marched westward, and when they staggered back. It’s all in the record. It all contributed to what we have now.

We can go back and back. We can see the scattered rocky debris left as the glaciers retreated; we can see the vast depressions left by the pressure of ancient lakes; we can see the scouring of the land from their earlier advance. Seeing the landscape with the eyes of a geologist exposes its history. While the glaciers demolished the surface, we can also find places where seismic cataclysms thrust deeper layers to the surface, and there we find that millions of years ago, my home was the bottom of a huge inland sea, that diatoms silted down over long ages, burying the bones of plesiosaurs and nautiloids in chalky deposits.

Again, this is not mere historical assertion (and isn’t it demeaning to treat history as something empty of evidence, too?). Open your eyes! It’s all written in towers of stone and immense fractures in the earth, in microscopic drifts of long dead organisms and the ticking clock of radioactive molecules. We are immersed in the observable evidence of our past. Everything is the way it is because of how it got that way — you cannot blithely separate what is from the process that made it.

I can see it in me, too — biology is just as much a product of the changing past as is geology and ecology. I can look in the mirror and see my mother’s eyes and my father’s chin; I can observe myself and see my father’s sense of humor and my mother’s bookishness. I remember my grandparents and my great-grandparents, and looking back at me are a collection of familial traits, all shuffled and juggled and reconstituted in me.

Beyond those superficial impressions, I can have my genome analyzed and find my particular pattern of genes shared in distant places in the world. I know that my family came from Northern Europe, that in turn they migrated out of central Asia, that before that they were living in the Middle East, and long before that, a hundred thousand years ago, they were an adventurous (or desperate) tribe of people moving northward through East Africa. This is not a mere story, a fairy tale invented by ignorant scribes — my ancestors left a trail of alleles as they wandered over three continents, a trail we can follow even now.

“Were you there?” Yes. Yes, I am here, imbedded in this grand stream of history, aware of my place in it, seeing with open eyes the evidence that surrounds me. And I pity those unable to see the grand arena they are a small part of, who want to deny that history is observable.

80 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    pensnest

    What a beautiful piece of writing.

  2. 2
    MJKelleher, lurker in the dark

    I love it when science meets poetry. Thank you, PZ! (so, where’s that book?)

  3. 3
    raven

    Ironically, evolution is both an observational and historical science.

    At any time, huge numbers of evolution experiments are being run, both natural and designed.

    One of the trends in the field are mesoscale research areas. Areas of tens to hundreds of acres outside are fenced off and used as giant petri dishes.

  4. 4
    Kausik Datta

    Reading this post gave me goosebumps. I absolutely loved it.

    …I can observe the past. The present is the product of the past; if I open my eyes and look around me, I can see the pieces of history everywhere.

    I profoundly pity those, who – because of the blinders of their faith – cannot fully open their eyes and appreciate this.

    Erm…

    It’s a phony distinction he makes so that he can bray, “Where you there?”

    “Were” instead of “where”, perhaps?

  5. 5
    PZ Myers

    My editor has informed me that they are mailing me the galleys for the book next week! It’s going to happen!

    I plan on taking a picture of them when they arrive and posting them so that you have actual evidence that it’s real.

  6. 6
    ChasCPeterson

    <a href="clenched-tentacle salute “>*clenched-tentacle salute*

  7. 7
    ChasCPeterson

    eh, you get the idea.
    Nice piece.

  8. 8
    Arren ›‹ neverbound

    This is a gorgeous piece. Well done.

    (The idea that Ham’s inanity prompted it suggests the utility of manure in fertilizing seed — naw, on second thought, that’s giving his shit too much credit.)

  9. 9
    Glen Davidson

    One suspects that, to the extent that they’re not being disingenuous (at least unconsciously or subconsciously, quite a lot), they’re really saying that the past mystifies them, hence it’s not subject to science. Naturally it mystifies them, for they don’t understand science, and just blindly believe the one thing they half-understand, a bunch of words of low historical value (esp. early Genesis). If you don’t understand it, Ken, well, that speaks volumes about you.

