Kepler - Young Earth Creationist
    By Hank Campbell | April 24th 2014 12:08 AM | 63 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

    View Hank's Profile
    In the latest episode of Cosmos we got some history regarding how science has tried to converge on the age of the Earth. With that, we also got another jab at religion. Why use yet another religious contrast from hundreds of years ago to show the awesome power of science now? Is there so little actual imagination in their Ship Of The Imagination?(1)

    Just like with the age of the Earth, it's hard to know for sure, we only know there is a range of choices and can narrow it down as we get more data.

    It's a short bit and so less grievous to our intellectual senses than the 25 percent of episode 1 they devoted to creating an alternate history of Giordano Bruno, but in this case what is interesting is not what they add in, but what they leave out.

    In 1650, Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland calculated a date for the creation of the universe using the Bible as a reference. Why? I don't know, people just did that kind of thing and still do. The Bible is as accurate a history as most ancient histories and mapping science data to history still happens today. If you watched the History Channel this Easter weekend, you know it was chock full of science-y explanations for everything in the Bible.(2) 

    Archbishop James Ussher.

    So host Neil Tyson tells us about Ussher and then we fast forward to modern geology and how much smarter we are now. Okay, fine, but was Ussher all that wrong for the time? Was anyone doing better? No.  What they leave out is that a legendary scientist was just as wrong.

    Like any good scientist, Ussher interpolated from what he had, in this case the Bible and a historical date for the death of the Bablyonian King Nebuchadnezzar II in 562 B.C. Deriving from that, he back-azimuthed generations to arrive at  the exact day that the Earth must have been created in 4004 B.C. "It was a Saturday," Tyson says, with perfect comedic timing.  And completely wrong, as we now know.

    But it wasn't bad deduction - on the contrary, his work in Annales Veteris Testamenti was impeccable. Most of what I learned about black holes 30 years ago is wrong today - does that mean a future science show should ridicule us for accepting it back then?  Ussher was no shill, in the vein of modern numerology pretenders like Harold Camping or John Hagee, who knowingly foist off nonsense on gullible people today. And contrary to what anti-religious zealots insist, religious people who accepted his work in 1650 were not sticking their heads in the intellectual sand against science, they were actually embracing the latest reasoning - just like they had accepted the equally incorrect numbers of a scientist a few years earlier, one who did not 'count the begats', as Tyson said while ridiculing Ussher.(3)

    Johannes Kepler is rightly considered a pillar of modern science for his work explaining the motion of planets, they are called Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion because they are that fundamental. By 1601, at the age of 30, he had the job of Imperial Mathematician for the Holy Roman Empire (4). Kepler was into a lot of stuff, he was prolific, and he was loyal.  And so at one point he wrote a polemic for a friend that also served to debunk some bad calculations by those projecting the impending apocalypse.

    While on October 22nd, militant atheists love to ridicule Ussher, very few will ridicule Kepler this weekend, even though in KANONES PUERILES, 30 years before Ussher, Kepler calculated April 27th as the universal creation date. That would be April 27th of 4,997 BC. (5) 

    Who is that again? The name is an anagram of Johannes Kepler. These guys loved to do that stuff. Credit:  Johannes Kepler Gesammelte Werke, Chronologische Schriften, ed. Franz Hammer, C. H. Beck’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Munich, 1953 . Scan provided by Thony Christie.

    Yes, Kepler, one of the founders of modern science, was a Young Earth Creationist.  Let's ridicule him on a science TV show! 

    Johannes Kepler - Young Earth Creationist

    Just as host Neil Tyson says of Ussher, the calculation by Kepler was also "taken as gospel in the Western world" so it seems odd that once again Cosmos, a show about science, instead trots out a priest as a straw man to place in opposition to more recent scientific discovery. Sure, Ussher was wrong, as was Kepler, and as was every number calculated by scientists hundreds of years later. They became slightly less inaccurate, but they were still wildly wrong. An archbishop got a different number than Kepler by a few hundred years - but Kepler was wrong by 13.7 billion.  Even Martin Luther, he of the Protestant reformation, was more accurate than Kepler, and he did no math at all.

    If the brains behind Cosmos are going to make fun of creationism in the 1600s maybe Kepler would be a better place to start.(6) After all, he wrote 5 texts dealing with the birth of Jesus.

    They were certainly not alone in being wrong about the age of the Earth and the universe - and that is the whole point. As recently as 1892, physicist William Thomson said the Earth was 100 million years old, having narrowed it down from a much wider range based on the latest science. You may not recognize his name so you might dismiss him as some religious crackpot too. He is better known as one of the greatest minds of the 19th century - Lord Kelvin.

    William Thomson, Lord Kelvin.
    Wrong by 4.3 billion years.

    The implication Cosmos makes, once again about ancient religion and its acceptance of science, is all wrong. Instead of being an indictment of religion, ongoing acceptance of changing findings that were derived using a reasonable framework for the period is actually evidence for religious acceptance of science and reason. What's more annoying today than hearing global warming deniers say something like "science said something different 10 years ago, so we won't believe them now"? Religious people of that day were not doing that, they were instead intellectually evolving. By accepting Ussher after accepting Kepler and later accepting Kelvin, they had shown they could change their minds in the light of new evidence, which is exactly what we all insist literate people should do. Why make fun of that? Creating a bubble of beliefs around one person and making a generalization is as silly as if a show 500 years from now talks about James Hansen and declares that everyone in the 21st century was rushing to curb CO2 emissions. We know that is wrong, it would have to be intentional to frame it that way.

    Those with an anti-religious agenda who talk about the age of the earth intentionally lump all religious people together with the term 'creationist', when they really mean Young Earth Creationist - those on the fringe who believe that geology and evolution and paleontology have somehow been faked in some weird theological prank. Using such intentional obfuscation means every scientist in the ancient world and 40% of all AAAS members today are "creationists" and therefore must believe the world is only 6,000 years old - though they would have good company in Kepler, use that as an invalidation of someone's science at the next conference you attend and see how well it goes over.

    Such simplistic generalization is showing the exact lack of nuance and understanding they criticize about Young Earth Creationists.

