Monday, April 18, 2016

ATI Wisdom Booklet 2: Science (ish) - Disciplines of Science

Welcome back to the ATI Wisdom Booklets Debunking series!

The ATI booklets are poorly organized.  In the second Wisdom Booklet, there is an overview of the scope of the major topics in science in the middle of a section on logic or history.  The overview contains huge omissions and falsehoods about science, so I felt compelled to point out the errors within this section since the booklet was missing an actual science section.

This is a screen capture of the headings of the table.  There is a paragraph previous that does a scant overview of the three Bible verses cannibalized above.  I'm going to be ignoring the "The Titles of God" section because I'm not that into theological morasses. 

  • Biology:
    • When did Adam learn the characteristics of animals?  I remember him naming them (and the awesome Simpsons Bible Stories where Homer named everything "Land Monster", "Tree Monster" etc.), but not embarking on a study of their parts.
    • The ATI definition of biology seems to be "the study of plants and animals".  The problem is that the actual definition of biology is "the study of life".  That means ATI is missing:
      • Biochemistry
      • Cellular Biology
      • Anatomy/Physiology (covered partially in the Medicine section)
      • Fungal, protozoal and bacterial organism study (this is where plants and animals fit)
      • Population dynamics
      • Community level interactions
      • Ecosystem level interactions
      • Biosphere level interactions
    • I knew that ATI had character studies used to bash women from the Bible.  Do they have animal character studies as well?  
  • Evolution:
    • Nearly every sentence in that section is wrong.  
    • ATI shares an extremely common misconception that evolution moves from less complicated to more complicated systems.  That's not true.  Evolution can move in that direction, but can also move from more complicated system to less complicated systems. 
      • Examples:
        • Loss of sight in cave-dwelling organisms
        • Loss of chlorophyll in parasitic plants
      • I'm not going to penalize them as much as I usually would because that misconception is common among undergraduate science majors.
    • I am going to take MAJOR points away for implying that "all life comes from tiny cells" is a false statement.   All living things are made of cells.  To humans, all living things are made of tiny cells.
    • Evolution is not a replacement for religion; it is an explanation that unites a wide range of biological phenomena.  
    • I love how ATI teaches people to parrot deep-sounding arguments without doing the background work needed to understand the arguments.  Case-in-point: Evolution is disproved by thermodynamics.
      • The first law of thermodynamics is that energy cannot be created or destroyed within an isolated system but instead is converted to different sources.  
        • I have no idea how this is supposed to disprove evolution.  In the ecosystem level studies ATI skipped, high school students would normally learn about energy pyramids.  Biological systems obey the first law of thermodynamics since energy taken in from any source is either converted into chemical energy (e.g., used to maintain or build tissues) or lost as heat or chemical wastes. 
      • The second law of thermodynamics states that isolated systems over time gain entropy which is a fancy way of saying that chaos increases over time if nothing is added to the system.
        •  This is supposed to disprove evolution because "evolution says things get more complicated and thermodynamics says everything will fall apart over time!"  
        • The problem is that living organisms by definition add energy to their system.  Humans add energy by eating; plants add energy through photosynthesis.  Since energy is being added to the system, the second law of thermodynamics is still true.  
        • Clearly, the second law of thermodynamics holds true after an organism dies.  In the absence of energy input, the dead organism decays - or gains entropy.
    • Evolution has been proved so many times that it's not even funny.  Scientists have demonstrated decreasing frequency of sickle-cell anemia carriers among African-Americans in the USA compared to Western Africa in response to decreased malaria pressure.  MRSA and other antibiotic resistant bacteria - that's evolution in action as well.  