    If you accept real causes, you can follow cause and effect back far back. The trail gets lost in many cases, but that can generally be understood as well, while other trails, like the succession of life and radiometric dating, do not end up in lost trails. If you think of the past as magical, subject to miracles and other failures of cause and effect (in the classical realm, of course), then it is quite as unknowable as you say. Again, though, that’s your failure to think and understand.

    Glen Davidson

  10. 10
    Marcus Ranum

    What I don’t get about Ham is that he wasn’t there when all the alleged events in the bible allegedly occurred. Suddenly he seems awfully trusting about his sources of data.

  11. 11
    rq

    This, I think, is one of my favourite pieces of your writing, as of now. Because.

  12. 12
    Denis castaing

    Marvelous. Why I read PZ first each day. Then Sandwalk, WEIT. & RD.
    keep up the good work. Waiting for your book Atheist & Proud
    Denis Castaing

  13. 13
    drummer25

    Wonderful piece of writing.

  14. 14
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    This is a beautiful and moving post. Thanks, PZ.

  15. 15
    Dhorvath, OM

    This was brilliant. Made my day you have.

  16. 16
    Jonathan

    Beautifully written.

  17. 17
    robro

    Encore!

  18. 18
    nowimnothing

    I always like to point out that if they really believe this, then we should probably throw out every murder conviction without an eye witness.

  19. 19
    neuralobserver

    Nice piece of writing PZ.
    Well written, attention-getting, and dare I say, even captivating. Bravo.
    .

  20. 20
    Reginald Selkirk

    And in fact, the evidence that is available to us concerning our origins makes sense in the biblical creation-based worldview, not the evolutionary one.

    This is one of my pet peeves. This phrase is more often followed by an opinion than a fact.

  21. 21
    tccc

    I agree, a wonderful bit of writing.

    Someone here gave the best response to the “Were you there?” question:

    Answer: Yes.

    If they object, ask them how they know you were not there.

  22. 22
    neuralobserver

    (Wow. I had not even looked at a single comment before mine, but reviewing many of them now, it looks like almost everyone is recognizing the quality of your post, PZ. )

  23. 23
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Someone here gave the best response to the “Were you there?” question:

    Answer: Yes.

    If they object, ask them how they know you were not there.

    I usually say, “Yeah, I was there, but it got kinda boring, so I slipped off for a bite to eat.”

  24. 24
    Teh kiloGraeme

    This…

    I think this may be the best summation of my own love for the world and its history. It’s all there in front of you, you just have to know how to look.

    Brava!

  25. 25
    gussnarp

    Well said, PZ.

    It also brings to mind, yet again, Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, which points out just how false this dichotomy is. Say we have a hypothesis that land walking vertebrates evolved from fish. And say that we have a body of evidence that tells us about when the earliest land vertebrates should have appeared and what characteristics they would have had. Say we also have a body of evidence showing the age of certain geological strata and where we can find the strata that matches our earliest land vertebrate date exposed to the surface by erosive and geologic processes. We can then make a prediction: if we go to this place and use all the skills of fossil hunting we’ve developed over the years and spend enough time and effort, we should find a fossil with the characteristics expected of the first land vertebrate in those rocks. We should not find cats. And we can do the experiment. and that’s exactly what Shubin did, he made a prediction about the kind of fossil he would find in a certain set of rocks in a certain place. If what we know about evolution, geology, and fossil preservation is true, then we should find this. And what did he find? Tiktaalik. That is operational, experimental, observable, falsifiable, testable science. It’s also historical. The dichotomy is false, what we know of historical processes informs what we can observe as the results of our tests today.

    The links in this post look awful in the preview formatting. I don’t know if they’ll look like that on the page, nor do I know why. I’ve never seen links format this way, so if it’s ugly, someone tell me what I’ve done wrong. If not, ignore this bit.

  26. 26
    glodson

    That was a great read. It just shows how much one has to ignore, to willful look past, just to keep the myths alive.

  27. 27
    quatguy

    Logic and observation! Take that Ken Ham, you asshole!

