Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A thousand years are like a day.

The creation v. evolution debate has drawn more comments than just about any other topic on this blog, so this AP headline caught my eye: "Scientists Create Petrified Wood in Days."

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) -- Researchers at a national science laboratory in south-central Washington have found a way to achieve in days what takes Mother Nature millions of years -- converting wood to mineral.

Natural petrified wood occurs when trees are buried without oxygen, then leach their wood components and soak up the soil's minerals. For instance, at the Ginkgo Petrified Forest, a state park on the west shore of the Columbia River in central Washington, trees were believed to have been buried without oxygen beneath molten lava millions of years ago.

To create petrified wood, the researchers bought pine and poplar boards at a lumber yard. They gave a half-inch cube of wood an acid bath, then soaked it in a silica solution for days. The wood was air-dried, cooked in an argon-filled furnace at temperatures as high as 1,400 degrees and cooled in argon to room temperature.

I have not yet tackled the young earth v. old earth debate (mainly because I am not yet sufficiently educated on the subject), but I think this article may be a point for the young earth advocates.

If researchers could replicate specimens that were supposedly millions of years old in a matter of days, is it not at least possible that immense natural forces (i.e. volcanic eruptions, massive floods, etc) could do the same?

An admission to the affirmative could open up holes in the arguments (specifically, the reliability of dating systems) of those who insist that the earth must be millions of years old.

BTW, I think the AP reporter deserves some credit for including the qualifier "were believed" in the sentence referencing the Ginkgo Petrified Forest - maybe it's a hint of open-mindedness on the subject.

Update: Today's Seattle Times runs a column by Froma Harrop, "Finding common ground between God and evolution":

Clearly, many religious people regard evolution theory with sincere and heartfelt concern. But theirs is not a mainstream view — even among practicing Christians. Most theologians these days will argue that the biology book and the Good Book are reading from the same page.

Her condescending piece basically discounts creation scientists as fanatical evangelicals. For some perspective, I'd refer her (and those who agree with her) to the site of the Institute for Creation Research, where those open-minded enough to do some research will find biographies of biological scientists and physical scientists who have done extensive research into the subject and each state their cases for creation.