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The Greatest Hoax on Earth?: Refuting Dawkins on Evolution [Paperback]

Jonathan Sarfati
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, But Don't Stop Here July 18 2010
How can you tell an honest inquirer from a rationalizer? Honest inquirers are ready to follow the argument wherever it leads, while people who just want to strengthen their own views avoid anything that might shake their beliefs.

Which of these are you? If you are an honest inquirer, you will also wish to read the author whom Sarfati is criticizing, in order to get a fair idea of the case. It is a bit lazy to just read Sarfati's attack without looking at the original. That would be like a judge just listening to the prosecutor's side without bothering to hear the defense.

So by all means read Sarfati, but if you are serious make sure you read Dawkins also. Actually, reading Charles Darwin himself would be an even better idea. He's the one who persuaded most people to begin with. Sarfati's work may be useful in getting some people interested in science, but unfortunately many people will use it as an excuse to stop inquiring.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Desperate Attempt to Undermine Science May 30 2014
By Karl Pietrowski - Published on Amazon.com
It should be enough to just point out the fact that Sarfati works alongside "creation ministries", and therefore has an unreasonably bias and twisted perspective of science; unfortunately the religious could say the same for Dawkin's Atheism. Better known is the fact that nearly 99% of all scientists, in all disciplines accept biological evolution as fact; irrespective of their "spiritual convictions".

In any regards, Whether 9% or 99% of people accept evolution is irrelevant, truth is not a democracy. To deny evolution is the equivalent of denying science in general. Might as well deny medicine, cancer/disease research computer/forensic science, agricultural development, artificial selection, DNA modeling, etc. all of which implore real-life applications involving evolution. (You can't make this stuff up people) Evolution is the basis for all modern biology, and has been tested and verified through thousands of experiments time and time again. It doesn't fail. That IS how it works. That IS part of biology. Biology is science. Are creationists redefining biology? People only deny it because of religious convictions, otherwise they would be forced to accept it. It kills their little "God" hypothesis of creation. So they instead take the easy road out, and follow the pseudo-scientific invention called "creationism" as a lazy cop out to say "God" did it. LOL ... What a joke. How are you going to deny something that has real-life applications? Evolution has been scientifically verified through physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and indeed all disciplines. God hasn't been in the discussion. Comments such as "We didn't evolve from monkeys." and "Evolution is just a theory", among other things is proof of creationist agenda.

It's quite pathetic and yet equally amazing that we living in 2014 as a society still live amongst those who are so blinded by religious convictions as to deny scientific fact such as evolution.

Secondly, a scientific theory is much different than a general theory. Evolution is a scientific theory and the basis for all modern biology. It is backed up by every single scientific discipline there is and by 99% of the scientific community. There is no conspiracy against your religion, it (creationism) just doesn't provide any evidence to support its sensational claims. If you want to believe in supernatural supreme being, and all the fantastic biblical stories, fine by all means go ahead. I have no quarrel with people having faith, but faith =/= fact. I am not going to trust people who only deny evolution because of their religious convictions over the PhD academia/scientists who actually work and study in the field of evolutionary biology. Sarfati is not a biologist, not a geneticist, and does not have the kind of depth to discuss evolutionary biology. I would be surprised if he ever took a course on bioinformatics. When you have a scientist who brings in supernatural mythology into the lab, you're never going to get any results. He would have been better off leaving his beliefs at home, or in church, not try to make science out of it. Even kooky Pat Robertson knows better.
88 of 150 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just because you have a PhD doesn't give you the right to ignore reality Sept. 29 2011
By Monk - Published on Amazon.com
This book was loaned to me by a religious friend who decided to see if I would be opened minded. Well, as a man of science, I am open to possibilities when the evidence is there to be peer reviewed. However, when I read the first few chapters I thought it was a joke. Elementary logical fallacies out the wazoo are present in this book. The author clearly does not understand the theory of evolution or anything else for that matter, due in part to his faith in a supernatural, cosmic space daddy. Everything in the book is creationist propaganda used to appeal to massive amounts of ignorant religious people who don't care about simple things like the truth. The authors motives are quite clear, they want to discredit anything that conflicts with a literal interpretation of the bible.

