Somebody help me debunk this garbage!

A co-worker of mine is a devout fundamentalist, and for whatver inscrutable reasons, has absolutel faith in scripture, and none whatsoever in science.

Him and I have had an argument over (of all things) the age of the earth. He sent me one arguing against radiocarbon dating by trying to date things millions of years old. This was easy enough to argue- radiocarbon dating is only useful within about 50-60k years.

He sent me this last article, and I’m not enough of a geologist to really debunk it, although I’m sure there’s a flaw somewhere.

Still reading the link you provided, but while I do, perhaps you can ask your friend about the other methods that we use to determine the age of our planet.

You can drill ice cores from the polar caps, count the layers caused by annual snow fall, and show that counting back, you can find acid contamination from known volcanic eruptions such as Agung (1963), Krakatoa (1883), Vesuvius (79 AD).

By counting the layers in the ice cores and then showing that the counts correspond with these known dates of eruption, you can show that the layers correspond with years. Then you can show that there are hundreds of thousands of layers, and therefore the Earth is older than six-thousand years.

And there are sea bed deposits, glacial lake deposits (varves), tree ring data (you can overlap the patterns of tree ring thickness from ancient and fossilized wood with living trees right up to the present.

The science of the article is over my head, but the closing sentence is an utter non sequitur: “Thus there is no reliable evidence to dispute that these metamorphosed basalt lava flows deep in Grand Canyon date back to the Creation Week only thousands of years ago.”

There is no scientific evidence at all to claim that Creation Week was only thousands of years ago. Casting doubt on a single scientific technique hardly proves anything except for the reliability of that one technique.

But you know, of course, that it won’t do any good to use rational argument with your co-worker.

The Institute For Creation Research (ICR) has spent a lot of time on Grand Canyon dating. The cite is a critique of that project.

The last update on the cite was in early 2003, but a search of the web site might give later information.

As an aside, according to this cite it would appear that the author of your cite, Dr. Snelling, uses any age date he can lay hands on to throw doubt on an old earth whether or not that age is in consonace with ICR’s claimed age of about 10,000 years.

Dude, that paper is nothing more than an editorial. That’s the flaw. It does not contain the necessary elements necessary for a scientific publication. Most notably, there is no detailed discussion of the sample collection, test methods, and statistical analysis of the results. No scientist in his/her right mind would report on what is essentially a critique of characterization methods without these elements.

Picture this: I toss a group of 10 year olds a set of rulers, tape measures, and stick rules. I ask them to measure the length standard football field. When they come back with different answers, rather than find out why, I write a paper entitled “Football Fields in the US Vary Dramatically in Size!”

You want my advice? Avoid this tool. You aren’t going to accomplish anything aside from getting a colossal headache.

I found this sentence from the article pretty telling:

Dr. Snelling seems to claim that isochron dating isn’t accurate because the different isotope dating methods are giving different results. He ignores the explanation why they are different, calling the explanation “tenuous”, and instead concludes a different reason for the differences (the Genesis flood).

In order to fully debunk Dr. Snelling, you’d need to go much deeper into isochron dating and understand under what circumstances it can be accurately applied. As with everything in science, there are things which can throw your measurements off. Fortunately, science usually (and did, in this case) explains the unexpected results and accounts for the discrepencies.

Actually, in this case I think Dr. Snelling quoted a bunch of reputable sources that did show differences in dating methods. But instead of Dr. Snelling accepting the reasons for the differences as stated in the papers, he simply substituted his own interpretation of the data.

Excellent advice. Nothing good can come of this argument.

I agree; you’re already on round two of this bullshit; when you provide evidence andor sound argument debunking the Grand Canyon thing, rather than standing up straight and saying “hey this is bullshit! I’ve been believing bullshit!”, your co-worker will simply move on to the next topic, which will undoubtedly be something about polonium halos or frozen mammoths.

How many times does creationism have to be declared dead before it will lie down?

