Re: Hardly any mention of the "I" word?
Hello, Wayne. (If you want to post as "Anonymous Coward", why sign off with your real name at the foot of your messages? :-)
@Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 16th September 2008 12:32 GMT
"In January of this year, I was having dinner with my son and a friend of his who is a biology teacher. She told me that Muslim girls in her class thought that fossils were carved by scientists in order to deceive the faithful, and maintained this view even when presented with specimens."
Easy, if it is legal, take them on a field trip to somewhere with a board area of fossils, ask them to point in a direction and unearth a fossil, ask them a few more times and find more fossils.
An excellent suggestion. I will pass it on. However, fossils are not *quite* that easy to find in most areas, although I collected quite a few myself over the years. I like the "if it is legal" qualifier, though. When I was a kid back in the 1950's, Miss Tilson simply marched us down the road in a crocodile to go on a nature walk. The "Health & Safety" fascist was then a rare species! :-)
Something creationist go on about, and very justly, is the assumption of the constancy of events that are used for estimating age, and this includes states in environment (even constants). But if these are not so constant, then we have to ask what we are looking at. For a mechanism to be predictable it has to be constant, or at least change in a estimated/ble way, including physics. If we assume a certain rate of change in mutation but there has been some other unknown or historical effect at work, then the estimates can be wildly out.
I agree that assumptions need to be stated and subjected to confirmation/refutation, but you will find that scientists (including evolutionists) are well aware of this need and are well ahead of you and of creationists in general. For example, one piece of evidence by which we know that the Earth is around 4.5 billion years old, is that this is the age of the oldest known rocks in the Earth's crust, as determined by potassium-argon dating. The half-lives of most radioactive isotopes have been measured precisely in the laboratory, and the fact that nothing (but NOTHING) affects these, has been very well confirmed. Rates of radioactive decay have been shown to be constant under all environmental conditions, including variations of temperature, pressure, chemical combinations of the isotope, electrical and magnetic fields, etc., etc.
The constancy of radioactive decay, which is one basis for estimating the ages of rocks, fossils, artefacts, etc., is not an "assumption"; it is overwhelmingly supported by all of the evidence we have.
However, this is only *one* basis for age estimation. Many other bases can be adduced, and they are in mutual agreement. This agreement is, of course, "within the limits of experimental error", to quote the well-worn scientific phrase, but the error bound on the estimate of 4.5 billion years for the age of the Earth does not take you ANYWHERE NEAR the 6000 years which "young Earth" creationists would have us believe.
On the Islamic issue, you may not be aware, but the Quran makes irreconcilable statements and predictions greatly at variance and contradictory with Christianity and the Bible. So, Christianity and the bible are regarded as great threats to it's authenticity, and the standard way of dealing with this is to claim the bible is not authentic and is corrupted compared to the Quran. However, there is little good proof of this, and statement attesting to the authenticity of Christian and Jewish scriptures by Muhammad, and copies of compatible scriptures from before that age. I wonder how much of the very poor quality, and devious, modern theology biased against the bible, is coming from this direction. On the other side, the elite in Islam would probably not want the Quran was examined that way. There are major issues with both evolution and biased theological attempts supporting each other. The whole of the modern attitude to the debate is based on these, so keep an eye out for them.
There are other issues that you should be aware of, Christianity and Islam share different core beliefs not the issue of lying. This would take too long to go into here, as it requires some ground on the Islamic side (as there seems to be contrary views expressed). You might have guessed, I have read the Quran and done a bit of study on it.
So have I. In fact, my "bit of study" over the past two years has included reading the Qur'an (in several English translations), sizeable chunks of ahadith, several modern biographies of the Prophet (and I am currently ploughing through the Sira by ibn Ishaq), and loads of other stuff. I entirely agree with you about the contradictions between the Qur'an, and the Jewish and Christian scriptures. My immediate reaction to the Qur'an was that it is a second-hand, second-rate, garbled version of the earlier writings; just what you would expect from an illiterate camel train manager who had heard a few tales on his travels and only half-remembered them. Nothing I have read since has led me seriously to revise my opinion.
If you want to see how the Qur'an and ahadith can be quoted in support of terrorist atrocities, and in support of lying in the furtherance of such nefarious activities, read the "Al-Qaeda Training Manual". (As a reader of El Reg, you will know where to find a copy!)
Anyway, back to creationism. It is obvious from the Qur'an that Muhammad was clueless about astronomy and really did believe that the Earth is flat. I can't be bothered to cite sura and ayat, but if you Google "flat Earth Qur'an" you will be inundated with Quranic quotations to substantiate this. He also believed (literally) in a simplified and garbled version of Genesis and Revelations.
The problem lies precisely in taking the ancient myths literally.