YEC paleontologist plumbs the depth of hypocrisy at scientific meeting
The Geological Society of America had its annual meeting, in Denver, last week. As has happened before, Young Earth Creationists (YEC) can show up. Panda’s Thumb reveals the latest example:
Marcus Ross is a young-earth creationist who was recently awarded a Ph.D. in vertebrate paleontology by the University of Rhode Island. He now teaches at Liberty University, which (IIRC, according to the acknowledgments in his dissertation) partly supported his doctoral work. Ross claims that he can both be a YEC, using his credential to bolster his teaching of Flood geology, and also work honestly in the framework of orthodox geology simply by switching “paradigms” according to (audience) context.
Ross presents work at standard geological conferences, and Joe Meert, a geologist at the University of Florida and a long-time creationism watcher, recently attended a presentation by Ross on correlating Cretaceous ammonite fossils in order to more firmly date the mosasaur fossils that were the topic of his dissertation research.
At the end of the presentation Meert asked Ross how he squared his YEC beliefs with a presentation that dated fossils to millions of years ago. According to Meert, Ross answered, “My talk had nothing to do with a global flood or a 6000 year old earth so your question is irrelevant.” When Meert pressed, Ross replied (Meert’s paraphrase)
Ok, for everyone in the audience who doesn’t know it, yes I am a young earth creationist who believes the Earth is 6000 years old and a global flood took place. However, I am not speaking as a young earth creationist here. When I speak at young earth creationist meetings I use a different framework than when I speak at the Geological Society of America meeting.
What struck me was Meert’s comment that several people felt sorry for Ross for being pushed to acknowledge his YEC beliefs and wondered why Meert was so harsh with him. Meert’s response is perfect:.
Marcus Ross is just one of many two-faced creationists and I’m going to call them out on this hypocrisy any chance I get
So, Ross simultaneously believes that the Earth is 6000 years old and millions and billions of years old.
This is just more evidence that creationism is a mental illness! Or, at least a sign of emotional sickness. Or, at the very least, a vacuity of morality.
As Meert writes on his blog:
After his talk, I asked the following question; “How do you harmonize this work with your belief in a 6000 year old earth on which a year long global flood took place?”. He was immediately flustered and then a bit tersely replied “My talk had nothing to do with a global flood or a 6000 year old earth so your question is irrelevant”. I then pointed out the fact that indeed his talk was completely counter to his public statements/creationist position because he showed correlation between strata/fossils, millions of year ages, evolution of mosasaurs and hiatuses in the rock record. He then replied (and I am paraphrasing to the best of my recollection) “Ok, for everyone in the audience who doesn’t know it, yes I am a young earth creationist who believes the Earth is 6000 years old and a global flood took place. However, I am not speaking as a young earth creationist here. When I speak at young earth creationist meetings I use a different framework than when I speak at the Geological Society of America meeting.” Several jaws dropped at that point [ed. which demonstrates how clueless some scientists can be about their colleagues], but someone in the audience felt sorry for Marcus and invited him to look at his collection etc. It would be nice if Marcus could eventually see that what he just described in his talk actually argued against a young earth, but it won’t happen.
Students came up to me afterward and one wondered why I was so harsh with Ross. It’s a good question and I have an answer. Creationists like Marcus Ross, Steve Austin etc don’t necessarily care about how they are viewed at these conferences, but they attend and present so that they can go out to their creationist brethren and flash credentials. [ed. yes, the GSA needs to get its act together on it being a pawn] It’s not so much what they say or do, but that their followers think that they are actually making an impact in the world of science. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this post from the ICR describing last years meeting. The article claims that they were ‘influential’ at the meeting and thus makes it appear that they are making inroads in moving geology back to the 18th century. In fact, all Ross did was to show that he is schizophrenic when it comes to science. I don’t yet comprehend how he compartmentalizes these two opposing viewpoints and claims to be ‘honest’ about his approach to both. The simple fact is that one cannot hold that the earth is both 4.5 billion years old AND only 6000 years old. It’s akin to saying that 3=69.
There is another point to be made. Marcus Ross, Steve Austin and many others are also trying to overthrow science education in this country in favor of a new system under perhaps a conservative Christian theocracy. This is the reason I am so harsh when I see such blatant hypocrisy. For Austin, Ross and others of their ilk, the Ph.D. and the presentations at meetings like GSA are all about trying to enhance their image amongst their followers. If they can appear to be real scientists, then those who don’t know any better might believe that young earth creationism is also good science. They might then be persuaded to act at the local, state and national level to have creationism instituted in the public schools.
Similarly to what I linked in my earlier story about the AGU and the faux “skepticism” over AGW, the GSA does need to take a stronger stance against creationists toying with these meetings. The YEC adherents are just using the GSA meetings, like they use the letters after their names, to impress the gullible.