Tuesday, April 07, 2009

... and the Earth isn't round, either. It's shaped like a burrito.

Oh, sigh. Blogging Tory Mark Peters gets all martyry and persecuty on behalf of scientific illiterate and screeching wingnut Conservative MP James Lunney:

Next stop in the witchhunt: MP James Lunney

... for daring to stand alongside a Christian MP who believes in The Creator, The Judeo-Christian God, YHWH.

Would that a few more Christians, Jews and Muslims from all parties would step forward and confirm their faith publicly.

Here, Mark, let me explain this for you. Let's go to the videotape:

In science, it is perfectly acceptable to make assumptions when we do not have all the facts, but it is never acceptable to forget our assumptions. Given the modern evidence unavailable to Darwin, advanced models of plate techtonics [sic], polonium radiohalos, polystratic [sic] fossils, I am prepared to believe that Darwin would be willing to re-examine his assumptions.

First, let us dispense forthwith with these three bits of scientific stupidity. There is Lunney's reference to "polystratic" fossils, which are debunked here. There is his idiotic reference to polonium radiohalos, which he most assuredly does not understand and which is shredded savagely here. And then there is Lunney's "advanced model of plate tectonics." Ah, yes, plate tectonics. Let's talk about that for a minute, shall we? Because what that horrifying imbecile Lunney is undoubtedly talking about is this, which is worth chatting about for a couple minutes.

You see, almost everyone now accepts the notion of plate tectonics and continental drift -- the thought that the Earth's crust moves around slowly on large plates. In fact, the evidence is overwhelming that South America and Africa used to be joined, as anyone can see just from looking at a world map and noticing the eerily convenient "fit" based on well-documented seafloor spreading at the mid-Atlantic ridge:

So what is Lunney yapping on about? Well, the evidence for excruciatingly slow continental drift is so well-established that even religious dingbats like ChristianAnswers.net are forced to accept it. But if your goal is to defend the notion of a literally Biblical "young" earth (only a few thousand years old), slow and steady continental drift presents a bit of a problem.

Enter creationist John Baumgardner, and his novel theory of "catastrophic" plate tectonics, in which those plates galloped wildly across the sea floor during and after the mythical Noachian deluge, only to conveniently slow down immensely when we're finally in a position to measure that speed accurately.

Baumgardner's work is so stunningly incompetent that even most creationist organizations don't take it seriously. And Baumgardner, while desperately trying to sound all sciency and everything, frequently just lets loose and makes it clear that he's all about the Bible:

It is also plausible that the Earth’s mantle had been grinding inexorably toward catastrophe during all the 1650 or so years from when Adam disobeyed until “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up,” such that no separate trigger immediately prior to the Flood event itself was even necessary [16]. For lack of any more specific information about how the cataclysm was triggered, I personally prefer this simple hypothesis.

I could go on, but you can take my word for it -- Baumgardner is a quack, and no one with any scientific background takes him remotely seriously. But that's not why we're here. No, we're here to give BT Mark Peters the spanking he deserves for being too stupid to realize what's actually happening here.

Because, you see, it doesn't really matter whether you believe the refutations above or not since -- and pay close attention here -- none of the three issues Lunney raised has anything to do with biological evolution. None of them. Not one. Those aren't biological issues; they're more properly geological issues. More specifically, they're geological arguments that were advanced by scientific illiterates for one purpose only -- to defend the notion of a Biblically young earth.

It takes only a few seconds of examination to appreciate that the purpose of all three of the above arguments is to attempt to undercut the idea of a very old (4.6 billion years) Earth. Those are classic young earth, pro-Flood creationist arguments, and the only reason one would make them is if they were truly trying to defend a literal reading of Genesis, down to the timeline.

Lunney was not referring to alternative evidences for biological evolution, or even muttering on about his religious beliefs. No, what he was clearly and unambiguously doing was, in the face of massive evidence to the contrary, promoting a geologically young earth that meshed with standard young earth creationism.

In other words, Conservative MP James Lunney -- a member of Canada's Parliament -- is a young earth creationist. And Blogging Tory Mark Peters is too fucking stupid to understand that. This has nothing to do with courageously standing up and publicly defending one's religious beliefs. It has everything to do with being a frighteningly stupid, Bible-whomping scientific retard who clearly doesn't understand the first thing about basic science.

But I'm guessing Mark kind of missed that part.