    Geochemist C.C. Patterson and his work on zircon using uranium-lead dating to arrive at a more accurate age of Earth gets favorable treatment in the show, though once again primarily by making cardboard cut-outs of the people who disagreed with the hero Cosmos chose to highlight.(7) Patterson dramatically altered our understanding of the earliest date the earth was created, and his methodology remains fascinating, but the glossy adulation also smacks of 'look how much smarter we are now' elitism. 

    Yet even he was incorrect, just a lot less so. Patterson did not have access to zircon crystals from Western Australia's Jack Hills region, but that does not make him wrong any more than it made Kepler or Ussher wrong for using what they had.

    We're still narrowing the age of the planet down. Every time we find older rock to compare with chondritic meteorites, that range gets a little smaller. There's nothing wrong with that, that's what science is.  That is what makes it even more obvious that the adolescent cultural jabs are unneeded. What insight into science would we have lost if Cosmos had not bothered to mention Ussher at all? None. Once again, they seem to be forcing their cultural world view on the public and that may be part of the reason why half the audience has abandoned it since week one.

    If Cosmos really needs to make fun of old-timey bad calculations and anti-science beliefs, and look less anti-religious doing it, they could have used Galileo instead. Galileo ridiculed Kepler's work on the tides and insisted it was wrong despite the mathematical evidence and thousands of years of observation. Sure, some religious people deny evolution but Galileo denied a whole moon.

    Yet somehow I doubt we will get patronizing jabs at Galileo in Cosmos any time soon. Or Kepler. They were not priests, after all.

    And Happy 6,991st birthday of the universe this Sunday, Kepler believers!


    (1) It isn't just hardcore atheists who do this goofy stuff. Anti-evolution people also try to make everything about Darwin, as if biology stopped 155 years ago. Well, Henry Ford also did not build the perfect car but car bloggers do not run around the Internet criticizing him. Both anti-religion and anti-evolution people need to modernize their thinking a little. 

    (2) Though anti-religious zealots insist religious people hate science, you'd never know it watching dozens of shows on the Shroud of Turin or on ancient archeology or almost anything else. They all have scientists, I saw Science 2.0 fave Phil Plait in one about the Book of Revelation. Those shows are all being watched by religious people who are engaging in confirmation bias, no different than organic food shoppers and political party supporters do.

    (3) The aforementioned Phil Plait did the same thing and even used the same term in 2007.  The science history known by atheists seems to be really, really limited. Do a search for Kepler's date for creation of the universe on and you won't find a single hit.

    (4) Prior to MacArthur becoming Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in World War II, Charlemagne and his successors as heads of the Holy Roman Empire had the coolest title in geopolitics.

    (5) I was having difficulty sourcing Kepler for this so I asked Thony Christie, fast becoming one of my favorite history pundits. He explained that Kepler did his calculation to debunk contemporary Prophets of Doom - by showing their calculations of when the universe began were wrong.

    In physics analysis, it is always possible to converge on an entirely accurate yet completely wrong answer. Kepler's method was sound, as was Ussher's, they just proceeded from false assumptions.

    (6) Kepler was obviously right a lot more than he was wrong - that is the problem of taking historical events out of context, as Cosmos does with Ussher. Kepler also derived the birth year of Jesus that is now universally accepted and his Stereometria Doliorum Vinariorum (“The Stereometry of Wine Barrels”) still holds up today, yet it would take Cosmos-level fact-mining to make it seem like that's all he did.

    (7) Talk about unintentionally debunking the naturalistic fallacy. They nicely create a "Reefer Madness" for environmentalists version of the lead issue, complete with raving workers jumping out of windows  - and include the rationalization for the harmlessness of lead was that it's found organically. Remember that the next time someone tells you how their organic toxic pesticides are somehow less dangerous than synthetic ones.

    Dr. Robert Kehoe is predictably demonized in the lead segment, though alleging that he was a paid shill borders on unethical revisionism. However, science overall is absolved in a way environmentalists will not like. Despite the claims by environmentalists today that any scientists they disagree with are for sale and unethical, back then virtually the entire scientific community stood behind Patterson when he believed that lead was toxic.

    However, Kehoe was not as one-dimensional as he was portrayed. He correctly noted that among the public, lead levels had not risen and that there was no evidence of harm. He was paid because he did science they liked, they did not find someone and pay them to write science that was unethical. This is a big distinction that people who have never worked in science, much less in the corporate world, miss. Instead, like Cosmos, they make all opposing views simple caricatures of real people. Patterson believed harm must be occurring and Kehoe said 'show me the data'. The same people who decry Kehoe for that feed the anti-GMO and anti-vaccine precautionary principle fanaticism. But this was the time of Rachel Carson making "Silent Spring" into national policy despite it being an advocacy book short on data, so politicians were looking for ways to posture about how much they cared about public health.


    Re: "By accepting Ussher after accepting Kepler and later accepting Kelvin, they had shown they could change their minds in the light of new evidence, which is exactly what we all insist literate people should do"

    That really is the crux of criticism offered to creationists - whether those are young Earth or old Earth creationists- but you can extend that to religion as a whole. Religion doesn't really change it's mind in light of new evidence. Or if it does, it does so at such a glacial pace that it proves detrimental to society at large. Certainly to progress and scientific literacy.

    I haven't watched the latest episode of Cosmos yet, but I can't really empathise with your sentiment. Perhaps the people they pick are 'jabs' at religion, but they're contextually relevant to repeated puerile arguments that science-deniers tend to keep making; "how can something come from nothing!?", or "if we came from apes, how come they're still around!?"
    To me, it doesn't seem like a mindless attack on religion, more like a statement: religion tends to agree with science only insofar as it doesn't intrude upon it's doctrine. If a person does come up with an idea (or even evidence) that is seen as an intrusion, persecution is quick and laced with extreme prejudice.
    Case in point? It doesn't matter what we've learned about STDs, every pope always discourages Christians from using contraceptives.
    Your example of refining of the Earth doesn't exactly serve as the best example, either. You could argue that we're still refining the exact speed of light. Or refining the Gravitational Constant. Or Planck's constant.
    Whatever those figures are, their errors in measurement aren't off by over a billion percent.
    It's the 21st century, for crying out loud. This idea that we should be tolerant of intellectual drivel from the religious belongs in the previous century, not this one.

