Tag Archives: Christianity

Put the Mass back into Christmas

Our task is not to put Christ back into Christmas; our task is to put the Mass back into Christmass.

Source: Put the Mass back into Christmas

 

Put the Mass back into Christmas

Christmas

The “Put Christ into Christmas”, “Keep Christ in Christmas” banners, stickers, buttons are wrong.

You cannot keep Christ out of Christmas.

Christ is there in the hustle and bustle. Christ is there amongst the ring of the cash registers, the terrible piped music, the stress, the good-wishes, the sending of cards, family tensions, and exchange of presents. Christ is there on the beach, in the holidays, even in the bleak Northern Hemisphere midwinter.

Our task is not to bring Christ to where he is not. Our task is to recognise where Christ is. To point to where Christ is. To worship Christ. Our task is not to put Christ back into Christmas; our task is to put the Mass back into Christmass.

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Creationist Jack Chick roasted by spoof tract

For many years Jack Chick tracts were the sickest fundamentalists could produce, with there attacks on evolution Roman Catholics etc.

They were as slick as sick and devoid of any love. I wonder about those who used them how they coped with any of Jesus’ injunction to love.

Well he popped his clogs recently and here one anti-fan produced a Chick-worthy tract on his demise.

His tracts on evolution don’t even come into the Fake News or Post truth categories and are marked by duplicity and sheer nastiness.

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But he could shout this louder than any1

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Enjoy!

Here it is and it was reblogged by James McGrath

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2016/12/jack-chick-goofed.html

Jack Chick Goofed

I really like this reworking of Jack Chick’s famous tract, “This Is Your Life,” in honor of Chick’s death, by Gretchen Koch.

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Of related interest, Randal Rauser shared that someone made a movie version of the Chick Tract “Somebody Goofed”

 

Evolution grotesquely parodied by a man of the cloth

It is amazing how some can (deliberately) misunderstand evolution. This recently appeared on FB and I am sure the Wise Man is a minister. The person who posted it is a devout Christian, yet has been deceived by her Christian teachers to believe utter nonsense.

I must stress that this is not from America but from England’s green and pleasant land

A Wise Man (who shall remain nameless) once explained the Theory of Evolution to me like this: The possibility of everything on our beautiful earth coming together by accident has the same probability as an explosion in a Lego factory where all the red bricks end up together, all the yellow ones together, etc. Wonder who that Wise Man was? xxxx

It is difficult not to facepalm with such vigour on reading this without one’s palms being permanently welded to one’s face, and I am sure others feel the same.

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Once I have levered my palms off my face I shall explain why this is so WRONG.

Before I consider what the Wise Man said , here is one of his followers who said that evolutionary theory is not promoted by unproven hypothesis, it is itself and unproven hypothesis. Clearly this chappie does not know the difference of theory and hypothesis

Hence evolution can be dismissed  as in the cartoon and the poster outside an Anglican church illustrate.

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First, it conflates evolution, abiogenesis and the Big Bang into one muddle. Those familiar with anti-science arguments from Christians will recognise that this is like the Big Bang being liked to a Boeing 747 created by a whirlwind in the scrapyard. That goes back to the Arkansas trial of 1981/2. The first thing I want to say is that the Big Bang was first put forward in the 1920s by a Belgian astrophysicist by the name of Fr. Georges  Lemaitre (1894-1966)   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lema%C3%AEtre, who was not only a professor of physics but also a priest.

Secondly, it gives no indication of the step by step development of life  over 4 billion years, but then I suspect that the Wise Man doesn’t accept geological time and may well regarding geological dating as leapfrogging from one logic to another, educated inspiration, genius and guesses. Maybe there are other explanations of the Fossil Record

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Thirdly, our Wise Man forgets the 2-3 billion build-up to multi-cellular life at the end of the Pre-cambrian.

Fourthly, our Wise Man must be indescribably silly if he thinks that this is a fair representation of the science of evolution as it has been developed over the last 200 years.