CHAPTER 2, the author attempts to justify a worldwide flood with no evidence at all; also make no attempt to explain exactly where the water originated from to support his statement. The total water supply of the earth is roughly 326 million cubic miles. A cubic mile is defined as the volume of a cube with sides of 1 mile exactly. Due to the rotation of the earth, the earth has a bulge on the equator compared to the poles, so some tricky math is involved to calculate exactly how much water is required for this ridiculous statement. Genesis 7:19 outlines that a flood covered all of mountains, and Gen. 7:20 states that "Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.", so that means that water was 15 'cubits' above the tallest mountain. I won't add that figure into the math below, I'll just use Mt Everest's height instead. Everest is 29,028 feet in height (Google; Height of Everest). Someone commented on my review and stated that Everest wasn't at it's present height 6000 years ago, but no matter what I've read about Everest it's been there for eons. This is yet another sad attempt to fix the holes in the bible by people who take it literally.

Per the bible, and the amount of water required to rise to a height of 29,000 feet in 40 days is around 360 inches an hour. 348,336 inches of rain in 40 days. (362.85 * 24) * 40 = 348,336 inches. (The rainiest place on earth gets 200 inches a year, for comparison.)

In order to justify how much water this is, we will have to perform some pretty difficult math as the Earth isn't exactly even due to tidal bulge. The volume of a oblate sphere is v = 4/3 * pi * a^2b, where a is 6378.137 km and b is 6356.7523 km. (Google: Volume of a oblate sphere) The earth's total volume is about 1.08321x10^12 km^3 in scientific notion (Williams, 2004 "Earth Fact Sheet"). To express this in math terms, V = 4/3 * a^2 * b * pi where a/b are the 2 different sizes of the earth, A for the equator and B for the polar region. (Wikipedia: Geodesy , Volume of the Earth), So, V = 4/3 * 6378^2 * 6356 * pi and V = 4/3 * 6386^2 * 6365 * pi for the formula. We subtract the height of Everest from the Earth, using this: (Everest - Earth) = (1.08773 x 10^12 cubic kilometers) - (1.083032 × 10^12 cubic kilometers) = 4.7×10^9 cubic kilometers.

4.7×10^9 cubic kilometers is 1.13×10^9 cubic miles. There is approximately 1,101,117,150,000 gallons of water in 1 cubic mile, so therefor the flood of 'noah' would need to leave behind 1,244,262,379,500,000,000,000 GALLONS (which is roughly 1.2442623795×10^21, aka 1.2 sextillion gallons of water). The final estimate is roughly 3.6 × volume of Earth's oceans (1.3×10^9 km^3). To place this into perspective, the 'flood of noah' would have [more/just slightly less] gallons of water than grains of sand on the Earth; ie (0.0012 to 12) × the number of grains of sand on the earth (~~ 10^20 to 10^24). So my questions, Where in the world did the water 'come' from and 'go' ? That much 'water' would have dynamically altered the various gases and density in the atmosphere. Since adding another few miles of water, the atmosphere would be pushed outward into space, causing /massive/ changes in the atmosphere. There, is however, another problem. HEAT.

To flood the Earth, we use the previous estimate 4.7 x 10^9 km^3 of water with a mass of 4.525 x 10^21 kg. When this 'flood water' is floating on the surface of the earth, it's storing a gigantic amount of energy, which is transferred to kinetic energy when it's falling from the sky (Per Genesis 7:12 where that it rained for 40 days and 40 nights continuously); When this happens it's turned into heat due to friction, for example:

E=M*G*H, M/G/H being
M = Water Mass
G = Gravity constant
H = Height of water (using previously mentioned calculation)

The flood has to last 40 days and nights, the amount of mass falling to Earth, daily, is 4.525 x 10^21 kg/40 over 1 day (24 hours, 86400 seconds)

This equals to 1.1068 × 10^17 metric tons daily. Using H as 10 miles, the energy released each day is 1.73584 x 10^25 joules. The amount of energy the Earth would have to radiate per m^2/sec is energy divided by surface area of the Earth times number of seconds in one day (86400 seconds, which is seconds * minutes * hours). That is: E = 1.735384 x 10^25/(4*PI* ((6386)2*86,400)) = 391,935.0958 j/m^2/s.

Currently, the Earth radiates energy at the rate of approximately 215 joules/m2/sec (Per Modeling Earth's Climate System with STELLA, PSU) and the average temperature is 280 K.

E (increase)/E (normal) = T (increase)/T4 (normal)
E (normal) = 215 E (increase) = 391,935.0958 T (normal) = 280.

T = 1800 Kelvin. 1800 Kelvin which is 1526.85C, therefor completely destroying the surface of the planet/all life. Noah wasn't equipped with Star Trek transporters, or force fields, to stop the heat from setting fire to his archaic tugboat. Of course, if I wanted to make a bronze age story seem rational, I'd 'inject' things to make it work as well.

