Meanderings on Atheism, Darwinism, and Science

I am posting this excerpt of Daniel Dennett’s response to William Lane Craig’s presentation (HERE). Dennett’s short follow up offers no defense of his atheism in light of Craig’s presentation. He basically mentions that his non-knowledge will some day be filled in (atheism-of-the-gaps). This will be followed up by a response in the comments section that made me think of this old upload on my Vimeo, and why I isolated it. The response is well thought out and will be an enjoyable read to those of us headed towards glory. I will also insert my response (mainly using Dr. Howe’s book, Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional) to a Discover Magazine article when “Born Again 77” gets to the topic, as well as a couple other resources. Enjoy:

The original topic in which I pulled this response from can be found here at UNCOMMON DESCENT, Born Again 77 starts by quoting a previous statement by a skeptic, and then adding to his knowledge base:

Very Enjoyable Read

  • “Perhaps the gaps he is referring to are things like lightning (yep, gotta hand it to science; definitely not thrown by Zeus in piques of anger)”

Actually the ‘lightning gap’ remains un-closed:

We Don’t Actually Know What Triggers Lightning Strikes – Aug. 2013

Excerpt: Lightning is a natural electrical discharge—but scientists are still scratching their heads trying to figure out what triggers it.

Physicist finds mysterious anti-electron clouds inside thunderstorm – May 13, 2015

Excerpt: In August 2009, Dwyer and colleagues were aboard a National Center for Atmospheric Research Gulfstream V when it inadvertently flew into the extremely violent thunderstorm—and, it turned out, through a large cloud of positrons, the antimatter opposite of electrons, that should not have been there.

To encounter a cloud of positrons without other associated physical phenomena such as energetic gamma-ray emissions was completely unexpected, thoroughly perplexing and contrary to currently understood physics.

“The fact that, apparently out of nowhere, the number of positrons around us suddenly increased by more than a factor of 10 and formed a cloud around the aircraft is very hard to understand. We really have no good explanation for it,” says Dwyer…

…“We really don’t understand how lightning gets started very well because we don’t understand the electrical environment of thunderstorms. This positron phenomenon could be telling us something new about how thunderstorms charge up and make lightning, but our finding definitely complicates things because it doesn’t fit into the picture that was developing.”

Verse: “Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?” (Job 38:35)

Moreover, the ‘gap’ problem is far worse for Atheists than just not being able to explain lightning. Atheistic materialism cannot even explain how a single photon gets from point a to point b, nor even how a photon is emitted or absorbed, much less how lightning occurs:

“The path taken by the photon is not an element of reality. We are not allowed to talk about the photon passing through this or this slit. Neither are we allowed to say the photon passes through both slits. All this kind of language is not applicable.” ~ Anton Zeilinger (Double Slit, Quantum-Electrodynamics, and Christian Theism – Video)

Quantum Electrodynamics

Excerpt: It is important not to over-interpret these diagrams. Nothing is implied about how a particle gets from one point to another. The diagrams do not imply that the particles are moving in straight or curved lines. They do not imply that the particles are moving with fixed speeds. The fact that the photon is often represented, by convention, by a wavy line and not a straight one does not imply that it is thought that it is more wavelike than is an electron. The images are just symbols to represent the actions above: photons and electrons do, somehow, move from point to point and electrons, somehow, emit and absorb photons. We do not know how these things happen, but the theory tells us about the probabilities of these things happening.

Verse: “For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts 17:28)

And although Theists are often accused of making ‘God of the Gaps’ style arguments by atheists, the fact of the matter is that, as science has progressed, it is the Atheist himself who has had to retreat further and further into ‘Materialism/Naturalism of Gaps’ style arguments. i.e. into “Science will figure a materialistic answer out to that mystery some day” style argument.

To clearly illustrate the ‘materialism of the gaps’ style argument that atheists are forced to make, the materialistic and Theistic philosophy make, and have made, several major contradictory predictions about what type of scientific evidence we will find.

These major contradictory predictions, and the evidence now revealed by advances in modern science, can be tested against one another to see if either materialism or Theism is true.

