(This was originally posted Nov 19, 2015, I have refreshed media and edited esthetics a tad)
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 hundredbillion 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.
…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.
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.
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…
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.
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!
William Provine 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.
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…
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.
One of the most deep thinkers of the Founding Fathers, John Adams, noted that even “liberty” ~you know, one of the ideals impregnating our Founding Documents~ would be groundless if naturalism were true [among other things]:
Atheism—pure, unadulterated atheism…. The universe was matter only, and eternal Spirit was a word without a meaning. Liberty was a word without a meaning. There was no liberty in the universe; liberty was a word void of sense. Every thought, word, passion, sentiment, feeling, all motion and action was necessary [determinism]. All beings and attributes were of eternal necessity; conscience, morality, were all nothing but fate. This was their creed, and this was to perfect human nature, and convert the earth into a paradise of pleasure… Why, then, should we abhor the word “God,” and fall in love with the word “fate”? We know there exists energy and intellect enough to produce such a world as this, which is a sublime and beautiful one, and a very benevolent one, notwithstanding all our snarling; and a happy one, if it is not made otherwise by our own fault.
Ever hear an atheist say he’s a freethinker? Well, if atheism is true, an atheist, cannot be free nor would his thinking make any real sense. Frank Turek explains.
If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. (J.B.S. Haldane)
These are some of my favorite quotes and dealing with “naturalism” and their logical end-result, consequences, or logical conclusions. Merely a combining of MANY quotes and a “not-so-few” videos.
If you read the threads of several of the blog entries on this site, you will see both atheists and Christians charging one another with committing “logical fallacies.” The assumption both sides are making is that there is this objective realm of reason out there that: 1) we all have access to; 2) tells us the truth about the real world; and 3) is something we ought to use correctly if we want to know the truth. I think those are good assumptions. My question for the atheists is how do you justify these assumptions if there is no God?
If atheistic materialism is true, it seems to me that reason itself is impossible. For if mental processes are nothing but chemical reactions in the brain, then there is no reason to believe that anything is true (including the theory of materialism). Chemicals can’t evaluate whether or not a theory is true. Chemicals don’t reason, they react.
This is ironic because atheists– who often claim to be champions of truth and reason– have made truth and reason impossible by their theory of materialism. So even when atheists are right about something, their worldview gives us no reason to believe them because reason itself is impossible in a world governed only by chemical and physical forces.
Not only is reason impossible in an atheistic world, but the typical atheist assertion that we should rely on reason alone cannot be justified. Why not? Because reason actually requires faith. As J. Budziszewski points out in his book What We Can’t Not Know, “The motto ‘Reason Alone!’ is nonsense anyway. Reason itself presupposes faith. Why? Because a defense of reason by reason is circular, therefore worthless. Our only guarantee that human reason works is God who made it.“
Let’s unpack Budziszewski‘s point by considering the source of reason. Our ability to reason can come from one of only two sources: either our ability to reason arose from preexisting intelligence or it did not, in which case it arose from mindless matter. The atheists/Darwinists/materialists believe, by faith, that our minds arose from mindless matter without intelligent intervention. I say “by faith” because it contradicts all scientific observation, which demonstrates that an effect cannot be greater than its cause. You can’t give what you haven’t got, yet atheists believe that dead, unintelligent matter has produced itself into intelligent life. This is like believing that the Library of Congress resulted from an explosion in a printing shop.
I think it makes much more sense to believe that the human mind is made in the image of the Great Mind– God. In other words, our minds can apprehend truth and can reason about reality because they were built by the Architect of truth, reality, and reason itself.
So I have two questions for atheists: 1) What is the source of this immaterial reality known as reason that we are all presupposing, utilizing in our discussions, and accusing one other of violating on occasion?; and 2) If there is no God and we are nothing but chemicals, why should we trust anything we think, including the thought that there is no God?
Let’s consider a basic question: Why does the natural world make any sense to begin with? Albert Einstein once remarked that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. Why should we be able to grasp the beauty, elegance, and complexity of our universe?
Einstein understood a basic truth about science, namely, that it relies upon certain philosophical assumptions about the natural world. These assumptions include the existence of an external world that is orderly and rational, and the trustworthiness of our minds to grasp that world. Science cannot proceed apart from these assumptions, even though they cannot be independently proven. Oxford professor John C. Lennox asks a penetrating question, “At the heart of all science lies the conviction that the universe is orderly. Without this deep conviction science would not be possible. So we are entitled to ask: Where does the conviction come from?”” Why is the world orderly? And why do our minds comprehend this order?