  28. 28
    tonylloyd

    You make a good case that we can “see” things from the past not by “seeing” them directly, but by detecting their effects in the present.
    The argument can be bolstered from the other direction; by pointing out that this is exactly how we see anything. You don’t intuit an object in front of you, you infer it from the effects it has on light, air, nerve endings etc. And you don’t infer it as it is now: there is always a time difference between the production of the effect and its detection. “Observation” is always indirect and historic.

  29. 29
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    So history, archaeology, climate science, dendrology, geology, and all the rest are invalid? Who knew? Morons.

  30. 30
    chicgeek

    I’ve been lurking for a long time now, and I just broke down and made an account so I could comment on this post. Beautiful, just beautiful.

  31. 31
    angelakingdom

    “Someone here gave the best response to the “Were you there?” question:

    Answer: Yes.

    If they object, ask them how they know you were not there.”

    Well we were “all there” because all of the atoms that make up the Universe were there – they’ve just been re-arranged quite a few times since to make us.

  32. 32
    jaybee

    Say Ken Hamm’s house was broken into while he was away, and the thieves cleaned him out. The police show up and ask if anybody saw it happen. “No, I was away,” says Hamm. “OK, then our job is done. We can’t look at evidence of things past and infer what happened. I guess you are out of luck.”

  33. 33
    michaelbusch

    I join the horde: Well said PZ!

    Two other bits:

    1. I’m missing some important history here: what’s in your book?

    2. As an astronomer, my first reaction to Ham’s bullshit “Were you there?” is to recognize it as a nonsensical question, but in yet another way.

    We don’t see things as they are, we see things as they were. The same thing applies to any other way of sensing the universe. Signals only flow along nerves and diffuse across synapses so quickly, so what we perceive as now is a fuzzy stretch of time many hundredths of a second long. In that time, light can travel more than halfway around the world.

    We see the Moon as it was over a second ago, the Sun as it was over eight minutes ago, and Neptune’s moon Triton is actually ten degrees further along on its orbit right now than it appears to be. We see novae that happened centuries ago, and supernovae that blew up when the universe was less than half as old as it is now.

    Seeing the past is deliberately exploited. When observing asteroids with radar, I may transmit a signal now to observe the asteroid in two minutes, and record the signal in four. Light echos bouncing off of dust clouds tell us what a supernova that we first saw 436 years before actually looked like (one set of photons took the straight-line path, another set bounced).

    We don’t need to have been there to see the past – the past comes to us directly in every photon that hits our eyes. We can see the universe out to over 13 billion lightyears away, and so to over 13 billion years ago. “Were you there?” is not a sensible question.

  34. 34
    michaelbusch

    @myself: I see tonylloyd got there before I did.

  35. 35
    neuralobserver

    tonylloyd @ 28: Good observation and insight; points well taken.

  36. 36
    Wes

    Of course, secularists mock creationists for separating out historical science and operational science.

    I’ve been studying history and philosophy of science for over a decade, and as far as I can tell the term “operational science” exists only amongst Ken Ham and his followers. Even other creationists don’t use it, as far as I know. And distinguishing between science that’s “historic” and science that’s “operational” is an obvious false dichotomy. Science can be both quite easily. If not, then forensic science wouldn’t work. Funny how Ken Ham feels just fine with convicting someone to death based on historical science, but then denigrates that same science as not being “operational”. It’s not without good reason that we mock you, Mr. Ham.

  37. 37
    David Marjanović

    My editor has informed me that they are mailing me the galleys for the book next week! It’s going to happen!

    Yaaaaaaaay!!!

    I plan on taking a picture of them when they arrive and posting them so that you have actual evidence that it’s real.

    *clenched-tentacle salute*

    So history, archaeology, climate science, dendrology, geology, and all the rest are invalid?

    And so is astrophysics.

  38. 38
    athyco

    I’ve made copies. There was a gauntlet of street preachers outside a store last week. I may even take the time to read it aloud for them.

    michaelbusch:

    We see the Moon as it was over a second ago, the Sun as it was over eight minutes ago, and Neptune’s moon Triton is actually ten degrees further along on its orbit right now than it appears to be.

    Yes, tonylloyd got there before you (thank you, both), but I do like to put into my face-to-face arguments such specific points as these.