See: Theism compared to Materialism/Naturalism – a comparative overview of the major predictions of each philosophy (Video)

As you can see from the preceding video, when we remove the artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy (methodological naturalism), from the scientific method, and look carefully at the predictions of both the materialistic philosophy and the Theistic philosophy, side by side, we find the scientific method is very good at pointing us in the direction of Theism as the true explanation. – In fact science is even very good at pointing us to Christianity as the solution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’

See: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from Death as the “Theory of Everything” (Video)

[See Also: The Argument from Reason (Video); The Metaphysical Assumptions of the “Scientific Method]

Moreover, let us be VERY clear to the fact that ALL of science, every discipline within science, is dependent on basic Theistic presuppositions about the rational intelligibility of the universe and the ability of our mind to comprehend that rational intelligibility….

The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 Greg Bahnsen debate (Full audio of the debate at the bottom of the site)

Excerpt: When we go to look at the different world views that atheists and theists have, I suggest we can prove the existence of God from the impossibility of the contrary.

The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight….

Moreover, if we cast aside those basic Theistic presuppositions about the rational intelligibility of the universe and the ability of our mind to comprehend that rational intelligibility, and try to use naturalism as our basis for understanding the universe, and for practicing science, then everything within that atheistic/naturalistic worldview, (i.e. sense of self. observation of reality, beliefs about reality, free will, even reality itself), collapses into self-refuting, unrestrained, flights of fantasy and imagination.

Darwinian evolution, and atheism/naturalism in general, are built entirely upon a framework of illusions and fantasy – Sept. 2016 (Google Doc)

As well, Darwinian evolution, the supposed pride and joy of Atheistic Materialism, is itself useless as a heuristic in science

  • “Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive – except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed – except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery. Darwinian evolution – whatever its other virtues – does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology.”

~ Philip S. Skell – (the late) Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. – Why Do We Invoke Darwin? – 2005

  • “In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, and physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.”

~ Marc Kirschner, Boston Globe, Oct. 23, 2005

  • “While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas. Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superflous one.”

~ A.S. Wilkins, editor of the journal BioEssays, Introduction to “Evolutionary Processes” – (2000).

Excerpt: Coincidentally, a correspondent today sends across my desk this from biologist Jerry Coyne, of Why Evolution Is True fame. Writing in Nature (“Selling Darwin”), Coyne has conceded:

“[T]ruth be told, evolution hasn’t yielded many practical or commercial benefits. Yes, bacteria evolve drug resistance, and yes, we must take countermeasures, but beyond that there is not much to say. Evolution cannot help us predict what new vaccines to manufacture because microbes evolve unpredictably. But hasn’t evolution helped guide animal and plant breeding? Not very much. Most improvement in crop plants and animals occurred long before we knew anything about evolution, and came about by people following the genetic principle of ‘like begets like’. Even now, as its practitioners admit, the field of quantitative genetics has been of little value in helping improve varieties. Future advances will almost certainly come from transgenics, which is not based on evolution at all.”

~ Doctors and Evolution – May 19, 2015

In fact, to the extent that Darwinian evolution has influenced scientific research, it has sent science down blind alleys by making wrong predictions, such as the false predictions of vestigial organs and junk DNA. The following paper evaluates 23 fundamental false predictions of evolutionary theory from a wide range of different categories

Why investigate evolution’s false predictions?

Excerpt: The predictions examined in this paper were selected according to several criteria. They cover a wide spectrum of evolutionary theory and are fundamental to the theory, reflecting major tenets of evolutionary thought. They were widely held by the consensus rather than reflecting one viewpoint of several competing viewpoints. Each prediction was a natural and fundamental expectation of the theory of evolution, and constituted mainstream evolutionary science. Furthermore, the selected predictions are not vague but rather are specific and can be objectively evaluated. They have been tested and evaluated and the outcome is not controversial or in question. And finally the predictions have implications for evolution’s (in)capacity to explain phenomena, as discussed in the conclusions.

  • “The thyroid gland, pituitary gland, thymus, pineal gland, and coccyx, … once considered useless by evolutionists, are now known to have important functions. The list of 180 “vestigial” structures is practically down to zero. Unfortunately, earlier Darwinists assumed that if they were ignorant of an organ’s function, then it had no function.”

