Friday, October 22, 2004

Not Billions and Billions, Just 6,000...

...as in that is how many years old the universe is as of today according to a 17th century geologist who painstakingly calculated the date using the Bible.

I once participated in a D&D campaign in which the dungeonmaster, a very practical, intellectual type who was a stickler for scientific accuracy, told us the wooden doors of a castle we were exploring were petrified.

Ever the picky sort, I promptly pointed out that it would take hundreds of thousands if not millions of years for wooden doors to become petrified. (I neglected to mention that they'd also have to be buried, but whatever.)

The dungeonmaster immediately put on his "you poor simpleton" face, switched to his "you hopeless ignoramus" tone of voice, and said, "Carbon dating says that, but every scientist worth his salt knowns that carbon dating is highly inaccurate. The Bible says very specifically that the world is only about six thousand years old, and I tend to accept that."

Another "scientifically-minded" Christian fundie I know very well once said something along the same lines, but he (to his error) went so far as to say that carbon dating has an inaccuracy range of around 3,000 years. Okay, but if you're talking about dating of fossils and strata that are millions of years old, that means an error factor of less than a percent. It probably would have made a better argument to be more vague and leave out the numbers.

Religious fundamentalism can be such an intriguing thing...

After seeing that Snabbynews letter sent around with the link to the article telling how the NeoCon administration is subtly encouraging Creationist education in our national parks (e.g. the Grand Canyon was formed by Noah's flood), I'm almost surprised Bush, inc. hasn't declared "Universe Day" a national holiday.

8 comments:

DewKid said...

I like the last comment in the article.

Um, if the universe started in 4004 B.C., doesn't that make the universe 6008 years old?

Not that anyone's counting.

Oh, and the Dinosaur bones were only put here to "test" us. (note the heavily dripping sarcasm). Stupid carbons. Reminds me of a song...

Don Snabulus said...

I'd take the devil's advocate pro-6000 role here, but I am afraid my favorite geology professor would pistol whip me.

I will stick with what I read in my Jehovah's witness literature (which is FREE by the way) that says the Earth is millions and possibly billions of years old. I am glad the Grand Canyon is open to a diversity of opinion though, I am ready to write for their store about how the canyon is a figment of my imagination...

"The Kaibab limestone reddened by the Bright Angel shale was created in the dream I call my life when I dreamt of it during a slide show in geology class. The character of my dream who played my professor went into some detail, which is lost here in the waking world, of hematite and iron staining the limestones. But he never spoke of the illusion of the crow I imagined just then."

It should sell thousands of copies.

Anonymous said...

Was God lying when he planted those dinosaur bones there? God is a sinner!

ElTigris said...

Oh you sillies.. because of the inaccuracies that would mean the world as young as 3000 yrs old hahhh.. and the dinosaurs are just hiding where you cant see them (like the new TV series) even though that would mean some of our older civilizations appeared at the same time as adam and eve, including the neanderthals, and ...and ... Landrew ... help us Landrew... and adam of eve would have to be very busy then in the first year and Cane and Abel... no wait ...Ahhhhhhhhhh! (flies off the bridge of death into the gorge of eternal peril)

Anonymous said...

Relatively Exact:

Since we're on this topic, another interesting point is that the Bible actually describes the creation of man twice. First it says that God created man, male and female, created in His own image, on the sixth day. Then, after resting on the seventh day, He established the Garden of Eden and created Adam and Eve.

A very large percentage if not the bulk of theological scholars of Judeo/Christian background will tell you that that's because Adam and Eve were the first of the Hebrews, God's chosen people, rather than the first humans. If you accept that viewpoint, it makes it a lot easier to rectify Creationism with both Evolution and anthropological/archaeological/linguistic study.

It also helps explain the sudden appearance of Cain's wife a bit more tastefully than the incestuous explanation generally accepted by Christian fundie "experts".

Actually, I've heard that that viewpoint used to be a lot more widespread. It wasn't until science started effectively challenging religious doctrine that Adam suddenly started becoming "the first man, period" in the mind of the Church.

Unfortunately, the notion of God creating humankind first and Adam later has also given rise to a wide variety of crackpot, racist theories such as the one that Adam was, in fact, the first white man, created by God and placed above the "colored"races that had wound up interbreeding with the fallen angels. Some groups use that line of thinking to justify racial segregation and even ethnic cleansing.

(Actually, according to old, Roman accounts, the Hebrews were originally very dark-skinned and even vaguely negroid in appearance. They apparently didn't become lighter-skinned until they interbred with the Greeks and Romans.)

Coming up next, another religious controversy routinely swept under the rug for centuries: In the original Hebrew version of the Book of Genesis, the "God" in the Creation story always appears in plural form, as does any pronoun referring to Him. In other words, a truly accurate translation of the first line should be, "In the Beginning, the gods created the heavens and the Earth." This makes perfect sense because, in Moses's day (when the Book is said to have been written), the Hebrews were still very polygamist.

ElTigris said...

for your good historical rendition of the above .... blasphemor! heretic! how dare you sully the good word of the only true text of the Bible.... the King James version!.. the christian bible thumping fundies will now march forward (ala like invasion of the body snatchers) and convert you by force. We may have to kill you to save you. You will be absorbed ..For the good of the body must be preserved. I...am...Landrewww...... *acckk* wrong page

Anonymous said...

Oh, the carbon song, the carbon song! So veddy, veddy goot! becouz vee are livink in de end-t-times, und yoo nevar know vhen GOT vill koum und git yoo!

Anonymous said...

Relatively Exact:

Too late, ElTigris. I've already had a Christian fundamentalist accuse me of being an "unwitting agent of Satan" (using my moving to Asia, i.e. closer to Satan's throne in the Himalayas, as evidence) and threaten to use every bit of power at his disposal to oppose me (to quote his exact words). The reason he made that threat was partly because of my giving the same statement about the Creation story, but mostly because I insisted the Book of Job was a moralistic epic ballad rather than an accurate, historical account.

Faith definitely moves some people, but it drives others straight into the ground.