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

From: Jack Haas <>
Date: Thu Oct 11 2007 - 10:10:00 EDT

Michael and the list:

I too have appreciated the time that Steve has put into attending the meeting and summarizing the
discusions. I had planned to put the collection together and then decide how it might be treated
on the list. I have used parts of many discussions in the past and have included suggested articles on the ASA faith-science news blog as well. Keep them coming.

Whether to include Steve's work or the gists of any of our rambling discussion is a complex question.
Most of the time we say some valuable things but seldom come to a conclusion. It would be a real
contribution if some of you would be willing to summarize valuable threads that I could place in the
appropriate spot on the ASA site. We might include a new feature "musings from the listserve" or
....It will take volunteer effort to make this work.

Steve's work does offer conclusions and deals with bad science. So in due course it will be included.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate anyone willing to head up the geology section of the
physical science topic. Volunteers? So...where to put this item.

We need wider participation in the work of the ASA site to make it more inclusive and attractive. Your advice will be appreciated.

Jack Haas
ASA Web Editor

-------------- Original message --------------
From: "Michael Roberts" <>


Can I say how much I have appreciated these postings.

Is it possible to put them as a downloadable article on the ASA website please, so that it can be used by others - possibly advertised elsewhere.

I must admit on a sunny September day in Colorado I would preferred to climb one of your 14000ft peaks, but I hope posts of appreciation are some compensation.

I will reply with a history lesson for Gary!!

----- Original Message -----
From: Steven M Smith
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 5:38 PM
Subject: [asa] Denver RATE Conference (Thousands...Not Billions)_Part 6 & The End

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

Continued from
Part 1 (,
Part 2 (,
Part 3 (,
Part 4 (, and
Part 5 (

"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
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 & isotopes?

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 su
 ck mor
e 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 Word.

* 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
-USGS Nat'l Geochem. Database NURE HSSR Web Site-

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Received on Thu Oct 11 10:15:33 2007

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