Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jesus' Crucifixion May Be Wrong

From Yahoo News

According to Britain's prestigious Royal Society of Medicine, the crucifixion may be quite erroneous because there is no evidence to prove Jesus was crucified in this manner.

Around the world, Jesus Christ is seen nailed to the cross by his hands and feet, with his head upwards and arms outstretched. But RSM says this image has never been substantiated in fact. Christ could have been crucified in any one of many ways, all of which would have affected the causes of his death.

"The evidence available demonstrates that people were crucified in different postures and affixed to crosses using a variety of means," said Piers Mitchell of Imperial College London. "Victims were not necessarily positioned head up and nailed through the feet from front to back, as is the imagery in Christian churches."

The authors do not express any doubt on the act of Jesus' crucifixion itself, but note that the few eyewitness descriptions available today of crucifixions in the 1st century AD show the Romans had a broad and cruel imagination. Their crucifixion methods probably evolved over time and depended on the social status of the victim and on the crime allegedly committed.

The cross could be erected "in any one of a range of orientations", with the victim sometimes head-up, sometimes head-down or in different postures. Sometimes he was nailed to the cross by his genitals, sometimes the hands and feet were attached to the side of the cross and not the front, or affixed with cords rather than nails.

Crucifixion was widely practised by the Romans to punish criminals and rebels, but if the empire ever circulated instructions for the soldiers who carried out the gruesome task, none has survived today. Nor is there any detailed account of the method of Jesus' crucifixion in the four Gospels of the Bible.

Only one piece of archaeological evidence has ever been found about a crucifixion, mainly because crucified people were not formally buried but left on a rubbish dump to be eaten by wild dogs and hyenas. The clue to his demise comes from an 11.5-centimetre (4.8-inch) iron nail that had been hammered through one of his heels, attaching it to the side of the cross. But there are no signs of any nail holes in the bones of the wrist or the forearm.

Over the past 150 years, there have been at least 10 books and studies to try to understand the physical causes of Jesus' death, and one US attempt, in 2005, even featured a "humane re-enactment" in which volunteers were attached to a cross in safe and temporary way, using gloves and belts.

These explorations have yielded a wide range of hypotheses, from heart failure and pulmonary embolism to asphyxia and shock induced by falling blood pressure. Excruciating pain endured over the six hours between crucifixion and death, loss of blood, dehydration and the weight of the body on the lungs are cited as contributing factors.

But these efforts have all been prejudiced by the automatic assumption, derived from religious images, that Jesus was crucified head-up. Given the uncertainty as to exactly how he was crucified, the answer may only ever come if some new archaeological evidence or piece of writing emerges from the shadows of the past.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Truth Of Kent Hovind's Age Of The Earth

Kent Hovind is the founder of the Creation Science Evangelism and has conducted seminars on evolution and creationism. I watched a DVD called Age Of The Earth produced by the CSE and it is full of inaccuracies of evolution, creation and the Big Bang.

For some reason, Kent Hovind starts off by talking about his family and saying how pride he is to have a "beautiful" family. Isn't pride one of the seven deadly sins?

Kent Hovind says that evolution is a dumb religion and says that if evolution is true then humans are worthless. However, according to evolution, humans are unique to other animals. We walk on our hind legs and we have large brains unlike any animal.

He claims to be not against science and says that evolution says humans came from rocks, slime and frogs. This is incorrect as it is known we evolved from a prehistoric ape-like creature and the evolution scale does not include rocks and slime and that we did not evolve from frogs (not our grandfather as Hovind puts it). He says that a wolf, a coyote and a dog all come from the same animal and that they are different from a banana. Is not this the same that a human, a gorilla and a chimpanzee are different from a banana?

Hovind states that science books say that the big bang came from nothingness and this is unbelievable. Yet, can he answer where God from? In his PowerPoint presentation, matter (mater) and humanism (hunanist manifesto) is misspelled.

Hovind uses the angular momentum law, in which planets and moons should rotate clockwise, to debunk the big bang theory. This is part of the Coriolis effect, where water in the northern hemisphere flows counterclockwise and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. Also, there is the uncertainty principle, which the position and velocity of a particle cannot simultaneously be measured with exactness.

Hovind states the evolution is the cause for rise in premarital sex, STDs, out of wedlock births, unmarried couples, divorce, violent crime, teen suicide and lower SATs. Some of these stats are only to 1995 and 1985 (unwed girls). The presentation was recorded in 2002. Also, the rises did not occur until 1970 and several have declined, particularly violent crime. Overall, all these stats have nothing to with evolution and thus they are cause-and-effect fallacies.

Hovind blames evolution for the Columbine massacre because one of the killers’ dad was a geologist, one wore a T-shirt that said “natural selection” and they killed two people because they were black and Christian. Yet, the killers were believers of Nazism that has links to Christian fundamentalists, white supremacy and hatred of the Jews. Although, social Darwinism has some connection to fascism, its immediate roots were in certain irrational, socialist, and nationalist tendencies of the turn of the century that combined in a protest against the liberal ideas in Western Europe.

Hovind states that scientists were wrong about planets revolving around the earth, big objects falling faster than smaller ones and bloodletting and scientists are wrong about evolution. Yet, it was Christian doctrine that accepted these things as facts, as in the Middle Ages, European barbers performed bloodletting tasks and Galileo was condemned to life imprisonment for “vehement suspicion of heresy.”