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Fifthly, I wonder how many poor faithful Christians our wise Man has conned over this and how many people decided to be an atheist as a result.

Sixthly, our Wise Man should learn to build his house on Rock,and consider both the Ages of Rocks and the Rock of Ages.

Despite having grappled with Young Earth Creation for decades I cannot understand hwo supposedly intelligent and educated Christians fall for this type of nonsense in the first place , and then teach it as Gospel. If you are not sure you are being taught this stuff then play this bingo; you should quickly get a full house

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As well as being nonsense this also means that people are given a false choice about the Christian Faith. Either you can believe in Jesus Christ and hold that all astrophysics, geology and biology is false, and possibly of Satan (yes, the late Henry Morris the father of modern Young Earth Creationism does claim this) OR you can accept modern science, which is well-nigh irrefutable and reject any kind of religion. This is what that Wise Man is doing, whether he is aware of it or not.

The book that started it in 1961

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Stories of those who have been faced with this choice are legion, and not a few have concluded that those like our Wise Man are not simply deluded or simple, but actually dishonest. I couldn’t possibly comment but as a Christian minister I do get annoyed with those  who make part of being a Christian to be accepting utter nonsense.

I will also say that a Christian minister/vicar who teaches Young Earth Creationism to his flock is at best stupid and irresponsible, however “sincere” he may be, and church authorities and bishops should not tolerate it it (nor the odd clergy who don’t beleive in God). My impression over many years is that no bishop wants to take up the challenge 😦

Finally, It is fair to saying that the doctrine of creation has been neglected in many churches and it needs to be taught. We need to emphasis its importance, its compatibility with science and our responsibility to care for the creation/environment. After all we are part of creation and need to ensure we understand it and our place in creation (or nature if you prefer.)

Geology, evolution and Christianity in the 19th century

If you read many historical studies of Britain in the 19th century, you will read that a major conflict was over science. That claim is overstated. Here is a brief overview.

 

 

 Geology (Deep Time) and Evolution?

From reading many books on church history, general history or popular science, it is easy conclude  that advances in geology in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and then evolution after 1859 had gradually been undermining belief in God as Creator as well as an almost official literal reading of the early part of the book of Genesis. The actuality is rather different.

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Genesis 1 from a 1611 copy of the KJV

So often the work of Archbishop James Ussher is cited as the “official” view of the churches. In 1656 he published his Annales Veteris Testamenti (Annals of the Old Testament) which gave the famous date of creation as 4004BC. (Actually, it has to be worked out from his use of the Julian calendar.)

Jacobus_ussher

Ussher is often pilloried for this, with the charge that he inhibited the development of geology. That is false, even though I was taught it in geology lectures!! Ussher was in a long line of scholar historians/chronologists whose detailed studied suggested the earth was only some 6000 years old. Despite their bad reputation Ussher and others laid the foundations for a truly historical way of looking at the world both for human and earth history as Martin Rudwick argues so forcibly (Earth’s Deep History p9-30). Slowly this historical approach opened up historical understandings whether of Egypt or the strata.

Up until about 1660 there was no scientific reason to doubt that the earth was a mere few thousand years old as no one had studied what we now call geology or earth science.One of the first was Nils Steno in the 1660s – he later became a Catholic bishop. He was followed by Robert Hooke, Edward Lhwyd and Rev John Ray a few years later. All of these tentatively wondered if the earth was somewhat older! In fact by considering the vast number of boulders in Nant Peris in Snowdonia, Lhwyd reckoned the earth must be older as only two or so boulders had fallen into the valley in living memory. So he suggested a great age for the earth. His argument was wrong as these boulders were place their by ancient glaciers.

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Nant Peris. Just here you can count over 20 boulders. If only one boulder fell into the valley every 50 years, then these 20 would indicate 1000 years . As there are thousands , then that would be 50,000 years and more. It is not a good argument but it shows that people were open to an old earth in 1680.

