Whale and Human Vestiges (Pelvic Bone | Appendix)

Shun the Non-Believer…

A CLIP FROM CHARLIE THE UNICORN

Before posting what I did on Facebook as part of a response to a conversation regarding the below graphic… I want to say that by showing vestiges…

  • a rudimentary structure in humans corresponding to a functional structureor organ in ancestral animals

…in no way undermines Intelligent Design, or somehow PROVES evolution. Let me explain.

Darwin said he didn’t see an issue with whales evolving from bears, or some bear like creature. In his first edition of Origin of Species, Darwin said this:

  • “I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths,” Darwin concluded, “till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.”

ARCHAEOPTERYX

This does not involve “devolution,” a loss of specificity which the below picture captures… but rather, evolution demands an increase in specificity in gene and DNA specificity in the creation of whole new organs and how they act. Similarly, the Archaeopteryx is proffered as an example of evolution, but evolutionists themselves would say that this is only an example of “devolution,” and not an increase of specificity in a species (a clipping from my post: “Was Archaeopteryx Devolving? Thus Losing It’s Ability to Fly?“):

Since other feathered “birds” have been found around the same time or earlier than Archaeopteryx, causing Alan Feduccia to quip, “You can’t be older than your grandfather” (Creation.com)… NATURE has published an article pointing out that Archaeopteryx is JUST LIKE modern flightless birds. And so it could have been losing its ability for flight (like modern birds have).

“We know Archaeopteryx was living on an archipelago during the Jurassic. And with its feathers and bones looking so much like modern flightless island birds, it just makes me wonder,” says…. Michael Habib, a biologist at the University of Southern California….

[….]

“Just because Archaeopteryx was the first feathered dinosaur found, doesn’t mean it has to play a central role in the actual history of the origins of birds,” says palaeontologist Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland in College Park. “We have to remember it appears 10 million years or so after the oldest known bird-like dinosaurs and so our famous ‘first bird’ may really be a secondarily flightless one.”…

(Nature Journal)

There is just as much [at best] evidence for this proposition as the next. “Devolution” — a loss of specificity/use, may be a more reasonable position to take via observed evidence. We see this all the time (directly below is an example from Lee Spetner’s new book), and EVOLUTION NEWS says that “looks like Archaeopteryx may have to be reclassified as a different sort of icon — symbolizing evolution by loss of function.” Oops.

So these types of examples ACTUALLY COUNT AGAINST the main idea that neo-Darwinism proposed… that I came from a rock.

I find it interesting that people think this whale bone pictured above is a vestigial organ. Very similar to the list of a 180 vestigial structures said to be in the human body in the late 1800’s dwindling to effectively zero, and the damage and laziness such thinking cost lives and sciences advancement (see more here):

TONSILS

In the 1930’s over half of all children had their tonsils and adenoids removed.  In 1969, 19.5 out of every 1,000 children under the age of nine had undergone a tonsillectomy.  By 1971 the frequency had dropped to only 14.8 per 1,000, with the percentage continuing to decrease in subsequent years. Most medical authorities now actively discourage tonsillectomies.[1] Many agree with Wooley, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Wayne State University, who was quoted in Katz: “If there are one million tonsillectomies done in the United States, there are 999,000 that don’t need doing.”

Among the first medical doctors seriously to question the wisdom of tonsillectomies was Albert Kaiser.  For ten years he kept complete records of the illnesses of 5,000 children. They were divided into two groups – those who had tonsils removed and those who did not.  Kaiser found: “…no significant difference between the two groups in the number of colds, sore throats and other upper respiratory infections.”[2]

Tonsils are important to young people in helping to establish the body’s defense mechanism which produces disease-fighting antibodies.  Once these mechanisms are developed, the tonsils shrink to almost nothing in adults, and other organs take over this function.[3]  In the Medical World News,[4] a story stated that although removal of tonsils at a young age obviously eliminates tonsillitis (the inflammation of the tonsils) it may significantly increase the incidence of strep-throat and even Hodgkin’s disease.  In fact, according to the New York Department of Cancer Control: “…people who have had tonsillectomies are nearly three times as likely to develop Hodgkin’s Disease, a form of cancer that attacks the lymphoid tissue.”[5]

THE POINT

My point is this, the Tonsils were once included in a list of 180 vestigial (“useless, or nearly useless”) organs.[6]  And because the assumption was first made that these were organs left over from a previous genetic ancestor (ape, dog, early-man, whatever), that they were deemed useless – ad hoc – because science did not know at that time what their functions were.

So for many years, doctors and scientists that accepted the evolutionary paradigm did not investigate the possible functionality of these organs.  Many people suffered and died needlessly due to this philosophical assumption that evolution is true.  You will see this assumption play out again and again where medical science and the evolutionary issue intersect.  You see, if you come to the table with an understanding that we were created, then these structures serve a purpose, or are a neutral combination of the possible male/female outcome of the fertilized egg (for instance, male nipples[7]).  If the assumption is made that these structures are designed, then the medical world would strive to investigate and understand the organ in question, not simply state that it is useless.

[1] Robert P Bolande, “Ritualistic Surgery – circumcision and tonsillectomy,” New England Journal of Medicine, March 13 (1969) pp. 591-595; Alvin Eden, “When Should Tonsils and Adenoids be Removed?” Family Weekly, September 25 (1977), p. 24; Lawrence Galton, “All Those Tonsil Operations: Useless? Dangerous?” Parade, May 2 (1976), pp. 26ff; Dolras Katz, “Tonsillectomy: Boom or Boondoggle?” The Detroit Free Press, April 13 (1972), p. 1-C; Samuel Lipton, “On the Psychology of Childhood Tonsillectomy,”  found in: The Psychoanalysis Study of the Child (International Universities Press, New York: 1962).
[2] Galton, p. 26.
[3] Martin L. Gross, The Doctors (Random House, New York: 1966); Simpson Hall, Diseases of the Nose, Throat and Ear (E. and S. Livingston, New York: 1941).
[4] N. J. Vianna, Peter Greenwald, and U. N. Davies,  September 10, 1973, p.10
[5] Galton, p. 26-27.
[6] This is an important issue, for instance, during the famous Scopes trial in 1925 – which allowed evolution to be taught alongside creation – zoologist Horatio Hacket Newman, a defense witness, stated: “There are, according to Wiedersheim, no less than 180 vestigial structures in the human body, sufficient to make of a man a veritable walking museum of antiquities.”
[7] Also, if created by a personal God who has created sex to be pleasurable, then the nipples have a purpose other than the neutral canvas of the fertilized egg.

  • Jerry Bergman and George F. Howe, Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional (Creation Research Society Books, Kansas City: MO: 1990). 

WHALE TALES

SIMILARLY, the laziness in neo-Darwinian evolutionary propositions in this “example” of a vestigial organ shows the laziness in thought, and, the stalling of advancing science in understanding nature. Now, we know, and even the secular world acknowledges this fact in “discovering” [yet again] that pronouncements made by the evolutionary community of scientists is woefully wrong. Here is an example via THE DAILY MAIL – take note how I and the researches end the article:

Whale Sex Revealed: ‘Useless’ Hips Bones Are Crucial To Reproduction – And Size Really Matters, Study Finds

  • Whales and dolphins have pelvic bones, which are evolutionary remnants from when their ancestors walked on land more than 40 million years ago
  • Scientists from the University of Southern California and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, analysed pelvic bones for four years
  • Muscles that control a cetacean’s penis attach directly to its pelvic bones
  • They found the bigger the animals’ testis, the bigger their pelvic bone
  • Males from more promiscuous species evolve larger penises, so larger pelvic bones are necessary to attach bigger muscles for penis control, they said
  • Study changes the way we think about vestigial structures

[…..]

They wrote in the journal Evolution, the muscles that control a cetacean’s highly flexible penis, attach directly to its pelvic bones.

The scientist theorised that the pelvic bones could affect the level of control over the penis that an individual cetacean has, perhaps offering an evolutionary advantage.

To test their idea, they examined hundreds of pelvic bones and used a 3D scanner to make digital models of the curved bones in order to gain an unprecedented level of detail about their shape and size, as well as to compare them.

They then gathered data about testis size relative to the mass of whales. In the natural world, more ‘promiscuous’ species where females mate with many males, create a more competitive mating environment and the males develop larger testes as a way of attracting females.

[…..]

The experts compared the size of pelvic bones to the size of an animal’s testes, relative its body size, and found that the bigger the testes, the bigger the cetacean’s pelvic bone.

Males from more promiscuous species also evolve larger penises, so larger pelvic bones appear necessary to attach larger muscles for penis control, they said.

‘Our research really changes the way we think about the evolution of whale pelvic bones in particular, but more generally about structures we call vestigial,’ Professor Dean said.

‘AS A PARALLEL, WE ARE NOW LEARNING THAT OUR APPENDIX IS ACTUALLY QUITE IMPORTANT IN SEVERAL IMMUNE PROCESSES, NOT A FUNCTIONALLY USELESS STRUCTURE,’ he added….

(emphasis added)

AMBULOCETUS NATANS

In conversation about the above, the person I was speaking with posted a series of evolution from creature-to-creature proving the evolution of the whale.

I have already refuted this clean progression, HERE, but I noted something that this person was not aware of. As most people are not. You see, when you bring your kid to the Natural History Museum, you see this picture of the RED OUTLINED creature in the evidence for whales evolving:

The problem with this evidence is that it is based primarily on an artists rendition. Here is the actual bones all this Ambulocetus Natans is based on — see #3:

I merely commented that his believing and passing along graphics showing full skulls by artists, or the above “skeletal” sequence, reminds me of the movie scene from the Matrix:

In similar fashion, this artistic rendition used in the Scopes “Monkey” Trial was used as evidence proving evolution:

However, this was based off a single tooth. NOT ONLY THAT, but the tooth put forward as hominid, ended up being an extinct pig’s tooth.

APPENDIX

In similar form, many people still think the APPENDIX is a vestigial organ. Here is my response (since updated) to one of my son’s teachers in high school dealing with what was being taught as FACT… that is, that the appendix had no known use:


FULL UPDATED PAPER


Context this short paper was written:

This paper evolved over many years.  It was one of the first subjects I debated at a science discussion board on the Internet many years ago prior to the NetZero days.  Then I updated it to respond in writing to a Discover magazine article (a much larger paper, of which this takes up two pages).

Finally, as my son has been studying science in seventh grade, his science textbook states many “facts” wrongly, this being only one of the many I have since written about (peppered moths, embryos going through stages of a fish, homology, and the like).

I like to think that the teacher’s role is to not just teach what the “state” requires – this reminds me of the novels 1984, or Animal Farm – but to allow updated information into the classroom that will best challenge these students to become that medical doctor, chemist, or physicist.  In other words, I want my son to have the best information that may spark the interest to become, say, a medical doctor.  This is all that I argue for.

As it so happened, the teacher merely regurgitated what the “state” wanted her to (even after reading such a cogent and well laid response to her saying “there is no use for the appendix in the human body”).  Much like when the dog cubs were taken and “educated” in the novel Animal Farm.

Much thought – and enjoy the read – SeanG!