Hovind says that books now use BCE (Before Common Era) instead of BC (Before Christ) for dating. Yet, the Christian calendar borrowed the old pagan calendar and uses the names of several months that are named after Roman gods. He claims that Noah took baby dinosaurs on the ark, because taking adults would be too large and that dinosaurs could still exist citing the Loch Ness monster, which has been found to be a hoax.

In part 2, Kent Hovind compares the question of who was Cain’s and Seth’s wives to the Big Bang theory. He claims that they had sexual relationships with their sisters and it was not a problem for God until Moses (Letivicus). He claims that Adam was alive when his 7 great grandson was born and Shem was alive when Joseph was born. According to the record, Noah was not born until 1056 years after the creation and Adam lived 930 years. Shem died at 2056, 30 years before Jacob, Joseph’s father, was born.

There is no date in the Bible to suggest when Joseph was born and when Jacob died. Also, the word "father" or begat in this part of the Bible probably means ancestor.

Hovind claims that evolutionists say that we live in limited space and some people want to lower the population. There are many places that are unlivable for humans whether it is too hot (deserts), too cold (Antarctica), too mountainous or the oceans. He claims that the population can live comfortably in a small district of Florida. With over 6 billion people in a small area, there would be poor sanitation. According to 20/20’s Myths, Lies and Straight Talk, the world’s population would live better in an area the size of Texas.

Hovind states that one person, who carves walking sticks from trees, told him when he cuts a tree that he planted seven years ago, the rings numbered around eleven. Yet, typically, we plant tree samplings that are around four years old. So, when you cut a tree seven years later, the tree would have been around eleven years old.

Hovind claims that only a flood could explain why petrified trees can found in different layers underground, but a glacier can do the same. He was told that annual glacier rings tell the age of the earth. While the rings do reflect the warm and cold periods and not a yearly basis, the rings provide the age of the glacier not the earth.

Hovind states the stars were created at the time of creation and cloud galaxies may not exist. But how can light from galaxies and stars that are over million light-years away reach Earth?

Hovind says that the moon would be close to earth based on that it is moving away from the Earth. What he fails to mention is that the moon has come closer towards Earth and the theories of the moon formation. He says that Pangaea is a dumb theory and questions where central America is, which was formed by the mountain ranges rising from the water. If Pangaea did not happen, how did animals get to the Americas and Australia? How did the dodo (a non-flying bird) get to the Mauritius Island? How did the kangaroo get to Australia? How did the tree sloth get to the central American rainforest?

Dr. Hovind seems to make a lot of lies. More examples can be found at No Answers In Genesis, 300 Creationist Lies and Talk Origins. It is obvious he lives by the Hitler quote he uses at the beginning of the DVD to denounce evolution. "If you tell a lie long enough, loud enough, and often enough, the people will believe it."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Creationist Claims Part 2

Evolution hasn't been proven.

Fallacies include argument from ignorance, equivocation and slothful induction

This claim is true, but it doesn't go far enough. No scientific theory can be "proved"; this is because in science, you can never be 100% certain you you've identified all of the relevant axioms and principles. The best you can hope for is that a theory is well-supported by empirical evidence, and evolution is extremely well-supported.

Evolution cannot be proven, but it has been observed. When scientists took a sample of Nereis Acuminata, separated it, and exposed them to three different environments, they were unsuccessful in their attempts to cross them, which is one of the many evidences for natural selection and evolution.

Evolution could be disproved. Many have attempted to disprove it; all of them have failed. This means that it is probably true.

Evolution can't be replicated.

This is a four term fallacy (science, replication of experiments, evolution, replication of evolution)

How often has Creationism been replicated? This one example of a Creationist argument which would be at least as damaging to creationism as it could be to real science. Science can be based on observation & deduction. Falsifiability is probably a better criterion for determining science. Evolution and common descent are both falsifiable.

Humans have created (evolved) thousands of breeds of domesticated plants and animals. Bacteria evolving resistances to antibiotics or insects evolving resistances to insecticides happen again and again. The beaks of "Darwin's Finches" evolve again and again with climate changes. No, we can't re-run millions of years of history in the lab to re-create a particular evolutionary history; however, we can replicate fossil finds to confirm previous results and run genetic comparison experiments again and again.

Science requires that experiments can be replicated (assuming that it is possible to replicate the experimental conditions). Evolution is a theory, not an experiment.
Many sciences are not replicable by the above logic, including astronomy, archaeology, and history. Is the study of Ancient Rome not a science because we cannot replicate the Roman Empire? What is important is that observations of the evidence can be made repeatedly and consistently and that experiments based on those theories produce replicable results, not that events themselves can be replicated.
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens can not be replicated but its consequences and causes can be studied scientifically.

Evolution is only a theory.

Fallacies contained in this claim include slothful induction, equivocation and too broad.

The germ theory of disease is "only a theory" and so is atomic theory, as well as the special and general theories of relativity, and, indeed, every scientific concept that has ever been confirmed by empirical evidence. If "it's only a theory" is a valid reason to dismiss the theory of evolution, it is, equally, a valid reason to dismiss all of science. It is a measure of how utterly weak the Creationist position is, that Creationists must resort to arguments which would, if valid, nuke the entirety of scientific endeavor.

Theory is used to mean an idea that may or may not be true; a scientist would refer to this as a hypothesis. When a scientist uses the word theory, s/he means a hypothesis which has been tested and has so far passed all of its tests.

