Comment on Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’ by Sean Pitman.
Like, long ago, when Dr. Pitman was in high school and more concerned with girls than genomes, this Adventist, lulled and lethargic (once known as Laodicean), went into a Taylor seminar taking Creation and Genesis 1 for granted (Creation is true, of course, so what else is new?), and came out whacked and reeling, staggering back to Genesis 1, this time seriously. And being educated and scientific, saw evidence, and believed, this time staunchly and actively. â€œThanks, Erv, I needed that,â€ as some old movie line goes.
Everyone has his/her purpose I guess.
Loved your “confession” 😉
Happy Thanksgiving Wes…
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’
One more thing Erv. I’d also be interested in your response to the following comments from Dr. John Baumgardner regarding your 2007 paper:
Finally, Bertsche seeks to dismiss the 14C we measured in diamonds also as contamination. He cites a 2007 paper by Taylor and Southon. The paper describes the techniques the authors recently applied to measure 14C levels in natural diamond. As part of the background of their paper, Taylor and Southon list six potential sources of contamination for samples analyzed in AMS laboratories. At the very top of their list is â€œ1 Pseudo 14C-free sample: 14C is present in carboniferous material that should not contain 14C because of its geological age.â€ By placing this item first, they acknowledge what has long been known by AMS radiocarbon specialists: namely, that the vast majority of samples that ought to be completely 14C-free because of their geological context display 14C levels far beyond what can be accounted for by sources attributable to laboratory procedures or equipment design.
Indeed, they implicitly acknowledge this in the first paragraph of their introduction by mentioning 14C ages of 47.9 ka for a marble sample and 52.1 ka for a Pliocene wood sample, both far beyond the AMS 100,000-year detection limit they mention in their first sentence. It is astonishing that these authors never attribute this discrepancy to any one of the six possible explanations they list later in the article. In fact, they are completely silent as to just what the correct explanation might be. This silence is all the more noteworthy since the 14C level in the marble sample is 546 times the detection limit of their AMS system.
The main point of their paper is that by using diamonds and mounting them directly in the sample holder, they are able to exclude items 2 through 5 in their list of six potential sources of contamination. These items are 2 Combustion/acidification background, 3 Graphitization background, 4 Transfer (to the sample holder) background, and 5 Storage background. The last item in their list, 6 Instrument background, involves a â€œ14C signal registering in the detector circuitry when 14C-ion [is] not present.â€ This item is routinely and reliably tested by running the system with no sample in the aluminum sample holder. This test is the basis for the value of the ultimate AMS detection limit, about 0.0005 pMC, corresponding to about 100,000 14C years. Therefore, by process of elimination, what these authors are measuring and reporting is their item (1), namely, 14C intrinsic to the diamonds! This is precisely what we claim for diamond samples we measured using the same technique.
Taylor and Southon report results from eight individual natural diamonds and from six separate fragments cut from a single diamond. The 14C values ranged from 0.005 to 0.021 pMC for the eight individual diamonds and 0.015 to 0.018 pMC for the six fragments, with typical uncertainties of Â±0.001-0.002 pMC. Note that a value of 0.015 exceeds the AMS system background value by a factor of 30.
I certainly grant that one needs almost to be an AMS insider to be aware how routine it is to measure the sixth item in Taylor and Southonâ€™s list, instrument background, and hence to realize that the 14C values they report represent intrinsic 14C in the diamonds themselves and not instrument background. It is therefore understandable why Bertsche comes away with an incorrect conclusion after reading their paper. This illustrates again, however, that he is not the expert in 14C dating that he makes himself out to be.
What about the RATE diamond measurements? Bertsche alludes to the fact that the RATE team also tested diamond by placing diamonds directly into the AMS sample holder. Our tests were done in 2006 after the RATE book was published in 2005. We obtained results quite similar to those reported by Taylor and Southon in 2007. Our ten diamond samples displayed 14C values between 0.008 and 0.022 pMC, with a mean value of 0.014 pMC. Certainly these 14C levels are much smaller than what we obtained for our coal samples; so, caution is obviously advisable in their interpretation. Nevertheless, unless one has a philosophical bias against such a possibility, the most plausible explanation, astonishing as it may be to some, is that natural diamond contains measurable and reproducible levels of intrinsic 14C.
Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’
Dr. Ervin Taylor on Radiocarbon and AMS Technology
I really don’t know why you’re getting all excited about my comments regarding radiocarbon dating and AMS technology? I understand that AMS technology has various problems of contamination. I also understand that these problems can be understood and even controlled to a reasonable degree using careful techniques. Given these techniques, it seems to me like my original points and observations still stand – i.e., that most samples of coal, oil, and non-fossilized remains of fossils contain levels of 14C that are in fact above the level of that can reasonably be attributed to the AMS technology itself. In other words, there is real 14C in most of these particular types of specimens – even if it is given that there is no 14C in diamonds (I never personally understood, even from a creationist position, why there should be much 14C in diamonds to begin with).
As an aside, did you not find it curious that your analysis (using your own AMS machine) of multiple cuts of a single diamond produced a very narrow range of apparent ages? apparent 14C ages ranging between 69-70 kyrs? Yet, the range you measured, in the very same machine, between different diamonds was 68-80 kyrs? Why the significant difference in apparent age between different diamonds if all the 14C was the result of “contamination” due to “instrument background” and other such sources of potential contamination associated with the AMS machine and methodology? – i.e., not the result of any intrinsic 14C? One would think that if there was no intrinsic 14C at all in any of the diamonds analyzed that all should have essentially the same apparent age within the same range of error according to the background produced by the machine itself… or am I way off base here?
After all, didn’t you and Dr. Southon actually addressed this phenomenon in your 2007 paper – on the Use of natural diamonds to monitor 14C AMS instrument backgrounds ?
“Our measurements have confirmed our hypothesis that diamonds represent a much “cleaner” surface with respect to adhesion of carbon-containing molecules from the ion source that contribute to trace memory or sample “cross talk” effect. At this time, it is not clear to us what factors might be involved in the greater variability in the apparent 14C concentrations exhibited in individual diamonds as opposed to splits from a single natural diamond. Possible factors suggested to us are greater variability in the orientation of the crystal facies and microfractures in individual diamonds.”
Perhaps I’m showing my ignorance here, but I’m not sure what variability in the orientation of crystal facies or microfractures would have to do with producing an increased variability in apparent 14C age of the diamond? – given that the diamond did not in fact have any 14C to begin with? But, at least you and Southon admit to the reality of this curious observation given your hypothesis of a complete lack of 14C in all diamonds analyzed.
In any case, regardless of if diamonds do or do not have trace amounts of 14C, the issue remains on how to explain the presence of real 14C in most samples of coal and oil and other organic remains of fossils? It seems like we are back to square one with the usual counter argument being “in situ contamination”…
As noted by Dr. Paul Giem in his 2001 Origins paper, Carbon-14 Content of Fossil Carbon, the common argument of 14C production by Uranium within or near the coal sample releasing neutrons over time is not reasonable given the degree of 14C “contamination”. The amount of original radioactive material would have been prohibitive. And, perhaps the most striking problem, as noted by Dr. Giem, is:
“If neutron capture is a significant source of carbon-14 in a given sample [given that nitrogen-14 captures neutrons 110,000 times more effectively than does carbon-13], radiocarbon dates should vary wildly with the nitrogen content of the sample. I know of no such data.”
Therefore, the levels of 14C “contamination” that are generally observed could not reasonably be explained by in situ production of 14C – right? So, where does this leave us? with your argument for in situ contamination by modern 14C of course…
There seems to be at least some validity to this argument, but how does one explain the nearly universal nature of this in situ contamination? As Dr. Giem notes, “It is difficult to imagine a natural process contaminating wood, whale bone, petroleum and coal, all roughly to the same extent. It is especially difficult to imagine all parts of a coal seam being contaminated equally.”
Of course, there are still a few mysteries for the creationist side of this particular line of evidence as well. For example, why do some forms of anthracite exist with no measurable intrinsic radiocarbon above the background level of the AMS technology?
So, there remain questions on this particular issue for both sides. Yet, it seems to me, at least for now, that the weight of evidence seems to favor the creationist position when it comes to radiocarbon dating – to include the use of AMS technology. However, any further comments and education from someone of your expertise in this area would be most welcome.