  39. 39
    Bronze Dog

    Stuff like this makes me wonder if they’re going to someday overtly declare that causality is a heretical concept, since they certainly seem to imply such. Of course, the alternative hypothesis is that they’re just that stupid and go through life in a haze, seeing every event as unrelated to any other.

  40. 40
    woggler

    It’s very clear that Ham is getting increasingly desperate. All he can do is keep repeating the same old lies and resorting to his pathetic bag of stock phrases. The man is a flake, yet he seems to be held in high regard by the YEC community.

  41. 41
    daniellavine

    Is astronomy “observational” or “historical”?

    I can’t directly confirm Tycho Brahe’s data. That’s historical. Sure, it was observational when he recorded it, but now it’s historical.

    Or I can go outside and observe directly. But that’s not going to be much use unless I can compare my observations with previous observations.

    Which are historical, not observational.

    All sciences are necessarily historical and observational at the same time.

  42. 42
    karpad

    It’s a phony distinction he makes so that he can bray, “Were you there?” at people and pretend that he has refuted anything they might say about the past.

    This is a much more thorough rebuttal than my traditional answer, which is “Yes. I was. I am the Highlander. But you weren’t there to see me do it. Prove me wrong.”

  43. 43
    michaelbusch

    @athyco:

    Here’s another example, which might be more accessible: GPS. Your smartphone doesn’t see the satellites where they are now. It sees them as they were at different times between six and ten hundredths of a second ago. That’s how the system works: the signals tell the receiver where the satellites were at those points in the past, and it figures out when as well as where it has to be for those signals to have arrived at the same point at the same time.

    Good luck with the outreach.

  44. 44
    rthur2013

    Oh, enough of this insane bullshit. Fling Ken Ham and his creationist ilk down a well, dump a few hundred gallons of horse piss after them, then go and use actual, verifiable science to do what creationism never can: improve human life.

    [Agreed that it's flaming bullshit, but we do not respond to such with violence. --pzm]

  45. 45
    Owlmirror

    The distinction between “observational” and “historical” is basically the distinction between microtime and macrotime.

  46. 46
    Eamon Knight

    And in fact, the evidence that is available to us concerning our origins makes sense in the biblical creation-based worldview, not the evolutionary one.

    Well, make up your mind, Kenny: either science can tell us about the past or it can’t. Don’t give us this bullshit distinction about “operational” vs. “historical” as if it rebutted your opponents, and then sneak historical evidence back in when you can cherry-pick it to support you. It’s called “talking out both sides of your mouth”.

    The “historical science” has been done, for the past ~250 years, and your side lost all the arguments, on their merits. Every. Single. Argument.

  47. 47
    Gregory Greenwood

    Wonderfully well written. Unfortunately, the likes of Ken Ham simply cannot be reached with such eloquence. He would just look at the screen blankly, before yelling the same old creationist mantra – “but were you there!!!1!!1eleventy!”

    It occurs to me that creationists like Ham – and theists in general, for that matter – work so hard to try to paint their god as a ‘big idea’ that atheists and skeptics are simply too ‘narrow minded’ to accept, but in actual fact their god is a very small idea indeed. It is an attempt to render the scope and complexity of the universe, and the vast spans of time involved, down to a scale that is more easily related back to ordinary human experience. A six thousand year old universe created by what amounts to a really powerful magic monarch in the sky (like Superman, but with even worse dress sense) is far easier for them to grasp than that which the evidence actually supports – that the universe is almost 14 billion years old, that complexity can and does arise without any need for a conscious force of creation with agency, and that the god concept is not the inescapable conclusion they pretend it is, but simply another brand of myth – a mere social construct no more real than any other stripe of folkloric creature.

    They have this curious notion that reality somehow owes it to them to be readily understandable by reference to their own day to day experience, and they cling to this irrational notion fiercely, because they can’t admit that the universe is simply far, far bigger, older and stranger than they are comfortable with. They are the one’s whose scope of mind and breadth of conception is too small, too petty, too parochial to deal with the sheer scale of reality, and they are simply projecting their own inadequacies onto rationalists.

