religion-science-harmony

The Metaphysical Assumptions of the “Scientific Method”

In a recent online conversation someone just assumed the knowability of science and the universe without knowledge of the history behind such an assumption. After posting the statement and my quick response, I will include other longer excerpts from a few sources both explaining this a bit more and defending the challenges to these assumptions, such as “this makes ‘science’ too easy.”

Enjoy:

Sean said this:

➤ What do you mean justify it? How do I justify that we assume nature is uniform? Because that’s how it has been so far, and it shows no signs of changing.

A great response would have been that he is ASSUMING arguments from theism in this regard:

Indeed, there are certain philosophical presuppositions that must be assumed in order for science to be considered an effective, worthy endeavor:

The external world is real and knowable.
Nature itself is not divine. It is an object worthy of study, not worship.
The universe is orderly. There is uniformity in nature that allows us to observe past phenomena and to understand and predict future occurrences.
Our minds and senses are capable of accurately observing and understanding the world.
Language and mathematics can accurately describe the external world that we observe.

(Via Explore God)

The atheist or Eastern worldview could not have advanced science under their worldviews auspices… and these assumptions from the Judeo-Christian faith are what made scientific advancement flourish so well in the West.

NOT TO MENTION that the falsely defined attributes of Quantum Mechanics to undermine logic are shown false in that we can know many things not only in logic but also in science… thanks to healthy presuppositions.

And in another article by Explore God, we have this [again] short summation that is explained further below it:

Modern science depends on some key assumptions derived from Christianity:

  • Belief in the rationality of the universe. Scientists believed the universe was orderly and uniform because it was created by a God who was rational and ordered.
  • Belief that mankind was created in the image of God. Since God is rational, man is rational and able to reason. Since man exists in an orderly universe, he is able to trust his senses, employ his reason, and understand the world.

Science begins with the conviction that the universe is knowable, that it is ordered, that sensory perceptions can be trusted, and that reason and rationality correspond to reality.

Here are the promised ~ longer ~ explanations to the above and how such assumptions were the foundations of Christian theology and it’s influence of the scientific revolution [this is also related to the myth behind “Islam’s Golden Age“]. The first study is by Dr. Henry Schaefer, who is [past?] Professor of Chemistry at the University of Georgia…

  • and a prolific scholar with over 750 scientific publications to his credit. In this lecture, presented at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Schaefer confronts the assertion that one cannot believe in God and be a credible scientist. He starts by showing that the theistic worldview of Bacon, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday and Maxwell was instrumental in the rise of modern science. He goes on to name many modern scientists and Nobel prize winners, including Charles Coulson, John Suppe, Charles Townes, Arther Schawlow, Alan Sandage, Donald Page, R. David Cole and Francis Collins, whose religious faith is an integral part of who they are as scientists. The video concludes with an exclusive interview with Dr. Schaefer where he discusses why a Christian worldview is more compatible with the findings of modern cosmology than a purely naturalistic and materialistic worldview. (www.arn.org)

  • J.P. Moreland and William Lane Criag, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2003), 346-350.

SCIENTISM

Scientism, expressed in the quotation by Rescher at the beginning of the chap­ter, is the view that science is the very paradigm of truth and rationality. If something does not square with currently well-established scientific beliefs, if it is not within the domain of entities appropriate for scientific investigation, or if it is not amenable to scientific methodology, then it is not true or rational. Ev erything outside of science is a matter of mere belief and subjective opinion, of which rational assessment is impossible. Science, exclusively and ideally, is our model of intellectual excellence.

Actually, there are two forms of scientism: strong scientism and weak scient­ism. Strong scientism is the view that some proposition or theory is true and/or rational to believe if and only if it is a scientific proposition or theory; that is, if and only if it is a well-established scientific proposition or theory that, in turn, de­pends on its having been successfully formed, tested and used according to appro­priate scientific methodology. There are no truths apart from scientific truths, and even if there were, there would be no reason whatever to believe them.

Advocates of weak scientism allow for the existence of truths apart from science and are even willing to grant that they can have some minimal, positive rationality status without the support of science. But advocates of weak scient­ism still hold that science is the most valuable, most serious and most authorita­tive sector of human learning. Every other intellectual activity is inferior to science. Further, there are virtually no limits to science. There is no field into which scientific research cannot shed light. To the degree that some issue or be­lief outside science can be given scientific support or can be reduced to science, to that degree the issue or belief becomes rationally acceptable. Thus we have an intellectual and perhaps even a moral obligation to try to use science to solve problems in other fields that, heretofore, have been untouched by scien­tific methodology. For example, we should try to solve problems about the mind by the methods of neurophysiology and computer science.

Note that advocates of weak scientism are not merely claiming that, for ex­ample, belief that the universe had a beginning, supported by good philosophi­cal and theological arguments, gains extra support if that belief also has good scientific arguments for it. This claim is relatively uncontroversial because, usu­ally, if some belief has a few good supporting arguments and later gains more good supporting arguments, then this will increase the rationality of the belief in question. But this is not what weak scientism implies, because this point cuts both ways. For it will equally be the case that good philosophical and theologi­cal arguments for a beginning of the universe will increase the rationality of such a belief initially supported only by scientific arguments. Advocates of weak scientism are claiming that fields outside science gain if they are given scientific support and not vice versa.

If either strong or weak scientism is true, this would have drastic implications for the integration of science and theology. If strong scientism is true, then the­ology is not a cognitive enterprise at all and there is no such thing as theological knowledge. If weak scientism is true, then the conversation between theology and science will be a monologue with theology listening to science and waiting for science to give it support. For thinking Christians, either of these alterna­tives is unacceptable. What, then, should we say about scientism?

Note first that strong scientism is self-refuting (see chap. 2 for a treatment of self-refutation). Strong scientism is not itself a proposition of science, but a sec­ond-order proposition of philosophy about science to the effect that only scien­tific propositions are true and/or rational to believe. And strong scientism is itself offered as a true, rationally justified position to believe. Now, propositions that are self-refuting (e.g., There are no truths) are not such that they just hap­pen to be false but could have been true. Self-refuting propositions are neces­sarily false, that is, it is not possible for them to be true. What this means is that, among other things, no amount of scientific progress in the future will have the slightest effect on making strong scientism more acceptable.

There are two more problems that count equally against strong and weak sci­entism. First, scientism (in both forms) does not adequately allow for the task of stating and defending the necessary presuppositions for science itself to be prac­ticed (assuming scientific realism). Thus scientism shows itself to be a foe and not a friend of science.

Science cannot be practiced in thin air. In fact, science itself presupposes a number of substantive philosophical theses which must be assumed if science is even going to get off the runway. Now each of these assumptions has been chal­lenged, and the task of stating and defending these assumptions is one of the tasks of philosophy. The conclusions of science cannot be more certain than the presuppositions it rests on and uses to reach those conclusions.

Strong scientism rules out these presuppositions altogether because neither the presuppositions themselves nor their defense are scientific matters. Weak scientism misconstrues their strength in its view that scientific propositions have greater epistemic authority than those of other fields like philosophy. This would mean that the conclusions of science are more certain than the philo­sophical presuppositions used to justify and reach those conclusions, and that is absurd. In this regard, the following statement by John Kekes strikes at the heart of weak scientism:

A successful argument for science being the paradigm of rationality must be based on the demonstration that the presuppositions of science are preferable to other presuppositions. That demonstration requires showing that science, relying on these presuppositions, is better at solving some problems and achieving some ide­als than its competitors. But showing that cannot be the task of science. It is, in fact, one task of philosophy. Thus the enterprise of justifying the presuppositions of science by showing that with their help science is the best way of solving cer­tain problems and achieving some ideals is a necessary precondition of the justifi­cation of science. Hence philosophy, and not science, is a stronger candidate for being the very paradigm of rationality.[1]

Here is a list of some of the philosophical presuppositions of science: (1) the existence of a theory-independent, external world; (2) the orderly nature of the external world; (3) the knowability of the external world; (4) the existence of truth; (5) the laws of logic; (6) the reliability of our cognitive and sensory facul­ties to serve as truth gatherers and as a source of justified beliefs in our intellec­tual environment; (7) the adequacy of language to describe the world; (8) the existence of values used in science (e.g., “test theories fairly and report test re­sults honestly”); (9) the uniformity of nature and induction; (10) the existence of numbers.

Most of these assumptions are easy to understand and, in any case, are dis­cussed in more detail in other parts of this book. It may be helpful, however, to say a word about (9) and (10). Regarding (9), scientists make inductive infer­ences from past or examined cases of some phenomenon (e.g., “All observed emeralds are green”) to all cases, examined and unexamined, past and future, of that phenomenon (e.g., “All emeralds whatever are green”). The problem of induction is the problem of justifying such inferences. It is usually associated with David Hume. Here is his statement of it:

It is impossible, therefore, that any arguments from experience can prove this re­semblance of the past to the future, since all these arguments are founded on the supposition of that resemblance. Let the course of things be allowed hitherto ever so regular, that alone, without some new argument or inference, proves not that for the future it will continue so. In vain do you pretend to have learned the na­ture of bodies from your past experience. Their secret nature, and consequently, all their effects and influence, may change without any change in their sensible qualities. This happens sometimes, and with regard to some objects. Why may it not happen always, and with regard to all objects? What logic, what process of ar­gument secures you against this supposition? My practice, you say, refutes my doubts. But you mistake the purport of my question. As an agent, I am quite sat­isfied in the point; but as a philosopher who has some share of curiosity, I will not say skepticism, I want to learn the foundation of this inference.[2]

We cannot look here at various attempts to solve the problem of induction ex­cept to note that inductive inferences assume what has been called the unifor­mity of nature: The future will resemble the past. And the uniformity of nature principle is one of the philosophical assumptions of science.

Regarding (10) (the existence of numbers), in general, if we accept as true a proposition like The ball on the table is red, we thereby are committed to the ex­istence of certain things, e.g., a specific ball and the property of being red. Now science uses mathematical language much of the time and such usage seems to presuppose that mathematical language is true. This, in turn, seems to presup­pose the existence of mathematical objects (e.g., numbers) that are truly de­scribed by those propositions. For example, the proposition Two is an even number seems to commit us to the existence of an entity, the number two (whatever our analysis of numbers turns out to be), which has the property of being even. The same theory of truth used outside of mathematics (the corre­spondence theory) applies within mathematics as well. Now the debate about the existence and nature of numbers is a philosophical one, and thus stating the debate and defending the existence of numbers is another philosophical task presuppositional to science.

There is a second problem that counts equally against strong and weak sci­entism: the existence of true and rationally justified beliefs outside of science. The simple fact is that true, rationally justified beliefs exist in a host of fields outside of science. Many of the issues in this book fall in that category. Strong scientism does not allow for this fact and therefore should be rejected as an in­adequate account of our intellectual enterprise.

Moreover, some propositions believed outside science (e.g., Red is a color, Torturing babies for fun is wrong, I am now thinking about science) are better jus­tified than some believed within science (e.g., Evolution takes place through a se­ries of very small steps). It is not hard to believe that many of our currently held scientific beliefs will and should be revised or abandoned in one hundred years, but it would be hard to see how the same could be said of the extrascientific propositions just cited. Weak scientism does not account for this fact. In fact, weak scientism, in its attempt to reduce all issues to scientific ones, often has a distorting effect on an intellectual issue. Arguably, this is the case in current at­tempts to make the existence and nature of mind a scientific problem.

In sum, scientism in both forms is inadequate. There are domains of knowl­edge outside and independent of science, and while we have not shown this here, theology is one of those domains. How, then, should the domains of sci­ence and theology be integrated? To this question we now turn.


[1] John Kekes, Tic Nature of Philosophy (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1980), p. 158.

[2] David Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748; Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965), pp. 51-52 (sec­tion 4.2 in the original).

This example comes from Lambert Dolphin’s online library and is an article entitled, “Christianity and the Birth of Science,” by Michael Bumbulis, Ph.D. The actual article is much larger, but this is a great example of the assumptions assumed by the scientific revolution:

a. A belief in an “only God.” This belief had two major implications. Only a lofty and vigorous monotheism could instill a sense that there existed a being so powerful that He created ALL there is to create. Pagan gods were too often seen as PART of nature. The birth of science needed a God bigger than that. Secondly, this God was a personal God with a will. Just as He willed certain moral laws, He could be perceived as willing laws of nature. In fact, this type of assumption/perspective actually turned into an apologetic argument, where theologians and scientists would argue the laws of nature implied a Lawgiver. Whether or not the argument if valid is irrelevant. I’m simply highlighting how the medieval mind would easily see it from the opposite angle – a Lawgiver implied laws in creation. Pagan gods were simply not seen as Lawgivers.

b. A belief in a rational God. This belief has a major implication. A rational God would create a rational creation, a creation that would turn out to be ultimately intelligible. Thus, all one had to do was uncover what was there waiting to be uncovered. One didn’t have to worry that such searching would be in vain. No one worried about a deceiving god. Or a creation that was ultimately an illusion.

c. A belief that the Universe was created ex nihilo. This belief had several major implications.

i. If the universe was created, it is not eternal. Thus, it was also not necessary. Since it need not exist, there must be a reason why it exists. Furthermore, since it could have existed in another form, there must be reasons why it existed in the form that it does. A contingent universe arouses curiosity. A necessary universe does not.

If a Christian is curious about Creation and God’s reasons for creating what He created, the obvious place to start is by studying Genesis. Whether or not one interprets Genesis as metaphor, myth, or history, one big truth arises from this account – ALL is creation. That is, the earth and the bird are every bit creation as the stars and the sun. It’s this type of insight which enabled folks like Buridan (see below) to describe heavenly motions in terms of terrestial motions. It’s hard for us modern folks to appreciate how radical it was to describe the movement of the heavens as being like a man jumping or a smith’s wheel turning. But this was a crucial step. And it was a crucial step that helped to get around Aristotle’s philosophy.

ii. It is true that the Bible doesn’t clearly distinguish between the natural and the spiritual. But some type of distinction is assumed, otherwise, the miraculous would be meaningless. The distinction the Bible makes is between the Creation and the transcendent Creator. And this is a distinction which was very important to the birth of modern science. Pagans made no such distinction. A tree would never be studied because a tree was a divine representation! And Eastern religions could care less about the tree, as it was either an illusion or a distraction. But in Christianity, the tree was desacralized. Thus, it could be studied. And since it was made by a rational Creator, a Creator who instructed us to “subdue the earth,” the impetus was there to study the tree. Why? Because it didn’t necessarily exist. It was made and thus need not exist. Thus, to understand the tree, one couldn’t deduce its existence from first principles, one had to actually “take it apart” and figure out how it worked. And since God was rational, it was thought that the tree would ultimately be intelligible.

This distinction between Creation and God was essential to science. For it is this very distinction that is behind what we now call the “natural” and the “spiritual” (anyone who can see this relationship will clearly see how science is indebted to Christianity). That is, if you simply remove God from the picture, Creation becomes the Natural. And God is over there in the “Spiritual.” But this distinction was not commonly found among the worlds religions. Their views were inherently monistic and pantheistic. As Francis Bacon would write:

“For as all works do shew forth the power and skill of the workman, and not his image; so it is of the works of God; which do shew the omnipotency and wisdom of the maker, but not his image; and therefore therein the heathen opinion differeth from sacred truth; for they supposed the world to be the image of God, and man to be an extract or compendious image of the world.” Bacon would add that this pantheistic view resulted in “the greatest arrest and prejudice of further discovery.”

iii. Another simple implication is that a creation implies an act of creating. This would be an important point of speculation for medieval philosophers, and their speculations would turn out to be important in the birth of modern science.

d. If you are going to think God’s thoughts after Him (as Kepler said), you’d better have reasons for believing this could be done. Part of this reason stemmed from the belief in a rational God. But also important was the belief that man was created in the image of God. This belief enabled folks to trust their own reason, as their ability to reason was not only viewed as a gift from God, but it was also a way in which humankind reflected God. Furthermore, the Incarnation was also probably relevant. For if God became man, then maybe the chasm between Man and God wasn’t so huge. So maybe it wasn’t so absurd to think God’s thoughts after Him. After all, a Muslim would never dare to “think God’s thoughts after Him,” as God was viewed to be totally different from humankind.

e. Almost all cultures throughout history have had a cyclical cosmology. This makes sense. We live on a spinning globe which is in turn spinning around the sun, and this produces natural cycles on earth. And its these cycles that led to a cyclical cosmology (just as appearances also led to Geocentrism). But this cyclical view is not fertile ground for science. Science entails the notion of progress, a belief that we can progress towards a state where we understand nature. The Christians inherited from the Jews a sense that was most “unnatural,” a sense that stemmed from revelation – cosmology is linear. That is, God created and works through history. For example, His delivery of the Israelites from Egypt would never happen again, so it must be retold. The Christians inherited this spirit. Their history became as follows: Creation – the Fall – the coming of Messiah- the death of Messiah – the birth of the Church – the return of Messiah. It was a linear view where history was progressing towards a goal. This linear thinking was important to science. Why? Intellectuals from cyclical world views tend to think “there’s nothing new.” Instead of looking for something new, they look to the wisdom of ancients who represent a Golden Age. But the Christian could say, “Hey, maybe the ancients didn’t know everything. Maybe there is something new to be learned, something that has NEVER been known before.” And to find this new material, they need look no further than Creation, for the Author of the Bible (who shows his intentions in linear fashion) is also the Author of Nature.