Toward the end of The God Delusion, Dawkins admits that since we are the product of natural selection, our senses cannot be fully trusted. After all, according to Darwinian evolution, our senses have been formed to aid survival, not necessarily to deliver true belief. Since a human being has been cobbled together through the blind process of natural selection acting on random mutation, says Dawkins, it’s unlikely that our views of the world are completely true. Outspoken philosopher of neuro-science Patricia Churchland agrees:
The principle chore of brains is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it… enhances the organism’s chances for survival. Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost.
Dawkins is on the right track to suggest that naturalism should lead people to be skeptical about trusting their senses. Dawkins just doesn’t take his skepticism far enough. In Miracles, C. S. Lewis points out that knowledge depends upon the reliability of our mental faculties. If human reasoning is not trustworthy, then no scientific conclusions can be considered true or false. In fact, we couldn’t have any knowledge about the world, period. Our senses must be reliable to acquire knowledge of the world, and our reasoning faculties must be reliable to process the acquired knowledge. But this raises a particularly thorny dilemma for atheism. If the mind has developed through the blind, irrational, and material process of Darwinian evolution, then why should we trust it at all? Why should we believe that the human brain—the outcome of an accidental process—actually puts us in touch with reality? Science cannot be used as an answer to this question, because science itself relies upon these very assumptions.
Even Charles Darwin was aware of this problem: “The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the conviction of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” If Darwinian evolution is true, we should distrust the cognitive faculties that make science possible.
Here is a detailing of the above in a book I recently read:
“There is no need for God,” Atkins declared. “Everything in the world can be understood without needing to evoke a God. You have to accept that’s one possible view to take about the world.”
“Sure, that’s possible,” Craig admitted. “But—”
[Interrupting] “Do you deny that science can account for everything?” challenged Atkins.
“Yes, I do deny that science can account for everything,” said Craig.
“So what can’t it account for?” demanded Atkins.
“I think that there are a good number of things that cannot be scientifically proven, but that we’re all rational to accept,” Craig began.
[Interrupting] “Such as?”
“Let me list five,” Craig continued. “[First,] logical and mathematical truths cannot be proven by science. Science presupposes logic and math so that to try to prove them by science would be arguing in a circle. [Second,] metaphysical truths like there are other minds other than my own, or that the external world is real, or that the past was not created five minutes ago with the appearance of age are rational beliefs that cannot be scientifically proven. [Third,] ethical beliefs about statements of value are not accessible by the scientific method. You can’t show by science that the Nazi scientists in the camps did anything evil as opposed to the scientists in Western democracies. [Fourth,] aesthetic judgments cannot be accessed by the scientific method because the beautiful, like the good, cannot be scientifically proven. And finally, most remarkably, would be science itself. Science cannot be justified by the scientific method, since it is permeated with unprovable assumptions. For example, the special theory of relativity—the whole theory hinges on the assumption that the speed of light is constant in a one-way direction between any two points, A and B, but that strictly cannot be proven. We simply have to assume that in order to hold to the theory!”
Feeling vindicated, Buckley peered over at Atkins and cracked, “So put that in your pipe and smoke it.”
Frank Turek, Stealing from God (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 162-163.
….Darwin thought that, had the circumstances for reproductive fitness been different, then the deliverances of conscience might have been radically different. “If… men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering” (Darwin, Descent, 82). As it happens, we weren’t “reared” after the manner of hive bees, and so we have widespread and strong beliefs about the sanctity of human life and its implications for how we should treat our siblings and our offspring.
But this strongly suggests that we would have had whatever beliefs were ultimately fitness producing given the circumstances of survival. Given the background belief of naturalism, there appears to be no plausible Darwinian reason for thinking that the fitness-producing predispositions that set the parameters for moral reflection have anything whatsoever to do with the truth of the resulting moral beliefs. One might be able to make a case for thinking that having true beliefs about, say, the predatory behaviors of tigers would, when combined with the understandable desire not to be eaten, be fitness producing. But the account would be far from straightforward in the case of moral beliefs.” And so the Darwinian explanation undercuts whatever reason the naturalist might have had for thinking that any of our moral beliefs is true. The result is moral skepticism.