 

During the 18th century more and more studied strata or considered the implications for Christianity. These were a mixture of Christian (often clergy) indifferent or deistic.As the century progressed the idea of a massive world-wide flood (Noah’s) became totally unlikely and the concept of “Deep Time” became irresistible. After 1750 few held on to the idea that the earth was a few thousand years old and geological field work throughout Europe was building up a picture of an ancient earth, whether Hutton in Scotland, de Luc in Geneva, De Saussure in the Alps, Werner in Germany, Hamilton on Vesuvius (while his wife Emma was with Admiral Lord Nelson!), Rev J Michell and William Smith in England, Fr Soulavie, Cuvier and Buffon in France. Clergy were not absent from this group. Space forbids more detail! At no point during the 18th century was geological time used to attack Christianity as the controversy was not whether the earth was a few thousand.years old or ancient, but whether it was old (say hundreds of thousands eg Jean Andre Deluc)  or millions of years old (James Hutton).

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James Hutton and William Smith

That is borne out by theological writers as where a young earth was accepted it was because it was the traditional view and not against geology. As the 18th century progressed, more Christians accepted an ancient earth WITHOUT it conflicting with their faith. With some early works accepted a young earth and later ones an old earth.

The early 19th century saw great progress in geology as the order of strata was largely worked out (i.e. Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian etc). It is true to say that the lion’s share was carried out in England. Many of these geologists were devout clergy  like Townsend, Buckland, Conybeare and Sedgwick. Others included Lyell a deist or Unitarian. Sedgwick and Townsend were Evangelicals. Much is often mde of a controversy between Uniformitarian and Catrastrophist in this period, but both groups were convinced of vast geological time and their geological methods were almost identical as became apparent to me when I studied some of what Buckland, Darwin and Sedgwick had done in the field in Wales from 1820 to 1850, using their field notebooks and published work. The difference was on matters of interpretation rather than anything else, and, even then, their conclusions were very similar.

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Buckland (in a hyena den), Sedgwick and Lyell

Most theological writers from 1800 accepted Deep Time and this is clear in commentaries. The only exceptions are the small group of Scriptural or Anti- Geologists who flowered from 1820 to the 1850s, who insisted that the earth was 6000 years old and geologists were wrong. These were comprehensively rebutted by Buckland, Sedgwick, Pye Smith and the Scot Hugh Miller.

Over these two centuries there was much ebb and flow with Noah’s Flood. Initially many thought all strata and fossils were laid down by the flood, but this was slowly rejected. Some concluded that there were a succession of floods, which resulted in the deposition of the various apparently discrete series of strata. Others, notably William Smith, Sedgwick (until 1831) and Buckland reckoned that the youngest strata (i.e recent glacial deposits) were laid down by the Flood. Buckland tied this into the Ice Age as well, but note that it was he who introduced ideas of an Ice Age to Britain. By 1850 few thought that Noah’s Flood was more than a local inundation.

To conclude; the awareness of Deep Time caused only limited problems for some Christians, but it is fair to say that evolution was a greater, but not insuperable, issue, as though the question of time and thus the non-literal nature of Genesis was almost entirely accepted by 1859,  the unique status of human beings was implicitly challenged by evolution thuis leading many Christians to question or challenge it.

