“Creationists are infiltrating US geology circles”

Ridiculous. The belief that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old is about on par with the heliocentric geocentric model of the solar system — the evidence is pretty damning against both.

However, as I suggested recently to a voluble evolution denier, they’re welcome to try. The discipline of science is self-correcting, and will shrug off anything that contradicts the evidence, as it has throughout history. You never know, one of these guys might come up with something useful to science despite his beliefs.


  1. The commentary Tiferes Yisroel on the Mishnah when discussing the phenomenon of dinosaurs (he did this ahead-of-the-curve, he wrote before Darwin, and before the term “dinosaurs” even was coined, right after the first such bones were discovered and unknown about by most of the public) said that dinosaurs originated from what the ancient Midrash terms as “G-d creating and destroying worlds” (causing repeated catyclysms) before this one.

    Rosh Hashanna, which we were just celebrating, celebrates, according to the Talmud, the anniversery of the creation of Adam – dated 5772 years ago, a fairly good figure for the beginning of civilization.

    The idea that the earth, and life, existed before then does not trouble me, nor has it troubled major Jewish sages.

  2. The Christian Fundamentalists think that’s too complicated. They want to simplify reality by insisting that if their holy book says that their deity did something in six days, he literally did it in the time that it now takes the Earth to revolve six times.

    They (and their subset, the Tea Party Republicans) have a mindset that baffles me. I saw a quote not long ago, on this page, that sums it up perfectly:

    Honor culture vs virtue culture. Wingnuts (like the Confederates before them) are an honor culture where your public rep is way more important than what you do in private. See also: saying that the U.S. tortured people is far worse than, you know, the U.S. actually torturing people.

    The concept of honor was bastardized long, long ago by duelling European aristocrats and Southern aristocrat-wannabes to become another word for “face,” as to lose or save face. It’s supposed to be a moral code based on an internal compass that tells you to do what’s right. Today, it’s become an ego-based concept that centers on external appearance and the need to appear rather than be “virtuous.” “Honor culture vs virtue culture” is probably the best summary I’ve read so far. It also ties into the hypocrisy. If you point out that they’re hypocrites (for example, for whining about welfare when they tend to be older welfare recipients from heavily-subsidized red states), you’re not going to make them realize they’ve behaved dishonorably and thus change their behavior. Instead, you’re going to make them very upset because you challenged their public image; they’ll run to Fox News in tears, and the evening story’ll be about what a mean bully you are for dishonoring them.
    — kingubu and Chris, Sadly, No!, comments

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t understand how that could ever be a viable way to run a culture. What you are must be more important that what you appear to be.

    • Who said what they’re doing is running a culture? 😉

      When I first heard about “honor culture”, I felt a bit insulted, as a southerner (I’m from carpet-bagger Virginia, but my parents are from the Carolinas), to think such a thing was possible concerning my fellow southerners. Unfortunately, especially among politicians, it appears to be the case. 🙁

      I agree 100% about hypocrisy, the prophets spoke about it in the scripture, about people performing empty sacrifices as their way of satisfying religion while they starve the poor.

      All that having been said however, as you know, my position’s a bit more nuanced than this. A six day creation of some sort (Ramban’s commentary and Rashi’s both don’t suggest that what’s being set forth is a strict chronology, and of course the Rambam strays even farther from literalism, though a more peshat approach might agree with his critics who suggest that More Nevukim was too influenced by Aristotle) might not preclude a rather sophisticated view considering dinosaurs, when you add the Midrashic view to the equation. Of course, the first verse of Genesis, as the original Hebrew implies and as commentaries insist, demands a Midrashic explaination rather than attempting a “literal” approach which is all but untenable given the grammatical construct form of the original. (If you did translate it literally into English, the English wouldn’t even make sense grammatically. A distinction lost amongst those who think King James had access to a higher level of prophecy than Moshe Rabbeinu. (Moses our teacher))

      • I read a really good academic paper a while ago on the reasons behind the dueling culture in the South, but I can’t locate it again at the moment. If and when I do, I’ll post about it.

  3. Incidentally, Heliocentric or Geocentric models are both obsolete according to Einstein. It just depends upon your frame of reference, though heliocentric frame of reference is very useful for tracking planets in the solar system unless you want to deal with rather eccentric orbits. Geocentric is useful for some things as well, such as tracking lunar phases and the like, and certain aspects of sunrise and sunset (not the times themselves, but when it goes from being twilight to being completely dark.) The latter two sets of items are very important in the Jewish calendar, and although they can be done quite readily geocentrically given the equations after the fact, they are not as intuitive otherwise. Planetary motion, unless you’re an astrologer, was not as relevant to the ancients as things that were better suited by a geocentric frame of reference; and actually considering that frame of reference’s limitations and the limitations of their equipment, ancient astronomy wasn’t all that bad in many cases.

      • I should add that the biggest failing of ancient astronomy, and also that of early heliocentric astronomy, was perfect circular orbits. Kepler really should get more credit for putting things on the proper course than either heliocentricity or geocentricity, both of which’s models failed miserably at certain tasks because of insistances on spheres and other biases inherited from the Greek focus on Geometric order.

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