Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Importance of Anti-Atheist Bigotry

A couple of days ago I received a comment to my posts a few days ago called, “An Accused Atheist in Texas”, suggesting that there are more important things to do than to protest the poor treatment of atheists.

I cannot deny that there are horrible things going on in the world, and that the hatred of atheists in America is only one evil (and not the worst - when compared to the pain and death of some of the others).

However, I also hold that many of these other problems are linked, in part, to hatemongering against atheists, and that it may be useful to oppose these evils as a block.

Real World Solutions

For example, the prejudice that exists against atheists is also a prejudice against finding real-world solutions to real-world problems - relying instead on myth and superstition to step forward and save all who are worth saving.

Among atheists, there are some who are fairly intelligent. Some have devoted a significant portion of their lives studying how the real world works. As such, they are particularly well positioned to suggest those real-world solutions to real-world problems. We would be doing the world a favor to focus on preventing the superstitious ways of thinking that cause people to scorn these real-world answers.

Our situation vis-à-vis global warming would have been much better than it is now if the public had a proper understanding of and appreciation for scientific research.

Instead, we live in an anti-science culture that is getting in the way of discovering real-world problems. People are encouraged to believe, whenever scientists reveal some risk or danger, that those scientists are involved in an evil conspiracy to use deception in order to control the world.

We can see how these problems are linked by the use of the phrase 'atheist materialist scientist'. Those who use this phrase are using a very common marketing technique of associating that which they want to attack (science) with something the people already hate (atheism). In this way, they hope to create a culture that ignores - even condemns - science and is more receptive to the anti-science (the anti-reality) claims of religious leaders. The result is more suffering and death than living people would otherwise have to endure.

If you will pardon me with a short aside - these considerations stand at the root of my opposition to plans to abandon the word 'atheist' and to use some other term that does not (yet) have the negative baggage that the term 'atheist' has. First, it will not take theists long to attach the same negative baggage to whatever other term exists, as soon as looks like people might adopt it. Second, leaving the word 'atheist' with its negative connotation will still allow theists to use the marketing technique of linking things like science to atheism in order to promote public hatred of things they do not like.

Ways of Thinking

Another issue related to the defense of atheism itself is the defense of a way of thinking that involves actually basing conclusions on the evidence rather than cherry-picking evidence to support one's conclusions.

We can clearly see that the Bush Administration cherry-picks its data in its approach to the issues such as global warming and the threat that Iraq was to America. Its way of thinking very much follows the pattern of coming up with a conclusion, then cherry-picking the data so as to defend that conclusion.

We can see this way of thinking in the campaigns to promote creationism and intelligent design. The harm in these fields of study rests in the way that they promote backwards thinking - using desired conclusions to decide which evidence to agree with and which evidenced to throw away.

This way of thinking is central to the way that some people think of the Bible. Religious fundamentalism involves taking a bunch of claims (made up thousands of years ago) and giving them the status of 'truth.'

With this truth in hand, we have a way to evaluate all other forms of research. If a particular line of research ends with results that support the 'answers,' then that research must be sound and can be accepted. However, if a particular line of research contradicts the answer book, then either that scientist is not competent enough to be doing that type of research, or he has contracted with the Devil to mislead the people and turn them against God.

We can easily see how this way of thinking brought about the invasion of Iraq. The Bush Administration first decided what was true - that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was involved in the attacks. They then went to the intelligence community. Those who failed to provide evidence that supported the Administration's position were obviously incompetent and needed to be replaced (or, at least, but under the leadership) of those who knew the truth and was not afraid to prove it. The only other option was that those who failed to provide the Administration with its proof was in league with the enemy and wanted America to lose this war on terror.

This analysis also finds an application in assessing the Bush Administration's view on global warming. Again, the Administration started with conclusions that they knew to be true, and then went out to evaluate the evidence based on its ability to support the truth. If a scientific report came in that did not support those conclusions, then the study had to have been flawed. Staff people needed to go in and correct it by editing out those parts of the report that did not correspond to their truth.

Promoting atheism means promoting a way of thinking that puts the evidence in front of the conclusion over a way of thinking that judges the conclusion first and cherry picks the evidence to support the desired conclusion. That is something that the country very much needs.

Attitudes Towards Others

I am, perhaps, particularly sensitive to this prejudice. Through high school and most of college, I thought that being a judge would be one of the highest and most noble professions. Yet, as I considered that option, I had no choice but to consider the fact that my efforts to pursue that career might not go anywhere. Those who thought that atheists are unfit to fill that role would certainly stand in my way, limiting my chances for success.

Given this fact, I thought that, perhaps, I should be devoting my time, not to being a judge, but to fighting the prejudice that stands in the way of people like me becoming judges - so that some young would-be atheist who is still in grade school or yet to be born, can have the opportunity to freely pursue a career that I could not pursue.

When President Bush stated, "We need common-sense judges who realize that our rights come from God, and those are just the types of judges that I intend to put on the bench," I saw my original assumptions being confirmed once again. If I had pursued that career option, I would have been blocked by a society that condemns atheists and considers them unfit for advancement in that field. When Bush made that statement without protest - when, in fact, this improved rather than diminished his chances of getting elected, I realized just how much work there was to do in that regard.

