Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Where are all the people??": Young Earther's Classic Argument from Ignorance

One of the most inane arguments I ever heard for Young Earth Creationism is that the current population of the planet is just not large enough to support an old Earth “theory.”It's a fundamentalist apologetic predicated on the concept that if Man's appearance on Earth was very much older than the biblically calculated 6 -10,000 years the population of the planet would be monumentally larger than the 6.8 billion we currently have. Q.E.D the planet is only 6 – 10,000 yrs. old

The math, logic, and (no surprise here) understanding of birth rates/fertility as influenced by food availability, dramatic changes in human aging/longevity, infant/child mortality rates et al is so lacking as to be laughable. Just a little research would enlighten most people. Here are just a very few anecdotal statistics out of hundred of scientifically supported examples:
  • The average life span from the Neolithic age to medieval Europe averaged 18-25 years old.*

  • 75% of children born in London between 1730-1749 died before the age of five.

  • In Zurich a cemetery that was in use between the 9th and 12th centuries show that 50% of those interred had died before the age of 18.

  • In Britain, a 6th century cemetery at Cannington reflects 64% of its residents died before age 18.**

  • Child mortality in France, as late as the early 18th century, was 45% between the first and fifth years of age alone. ***

  • In the hunter gatherer societies of the Paleolithic age, fertility rates varied as food supplies increased or declined. Their reproductive spans were short, and it is estimated that 80% + of children died within the first 5 years. ****

Of course, none of this speaks to sub-Saharan populations whose child mortality rates even today are horrendous, never mind what they were tens of thousands of years ago. And never mind the wide spread famines and plagues, the latter of which accounted for the decimation of upwards of 50% Europe’s population in the 1300’s plague event alone. In fact it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the average life span reached 35-40 years old. Only in the past few decades did human life span reach an average of 65 years old.

Bottom line is that population growth is a brand new phenomena relatively speaking. Earth went from 1 billion people in 1750 to 6 billion in 2000, that’s a population growth of 5 billion ONLY in the past 250 years.

But all this is mind boggling and way too involved for your average Christian fundie. Besides, facts just makes their heads hurt. They “don’t need no ‘steenking’ facts,” or science, or forensic evidence. It’s enough to just toss out the statement “Where are all the people?” for the most backward sheep to baa in lemming like unison.

I've actually seen that fundie argument proffered three times. Each time I explained about the factors that impacted on population growth since homo sapiens appeared some 200,000 years ago. Two of the fundamentalists admitted they didn't know anything about those things nor cared about them. Of the two, only one had a high school education. They simply took it off a fundamentalist website and accepted it as "gospel." They likely still do.

The third proponent attempted to provide proof that "scientists and anthropologists" have confirmed this “not enough people” argument, stating and even those scientists were baffled as to why we have a population of "so few when there should be so many more." Naturally, these “scientists” accepted the Young Earth Creation myth as a result. It didn’t take long to find out the "scientists and anthropologists" were unaccredited and/or were YEC fundamentalists, who were employed by YEC fundamentalist foundations. No surprise there.

This is what passes for truths to those who will grasp at anything, distort and ignore volumes of corroborated historical research, and invent support for their unsupportable belief. And all along they know their accepting audience lacks the intellect and curiosity necessary to learn the truth about human development.

Whenever I hear this kind of idiocy I have to remind myself it's the 21st century…
for most of us.

**Europe after Rome: a new cultural history 500-1000 By Julia M. H. Smith, page 66
***Murder in Parisian streets: manufacturing crime and justice in the Popular By Thomas Cragin, page 245


NewEnglandBob said...

They can be countered even more simply (since the YECs can not fathom beyond simple):

YECs claim that all life was created at the same time. Therefore, by their thinking (using the term generously for them) there should be billions upon billions of every kind of mammals and other animals around.

Where are the billions of elephants? Where are the billions of geese? billions of horses? billions of gorillas? billions of lions. etc.

BathTub said...

My go to document on this is the NCSEs "Creationists, Population Growth, Bunnies, and the Great Pyramid"

25 years old, but that just shows how long ago these arguments were debunked.

Basically it discusses the lack of any justification for their 2 point growth curve, then shows how using their own growth curve on a biblical timeline completely fails to account for the 'post flood' population.

I just scared one guy from Eric Hovinds blog with it.

Larro said...

Yet, what about Methuselah!? Those longevity statistics must be flawed!

Seek the Truth said...

Well hold up! You MUST consider that death didn't enter until Adam and Eve sinned, which means they could have existed for hundreds of millions of years before they decided to sin! Therefore, the Earth still could be billions of years old... Oh who am I kidding?

BathTub said...

Actually Ray Comfort has used that exactly argument before. despite the bible giving adam's age when he died.

Rachelle said...

LOL! You would think they'd get tired of being WRONG! It's never anything new with these fundies...I'd love to be entertained by some new "theories" for a change. Any one? Bueller? Bueller?? LOL!

Dromedary Hump said...

I wam reading Dawkin's "Greatest Show on Earth". All about evolution.

in it he describes an exchange he had with a creationist who kept asking for fossil evidence. He kept telling her to go to any museaum and see the paster casts from the originals of all the various species that were man's predessessors.

All she kept saying is "I only see drawings in books, how come there are no actual fossils/" and he kept telling her to go to any museaum, or the one in Kenya for the actual remains.

It goes on and 0on like that... she even said she's been to museaums, but wants to know where the evidence is (??!!!). Then she changes the subject.

They have run out of new approaches to support creationism and any ability to refute scientific evidence. All they have now is denial, and ignoring reality. It's so fucking pathetic.

zarton said...

I just finished reading Richard Dawkins book "The greatest Show on Earth" (and started reading yours Hump) My brain is just hemorrhaging info.
I can't see how anyone with any intellect could read his book and deny evolution.
Wish me luck because next up on my book list is Lee Strobel's "The Case for Faith", then followed by another book about Benjamin Franklin. (my hero.., if I had one)
Take care all,

Corbie said...

"Greatest Show" is a *great* book! It's enthralling and absorbing and absolutely fascinating. I'm still working my way through it and "Remarkable Creatures" at the same time.

Now, if there were only some way we could sit the fundies down and make them read them. Not going to happen, I know. You can't even get them to read their own Bible; they just depend on what their minister/pastor/priest tells them is in there in nice, pre-digested, pre-spun bits.

Dromedary Hump said...

I'm 1/2 way through Greatest Show. Really puts evolution in perspective.

When a fundie reads something like that they do so through a filter. Their aim isn't to learn, but to try and find ways to discredit facts, and quote mine to twist meanings as though they imply aweakness in evolutionary theory.

It's futile to expect people like that to learn and absorb reality. Thier ignornace will be gone when they age out and die. The best we can do is work toward making sure the subsequent generations aren't oinfected by their stupidty to the degree they are likewise innured to education and reality.