To see the importance of linear thinking, consider how cyclical thinking stunted the birth of science in Greece. Let’s consider one of the greatest Greek philosophers, Aristotle. Aristotle attempted to explain the world in typical Greek fashion. Aristotle postulated a law (in “On the Heavens”) which stated that the rate of at which falling bodies speed toward the center of the earth, or its surface for that matter, was determined by their weight. Aristotle said that if two bodies were dropped from the same height, the one with twice the weight as the other would reach the ground twice as fast as the lighter one. This law was simply accepted. And how odd this is! Any construction worker would have observed that this was not true. Anyone could have tested Aristotle’s claim with a very simple experiment -climb a house and drop two objects of differing weight. But no Greek ever seemed curious enough to simply test this claim! Why was this? Why were they so blind to such basic science?

Well, we have to understand Greek cosmology. For them, the universe existed as an eternal cycle of birth-life-death-rebirth. This cyclical view of nature prevented the birth of science. For one thing, the notion of an eternal universe went hand-in-hand with the notion of a necessary universe. Aristotelian physics was simply taken to be necessarily true and known through introspection. It seems intuitively obvious that heavier objects would fall faster than lighter objects. But the Greek mind never thought to test it. And what a simple test it is! Furthermore, the cyclical view of nature eliminates the perspective of progress. And without the belief in progress, there is no need to look further once you think you have it all figured out. Aristotle endorsed, in a manner-of-fact way, the idea of eternal cycles. One way he did this was to make reference to cultural history. He explicitly stated that inventions familiar to his contemporaries had been invented in innumerable times before. But he did add that the comfort provided by the technical brand of those inventions available in his time represented the highest level they are capable of providing. This attitude also hindered science. If reality exists as a series of eternal cycles, the tendency is to think either one is at the bottom, and a hopeless, inward perspective develops, or one is at the top (as Aristotle thought), and complacency develops. Greek success with mathematics, coupled to their cosmogony, led them to think they could deduce reality and questioning those deductions by silly experiments was unthought of.

Unfortunately for Christendom, Greek philosophy was merged with Christian theology. And this, more than anything else, is what caused the birth of modern science to be delayed. The break with Aristotle stemmed from Christian theologians who questioned Aristotle’s self- evident truth of the eternal universe. Their theology taught otherwise, that the universe was created ex nihilo. This teaching was formally and solemnly declared in 1214 as the Fourth Lateran Council (although is was debated a long time prior). The declaration essentially stated the truth of our finite creation, but said we could only know this from revelation. This declaration freed Christian thinkers as they began to reinterpret the world simply by assuming as fact the temporality and contingency of the universe.

[I often think Christians fail to realize that Big Bang cosmology represents a very powerful confirmation of their Christian faith. Every world view (including atheism) other than that shaped by Judaism and Christianity has proclaimed the Universe is eternal. In the thirteenth and fourteenth century, Christian philosophers took the bold step in denying that matter and time was eternal, something taught by all the great Pagan and Muslim philosophers. Yet they acknowledged that their denial could not be proven true, that it stemmed solely from their faith. And modern science has now corroborated their position!]

f. Finally, the Christian religion did indeed place emphasis on moral behavior and a concern for Truth. Both of these are important to science. Science is, after all, an attempt to uncover the Truth about the world. Science is committed to the notion of objective truth, truth that exists apart from individual belief. Since Christianity placed emphasis on this type of truth (in contrast to many forms of paganism), this religious attitude could easily be extended to the physical world. As for moral behavior, science depends on truthful reporting and honest experiments.

In addition to all these consensus assumptions, there is one more relevant point. Not only did the Bible provide a consensus on some basic assumptions about the world, assumptions important for the birth of science, but the very perspective about the book was important. God was viewed as the Author of the Book and the Book spoke of Truth. But for these Christians, God was also the Author of Nature. Yet, Nature was simply another book written by God in another code. The early scientists often used the metaphor about the *book* of nature. Seeing Nature as a *book* meant there were intelligible truths that could be uncovered with study. This whole attitude was already placed inside these men by their Christian religion’s attitude toward the Bible. For them, Nature wasn’t an illusion, Nature wasn’t evil, Nature wasn’t the playground of a myriad of gods or fairies, Nature wasn’t simply “matter and space.” Nature was a Book! And it was a book with containing new material from the Author of the Good Book. So uncovering new truths, uncovering God’s thoughts, was actually a religious endeavor!

Many of the founders of modern science were in fact amateur theologians. And their theology constituted important background belief for their endeavors. Let us consider two examples, Kepler and Pasteur.

Arno Penzias (1978 winner of the Nobel Prize in physics and co-discoverer of the cosmic background radiation) makes a very interesting point concerning Johannes Kepler. Speaking about the scientific goal to find the simplest answer possible (a philosophical principle which of course stems from a Christian theologian -see below), Penzias says:

“That really goes back to the triumph, not of Copernicus, but really the triumph of Kepler. That’s because, after all, the notion of epicycles and so forth goes back to days when scientists were swapping opinions. All this went along until we had a true believer and this was Kepler. Kepler, after all, was the Old Testament Christian. Right? He really believed in God the Lawgiver. And so he demanded that the same God who spoke in single words and created the universe is not going to have a universe with 35 epicycles in it. And he said there’s got to be something simpler and more powerful. Now he was lucky or maybe there was something deeper, but Kepler’s faith was rewarded with his laws of nature. And so from that day on, it’s been an awful struggle, but over long centuries, we find that very simple laws of nature actually do apply. And so that expectation is still with scientists. And it comes essentially from Kepler, and Kepler got it out of his belief in the Bible, as far as I can tell. This passionate belief turned out to be right. And he gave us his laws of motion, the first real laws of nature we ever had. And so nature turned out to redeem the expectations he had based on his faith. And scientists have adopted Kepler’s faith, without the cause.”

The other example concerns Louis Pasteur, a devout Christian who nailed down the germ theory. In this case, we can see the clear contribution of his Christian theology. Pasteur lived in a time when belief in spontaneous generation still persisted. Many biologists in his day believed microbes could spontaneously appear from chemicals and this was thought to be the cause of illness. This disagreed with Pasteur’s religious beliefs and theological beliefs involving Creation, so he set out to prove it false. And he succeeded with some clever experiments that are still taught in modern biology texts. Since Pasteur proved that microbes didn’t spontaneously appear from previous chemical states, he argued that illness must be caused by the transfer of microbes from one person the the next. Pasteur’s views and work influenced another Christian scientist/physician at the time, Joseph Lister, who then developed antiseptic surgery. So like it or not, the germ theory and modern surgery owe a great deal to the theological motivations that led to the rejection of spontaneous generation.

  • David S. Dockery and Gregory Alan Thornbury, eds., Shaping a Christian Worldview: The Foundation of Christian Higher Education (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2002), 131, 137-138.

…If science is the modern way to knowledge, let us review how science works. Science begins with the assumption that the universe is knowable, regular, predictable, and uniform. This is an assumption that cannot be confirmed by the scientific method. If the universe were capricious, the scientific way of knowing would not work. A traditional view of science is that scientists go about their business in an objective, empirical, and rational manner.’° The view was proposed by Francis Bacon (1561-1626) in Novum Organum (1620)…

[….]

When one considers the history of modern science and its contributions to knowledge, one sees that there were many areas of the ancient world that could have been home to our modern way of knowing. The ancient Greeks provided many concepts that are important to our modern way of knowing: observation (Aristotle), theory (Plato), mathematics (Pythagoras), astronomy (Ptolemy), and technology (Archimedes). The ancient Chinese made great discoveries: gunpowder, the compass, papermaking, the rocket, silk production, and accurate astronomy records. Yet neither culture was where modern science developed. Why? Science begins with the assumption that the universe is know­able, regular, predictable, and uniform. To the ancient Greeks, the capricious behavior of gods and goddesses made nature unpredictable. The ancient Chinese were never convinced that humans could understand the divine code that rules nature. Modern science developed in a culture that had a window that saw the universe as knowable, regular, predictable, and uniform. The Christian faith provided such a window.

The Christian belief in a Creator provided the basis for the assumption that the universe was really there and had value. Such an idea would be antithetical to a worldview such as Buddhism. The Christian faith provided the basis for the assumption that nature could be studied since it was a creation of God, not a god itself who might retaliate against too much probing or curiosity. The Christian view of God as a moral lawgiver also encouraged them to look for natural laws. The Christian faith in an eternal and omnipresent God led to the assumption that any natural laws would be uniform throughout the universe. Thus, the Christian faith had provided a window that saw the universe as knowable, regular, predictable, and uniform.

Experimental science was encouraged by the belief in cre­ation ex nihilo. The concept of creation ex nihilo meant that God was not constrained by preexisting matter since he created the universe out of nothing. Thus, rational deduction will not provide the details of the universe; one must actually do the observations. Christian belief in the Fall of mankind in the garden of Eden encouraged Christian scientists to develop technology to help alleviate the destructive effects of the Fall. To the Christian, the faith in a Creator God presented nature as another avenue for discovering information about God. As Francis Bacon stated in 1605:

Our saviour saith, “You err, not knowing the scrip­tures, nor the power of God”; laying before us two books or volumes to study, if we will be secured from error; first the scriptures, revealing the will of God, and then the creatures expressing the power; whereof the latter is a key unto the former: not only opening our understanding to conceive the true sense of the scrip­tures, by the general notions of reason and rules of speech; but chiefly opening our belief, in drawing us into a due meditation of the omnipotency of God, which is chiefly signed and engraven upon his works.

Thus, faith encouraged the study of nature.

  • Bradley Monton, Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design, (Peterborough, Ontario [Canada]: Broadview Press, 2009), 62-64.

FOLLOWING SUPERNATURALISM MAKES THE SCIENTIST’S TASK TOO EASY

Here’s the first of Pennock’s arguments against methodological naturalism that I’ll consider:

allowing appeal to supernatural powers in science would make the scientist’s task too easy, because one would always be able to call upon the gods for quick theoretical assistance…. Indeed, all empirical investigation beyond the purely descriptive could cease, for scientists would have a ready-made answer for everything.

This argument strikes me as unfair. Consider a particular empirical phenomenon, like a chemical reaction, and imagine that scientists are trying to figure out why the reaction happened. Pennock would say that scientists who allow appeal to supernatural powers would have a ready-made answer: God did it. While it may be that that’s the only true explanation that can be given, a good scientist-including a good theistic scientist—would wonder whether there’s more to be said. Even if God were ultimately the cause of the reaction, one would still wonder if the proximate cause is a result of the chemicals that went into the reaction, and a good scientist—even a good theistic scientist—would investigate whether such a naturalistic account could be given.

To drive the point home, an analogy might be helpful. With the advent of quantum mechanics, scientists have become comfortable with indeterministic events. For example, when asked why a particular radioactive atom decayed at the exact time that it did, most physicists would say that there’s no reason it decayed at that particular time; it was just an indeterministic event!’ One could imagine an opponent of indeterminism giving an argument that’s analogous to Pennock’s:

allowing appeal to indeterministic processes in science would make the scientist’s task too easy, because one would always be able to call upon chance for quick theoretical assistance…. Indeed, all empirical investigation beyond the purely descriptive could cease, for scientists would have a ready-made answer for everything.

It is certainly possible that, for every event that happens, scientists could simply say “that’s the result of an indeterministic chancy process; there’s no further explanation for why the event happened that way.” But this would clearly be doing bad science: just because the option of appealing to indeterminism is there, it doesn’t follow that the option should always be used. The same holds for the option of appealing to supernatural powers.

As further evidence against Pennock, it’s worth pointing out that prominent scientists in the past have appealed to supernatural powers, without using them as a ready-made answer for everything. Newton is a good example of this—he is a devout theist, in addition to being a great scientist, and he thinks that God sometimes intervenes in the world. Pennock falsely implies that this is not the case:

God may have underwritten the active principles that govern the world described in [Newton’s] Principia and the Opticks, but He did not interrupt any of the equations or regularities therein. Johnson and other creationists who want to dismiss methodological naturalism would do well to consult Newton’s own rules of reasoning….

But in fact, Newton does not endorse methodological naturalism. In his Opticks, Newton claims that God sometimes intervenes in the world. Specifically, Newton thinks that, according to his laws of motion, the orbits of planets in our solar system are not stable over long periods of time, and his solution to this problem is to postulate that God occasionally adjusts the motions of the planets so as to ensure the continued stability of their orbits. Here’s a relevant passage from Newton. (It’s not completely obvious that Newton is saying that God will intervene but my interpretation is the standard one.)

God in the Beginning form’d Matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable Particles … it became him who created them to set them in order. And if he did so, it’s unphilosophical to seek for any other Origin of the World, or to pretend that it might arise out of a Chaos by the mere Laws of Nature; though being once form’d, it may continue by those Laws for many Ages. For while Comets move in very excentrick Orbs in all manner of Positions, blind Fate could never make all the Planets move one and the same way in Orbs concentrick, some inconsiderable Irregularities excepted, which may have risen from the mutual Actions of Comets and Planets upon one another, and which will be apt to increase, till this System wants a Reformation…. [God is] able by his Will to move the Bodies within his boundless uniform Sensorium, and thereby to form and reform the Parts of the Universe….

A scientist who writes this way does not sound like a scientist who is following methodological naturalism.

It’s worth noting that some contemporaries of Newton took issue with his view of God occasionally intervening in the universe. For example, Leibniz writes:

Sir Isaac Newton and his followers also have a very odd opinion concerning the work of God. According to them, God Almighty needs to wind up his watch from time to time; otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion.”

Note, though, that Leibniz also thought that God intervened in the world:

I hold that when God works miracles, he does not do it in order to supply the wants of nature, but those of grace.

Later investigation revealed that in fact planetary orbits are more stable than Newton thought, so Newton’s appeal to supernatural powers wasn’t needed. But the key point is that Newton is willing to appeal to supernatural powers, without using the appeal to supernatural powers as a ready-made answer for everything.

Pennock says that “Without the binding assumption of uninterruptible natural law there would be absolute chaos in the scientific worldview.” Newton’s own approach to physics provides a good counterexample to this—Newton is a leading contributor to the scientific worldview, and yet he does not bind himself by the assumption of uninterruptible natural law.

Muppets Science Scientism

The Dysfunction of Modern Science ~ Science vs Scientism

(Updated)

On this episode of ID the Future, host David Boze examines the plight of Dr. Daniel Shechtman, recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals, who had previously suffered much rejection and ridicule for threatening the consensus of the scientific establishment. Listen in and consider the parallels between Shechtman’s once-heretical science and the modern-day rejection and scorn of the ID movement.

Has Modern Science Become Dysfunctional?

WASHINGTON, DC – March 27, 2012 — The recent explosion in the number of retractions in scientific journals is just the tip of the iceberg and a symptom of a greater dysfunction that has been evolving the world of biomedical research say the editors-in-chief of two prominent journals in a presentation before a committee of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) today.

“Incentives have evolved over the decades to encourage some behaviors that are detrimental to good science,” says Ferric Fang, editor-in-chief of the journal Infection and Immunity, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), who is speaking today at the meeting of the Committee of Science, Technology, and Law of the NAS along with Arturo Casadevall, editor-in-chief of mBio®, the ASM’s online, open-access journal.

In the past decade the number of retraction notices for scientific journals has increased more than 10-fold while the number of journals articles published has only increased by 44%.  While retractions still represent a very small percentage of the total, the increase is still disturbing because it undermines society’s confidence in scientific results and on public policy decisions that are based on those results, says Casadevall.  Some of the retractions are due to simple error but many are a result of misconduct including falsification of data and plagiarism.

More concerning, say the editors, is that this trend may be a symptom of a growing dysfunction in the biomedical sciences, one that needs to be addressed soon.   At the heart of the problem is an economic incentive system fueling a hypercompetitive environment that is fostering poor scientific practices, including frank misconduct.

The root of the problem is a lack of sufficient resources to sustain the current enterprise.  Too many researchers are competing for too little funding, creating a survival-of-the-fittest, winner-take-all environment where researchers increasingly feel pressure to publish, especially in high-prestige journals.

“The surest ticket to getting a grant or job is getting published in a high profile journal,” says Fang.  “This is an unhealthy belief that can lead a scientist to engage in sensationalism and sometimes even dishonest behavior to salvage their career.”

Funding is just one aspect of a very complex problem Casadevall and Fang see growing in the biomedical sciences.  In a series of editorials in the journal Infection and Immunity they describe their views in detail, arguing that science is not as healthy as it could be or as it needs to be to effectively address the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.

“Incentives in the current system place scientists under tremendous stress, discourage cooperation, encourage poor scientific practices and deter new talent from entering the field,” they write.  “It is time for a discussion of how the scientific enterprise can be reformed to become more effective and robust.”

The answers, they write, must come not only from within the scientific community but from society as a whole that has helped create the current incentive structure that is fostering the dysfunction.  In the editorials they outline a series of recommended reforms including methodological, cultural and structural changes.

“In the end, it is not the number of high-impact-factor papers, prizes or grant dollars that matters most, but the joys of discovery and the innumerable contributions both large and small that one makes through contact with other scientists,” they write.  “Only science can provide solutions to many of the most urgent needs of contemporary society.  A conversation on how to reform science should begin now.”

Here are two short videos by MIT nuclear scientist, Ian Huthinson (PDF Bio) discussing scientism:

(Above videos) What is science? And how can we bring the answer to bear on the question of whether science and faith are at war with each other? Ian Hutchinson, professor at MIT and author of “Monopolizing Knowledge,” shares his take at The Veritas Forum.

