A response to Sid Roth’s “It’s Supernatural!” with Bruce Malone

Posted on Aug 27, 2014 in Arguments, Creationism, Evolution, Featured, Religion and Science, Science | 0 comments

A response to Sid Roth’s “It’s Supernatural!” with Bruce Malone

(YouTube Source: Proof of Creation | Bruce Malone | It’s Supernatural with Sid Roth)

Intro

Not too long ago I was tweeted a link to a YouTube video (source above) titled, “Proof of Creation | Bruce Malone | It’s Supernatural with Sid Roth.” After only around 6 minutes of jaw-dropping ignorance I had to stop the video to keep from ripping my hair out. Later that day I was able to make it through the whole video, though I was constantly wondering why I was willingly subjecting myself to such torture. Needless to say it only got worse and never got better. It’s difficult to take such a celebration of ignorance in stride, so as a coping mechanism I have responded to the highlights in the beginning of the video to the best of my ability. Enjoy!

1

(1:36) “My guest, Bruce Malone, is a scientist. He was with DOW chemical for 30 years. He was one of the top 100 inventors. He had 18 inventions that raised millions of dollars.”

Scientist or “Scientist”

The only information I could find from Bruce Malone comes from a few creationist’s sites and some sites where you can buy his book: “Censored Science: The Suppressed Evidence.” He does appear to have the alleged patents and it is claimed he has a degree in Chemical Engineering (which I am willing to believe), but that still doesn’t necessarily make him a “scientist” in my view. I have a degree in electrical and computer engineering, but I would never consider myself a scientist in the sense he does. Worse than that, he talks a lot about fossils, dating methods, and of course evolution; I’m pretty sure biology and geology are way out of his field of expertise in chemistry. Most serious scientists are reluctant to talk with certainty in anything but their very narrow field (for fear of being wrong and someone realizing they have no idea what they’re talking about), but Bruce doesn’t seem deterred from this at all. I’ll go out on a limb and give him the benefit of the doubt though. Not being an expert doesn’t make you undoubtedly wrong, just probably wrong. I don’t necessarily care about his credentials, mainly just the substance of his arguments and claims.

2

(3:06) “In order to make a fossil, you have to have something die and be buried very deeply and very rapidly, and then lots of water flushed through the rock layers as the sediment is turned into rock…testimony that this entire globe has been deluged by an incredible flood in the very recent past.”

More ways to make a Fossil

Actually there are not one but many different ways an organism can become fossilized. Freezing, desiccation, entombment, carbonization, impressions… and lots of these don’t require water. I believe he is describing permineralization, which is the most common but not the only way something can become fossilized. How is this evidence of a global flood? The earth is already 71% covered by water, not to mention it rains and floods locally all the time on earth. Why do you need a global flood when water abounds? Also, according to the bible, the mythical flood lasts a little over a year. Does this mean Bruce thinks every fossil ever found was created during this time? Surely things have died and fossilized outside of this narrow window right? Well, at least he seems to correctly describe one of the most common methods of fossilization, I’ll give him that.

3

(4:01) “You find enormous gaps between every very different kind of creature. You’ll find single-celled organisms and then starfish with nothing in between.”

Gaps are Fine

This isn’t actually a problem for evolution. It’s actually sort of what you would expect considering how much the layers of the earth can change and move over time. You would expect different layers to shift over time. Moreover, there are at least 26 basins where the geologic column is actually found intact (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/geocolumn/#ref-robertson). This is an ideal case, but not an expected one. This is just not a valid argument.

4

(4:25) “…been discovering dinosaur bones that have totally unfossilized soft, stretchy tissue inside the bones…it can’t be there unless those bones were buried there very recently.”

…Or there is some process we haven’t discovered until now for preserving tissues (at least to the condition of the tissue found) for millions of years.

Logical Fallacy – Appeal to Common Sense

This was indeed a surprise to scientists. What scientists don’t tend to do, however, is jump to make claims like “the only way this could happen is if they were buried there recently.” before testing for other possibilities. The great thing about science is you have to PROVE your theories and not just assert them as Bruce does. As it turns out, iron particles in the sample could explain the preservation and have been tested with promising results. In fact, determining the age of fossils by how well they are preserved is considered unreliable because preservation depends on more factors than age. He is really only appealing to common sense here, sort of like an argument from ignorance: “Since I can’t think of any other explanation besides having a very young age, it must not be millions of years old.” It’s a good try, but appealing to common sense is not a good enough argument and is definitely not scientific.