THE APPENDIX

Dr. Kawanishi,[1] showed that human lymphoid cells in the appendix are immunologically functional as T helper cells and antibody-producing B cells, making IgA molecules in response to immunological challenges.  He noted that:

“The human appendix, long considered only an accessory rudimentary organ, could posses a similar antigen uptake role prior to replacement by fibrosed tissue after repeated subclinical infections, or at least in early childhood when it is most prominent.”[2]

The appendix is also rich in argentaffin cells, which can be identified with the use of silver salt staining.  The function of these cells has long been obscure, but the evidence suggests that they may be involved with endocrine gland function.[3]  Many sources (encyclopedias, textbooks, etc.) still erroneously state that the appendix is useless.  Interestingly, the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia states in one place: that “In humans the cecum and appendix have no important function,” and in another place that “the appendix is now thought to be one of the sites where immune responses are initiated.”

Dr. Howard R. Bierman… studied several hundred patients with leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the colon and cancer of the ovaries.  He found that 84% [of his sample] had [their] appendix removed….  In a control group without cancer, only 25% had it removed.[4]

Bierman himself had concluded that the appendix may be an immunological organ whose premature removal during its functional period permits leukemia and other related forms of cancer to begin their development.[5]  Bierman and his associates realized that the lymphoid tissue located on the walls of the appendix may secrete antibodies which protect the body against various viral agents.

While high school and college textbooks today will mention the appendix as vestigial, specialists in their field have for many years stated the necessity of the appendix as useful.

  • “There is no longer any justification for regarding the vermiform appendix as a vestigial structure.”[6]
  • For at least 2,000 years, doctors have puzzled over the function of…  the thymus gland…. Modern physicians came to regard it, like the appendix, as a useless vestigial organ which had lost its original purpose, if indeed it ever had one.  In the last few years, however,…  men have proved that, far from being useless, the thymus is really the master gland that regulates the intricate immunity system which protects us against infectious diseases….  Recent experiments have led researchers to believe that the appendix, tonsils, and adenoids may also figure in the antibody responses.[7]
  • The appendix is not generally credited with significant function; however, current evidence tends to involve it in the immunologic mechanism.[8]
  • The mucosa and submucosa of the appendix are dominated by lymphoid nodules, and its primary function is as an organ of the lymphatic system.[9]

The appendix is in fact part of the G.A.L.T. (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue) system.  The lymphoid follicles develop in the appendix at around two weeks after birth, which is the time when the large bowel begins to be colonized with the necessary bacteria.  It is likely that its major function peaks in this neonatal period.  Making it anything other than vestigial!

As Dr. Peter Faletra (Ph.D.), who is Senior Science Advisor Office of Science Department of Energy, says in response to a question on an online question-and-answer service for K-12 teachers run by the Argonne National Laboratories:

“As a histologist I see no reason to consider the v. appendix as having no function since it contains numerous lymphoid follicles that produce functional lymphocytes and a rich blood supply to communicate them. The general idea of vestigial organs is to me a measure of ignorance, arrogance and lack of imagination. Ignorance in that we label it as such because we do not know its function; arrogance in that we declare it of no value since we can see none; and lacking in imagination in so far as when we cannot see its function cannot imagine one. I call your attention to that other ‘vestigial organ’ the thymus without which, in early life, we would produce a severely compromised cell-mediated immune system as the ‘nude’ mouse and numerous thymectomized mammalian studies have shown. Although some general reference books still list the v. appendix as ‘vestigial’ most immunologists (I included) would strongly disagree!”[10] (emphises added)

UPDATE

Since the above was removed, I want to embolden the thinking by excerpting a SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN article:[11]

A study in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology finds that many more animals have appendixes than was thought, and that the appendix is not merely a remnant of a digestive organ called the cecum. All of which means that the appendix might not be so useless. Steve Mirsky reports.

Two years ago, Duke University Medical Center researchers said that the supposedly useless appendix is actually where good gut bacteria safely hide out during some unpleasant intestinal conditions. 

Now the research team has looked at the appendix over evolutionary history. They found that animals have had appendixes for about 80 million years. And the organ has evolved separately at least twice, once among the weird Australian marsupials and another time in the regular old mammal lineage that we belong to. 

Darwin thought that only a few animals have an appendix and that the human version was what was left of a digestive organ called the cecum. But the new study found that 70 percent of rodent and primate groups have species with an appendix….

While Scientific American still tries to relegate it to evolution, they do so by supposition. Almost by metaphysical statements. William Parker, Ph.D., assistant professor of experimental surgery, who conducted the analysis in collaboration with R. Randal Bollinger, M.D., Ph.D., Duke professor emeritus in general surgery – said this:

  • “While there is no smoking gun, the abundance of circumstantial evidence makes a strong case for the role of the appendix as a place where the good bacteria can live safe and undisturbed until they are needed”[12]

WIKIPEDIA has a decent section on the appendix’s function as well.[13]

PS – (from the original letter)
This P.S. was to the teacher after she responded to my e-mail, I corrected her on something that any science teacher who isn’t guided by a presupposed philosophy – namely Naturalism – would have correctly defined.

Oh, I forgot, as I was falling asleep last night and running through the day in my head, something occurred to me.  You mentioned that theories are, quote:

  • “Theories are well tested concepts scientists use to help explain something based on repeated findings.”

Yes, a great quick explanation of a proper theory.  However, when the appendix was placed on the vestigial organ list along with 180 other organs by Ernst Haekel in the late 1800‘s – where it has stayed since – no repeatable tests were ever done to confirm the hypothesis that it was useless.  In fact, every medical test done of the type of tissue found (argentaffin cells, and lymphoid cells) in the appendix shows that it has a use.

So I would say that the theory that it is useful is quite sound, where as the hypothesis that it is useless is waning and ill founded ~ un-scientific in other words.


FOOTNOTES


[1] H. Kawanishi, “Immunocompetence of Normal Appendiceal Lymphoid cells: in vitro studies,” Immunology, 60(1) (1987), 19-28.

[2] Ibid., 19.

[3] Marti-Ibanez (editor), “Tuber of Life,” M. D. Magazine (1970) #14, p. 240; William J. Banks, Applied Veterinary Histology (Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore: 1981), 390.

[4]  Richard G. Culp, Remember thy Creator (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids,; MI: 1975).

[5]  Howard R. Bierman, “Human Appendix and Neoplasia,” Cancer 21 (1) (1968), 109-118.

[6] William Straus, Quarterly Review of Biology (1947), 149.

[7] “The Useless Gland that Guards Our Health,” in Reader’s Digest, November (1966), 229, 235.

[8] Henry L. Bockus, Gastroenterology, 2:1134-1148 [chapter The Appendix, by Gordon McHardy], (W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, Pennslyvania: 1976).

[9] Frederic H. Martini, Ph.D., Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: 1995), 916

[10] (Since removed) From the site Newton, which is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators.  Argonne National Laboratory, Division of Educational Programs, Harold Myron, Ph.D., Division Director.  Quote: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/mole00/mole00225.htm   Home page: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/

[11] “That’s No Vestigial Organ, That’s My Appendix,” Scientific American (8-24-2009), found at: http://tinyurl.com/ycb9dcnv

[12] Duke University Medical Center, “Appendix isn’t useless at all: It’s a safe house for bacteria,” EurekaAlert! (AAAS | 10-08-2008); found at: http://tinyurl.com/yadgop2l

[13] Appendix, Functions – found at: http://tinyurl.com/k245vmb

 

Are Testicles Proof Against God?

Religio-Political Talk (RPT) is proud to be a part of defending
“manhood” from the wiles of the secular/evolutionary worldview.

Jerry Bergman is one of the most accomplished creationists around. His passion for his Lord and for sharpening his mind are, well, legend in the ID and creationist sub-culture. The few times I have written to him he has responded with humbleness — which is saying a lot considering his learning curve noted below. In the past I have responded to persons and articles based on his book he co-authored with Dr. Howe, “Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional: A History and Evaluation of the Vestigial Organ Origins Concept.” This book could use an update and republishing… which the article does in the micro.

The article in the Journal of Creation, vol. 31(2) 2017,  entitled, “The Not-So-Intelligent Professor,” is a review Abby Hafer’s book, “The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not.” However, BEFORE going to her favorite example, let’s review Jerry Bergman’s academic background, which is useful for the article:

JERRY BERGMAN

  • M.P.H., Northwest Ohio Consortium for Public Health (Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio; University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio; Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio), 2001.
  • M.S. in biomedical science, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio, 1999.
  • Ph.D. in human biology, Columbia Pacific University, San Rafael, California, 1992.
  • M.A. in social psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, 1986.
  • Ph.D. in measurement and evaluation, minor in psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1976.
  • M.Ed. in counseling and psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1971.
  • B.S., Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1970. Major area of study was sociology, biology, and psychology.

Okay, here is the excerpt:

Abigail (Abby’) Hafer has a doctorate in zoology from Oxford University and teaches human anatomy and physiology in the nursing programme at Curry College, a small private college of 2,100 students. Her goal for this book was to document what she argues are the many examples of poor design in the human body. From this evidence, she concludes that the body was not designed, but rather it evolved.

All of her examples have been carefully refuted in both the secular and creationist literature. Having taught anatomy for 30 years, I have reviewed many anatomy textbooks in preparation for my classes and am not aware of a single one that makes the claims she does. Rather, they consistently show most of her claims to be erroneous.

She also shows little evidence of reading the Intelligent Design (ID) or creationist literature, as indicated by her false claim that those “who are likely to be persuaded by ID arguments don’t read scientific journals, or lengthy books about evolution, and they never will [emphasis in original]” (p. 1). The irony here is unmissable.

She speaks widely to colleges, universities, and sadly even churches (although she’s a rabid atheist, listed as an American Humanist Association speaker). Her focus is consistently on mocking creationists and ID supporters, as is obvious from the titles of her talks, such as “Who does the Creator like better—us, or squid?” and “Why do men’s testicles hang outside the body, but elephants have their testes inside the body?” As usual, these are really pseudo-theological arguments rather than scientific ones. She spends much time on the mudskipper, which she claims ID advocates say could not exist. Her major poor design claims are reviewed below.


I wish to take a quick break in the text here and note that the best book I have read on Dr. Berman’s notation that Dr. Hafer’s arguments “are really pseudo-theological arguments rather than scientific ones,” is Cornelius Hunter’s book, “Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil.”


Human Testicles

Her claim for human testicles is that

  • “…if testicles were designed, …why God didn’t protect them better. Couldn’t the Designer have put them inside the body, or encased them in bone, or at least put some bubble wrap around them? Is this the best that the Designer can do?” (p. 5).

Concluding that a structure is poorly designed instead of asking why the existing design exists is a science stopper. The ‘why’ question motivates research into the reasons for the design. When this approach was applied to the human appendix, the tonsils, the backward retina and other examples, good design reasons for the existing design were found in all cases.

She explained that when she was looking for new approaches to refute ID she knew she “had a winner when inspiration hit me in the middle of an Anatomy and Physiology lecture…. The male testicle is a great first argument against ID” (p. 2). She then stated that when she got what she needed for a “political-style argument”, she did “what any sensible woman would do”, email her minister (p. 2). As chance had it, her (Unitarian Universalist) `church’s’ Darwin Day celebration was that Sunday, and her minister used the testicles example to introduce his sermon in honour of Darwin (p. 2). Her main argument is that male testicles are outside of the body, thus are prone to injury, noting that for many animals, including reptiles, the testicles are inside of the body.

