Jacob Tanenbaum: Creation, Evolution and Indisputable facts

Preface. And you wonder why Trump got elected?  Evangelists are 25% of voters, and 80% of them voted for Trump. Clearly they can’t think clearly.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report


Jacob Tanenbaum. January 1, 2013. Creation, Evolution and Indisputable facts. A science teacher asks if scientists and biblical literalists can get along. Scientific American.

As a science teacher, I am always curious about people’s attitudes toward what I teach. Since more than 40 percent of U.S. adults believe literally what is written in the Book of Genesis—that Earth and the universe were created in six days about 6,000 years ago—and since I was in the neighborhood recently, I decided to visit the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., run by the Answers in Genesis (AiG) Ministry.

The museum has a brand-new planetarium and 70,000 square feet of exhibits claiming that the story of Genesis happened exactly as written. In the main lobby, a large display depicts life just after creation. Richly detailed with plants and rocks, it features a small boy playing, while two dinosaurs graze nearby. According to the exhibits, the stars are younger than Earth (they were created on Day 4), and Noah saved all animal species that we see today from the Flood. Earth had its one and only ice age, lasting a few hundred years.

What disturbed me most about my time spent at the museum was the theme, repeated from one exhibit to the next, that the differences between biblical literalists and mainstream scientists are minor. They are not minor; they are poles apart. This is not to say that science and religion are incompatible; many scientists believe in some kind of higher power, and many religious people accept the idea of evolution. Still, a literal interpretation of Genesis cannot be reconciled with modern science. Advertisement

Scientists tell us we live in a remote corner of a vast universe that existed billions of years before humans arrived. The universe and Earth could continue just fine without us. We are one species of many on a little planet with an ancient fossil record that shows that more than 99% of the species that once lived are now extinct. This speaks to a tenuousness of our existence as a species—an existence we need to protect vigorously.

AiG’s biblical literalists, on the other hand, hold that we are God’s favorites. We live at the universe’s center on a planet God made and maintains for us to use. Earth’s resources are here for us to exploit. God protects us and promised he would not destroy Earth again until the end of days. In that scenario, we have little reason to safeguard our existence.

Creationists begin with answers and work to prove that those answers are right. This is antithetical to the scientific process. Scientists who formed the idea of human evolution did not invent the idea and go looking for fossils. Well before Charles Darwin published his treatise in 1859 and well before workers in a limestone quarry in 1856 found strange bones that would later be called Neanderthal, scientists struggled to explain what they saw in the natural world and in the fossil record. The theory of evolution was the product of that analysis. That is how science works.

The danger is that 40% of the American electorate seems to have forgotten what science is. Considering that our nation put a man on the moon and invented the airplane and the Internet, this development is extraordinary. Yet when much of the electorate faces the complex scientific questions of our day, they do not reject science wholesale, they cherry-pick it. Few if any of them live without the benefits of fossil fuels and electricity. Most are happy to fly in airplanes, take hot showers, heat their homes, drive their cars, watch their televisions and text their friends. They reject science only if it conflicts with their beliefs or asks them to change their way of life.

When Americans selectively reject science, it handicaps us, as a nation, in a knowledge-based global economy. We need to be open when scientific discoveries tell us our actions have consequences, raise doubts about our future and ask us to change. So I’ll keep teaching science, not belief. Because if students do not understand how science works, we can destroy our country’s future or even threaten our existence on this old Earth. Advertisement

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5 Responses to Jacob Tanenbaum: Creation, Evolution and Indisputable facts

  1. An alternative to both sides of this equation may be included in a piece I have recently posted. See for yourself at https://robertmagill.wordpress.com/2018/12/12/the-purpose-of-life-is-life-amen-2/

    • energyskeptic says:

      I’m not worried about artificial intelligence taking over, despite Westworld… there simply isn’t enough energy to build and maintain some sort of robot, and we are so so so far from any machine that could pass the Turing test. Not gonna get there before fossils decline… if ever

    • Thanks Alice.

      The <2%-efficient photosynthesis in living plants is what has allowed humans to live and build civilisations.

      The process is so compact, fine-tuned and optimized by nature, no human-run processes, being drilling an oil well, building machinery, a digital system, etc – no matter how sophisticated – will exceed that threshold of efficiency.

      The <2% efficiency of capturing solar into food and woods will always remain the master source of excess Energy for humans.

      It is this which humans will never exceed as a level of maximum efficiency for their civilisation, being the the input and threshold of a maximum excess-energy possibly captured from solar – no matter what they do.

      That's why we see cooling towers everywhere and a cooling radiator in each of most of cars and trucks, asphalt roads networks and a communication tower every few blocks – wherever you go today.

      In living plants these processes and infrastructures are entangled together by a supreme design- yet the efficiency is <=2%!

      The millions of years in the-making pocket of fossil fuels reserves, that humans have found and exploited since the 1700s' steam engines, have allowed the hypnotic engine of Economics making people to think humans can even manufacture Energy with nuclear, fusion, solar, wind, hydro, and making the process even better and better with AI, etc.

      False! All these technologies prove today a fossil fuels sub-product, and they'll be vanishing gradually from the scene, at least in the intensive-way we see them today, as fossil fuels severely deplete by the day.

      The relentless campaign for what is called Artificial Intelligence today is a demonstration of how humans remain primitive species, failing to fathom and acknowledge the incalculable amount of energy and time put into creating Life on Earth, thinking the ‘few drops, chunks and puffs‘ of Energy storage found in fossil fuels reserves is a match of that energy- and they can burn coal, oil and natural gas to create something even better with AI, 5G, 4IR, etc – until Fusion arrives and and comes to rescue – Wallah!

