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The Sciences

New creationist tactic: telling the truth?

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitOctober 14, 2009 8:00 PM


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Young Earth creationists can be sneaky. First, years ago, they loudly proclaimed their religious beliefs. Then when they got smacked hard in the courtrooms when they wanted to teach religion in schools, they evolved: they changed their snake oil to Intelligent Design and tried again. And again they got whooped. ID was shown to be creationism in disguise -- what some might call a bald-faced lie -- so that again fundamentalists could attempt to teach religion in the classroom, despite the Constitution of the United States. I have wondered aloud what they would do next. After all, when facts are slippery things, able to be misused as openly and ridiculously as so many creationists do, then clearly they won't just give up. They'll move on to the next deceptive technique. And now I have to wonder if we're starting to see it. Could this new tactic be: telling the truth? Greg Fish of the blog World of Weird Things clued me in to a post on the execrable Answers In Genesis website talking about black holes. In this essay, creationist astronomer Jason Lisle discusses the topic with clarity and actual accuracy. He uses decent analogies, doesn't let them run away from him, and makes a good case for the existence of black holes. Wha wha whaaaa? Of course, in the end, he says this:

Black holes provide an observable confirmation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Such physics is the basis for several young-universe cosmologies, which allow light from the most distant galaxies to reach earth in thousands of years or less. Scientific discoveries, such as black holes, are not only interesting, but they give us a small glimpse into the thoughts of an infinite God (Psalm 19:1).

Well, he certainly drops the ball there, letting it fall down (ha! haha!) a black hole. Cosmologies which abuse basic physics to change enough to allow a young Universe tend to be wrong in their basic assumptions. But the point here is that the article itself is pretty much factually correct, making me wonder what's going on here. Maybe the folks at AiG are hoping that by writing an article not filled with fallacious reasoning, they'll reap the benefits of Google links (though not from me, since I put a rel=nofollow in the above link to the site). It's hard to say. But given the sheer amount of nonsense on their site, it's hard to ascribe noble motives to them. And let me add an irony: on that page is a description of dark matter. I find that humorous, because dark matter was originally proposed to solve the mystery of how individual galaxies in clusters can move so quickly but still stay bound to the cluster itself. The gravity from the visible matter in the cluster was too weak to hold on to such rapidly-moving galaxies, and therefore, if the clusters are to not fly apart over the age of the Universe, there must be invisible matter holding them together. So dark matter was originally proposed because we know the Universe is old. Of course, now we know that dark matter has influence all over the place, and would have been found even if we hadn't studied clusters. But the irony still tickles me. Anyway, what do we do here? Well, if creationists want to actually describe the Universe for what it really is, then I guess we let them... as long as they do so, pardon the pun, faithfully. But as soon as they step over that broad, broad line into territory clearly denied by the evidence, then they need to be called on it. Eternal vigilance.

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