Sunday, April 29, 2007

Creationism and Flood Mythology

I have been participating in a discussion on DP Forums lately about whether the biblical flood really happened or not. Of course I think the whole idea is complete rubbish and that there is no possible way that the entire earth has been covered in water for any period (let alone a whole year) anytime in the last several milli...EVER.

But of course I am having trouble making the creationists see this, so I need to figure out a stronger argument which can't be questioned. From the discussion so far I have figure out that they (the particular creationists I am responding to, every creationist has a different version) question virtually every scientific method of extrapolation. Basically their stance is that Pre flood was essentially an entirely different world. Then the flood destroyed everything, there was rapid changes since then, and then things settled down into something more similar to what we see today. Thus all of our methods of extrapolation into the past is flawed because we don't take into account the drastic changes that occured during and shortly after the flood which are different to modern times.

Thus when we talk about Ice Core samples which we believe go back 150,000 years, their explanation is that they were formed shortly after the flood, and then settled into a steady pattern in recent times. I was surprised to find that the oldest living tree only went back about 4,000 years, so that couldn't disprove the flood, and in anycase the fact that our tree ring history still reaches back 10,000 years, I guess the creationist reply to that is that it is still prone to the same extrapolation flaws as the ice rings. That the way things were back then was very different, and so it doesn't actually work.

Similarly I have been told that geologists are wrong about the time for geological formations to occur (like stalagmites etc). And rapid geotechnic changes happened shortly after the flood, thus the few species which went on the ark started migrating out from Mt ararat and they started to diversify rapidly and get isolated on islands etc in the couple of thousand years following the flood, rapidly speciating etc into all of the modern species we see today, before settling down into the pattern we now expect. Thus objections about the number of species required to fit onto the ark are shrugged off because the animals back then were different.

So, if we ignore all of our evidence from molecular biology, geology, ice core sampling and everything else which science tells us about how the world works, how do we still conclusively show that the flood didn't happen?

So looking through the list here: I'm going to see what arguments really stand out.

The first one raises a valid point, but clearly creationists just assume it would be possible. I have browsed through most of the other arguments and can see how the average creationist can shrug them off as assumptions of science (as usual, the creationist assumes they know how scientists collect this stuff without any knowledge of the field), but getting down to this section:

i think this raises a few very valid points which can't be easily ignored.

How was the fossil record sorted in an order convenient for evolution? Ecological zonation, hydrodynamic sorting, and differential escape fail to explain:
  • why some groups of organisms, such as mollusks, are found in many geologic strata.

  • why organisms (such as brachiopods) which are very similar hydrodynamically (all nearly the same size, shape, and weight) are still perfectly sorted.

  • why extinct animals which lived in the same niches as present animals didn't survive as well. Why did no pterodons make it to high ground?

  • why small organisms dominate the lower strata, whereas fluid mechanics says they would sink slower and thus end up in upper strata.

  • why no human artifacts are found except in the very uppermost strata. If, at the time of the Flood, the earth was overpopulated by people with technology for shipbuilding, why were none of their tools or buildings mixed with trilobite or dinosaur fossils?

  • why ecological information is consistent within but not between layers. Fossil pollen is one of the more important indicators of different levels of strata. Each plant has different and distinct pollen, and, by telling which plants produced the fossil pollen, it is easy to see what the climate was like in different strata. Was the pollen hydraulically sorted by the flood water so that the climatic evidence is different for each layer?

How do surface features appear far from the surface? Deep in the geologic column there are formations which could have originated only on the surface, such as:

How could these have appeared in the midst of a catastrophic flood?

How could a flood have deposited chalk? Chalk is largely made up of the bodies of plankton 700 to 1000 angstroms in diameter [Bignot, 1985]. Objects this small settle at a rate of .0000154 mm/sec. [Twenhofel, 1961] In a year of the Flood, they could have settled about half a meter.

Also worthy of a special mention is:
How did all the modern plant species survive?
  • Many plants (seeds and all) would be killed by being submerged for a few months. This is especially true if they were soaked in salt water. Some mangroves, coconuts, and other coastal species have seed which could be expected to survive the Flood itself, but what of the rest?
  • Most seeds would have been buried under many feet (even miles) of sediment. This is deep enough to prevent spouting.
  • Most plants require established soils to grow--soils which would have been stripped by the Flood.
  • Some plants germinate only after being exposed to fire or after being ingested by animals; these conditions would be rare (to put it mildly) after the Flood.
  • Noah could not have gathered seeds for all plants because not all plants produce seeds, and a variety of plant seeds can't survive a year before germinating. [Garwood, 1989; Benzing, 1990; Densmore & Zasada, 1983] Also, how did he distribute them all over the world?

