Several weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a Christian friend about a commentary by Chuck Colson entitled “Pray for the Persecutors.” The persecutors in question are the members of the Khmer Rouge, some of whom became Christians as a result of the faith of those they brutally murdered more than 25 years ago. That same friend recently sent me another Colson article about the horrors of sexual slavery in the U.S. entitled “Desparate for Love.”
While I would like to heed Dr. Colson’s words, other articles of his make that difficult. The subtitle of one, “From Darwin to Hitler” is self-explanatory. He quotes a historian who claims “Darwin’s ideas about the origin of species helped create a culture that devalued human life. And in that culture, Nazism was able to thrive.” This is a severe logical fallacy called the argument from adverse consequences; the perceived social consequences of a scientific hypothesis have no affect on its veracity. If evolution is true, it is true regardless what affect it has on any individual or culture.
The other article, “Does Mother Nature Tell?” is a collection of putative evidence against the current scientific understanding of Earth’s age. I would like to rebut this supposed evidence, but the fine people at Talk Origins have done that for me. Colson claims that “scientists at the Hawaiian Institute of Geophysics tested volcanic lava” and “got ages ranging up to three billion years old” even though “the lava was from an eruption that happened only 200 years ago.” Similar claims to this are rebutted as Creation Claims CD012 and CD013.
Colson’s remaining claims are all concered with fossils. Since I am not a paleontologist, I cannot adress this claims from personal expertise; however, the people at Talk Origins have done that for me. I do not garantuee their credibility, but most of the articles, unlike Colson’s, cite their sources. The first fossil claim is that “Evolutionists believe each rock layer represents several million years.” To my surprise, I learned that this is not true, as Dave Matson explains in point G4a rebutting Dr. Kent Hovind. Colson uses this false claim to argue that fossil trees, which cut through multiple rock strata, are evidence of a young Earth. This agrument is refued in G4a and was refuted more than a century ago.
Continuing with the fossil theme, Colson claims that a large fossil beds prove that the fosslized “animals were swept up in some violent flood and deposited all at one time.” This is rebutted as claim CC362. The most interesting point in this rebuttal is that the sheer number of fossils implies an old Earth. Fossil densitys in these beds are far greater than population densitys today. This means that all of the fossilized animals could not have lived at the same time; they must have lived and died throughout a long span of history.
Finally, Colson claims that the existence of fossils is evidence for a young earth becas an animal “becomes a fossil only in those rare cases when it is covered up by sediment quickly.” This claim is disucssed as number CC363 and in “Fish Fossils.” Soft tissue does require rapid burial, but such fossils are rare. This article is mainly a collection of Young-Earth Creationist claims that have been refuted for decades; almost every sentence is wrong.
So, why does any of this matter? It matters because science is what I know best; this is the arena in which I am at my best and where I am most confident in my abilities. It is the arena where I can most effectively asses someone else’s credibility. If Dr. Colson is wrong about the age of the Earth, a subject I know well, by a factor of 1,000,000; how can I give credibility to his claim that 300,000 girls are in sexual slavery in the US?
More practically, in this information age, we all have access to huge amounds of information, propoganda, and advertising. The realities of finite brains and finite days force me to develop filters that remove vast swaths of the media and leave only what I have time to effectively process. For me, one very effective filter has been ignoring (or holding in high suspicion) any sources that makes incorrect or ignorant statments regarding the fields of science I know best. As you can see, this filter catches Dr. Colson.