Faith in science?

So, we’re told, liberals trust science more than conservatives do. The implication — freely peddled in much news coverage — is that conservatives are either dumber or more politicized than liberals. This fits in neatly with a narrative established in screeds like Chris Mooney’s 2005 book, “The Republican War Against Science.” The only problem is it’s not true.

Consider an interesting new study by Gordon Gauchat, a postdoctoral fellow in sociology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The folks at Inside Higher Ed summarized it this way: “Just over 34 percent of conservatives had confidence in science as an institution in 2010, representing a long-term decline from 48 percent in 1974, according to a paper being published today in American Sociological Review.” The report also noted that in 1974 conservatives were likelier to trust science than were liberals.

So what does that mean?

Gauchat points out, correctly, that you can’t lay the blame at the feet of biblical creationists and anti-evolutionists, who were no less common in 1974. Nor is sheer ignorance responsible, as the decline in trust rose with education. Instead, he suggests that it’s the increasing use of science as ammunition for big-government schemes that has led to more skepticism.

There’s probably something to that, but if you read the actual paper something else becomes clear. Despite the language in the coverage, it’s not science as a method that people are losing confidence in; it’s scientists and the institutions that purport to speak for them.

Gauchat’s paper was based on annual responses in the General Social Survey, which asks people: “I am going to name some institutions in this country. As far as the people running these institutions are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?” One institution mentioned was “the scientific community.”

So when fewer people answered “a great deal” and more answered “hardly any” with regard to “the scientific community,” they were demonstrating more skepticism not toward science but toward the people running scientific institutions.

With this in mind, a rise in skepticism isn’t such a surprise. Public skepticism has grown toward most institutions over the last several decades, and with good reason, as a seemingly endless series of scandals and episodes of dishonesty have illustrated.

In fact, given that Americans have grown broadly more skeptical of institutions in general, it’s not surprising that conservatives are more skeptical of scientific institutions than they were almost 40 years ago. What’s surprising is that liberals have grown less skeptical over the same period. (Perhaps because scientific institutions have been telling them things they want to hear?)

Regardless, while one should trust science as a method — honestly done, science remains the best way at getting to the truth on a wide range of factual matters — there’s no particular reason why one should trust scientists and especially no particular reason why one should trust the people running scientific institutions, who often aren’t scientists themselves.

In fact, the very core of the scientific method is supposed to be skepticism. We accept arguments not because they come from people in authority but because they can be proven correct — in independent experiments by independent experimenters. If you make a claim that can’t be proven false in an independent experiment, you’re not really making a scientific claim at all.

And saying, “trust us,” while denouncing skeptics as — horror of horrors — “skeptics” doesn’t count as science, either, even if it comes from someone with a doctorate and a lab coat.

After a century of destructive and false scientific fads — ranging from eugenics to Paul Ehrlich’s “population bomb” scaremongering, among many others — the American public could probably do with more skepticism, not less.

If scientists want to be trusted, perhaps they should try harder to make sure that those who claim to speak for science are, you know, trustworthy. Just a thought.

Professor Dawkins Oil Water SMALL

Concepts: “The God-Factor in Science” ~ Science & Faith

I have been too busy as-of-late to keep up with “Concepts,” an article in a local small paper. This recent article did, however, peak my interest and awoke me from my slumber. (As usual, you can click the graphic to enlarge to be able to read the article if so desired [below].) Per John’s modus operandi he conflates separate issues and then makes his point at the end that has nothing to do with his previous points or set-up. I myself will jump around Mr. Huizum’s article a bit, clarifying and expanding [correcting mainly] his thoughts as space surely does not allow him but it does me.

Let’s jump into this statement and where I think John, as an atheist, puts all his cookies into the “science” bag, otherwise known as “scientism.”

  • “To my knowledge, science has not yet discovered a purpose for the universe,…”

This is key (*Big Booming Voice w/Echo Effects*): science will NEVER find a purpose for the universe.

“Purpose” — as such, is the area exclusively reserved to that of philosophy and theology, not science. From reading previous article’s by John, he seems to have a distorted view of epistemology and how one expresses “truth statements” with a coherent foundation/worldview. Let us define some words and concepts as we continue on our journey brought to us by “Concepts.”

Epistemology – “the branch of philosophy concerned with questions about knowledge and belief and related issues such as justification and truth.”

C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2002), 39.

What John seems to place as his “ultimate truth” is science. This view is commonly referred to as “scientism.” What is scientism, you ask?

Scientism constitutes the core of the naturalistic understanding of what constitutes knowledge, its epistemology. Wilfrid Sellars says that “in the dimension of describing and explaining the world, science is the measure of all things, of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not.”‘ Contemporary naturalists embrace either weak or strong scientism. According to the former, nonscientific fields are not worthless nor do they offer no intellectual results, but they are vastly inferior to science in their epistemic standing and do not merit full credence. According to the latter, unqualified cognitive value resides in science and in nothing else. Either way, naturalists are extremely skeptical of claims about reality that are not justified by scientific methods in the hard sciences.

William Lane Craig and Chad Meister, God is Great, God is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2009), 35.

In another article scientism is explained as well as naturalism and the differences:

CODE ~ Accidental?

One gram of DNA – the weight of two Tylenol – can store the same amount of digitally encoded information as a hundred billion DVD’s. Yes, you read correctly, I said a hundred billion DVD’s. Every single piece of information that exists on the Earth today; from every single library, from every single data base, from every single computer, could be stored in one beaker of DNA. This is the same DNA/Genetic Information/Self-Replication System that exists in humans and in bacteria (which are the simplest living organisms that exist today and have ever been known to exist). In short, our DNA-based genetic code, the universal system for all life on our planet, is the most efficient and sophisticated digital information storage, retrieval, and translation system known to man.

(Rabbi Moshe Averick)

…scientism (an epistemological thesis) with naturalism (an ontological thesis). Scientism is the view that we should believe only what can be proven scientifically. In other words, science is the sole source of knowledge and the sole arbiter of truth. Naturalism is the view that physical events have only physical causes. In other words, miracles do not happen; there are no supernatural causes.

William Lane Craig, Is Scientism Self-Refuting, Q & A #205

One should keep in mind that a coherent worldview answers at least four important questions about life that science (especially “scientism”) cannot, getting back to purpose. Ravi Zacharias makes accessible these questions by stating that a “coherent worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer four questions: that of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny” (Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil [Nashville, TN: Word Publishers, 1997], 219–220). Science can be used, and should be used, as a tool in making a reasonable case for purpose and meaning in life.

Science, then, is merely a handmaiden of these richer studies in life’s ultimate meaning, not the determining factor.

“Scientism is the view that all real knowledge is scientific knowledge—that there is no rational, objective form of inquiry that is not a branch of science” (Edward Feser, Blinded by Scientism [March 9th, 2010]). Which is one reason that it is self refuting, because, it itself is a philosophical proposition ABOUT science while claiming not to be. Which two philosophical naturalists admit in a moment of honesty:

  • Lewontin: “we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
  • Searle: “There is a sense in which materialism is the religion of our time, at least among most of the professional experts in the fields of philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and other disciplines that study the mind. Like most traditional religions, it is accepted without question and it provides the framework within which other questions can be posed, addressed, and answered.”

Again, the belief that science alone gives us knowledge is a philosophical statement, not a scientific one.  This is no longer science, but the scientistic worldview of naturalism, which affirms that nature is all there is and that only science can give us knowledge.  As the late astronomer Carl Sagan put it:  “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”Dawkins, like Sagan, speaks more as an amateur metaphysician than as a scientist.

(Parchment & Pen Blog)

I dealt a little with origins in a previous review of one of his articles in the past, but the point is that John places on science’s plate a proposition that it will never be able to answer. Maybe a Tennyson poem will assist in explaining to John the meaning of the universe without God:

In writing the poem, Tennyson was influenced by the ideas of evolution presented in Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation which had been published in 1844, and had caused a storm of controversy about the theological implications of impersonal nature functioning without direct divine intervention. The fundamentalist idea of unquestioning belief in revealed truth taken from a literal interpretation of the Bible was already in conflict with the findings of science, and Tennyson expressed the difficulties evolution raised for faith in “the truths that never can be proved”.

Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life;

That I, considering everywhere
Her secret meaning in her deeds,
And finding that of fifty seeds
She often brings but one to bear,

I falter where I firmly trod,
And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world’s altar-stairs
That slope thro’ darkness up to God,

I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope.

This poem was published before Charles Darwin made his theory public in 1859. However, the phrase “Nature, red in tooth and claw” in canto 56 quickly was adopted by others as a phrase that evokes the process of natural selection. It was and is used by both those opposed to and in favor of the theory of evolution. However, at the end of the poem, Tennyson emerges with his Christian faith reaffirmed, progressing from doubt and despair to faith and hope, a dominant theme also seen in his poem “Ulysses.”

…Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed…

…So runs my dream, but what am I?
An infant crying in the night
An infant crying for the light
And with no language but a cry…

…If e’er when faith had fallen asleep,
I hear a voice ‘believe no more’
And heard an ever-breaking shore
That tumbled in the Godless deep;

A warmth within the breast would melt
The freezing reason’s colder part,
And like a man in wrath the heart
Stood up and answer’d ‘I have felt.’

No, like a child in doubt and fear:
But that blind clamour made me wise;
Then was I as a child that cries,
But, crying knows his father near…

(Wiki)

Atheists themselves say that nothing matters in a universe without God giving it meaning:

Which leads me into another statement John makes near the end of the article, and, has in it a self-refuting statement of sorts. I will explain, John says:

  • I do not think atheists are more or less happy than believers, so it is possible to live a useful life without a belief in a god. Scientists may not know what the purpose of the Universe is, but we the living find our own purpose for living, which is often just to help or be interested in others.

The mass murderer or tyrant may find his purpose in doing what he does. The rapist as well. Those actions we rightly abhor may be the ones that provide purpose or fulfillment in theirs. You see, John has no code that he can ascribe to himself and expect others to follow… outside of wish fulfillment that is.

He says that life’s meaning is “often just to help or be interested in others.” What a trite explanation of existence! Mussolini explains to John the related topic of relativism and John trying to impose HIS MEANING onto the masses, or think that the masses should agree with him when Tennyson so pointedly says that nature’s purpose is “red in tooth and claw” ~ here is another view that lines up more with John’s view rather than the Judeo-Christian ethic:

“Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition….  If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity….  From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”

Mussolini, Diuturna pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18.

Again, let us see what another person who may understand the complexities of the issue a bit more than John shows us, and that is Malcolm Muggeridge (a British journalist, author, satirist, media personality, soldier-spy and, in his later years, a Catholic convert and writer), who said:

“If God is ‘dead,’ somebody is going to have to take his place. It will be megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power or the drive for pleasure, the clenched fist or the phallus, Hitler or Hugh Heffner.”

Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 32.

I know John HOPES people see reality like he does, but he does not have a meta-narrative that is internally consistent to express to mankind the need to “help or be interested in others.” The Nazi’s thought they were doing this? Why are they wrong and John right? He has no epistemology that is internally consistent to help him ask these non-scientific questions. So while he can feel that the atheist can have a happy life, aside from this Epicurean goal, happiness is not synonymous with moral, or meaningful in the ultimate sense.

Epicurean ~ “Epicurus (341-271 B.C.) was a Greek philosopher who was born on the isle of Samos but lived much of his life in Athens, where he founded his very successful school of philosophy.  He was influenced by the materialist Democritus (460-370 B.C.), who is the first philosopher known to believe that the world is made up of atoms…. Epicurus identified good with pleasure and evil with pain.” He equated using pleasure, diet, friends, and the like as “tools” for minimizing bad sensations or pain while increasing pleasure or hedonism.

Taken from Louise P. Pojman, Philosophy: The Quest for Truth, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford Press, 2002), 499; taken from a chapter from my book dealing with homosexuality and natural law, footnote #42.

I will zero in on a point that John makes, but that is lost on him in his making an either/or distinction in the extremes.

  • “If God created the natural laws and if God were omnipotent, I would have to assume that God could also destroy them or make them unworkable or eliminate them.”

True enough, but, we can ad a third understanding to John’s statement: He [God] could intervene from-time-to-time in nature. For example, the virgin birth. The miracle was in no way the development and birth of Jesus, the miracle was in the conception.  God introduced unique genetic material to Mary’s womb.  The Laws of Nature took over from there.  There was a standard nine month pregnancy followed by a normal birth.

Lewis defines a miracle thus: “I use the word Miracle to mean an interference with Nature by supernatural power.” He describes the integration of miraculous intervention and the natural world in this way: “It is therefore inaccurate to define a miracle as something that breaks the laws of Nature. It doesn’t. … If God creates a miraculous spermatozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take it over. Nature is ready. Pregnancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later a child is born. … The divine art of miracle is not an art of suspending the pattern. … And they are sure that all reality must be interrelated and consistent.

John-Erik Stig Hansen, M.D., D.Sc., Do Miracles Occur? (Academic Papers) Into the Wardrobe

Now, I think John also confuses some laws that he uses all the time. The Law of Morality for instance.

John Huizum has complained about the evils done in the name of religion in the past, and so posits a “law” that he expects others to see and adhere to, namely, murder in the name of God is morally, or absolutely wrong. However, in the naturalist view of the world, evil is not absolutely wrong… just currently taboo.

Books like, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 1997), and,  A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual (Coercion Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000), make the point that rape — for instance — was a tool of survival in our evolutionary past, and so not “morally wrong” in any absolute sense. Not morally wrong because it aided the only real principle of nature, survival. If not absolutely wrong in the past, than theoretically rape is useful for our survival in the future. A position taken by Islamists in some part of our world surely.

Here are three short examples by atheists themselves making my point… er… really their point:

E X H I B I T ~ A

Atheist Dan Barker Says “Child Rape Is Morally Okay”

Richard Dawkins Says Rape Is Morally Arbitrary!

Evolution and the Meaning of Life

You see, who can REALLY say Hitler was wrong? “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question” ~ Richard Dawkins. Ahh, no its not. Granted, it is for the person (John) who looks to nature alone for meaning, and his HOPE is that others see his view of life.

“Some unfortunate humans—perhaps because they have suffered brain damage—are not rational agents. What are we to say about them? The natural conclusion, according to the doctrine we are considering, would be that their status is that of mere animals. And perhaps we should go on to conclude that they may be used as non-human animals are used—perhaps as laboratory subjects, or as food.”

James Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 186.

Um, in other words, the evolutionist has no way to say that the mentally ill cannot be made into chum/food, or NAZI like experiments.

But this “hope” wasn’t the basis for important decisions in our nations history, thank God! Like the writing of the Constitution for instance, written in the language of Natural Law, or in the Nuremberg Trials. A great example for what we are talking about here.

At the Nuremburg trials, when the judges/magistrates from Germany were being defended, one of the strongest arguments was that they were operating according to the law of their own land (cultural relativism). To that, a legitimate counter-question was raised, “But is there not a law above our laws?” John Warwick Montgomery, in his book The Law Above The Law, describes their argument:

“The most telling defense offered by the accused was that they had simply followed orders or made decisions within the framework of their own legal system, in complete consistency with it, and that they therefore ought not rightly be condemned because they deviated from the alien value system of their conquerors”

John Warwick Montgomery, The Law Above the Law (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1975), 24.

Nevertheless, the tribunal did not accept this justification. In the words of Robert H. Jackson, chief counsel for the United States at the trials, the issue was not one of power – the victor judging the vanquished – but one of higher moral law. Mr. Huizum has no foundational ethic or moral to make life meaningful in this ultimate sense. Which is the inclusion that real justice truly exists.

Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of  righteousness.

Calvin Coolidge, “Have Faith in Massachusetts,” Massachusetts Senate President Acceptance Speech (Jan. 7, 1914)  ~ 30th President of the United States (1923–1929).

So far from John not seeing “the God-factor expressed in any law of nature he is aware of,” the Laws of Logic, the Moral Laws, Mathematics, and the like are glimpses into the “God-Factor.” Whether John admits to this or simply defines the proposition out of being considered (see below) is his convoluted lot in life of competing/self-refuting propositions guided by a metaphysical assumption about reality… not mine.

Professor: “Miracles are impossible Sean, don’t you know science has disproven them, how could you believe in them [i.e., answered prayer, a man being raised from the dead, etc.].”

Student: “for clarity purposes I wish to get some definitions straight. Would it be fair to say that science is generally defined as ‘the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us’?”

Professor: “Beautifully put, that is the basic definition of science in every text-book I read through my Doctoral journey.”

Student: “Wouldn’t you also say that a good definition of a miracle would be ‘and event in nature caused by something outside of nature’?”

Professor: “Yes, that would be an acceptable definition of ‘miracle.’”

Student: “But since you do not believe that anything outside of nature exists [materialism, dialectical materialism, empiricism, existentialism, naturalism, and humanism – whatever you wish to call it], you are ‘forced’ to conclude that miracles are impossible”

Norman L. Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakeable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions About the Christian Faith (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, 2001), 63-64.