Why is there no mention of the Flood in the records of Egyptian or Mesopotamian civilizations which existed at the time? Biblical dates (I Kings 6:1, Gal 3:17, various generation lengths given in Genesis) place the Flood 1300 years before Solomon began the first temple. We can construct reliable chronologies for near Eastern history, particularly for Egypt, from many kinds of records from the literate cultures in the near East. These records are independent of, but supported by, dating methods such as dendrochronology and carbon-14. The building of the first temple can be dated to 950 B.C. +/- some small delta, placing the Flood around 2250 B.C. Unfortunately, the Egyptians (among others) have written records dating well back before 2250 B.C. (the Great Pyramid, for example dates to the 26th century B.C., 300 years before the Biblical date for the Flood). No sign in Egyptian inscriptions of this global flood around 2250 B.C.

How did the human population rebound so fast? Genealogies in Genesis put the Tower of Babel about 110 to 150 years after the Flood [Gen 10:25, 11:10-19]. How did the world population regrow so fast to make its construction (and the city around it) possible? Similarly, there would have been very few people around to build Stonehenge and the Pyramids, rebuild the Sumerian and Indus Valley civilizations, populate the Americas, etc.

Why do other flood myths vary so greatly from the Genesis account? Flood myths are fairly common worldwide, and if they came from a common source, we should expect similarities in most of them. Instead, the myths show great diversity. [Bailey, 1989, pp. 5-10; Isaak, 1997] For example, people survive on high land or trees in the myths about as often as on boats or rafts, and no other flood myth includes a covenant not to destroy all life again.

How can a literal interpretation be appropriate if the text is self-contradictory? Genesis 6:20 and 7:14-15 say there were two of each kind of fowl and clean beasts, yet Genesis 7:2-3,5 says they came in sevens.

How can a literal interpretation be consistent with reality? How could Noah have gathered male and female of each kind [Gen. 7:15-16] when some species are asexual, others are parthenogenic and have only females, and others (such as earthworms) are hermaphrodites? And what about social animals like ants and termites which need the whole nest to survive?

And these are just the arguments which are left over if we choose to ignore reality.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

PhD in Evolution of Aging

I'm looking into a possible PhD project with Dr Russell Bonduriansky at UNSW studying the environmental affects on the ageing of wild and lab colonies of some Australian species of flies. I've got a few months before I need to get my application in, so I am going to spend some time reading his articles and getting familiar with the topic (since I am coming from a molecular biology background and this is a population genetics field more than anything else).

Not much else to say on that for the moment. Still early days.

In other news I just complete my transcription of a the Debate on the Ethics of spending money on a project to advance our progress in lifespan extension from the Edmonton Symposium. You can see the forum thread on the topic at ImmInst. I will also be writing a commentary on it soon, which I might be able to publish here. And I do have quite a lot to say about what was said in that debate! :)

One more piece of news, completely unrelated this time, I also just completed an article on website construction and marketing as a means of working from home. It will be published on sometime in the coming week I expect.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Papers Aloud - Academic Audio Articles is my newest website which I am working on, which will involve distributing audio versions of books, chapters, papers and articles to its users. This is my big idea, which I have ruminated over for at least 3 years now, but which is slowly actually happening now. It is a big process, because it involves very very grey areas of copyright law as well as generally trying to implement the goals of the website.

Now providing Audio Articles to the public for download isn't particularly new, and particularly since LibriVox was created, most of what PapersAloud planned on inventing has infact already been invente. Nonetheless PapersAloud will still implement new functions and capabilities which no one else has. I don't want to say anymore, because this is honestly my big thing. I don't want to risk anyone else beating us to our goals, because I am really excited about this project, and I really want to ride it all the way to the end.

Part of facilitating this project to happen involves inviting Klaus Burton to work on the project with me. Klaus is the designer of the new versions of SAG and SBB, and is known around the forums as SubJunk. See Klaus' Website and Print Design company website here. He also operated the Multiple Monitor chain of websites: Dual Monitor backgrounds, Triple Monitor backgrounds and Quad Monitor Backgrounds.

So, busy times ahead. Like usual.


Sports Arbitrage Guide and SurebetBookies update

SureBetBookies database is live now and has been for a number of weeks. I have been adding new bookmakers into the DB irregularly, and need to up my rate quite a bit to keep things moving. Even more importantly though, i really need to finish a number of other pages on the site, just to give it the completely rounded our feeling. For example, I need to finish editing the Moneybookers and Neteller pages, which I am actually creating moreso for the SEO towards those phrases, which will then bring in more general traffic to SBB, which is always a good thing.

I have also added a few new domains into the mix, and intend to add a single page of content to each of and and optimise those two domains specifically towards those keyword phrases. The domain will be a thorough explanation of how to work SureBetBookies, and will simply act as a portal to SBB. It is a bit of an experiment, but if it works, those phrases should pull in substantial amounts of traffic from Search Engines alone.