If the author were to apply just a modicum of logic, though, she (and her cohort) would realise that male testicles are outside of the body for several important reasons, such as to regulate scrotal temperature for optimal spermatogenesis development.1 When testicle temperature drops, a complex system causes the cremaster muscle to contract, which moves them closer to the warm body. When their temperature rises, the cremaster muscle relaxes, allowing them to move away from the body, insuring that their temperature is kept within a very narrow tolerance. Their temperature is also regulated by increasing or decreasing the surface area of the tissue surrounding the testicles, allowing faster or slower dissipation of their heat.2

A major reason for their close temperature regulation is because humans are fertile year round, and most animals with internal testicles are not. Most animals need to be fertile only for short times, often when outdoor temperature allows maintenance of their proper temperature.

She also ignores the fact that testicles are a secondary sexual trait, similar to female breasts, which are also prone to injury. A parallel argument is the claim that, for this reason, the female breast is poorly designed. Therefore, because its size does not affect either milk production or breast feeding ability, it would be advantageous not to protrude from the body. However, because the baby’s face is quite flat, it’s advantageous that the breast protrude somewhat so the baby can get good suction. Baby mammals with snouts can suckle on flat breasts with teats. That the breast is a major female secondary sexual trait is documented by the fact that mastectomy is a very traumatic operation for most women, and reconstructive surgery is often used to normalize the breasts’ appearance.

[1] Werdelin, J. and Nilsonne, A., The evolution of the scrotum and testicular descent in mammals, J. Theoretical Biology 196(1):61-72, 7 January 1999.

[2] Van Niekerk, E., Vas deferens—refuting `bad design’ arguments, J. Creation 26(3):60-67, 2012; creation.com/vas-deferens.

The article goes on to respond to Abby’s discussion of: the backward retina, the female birth canal, the human pharynx, blood clotting mechanisms, teeth, the appendix, and the like. Here is a good video mentioned on my Facebook by a friend (R. Ingles-Barrett) that deals with some of these supposed “bad designs”

Theistic Evolution ~ Wayne Grudem

What follows is the section of the book Professor Wayne Grudem was touching on in his class:


2. Some Theories About Creation Seem Clearly Inconsistent With the Teachings of Scripture. In this section we will examine three types of explanation of the origin of the universe that seem clearly inconsistent with Scripture.

a. Secular Theories: For the sake of completeness we mention here only briefly that any purely secular theories of the origin of the universe would be unacceptable for those who believe in Scripture. A “secular” theory is any theory of the origin of the universe that does not see an infinite-personal God as responsible for creating the universe by intelligent design. Thus, the “big bang” theory (in a secular form in which God is excluded), or any theories that hold that matter has always existed, would be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture that God created the universe out of nothing, and that he did so for his own glory. (When Darwinian evolution is thought of in a totally materialistic sense, as it most often is, it would belong in this category also.)19

b. Theistic Evolution: Ever since the publication of Charles Darwin’s book Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859), some Christians have proposed that living organisms came about by the process of evolution that Darwin proposed, but that God guided that process so that the result was just what he wanted it to be. This view is called theistic evolution because it advocates belief in God (it is “theistic”) and in evolution too. Many who hold to theistic evolution would propose that God intervened in the process at some crucial points, usually (1) the creation of matter at the beginning, (2) the creation of the simplest life form, and (3) the creation of man. But, with the possible exception of those points of intervention, theistic evolutionists hold that evolution proceeded in the ways now discovered by natural scientists, and that it was the process that God decided to use in allowing all of the other forms of life on earth to develop. They believe that the random mutation of living things led to the evolution of higher life forms through the fact that those that had an “adaptive advantage” (a mutation that allowed them to be better fitted to survive in their environment) lived when others did not.

Theistic evolutionists are quite prepared to change their views of the way evolution came about, because, according to their standpoint, the Bible does not specify how it happened. It is therefore up to us to discover this through ordinary scientific investigation. They would argue that as we learn more and more about the way in which evolution came about, we are simply learning more and more about the process that God used to bring about the development of life forms.

The objections to theistic evolution are as follows:


1. The clear teaching of Scripture that there is purposefulness in God’s work of creation seems incompatible with the randomness demanded by evolutionary theory. When Scripture reports that God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds” (Gen. 1:24), it pictures God as doing things intentionally and with a purpose for each thing he does. But this is the opposite of allowing mutations to proceed entirely randomly, with no purpose for the millions of mutations that would have to come about, under evolutionary theory, before a new species could emerge.

The fundamental difference between a biblical view of creation and theistic evolution lies here: the driving force that brings about change and the development of new species in all evolutionary schemes is randomness. Without the random mutation of organisms you do not have evolution in the modem scientific sense at all. Random mutation is the underlying force that brings about eventual development from the simplest to the most complex life forms. But the driving force in the development of new organisms according to Scripture is God’s intelligent design. God created “the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind” (Gen. 1:21 Niv). “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and – all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:25 my). These statements seem inconsistent with the idea of God creating or directing or observing millions of random mutations, none of which were “very good” in the way he intended, none of which really were the kinds of plants or animals he wanted to have on the earth. Instead of the straightforward biblical account of God’s creation, the theistic evolution view has to understand events to have occurred something like this:

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds.” And after three hundred eighty-seven million four hundred ninety-two thousand eight hundred seventy-one attempts, God finally made a mouse that worked.

That may seem a strange explanation, but it is precisely what the theistic evolutionist must postulate for each of the hundreds of thousands of different kinds of plants and animals on the earth: they all developed through a process of random mutation over millions of years, gradually increasing in complexity as occasional mutations turned out to be advantageous to the creature.

A theistic evolutionist may object that God intervened in the process and guided it at many points in the direction he wanted it to go. But once this is allowed then there is purpose and intelligent design in the process—we no longer have evolution at all, because there is no longer random mutation (at the points of divine interaction). No secular evolutionist would accept such intervention by an intelligent, purposeful Creator. But once a Christian agrees to some active, purposeful design by God, then there is no longer any need for randomness or any development emerging from random mutation. Thus we may as well have God immediately creating each distinct creature without thousands of attempts that fail.

2. Scripture pictures God’s creative word as bringing immediate response. When the Bible talks about God’s creative word it emphasizes the power of his word and its ability to accomplish his purpose.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood forth. (Ps. 33:6, 9)

This kind of statement seems incompatible with the idea that God spoke and after millions of years and millions of random mutations in living things his power brought about the result that he had called for. Rather, as soon as God says, “Let the earth put forth vegetation,” the very next sentence tells us, “And it was so” (Gen. 1:11).

3. When Scripture tells us that God made plants and animals to reproduce “according to their kinds” (Gen. 1:11, 24), it suggests that God created many different types of plants and animals and that, though there would be some differentiation among them (note many different sizes, races, and personal characteristics among human beings!), nonetheless there would be some narrow limits to the kind of change that could come about through genetic mutations.20

4. God’s present active role in creating or forming every living thing that now comes into being is hard to reconcile with the distant “hands off” kind of oversight of evolution that is proposed by theistic evolution. David is able to confess, “You formed my inward parts, you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13). And God said to Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Ex. 4:11). God makes the grass grow (Ps. 104:14; Matt. 6:30) and feeds the birds (Mau. 6:26) and the other creatures of the forest (Ps. 104:21, 27-30). If God is so involved in causing the growth and development of every step of every living thing even now, does it seem consistent with Scripture to say that these life forms were originally brought about by an evolutionary process directed by random mutation rather than by God’s direct, purposeful creation, and that only after they had been created did he begin his active involvement in directing them each moment?

5. The special creation of Adam, and Eve from him, is a strong reason to break with theistic evolution. Those theistic evolutionists who argue for a special creation of Adam and Eve because of the statements in Genesis 1-2 have really broken with evolutionary theory at the point that is of most concern to human beings anyway. But if, on the basis of Scripture, we insist upon God’s special intervention at the point of the creation of Adam and Eve, then what is to prevent our allowing that God intervened, in a similar way, in the creation of living organisms?

We must realize that the special creation of Adam and Eve as recorded in Scripture shows them to be far different from the nearly animal, just barely human creatures that evolutionists would say were the first humans, creatures who descended from ancestors that were highly developed nonhuman apelike creatures. Scripture pictures the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, as possessing highly developed linguistic, moral, and spiritual abilities from the moment they were created. They can talk with each other. They can even talk with God. They are very different from the nearly animal first humans, descended from nonhuman apelike creatures, of evolutionary theory.

Some may object that Genesis 1-2 does not intend to portray Adam and Eve as literal individuals, but (a) the historical narrative in Genesis continues without a break into the obviously historical material about Abraham (Gen. 12), showing that the author intended the entire section to be historical,21 and (b) in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49, Paul affirms the existence of the “one man” Adam through whom sin came into the world, and bases his discussion of Christ’s representative work of earning salvation on the previous historical pattern of Adam being a representative for mankind as well. Moreover, the New Testament elsewhere clearly understands Adam and Eve to be historical figures (cf. Luke 3:38; Acts 17:26; 1 Cor. 11:8-9; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13-14). The New Testament also assumes the historicity of the sons of Adam and Eve, Cain (Heb. 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11) and Abel (Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51; Heb. 11:4; 12:24).

6. There are many scientific problems with evolutionary theory (see the following section). The increasing number of questions about the validity of the theory of evolution being raised even by non-Christians in various scientific disciplines indicates that anyone who claims to be forced to believe in evolution because the “scientific facts” leave no other option has simply not considered all the evidence on the other side. The scientific data do not force one to accept evolution, and if the scriptural record argues convincingly against it as well, it does not seem to be a valid theory for a Christian to adopt.

It seems most appropriate to conclude in the words of geologist Davis A. Young, “The position of theistic evolutionism as expressed by some of its proponents is not a consistently Christian position. It is not a truly biblical position, for it is based in part on principles that are imported into Christianity.”22 According to Louis Berkhof “theistic evolution is really a child of embarrassment, which calls God in at periodic intervals to help nature over the chasms that yawn at her feet. It is neither the biblical doctrine of creation, nor a consistent theory of evolution.”23


Footnotes


[19] See pp. 279-87 below, for a discussion of Darwinian evolution.

[20] “We do not need to insist that the Hebrew word min (“kind”) corresponds exactly with the biological category “species,” for that is simply a modern means of classifying different living things. But the Hebrew word does seem to indicate a narrow specification of various types of living things. It is used, for example, to speak of several very specific types of animals that bear young and are distinguished according to their “kind.” Scripture speaks of “the falcon according to its kind,” “every raven according to its kind,” “the hawk according to its kind,” “the heron according to its kind,” and “the locust according to its kind” (Lev. 11:14, 15, 16, 19, 22). Other animals that exist according to an individual “kind” are the cricket, grasshopper, great lizard, buzzard, kite, sea gull, and stork (Lev. 11:22, 29; Deut. 14:13, 14, 15, 18). These are very specific kinds of animals, and God created them so that they would reproduce only according to their own “kinds.” It seems that this would allow only for diversification within each of these types of animals (larger or smaller hawks, hawks of different color and with different shapes of beaks, etc.), but certainly not any “macroevolutionary” change into entirely different kinds of birds. (Frair and Davis, A Case for Creation, p. 129, think that “kind” may correspond to family or order today, or else to no precise twentieth-century equivalent.)

