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RocketGuy's avatar

Fluther challenge: use "Observational" Science to show that Intelligent Design and Young Earth are false.

Asked by RocketGuy (9084points) February 9th, 2014

In the latest debate, Ken Ham talked about Observational Science and Young Earth. They do not accept “Historical” science, since no one was there to observe if it really happened.

How can we use Observational Science to prove the opposite?

I’ll start: we can use “Observational” geometry to figure out that most stars are >35 quadrillion miles away. We can measure the speed of light (186,000 miles/sec), and divide to figure out that most stars are >6000 light years away. So star light reaching us started >6000 years ago => therefore the Universe is >6000 years old. Earth was created at the same time as the Universe, as I understand Genesis, so is >6000 years old too.


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36 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

We can and have measured the speed of light and we can and do measure the distance of stars via the method of triangulation. Bill Nye did explain that.

Vincentt's avatar

I think the counter-“argument” was that no one was there when the starlight started.

It sounds silly when I say it like this – which probably is because it is silly. Or I might be biased.

ragingloli's avatar

In a murder case without a witness, no one was there to see the murderer either.
And yet we still can determine the who, when and how by forensics.

LostInParadise's avatar

Bill Nye used the argument that if all species derived from the 40,000 different animal families, aboard Noah’s Ark then we would have had to have seen a new species on an average of every four days. That would have been truly extraordinary and obviously never happened.

dxs's avatar

How can I discredit all of the evidence that scientists have provided to support evolution? I don’t like how people always deny evolution just because we “weren’t there”. Well nobody was there to flip the light switch when God said “Let there be light,” either.

rojo's avatar

I was looking into the existence and influence of Neanderthal and Denisovian DNA on present day genetic makeup; trying to determine if it would be classified as “observational science” but no matter what, I could not get past the arguments that it either proves nothing because God could have planted the false evidence for us to find or that we don’t know how long one of Gods days actually are or that it is simply us misreading of the data.

The same arguments can be used to counter any evidence. The speed of light is measured in ‘light years” but how do you know how long one of Gods years actually is. Or maybe God is bending the light in such a manner that we only “think” we observe such great distances (I assume because He doesn’t want you to know how close Heaven really is because you might try to get in unannounced).

In the murder case, it is not the forensics that led you to the culprit but being guided by God (who may or may not have planted the evidence that you found so compelling) and we don’t know if the massive speciation occurred because it could have happened the first week after the flood but we will never know because we were not there.

How can you counter such a simplistic view of life?

jerv's avatar

Observational science disproves the Bible. The “We weren’t there” argument disproves a lot of things, even history itself. I wasn’t here before the early-1970s, so the entire world did not exist until then as far as I’m concerned. If you won’t accept fossil evidence and carbon-dating, I won’t accept hearsay, and will stand by my assertion that Earth is a bit less than 45 years old.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

As far a I am concerned the universe is a day old. I’m willing to have enough “faith” that my memories, reason & the scientific discoveries of other reasonable people are real. How does Ham know if his memories from yesterday are real using observational science.

rojo's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Are you kidding me? Because he has a book that tell him so. Duh.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I need to read that book.

ragingloli's avatar

The speed of light is measured in m/s.
A light year is the distance light travels in a year.

rojo's avatar

Ah, my mistake. Distance vs. speed. Thanks.

Still, how long is one of gods seconds again?

“I don’t know, check the book.”

Bill1939's avatar

I think that believing in a supernatural parent compensates for Infantile needs that are especially present in those whose childhood was deficient in emotional support by their family. This dependency makes it likely that any evidence that conflicts with their belief will be rejected.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Observational… hmmm… We need to find an example of fast evolution and or things that don’t occur in nature without man’s intervention. Got it…!