      Humans might have created better cars over Ford’s T model, for example, but the ratio between the energy expended in making each to the sum useful energy they both will ever produce – remains the same – again, it is the <2% threshold of photosynthesis!

      When a latest jetliner crosses the ocean with just few hundreds of passengers aboard, burning tens and tens of liters of fuel, that was brought thousands of meters from deep in the ground, potentially from reserves seven seas far away, a second – is this something can be called 'Efficiency' and 'Sophistication'?

      Maybe yes, but still below the level of a master controlling-parameter – the <2% threshold of photosynthesis, being a process that humans can not match in compactness, repair, control, wear and tear management and sophistication, beside that all the the excess energy they enjoy today is a product of it!

      This is the reason why all our prime movers today are either replicas of the early steam engine or early steam turbine of the 19th century and earlier.

      We might have built more of them, but never something different – hitting the constraint that always entangles the energy required to build a device to the useful energy produced by the device!

      "Time taken for stocking energy to construct an energy-producing device of useful work, added to the time building it will always be longer than the entire useful lifetime of the device" (The Fifth Law).

  2. Sheila Chambers says:

    We have already scrapped our future, we destroyed it by overbreeding, overconsuming, over extracting, excessive pollution, destruction of our ecosystem & by our total dependence upon a temporary, fossil resource.

    Many of us have been led to believe that “renewables” can replace essential fossil resources, you have to have a rock for a brain to believe that but millions do.
    Most of those same millions also believe that there is an invisible guy in the sky that “made” everything we see in just 6 “days”!

    Our “education” system has badly failed us, it has not taught us how science works & why a theory is not just a “guess”, now we have “experts” telling us we are on the brink of a bright “renewable” energy future where we will all have EV’s, smart homes, self driving flying cars & our food will be grown in high rises, perpetual motion machine anyone?
    A working perpetual motion machine is as likely as that “renewable” energy future.
    Technology is not a resource, it’s a tool that uses raw materials to provide us with what we need & want, without resources, all our high technology is worthless.

    Instead of a bright future, we face declining resources, a failing economy with billions of unemployed & homeless, massive unwanted immigration, a declining farm output while the excessive population continues to rise but not for much longer, the collapse is neigh & hunger, disease & wars will cull the masses.
    What to do?
    Enjoy this way of life while it lasts if your lucky enough to not be amongst the millions of poor, unemployed, homeless, unwanted migrants or sick who cannot afford health care because there is no “fix” for the mess we have made for ourselves, the vast majority of us are doomed.
    In the future, the living will envy the dead.

    • A coal miner needed a doctor and family to function and sustain continuity for more coal to be extracted and sold by Economics.

      Economics flourished, the miner kept dancing all his life over poverty lines.

      The doctor needed a shoe maker. Both needed families to support them being human-beings.

      The shoe maker needed leathers and materials which required more people to be involved and support – at the end – the coal miner in his 24/7 digging, and the Economics of the 19th century to prove itself working, growing and a blueprint for World domination!

      This effectively has made all humans coal miners, oil and natural gas drillers, refinery workers, truck drivers and Energy traders – despite we today appear doctors, engineers, lawyers, politicians, writers and others.

      Without overconsumption, any factory would go bust, due to the fact that the Energy put into constructing and repairing it is always greater than the sum useful Energy the factory will ever produce.

      It is coal, in the hand of Economics of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand, and Marx’s et al ignorance to the essential role of Energy in the Social Contract, what have forced humans to impregnate themselves for the continuity of this one-sided Economics, not humans who have dug up more coal only to be killed by hundreds of millions in endless wars since the steam engine – and now the non-stop media campaign calling for Collapse and their depopulation (see documentaries on the town built from scratch while the Hoover Dam is built in the 1930s)!

      Economics never tells the masses fossil fuels are finite and nations shouldn’t have sold dirt-cheap their finite fossil fuels resources, since Jevons’ day in the 1800’s Britain.

      Why all crude oil extraction and selling in the 3rd World and Russia today are government-controlled?

      Because to produce a barrel of oil you have to burn more than one barrel of oil – by physics. Such a win-lose reality is then given to poppet governments, so nobody can question them about the Common’s fair share of energy resource expended in the process, being their national property, too!

      having said that, Ethiopia, for example, has never enjoyed the fossil fuels age in the style we know – no resources and no over-consumption;

      How on Earth the population there managed to increase to 100+ million today despite famine, war and pre-industrial age conditions?

      Life is superior to the availability or the lack of fossil fuels!

      Thinking centrally about population on Earth is a culture and product of the fossil fuels age.

      See what happened to the environment since the Club of Rome has started communicating its campaign and message on centralised system, Limits of Growth – calling on a single-future for all nations on Earth – we went from bad to worse!

      The worse of all is what happened since the 1970’s with China when Kessinger has brought it to the life-style of the US, causing that nation losing its centuries-long authentic way of life, depleting their finite resources and destroying their environment. The rest of the world has paid heavily for that, to date, too!

      It is this ‘Thinking Centrally’ what is destroying Earth – not if nations are left to their natural journey into the future – they way they’ve done since the antiquity – without centralised wars and Economics domination!

      Anyway, one day there will be no enough fossil fuels supplies that sustains parasitic, centrally-thinking systems of today, controlling humans so tightly, impregnating them and then killing them as wild hogs – on demand by remotely-executed central plans.

      Remember, humans are still the most intelligent, mobile, autonomous, highly self-powered creature superior to any piece of machinery – which fits Economics very well, creating and then destroying them – whenever needed – like all salves!