Experiments confirming or disproving scientific theories are being conducted every day. Evolution, as a "theory", has stood the test of time - dismissing it as a wild guess or based on no experimental evidence blatantly ignores the last few centuries of research and proof of its validity. In the spectrum of valid theories: [Evolution : ID :: Gravity : Astrology]

Evidence for evolution has not been observed.

This a slothful induction fallacy.

In science, "evidence" usually only has meaning when related to a hypothesis. We compare data to the predictions of a hypothesis. If the data agrees with the predictions, it becomes evidence for the hypothesis, otherwise it becomes evidence against. In a way this might be referred to as interpreting evidence to fit the hypothesis, but the process isn't so subjective as the word "interpretation" implies. All of the sciences work in this manner, so criticizing evolution for it is hypocritical.

Science is about explaining the makeup of the natural world, not interpreting it to fit a preconceived belief. If a theory explains the natural world properly, interpretation is not an issue. Evolution does precisely that, and Creationism does not.

Recapitulation theory is not supported

This is an equivocation fallacy.

While recapitulation of the sort propounded by Haeckel is no longer supported, homology of embryonic developmental stages can and does provide support for the theory of evolution.

Lucy's knee was found far from the rest of the skeleton

This is a false rumour. Johanson was discussing another A. afarensis knee and NOT that of Lucy that had been discovered in 1973.

There are flood myths from all over the world

Most cultures have been located near bodies of water prone to regular flooding, it is unclear why anyone should think that the prevalence of flood-type myths is a mystery that requires any explanation at all, let alone a Divine "explanation".

Most ancient cultures had only a very limited understanding of the size of planet earth. To them, their little land was the "world", and if it was flooded, this was, quite literally, "the end of the world". Common flood-mythology does not indicate a single shared past experience. It is possible that flood-event experiences propagated among cultures from one source. Common shared experiences of floods in no way mean said flood was of divine origin or covered the entire world.

Examination of flood myths indicates they can vary extremely, from world-destruction to world-creation, from localized to encompassing the entire planet. If there was one primal flood, more consistency would be expected.

Very few of the world-destroying flood myths describe humanity escaping in a boat. Some speak of people avoiding the flood by hiding within giant trees, escaping to higher ground, and in some cases, the myths speak of how the entire world was completely destroyed or how the flood was stopped before any devastion was caused.

Other myths appear amongst many cultures. Numerous cultures recognize creatures that live off of stolen human blood, frequently identified as unnaturally prolonging their lives after death. Nearly every culture has myths of humans who can change shapes into animals, either at will or under some imposed circumstance. Does the prevelance of these myths indicate that vampires and werewolves actually exist? The average creationist would certainly reject the idea that there are many gods, despite the fact that belief in Pantheons occurs worldwide.

Many myths represent the experience of the populace writ large. People who live in regions with large reptiles tell stories of gigantic reptiles. People who live in areas prone to forest fires tell of the fire big enough to destroy the world. People who live near glaciers have myths of when the world was consumed by ice. The prevalence of flood myths needs no explanation except that humans like to live near water and water sources have a tendency to flood periodically.

Given that all but Noah et al perished in the Biblical flood myth where then do the stories from other cultures come from? These groups of people would have to be descendants of Noah's family repopulating the world and therefore wouldn't they have the same story?

What is the point of reporting the other flood myths in that often the myths are severe contradictions to the Genesis version. If Genesis is literally true, then these other myths must be false, and if they are false how do they add weight to the Genesis account? And, of course, why aren't these other versions of myth more believable than the Genesis version thereby directly proving Genesis wrong?

Failure or shortcomings in experiments involving the application of evolutionary theory to the production or use of computer hardware of software demonstrates that evolution can not work elsewhere.

Fallacies contained in this claim include argument from ignorance, false analogy, straw man and fallacy fallacy.

Computerized evolutionary models have proven effective. An analysis of the Avida software and it's results indicates that computer models can be used to demonstrate evolutionary theory.

The criticisms about evolutionary models are often directed at a Brandeis experiment in evolving concepts for machines via simulation of the evolutionary process. These are better viewed not as a simulation of evolution, but an application of evolutionary concepts to producing mechanical design. Though useful and interesting in that it did produce surprisingly sophisticated mechanisms, it was not a full-bore testing of evolutionary theory in the vein of the Avida software.

There are programs that use computer-simulated evolution to solve certain tasks. One amusing and rather simple example of this is breveWalker, where an animal made out of blocks uses evolution to learn how to walk.

Genesis 1 got the order of events right.

This is a begging the question fallacy.

The odds are nothing more than a combinatorial expansion of 10!. Counting "in the beginning, there was a beginning" isn't a valid stage. At the very least, the count should be 9! or 1 in 362,880. Other events also simply cannot be in any other order (land plants cannot be before land, etc.) and so reduce the unlikelihood still further.

Some of the steps are not clearly derived from the Bible at all. Point two has Earth "...enshrouded in heavy gases..." not because anything in Genesis suggests this, but as part of an effort to save the order by asserting sunlight wouldn't have been visible during the early stages of Genesis. Adding elements to save the order rather injures the argument that the accuracy of the order is amazing.