If our pretheoretical moral convictions are largely the product of natural selection, as Darwin’s theory implies, then the moral theories we find plausible are an indirect result of that same evolutionary process. How, after all, do we come to settle upon a proposed moral theory and its principles as being true? What methodology is available to us?
See also my post on logical conclusions in meta-ethics and evil (like rape), HERE:
…if evolution were true, then there would be selection only for survival advantage; and there would be no reason to suppose that this would necessarily include rationality. After a talk on the Christian roots of science in Canada, 2010, one atheopathic* philosophy professor argued that natural selection really would select for logic and rationality. I responded by pointing out that under his worldview, theistic religion is another thing that ‘evolved’, and this is something he regards as irrational. So under his own worldview he believes that natural selection can select powerfully for irrationality, after all. English doctor and insightful social commentator Theodore Dalrymple (who is a non-theist himself) shows up the problem in a refutation of New Atheist Daniel Dennett:
Dennett argues that religion is explicable in evolutionary terms—for example, by our inborn human propensity, at one time valuable for our survival on the African savannahs, to attribute animate agency to threatening events.
For Dennett, to prove the biological origin of belief in God is to show its irrationality, to break its spell. But of course it is a necessary part of the argument that all possible human beliefs, including belief in evolution, must be explicable in precisely the same way; or else why single out religion for this treatment? Either we test ideas according to arguments in their favour, independent of their origins, thus making the argument from evolution irrelevant, or all possible beliefs come under the same suspicion of being only evolutionary adaptations—and thus biologically contingent rather than true or false. We find ourselves facing a version of the paradox of the Cretan liar: all beliefs, including this one, are the products of evolution, and all beliefs that are products of evolution cannot be known to be true.
* Atheopath or Atheopathy: “Leading misotheist [“hatred of God” or “hatred of the gods”] Richard Dawkins [one can insert many names here] often calls theistic religion a ‘virus of the mind’, which would make it a kind of disease or pathology, and parents who teach it to their kids are, in Dawkins’ view, supposedly practising mental child abuse. But the sorts of criteria Dawkins applies makes one wonder whether his own fanatical antitheism itself could be a mental pathology—hence, ‘atheopath’.” (Taken from the Creation.com article, “The biblical roots of modern science,” by Jonathan Sarfati [published: 19 May 2012] ~ comments in the “[ ]” are mine.)
Even Darwin had some misgivings about the reliability of human beliefs. He wrote, “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”
Given unguided evolution, “Darwin’s Doubt” is a reasonable one. Even given unguided or blind evolution, it’s difficult to say how probable it is that creatures—even creatures like us—would ever develop true beliefs. In other words, given the blindness of evolution, and that its ultimate “goal” is merely the survival of the organism (or simply the propagation of its genetic code), a good case can be made that atheists find themselves in a situation very similar to Hume’s.
The Nobel Laureate and physicist Eugene Wigner echoed this sentiment: “Certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.” That is, atheists have a reason to doubt whether evolution would result in cognitive faculties that produce mostly true beliefs. And if so, then they have reason to withhold judgment on the reliability of their cognitive faculties. Like before, as in the case of Humean agnostics, this ignorance would, if atheists are consistent, spread to all of their other beliefs, including atheism and evolution. That is, because there’s no telling whether unguided evolution would fashion our cognitive faculties to produce mostly true beliefs, atheists who believe the standard evolutionary story must reserve judgment about whether any of their beliefs produced by these faculties are true. This includes the belief in the evolutionary story. Believing in unguided evolution comes built in with its very own reason not to believe it.
This will be an unwelcome surprise for atheists. To make things worse, this news comes after the heady intellectual satisfaction that Dawkins claims evolution provided for thoughtful unbelievers. The very story that promised to save atheists from Hume’s agnostic predicament has the same depressing ending.
It’s obviously difficult for us to imagine what the world would be like in such a case where we have the beliefs that we do and yet very few of them are true. This is, in part, because we strongly believe that our beliefs are true (presumably not all of them are, since to err is human—if we knew which of our beliefs were false, they would no longer be our beliefs).
