Working at the Natural History Museum

English: The Central Hall in Natural History M...

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s something that readers might like to have a smile about.

I have just been assigned to a new project at work. When I say new, I mean new to me, the project is not new, its been ongoing for more than a year.

Anyway, this project is on site at the Natural History Museum inLondon. In the IT industry its more common for projects to be developed remotely at our own premises and then delivered to the customer. However, in this case the work is being done at the client and so I get to flash a badge and walk into the staff entrance of the museum and I get to walk through those imposing doors marked staff only that normal visitors can only look at with guarded jealousy.

Of course the reality is much more mundane than you would initially imagine. The rooms and corridors that are out of bounds to the normal public are not lined with long lost treasures and the ghosts of great scientists past do not hover about Hogwarts style.

Its very cool to be in this location every day. Though I don’t get to wander about the exhibits all day because, frankly, I’m busy doing IT stuff. That said, I really do need to take advantage of this chance and make some time to wander the exhibits.

Of course, going out into the public areas is a bit of a risk because people spot my ID badge and assume I know the answer to the question they have, which invariably I don’t. Oh well.

What I do smirk about regularly is what my old YEC self would have made of being assigned to this project and this location. Maybe I’d have exploded in a messy go of slime, or maybe the thought of the dinosaur fossils not far away would have distracted me from my work so much, I’d have been fired. Or many I’d have just not been impressed and done more work that I’m already doing in an effort to get out of here as fast as possible. Either way, I’m having fun mocking my old self, while also looking forward to making time to look at some very cool exhibits.

Time for this Blog to Undergo a Change of Direction

When I started this blog, a little over a year ago, the purpose was to tell my story of growth into Young Earth Creationism and out again into Atheism. That story is pretty much told now. The only outstanding part is the completeness of my coming out. I have no idea when that will happen as I have not planned any part of it. If I stick to my original remit, blog posts will be very rare indeed and I am not ready to reduce this blog to that yet.

So, if I am going to continue at my current rate of posts, I need something to blog about. There are some gaps in my story, which I could now fill in and throw some out of order posts into the mostly linear story I have told so far. Some of those posts will be more personal that I had originally intended to be in this blog; however, my story as told is already a very personal story so what difference will a little extra soul bearing make?

I have omitted much of my experience of seeing my parents divorce and remarry. The divorce experience has tainted me. I have little or nothing nice to say about either of my step-parents, they are Christians who have caused myself and my brothers hurt for which I hold them both in utter contempt, so much so that I can feel myself getting angry just thinking about them.

I could also start being more of a commentator. I have already written some posts which rather than being my story, are a commentary of the current state of Creationism and Science. I like the idea of that, but I am also aware that I am not a science writer and there are many others already doing that job in a far better way than I ever could.

Lastly, there is the document that my Mum wrote ten years after her kidnap ordeal (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/coming-close-to-being-an-orphan/). Its an amazing and emotional read. I feel that it’s a waste to leave it sitting in a box (and my hard drive as I have re-typed it) to be dug out again goodness knows how many years from now. Films have been made from less. Part of me wants to make that document more widely known, but I hesitate because once its on the wider internet I can’t change my mind. There is also the little matter that my father is still alive and he doesn’t come out especially well and I don’t particularly want him reading that document. Maybe I’ll put it up as a password protected post first and see how that goes with the small number of readers I currently have. I don’t think my current posts about my Mothers life and death do her enough justice and the part of me that strives to be the perfect son wants to address that.

Comment and suggestion appreciated.

Stellar Proof of an Old Universe

I know that the E in YEC stands for Earth. However, being a YEC means taking the first few verses of Genesis literally and that means believing that the universe predate the Earth by only a couple of days. To accept an old universe but a young earth is to deny the very beginning of YECism.

The mechanics behind stars is well tested and scientists now know will great confidence how stars burn and die and the processes that go on within them. In short, stars start off burning Hydrogen, which forms Helium. This process continues, with a new, slightly heavier element being formed as a result of the burning of another. Eventually the Iron is reached, at which point the process stops and the star gets an Iron core, surrounded by layers of the preceding elements. When the iron core gets to a critical point, the star dies in a spectacular explosion and it is from this explosion that further, heavier elements are created. These include precious metals like Gold and Silver as well as radioactive elements like Uranium.

How does this prove an Old Universe?

This proves an old universe at its basic level because as humans, our very existence and culture relies on there having been at least one star that has gone kaboom and in earth shattering manner. The calcium in your bones and the gold in the wedding band on my left hand exist because a star once exploded.

Because stars are so well studied and understood and we know their lifetimes are measured in the millions of years, there is simply no chance whatsoever that the universe could only be a few days older than the earth. For a YEC to literally believe in a universe that young, they must believe that either all the elements that are attributed to a star exploding were miraculously created on spec, or in the first days of creation stars were created and exploded in order to create those elements. The lifespan of those stars would have been massively compressed and the burning hugely accelerated. Neither of which can be proven.

