Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – The Illegible Post, Part 4 – On population bottlenecks and honesty

your brain might jump out and run awayIn this installment of “just how silly can this get”, we have our Christian making some claims about science in some detail and in general. 

“#11 This population bottleneck is a matter of genuine science and the excuse for it not being true is probably just as valid as any second rate blogger’s posts can be against the science magazines that published it. Yes, scientists have proven we all come from one female.” 

We start right off with the usual creationist tactic of making a claim and offering no support for it.  Many Christians want to claim that “genuine science” (and I can only say that with a broad southern US drawl “gen-u-wine science!”) supports them.  As we have seen, that is not the case and has never yet been the case.  For all of the claims of how science supports creationists, they never come up with scientific discoveries on their own that demonstrate how their god exists.  No, they take legitimate scientific discoveries and misrepresent them through their personal ignorance as something they can glom onto when their faith flags.  From what we know about creationists throughout the ages, the ones now would be heretics to their brethren who were sure that genetics weren’t true, geology wasn’t true, etc.  Many creationists have indeed evolved, disbelieving what their forefathers claimed and now grudgingly accept at least some of the science that they continue to decry when it shows their myths are pure nonsense. The myths pick up more claims of scientific truth in a vain attempt to keep them appearing valid in the fact based reality of the 20th and 21st centuries.  

Population bottlenecks are indeed known facts thanks to the scientific method.  We know them because of work with cell biology and genetics, all sciences that creationists hate until they want to run to them for “evidence” for their god.  Essentially, a population bottleneck is when a population’s gene pool is severely diminished by the widespread and relatively sudden death of much of the population. This website has a very nice illustration of how this occurs.

If there is a limit to the gene pool, there isn’t as many possible combinations to appear in the population and the population is limited in the attributes it displays, attributes that are selected for and against by environmental pressures.  For example, if one of Darwin’s finches, let’s say the heavy beaked seed eater, had a major population decline and the environment changed so that there were few of the seeds it eats around (but there were more bugs deep in tree back)  The population would not have the genetic grab bag that a larger population would to have. They would not be able to adapt as easily to the environment with fewer of those individuals who had those slightly different attributes that favored getting the bugs to survive and pass on their genetics to another generation.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – The Illegible Post, Part 4 – On population bottlenecks and honesty”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – The illegible post, part 1

Church-Lightning-RodSo here we are with the first installment of the review of a Christian’s blog post. The numbers in his post seem to be meaningless since I have used no such numbering in mine. It is anyone’s guess what he might be referring to when, for instance, he claims we agree on something. I believe he thinks that numbering sentences makes them footnotes since he mentioned using such things in a personal email to me, though I could be wrong. Those of us who have written academic papers know this is not the case. 

Rather than address the usual claims of martyrdom that are evident, I shall show how the claims presented as facts are wrong.  The Christian in question, Joseph Armstrong, is quite amusing with attempts to shill a book supposedly full of the “truth”.  Rather than pay $5, you can get it free here, misspellings, tired old lies and all.  I did a little Googling about this book and it’s always good to see creationists attack each other over what they think is the “truth”.  We have young earth creationists (those who think that Bishop Ussher’s calculation of around 6000 years is accurate) insisting that old earth creationists (who accept various ages up to and including the current estimate of  13.77 billion years) are utterly wrong and damned.  And this doesn’t even start on how folks who believe in theistic evolution fit into the mix.  When you have no evidence for your claims, like these folks, then it becomes a free for all, each insisting that they are the only TrueChristianstm. Indeed, this post starts with the Christian’s claim that his version of the religion and his faith are the only right ones, and that anything else is a coward’s faith, which then evidently doesn’t exist since this Christian claims he hasn’t seen such faith other than his own.  He hasn’t looked very far.

Also, be aware that this Christian writes out his “evidence” on poster paper using lots of colors and drawings and takes pictures of them; those are the jpg files he refers to in his post.  It is my opinion that  it ’s a rather transparent tactic to avoid having his words directly quoted by a cut and paste and a vastly silly attempt to impress someone with what looks like it should be in third grade show n’ tell.   They are a bit more legible than yellow text on red. 