Suppose you’re not convinced that we could survive without reliable belief-forming capabilities, without mostly true beliefs. Then, according to Plantinga, you have all the fixins for a nice argument in favor of God’s existence For perhaps you also think that—given evolution plus atheism—the probability is pretty low that we’d have faculties that produced mostly true beliefs. In other words, your view isn’t “who knows?” On the contrary, you think it’s unlikely that blind evolution has the skill set for manufacturing reliable cognitive mechanisms. And perhaps, like most of us, you think that we actually have reliable cognitive faculties and so actually have mostly true beliefs. If so, then you would be reasonable to conclude that atheism is pretty unlikely. Your argument, then, would go something like this: if atheism is true, then it’s unlikely that most of our beliefs are true; but most of our beliefs are true, therefore atheism is probably false.
Notice something else. The atheist naturally thinks that our belief in God is false. That’s just what atheists do. Nevertheless, most human beings have believed in a god of some sort, or at least in a supernatural realm. But suppose, for argument’s sake, that this widespread belief really is false, and that it merely provides survival benefits for humans, a coping mechanism of sorts. If so, then we would have additional evidence—on the atheist’s own terms—that evolution is more interested in useful beliefs than in true ones. Or, alternatively, if evolution really is concerned with true beliefs, then maybe the widespread belief in God would be a kind of “evolutionary” evidence for his existence.
“Relativists aren’t interested in finding truth but in preserving their own autonomy. This isn’t a logical argument against relativism, of course. I’m just trying to point out that the true(!) basis for relativism is ultimately rooted in its motivation rather than in any good reasons or persuasive arguments.” — Paul Copan
This childish rejection of God in light of the evidence provided through the Book of Nature comes way of True Free Thinker, and shows the juvenile manner in which evidence is rejected in lieu of the ego:
…Lewis Wolpert simplistic dismissal of any and all intelligent design and creationism discoveries as “There is no evidence for them at all” is no less than an intellectual embarrassment and that he insists that “They must be kept out of science lessons” shows why he is the vice-president of an Atheist activism group.
And his dismissal of God is just as unimpressive, “There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of God.”
But what scientific, evidence based, academic, scholarly reasons does Wolpert himself offer for having become an Atheist?:
I stopped believing in God when I was 15 or 16 because he didn’t give me what I asked for. 
Keith Ward asked Wolpert, “What sort of evidence would count for you? Would it have to be scientific evidence of some sort?” to which the reply was, “Well, no… I think I read somewhere: If he turned the pond on Hamstead Heath into good champagne, it would be quite impressive”. And yet, the historical record is that Jesus turned water into wine and that is still not good enough, is it?
[My addition: no it isn’t, some people like champaigne and not wine]
Lewis Wolpert also stated, “I used to pray but I gave it up because when I asked God to help me find my cricket bat, he didn’t help.” Thus, Justin Brieley stated, “Right, and that was enough for you to prove that God did not exist” to which Wolpert replied, “Well, yes. I just gave it up completely.”…
Lewis Wolpert, “The Hard Cell,” Third Way, March 2007 AD, p. 17
(For the above audio) Well respected [in evolutionary circles] University College London Professor (Emeritus) of Cell and Developmental Biology answers this, and explains that most people want more. And indeed, the Judeo-Christian God is the only answer to this conundrum. You can see how the answer to the problem actually resonates and responds to the truth of human need.
1) chemical reactions in your brain perceived as feelings of loyalty toward a single co-parent for the purpose of rearing a child together, at least until it’s weaned 2) the ultimate good, a reflection of the image of God upon humanity
Arguments often arise by using the same words to mean different things. One worldview (Christianity) views love as the ultimate good in the material world and beyond.
Let’s look at how love is viewed by two different worldviews: Christianity and naturalism.
On Christianity, love is ultimately:
a) the state of affairs existing prior to the creation of the universe, flowing between the Father and the Son via the Holy Spirit, the vehicle of love b) the highest good c) the ultimate goal, an act of worship.
On naturalism, love is ultimately:
a) the evolutionary mechanism to ensure the survival of children and the propagation of our species b) a nice concept, something to distract you from the depressing thought of a meaningless existence c) an amusing illusion
Your worldview will shape how you understand the concept of love…
I wish to start out with an excerpt from a chapter in my book where I use two scholarly works that use Darwinian naturalism as a guide to their ethic:
Dale Peterson and Richard Wrangham, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 1997).
Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000).