[21] Note the phrase “These are the generations of” introducing successive sections in the Genesis narrative at Gen. 2:4 (heavens and the earth); 5:1 (Adam); 6:9 (Noah); 10:1 (the sons of Noah); 11:10 (Shem); 11:27 (Terah, the father of Abraham); 25:12 (Ishmael); 25:19 (Isaac); 36:1 (Esau); and 37:2 (Jacob). The translation of the phrase may differ in various English versions, but the Hebrew expression is the same and literally says, “These are the generations of….” By this literary device the author has introduced various sections of his historical narrative, tying it all together in a unified whole, and indicating that it is to be understood as history-writing of the same sort throughout. If the author intends us to understand Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as historical figures, then he also intends us to understand Adam and Eve as historical figures.

[22] Davis A. Young, Creation and the Flood: An Alternative to Flood Geology and Theistic Evolution (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977), p. 38. Young includes a discussion of the views of Richard H. Bube, one of the leading proponents of theistic evolution today (pp. 33-35).

[23] Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pp. 139-40.

 

Polystrate Fossils – Their Importance

I wanted to post these PHOTOS and the VIDEO LECTURE that follows to get this topic onto my site. It is one of the many evidences that throws a monkey wrench into long ages (h-t to Glen B.). FIRST, a definition needs to be applied to “polystrate fossils”…

  • The term “polystrate” was coined to describe a fossil which is encased within more than one (poly) layer of rock (strata) thus “polystrate or “many layers.” A wonderful story can be told by these fossils which invalidates the commonly held uniformitarian idea of slow and gradual accumulation of sediments. (ICR)

There are a few arguments against these fossils, like this, this, and this). Enjoy. 

Here is a good lecture explaining well the importance of these fossils:

Video description:

Any fossil that crosses two or more sedimentary layers is called a poly (many) strate (strata) fossil. Polystrate fossils have been discovered all around the world and polystrate fossil trees are quite commonly found in coal mines. Other types of polystrate fossils can be found in various locations and situations of sedimentary strata.

These geological and paleontological evidences are compelling arguments against uniformitarianism and millions of years of earth history. The most plausible alternative explanation to the “deep time” secular view is that these fossils were rapidly buried, a concept that is in line with the biblical creationist view that most of the sedimentary layers of the world were laid down during the Genesis Flood at the time of Noah.

In this PowerPoint presentation by J.D. Mitchell, a number of examples of polystrate fossils will be examined including fossilized trees, complete forests, trace fossils and several kinds of animals. Possible explanations for these types of fossils found in thick as well as thin multi-layers are provided based upon biblical creationist presuppositions.

J.D. Mitchell is a registered professional engineer in Oregon and Washington and has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington. He has also completed his Master of Biblical Studies in Biblical Creation Apologetics from Master’s Graduate School of Divinity.

J.D. is Executive Director of the Institute for Creation Science of Oregon, and speaks and writes regarding the creation versus evolution controversy as a part of his creation science ministry (Creation Engineering Concepts).

The Top Ten Scientific Facts in the Bible

If it’s true that the Bible contains scientific facts that were written thousands of years before man discovered them, the implications are staggering. These facts would be evidence that the Bible is the word of God, and its promise of Heaven and threat of Hell are therefore not to be mocked or ignored. A great video. Here is a quote to compliment #9:

  • “The Book of Leviticus in the Bible was probably the first recording of laws concerning public health. The Hebrew people were told to practice personal hygiene by washing and keeping clean. They were also instructed to bury their waste material away from their campsites, to isolate those who were sick, and to burn soiled dressings. They were prohibited from eating animals that had died of natural causes. The procedure for killing an animal was clearly described, and the edible parts were designated.” ~ Gwendolyn R.W. Burton and Paul G. Engelkirk, Microbiology for the Health Sciences, 6th Edition (New York, NY: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2000), 9.

Complexity of the Genetic Code Just Got More Complex

BEFORE getting to the main story meant to be read via PROSLOGION (click here to jump to it if you wish), the book mentioned is partly a book about how an evolutionary specialist came to believe in God. Some scientists/specialists in their field are convinced by science and complexity that God exists (studies from their own field), but yet others are influenced by other “arguments” — like in the case of Dr. Wayne Rossiter. He acknowledged the logical conclusions of his atheism, and was disturbed by them… here is a post about the book: ANOTHER ATHEIST WHO BECAME A CHRISTIAN

…but I did want to point out what I have found to be the most interesting part of the book so far: the conversion story of its author, Dr. Wayne D. Rossiter.

Dr. Rossiter earned his Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Rutgers University in February of 2012 and is currently an assistant professor of biology at Waynesburg University. One thing I found so fascinating about his conversion story is that it is rather different from mine. Science caused me to doubt my atheism, and an investigation of the evidence led me to a belief in Christianity. For Dr. Rossiter, however, it was not science itself that caused him to doubt his atheism. Instead, what he saw as the consequences of atheistic science caused him to fall into the Savior’s arms. Here is how he begins his conversion story:

…I had developed into a staunch and cantankerous atheist by the time I got to Rutgers to pursue a Ph.D. This was aided by an equally atheistic advisor who was of Dawkins’s ilk. Advanced education at our best universities is surprisingly insular. Like bobbleheads, we tend to read and agree on the same things, and give little to no countenance to critics of our views. (pp. 3-4)

I couldn’t agree more with his take on the insular nature of advanced education in the U.S. I vividly remember several instances from my early years in academia where a “senior” member of a research group would make fun of a position with which he disagreed, and the rest of us would bob our heads in agreement without even trying to suggest that there might be good reason to at least examine that position seriously. At the time, I didn’t understand how anti-science such actions were, but now that I look back on them, I shake my head at the sorry state of our advanced education system.

What caused Dr. Rossiter to doubt his atheism? After achieving an important milestone in every academic’s life (publication in a major journal of his field), he and his wife celebrated. He stayed up after his wife went to bed, and he became plagued by the “big questions” about life:

On what rational grounds could I care about the state of the planet (or even my family) after I’m gone? And what did I even mean by “good” or “bad”? I couldn’t argue that any objective morality existed apart from our subjective experiences. Any moral laws that might objectively exist – whether or not anyone ascribes to them – would be beyond our grasp, and we would have no objective or rational reason to obey them if they did exist. Nothing mattered. This is Dennett’s “universal acid,” and Darwin’s ideas applied that acid to the human condition. If molecules led to cells, and cells to organs, and organs to bodies, then the “molecules-to-man” hypothesis was true. We really were just wet computers responding to external stimuli in mechanical and unconscious ways. No soul, no consciousness. Just machines. I was completely and utterly devastated. (pp. 4-5)

This led to some serious soul-searching, which included psychiatric counseling. His counselor was a Christian, and that intrigued him, so he read some intellectuals who found belief in God to be both rational and compelling. This caused him to doubt his atheistic view of science, and eventually, he became a Christian. The university at which he now teaches is a Christian university….

OKAY, here is the excerpt I wish to highlight, and mind you, the ENTIRE post is well worth reading. It is in regard to the supposition based on little evidence in the classic neo-Darwinian theory (which is crumbling mind you) that the genetic code is universal… as is discussed, it is not. Here is the introduction to the information from a group via Facebook:

  • Hi guys, this is an extremely interesting article and the links in there too, it shows that there is not a universal genetic code, but about 19 of them, that makes a universal common ancestor impossible, one of the links takes us to the NCBI website where all the codes are listed (by the way, two members of our group made comments there, Philip C. and Otangelo G.

Here is the post: UNIVERSAL GENETIC CODE? NO!

I am still reading Shadow of Oz by Dr. Wayne Rossiter, and I definitely plan to post a review of it when I am finished. However, I wanted to write a separate blog post about one point that he makes in Chapter 6, which is entitled “Biological Evolution.”He says:

To date, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), which houses all published DNA sequences (as well as RNA and protein sequences), currently acknowledges nineteen different coding languages for DNA…

He then references this page from the NCBI website.

This was a shock to me. As an impressionable young student at the University of Rochester, I was taught quite definitively that there is only one code for DNA, and it is universal. This, of course, is often cited as evidence for evolution. Consider, for example, this statement from The Biology Encyclopedia:

For almost all organisms tested, including humans, flies, yeast, and bacteria, the same codons are used to code for the same amino acids. Therefore, the genetic code is said to be universal. The universality of the genetic code strongly implies a common evolutionary origin to all organisms, even those in which the small differences have evolved. These include a few bacteria and protozoa that have a few variations, usually involving stop codons.

Dr. Rossiter points out that this isn’t anywhere close to correct, and it presents serious problems for the idea that all life descended from a single, common ancestor.

To understand the importance of Dr. Rossiter’s point, you need to know how a cell makes proteins. The basic steps of the process are illustrated in the image at the top of this post. The “recipe” for each protein is stored in DNA, and it is coded by four different nucleotide bases (abbreviated A, T, G, and C). That “recipe” is copied to a different molecule, RNA, in a process called transcription. During that process, the nucleotide base “U” is used instead of “T,” so the copy has A, U, G, and C as its four nucleotide bases. The copy then goes to the place where the proteins are actually made, which is called the ribosome. The ribosome reads the recipe in units called codons. Each codon, which consists of three nucleotide bases, specifies a particular amino acid. When the amino acids are strung together in the order given by the codons, the proper protein is made.

The genetic code tells the cell which codon specifies which amino acid. Look, for example, at the illustration at the top of the page. The first codon in the RNA “recipe” is AUG. According to the supposedly universal genetic code, those three nucleotide bases in that order are supposed to code for one specific amino acid:methionine (abbreviated as “Met” in the illustration). The next codon (CCG) is supposed to code for the amino acid proline (abbreviated as Pro). Each possible three-letter sequence (each possible codon) codes for a specific amino acid, and the collection of all those possible codons and what they code for is often called the genetic code.

Now, once again, according to The Biology Encyclopedia (and many, many other sources), the genetic code is nearly universal. Aside from a few minor exceptions, all organisms use the same genetic code, and that points strongly to the idea that all organisms evolved from a common ancestor. However, according to the NCBI, that isn’t even close to correct. There are all sorts of exceptions to this “universal” genetic code, and I would think that some of them result in serious problems for the hypothesis of evolution….

Great stuff Maynard. Another blow to naturalistic theories and another gift to the ever growing catalog of the complexity of life.

Young-Earth Creationist Wins Lawsuit Against CSUN

Previously I noted this in my Dinosaur post… this however is Dr. Armitage explaining in more depth the lawsuit and the topic that caused the ruckus.

(Video Description)

The attorney did not state the exact amount he received but according to THE COLLEGE FIX, he said that it was “a substantial settlement representing about 15 times his annual part-time salary.”

CSUN still maintained that Armitage had been fired due to a lack of funding and claimed that it only settled the case to avoid a costly legal battle. Reinach acknowledged that there was no admission of guilt in the settlement but he believed that the university would not pay a large amount if it did not think it would lose the case.

“The evidence was quite clear,” he added. “The stated reasons for saying they fired him were simply not true. There were lies and contradictions abounding from several of the key witnesse,” Reinach continued. He said evidence against the campus officials was seen in an email suggesting that Armitage could be eased out of the job by making his position full-time. “Not only did it not support the notion that there was budgetary concerns, but in fact suggested to the contrary,” said Reinach

Not Enough Evolutionary Time For Simple Life


OTHER EVIDENCES TO CONSIDER

Not Enough Time


It’s even in the title of Charles Darwin’s most popular book, On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection. But what Darwin didn’t know then was that natural selection can’t create brand-new genetic information. It’s never been observed to do this. In the case of the bacterium we looked at, it either LOST information or gained already existing information. Nothing brand-new was created! So, if natural selection can never create the brand-new information that evolution needs, how can it be considered the driving force of evolution? Just one more scientific reason that you shouldn’t believe in molecules-to-man evolution. It takes a LOT of faith.

