The Levitating Globe and other denials of the earth sciences - what have you come across


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The Levitating Globe and other denials of the earth sciences - what have you come across

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Edited: Feb 19, 2007, 8:40am

Thanks to, I came across the following...

"Texas Republicans are anti-Copernicus"

this is insane (well, and entertaining). If you've come across anything similar, please share.

Feb 19, 2007, 10:24am

Wow, its kind of sad that there are people that buy into this sort of "Science".

Although I can't help but laugh at the sites.

May 4, 2007, 8:52am

This came up in another thread:

Creationist museum challenges evolution

Edited: May 25, 2007, 8:54am

According to the site this won 1st place at a science fair! Like the two above, this also comes via reddit... and this one has the extra benefit of a Terry Pratchett quote. Creation Wins!!!

Jun 20, 2008, 3:52pm




Jun 20, 2008, 3:52pm

(or should I, like Bender on Futurama, say "oh your god!"?)

Edited: Jun 24, 2008, 5:16am

During the summer I sometimes give guided tours of Grand Canyon for a private company. Well, one day when I was standing at the south rim talking about the hundreds of millions of years that went into depositing all of the sediments that would eventually become the rocks we see today...etc, etc, you know the story...a man and his children walked up a few feet away from us and he shouted, "OK, kids - WHO made all this?" As the man turned to glower at me, the obedient little automatons shouted back, "JESUS did!"

It was very moving.

Then, of course, there's always the good ol' Flat Earth Society: .

Not to mention the good folks who believe that our Mars missions are nothing more than hoaxes.

Ooh, here's a doozy: .

OK, I'm done. Just had to deposit my two cents.

Jun 24, 2008, 10:50am

I've got some friends who are people of faith so the issue is a little dicey. I don't want to offend anybody so I never bring the subject up - and it's not just geology, after all, but astronomy and biology and the pretty much all science - but if somebody poses a direct question I give them an honest answer. Creationist are usually pretty skilled at rhetoric and debate and it's easy to find yourself looking stupid.

The ones that really get me mad are those that should know better. I'm reading Darwinian Fairytales right now and there's a couple I've times I wanted to hurl it against the wall. The author was supposedly a famous Australian philospher; despite his claim that he has "read the literature" he completely misunderstands natural selection, setting up a bunch of straw-man arguments against something that is a lot more like Lamarckism than organic evolution. (I also tend to get annoyed by the use of the term "Darwinism", as if it were a philosophy; nobody calls gravitational theory "Newtonism" or chemistry "Faradayism").

Edited: Jun 24, 2008, 4:07pm

Yeah, I should have noted in my story that the thing I found so appalling about the whole thing (other than the automated responses of the children) was the fact that the guy assumes that his God and my timeline have to be mutually exclusive. It just seems so narrow. I don't stand there and tell people that hundreds of millions of years of deposition and lithification provide a refutation of the existence of a god - I just tell them that this interpretation is based upon scientific observation and analysis.

On that note, is the creationsim vs. evolution debate really valid? For that matter, is the God vs. science debate really valid? I have my doubts - one side is focused on cause while the other is focused on process and the whole thing seems misguided and misdirected to me. I suppose that by invoking a divine catalyst the faith folks are trying to explain away the process, but why? If God set the process into motion, don't they want to appreciate His work for what it is? Maybe I'm missing something here, I don't know. I was raised in my great grandfather's pentecostal church, so I should get it, but I don't.

Has anyone heard about the case of the creationist geologist? Here's a link to the article, but you might need an account to read it: . Holy cow (no pun intended) - I don't even know what I think about that.

Edited for re-wording.

Jun 24, 2008, 4:40pm

It all boils down to the literal truth of the Bible (or Koran or whatever). Creationists (as a subset of religious people in general) see the Bible as an all-or-nothing proposition; if there's any tiny bit that's demonstrably wrong, they fear the whole thing will fall apart. Thus they can't yield the slightest ground to a scientific explanation. Other people of faith manage to accomodate a "mixed" position. So if you have A, B and C - where A is a Creationist fundamentalist, B is religious but not a Creationist, and C is a nontheist - C, being nonreligious, might see both A & B as equally religious and thus be puzzled why A won't accept evolution, since B does. A, on the other hand, sees both B and C as atheist, since although B claims to be religious, neither B nor C accepts the literal Bliblical description of Creation. It's this not so much a matter of there being two sides, but where you draw the line between the two, and who draws it.

