Found on Google Earth: Atlantis (no) and pink bunny (yes)

The release of Google Earth 5.0 included better bathymetry of much of the ocean floor. (Bathymetry is the study of ocean and lake depth)

Some have claimed that this pattern on the Atlantic sea floor west of the Canary Islands is the ruins of the mythical island of Atlantis. The area is over 100 miles across, and the lines would represent roads or something.

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps

My response: baloney. The lines are artifacts of the processing of digital sonar data collected by a ship that surveyed the area by making a grid-like pattern. The Google bathymetry data has various processing artifacts just about anywhere you look; this is just a little more obvious.

Not that interesting things aren’t found from time to time on Google Earth. Here’s one of my favorites: the Giant Pink Bunny of Artesina, Italy:

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps

New York Times article: Fabled City of Atlantis Spotted on Google Earth

Google Maps: Atlantis grid

Google Maps: Pink Bunny of Artesina

Grace and Peace

Bad arguments for Christianity

C. Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen has 14 Examples of Really Bad Apologetics.

There are many good arguments (apologetics) for the truthfulness of Christianity:

  • Historical evidence for the resurrection
  • Historical evidence for the reliability of Scriptures
  • Philosophical arguments for the existence of God, such as the cosmological argument

Some of the bad arguments for Christianity listed by Patton are:

  • “I believe Christianity is true because I read this book where someone died, went to heaven, and came back.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because there are secret codes found in the Scriptures.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because I heard that this guy’s pancake was miraculously in the shape of Jesus.”
  • “I believe Christianity is true because God spoke to me and told me ______”

I would add a few to the list of bad arguments, such as:

  • Much of what comes out of the end-times industry. I stopped reading this stuff after reading 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I haven’t even cracked the cover of the Left Behind books. Every few years, the arguments have to be changed because the predictions just don’t come true. (I write this as a premillenialist).
  • Most of what comes out of the young-Earth creationism movement. I view much of this as unnecessary Biblically, not essential for a proper understanding of sin and salvation, and an unfortunate barrier to faith for many, especially scientists. (There are also some bad arguments that I’ve seen come out of the old-Earth/ID movement, but not nearly as many).
  • Much of what comes out of the “Biblical archeology” movement.

People can come to genuine and lasting faith in Christ through bad arguments. But many are turned away needlessly by bad arguments as well, and we cannot have a pragmatic “the end justifies the means” approach.

Ultimately, faith is a work of God. I cannot claim to have come to faith in Christ by my own wisdom. Theologically, I know that if I have faith in Christ, it is a work of God. But God does use sound arguments as part of drawing people to himself.

HT: Tough Questions Answered

Grace and Peace

YEC B.S. in geology program

Cedarville University of Cedarville, Ohio has added a Bachelor of Science in Geology program. From the Cedarville announcement:

Cedarville University’s Board of Trustees recently approved the formation of the Bachelor of Science in geology degree, set to begin in fall 2009.

Faculty will equip students for lifelong scientific leadership in career fields such as hydrogeology, environmental geology, petroleum geology and numerous other areas of expertise.

“The degree will offer a whole host of new opportunities for graduates,” shares Dr. John Whitmore, associate professor of geology. “Geologists help us find clean drinking water, petroleum, natural gas, coal and valuable minerals.”

The program will be unique in that no other Christian school, that holds to a literal six-day account of Genesis offers geology as a major for undergraduates. The course of study will be taught from both naturalistic and young-earth paradigms of earth history.

[emphasis added]

This was discussed by e-mail exchanges a week or two ago in a group of Christian geologists I am part of. Most of them were rather skeptical of the the final statement about teaching “both sides” of the age of the Earth and evolution debates.

I wish them well, and I hope the program evolves over time. One question: will they produce geologists who can get jobs in industry or go on to graduate school?

Grace and Peace

P.S. One can also get a B.S. in geology from the following Evangelical Christian schools: Wheaton College, Calvin College, Olivet Nazarene. These schools all have a commitment to the truthfulness (some use the word inerrancy) of Scriptures, and yet see no conflict between the Bible and acceptance of an old Earth.

P.P.S. Why are all of these schools in the Midwest (Illinois, Ohio, Michigan)? Sure, there is some interesting geology there, but not a whole lot in the way of structure or lithologic diversity.

P.P.P.S. How will the science department handle a student who either 1. accepts an old Earth, 2. accepts evolution, or 3. loses his/her faith? How many of the students in this program will have a crisis of faith when they see that young-Earth creationism doesn’t work?

P.P.P.P.S. The Cedarville science department has only one geologist. John Whitmore has an M.S. in geology from the Intitute for Creation Research, and a PhD in biology. This isn’t much of a foundation to build a geology major on.

Nuclear challenges

Here are two challenges for using nuclear energy as part of our world’s energy future:

  1. Uranium, like fossil fuels, is a limited, non-renewable resource. It is mined from the Earth, and consumed by nuclear fission. Breeder reactors can make some additional fuel, but that too is of a limited quantity. In Arizona, uranium could be declared to be a renewable resource by legislative action. That is sort of like making a law that says cows can fly or that people can breathe on the moon. A law doesn’t make it so. (Arizona Geology: Is Nuclear Energy Renewable?)
  2. The waste problem isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Not for a few hundreds of thousands of years anyways. The Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada is over a decade behind schedule, so waste is still mostly being stored at the nuclear power plants where it was used. (Earth Magazine: Wanted: Interim nuclear waste storage site.

I’m not totally opposed to the building of new nuclear power plants (and I find the technology to be fascinating), but it is only a piece of the energy pie. I am in favor of it being a smaller piece rather than larger.

See also Time magazine’s Nuclear’s Comeback: Still No Energy Panacea.

Grace and Peace

Geoblogosphere News

How does one keep up with over 100 active blogs in the geoblogosphere, including The GeoChristian? By keeping an eye on Geoblogosphere News from Stratigraphy.net.

If I subscribed to all of these in Google Reader, I would soon be overwhelmed. I have 384 unread items in Google Reader right now the way it is. But in Geoblogosphere News I can quickly scan for items I am interested in.

Grace and Peace

P.S. I guess the “Grace and Peace” that shows up in the tag cloud at the top of the page is my fault:

graceandpeace