Gerald E. Aardsma is a young earth creationist and fundamentalist, though he does, in fact, have a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from the University of Toronto. Currently, Aardsma is a “chronologist”. Apparently, he is concerned with “dating methods such as radiocarbon,” which “play an important role in the construction of historical chronologies.” His background in physics, and his “specialization in radioisotopic dating methods” (not actually substantiated on the website) provide him with the tools needed to “critically evaluate secular dates and their relationship to biblical chronology.” To do so, he applies ”both scientific and biblical data,” and you sort of see where this is going; when you don’t like the science, appeal to the authority of revelation. Most of his efforts are accordingly devoted to refuting dating methods that suggest that the Earth is older than the 6000 or so years (actually, Aardsma admits that it has to be somewhat more than 6000) suggested in the Bible. Needless to say, secular bias prevents him from publishing these results in serious journals; instead, he runs, with his wife Helen, his own publishing company, Aardsma Research & Publishing.
To accommodate a literal Biblical interpretation Aardsma does of course have to revert to divine intervention, and he happily employs a version of the Omphalos hypothesis whenever needed. To account for the geological record, for instance, Aardsma tries to argue that events after creation have changed the “virtual history” we now see, from a contemporary vantage point, including the fossils. In his own words: “Creation with Appearance of Age runs into a theological snag with things like fossils of fish with other smaller fish in their stomachs: ‘Do you mean that God chose to paint, of all things, a facade of SUFFERING and DEATH onto the creation when He gave it this arbitrary appearance of age at the time of creation?’ The virtual history paradigm recognizes simply that all creation type miracles entail a virtual history, so the Fall, with its creation type miracles (by which the nature of the creation was changed – ‘subjected to futility’) carried with it its own (fallen) virtual history, which is the virtual history we now see. We do not see the original utopian pre-Fall creation with its (presumably utopian) virtual history.” Special pleading, anyone?
Aardsma has also done some work for the Institute of Creation Research to counter geocentrists, i.e. Biblical Astronomers who point out that a literal interpretation of the Bible requires geocentrism. Can’t have those if ICR is ever going to be recognized as a serious, scientific enterprise, can we?
Diagnosis: Cargo cult science doesn’t come more pseudo- than the efforts of Gerald Aardsma. A stellar example of how dogmatism ruins everything and turns an otherwise apparently intelligent guy into a raging crackpot.
I also nominate Oleg Atbashian, founder of the People's Cube. Apparently, he thinks making shit up about people and beating up cartoonish strawmen is the same thing as "satire."ReplyDelete
If you want this blog to have any credibility, you should stick to true statements, ones that you could document if challenged, possibly including guesses or opinions that are clearly identified as such. I know this man, Dr. Aardsma, and he is no loon. I also know plenty about his work, enough to recognize an egregious falsehood in your write-up.ReplyDelete
You said, “Most of his efforts are accordingly devoted to refuting dating methods that suggest that the Earth is older than the 6000 or so years ... suggested in the Bible.” This is patently false. Can you document even one example of an effort by Dr. Aardsma to do this? Even if you could, it should be clear to anyone familiar with his work that it has practically nothing to do with a refutation of any specific dating method.
You followed that whopper with, “Needless to say, secular bias prevents him from publishing these results in serious journals ...” What results are you talking about? Are these articles not in one of the journals you consider serious?
It is true that most of his work is self-published, and you did say “serious journals” (plural), while Radiocarbon could be the only one that has published his work and also ought to be considered serious even by his critics, so your vague statement could be considered technically correct, but it is actually quite misleading. Both articles linked above are available to the public for free. You ought to be embarrassed that you overlooked them.
I applaud your linking to Dr. Aardsma’s own words about virtual history, by why do you question whether this is an example of special pleading? To what general rule is virtual history supposed to be an unjustified exception? It is a universal feature of any creation miracle. Anyone who argues without reason that creation of the heavens and the earth is exceptional in this regard would be guilty of special pleading.
Your paragraph on geocentrism does nothing to justify including Dr. Aardsma in your list of “loons” or anything in your final diagnosis for this post, and the TalkOrigins article you linked is terribly out of date and misleading at best, especially with regard to statements about Dr. Aardsma. Calling him a “stellar example of how dogmatism ruins everything and turns an otherwise apparently intelligent guy into a raging crackpot” makes you look to me like “a raging crackpot.” You have no true statement here that justifies your conclusion. I hope you will consider this great man’s work honestly and drop him from your list of loons.