Someone commented on this review by stating that the water originated from 'Fountains of the deep' (Gen 7:11-12). The deepest borehole in the world, Kola Superdeep Borehole, was drilled down to 40,000 feet. At that depth, the temperature was 365F / 180C (Per "Legendary Kola Superdeep" (in Russian). (Journal of Science and Life). The temperature gradient overall is 1º C for every 30 meters, so realistically there is a 166º C increase in temperature / depth ("The Heart of the Earth, San Francisco: Freeman & Cooper, 1968, p. 138.") 166 + 25º C (average earth surface temperature at sea level) = 191º C (Morton 1995). Since the bible doesn't explain how much water in terms of depth/size/layer, I'll just use a 1km , since creation.com and other nonsense sites try and justify it by using either no numbers or vague numbers.
So, 1km of water deep underground, below the crust, it would contain roughly 2.399×10^8 cubic miles of water using previously mentioned calculation with height/depth. At 191ºC, the high temperature water would contain energy equivalent of 1.7×10^17 tons of TNT (Steam Tables, New York: Combustion Engineering Inc, 1940, p. 5.) , which is 1.8 times energy output of the sun in one second. 1.7×10^17 tons of TNT /2.399×10^8 = 708.60 megatons of TNT as energy for every cubic mile of water released from 'fountains of the deep'. 700 megatons of TNT would've clearly destroyed Noah and his little leaky boat. This is a rough estimate, but no matter how much of a mistake I make, the released energy is enough to vaporize the atmosphere.

Chapter 11 "Is the earth ancient" is absolutely absurd. Amino acid racemization, Baptistina Asteroid family, Continental drift, Cosmogenic nuclide dating, Erosion, Geomagnetic reversals, Impact craters, Iron-manganese nodules, Length of the prehistoric day, Naica megacrystals, Nitrogen in diamonds, Petrified wood, Relativistic jets, Sedimentary varves, Stalactites, Space weathering, Radiometric dating, annual ice layers, tree ring dating, etc, all point to an ancient earth. The author clearly has an electrical fire in his head, by suggesting all modern scientific dating methods are wrong, and his goofy faith is right. China and many older cultures have history of pottery and some written that are far older than his goofy doomsday cult.

Page 177 - Runaway subduction. This is the same 'theory' purposed by John Baumgardner, which he stated that would release 10^28 joules of energy, about as much as the kinetic energy of the Moon in its orbit around the Earth, which is estimated at 3.856×10^28 joules. That much energy release would've left behind something, such as freaking evidence! Why is it people like the author 'make up' stories to fix the bible's flaws?

Page 189, Dr Sarfati states something about accelerated nuclear decay of isotopes in the past (more or less). There is obviously a problem with this statement; THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO THIS. The internal Earth's heat, 80% of it, comes from heat produced through radioactive decay (Turcotte, DL; Schubert, G (2002). "4". Geodynamics (2 ed.). Cambridge, England, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 136-7.), so if you cranked up the decay of isotopes, the internal heat of the mantle/core would rise by a factor of million (guesstimate), and would melt the crust of the earth, boil away the oceans, change the atmospheric gases, burn noah alive, etc. The Earth would look like a small sun! Clearly, the author doesn't care about explaining how the crust of the earth would state solid after being exposed sun-surface like temperatures from miles below, and increase in the atmospheric density, due to the simple fact that water vapor is mass, and Runaway greenhouse effect would cause Earth to become a Venus like planet with a super high atmospheric pressure. The Earth's upper atmosphere would have been contaminated with an enormous concentration of aerosols and solid particles (perhaps massive amounts of radioactive particles), rendering the atmosphere almost opaque due in part to the oceans boiling away. Why doesn't Sarfati explain this? Consider for the fact that there is simply ZERO evidence to support this nonsense, I guess people who voted 5 stars are ignorant of basic things like 8th grade science.

There are many other examples of dismal science in this book. It's clear to me that people like the author of this book want to perpetuate ancient bronze age nonsense as 21st century science. Speaking of dishonesty, the author's association with creation.com makes his 'position' clear. Under their 'About Us':