Prior to the publication of the Origin of Species  in 1859, most British scientists accepte some kind of ill-defined special creation of species, but the simple idea of special creation was crumbling because of advances in biogeography (did God creat three different species of Rhino on different islands in Indonesia), hybridization, change of living forms over times as revealed by palaeontologists and so on. There had been attempts to give an evolutionary perspective before; Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Geoffroy St- Hilaire, not to mention the anonymous Vestiges of 1844. Darwin began his note books in 1836 and published two evolutionary drafts in 1842 and 1844, and then took on an enormous project on barnacles. Claims that he delayed publication as he was afraid of the church establishment have no foundation. He was a slow and methodical worker suffering from bouts of illness. It is often not realized that after the age of 32 he could not walk more than 5 miles. Finally he was jolted into publication due to receiving a paper from A R Wallace in June 1858. After a joint paper he wrote a shortened version of his “big book” which was published in November 1859. The reaction was mixed. Physicists and geologists did not like it. More biologists, especially botanists, were far more accepting. A moderate number of Christians soon accepted the theory. The first person to use the Darwin/Wallace idea of natural selection in a scientific paper was Canon H.B.Tristram of Durham an evangelical.

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Darwin’s statue in Shrewsbury!! and a Punch Cartoon

Many Christians opposed but virtually none from the point of a literal Genesis. Most notorious is Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, a competent naturalist, who reckoned evolution reduced humans to mere apedom and thus moral capabilities. For further details bring the discussion up to date, read; https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/evolution-and-religion-in-britain-from-1859-to-2013/  Very briefly, more and more Christians came to accept evolution in the next few years, but insisted God “intervened” for the creation of life, of sentient beings and finally, humans. So much so that The Fundamentals of 1910 included several articles arguing for evolution, which is not what all would expect.

Ultimately the so-called conflict was a reading back from the 1890s by American writers like Draper and Andrew Dickson White, who claimed WITHOUT EVIDENCE that there was a terrible conflict between science and Christianity since the time of Kepler in 1543. In the last forty years this “conflict thesis of science and religion” has been systematically refuted by a new generation of historians of science, but the false ideas have proved very persistent.

It is probably right to say evolution was more a problem for the less educated, who had probably been taught a literal view of the bible in Sunday School. As today perceptions count for much on understanding science and religion

Slowly the theory of evolution was popularised, and many people came to perceive conflict between science and religion from the 1890s, with the latter as somehow obscurantist, and standing in the way of ‘progress’. This persistent myth has coloured the ideas of many.

In the long run, the theory of evolution tended to dominate human consciousness; all kinds of human, social and intellectual developments were seen in terms of ‘evolution’ towards a) a predetermined goal; and b) ‘progress’ (as interpreted by the theoriser). In the late 19th century Social Evolution was overdone, but the allegations that evolution formed the basis of Nazi ideas is very shaky and is over-stated by some Christians to the point of inaccuracy.

P.S. I have deliberately left out the implications of deep time and evolution for Christianity. But here are what has often come up.

The Moral and Religious implications of Darwin

There are many cited and here are some ignoring  all scientific issues on whether or not evolution occurred.

Issues commonly cited

  1. Genesis says Creation in 7 days
  2. Evolution excludes Creation
  3. Adam & Eve
  4. Takes away uniqueness of humans, an animal not Image of God
  5. Suffering of animal world contrary to a loving God
  6. If we have evolved, no Fall, thus no Atonement
  7. Evolution due to Chance, thus no Design and no God
  8. Chance then no Purpose and no God
  9. Moral behaviour evolved from animals
  10. Genetic basis of behaviour?

 

 

 

 

Can we, as evolved apes have a soul?

Can we, as evolved apes have a soul?

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A reader asked the question in the Church Times on 28th October 2017 (sub-christian horror comic for Anglicans as one bishop put it);

The other day, a friend asked me if the Church believed in evolution. I said that I thought in general, it did accept it. He then asked when the soul arrived: did Homo Habilis have a soul two million years ago? Could someone comment on this………..?

To answer briefly: most in the churches accept evolution and none of us have a soul, whether homo habilis or us. Now having shocked some by saying no one has a soul, let me explain.

Sadly, the Churches only in general accept evolution. Many evangelicals have fallen for Young earth Creationism and Intelligent Design. Many Christians nod acceptance to evolution but do not grasp the implications.

As science, evolution is well-nigh irrefutable as there is no scientific evidence against it. Some Christians oppose it theologically and others of a religious bent find evolution smacks of reductionism.