The Texas Republican Party assertion that <> would be unfit to be judge if he were an atheist is simply another expression of that same prejudice. Again, I want to see protests to that statement. The reason is because I want some young student currently in high school or college, who may be an atheist, to be able to enter into that profession if he wishes to do so.

Effects on Children

I am particularly concerned about the effects that this bigotry has on children who are atheists as well as children who might have otherwise become atheists.

They hear that the term 'atheist' is a term of condemnation and hatred, and they tend to pick up these sentiments.

Please, let nobody give me anecdotal evidence of how this situation did not affect them when they were a kid, or how it did not seem to affect their school. Anecdotal evidence is pathetically poor – an excellent opportunity for people to see what they want to see and to report it as true.

The child who hears or reads the Republican complaint that atheists are unfit to be judges is going to be more likely to form the opinion that atheists are bad. If he knows an atheist at school he is going to think of that child as ‘bad’ and correspondingly more likely to shun and ridicule that child (and invite other classmates to do the same). If the child himself is an atheist he will more likely feel shame. If the child’s parents are atheists then the child will be taught that their parents are inferior to other parents. Their parents are not good enough to be judges because they are untrustworthy and disloyal; while other kids’ parents are trustworthy and loyal Americans.

The Pledge of Allegiance and posting "In God We Trust" reinforce these attitudes. The Pledge of Allegiance is a daily ritual of separating those who profess theism from those who deny it – giving the theists a sense of inclusion and belonging, while giving those who are not theists a sense of exclusion – a message that ‘you are not one of us.’

In the national motto we also see the message, “Those who trust in God are ‘we’” and, by implication, “Those who do not trust in God are ‘they’” The effect of this is also to promote a sense of shame at being atheist, and an eagerness to be theist, so that one can belong and be fully welcome in society.

These activities not only promote these attitudes towards atheism, but with anything that skillful marketers can associate with atheism. The phrase, ‘atheist materialist scientist’ is an attempt to put scientists in the same casts as atheists. This means fewer people being interested in pursuing those areas of study that deal with finding out how the real world works – and giving us real-world solutions to real-world problems.

I want that child to realize that, even if others were to call him unfit to be fully accepted in society, that there are those who do accept him and who condemn those who not. There are those who are willing to fight for him and who declare that there is no shame being atheist (or scientist, or anything else that others may want to associate with atheism). That their parents are not bad people and that, though others exclude him from these civic ceremonies, the moral fault is theirs for excluding the child, not the child’s for being such that others find including him unacceptable.


So, I hold that defending atheism is important.

There are other issues to be concerned with. Yet, ultimately, these issues have a lot in common - a lack of willingness to stand up for certain underlying principles concerning fairness, justice, and respect for others. Ultimately, some atheists might have the knowledge to come up with decent solutions to some of these problems. Yet, that option diminishes to the degree that children grow up to view atheists with contempt.

It is not chance that made atheists the most hated group in America. It is, in part, the fact that the first day a child enters school the one message that they get every day is that atheists are worthy of contempt. They learn this lesson well, and the results show up in surveys on the nation's attitude towards atheists. It comes out in a natural culture that can undermine respect for scientific findings by associating science with atheism. It comes out in a culture that prohibits atheists from being judges or holding public office.

None of this says that atheists are inherently superior to theists. It says that atheists are superior to bigots. Not all theists are bigots. There are theists who will not buy into the claim that atheists are unfit to be judges, that our nation must divide people between a ‘we’ who ‘trust in God’ and a ‘they’ who do not, or that a citizen must pledge his allegiance to God to be a true patriot.

The real question does not revolve around a distinction between theists and atheists. It revolves around the distinction between bigots and those who can accept and live in harmony with those who have different beliefs but who still seek peace and mutual benefit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At a widely publicized news conference in August of 1972, Dr. Jeffrey Bada of Scripps Institute of Oceanography announced the "discovery" of a new dating method based on the rate of racemization of amino acids in fossil material. He was quoted as saying that he had discovered the basis of the method in 1968, and that it was so obvious and simple he was amazed it hadn't been discovered earlier.

As a matter of fact, the basis of this method had been discovered earlier and had been reported in a series of papers published by Hare, Mitterer and Abelson in 1967, 1968, and 1969. 1-3 Hare and Mitterer actually reported an estimated age for fossil shell material based on amino acid racemization. 3

Amino acids are the "building blocks," or sub-units, of proteins. About 20 different kinds of amino acids are found in proteins. Each amino acid has two chemical groups, an amino group and a carboxyl group, which can form chemical bonds with other amino acids. The amino group of one amino acid can combine with the carboxyl group of a second amino acid to form a "peptide" bond, and its carboxyl group can combine with the amino group of a third amino acid, and the chain can thus be extended indefinitely. The amino acids combine with each other like the links of a chain to form a long protein chain. Proteins contain from 50 to several hundred amino acids.

