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Description of Episode
- Full Title: Unbelievable? 16 Feb 2008 Noah and the Flood - did it happen? - 16 February 2008 -- Noah and the flood - did it really happen? > Creationist David Rosevear says that recent science suggests a global flood did occur, and that Christians should read Genesis literally. Atheist Robert Stovold contends that creationists routinely warp the facts to suit their agenda. Geologist Gregg Marshall and Christian evolutionist Michael Roberts also contribute.
- Justin Brierley - Christian Moderator
- David Rosevear - Christian
- Robert Stovold - Atheist
- Gregg Marshall - Atheist Geologist
- Comments by myself, bblais
Noah's flood episode - this one is going to be painful. (said before listening to it) :-)
David - After exploring the concepts, he has determined that things don't go from dinosaurs to birds, and so on, "there is too much complexity for it to have happened by chance."
This one sentence alone, which was what he started out saying, demonstrates without any doubt that he has zero understanding of science, especially the process of evolution. By chance? Not a single biologist on the planet makes the claim that this complexity arose by chance - a statement easily verified from any introductory biology textbook. With such a start, do I really need to listen to the rest of the argument? When someone demonstrates such a profound ignorance of the subject, can I trust that he has correctly assessed the evidence? If his sole motivation for seeking an alternative explanation is based on not understanding the original explanation, is there value in considering his point of view at all? I am not sure.
David - The laying down of chalk deposits all around Europe is evidence of a large catastrophe.
Robert - Ice cores don't show evidence of a global flood, we have bristlecone pine trees that are over 5000 years old and others that are 10000 years old. Creationists like to be selective, and say that trees can lay down more than one ring in a year to try to cast doubt on the tree ring data. However, a bigger problem is that sometimes they don't lay down any rings in the year. Science is well aware of these problems, which is why they cross-reference to other methods, such as carbon dating, other tree rings, ice cores, the timing of known events such as volcanos, etc...
Gregg - asked why there aren't fossils of people and fish and animals all mixed into all of the layers? To point out a few things that are laid down quickly, like volcanic (igneous) rock, doesn't support the general pattern.
These are very good points. My favorite challenging question to creationists is "how did the koala bear reach Australia after the flood?" There isn't a single fossil of a koala from Mount Ararat to Australia.
David - nothing could fossilize in the fractions of an inch per year necessary for building up these large calcium carbonate deposits.
Gregg - The creationists often have bizarre explanations for why the lower levels of the strata have simpler organisms and the upper levels have more complex organisms. The explanations are often like differential mobility yields order, i.e. "the bigger dinosaurs would die and sink, birds are faster and fly, and that's why we get the order we have".
One way to ask it is, why is there not a single rabbit fossil in the pre-cambrian layers...one small, sick and slow rabbit which couldn't keep up with the others, etc...? There isn't even one dinosaur in the layer with humans? This is a reminder that one can come up with possible scenarios for anything, but at some point they require so many extra assumptions, or things to be just right that they strain credulity.
Robert - Why is it that children are not found lower in the geological layering than the adults of the same species?
David - When clams die they open up, and yet all the clam fossils are closed. This speaks to a catastrophic event.
Here again, there are no answers given to the obvious questions, and select examples (i.e. clams) are trotted out as if they demonstrate the entire pattern. The cherry-picking here is amazing!
David - Darwin observed beak changes, not origin of species.
Going from Darwin's observations of small changes in an observable small time scale to speciation on the unobservable large time scale is a matter of inference, and does not require direct observation of speciation on the large scale to support it. Of course there are many observations of speciation, but that is not the point here. Creationists love to make a distinction between so-called micro-evolution (small change) and macro-evolution (large change), and then claim that all that is observed is micro-evolution. From this line of argument, you could never talk about nearly any process in astronomy, because they almost all take place over scales too long to observe. In astronomy, as in the field of evolution, one often sees snapshots of the process at many different times along the process, and have to infer the process. Once you infer the process, there are ways of testing it by directing your observations to certain things, like the detailed structure of galaxies or the detailed relationships in DNA codes. This is a basic property of all science, really, and I have disdain for the creationist diversions.
David - Also the Bible says kinds, not species. Noah could have brought on one kind of wolf, not all kinds of dogs, for example. When it was pointed out that there would have had to have been a lot speciation in 4000 years or so, he countered that a lot can be done with breeding in that length of time.
Of course, he fails to address the issue here, because I'm fairly certain people have not been breeding beetles this entire time, and the number of species of beetles would have overwhelmed the ark.
Robert brings up diversity, as measured by allele frequency, but I get the feeling that there are clearly, more direct arguments than the ones he is choosing to bring up. For example, the creationist would have to estimate speciation rates millions of times higher than is observed to get the diversity observed, and yet they still claim that speciation can't occur because of the slow process of evolution - you can't have it both ways!
The episode wasn't nearly as painful as I expected, but it does highlight the level of cherry-picking and failure of proper scientific inference that is required to be a creationist.