More from Richard M. Davidson, Interpreting Scripture According to the Scriptures: Toward an Understanding of Seventh-day Adventist Hermeneutics
The sufficiency of Scripture is not just in the sense of material sufficiency, i.e., that Scripture contains all the truths necessary for salvation. Adventists also believe in the formal sufficiency of Scripture, i.e., that the Bible alone is sufficient in clarity so that no external source is required to rightly interpret it.
Does anyone here disagree with one of the leading SDA theologians, representing the Adventist Biblical Research Institute, on these points? You can read more here: http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/documents/interp%20scripture%20davidson.pdf
There is a difference between being able to interpret what the Scriptures are saying vs. being able to determine if the Bible is or is not really the “Word of God”. Coming up with a correct interpretation of a text, of what the authors were trying to say, is not the same thing as a demonstration of the Divine origin fo the text. Such a demonstration needs additional evidence beyond the text itself in order to be able to rationally pick the Bible over all other competing texts/options as the true Word of God.
Please, for Christâ€™s sake, do NOT base your beliefs in God and His word based on what the fossils say!
Or on any other empirical evidence for that matter- right? Why take on the potential for possibly being wrong? Why take on any risk?
Well, upon what then do you base your choice of the Bible over other self-proclaimed mouthpieces for God?
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
I’m glad you reached the conclusion that the immune system God designed into our bodies gives better protection against infection than vaccines do.
God didn’t “design” COVID-19 derived immunity any more than vaccine-derived immunity. What God designed was an immune system that could learn from past infections (or exposure to foreign antigens) in order to prevent future infections by the same type of invader more effectively.
You see, I’m not sure that we have the same definition of “natural immunity” in the context of COVID-19 here. The human body was designed with two different types of immune systems known as the “innate” and “adaptive” immune systems. Consider, now, that I’m not talking about generalized immunity that isn’t specific or targeted against COVID-19 in particular. In other words, I’m not talking about the “innate” immune system. What I am talking about is the “adaptive” immune system – a type of immunity that can be gained by surviving a “natural infection” to COVID-19 – which then produces “natural immunity” or “naturally-derived immunity” within the adaptive immune system that is specifically targeted against future COVID-19 infections. And, as already mentioned, while this “natural” method of gaining targeted adaptive immunity can be superior to the immunity gained by vaccines, for some people, it is far riskier and is not nearly as consistent as vaccine-derived adaptive immunity.
But, you counter with the argument that vaccines are also not consistent since there are “breakthrough infections”. However, the consistency I’m talking about is in regard to the reduction of and deaths – not just breakthrough nasopharyngeal infections (which aren’t the real problem). As noted in my McCullough article (Link), a fairly new study showed that the “percentage of variant cross-binding memory B cells was higher in vaccinees than individuals who recovered from mild COVID-19.” (Goel, et al., August 23, 2021). In this regard, it seems as though those who were vaccinated have an advantage in that the resulting immunity is more consistent and predictable as compared to natural immunity. These higher levels of memory B-cells within vaccinated people may also be the reason for the long-term protection against hospitalizations and deaths – despite the waining levels of antibody levels against the virus over time. Memory T- and B-cells produced in response to the vaccine can be “awakened” when an infection hits the body, a pre-formed arm that is ready to fight off the repeat offender. This is all right in line with a recent Lancet study:
Researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed data from a project called the ZOE Covid Study, where users report symptoms, vaccination status and other demographic information daily via an app. The researchers looked at data collected on more than 1 million people from December 2020 through July 2021, a period that spanned both the alpha and delta variant waves in the U.K. Participants received two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine. Overall, less than 0.2 percent of the participants reported a breakthrough infection, with such cases more likely in people already considered to be vulnerable, including older adults or people with underlying illnesses. When breakthrough infections did occur, most were mild — just 6 percent of people with breakthrough infections reported symptoms. What’s more, vaccination was shown to cut the risk of hospitalization by more than two-thirds. The study also found that the chances of developing long Covid were cut in half in fully-vaccinated people. Long Covid refers to when people experience symptoms of the illness, such as brain fog, exhaustion and a racing heart, for at least a month after infection, and sometimes much longer. (Link)
Those are AMAZING results – for the vaccinated.