All of the amino acids which occur in proteins, except for glycine, which is the simplest amino acid, have at least one asymmetric carbon atom, and can exist as one of two possible stereoisomers. That is, the chemical groups attached to this particular carbon atom are all different and can be arranged in space in two different ways. When there is only a single asymmetric carbon atom, these two different forms are known as optical isomers. Chemically, there is very little difference between them, but biologically, there is as much difference as night and day. The two forms are known as L-amino acids and D-amino acids, the L and D designating the direction in which solutions of these amino acids rotate plane-polarized light. They are mirror-images of each other, and one cannot be superimposed on the other, just as is true of left and right hands.

All amino acids in proteins (except glycine) are L-amino acids. These amino acids spontaneously tend to slowly change to the D-form. The D-form tends to revert to the L-form, and eventually an equilibrium is obtained, as illustrated here for alanine:

Mixture of equal amounts of the L- and D-forms,

The process by which an L-amino acid changes into a mixture of the L- and D-forms (or the D-form changes into a mixture of the L- and D-forms) is called racemization. Racemization is complete when equal amounts of the L- and D-forms are obtained. Complicating things somewhat is the fact that some amino acids have two asymmetric carbon atoms and can exist in four different forms, known as diastereoisomers. Two of these amino acids, isoleucine and threonine, are commonly found in most proteins. L-Isoleucine racemizes (technically in this case, since there are two asymmetric carbon atoms, the correct term is epimerization rather than racemization) almost exclusively to one form, called D-alloisoleucine. Ordinarily it is difficult to separate an L-amino acid from its D-form, but L-isoleucine is easily separated from D-alloisoleucine. The racemization of L-isoleucine to D-alloisoleucine is, therefore, of special interest in the amino acid racemization dating system.

Since the amino acids in proteins of living things are of the L-form, but upon death of the plant or animal spontaneously tend to change to mixtures of the L- and D-forms, the extent of this racemization process could possibly serve as a dating method. Thus, the older a fossil shell or bone, the greater should be the extent of racemization of the amino acids which are contained in the proteins found in the bone or shell.

Hare and Mitterer3 measured the rate of racemization of L-isoleucine to D-alloisoleucine in modern shell fragments heated in water at high temperatures and extrapolated these data to lower temperatures in order to estimate the rate of racemization of L-isoleucine in fossil shells to obtain what they believed to be an approximate age for these fossil shells.

Later, Bada and his co-workers 4,5 reported on their application of the amino acid racemization method for the dating of marine sediments. In other studies, Bada and co-workers have applied this method to the dating of fossil bones, 6-10 and have even applied amino acid racemization rates to the determination of past temperatures by measuring the extent of racemization in several radiocarbon-dated bones.11 Kvenvolden, Peterson and Brown 12 have measured the rates of amino acid racemization in marine sediments. Wehmiller and Hare 13 have also reported on their application of the rate of racemization of amino acids to the dating of marine sediments.

In the study by Bada and Schroeder,5 the rate of racemization in marine sediments under laboratory conditions was determined by heating sediments with sea water in sealed ampoules at various temperatures from 100° C to about 150° C over various lengths of time. The material was then hydrolyzed in 6 molar hydrocholoric acid (the material is hydrolyzed to break up the protein into free amino acids), and the extent of conversion of L-isoleucine to D-alloisoleucine was determined. The rates obtained at these temperatures were extrapolated to 2° C and to 4° C, the present average temperatures where the deep-sea cores containing the sediment samples were obtained.

These data are believed to yield the rates at which L-isoleucine was converted to Dalloisoleucine in the sediment through geological time. The extent of conversion of L-isoleucine to D-alloisoleucine in core sediment samples from various depths was then determined and conclusions based on the above rates were used to estimate the ages of the sediments from various core depths.

The studies carried out with bone were similar.6 Fragments of bone recovered from the Arizona desert and believed to be 2-3 years old were sealed in glass ampoules and heated at various temperatures. The fragments were then hydrolyzed in 6M hydrochloric acid and the extent of racemization of L-isoleucine to D-alloisoleucine was determined. Based on the rates at these elevated temperatures (rates at lower temperatures would be too low to measure), the rates at lower temperatures were estimated. From a combination of conclusions based on these rates, the actual extent of racemization of isoleucine in fossil bones, and the estimated average temperatures at which these fossil bones are believed to have existed, ages were calculated. In other work, the rate of racemization of aspartic acid, instead of isoleucine, was used.8-10

The rate of racemization is highly temperature dependent. The study with bone indicated that an uncertainty of ±2° would yield an age with an error of ±50%. Additional uncertainties are introduced by the possible contamination of the fossil with free amino acids from the environment, and the possibility of racemization during the acid hydrolysis of the protein in the fossil. The former would reduce the apparent age of the fossil by introducing amino acids from recent material which would have undergone little racemization. Racemization which occurs during acid hydrolysis would, of course, increase the apparent age.

Under most circumstances amino acids undergo little racemization during acid hydrolysis, and thus acid hydrolysis is used routinely for the hydrolysis of protein. Under some circumstances, especially effects caused by the nature of the neighboring amino acids, considerable racemization of individual amino acids can occur during acid hydrolysis.14 This necessary step in the preparation of the sample, that is, the hydrolysis of the protein, can itself, therefore, cause the apparent age to be older than the real age.

