Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Ever wonder what Confirmation Bias is? Now you know.

Posted by Michael Dickens on May 9, 2010

This essay, by a vehement Creationist, is about radiometric dating. I just happened to be reading it, and thought it was worth sharing.

According to the Bible, the creation week lasted seven literal days and occurred a few thousand years ago. However, many Christians today accept the teaching of science that life has existed on earth for millions, even billions, of years. . . . I believe that many educated Christians are especially doubting the Bible because of the supposed evidence from radiometric dating that life has existed on earth for very long periods of time. . . . [W]hat exactly is wrong with radiometric dating? How can we explain the fact that these dating methods do, in fact, yield dates in the hundreds of millions of years?

The author assumes that because it contradicts the Bible, there must be something wrong with it. This is a rather extreme case of confirmation bias. The author is so utterly unwilling to accept that the Bible, a thousand-year old religious tome, *might* have some scientific inaccuracies.

It seems that the explanation for why radiometric dating yields such old ages is a rather obvious one. God is screwing with the dates, making them look much older in order to test the faith of the true Christians. Who ever said you couldn’t wave a magic wand and make your problems go away?


4 Responses to “Ever wonder what Confirmation Bias is? Now you know.”

  1. astrostu206265 said

    There are a few things that this statement falls under, but confirmation bias it is not. Confirmation bias would be if the author found a radiocarbon date that fit into the 6000-year view and said, “See, therefore I’m right.” Not, “Carbon dating must be wrong because it doesn’t fit into a young Earth.”

    A fallacy that does apply is the Argument from Final Consequences. In this case, the final thing is that Earth must be 6000 years old. Therefore, because of that, radiocarbon dating does not work because it gives ages older than 6000 years.

    It’s possible that the Unstated Major Premise applies, but he’s stated his major premise, so I don’t think it works well here.

    I think it also falls under the category of Syllogistic fallacies, where the conclusion is inferred from two premises. For example, I think that it falls under the syllogism of the Fallacy of Necessity: (a) Earth is young, (b) radiometric dating shows Earth is old, therefore (c) radiometric dating doesn’t work. Perhaps it’s also a False Major Premise, but I can’t find that listed anywhere as an actual logical fallacy.

    • You’re right, confirmation bias is something different. This is still somewhat related to confirmation bias, though, in that the author is starting from a presupposition. It is still fallacious, though, and rather amusingly so.

  2. Matt Helm said

    I don’t know why so many Atheists are still so entertained by Christians being wrong. It’s kind of immature, just give ’em a break and let ’em believe whatever they want.

  3. There is an assumption possibly here that Christians are the only ones that question the rock dating. This in fact incorrect. Check out the book “Shattering the Myths of Darwinism” by Richard Milton. He does not espouse to be a Christian and yet dares to intelligently question the validity of rock dating.

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