This leads me to my final correction of some bad thinking on John’s part. When he says, “No scientific formula ever needed an asterisk or a caveat that said ‘God willing,'” the asterick merely precedes the formula and is next to the word “science.” Without the Judeo-Christian metaphysic, science would not be possible:

…as Whitehead pointed out, it is no coincidence that science sprang, not from Ionian metaphysics, not from the Brahmin-Buddhist-Taoist East, not from the Egyptian-Mayan astrological South, but from the heart of the Christian West, that although Galileo fell out with the Church, he would hardly have taken so much trouble studying Jupiter and dropping objects from towers if the reality and value and order of things had not first been conferred by belief in the Incarnation (Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

To the popular mind, science is completely inimical to religion: science embraces facts and evidence while religion professes blind faith. Like many simplistic popular notions, this view is mistaken. Modern science is not only compatible with Christianity, it in fact finds its origins in Christianity… 

(Columbia University, “The Origin of Science” [also here in non-PDF form])

Besides this, what are some of the philosophical presuppositions foundational to “science” that were birthed from Christianity?

  1. the existence of an objectively real world
  2. the comprehensibility of that world
  3. the reliability of sense perception and human rationality
  4. the orderliness and uniformity of nature
  5. and the validity of mathematics and logic.

(The Historic Alliance of Christianity and Science, Reasons.Org)

Again, Mr. Huizum seems to have strayed — as usual — far away from rational inferences based on a good understanding of the issues, rooted in history, easily accessible to him. Again, he just opines in the hope that others will dote over his “wisdom.” Not me, someone has to keep him honest.

religion-science-harmony

Cornell University Professor Talks Bias, Faith, and Science

WIKI Bio

Sanford graduated in 1976 from the University of Minnesota with a BSc in horticulture. He went to the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he received an MSc in 1978 and a PhD in 1980 in plant breeding/plant genetics. Between 1980 and 1986 Sanford was an assistant professor of Horticultural Sciences at Cornell University, and from 1986 to 1998 he was an associate professor of Horticultural Science. Although retiring in 1998, Sanford continues at Cornell as a courtesy associate professor. He held an honorary Adjunct Associate Professor of Botany at Duke University. Sanford has published over 70 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals.

Creation WIKI bio

Dr. John C. Sanford (1950-) is the Associate Professor of Horticultural Sciences (semi-retired) at Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. Dr. Sanford is a researcher in genetics and is currently presently looking at the theoretical limits of mutation andselection.

He graduated in 1976 with a BS in Horticulture from the University of Minnesota. Two years later Dr. Sanford graduated with a MS in Plant Breeding/Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin. He then went on to earn his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding/Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin in 1980.

Dr. Sanford is a former atheist. Since the mid-1980s, Sanford has looked into theistic evolution (1985–late 1990s), Old Earth creationism (late 1990s), and Young Earth creationism (2000–present). According to him, he did not fully reject Darwinian evolution until the year 2000. Dr. Sanford and his wife Helen have three children.

On behalf of intelligent design, Dr. Sanford was involved in the 2005 Kansas evolution hearings. He denied the principle of common descent and testified …”that we were created by a special creation, by God.”

As an inventor, Dr. Sanford holds more than 25 patents including the biolistic process known as the “gene gun.” He started two biotech enterprises derived from his research, Biolistics, Inc., and Sanford Scientific, Inc. In addition to his genetic contributions, Dr. Sanford and his colleagues developed the quantitative forward genetic modeling program called Mendel’s Accountant. Sanford et al. published two peer reviewed papers dealing with genetic entropy in computing journals concerned with modeling methodology. Based on quantitative modeling evidence developed using Mendel’s Accountant and from his research into mutations, Sanford holds that the genome is deteriorating and therefore could not have evolved in the way specified by the modern evolutionary theory suggests.

His research into the genetic limit of the genome, and it’s devolution has lead to the publishing of “Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome”.

After mostly retiring from Cornell, Dr. Sanford has started a small nonprofit, the Feed My Sheep Foundation, which focuses on supporting science and technology research initiatives in the area of life sciences.

Children_of_the_Common_Core 380

Climate Change Indoctrination Part of Common Core “Scientism”

Dennis Prager reads from the Wall Street Journals article entitled, “Schoolroom Climate Change Indoctrination“. In the article we see Federal authorities blatant power grab at indoctrinating our children.

More-and-more parents will opt to home school… or offer classroom style “counter-courses” to teach a better path at critical thinking. In The Animal Farm, Napoleon takes the puppies away from Jessie and Bluebell as soon as they are weaned to “educate” them. While this is a picture of the KGB specifically, broadly speaking it is a picture of a state large enough to indoctrinate children by choosing how to teach children versus the parents choosing at a local level.

For more clear thinking like this from Dennis Prager… I invite you to visit:

http://www.dennisprager.com/ ~ see also: http://www.prageruniversity.com/

Here is part of the Wall Street Journal article:

While many American parents are angry about the Common Core educational standards and related student assessments in math and English, less attention is being paid to the federally driven green Common Core that is now being rolled out across the country. Under the guise of the first new K-12 science curriculum to be introduced in 15 years, the real goal seems to be to expose students to politically correct climate-change orthodoxy during their formative learning years.

The Next Generation of Science Standards were released in April 2013. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted them, including my state of New Jersey, which signed on in July 2014 and plans to phase in the new curriculum beginning with the 2016-2017 school year. The standards were designed to provide students with an internationally benchmarked science education.

While publicly billed as the result of a state-led process, the new science standards rely on a framework developed by the Washington, D.C.-based National Research Council. That is the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences that works closely with the federal government on most scientific matters.

All of the National Research Council’s work around global warming proceeds from the initial premise of its 2011 report, “America’s Climate Choices” which states that “climate change is already occurring, is based largely on human activities, and is supported by multiple lines of scientific evidence.” From the council’s perspective, the science of climate change has already been settled. Not surprisingly, global climate change is one of the disciplinary core ideas embedded in the Next Generation of Science Standards, making it required learning for students in grade, middle and high school.

The National Research Council framework for K-12 science education recommends that by the end of Grade 5, students should appreciate that rising average global temperatures will affect the lives of all humans and other organisms on the planet. By Grade 8, students should understand that the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels is a major factor in global warming. And by Grade 12, students should know that global climate models are very effective in modeling, predicting and managing the current and future impact of climate change. To give one example of the council’s reach, these climate-change learning concepts have been incorporated almost verbatim into the New Jersey Department of Education model science curriculum.

Many of the background materials and classroom resources used by instructors in teaching the new curriculum are sourced from government agencies. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has an array of ready-to-download climate-change primers for classroom use by teachers, including handouts on the link between carbon dioxide and average global temperatures and tear sheets on the causal relationship between greenhouse-gas emissions and rising sea levels.

Similarly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Energy Department have their own Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network, or Clean, which serves as an online portal for the distribution of digital resources to help educators teach about climate change. One such learning module requires students to measure the size of their family’s carbon footprint and come up with ways to shrink it.

Relying on a climate-change curriculum and teaching materials largely sourced from federal agencies—particularly those of the current ideologically driven administration—raises a number of issues. Along with the undue authoritative weight that such government-produced documents carry in the classroom, most of the work is one-sided and presented in categorical terms, leaving no room for a balanced discussion. Moreover, too much blind trust is placed in the predictive power of long-range computer simulations, despite the weak forecasting track record of most climate models to date.

This is unfortunate because the topic of man-made global warming, properly taught, would present many teachable moments and provide an example of the scientific method in action. Precisely because the science of climate change is still just a theory, discussion would help to build student skills in critical thinking, argumentation and reasoning, which is the stated objective of the new K-12 science standards…..

…read it all…

reality

Concepts: “Is Reality Merely a Perception?” (UPDATED)

(As usual you can enlarge the article by clicking on it.) I enjoyed this weeks Concepts by John Van Huizum. While he showed the usual lack of deep study and merely expresses opinion as such, he is right about one thing… reality is perception. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1996), the 9th District Appeals Court wrote:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.”

 I have a feeling that John would agree with the following statement:

“If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own reality…”

More on Johns Relativism (cultural relativism/subjectivism, relativism, pluralism) later.

In Christian apologetics, often times the person doing the perceiving is said to have a pair of colored glasses on:

The right eyeglasses can put the world into clearer focus, and the correct worldview can function in much the same way. When someone looks at the world from the perspective of the wrong worldview, the world won’t make much sense to him. Or what he thinks makes sense will, in fact, be wrong in important respects. Putting on the right conceptual scheme, that is, viewing the world through the correct worldview, can have important repercussions for the rest of the person’s understanding of events and ideas… Raising one’s self-consciousness [awareness] about worldviews is an essential part of intellectual maturity.

Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 17-18, 9.

After this mentioning of “perceptions,” or, really one’s worldview, John starts down his normal rabbit trail of ideas stuck together, his straw-men “set-ups,” and the like. For instance, perceptions are often changed… usually when an unprepared youth of faith goes off to college and finds a university teaming with…

evolutionary psychology (for instance, atheist defender Sam Harris makes the Darwinian psychological statement that “…there’s nothing more natural than rape. Human beings rape, chimpanzees rape, orangutans rape, rape clearly is part of an evolutionary strategy to get your genes into the next generation if you’re a male.”);

ϟ science (often put forward in the classroom as “scientism“);

and militant skepticism.

…they will typically reject their childhood faith, and not set foot into a church till their thirties/forties. It is said that men stop going to church at 18 when their mom stops dragging them, and start back up when their wife drags em’ back (why men hate church).

People first became aware of the problem after hearing the results of a Barna Research Group study that said that between 67% and 94% of Christian students (depending on denomination), within 18 months of graduating high school, are no longer at church. This report was given in 2002 and showed that the largest protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, was losing an average of 88% of their students while in college. (Why Apologetics)

Typically though, later in life the person in question will start reading some scholarly Christian works, or family harkens them to their childhood faith, someone close dies, life hits em’ hard, something happens that draws them back into their faith. Even within someone’s faith there are levels of trust in believing. Professor Stokes points out that such doubt is natural to a person,

Often, however, the cause of our doubt isn’t what you might think. It isn’t necessarily the strength of the arguments that rattles us, but the way they resonate with the unbeliever in each of us (what the Bible calls the “old self”). We hear Tokyo Rose’s voice and she seems to make pretty good sense sometimes. Yet more often than not, if we look closely at the atheist’s arguments, we find that there is little substance. Seeing this can change the argument’s frequency and therefore break its spell. Believers often worry that their doubts signify the rapid approach of full-blown unbelief. But as pastor and author Tim Keller puts it,

Faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.

All thoughtful believers—even those whose faith is mature—encounter doubt. Not a single person has had unadulterated faith. In any case, it certainly won’t do to ignore your doubts, and defusing them will only strengthen your faith. To be sure, doubts can be strong enough to become a trial in your life; but like all trials, they’re meant to refine faith, not stifle it.

Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith: To the Head (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), xvii. (Emphasis added!)

So people are a bit more complicated than space could allow John to state, or that he cares to ponder. I will also agree with him that this conversation has been going on a very long time.* Cicero is a great example, he was born in 106 BC and died in 43 BC, and said the following in response to the skeptics of his day:

But if the structure of the world in all its parts is such that it could not have been better whether in point of utility or beauty, let us consider whether this is the result of chance, or whether on the contrary the parts of the world are in such a condition that they could not possibly have cohered together if they were not controlled by intelligence and by divine providence. If then the products of nature are better than those of art, and if art produces nothing without reason, nature too cannot be deemed to be without reason. When you see a statue or a painting, you recognize the exercise of art; when you observe from a distance the course of a ship, you do not hesitate to assume that its motion is guided by reason and by art; when you look at a sun-dial or a water-clock, you infer that it tells the time by art and not by chance; how then can it be consistent to suppose that the world, which includes both the works of art in question, the craftsmen who made them, and everything else besides, can be devoid of purpose and of reason? Suppose a traveller to carry into Scythia or Britain the orrery recently constructed by our friend Posidonius, which at each revolution reproduces the same motions of the sun, the moon and the five planets that take place in the heavens every twenty-four hours, would any single native doubt that this orrery was the work of a rational being? These thinkers however raise doubts about the world itself from which all things arise and have their being, and debate whether it is the product of chance or necessity of some sort, or of divine reason and intelligence;

Cicero, Nature of the Gods, Translated by H. Rackam, pp. 207-209

So yes, important topics and questions are new to every generation, but these queries have been asked for a very long time, and should continue to be. Believing that mankind will outgrow their “superstitious” faith is merely someone displaying their metaphysical naturalist presuppositions. Now on to another aspect of a statement by John. He said,

“Atheism has been aided by scientific discoveries and rigorous questioning.”

I think this is true if one looks at the situation wrongly. When people do not try on other pairs of glasses, become skeptical of their skepticism, do not use self-refuting propositions (similar to Vincent Bugliosi), or study to see which worldview offers a better explanation, they can become ideologues (religious or secular):

… a “coherent worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer four questions: that of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.” He says that while every major religion makes exclusive claims about truth, “the Christian faith is unique in its ability to answer all four of these questions.” These questions are the bedrock of any worldview… that holds any weight at least.

Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil (Nashville, TN: Word Publishers, 1997), 219–220; taken from the first chapter of my book.

For example, apologist Lee Strobel talks to a philosopher about the evidence that culminated in many atheists rejecting (or wanting to reject) science because of its implications FOR God, or origins [Side note… Einstein introduced the Special Theory of Relativity in 1905, when applied to the universe as a whole in 1915, it became known as the General Theory of Relativity]:

When Albert Einstein developed his general theory of relativity in 1915 and started applying it to the universe as a whole, he was shocked to discover it didn’t allow for a static universe. According to his equations, the universe should either be exploding or imploding. In order to make the universe static, he had to fudge his equations by putting in a facto that would hold the universe steady.

In the 1920’s, the Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman and the Belgium astronomer George Lemaitre were able to develop models based on Einstein’s theory. They predicted the universe was expanding. Of course, this meant that if you went backward in time, the universe would go back to a single origin before which it didn’t exist. Astronomer Fred Hoyle derisively called this the Big Bang — and the name stuck!

Starting in the 1920’s, scientists began to find empirical evidence that supported these purely mathematical models. For instance, in 1929, the American astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the light coming to us from distant galaxies appears redder than it should be, and this is a universal feature of galaxies in all parts of the sky. Hubble explained this red shift as being due to the fact that the galaxies are moving away from us. He concluded that the universe is literally flying apart at enormous velocities. Hubble’s astronomical observations were the first empirical confirmation of the predictions by Friedman and Lemaitre.

Then in the 1940’s, George Gamow predicted that if the Big Bang really happened, then the background temperature of the universe should be just a few degrees above absolute zero. He said this would be a relic from a very early stage of the universe. Sure enough, in 1965, two scientists accidentally discovered the universe’s background radiation — and it was only about 3.7 degrees above absolute zero. There’s no explanation for this apart from the fact that it is a vestige of a very early and a very dense state of the universe, which was predicted by the Big Bang model.

The third main piece of the evidence for the Big Bang is the origin of light elements. Heavy elements, like carbon and iron, are synthesized in the interior of stars and then exploded through supernova into space. But the very, very light elements, like deuterium and helium, cannot have been synthesized in the interior of the stars, because you would need an even more powerful furnace to create them. These elements must have been forged in the furnace of the Big Bang itself at temperatures that were billions of degrees. There’s no other explanation.

So predictions about the Big Bang have been consistently verified by the scientific data. Moreover, they have been corroborated by the failure of every attempt to falsify them by alternative models. Unquestionably, the Big Bang model has impressive scientific credentials . . . . Up to this time, it was taken for granted that the universe as a whole was a static, eternally existing object . . . . At the time an agnostic, American astronomer Robert Jastrow was forced to concede that although details may differ, “the essential element in the astronomical and Biblical accounts of Genesis is the same; the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy”…. Einstein admitted the idea of the expanding universe “irritates me” (presumably, said one prominent scientist, “because of its theological implications”).

Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence that Points Towards God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 105-106, 112.

Here are just two (of the many examples I can provide) of an atheist and an agnostic commenting on the above evidence:

“The essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same; the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy…. The Hubble Law is one of the great discoveries in science; it is one of the main supports of the scientific story of Genesis.” ~ Robert Jastrow: American astronomer and physicist. Founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, he is the director of the Mount Wilson Institute and Hale Solar Laboratory. He is also the author of Red Giants and White Dwarfs (1967) and God and the Astronomers (2nd ed., 2000).

“Certainly there was something that set it all off. Certainly, if you are religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.” ~ Robert Wilson: is an American astronomer, 1978 Nobel laureate in physics, who with Arno Allan Penzias discovered in 1964 the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB)…. While working on a new type of antenna at Bell Labs in Holmdel Township, New Jersey, they found a source of noise in the atmosphere that they could not explain. After removing all potential sources of noise, including pigeon droppings on the antenna, the noise was finally identified as CMB, which served as important corroboration of the Big Bang theory.

