The NY Times sent a reporter to the First Conference on Creation Geology, and came back with a discouraging tale of creationist blindness. The two stars are Kurt Wise, old school, and Marcus Ross, new school. Ross recently recieved a Ph.D. for his paleontological work on mosasaurs — marine reptiles from 65 million years ago — yet he also goes to creationist conferences and touts his belief that the earth is less than ten thousand years old. The dissonance does not disturb him at all.
At the conference I asked Ross whether he still believes what he wrote in his graduate thesis. His answer confirmed him as the product of the postmodern university, where truth is dependent on the framework: “Within the context of old age and evolutionary theory, yes. But if the parameter is different, portions of it could be completely in error.”
He has now taken that rigorous attitude to Liberty University, where he now convinces young students to believe in fairy tales contrary to all evidence and reason.
Marcus Ross, meanwhile, is thriving in his teaching job at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971. Like many Christian colleges, Liberty is expanding rapidly to keep up with growing demand; the school adds 800 students a year, and now has a total of 10,000 on campus and 18,000 more distance-learning students. Each semester, Ross teaches a huge, mandatory survey course called History of Life. Most kids in the class are creationists, but Ross finds gaps in their world-view. His aim is to make their creationist logic more consistent, and his surveys show that he succeeds. At the beginning of the class, only 54 percent of students say the age of the earth is less than 10,000 years. By the end, it’s 87 percent. The biggest shift? Did dinosaurs and man live at the same time? That one moves to 80 percent from 40.
The University of Rhode Island can be so proud of their alumnus. URI lazily let one idiot graduate, and now he’s actively dumbing down thousands of students. Even some Christians are disgusted.
These numbers make Moshier cringe. “It can get so frustrating,” he said. “Many of us at Christian colleges really grieve at what a problem this young-earth creationism makes for the Christian witness. It’s almost like they’re adding another thing you have to believe to become a Christian. It’s like saying, You have to believe the world is flat to be a Christian, and that’s absolutely unreasonable.”
The article does mention the growing schism between the old earth creationists, the young earth creationists, and the intelligent design creationists. This is always a good thing to play up: they really don’t like each other much. The article also includes these pretentious creationists with the Ph.D.s they lied to obtain mocking the “idiots on the web” who diminish the perception of ‘scientific’ creationism with their unscientific religiosity.
The old-earthers see their discipline as more pure than intelligent design; the intelligent-design people focus on a notion of a mystery “designer,” without specifying who that might be and what the mechanisms are. To the young-earth creationists, this is both unscientific and dubiously religious. “We don’t subscribe to this idea of the ‘God of gaps,’ meaning if you can’t explain something, then blame God,” Whitmore told me before describing a method that hardly seemed more scientific. “Instead, we think: ‘Here’s what the Bible says. Now let’s go to the rocks and see if we find the evidence for it.’ “
I didn’t see anything in the quotes from this article to distinguish these degreed creationists from the “idiots on the web” they deplore—the admission that they’re all out to prove the truth of their preconceptions is enough to divorce all of them from the ranks of science. Let’s see what brilliant scientific hypotheses Kurt Wise is coming up with…
In a presentation at the conference, Wise showed a slide of a fossil sequence that moved from reptile to mammal, with some transitional fossils in between. He veered suddenly from his usual hyperactive mode to contemplative. “It’s a pain in the neck,” he said. “It fits the evolutionary prediction quite well.” Wise and others have come up with various theories explaining how the flood could have produced such perfect order. Wise is refining a theory, for example, that the order reflects how far the animals lived from the shore, so those living farthest from the water show up last in the record. But they haven’t settled on anything yet.
So fossil whales are older than the Carboniferous tetrapods from which they descended? I don’t think you can dignify a brain-fart that is already contradicted by the evidence a “theory”.