A person I work with is a creationist. At least, I think he is. He believes the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, but had no idea why until I told him why he was supposed to believe that. He is excruciatingly ignorant of why he believes what he does. Time after time he'll say something silly like this and I'll correct him. After some back and forth, it almost always comes down to me telling him what his reasons should be for believing in incorrect information. This is like playing chess against myself.

Yesterday, we got to discussing the age of the Earth. As I stated above, he said the earth is less than 10,000 years old. I brought out radioactive dating, varves, tree rings, petroleum, stalactites, and the Grand Canyon. Then I had to explain what radioactivity was, what a varve was, why tree rings are usefull, and how petroleum forms. He dismissed the radioactive information because I have no way to show him other than from books. Varves are out because he doesn't believe, and I can't show, how 20 million of them were counted at the Green River Formation. For tree rings, he said it took 10-15 years for the first ring to form to which I replied that for a 2,000 year old tree, this was insignificant.

Here is what I would like to know. What evidence can I present that requires no telescopes, no microscopes, no radioactivity, no travel, nothing. Just everday examples of the age of the Earth that will convince someone who is practically 100% ignorant of science. I need examples that require zero reliance on authority, especially the authority of any book other than the Bible. Thank you.

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You could try to explain the formation of Pangaea to him and how long it has taken and how its calculated. The signs of the movement of the tectonic plates is clearly visible. Ya know, mountains and oceanic trenches and stuff.

Oh no, this will not work. Though I agree it is good information, he will never go for it. I'd have to drag him to a computer to see the animation and he'd just say it was someone drawing a pretty picture.

I need something incontrovertible, something I might have laying around the house. Something simple. Something I can point to and say, "See? That is WAY older than 10,000 years!" It has to be as obvious and pervasive as the sun comming up or I'll just be peeing in the breeze.

I do thank you for the response though. I didn't bring this up to him and I will keep it in mind when we talk again.
I don't think Pangea is so far off, but I am more interested in, yes, the internal structure of the earth, namely lava. I am not sure if you live close to a volcano though :) How about earthquakes? I think you mentioned Grand Canyon, as in a sign of how water over time can create huge holes? I mean, you can physically prove to him that water will erode other materials over time, the time it takes just depends on the density of the molecules. You don't even have to describe density, just say very hard materials. Even he will understand that the softer the material, the faster the process. As said, you can go to a nearby beach and see it for yourself by building a sandcastle and let the waves destroy it, using different materials:)
OK so he is rejecting evidence for your argument because it exceeds his mental grasp and has placed the burden of proof on you having rigged the game in his favour.

How about turning the tables on him?

Tell him that you'd like to hear his side of the argument - maybe you'll agree! Manoeuvre him into trying to come up with something like a plausible chain of arguments that supports his case.

And if he can impose restrictions, so can you. Teach him what a sound argument is, then ask what evidence can he propose to you that requires no revelation, blind faith or circular reasoning.

This book is pretty useful and a fun read:

How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic ISBN-13: 978-0826498946

Good luck!
Thank you for your advice. After yesterday, though, I don't think it is worth my time. He is around 74 years old and incapable of changing his mind. Or so I believe. I thought I had hit on the slam dunk evidence that you just can't deny. The distance of stars. Now, *I* know the creationist argument about creating light the first day already on the way to Earth, but I'll bet *he* doesn't, so I was going to use that ignorance against him. Unfortunately, he got the most condescending tone in his voice and denied stars exist. That's it, I give up. If he was just joking, I don't know. This is par for the course though on the depth of his arguments so I wash my hands. I can not start so far back in educating him on the ways of the world as I know them. Incidentally, the four others in the room, ignoring his claim that stars don't exist, tried to defend him. Basically, a "what's the harm" argument. A full on grade school education in a five minute exchange will go nowhere. So, I'll have to employ gorilla techniques to get the message across. Science snippets here and there with little possibility of starting an argument. Insert a fact here and there underneath the mental wall people throw up when you confront a deeply held belief. Something they will subconsciously remember in a friendly setting that they can use like a rumor, "hey! I did here somewhere about a large black hole in the center of our galaxy!"
OK - forget science, he can't grasp that level of logic.

How about asking him why he rejects Islam, Hinduism, Scientology, Satanism, Pastafarianism.

What's so special about his specific brand of belief that makes it obviously the right one?

Even Christian sects can't agree on what the bible means, what's his killer blow?
I tried the Allah angle. False god, bible says so. He can not see them as anything other than false religions. I can't get him to see how close to his own they are, or how different. I found a news article about some flower that grew to look like an elephant head in New York and showed him the praising language and sincerity of the guy that owned it. How it gave him strength and his prayers were answered. I wasn't around to see his face. I feel if I am, then I am being threatening. From the accounts of those that were around, he wasn't saying anything. Do I think he reflected on it? No. In one eye, out the other, so to speak. I even tried a Pascal's wager on him. My hope was since I could get him to understand that it was the position he was pushing for, I could then get him to drop it. Doesn't work that way, apparently. I'm constantly telling him why he holds beliefs he does, and then trying to show how they are wrong. He accuses me of knowing all that bible stuff and yet throwing Jesus out of my heart and how he knows that when I die and am in Hell, I'll know the "TRUTH!" I show how that's no better than a mafia threat, and not a test of morality if you do good because you are forced to. He just shrugs and with equal parts "God can do no wrong" and "you brought it on yourself" says he will pray for me. Makes my head hurt.
In a way, I think it would be good to. While this may seem like a joke. I think that you can leave a copy of this around. Or show him the video with the same script, if a computer is available at work without telling him what happens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDp7pkEcJVQ
YES! I love that someone made a short about that! I think the parallels are too obscure for him to get it. Also, YouTube is filtered at work. However, I think I can upload it to an online storage repository and D/L the video to watch at work. I'll give it a try, but I think it's way way too advanced for him.
He seems to be deriving his sense of truth from pure gut feelings. One assumes he attributes these gut feelings to God - speaking straight to his heart, and all. I would try to insert the wedge of reason there: have you ever had a gut feeling that was wrong? Why are the dictates of your heart different than mine, if god speaks to both? If god's plan is inherently mysterious to mere humans, how can we ever be certain that we're interpreting his message correctly? Etc, etc, etc...

Honestly though, I think you're largely wasting your time. Not only are the old the most difficult to reach, they also have the smallest potential impact on future norms.
Just a question, but why do you want to persuade him?

Is this for his benefit, or for yours?




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