Proof that God (a non-random process) exists and random chance evolutionary processes do not explain our origins.

Stephen C. Meyer appearing in Darwin’s Dilemma talks about Richard Dawkins’s “climbing Mt. Improbable.”

Biologist Ann Gauger discusses the challenge posed to Darwinian natural selection by the process of metamorphosis found in butterflies and other creatures. Gauger is featured in the science documentary “Metamorphosis,” which deals with butterflies, evolution, and intelligent design.

Believing In God Is Natural ~ Atheism is Not (Updated)


We ARE programmed to believe one way and through the creative power (and infinite genius) of God, get to choose this natural tendency or to cover it up with our sinful, selfish nature that Romans 1 alludes to by numbing our faculties with an whole array of options.

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.

Blaise Pascal (Pensees 10.148)


Deborah Keleman studies cognitive development in children and Josh Rottman is a PhD student working with her. In a chapter in “Science and the World’s Religions.” they write (p. 206-207):

  • …religion primarily stems from within the person rather than from external, socially organised sources …. evolved components of the human mind tend to lead people towards religiosity early in life.

Before continuing I just want to make a point, none of them by myself but brought here to review by myself. It has to do with merely assuming the evolutionist position, if true, makes theism true and atheism anathema to the survival of the species. For instance, Patricia Churchland notes what the brains primary chore is:

And this is the main point… okay… if I assume evolution is true, then, out of the choices of “religion” and “non-religion” — which of the two provide a better survival rate of the species? To wit:

Even Darwin had some misgivings about the reliability of human beliefs. He wrote, “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

Given unguided evolution, “Darwin’s Doubt” is a reasonable one. Even given unguided or blind evolution, it’s difficult to say how probable it is that creatures—even creatures like us—would ever develop true beliefs. In other words, given the blindness of evolution, and that its ultimate “goal” is merely the survival of the organism (or simply the propagation of its genetic code), a good case can be made that atheists find themselves in a situation very similar to Hume’s.

The Nobel Laureate and physicist Eugene Wigner echoed this sentiment: “Certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.” That is, atheists have a reason to doubt whether evolution would result in cognitive faculties that produce mostly true beliefs. And if so, then they have reason to withhold judgment on the reliability of their cognitive faculties. Like before, as in the case of Humean agnostics, this ignorance would, if atheists are consistent, spread to all of their other beliefs, including atheism and evolution. That is, because there’s no telling whether unguided evolution would fashion our cognitive faculties to produce mostly true beliefs, atheists who believe the standard evolutionary story must reserve judgment about whether any of their beliefs produced by these faculties are true. This includes the belief in the evolutionary story. Believing in unguided evolution comes built in with its very own reason not to believe it.

This will be an unwelcome surprise for atheists. To make things worse, this news comes after the heady intellectual satisfaction that Dawkins claims evolution provided for thoughtful unbelievers. The very story that promised to save atheists from Hume’s agnostic predicament has the same depressing ending.

It’s obviously difficult for us to imagine what the world would be like in such a case where we have the beliefs that we do and yet very few of them are true. This is, in part, because we strongly believe that our beliefs are true (presumably not all of them are, since to err is human—if we knew which of our beliefs were false, they would no longer be our beliefs).

Suppose you’re not convinced that we could survive without reliable belief-forming capabilities, without mostly true beliefs. Then, according to Plantinga, you have all the fixins for a nice argument in favor of God’s existence For perhaps you also think that—given evolution plus atheism—the probability is pretty low that we’d have faculties that produced mostly true beliefs. In other words, your view isn’t “who knows?” On the contrary, you think it’s unlikely that blind evolution has the skill set for manufacturing reliable cognitive mechanisms. And perhaps, like most of us, you think that we actually have reliable cognitive faculties and so actually have mostly true beliefs. If so, then you would be reasonable to conclude that atheism is pretty unlikely. Your argument, then, would go something like this: if atheism is true, then it’s unlikely that most of our beliefs are true; but most of our beliefs are true, therefore atheism is probably false.

Notice something else. The atheist naturally thinks that our belief in God is false. That’s just what atheists do. Nevertheless, most human beings have believed in a god of some sort, or at least in a supernatural realm. But suppose, for argument’s sake, that this widespread belief really is false, and that it merely provides survival benefits for humans, a coping mechanism of sorts. If so, then we would have additional evidence—on the atheist’s own terms—that evolution is more interested in useful beliefs than in true ones. Or, alternatively, if evolution really is concerned with true beliefs, then maybe the widespread belief in God would be a kind of “evolutionary” evidence for his existence.

You’ve got to wonder.

Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith: To the Head (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 44-45.

While I am not a fan of Charisma… as of late they have posted a few good articles. This being one of them:

Science Proves Your Brain Recognizes the Reality of God, Researchers Say

Remember, there was much discussion about destroying or harming parts of the brain that decrease belief in God:

This has to be embarrassing… if you’re an atheist. A new study performed at the University of York used targeted magnetism to shut down part of the brain. The result: belief in God disappeared among more than 30 percent of participants.

That in itself may not seem so embarrassing, but consider that the specific part of the brain they frazzled was the posterior medial frontal cortex—the part associated with detecting and solving problems, i.e., reasoning and logic.

In other words, when you shut down the part of the brain most associated with logic and reasoning, greater levels of atheism result.

You’ve heard the phrase, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist”? Apparently we can now also say, “I have too many brains to be an atheist.”…

(Via my previous post on targeted magnetism)

I also posit that person’s who use illicit drugs, such as marijuana, are less likely to believe in the Judeo-Christian God due to deterioration/destruction of sections of the brain. Parts of the brain most affected are memory and cognitive or parts of the brain that use logic and reason). Whereas,  it seems, we see that a healthy brain is ready to receive faith:

…In a piece for the Washington Post, atheist Elizabeth King writes that she cannot shake the idea of God’s existence.

★ “The idea of God pesters me and makes me think that maybe I’m not as devoted to my beliefs as I’d like to think I am and would like to be. Maybe I’m still subconsciously afraid of hell and want to go to heaven when I die. It’s confusing and frustrating to feel the presence of something you don’t believe in. This is compounded by the fact that the God character most often shows up when I’m already frustrated,” King writes.

Neurotheologian Newberg says this is because science does back the reality of religious experiences.

(Charisma)

This supports another study of Japanese kids raised with no thoughts of a monotheistic God

For example, researchers at Oxford University (at which Dawkins himself was until recently the holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science) have earlier reported finding children who, when questioned, express their understanding that there is a Creator, without having had any such instruction from parents or teachers. As Dr Olivera Petrovich, who lectures in Experimental Psychology at Oxford, explained in an interview with Science and Spirit:

My Japanese research assistants kept telling me, ‘We Japanese don’t think about God as creator—it’s just not part of Japanese philosophy.’ So it was wonderful when these children said, ‘Kamisama! God! God made it!’—Dr Olivera Petrovich, Oxford University.

“I tested both the Japanese and British children on the same tasks, showing them very accurate, detailed photographs of selected natural and man-made objects and then asking them questions about the causal origins of the various natural objects at both the scientific level (e.g. how did this particular dog become a dog?) and at the metaphysical level (e.g. how did the first ever dog come into being?). With the Japanese children, it was important to establish whether they even distinguished the two levels of explanation because, as a culture, Japan discourages speculation into the metaphysical, simply because it’s something we can never know, so we shouldn’t attempt it. But the Japanese children did speculate, quite willingly, and in the same way as British children. On forced choice questions, consisting of three possible explanations of primary origin, they would predominantly go for the word ‘God’, instead of either an agnostic response (e.g., ‘nobody knows’) or an incorrect response (e.g., ‘by people’). This is absolutely extraordinary when you think that Japanese religion — Shinto — doesn’t include creation as an aspect of God’s activity at all. So where do these children get the idea that creation is in God’s hands? It’s an example of a natural inference that they form on the basis of their own experience. My Japanese research assistants kept telling me, ‘We Japanese don’t think about God as creator — it’s just not part of Japanese philosophy.’ So it was wonderful when these children said, ‘Kamisama! God! God made it!’ That was probably the most significant finding.”

Today, nearly a decade since Petrovich’s study, there is now a “preponderance of scientific evidence” affirming that “children believe in God even when religious teachings are withheld from them”.

(Creation.com)

I often hear atheists exude confidence in natural selection and evolution and all that it entails. However, when natural belief in God emerges… they reject this as fantasy rather than a superior survival mechanism. It is important to understand that I am not arguing for evolution but showing that it is self-referentially false:

  • NOTE: if you believe in evolution and are an atheist, you would root for and support neo-Darwinian evolutionary “natural selection” in choosing religious belief as superior to that of non-belief!

In a debate during the Q&A session between a theist and atheist/evolutionist, a student asked this great question… and while he did not have the answer to Dr. Pigliucci’s challenge, I do:

Assuming the validity of the “underlying instinct to survive and reproduce” then, out of the two positions (belief and non-belief) available for us to choose from which would better apply to being the most fit if the fittest is “an individual… [that] reproduces more successfully…”?[1]  The woman that believes in God is less likely to have abortions and more likely to have larger families than their secular counterparts.[2]  Does that mean that natural selection will result in a greater number of believers than non-believers?[3]


Footnotes


[1]  From my son’s 9th grade biology textbook: Susan Feldkamp, ex. ed., Modern Biology (Austin, TX: Holt, Rineheart, and Winston, 2002), 288; “…organisms that are better suited to their environment than others produce more offspring” American Heritage Science Dictionary, 1st ed. (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2005), cf. natural selection, 422; “fitness (in evolution) The condition of an organism that is well adapted to its environment, as measured by its ability to reproduce itself” Oxford Dictionary of Biology, New Edition (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996), cf. fitness, 202; “fitness In an evolutionary context, the ability of an organism to produce a large number of offspring that survive to reproduce themselves” Norah Rudin, Dictionary of Modern Biology (Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 1997), cf. fitness, 146.

