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Author Topic:   Discussion of the CMI-AS debate (Meldinoor, NosyNed, Slevesque, Arphy only)
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Message 4 of 51 (536298)
11-21-2009 2:30 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Meldinoor
11-20-2009 6:23 PM

Ok, what is a PRATT ? (Lol ... )

Oh, by the way NosyNed. The salt in ocean was the very first subject I made here I find it to be legit, since after discussion in that thread (over 6 months ago), the overall response was an an appeal that other sodium sinks would be found eventually. (Hence meaning that the argument as of right now, is valid) Only person I remember that were trying to find an answer was Dr.A if I remember correctly.

I agree with you that we should narrow down the subjects that we agree on, and also those that are secondary. To try and keep all this focused. I'm at my parents house for the weekend, I'll try to read as much as I can of the document as soon as I come back on monday.

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Message 8 of 51 (536340)
11-22-2009 1:27 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Meldinoor
11-21-2009 6:30 PM


Arphy started a bith rough and on the offense, I'll be a bit smoother to begin and discuss the questions you asked as they are important in order to establish a good starting point.

1. ICM does not bother presenting evidence of Biblical Creation. Why is this?

Biblical creation as a framework is very vast. Simply put, it is the idea that the historic narrative writings of the book of genesis are accurate descriptions of what historically happened. This covers 6-day creation, the flood, and Babel (for the essential).

Evidence for Babel will usually come in the form of similarities within cultures around the globe that had no contact with one another. An example could be the study of similarities between constellations between such cultures. (This evidence is not discussed, as Babel is not dicussed)

Evidence for a Global flood will come from a vast array of areas. Evidence in this category won't usually be evidence for a 6000 year-old earth, for example, but it will be evidence for the flood which is an important part of the creation model.

Finally, evidence for the 6-day creation is probably the type that you say is not present. It is, of course, a bit tricky, as I doubt we could find a fact of nature that would prove that 'God created birds before humans'. However, evidence for this will usually come in the form of evidence for a young earth and evidence for a creator. And so any evidence that put a 'maximum age' for the earth (the salt in ocean one for example) will become evidence for a young earth. Obviously, it doesn't prove a 6000 year old date, nor any specific date that is. Evidence for a creator will come in the form similar to intelligent design. (information and irreducible complexity) Again in this case, it doesn't prove that the Christian God created humans specifically as described, but it only affirms that humans were created by an intelligent being. (which is a logical deduction from the creation model)

2. What is your opinion of the Gish Galloping approach taken by ICM?

As you said, I spoke against it in other threads. Here it is an unusual circumstance, since it is a written debate. Gish galloping is usually in an oral debate where one side (the creationist, I suppose) will put out a lot of claims one after the other, with the direct result that they do not support each one, (because then it wouldn't be gish galloping) and that it leaves not enough time for the other side to answer every single one because there are too many.

In a written debate, things are different. There is no temporal time limit. There is a word limit. So if in an oral debate it is the approximate numbers of arguments/second that defines it to be gish gallop. How do we evaluate it in a written debate, number of arguments/letter ?

Because the reader, unlike the listener, isn't bombarded with too much in too little time. They present multiple lines of evidence that they think are legit to a given conclusion, and almost all with a link as to support every claim. Since it is also a written debate, it permits the other side to answer every single claim briefly and with a simple link.

On the other end, the AS do a similar thing. They present multiples fields of science and say that they all point to a given conclusion. The difference being that they do not provide references, and that they are much broader in their declarations.

I don't think that, just because CMI are being specific, and AS are being broad, that the two situations are not analog. I think they are pretty much the same, and I don't have a problem with this (although I do think specific is better then broad).

So I don't that, even though it does seem like Gish Gallop, the actual effects in written form aren't the same then in oral form.(since it usually is the result of oral debating because of it's nature. (time limit, live audience, etc.)). Since the two characteristics of oral gish gallop. No support for the claims, and not enough time for them all to be answered, don't really apply to the written form.

Although I'll say that it wouldn't have been my approach to this, at least not in the opening essay.

3. Which topics would you like to narrow our discussion down to?

Well the topics you selected are all about the age of the earth, I don't mind discussing these as I've all encountered them before (except for geological strata)

I think we should discuss the magnetic fields of other planets with the other argument about our own magnetic field, as the two are related by Humprheys theory of the origin of paleomagnetic fields.