But let’s consider the evidence for evolution. Until about 1660 most favoured an earth some 6000 years old as Archbishop Ussher argued for.

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However by 1690 some like the Rev John Ray thought the earth was much older from considering rocks strewn around Snowdonia.  Move on a century and almost all scientists were convinced that the earth was  “très vieux” as the great Swiss savant and early geologist de Saussure claimed from the evidence he found in the alpine strata. In the early 19th century geologists ALL found evidence for an ancient earth and worked out the systems Cambrian, Ordovician etc. Many of those geologists were Anglican clergy, some of whom thought the earth was older than the 4.6 billion years we hold today.

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Fossils galore were unearthed and it was soon apparent that some life  forms had gone extinct like the dinosaurs and that there was a succession of life forms. Before Darwin this was explained by God coming back and creating new forms which were slightly different from the previous ones. It was clear that God must have come down a myriad times to do this, but Darwin cut the Gordian Knot in 1859 with his theory of evolution in The Origin of Species.

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Though he was first convinced of evolution by the fossil record, in that work he garnered evidence form every field of biology as well. Of course we KNOW that the church opposed Darwin at every turn and scientists simply took it on board. That facts support that ! The first to cite Darwin’s (and Wallace’s) theory in a paper was Rev H.B. Tristram, an evangelical vicar. The biblical scholar and noted mountaineer Rev F.J.A.Hort accepted it in a trice as did the Rev Charles Kingsley, who incorporated it into his Water Babies. As for the scientists most physicists rejected it. No, the churches did not reject Darwin and within a decade most accepted a form of evolution.

My spoiler for Anglicans is that from 1855 virtually no Church of England clergy thought the earth was only 6000 years old and most accepted evolution from 1870, though often with caveats. Or at least that was the case until the 1970s, when some evangelicals started to believe in Young Earth Creationism and now some 5% of vicars are young earthers, believing that old Ussher was essentially right with his date of 4004BC. The effect of this has been bad, as, in the attempt, to be inclusive, this is recognised as a valid position for Christians, whereas it is simply false and based on mis-reading the bible and mis-representing what science says.

One reason for objecting to evolution is how suffering came into the world and too many still consider it came form human sin. That goes back to Ussher’s poetic contemporary John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost; https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/why-the-apple-didnt-kill-adam-and-eve/

Beyond that, there is the problem of the soul. Why it should be a problem as we do not have a soul, but it is. Many think humans are made up of two or three bits; body, soul (and spirit), with the implicit idea that the soul is tacked onto a body rather like a bolt-on extra. This idea of two/three bits stems not from the Bible but Platonism, which was adopted by the early church, with disastrous results ever since. Once we think of the two bits we distinguish between the bodily/earthly which is bad and the spiritual/soulish which is good. As a result historically Christians have not valued creation except as a vehicle for the redemption of the soul. Some, like the Black Stocking Calvinists of the 17th century took it to the logical conclusion and reckoned that you could kick and mis-treat animals as they had no soul. Yuk!

If we are not “souls with legs on”, so what are we? From Gen 2 vs 7 we read “man became a living being” the word for “being” is nephesh which is translated into Greek as psuche, which is taken as soul. Some animals are also nephesh. This we are “living souls” or “living beings” rather than bodies which have souls, which is the bit which survives death. That means that we see ourselves as an integral part of creation and that we cannot consider ourselves separate from the rest of the natural world. This has been a problem for millennia and the fruits are seen in the industrial world, where it is implied we can, as it were, escape the natural world – whether through technology or religion. Far better is to see ourselves as part of nature as much as insects are. The Green movement has grasped this, but often in a funny way!