[2]  Dinesh D’Souza points to this in his recent book, What’s So Great About Christianity:

  • Russia is one of the most atheist countries in the world, and abortions there outnumber live births by a ratio of two to one. Russia’s birth rate has fallen so low that the nation is now losing 700,000 people a year. Japan, perhaps the most secular country in Asia, is also on a kind of population diet: its 130 million people are expected to drop to around 100 million in the next few decades. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand find themselves in a similar predicament. Then there is Europe. The most secular continent on the globe is decadent in the quite literal sense that its population is rapidly shrinking. Birth rates are abysmally low in France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Sweden. The nations of Western Europe today show some of the lowest birth rates ever recorded, and Eastern European birth rates are comparably low.  Historians have noted that Europe is suffering the most sustained reduction in its population since the Black Death in the fourteenth century, when one in three Europeans succumbed to the plague. Lacking the strong religious identity that once characterized Christendom, atheist Europe seems to be a civilization on its way out. Nietzsche predicted that European decadence would produce a miserable “last man’ devoid of any purpose beyond making life comfortable and making provision for regular fornication. Well, Nietzsche’s “last man” is finally here, and his name is Sven. Eric Kaufmann has noted that in America, where high levels of immigration have helped to compensate for falling native birth rates, birth rates among religious people are almost twice as high as those among secular people. This trend has also been noticed in Europe.” What this means is that, by a kind of natural selection, the West is likely to evolve in a more religious direction. This tendency will likely accelerate if Western societies continue to import immigrants from more religious societies, whether they are Christian or Muslim. Thus we can expect even the most secular regions of the world, through the sheer logic of demography, to become less secular over time…. My conclusion is that it is not religion but atheism that requires a Darwinian explanation. Atheism is a bit like homosexuality: one is not sure where it fits into a doctrine of natural selection. Why would nature select people who mate with others of the same sex, a process with no reproductive advantage at all? (17, 19)

Some other studies and articles of note: Mohit Joshi, “Religious women less likely to get abortions than secular women” (last accessed 9-6-2016), Top Health News, Health News United States (1-31-08); Anthony Gottlieb, “Faith Equals Fertility,” Intelligent Life, a publication of the Economist magazine (winter 2008) [THIS LINK IS DEAD] most of the original Economist article can be found at the Washington Times as well as The Immanent Frame (both accessed 9-6-2016); W. Bradford Wilcox, “Fertility, Faith, & the Future of the West: A conversation with Phillip Longman” (last accessed 9-6-2016), Christianity Today, Books & Culture: A Christian Review (5-01-2007); Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 3-32, esp. 24-29 — I recommend this book for deep thinking on the issue.

  • And churchgoing women have more children than their nonreligious peers, according to the Center for Disease Control’s National Survey of Family Growth, an ongoing survey spanning 2011-2015. The survey involves about 5,000 interviews per year, conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Women between the ages of 15 and 44 who attend religious services at least weekly have 1.42 children on average, compared with the 1.11 children of similar-age women who rarely or never attend services. More religious women said they also intend to have more kids (2.62 per woman) than nonreligious women (2.10 per woman), the survey found. (Baby Boom: Religious Women Having More Kids ~ LiveScience)
  • In fact, Blume’s research also shows quite vividly that secular, nonreligious people are being dramatically out-reproduced by religious people of any faith. Across a broad swath of demographic data relating to religiosity, the godly are gaining traction in offspring produced. For example, there’s a global-level positive correlation between frequency of parental worship attendance and number of offspring. Those who “never” attend religious services bear, on a worldwide average, 1.67 children per lifetime; “once per month,” and the average goes up to 2.01 children; “more than once a week,” 2.5 children. Those numbers add up—and quickly. Some of the strongest data from Blume’s analyses, however, come from a Swiss Statistic Office poll conducted in the year 2000. These data are especially valuable because nearly the entire Swiss population answered this questionnaire—6,972,244 individuals, amounting to 95.67% of the population—which included a question about religious denomination. “The results are highly significant,” writes Blume: “…women among all denominational categories give birth to far more children than the non-affiliated. And this remains true even among those (Jewish and Christian) communities who combine nearly double as much births with higher percentages of academics and higher income classes as their non-affiliated Swiss contemporaries.” (God’s little rabbits: Religious people out-reproduce secular ones by a landslide ~ Scientific American)
  • Another value that is both measurable and germane to fertility is the importance of religion. People who are actively religious tend to marry more and stay together longer. To the extent that time spent married during reproductive years increases fertility, then religion would be a positive factor in fertility rates. For example, in Canada women who had weekly religious attendance were 46 percent more likely to have a third child than women who did not. (The Northern America Fertility Divide ~ Hoover Institute

[3] Adapted from a question by a student at a formal debate between Dr. Massimo Pigliucci and Dr. William Lane Craig. The debate is entitled “Craig vs. Pigliucci: Does the Christian God Exist?”  (DVD, Christian Apologetics, Biola University, apologetics@biola.edu ~ Category Number: 103000-400310-56107-Code: WLC-RFM014V).

Another aspect that shows the increased natural selective nature of belief and longevity (the opportunity to leave more offspring) is tha positive influence of religion:


Social Sciences Agree

~ Religious More “Fit” ~


Via my post on family values: A Family Values [Atheist] Mantra Dissected: Nominal vs. Committed

Social Scientists Agree

  • Religious Belief Reduces Crime Summary of the First Panel Discussion Panelists for this important discussion included social scientists Dr. John DiIulio, professor of politics and urban affairs at Princeton University; David Larson, M.D., President of the National Institute for Healthcare Research; Dr. Byron Johnson, Director of the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at Vanderbilt University; and Gary Walker, President of Public/Private Ventures. The panel focused on new research, confirming the positive effects that religiosity has on turning around the lives of youth at risk.
  • Dr. Larson laid the foundation for the discussion by summarizing the findings of 400 studies on juvenile delinquency, conducted during the past two decades. He believes that although more research is needed, we can say without a doubt that religion makes a positive contribution.
  • His conclusion: “The better we study religion, the more we find it makes a difference.” Previewing his own impressive research, Dr. Johnson agreed. He has concluded that church attendance reduces delinquency among boys even when controlling for a number of other factors including age, family structure, family size, and welfare status. His findings held equally valid for young men of all races and ethnicities.
  • Gary Walker has spent 25 years designing, developing and evaluating many of the nation’s largest public and philanthropic initiatives for at-risk youth. His experience tells him that faith-based programs are vitally important for two reasons. First, government programs seldom have any lasting positive effect. While the government might be able to design [secular/non-God] programs that occupy time, these programs, in the long-term, rarely succeed in bringing about the behavioral changes needed to turn kids away from crime. Second, faith-based programs are rooted in building strong adult-youth relationships; and less concerned with training, schooling, and providing services, which don’t have the same direct impact on individual behavior. Successful mentoring, Walker added, requires a real commitment from the adults involved – and a willingness to be blunt. The message of effective mentors is simple. “You need to change your life, I’m here to help you do it, or you need to be put away, away from the community.” Government, and even secular philanthropic programs, can’t impart this kind of straight talk.
  • Sixth through twelfth graders who attend religious services once a month or more are half as likely to engage in at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual excess, truancy, vandalism, drunk driving and other trouble with police. Search Institute, “The Faith Factor,” Source, Vol. 3, Feb. 1992, p.1.
  • Churchgoers are more likely to aid their neighbors in need than are non-attendees. George Barna, What Americans Believe, Regal Books, 1991, p. 226.
  • Three out of four Americans say that religious practice has strengthened family relationships. George Gallup, Jr. “Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century,” The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.
  • Church attendance lessens the probabilities of homicide and incarceration. Nadia M. Parson and James K. Mikawa: “Incarceration of African-American Men Raised in Black Christian Churches.” The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 125, 1990, pp.163-173.
  • Religious practice lowers the rate of suicide. Joubert, Charles E., “Religious Nonaffiliation in Relation to Suicide, Murder, Rape and Illegitimacy,” Psychological Reports 75:1 part 1 (1994): 10 Jon W. Hoelter: “Religiosity, Fear of Death and Suicide Acceptibility.” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Vol. 9, 1979, pp.163-172.
  • The presence of active churches, synagogues… reduces violent crime in neighborhoods. John J. Dilulio, Jr., “Building Spiritual Capital: How Religious Congregations Cut Crime and Enhance Community Well-Being,” RIAL Update, Spring 1996.
  • People with religious faith are less likely to be school drop-outs, single parents, divorced, drug or alcohol abusers. Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Roland, “Correcting the Welfare Tragedy,” The Center for Public Justice, 1994.
  • Church involvement is the single most important factor in enabling inner-city black males to escape the destructive cycle of the ghetto. Richard B. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, eds., The Black Youth Employment Crisis, University of Chicago Press, 1986, p.354.
  • Attending services at a church or other house of worship once a month or more makes a person more than twice as likely to stay married than a person who attends once a year or less. David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, “Is Divorce Hazardous to Your Health?” Physician, June 1990. Improving Personal Well-Being
  • Regular church attendance lessens the possibility of cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema and arteriosclerosis. George W. Comstock amd Kay B. Patridge:* “Church attendance and health.”* Journal of Chronic Disease, Vol. 25, 1972, pp. 665-672.
  • Regular church attendance significantly reduces the probablility of high blood pressure.* David B. Larson, H. G. Koenig, B. H. Kaplan, R. S. Greenberg, E. Logue and H. A. Tyroler:* ” The Impact of religion on men’s blood pressure.”* Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 28, 1989, pp.265-278.* W.T. Maramot:* “Diet, Hypertension and Stroke.” in* M. R. Turner (ed.) Nutrition and Health, Alan R. Liss, New York, 1982, p. 243.
  • People who attend services at least once a week are much less likely to have high blood levels of interlukin-6, an immune system protein associated with many age-related diseases.* Harold Koenig and Harvey Cohen, The International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, October 1997.
  • Regular practice of religion lessens depression and enhances self esteem. *Peter L. Bensen and Barnard P. Spilka:* “God-Image as a function of self-esteem and locus of control” in H. N. Maloney (ed.) Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion, Eedermans, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 209-224.* Carl Jung: “Psychotherapies on the Clergy” in Collected Works Vol. 2, 1969, pp.327-347.
  • Church attendance is a primary factor in preventing substance abuse and repairing damage caused by substance abuse.* Edward M. Adalf and Reginald G. Smart:* “Drug Use and Religious Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior.” * British Journal of Addiction, Vol. 80, 1985, pp.163-171.* Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnson, and Patrick M. O’Malley:* “Explaining* the Recent Decline in Cocaine Use Among Young Adults:* Further Evidence That Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug Use.”* Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 31,* 1990, pp. 173-184.* Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott, * and Collins Lewis:* “Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients With Affective Syndromes.”* Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. 26, 1985, pp. 283-295. * The findings of this NIMH-supported study were replicated in the Bachmen et. al. study above.

(From a post entitled “Love“)

(Also see 52 Reasons To Go To Church) These indicators are also mentions in a Heritage Foundation article, “Why Religion Matters: The Impact of Religious Practice on Social Stability

More Stats

…A survey of 1,600 Canadians asked them what were their beliefs about God and what moral values they considered to be “very important.” The results of the survey are shown below:

o-CANADA-FLAG-facebook

Although the differences between theists and atheists in the importance of values such as honesty, politeness, and friendliness are generally small, moral values emphasized by religious beliefs, such as Christianity, including patience, forgiveness, and generosity exhibit major differences in attitudes (30%+ differences between theists and atheists). (Source)

  • The strength of the family unit is intertwined with the practice of religion. Churchgoers are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single, and more likely to manifest high levels of satisfaction in marriage.
  • Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
  • The regular practice of religion helps poor persons move out of poverty. Regular church attendance, for example, is particularly instrumental in helping young people to escape the poverty of inner-city life.
  • Religious belief and practice contribute substantially to the formation of personal moral criteria and sound moral judgment.
  • Regular religious practice generally inoculates individuals against a host of social problems, including suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, crime, and divorce.
  • The regular practice of religion also encourages such beneficial effects on mental health as less depression (a modern epidemic), more self-esteem, and greater family and marital happiness.
  • In repairing damage caused by alcoholism, drug addiction, and marital breakdown, religious belief and practice are a major source of strength and recovery.
  • Regular practice of religion is good for personal physical health: It increases longevity, improves one’s chances of recovery from illness, and lessens the incidence of many killer diseases.

So we can see that the above are important factors in a healthy, stable, family which would have the highest percentage or chance in a family situation to create “family values.” What about divorce rates and the 2009 data. This is dealt with well at Christian Action League, and shows how Barna and the Government can miss-categorize whole swaths of people and their affiliations:

...Party of the Rich?