The order proposes that land plants existed for a significant fraction of time before the sun could be seen from earth. The idea that plants existed for any length of time without access to direct sunlight is contrary to science and common sense.
And by any reasonable definition, "tame beasts" had to await the arrival of man to even have any meaningful notion of "tame". By most genomic studies a dog is still a wolf in an arrested state of development due to the artificial selection by man. Did dogs really exist before man? And if so, wouldn't their wild beast variants have quickly either killed them or reverted them back to "wild"?

Since there is no mention of animals before, then did the pollinators arrive to keep land plants (#6) reproducing? or perhaps were the first land plants not flowering (as the science shows) and that later "evolved" when the pollinators arrived in #8?

While one may believe that mainstream science is wrong, doing so would negate the test of the Bible's accuracy that this order supposedly entails.

Scientists lie if they talk about an old earth and evolution.

This is an abusive ad hominem fallacy.

Lying implies that the person knows better. Even if creationists were right, scientists could just be mistaken. Lying also implies that evolution and old earth are false, for which there is no evidence. See all the failed attempts at proving evolution false. If all scientists who accept evolution were lying, this would be a world-wide conspiracy with thousands of members, which is not believable. To accept that you need to be paranoid. How do we know that all creationists are not the ones who are actually lying? How can we be sure that even all teachers of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or any other religion is lying?

Creationism and evolution are the only 2 models.

This is a false dilemma fallacy.

Creation and evolution are both broad categories. Each contains a potentially infinite set of actual models. Furthermore, the two sets overlap (Theistic Evolution). Fred Hoyle's idea of a universe that has always existed is a third model.

The Christian model of creation is currently the single most popular, but by far not the only creation story. Many other religions had or still have their own creation story. Additionally, there are parodies of creationism, such as Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, that work just as well. No shread of objective scientific evidence credits one above all others.

Evolution excludes the existence of a creator.

Evolution functions on the principle of methodological naturalism. This principle states briefly that natural causes are the only things that can be objectively identified. As a result, science functions on the principle that science itself is incapable of elucidating a supernatural cause.

Many creationists conflate methodological naturalism with metaphysical naturalism. Metaphysical naturalism states that the natural universe is all that exists, and this position does exclude the possibility of a creator. However, methodological naturalism does not exclude the possibility of a creator, nor does belief in evolution require disbelief in a creator. Indeed, there are a great many theistic evolutionists and the Clergy Letter Project shows that at least 7000 clergy see no conflict between evolution and faith.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Evidence for Universe Expansion Found

Evidence for Universe Expansion Found

Physicists announced that they now have the smoking gun that shows the universe went through extremely rapid expansion in the moments after the big bang, growing from the size of a marble to a volume larger than all of observable space in less than a trillion-trillionth of a second.

The discovery, which involves an analysis of variations in the brightness of microwave radiation, is the first direct evidence to support the two-decade-old theory that the universe went through what is called inflation. It also helps explain how matter eventually clumped together into planets, stars and galaxies in a universe that began as a remarkably smooth, superhot soup.

Researchers found the evidence for inflation by looking at a faint glow that permeates the universe. That glow, known as the cosmic microwave background, was produced when the universe was about 300,000 years old, long after inflation had done its work.

But just as a fossil tells a paleontologist about long-extinct life, the pattern of light in the cosmic microwave background offers clues about what came before it. Of specific interest to physicists are subtle brightness variations that give images of the microwave background a lumpy appearance.

Physicists presented new measurements of those variations during a news conference at Princeton University. The measurements were made by a spaceborne instrument called the Wilkinson Microwave Anistropy Probe, or WMAP, launched by NASA in 2001.

Earlier studies of WMAP data have determined that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, give or take a few hundred thousand years. WMAP also measured variations in the cosmic microwave background so huge that they stretch across the entire sky. Those earlier observations are strong indicators of inflation.

The new analysis looked at variations in the microwave background over smaller patches of sky, only billions of light-years across, instead of hundreds of billions.

Without inflation, the brightness variations over small patches of the sky would be the same as those observed over larger areas of the heavens. But the researchers found considerable differences in the brightness variations.

The physicists said small lumps in the microwave background began during inflation. Those lumps eventually coalesced into stars, galaxies and planets. The measurements are scheduled to be published in a future issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Creationst Claims Part 1

Creationist Claims From EvoWiki.

Macroevolution has never been observed and no new species have been observed.

Depending on the definition, this may be true. Nevertheless, large-scale evolution is well-evidenced. Direct observation isn't the only way to confirm a theory in science. There have been observed instances of speciation. Of course, creationists will claim this is microevolution since they define the border between macroevolution and microevolution by the existence or non-existence.
· The honeysuckle maggot fly has recently been found to have directly arisen from a hybridization between the snowberry maggot fly and the blueberry maggot fly.
· In 1905, in his patch of Oenothera lamarckiana, Hugo de Vries discovered an unusual specimen, and found that he was unable crossbreed it with its parent-plants. He later named it O. gigas, and found that it had 2N=28, while its parent had 2N=14.

Created kinds are distinct and all kinds could fit on Noah's ark.

It is true that living things are naturally divided into kinds or species. The species designation is in fact the only natural classification are purely human constructions. Almost without exception, the most important naturalists and evolutionary biologists of all time have been taxonomists dedicated to the classification of kinds. Additionally, a large part of the work of evolutionary biologists is researching systems of classification that can reflect the evolutionary history of organisms or the field of systematics.