At death our soul does not leave the body to fly away for the resurrection if we are lucky! We cannot say what will happen, beyond that for a Christian they will look to Jesus and his resurrection, when he was not raised as soul or spirit, but as a resurrected body. At least that is the Gospel picture and is developed by Tom Wright in his big book Resurrection. So what happens to us? I simply do not know and here I can only look to Jesus Christ and trust in Him. That will not convince those who see humans as body and soul (or souls with legs on as I prefer to say) or to those who are not Christian.

Some have tried to cut the Gordian Knot on this by suggesting that the human body evolved through former living things and then God introduced a soul. This is put forward by many including Sam (R.J.) Berry and Denis Alexander (see his Creation or Evolution), both of whom I respect greatly.

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I simply do not accept their view that humans were given a soul some 10,000 years ago. To put it flippantly, they are evolutionist until 10,000 years ago and then they become Creationist at the last minute. Exactly when an earlier ape evolved into an ape we would define as homo sapiens I do not know. It goes without saying I do not accept a historical Adam.

I cannot give a nice simple answer beyond saying that we are created by God – who took a long time over it right through geological time. I prefer to say we are living souls/nephesh/psuche rather than having a soul as if that is a bolt-on extra. Without going into details this makes better sense of the biblical teaching, the nature of Jesus both as a human and in his resurrection and means we are closely tied to all of creation/natures and also to God.

 

D Alexander; Creation or Evolution

  1. Enns : The Evolution of Adam

The Ark Encounter: A Presentation at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting

Ken Ham’s Ark encounter in Kentucky with a life-size ark has gabbed the attention of many. Here three geologists, who are Christians describe their doubts about the whole thing

The Ark Encounter: A Presentation at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting – Naturalis Historia

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Naturalis Historia

ark-gsa-2016-introslideTake a tour of the Ark Encounter with a geologist, paleontologist and myself in this YouTube presentation.  In July I visited the Ark Encounter with geologist Dr. Kent Ratajeski from The University of Kentucky.   After that trip Kent, myself and Dan Phelps (President of the Kentucky Paleontological Society) worked together – my contribution was rather small – to develop a talk for the Geological Society of American annual scientific meeting. Kent attended that meeting in September where he gave the presentation to a packed room of professional geologists and other interested parties.  This YouTube recording was produced by Kent reading his talk over the PowerPoint slides since recordings at the scientific meeting were prohibited.

The talk covers a bit about the history of the Ark Encounter, goes through the major exhibits on the Ark and provides some reflections on some of that content.

In addition to this video I have written a few…

View original post 44 more words

Answers in Genesis’ Deceptive Video on Radiometric Dating

Many get fed up with Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis continually misrepresented normal science. Poor Ken , he has a thing about “billions of years” and resorts to porkies to reject them. This is a good summary of why his recent porkies are pure Ham.

http://scienceandcreation.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/answers-in-genesiss-deceptive-video-on.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+ScienceAndReligionAViewFromAnEvolutionaryCreationist+(Science+and+Religion:+A+View+from+an+Evolutionary+Creationist)

I don’t know why he does it

Answers in Genesis’ Deceptive Video on Radiometric Dating

Answers in Genesis now has a “Check this Out” feature where they tackle a scientific claim which argues for an old earth and try to debunk it.  Recently, much to my dismay, one of the home school teachers sent out a link to one of these videos on radiometric dating.  Aside from the mistakes inherent in the video, itself, it betrays a deep misunderstanding of how science works.  Here is the short video.

We will take this bit by bit.

  • 0:28 – the narrator states that most scientists regard the age of the earth as between 4.55 and 4.6 and then remarks that, if this is so accurate, why the 50 million year discrepancy?  He then states “That seems like a lot.”  50 million divided by 4.55 billion is 1.09%.  That is the standard error. This date range is made up of thousands of individual dates. The speedometer on your car is less accurate than that (standard error of 2.5%).  In fact, in any statistical test a 1% standard error is considered is equivalent to saying that you are 99% confident that the results you have are accurate. 1% is not a lot of anything. Also carefully omitted from the narrative is that these dates are derived from at least five different kinds of radiometric isochron dating:
    • Lead-Lead isochron
    • Samnium-Neodymium isochron
    • Rubidium-Strontium isochron
    • Rhenium-Osmium isochron and
    • Argon-Argon isochron.