In amino acid racemization dating methods the above effects, except for the error introduced by uncertainty of temperature, would not ordinarily cause a serious error in the results. There are several factors, however, which the writer believes render amino acid racemization rates useless as a dating method.

Bada and others working in this field have generally assumed that the only two important factors that have influenced the extent of racemization of amino acids in bone, shell, or sediment have been those of time and temperature. It has either been assumed that the nature of the environment has had little influence on the rate of racemization, or that the effect of the environment on the rate has been empirically determined in laboratory experiments.

For example, in the experiments with bone, the rate of racemization was determined in 2-3 year old bone fragments. These data were then applied to fossil bones believed to be several thousand to several million years old. The assumption was, therefore, obviously made that a recent, non-fossilized bone, dried and sealed in a glass ampoule, provides essentially the same environment furnished by a bone undergoing fossilization while standing in soil percolated by groundwater of varying mineral content and of differing pH (the pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity). This could hardly be the case.

When a bone is deposited in soil, decomposition of the organic material in the bone begins, and the components in the bone undergo a series of chemical reactions with the material contained in the soil. As the organic material decomposes, it is replaced by the minerals contained in the ground water which seeps through the soil. Furthermore, the inorganic material in the bone undergoes change or replacement by minerals contained in the soil. These changes, being a function of the material found in the soil, are irregular, and are governed by the local environment, including mineral content, pH, and temperature. Fossilization, therefore, can occur at greatly differing rates, under circumstances and by processes that vary considerably. The rates of racemization determined by heating dry, fresh bone fragments sealed in glass ampoules could, and most likely would, differ widely from the rates occurring in a bone undergoing fossilization.

Amino acids are especially sensitive to racemization during either the formation of the peptide bond which links the amino acids together, or the breaking of this bond during the hydrolysis of proteins or of peptides (peptides are fragments of proteins of much shorter length than the intact protein). With many years of experience in the synthesis of peptides and in the determination of the structure of proteins, which involves hydrolysis of the protein, the writer can speak from personal experience.

In peptide synthesis, which involves the chemical combination of amino acids in chains of varying length, racemization during synthesis is an ever present concern. Reviews on peptide synthesis always devote special note to this problem.15 Careful choice of reagents, solvents, temperature, and procedure must be made to minimize racemization.

Amino acids, as noted above, are also sensitive to racemization during the breaking of the peptide bond, or hydrolysis. Furthermore, the rate of racemization during hydrolysis is strongly affected by pH. Ordinarily, hydrolysis in strong acid results in little racemization, especially in the absence of impurities. Hydrolysis of a protein in strong alkali, on the other hand, which requires only a fraction of the time required for acid hydrolysis, results in complete racemization of all of the amino acids. Hydrolysis in weak alkali also results in much higher racemization rates compared to hydrolysis at neutral or acid pH. It has been noted that even the rate of conversion of free L-isoleucine to D-alloisoleucine is greatly accelerated in alkaline solution.

It is thus proposed, as has also been suggested by Wehmiller and Hare,13 that most of the racemization that occurs in amino acids of fossil material occurs during the hydrolysis of the protein. It is further suggested that the rate of this hydrolysis, and especially the rate of racemization, is governed mainly by the chemical environment of the fossil material, especially the pH. Temperature could thus play a minor role in determining the extent of racemization. This means that the rate of racemization determined by laboratory experiments under some assumed set of conditions would likely have little or no relevance to the rate of racemization occurring in bone or shell during fossilization.

Local increases in pH, even though temporary, could greatly accelerate the rate of hydrolysis and the rate of racemization, and therefore could result in an apparent age in racemization dating methods vastly older than the real age. Many other chemical effects that occur during fossilization, as yet undetermined, could also have a profound influence on racemization rates. These same general considerations would apply to fossilization that occurs in marine sediments and in other sites.

Bender 16 has recently strongly questioned the reliability of the amino acid racemization dating method. He points out that bones obtained from different levels in the Muleta Cave of Mallorca, when dated by the amino acid racemization method, the radiocarbon method, and by the Thorium-230 method, as reported by Turekian and Bada,7 gave strongly discordant ages. He maintains that amino acid racemization rates are extremely sensitive to the environment. In support, he cited the fact that Kvenvolden and Peterson 17 had found that the extent of amino acid racemization in a supposedly 25,000 year-old bone from a saber-toothed tiger recovered from the LaBrea tar pits hardly exceeded that of modern fresh bone.

Bada,18 in his reply to Bender's criticisms, strongly disagreed that racemization rates in bone are extremely sensitive to the environment. Yet in this same paper, he admits that the results on the material from the tar pits are anomalous, stating (p. 380) that "This type of environment is, however, rare and extreme." These results, nonetheless, conclusively demonstrate that the environment can exert a pronounced influence on amino acid racemization rates. The amino acids in these bones were protected from the environmental influences of soil and groundwater, and consequently suffered practically no racemization. It might be expected, on the other hand, that had these bones been subjected to these environmental factors, the rates of racemization of the amino acids contained in these bones would have far exceeded those obtained in laboratory experiments on bone in the absence of such influences.