We could also discuss the creationist fossil claim. And also how mutations generate noise in the genome. On the AS side, they are very broad in their assertions, and so it's difficult to discuss any specific one. Maybe discuss their intro about what is science, and how creationism doesn't fit in it ?

Edited by slevesque, : No reason given.

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Posts: 1456
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Message 9 of 51 (536342)
11-22-2009 1:33 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Meldinoor
11-22-2009 1:12 AM

Re: Response to Arphy
Just one comment in this:

My favourite example of a "replicating molecule" is the QB (actually Q-Beta) virus. Without going into too much detail, its RNA was reduced to 220 nucleobases, and still it continued to function and replicate just fine. Without "much elaborate machinery". That is why I labeled it an "unsupported claim".

VIruses uses the machinery of the host bacteria in order to replicate. So even though they do not themselves possess the machinery, they still require it.

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Message 14 of 51 (536430)
11-23-2009 2:01 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Meldinoor
11-22-2009 2:51 AM

Ok, I think I have a good way to explain this.

Yet most creationists (including CMI) include the six days as described in the Bible in their creation model. If there truly is no evidence to support this, and no way to falsify it, how can they claim their model is scientific? Why not make the Quran a part of the model as well? If it's just because they happen to be Christians, they have no scientific rationale for choosing any particular creation story.

Creationists are christians. Therefore they believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. In other words, they believe that God exists, and that he spoke to humanity through his prophets. This is the primary set of axioms of their position. (It cannot be proven. This is why it is an axiom)

Now, how do you verify if the given set of axioms you choose are true ? well, you do a bit like in mathematics; you check if they are logically consistent with themselves, and with the evidence you have at hand. You can also check if logical deductions from these axioms can be shown to be valid. So the creationists are those who, at the end of all this, find that the christian axioms (you could call it a framework, or a paradigm) holds good and passes all those tests.

Note that they still have faith, because axioms can never be proven (by definition). So presupposing that a given axiom is true will always require faith. But it won't be a blind faith, it will be a logical faith. (In fact, this is close in meaning to the greek word used for faith by Paul)

And finally comes the creation model. It is because they arrived at the conclusion that their axioms are legitimate, therefore they postulate that if the Bible is the word of God (who exists), then it should be right about the question of origins. From that point of, they try to see if it is consistent with the evidence. For whatever reason that we are all here to discuss on this forum, they think that it holds up to that test as well. This is the type of arguments you will find, those that show how the biblical model is consistent, and how competing models are inconsistent.

(Note that the two axioms produce some kind of side effect. Since God exists, and since the Bible is his word, then for christians, the genesis account is actually an eye-witness testimony of what happened. But of course, since atheists do not accept the two axioms as true, this argument is of no use to them. It is more directed at christians who accep the theory of evolution)

I hope this is a bit clearer, and that you will see that it is logically valid, which doesn't man that, at the end of the day it is true. You gotta think that these two axioms were at the origin of modern science, as the primary axioms of science,(laws of nature exist, they do not change through time and space. We can logically observe nature to determine these laws. etc.) are actually theorems in the christian framework (in that they are logical conclusions of the christian axioms.). I do think that for this reason alone, the christian framework has to be evaluated very seriously.

With this said. I'll pick two subjects (probably the magnetic field and supernovae, I'll bump my old salt in ocean thread if anyone wants to discuss it over there)


That Qb virus thing is very interesting, I had never heard of it, and CMI has no articles whatsoever about it. I'll document myself a it more on it, and send them a question about it. If your interested in their answer to this, I'll probably post it somewhere around here (although it takes a lot of time to receive answers usuallly)

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Posts: 1456
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Message 19 of 51 (536956)
11-26-2009 1:31 AM

Helium retention in Zircon crystals
Ok, so I'm going to start off I guess.

First some presentation. My name is Sabin Levesque. 19 years old, currently studying Maths and Physics at the university of Montreal (first session). French-Canadian. Creationists, with the usual more conservative views on the Bible. Raised in a christian home.

I decided to take the Helium retention in deep Zircons, introduced by CMI in their opening essay under the point numer 5, ''age of things''.

I decided to take this topi because it wasan example of an experiment being conducted under a creationist hypothesis, with prediction. Hence falling into the 'testability' criterion the AS were talking about in their own opening essay.

