Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What If Fossil Fuels Are Young?

In today’s culture, we refer to someone as a “snake oil salesman” when he or she is clearly trying to sell something that they know doesn’t work. The term dates back to early American times (if not earlier) when traveling salesmen would sell cure-all substances, including actual “snake oil,” to a town’s naïve public only to disappear to the neighboring town the next day to continue selling to another naïve public. The term caught on as more and more worthless products earned the informal label of “snake oil.” Decades later, the products have changed, but some of the tactics remain the same. For example, today there is another oil that the scientific community has fraudulently sold to the public at large – 650 million year old fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels (like crude oil) are generally believed to have formed by natural processes like anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, including plants. Most scientists declare the age of such fossil fuels to exceed 650 million years. But, has this age ever been proven? Is there evidence that proves a much younger age?

In December of last year, engineers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) announced that they have stumbled upon a simple process that takes raw algae and turns it into crude oil within minutes. They have licensed the process to Genifuel Corp., a Utah company, in order to scale it up to industrial levels. PNNL noted that the resulting crude oil can be used for aviation, gasoline or diesel. Interestingly, this simple process is more effective than prior methods due to its unique use of a combination of moisture, heat and pressure. But this discovery did not cure their blindness regarding the age of fossil fuels. They even went on to declare, “In a sense, we are duplicating the process in the Earth that converted algae into oil over the course of millions of years. We're just doing it much, much faster.” But, is "duplicating" 650 million years even possible in just minutes? Much less than duplicating, is it even possible to just simulate 650 million years in minutes? The answer to both questions without a shred of doubt is “No.”

For a moment, let’s put aside PNNL’s discovery of obvious evidence favoring the relative youth of fossil fuels. How can anyone even begin to prove that fossil fuels are 650 million years old? How can anyone systemically prove that it takes 650 million years for fossil fuels to form? The answer to both questions is “Nobody can.” There are no means available to us to measure this. You can only assume such an age and hope that any available evidence backs your assumptions. But, there is no data that even suggest such a bloated age. Therefore, before PNNL's discovery, they could only point to the age of the related fossils.

However, the primary method for aging a fossil is to use the age of the rock strata in which it was found. And, the primary method of aging rock strata is to use the age of its fossils. In other words, the ages of the fossils (and the strata) are determined through circular reasoning, which is false logic.

But the circular reasoning does not stop there. The scientific community also points to the process/age of crude oil to further support their insistence upon an even longer assumed age of the earth. In other words, since they believe that oil took 650 million years to form, the earth must be at least 650 million years old. Did you follow that? They use circular reasoning to arrive at the age of fossils at 650 million years old. Then, without systemic proof, they concluded that it must also take 650 million years for those fossils to decompose into crude oil. Therefore, if crude oil took 650 million years to form, then the earth must be at least that old. But, PNNL’s discovery of producing crude oil from raw algae in just minutes is factual evidence to the contrary. And, PNNL’s process does not duplicate or even simulate 650 million years. In fact, what we can easily conclude is that PNNL’s minutes-long process simulates a period of time we would consider to be ... young. And, there is no process that can simulate a 650 million year process in minutes.

In addition to circular reasoning, there is another logical fallacy being employed on the aging of crude oil. The scientific community continues to be guilty of “Cherry Picking” or the “Fallacy of Incomplete Evidence.” This is committed when someone points to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a more significant portion of related cases or data that contradict that position. In the arena of science, this is widely considered a hallmark of poor science or pseudo-science. Rigorous science (the only true brand of science), looks at all the evidence rather than cherry picking only the evidence that supports a desired conclusion. What is even worse is, in this case, we have zero systemic evidence supporting a 650 million year process. But, we have pretty clear evidence that crude oil can and does take form over much younger periods of time. And, therefore, the probable youth of crude oil (and fossils for that matter) does not support the age of the earth at over 650 million years. But, the scientific community ignores this factual evidence in favor of loose and circular assumptions. 

Further, the scientific community stubbornly twists this evidence to claim it supports their declaration of 650 million years of age when any reasonable analysis proves the exact opposite. Isn’t that the malpractice of science? They can prove my charge of malpractice wrong by recognizing PNNL's discovery as evidence worthy of reversing their intellectually failed course. Sadly, for this reversal, we should not hold our breath. That is because such a reversal moves them towards acknowledgement of the God of the Bible, which is outside of their atheist bias.

Proverbs 13:16 says, “In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.” In this case, the scientific community is clearly guilty of flaunting their folly. As Christians, we should be encouraged by this growing body of scientific evidence supporting the truth of the Bible. And, we must humbly reason with those blinded by a scientific community apparently comprised primarily of modern day snake oil salesmen.