  48. 48
    Eamon Knight

    @40: I think most of Ham’s spew has to be viewed as being aimed at his own constituency; making them feel good about their delusion in the face of the Big Nasty Secular Evilutionist World. It sure as hell doesn’t pass muster as a real argument.

  49. 49
    Owlmirror

    alert sent re #44.

    Maybe I’m too sensitive, but I thought of this.

    Feh.

  50. 50
    rthur2013

    @Owlmirror: yes, fair enough, that was going too far. Ham and his lies just GET to me. I won’t mouth off like that again

  51. 51
    michaelbusch

    @daniellavine @41:

    Actually, we can confirm some of Tycho’s data. That work on 436-years-late light echos that I mentioned was reporting reflections of light from Tycho’s Supernova (SN1572 or B Cassiopeiae in the catalogs). Tycho recorded the straight-line light; that set of light echoes only got here in 2008. It was a cool result, because the instruments on the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea got the spectrum of the supernova as well as the lightcurve. That was something that Tycho himself did not know. And so we now know that SN1572 was a type Ia supernova, caused by a white dwarf collapsing onto itself when it accreted just a bit too much mass.

    But all of this merely continues to demonstrate the depths of Ham’s nonsense.

  52. 52
    Maureen Brian

    Beautiful, PZ!

  53. 53
    RFW

    For those who want to see the world through geologists’ eyes, I cannot suggest a better book than John McPhee’s “Annals of the Former World”.

  54. 54
    naturalcynic

    Bravo
    Echoes of favorite authors read long ago regarding the powers of observation

  55. 55
    RFW

    Once again, in P-zed’s own screed and in the comments, I see further support for the idea that the real issue with people believing nonsense is that they believe what they can understand, no matter how silly or false, and disbelieve what they cannot understand, whether through laziness and unwillingness to study, or because they are simply incapable of understanding.

  56. 56
    EvoMonkey

    Thanks, PZ. This a great blog entry. It reminds of when I was naive undergraduate and started to work part time in an invertebrate neurophysiology lab. My faculty mentor pointed out that I was “too visual”. He pointed out that there was so much happening in a experiment or an observation that we can’t “see”. He stressed that we need to use all of our senses to examine not just the present as it happens, but also the remnants and evidence from the past. Ham’s “Were you there?” gotcha is just plain lazy thinking.

  57. 57
    Hekuni Cat, MQG

    This is wonderful. Thank you, PZ.

  58. 58
    Michael

    I apologize if it is a stupid question, but has anyone personally confronted Ham with the ridiculousness of his question, historical science, etc. and had a response (video or otherwise)?

    I’m cynical enough to think that Ham knows his money supply would potentially be in jeopardy, so would either reject the criticism out of hand, no matter how logical it was, or ignore it knowing full well he was wrong.

  59. 59
    opposablethumbs

    Beautifully put, PZ. And some very nice observations (in the other sense of the word :-) ) in the comments, too.

  60. 60
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Well thought out essay PZ. I hope your book has many more of these.

  61. 61
    mnb0

    So the hypothesis that Ken Ham is born as a human is not scientifically valid – after all his birth is history. This means I am justified to maintain he is from alien descent.

  62. 62
    Eamon Knight

    Oh, and beautiful, lyrical, essay. I put this (and many other things PZ has written, and also various works of other scientific atheist authors) in evidence against those who complain that “….to the extent that atheism lacks sacred story and narrative thrust, it also lacks transcendence and beauty”.

  63. 63
    freemage

    Another “Wow, this was beautiful prose” post, PZ. Thanks for cheering up a day that really needed it.

  64. 64
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Nice! But one tiny quibble:

    diatoms silted down over long ages, burying the bones [...] in chalky deposits

    Coccoliths, more likely, I think? The diatoms end up as flint nodules. ;-)

  65. 65
    w00dview

    This post and others like it is one of the main reasons I have Pharyngula bookmarked. Lovely writing, PZ.