For those who have shown concern that I am beating my head against a wall in futility or that I have a tarbaby by the hand, I am quite aware that no matter how much I might write, there will be people who will not accept it but as the poster image above states, the argument is much a moot point.  To ignore reality in favor of their fantasies is their choice.  However, their willful ignorance doesn’t change reality no matter how hard they may pray. They will still be wrong and their numbers continue to dwindle.  This also helps folks who haven’t spent as much time as I have on research to see a lot of info in one place.

Christians have claimed that their god exists and affects the physical world.  The claims range from the supposed events in the bible to claims that miracles happen in the world today.  Various Christians have claimed that they do have evidence to support the existence of the Christian god (God) and the events essential to their religion. This supposed evidence falls into some broadly defined groups  

  • stories that are not supported by original contemporary sources e.g. books considered to be divinely inspired and thus “true’
  • anecdotes that are not supported by other evidence
  • physical evidence that is presented out of archaeological context and thus useless (ivory pomegranate, ossuaries, etc)
  • physical evidence that is refused access to (religious relics)
  • physical evidence that is unaccessible (on a mountain, under a sea, missing)
  • physical evidence presented with a false dichotomy
  • claims that their god is better/different than any others but lacking evidence to support this other than personal belief
  • claims that their god and only their god created the universe
  • claims that miracles occur, those that break physical laws and those that considered from God but are indistinguishable from coincidence or hard work by humans
  • claims that “many scientists” are or have become theists
  • claims to have “scientific evidence” but the evidence is not presented
  • claims that certain ideas have been disproven and failing to admit that it was not theists who disproved them
  • Outright lies

 There will be a lot of these that will come up.  I really should have made a scorecard.  Get a whole set and Bingo!

Now, let’s start into the meat of this.

In #4, we have a claim that there is evidence for a world-wide flood. It is claimed that there is “22 verified such evidences”.  These are not presented unsurprisingly.  In the case of this Christian, he is a Bible literalist, sure that most, if not all, the events of the bible did in fact occur in the past just as written.  He is also a young Earth Creationist, who believes that the earth was created the night before October 23, 4004 BC of the Julian calendar (Ussher again, assuming that God uses the Julian calendar).  This rather sounds like the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian as the movie opens (after the nativity scene and the credits, around 6:36 on the video) and  at the Sermon on the Mount, which is claimed to be “Judea, AD 33, Saturday afternoon . . . about tea time”.  In this Christian’s proposed timeline, the biblical flood must occur between now and 6017 years ago.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – The illegible post, part 1”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Bad logic and even worse “science”

noahRecently, I’ve seen the usual flood myth claims on one more theist blog. This has been done to death but I do love the subject since I’m a geologist. 

The initial blog post was the usual claim by a theist that atheists don’t have enough proof for their position and at best they “really” should be agnostics. This is the usual tactic to cling to their god by implicitly claiming “But you can’t prove my god doesn’t exist, so I can still make believe he does.”  Alas for the theist who make this claim, they forget that their god has very defined characteristics and those characteristics can be analyzed and be tested by the evidence supporting or contradicting them.  The theist in question has insisted that he doesn’t need to define this god, and it’s simply “logic” that argues that agnosticism is the right position.  He invokes the argument from ignorance: 

1.There is no evidence against p.
2. Therefore, p.
3.There is no evidence for p.
4.Therefore, not-p. 

and has accused me of that, but again forgets that there is not this overwhelming ignorance he would hope for; we have plenty of positive evidence against the claims of his religion and his bible.  If there is no evidence for a magical flood, then there is no reason to think that there was one. If there is no evidence for a God, or Santa Clause, then there is no reason to think there is one.  Could there be a probability of something undefined hiding under a rock on Alpha Centauri and that be the Christian god?  No, not if the Christian god is as claimed by the bible and Christians. Logic is a powerful tool but it isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, many Christians find it’s their last hope in finding a gap for their god but don’t understand that. 

