I am currently in a debate with a creationist friend of mine.
I am a graduated electronic engineer, he studied geology.
The debate has mostly settled on 3 issues. He claims:
Evolution is unproven. Radio dating is unreliable. The earth is 10s of thousands not thousands of years old. The bible is literal truth.
I struggle with radio dating because it's not my field but basically my arguments (from the research I have managed to do) so far are:
Radio dating provides strong correlated results that do not appear random (therefore its unlikely that parent atoms also had a random amount of daughter atoms to begin with) That any uniform pairings that were introduced during the creation of the atoms would show up in plots and could be accounted for.
He argues to this that the different forms don't agree, I am I right in thinking that these differences are small and not enough to support a young earth?
Also I read that zircon crystals using uranium-lead dating can be assumed to be uncontaminated at their start, is this correct?
I am much more comfortable in the field of astronomy and I have pointed out that other forms of dating such as the age of our sun, based on entirely different methods agree and can act as a benchmark.
For evolution he says he accepts micro-evolution but not macro evolution.
I have not had the chance to go after this much yet and any input on this would be appreciated.
Also I have said on the topic of the flood that there is no evidence for such a wide scale flood capable of covering mount Everest (this would have to be supernatural as the earth does not contain that much water) and that animals like the dodo, who could not swim or fly on islands should have gone extinct since it could not make it to an ark.
This is my first extended debate so any help would be appreciated.
Yes, zircons have no significant amount of lead at crystallization because of the basic physics of crystallization. This is acknowledged by those few YECs who understand how it works, the RATE group. In Helium Diffusion Rates Support Accelerated Nuclear Decay D. Russell Humphreys, Ph.D., Steven A. Austin, Ph.D., John R. Baumgardner, Ph.D., and Andrew A. Snelling, Ph.D. write:
quote:Samples 1 through 3 had helium retentions of 58, 27, and 17 percent. The fact that these percentages are high confirms that a large amount of nuclear decay did indeed occur in the zircons. Other evidence strongly supports much nuclear decay having occurred in the past (Humphreys, 2000, pp. 335–337). We emphasize this point because many creationists have assumed that “old” radioisotopic ages are merely an artifact of analysis, not really indicating the occurrence of large amounts of nuclear decay. But according to the measured amount of lead physically present in the zircons, approximately 1.5 billion years worth—at today’s rates—of nuclear decay occurred. Supporting that, sample 1 still retains 58% of all the alpha particles (the helium) that would have been emitted during this decay of uranium and thorium to lead.
Creationists have reported cases in which a known-young sample dated as much older. All of these are frauds. Each and every one.
Cases in which dating methods produce old and very discordant dates do exist, but they are indeed relatively few and most can be explained and have been explained. Creationists just ignore the explanations.
Now that he has admitted that the earth is old, maybe you can follow the same path that lead others to acknowledging that Evolution was a fact.
Put aside the issue of "how evolution happened" and go back to long before Darwin. Once the earth was found to be old, folk noticed that there was a progression. The very oldest rocks showed only relatively simple life forms. Gradually folk realized that there was a progression, that there was a long history of living things before humans appeared on the scene.
AbE: I see the goal posts shot by while I was posting.
Edited by jar, : see AbE:
Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
A possible option is to invite him to have a 'great debate' with you on this forum. A 'great debate' is a slightly moderated debate where you choose who can join in (rather than a free-for-all). You could then choose one of the geologists on this forum to help with the geology questions.
Just a thought...
If I were you And I wish that I were you All the things I'd do To make myself turn blue
He is now disagreeing that there are any clear layers in the ground and that dating methods on fossils are inaccurate.
Now that we have the age down what's the best way to filter that down and show that there is the progression in the deposition of fossils and that we can date them?
Percy and Dr A have posted some great pictures that show incontrovertibly that your friend has to be denying reality to state that there are no clear layers in the geological record.
However, far more amusing is that it doesn't particularly matter.
Let's imagine a world where we didn;t see the clear striations of rock layers in the above photos. Imagine instead that rock blends to rock, that you can't tell one clear layer from another.
You can still date a rock through radiological dating. It seems pretty easy to argue that a fossil must correspond roughly to the age of the rock that contains it - else, how did it get there?
