Being a glutton for punishment I was back in the pew last night (Monday) to hear "Dr" Grady McMurtry tell us how he knows that the earth is young. I'm thinking that nobody is going to go to church on a Monday night just after they went on Sunday. Fewer people means I have a better chance of arguing with him.
But Grady packed it out pretty well even on a Monday night. I'd guess there were maybe 600 people there. Perhaps people were bringing their skeptical friends, like they suggested we do on Sunday. That's what I did. I brought along an atheistic friend of my own. On the other hand I didn't sense that there were too many skeptical people in the audience. My guess is my friend and I were the only ones.
With all these people I was afraid I might not get a chance to speak with him, but it turned out I did.
The presentation was quite long. I'd say he went about an hour and a half. He packed in dozens of arguments. "Gemstones CAN form quickly. Fossilization CAN occur quickly. Light CAN be artificially slowed." That's all probably true, but who cares? I'm not familiar with old earthers who argue based upon the time required for gems to form, but maybe some are out there. And I don't know why it matters that since light CAN be slowed this somehow shows that light passing through the vacuum of space in fact IS slowing.
He did reference a couple of supposed scientists that claim there is evidence that it used to be 10 million times faster than it is today. I'll look into it, but this was typical of the evening. Some pretty bold claims that he didn't really attempt to justify. Other examples include his claim that the sun is spinning too rapidly for the solar system to be old. If it were 4.5 billion years old it would have slowed to a lower rate than what it spins now. A similar claim was made with regard to spiral galaxies. They spin too rapidly and would have sort of broken up by now if the universe was 14.5 billion years old. That sounds great in his stump speech, but why believe it? He didn't try to explain why.
After each of his Sunday sermons and his Monday night presentation he went straight to a table that was set up for him to be able to sell his books. He had quite a throng of people on Sunday. He was collecting money faster than he could stuff it in his pockets, and he had five volunteers assisting in the money collection as well. Both Sunday services took up a collection for him as was done on Monday night. I have a feeling he's having a very good week.
I wanted to try and talk with him Sunday, but I decided not to. He was too busy collecting money and wouldn't be interested in a discussion. Monday was better, but I still had to wait quite a while for the crowd around the table to disperse. When they finally did I approached him at the table. The conversation went something like this.
Me-Hey Grady. Nice to meet you (shaking hands). I'm actually one of those atheistic evolutionists.
Grady-Oh really (appearing a little uncomfortable).
Me-Yeah, I figured I'd come out and see what the other side has to say. Can I ask you a question about evolution?
Me-What do you think about endogenous retro viruses?
Grady-What about them?
Me-Don't you think they're good evidence for evolution?
Grady-Well why should they be?
Me-You don't think they are?
Grady-Why don't you tell me why you think they should be.
Now, here's why I posed the question this way. Grady portrayed himself as a person that grew up hanging out in the paleontology labs at Berkley. He had said on Sunday that in the 3rd and 4th grade his teachers had him doing some of the teaching because he knew things so much better than they did. His father taught at Berkley and he was inculcated with evolutionary thinking. He taught evolution from the 7th grade on up through the college level. Pretty impressive, right?
But according to what I was able to find digging around on the internet it looks like Grady's father was in fact a major occultist that was a teaching assistant for political science at Berkley. Grady has an undergraduate degree in forestry, a graduate degree in environmental science, and a doctorate from an unaccredited university in theology. So I thought it was odd that any kind of a college would hire Grady to teach biological science when he doesn't have any formal post high school training in the subject. Is it possible he has no idea what he's talking about? Anybody that teaches evolutionary theory in college would have heard of ERV's. This is perhaps the single most powerful piece of evidence in favor of evolutionary theory. So I wanted to see if Grady gave me any indication he had ever heard of them. Nothing he said suggested he knew what they were.