Evolutionary theory does allow for hybridization between closely related species, under those species concepts that allow for it. If the hybridization is frequent and prevalent, the component species are usually not designated good species. If the hybridization is infrequent, or only during special circumstances, while the separate species maintain their distinctive character, the speciation is considered true.

None of this invalidates the fact that a species can change through time, the process of anagenesis, or that sometimes they split into two, the process of cladogenesis, and that these two follow their own evolutionary paths.

Creationists' term of kind is rather vague, since it tends to be poorly defined.
What about diseases? They had to be carried as well, most won't survive in silty water. Which member of the crew volunteered to have their brain eaten, which is the only way to transmit Kuru? How about diseases that have a cycle less than 40 days?

Evolution requires as much faith as creationism.

Evolution has been directly observed in viruses, bacteria and smaller changes in animals and plants. It was observations of changes in beak shapes in the Galapagos islands that helped inspire Darwin's theory of evolution. We can use indirect evidence to make very strong predictions about occurrences in geology, astronomy and cultural anthropology, so we can in biology. There is a lot of this sort of evidence that supports the idea that evolution is the source of species.

Science as an Epistemology rests on certain philosophical assumptions about how the universe works. While its true that these assumptions might be false, it's hypocritical to only reject them in areas of science that creationists disagree with.

Evolution rests on scientific evidence. The only major assumption is that the scientific method is a good way to investigate the universe.
The only "faith" evolution requires is faith that any God which exists is not a deceitful trickster who goes around when you're not looking, stage-managing the Universe so that the physical evidence cannot be trusted.

Do you want to be descended from a monkey?

This is a wishful thinking fallacy. Creationist would not like it if asked if they wanted to be descended from dirt.

If man comes from random causes, life has no purpose or meaning.

This is an appeal to consequences, a straw man and a naturalistic fallacy

The goal of science is to explain the workings of the world. It makes statements about what happens and what causes those things to happen. Statements about what should happen and why those things should happen belong to the fields of philosophy and religion.

Science alone cannot provide a meaning to life. Criticizing a scientific theory for failing to provide ultimate meanings is missing the point of science. Evolution is not composed entirely of random causes. Even if evolution were composed entirely of random causes, how would that necessarily make life meaningless? Even if evolution were composed entirely of random causes, and even if this somehow did devalue human life and meaning, these negative consequences wouldn't disprove evolution.

Evolution is a religion.

The scientific theory of evolution does not say anything about values or meanings. Some people may add on such constructs to the theory, forming a separate philosophy that should not reflect on the theory itself.

It is true only if one accepts an overly-expansive definition of "religion", under which any number of unrelated things would count as "religions" as well.

The term religion is confused with what would be more agreeably called a ‘world view’. Any system of thought or perceptive will inherently be value laden and supported by various underlying assumptions of metaphysics. Thus while both modern science and Christianity are approaches to explain, interpret, and view existence, they differ in the supports and values on which they rest. While no perfect definition of religion, or science for that matter, is agreed upon, a clear demarcation of the underlying differences between the two generalized approaches can be seen in the questions that are asked. The questions of religion such as: Where do 'we' go when we die? What exists outside of existence? and, Who is God? are not so much unanswerable by science but more inapplicable as the religion’s underlying metaphysical conceptions inherent in such questions are not shared by the scientific perspective.

Science, as a way of viewing the world, may be a religion, but evolution in and of itself cannot be. While it maybe the case that evolution is *bad* science, such a claims would need to be submitted with evidence for peer review.

The Bible must be accurate because archaeology supports it.

Fallacies contained in this claim affirming the consequent and exclusion.
While some bits of the Bible have indeed been confirmed by modern archaeological research, some bits of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey have been confirmed by modern archaeological research. If the bits of the Bible which have been confirmed are reason to believe that all the Bible is accurate, the bits of the Iliad and Odyssey which have been confirmed are, by that same reasoning, reason to believe that all of the Iliad and Odyssey are accurate.

Bible is harmonious throughout.

Any "harmony" the Bible has is greatly enhanced after one comes up with rationalizations to account for what would otherwise be obvious contradictions. You can always come up for a justification for any discrepancy, the concept of the Bible being harmonious is almost circular. The official Bible was hand-picked by the Council of Nicea several centuries after the death of Jesus. When a group of established religious leaders is able to choose which books are a part of the Bible and which books are not, it is a simple matter to ensure that the theme and content are consistent throughout.

Records say civilization was man's original state.

Since we know humans existed before writing, I would be curious to see what exactly they recorded. Civilization is relative. Ancient Chinese, saw themselves as the sole civilization in the universe and all other races as either barbarians or subhumans.
Civilization does not prevent evolution from occurring, nor does evolution prevent civilization from existing, so this issue is entirely irrelevant to the theory.

Jesus refers to creation and flood as though they were literal.

This an appeal to authority fallacy.

Mark 10:6 is teaching about divorce. Jesus uses the Genesis creation story to illustrate his point in verse 9: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." This point can still stand even if the reference verse 6 was allegorical. Just because Jesus refers to scripture, doesn't demonstrate that the scripture was intended to be taken literally.

This assumes that the texts of the New Testament accurately document Jesus' words. Not all people agree on this point; only those that do will find this claim convincing.

Genesis must be literal; it is straighforward narrative.

This suggests that the person has not actually read the Bible with all its poetry, metaphors or looked into the history of the various interpretations/redactions/translations. Even if the Bible were "straighforward narrative", this wouldn't tell us anything about its truth or otherwise.
The first and second chapters of Genesis actually give differing accounts as to the order that God made the various things. The Lord of the Rings is a straightforward narrative, but we all know it isn't historically true.