The fossil ages shown by the ages of the rocks that contain them, whether from a clear layer or not, still show us a clear gradation of species as new features evolve. Look back far enough and you'll see not a single fossil that contains a vertebrate animal, and none appear in earlier fossils either, ever. Look at a different time and vertebrates appear to have been thriving, yet you'll see not a single mammal, and neither will you find one dated earlier.
The deposition of fossils over time shows us with nigh-certainty that there is a temporal progression of biological clades, that specific defining features develop and then diversify as you look forward through time, and that it works this way consistently around the globe and no matter which time period you investigate. First there are no vertebrates, then one or a few vertebrates appear, and then vertebrates diversify, and then the diversified vertebrates diversify further.
If your friend accepts radiological dating of rocks, then he must also accept that radiological dating may be done for fossils left in those same rocks. The rest is very simple logical extrapolation, and the evidence verifies the resulting prediction every single time.
The pictures should be more effective at proving that he's clearly got more than a few things significantly mixed up in his internal model of reality, though.
“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.” - Francis Bacon
"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers
Oh I checked, we both went to the same uni and are in a choir (rock gospel actually, I go because I enjoy the style of music and they dont try and force their views on me) but since he started the debate while on a weekend trip away I have followed it.
It may be clearer if I post a quote:
"In order to accept the theory about fossils 'more complicated life appearing before its precursor' you have to believe that there are noticeable 'layers' in the crust, but there are not. There is no specific layer in which we can see the process of evolution.
As with dating, we do not see a smooth progression back in time. Quite a lot of the dates we get are erratically different from others. Also we do not know the amount of daughter and parent elements within rocks to begin with. It is an assumption that scientists have to make and admit to making. This assumption would allow you to come up with any age for fossils and rocks.
Also, you're example don't make much sense, as you presume that there would be an unchangeable constant process, with no variable affecting this, but this is not true and is something we just will not ever be able to prove. I'll have a read through your dating methods list, but I've had a brief look and can already see many problems with some of them which affect how old the earth could be.
No, you don't have to accept micro and macro evolution together. You should read a book called 'The Beak of the Finch' by Jonathon Weiner, in which it explores micro evolution causing differences in the beaks of Darwin's finches and at no point does it mention how it proves Macro evolution. It does say that it could be a possible route, but there is no concrete evidence. I went to your link and looked at the list of 'invalid arguments' some of which are not actually invalid especially the micro-evolution argument.
You've then got me to some invalid stand point about burying my head in the sand, or accepting the weight of evidence...? The evidence you have provided me with is full of flaws, as I have pointed out and at no point have you ever proved evolution or the age of the earth...reason why, you can't. Ask any scientist and they'll agree.
There is nothing wrong with my approach to the dodo questions and I feel you're side stepping the point I tried to make. I'd like it if when you mention 'evidence' you could show me it, as opposed to briefly mentioning it. What evidence is there that the dodo did fly? Your belief allows you to presume that it always lived there and developed in that one island? No, that is obscure. We have animals settling in places all the time, where the surrounding environments suit their needs. This could simply be the case with the dodo. It is an extremely poor example to use. You still never explained how it could have gotten to the island. Who's to say that that island was was always an island as well? Before the flood the world would not have been covered in as much water. Or you can come from the view point that much of the water at that point in time was frozen and at that point the island may not have been an island. Another possibility is that it did fly before hand, but because of micro evolution, it simply lost the need to fly. In the time it would take for the dodo to lose the ability to fly, it would take quite a few years and the landscape could change a lot in that time. So what's to say it didn't just walk? There's no evidence to suggest it didn't.
As for its relation to other birds, I thought that would be quite simple...it's a bird. Again, you have given me no evidence for evolution at all.
Also, you've still not explained how the Bible's hundreds and hundreds of prophesies have come true including ones about cities, nations, individuals etc. Remember, these prophesies were made hundreds of years before they happened are are extremely precise. Some were written 700 years before the event actually happened.
I find myself at no cross road in which I have to bury my head in the sand, or accept the evidence. In fact, I find that from the information you've given me, that you've actually strengthened my views about creationism. The information you've given me about evolution has actually shown me how obscure a theory it is and how it is even more impossible to prove than I originally thought. I even know zoology students who agree."