[asa] Denver RATE Conference (Thousands...Not Billions)_Part 6 & The End

From: Steven M Smith <smsmith@usgs.gov>
Date: Wed Oct 10 2007 - 12:38:39 EDT

Denver RATE Conference (Thousands...Not Billions)_Part 6 & The End

Continued from
Part 1 (http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/200709/0498.html),
Part 2 (http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/200709/0569.html),
Part 3 (http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/200710/0010.html),
Part 4 (http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/200710/0054.html), and
Part 5 (http://www.calvin.edu/archive/asa/200710/0075.html)

"Thousands ... not Billions"
Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth (RATE) Conference
Colorado Community Church, Denver, Colorado
September 15, 2007 (8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)

[Editorial note: The following summary was compiled from my personal
handwritten notes. I do not have a recording or transcript of the
conference. Statements in "quotes" represent, to the best of my ability,
the gist of what was said, if not actual sentences and phrases. I have
tried not to interject my own ideas, opinions, or evaluations of the
conference. Some personal descriptions of people and events are included
to give a flavor of the atmosphere and audience responses. In a few
cases, I have felt the need to clarify ideas or statements by enclosing
comments in [brackets]. Without doubt, some bias in these notes is
inevitable since they represent only the points that I thought were
pertinent enough to record.]

The last talk of the day, by Gary Parker, ended at 3:00 p.m. and now it
was time for the Question & Answer Session with RATE Scientists. Lawrence
Ford took over the podium microphone and Drs. Donald DeYoung, Russell
Humphreys, John Baumgardner, and Gary Parker took seats at a conference
table. During the day, we had been handed note cards on which we were to
write any questions that we might have for the Q & A time. Most of the
cards had been collected earlier in the day but a few trickled in at this
point. Surprisingly, it took 5-10 minutes to organize this Q & A session.
 It was evident that most of the questions had, by this point, been sorted
and reviewed. There were a few cards left that were being considered.
During most of this delay, Lawrence Ford was talking to the audience;
however, I have no notes nor do I remember a thing that he said. Finally
eight questions were chosen and given to Lawrence. Lawrence read the
chosen question and directed it to one of the RATE scientists. There was
no opportunity for audience participation or for insuring that the
response actually answered the question.

* Question #1 directed to Donald DeYoung: What is considered to be the
most accurate dating method?

DeYoung responded, "Radioactive dating & the size of the universe."

* Question #2 directed to John Baumgardner: What is a half life &

Baumgardner basically gave the answers that were written in the brochure
[if anything, the answer was more obscure]. He did mention that half
lives were a "statistical measure of a random process."

* Question #3 directed to Russell Humphreys: Why do you think God would
cause Accelerated Nuclear Decay? Isn't this like created starlight?

Humphreys' response: "Decay happened. We don't think that He just
created the evidence. Decay gives off heat. The heat may have started
the process of Plate Tectonics. Maybe Accelerated Nuclear Decay is the
means that God used to start the Flood. There are hints of this in the
Scriptures. See the RATE I technical volume for more details.

* Question #4 directed to Gary Parker: For Old-Earth Creationists, why is
a local flood more important than a global one?

Parker: "I suppose that Old-Earth Creationists want the geologic column to
represent millions of years of death. For some strange reason, Old-Earth
Creationists don't like it when God did what He said He did. They also
don't want ridicule from their peers. They want to preserve long periods
of time."

* Question #5 directed to Gary Parker: What about the Big Bang?

Parker responded: "You can't compromise with Genesis. The Big Bang is
supported by Old-Earth Creationists. I'll stick with Genesis, which
doesn't change."

* Question #6 directed to John Baumgardner: What is the basis for the
Carbon-14 dilution before the Flood? How can a dilution factor of 100
times change the time frame from 50,000 to 5,000? Isn't 50,000/100 = 500?

Baumgardner: "The main reason is all the evidence of carbon buried by the
Flood. Fossils, petroleum, limestone - these were all living critters
prior to the Flood. Therefore there was more Carbon-12 in the world; at
least 100 times greater. Some might say 200-500 times greater. Carbon-14
might have been less. There were only 1,600 years before the Flood to
create Carbon-14. The math works out because the Carbon-14 decline is
exponential so a factor of 100 corresponds to about 40,000 years."

* Question #7 directed to Russell Humphreys: How do you account for all
of the heat generated by Nuclear Decay?

Humphreys: "There was a lot of heat generated. If it was all generated
during the Flood, it would incinerate things - but it didn't. We think
that accelerated nuclear decay occurred during both the Creation week and
during the Flood. Both of these are associated with periods of expansion.
 See Psalm 18:9. This is talking about the time of the Flood. The Hebrew
word translated as 'bowed' also means 'stretched'. So when it says that
God 'bowed the heavens also', it means that he stretched out the heavens.
The Psalmist David is talking about the expansion of space. A little
known corollary to Einstein's Theory of General Relativity is that the
expansion of space robs every moving particle of energy. Losing energy is
the same as losing heat. There may have also been a time dilation event
with the Flood too. This expansion of space is so effective at removing
heat that the problem is how to keep Mrs. Noah from freezing to death! We
are studying a new effect that may suck more heat out of hotter objects
than colder objects. That's our best guess."