"(A) PRIORITIES: The scientific aspects of creation are important, but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer and Judge." and "(D) GENERAL: By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information. "
111 of 190 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Polarized and Unscientific America Sept. 21 2011
By Stephen Marley - Published on Amazon.com
What a can an objective reader tell from the widely differing reviews of Jonathan Sarfati's "The Greatest Hoax on Earth - Refuting Dawkins on Evolution? Clearly, America is sharply divided about the validity of biological evolution and deeply troubled by its theological implications. Folks who give this book 5 stars are doing so because it reconfirms what they want to hear, albeit with Safarti's pseudoscientific spin. It helps to link young earth creationism into a general attack on atheism, and Richard Dawkins- the British biologist who also happens to be a controversial and widely published atheist.
This book provides comfort for a so-called Christian world view, mostly because readers will be predisposed to accept what Safarti claims "on faith".
Other reviewers, like me, will take Safarti to task for his steady stream of inaccuracies and reliance on "god can do anything he wants" explanations. To anyone who understands the scientific methodology (with many Christians, being among them) Safarti's writings seem disingenuous - clearly he has to carefully skirt around the evidence which undermines his credibility.
Safarti says, "despite claims by Dawkins and other evolutionists that "perfect missing links" have been discovered, the claims evaporate under careful analysis. However, Safarti avoids giving his readers a serious look at the morphological adaptations in countless transitional fossils. He simply "pooh pooh's" serious anatomical studies that have been going on for a century and a half. I actually challenged Jonathan Safarti to back up a few of his claims on these Amazon forums a few years ago and he deflected my simple questions about his interpretation of the "Cambrian Explosion." Although I won't buy his books and will only read them in bookstores, I'm very familiar with his writings and theological assumptions.
It is simply amazing, that in this day and age, those Americans who view the Bible as an infallible natural history - and they represent a slight majority, according to most polls - won't take the time to read a single "real" science books. They do not accept the findings that their nations colleges, finest universities, research hospitals, scientific organizations, biotechnology companies and museum curators teach and incorporate into their work, every single day. They never stop to contemplate, why would thousands of evolutionary biologists, paleontologists and geologists continue with this grand delusion, if it did not produce tangible results?
Is it really a vast "godless" conspiracy that involves the Smithsonian Institution, The National Science Foundation, The United States Geological Survey and millions of scientists, worldwide?
For too many fundamentalist Christians, their local pastor, a TV evangelist and a creationist author, like Safarti, provides all the information needed to convince themselves that the earth is just a few thousand years old and that dinosaurs and man once coexisted.
We are a polarized society and an increasingly unscientific America. This is a national tragedy with serious intellectual, economic and social consequences.
82 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the greatest hoax on earth June 6 2010
By S. Magnus - Published on Amazon.com
"First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation (the fundamental evolutionary principle of uniformitarianism)." But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. (2 Peter 3:3-6)

This verse, written in 1st century AD and written about this very time in our history, demonstrates why all the 1 star and 2 star ratings with their comments are here, and why someone like Dawkins who has no fundamental knowledge of Science is the darling of the atheistic world. Someone on her actually hailed Dawkins credentials ("one of the worlds great evolutionary biologists")and tried to denigrate Saftari by saying he only had a Phd in physical chemistry? It just goes to show the abject ignorance by those professing themselves to be wise. As someone with expertise in both disciplines, I can state categorically that Chemistry is a foundational science, and without it, there is no biology (or in dawkins case, zoology).

This author does an excellent job of refuting all of the points dawkins attempts to make. Should one read this book with a desire to understand where the scientific evidence truly does lead in this discussion, they will come away convinced that evolution is exactly what the title of this book states it is; the greatest hoax on earth. And Dawkins? Elmer Gantry of the atheist crowd, who, along with Eugenie Scott, NCSE, Nature, Discovery, NG, and the Smithsonians, and a number of other "evolutionary scientists" (and i use the term scientist here very loosely), are the evolutionary "high priests", worshiped by their followers, and leading the gullible, the deceived, and the "willfully ignorant" (as the Bible refers to them) to a place of complete science fantasy, and the absence of any scientific truth!

Keep leaving your 1 star and 2 star reviews, "scoffers". While your review have nothing to do with science literacy, with each stroke of your keyboards you do simply further validation of the God you don't believe in and His knowledge of exactly what you would be like, and why you do what you do.
7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Forceful, fearless and factually flawed Feb. 6 2014
By Washington Irving - Published on Amazon.com
Much of this book seems very convincing at first glance, particularly if (like me) you don't have specialist scientific knowledge. However, if you investigate the literature you'll find problems with how Sarfati represents many issues.*

One problem with 'The Greatest Hoax on Earth' is that it is captive to Creation Ministries International (CMI). Sarfati works for CMI. CMI owns the book's publisher, Creation Book Publishers. (Thus The Greatest Hoax on Earth is essentially a self-published book.) The book's foreword is by David Catchpoole, an employee of CMI. The individuals with impressive credentials who praise the book on its back cover (and in the Editorial Reviews on this Amazon page) are either employed by CMI or have contributed to its publications.