Haeckel's embryo drawings were proven wrong in 1874 and are still in biology books and human embryos don't have gill slits.

Frequent claim by the creationist movement as it proposes to cast into doubt the embryological evidence for evolution and common ancestry. However, it attributes a number of observations to Haeckel which he did not in fact make. Haeckel emphasized many embryological similarities in order to support his view of "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny". This idea proposes that our embryonic development "replays" our evolutionary history. He emphasized the fact that our embryos had a series of gill arches early in development because by Haeckel's time, this was already a well-established observation made by Baltic-German embryologists Karl Ernst von Baer, Heinrich Rathke, and Christian Pander. It was Rathke, not Haeckel, who described the "gills" of chicken embryos. Similarly, it was von Baer who noted that, in the early stages of development, it was often difficult to tell the embryos of different vertebrate classes apart. The observations and principles of the Baltic-German school are the earliest foundations of modern embryology and are hardly in dispute.

As noted by Gilbert, Haeckel's views had already been disposed of by von Baer in the 1830s. Von Baer's ideas of a nested hierarchy of embryological homology was more Darwinian and was in fact the greatest influence on Darwin's use of embryological evidence. Haeckel's views of embryology and evolution are fundamentally non-Darwinian. Moreover, they in no way form the basis of modern developmental biology or evolutionary developmental biology. The presence of "gills" in all vertebrate embryos has been known since Rathke and have never been in dispute by any biologist, nor is the concept of embryological homology. It is dishonest to attribute the discovery of gills in vertebrate embryos to Haeckel, in fact, it is as dishonest as Haeckel fudging his drawings.

Haeckel's drawings should be removed because they are fraudulent and do not represent a modern view of evolution and development. However, the points about embryological homology should be discussed in biology classes and texts as they help students understand the mechanisms of morphological evolution.

Gill slits are simply the invaginations between the pharyngeal pouches. The pouches contain mesodermal tissue, the gill arches or gill bars. The term is correct because the slits make contact between the outside and the pharynx. Let's not succumb to creationism paranoia. The gill arches themselves were not actually discovered by Haeckel, but some three decades before Darwin by a Baltic-German embryologist Heinrich Rathke in his two-volume treatise on human and animal development. The existence of these structures is not in dispute.

Most experts now agree that Lucy was only an unusual chimpanzee.

This is a misrepresentation fallacy.

Most experts in the field do not support that statement at all. Lucy remains a premier example of Australopithecus afarensis (Johanson 1999). A creationist making the claim needs to back up the statement with some references.

If it truly were the case that "most experts agree" that Lucy was only a Chimpanzee, Lucy's genus classification would have been changed from Australopithecus to the Genus Pan, which is that of Chimpanzees. A unanimous or near consensus opinion would force a change in Genus classification. Lucy still remains in the Australopithecus genus rather than Pan and, as such, is testimony that Kent Hovind's statement is but a falsehood.

Fairness demands evolution and creation be given equal time and teach the controversy.

Fallacies include false dilemma and appeal to pity and equivocation.

The statement is an appeal to false bisection. It is not the case that differing points of view must be included in teaching with equal weight, irrespective of their objective merits. Different hypotheses, theories and conclusions have objectively differing merit based on reasoning applied to the available evidence. Teaching of science must necessarily favor those hypotheses, theories or conclusions which have such greater merit, and discard hypotheses, theories or conclusions not supported by reasoning applied to the available evidence.

If this argument were valid, every other pseudoscience could also demand equal time with the scientific theories and hypotheses which are taught. The result would be that mainly questionable world views and pseudoscience would be taught in school instead of knowledge which is based on good science.

In fact, it would be remarkably unfair if in public schools time would be wasted for learning pseudoscience like creationism instead of preparing students by teaching good science for a world in which science is constantly becoming more important. In this case, this would be in particular unfair against students which could not afford expensive private schools where no time is wasted with pseudoscience, and which would then have even more advantages. Also, in the age of globalization and global job markets, students would have a disadvantage compared to students of other countries where proper science is taught.

It would be unfair to allow Creationism to bypass the scientific process and directly enter public science education when the theory of evolution has successfully gone through that process and continues to be supported by the world's experts.

Would Creationists like it if the Star Wars concept of midi-chlorins created life or that we were cloned by extra-terrestrials?

Scientifically, there is no controversy. Creationism is pseudoscience, and the theory of evolution has no scientific rival. It might well be a good idea for schools to teach students about the creation/evolution controversy. Since this controversy is basically political, it follows that the best classes in which to teach it would be those dealing with political science or social studies. There is clearly no reason to consider 'teaching the controversy' in biology classes, any more than any other political controversy ought to be presented in a biology class.
It should not be a goal of the education system to teach falsities along with truth. Teachers should not, for instance, teach that the holocaust happened, and then give "equal time" to holocaust deniers. If one wishes to teach critical thinking, taking all viewpoints to be equally valid is not the way to do it.

Darwin was racist, evolution is racist, Darwin's work refers to preservation of favoured races and Hitler based his views on Darwinism.

Fallacies contained in these claims include an abusive ad hominem, poisoning the well, appeal to consequences, naturalistic fallacy, theoretic fallacy, straw man, equivocation and guilt by association.

