Yesterday a good chat took place about how bumblebees can’t fly, and on how tree rings don’t match up with a young-earth model.

Bumblebees can’t fly

Yesterday along with the evolution discussion, the topic of how the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly came up. That’s an idea that arose in the 1930’s where the assumption of a fixed-wing analysis results in that sort of conclusion. Long since then we have a much better view of things and zoologists back in 1970 have studied the techniques that insects including bumblebees use to attain flight.

Snopes is a good site to dispel rumors, and at their Bumblebees Can’t Fly page there’s some good info about how this notion first came about, and studies that were done in the 1970’s to learn more about the flight of insects. The rumor though became so wide-spread that Physics World in 1996 did a report about it and delved in to the techniques that bumblebees use to fly.

Still, this doesn’t stop people bringing the same old story up time and time again, as if to point their fingers at scientists and say “look how dumb they are”.

Tree rings

Some other interesting stuff that came up was about tree rings. I have since learned about Bristlecone Pines from answers in genesis, which have an 8,000 year tree ring history, and several attempts are made to reconcile this fact with the 6,000 year biblical age of the Earth. They conclude that the tree rings are correctly cross-matched, that there is no evidence that bristlecone pines can put on more than one ring per year, and that more must be learned about the pines to try to bring things in line with the 6,000 year age of the Earth.

It’s no wonder that religious people are confused about such things. When you have a 6,000 year old worldview and evidence from many fields of study such as  astronomy, geology, biology, chemistry, physics, and palaeontology, shows that the world is older than that, of course it would be scary and confusing to continue to support your religious beliefs against such challenges. You would end up having to believe that there’s a great conspiracy at hand, and I feel sorry for people who find themselves in such a bind.

A way to deal with this though is to understand a little bit about how science works. The scientific method doesn’t come up with an idea and then look for evidence supporting that idea, ignoring other info that goes against what you want to believe. Instead, the scientific method looks at all of the available evidence and only then comes up with an idea that best fits the evidence. This way, you end up with ideas that more closely match reality.

Sometimes scientists get it wrong too, and change has to occur in order to gain a better understanding of the world in which we live. Instead of saying that bumblebees cannot fly while they’re flying all around you – take a closer look at the evidence and be prepared to let go of cherished beliefs from when you were young. There’s a whole world of wonder waiting out there for you.