Only one of the top 25 donors to political 527 groups has given to a conservative organization, shedding further light on the huge disparity between Democrats and Republicans in this new fund-raising area. The top three 527 donors so far in the 2004 election cycle – Hollywood producer Steven Bing, Progressive Corp. chairman Peter Lewis and financier George Soros – have combined to give nearly $24 million to prominent liberal groups. They include Joint Victory Campaign 2004, America Coming Together, and MoveOn.org.

Dems the richest five senators?

Financial statements revealed the five richest members of the United States Senate are Democrats. The annual disclosure allows senators to represent their net worth inside a broad range.

Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is far ahead of his colleagues with $163 million, most of it coming from his wife’s inheritance of the Heinz fortune. The actual estimate is over $400 million.

Lagging behind is Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) at $111 million. The Wisconsin senator’s family owns a department store chain. Sen. John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-WV) comes in third with a personal fortune reported to be $81 million.

Former Goldman Sachs chairman Sen. John Corzine (D-NJ) weighs in at $71 million, with Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) rounding out the top five at $26.3 million. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL) breaks the string of Democrat multimillionaires in sixth place at $26.1 million. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bill Frist (R-TN), John Edwards (D-NC), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) complete the top ten.

Democrats are 10 of the top 15 richest senators.

(Rich Snobs)

…Wright did his own research using the General Social Survey; a huge study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that folks who identify as Christians but rarely attend church have a divorce rate of 60 percent compared to 38 percent among people who attend church regularly. More generally, he found that Christians, similar to adherents of other traditional faiths, have a divorce rate of 42 percent compared with 50 percent among those without a religious affiliation.

And his is not the only research that is showing a link between strong faith and increased marriage stability.

University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, concluded that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce than are those with no faith affiliation. He used the National Survey of Families and Households to make his analysis.

[….]

Glenn Stanton, the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., has been writing articles to spread the truth about the lower divorce rate among practicing Christians.

“Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes — attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples — enjoy significantly lower divorce rates that mere church members, the general public and unbelievers,” Stanton wrote in the Baptist Press early this year.

At issue in Barna’s studies is how he defined “Christian” and to what other groups he compared the “Christian” divorce rate. Apparently, his study compared what he termed “born-again” Christians — those who described their faith in terms of “personal commitment,” “accept as savior” and other evangelical, born-again language to three other groups, which included self-identified Christians who do not describe their faith with those terms, members of other, non-Christian religions and people of no religious beliefs.

Because his second group would have included many Catholics and mainline Protestants, Wright points out that Barna was, in many ways, “comparing Christians against Christians.” No wonder the rates were similar….

In USA Today, David Kinnaman, Barna’s president, said that “the statistical differences reflect varied approaches, with Wright looking more at attendance and his research firm dwelling on theological commitments.” Duh! The bottom line seems to be that the more seriously couples take their faith, the less likely they are to get a divorce.  That seems like a self-evident truth, but it appears there is also evidence for it. In other words, this is a nominal, vs. committed Christian vs. secular person battle.

I can go on-and-on, but lets shorten what we have learned, and it all revolves around this:

  • “There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life.”

I realize that much of this can be classified broadly as  “The Ecological Fallacy” — but it is an amassing of stats to show that in fact the committed Christian understands the totality of “family values” and commits to them more than the secular person.


1a) Those who attend church more are to be found in the Republican Party;
1b) Those who do not, the Democratic Party;
2a) Those in the Republican Party donate much more to charitable causes;
2b) Those in the Democratic Party, are much more stingy;
3a) Republicans earn less and give more;
3b) Democrats earn more and give less;
4a) Conservative Christians and Jews (people who believe in Heaven and Hell) commit less crimes;
4b) Liberal religious persons (universalists) have a higher rate of crime;
5a) Regular church attendees have a lower drug use rate;
5b) Irreligious persons have a higher rate;
6a) Moral “oughts” are answered in Christian theism (one “ought” not rape because it is absolutely, morally wrong);
6b) Moral “oughts” are merely current consensus of the most individuals, there is no absolute moral statement that can be made about rape;
7a) Republicans are happier than Democrats;
7b) Democrats are more depressed;
8a) The sex lives of  married, religious persons is better/more fulfilling — sex is being shown to be a “religious” experience after-all;
8b) The sex lives of the irreligious person is less fulfilling;
9a) The conservative is more likely to reach orgasm [conservative woman I assume];
9b) The liberal woman is not;
10a) They are less likely to sleep around, which would also indicate lower STDs;
10b Democrats are more likely to have STDs through having more sex partners;
11a) Republicans are less likely (slightly, but this is so because of the committed Christians in the larger demographic) to have extra-marital affairs;
11b) Democrats more likely;
12a) Republicans over the last three decades have been reproducing more…
12b) Democrats abort more often and have less children through educational/career decisions
13a) Christians are more likely to have children and impact the world;
13b) Skeptics replace family with pleasure and travel.


...Happiness Is A Moral Obligation

Forty-three percent of people who attend religious services weekly or more say they’re very happy, compared to 26 percent of those who go seldom or never. The Pew analysis does not answer the question of how religion, Republicanism and happiness might be related, however.

[….]

Most young people start out as naive, idealistic liberals. But as they get older, that changes. They get more conservative, usually because they grow up. But just imagine that you never get out of that liberal mindset. You go through your whole life trying to check people into a victim box, always feeling offended, always trying to right all of the wrongs in the world, and always blaming government for it. It’s no wonder you’d end up miserable when you get older! Going through your entire life feeling like that would make you a very angry, bitter, jealous, selfish person — and often, that describes aging liberals to a T.

All in all, being a Republican gives you a 7% edge in the happiness department, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a greater factor than race, ethnicity, or gender. And just a reminder — Republicans have the advantage across all class lines as well, from upper class to middle class to lower class. Lower class Republicans are happier than lower class Democrats. Middle class Republicans are happier than middle class Democrats. And upper class Republicans are happier than upper class Democrats.

And I’ll say it again. It’s because of the difference in world view.

(RightWing News)

[…..]

Survival of the Fittest!

“Since women that believe in God are less likely to have abortions, does that mean that natural selection will result in a greater number of believers than non-believers.” Assuming the validity of the “underlying instinct to survive and reproduce” then, out of the two positions (belief and non-belief) available for us to choose from which would better apply to being the most fit if the fittest is “an individual… [that] reproduces more successfully…”?  The woman that believes in God is less likely to have abortions and more likely to have larger families than their secular counterparts.  Does that mean that natural selection will result in a greater number of believers than non-believers?

Also,

  • Divorce. Marriages in which both spouses frequently attend religious services are less likely to end in divorce. Marriages in which both husband and wife attend church frequently are 2.4 times less likely to end in divorce than marriages in which neither spouse attends religious services.1
  • Mother-Child Relationship. Mothers who consider religion to be important in their lives report better quality relationships with their children. According to mothers’ reports, regardless of the frequency of their church attendance, those who considered religion to be very important in their lives tended to report, on average, a higher quality of relationship with their children than those who did not consider religion to be important.2
  • Father-Child Relationship. Fathers’ religiosity is associated with the quality of their relationships with their children. A greater degree of religiousness among fathers was associated with better relationships with their children, greater expectations for positive relationships in the future, investment of thought and effort into their relationships with their children, greater sense of obligation to stay in regular contact with their children, and greater likelihood of providing emotional support and unpaid assistance to their children and grandchildren. Fathers’ religiousness was measured on six dimensions, including the importance of faith, guidance provided by faith, religious attendance, religious identity, denominational affiliation, and belief in the importance of religion for their children.3
  • Well-Being of High School Seniors. Among high school seniors, religious attendance and a positive attitude toward religion are correlated with predictors of success and well-being. Positive attitudes towards religion and frequent attendance at religious activities were related to numerous predictors of success and wellbeing for high-school seniors, including: positive parental involvement, positive perceptions of the future, positive attitudes toward academics, less frequent drug use, less delinquent behavior, fewer school attendance problems, more time spent on homework, more frequent volunteer work, recognition for good grades, and more time spent on extracurricular activities.4
  • Life Expectancy. Religious attendance is associated with higher life expectancy at age 20. Life expectancy at age 20 was significantly related to church attendance. Life expectancy was 61.9 years for those attending church once a week and 59.7 for those attending less than once a week.5
  • Drinking, Smoking and Mortality. Frequent religious attendance is correlated with lower rates of heavy drinking, smoking, and mortality. Compared with peers who did not attend religious services frequently, those who did had lower mortality rates and this relationship was stronger among women than among men. In addition, frequent attendees were less likely to smoke or drink heavily at the time of the first interview. Frequent attendees who did smoke or drink heavily at the time of the first interview were more likely than nonattendees to cease these behaviors by the time of the second interview.6
  • Volunteering. Individuals who engage in private prayer are more likely to join voluntary associations aimed at helping the disadvantaged. Individuals who engaged in private prayer were more likely to report being members of voluntary associations aimed at helping the elderly, poor and disabled when compared to those who did not engage in private prayer. Prayer increased the likelihood of volunteering for an organization that assisted the elderly, poor and disabled, on average, by 20 percent.7
  • Charity and Volunteering. Individuals who attend religious services weekly are more likely to give to charities and to volunteer. In 2000, compared with those who rarely or never attended a house of worship, individuals who attended a house of worship nearly once a week or more were 25 percentage points more likely to donate to charity (91 percent vs. 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer (67 percent vs. 44 percent).8
  • Voting. Individuals who participated in religious activities during adolescence tend to have higher rates of electoral participation as young adults. On average, individuals who reported participating in religious groups and organizations as adolescents were more likely to register to vote and to vote in a presidential election as young adults when compared to those who reported not participating in religious groups and organizations.9
  • Ethics in Business. Business professionals who assign greater importance to religious interests are more likely to reject ethically questionable business decisions. Business leaders who assigned greater importance to religious interests were more likely to reject ethically questionable business decisions than their peers who attached less importance to religious interests. Respondents were asked to rate the ethical quality of 16 business decisions. For eight of the 16 decisions, respondents who attached greater importance to religious interests had lower average ratings, which indicated a stronger disapproval of ethically questionable decisions, compared to respondents who attached less importance to religious interests.10

Footnotes

  1. Vaughn R. A. Call and Tim B. Heaton, “Religious Influence on Marital Stability,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 36, No. 3 (September 1997): 382-392.
  2. Lisa D. Pearce and William G. Axinn, “The Impact of Family Religious Life on the Quality of Mother-Child Relations,” American Sociological Review 63, No. 6 (December 1998): 810-828.
  3. Valerie King, “The Influence of Religion on Fathers’ Relationships with Their Children,” Journal of Marriage and Family 65, No. 2 (May 2003): 382-395.
  4. Jerry Trusty and Richard E. Watts, “Relationship of High School Seniors’ Religious Perceptions and Behavior to Educational, Career, and Leisure Variables,” Counseling and Values 44, No. 1 (October 1999): 30-39.
  5. Robert A. Hummer, Richard G. Rogers, Charles B. Nam, and Christopher G. Ellison, “Religious Involvement and U.S. Adult Mortality,” Demography 36, No. 2 (May 1999): 273-285.
  6. William J. Strawbridge, Richard D. Cohen, Sarah J. Shema, and George A. Kaplan, “Frequent Attendance at Religious Services and Mortality over 28 Years,” American Journal of Public Health 87, No. 6 (June 1997): 957-961.
  7. Matthew T. Loveland, David Sikkink, Daniel J. Myers, and Benjamin Radcliff, “Private Prayer and Civic Involvement,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 44, No. 1 (March 2005): 1-14.
  8. Arthur C. Brooks, Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide, (New York: Basic Books 2006), 31-52.
  9. Michelle Frisco, Chandra Muller and Kyle Dodson, “Participation in Voluntary Youth-Serving Associations and Early Adult Voting Behavior,” Social Science Quarterly 85, No. 3 (September 2004): 660-676.
  10. Justin Longenecker, Joseph McKinney, and Carlos Moore, “Religious Intensity, Evangelical Christianity, and Business Ethics: An Empirical Study,” Journal of Business Ethics 55, No. 4 (December 2004): 371- 384.