This is the continuing problem for the YEC, unprovable ideas which fly in the face of scientific discovery. Why did the YEV God create everything in an instant, but make it look like it was all so old? Its as though he is the greatest deceiver that ever lived.

I should have paid more attention in school

I find this revelation about stars utterly fascinating and pondering on the fact that I am made of star stuff is mind blowing in its awesomeness. Yet, I also have to embarrassingly remember that I learnt about the Nuclear Fusion (or is it Fission?) within stars in science at school. How come when I sunk into YECism I never pondered this for longer? It might have saved me a whole load of trouble.

Coming Out – part 2

Having started to admit that Christianity no longer meant anything to me (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/the-coming-out-begins/). I decided that I should be open with those who know me differently. That is the internet form of people I have known for most of the last decade and who view me as the tolerant Christian. I do my best to avoid discussions on religion with this group because it never goes especially well, and quite frankly, they have always been my world away from my religion (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/when-friends-are-unkind/).

So, about a week after the discussion with my wife detailed above I put a short post up that basically said it was official, there is no god. They all would know what I meant and if anyone wanted to know more they could ask.

The first responses were a mixture of surprise (the majority obviously did not expect it), interest in why and congratulations.

A few, who admitted to having been brought up in some form of Christian faith, wanted to know how I felt; was my world view shaken? Did I need someone to talk to? I was touched by this obvious care and concern, but it wasn’t needed. This was not a new thing to me; it was just new to them.

It was far easier to be fully open and honest with them than it was in my conversations earlier with my wife. Deep down I feel I am a cowardly let-down for not having been fully honest much earlier. I have tried to put into words my feelings and justifications for that but I have failed. I am simply unable to properly explain why.

Some of the friends asked for a reason for my apparent turnabout. I was succinct in my response, just saying that it was because of greater scientific understanding which removed the foundation of my faith. I hinted there was a fuller version of my story available but that I was not sure about making it open to them. No one objected to that, in fact they were very supportive of that stance and no one pushed further. It was enough for them to know, a debrief was not necessary.

So, for the moment this blog’s readership remains as those who are outside of the circle of those who know me. However, there is more than enough here for anyone who knows me to recognise me. If that happens and I am questioned that I shall admit it but I am currently holding off from actually telling anyone about it.

Actually, not quite true, I have told my brother it exists and he is interested in reading it, I’ve just not sent him the link yet. That aside, I have pondered on letting my atheist forum friends know about it, maybe I’ll let a couple of them know about it first. My hesitation is that doing so feels a bit like the boy trying to plug the leaking dyke with his finger. Once the water starts to seep through there is no stopping it.

Is it a stone or a clump of mud?

Mud Stone

Mud shaped like a stone

The beach that the family limey lives near is blessed(!) with huge quantities of mud. This mud can be very dangerous and there are regular cases throughout the year of people having to be rescued from it. This isn’t the point of this post though.

This post is about a feature that is seen very regularly in the mud. I am sure there is a proper scientific description of the phenomenon, but I lack both the patience and the inclination to go looking for it at this present moment; so mud-stones is going to have to suffice.

Basically, as one wanders along the beach, every now and then there will be sitting in the mud, what looks like a stone. However, when you pick up that stone you will see that it is actually just mud. Mud that has been shaped to look like a stone and sits there, among its fellow mud brothers looking and being different. You can pick these mud-stones up. They are not bound by the mud they are sitting in. They are of the mud, yet distinct from it. See the attached photo I took of one such mud-stone.

I have an inquisitive mind and so rather than wander by ignoring them like most beach visitors, I will pick the occasional one up, turn it over, looks at the wave marks, break it open and examine the inside. Then, much to my wife’s exasperation, wipe my muddy fingers on my coat.

How old?

These mud-stone have got me thinking about age. Earth age that is, and rates of erosion. Obviously these mud-stones are formed by the action of the waves on the beach, presumably over several tide cycles.

Anyone who has been to rocky beaches will have seen many stones that are the same shape and form of these mud-stones and so another obvious conclusion will be that these real stones are formed in a very similar way to the mud-stones. That of constant wave action wearing them down to the size and shape at which they are found by a passing curious biped.

Taking the assumptions a step further, it would be expected that the real stones take an awful lot longer to erode than the mud stones, but how much longer? I have no idea, but I imagine that it would be quite considerable.

Taking a look again at a rocky beach, there are many more much smaller stones, having been worked on for a much longer time still.

So having picked up a random bit of mud on a family beach walk, I smiled and wondered at this planet on which we live. A planet on which many marvellous things happen in nature that never get witnessed. A planet that is many more years older than I used to believe.