    You are creating a closed system with only religious people are in it. That is not evidence-based. If you ask the wide world of American biologists what demographic is least likely to accept science despite overwhelming evidence, they will say anti-GMO activists, not religious people. And that is true.

    I assume you get my overall point - Kepler wrote 5 works (and an appendix) creating a scientific basis for Jesus, but he is never going to get criticized for that in Cosmos, yet they go out of their way to criticize priests who did even less curve fitting of religion into science than he did. That is not pro-science, that is anti-religion.

    @Akshay Singh Jamwal "That really is the crux of criticism offered to creationists - whether those are young Earth or old Earth creationists- but you can extend that to religion as a whole. Religion doesn't really change it's mind in light of new evidence. Or if it does, it does so at such a glacial pace that it proves detrimental to society at large. Certainly to progress and scientific literacy."

    To borrow a quotation from Max Planck, "a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." (See Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970 ed.): p. 150.)

    In 1917 Einstein proposed the "Static Universe" based on an older tradition (Newton's clockwork universe? or maybe older than Newton) because to Einstein, the Milky Way was the whole universe (it wasn't until 1922 that Ernst Öpik was able to demonstrate that the Great Andromeda Nebula was an external galaxy--external to the Milky Way) To support his belief in the Static Universe, Einstein introduced his "cosmological constant" into general relativity. In 1927 Georges Lemaître proposed an expanding universe model since the cosmological constant was not required and without it (or in the case of the tiniest variation from the cosmological constant) would produce an expanding or contracting universe. In 1928 Sir James Jeans proposed the Steady State model and none too soon since in 1929 Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe was indeed expanding.

    Jeans' Steady State model was revised in 1948 by several scientists including Fred Hoyle (who coined the derogatory term "Big Bang") because a static universe in general relativity is impossible. It wasn't until 1965 that the Big Bang theory gained wide acceptance when Penzias and Wilson discovered the Cosmic Background Radiation. Still, as late as 1993, Hoyle, Burbidge, and Narlikar proposed a quasi-steady state cosmology. So, from 1917 to 1993, some scientists believed in the static/steady state/quasi-steady state cosmology. That's 76 years.

    Don't you think it is unwise to, as you say, "...extend that to religion as a whole..." since Fred Hoyle, for example, was wrong and Georges Lemaître--a religious guy, in fact a Catholic Priest--was right (as far as we know given current observational data).  
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    Gregor Mendel.

    If we want to be a little more modern, Fr. Georges Lemaître. He's the father of the Big Bang. Any time someone starts off lambasting a giant demographic, it is wise to put on the skeptical filter.
    A giant demographic: 92 percent of Americans believe in a god or gods.
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    Michael Martinez
    " Religion doesn't really change it's mind in light of new evidence."

    Maybe you should read more religious texts.  They have changed their minds about many things over the past few thousand years.

    "...Or if it does, it does so at such a glacial pace that it proves detrimental to society at large..."

    More likely at such a lightning-fast pace that society at large simply cannot keep up with all the changes.

    Theology is not a simple field that anyone can master in a weekend viewing of television, no matter how hard the cable channels try to give that impression.
    At this point I've accepted that history is not Cosmos' strong suit. Whether that's because of the writers burning, seething hatred of all things religion or their own incompetence in historical citation, I can't say. Either way, it's gotten to the point where the show isn't worth watching. Especially when, well, it's on the same time as Game of Thrones.

    It was certainly exciting. As I wrote in my review the week before episode 1 aired, I thought Neil was going to be a better host than Sagan - and he would be, if he were being Neil. We get glimpses of that, but mostly he is being pulled back to half speed. I don't think it is because of the Seth MacFarlane audience, Family Guy is a sharply-written show, so that leaves us to believe that Ann Druyan thinks it is still 1980.

    Adult science literacy has tripled since the 1980s, American adults lead the world in science literacy, and I credited Cosmos with a big chunk of that - but this show is written like the audience needs to be spoon fed.  It's 2014, 1980 was a long time ago. And the weird Bruno atheist-fairy-tale from Week 1 turned a whole lot of people off.
    You are cruel.  Just saying.  Are you referring to the King of the Romans title or the Holy Roman Emperor title.  Could even be the King of the Franks, but that really isn't cool.

    I have not yet been tempted to watch Cosmos and the more I hear, the less inclined I am to waste my time on it.  Selective targeting like this is what I expect from politicians, not scientists.
    Holy Roman Emperor. I have some stuff from Gen. Matt Ridgway, who succeeded McArthur as Supreme Commander and so that is his title on it, and I always thought that was a cool one, but Holy Roman Emperor was the best.

    King of the Franks can be left to Pepin the Short but coronating myself as Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day while the Pope stands by and watches? Awesome. 

    This is a very good write up of what was wrong with that episode. For the likes of you or me or most of our readers those errors would stand out. Attacking the core belief system of the audience is not a good way to win them over.

    The intention was likely to show young Earth creationist that the idea of the Earth being 6000 years old wasn't even "in the bible". That it was not a fact derived from a literal interpretation of the bible's exact words but a inference from the bible and known history. That the age of 6000 years or so was a work of men and not God, therefore one could question it freely without giving up the mantle of born again Christian. (Example of very conservative biblical literalist who do not believe in a 6000 year old world, instead a sort of ...multiple acts of creation and destruction in response to geological evidences and biblical interpretation, would be "the Shepards Chapel". )

    Instead they tell a story in a way that could come off as a bit condescending to anyone who has knowledge of the history and science themselves.

    The only defense I can offer is that the target audience is composed of people who do not know the history and science. People on that backward slope of the bell curve, who need a simple black and white story. Shades of grey confuse people, let alone full spectra. I would not blame Ann Druyan alone for this. This iteration of Cosmos had to be ran by network execs who would have wanted to dumb it down.

    What made Dr. Tyson so enthralling to watch in his past works was because he would present the information to the audience in a non-condescending way which also did not go over their heads. That is a hard balance to strike, as we well know. When Neil is allowed to be Neil he can given an explanation which everyone can understand some part of on some level. Someone really into science can get most of it. Someone not into science can get it well enough to be mind blown. By directing and tampering with what this show could have been like (which could explain part of why it took so very long for it to finally come to TV, this was announced in 2011.) they have made it un enjoyable by those of us on the front of the slope of the bell curve.

