Worldnutdaily Owner and Young Earth Creationism

Just when you think Joseph Farah can't get any more absurd, he does. Exhibit A: this column about evolution and creationism. I especially like this tidbit at the beginning:

I was stunned the other day when I asked evolution-believing listeners to my nationally syndicated radio show to call in and tell me why they believed.

"Just give me one reason why you accept the theory," I said. "Just give me the strongest argument. You don't have to give me mountains of evidence. Just tell me why I should accept it."

Not one evolutionist called in.

Meanwhile, the phone banks lit up with dozens of evolution skeptics.

How amusing. Farah is "stunned" to find out that his listeners are primarily made up of people who think (yes, the term is used loosely) like him. What an astonishing discovery, Mr. Farah. You'll get the Nobel Prize for Belated Grasping of the Obvious for this one.

So, I decided to take this issue a step further. Since the evolutionists don't want to tell me why they believe in their theory, I figured I would explain why I believe in mine.

The primary reason I believe, of course, is because the Bible tells me so. That's good enough for me, because I haven't found the Bible to be wrong about anything else.

Well it's nice that he admits that it really isn't about science, it's about religion for him. After all, why bother to actually research and study the dozen or so fields of science for which evolution is the central unifying theory when one has already found Truthtm wrapped up in a single book? I mean, it's not like our understanding of the world has increased at all since those bronze age nomads set pen to parchment, and it's so much easier than actually, you know, thinking.

The evolutionists insist the dinosaurs lived millions and millions of years ago and became extinct long before man walked the planet.

I don't believe that for a minute. I don't believe there is a shred of scientific evidence to suggest it. I am 100 percent certain man and dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time. In fact, I'm not at all sure dinosaurs are even extinct!

You have to love cliche` phrases like "a shred of scientific evidence". To say that one doesn't believe there is a shred of scientific evidence that dinosaurs and humans didn't live together is roughly equivalent to saying that one doesn't believe there is a shred of scientific evidence that microbes cause illness - it reveals either rank ignorance of the evidence or an ability to delude oneself that falls into the "seek professional help" category. Let's see if we can find a few shreds of such evidence, shall we?

One of the clearest demarcations to be found in the geologic column is what is known as the K/t boundary, which separates the cretacious period from the tertiary period, approximately 65 million years ago. The boundary can be identified in deposits from all over the world, in every place where sediments were being deposited, with all of the core samples dating to 65 million years old by a variety of dating techniques, all of which agree. In spots all over the world, at exactly the same place in the strata, there is a layer of clay that forms the boundary between the two periods and that indicates very clearly a cataclysmic event that took place. No matter where you look in the world, this layer of clay contains high levels of iridium and other metals that are very rare on earth but relatively common in non-terrestrial objects like meteors. It also contains microtektites, which are microscopic metamorphic spheres (something like glass) that are formed during explosive events such as volcanic eruptions or atomic bomb testing, as well as "shocked quartz", a similar process that occurs with explosive impacts powerful enough to deform the crystalline structure of rocks. All of these are consistent with an enormous asteroid hitting the earth, and scientists have even found what is almost certainly the crater from this impact off the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, with the dating being right at 65.2 million years ago.

Even before we had any good idea what had happened at that boundary, we knew something big had happened because of the content of the sediments below and above the boundary all over the world. In the simplest terms, the sediments below the k/t boundary are rife with fossils of dinosaurs, which had dominated the earth for 170 million years. In the sediments above the boundary, they are non-existent. Gone. No more dinosaurs to be found anywhere in the world. And not just dinosaurs, by the way. There is a flourishing marine life found in the fossils below this boundary, and afterwards it is virtually gone. Over time, new life forms appear and fill the environmental niches that were once occupied by all of these animals that went extinct 65 million years ago, particularly mammals, which prior to that event were limited in the area they occupied because of competition from dinosaurs.

Now, how about humans, which Farah says he is "100% certain" lived with dinosaurs. Is there a single human fossil found in the same sediments with dinosaur fossils? Nope. In fact, not only is there not a single human fossil, there isn't a single fossil of a dog, cat, horse, elephant, monkey, dolphin, whale or ape either, all mammals that evolved after the k/t extinction. Indeed, there are no graet apes at all to be found until the Miocene, some 50 million years later, no human fossils found until the last couple millions years, and no Homo sapiens fossils found until the last couple hundred thousand years. So contrary to Farah's patently ridiculous assertion that there is not a "shred of scientific evidence" that dinosaurs went extinct before humans got here, there is a vast amount of such evidence and, ironically, not a shred of evidence that humans lived with dinosaurs. But apparently Mr. Farah thinks that the Flintstones was a documentary and not a cartoon.

Furthermore, many of the dinosaur fossils discovered in various parts of the world were found right along human footprints and remains. How did that happen?

It didn't. Mr. Farah has fallen for one of the oldest and most easily discredited creationist claims, illustrated most obviously by the Paluxy River footprints. Those prints were not human, they were infilled dinosaur footprints, and this is hardly a new finding and it isn't dependent on those evil atheist scientists. The Institute for Creation Research retracted this claim over a decade ago, and the creationist Bernie Neufeld (uncle, I believe, of my friend Henry Neufeld) had discredited them as early as the late 60s. Farah can't even be bothered to keep up with his own fellow creationists, who long ago abandoned this claim after it was thoroughly debunked.

And what about the not-so-unusual sightings of contemporary sea monsters? Some of them have actually been captured.