So I had a choice at that point. I could call him out or I could explain them to him as he asked me to do. I wimped out and chose the later. I'm thinking that if I get to aggressive he won't discuss anything further and I wanted to. So I bailed him out and explained things to him. Here's how he reacted, and how subsequent discussion went.
Grady-I don't see how that proves anything.
Me-Really? We share virus sequences with chimpanzees and you don't see that as relevant?
Grady-It's totally irrelevant.
Me-But this type of things would prove a parent/child relationship in court.
Grady-Look, you've got two eyes, a nose, two ears just like a lot of animals. Is that supposed to prove something?
Me-Would you accept that response from a father in court that was unwilling to pay child support. "Hey, so what if I share a virus sequence with the child. He likewise has two eyes and a nose. So what?"
Grady-You know how similar the chimpanzee genome is with the human?
Me-I don't know. I guess there are different ways of measuring it.
Grady-How close do you think?
Me-Maybe 97% similarity depending on how you are measuring.
Grady-Not even close. They're way dissimilar. Do you know that our genome is more similar to a rat than a chimpanzee.
Me-No it isn't.
Grady-Yes it is. We're even more similar to a sea squirt than a chimpanzee.
Me-I don't think so.
It was a lot of Grady simply asserting that I have the facts wrong and he doesn't. There wasn't much attempt to show anything. Perhaps that was true of both of us, but I just assumed a lot of these things must be acknowledge by creationists. Apparently not. I went on to discuss the genomic evidence further.
Me-And it's not just the viruses. There are other features in the genome that point to common ancestry.
Me-Cytochrome C for instance
Grady-(Laughing derisively) Cytochrome C?!? That argument hasn't been used in 25 years.
Me-Not true. I just heard a molecular evolutionists use the argument.
Grady-Well then he is behind the times. That argument doesn't work at all. You're obviously very well indoctrinated and you're just going to believe this stuff.
Me-Well, one of us is indoctrinated, but it isn't me.
Once again I was left wondering if Grady actually knew what the argument was. In front of all of these people he has to make it appear that he understands the issues, but nothing he said actually showed me that he did. However it did give that impression. If he knows when the argument went out of favor then he appears to be familiar with it.
Grady was quite uncomfortable throughout the whole dialogue. He wouldn't look at me. A couple of times he just walked off to the other end of the table and I wasn't sure if he was trying to end the discussion, but it might have been because he was looking for some material to show me. I waited for him to return. The discussion continued as a few interested parishioners listened in.
Me-Have you ever heard of Basilasaurus.
Grady-(Snicker) Yeah. It's ridiculous (he walks off to grab a book and returns to show me a text that says that Basilasaurus isn't in fact ancestral to modern whales, but went extinct on it's own. While he looked for the book I explained to listeners what Basilasaurus was).
Me-I don't have a problem with what this says. We're not claiming that we have the actual ancestor to whales but that this is probably a cousin to what was in fact the real ancestor. Fossil finds are rare and it would be surprising to find an actual ancestor. It's a cousin, like Neanderthal.
Grady-Neanderthal is nothing but a human.
Me-No it isn't.
Grady-Yes it is.
Me-Scientists just recently published their studies on the genome of Neanderthal and they say it is not human.
Grady-That's incorrect it is human.
Me-(I kind of turn to the listeners) Even Hugh Ross, a creationist, will tell you that Neanderthals are not humans. I don't know what else to say.
Grady-Well, you're obviously pretty well indoctrinated and you're just not going to be open to the truth.
Me-OK. Well it was nice meeting you and I'll look into your arguments from tonight (I extend my hand to shake his, but he walks off).
I guess I'm somewhat suspicious that this guy doesn't even believe his own rhetoric. I wonder if I'm dealing with a Marjoe character here, just not nearly as talented. Who knows. Good times though. He's teaching tonight on global warming and how it is bunk. I think I'll skip that one. Wednesday night the lesson is regarding dinosaurs. Maybe I'll go and sit in the front row and smile at him.