Regardless, what does this have to do with whether or not his theories are valid?

Darwin was remarkably egalitarian, in as much as he was a staunch opponent of slavery and had compassion for members of other races.

Since this Creationist argument is implicitly dependent on the proposition that the racism of a theory's proponents is a valid reason to reject a theory, it is worth noting that a number of prominent Creationists have been racist. The list includes Louis Agassiz, who denied that blacks and whites were even of the same species; George MacCready Price, who held that Negroes were a degenerate form of homo sapiens; and Henry Morris, who, in 1976, argued that the "genetic character" of "Hamites" is such that they are often "displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites".
Darwin in The Descent of Man (chapter 7), after much consideration, concluded that all human races were probably the same species. He used the word "sub-species" for races, to designate that there were different varieties which did not differ significantly enough to be considered independent species. He thus undercut one of the major arguments for racism.

Racism is an ideology of value. It places different value on people of different race. While many racist ideologies may depend on some version of Darwinism, this does not mean that they are its logical consequence. Theories do not address fundamental values.

Some racists often misuse evolution as an explanation for the "superiority" they believe some races to have over others. Their belief, though, is usually held for reasons independent of this explanation. Evolution is completely devoid of racism; it is not even possible to be both a racist and an evolutionist. Since all races are currently surviving and reproducing, they are currently well-suited for survival on this planet.

"Race" to a 19th century naturalist simply meant differing populations. To be very specific, human races are not discussed at all in Darwin's first book on evolution, nor is human evolution. So any claim that Darwin was "racist" for the title of the book would suggest that he was "racist" concerning pigeons, or pigs, or mollusks, three of the more common examples given in the book.

Even if the connection between Darwin and Hitler were true, the consequences of a world view are irrelevant to its truth.
A particular person's misuse of a scientific theory does not invalidate the theory anymore than someone's misuse of scripture would invalidate religion.

Hitler abused science to justify his abuse of religion. In other words, his views were not based on Darwinism, but rather his distorted religious beliefs. Darwinism appeared to support his case, so he twisted it to fit his purposes.

Were you there?

This is a slothful induction fallacy and is equally effective against creationists.

Past events often leave evidence that can be found in the present. Techniques can be developed to extrapolate from findings. This is the basis of a great deal of science, industry, economics, and human interaction. This argument makes all human acts of logical deduction, intuition, extrapolation, and analysis meaningless. "Yes, I was." How do you know it's not true? Were you there?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

College Teachers Strike

With the Ontario college teachers, librarians and counsellors on strike, there are no negotations planned between the colleges and the union.

In an ad on Wednesday, the colleges state that the teachers are the highest paid in the country and will have a 12% increase in pay with the deal. The teachers say that they want smaller classrooms and more time for prep like they had in the 80s. Maybe, they should take a pay cut so there would be more money for more teachers, more resources and more funding.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Noah’s Ark: Fact Or Fiction

People want to believe that Noah’s ark and the flood happened. However, two programs shown on TLC and produced by the Discovery Channel and BBC show that the Biblical account of the ark and the flood could not have happened.

The Mysteries Of Noah And The Flood

In June 1949, the CIA flew over Mt. Ararat during missions. They took photographs of the mountain and mentioned an interest of a rectangular anomaly. It was kept secret until 1995 when it was declassified.

There have been several claims of discovery of an ark in 275 BC by Berossus and by Marco Polo in 13th century. People are looking for the holy grail, the holy cross and they want something tangible to have. A German professor, Dr. Friedrich Parrot, claimed that monks from a monastery at the base of Mt. Ararat showed him wood, manuscripts and artifacts from the ark. In 1955, Fernand Navarra found a 5 foot cut ancient wood in a fault of the ice on the mountain. But, the wood was carbon dated to 4 or 5 century AD and was found 1000 feet below the anomaly. Astronaut James Irwin was so convinced that God showed him a rock on the moon that he went on expeditions to find the ark.

Upon getting five photographs, experts concluded that it was hard to tell what the anomaly is because the photos were of poor quality. A satellite took photos of Mt. Ararat in October 1999 and August and September 2000. Experts say it could be a shadow, rock or a man-made feature but third is option is highly unlikely, Only rocks or wood would be in the glacier. It is unlikely that something would be against the ridge and that it should be further down the mountain due to glacier movement.

In the 19th century, archaeologists found tablets in what is now Iraq describing a massive flood. In 1853, they discovered Babylonian tablets that were written around 1700 BC George Smith, assistant of the British Museum, translated the tablets that told the Epic of Gilgamesh. A Sumerian and Atrahasis versions were also discovered among the tablets and both were older than the Biblical account. Although they are flood stories in many cultures, rare in Africa, there are similarities among the four that are found in what was Mesopotamia. They have Noah figure, animals, boat resting a mountain and birds being sent out.

Sir Leonard Woolley dug near Ur and found a thick layer of sterile soil that could only be explained by water deposits. He and his wife theorized that Noah’s flood happened there. He informed the Times of London and sold boxes of sand and silt to finance future excavations. However, there are similar layers that can be found elsewhere to show a worldwide flood.

In 1997, scientists discovered that the Mediterranean Sea had risen 7500 years ago causing the breach of the strait to the Black Sea and flooded the area around the Black Sea to rise. It rose 6 inches per day and, to locals, would have seen it as an act of God. The fresh water turned salty and forced residents to leave the area going to Europe, Asia or Middle East and taking the story with them. Scientists found former beach and coastlines in the Black Sea that suggest a massive flood happened.