Dr. George Smoot, Particle Physicist, Nobel Prize winner, and team leader from the Lawrence-Berkeley Laboratory, regarding the 1992 observations from COBE (the NASA satellite Cosmic Background Explorer): “It’s like looking at God.”(8)

A somewhat more “sober” assessment of the findings was given by Frederick Burnham, a science-historian. He said, “These findings, now available, make the idea that God created the universe a more respectable hypothesis today than at any time in the last 100 years.”(9)

Dr. Stephen Hawking (Theoretical Physicist) described the big bang ripples observations as “the scientific discovery of the century, if not all time.”(10)

Dr. George Greenstein (Professor of Astronomy at Amherst.): “As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency – or, rather, Agency – must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?”(11)

Sir Arthur Eddington (British Astrophysicist): “The idea of a universal mind or Logos would be, I think, a fairly plausible inference from the present state of scientific theory.”(12)

Dr. Arno Penzias (Nobel Prize winner in physics, co-discoverer of the microwave background radiation from the Big Bang): “Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say ‘supernatural’) plan.”(13)

Sir Roger Penrose (Physicist, Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, and joint developer of the Hawking-Penrose Theorems): “I would say the universe has a purpose. It’s not there just somehow by chance.” (14)

Dr. Robert Jastrow (Founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies): “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”(15)

Dr. Frank Tipler (Professor of Math and Physics at Tulane University): “When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.”(16). Tipler since has actually converted to Christianity, resulting in his latest book, The Physics Of Christianity.

Dr. Alexander Polyakov (String Theorist, Princeton): “We know that nature is described by the best of all possible mathematics because God created it.”(17)

Dr. Edward Milne (British Astrophysicist, former Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics, Oxford): “As to the cause of the Universe, in context of expansion, that is left for the reader to insert, but our picture is incomplete without Him [God].”(18)

Dr. Arthur L. Schawlow (Professor of Physics at Stanford University, 1981 Nobel Prize in physics): “It seems to me that when confronted with the marvels of life and the universe, one must ask why and not just how. The only possible answers are religious…. I find a need for God in the universe and in my own life.”(19)

Dr. Wernher von Braun (German-American Pioneer Rocket Scientist) “I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.”(20)

Dr. Frank Tipler (Professor of Math and Physics at Tulane University): “From the perspective of the latest physical theories, Christianity is not a mere religion, but an experimentally testable science.”(21)


Footnotes for this quote


8) Thomas H. Maugh, II (April 24, 1992). “Relics of Big Bang, Seen for First Time”. Los Angeles Times: pp. Al, A30.

9) The Los Angeles Times, Saturday 2nd May 1992.

10) Smoot, George, Wrinkles in Time, 2007 edition , cover.

11) Greenstein, G. 1988. The Symbiotic Universe. New York: William Morrow, p.27.

12) Heeren, F. 1995. Show Me God. Wheeling, IL, Searchlight Publications, p. 233.

13) Margenau, H and R.A. Varghese, ed. 1992. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos. La Salle, IL, Open Court, p. 83.

14) Penrose, R. 1992. A Brief History of Time (movie). Burbank, CA, Paramount Pictures, Inc.

15) Jastrow, R. 1978. God and the Astronomers. New York, W.W. Norton, p. 116.

16) Tipler, F.J. 1994. The Physics Of Immortality. New York, Doubleday, Preface.

17) Gannes, S. October 13, 1986. Fortune. p. 57

18) Heeren, F. 1995. Show Me God. Wheeling, IL, Searchlight Publications, p. 166-167.

19) Margenau, H. and R. A. Varghese, eds. Cosmos, Bios, Theos: Scientists Reflect on Science, God, and the Origins of the Universe, Life, and Homo Sapiens (Open Court Pub. Co., La Salle, IL, 1992).

20) McIver, T. 1986. Ancient Tales and Space-Age Myths of Creationist Evangelism. The Skeptical Inquirer 10:258-276.

21) McIver, T. 1986. Ancient Tales and Space-Age Myths of Creationist Evangelism. The Skeptical Inquirer 10:258-276.

So, far from atheism being supported by science, the theistic worldview has been exemplified above all other models of interpretation (perceptions) of reality. Mind you this isn’t “proof” how the naturalist wrongly interprets the empirical method (scientific positivism), but it is a probability that exceeds others. (I suggest taking time, about an hour, and listen to this presentation by William Lane Craig on the evidences for theism over other worldviews.) Here John makes one of his signature jumps from one topic to a completely different one. I sometimes feel — shot in the dark again — he does this with the idea that he is saying something “scientific” and that everyone should credit his knowledge in on this particular topic (which is not the case), and then he brings that “trust” into a completely different topic.

Odd, to say the least. At any rate, freedom is something atheism does not account for, determinism is (enjoy the John Cleese video to the right). But that is a subject left for another day.

At this pivot point regarding freedom in one sentence to abortion in the following deserves some attention. Mr. Van Huizum seems to think that those who stand against abortion are doing so because God says. There are many atheists who are pro-life. How do they make their argument then? Science! Oooooh DRAT! Foiled by his own premise. If John had a grave to roll over in, he would. Here, for example, is model Kathy Ireland using the scientific laws to make her point:

Kathy Ireland, many years ago, was on Bill Mahers Politically Incorrectand the discussion that ensued shows the frailty of the liberal/relativistic position:

Bill Maher: Kathy, why do you oppose a women’s right to choose

Kathy Ireland: Bill, when my husband was going to medical school I underwent a transformation. Because I used to be in favor of abortion. But I noticed when I was reading through some of his medical teaching books, that according to a law in science known as the law of biogenesis, every living thing reproduces after it own kind. That means dog produce dogs, cats produce cats, humans produce humans. If we want to know what something is we simply ask what are its parents. If we know what the parents are, we know what the thing in question is. And I reasoned from that because human parents can only produce human offspring, unborn human fetuses could be nothing but human beings, because the law of biogenesis rules out every other alternative. And I concluded therefore that because human fetuses were part of our family, we should not harm them without justification.

Bill Maher: Well Kathy, that’s just your opinion!

In October 2002, Kathy Ireland made a compelling argument against abortion on the Fox News Channel’s Hannity and Colmes political debate show. Alan Colmes described Ireland’s opinions as religious, but Ireland said that her views on abortion do not stem from faith. She asserted that even atheists could realize that abortion is wrong. Kathy told Alan that her belief is founded in science and technology, which she says, “has come a long way since Roe vs. Wade.”

Ireland also defended her values as being pro-women, stating, “We need to support these women who are in crisis pregnancy situations.” She claimed that because scientific evidence proves that abortion is murder, “I have no choice but to defend the most vulnerable among us.”

Here is one the best presentations detailing some of the above by Scott Klusendorf, a guy who’s specialty is the pro-life position in contradistinction to the pro-choice one. [Actually, since one position is “pro-life,” the other one is rightfully the “pro-death” position.] (Audio presentation to the right, 30-minutes.) So John Van Huizum’s statement that the pro-life position is merely based on “God says so” seems to be — either out of ignorance or bias — a straw-man argument of what the other side truly believes. Again, John seems to cheapen these important issues, not giving the other side its proper due.

Right when you think Mr. Huizum is staying on one topic, he switches again in his last paragraph by quoting a verse about taxes, as if this verse has something to do with a letter from Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists. I dissect this position quite a bit in my paper found here, but this quote from a seminary level text that touches on the idea (separating the religious realm from the secular) John expresses:

Such “exclude religion” arguments are wrong because marriage is not a religion! When voters define marriage, they are not establishing a religion. In the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” the word “religion” refers to the church that people attend and support. “Religion” means being a Baptist or Catholic or Presbyterian or Jew. It does not mean being married. These arguments try to make the word “religion” in the Constitution mean something different from what it has always meant.

These arguments also make the logical mistake of failing to distinguish the reasons for a law from the content of the law. There were religious reasons behind many of our laws, but these laws do not “establish” a religion. All major religions have teachings against stealing, but laws against stealing do not “establish a religion.” All religions have laws against murder, but laws against murder do not “establish a religion.” The campaign to abolish slavery in the United States and England was led by many Christians, based on their religious convictions, but laws abolishing slavery do not “establish a religion.” The campaign to end racial discrimination and segregation was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist pastor, who preached against racial injustice from the Bible. But laws against discrimination and segregation do not “establish a religion.”

If these “exclude religion” arguments succeed in court, they could soon be applied against evangelicals and Catholics who make “religious” arguments against abortion. Majority votes to protect unborn children could then be invalidated by saying these voters are “establishing a religion.” And, by such reasoning, all the votes of religious citizens for almost any issue could be found invalid by court decree! This would be the direct opposite of the kind of country the Founding Fathers established, and the direct opposite of what they meant by “free exercise” of religion in the First Amendment.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 31.

So you see that — again — John’s understating of theology, culture, philosophy and science is one that is the culmination (I suspect) of a life lived rejecting the other side of the issue as mere opinion… or worse yet, as delusional, without really taking into consideration the best of the opposing views scholarly arguments. All this evidence being shown I suspect that john rejects faith, God, conservative ideals for psychological reasons more than evidential. I will begin to end this critique with a presentation by Dr. Paul C. Vitz, Professor of Psychology at New York University (emeritus?).

Now, I promised to end with more on a quote I used from the 9th District Court that I thought John would agree with. Let’s compare a portion from both statements:

1) “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life…”

2) “…the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own reality…”

Whether you’re an Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian or Muslim, agnostic, [Democrat, Republican, Libertarian], it doesn’t matter. Your reality is just that… your reality, or opinion, or personal dogma. I want to now complete one of the quotes that I left somewhat edited, not only that, but I want to ask you if you still agree with it after you find out who wrote it.

Ready?

“Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”

Mussolini, Diuturna pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18.

______________________________________________________

*As the link points out, intelligent design is not a recent invention of creationists and their response to “lost” court case. Here is more:

Is intelligent design based on the Bible?

No. The idea that human beings can observe signs of intelligent design in nature reaches back to the foundations of both science and civilization. In the Greco-Roman tradition, Plato and Cicero both espoused early versions of intelligent design. In the history of science, most scientists until the latter part of the nineteenth century accepted some form of intelligent design, including Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, meanwhile, the idea that design can be discerned in nature can be found not only in the Bible but among Jewish philosophers such as Philo and in the writings of the Early Church Fathers. The scientific community largely rejected design in the early twentieth century after neo-Darwinism claimed to be able to explain the emergence of biological complexity through the unintelligent process of natural selection acting on random mutations. In recent decades, however, new research and discoveries in such fields as physics, cosmology, biochemistry, genetics, and paleontology have caused a growing number of scientists and science theorists to question neo-Darwinism and propose intelligent design as the best explanation for the existence of specified complexity throughout the natural world.

religion-science-harmony

Discussing Evidences for the General Theory of Evolution… Still Waiting

“Biochemists and biologists who adhere blindly to the Darwinism theory search for results that will be in agreement with their theories and consequently orient their research in a given direction, whether it be in the field of ecology, ethology, sociology, demography (dynamics of populations), genetics (so-called evolutionary genetics), or paleontology. This intrusion of theories has unfortunate results: it deprives observations and experiments of their objectivity, makes them biased, and, moreover, creates false problems.” ~ P. P. Grasse

I posted a response to the above video on YouTube and have a bit of engagement going on. The first conversation was with a layman. The second is with a person who says he is a degreed biologist. He has a Google account, Prototype Atheist. I have yet to see a degree (what level of a degree) Prototype Atheist has, but, I have engaged with doctoral holding professors of biology in the past. (And may I say, there are similarities to how these two wish to co-opt language.) So, below will be the “evolving” engagement from this post. Enjoy real conversation:

Here is my original post regarding the video:

@Bill Walton “I believe in science” = Dumb. As if science has anything to do with history. These scientists believe in science AND ARE young earth creationists… showing that origin science (historical sciences) has no bearing on working science (the nuclear weight of something or the chemical make-up of another):

▼ Professor Dr Bernard Brandstater—pioneer in anesthetics. Amongst many other achievements, he pioneered assisted breathing for premature babies with prolonged incubation and developed an improved catheter for epidural anesthesia, both adopted around the world.
▼ Prof. Stuart Burgess—a world expert in biomimetics (imitating design in nature). He is Professor of Engineering Design, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bristol (UK) and leads the Design Engineering Research Group at the university. Dr Burgess is the author of over 40 papers published in science journals, and another 50 conference proceedings. He has also registered 7 patents and has received various awards, the Wessex Institute Scientific Medal being the most recent.
▼ Professor Dr Ben Carson—pioneer pediatric neurosurgeon. He was long-term director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. He was the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head and also pioneered surgery to cure epilepsy in young children, and much else. He has been awarded 51 honorary doctorates, including from Yale and Columbia universities in recognition of his outstanding achievements. He is a member of the Alpha Honor Medical Society, the Horatio Alger Society of Distinguished Americans, and sits on numerous business and education boards. In 2001, CNN and Time magazine named Ben Carson as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists. In that same year, the Library of Congress selected him as one of 89 ‘Living Legends’. In February 2008, President Bush awarded Carson the Ford’s Theater Lincoln Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USA’s highest civilian honors.
▼ Dr Raymond Damadian—largely responsible for developing medical imaging using magnetic resonance (MRI). He has been honored with the United States’ National Medal of Technology, the Lincoln-Edison Medal, and induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame alongside Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright brothers. In 2001 the Lemelson-MIT program bestowed its lifetime achievement award on Dr Damadian as “the man who invented the MRI scanner”. It is commonly recognized that he was discriminated against in not at least sharing a Nobel Prize for his work (two others shared the award), although Damadian was the discoverer that diseased tissue would have a different signal from healthy.’
▼ Dr John Hartnett—developed the world’s most precise atomic clocks, which are used in research and industry around the globe. He is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, where he is an Associate Professor. In his relatively short career, he has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters, and conference proceedings.
▼ Dr Raymond Jones—solved the major problem of the indigestibility of Leucaena (a tropical legume) for grazing cattle in Australia, among other achievements. This research has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the Australian beef industry. He was honored with the CSIRO Gold Medal for Research Excellence, and the Urrbrae Award.
▼ Dr Felix Konotey-Ahulu—many pioneering contributions, especially in sickle cell disease management. He is Kwegyir Aggrey Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, and Consultant Physician Genetic Counsellor in Sickle Cell and Other Haemoglobinopathies, Phoenix Hospital Group, London, UK. Ironically, sickle cell disease is often incorrectly held up as a ‘proof of evolution’ in science textbooks. Dr Konotey-Ahulu has received many awards in recognition of his work.
▼ Dr John Sanford—has been granted over 30 patents arising from his research in plant breeding and genetics. His most significant scientific contributions involve three inventions, the biolistic (`gene gun’) process, pathogen-derived resistance, and genetic immunization. A large fraction of the transgenic crops (in terms of both numbers and area planted) grown in the world today were genetically engineered using the gene gun technology developed by John and his collaborators. Dr Sanford was honoured with the Distinguished Inventor Award by the Central New York Patent Law Association in 1990 and 1995)
▼ Dr Wally (Siang Hwa) Tow—groundbreaking research in ‘molar pregnancy’, a poverty-related disease. He was invited to lecture in some fourteen top Obstetrics-Gynaecology departments in America in 1962-3, including leading universities such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, New York, UCLA, Cornell, and Stanford. He was awarded the William Blair Bell Lectureship by the RCOG in recognition of the importance of this work. He served as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, National University of Singapore.

Here is the response TO ME by RoflMcCopter:

@PapaGiorgio So a handful of people (several in completely unrelated fields) believe fantasy over reality. Look up appeal to authority.

(You will note the “strong armed patriotic guy” will always stand for me) I respond:

@RoflMcCopter I am not concluding creation to be true because scientists believe in it. You miss the point, and I do not need to go to my home library to get a definition from my many philosophy dictionaries, philosophy textbooks, or books on logic. I will again post the above:

▼ “As if science has anything to do with history. These scientists believe in science AND ARE young earth creationists… showing that origin science (historical sciences) has no bearing on working science (the nuclear weight of something or the chemical make-up of another).”

Another example. Werner von Braun, he is the guy who is most credited in getting us to the moon. He worked side-by-side with people at NASA who were ardent evolutionists. Both he and they could operate at high levels of science that is applicable to the real world. Evolution is not this. That is, it is not “science” but historical science. With historical science there are lots of presuppositions, guesses, interpretation, and the like. Most of which are based on a starting premise. I will give an example of one such starting (metaphysical) starting point:

▼ “…because we have a priori commitment, a commitment — a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” ~ Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin.

This is not a scientific starting point. It is a metaphysical one. I will allow the past senior paleontologist at the prestigious British Museum of Natural History (which houses the world’s largest fossil collection – sixty million specimens) make a point:

▼ “For almost 20 years I thought I was working on evolution…. But there was not one thing I knew about it…. So for the last few weeks I’ve tried putting a simple question to various people and groups of people. Question is: ‘Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing, any one thing that is true?’ I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all i got there was silence for a long time and eventually one person said, ‘Yes, I do know one thing -–it ought not to be taught in high school.’ … During the past few years… you have experienced a shift from evolution as knowledge to evolution as faith…. Evolution not only conveys no knowledge, but seems somehow to convey anti-knowledge.” ~ Colin Patterson

Much thought, SeanG [AKA, Papa Giorgio], author of the book, “Worldviews: A Click Away from Binary Collisions (Religio-Political Apologetics)

@PapaGiorgio Surely. Why else would you post a list of scientists who agree with you, if not for argument from authority?

Make up what points you wish, but it feels like thou doth protest too much.

@RoflMcCopter Why else”? I clearly explained why. Very clearly.

You see, when Bill Walton said he believes in “science,” so do all the Nobel winning scientists and current stack of thousands of young earth professors and research scientists and medical doctors; as well as the thousands of ID’ers (professors and scientists and medical doctors). They ALL believe in science. Darwinism is not science.