In short, this is how it goes. They started out with a hypothesis called ''accelerated nuclear decay'' which is the idea that the decay rates were not constant in the past, and had in fact being accelerated. They found a way to test the idea with the radiogenic helium diffusion rates in zircon crystals. Before hand, they made predictions of what the diffusion rates should be in with one or more accelerated nuclear decay events in the past 6000 years. Using the same equations, they calculated the predictions of a long-age hypothesis with constant decay rates. These results were published in 2000.

They commissioned one of the world's leading experimenter in this field to test the helium diffusion rates of the zircon crystals they had retrieved from the Fenton Hill in New mexico. The experimenter didn't know about the results they expected nor who they were, and so htis was a true blind test.

They recieved the results in 2003, and to their delight it fit perfectly with their prediction, and a difference factor of 100 000 with the long-age predictions:

In red and pink their predictions for both models. In blue the data they received. Their results appeared in five technical publications, one of which is none-creationist. (Humphreys, D.R., Austin, S. A., Baumgardner, J.R. and Snelling, A.A., Recently measured helium diffusion rate for zircon suggests inconsistency with U-Pb age for Fenton Hill granodiorite, Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 84(46)) Dunno if it is peer-review though.

The problem now comes at a higher level of difficulty. If someone claims that the creation model is faulty, why then did it almost perfectly predit the diffusion rates ?

Obviously, these results brought a LOT of criticism, which was to be expected. In 2008, Russell Humphreys (the primary responsible of this research) made a summary of all the criticism and the answers he provided to each one: http://creation.com/...g-world-continues-to-confound-critics.

I personnally read almost all of the Henke criticism from talkorigins, and Humphreys answers. Most of it is about details about procedures and references, and about rock identifications. His initial essay is 15pages long.

His most signifiant criticism is about the fact that the diffusion results were taken in a vacuum rather than then with the in situ pressure. This is found randomnly throughout his text, usually in order to boost the impacts of other factors. Of course, this is not really criticising the workd done by the RATE team, but rather the experimenter who did tested the diffusion rates.

Humphreys responded to this argument here: http://www.trueorigin.org/helium02.asp. Showing that the in vacuum results are totally acceptable, and that Henke's argument is faulty in many occasions.

I have the feeling I haven't been clear at all in explaining all this. The creation.com article linked above does a far better job of explaining everything. I think this is a good example of a creation hypothesis making a prediction.

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 Message 20 by NosyNed, posted 11-27-2009 8:56 AM slevesque has responded
 Message 21 by Meldinoor, posted 11-27-2009 1:22 PM slevesque has not yet responded
 Message 27 by NosyNed, posted 12-01-2009 12:34 PM slevesque has responded

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Message 22 of 51 (537211)
11-27-2009 3:48 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by NosyNed
11-27-2009 8:56 AM

Re: Helium retention in Zircon crystals
I don't think the results contradict other dating methods.

These Zircons have been dated to 1,5 billion years old. (With Uranium-Lead)

The issue is rather if this 1,5billions years worth of nuclear decay has been accelerated. The way to find this out is to look at the radiogenic Helium, since it's diffusion rate is not directly linked to the nuclear decay rate.

So it doesn't really come in contradiction with the other dating methods. They had a hypothesis which was that decay rates had ben accelerated in the past, and they tested it in this way.

And you can take your time, lot's of things to read about of course, since not only the research is quite long, but the criticism is even longer. But I think the exchange from Henke and Humphreys deals with pretty much every aspect. (Although Henke brings up many aspects that do not interefere with the data: Old russian measurements, identification of rock, etc.)

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Message 24 of 51 (537272)
11-28-2009 2:28 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by NosyNed
11-28-2009 1:24 AM

Re: Dating methods
Of course, we can't go through the length of the other thread, I think you will agree with that. Correlation of course, can seem very impressive, and as you have noted, it is the tricky part.

But could it be that it reveals that there is a common faulty assumption behind all these dating methods ?

Besides, creationist also have multiple lines of evidence that all show a maximum age smaller then the common dates of the earth, solar system, etc. It would seem both sides sit on their 'correlation'.

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Message 34 of 51 (537934)
12-02-2009 1:18 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by NosyNed
12-01-2009 5:09 PM

Re: Correlations
I'll give a similar explanation to Arphy.