There is no doubt that proteins in bone and shell and other fossil material undergo hydrolysis and that the amino acids contained in them suffer racemization with increasing age of fossil material. To use rates of racemization as a dating method, however, the entire history of the fossil material would have to be known, including temperature and the entire diagenetic process, especially the chemical environment that contributed to this process, and most especially the pH. Since all of these factors, most of which accelerate racemization rates, cannot be known, it is suggested that the apparent ages obtained by this method are unreliable and, with few exceptions, are much older than the real ages.

Evolution places severe demands upon fossils used to support it. A fossil in an evolutionary sequence must have both the proper morphology (shape) to fit that sequence and an appropriate date to justify its position in that sequence. Since the morphology of a fossil cannot be changed, it is obvious that the dating is the more subjective element of the two items. Yet, accurate dating of fossils is so essential that the scientific respectability of evolution is contingent upon fossils having appropriate dates.

Popular presentations of human evolution show a rather smooth transition of fossils leading to modern humans. The impression given is that the dating of the individual fossils in that sequence is accurate enough to establish human evolution as a fact. However, because of severe dating problems which are seldom mentioned, this alleged sequence cannot be maintained. To present the fossil evidence as a relatively smooth transition leading to modern humans is akin to intellectual dishonesty.

It is impossible to give an evolutionary sequence to the human fossils because there is a coverage gap involving the dating methods which evolutionists believe are the most reliableradiocarbon and potassium-argon (K-Ar). This gap is from about 40,000 ya (years ago) to about 200,000 ya on the evolutionist's time scale. It covers roughly the period known as the Middle Stone Age (MSA). This coverage gap lies beyond what is considered the effective range for radiocarbon and prior to what is considered the effective range for potassium-argon. This problem period may be even larger because: (1) some dating authorities believe that the effective range for K-Ar doesn't begin until about 400,000 ya, and (2) many of the older fossils are found at sites that lack the volcanic rocks necessary for K-Ar dating and hence cannot be dated by this method at all.

Although young-earth creationists challenge the legitimacy of all of the dates obtained by the long-term radiometric methods, even evolutionists are beginning to admit that this dating gap presents a problem for them. However, the real seriousness of this problem seems to elude them, even when they occasionally refer to it in their writings.[1]

In the past 15 years, the major focus of human evolution has shifted from the origin of "all" humans to the origin of "modern" humans, and the very time during which modern humans are alleged to have evolved from their more primitive human ancestors is the period covered by this gap. At least 406 human-fossil individuals are placed by evolutionists in this 40,000-to-200,000 ya time-period gap and hence are questionably dated.[2] The inability of the radiocarbon and the K-Ar methods to cover this time period explains why many alternate dating methods have been devised to attempt to give coverage in this area. However, these alternative methods have serious problems of their own.

Of the 84 anatomically modern Homo sapiens fossil individuals dated by evolutionists beyond 40,000 years, 59 of them (70%) fall into this 40,000-to-200,000 ya gap. (Anatomically modern Homo sapiens fossils that are dated more recently than 40,000 years of age are not of great significance for evolutionary purposes and are not under consideration here.)

There are four Neanderthal fossil individuals that are dated more recently than 40,000 years. They are the Amud I and Shukbah remains from Israel and the Saint-Cesaire and Arcy-sur-Cure remains from France. All other Neanderthal remains, some 300 fossil individuals, or approximately 98.6% of all of the Neanderthals, fall into the period covered by this gap. (It is well known that another reason why many of the Neanderthal fossils are poorly dated is because they were found long before the importance of documenting fossils in their geological context was fully appreciated.)

The relatively new fossil category created by evolutionists, the "archaic Homo sapiens" category, contains at least 64 fossil individuals. Twenty-eight of them (44%) fall within this time gap. Nineteen of the 222 Homo erectus fossil individuals (9% of the total) likewise fall into this time gap. In all, 406 human-fossil individuals which evolutionists feel are crucial in documenting the evolution of modern humans fall into the gap between radiocarbon and K-Ar dating and hence have uncertain ages.

Creationists have noted an interesting pattern in evolutionist writings regarding the dating of fossils. Shortcomings of a dating method in current use are not generally acknowledged by evolutionists. Only when they feel they have devised a better method for a specific time period, do they publicly admit the weaknesses of the method they had been using previously. The result is that the public assumes the dating methods used at any given time are adequate, whereas the dating specialists working with those methods know that this is not necessarily the case.

The latest illustration of not admitting the uncertainties of older dating methods until newer ones have been developed centers around a new method proposed for dating human fossils in this 40,000-to-200,000-years ago time period. This new method, announced in the journal, Science, involves racemization of amino acids in ostrich eggshell. The amino-acid method was developed some time ago for dating bone material at archaeological sites. Because bone is porous, it is subject to ground-water leaching. Hence, the method fell into disfavor because it gave questionable dates. However, because ostrich eggshell is thought to be a rather closed system, it is claimed that items found in association with it can be dated more accurately by the amino-acid-racemization method.