There is evidence for geology showing that this flood did not occur ever and could not have.  One has to invoke magic to somehow evaporate all of the evidence that this god did anything ever.  That’s worth a chuckle but that’s all.  One may as well invoke “Last Thursdayism” where we only *think* we remember our lives and some god made us up last Thursday.

(This Christian is also sure that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.  He claims he needs no “evidence” but has “good reasons” to be sure about this.  Of course, I have yet to see the “good reasons”.  It’s just more special pleading.)  

Another Christian has claimed that SCIENCE supports his religion and makes some very typical and very willfully ignorant claims.  He claims that genetics “proves” that there was a population bottleneck and his flood is the source.  First, it is always a treat to see a theist who wants to invoke science and the scientific method when they think that it supports their religious claims.  They demonstrate their hypocrisy when they decide that some science is just peachy but when a bit of that science shows their religion’s claims to be wrong, they will do their best to ignore it.  Quite a bit of trying to have their cake and eat it too goes on in creationist nonsense.  They depend on willful ignorance, outright lies, attacking strawmen created from superseded ideas, etc.  It’s really quite a shame.  AT this point, I cannot accept Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.  In this age of information, it takes real effort to be this ignorant.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Bad logic and even worse “science””

What the Boss Likes – More Geology Pron

I’m mildly addicted to watching geology shows on cable tv. My husband calls it my geology pron and the poor dear has been subjected to more of it than any one should be who doesn’t share an unnatural love of rocks.  

If you share that malady, here are some very nice websites/blogs:

Photovolcanica  it has penguins too! 

Highly Allochthonous

The Accretionary Wedge

Marli Miller Photography – Geology photos



What the Boss Likes – Pennsylvania Geology

Finally some geology.  I had been wanted to do a bit about the spectacular geology in Pennsylvania for a while now and finally got around to taking my camera long to take shots of a very nice road cut.  Of course, after scrambling up a embankment to get some photos, I find that Google Maps street view has better ones, in large part, than I was able to take with my cheap digital camera. Sigh.   This is along US 322 on the westbound side, just west of the Arch Rock Road exit. (photos were taken from the eastbound side) This was created a few years back when the bottle neck along the Juniata (note, not “Juanita” like the folks on the Weather Channel like to call it) River was opened up with a big road replacement project.  Thank you PennDOT, you took a 1/2 hour off my trip time when I go visit my folks.

Central PA is along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, and this particular bit is in the Ridge and Valley province of the mountains.  At one point, these mountains were as high as the Rockies, formed during various orogenies (aka mountain building events), the latest one being the Alleghenian/Applachian orogeny.  But since physics keeps on working and they were formed a very long time ago, they have eroded down, filling their valleys with sediment.  Much of this sediment is interlayered with coal and has natural gas/petroleum (including that Marcellus gas that’s often in the news) thanks to the burying of swamps from ancient river deltas. What you can see here are their roots, the evidence that plate tectonics exists, and the evidence that no ridiculous stories about a magical flood are true.  I could do a whole post on what’s wrong with the creationist claims but it’s been done better by others, especially potholer54’s videos:  Noah’s Flood Debunked Part 1 and Noah’s Flood Debunked Part 2 .  However, if anyone wants their particular questions answered by me, please ask and I’ll do my best.     

Also, if you can and haven’t already, give money to the Wikipedia Foundation to keep it going. I donate and I link to it a lot.

In the images, there are folds, syncline and anticline, as well as ductile folding (folding without breakage) and brittle folding (where it does break).  Those aren’t as clear as they could be but very striking if you are right there (or have a better camera than mine…).  

Looking westbound. US 322
A longer shot

Here’s the Google Maps street level images.  Make sure to look up and down the exposure to see it all.,-77.439065&spn=0.000008,0.004801&t=m&z=18&layer=c&cbll=40.609171,-77.439165&panoid=TxbVvLok_BF2fZZ8OBA3HQ&cbp=12,30.53,,0,0