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Batten Seminar Coverage in Die Burger

March 27th, 2008 · Posted by Hugo · 6 Comments

This article by Dr Jurie van den Heever is my favourite. He is a senior palaeontologist at Stellenbosch University and an expert on Karoo fossils. I translate pieces of it below. (Shall I try to put up a better scanned version of the article when I get back home?)

Kreasioniste openbaar skisofreniese geaardheid

The article starts out discussing Andrew Snelling. A few years ago, he gave a talk about his PhD research at the geology department at Stellenbosch University on a Friday, talking about a geological specimen a couple of thousand million years old. The following day he gave a talk in Table View titled “Dinosaurs in Genesis”, claiming the earth is only a few thousand years old, and that humans and dinosaurs existed together.

The wider implication of creationists’ claims are that science as a whole is incorrect, especially astronomers and physicists’ calculations of the age of stars and other heavenly bodies (which has nothing to do with biological evolution).

Snelling’s activities led to a condemning article by an Australian scientist, Will the Real Dr. Snelling Please Stand Up?

At the end of the first column, following further discussion of Dr Snelling’s dishonesty and cognitive dissonance, Van den Heever turns to Don Batten. He points out that his talk was full of misrepresentations and obvious errors.

Batten’s true colours began to show when a science student with fundamentalist leanings asking how he should react to lectures on evolution. Without a second thought, Batten suggested the Snelling method. The student was encouraged to remain silent about his anti-evolution attitude and simply give the desired answers in tests and exams, so that he can obtain his degree. Because the university is testing knowledge and not beliefs, he can simply ignore rational facts and believe what he wants. Again, cognitive dissonance.

A specific religious conviction is not needed for a career as researcher. What is important is a healthy curiosity and an ability to investigate the natural world in a rational way.

Other requirements include dedication and honesty. If you are dishonest enough to remain silent despite believing you’re busy with nonsense, you should rather consider changing careers. On the other hand, once you have your degree, you can also [manhaftig?] declare that you are a scientist (which you are not), that the creation account of Genesis is literally true (which it isn’t), and that consequently evolution is false (which it isn’t).

I particularly liked the ending of his letter/article:

Despite Don Batten’s supposed “scientific” approach, in 2001 he wrote in an article in a creationist magazine where he claims all humans on earth, except Noah and the rest of the Ark-family, were wiped out in a flood approximately 4500 years ago.

The interesting thing about this is that the Egyptians that lived in the neighbourhood simply continued with their lives without noticing that they’re drowning in a flood. Also, the famous pyramids of Giza near Cairo that were completed approximately 500 years earlier, was left unharmed by the flood.

Other older inhabitants of the old Middle-East, for example the Babylonians, had the nerve to only record a local flood, wherein featured their own Noah and a much smaller ark.

Considering the Judaeans spent a particular period of time living in banishment in Babylon, and that the oppressed usually incorporate some elements of the oppressors’ life- and world-view into their own, this is likely the true source of the mythical flood and ark story in Genesis, irrespective of Don Batten’s declarations.

Van den Heever draai nie doekies om nie…

Categories: Religion and Science
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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rinus // Mar 28, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I have a lesser issue with people like this if they ‘tell them what they want to hear’ to get their respected credentials.

    What I do have a larger problem with, is the use of these credentials to ‘boost’ their believability. In my opinion this is not only misleading, but downright dishonest.

  • 2 Rad Ben // Apr 10, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Ek het ‘n praatjie/debat tussen Van Der Heever, ‘n Kreasionis van Shofar en ‘n joodse rabbi bygewoon. Dit was ‘n absolute poppekas.

    Van Der Heever het stront gepraat en amper die rabbi gemoer.

    Die rabbi het self meer stront gepraat, en is amper gemoer.

    Die kreasionis, wel hyt maar net daar gesit.

    Punt is, dit was ‘n poppekas.

    Van der Heever is maar belaglik.

    En ek; ek is biased.

  • 3 Hugo // Apr 10, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Net nuuskierig: wat was die onderwerp van die debat? (Wat was die standpunt wat vdHeever ondersteun het, en wat het die Rabbi ondersteun?)

  • 4 Hugo // Aug 23, 2008 at 1:34 am

    Hehe, I went to chat to vdHeever the other day. He told me about that discussion/debate between the rabbi, the creationist, an himself (palaeontologist). Naturally he had a rather different take on the discussion. He mentioned the rabbi, who specialises in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), gave the creationist hell for abusing the text… I dunno.

    More interesting was what he said the responses/discussion contained, what the impression was of the audience. It was a discussion at a Jewish school or something, if my vague memory isn’t letting me down? They certainly didn’t think the creationist had much of a convincing case.

    However, typically that doesn’t stop creationists from reporting a victory back home. ;)

    Wish I was there to see it for myself.

  • 5 Creation Ministries International Strikes Stellenbosch Again — Noah’s Flood? // Aug 23, 2008 at 2:47 am

    [...] Batten Seminar Coverage in Die Burger [...]

  • 6 rosalind franklin // Aug 26, 2008 at 5:26 am

    wel as jy nie eens biologie 101 onder nie knie het nie en dink die aarde is 6000 jaar oud sal jy in jou onkunde glo dr jurie praat stront. feit bly staan hy is ‘n gerekende, paleontoloog en weet beslis waarvan hy praat.

    en dan iets oor BY en die Burger se wetenskap-joernalistiek. johannes is ‘n goeie joernalis, maar hy is nie ‘n wetenskap joernalis nie. George Classen was die wetenskapredakteur tot 2005 en hy is pas daar weg. Hy het die Francis Collins-onderhoud gedoen Die wetenskap spesialis is Elsabe Brits (Craig Venter onderhoud).en die Omgewingsjoernalis is Jorsina Bonthuys, en beide is bekroonde skrywers van diepte-artikels in die velde.
    Die Burger as die enigste koerant in SA wat nog daarin geslaag het om Collins en Venter, vaders van die menslike genoom, te interview.

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