For the unvaccinated, on the other hand, there is also the problem that up to a third of people who were previously infected by COVID-19 don’t develop antibodies against it (Liu et al., September 2021). Ultimately, 36% of those who were infected by COVID-19 remained seronegative, meaning that they never developed detectable levels of such antibodies in their blood, even when multiple blood samples were checked for each person. The study also revealed that people who had lower SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in their respiratory tract were less like to subsequently have antibodies in their blood. This means, of course, that the adaptive immune system was never educated enough to effectively combat future infections by COVID-19.
So, you see, the vaccine may not reach as high a level of immunity as is gained by some who survived a prior infection by COVID-19. However, the level of immunity gained, when it comes to reducing hospitalizations and death, is more consistent for the vaccinated. This is the reason why there are so many stories of those who thought that they were safe, because of some previous mild COVID-19 infection, but then got infected again with COVID-19 and got very sick, particularly with the Delta Variant, with many dying as a result.
As far as your “alternative views” being more hopeful and less scary, that would be the case if they were actually true. The problem is that the conspiracy theorists that you consistently follow paint the vaccines as much more risky and scary than they truly are and the COVID-19 pandemic as much less serious and much less scary than it really is. They also create far more confidence in alternative drugs and therapies, like ivermectin for instance, than is actually supported by the weight of scientific evidence. That’s the problem. They create fear where there shouldn’t be fear and they create confidence where there shouldn’t be so much confidence. They get things exactly backward.
This is not to say that I think things were handled by the government very well at all. I don’t think it was necessary to shut down the government, for one thing. However, this is all 20/20 hindsight of course.
As far as the “miraculous recoveries” you mention, these are far too few. There are far far too many hospitalizations, serious long-term injuries, and deaths to be very comforted by miraculous recoveries. Clearly, these miraculous recoveries aren’t remotely common enough nor are they associated with drugs like ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine which have, so far, not shown a consistently detectable benefit in the best and largest RCTs.
Sure, ivermectin has relatively few side effects (unless you overdose) and a low mortality rate. However, it’s not as though the mortality risk is zero. “Between the years 2003 and 2017, the total average population treated [with Ivermectin] was around 15,552,588 among which 945 cases of SAE [severe adverse effects] were registered in DR Congo, i.e. 6 cases of SAE for 100,000 persons treated per year. 55 deaths related to post-CDTI SAE were recorded, which represents 5.8% of all cases of SAE.” (Link). Still, the point here is that even if the risks for ivermectin were actually zero, there’s still no good evidence that it provides much of a useful benefit – certainly nothing close to the benefits provided by the vaccines against COVID-19.
Yet, you write:
If an alternative drug is safer than aspirin and there are thousands of claimed recoveries resulting from the drug, isn’t it worth a trial, no matter what the “studies” say, considering the alternative is often death after being on a ventilator?
It might be worth a try if that was your only option. However, it isn’t your only option. Now that we have vaccines that provide a very clear and very substantial benefit, it is far far more reasonable to take the vaccines than to trust that ivermectin will save you – when the best scientific studies have yet to detect much of a benefit, even with early treatment, at reducing severe COVID-19 infections or death.
But it’s okay. We each can choose a path that is consistent with the best evidence as we understand it. For that matter, it seems to me that vaccination is the best course for many but not for others. Most don’t bother to understand just what these COVID vaccines do, much less do a benefit-risk analysis. But some of us do, and some of us find that avoiding the COVID vaccine, boosting our immune system and preparing for a possible infection is the best path for us.
You’re certainly free to choose. However, your choice could impact others – in a negative way. If the vaccines really do significantly reduce the odds of transmitting the virus to others (as several studies have shown), the choice of a person not to get vaccinated increases the odds of viral transmission to others who might not do as well against a COVID-19 infection. We aren’t islands here. Our choices have the potential to affect other people.
But, you think you can “boost your immune system” some other way. I wish this were true, but there just isn’t any other way that is as effective as the vaccines at the moment. The problem is that as humans age, our immune systems deteriorate at an almost exponential rate. Diet and healthful living do help, to be sure, but this does not negate the need to take advantage of the additional substantial advantages offered by vaccines – and this becomes more and more true the older and older we get. Add as many layers of protection as you can. Do it all. Be as healthy as you can be – AND take the vaccine.