~ “Tornado in a Junkyard” – book – by former atheist James Perloff

Vestigial Organs: Comparing ID and Darwinian Approaches – July 20, 2012

Excerpt: A favorite criticisms of ID is that it is a science stopper. The opposite is true. The Live Science article shows that the “vestigial organs” argument has not changed for over a century, since Wiedersheim coined the term and listed over a hundred examples (in 1893). Evolutionary theory, in fact, has been worse than a science stopper: its predictions have been flat out wrong. Only a handful of alleged vestigial organs remains from Wiedersheim’s original list, and each of those is questionable.

In fact, the false prediction of vestigial organs by Darwinists led to much medical malpractice in the past:

Evolution’s “vestigial organ” argument debunked

Excerpt: “The appendix, like the once ‘vestigial’ tonsils and adenoids, is a lymphoid organ (part of the body’s immune system) which makes antibodies against infections in the digestive system. Believing it to be a useless evolutionary ‘left over,’ many surgeons once removed even the healthy appendix whenever they were in the abdominal cavity. Today, removal of a healthy appendix under most circumstances would be considered medical malpractice”

~ David Menton, Ph.D., “The Human Tail, and Other Tales of Evolution,” St. Louis MetroVoice , January 1994, Vol. 4, No. 1.

“Doctors once thought tonsils were simply useless evolutionary leftovers and took them out thinking that it could do no harm. Today there is considerable evidence that there are more troubles in the upper respiratory tract after tonsil removal than before, and doctors generally agree that simple enlargement of tonsils is hardly an indication for surgery”

~ J.D. Ratcliff, Your Body and How it Works, 1975, p. 137.

The tailbone, properly known as the coccyx, is another supposed example of a vestigial structure that has been found to have a valuable function—especially regarding the ability to sit comfortably. Many people who have had this bone removed have great difficulty sitting.

~ God, Science And The Bible: Evolution’S “Vestigial Organ” Argument Debunked


Vestigial Discover Magazine Article Critiqued by Papa Giorgio on Scribd

Moreover, in so far as science has been able to advance in spite of Atheistic materialism, it can be argued that Intelligent Design was and is central to the advancement of science itself since almost all, if not all, of science has advanced by technological advancement in the instruments of science. That is to say, almost all, if not all, of science has advanced by humans infusing new information into material substrates, in a ‘top down’ fashion, in better and better, i.e. more sophisticated, ways:

Describing Nature With Math By Peter Tyson – Nov. 2011

Excerpt: Mathematics underlies virtually all of our technology today. James Maxwell’s four equations summarizing electromagnetism led directly to radio and all other forms of telecommunication. E = mc2 led directly to nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The equations of quantum mechanics made possible everything from transistors and semiconductors to electron microscopy and magnetic resonance imaging.

Indeed, many of the technologies you and I enjoy every day simply would not work without mathematics. When you do a Google search, you’re relying on 19th-century algebra, on which the search engine’s algorithms are based. When you watch a movie, you may well be seeing mountains and other natural features that, while appearing as real as rock, arise entirely from mathematical models. When you play your iPod, you’re hearing a mathematical recreation of music that is stored digitally; your cell phone does the same in real time.

“When you listen to a mobile phone, you’re not actually hearing the voice of the person speaking,” Devlin told me. “You’re hearing a mathematical recreation of that voice. That voice is reduced to mathematics.”

Excerpt: page 5: A:

Causal Efficacy of Non Physical entities:

Both the program and the data are non-physical entities, indeed so is all software. A program is not a physical thing you can point to, but by Definition 2 it certainly exists. You can point to a CD or flashdrive where it is stored, but that is not the thing in itself: it is a medium in which it is stored.

The program itself is an abstract entity, shaped by abstract logic. Is the software “nothing but” its realisation through a specific set of stored electronic states in the computer memory banks? No it is not because it is the precise pattern in those states that matters: a higher level relation that is not apparent at the scale of the electrons themselves. It’s a relational thing (and if you get the relations between the symbols wrong, so you have a syntax error, it will all come to a grinding halt). This abstract nature of software is realised in the concept of virtual machines, which occur at every level in the computer hierarchy except the bottom one [17]. But this tower of virtual machines causes physical effects in the real world, for example when a computer controls a robot in an assembly line to create physical artefacts.

Excerpt page 7: The assumption that causation is bottom up only is wrong in biology, in computers, and even in many cases in physics….

The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.

Verse: “…but test all things. Hold fast to what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)