    On the other hand, while I really don't think the ratings matter in the long run, they did go up 8%.

    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    What made Dr. Tyson so enthralling to watch in his past works was because he would present the information to the audience in a non-condescending way which also did not go over their heads. That is a hard balance to strike, as we well know. 
    Absolutely agree on this point, it's why I declared before Episode 1 that he was better than Carl Sagan, and I have also defended Ann Druyan in the past but, like anything else, when evidence starts to mount up, I have to change my conclusion.

    Fox executives want to insult religious people and Big Oil????   :)  Okay, if you say so...but it looks to me like Ann is stuck in 1980 and her only young people influence is MacFarlane. The style and content is way out of sync with actual mainstream young America.
    Fox executives want to insult religious people and Big Oil???? :) Okay, if you say so...but it looks to me like Ann is stuck in 1980 and her only young people influence is MacFarlane. The style and content is way out of sync with actual mainstream young America.

    Not exactly...but they do want to make ad money off Cosmos as well as get Emmy nominated. I'm sure an anti-religious POV is standard in Hollywood. Bottom line they like money...

    Idiocracy was made by 20 century Fox, makes fun of Fox news, and makes fun of the average person. Fox seems to know how to make money...heck they started out with Married with Children. What could we expect?

    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.

    Perhaps I’ll get to grips with this article tomorrow, but since the Terminator has just rolled over this part of the Earth, I’ll content myself with offering this for your entertainment.

    We can call the attempt to refute Theism by displaying the continuity of the belief in God with primitive delusion the method of anthropological intimidation. . . . Rashdall used to remind us that the mathematical conceptions of the most advanced mathematicians at the present day were connected with rudimentary ideas of primitive men about numbers by a process of gradual correction and expansion.  That does not cause us to regard the conceptions of mathematicians to-day as a survival of primitive fancy.

    from Symbolism and Belief (1938) by Edwyn Bevan.


    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    I see several problems with this article and the comments so far. Whenever someone believes in an old earth, and evolution they are referred to as scientists. If someone believes in a young earth, or an old earth, and also believes the earth was created, they are referred to as young earth or old earth creationists. For those who believe in creation and not evolution, no consideration is given to what scientific degrees they may hold, or if they are a professional scientist, or what their scientific accomplishments may be. Only those who believe in evolution alone are referred to as scientists. Why is that?

    Whenever there is a debate over creation and evolution, it is referred to as "Science versus Religion." It would not matter if the debate only involved scientists, and those who believed in creation did so because of their interpretation of the scientific evidence alone. A belief in creation will still be referred to as religion, and not considered a scientific interpretation of evidence.

    Those who believe in evolution will always be said to do so because of the overwhelming scientific evidence that proves evolution, and those who believe in creation will be said to do so because of their belief in the Bible and faith. It will never be acknowledged that both sides are looking at the same exact scientific evidence, just interpreting it differently.

    You mentioned uranium lead dating. Most attempts at radioactive dating is really selective dating. First it will be determined as to where the specimen was found (which rock layer, etc.) then a dating method will be selected that will yield a date in the time frame they want it to be. If six different dating methods were used on the same specimen it will yield six different wide-ranging dates. When a dating method is selected, the speciemen may be tested ten different times and yield ten different dates. The one doing the testing then selects the date they want to publish, rejecting the others.

    In the article you mentioned global warming deniers. Most of the supposed warming in the last 100 years took place before 1960 and the industrial revolution. It is stated the earth was .8 degrees cooler 100 years ago. Does the number of weather stations reporting daily temperatures have any effect on that? If you look at a weather map during a weather report, it can be several degrees different just 30 miles in any direction. .8 degrees? Come on! The scientists at NASA, and a good number of them in England believe they can prove any change in our temperature patterns can be directly related to solar activity. Will their scientific research be accpted by those who believe in global warming? Probably not.

    Those who believe in creation believe the beginning of the universe, of life, of mankind, and the great flood were all supernatural events involving a supernatural force or agent. Should it be the job of scientists to try to prove these were only natural events and not supernatural? If the fossil record was the result of a great flood, you can throw all the dating methods out the window.

    I know most who read this will probably not admit this, but any change on the species level alone is not doubted by anyone. Why is that type of change even referred to as "evolution"? Only change beyond the species level is in question. If evolution supposedly has been going on for 600 million years or so, we should be able to look around us and observe life forms in all different stages of evolution. We can't. Please don't give the lame excuse that we just don't know what it is evolving into yet. It just has to be changing from what it always has been into something different. We can't observe that. If macroevolution actually happened, if we could go backwards in time, we should have been able to observe life forms in all different stages of evolution, why do we not observe anything like that today?

    The complexity of the human body cannot be explained by random, chance, accidental, mutations and natural selection. You might be able to convince yourself of that by using a great amount of imagination and wishful thinking, but for the majority of you it will be because you know what the only alternative is, not because of observable scientific evidence.

    Just one question for you to consider. Just stop for a moment and consider this hypothetical possibility. What if evolution actually didn't happen? What if creation did, and the fossil record actually is a result of a global flood, and all the dating methods are wrong? Would that then make creation scientific, and evolution just a belief system? What part does reality actually play in all of this?

    I see several problems with this article and the comments so far. Whenever someone believes in an old earth, and evolution they are referred to as scientists. If someone believes in a young earth, or an old earth, and also believes the earth was created, they are referred to as young earth or old earth creationists.
    The rest of your comment can safely be ignored because you clearly did not read this article. That means you probably just copied and pasted some canned response you have and stick it everywhere. 

    Show me where, in 1,600 articles much less this one, I have conflated young earth creationists with anything else. Creationism is what it is. People who think a God created the Earth are creationists, few people have any issue with that. People who claim the Earth is 6,000 years old, however, are idiots, calling them Young Earth Creationists, which is three words instead of one - idiot - is being kind. It also confuses the issue, by conflating them with regular religious people. As I noted, that is an intentional effort by militant atheists to demonize all religious people.