Over in Sports Arbitrage Guide I have fully integrated the new SureBetBookies database with the Guide, providing links to the bookmakers for every alert service and functions like that. I believe this will increase profit substantially over the long run, as well as providing far greater functionality for our users. Having that sort of information at your fingertips is incredibly helpful.

Continuing on in my efforts with SEO, I have also been re-evaluating my page designs, titles, descriptions etc. I have created a sub-page for the Work At Home phenomenon. At the end of the day, sports arbitrage trading is simply a method to work at home on your computer, but SAG is optimised for sports arbitrage trading, not 'work at home', so there is a huge market of people looking for what SAG offers, but not knowing how to find it. I think that is one of the biggest failings of SERP's. The fact that specific words on the page do not necessarily give away the most relevent purpose of that page.

But anyway, thats my problem. I have also put a Link Exchange on my Links page, but I need to revise much of that, and I probably need to get one of those 'Are you a human' turing tests on the page since I am already getting bloody spam bots submitting links which are total rubbish. *hate spam with a fiery passion, and would happily see all spammers dead*

I have also paid someone to submit both Sports Arbitrage Guide and SureBetBookies to around 500 Directories. So we'll see over the coming months how much that affects the ranking of both of them in the search engines.

I think as soon as I have those pages on SBB done, the two external sites (sportsbook listing and bookie index) completed, I will actually start working on the Arbitrage Trading section of SAG. Which is long overdue. However, as I say that, i just realised that I already need to start working on a couple of new alert programs which have just come out on the scene, which means more reviews, more page editing, and changes to the SBB database already to incorporate them. So still quite a lot of work going on with them. And lately I have completely renigged on my commitments to ImmInst. I need to do more with ImmInst. Plus work is starting on PapersAloud, which I am about to write another post for.


More Proactive Blogging

OK, it is time to stop avoiding this blog because I have set such a strict design on what i wanted this blog to be. From now on, this is just going to be my blog, to do with it what I want. I still want to write those articles on evolution, moral theory and aging, but I shouldn't exclude all else until i acheive those goals. So I am going to start blogging on stuff that I am doing. I dunno why, chances are no one will care what I am doing, but I like to record stuff.

For a start, Ryan and I registered 1d4 Pty Limited as a company a few weeks ago. We are now directors of a limited liability company. I think that's pretty cool. Now we just need to ensure it keeps growing and increasing in profitability.

I have also been engaging an aweful lot in a new forum at An incredible forum really, when I decide to make my own forum, I am sure I will be copying a lot of their good ideas. That aside though, they are a forum about internet marketing and website construction, so very topic relevent to what I am spending all of my spare time doing now, and something which I really do need to learn as well as I could. Invariably though, I have ended up engaging in a religion debate. LOL. I can't help myself can I?

So far it is only one, but it's on the topic of the Flood, as usual. And I still fail to understand how anyone aside from a small child can actually believe that rubbish is real... The thread is here, and the ultimate answer to people who just don't see it, is as usual, at talk origins.

In other news I saw the movie 300 last night, and I recommend it highly. F'n awesome MOVIE. And I highlight the word movie, because it has been getting bad reviews because of the obviously political inuendos made in the movie, and because of the mythical exagerations added to the telling of the story. That's right, this movie, isn't accurate to reality! *gasp*

Nonetheless, it has entered into my top movies of all time area, right up the top of action films with some of the best fight scenes and "Pure Pwnage" that you are ever likely to be able to imagine. At the end of the first battle, I just kept thinking of the old arcade game: Mortal Kombat... "Flawless victory". I know when I think of the idea of 300 vs 1 Million, i certainly assume that it is ridiculously impossible for them to win, but after watching the first few battes, i started to understand the difference between well trained soldiers vs slaves forced to fight. it is sort of like getting a group of homeless people together and telling them to beat the Australian Wallabies Rugby Union Team at a game of Rugby Union. Even if the homeless had 50 people on the field, it wouldn't change the fact that they are useless, unskilled, slow, probably drunk or whatever, and the skilled players working in unison as a team would just demolish them every time without fail. When it comes to combat like the type in 300, total domination of skill is infact possible. Unlike modern warfare where even the most undisciplined soldiers can get their hands on a bomb or get a lucky shot off on their automatic weaponry.

But anyway, watch 300 while it is still at the cinemas. Well worth it.
300 Trailer
Some of the first battle. Don't watch if you are going to see this at the cinemas, watch the real thiing first.

And now I have to go and talk to the creationists again over at Digital point. But I will be back soon with a couple more updates about SAG and SBB and PaperAloud....the sleeping giant.