You point out the thread by RAZD about the correlations. They all give minimum dates, bu not at all the same minimum dates. (It goes from 10k minimum with tree rings to billions with radimetric dating)

Of course, I counter that creationist also have multiple line of evidence which suggests maximum dates vastly inferior to the 4,5Billions assigned to the earth. (In fact, a lot of them are in the opening essay)

You respond to this by asking to show how they all have the same maximum dates, and that if they don't have the same maximum date, then it doesn't mean much at all.

Of course, I hope you can spot the double standard. You accept the minimum dates (that are not the same) as having a legitimate correlation factor, but dos not accept the same with the maximum dates based on the fact that they don't givr the same maximum ages.

The reality of course, is that the two situations are analog.

I hope I explained the situation well.

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Message 35 of 51 (537936)
12-02-2009 1:44 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by NosyNed
12-01-2009 12:34 PM

Re: Helium retention in Zircon crystals
As best as I can tell Humphreys has not at all answered the criticisms of the zircon-helium paper.

Well, he does say that he doesn't adress all the criticism. He said that he only answered the criticism which Henke had put in his opening paragraph. Which are usually the most important points, and in this case the points that link to the data.

He is accused of really lousy geology such as being careless in specimen collection, not knowing what rocks or even kind of rocks he is dealing with and making up names of geological formations.

None of this, of course, modifies the data or the results of the research. (Or the power of his predicition).

On the identification of the type of rock, it's pretty muddy I guess. We have on one side a geologist who was there durign the whole research, and who was the one who identified and selected the specimens.

On the other a geochemist, who wasn't there during the research, didn't see the research and the specimens only on photo. He doesn't make any comment about the pictures, so I assume his silence means that the rock in the picture does look like granodiorite. His main basis is that they took graniodiorite at a depth where it is not specified to be found in geology books of the area.

I can't say who is right, who is wrong. But even before reading Humphreys response I could see that this was more smoke than fire. The type of rock doesn't affect the data. What does affect the data is the size of the zircon, and the amount of ratios, etc. Which are dependent of the zircons inside the rock, not the rock itself. If Humphreys took the same typ of rock as Gentry (which he did, since he took at same depth) than it makes no difference.

For the name making up, yeah I agree it was a blunder by Humphreys. His a physicist after all I guess. But it doesn't affect the data.

He doesn't not answer the issue of diffusion under different conditions and ignores warnings about that in published geological work.

The different conditions was an add-on by Henke, and so Humphreys answered in a different article. (http://www.trueorigin.org/helium02.asp)

An important detail is that the experimenter they hired to measure the diffusion rates, who is therefore an expert on the subject, has found no explanation to Humphreys data. Unlike Henke who seems to have a dozen ...

His past has some poor work which makes these conclusions a bit suspect as well.

I'd be interested in knowing the poor past in question.

Given all of that and the context of so very many other measurements of age it seems very reasonable to conclude that this is in error. I'll get back to the context of other measurements now.

I think the data can't be discarded as easily since he made a prediction of it, and that he was spot on. This puts a lot of weight on the disclaimer to prove his point. If his research really does not make sense and was poorly done, why in the world would it fall on his predictions so precisely ?

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Message 41 of 51 (538055)
12-03-2009 1:55 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by NosyNed
12-02-2009 6:32 PM

Re: Fudging
I'll agree a bit with Arphy (although on a lesser tone). If calling for 'fudging' and 'lying' is what it will come down to, then I don,t there is much a point to discuss anything at all. Because ultimately this is not the sort of reasoning that is going to convince me.

Besides, Humphreys has made a great career as a scientist. This is why I asked you to specify what you found in his past to be doubtful. I wanted to see if the only examples you would have would be about his creationist writing and research. This alone should give a clue on this: Why would he have a bright career in physics, with no doubtful spots in it, only to become incompetent when doing the same thing but on creationists issues ?

I think the answer is simple, it is that his creationist research is scrutinized to the maximum, every little detail is being magnified to enormous proportions (Henke's 15page article is an exampel of this) and after all the mudslinging is done, the reader has the impression it most be oh so doubtful, wrong and/or fudged. If every research was as much scrutinized, I would interested in knowing how many would appear 'doubtful' to us. Of course only those who go against the current get this much attention.


Now about the research in question.