Thanks for the link to the Creationist paleontologist. You may have heard of George McReady Price, a Creationist geologist from the 1920s. Many of his books and papers still turn up in Creationist web sites and publications.

Jun 24, 2008, 6:38pm

Right, so it's all a matter of classification and labeling, which is very subjective and in this case involves an awful lot of judgment, which the literalists should be leaving to their God - in which case, they needn't worry about what B and C are doing.

But in saying all of that, I realize that this is about protecting one's way of life and values and such, so I can see why they fight so fervently for what they believe in. But in the end there's no absolute truth to prove or disprove, if we actually could. It's all about values. Therefore, there's no right or wrong except as one labels it for oneself. It's kind of a Schrodinger's cat thing, and the label you place on the cat depends upon how you define "dead" and "alive," or in this case, "right" and "wrong," or "good" and "bad."

Edited: Jun 24, 2008, 6:46pm

#9 Artemis26 - That article is bizarre.

There have been several creationist and intelligent design discussions on LT. I can think of three off hand. These are all pretty old, but interesting.

1. Christianity : and its Compatability with Science
2. Evolve! : Is Darwinism bad science today? (with a funny comment here, see comments 36 to 40: )
3. Book talk: Books on Intelligent Design Theory

Jun 24, 2008, 6:58pm

#11 "Therefore, there's no right or wrong except as one labels it for oneself."

Well, some arguments are scientific and some are not. But there is also "science vs religion" argument. I find this screwy because science is a method, it's not a belief system. But maybe that argument has no right or wrong answer.

Jun 24, 2008, 7:19pm

#12 d - Isn't it just? Did you notice that everyone associated with that article died within a few years of its publication? Woo-oooo-oooooooo! (eery, alien b-movie-type sound)

Thanks for the links to those discussions. Interesting stuff, but I feel exhausted after reading all that. A lot of passionate energy goes into these debates.

Jun 24, 2008, 8:06pm

Please don't think that all people who have faith or belong to organized religion are strict biblical literalists or creationists. Religion and Science are different ways of looking at "truth" or "the world" or whatever. Scientific "Truth" is one concept- although in 30 years since I got out of Grad School, I have to recognize that there is a lot we don't understand about geology. Religious "truth" involves a very different kind of thinking. Maybe I'm not sufficiently rigorous in my mental discipline, but I have no problem at all rejoicing in the glory of geologic time and processes - and attempting to provide good value to the taxpayers who feed me by generating geologic information to serve their needs. - at the same time I am an active (Episcopalian) Christian, and read lessons in church and find they give me substance to think about and base my daily life on. Of course I can grasp the concepts of teaching through parables and interpreting the biblical texts in the light of their social and political contexts. Kind of like juggling geologic concepts where we regularly make decisions of very incomplete data - A wise geologist once used the comparison that making a geologic map was like describing the picture on a jigsaw puzzle with only a small percentage of the pieces. You can say some things with certainty, and some others with less certainty and guess at a lot of others.

Jun 24, 2008, 8:10pm

#13 d - yep, that's what I was trying to get at. As explanatory mechanisms, they are mutually exclusive, and it doesn't really matter (in my humble opinion) whether the causal mechanism has a divine driving force - the process is what it is regardless. And it is only the process that can be explained by the scientific method.

I look at it this way: religious folks have their faith, and that's all they need (in theory). It doesn't explain anything and it doesn't require truthing: you just accept it. Scientists use the method to explain processes, and where possible, causes. But the method can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God or a divine catalyst so it isn't something for us to be concerned with.

I don't do a very good job of explaining this clearly. I need to work on it some more. Most atheists tell me I sound like an IDer and most religious folks tell me I sound like an atheist, but I label myself a healthily skeptical agnostic who doesn't understand all the hub-bub. Does that put me in a "D" category? I mean, is it possible to be a scientist and an atheist? Shouldn't an honest scientist be willing to admit that we just don't know? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and all that?