Consider also that even a very healthy young person, who personally might have a very low risk of serious sickness or death, can still get infected and transmit the virus to others who might not do so well with an infection.
I suspect everyone will be exposed to this corona virus sooner or later, just as we have been to other corona viruses.
Indeed. However, the faster we can achieve herd immunity, as a community, the more those who are most vulnerable among us will be protected. And, the fastest and safest way to do this is via vaccines.
What concerns me most is the lack of respect among Christians for those with opposing views. While I don’t see vaccination as a salvation matter, an attitude of forcing others into agreement with our views is not an attitude born of the Spirit of God but of the enemy. I believe we can agree on that.
Love and respect never go out of style. However, there are times when the most loving thing to do is to protect those who are most vulnerable from those who are unwilling to act in a way that best protects the most vulnerable – particularly, say, in a hospital or nursing home setting. This isn’t to say that I’m a fan of government mandates for the general population. I’m not. I think that such mandates are largely counterproductive. Given that the vaccines are generally available for those who want them now, it seems best to me to limit mandates to those who work in settings where people are sick or old or otherwise vulnerable.
Natural Immunity vs. Vaccines vs. the Delta Variant
You’re commenting on an older post regarding natural immunity. Since then, additional evidence has indeed come to light showing that natural immunity goes well beyond antibody production and is therefore generally superior to vaccine-based immunity. Of course, vaccine-based immunity does have a couple of advantages over natural immunity. The most obvious advantage, of course, is that vaccine-based immunity is gained without having to take on the significant risks associated with getting infected by COVID-19. The additional advantage of vaccine-based immunity is that it seems to offer more consistent immunity compared to natural immunity (i.e., some who were infected don’t gain significant immunity following infection).
I discuss all of this in much more detail here: Link
As far as being more critical of evolutionists, look, I’ve reviewed a great many conspiracy claims. I usually get several sent to me every day. It’s not like I haven’t reviewed these claims you’re sending my way. It’s just that they almost always turn out to be completely false or misleading. It’s the same thing as with the evolutionary arguments I get – except it’s now on the other foot. What you believe regarding COVID-19 and vaccines simply doesn’t have the weight of empirical evidence to back it up. I know the claims of conspiracy theorists can be scary and worrisome. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re true. They just aren’t true. The minority opinion isn’t always true. In fact, the majority of experts are usually right – as in this case.
COVID Vaccine Myths, Questions, and Rumors with Drs. Rhonda Patrick and Roger Seheult
There are always rogue doctors around selling snake oil remedies and forwarding a host of conspiracy theories. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a strong consensus in the medical community regarding COVID-19 and the efficacy and relative safety of the vaccines. A handful of doctors spreading conspiracy theories shouldn’t overcome one’s ability to see that the significant weight of empirical scientific evidence strongly supports the consensus conclusion in this case. After all, over 98% of medical doctors in this country are now vaccinated – particularly those working in ICUs who see that the unvaccinated are by far more likely to end up in the ICU and die with COVID compared to the vaccinated – by a ratio of more than 10:1 for any given age category.
COVID Vaccine Myths, Questions, and Rumors with Drs. Rhonda Patrick and Roger Seheult
While I agree, part of the problem is that people, in general in this country, simply don’t want to live healthful lives despite actually knowing that what they are doing isn’t healthy or good for them. When I was doing primary care, this was a constant frustration. You could tell people all day long what they should be doing, and they would usually even agree, but they just wouldn’t actually do what they knew they should be doing…
COVID Vaccine Myths, Questions, and Rumors with Drs. Rhonda Patrick and Roger Seheult
Sure, it’s very unfortunate that this pandemic has been so politicized. However, just because we know the final outcome doesn’t mean that this is it. We shouldn’t bring on the “Time of Trouble” before it’s actually here. During this particular pandemic we, particularly as Christians, should strive to separate medical science from politics. Merging them will only cause more harm. Many people really are suffering and dying due to COVID-19 and the mRNA vaccines have proven themselves to be very effective at preventing serious sickness and death.