In essence, he made a classic textbook experiment. He had a hypothesis (accelerated nuclear decay), he developped it to the point of finding a way to test his hypothesis. He made the prediction about what the results should be if his hypothesis is accurate. He made the experiment, and the results validated his prediction.

Note that this is classic textbook science. Sure he made some rookie errors (giving a random name to a rock formation), but this is because it is in a domain outside of his expertise. (Namely physics).

Sure he could rerun the experiment at another location, with other zircon. I could even predict to you that the results would be similar, in my opinion. The only thing, of course, preventing him from doing so is money. It's hard to find finance for this kind of stuff; since creationist research like this is financed by privates.

Besides, this experiment was done in the broader RATE research group. It isn't an isolated case selectively chosen, but it finds even more weight when viewed within the whole research.

Finally, I'll say that the result doesn't contradict the dating methods. He is saying that there is 1,5billion years worth of uranium decay, but only 6000 years worth of helium diffusion. Humphreys explains it by saying the decay was faster in the past (much faster), Henke explains it by saying that the diffusion rates were smaller in the past (much smaller).

Same data, two different interpretations, because of different presuppositions. Two things go in Humphreys favor:

-1. He predicted the results.

-2. The experimenter who measured the diffusion rates, who is the most knowledgeable on this, does not propose anything along the lines of Henke (in fact, he proposes no explanation as of right now).

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Posts: 1456
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Message 49 of 51 (538582)
12-08-2009 3:45 AM
Reply to: Message 48 by NosyNed
12-04-2009 11:12 PM

Re: Issues with the 'experiment'
The entire experiment depends on using helium diffusion as a good time measuring method. It can be used as such but is know to be loaded with difficulties of getting it right.

Humphrey's made errors in his calculations which he dismisses as not answering the huge difference between the diffusion time he gets and the times form radiometric measurements. This misses the point. The errors mean that his predicitions are not matched with the observations.

It would help if you identified which errors you are referring to (Henke as 15pages of''errors'')

I do think that overall, the errors that are legitimate are very minor ones, and that they don't fall out of the two sigma error bars, meaning that the experimental results still fall into the prediction.

he location he choose is an area of extra non radiogenic helium that may or may not be a coincidence but it is not handled in his paper. Other YEC writers (Gentry) note that there could be excess non radiogenic helium involved.

The location was chosen because the content % of helium in these zircons were known, thus predicting the diffusivity possible.

About extraneous helium contaminating the zircons, I think it should be put into perspective. It is two steps: first you need to get the helium into the zircon. Henke makes a pretty vague scenario of how maybe it could have contaminated it. Because he needs to bring into it 60% of 1,5Billion years worth of uranium decay. That is a lot. Not only that, but there is no evidence about any of what he is alluding to ever took place, it is only speculation.

Second, the contamination must stay there. This is where it ultimately fails, because even though his scenario is plausible (but unlikely), his method to keep the helium in the zircon fails. He suggests that the current pressure (and possibly even higher pressure in the past) would keep it there. But as humphreys explained, the pressure has little to no effect on the diffusion rate in zircons.

I think the experimenter doesn't propose this as an explanation because he knows that pressure is a non-factor. (Which is why he simply measured the diffusivity in a vacuum.)

This result should certainly be viewed within the entirety of dating work where it sticks out as a very, very unlikely outlier.

The RATE research concluded that radiometric methods do in fact yield an old earth. They simply decided that this can not be right and somehow, someday an explanation will be found. They have no such explanation.

You oppose these results with the results of radiometric dating, but this is probably a misrepresentation of the data.

The RATE results show that nuclear decay rates were not constant in the past, and so you need to oppose them to the evidence we have that the decay rates were constant.

We know that helium diffusion dating is an uncertain proposition for a number of perfectly clear reasons.

Uncertain for someone like Henke, who magnifies details to enormous proportions.

Besides, since when do such ''uncertain'' methods get predicted so accurately ?

We also know that if decay was much faster in the past then the heat produced is prohibitive to life on earth. The RATE group agrees with this but decides that there must be a way for it to be handled but don't know what it is.

From that point on they are not doing science. They need a miracle.

This is pretty dichotomic. You point out that their hypothesis poses another problem, and then you point out that the RATE group acknowledges the problem and says that this is still an unanwered question.

But astonishingly, you claim right after this that they aren't doing science! May I ask if this is because there is an unanswered question ? (Because I did think that those type of questions were the primary building blocks of science)

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