Jun 24, 2008, 8:39pm

#15 Helennoel

"Please don't think that all people who have faith or belong to organized religion are strict biblical literalists or creationists."

That was not my intention. When I started this thread I was only concerned where religious beliefs clearly contradict the science.

Jun 24, 2008, 8:45pm

#16 Artemis26

I think in theory a perfect scientist ought to begin atheist. And they should remain that way until they have a need for something like an act of god to explain something. Just a thought. ;)

Jun 24, 2008, 9:03pm

#18 d - hmmm....well, you might be on to something, there.

#15 Helenoel - I think that's pretty much the point that setnahkt was making, assuming I interpreted it correctly. It just isn't as black and white as the debaters paint it. Maybe that's what bothers me the most about the whole debate, after all. It just isn't black and white, as it is usually presented - it's very much a grayscale spectrum.

Jun 24, 2008, 9:30pm

#19 - Yes, shades of gray is the way I see it; perhaps maybe some people just have higher contrast than I do.

Jun 24, 2008, 10:15pm

#17 and #19, Sorry if I seemed defensive-that was not my intent- maybe just working on expressing ideas as a way of working through them for myself. I do think that very few folks fall on one end or the other of either continuum. In my experience, most thoughtful folks are in process - both in science and religion. I don't always know what I think about things, so I marvel when anyone (not pointing at you here) thinks they can acuratel describe another's thinking. But I guess that is why we keep writing and reading each other's posts and books and articles.........
I like setnahkt's analogy of some folks having higher contrast.

Jun 25, 2008, 12:17pm

My particular view is that science and religion occupy entirely different spheres and fill entirely different purposes. Science attempts to explain the natural world based on observation and experiment and religion attempts to provide meaning and guidance for the human experience. Religion and science are not mutually exclusive and scientists do not need to be atheists and people of faith do not need to question science. What I think most people (in the general population, not necessarily here) fail to recognize is that the intelligent design debate is neither about religion nor science, but about politics. Intelligent design employs bad science and bad religion as political means for inserting the teaching of religion (bad religion in this case) into public schools. As a case in point, I am visiting Louisiana for a couple of weeks and the state legislature here passed a bill earlier this week to allow the teaching of intelligent design in public schools by a combined house and senate vote of 93 to 3. If ID isn’t political, I don’t understand why it has to be legislated separately and without input or approval of the state curriculum committee. The rules for teaching calculus or grammar don’t receive their own legislation. What’s even more disturbing is that the governor supports the bill, and he has a biology degree from Brown. Furthermore, intelligent design is only discussed or debated in the context of public school curricula. No one ever objects to the use of evolutionary theories in making advances in our understanding and treatment infectious diseases.

Jun 25, 2008, 4:23pm

#21 Helenoel wrote: "Sorry if I seemed defensive-that was not my intent- maybe just working on expressing ideas as a way of working through them for myself."

I think we're doing some collective refinement of ideas here, so I didn't take your comments as being defensive. Just thought I'd clarify in case there was any misunderstanding. It's nice that we can discuss controversial topics here in varying shades of diagreement without the discussion digressing to personal insults, isn't it?

Jun 25, 2008, 4:28pm

#22 naheim - Well said. I think you have very concisely, yet thoroughly, hit the nail on the head.

Aug 15, 2008, 1:53pm

Christians and most Protestants believe there is no incompatibility between their faith and the sciences of biology, geology, etc. They do not believe that the Bible is literally true in the simplistic sense, because it's rather easy to show that it is not. (There are a few internal self-contradictions, if you insist that every factual statement is literally true. So you don't even need to appeal to extra-biblical authority to demolish the "literal truth" case.)

Creationism became a political movement because of the moral and political claims of the "Progressives", which the Progressives claimed were derivable from evolution and other recent scientific discoveries. Creationism survives as a political movement for the same reason, even though many of the political and moral claims of the "progressives" are different than they were in the 1920s.