Uh, what about them? They're not dinosaurs. There is one famous example that creationists for years claimed was a plesiosaur, but it was in fact a decaying basking shark carcas. And yet again, this has long been admitted to by his fellow creationists, who even listed this as an argument that creationists should not use because it has no credibility and makes them look bad. But not only is Farah ignorant of the evidence, he's even ignorant of the research his own fellow creationists have done to debunk his claims.

In an earlier column, Farah made this amusing claim:

There are atheists who believe in intelligent design. There are Buddhists who believe in intelligent design. There are agnostics who believe in intelligent design. And, yes, there are even some Christians and Jews who believe in intelligent design.

He does not, of course, name any atheists, agnostics or Buddhists who believe in ID. Why? Because he can't. Because all of the people who promote ID - Phillip Johnson, Bill Dembski, Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, Tom Woodward, and everyone else attached to the ID think tank - shares the same religious perspective of conservative Christianity. The lone exception to that perspective is Jonathan Wells, who is a Moonie. And not only is every single person associated with young earth creationism a conservative Christian, in some cases they've actually signed an oath that they will continue to believe in creationism no matter what the evidence says (the Institute for Creation Research requires it). Now, among those who study and advocate evolution, on the other hand, there truly IS a vast range of religious perspectives. So not only is Farah wrong, he's got it exactly reversed from reality. And that is about as un-surprising to me as the fact that his listeners agreed with him on evolution should have been to him.

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You might email your post to him, Ed.

I read Farah's column the other day when Paul Myers linked to it over at "pharyngula". It's very hard to believe it's not a joke. The most astonishing thing of course, is the stark raving outright lies told off the cuff in every paragraph as though the very typing of the statements make them true. You can't even parody a column like that, and yet I'm sure a good proportion of people reading it are shaking their heads in agreement.

I really do wonder whether people like Farah and the various leaders in the ID/creationist movement really believe what they say, or if they just use it to try to shake down the rubes for cash. I doubt that many people would have heard of Farah were it not for his WorldNutDaily web site. And I doubt that many would have heard of the ID/creationist people were it not for their activism in the movement. Behe certainly would still be an obscure professor at Podunk U.

BTW, you can present evidence regarding evolution until you are blue in the face to those who really do believe in ID/creationism, but they won't believe you. At most, they will believe that the evidence was manufactured by God and placed there just to confuse us. Think I'm kidding? I'm not.

raj -

When I get that argument - that God placed the fossils in the rocks to test our faith - I always ask,

"So, how do you maintain your faith in a God that lies to you?"

Which begs the question of what ELSE God might be lying to them about...

CS

By Captain Sunshine (not verified) on 19 Dec 2004 #permalink

Thak goodness I'm a Buddhist. I don't believe in a "personal god."

By Guitar Eddie (not verified) on 19 Dec 2004 #permalink

Bill Hicks on the subject:
"Dinosaur fossils? God put those there to test our faith." Thank God I'm strapped in right now here man. I think God put you here to test my faith, Dude. You believe that? "Uh huh." Does that trouble anyone here? The idea that God.. might be...fuckin' with our heads? I have trouble sleeping with that knowledge. Some prankster God running around: "Hu hu ho. We will see who believes in me now, ha HA."

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 20 Dec 2004 #permalink

Ginger-
Anyone who quotes Bill Hicks gets on my good side. Most brilliant comic ever, in my opinion.

I really do wonder whether people like Farah and the various leaders in the ID/creationist movement really believe what they say, or if they just use it to try to shake down the rubes for cash. I doubt that many people would have heard of Farah were it not for his WorldNutDaily web site. And I doubt that many would have heard of the ID/creationist people were it not for their activism in the movement.
I don't think I'd put Farah in the same category with the ID folks. Farah, I think, is a pure political demagogue on every issue. He's just trying to push the hot buttons to make a buck (that's why his "news" website hardly ever runs a story without pimping something they're selling along with it). As far as the ID advocates like Behe, Wells, Dembski and Johnson, I have no doubt that they all believe strongly that God created life on Earth. I sometimes suspect that they must know that there are major flaws in their more technical work, but also know that their target audience is too ignorant to catch those flaws, or will rationalize them away. Or it's possible that they don't see those flaws themselves because they're so passionately committed to the conclusion. That's a pretty much universal human trait. At any rate, I don't think they're hucksters in the sense that Farah is a huckster. I think they really do believe they're right and I don't think any of them is in it "for the money".

I think it is important to bear in mind the social history that led us to the situation where religion and science were believed to be in conflict and a large portion of the US population rejected evolution and the life of the mind.

I think a good deal of it stems from a lack of critical reflection on the extent of the influence of newtonian physics on our historic world-views and onto-theologies and a general conflation of specific fallible traditions with scripture.

dlw

"I haven't found the Bible to be wrong about anything else."

These people can be fun. When you meet one and wish to engage them in conversation, you must first discount science and reason as viable options, as doing so will be like teaching a dog to write in Java. They're just not that interested in learning computer language, because they already know what it takes to be a dog. Try this line instead (tone should be that of the sarcastic straightman. Think Groucho.)

"Of course it's all literally true. After all, God would never resort to parables! That would be silly."

It's highly enjoyable if they realize what you've just said, as the look on his/her face is generally priceless, but it's even better if they don't notice (it is also more common).

I e-mailed Mr. Farah, and thanksed him for such a great article. I also added some other examples for him to consider, legends that also give the lie to evolution:

Fairies: little people with insect wings.

Unicorns: cloven-hooved horses with narwal horns

Mermaids: women with fish tails

I have not heard back yet... he must be doing research.