AH, THE IRONY. It's amusing to hear Lunney yap on about not forgetting your assumptions when Charles Darwin himself provided one of the most spectacular examples of assumptions and vindication in the history of science:

In the first edition of On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, Darwin made a crude estimate of Earth's age, based on geology, of several hundred million years. This, he suspected, was sufficiently long for the processes of natural selection to take place and produce the wide range of species on Earth.

In short, Darwin was admitting that, for anyone to take his new theory seriously, the Earth had to be very old, at least old relative to what people at that time believed. And he was enough of an honest scientist to publicly admit that, if it wasn't, his theory was in a boatload of trouble:

The great physicist William Thomson, later to become Lord Kelvin, disputed Darwin's estimate, arguing that Earth was much younger. Thomson had made major contributions to thermodynamics, formulating the second law of thermodynamics and establishing the absolute temperature (Kelvin) scale. At the time, the only known sources of energy that could account for solar radiation were chemical and gravitational. Thomson calculated the age of the Sun for each mechanism and found that gravity gave the largest value, of a few tens of millions of years. Earth could not be older than the Sun, and this age was a factor of ten lower than Darwin's estimate of the age of Earth. Using thermodynamics, Kelvin also calculated that the temperature of Earth would have been too high even as recently as a million years ago to allow for life.

Thus, based on the best physics knowledge of Darwin's day, evolution by natural selection was highly suspect. Darwin admitted as much in a letter to Wallace: "Thomson's views on the recent age of the world have been for some time one of my sorest troubles." If Thomson's conclusions had been correct, evolution by natural selection would have been falsified

So there's Charles Darwin, admitting that a young earth would cause insurmountable problems for his theory. Luckily, it all worked out:

But Thomson's conclusions were wrong, and Darwin's theory was not falsified. Thomson cannot be faulted, for he used the best information available at the time. With the discovery of nuclear energy early in the twentieth century, a new source of energy became known that was far more efficient than either gravity or chemical reactions. This provided a mechanism for a much longer-lived sun. Furthermore, the natural nuclear radioactivity of Earth generates significant heat and upsets Thomson's calculation for the rate of cooling of Earth.

Ergo, we can conclude that Charles Darwin behaved as an honest scientist of integrity should, while Conservative MP James Lunney is still an ignorant fuckwit who has no idea what he's talking about.

And Mark Peters is still a douchebag.

YOU KNOW, it occurs to me that there's at least a little irony in Peters defending Lunney, who stated:

In science, it is perfectly acceptable to make assumptions when we do not have all the facts, but it is never acceptable to forget our assumptions.

This would be the same Mark Peters who referred matter-of-factly to "The Creator, The Judeo-Christian God, YHWH." Pretty convinced of the existence of that, are we, Mark? Any assumptions you're making you'd like to share with us? Or does remembering our assumptions apply only to science while the most inane, illogical, indefensible religious pronouncements get a free pass?

I'm just curious.


LuLu said...


Everyone who's anyone knows that the world is shaped like a disc and is carried on the back of a massive turtle by four elephants.

Spalfy said...

He left out the Flying Spaggetti Monster, who noodled radiocarbon results with his noodly appendage!

Wingnuts they are indeed. Defending the charges that the minister of science is a young earth creationist with young earth creationist arguments - stoopid. It'd be funny if they weren't our government.

James Bow said...


Next time I'm in Ankh-Morpork, let's have a get-together at the Mended Drum.

Dr.Dawg said...

It's turtles all the way down.

LuLu said...


Will you be bringing "the luggage"?

liberal supporter said...

When was there ridicule of belief in a Creator? There was only ridicule of people ignoring science. Why is Lunney lying?

I don't understand why they go to so much trouble to make up hypotheses to try and explain away observations of science. My God is omnipotent, and therefore could have created the entire reality we are experiencing at this moment instantaneously, complete with rocks containing partly decayed radioactive material, fossils of extinct animals, stars with red shifted spectra, and continental plates in the positions they are now with measurable slight movement. My God can also do any amount of anything in any amount of time, so could easily have created everything in the time scale described in the Genesis account, while making it look like billions of years passed.

So why all the gyrations from these people? Can't their "god" do this? Do they worship some charlatan?

I find science is a great way of explaining things so we can make things and predict how they will work. When they don't work as expected, it isn't the devil in the details, it is God. At least until we figure out where we erred.

But of course it isn't really about the Creator at all. It is about humans demanding obedience from other humans based on a claim of rights handed down by God to those humans and not to you. That is what you are commanded to believe. Believing the creation stories is just training to get you to believe anything and obey.

Luna said...

I totally bet that the irony of calling it a witch hunt is completely lost on him.