  66. 66
    hypatiasdaughter

    so that they can brainwash people (like Kopplin) into thinking that to believe in creation is to reject science

    Kenny, Kenny, Kenny. One can “believe” in science and believe in god. But one CANNOT be a Creationist without rejecting science.
    Kenny doesn’t believe in science. He likes technology but he cannot grasp that technology is developed from the theoretical sciences, which he doesn’t understand at all.

  67. 67
    Andy Peart

    Anyone ever ask Ken if he was there when Jesus was crucified? Was he on Noah’s Ark?

  68. 68
    Eamon Knight

    @67: Well Ken wasn’t, but we totes have eye-witness accounts by people who *were* there, which count for waaaay more than evidence in geology or astronomy or physics, because people like, never make shit up, do they?

  69. 69
    garysturgess

    Insightful, well written, and deeply moving. If your book contains quality merely a tenth of this it will be a great travesty of justice if it fails to become a best seller.

  70. 70
    Alex SL

    This might well be the most moving science post you have ever written. Beautiful!

  71. 71
    DLC

    I agree. Ken Ham has his head squarely and deeply up his own rectum.
    His distinction “operational science” and “historical science” does not exist outside his own mind.

  72. 72
    michaelpowers

    A fine piece of writing. I’m glad you didn’t take Einstein’s advice, and “leave elegance to the tailor.”

  73. 73
    Drolfe

    (Let me de-lurk to chime in with some cheers, PZ.)

    It is false because of course I can observe the past. The present is the product of the past; if I open my eyes and look around me, I can see the pieces of history everywhere.

    Both Tony and Michael came to this as well, I see, but as I was reading this my immediate reaction was, “but of course everything we observe is in the past!” Even before the lag of nerves and cognition I see my screen here only as it was at least two nanoseconds ago, e.g.

     

    So to my spouse, the love of my life, I can say with all sincerity and honesty: you always appear younger to me than you truly are. :-D :-D

  74. 74
    Felix

    Well Ken wasn’t, but we totes have eye-witness accounts by people who *were* there, which count for waaaay more than evidence in geology or astronomy or physics, because people like, never make shit up, do they?

    But those shit-up-makers had the Holy Spirit guide them, which Ken knows because of that fuzzy feeling telling him the Spirit is with him. This connection proves that neither of them could be making shit up, or imagining things, because we know that crazy people never have fuzzy feelings, and profiteers never lie.

  75. 75
    jonathancantwell

    Wow. Beautiful. This one’s definitely going in my quotes / reference file to dig out any time anyone says -thing one- about ‘reductionism’ or ‘scientism’. Thank you.

  76. 76
    David Marjanović
    We see the Moon as it was over a second ago, the Sun as it was over eight minutes ago, and Neptune’s moon Triton is actually ten degrees further along on its orbit right now than it appears to be.

    Yes, tonylloyd got there before you (thank you, both), but I do like to put into my face-to-face arguments such specific points as these.

    Seconded.

    Agreed that it’s flaming bullshit, but we do not respond to such with violence. –pzm

    And poisoning the well is a logical fallacy anyway. :-)

    The distinction between “observational” and “historical” is basically the distinction between microtime and macrotime.

    Win.

    almost 14 billion years old

    If being about 280 million years off counts as “almost” :-)

    Coccoliths, more likely, I think? The diatoms end up as flint nodules.

    True. Coccolithophores are haptophytes with a calcareous shell; diatom skeletons are silica.

  77. 77
    kantalope

    Don’t tell Ham about math…there isn’t any there to be at or any when either.

  78. 78
    bradleybetts

    Without meaning to sound too fawning (fauning?)… Wow, PZ… that was beautiful. You really communicated your passion. Very nicely written :)

  79. 79
    cherrybombsim

    Very nicely written. As a geologist, I wanna tell Mr. Hamm “My historical science can beat up your historical science with both hands tied behind his back”.

  80. 80
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ cherrybombsim

    As a geologist

    IDiots seem to hack into biology a lot – generally to confuse evolution with abiogenesis. What they fail to tackle, generally, are any of the myriad other sciences which blow their bullshit out of the water.

    In particular they should fear geology, like no other, that is where they’ll hit a rock.

Comments have been disabled.