All of these dating methods have different decay states, decay rates and half lives and yet all give dates to within 1% error

  • 1:52 – After a reasonably straightforward description of radiometric dating, the narrator then, while admitting that it is true that a decay rate can be measured using “observational science,” it requires “historical science” to tell how old the rock actually is. He states that in order to get accurate measures from rocks, one would have to know both the decay rate and the initial conditions of the rock, otherwise we cannot directly measure the ages of rocks.  He asks “how do we know what the initial conditions were in the rock sample?”  and “How do we know the amounts of parent or daughter elements haven’t been altered by other process in the past?” and How does someone know the decay rate has remained constant in the past?”   He then says “They don’t.” This is false.
  • Timothy Heaton, Chair of the Department of Earth Sciences & Physics at South Dakota State University writes this about the parent/daughter ratios:

    Isochron dating bypasses the necessity of knowing the quantity of initial daughter product in the rock by not using that value in the computation. Instead of using the initial quantity of daughter isotope, the ratio of daughter isotope compared to another isotope of the same element (which is not the product of any decay process) is used as the comparison for isochron dating. The plot of the ratios of the number of atoms of the parent isotope to the number of atoms in the non-daughter isotope compared to the number of atoms of the daughter isotope to the non-daughter isotope should result in a straight line that intersects the vertical y-axis (which is the ratio of daughter to non-daughter isotopes). This point of intersection gives the initial ratio of daughter to non-daughter isotopes, which would also be the ratio in a mineral that crystallized without any parent isotope present.

    Here is a web site that shows how this plot works in graphic fashion. The narrator’s  hourglass analogy is, therefore, inaccurate.  We don’t need to know how much sand was in the hourglass to begin with, nor did we need to observe the process.  The decay rate is well-known and invariate, which leads to his second statement.

  • As far as the variation in decay rates of radiogenic isotopes goes, they have been shown to vary only  0.1% in response to outside influences (here, and here) and have been shown to vary significantly only under extreme laboratory conditions not found on earth.

As noted above, buried deep in this video and others that Answers in Genesis puts out is a particular philosophical bent that sees “observational science” as real science and “historical science” as not. Ken Ham is often quoted as rejecting historical science by rhetorically asking “Were you there?”  In other words, we cannot know historical processes because we did not observe them.  Consequently, when the narrator of this video says “we don’t” in answer to how we can know how some of our assumptions about radiometric dating are correct, it is this philosophical bent in action.

Such a perspective is facile, as it completely disregards the fact that we reconstruct past events every day at all levels, from the simple act of encountering a broken glass on the floor with ice and water beside it (someone dropped a glass of water) to complex murder investigations in which no one but the murderer was present.  No one questions the validity of these assumptions and they form the basis for much of what we do in life, including our entire criminal justice system.

Secondary to this notion that we can reconstruct the past is that the processes that occur today also occurred in the past.  If I am digging in a field and encounter, at a depth of three or so feet, a series of horizontal metal beams that are four and a half feet apart with ties in between them, because I know that distance is the standard railway gauge, I can reasonably assume that what I have uncovered is part of an old railway.  Was I there when they built it?  No, but I didn’t have to be to have a pretty good idea of what it is.

This is true not just of human constructs but also of natural formations.  Because we have modern floods, hurricanes, meteorite craters and so on, we can identify these formations in the past.
This puts historical science and all of its reconstructive observational power on level footing with observational science.  While Ken Ham and others at Answers in Genesis might say otherwise, it simply is not so.

It is amazing how much damage to scientific and academic integrity one can do in a three-minute video.  Answers in Genesis is, apparently, up to the task.