An independent publisher would have run a more critical eye over Sarfati's references: a large proportion of these are from CMI's website and its publications (the magazine 'Creation' and the 'Journal of Creation'). This is no doubt partly due to financial self-interest and the often bitter divisions between creationist organisations. (Sarfati's book noticeably contains no references to any work by the largest young-Earth creationist organisation, Answers in Genesis, which had a major falling out with CMI between 2005 and 2009).

Nevertheless, Sarfati could have better reflected the diversity of views within the young-Earth creationist movement (let alone the views of old-Earth creationists and various intelligent design advocates, who also offer criticisms of evolution). Perhaps Sarfati is unwilling to expose his readers to uncertainty or conflicting views within young-Earth creationism.

For example, his discussion of tree-ring dating (pages 196-198) is based on an article from CMI's website (see: creation.com/tree-ring-dating-dendrochronology). This article misleadingly compares the Bristlecone Pine with the very different Monterey Pine to suggest the Bristlecone Pine could produce up to five growth rings per year. In comparison, an article on the Answers in Genesis website admits there is no good evidence that Bristlecone Pines can produce multiple rings per growing season (see: answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v4/n1/biblical-chronology-bristlecone-pine).

Sarfati also misuses non-creationist references. One way he does this is by withholding information from his reader (on pages 123-5 he cites numerous papers supporting his argument that Archaeopteryx had avian features, but fails to cite any of the equally extensive literature showing Archaeopteryx's reptilian features). At other times he misrepresents the views of academics or quotes them out context (such as in his discussion of australopithecines on pages 156-7, his selective use of Alexey Kondrashov on page 57, and his misquoting of Colin Patterson on page 106).

Notwithstanding the problems with references in the book, how do Sarfati's arguments stand up? He makes a few good points. These range from identifying Dawkins' basic errors (his descriptions of carbon-13 and Galapagos iguanas) to pointing out Dawkins' disingenuousness in trying to side with religious figures sympathetic to evolution when he attacked any form of religious belief in his previous book, 'The God Delusion'.

Sarfati also points out Dawkins' inaccurate caricaturing of creationists' views and his incorrect assumption that creationists must deny anything accepted by evolutionists. Indeed, parts of 'The Greatest Hoax on Earth' reinforce how much creationists and evolutionists have in common. For example, the book's second and third chapters show how creationists accept aspects of natural selection, mutations, and speciation. These concessions are necessary to allow the small number of animals from Noah's Ark to have evolved (within their "created kinds") into the tens of thousands of species we see today.

Unfortunately Sarfati also makes his own incorrect assumptions. He seems to claim that any unexplained aspect of nature - such as the origins of the toucan's beak (page 74) - automatically supports the creationist view and discredits evolution. This is little better than a "God of the gaps" argument. He also seizes on disagreement among evolutionists, or examples of evolutionists changing their conclusions in the face of new evidence, to suggest evolution is a failure as an explanatory model (see, for example, chapters eight and nine). Yet opposing views and changing hypotheses should be part of any good scientific approach.

'The Greatest Hoax on Earth' is inevitably a negative book as its purpose is to refute Dawkins' 'The Greatest Show on Earth'. This defensive style of argument is Sarfati's specialty (three of his four other books are refutations of other people's writings). But ultimately, to present the theory of creationism as a rival to the theory of evolution, creationists need to show it can stand on its own - that it generates genuine research, holds up to rigorous criticism and produces testable models.

Contrary to what some young-Earth creationists claim, the vast majority of scientists favour evolution not because they are blinded to the truth but because they think evolution is a better explanation than creationism. As prominent young-Earth creationist Todd Wood has commented:

"There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well. I say these things not because I'm crazy or because I've "converted" to evolution. I say these things because they are true....Creationist students, listen to me very carefully: There is evidence for evolution, and evolution is an extremely successful scientific theory. That doesn't make it ultimately true, and it doesn't mean that there could not possibly be viable alternatives." (from: toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/09/truth-about-evolution.html)

With their all-or-nothing approach, Dawkins and Sarfati are as bad as each other. Dawkins' strident promotion of atheism (which he toned down in 'The Greatest Show on Earth') alongside evolution plays into Sarfati's hands. Sarfati links the two, claiming that the logical result of evolutionary theory is atheism and therefore any 'true' Christian should believe young-Earth creationism. This may persuade some to overlook the numerous theological and scientific problems with young-Earth creationism. However, like Dawkins' attack on religion in 'The God Delusion', I found Sarfati's attempted refutation of evolution in 'The Greatest Hoax on Earth' unconvincing.

* I've found so many problems with 'The Greatest Hoax on Earth' that I've started a blog to address them in more detail. See: greatesthoaxonearth.blogspot.com
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