This is what I find incredibly deceptive in debates like this. People talk about scientists as though they were a completely different species, separate from the rest of "mortal" humans. I'm sure that's not the way you intended it to come across, but it illustrates beautifully the kind of attitudes we have about those higher up on the "ladder of credibility".
Scientists, unless you have some information to the contrary, are people. They are not immune to the kinds of influences and temptations and ambitions that are common to all mankind. And the greatest problem might not be anything as blatent as actually lying. I think it is much more subtle than that.
People who are part of a system that in any way places pressures and demands on them, are subject to influence, and as long as there remains the concept of a righteous God calling mankind to account for such an unscientific thing as sin, I doubt there will be many scientists interpreting their data in a way that supports creation.
Ikester was posting about scientists. I made a reply about scientists. I made no such attempt to say that scientists are "a different species" in terms of being infallible and not subject to human weaknesses. You are clearly writing something into my response that is not there. I can't see how what I posted could be taken the way you explain here. I also can't see how what I wrote is at all deceptive. However, is a climatologist more credible when talking about climate change than the rest of us? Yes, I would say so even at peril of being accused of setting up a "ladder of credibility."
It appears that you are saying that most scientists might not interpret data in favor of a creationist viewpoint because God holds men liable for sin. I doubt any non-creationist scientists took such an approach. However, some probably rejected religion due to such a concept. Whether of not they would have taken a more creationist viewpoint otherwise is debatable. Some also undoubtedly made interpretations using a bias that did not allow them to be objective.
But you have reminded me about what I find deceptive in debates like this one. I challenged a claim that evidence was rejected about the subject at hand in the USGS study. It was not. However, the creationist explanations of the same study do seem deceptive.
Deceptive creationist explanation
Sometimes in amber, which is petrified tree sap, they find air bubbles trapped. The air bubbles trapped in amber have 50% more oxygen than we do today. Today we are breathing 21% oxygen, amber bubbles have 32% oxygen.Ã‚Â Well, evolution teaches that the earth had no oxygen at the beginning when life was 'evolving'.Ã‚Â This is not true.Ã‚Â The air bubbles in the amber prove that the earth had more oxygen in the past than it does today.
Notice that no mention is made of gas samples measuring at lower oxygen levels? It implies that all the measured samples were 50% higher than the level today which is not true of what was found in the study. That apparently did not fit in with the creationist viewpoint being made, as it apparently would be harder to explain the actual varibility found in the samples with a creationist model.
The comment about the earth having no oxygen being a concept "taught" by evolution sets up the non sequitur that follows.
The earth is believed to always have had abundant amounts of oxygen. I think what they meant to make a comment about was atmospheric oxygen.
2nd Example of creationists "mining" only the data they wish to use
As displayed above, many articles have appeared in recent years discussing the topic of ancient amber and oxygen levels. In short, the evidence seems clear. Earth's atmosphere once contained more oxygen, specifically around 35% (as opposed to today's 21%). Tiny bubbles of ancient air trapped by successive flows of tree resin have been discovered in ancient amber, and analyses of the gases in these bubbles reveal these startling numbers. Lest the skeptic argue insufficient testing, the results were based on more than 300 analyses by USGS scientists. Interestingly, the amber samples were also from different evolutionary periods ... the Cretaceous, Tertiary, etc., and even came from 16 world sites. The oldest sample tested was said to be about 130 million years old.
Arguments & Objections
The only argument given (and a very poor one) is the idea that some amber bubbles don't contain such high levels of oxygen. Notice that this argument is identical to the one in reference to large insects ... that is, "that not all fossil insects are of large proportions." As stated earlier, so we'll state again. This argument fails to deal with the samples that do contain higher oxygen levels. Furthermore, it is easier to make sense of amber bubbles that contain lower oxygen levels, as leakage could have taken place. However, endeavoring to make sense of amber bubbles that contain more oxygen is indeed rather a more difficult task.
This explanation implies that the samples from different "evolutionary" periods all contained 35% oxygen and is flat out not what was found in the study, with more recent samples having lower levels of oxygen. The claim that this value was the "starting" number is also false as lower values were in the oldest samples analysed. These are of course not "evolutionary periods" of time as the were defined independent of any thoughts of evolution and before Darwin and Wallace published their thoughts. That is also deceptive.
Why is it a bad argument that some bubbles contained a lower oxygen value? We see lower values now. Is there something magic about 35% to the creationist author of this writing? How does this fail to explain bubbles with higher oxygen levels? That implies that the scientists doing the study thought that higher oxygen levels were not possible and were trying to argue against them. This was not the case, so this is also deceptive on the part of the creationist writer.
Furthermore I would ask about the leakage comment. Suppose some of the gas did in fact leak. If it did so was a partial vacuum the result or is it being implied that oxygen selectively leaked and other gases took its place? I think a better explanation if one doubts the increased oxygen levels is to say that the sample was not representative when captured in the first place. That was what somebody was quoted as thinking in the NY Times piece that Ikester linked.
Dr. Craig, however, believes the gases do not directly reflect the ancient atmosphere, but must first have been dissolved in fluid. Oxygen dissolves more readily than nitrogen, the major component of the atmosphere, so relatively high levels of oxygen might be expected, he said.