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Creationist Comedy: Part II
F.C. Kuechmann


"... accepting a billions-of-years time-span for creation ... undermines the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Creator of the world .... it turns the whole logic of the Gospel upside down, by putting the effects of the Curse before the Fall. Death, thorns, cancer, suffering and bloodshed millions of years before sin must be accepted if the fossils were laid down before people were created. Such thinking twists the Bible into foolish self-contradiction, because it would put death, the ‘last enemy’ into a creation which God calls ‘very good’." -- Dr Carl Wieland

Cretins...er, creationists, sometimes display an almost childish delight while belaboring any perceived or imagined contradiction, inconsistency or incompleteness in "evolutionist" publications1 . At the same time the YECs studiously ignore their own inconsistencies, contradictions and outright falsehoods;.

When cornered despite their best efforts at evasion the Creation Ex Nihilo response is commonly to grab the fig leaf that it is a "family magazine" rather than a technical journal. The philosophy appears to be that it is permissible to mislead and deceive those sheep too stupid or lacking requisite baclground knowledge to comprehend that they're being taken for fools.

Well-known YEC [and AIG CEO] Dr Carl Wieland parades a wide array of dishonest cretin techniques in his article titled The earth: how old does it look? in Creation Ex Nihilo 23(1):8–13, December 2000 – February 2001 and featured, like much of Carl's drivel, on the AIG web site.

The article is essentially yet another rehash of common YEC "evidences" for a young earth [with much of its material lifted almost verbatim from an earlier Wieland masterpiece]. -- all of which have been repeatedly discredited by the practicioners of genuine science [as opposed to Wieland's undisguised religion evidenced by the above quoted passage -- evolution is wrong because it puts the punishment (death and disease) before the crime (Adam's sin)].

Of primary interest here is item 4a in the good doctor's trite list of discredited young earth "evidence" -- Coal formation.

Argonne National Laboratories have shown that heating wood (lignin, its major component), water and acidic clay at 150C (rather cool geologically) for 4 to 36 weeks, in a sealed quartz tube with no added pressure, forms high-grade black coal.4

Compare the above to the text and Footnote 9 in Wieland's earlier petite opus titled The Lost Squadron [Creation ex nihilo (Vol 19 #3: 10-14, Jun-Aug 1997) ]--

The original article text referencing the footnote says:

'Millions of years' are casually tossed around so often that we unconsciously perceive all natural changes as taking long timespans. That is why many are 'amazed' to hear of facts like 180 metres (600 feet) of layered sedimentary rock built up in months after the Mt. St Helens May 18, 1980 eruption.7 Or when hearing of real precious opal formed in months,8 or coal from simple heating of wood in 28 days.9

And the footnote itself reads:

Argonne National Laboratories in the US combined wood, water and acidic clay, and heated in a sealed container (with no added pressure) at 150 C for 28 days, and obtained high-grade black coal.

In some of the longer runs (still far, far less than millions or even thousands of years!) obtained material which had the infrared spectra like those of 'high rank coals'.


The text currently on the AIG web site [27 December 2000] has been changed to read "in mere months" in place of "in 28 days" and the footnote has been expanded to include an interesting array of fig leaves. Here is the current fooitnote 9 --

These researchers at Argonne National Laboratories in the US combined wood, water and acidic clay, and heated in a sealed container (without oxygen, and no added pressure) at 150 oC for 2–8 months. [Ed. Note: Or to be more precise than was necessary in a family magazine, the reaction included the major wood stiffener, lignin; other reactions contained the other major wood component, cellulose. So the principle is the same. They are hydrothermal reactions, hence the explanation in the magazine that water was an ingredient — although obviously no scientific abstract would bother stating it — and an essential one. See E. Pennisi, ‘Water, water, everywhere’, Science News 143:121–5, 20 Feb. 1993]

In some of the longer runs (still far, far less than millions or even thousands of years!) obtained material which had the infrared spectra like those of ‘high rank coals’.



In all cases the information is attributed to the article "Artificial coalification study: Preparation and characterization of synthetic Macerals" by  Ryoichi Hayatsu, et. al., in Organic Geochemistry, Vol. 6, pp 463-471, 1984.