Come up with all the points y o u wish, wrong points at that: saying I am appealing to authority when in fact I am not. My appeal shows Walton’s category mistake between working and origin science. He may believe in both, science proper, and Darwinism. But he would still be driving a car and shaving with an electric razor if we — as a world/country — believed in any of the following:

a) Punctuationist
b) Macromutationist
c) Neutral Selectionist
d) Structuralist
e) Natural Order Systematics
f) Transformed Cladist
g) Panspermia
h) Discontinuitist
i) Special Creation
j) Theistic Evolutionism
k) Design Theorist
l) Darwinism
m) Neo-Darwinism

Science works independent of the above metaphysical positions.

This is where Prototype Atheist hops into the conversation. The “A” with the swirl is kinda the universal [one of them] symbol for atheism:

@PapaGiorgio No, this attempt to separate science into “observational” and “historical” is 100% bullshit creationist propaganda. There is no such differentiation. Or are you attempting to tell me that we should never convict murderers based upon the physical evidence, only if a witness was there and observed what occurred?

First of all, we can and do observe evolution all the time. Every day. Evolution is simply the change in allele frequencies in a population over time. What you call “macroevolution” is just the result of this process over longer periods of time, and the evidence from the fossil record and phylogenetics and molecular biology and many other fields confirm this. Asking us to observe “macroevolution” is like me telling you boil an egg in a nanosecond, and then when you can’t, telling you that it’s impossible to boil an egg. The process requires time. Period.

The fact that scientists can be religious is wholly irrelevant. I was still a Christian even after having earned an advanced degree in molecular biology and having studied evolution extensively. I simply never bothered to reconcile my beliefs with my knowledge. It’s very easy to compartmentalize or fail to scrutinize your beliefs, especially if they are comforting or have been with you since a young age. You just have to be honest with yourself. Besides, knowing how to put a rocket into space has little bearing on understanding why the god of the Bible doesn’t exist. However, understanding the cosmological timeline, evolution, genetics, etc. will definitely bring any Christian to the point of cognitive dissonance.

@PrototypeAtheist (Just to note… my original point stands, because, science is about the observable and repeatable… you just said [as Dawkins does], macro evolution is not observable in our lifetime. So by definition then, it is interpretive.)

No. Allele change is not macro-evolution. All creationists, intelligent design theorists, and the like believe in micro change. We are not talking about change in eye color, long, short, or medium hair in dogs, etc. We are talking about an odorless and colorless gas ending up with a B.O. ridden South East Asian man coming home from an engineering job.

In fact, Dr. Melendy proffered evidence of macro evolution early in a conversation. It ended up being a fish bred to be smaller in size (PART 1 of our discussion; PART 2). Dr. Melendy, like yourself, are making semantic errors. For the purposes of the above and below discussion, “evolution” is defined as the “General Theory of Evolution” (GTE): “the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form.”

Maybe this mock conversation will help:

Creationist: Before we get started, we’ve got to clear up some terms. Words can be used a lot of different ways.
Evolutionist: That’s what we have dictionaries for.
Creationist: This is a little trickier than that. like, how would you define the word “adult?”
Evolutionist: Mature. Responsible. Grown up. Why?
Creationist: So, when you (as a mature, responsible grown-up) want something to read, do you shop at an adult bookstore?… I don’t think so. We have the same problem here. “Evolution” and “creationism” are both wagon words. “
Evolutionist: Wagon words?
Creationist: Yeah, you know, loaded with other stuff that comes along when you pull the handle [of a wagon].
Evolutionist: How do you mean?
Creationist: Well, take “evolution.” Some people talk as though all it means is “change over time.” If that were all it meant, I’d buy it.
Evolutionist: You mean I win already?
Creationist: No, of course not. All I’m saying is that nobody in their right mind questions that some animals have changed some through the course of their existence on earth. What I find, though, is that when I grab the [wagon] handle, all sorts of other things come along with it. Things like a belief that an unguided, purposeless process can cause the accumulation of minor changes and cascade them into major complex innovations.
Evolutionist: What about “creationism?”
Creationist: Well, I prefer to be called a design theorist. My major point is that some things in the natural world are so complex that it seems more likely that they were designed rather than arose by chance. Unfortunately, when I pull this handle… you find that you’re also stuck with defending a geologically young earth… and the idea that everything we see on earth was created in six calendar days.
Evolutionist: So you’re saying that the terms are too broad?
Creationist: Yeah. I’ve seen people use “evolution” to refer to something as simple as minor changes in bird beaks. I’ve also seen people use the term to mean the sponatanious appearance of life… its unguided creation of major innovations (like the birds themselves)… and its purposeless progression into incredible complexity (like the human brain).
Evolutionist: And I’ve seen people use the term “creationism” for everything from a strict literal reading of Genesis… all the way to the idea that God started the ball rolling and then let nature take its course. Yeah, I guess you’re right – the terms are too broad.
Creationist: May I suggest that we use these terms so that we don’t end up pulling more than we want?

  1. Creation or Creation-science: The belief that the earth is no more than 10,0000 years old, and that all biological life forms were created in six calendar days and have remained relatively stable throughout their existence.
  2. Intelligent Design or Design Theory: The belief that the earth and biological life owe their existence to a purposeful, intelligent creation.
  3. Darwinism: The belief that undirected mechanistic processes (primarily random mutation and natural selection) can account for all the diverse and complex living organisms that exist. Insists that there is no long range plan or purpose in the history of life (i.e., that changes happen without intent).
  4. Micro-evolution: Refers to minor variations that occur in populations over time. Examples include variation in moth population and finch beaks, and the emergence of different breeds of dogs.
  5. Macro-evolution: Refers to the emergence of major innovations or the unguided development of new structures (like wings), new organs (like lungs), and body plans (like the origin of insects and birds). Includes changes above the species level, especially new phyla or classes. [species and classes are a hot – debatable – topic.]
  6. Common Descent: The theory that all currently living organisms are descended from a common [or a few common] ancestor[s].

And, as already note:

General Theory of Evolution (GTE): “the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form.”( See Below)

Even with Theodosius Dobzhansky increasing mutation rates in fruit flies by 15,000-percent. All he got were inferior fruit flies. Ernst Mayr described one such experiment which set out to increase the number of bristles in one group, but with both groups starting from the same stock with an average of 36 bristles. By selecting for lower-than-normal number of bristles over thirty generations, the experimenters were able to reduce the average carried by the offspring to 25 bristles. After thirty generations, however, the line became sterile and died out. The second group was selected for higher than average number of bristles and over twenty generations the average rose from 36 to 56. Again, however, sterility became so common that the experiment was wound up.

▼ “Obviously,” says Mayr, “any drastic improvement under selection must seriously deplete the store of genetic variability.”. “The most frequent correlated response of one-sided selection is a drop in general fitness. This plagues virtually every breeding experiment.”

This limit to the amount of genetic variability in species, Mayr termed “genetic homeostasis.” So stop the semantics. I am talking about the BIG theory… the “life coming from cooling rocks” scenario.

(To skip this aside, press here)


Extended Aside…


Here is the definition I used for the GTC above. I will dig out Kerkut’s book when I have the time to put into context HIS definition [here is Kerkut’s quote if you wish]:

...Evolution Discussed...

 A. Kerkut emphasizes that all seven basic assumptions on which evolu­tionary theory rests are “by their nature… not capable of experimental verification” (Implications of Evolution, p. 7). [1] The assumption that “non­living things gave rise to living material… is still just an assumption” (ibid., p. 150). [2] The assumption that “biogenesis occurred only once… is a matter of belief rather than proof” (op. cit.). [3] The assumption that “Vi­ruses, Bacteria, Protozoa and the higher animals were all interrelated” biologically as an evolutionary phenomenon lacks definite evidence (ibid., p. 151). [4] The assumption that “the Protozoa gave rise to the Metazoa” has no basis in definite knowledge (ibid., pp. 151 ff.). [5] The assumption that “the various invertebrate phyla are interrelated” depends on “tenuous and cir­cumstantial” evidence and not on evidence that allows “a verdict of definite relationships” (ibid., pp. 152 f.). [6] The assumption that “the invertebrates gave rise to the vertebrates” turns on evidence gained by prior belief (ibid., p. 153). Although he finds “somewhat stronger ground” for assuming that “fish, amphibia, reptiles, birds and mammals are interrelated,” [7] Kerkut con­cedes that many key fossil transitions are “not well documented and we have as yet to obtain a satisfactory objective method of dating the fossils” (ibid., p. 153). “In effect, much of the evolution of the major groups of animals has to be taken on trust” (ibid., p. 154); “there are many discrete groups of animals and… we do not know how they have evolved nor how they are interrelated” (ibid., p. vii). In short, the theory that “all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form,” says Kerkut, has insufficiently strong evi­dential supports “to consider it as anything more than a working hypothe­sis” (ibid., p. 157). He thinks “premature and not satisfactorily supported by present-day evidence,” therefore, “the attempt to explain all living forms in terms of an evolution from a unique source,” that is, from a common ancestor (ibid., pp. vii f.)

It is therefore understandable why commentators speak more and more of a crisis of evolutionary theory. Establishment science’s long regnant view that gradual development accounts for the solar system, earth, life and all else is in serious dispute. Not in many decades has so much doubt emerged among scientists about the so-called irrefutable evidence that evolution is what accounts for life on planet earth. Although it was still taught long thereafter in high schools, Ernst Haeckel’s “biogenetic law” that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” had collapsed already in the late 1920s. The absence in recent texts of evolutionary charts depicting the common descent even of trees from a single form is noteworthy. Darwin’s insistence that nature makes no leaps, and that natural selection and chance adequately account for change in species, has lost credibility. Pa­leontologists and biologists are at odds over the significance of the fossil record, while gradualists and episodists disagree over the supposed tempo of evolution or whether the origin of species is consistent with microevolution or only with sudden gaps in the forms of life.

Gould, for example, opts for natural selection and, remarkably, combines it with saltation. He grants that “the fossil record does not support” the belief “in slow evolutionary change preached by most paleontologists” (and projected by Darwin); instead, “mass extinction and abrupt origination reign.. . . Gradualism is not exclusively valid (in fact, I regard it as rather rare). Natural selection contains no statement about rates. It can encompass rapid (geologically instantaneous) change by speciation in small popula­tions as well as the conventional and immeasurably slow transformation of entire lineages” (Ever Since Darwin, p. 271). Natural selection here becomes an elastic phrase that can accommodate to everything while re­quiring no significant empirical attestation.

University of Glasgow scientists Chris Darnbrough, John Goddard and William S. Stevely indicate problem areas that beset evolutionary theory: “The experiments demonstrating the formation of a variety of organic molecules from presumptive prebiotic soups,” they write, “fall far short of providing a pathway for chemical evolution. Again, it is self-evident that the fossil record leaves much to be desired and few biologists recognize the dependence of the geological column on radiometric dating methods based on questionable assumptions about initial conditions. The whole his­tory of evolutionary thought is littered with the debris of dubious assump­tions and misinterpretations, especially in the area of fossil ‘hominids.’ To come up to date, protein and DNA sequence data, generally viewed as consistent with an evolutionary explanation of diversity, are invariably interpreted using methods which presuppose, but do not demonstrate evolu­tionary relationships, and which use criteria that are essentially functional and teleological. Finally, there is a collection of isolated fragmentary pieces of evidence which are usually dismissed as anecdotal because they are irreconcilable with the evolutionary model” (“American Creation” [corre­spondence], by Chris Darnbrough, John Goddard and William S. Stevely, Nature, pp. 95 f.).

From ongoing conflicts and readjustments it is apparent that there never was nor is there now only one theory of evolution. Many nontheistic schol­ars, to be sure, insist that evolution is and has always been “a fact.” Laurie R. Godfrey affirms that “there is actually widespread agreement in scien­tific circles that the evidence overwhelmingly supports evolutionism” and quotes Gould as saying that “none of the current controversy within evolu­tionary theory should give any comfort, not the slightest iota, to any cre­ationists” (“The Flood of Antievolution,” pp. 5-10, p. 10). If, as Godfrey insists, even the most sweeping revisions and reversals of scientific theory ought to be viewed not as weaknesses in evolutionary claims but rather as reflections of ongoing differences that inhere in “doing science—posing, testing and debating alternative explanations,” then the emphasis is proper only if Godfrey refuses to attach finality and a universal validity-claim to anticreationist evolutionary theses.

The history of evolutionary theory is far from complete and its present status ambiguous. Hampton L. Carson notes the difficulty of integrating the dual lines of study pursued by biological evolutionists when on the one hand they project the course of evolution that is held to produce contem­porary organisms, and when on the other they analyze supposed evolution­ary causation. Carson notes, moreover, that presentation of new approaches even to student audiences now requires an understanding of sophisticated computer techniques and an awareness of complex and sometimes esoteric theory; he ventures the bold observation that “new mutations and recom­binations” of evolutionary theory will themselves “be subject to natural selection” (“Introduction to a Pivotal Subject” [review of Evolution by Theodosius Dobzhansky and others, and of Organismic Evolution by Verne Grant], pp. 1272 f.).

Yet most secular evolutionists continue to assume that evolution is a complex fact and therefore debate only its mechanism. Appealing to con­sensus rather than to demonstrative data, G. G. Simpson states that “no evolutionist since [Darwin has] seriously questioned that man did originate by evolution”; he insists, moreover, that “the problem [the origin of life] can be attacked scientifically” (“The World into Which Darwin Led Us.” pp. 966-974). Simpson’s advance confidence in naturalistic explanation ex­udes a strong bias against theistic premises.

But Thomas S. Kuhn considers the physical sciences to be grounded less on empirical facts that on academically defined assumptions about the nature of the universe, assumptions that are unprovable, questionable and reversible (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). His approach differs somewhat from Michael Polanyi’s assault on the objectivity of human knowledge (Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy), a view that Christian theism disputes on its own ground. Yet both Kuhn’s emphasis and Polanyi’s tend to put a question mark after absolutist evolu­tionary claims.

Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, Vol VI: God Who Stands and Stays (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1983), 182-184.

[back to text]

A couple other definitions to support my use:

This descent with modification might involve only a slight change in the proportion of different alleles (that is, different forms of a gene), or it might involve substantial changes in the genome that eventually cause the divergences that form the phylogenetic tree of life.

Robert T. Pennock, Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationists (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 98. (emphasis added)

Evolution by natural selection and the various other mechanisms mentioned above may lead, over time, to slight changes or very large changes in the descendants of the original organisms. Biologists sometimes divide evolution into two processes: micro-evolution, or change in gene frequency within a population, which may lead to the formation of new species; and macroevolution, which involves evolutionary change above the species level

Tim M. Berra, Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: A Basic Guide to the Facts in the Evolutionary Debate (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990), 11-12. (emphasis added)

I just wish to note that American Heritage Science Dictionary defines macroevolution as evolution that results in the formation of a new taxonomic group above the level of a species. Philip Kitcher notes evolutionary bilogist’s, Stephen J. Gould, rejection of micromutational changes stacking up to equal a macro-change. (Side-note: knowing Dr. Gould’s worldview (Marxism), one can attribute a Hegelian dialectic involved in his metaphysical view of origins. Thus, this is another hint at how assumptions interpret the evidence.):

Some biologists, notably Gould, think that the further arguments can be given and that gradualists are wrong about both the tempo and the mode of evolution. Gould denies that the well-understood cases of allelic replacement in fruit flies or peppered moths provide a basis for extrapolation. He maintains that large-scale morphological shifts [macromutation/macroevolution] need not result from a succession of genetic changes, each producing a small phenotypic effect.

Philip Kitcher, Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1982), 148.

To better define Dr. Gould’s and other views on this gradual versus large leaps in evolution that lead to new taxonomic groups, here is the Oxford Dictionary of Biology’s definition of punctuated equilibrium:

A theory proposing that plant and animal species usually arise very quickly in terms of geological time (in less than 100 000 years) and seldom through a process of gradual change. It thus questions the traditional Darwinian theory of evolution, citing as evidence the discontinuities observed in the fossil records of certain animal groups (e.g. the ammonites).


Biotic-Message 300

For extended quotes, click books.

GA Kerkut 300

This is an issue, macro versus micro, species versus genus or order, and the like… are mixed up by some of the smartest people. For instance, Michael Shermer in his Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design, he notes as an example of macroevolutoin an inter-species adaptation that was already innate in the E. Coli baterium already (pp. 75-76). In fact, the founding scientist of this program at the University of Michigan grew so frustrated with the idea that he was getting nowhere, he turned to a computer simulation to get his desired data:

According to biology professor Dr Scott Minnich, the evolutionist researcher Dr Richard Lenski bred bacteria for more than 20,000 generations with all sorts of selective environments in the hope of getting a spontaneous increase in complexity—i.e. real evolution in the lab. He showed that they adapted to their environment, but the experiment failed to demonstrate the emergence of true novelty or spontaneous complexity. The bacteria were not only still bacteria, they were the same types of bacteria. So, says Minnich, he decided to work on digital organisms instead—computer simulations, which gave him the result he wanted in 15,000 generations. The lesson is clear: the real world of biology is very different from the carefully set up and manipulated world of electronic on-screen simulations. (Blast from the Past)

Similarly, in my discussion with Dr. Melendy, he as well mixes up this distinction. Early in the discussion Dr. Melendy says macroevolution is observable in the laboratory. I ask multiple times to give me an example: @TomMelendy, I missed the observation MACRO evolutionary proof. Please explain what this observation has been. Is there a peer reviewed article you can refer me to.” Here is the portion that triggered my interest in this strain (I will emphasize what caught my eye):

Tom Melendy Gravity is called a law and can be and has been observed. Macro-Evolution has never been observed…

Dr. Melendy responds, and I will emphasize the point that concerned me:

Jim, Macro evolution has been observed in the laboratory under controlled conditions – within just a few generations you can “breed” fish to be miniature fish, which reproduce and “grow” up while never getting bigger than the size they were bred for. And Jim, I NEVER said that belief in evolution in inconsistent with a belief in God. I am merely saying that the case for evolution is overwhelming and cannot be denied by any rational person who bothers to examine the evidence. Belief in God is based on faith, not evidence; and it would be entirely appropriate to believe that evolution, like the other laws of the universe, are merely the hands of God shaping the world we live in. As for referring to evolution as “intelligent design”, I would have to agree – there can be no more intelligent a design program than the evolution that created the amazing diversity of life on this planet including mankind himself.

