Sunday, February 25, 2007

In the News: Must you believe in what you study?

I found this very interesting article today stating that Rhode Island University gave a PhD in Geoscience to a Young Earth Creationist (YEC). A YEC is a person that goes against the mainstream scientific viewpoint and believes that everything the Bible says is correct and the Earth is about 6-10 thousand years old, not the 4.6 billion years old the scientific community has adopted.

Actually, not only was his thesis about geology, it was a paleontology degree studying mosasaurs. These animals lived over 65 million years ago during the Mesozoic (The Age of Dinosaurs) and could not have easily fit into the YEC viewpoint. It was stated very clearly by the PhD recipient that he did not believe the science that he was studying, nor the conclusions that he came to.

This leads to my question: can you get a degree in something you profoundly feel is wrong? Most scientists I know feel that Creationists are just wrong based on piles of evidence upon evidence that has been produced for several hundreds of years and, like the flat earth theory, this hopefully will fade into the past. But people are entitled to their own opinions and a society that forces what to believe is not the society Americans signed up for. So let them believe what they want to and I will believe what I want to and we will probably both argue and yell and try to convince the other is wrong but when is life not like that.

But I have a problem with this degree that was granted without any apparent problems to a person who essentially lied through his teeth to get it. What was his point in getting it anyway. He does not believe in what most geologists or paleontologists do, why place himself into that sort of scrutiny? Does he want to convert the masses? Maybe, but then why proclaim that everything we have done was right and then go "I was just lying about that". It makes him look like an idiot where his viewpoints seem to have even less clout than they would have had before.

Go to any SVP (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology) or GSA (Geological Society of America) meeting and present your actual findings and I can guarantee that they will pick apart any findings you have. But don't take that as a religious thing, it's a science thing. Trust me I know. I had 2 years of work taken apart in one finding. But you know what, science moves on and no matter what you think you know. It will turn out to be wrong in the long run.

So again, I pose the question, should a PhD be presented to someone who is making a mockery of the scientific community?

Some links for this story

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