  • Physiology
    • After reading the ATI section on physiology, give a coherent definition of what physiology studies.  Can you do it?  I certainly couldn't from the passage above.
    • Physiology is the study of the normal functions of living organisms and their organs.  It's the study of things like respiration, protein synthesis, fat metabolism etc.  
    • I have a follow up question: How are you supposed to teach physiology within the context of Christ and the Church?  Does Jesus undergo photosynthesis?  Does the Church undergo mitotic division?
  • Genetic engineering
    • Genetic engineering is the manipulation of the genetic information in organisms.  
    • I don't mean to be condescending, but humans have been manipulating the genome of plants and animals for millennia through selective breeding.  We've also proven ourselves to be quite excellent at murdering "undesirable" people long before we could do genetic engineering. 
  • Geology
    • That's a special kind of crazy....most people would describe geology as the study of the solid portion of the Earth and the processes that change it.  
    • "Thorns and thistles" are examples of plant defense processes and should be back in with biology, not in geology. 
    • If the layering found in rock layers was entirely based on the Flood, the sedimentary layers would always have to end in finest layer on top with more coarse sediments settling lower and lower in the rock column.    You don't have to believe me; you can replicate the flood at home with some different soils, some water and a clear plastic container with a lid.
      • Dump some gravel, sand and topsoil into the plastic container. (This is the land before the Flood.)
      • Fill the container with water.  (The Flood!)
      • Cover the container and shake for as long and as hard as you want. (The Flood!)
      • Put the container somewhere where it won't be disturbed and wait until the soils settle out.  (This is the bit where the waters are receding.)
      • Look at where the gravel, sand and topsoil separate out in the bottle.  Assuming your topsoil is silty, you'll get gravel at the bottom, sand in the middle and topsoil on the top.  (This is the rock formation after the Flood.)  You can repeat this forever, but you still get the heaviest materials at the bottom and the lightest at the top.  Hint: that's not what rock strata look like.  
    • ATI decides that desertification - a problem that is currently most severe in portions of Africa and Asia - is a clear sign of God's hatred of sinners.  That's classy.  
    • Desertification, deforestation, and weather events don't fall in geology; they are examples of Earth science topics which is a much larger discipline.  Attacks of locusts actually fits within the biology category, not geology.
  • Uniformitarianism
    • Uniformitarianism is the idea that the main processes that form geological features that we see today have been in existence throughout time.  For example, the process by which water erodes soil and rock has existed throughout time.  Over very long time periods, erosion can produce very large canyons.
    • Uniformitarianism does require millions or billions of years to produce all of the features we see today - but some features can be created or destroyed very quickly through volcanic processes.   This is fine because physics and chemistry demonstrate that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old.
    • Uniformitarianism makes no statements about the size of human populations or the availability of energy.  
      • Since they brought it up, however, I will state that ecology has shown that every organism has a maximum population size that can survive on a given amount of resources.  I don't think humans have reached the carrying capacity (or upper limit) of population size on the planet Earth, but going over that size will lead to massive human suffering.
      • There are not a whole lot of areas that are suitable for agriculture that haven't already been utilized.  I don't know where the extra food ATI believe in is coming from.
      • I'd love to hear ATI's ideas on energy usage.  I suspect they are of the "no, we'll always have oil" type rather than "let's use more solar power" type.

  • Oceanography
    • Oceanography is the study of the oceans - the predominant ecosystems on the planet, not the fear of God.  
    • I could not bring myself to teach a child that God doesn't want us to fear a, God wants us to fear Him!  I could, however, use that sentence as a basis for practice of overly dramatic reading voices.
  • Ice Age
    • An ice age is a period where the average temperature of the Earth drops causing the polar ice to reach farther south in the form of sea ice or glaciers.
    • We have lots of evidence that ice ages have happened before.  I live in Michigan, a state that is one giant heap of sand and gravel left behind by three different ice sheets.  This has two benefits: cheap foundation materials and the possibility of finding mammoth bones in your backyard.  It has one drawback: you will never find dinosaur bones in your backyard.
    • The polar ice caps don't melt during an ice age; they expand in size.  The polar ice caps melt during a global warming period.
    • Actually, the climatic and geological cycles of the Earth won't destroy the Earth; the cycles could cause humans to go extinct, though.  Ditto if we change the Earth so much that we can't survive.
Next post: A strangely detailed discussion of speech.

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