18 December 2006

Divine intervention: the last refuge of the clueless

In the 9-15 December issue of the New Scientist there is an interview with a creationist named John Baumgardner who was a geophysicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico until 2004. To explain the movements of continents and the formation of geological features on them, Baumgardner is said to have developed a hypothesis based on the weakening of silicate minerals under stress, resulting in the rearrangement of continents during a span of a year. When confronted with the weaknesses of his hypothesis, including the lack of a mechanism to allow for the cooling of the newly formed crust so quickly, this is what he says: "Most of what I've described involves the present laws of physics, but there are a couple of issues where I believe there must have been some form of divine intervention."

If you are going to resort to "divine intervention" when you are cornered, why do you even bother to develop a "scientific" hypothesis to begin with? Why don't you just say "God did it all" and end your own pathetic misery?

In the same issue of New Scientist, the University of Maryland physicist Bob Park offers an indirect rebuttal of Baumgardner's idiocy:

"Science is, in fact, the only way of knowing. Anything else is just religion, which is all about authority."

Bob Park's weekly column is here.