Monday, July 17, 2006

YEC Discussion with Sprittibee

I am having a discussion with Sprittibee, in this post of her blog. Sprittibee is a creationist who home schools her children. I found this via gnosos. I even stole the title from gnosos... I hope that's okay. She also replied to my post about Globular Clusters.

As I already noted, YECs are not always stupid. I do think that Sprittibee is able to understand, it is just that she has to learn a few things. In her comments, she asks a few very basic questions, all of which should be easily answered by a high school student. I say should, and if a high school student cannot answer these, something has gone terribly wrong with the education system. And anyone who thinks he can make an argument for YEC, has to be able to answer these questions, not to speak of someone who wants to home school her children. That does not mean she is stupid.

These are her question, repeated from her notes of Kent Hovind:

1. Where did all the 90-plus elements come from (iron, barium, calcium, silver, nickel, neon, chlorine, etc)? 2. How do you explain the precision in the design of the elements, with increasing numbers of electrons in orbit around the nucleus? 3. Where did the thousands of compounds we find in the world come from: carbon dioxide, sodium chloride, calcium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, oxalic acid, chlorophyll, sucrose, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, aluminum silicate, mercaptans, propane, silicon dioxide, boric acid, etc.? 4. How was it determined how many bonds each element would have for combining with other elements? 5. When did these compounds develop from the elements (before the big bang, during the big bang, after the big bang)? 6. When evolutionists use the term "matter", which of the thousands of compounds are included? 7. When evolutionists use the term "primordial soup", which of the elements and compounds are included? 8. Why do books on evolution, including grade-school, high-school and college textbooks not include such important, basic information? 9. Evolutionists are masters of speculation. Why don't they speculate about this?

Why do books on evolution, including grade-school, high-school and college textbooks not include such important, basic information. Yeah, that would explain a lot. Most of these questions were answered in my text books, I am sure.

She then goes on with her own questions, after I explained to her that heavy elements are formed in supernovae:

1. How do we know what elements are in a super novae? 2. How were a sample of these elements obtained? 3. If we add new elements to the chart occassionally, how do we know we have discovered them all? 4. If there are undiscovered elements and we have never been to a super novae to collect samples, how do we then know that they do not use elements that are not yet discovered in their supposed evolution?. 5. If we are not using observable and testable factual real life evidence in our models and simulations, how then can we call them scientific? 6. If we start our research with a pre-disposed idea of the conclusion, is our data not then skewed to reflect that pre-disposed idea?

It is especially number 3 that shows complete lack of understanding. 4 follows from that. And I am not going to repeat basic high schoool physics and chemistry here.

I can answer 5. I think this comes from my post about GCs, where I talk about models for star formation, and how they beautifully fit the observations. Well, basically that's it: they do match the observations. It also isn't true that the input from the models does not come from the observations: the initial composition is observed by in interstellar gas clouds, the physics is observed and well understood, some data are from nuclear bomb tests. Maybe I didn't express it clearly: the age derived from the observation of GCs is not dependent on other observations that the universe is old, and that is why I considered it important.

I think number 6 deserves annother post. Just this much: there are no pre disposed ideas. Nobody came along and said 'I need a universe that is 15 billion years old, please assume this in your models'. It is the other way around: we observe those clusters and derive an an age of 15 Gyears.

Update: Meanwhile, Sprittibee posted part 2 of her series, this post has been included in The 39th Skeptic Circle (cool!) by Mike, and pooflinger discovered the discussion too.

5 Comments:

Anonymous sconzey said...

Ouch... poor woman...

She's right, none of that is in high school textbooks anymore (at least not over here in the UK)

I could answer those questions solely through stuff I've read myself, or questions I asked my science teacher (I was fortunate enough to get one of the good ones -- a bearded, guitar wielding folk-lover, who was fanatical about biology)

Those aren't quite the questions I would choose to ask an evolutionist, arguably most of those things *must* be so for the universe to be stable enough to give rise to life to wonder about it. :)

I do salute you sir for treating her with respect and taking her seriously. I know many (Cretinists and Evilutionists alike) who would lapse into ridicule and sarcasm. There's no way anyone's going to be convinced of your arguments if they're too busy being offended.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of these questions were answered in my middle school and high school textbooks.

1. Where did all the 90-plus elements come from (iron, barium, calcium, silver, nickel, neon, chlorine, etc)?

Big Bang or stellar nucleosynthesis.

2. How do you explain the precision in the design of the elements, with increasing numbers of electrons in orbit around the nucleus?

This question is a bit puzzling: the precision of the elements mentioned is a simple progression of adding one more proton to the nucleus, with hydrogen having one proton, helium two, lithium three, etc. How else could one build the elements? You can only have positive integer numbers of particles, so it has to be an increasing sequence from one and increasing by one each time is the simplest sequence. The mention of precision is just baffling: does she expect some element to have 1.517 protons or something like that?

3. Where did the thousands of compounds we find in the world come from: carbon dioxide, sodium chloride, calcium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, oxalic acid, chlorophyll, sucrose, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, aluminum silicate, mercaptans, propane, silicon dioxide, boric acid, etc.?

Each of those have different origins, and most chemicals can be produced in many different ways. It's hard to discuss much of the content of high school chemistry in a single blog post, but does she really not know how carbon dioxide is produced? You produce it every time your breathe or burn organic materials like wood or gas, after all, so it's an everyday experience.

Wow, there's a lot of these. Let me skip down a few...

6. When evolutionists use the term "matter", which of the thousands of compounds are included?

All of them are matter, of course. This is another curious question, with the scare quotes around the matter. I'm not sure what the questioner is looking for here. Does she really think that some molecules aren't matter or is there something about the whole idea of matter that she doesn't like?

8. Why do books on evolution, including grade-school, high-school and college textbooks not include such important, basic information?

The questions above are about chemistry and physics, so you won't likely find them in the evolution section of a biology book, but you will find those answers in chemistry and physics texts and classes. I certainly was able to find them without any problems when I was in middle and high school.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous jackd said...

Howdy, I'm here off the Skeptic's Circle.

4. How was it determined how many bonds each element would have for combining with other elements?

What's the difference between this question and asking, "How was it determined that triangles would have three sides and rectangles would have four?"

9:50 PM  
Anonymous LiamK said...

Two problems with the list of questions.

1. They have noithing to do with biological evolution. These guys try to force suporters of evolution to be able to answer questions from all sorts of different scientific disciplines by deliberatly misunderstanding what is meant by the theory of evolution (it really has nothing to do with cosmological evolution etc.)

2. Even if every one of the questioners questions were unanswerable by current scientific experts that would not support creationism ONE LITTLE BIT. This is god of the gaps. It would be very easy to come up with a series of questions that are on the fringe of modern science. The fact that this can be done does not destroy science, it motivates it. I think that rather than trying to answer each question that the questioner poses, it should be expained to her the logical mistake she is making in thinking that difficult questions for one position support any other position.

6:10 AM  
Blogger oku said...

Thanks for your comments.

I have to admit that I didn't get my education in the US. I am german, and lived for a while in Australia. I think I picked up most about evolution, physics and chemistry there. But as I see from the comments, it seems to be different everywhere.

I think Sprittibee's case pretty much points out how important education is. Not so much to convince one about evolution, but also to understand science, and ask the right questions. Point is, all questions are already answered, in part for hundred years. She didn't even get to the more sophisticated questions like fine tuning.

But as liamk points out: even if we cannot answer a question, that does not mean god did it. The fact that these questions are already answered distracts from that fact.

2:13 PM  

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