    To answer your final question, I have a question for you to consider; what if I am a Chinese jet pilot? If you don't consider that a valid use of your time, well, you can understand why scientifically your science-fiction alternate universe isn't valuable here either. It's amateur philosophy.
    I read every word of your article Hank before I replied, and I didn't copy and paste anything. If you refer to scientists who believe in creation as creationists, why would you not refer to scientists who believe in evolution as just evolutionists? Anything other than that would be hypocritical. The majority of fundamental Christians believe in a young earth, only those from liberal denominations do not.

    My hypothetical question had to do with reality. I didn't really expect you to give an honest answer.

    I don't refer to scientists who believe in religion as creationists, I refer to them as scientists, just like scientists who follow the Arsenal football team are not Arsenalists, they are still scientists. The only point I make in the article about creationists is that anti-religious cranks talk about young earth creationists and then insist that is all religious people. It is a total fabrication, designed to advance cultural hatred, it is not designed to enlighten anyone.

    That aside, you need to show evidence of this "majority" who believe in a 6 day or even 6,000-year-old Earth. Two people have now made this same claim, for different reasons - we use evidence here. So show it.
    You can start with fundamental Baptist churches. After checking out a few thousand of their websites try fundamental Bible churches. Then in order: Free Methodist, Wesleyan, Nazarene, and Assembly of God churches. Everyone I know from those denominations believe in a young earth. Probably not everyone would, but I would say the vast majority would. I have been associated with people in those denominations for about 45 years. I never met one that believed in an old earth.

    Interesting that you would separate those who believe in "religion" from those who believe in creation. Scientists who believe in Theistic evolution believe in creation, but I'm sure you would refer to them as scientists.

    Since you deal in facts on your website, you were probably unaware of the "fact" that at the rate the earth is slowing down (thus the necessity for leap second), just 80,000 years ago the wind speed on earth would have been over 500 miles per hour. Figure in just one million years and the wind speed goes up to 5,000 miles per hour. Spin a planet faster and you increase the wind speed. Jupiter and Saturn are examples of this.

    The fossil record best fits a global flood model.

    Interesting that you would separate those who believe in "religion" from those who believe in creation.
    Again, you are not going to be part of any constructive dialogue when (a) you bring an existing agenda and show no acceptance of any data that deviates from your pre-existing conclusion and (b) make up nonsense. I never once said there was a distinction between religion and creationist. Not in any comment, not in any article, not ever. I said religious people and young earth creationists are not the same thing. You may think if all cows are animals that all animals are cows too, and you would be wrong on that also.

    This is not complicated. It is ironic that people who claim to be so much smarter than young earth creationists have, in these comments, exhibited no more common sense, intellectual ability, or knowledge than young earth creationists.
    To set the record straight, I didn't say religion, I said those who believe in religion, which is not the same thing is it?

    You state: "religious people and young earth creationists are not the same thing." Young earth creationists are religious people. People who believe in an old earth and those who believe in a young earth are not the same, they may both be religious. Whether they are religious or not isn't the issue.

    There are scientists that believe in an old earth, and scientists that believe in a young earth. The hypocrisy of indicating that if a scientist believes the evidence better supports a young earth, they should no longer be called a scientist is the issue.

    I noticed you stayed away from the scientific evidence I gave for a young earth. Here is some more evidence for you to ignore. The earth's crust is the perfect thickness for the right amount of gravity to hold our atmosphere. Our current mass is just enough to keep a thin layer of gases above us. Any more mass (and more gravity) means a heavier, more destructive atmosphere with deadly gases staying here. However, less mass (and less gravity) and we can't hold onto oxygen and other life-support gases.

    So here are the scientific questions: If the rock layer representing the Cambrian period represents what life was like on earth 600 million years ago, would the earth's crust at the point in time be thick enough to support life on this planet? Where did the soil come from for all the other layers? If the layers formed very slowly, why do we have fossils? Fossilization requires sudden deep burial.

    You accused me of bringing an existing agenda and showing no acceptance of any data that deviates from your pre-existing conclusion and make up nonsense. It will be interesting to see how you respond.

    'There are scientists that believe in an old earth, and scientists that believe in a young earth. The hypocrisy of indicating that if a scientist believes the evidence better supports a young earth, they should no longer be called a scientist is the issue.
    My agenda was to put a flawed, clearly biased history into perspective. It is clear that when it comes to science history, Ann Druyan is way out of her league. When it comes to a creative narrative, she is quite good. The original Cosmos also botched science history - the Library of Alexandria - but it was not so overtly biased.

    Your statement above makes no sense. There are zero scientists who 'believe' in a young earth. You have now engaged in 2 of the 5 reasons people stop replying to your comments. If you are as sharp as you think you are, you will easy recognize the 2 flaws in your thinking from the list.

    Telling me that my 'pre-existing conclusion - which is the historical record, as written by Kepler himself - is as flawed as your mystical belief that all religious people are stupid is so falsely equivalent it is just plain false, but that is only a 0.5 problem, and sign of an intellectually immature mentality, and that can be fixed. If you stop viewing the world through your anti-religious filter and think critically.

    @Arv Edgeworth "The fossil record best fits a global flood model."

    Have you studied both mainstream geology and flood geology?

    Also, do take a moment to read this short article by Karl Giberson:

    Have you tested the hypothesis of Ellen White, George McCready Price, John Whitcomb, and Henry Morris? Have you tested the hypothesis of mainstream geologists? Why do you find the data more persuasive of flood geology and not mainstream geology? 

    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    About the BioLogos Foundation: They are Theistic Evolutionists. Much of the article you wanted me to read was based on the writings of Ellen G. White who was a heretic and false prophetess.

    One of the earliest Jewish documents, the Seder Olam Rabbah compiled by Jose ben Halafta in 160 AD, dates the creation of the world to 3751 BC, while the later Seder Olam Zutta (804 AD) dates it to 4339 BC. The Hebrew Calendar ascribed to Hillel II has traditionally since the 4th century AD dated creation to 3761 BC. Many of the earliest Christians used a date given in the Masoretic at around 4000 B.C. for creation. Up until the Middle Ages many Christians continued to use a date of around 5000 B.C. for creation.

    Toward the end of the 18th century, almost all scientists believed the earth was less than 10,000 years old, and the fossils and rock layers were laid down by Noah’s Flood, until James Hutton started challenging that.