Scholars believe the stories may be the source of Noah and that the writers were making a theological point. They say that a flood that covered the world means it happened in only their world. To date, there are no conclusive proof that an ark exists on Mt. Ararat nor a worldwide flood.

Noah’s Ark: The True Story

Noah’s ark story was set in the Middle East. The ark is described as big as a super tanker and nearly as big as Titanic and made out of wood. But even 19th century boats could not have a wood frame without a steel one. According to ancient boat expert, Tom Vosmer, the ark would leak at its hull and sank. With 30 million species currently listed, it would have taken Noah 50 pairs per second or 30 years to load the ark. Scholars believe that Genesis refers to only animals in the area, 7 pairs of clean animals of 10 species (140), one pair of unclean of at least 30 species (60) and 7 pairs of clean birds. This is a total of 260 animals.

There is no evidence of a worldwide flood that should have left uniform marine sediments across the world. There would need to be five times the volume of water as rain to cover the Himalayas. Deep springs and geysers are ruled out because it would change the atmosphere making it hard to breathe. Comets could not be the source since the temperature would rise to 12000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the surface of the sun.

In the 1950s, a French expedition found a piece of wood 12,000 feet on Mt. Ararat in a glacier but it was dated to 8 century AD. The photos of the anomaly from the CIA were poor quality and satellite photos show retreating and advancing ice. This leads Plimer to conclude that the ark should be further down the mountain.

Bailey says that searchers say that there is a boat on Mt. Ararat, yet they cannot found photos and news articles to rationalize it.

According to Biblical scholars, Jewish priests, in 6 century BC, were exiled to Babylon where they found about the Babylonian story of flood. In 1851, Sir Henry Layard found tablets and sent them to the British Museum where George Smith translated them. The tablets were dated to 5000 years ago. Millard say that the Hebrew word for land, country and earth are the same. Woolley’s find of a massive layer shows that a flood happened which hit three towns.

It is concluded that the story happened in Sumeria starting at the city of Shuruppak. This is where writing, the wheel and accounting were invented. Noah was a Sumerian businessman who wore eye makeup, a kilt and had a shaved head. He had a boat or barge that would carry grain, beer and animals and may have been the king of the city. He used the Euphrates river to transport his goods and his boat may have been divided into sections as described in Gilgamesh. A flood could have happened when snow melted from the mountains in July and a freak storm such as a hurricane or tropical storm occurred at the same time. 6000 years ago, the area was warmer and wetter and the Babylonian story suggests a storm occurred. Also, the Babylonian story says the storm lasted seven days and that the river became salty as the barge was swept into the Persian Gulf. It says they looked up the sea and saw nothing for miles. The people and the animals on the boat would drink the beer for their thirst as it was sterile and had nutrients.

In the Babylonian story, the Noah figure was expelled after merchants searched for their payments. Under the law, anyone who did not pay their debts were forced into slavery. It is believed that the Sumerian Noah ended up going to Dilmun, what is now Bahrain, and may be buried in the Sumerian burial mounds.

Scholars believe that these stories were told generation to generation and Jewish priests read about them and added their own spin to it.

These two shows show that the literal interpretation of Noah and the ark is not plausible. There is no conclusive evidence of a boat on Mount Ararat. If we find nothing at the mountain’s anomaly, believers will say the ark is somewhere else on the mountain. There could have not been a worldwide flood but the story of the small boat and a local flood may be true. AiG’s attempt to build an ark to 30% scale may be well-intentioned to prove that Biblical story to be true, but, if they fail, they will cause people to lose their faith.

Interviewed for The Mysteries Of Noah And The Flood

Porcher L. Taylor, Ass. Prof. - University of Richmond
Dr. Michael Harrison, Ass. Prof. of Geography & Environment Studies - University of Richmond
Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Director Center for Remote Sensing - Boston University
Dr. Bruce Zuckerman, Ass Prof. School of Religion - University of Southern California
Dr. David Vanderhooft, Ass. Prof of Hebrew Scripture - Boston College
Dr. Peter Machinist, Prof. Of hebrew and Other Oriental Languages - Harvard Divinty School
Dr. Steve Tinney, Ass. Curator - Unversity of Pennsylvania Museum
Dr. Richard L. Zettler, Ass. Curator Unversity of Pennsylvania Museum

Interviewed for Noah’s Ark: The True Story

Tom Vosmer - Marine Archaeologist
Ian Plimer - Geologist
Lloyd Bailey - Biblical Scholar
Irving Finkel - British Museum
Alan Millard - Biblical Historian

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mexican Police Screw Up

The Mexican police have screwed up on the murder of two Canadians near Cancun. The police have accused two Canadian women from Thunder Bay for slashing the throats of Domenico and Annunziata Ianiero. Mexican authorities initially suggested the slayings were a professional job, but then backed down from that. They also quickly ruled out local involvement in the killings, even though other guests at the resort threw doubt on the thoroughness of the investigation in the hours and days after the bodies were found.

People were allowed to walk freely in the hotel during the investigation. The RCMP was called five days after the deaths and the bodies were exhumed before the Canadian coroner could examine throughly.

With the disappearance of Natalee Halloway last year in Aruba, Caribbean police authorities do not live up to North American standards and relations to other countries.