Most notably I don’t seem to get all the raw data/detailed discusion from articles supporting a billion plus year old earth either. Your answer doesn’t really help.
Look, all I can ascertain from the link is that there is a discrepency in the science and the link seems to have much support by references.

Is this statement true or false and if so, can you show me ?

Its not as simple as a blatant lie, but does not make it a valid statment. The summary in the TalkOrigins site David Simmons linked to gives a nice overview of why this is:

More notable still, your entire argument is generalized hearsay.

I’m not sure that the discrepency is in the science. I believe that paleontologists, archaeologists and others have learned to have a geologist along to make sure that the strata are undisturbed. Or to determine the geologic history of the site so that they can be sure that the samples represent the true picture. This wasn’t always done in the past and many of the discrepencies in the old literature are because the sample didn’t represent the area in which is was found, such as having been washed in recently from elsewhere.

Are you seriously expecting your coworker to change his beliefs because of rational arguments? His beliefs are based on blind faith, and no amount of reasoning will change that fact.

Of course, I sincerely hope you can prove me wrong.

Reasoning accompanied by strong stimuli might do the trick however. Unfortunately shooting people in the kneecaps to prove a theological point is illegal in most countries.

This reminded me immediately of a conversation with a friend who is also a Jesuit priest (a Catholic order). I’ve always found the RCC (Roman Catholic Church) to be pretty conservative, but Fr. Pat insisted that the Church wasn’t nearly as ridiculous as many of its adherents and offshoots (both ancient and modern). Here’s a link to a bit written by another Jesuit, which seems to sum up the RCC’s position:

I’ve seen the argument before:

  1. “Scientists keep changing the dates for the age of the Earth.”
  2. “Scientists don’t really know.”
  3. “The Bible is True.”

These people don’t like any amount of uncertainty. They want absolutes, which Biblical literalism provides, not scientifically reliable knowledge.
I agree with those suggesting an avoidance of the guy, or the issue.

Well… one thing I guess I didn’t mention is that it wasn’t an acrimonious debate at all- we’re more or less friends, and respect each other a great deal, both professionally and personally.

Although he’s a creationist, he’s hands-down the most rational and level-headed creationist I’ve ever met.

I like arguing these kinds of things with him, but it becomes hard sometimes to keep the acrimony out of the debates, and this is one.

But yeah, garygnu pretty much has the right chain of logic there- if science can’t completely and consistently explain everything like it was a mathematical proof, then it’s invalid, and the bible is true.

I’ve tried explaining that some of the gaps are due to incomplete knowledge, and some are due to imprecision in measuring, but it’s like if there’s one little fly in the ointment, the whole thing is bad.

You could try this:

2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

This is from the writings of St. Paul. He was the best educated of all the apostles, whether in Jewish religion or Greek philosophy.

It’s not what’s there that’s as important for this discussion as what isn’t. Please note that he does not claim that scripture is useful for history. I think that the Pharisees of that era (Paul had been one before his conversion) were much more aware of the various sources and patched-together nature of many parts of the Old Testament than anyone since until the kind of research that was begun in the late 19th century. If your friend is sufficiently flexible, suggest that he get a Moffatt’s translation of the Bible, and read Dr. Moffatt’s forewords to the early editions.

There are devout Christians who don’t believe “young Earth” stuff - even among evangelical types (I’m one). How do I reconcile the Bible with science? I don’t try. The one is an issue of faith; the other of research and proof.

ICR is one of the things that keeps me from getting involved in so many churches. I have pastors with masters degrees in counseling or bible telling me that ICR seems technically sound to them. I could just cry.

I’m not kidding that (just assume a Christian framework with me here for a minute) I think there’s going to be some serious stuff burned off those ICR people as they get into heaven. (Ask your local bible student for the reference.) The point being, this is a waste of everyone’s time and makes Christianity look bad all over, because the people who get heard the most are the ones who yell the loudest, not the ones who make the most sense.

5 more times, actually :slight_smile: