Note that some may find difficulty in playing the audio clip below - going to the source site may help

Jerry Coyne has been busy with professional responsibilities lately, and has not been doing a lot of (what shall we call it?) web-siting, but he did connect to a radio call-in show that Richard Dawkins did for the BBC. It has to do with evolution and creationism, and more particularly with the decision of Britain’s National Trust to include creationist nonsense in its account of the Giant’s Causeway (picture to the left). Here is a description of the phenomenon:

This natural scenery consists of 40,000 basalt columns [off the northeast coast of Ireland] that were formed when lava cooled fast 60 million years ago. This is now a World Heritage Site that was discovered in 1693. Since then, it leaves the visitors stunned.The place is so great, that it is said to be formed by “supernatural forces”. Legend says that it was believed that two giants, one Irish and one Scottish, always at odds, threw stones together without ceasing. This led to the formation of a field of stones on the sea.

Of course, creationists claim that this rock formation is no more than 6,000 years old, agreeing with James Ussher (1581-1656), onetime Primate of All Ireland, who calculated the age of the earth, based on biblical chronology. That’s why many King James (Authorized Version) Bibles still include, on the first page, the date 4004 BC.  That we have other ways of estimating the age of the earth does not weigh with creationists, who insist that the Bible, God’s Holy Word, no less, can contain no shadow of error, and therefore 6,000 years, more or less, it will have to be, no matter what scientists have proved.

I took the liberty of cutting down the sixteen minute clip down to a minute and a few seconds.

Note that some may find difficulty in playing the audio clip below - going to the source site may help

Creationism and the Giant’s Causeway

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I’ve whittled the talk back programme with Richard Dawkins down to this short clip to emphasise what this post is about. It’s about betrayal and misrepresentation. Here we are told by a creationist housewife — as she describes herself — defending her belief that the Giant’s Causeway is only as old as the Bible says it is, a claim which assumes, of course, that there is a definite chronology in the Bible which can be used to date the age of the earth, and that this chronology, such as it is, supersedes all other forms of chronology, because the Bible is, after all, the inerrant word of God. In response to Richard Dawkins claim that reputable scientists all agree that the earth is billions of years old, our doughty housewife responds with: “That’s a blatant lie,” And then she lists four “scientists” who accept the creationist dating of the age of the earth (and she might well have named more, because, if you google these names, you end up on sites with many more). However, here are Mrs. White’s four “reputable” scientists:

I’ve whittled the talk back programme with Richard Dawkins down to this short clip to emphasise what this post is about. It’s about betrayal and misrepresentation. Here we are told by a creationist housewife — as she describes herself — defending her belief that the Giant’s Causeway is only as old as the Bible says it is, a claim which assumes, of course, that there is a definite chronology in the Bible which can be used to date the age of the earth, and that this chronology, such as it is, supersedes all other forms of chronology, because the Bible is, after all, the inerrant word of God. In response to Richard Dawkins claim that reputable scientists all agree that the earth is billions of years old, our doughty housewife responds with: “That’s a blatant lie,” And then she lists four “scientists” who accept the creationist dating of the age of the earth (and she might well have named more, because, if you google these names, you end up on sites with many more). However, here are Mrs. White’s four “reputable” scientists:

Andy MacIntosh is a Professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory at the University of Leeds. He is a young earth creationist, and is on the Board of Directors of the creationist organisation Truth in Science, which describes itself (misleadingly) in this way:

  • Truth in Science is an organisation that focuses purely on science and lets the scientific evidence speak for itself.
  • We accept the Royal Society Motto: Nullius in verba*  ‘Take the word of no-one’  and follow where the evidence leads.
  • We highlight the scientific evidence which is contrary to the Neo-Darwinian paradigm, and expose the ideological bias which hides or ignores such evidence.
  • We believe genuine education in schools and colleges will alert students to all the available evidence and ideas, so that they, in turn, can interpret the evidence for themselves and draw rational conclusions.
  • We aim to promote and stimulate open discussion and allow people to come to     informed conclusions.

Andy MacIntosh is a co-author of a paper (published by Creation Ministries International) entitled Flood Models: the need for an integrate approach, which begins with the following words in its executive summary:

Any scientific understanding of the Biblical Flood must address the hydrology and sedimentation that occurred during the Flood and in subsequent years as the Earth settled down. A number of scientific models previously proposed for the Flood are summarised and assessed.

Edgar Andrews is the “distinguished” author of Who Made God?, as his website tells us, where we are also told that “Professor Edgar H. Andrews (BSc, PhD, DSc, FInstP, FIMMM, CEng, CPhys.) is Emeritus Professor of Materials at the University of London and an international expert on the science of large molecules.” He has actually been involved in a debate with Richard Dawkins. In this segment you can hear him claim against Richard Dawkins that there are scientific reasons for doubting radiometric dating of the earth — and you can also hear Dawkins’ frustration at the kind of empty denial that Andrews’ assumptions dictate.

Steve Lloyd, who ”worked in scientific research for eight years before entering pastoral ministry,” is a part-time lecturer with Biblical Creation Ministries  — but note the switch from scientific research to “pastoral ministry.” Lloyd has a doctorate from Cambridge in materials science, and is featured on bethinking.org, a Christian apologetics website, which plays the science and religion compatibility game. He calls himself a “young fossil creationist.” He is the pastor of Hope Church in Gravesend. He thinks “Floodist” rather than “Creationist” might be a more appropriate title, since everything in his view centres around this great catastrophe. He’s a young fossil creationist mainly because he thinks that animal suffering is a problem, and that a good God couldn’t have created a world billions of years old with the amount of suffering that that would entail.

Paul Garner — who blogs on The New Creationism, and is a “researcher and lecturer with Biblical Creation Ministries,” where we are told that Garner “has a degree in Environmental Sciences (Geology/Biology) and is a Fellow of the Geological Society.” You can read some of his “scientific” papers here.