    In the article by BioLogos it states: “Today we find the young-earth creationist literature full of claims that fossils were laid down by Noah’s flood; that a “vapor canopy” made the pre-Flood earth more habitable; and that modern geology is a rationalization of evolution. Despite what many believers might think, these claims are not based on the Bible, but can be traced to the visions of a 19th-century prophetess, and her disciple, a remarkable amateur geologist.”

    That is completely not true. Anyone reading the flood account in Genesis, plus Psalm 104, would understand the global devastation cause by this flood. Plus 80% of earth’s crust is sedimentary layers, mostly laid down by water. The creation of the vapor canopy is described in Genesis 1:7-8. Plus Genesis 2:5-6 indicate it did not rain on the earth until Noah’s Flood. Hutton’s writings were to challenge flood geology, which was the accepted belief in the late 1700s.

    You asked: “Why do you find the data more persuasive of flood geology and not mainstream geology?” Take a good look at the typical geologic column in most science books. Looking at this chart in light of gradual evolution it all seems to fit the survival of the fittest over about 600 million years of earth’s supposed history. Looking at that chart in light of a great flood it would all seem to fit also. Factor in habitat, body density, and the ability to survive a great flood, and it would seem that chart would represent a perfect reflection of that. What would get buried first? Life forms that lived on the bottom of the sea, like trilobites. What would come next? Life forms that lived in the water. Next would come life forms that lived near the water, and birds and people would be found mostly in the top layers because they could survive longer. Both interpretations would seem to fit the chart.

    However, that chart only exists in the textbooks. You couldn’t have all twelve of those layers on top of one another, in their totality, anywhere in the world, because that would make the earth’s crust about 95 miles thick, and that wouldn’t work.

    Secondly, earth’s land surface does not even have three geologic periods appearing in correct consecutive order, according to C.O.Dunbar writing in Historical Geology in the 2nd Edition.

    The anomalies seem to be the most telling. If evolution were correct, those layers all should be found one on top of the other, with the oldest on the bottom, and the youngest layer on top, like you were daily stacking up newspapers. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. What about over-thrusts? Like the Lewis Over-thrust in Montana, where a piece of Pre-Cambrian strata 350 miles wide, and 6 miles thick (about 10,000 square miles) just picked itself up and slid 40 miles on top of Cretaceous strata. It supposedly left no skid marks. What happened to all the layers and time periods that were supposed to be in between and are missing? That is the problem with all supposed over-thrusts, the missing layers that are supposed to be there. That isn’t a problem for flood geology. Missing layers of strata should disprove evolutionary geology, and would also be predicted by flood geology. Do you know how those layers were identified? By the fossil evidence or lack thereof.

    Human artifacts in the wrong strata, which is rarely recognized, since the artifact is most often used to identify the strata, and its supposed age. Of course the strata is often used to date the fossil or artifact as well. These would be predicted by flood geology. Circular reasoning becomes a bid part of the scientific endeavor.

    Polystrate fossils are another anomaly that is a big problem in the fossil record. Tree fossils running up through several layers representing millions of years of geologic time. These are sometimes explained away, but not always. These would be predicted by flood geology. All the anomalies fit within flood geology and would be predicted.

    Relative dating is more often used than radioactive dating. Where is the fossil and strata in relation to other fossils and layers? When using radioactive methods, usually they will first find out which layer it was found in, then pick out a dating method that will yield a date in that approximate time frame. Sometimes a specimen will be tested a dozen times, then only one date will be selected and gets published. I’m basing this on statements in science journals and reports.

    "C.O.Dunbar writing in Historical Geology" that book was published in 1949. Wegener's plate techtonics didn't start to become widely accepted until 1961/1962:

    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    What exactly does plate techtonics have to do with the order of the strata? I believe Charles Lyell understood the order of the strata. Are you feeling okay Steve?

    "What exactly does plate techtonics have to do with the order of the strata?"

    "What about over-thrusts? Like the Lewis Over-thrust in Montana, where a piece of Pre-Cambrian strata 350 miles wide, and 6 miles thick (about 10,000 square miles) just picked itself up and slid 40 miles on top of Cretaceous strata."

    Plate tectonics--when tectonic plates collided, the Proterozoic Lewis Overthrust was pushed up on top of the younger Cretaceous rock.

    "It supposedly left no skid marks." I'm not sure what dirty underwear has to do with this discussion, but what skidmarks would you expect to find? Why would one expect them to be preserved and not weathered or eroded or buried under sediment?

    "What happened to all the layers and time periods that were supposed to be in between and are missing? That is the problem with all supposed over-thrusts, the missing layers that are supposed to be there." Is there a compelling reason to expect the missing layers not to have been sheared off the bottom of the Lewis Overthrust as it was pushed up on top of the Cretaceous rock?

    "Missing layers of strata should disprove evolutionary geology," To be honest, I've never heard of an academic discipline called "evolutionary geology," but these days there are so many PhDs awarded in so many fields that it's darned near impossible to keep track of them all. Heck, an Ozzie bloke was awarded a PhD in Ufology:
    "This page intentionally left blank." --Gödel
    Creationism, young earth version:

    This belief is based upon the misunderstanding of a metaphor. The early books of The Bible were first transcribed somewhere around 800 B.C. from the oral tradition. Thus, Genesis and the Psalms were both recorded in the language of the time. Per Asimov's Guide to the Bible a "thousand" was the largest named number and was often used metaphorically to represent an arbitrarily large number, much as we might say "a gazillion". Psalm 90: "A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." The Genesis account of creation, given this metaphor, pretty much comports with our current understanding of history.

    Creationism and Evolution:

    The teleological argument for the existence of God states, in brief, that life is way too complicated to have begun accidentally. The current consensus on DNA is that it is an information structure, a blueprint for the organism. From both experience and Information Theory we see an analogy to the entropy of the second law of thermodynamics - i.e. an isolated system tends to disorganization. Entropy is reversed by the injection of energy from an external source. Information always degrades with transcription or transmission. The only way for information to be enhanced (more complicated, higher, species) is the introduction of information from an external source.

    We here understand and respect thoughtful religious analysis.  The thing is most of the people addressed by Cosmos, or anything written here aren't that thoughtful.  
    It's not like most Christians have a Doctor of Divinity.  Just as I write of most peoples level of scientific literacy I bet that most people aren't much more knowledgeable of the religion that keeps them from buying the science wholeheartedly. 