Why Science does not rely on Common Sense

Our common sense is formed by how the world works around us in our limited perception of it. Science has extended this perception into the parts that are generally hidden from us. It’s no surprise then that science has revealed concepts that seem very strange and even contrary to our common sense. As you hopefully can imagine though, the universe does not care about what does and doesn’t make sense to us! Gravity will always work the way it does no matter who thinks it doesn’t make sense. In the wise words of Oscar Gamble: “They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.”

True words from Oscar Gamble

True words from Oscar Gamble

Common Sense and Relativity

For example, common sense tells you time is the same for us as it is for the GPS satellites orbiting the earth, right? A minute on earth would have to be exactly a minute on an orbiting satellite. The length of a minute doesn’t change when you’re moving or when you get farther away from the earth, right? Believe it or not, it does! Common sense or not, if we did not take relativistic effects into account and treated the time calculated on the atomic clocks in the satellites as the same as it is on the surface of the earth, GPS would be useless the very next day. In order for GPS to work, we have to take into account time going faster on the satellites by about 38 microseconds (38,000 nanoseconds) every day. The timing has to be so precise that a reading would be false after about 2 minutes (without making this adjustment) and errors would continue to accumulate at a rate of about 10 kilometers each day. Imagine arguing, “well I just can’t think of time being affected by gravity and velocity.” Common sense simply doesn’t cut it in science.

(http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast162/Unit5/gps.html)

5

(5:15) “[Sid]Where do we get the earth is a million, a billion years old or whatever? [Bruce]Well, you have to realize what’s going on in science. There are only two possibilities to explain everything…”

Not an answer Bruce

Ad Hominem
A logical fallacy in which the traits
of an opponent are attacked in order
to invalidate their arguments.

What?! Bruce doesn’t even answer the question here. This is essentially an ad hominem attack on scientists: a dismissal of their entire argument because they are “just trying to explain away the creator.” There is no mention of the overwhelming evidence from astronomy, geology, biology, paleontology, chemistry, geomorphology, and physics that all agrees with an age of the earth at 4.5 billion years. You have to address the argument, not the person.

Some Scientists believe in a creator and accept Evolution!

On top of that, this personal attack on the character of scientists is unfounded as it simply ignores the fact that many Christians and Christian scientists accept evolution and an old earth yet still believe in a creator. The Catholic church has even explicitly accepted a form of “theistic evolution”. By definition they obviously can’t just be believing in evolution to explain away a creator.

Wrong about Science

If Bruce really thinks this is the explanation of why science says the earth is 4.5 billion years old, then his understanding of how science is done is perhaps worse than I thought. A scientists reputation is constantly on the line (who would want to fund you if someone proved you were pushing a personal belief instead of honestly using data?). You get famous in science by proving your colleagues and the currently accepted theories WRONG. Einstein isn’t famous because he agreed with Isaac Newton’s theories but because he proved them wrong in certain situations (for example when going very fast or with the very small). He shattered how we used to think of matter with E=mc^2. His success came from the evidence found to support his ideas, not by appealing to the personal beliefs of his fellow scientists. Scientists actually get excited when it looks like a long-held theory might be false; it means there are huge discoveries, breakthroughs, and awards to be had. The best states to be in in science is to be wrong or to be completely puzzled. After this, anyone would be perfectly justified to dismiss anything else this guy would say even remotely about science; there is no coming back from such drivel.

6

(5:26) “Pretend the entire earth is represented by this puzzle, this box. Either the puzzle made itself, either all the pieces, which are like the animals we find all over the earth, made themselves, or something outside of this box made the box…[Sid]So what you’re saying to me is, you’re telling me over a billion years, that I could throw these pieces like this [throws puzzle pieces] and they will all make themselves into a puzzle. You’ve got more faith then I got! [Bruce]Exactly! That’s the way science operates. Let’s just pretend it made itself.”

Supernatural with Sid and Bruce - Sid throwing puzzle pieces

Sid throwing puzzle pieces as an analogy to Evolution

This is a (terribly inaccurate) Strawman

I wouldn’t have believed it, but somehow it gets even worse. Here is where both the host and the “scientist” reveal they also lack a basic understanding of what the theory of evolution even says. If you’re going to argue against a position, at least understand what that position is before doing so. It is now evident that these two haven’t even bothered to learn much about evolution. They’ve made up their own silly version of evolution and gloat as they tear down the strawman. Unfortunately, it isn’t all that surprising as this is a very common misunderstanding among evolution deniers.