The admissions now being made about the dating methods that have been previously used by evolutionists to cover this time period are particularly interesting. These admissions have profound implications for human evolution. In the Science article on ostrich-eggshell dating,[3] the authors state that many of the dates assigned to human fossils in this 40,000-to-200,000-years ago period based on the older methods were only "provisional," and that all such dating is "uncertain." These are remarkable admissions. Anyone familiar with the paleoanthropological literature knows that this is not the way most of the dates for fossil discoveries in that time period have been presented. This time period is critical for human evolution, and evolutionists have consistently claimed a degree of certainty in their dating which now appears to be unjustified.

The author does not wish to imply that the ostrich-eggshell-dating method is a legitimate one. The point is that, for evolutionists to claim they now have a "better" method for dating human fossils discovered in the future does not correct the inaccurate dates of human fossils that were discovered in the past. The dating flaws of the past cannot be rectified because: (1) many of those fossil sites have been destroyed or altered, so that reconstruction to allow for redating of fossils after the fact is not possible; and (2) to find ostrich eggshell that can be shown to have been in unquestioned association with those previously discovered fossils is virtually impossible.

The uncertainty of fossil dates in the Middle Stone Age is just the tip of the iceberg. For evolutionists, the problem is far more serious, but few are willing to acknowledge it. William Howells (Harvard University) states that the dating problems involve the entire Middle Pleistocene (100,000 to 700,000 ya, according to evolutionists). This would involve many more fossils than just those in the Middle Stone Age. Howells writes: "It cannot be too strongly emphasized how much uncertainty attaches to placement of all but a few of the fossils, absolutely or relatively, especially for the Middle Pleistocene."[4] Creationists recognize that the problem is far greater than even Howells suggests. But it is refreshing to know that some evolutionists are speaking frankly about the dating problems involving the human fossils.

Human evolution demands precise dating of the relevant fossils. Evolutionists now admit that the dates for the human fossils in the significant Middle Stone Age period and elsewhere are uncertain. It means that there is no such thing as a legitimate evolutionary fossil sequence leading to modern humans. It also means that evolutionists cannot make accurate statements regarding the origin of modern humans based on fossils discovered thus far. Their continuing to do so reveals that their statements are based on a belief system, not on the practice of a rigorous science.
-- References --

1. Richard G. Klein, The Human Career: Human Biological and Cultural Origins. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989): 254, 292.
2. For charts listing all of the fossils in this time period, see Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992)
3. A. S. Brooks, P. E. Hare, J. E. Kokis, G. H. Miller, R. D. Ernst, and F. Wendorf, "Dating Pleistocene Archaeological Sites by Protein Diagenesis in Ostrich Eggshell," Science 248 (6 April 1990): 60-64.
4. William W. Howells, Homo erectus:Who, When, and Where: A Survey,
"Yearbook of Physical Anthropology" 23, 1980
(Supplement 1 to the "American Journal of Physical Anthropology"): 8.

Evolutionists generally feel secure even in the face of compelling creationist arguments today because of their utter confidence in the geological time scale. Even if they cannot provide a naturalistic mechanism, they appeal to the "fact of evolution," by which they mean an interpretation of earth history with a succession of different types of plants and animals in a drama spanning hundreds of millions of years.

The Bible, by contrast, paints a radically different picture of our planet's history. In particular, it describes a time when God catastrophically destroyed the earth and essentially all its life. The only consistent way to interpret the geological record in light of this event is to understand that fossil-bearing rocks are the result of a massive global Flood that occurred only a few thousand years ago and lasted but a year. This Biblical interpretation of the rock record implies that the animals and plants preserved as fossils were all contemporaries. This means trilobites, dinosaurs, and mammals all dwelled on the planet simultaneously, and they perished together in this world-destroying cataclysm.

Although creationists have long pointed out the rock formations themselves testify unmistakably to water catastrophism on a global scale, evolutionists generally have ignored this testimony. This is partly due to the legacy of the doctrine of uniformitarianism passed down from one generation of geologists to the next since the time of Charles Lyell in the early nineteenth century. Uniformitarianism assumes that the vast amount of geological change recorded in the rocks is the product of slow and uniform processes operating over an immense span of time, as opposed to a global cataclysm of the type described in the Bible and other ancient texts.

With the discovery of radioactivity about a hundred years ago, evolutionists deeply committed to the uniformitarian outlook believed they finally had proof of the immense antiquity of the earth. In particular, they discovered the very slow nuclear decay rates of elements like Uranium while observing considerable amounts of the daughter products from such decay. They interpreted these discoveries as vindicating both uniformitarianism and evolution, which led to the domination of these beliefs in academic circles around the world throughout the twentieth century.

However, modern technology has produced a major fly in that uniformitarian ointment. A key technical advance, which occurred about 25 years ago, involved the ability to measure the ratio of 14C atoms to 12C atoms with extreme precision in very small samples of carbon, using an ion beam accelerator and a mass spectrometer. Prior to the advent of this accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) method, the 14C/12C ratio was measured by counting the number of 14C decays. This earlier method was subject to considerable "noise" from cosmic rays.