Whale of a Tale ~ Debating Evolution

This post is with thanks to Philip Cunningham.

(For a great introduction to the below video of which the following is a clip from, see Evolution News & Views)

More About the Male (Whale’s) Refrigeration System ~ The system actually works better when the whale swims hard. How can that be, when the testes are located right between the abdominal swimming muscles? It’s like trying to keep a refrigerator cold between two furnaces. 

It works because the blood pumps harder during exercise, allowing more heat to escape into the water through the dorsal fin and tail. The higher volume of cool venous blood then enters the “miraculous web” (Latin rete mirabile, read more here) between the abdominal muscles, where the heat from the arteries is transferred to the cooler veins before entering the testes. It’s a marvelous solution: a “counter-current heat exchanger” (CCHE) mechanism.

As Richard Sternberg and Paul Nelson explain in the film, without both internal testes and the refrigeration mechanism existing simultaneously, natural selection would halt, and whales would have gone extinct. Females, too, have a CCHE to protect the young during pregnancy. Similar CCHE systems are found in other marine mammals such as manatees and seals, providing more unlikely examples of “convergent evolution.”


One of the key (most complete) missing link in this WILD scenario is Rodhocetus. Rodhocetus’ discoverer, Dr. Phil Gingerich, one of the leading experts on whale evolution, promoted the idea that Rodhocetus had a whale’s fluke (tail) and flippers. Later Dr. Gingerich admitted,

  • “Since then, we have found the forelimbs, the hands, and the front arms of Rodhocetus, and we understand that it doesn’t have the kind of arms that can be spread out like flippers on a whale.”

When asked about the missing fluke, Dr. Gingerich replied,

  • “I speculated that it might have had a fluke… I now doubt that Rodhocetus would have had a fluked tail.”

Without this fossil, there is no evolutionary story telling like we see in this WHALE OF A TALE:

Rodhocetus Clear X

Will museums and textbooks change their displays or portraits Rodhocetus as a transitional fossil? Don’t hold your breath.

rodhocetus-size

(Philip Cunningham Intro) In the following video, Philip Gingerich, the paleontologist who discovered and reconstructed Rhohocetus, which has been called by evolutionists, ‘the most spectacular intermediary fossil in whale evolution’, states this about that, “most spectacular intermediary fossil”….

  • “Well, I told you we don’t have the tail in Rodhocetus. We don’t know for sure whether it had a ball vertebrate indicating a (tail) fluke or not. So I speculated (that) it might have had a (tail) fluke…. Since then we found the forelimbs, the hands, and the front arms, the arms in other words of Rodhocetus, and we understand that it doesn’t have the kind of arms that can be spread out like flippers are on a whale.,, If you don’t have flippers, I don’t think you can have a fluke tail and really powered swimming. And so I now doubt that Rodhocetus would have had a fluke tail.” 

Philip Gingerich paleontologist – Whale Evolution vs. The Actual Evidence – video – fraudulent fossils revealed (Starts at the 11:40 minute mark – see another clip of this here):

Here we get into the weeds with these fraudulent Plaster of Paris replicas for the myriad of students visiting natural history museum. The excerpt here comes from Uncommon Descent:

If you can’t find a missing link, just make one up with plaster and body parts and put it in museums. I don’t think the deception was deliberate in as much as it was self-deception and they just added plaster to conform a land fossil to look like a whale.

The two scientists who found the lion’s share of walking whale fossils essentially created the best fossil proof of evolution using plaster models and drawings and supplied these to museums and science magazines. In each case, they started with incomplete fossils of a land mammal. Whenever a fossil part was missing, they substituted a whale body part (blowholes, fins and flukes) on the skeletal model or skull that they distributed to museums. When these same scientists later found fossils negating their original interpretations, they did not recall the plaster models or drawings. Now museums are full of skulls and skeletons of ‘walking whales’ that are simply false.” Dr. Werner went on to say, “I suspect some curators are not aware of the significance of these substitutions nor are they aware of the updated fossils. Museums should now remove all of the altered skeletons, skulls and drawings since the most important parts of these ‘walking whales’ are admittedly made up. Museums will also have to delete these images from their websites as they are misleading the public.” –

The Grand Experiment

Vestigial Responses

(just that, old… useless [baseless] theories)

Here is an example of my child’s biology textbook from grade school (enlargeable by just clicking the image ~ for maximum enlargement, right click with the mouse and choose, “open link in new tab“):

George B. Johnson and Peter H. Raven,
Biology: Principles & Explorations, Annotated Teacher’s Edition
(Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2001), 284-285.

On page 288 of the same text we read:

  • The pelvic bones found in modern whales are homologous to the pelvises that are found in land vertebrates. Although the whale pelvis bones are located near their reproductive organs, these bones do not function like a pelvis in a land vertebrate. The whale pelvis is located far from the vertebrae and has no apparent function. Thus, the whale pelvis is a vestigial structure.

The “pelvic bones” in whales are said to be vestigial. Here is another example from my son’s public schooling:

Vestigial Structures

Many organisms have features that seem to serve no useful function. For example, humans have a tailbone at the end of the spine that is of no apparent use. The human appendix, a small, fingerlike projection from the intestine, also has no known function. Some snakes have tiny pelvic bones and limb bones. Whales also have pelvic bones, along with a four-chambered stomach like that of a cow.

These apparently useless features are said to be vestigial. Vestigial (ves-TIJ-ee-uhl) features were useful to an ancestor, but they are not use­ful to the modern organism that has them. The vestigial tailbone in humans is homologous to the functional tails of other vertebrate species. A vestigial feature in a modern organism is evidence that the structure was functional in some ancestor of the modern organism. Moreover, an organism with a vestigial feature probably shares com­mon ancestry with an organism that has a functional version of the same feature.

So what sort of evolutionary clues can vestigial features provide? Consider that normal sperm whales, like all whales, have small pelvic bones but no hind legs. A very small percentage of sperm whales, how­ever, have vestigial leg bones, and some sperm whales even have bone-supported bumps protruding from their body.

Whales probably are descended from an ancestor that lived on land. In the whales’ genome, many of the genes needed to make hind legs have been conserved, or have remained unchanged. In normal whales, the genes for hind legs are turned off. In rare cases, however. the genes are partially turned on, and vestigial hind legs form. Thus. whales and other living things may display their evolutionary history in the usually unexpressed genes they carry.

Susan Feldkamp and Maureen Kilpatrick, editors, Modern Biology (Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2002), 290.

Here, Philip Cunningham fills in what these “vestigial” bones are used for via a couple examples, the first being an Email Exchange regarding “vestigial legs” pelvic bones in whales:

The pelvic bones (supposed Vestigial Legs) of whales serve as attachments for the musculature associated with the penis in males and its homologue, the clitoris, in females. The muscle involved is known as the ischiocavernosus and is quite a powerful muscle in males. It serves as a retractor muscle for the penis in copulation and probably provides the base for lateral movements of the penis. The mechanisms of penile motion are not well understood in whales. The penis seems to be capable of a lot of independent motion, much like the trunk of an elephant. How much of this is mediated by the ischiocavernosus is not known.

In females the anatomical parts are smaller and more diffuse. I would imagine that there is something homologous to the perineal muscles in man and tetrapods, which affect the entire pelvic area – the clitoris, vagina and anus.

The pelvic rudiments also serve as origins for the ischiocaudalis muscle, which is a ventral muscle that inserts on the tips of the chevron bones of the spinal column and acts to flex the tail in normal locomotion.

James G. Mead, Ph.D. – Curator of Marine Mammals – National Museum of Natural History – Smithsonian Institution

(via Uncommon Descent)

This second example comes by way of PHYS.ORG and like all other vestigial organs, the “Darwinism-of-the-gaps” is proven to be vacuous:

Both whales and dolphins have pelvic (hip) bones, (supposed) evolutionary remnants from when their ancestors walked on land more than 40 million years ago. Common wisdom has long held that those bones are simply vestigial, slowly withering away…

New research from USC and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) flies directly in the face of that assumption, finding that,, pelvic bones serve a purpose…

“Everyone’s always assumed that if you gave whales and dolphins a few more million years of evolution, the pelvic bones would disappear. But it appears that’s not the case,”….

Dean collaborated with fellow co-corresponding author Jim Dines,,, on a painstaking four-year project to analyze cetacean (whale and dolphin) pelvic bones.

The muscles that control a cetacean’s penis – which has a high degree of mobility – attach directly to its pelvic bones….

The Smithsonian Institute has and article on this as well… the title is illuminating:

I thought this was a telling commentary in the article:

Testing any of this in the field is near impossible—for now, there’s no way to x-ray whales having sex underwater to reveal the inner workings of their anatomy. All the researchers can do at this point is speculate.

My only question would be…

…why this “speculation” wasn’t applied to the previously held position that these bones are vestigial.


Are Darwin’s Finches Are Evidence for Evolution?

Darwin’s Finches… The Galapagos finches are one of the most famous illustrations of natural selection in action. Michael Denton explains why these birds are a double-edged sword for Darwinian theory. For more information about Michael Denton, or to purchase his new book, “Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis.”

MORE Dr. Denton from his post on the matter (H/T Evolution News):

Darwin’s Finches Are Evidence for Evolution? Think Again

…The Galápagos finches put on display the two strict requirements that must be present in order for natural selection to work its magic. If these two factors are not present, natural selection is impotent to change any creature at all, much less create a new species.

First, the finches’ beaks are clearly adaptive. Each distinct variation gives the lucky individual a definitive leg-up in its specific environment. There is an obvious, practical reason why the differentiation is helpful to the species in question. This is absolutely essential in order for natural selection to pick between variations in species. Natural selection can only “see” those variations that are adaptive — causing one individual to live, and carry on its genes, and another to die and not leave offspring. If a variation is neutral or does not somehow increase fitness in the specific environment the creature lives in, Darwin’s mechanism cannot select it.

Second, there is a functional continuum among the finches’ beaks. That is, between a finch with a tiny beak and a finch with a large beak, there are tiny, step-by-step changes, and each change makes the creature slightly more fit in its environment. This is also essential for natural selection to work.

The problem for Darwinian theory comes in explaining evolutionary change where, unlike the case of Darwin’s finches, these requirements are absent. First, there may not be a continuum. That is, natural selection cannot make large jumps or drastic changes. There must be small steps. Secondly, each single step must be beneficial to the individual. It is not enough for the first and last versions of the adaptation to be helpful — all the intervening steps must increase fitness as well.

There are examples of creatures throughout the biological world that break one or both of these rules. Many creatures just don’t fit the natural selection story like the Galápagos finches do….