Newer, antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria are appearing. Who is “designing” them and why? Antibiotics that were effective 30 years ago are virtually worthless.
Genetically modified crops have been feeding the world for decades. The seeds did not come over on the ark.
And the number one observational case:
Seedless watermelons

Oh, I forgot to add all the E. coli work performed by Richard Lenski which just passed 50,000 generations. Fantastic stuff.

rojo's avatar

Or cultivated bananas @LuckyGuy or corn. Domestic corn is very frequently stated to be incapable of reproducing itself in the wild to any great extent. This is not only due to the tight husks, but also because the kernels adhere strongly to the ear and do not easily disarticulate. Whether or not domestic corn might not occasionally reproduce in the wild, it is very poorly suited to disperse its seeds. (sorry I dumped the website this came from)

LuckyGuy's avatar

I just found an article showing 8 more examples including Lenski’s work. If you get a chance look at his response letters to a creationist.

rojo's avatar

EpigeneticsOverkalix Study (an example of epigenetics) and a Wikiarticle on same

filmfann's avatar

Not all Christians go by the 6000 year date.
I embrace the current beliefs on the age of the universe, and intelligent design.

ragingloli's avatar

Then you are clearly not a true christian.

rojo's avatar

@filmfann I think even Bill Nye pointed that out in the debate. Personally, I cannot see where this becomes a conflict with faith but there it is. I mean, I understand the how, just not the why.

But then again, Mom quite frequently responded to me with “Oh ye of little faith….......”

nebule's avatar

still open-mouthed at how clever this question is… I will not be able to contribute as my head is in a funk… but I think you’re all amazing

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

So the American Revolution, World War One, and the Civil War didn’t happen because we weren’t there to see them?

rojo's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Are they in the book?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Oooo!!!! HIV/AIDS and other recent scary STDs.

Apparently the coywolves that howl in my area are a relatively new species a little over 100 years old. They have evolved in size, shape, and hunting skills to efficiently take down white tailed deer.
They scare me more than the STDs. There! I said it.

rojo's avatar


“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals”

Jerry Falwell

RocketGuy's avatar

Has anybody realized that fossils are made of minerals, not bone material? It takes thousands of years to mineralize bone, so dinosaurs could not have been alive before then.

Has anyone seen an Archeopteryx fossil? It has reptile and bird characteristics. There is your transitional species:

How about carbon dating? Radioactive materials have a constant half-life. One can observe radioactive decay and calculate the rate. You can use different materials to date different time spans – Carbon for shorter times, Uranium for longer times.

Strauss's avatar

@LuckyGuy Apparently the coywolves that howl in my area are a relatively new species a little over 100 years old. And I thought they were just chupacabrae!

gasman's avatar

The question makes no sense: historical evidence is also “observational.”
Do you “believe” the American Civil War took place? There are no living observers of that, either! Is that reason to doubt?

It’s the usual set of dodgy ruses used by creationists who have no actual scientific observations or sound logical inferences to support their beliefs, while denying overwhelming physical evidence for evolution, geology, and astrophysics.

The problem with such a “debate” is it lends legitimacy to the notion that there’s any controversy whatsoever about evolutionary biology, when in fact all scientists accept evolution as settled fact.

Should we “debate” whether the Earth is round or flat? It looks flat to me, and I’ve never personally been in space to observe its alleged roundness.

Haleth's avatar

By his logic, if you didn’t see the debate it never happened. Suck on that, Ken Ham.

I really don’t want “observational science” to become a thing. That’s not science. If we used that as a standard, we would be purposely limiting our knowledge of the universe. WTFWTFWTF.

amujinx's avatar

I’m afraid I cannot use the scientific method to debunk conjectures (what they say can’t even be termed hypotheses since they are not testable) made by young earth creationists and their ilk for the simple reason that they do not adhere to the scientific method. If you want to lay down a set of rules for proof of something, it is required that you also adhere to those set of rules as well. It’s not like you can argue with someone who will never change his position regardless of evidence anyway.

ragingloli's avatar

By Ham’s “logic”, he should not even believe in his bible, because he was not there when it was written.

rojo's avatar

or even when the last edition was printed.

Strauss's avatar

…or even when his first “religion teacher” (preacher, parent, etc) heard that the bible is “the literal word of God”.

filmfann's avatar

I am not conflicted.

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