The contradictions and inconsistencies amongst the three passages are obvious. "28 days" is not the same as "4 to 36 weeks" or "mere months", and "wood" isn't "lignin" any more than "water" is "hydrogen". By Wieland's standards we can deem his "without oxygen" statement to be false, since each water molecule contains as atom of oxygen, therefore water is the same as oxygen, and Carl insists that water is an essential part of the reaction.

As noted in my earlier Creationist Comedy article --

The [Hayatsu] article, however, describes testing with several materials including lignin and lignin/cellulose [the major components of wood], and heating durations ranging from 30 minutes to 8 months. None of the intervals was close to the 28 day figure given by Wieland - the closest was 60 minutes, 2nd closest 2 months. None of the tests used water - most involved mixtures of 4 g activated clay and 2 g lignin, both finely powdered, in sealed glass tubes which were either evacuated or the air replaced with nitrogen.

They obtained not "high-grade black coal" [anthracite], but "an insoluble material resembling low rank coals" for the shorter intervals, and a material somewhat resembling slightly higher grade coal [vitrinites] for longer times.

Wieland seems to be refering to "lignin" as "wood" [primarily lignin and cellulose combined] and justifying it via the fig leaf that cellulose was used in some of the short-term reference experiments that demonstrated no coalification catalized by acidic clay. This fig leaf, together with its "family magazine" companion, is displayed in the revised footnote 9 --

...to be more precise than was necessary in a family magazine, the reaction included the major wood stiffener, lignin; other reactions contained the other major wood component, cellulose. So the principle is the same.

In fact cellulose, if present, prevents the coalification from taking place. So the principle is not the same.

In the traditional "buried peat bog" hypothesis of coal formation denounced by YECs as "unbiblical", the cellulose is consumed by anerobic bacteria before coalification. The YEC "Noachian deluge" scenario offers no explanation of the fate of the cellulose, and YECs like Wieland seem unaware that one is required.

Wieland's source for the "4 to 36 weeks" figure is as mysterious as his source for "28 days". The longest test period descrijbed in Ryoichi Hayatsu's article is given as 8 months. If we allow 4 weeks [28 days] per month, 8 months is 32 weeks. If we consider a month to be 30 days instead of 28, 8 months is still only about 34 weeks.

The "water" assertion is justified by this fig leaf in the revised footnote 9 --

They are hydrothermal reactions, hence the explanation in the magazine that water was an ingredient — although obviously no scientific abstract would bother stating it — and an essential one. See E. Pennisi, ‘Water, water, everywhere’, Science News 143:121–5, 20 Feb. 1993]

In other words, since virually everything on earth contains at least small amounts of water, it is accurate to list water as a major ingredient of the experiment. The original footnote 9 reads:

Argonne National Laboratories in the US combined wood, water and acidic clay...

Which at the very least implies that more than residual trace amounts of water were employed. And the statement that

water was an ingredient — although obviously no scientific abstract would bother stating it

is worthy of an award. The abstract doesn't bother with it, nor does the article itself. I think Herr Wieland is attempting a snowjob via minutae.2

The "high grade black coal" of the original Lost Squadron article has become, in the revised version, something quite different --

In some of the longer runs (still far, far less than millions or even thousands of years!) obtained material which had the infrared spectra like those of ‘high rank coals’.

Here, in a fashion all too typical of YECs who attempt to warp legitimate research into supporting their biblical literalist obsessions, Carl ignores the substantial difference between "high grade black coal" and a soft brownish material with an infrared spectrum resembling that of high grade coal that was actually obtained at Argonne. And in the current article The earth: how old does it look? in Creation Ex Nihilo, the "high grade black coal" nonsense is repeated. What a hoot this guy is.

Given the gross misrepresentation of the Argonne research, it is reasonable to conclude that famous Australian YEC Dr Carl Wieland MD has either never read and/or understood the article he has now cited at least twice, or he is simply pulling numbers and facts out of his hat. His "no scientific abstract" statement suggests that is all he's seen -- an abstract -- and he's infering or hallucinating the erroneous and misleading details. In any case he has strengthened his position as the YEC court jester and given the rest of us a few additional laughs.

References

1 In their stated preference for "infallible scripture" over "fallible science" they tie themselves to the superstitions of Middle Eastern desert nomads of three millenia past.

2 Perhaps the good doctor can tell us what happens to water in a vacuum [or, have you ever had freeze-dried coffee?]

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