    In fact... 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    I had really high hopes for Cosmos, but by the second episode I gave up. Neil Tyson has been super in several other shows but not this one. I hope that it's the producers and writers and not him that are the problem.

    So Keppler was wrong too? Big deal. How much of the American public bases their belief in the age of the earth on Keppler's calculations? This article ignores the elephant in the room. I very much doubt Cosmos would have given as much, or any, attention to Ussher's calculations if it wasn't for the 30% of the American population that believes it to be true.

    Tyson asked us in episode 1 to question everything - including his claims. So you are going to need to document your belief that 30% of the country thinks the earth is 6,000 years old. 

    Ann Druyan was wrong, and Tyson may not know enough science history to correct her, but she wasn't intentionally making nonsense up. You are.
    I wasn't making things up. I did, however mix up two poll questions, so I gave the wrong number. The 30% is the number of Americans who take the Bible literally. The number who believe in young earth creationsim is a bit higher - 46%. Your first response was to insult me instead of addressing the issue I raised. Try again, if you so desire.

    Your first comment got an insult because it was made up - as you then conceded. If religious person 'mixed up' two entirely different facts and turned them intoa total falsehood I would ridicule them too, as would you.

    I've actually never met a Bible literalist who literally thinks the Universe was created in 6 days. Have you? 

    As it turns out, we have experimental evidence the universe started a lot more like Genesis than ever thought possible - to me, that makes that book no more valid than it ever was, but since you are so much more rational and free-thinking than everyone else, you must accept it now. Right? 
    Thanks for enlightening me. I now see you are like every other religious apologist out there. You're going to call my statement wrong because I didn't say "at least 30%." Obviously, if 46% believe man was created in his present form within the last 10,000 years then at least 30% believe it. You are obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer. (Sorry, had to get in a gratuitous insult, since that seems to be your style.)

    Hank. Are you serious? You never met a Bible literalist who literally thinks the Universe was created in 6 days? I've never met one who didn't. Actually though, the Universe was spoken into existence on day number one, so technically you are right, it didn't take 6 days. The sun, moon, and stars were spoken into existence on day number four. So only two of the six days were used in the creation of our Universe.

    I actually haven't. I know they are out there, I have read them, but even in California, which is the home of crazy ideas, I have never met one.

    Obviously I run in a different circle than some fundamentalist preacher - it wouldn't take long for someone who harbors such beliefs to realize I will make goat noises at them so perhaps none have ever spoken up. But for being so supposedly overrun with them - as militant atheists claim - it is strange I have yet to meet one. I have met a lot of atheists who claim religious people are intellectually immature and that they accept science more, but what they know about adaptive radiation is...nothing. They have faith in science, they say they accept it, but they just have belief. Neutral people can't see how that is superior.

    Cosmos is going out of its way to snipe religion and that's too bad - Tyson said it was important to be on Fox because he believed Fox viewers needed an education the most. That should have been a warning sign to TV executives that he and MacFarlane and Druyan were not interested in being positive forces for science.

    If they were, it took simply one sentence - "Hey, Ussher was not alone. Johannes Kepler had also calculated a young universe. What were they missing that we have now?

    "The answer is ancient rocks from Earth and chondritic meteorites."

    And then he goes into geology. Instead, we once again get the unhistorical claim that only wacky religious people got science wrong.  It's a falsehood and those who claim to be evidence-based should not circle the wagons around it because atheists are saying it on TV.
    The propagandists responsible for Cosmos deify the sludge science of CAGW. Global Warming now is Gaian religious dogma, in their warped world view. Thankfully as Lincoln said; "You can't fool All the people, All the time". But it is rapidly collapsing of its own weight, as its predictions fail, and experimental data does not confirm it. Truth will out.

    You'll note that they never criticize the truly harmful party-line destruction of the tenents of 'Science' as exemplified by Trofim Lysenko and Marxist nonsense. That charlatan provided a justification to destroy Mendelian genetics in half of the world for 50 years. The Party and he condemned many a geneticist to death in the GULAG. Following Party-line Marxist theory, the Soviet Bloc warped Science, and couldn't feed itself the entire time and many poor people starved.

    The producers or this Party-line poppycock find that fewer and fewer put up with viewing their tripe. Viscount Brenchly correctly quotes Margaret Thatcher's pithy epigram that they are all like traffic light signals. They say they are Green because the are too Yellow, to admit they are Red.

    I am an intellectually curious person who grew up in a Christian home. I do not consider myself a "young earth" anything. I've loved science since I was a child and even though I did not choose science as a career, I consider myself a casual open-minded science "fan." I am lucky enough to have a wonderful family, and I attribute some of that to being raised with Christian values. So, I have much respect for religion in that sense. But, I love science and love reading about the latest scientific discoveries and watching some of the very well-produced Science Channel shows and Neil on Colbert, etc. I must say I'm pretty disappointed with Cosmos. I've watched every episode and some of it is good, but if I wanted a debate about creationism vs. evolution, I would've watched the Bill Nye debate, which I didn't watch because I don't care. I want cutting edge science. Cosmos wastes too much time taking unnecessary pot-shots at religion. Hence, a major missed opportunity to advance the cause of science for people who respect religion but want to learn more about science.

    When I attack evolution it is for the cause of science.

    Just once I wish the Americans would stop making science documentaries. They're shit at it.They're not the most advanced scientifically literate society in the world as one previous commenter said. Their institutions are full of non american experts. They trivialize everything. And every time they open their gobs their arrogant americentric garbage spews out all over the column. Its over. Get used to it. No-one cares about your snipes at Tyson. Write about science.

    Actually that guy who made the civil war doc and the baseball doc was good. let him make all their docs

     They're shit at it.They're not the most advanced scientifically literate society in the world as one previous commenter said
    You let your nationalism get in the way of data. America leads the world in adult science literacy. That is not a new thing, it has been that way for decades. America also leads the world in science output and, of course, Nobel prizes.  That American can simultaneously lead the world in both science and the western world in religious belief is due to American diversity and tolerance. Europe has always had a tolerance problem, that is why so many left and came to America.