The AMS method improved the sensitivity of the raw measurement of the 14C/12C ratio from approximately 1% of the modern value to about 0.001%, extending the theoretical range of sensitivity from about 40,000 years to about 90,000 years. The expectation was that this improvement in precision would make it possible to use this technique to date dramatically older fossil material.1 The big surprise, however, was that no fossil material could be found anywhere that had as little as 0.001% of the modern value!2 Since most of the scientists involved assumed the standard geological time scale was correct, the obvious explanation for the 14C they were detecting in their samples was contamination from some source of modern carbon with its high level of 14C. Therefore they mounted a major campaign to discover and eliminate the sources of such contamination. Although they identified and corrected a few relatively minor sources of 14C contamination, there still remained a significant level of 14Ctypically about 100 times the ultimate sensitivity of the instrumentin samples that should have been utterly "14C-dead," including many from the deeper levels of the fossil-bearing part of the geological record.2

Let us consider what the AMS measurements imply from a quantitative standpoint. The ratio of 14C atoms to 12C atoms decreases by a factor of 2 every 5730 years. After 20 half-lives or 114,700 years (assuming hypothetically that earth history goes back that far), the 14C/12C ratio is decreased by a factor of 220, or about 1,000,000. After 1.5 million years, the ratio is diminished by a factor of 21500000/5730, or about 1079. This means that if one started with an amount of pure 14C equal to the mass of the entire observable universe, after 1.5 million years there should not be a single atom of 14C remaining! Routinely finding 14C/12C ratios on the order of 0.1-0.5% of the modern valuea hundred times or more above the AMS detection thresholdin samples supposedly tens to hundreds of millions of years old is therefore a huge anomaly for the uniformitarian framework.

This earnest effort to understand this "contamination problem" therefore generated scores of peer-reviewed papers in the standard radiocarbon literature during the last 20 years.2 Most of these papers acknowledge that most of the 14C in the samples studied appear to be intrinsic to the samples themselves, and they usually offer no explanation for its origin. The reality of significant levels of 14C in a wide variety of fossil sources from throughout the geological record has thus been established in the secular scientific literature by scientists who assume the standard geological time scale is valid and have no special desire for this result!

In view of the profound significance of these AMS 14C measurements, the ICR Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (RATE) team has undertaken its own AMS 14C analyses of such fossil material.2 The first set of samples consisted of ten coals obtained from the U. S. Department of Energy Coal Sample Bank maintained at the Pennsylvania State University. The ten samples include three coals from the Eocene part of the geological record, three from the Cretaceous, and four from the Pennsylvanian. These samples were analyzed by one of the foremost AMS laboratories in the world. Figure 1 below shows in histogram form the results of these analyses.

These values fall squarely within the range already established in the peer-reviewed radiocarbon literature. When we average our results over each geological interval, we obtain remarkably similar values of 0.26 percent modern carbon (pmc) for Eocene, 0.21 pmc for Cretaceous, and 0.27 pmc for Pennsylvanian. Although the number of samples is small, we observe little difference in 14C level as a function of position in the geological record. This is consistent with the young-earth view that the entire macrofossil record up to the upper Cenozoic is the product of the Genesis Flood and therefore such fossils should share a common 14C age.

Figure 1. Histogram representation of 14C analysis of RATE coal samples. Coal 14C AMS Results Mean: 0.247 Std dev: 0.109
Percent Modern Carbon

Applying the uniformitarian approach of extrapolating 14C decay into the indefinite past translates the measured 14C/12C ratios into ages that are on the order of 50,000 years (2-50000/5730 = 0.0024 = 0.24 pmc). However, uniformitarian assumptions are inappropriate when one considers that the Genesis Flood removed vast amounts of living biomass from exchange with the atmosphereorganic material that now forms the earth's vast coal, oil, and oil shale deposits. A conservative estimate for the pre-Flood biomass is 100 times that of today. If one takes as a rough estimate for the total 14C in the biosphere before the cataclysm as 40% of what exists today and assumes a relatively uniform 14C level throughout the pre-Flood atmosphere and biomass, then we might expect a 14C/12C ratio of about 0.4% of today's value in the plants and animals at the onset of the Flood. With this more realistic pre-Flood 14C/12C ratio, we find that a value of 0.24 pmc corresponds to an age of only 4200 years (0.004 x 2-4200/5730 = 0.0024 = 0.24 pmc). Even though these estimates are rough, they illustrate the crucial importance of accounting for effects of the Flood cataclysm when translating a 14C/12C ratio into an actual age.