After pressing the point, I prodded him some more…

@Dr.Melendy, you said:

1) Macro evolution has been observed in the laboratory under controlled conditions – within just a few generations you can “breed” fish to be miniature fish, which reproduce and “grow” up while never getting bigger than the size they were bred for.

Second Statement:

2) I pointed out how a macroevolutionary experiment cannot be done in the laboratory because of the time frame required for cytogenetic changes to occur.

Miniaturizing a fish is not macro-evolution!? You have a Ph.D. alright — in obfuscating terms.

American Heritage Science Dictionary: “Evolution that results in the formation of a new taxonomic group above the level of a species.”
★ From an old 1962 textbook (Holt, Rinehart, Winston, [1962]… probably when you were going through school?) Evolution and Genetics: “The Modern Theory of Evolution:Quantum evolution, also known as mega- and macroevolution, is the term applied to the rapid shift of a population to a new equilibrium distinctly unlike the ancestral condition, thus leading to the origin of higher taxonomic categories such as new orders and classes.”
What Is Evolution, Ernst Mayr: “Evolution above the species level; the evolution of higher taxa and the production of evolutionary novelties, such as new structures.”

Species is the key… you seem to be conflating it a bit.

So are you positing that this “smaller fish,” which in one breath you say is evidence of “Quantum evolution” a new taxonomy? Or is it [Quantum evolution] not able to be done in the laboratory because of the time frame required for cytogenetic changes to occur is not long enough in human terms?

So, Macroevolution is not observable, correct?

re-read!!! – I never said “macro” evolution could be observed. I was referring to the microevolutionary changes…

I didn’t take kind to this obfuscation of the conversation. I continued:

Let us get into the nitty-gritty later, I want to define terms first.

SPECIES and MACROEVOLUTION:

Species is not well defined. Example: Canis Domesticus (say, a, German Shepherd) and Canis Lupus (wolf) are classified as two separate species. But they can interbreed (i.e. a Wolf and a German Shepherd). But a Chihuahua and a Great Dane cannot breed, but they are both Canis Domesticus (the same species). The arctic hair cannot breed with the Florida hair, but both breed with the Dakota hair. Evolutionists recognize certain bowerbirds as distinct species even though they often interbreed.

Or consider the case of two different kinds of squirrels separated by the Grand Canyon. The Kaibab squirrel inhabits the north side of the canyon, while the Abert squirrel inhabits the south side. It seems evident the two descended from one original population. Rarely, however, can squirrels from both populations come together, and thus there is no interbreeding between them. And, for some time biologists have disagreed as to whether the squirrels had reached the level of two separate species.

Look, you could go to Galapagos Islands and get a pair of finches and bring them back to a laboratory and just let them have sex. After a few generations you will have small beaked, medium beaked, large beaked finches. The information is already in there genome, nothing new was created, specificity was lost if anything. Now if you simulate a drought, like on Galapagos, so that the seeds become hard and more beak strength is needed to open them, then of course the larger beaked finch will survive. A creationist came up with the survival of the fittest twenty-four years prior to Darwin. After all the other “parent” finches die off, you are left with only large beaked finches in the laboratory. This is not evolution; no new information was gained in the process. There are limits to its change, strep-throat may change into a flesh eating virus, but it loss specificity to get to that point or already had the information in its genome. It’s still strep-throat.

That finch didn’t turn into a dinosaur; that dog didn’t turn into a cat; that ape didn’t turn into a man, etc.. The genetic barriers wont and don’t allow it. You can post all the sites in the world, but you will never be able to find one proof of macroevolution in the fossil record or in the living world. All we have ever seen is what evolutionists’ call “subspeciation” (variation within a type), never “transpeciation” (change from one type to others). The primrose is a prime example of my point. The alleged new species of primrose that de Vries thought he had “discovered” were not new species at all but rather mere variations of the same species.

This “sport” (a certain primrose that de Vries created), with it’s doubled chromosome [no new information was added, it merely doubled the information that was already there], is still a primrose. Stickleback fish may diversify into fresh-water dwellers and salt–water dwellers, but both remain sticklebacks. One fruit fly may breed on apple trees and another on hawthorn trees, but both remain fruit flies. Speciation is a means of creating diversity within types of living things, but macroevolution is much more than diversity.

Macroevolution requires an increase of the gene pool, the addition of new genetic information, whereas the means to speciation discussed above represent the loss of genetic information (how so?). Both physical and ecological isolation produce varieties by cutting a small population off from its parent population and building a new group from the more limited genetic information contained in the small population. A large population carries genetic reserve, a wealth of concealed recessive genes. In a small group cut off from the parent population, some of these recessive traits may be expressed more often. This makes for interesting diversity, but it should not blind us to the fact that the total genetic variability in the small group is reduced!.

The appearance of reproductively isolated populations represents microevolution, not macro-evolution. Vertical change – to a new level of complexity – requires the input of additional genetic information. Can that information – the ensembles of new genes to make wrens, rabbits, and Hawthorne trees be gleaned from random mutations?

Thus far, there appears to be good evidence that the roles mutations are able to play are severely restricted by and within the existing higher-level blueprint of the organism’s whole genome.

To go from one-celled organisms to a human being means that information must be added to the genetic messages at each step of the way. Mechanisms for the loss of genetic information cannot be used as support for a theory requiring vast increases of genetic information.

Speciation is actually akin to what breeders do. They isolate a small group of plants or animals and force them to interbreed, cutting them off from the larger gene pool to which they belong. A century of breeding testifies to the fact that this produces limited change only. It does produce the open-ended change required by Darwinian evolution. Some think, as do I, that the extinction of the dinosaurs occurred because they didn’t have the genetic diversity to adapt to environmental changes.

Percival Davis & Dean H. Kenyon, with Charles B. Thaxton as Academic Editor, Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins, 2nd Edition (Dallas, TX: Haughton Publishing Co., 1993), 19-20.

After disagreeing with my point, he mentioned that, “Macroevolution does NOT require an “increase in the gene pool” – the gene pool of the horse and donkey are virtually identical, yet they are separate species (yet closely related enough to produce sterile offspring). The reason they are different species is due to the cytogenetic changes (note that does NOT involve additional genetic material or a greater gene pool).”

To which I again respond: 

You are telling me that a donkey and a horse are a donkey ARE proof of macroevolution? You are telling me as well that Cats (Felidae) are a diverse group of carnivores that includes domestic cats, lions, tigers, ocelots, jaguars, caracals, leopards, mountain lions, lynx and many other groups of cats are not the same kind?

Let me restate that, wolves and a few other dog kind (Canidae) have all the genetic information in them that breeders are then able to change through intelligent input. So a Chihuahuas is still a Canidae, but with much less specified complexity — the bottom of the gene pool so-to-speak. [Left to its own devices with no help from man, the wolf, coyote, etc would survive, but the Chihuahuas would probably die out.]

You seem to be conflating “species” with other classification titles (http://tinyurl.com/3npkel8) [*SEE YOUR OWN STATEMENT BELOW* ~ not capitalized to yell, merely to emphasize]. I want you to be clear and concise so a high school student from L.A. Unified can understand you: “are you saying small changes in specie level adaptation (centimeter beak change in birds, or Brussels sprouts to hit a bit closer to home to your point [http://creation.com/eat-your-brussels-sprouts]) are more than that, they are evidence of macroevolution?

…. I still think this statement by you @Tom Melendy is a bit of an overreach:

Jim, Macro evolution has been observed in the laboratory under controlled conditions – within just a few generations you can “breed” fish to be miniature fish, which reproduce and “grow” up while never getting bigger than the size they were bred for.

Please give me the name of the fish you referenced… and through observed “quantum evolution, also known as mega- and macroevolutionary” what other Order this fish became under observation. You see Tom, we are still at one of your opening statements, which you have not clearly, eruditely, and concisely explained. So you lied to Jim? Or you were mistaken in your wording? What.

Dr. Melendy walks back his previous statements a bit, as well as FINALLY giving the fish’s name in the discussion leading up to this point (I will note by emphasis some items that caught my eye. The most egregious being the admitted “bait-and-switch” of definitions regarding “macroevolution”):

My apologies for the lack of clarity on my part. When this thread first started we were talking about common evolution in the lab. This is commonly seen with microorganisms. Someone asked what about non-microorganisms. I responded that you could see macro evolution in the lab in fish (macro just to differentiate from micro-organisms). Once you began defining your terms as micro and macro evolution as being the small changes due to variation and selection, versus the larger changes that produce different species that of course made my previous point unclear – I was referring to micro-evolution (variation and selection) being studied in a macroorganism (fish). It wasn’t an over-reach, it was a miscommunication due to us not having established an accepted nomenclature prior to that statement. Often different branches of science will utilize the same term to mean different things in different fields. As to your question of which fish – Atlantic silversides. Here’s the website showing you the surprising result that within just a handful of generations the fish size could be decreased dramatically. (Berkeley, Evolution in the Lab)

I will jump to my response to the Baccacio rockfish example, via a creationist site:

…For some years now, many fisheries management authorities around the world have instituted legal minimum size requirements for various fish species. Thus anglers must return ‘undersized’ fish to the water unharmed. Similarly, commercial fishermen use large-meshed nets to spare the smaller fish—with the aim of ensuring the long-term viability of the fishery.

However, the fish that are genetically predisposed to mature at larger sizes are the ones most likely to be caught before they can reproduce. Thus there has been a strong selection pressure favouring scrawny fish that never reach the minimum legal size. Hence the genes for late-maturing larger-sized fish have been progressively lost from many fish populations, leaving early-maturing smaller-sized ones to dominate the gene pool. (So, ironically, by catching only the biggest fish and letting the others go, humans have unintentionally selected against that which they desire most!)

Note that this is not evolution because the selection pressure—which is essentially an artificially-imposed version of ‘natural selection’—simply favours certain genes over others; it cannot generate any new genetic information. Neither such ‘artificial’ nor ‘natural’ selection can turn plaice into people; it can only operate on (i.e. cull out) genetic information that already exists.

Fisheries scientists David Conover and Stephan Munch, of the State University of New York, observed that size-specific culling of Atlantic silversides rapidly changes the genetic makeup of the population.7 After just four generations, fish populations from which the largest 90% of silversides were removed before breeding averaged just half the size of fish in populations from which the smallest 90% had been culled. In other words, removing big fish soon results in a population of little fish (and vice versa).

This is not evolution, as the genes for big or little fish were already present in the population beforehand. Note that the limits to how big or little the fish can be in the final population are determined by the amount of pre-existing genetic variety. Conover and Munch wrote: ‘Management tools that preserve natural genetic variation [i.e. pre-existing variety] are necessary for long-term sustainable yield.’ In other words, we need to leave at least some of the big fish in the water, so that their desirable genes (from a human perspective) remain in the fish population.

Despite this anti-evolutionary insight, their research paper refers to fish demonstrating ‘evolutionary effects’ and having ‘evolved rapidly’. That last claim took many of their fellow evolutionists by surprise. David Conover reported: ‘Even some fisheries’ scientists have been unwilling to accept that evolution is happening within a few fish generations.’…

http://creation.com/smaller-fish-to-fry

I make this point in my earliest debate with a neo-Darwinist, in which I end with Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the twentieth centuries leading Darwinists, acknowledged this:

“And yet, a majority of mutations, both those arising in laboratories and those stored in natural populations, produce deteriorations of viability, hereditary diseases, and monstrosities. Such changes, it would seem, can hardly serve as evolutionary building blocks.”

Mr. Hitchings: “On the face of it, then, the prime function of the genetic system would seem to be to resist change: to perpetuate the species in a minimally adapted form of response to altered conditions, and if at all possible to get things back to normal. The role of natural selection is usually a negative one; to destroy the few mutant individuals that threaten the stability of the species.”

Goldschmidt said: “It is true that nobody thus far has produced a new species or genus, etc., by macromutation. It is equally true that nobody has ever produced even a species by selection of micromutaions.”

Goldschmidt would have known – he bread gypsy moths for twenty years and a million generations in various environments. All he ever got was more gypsy moths. Anyone who thinks that an accumulation of mutations (information-losing processes) can lead to Macroevolution (a massive net gain of information) “is like the merchant who lost a little money on every sale but thought he could make it up on volume.” (Spetner)

(From one of my first debates on this subject.)

So the example of the fish is something that if defined properly doesn’t support the grand changes that Darwinism implies. Nor, if properly defined, no creationist finds anything wrong with it… other than someone takes this loss of information and applies it to the past spuriously [stepping out of science and using a meta-narrative to state something that is unobservable] to say, “see, I am related to a banana in the tree of life.”

THAT, is, well… bananas!

What you have here is similar to what Leftist do in politics, what anthropogenic global warming advocates do, as well as evolutionists. That is, co-opt language and offer an alternative definition to obfuscate the issue. Just fair warning to my fellow apologists. See my post Evolutionary Illusions for an in-depth look at how terminology is being misused.

…continuing with my aside.

@TomMelendy I still think you were passing false information on in this regard to Jim:

Jim, Macro evolution has been observed in the laboratory under controlled conditions – within just a few generations you can “breed” fish to be miniature fish, which reproduce and “grow” up while never getting bigger than the size they were bred for.

As well as continuing to do so with me:

Macroevolution does NOT require an “increase in the gene pool” – the gene pool of the horse and donkey are virtually identical, yet they are separate species (yet closely related enough to produce sterile offspring). The reason they are different species is due to the cytogenetic changes (note that does NOT involve additional genetic material or a greater gene pool). 

You should know what the other side believes before asking a question, its 101, you asked: “If God created all the SPECIES currently on the Earth either 6000 years ago, or through intelligent design, why is there so much evidence that supports Evolution?” He didn’t, God created the “Kinds,” which is more like Order (Felidae, Canidae, etc). You have a doctorate, right? Do you get it yet? Order… species… different.

In every Oxford dictionary and companion book to biology, physics, and the like, textbooks (I have many university level texts)… macroevolution has the same definition. I think you telling people on this site that special change is evidence of macro-evolution is deplorable. But maybe you thought no one would catch this because you were degreed. You did back away from this though… in many more words though than just saying “I was wrong.” I even had to throw in an elementary picture to make the point.

[I will now quote a creationists understanding of this that is more in line with the standard definitions]:

It is very important not to confuse the “created kind” with the modern use of the word species. Although animals like the fox and coyote might be considered different taxonomic species, they are still parts of the same “kind” of animal. The created kind is thought to be more often synonymous with the “Family” level of classification in the taxonomic hierarchy; at least in mammals; and occasionally it can extend as high as the order level. Here are some examples:

Felidae — Scientists from Creation Ministries International and the Institute for Creation Research have proposed that the original feline kind was comparable to the Liger and the Tigon.
Canidae — Including Wolves, Foxes, Jackals, Coyotes, and Domestic dogs.

Camelidae — Including both the Camel and the Llama, which are reproductively compatible, their hybrid offspring being known as “Camas.”
Bovidae — Including Cattle, Buffalo, Bison, and Yaks.
Equidae — Including Horses, Zebras, and Asses.
Caprinae — Including Sheep, Goats, and Ibex.
Crocodilia — Including all the varieties of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Gharials.
Elephantidae — Including African and Asian elephants, Mammoths, Mastodons, and Gomphotheres.

Thus the created kind corresponds roughly to the family level of taxonomic classification, and possibly even the order, with the notable exception of humanity wherein the genus is representative. Humanity — Dr. Sigrid Hartwig-Scherer of the University of Munich concluded that H. erectus/H. ergaster, Neanderthals and H. sapiens were members of the same basic type (which corresponds to a monobaramin) genus Homo.

 (Via Creation Wiki; see also, “Refuting Evolution 2,” by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati — free online.)


…Aside Over


Simple enough. Continuing now with Prototype.

@PapaGiorgio I’m not making semantical arguments, that’s what creationists do to falsely equivocate evolution as a “religion” which requires “faith” to believe.

I’m a molecular biologist. I can tell you that evolution is a fact. It is undeniable if you actually understand it and have studied the evidence. I can also tell you that the god of the Bible is irreconcilable with the historical and scientific evidence, and this is coming from a Christian of 30 years who is still married to a Christian. I have no reason to lie about this. I have no reason to be an atheist other than the fact that I can’t lie to myself. You, on the other hand, have been indoctrinated with all of this propaganda and will parrot back all of the fallacious arguments as you completely ignore the evidence and arguments against your position.

Yes, “macroevolution” is allele change over a longer period of time (along with other ways that genetic information can be added, removed, altered, etc.). Are you a biologist? Have you studied this subject at all from an objective standpoint, or do you just have a cursory understanding based upon what creationists have told you? Be honest with yourself.