Misunderstanding #1: Evolution is not Abiogenesis

I’ll quickly first address the small problem of conflating abiogenesis with evolution. Evolution explains the diversity of life, not the origin of life from non-life. Evolution says nothing on how the first life came to be, it only explains how life changed over time. You could have a creator breathe life into the first self-replicating organism and evolution would remain completely unaffected. Hence, we have Christians and other religious people who have no issue believing in a creator god and accepting evolution.

Misunderstanding #2: Evolution is not Random

The crux of the misunderstanding here is essentially the claim that evolution is completely random and so the odds that all the intricate complexities of life being perfectly designed by chance is so low it would be impossible. Sid explains it metaphorically as throwing the pieces of a puzzle and having them “make themselves” into a puzzle (a somewhat unclear example, but I think I get the gist of what he’s saying). This argument has been made countless times before; the classic argument is that believing in evolution is like believing a storm/twister could blow through a junkyard and assemble a 747. This would indeed be crazy to believe and it is not at all a valid metaphor for evolution.

Evolution by Natural Selection is NOT random

Evolution
A change in the inherited characteristics of
populations over successive generations.

Evolution is defined as the change in the inherited characteristics of populations over successive generations. For example, as soon as the percentage of people that carry the gene for red hair changes, evolution has taken place. Some processes that lead to evolution occurring are indeed random (for example, a genetic mutation). But the main driver of evolution responsible for adaptation and giving us this appearance of “design” is natural selection. Natural selection is precisely not random. Organisms with characteristics that tend towards their survival and reproduction will most likely pass on their “successful” genes to the next generation. Organisms with characteristics that do not tend towards their survival and reproduction will most likely NOT pass on their “unsuccessful” genes to the next generation. A better metaphor might be believing the best sports teams will tend to win tournaments, or the smartest and hardest-working person will tend to get the best grades on a test. It is not random because the process specifically “selects” from the population whatever survives and reproduces better than others. Is it then surprising that we find organisms which seem to be nearly perfectly adapted to their environment? They are whats left of all other less-then-ideal contenders that simply got eliminated.

Evolution is not random – Real life example

Let’s take a real-life example as a final clarification (see image below). Say we have a huge population of mosquitoes to get rid of, so we nuke them with a little DDT. The DDT kills 95% of the population–well done! 5% of the mosquito population had some kind of gene variation that helped it survive the poison; no big deal though, we can live with a few thousand mosquitoes. Mosquitoes reproduce quickly though and soon we notice the population of mosquitoes has sprung back. No problem right? Let’s just spray a little bit more of that DDT. But wait, now only 60% of the population was killed. What happened? Well, when organisms reproduce they pass on their genes to their children (that’s why you tend to look and act a lot like your parents and grandparents…). Only the mosquitoes that survived were able to reproduce, so naturally lots of their mosquito children also inherited the DDT resistance-enabling gene. Before 5% of the mosquitoes had a DDT resistance and now 40% have it. There was a change in the inherited characteristics of populations over generations–so evolution has officially taken place! Did the mosquitoes randomly generate a resistance to DDT? Absolutely not. The DDT resistant mosquitoes were naturally selected directly because they survived the DDT, and this changed the next generation of mosquitoes. Hopefully you can also see that after adding up lots of these changes from multiple different selection pressures you could get mosquitoes with maybe longer legs, shorter wings, smaller eyes, bigger size–whatever leads to a better survival and reproduction rate. After a long time, the animal you are changing wouldn’t even look much like what you started with…

Evolution of Mosquitoes due to DDT

Evolution of Mosquitoes due to DDT (Green mosquitoes have DDT-resistant Gene)

Conclusion

Hopefully I explained the issues well enough. I don’t consider myself an expert on a lot of these things, so go and research them too! The video continues on to show a global flood animation of the earth (I guess they deny the water cycle too) and more nonsense about evolution and dating methods for more than 28 minutes–I only addressed the problems in the first 6 minutes! Perhaps I will address the rest in a part 2. The big question to me is this: if Bruce really does have this knockdown evidence against evolution, dating methods, and how rain works, then why is he on a small-scale religious show instead of out winning Nobel prizes? My message to Bruce (and anyone that thinks he has valid points) is instead of simply asserting the science-wide conspiracy shenanigans, try actually learning about what science is and what it has discovered before you think it’s wrong. Otherwise, you’ll probably just end up looking like a fool to everyone who has spent the time to learn about it.

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