    Religion and science is only contradictory to Europeans, really, and then a few loud people in America on both fringes.
    I could not have put it better.
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    So maybe there is another explanation for why H.sapiens displaced the Neanderthals.  Contrary to the popular picture of them acting on brutish animal instinct, maybe it was the latter who thought about things too much, and the former who acted first, asked questions afterwards.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    First of all I don't have a nationalist bone in my body. But coming from an American its easy to understand your trivial generalizations thrown willy nilly in all directions. I don't live in Europe and haven't lived there for 8 years. I'm an internationalist. Nobel prizes are obscene and have reflected the amount of money thrown at problems by the USA. I'd would hazard a guess that if the same amount of 'CASH' was thrown in the general direction of science by any country similar results would occur. America does indeed have great scientists at the high end of science but no more or less than other countries. What Americans do have is semi-literate clowns being produced like sausages out of mediocre institutions and consequently jumping on to that former high end bandwagon. Spending only 5 minutes speaking to these vacuous and culturally devoid boorish characters it is apparent that they live in some kind of self contained North American Earth bubble.How on Earth you can make statements like;-
    'Religion and science is only contradictory to Europeans, really, and then a few loud people in America on both fringes.' really shows your hidden agenda. You have been outed for the purported scientist you are. I hope that was shrill and loud enough for you in order for you to popularize your 'shrill and loud meme every time somebody has the temerity to accuse you of spewing forth religious apologist bollocks.

    'Religion and science is only contradictory to Europeans, really, and then a few loud people in America on both fringes.' really shows your hidden agenda.
    Insisting that the Nobel prizes are bought and then your additional wacko claim here shows the world what is really happening - you are a conspiracy crank.
    the reply 'you are nuts' says it all. Conspiracy theorist- really? Wow - You do realize you were the one who stated 'Religion and science only contradictory to Europeans" And that statement shows how Americans are suddenly experts by stereotyping a whole continent on which they no nothing about. BTW - I know people like you like to throw epithets around ( you know - the ones who shout Islamophobe to stifle criticism. Well your conspiracy slur won't stand up either if you care to examine the last 100 years of the Nobel prize with a critic's eye rather than a parochial, straw chewing, hick.

    and btw don't reply to this post because i can't be arsed proofreading it and wasting another 2 minutes of my life on someone with a music hall name -'Hank' with its obvious rhyming slang connotation.

    You are all nuts.

    You got this wrong.

    The episode wasn't poking at Ussher or creationists in general, it was about *enlighting* the huge number of Americans who still don't know (or haven't decided which side of the fence to land on) if the Earth is a mere thousands of years old or billions of years old.

    So how many need "enlighting"? I can't figure it out. What surprises me, if is true that Cosmos pokes fun at a guy who 'counted the begats' to save the world, is why they get so many actual things wrong doing so.
    s/enlighting/educating. There. Fixed my typo. Pardon for English not being my native language.

    "So how many need "enlighting"? I can't figure it out. "
    Judging from polls and the comments section on popular news sites: a lot.

    What Cosmos gets, and doesn't get wrong, is something for a completely different blog post and discussion. In this one, you are plain and simply wrong.

    Okay, show me how I am wrong. Did Kepler not calculate a young earth, just like Ussher?

    Because you have overturned all of science history if you can prove that.
    Your point is evidently that in that episode, Cosmos was making fun of creationists, and Ussher in particular.

    Claims such as «So host Neil Tyson tells us about Ussher and then we fast forward to modern geology and how much smarter we are now. Okay, fine, but was Ussher all that wrong for the time?» makes it hard to interpret you meant something else.

    And here's the point Cosmos was trying to make; it wasn't about what Ussher believed (or didn't believe) at all, it was all about education. Of the viewer.

    I am not certain how you made this determination. You are saying that Cosmos viewers are stupid and that Tyson, Druyan, Seth, et al, also think they are stupid and are talking down to them.

    This explains the total free fall of Cosmos in ratings - assuming deficit thinking and intellectual immaturity on the part of the audience is never good. But doesn't it instead mean that the creators of Cosmos are actually the dumb ones? Other science shows do not make the mistake of talking down to viewers.
    No, I am not saying Cosmos viewers are stupid. Don't put words in my mouth. The correct way is asking a question: "Are you saying Cosmos viewers are stupid?" instead of projecting opinions on me you have no idea if I possess or not.

    I have yet to encounter a single case where for instance a teacher has been accused of talking down on students, when educating them.

    With all due respect, you're making the same mistake again, in assuming that your own interpretation of things and events, somehow seems to be a de facto truth, without stopping for a moment and asking: "Is this so?" "Is that what you meant?"

    For that matters, I have yet to see anyone else in the scientific blogosphere who shares your views.

    Perhaps what Hank has been trying to say is that the producers of Cosmos are actually losing out on the science by presenting a rather polemical view of history.
    When I was young, there was a lot of airtime given to Life of Galileo by Bertold Brecht.  This was a highly polemical work, and the author could by no means be counted a scientist.
    It was only much later, when I started to read books like Physics for Poets by Robert H. March, that I began to appreciate the depth of Galileo’s achievements.  This perhaps also accounts (in part) for why I am a chemist rather than a physicist.

    Unfortunately, our UK Institute of Physics got all excited recently about a revival of the play.  This I regard as rather useless, in a small way like those reflexive flattery conferences called the Oscars.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    An entire episode devoted to refuting creationists: yeah, polemic for sure.

    Mentioning in an episode that "these are established truths by doctrine, but we know and can prove it isn't so" is not polemics.

    Mind you we're both from Europe. What Tyson is explaining regarding creationist beliefs, would be completely superfluous to say to a European audience.

    Sorry, but you are just making things up again. American adults lead the world in science literacy, science output and Nobel prizes. Claiming that Europe is some bastion of rationality is not evident to anyone but nationalists in Europe.

    When the conversation turns to biology, if cell phones cause cancer, or if scientists should go to jail for not predicting earthquakes, European scientists want Europe to be a lot more American. 

    Don't like sweeping generalizations about the whole continent? Then why do it about America?
    Congratulations for showing the entire world that you didn't understand a single word of what I was saying. :-)

    No wonder you didn't understand the message in that Cosmos episode