Baumgardner: "Heat flow in continental crystalline rocks is currently
correlated with radioactive content in the surface rocks; therefore the
current heat flow is dominated by recent nuclear decay."

Humphreys: "Baumgardner's work show that only 10% of the heat generated
actually reaches the surface. The volume expansion cooling of space may
account for the other 90%."

* Question #8 directed to Gary Parker: Is the "Day" of Genesis the same as
the "Day of Days"?

Parker: "Yes, Genesis is talking about ordinary days. These were not
necessarily solar days or exactly 24-hour days. The exact number of hours
in a day may have changed some. First God created time, then matter and
space. The first three days were not solar days, they were God's days. On
Day 4, when He created the Sun & Moon, all He did was change the marker
for days. The days remained the same."

Lawrence Ford: "Because we are committed to Biblical Authority, we will
never see any contradiction in the Bible."

And thus the day - at least the conference - ended. The RATE scientists
were going to stay for another half hour to give people an opportunity to
have their newly purchased RATE books autographed. Since I had not
purchased anything, I left. I'd had enough.


Throughout this long-winded 6-part description I have tried to report only
what I heard and saw at the Denver RATE Conference without interjecting
too much of my own thoughts or opinions. I leave it to you to determine
how successful I was. However, now that I have finished describing the
conference I will share a few of those personal thoughts and responses.

This conference brought out the entire gamut of the modern Young-Earth
Creationist movement; from the worst to the best; from the promotion of
long-refuted Paluxy River dinosaur/human footprints and rotting plesiosaur
carcasses in the newspaper handed out from a local pastor's ministry, to
ramblings of Gary Parker (great debate one-liners but short on substantive
science), to the results of some RATE scientists (who, though I believe
they are mistaken in their conclusions, are at least getting out of their
armchairs and actually examining real evidence).

But even at its best, this was still a conference in support of an idea
that was discredited at least 200 years ago. It is disheartening when you
realize that the faithful contributed $1.25 million to this study; that
most of this was spent on scientific tests that did nothing more than
confirm what was already known and published in the professional
literature (only the conclusions were changed to protect the innocent);
and that in a highly literate nation, in a town that boasts of its highly
educated workforce and technical expertise, a Young-Earth Conference could
entice 800 attendees at $20-25 per head (between $16,000 & $20,000 plus
book sales) to waste a sunny & gorgeous late-summer Saturday in the
Colorado Rocky Mountains, just to hear this stuff.

It was disheartening to watch a non-scientific audience (or perhaps even a
moderately savvy audience used to science as presented on cable TV),
receive the RATE arguments as plausible and real scientific results; and
to reject the results of modern science as the fruit of alleged atheistic
scientists (aided by duped Christians) bent on destroying true religion.

I also found it disheartening when no one seemed to recognize the irony in
two RATE statements that, though never mentioned in the same breath, were
repeated in various forms throughout the conference: (1) The RATE team is
confined to a 6,000-year timeframe based on their reading of God's Word;
and (2) RATE research confirms that the earth is only about 6,000 years
old. Because of their starting assumption, all of the admitted evidence
for millions of years worth of radioactive decay was rejected, and wild
unsupported hypotheses of accelerated nuclear decay (with associated fudge
factors, unrecognized laws of physics, and calls for Divine intervention)
were proposed that just happened to give the same 6,000 year result that
they had initially assumed.

For me, the Question & Answer period summed up the whole conference.

* After a full day of listening to RATE presentations, many people still
did not understand enough of the basic science to know what an isotope or
half life was. But they clearly heard and applauded the message that RATE
science says the Earth is only 6,000 years old and gives support to God's

* Despite being presented as science, the real issue is theological.
Questions 3, 4, & 8 were essentially theological in nature and the answer
to question 5 ignored the scientific issue in favor of a theological
answer. Only 2 questions (6 & 7) really addressed the results of the RATE
studies. During the conference, the introduction session and the
summation session - both by Gary Parker - wrapped all of the RATE science
into a specific theological viewpoint.

* Perceived problems with RATE research are glibly passed over with
promises of future resolution using undiscovered processes and a mixture
of bad science and bad theology. Critics of RATE are dismissed as
immature, as silly, as unqualified, or as motivated by a desire to destroy
the faithful. Nothing is too far out to be called upon to disqualify a
perceived problem - and when all else fails, call for Divine intervention.

* It doesn't matter what the science actually discovers, the answer was
known - without any doubts - before the first sample was collected. It is
just a matter of explaining the scientific results in a framework that
matches the desired conclusion.


(Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein are my own and are not to be
attributed to my employer ... or anyone else.)
 Steven M. Smith, Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey
 Box 25046, M.S. 973, DFC, Denver, CO 80225
 Office: (303)236-1192, Fax: (303)236-3200
 Email: smsmith@usgs.gov
 -USGS Nat'l Geochem. Database NURE HSSR Web Site-

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Received on Wed Oct 10 13:15:40 2007

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