Percent Modern Carbon

Some readers at this point may be asking, how does one then account for the tens of millions and hundreds of millions of years that other radioisotope methods yield for the fossil record? Most of the other RATE projects address this important issue. Equally as persuasive as the 14C data is evidence from RATE measurements of the diffusion rate of Helium in zircon crystals that demonstrates the rate of nuclear decay of Uranium into Lead and Helium has been dramatically higher in the past and the uniformitarian assumption of a constant rate of decay is wrong.3 Another RATE project documents the existence of abundant Polonium radiohalos in granitic rocks that crystallized during the Flood and further demonstrates that the uniformitarian assumption of constant decay rates is incorrect.4 Another RATE project provides clues for why the 14C decay rate apparently was minimally affected during episodes of rapid decay of isotopes with long half-lives.5

The bottom line of this research is that the case is now extremely compelling that the fossil record was produced just a few thousand years ago by the global Flood cataclysm. The evidence that reveals that macroevolution as an explanation for the origin of life on earth can therefore no longer be rationally defended.
it does say in 2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousnad years, and a thousand years as one day. now please go read the whole chapter though so it is not taken out of context which so many are guilty of doing. ok theology 101 of creation day one ( I personally use a King James Bible)
The chronology which one often finds in the marginal notes of many of the older Bibles, notably the Authorized Version of the King jmaes, is not a part of the Bible itself by any means! Archbishop Usher arrived at the date of 40004 B.C by using his calculations of the years in the patriarchal geneologies - Gen. 5,11 -. A comparison of these genealogies with those in the Gospels will reveal that biblical geneologies are not necessarily complete by design not were they given to all us to calulate the span of time between various events in the early history of man ( we can't even get right what is revealed to us in complete truth ). They present certain signifigant names and omit others. Therefore , they cannot be used to establish the " DATE" of creation. the earliest time from which we can calculate calendar years with approximate accuracy is t eh time of Abraham. the age which one prescribes for the earth is extreamly dependent on one's view of creation. The old Scofield Bible maintians that the condition of the earth in verse two is the result of judgment, and threfore interprets the verb hayah as "became" However , the hebrew construction of the verse two is disjuctive, describing the result of the creation described in verse one. The phrase " with out form and void " is often misunderstood because of this rendering. These words are found only in a few other places ( Isaiah 34:11 and 45:18 and jeremiha 4:23) they do not describe chaos but rather emptiness. a better translation would be " unformed and unfilled"
THERE are FIVE MAJOR THEORIES on the interpretation of the six days of creation.
The pictorial dy theory claims that the six days mentioned in genesis are the six days during which God revealed to Moses the events of creation. but the Bible relates the creation as clearly , simply, and historically as it does any other events. To interpret the text in this manner requires the abandonment of all exegetical principles.
the gp view claims that Genesis 1:1 describes an original creation which ws followed by the fall of Satan and great judgment. Genesis 1:2 is then supposed to be a description of the re-creation or restoration that took place. Exodus 20:11 teaches that all the universe, including the heanvens and the earth was created in the six day period mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis.
the intermittent day view claims that the days mentioned are literal days, but that they are seperated by long periods of time. However, unless all the creative activity is limited to the literal days, this view is in direct contradiction to Exodus 20:11
the day-age theory claims that the word Yom , which is a hebrew word for "day", is used to refer to periods of indefinate length, not literal days. While this is a viable meaning of the word ( leviticus 14:2, 9 , 10 ) it is not the common meaning, nor is the meaning of the word sufficient foundation for the theory.
the literal day theroy accepts the clear meaning of the text: the universe was created in six literal days. The various attempts to join together the biblical account of creation and eveolution are not supportable even by the various gap theries because the order of creation and eveolution is in direct opposition to the views of the modern science ( creation of trees before light). The phrase " evening and morning" indicates literal days ( Danniel 8:14 where te same phrase in Hebrew is translated " day" )
God of his own free will and by HIS absolute power called the universe into bing, creating it out of nothing ( Psalms 33: 6,9 and 102:25 - Isaiha 45:12 , jeremiha 10:12, John 1:3, Acts 14:15 and 17:24 Romans 4:17 , collosians 1:15-17, Hebrews 3:4 and 11:3 and Revelation 4:11) When one acknoledges the absolute powere of God , he must accept hs power to create and destroy as stated in the Scriptures. There are many concepts such as this in Scripture which the finite mind canot completely grasp. the beliver must accept those things by faith.
Now as far as fossil age goes here are some articles not written by me lol and there are many more but as I said this is day 1 of 101 so I dont want to over load any one
Acknowledgement: The RATE team would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to the many generous donors who have made the high precision analyses at some of the best laboratories in the world possible. The credibility of our work in creation science research depends on these costly but crucial laboratory procedures.
Endnotes and References
5. F. H. Schmidt, D. R. Balsley, and D. D. Leach, "Early expectations of AMS: Greater ages and tiny fractions. One failure?one success," Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B, 29:97-99, 1987.
6. J. R. Baumgardner, D. R. Humphreys, A. A. Snelling, and S. A. Austin, "Measurable 14C in fossilized organic materials: Confirming the young earth creation/Flood model," in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. E. Walsh, Editor, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 127-142, 2003.
7. D. R. Humphreys, J. R. Baumgardner, S. A. Austin, and A. A., Snelling, "Helium diffusion rates support accelerated nuclear decay," in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. Ivey, Ed., Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 175-196, 2003.
8. A. A. Snelling and M. H. Armitage, "RadiohalosA tale of three granitic plutons," in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. Ivey, Ed., Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 243-268, 2003.
9. A. A. Snelling, S. A. Austin, and W. A. Hoesch, "Radioisotopes in the diabase sill (upper Precambrian) at Bass Rapids, Grand Canyon, Arizona: An application and test of the isochron dating method," in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism, R. Ivey, Ed., Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 269-284, 2003.