I’m interested when geologists address fairy-folktale-belief (Creationism) explicitly, using the world-sized mass of data at their disposal to thoroughly crush all the pikerish Creationist nonsense out there. It’s amazing that we still have to fight this battle at all, in an age of superconductors and fiber optics. It is a bit terrifying to know that Americans who use and control advanced technologies and atomic weapons can still believe that everything they see around them is a gigantic massively-multiplayer role playing game that went live about 6,000 years ago, and was built by an undying and hideously powerful raving paranoid sadist with disturbing sexual obsessions.
Yet deal with it we still must, because Young Earth kooks are actually taken seriously, are commonly found to be quite sympathetic, and are treated with reverance by a large number of people, some of whom write our laws. I’m of the opinion that laws should not be written by people who reject the real world to live in a magical fantasy. Which is why I’m grateful when a working geologist will stand up and speak out. Geologists live and breathe this stuff, as they say. I, also, am tired of people who hear a delusional sermon by someone off their meds, and decide they know more than the consensus of professional opinion in a highly specialized and complex field of study. Do Creationists have any views on their preferred Biblical methods of conducting open-heart surgery? No? Perhaps we can study the ancient Scriptures for guidance on how to construct a fusion reactor? No? I’m stunned.
Here’s a great response to Young Earth stupidity by rightfully fed-up geochronologist Evelyn on Skepchick. Evelyn is particularly embarassed and angered (and I share her disgust) by an example of a YEC “geologist” who was profiled last year in the New York Science Times.
I constantly find it an astounding feat of cognitive dissonance, when I hear right-wing petrozealots shrieking about how we need to drill our way out of the oil crisis… people who will then turn around and start spouting about how evolution is “just a theory” and how “secular scientists” are polluting our nation’s schools. How on Earth do these primitives think that oil is surveyed and discovered? Prayer? Sacrificing a red heifer?
Geologists figure out where the petroleum ought to be, by thinking about how the real-life Earth is put together… using fields of knowledge like geochronology, sedimentary stratigraphy, geochemistry, geophysics, all of which are informed by a full working knowledge of how planetary processes function over geologic time (i.e. 4.6 billion years).
Being a Young Earth creationist is sufficient grounds to disqualify anyone from being recognized as a competent geologist, in my professional opinion. At best it’s incompetence, at worst it’s malpractice. A Young Earth geologist would be functionally identical to a practicing physician who believes proudly and loudly that evil spells and demonic possession cause disease instead of bacteria. Such a physician would be a laughing stock to the world and an embarrassment to himself and his profession, with good reason.