I try to narrow the conversation:

@PrototypeAtheist Please, give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome.

@PapaGiorgio What do you mean “increase the information”? Mutations do “increase the information” because they are different configurations which can be passed on to future generations. Changes can occur to genetic sequences in a variety of ways…but I bet you’re going to try to argue that mutations are only deletions?

@PrototypeAtheist Since you did not choose one, and I asked for a specific example, I will give a few examples to try and get this [you] biologist to dive in and defend a position instead of being “vague” as you have so far. Rats have developed resistance to the poison warfain. Many hundreds of insect species and other agricultural pests have evolved resistance to the pesticides used to combat them – even to chemical defenses genetically engineered into plants. The continual evolution of human pathogens has come to pose one of the most serious health problems facing human societies. Many strains of bacteria have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics as natural selection has amplified resistant strains that arose through naturally occurring genetic variation. On-and-on.

What about this example of bacteria resisting antibiotics? Actually, some bacteria possess a natural genetic capacity to resist certain antibiotics; mutations are not involved in these (*postscript in fallowing comment after this one). Mutations cause a structural defect in ribosomes – the cellular constituents that antibiotics like streptomycin attach to. Since the antibiotic doesn’t connect with the misshapen ribosome, the bacterium is resistant.

SPETNER: “We see then that the mutation reduces the specificity of the ribosome protein, and that means losing genetic information… Rather than say the bacterium gained resistance to the antibiotic, we would be more correct to say it lost its sensitivity to it. It lost information. The …[‘General Theory of Evolution’ (GTE)]… is suppose to explain how the information of life has been built up by evolution… Information cannot be built up by mutations that lose it. A business can’t make money by losing it a little at a time.”

In other cases, some mutant bacteria, because they have defective membranes, don’t absorb nutrients well. Fortuitously for them, that inefficiency also prevents their absorbing antibiotics. And so, in this instance also, they survive better than their normal cousins. But the mutation did not make them stronger or create new information, or “evolve” to a higher state. Likewise, if the world’s light suddenly disappeared, blind people might have an advantage over others, since they were already accustomed to operating in darkness. Nevertheless, we cannot then interpret blindness as positive, or representing new information or evolutionary advance.

C.P. MARTIN, writing in American Scientist, made a similar point when he compared x-rays’ effects on the body to being kicked and beaten:

▼ “It is quite possible that violent knocking about might dislocate a man’s shoulder, and that continued knocking about might actually reduce the previous dislocation… no sane person would cite such a case as this to prove that the results of knocking a man about are not injuries; nor would anyone refer to the result as evidence that knocking a man about can produce an improvement over the normal man. For a truly progressive or evolutionary-apt mutation must result in an improvement over the normal condition. The truth is that there is no clear evidence of the existence of such helpful mutations. In natural populations endless millions of small and great genic differences exist, but there is no evidence that any arose by mutation.”

Remember, if we are talking about “micro-evolution,” you should supply examples that can lead to MACRO changes. Even in “gene duplication” (pictured here: http://tinyurl.com/n9m4fwd) in every instance is a decrease in specificity: Down’s syndrome for example. Again, there is a copy of the same info… but nothing new. And this same info causes ALWAYS a detrimental (arm dislocating) event — a… loss of specificity (or a fit version/copy of itself) for survivability.

Another way to look at this is to say [assume] anthropogenic global warming predictions are true. Coupled with that a disease (or mankind) kills all the wild canines in the world. So all the exists are Chihuahuas. (I know, a stretch, but I have a point). You would never to selectively breed back to a wolf (Arctic, Red, Ethiopian, or the like). The genic information of the parent population is lost. AND, the “fitness” of this loss (specificity) is lost as well. So, if a new ice-age came upon us after the above fictitious event, and mankind did not shelter these “rodent dogs,” all canid population could feasibly disappear.

So, have I knocked your head enough for you to proffer an example and defend it?

[The promised postscript will follow]

This intro was geared at Prototype Atheist: This postscript comes from a previous debate I had — and you can see a bit of it in the above). I have written over 6,000 responses to items of politics, religion, science, history, philosophy, economics, and the like for a time-period expanding about 20-years. My home library includes many texts that are pro as well as con to all my views [well over 5,000 books and 600DVD documentary style subjects similar to the above list of topics… but much more formal debates at universities are in this DVD collection]. For my bio, you are welcome to see it here.

▼ It has been proven that resistance to many modern antibiotics was present decades before their [the antibiotics] discovery. In 1845, sailors on an ill-fated Arctic expedition were buried in the permafrost and remained deeply frozen until their bodies were exhumed in 1986. Preservation was so complete that six strains of nineteenth-century bacteria found dormant in the contents of the sailors’ intestines were able to be revived! When tested, these bacteria were found to possess resistance to several modern-day antibiotics, including penicillin. Such traits were obviously present prior to penicillin’s discovery, and thus could not be an evolutionary development. (Medical Tribune, December 29, 1988, p. 1, 23.)

In 1998, the National Academy of Sciences published and distributed a book to public schools and other institutions entitled Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., F.M., wrote a book, Refuting Evolution, which is a topic by topic rebuttal to this Academy of Sciences publication. Under the evidence for evolution in the evolutionist text is the following quote:

▼ Similar episodes of rapid evolution are occurring in many different organisms. Rats have developed resistance to the poison warfain. Many hundreds of insect species and other agricultural pests have evolved resistance to the pesticides used to combat them – even to chemical defenses genetically engineered into plants.

(Sarfati’s reply – any words in the [boxes] are mine):

▼ However, what has this to do with the evolution of new kinds with new genetic information? Precisely nothing. What has happened in many cases is that some bacteria already had the genes for resistance to the antibiotics. In fact, some bacteria obtained by thawing sources which had been frozen before man developed antibiotics have shown to be antibiotic-resistant [6 different antibiotics in fact, penicillin in modern doses – which is way beyond the strength of natural penicillin found in nature]. When antibiotics are applied to a population of bacteria, those lacking resistance are killed, and any genetic information they carry is eliminated. The survivors carry less information [or specificity], but they are all resistant. The same principle applies to rats and insects “evolving” resistance to pesticides. Again, the resistance was already there, and creatures without resistance are eliminated.

[Much like if we killed all dogs (including Canis Domesticus and Canis Lupus) except for Chihuahuas, we would permanently lose the information of the parent population. You could then breed Chihuahuas for a millennium and not get an Irish Wolfhound]

▼ …In other cases, antibiotic resistance is the result of a mutation, but in all known cases, this mutation has destroyed information. It may seem surprising that destruction of information can sometimes help. But one example is resistance to the antibiotic penicillin. Bacteria normally produce an enzyme, penicillinase, which destroys penicillin. The amount of penicillinase is controlled by a gene. There is normally enough produced to handle any penicillin encountered in the wild, but the bacterium is overwhelmed by the amount given to patients. A mutation disabling this controlling gene results in much more penicillinase being produced.

[Thus, the bacteria found frozen in 1845 already had the mutation to overcome modern medical doses of penicillin. So the mutation wasn’t the result of the penicillin in modern doses, thus seemingly becoming resistant… it already had the resistant mutation – informational or specificity losing – in the population. In other words, no new information was added to the parent population!]

I wish to note he doesn’t respond with a) evidence, and b) with appeals to authority, as well as a response that has c) nothing to do with modern science… which is the drive of the conversation.

@PapaGiorgio You haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. You’re parroting back creationist arguments that you’re heard from some charlatan somewhere, probably a Ken Ham or Ray Comfort-type, if not those guys themselves, which is obvious by your reference to “observational” and “historical” science.

Do you really think that you know more about biology than a molecular biologist and the overwhelming consensus of biologists? Because a demonstrably false, unreliable, and contradictory tome of Bronze Age Middle Eastern mythology says otherwise?

You went to school to learn about an ancient superstition. I earned a degree which allows me to understand the evidence which makes evolution one of the most highly supported theories in all of science. It’s essential to biology. Our entire understanding of biology comes from evolution.

Your understanding of the universe comes from people trying to make up reasons behind natural phenomena they didn’t understand.

Remember, I am talking about modern science and not a mythological position from the Bronze Age. I wish to note as well that Prototype Atheist has his history woefully wrong. I will quote Building Old School Churches in regards to a response:

1) It’s Grossly Inaccurate: The vast majority of the Old Testament was written during the Iron Age (1200 BC – 500 BC) and the entire New Testament was written in the 1st Century AD and entirely postdates both the periods referred to as the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. If you want to use a snarky chronologically arrogant term to imply you are smarter than the people who preceded you merely because you were born after them, the correct term would be “Ancient Book.”

2) It’s Doesn’t Even Prove What it’s Supposed to Prove: Apart from the foolishness of asserting that people like Moses, Solomon and Aristotle were clearly idiots because they were around a long time ago and didn’t have things like Google, Microwaves, or Cup O’ Noodles, age doesn’t nullify truth or the factual nature of a record any more than the fact that something was generated recently makes it true.

For instance, “I, Rigoberta Menchu,” an autobiography that won Menchu the Nobel Prize, was written in the late 20th century, and became wildly popular and was considered by American academics to be “the gospel truth” about oppression in Central America. Subsequent investigations however revealed that Rigoberta Menchu had made up much of her life story.

In the case of the bible, if the events it records happened, the fact that they were written down a long time ago doesn’t change that factual nature of the record, and to date, every historical event the bible records that can be confirmed by archaeologyand other histories has been confirmed.

…read it all…

And for the more serious apologist, here is an excellent summation of two overlooked verses that SMACK of foundational apologetics (h/t to Poached Egg):

The Two Most Overlooked Apologetics Verses In the Bible

Hardly anybody ever mentions it, but two of the most well-known verses in the Old Testament have significant apologetic implications, lending support to the Bible’s supernatural origins. One of them I’m sure will be a surprise to many readers here; the other might also.

I will preview the argument before telling you which verses they are. In brief form it goes like this.

The ancient Hebrews’ conception of God and his relation to his creation was vastly different from that of others in the Ancient Near East. From a philosophical perspective it has been exceedingly successful for millennia since then: it was, in that sense, very highly advanced philosophy. Such uniquely prescient and enduringly successful thinking is not explained by any prior tradition, for there is no indication of advanced thought leading up to it either among the Hebrews or in any neighboring culture. Did it come from nowhere at all? Or did it come by revelation from God?

Or:

The ancient Hebrews were astonishingly advanced metaphysical thinkers. They produced a monotheism that stood in complete contrast to all other systems of thought at the time, that still works philosophically, and that today remains coherent within its own framework. How did these Bronze Age nomads and farmers accomplish that?

I have often heard it asked, “why should we look to ancient Bronze Age or Iron Age nomads/sheepherders/farmers for wisdom? What could they possibly say to us who have the advantage of so much more knowledge and science?” Good question. How could they have known anything at all that would stand the test of centuries of inquiry? But our two “overlooked apologetics verses” have done that. They are, as I said, very familiar:

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Exodus 3:13-14a “Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”

The creation account in Genesis is astonishingly different from all other creation stories. Quoting from page 32 and following of Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration:

Genesis is quite unlike the Mesopotamian cosmogonies [accounts of the origin of the cosmos], for instance, which are intertwined with theogonies—accounts of the origins of the gods. In them, we are not told so much about how the universe came about—the origin of the worlds is really accidental or secondary in ANE [Ancient Near East] accounts—but how the gods emerged. And in addition to the fact that these Mesopotamian cosmogonies are really concerned with the ancestors of the gods and how they got themselves organized, they do not even identify these gods as creators. So when it comes to the elements of the universe (the waters/deep, darkness), a deity either controls one or is one….

Further, Yahweh simply speaks, thereby creating; in other ANE cosmogonies, deities struggle to divide the waters. Also in Genesis 1, the astral bodies are not gods (as in ANE accounts) but are creations.…

Gerhard von Rad makes the powerful point that Israel’s worldview, as reflected in Genesis, drew a sharp demarcating line between God and the world. The material world is purged of any quality of the divine or the demonic….

In Genesis, we read of something marvelously different than in [Ugaritic cosmogony], with its gods and hostile powers (darkness, the waters/the deep): “These cosmic monsters are no longer primordial forces opposed to the Israelite God at the beginning of creation. Instead, they are creatures like other creatures rendered in this story.” Genesis 1 depicts a “divine mastery” over these forces….

In contrast to ANE myths, there are no rivals to the Creator in Genesis [chapter] 1—let alone preexistent matter…. There is no cosmic dualism or struggle at all.

There is more but I think you can see the point: the Genesis view of God and creation is starkly different from all other views of cosmic origins and of deity…

…read it all…

 After all this, Prototype Atheist Tweeted this about lil’~ol’~me:

I am flattered. To think, me, sitting in a two bedroom condo… SeanG (AKA Papa Giorgio), has such an influence as to “hold back science” as well as “humanity.” Or.. Prototype Atheist (call me when the production model is shipped) got bested in an area where he has a degree in. In his Tweet he tries to make this a moral issue by saying I am holding back humanity. Who would want to even talk with such a person that is “holding back science and humanity… it is akin to the labels thrown around in the political world: sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, bigoted (S.I.X.H.I.R.B.). Going to ad hominem attacks and mislabeling LARGE swaths of history (the Bronze Age thingy). That’s what he is really good at, that is, lashing out on via Twitter account.

Arctic-Melt

FLASHBACK: NatGeo/NASA~Arctic Ocean Ice-Free by Summer, 2012

This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said (via Real Science):

“At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.”

Gore made similar predictions to a German audience in 2008. He told them that “the entire North ‘polarized’ cap will disappear in 5 years” (Ed Driscoll).

Beaker

Thinking Creation (II) – The Christian Roots of Science

Geoscience Research Institute (2014) – The Christian Roots of Science is the second episode in the Thinking Creation series. In this episode, the question of whether Christianity acts as a superstition that holds back the advancement of science is examined. The foundational ideas of Christianity are compared with other religious philosophies ranging from Atheism to Animism. Galileo’s involvement in the conflict over Copernican and Ptolemaic understandings of our universe is examined along with the thinking of other great scientists ranging from Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton to Louis Pasteur.

TheUnbelievers china

Re-Education Camps and Censorship “Chic” in the UK

Powerline has this story of government run media being used to guide the public towards a certain conclusion.Pravda

Salon.com (yes, I know) is celebrating that the BBC has decided to go full Pravda on us and cease allowing “climate deniers” on the air.  Well, it is a government-run media establishment.  But that would be the same BBC that refused to allow Churchill to broadcast his “appeasement denial” views back in the 1930s.  Yup, same slimy people.

Anyway, quoth a jubilant Salon:

Good news for viewers of BBC News: you’ll no longer be subjected to the unhinged ravings of climate deniers and other members of the anti-science fringe. . .  Were every network to start doing what the BBC is, their unfounded opinions would cease to be heard, Bill Nye wouldn’t have to keep debating them, and maybe, just maybe, they’d all just go away.

Esquire Magazine goes further in it’s diatribe of censorship that prove there is a totalitarian in every leftist waiting to get out, something Powerline missed, by-the-way:

The BBC Forbids Idiots On The Topic Of Science: No longer must Bill Nye debate the ignorant, at least in the U.K.

[….]

BBC journalists must now attend seminars with academics and scientists who educate on what constitutes popular and marginal opinions.

Perpetuating ignorance for the sake of entertainment is not only getting boring, but is actively dangerous. US media companies should take note. American media makes political bipartisanship a game of spin and false controversy, which—as Jon Stewart will tell you—can inflict a lot of very real pain….

Yes, re-education camps… you read it right. Scientism on the march in the name of secularism. The Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK), otherwise known as the Khmer Rouge, would be proud, as would others. Even the HHS is defining media in the immigration battle, this from The Corner:

– No recording devices will be allowed
– No questions will be allowed during the tour
– No interacting with staff and children at the shelter
– We ask that your questions be provided via email or phone after the tour to Kenneth Wolfe
– HHS ACF public affairs will provide answers to your follow up questions as quickly as possible
– We will provide photos of the facility after the tour
– There will be no on-site interviews by HHS staff before or after the tour, all inquiries go to Kenneth Wolfe

To continue… while the BBC stops debate on climate, the UK starts to talk seriously about the normality of pedophilia. CNN notes just how bad it is for the BBC in this regard:

Gay Patriot notes the following:


An increasingly vocal and open group of prominent British Academics is claiming that paedophilia is a perfectly normal and natural thing.

“Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males,” said the presentation. “At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children … Normal males are aroused by children.”

The presentation in question was presented at an academic conference at Cambridge University in the UK,  where other topics included: “Liberating the paedophile: a discursive analysis,” and “Danger and difference: the stakes of hebephilia.”

And — like every other horror of the current ear — this has its roots in the sexual liberation movement of the 1970′s.

With the Pill, the legalisation of homosexuality and shrinking taboos against premarital sex, the Seventies was an era of quite sudden sexual emancipation. Many liberals, of course, saw through PIE’s cynical rhetoric of “child lib”. But to others on the Left, sex by or with children was just another repressive boundary to be swept away – and some of the most important backing came from academia. [Emphasis added]

Hey, “Love is Love,” right?… 


Malcolm Muggeridge (a British journalist, author, satirist, media personality, soldier-spy and, in his later years, a Catholic convert and writer) said it best:

“If God is ‘dead,’ somebody is going to have to take his place. It will be megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power or the drive for pleasure, the clenched fist or the phallus, Hitler or Hugh Heffner.” 

  • Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 32.