My incorporation of these works into my book (quote):
“Lest one think this line of thinking is insane, that is: sexual acts are something from our evolutionary past and advantageous; rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success….. The first concept that one must understand is that these authors do not view nature alone as imposing a moral “oughtness” into the situation of survival of the fittest. They view rape, for instance, in its historical evolutionary context as neither right nor wrong ethically. Rape, is neither moral nor immoral vis-à-vis evolutionary lines of thought, even if ingrained in us from our evolutionary paths of survival. Did you catch that? Even if a rape occurs today, it is neither moral nor immoral, it is merely currently taboo. The biological, amoral, justification of rape is made often times as a survival mechanism bringing up the net “survival status” of a species, usually fraught with examples of homosexual worms, lesbian seagulls, and the like.”
Now, hear from other atheist and evolutionary apologists themselves in regard to the matter:
(h/t: TrueFreeThinker) – A Statement Made by an atheist at the Atheist and Agnostic Society:
Some atheists do believe in ethical absolutes, some don’t. My answer is a bit more complicated — I don’t believe that there are any axiological claims which are absolutely true, except within the context of one person’s opinion.
That is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so are ethics. So, why is Adolf Hitler wrong? Because he murdered millions, and his only justification, even if it were valid, was based on things which he should have known were factually wrong. Why is it wrong to do that? Because I said so. Unless you actually disagree with me — unless you want to say that Adolf Hitler was right — I’m not sure I have more to say.
[side note] You may also be aware that Richard Dawkins stated,
“What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.”
Atheists Trying to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too on Morality. This video shows that when an atheist denies objective morality they also affirm moral good and evil without the thought of any contradiction or inconsistency on their part.
This is from the video Description for the Dan Barker video below:
The atheist’s animal-level view of “morality” is completely skewed by dint of its lack of objectivity. In fact, the atheist makes up his own personal version of “morals” as he goes along, and this video provides an eye-opening example of this bizarre phenomenon of the atheist’s crippled psyche:
During this debate, the atheist stated that he believed rape was morally acceptable, then he actually stated that he would rape a little girl and then kill himself — you have just got to hear his psychotic words with your own ears to believe it!
He then stammered and stumbled through a series of ridiculously lame excuses for his shameful lack of any type of moral compass.
To the utter amazement of his opponent and all present in the audience, the gruesomely amoral atheist even goes so far as to actually crack a sick little joke on the subject of SERIAL CHILD-RAPE!
Meanwhile, the Christian in the video gracefully and heroically realizes the clearly objective moral values that unquestionably come to humanity by God’s grace, and yet are far beyond the lower animal’s and the atheist’s tenuous mental grasp. Be sure to keep watching until the very end so that you can hear the Christian’s final word — it’s a real knuckle-duster!
Atheist dogma™ not only fails to provide a stable platform for objective human morality for its adherent — it precludes him even the possibility. It’s this very intellectual inability to apprehend any objective moral values that leads such believers in atheist dogma™ as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Dahmer to commit their horrific atheistic atrocities.
Any believer in atheist dogma™, given sufficient power, would take the exact same course of action that Hitler did, without a moment’s hesitation.
Note as well that evolutionary naturalism has very dogmatic implication, IF — that is — the honest atheist/evolutionist follow the matter to their logical conclusions, via the ineffable Dr. Provine:
Atheist and staunch evolutionist Dr. William Provine (who is often quoted by Richard Dawkins) admits what life has in stored if Darwinism is true. The quote comes from his debate here with Dr. Phillip E. Johnson at Stanford University, April 30, 1994.
“We must ask first whether the theory of evolution by natural selection is scientific or pseudoscientific …. Taking the first part of the theory, that evolution has occurred, it says that the history of life is a single process of species-splitting and progression. This process must be unique and unrepeatable, like the history of England. This part of the theory is therefore a historical theory, about unique events, and unique events are, by definition, not part of science, for they are unrepeatable and so not subject to test.”
Colin Patterson  (Dr. Patterson was Senior Principal Scientific Officer of the Paleontology Department of the British Museum of Natural History in London.)
People think evolution is “science proper.” It is not, it is both a historical science and a [philosophical] presupposition in its “neo-Darwinian” form. The presupposition that removes it from “science proper and moves it into “scientism” is explained by an atheist philosopher:
If science really is permanently committed to methodological naturalism – the philosophical position that restricts all explanations in science to naturalistic explanations – it follows that the aim of science is not generating true theories. Instead, the aim of science would be something like: generating the best theories that can be formulated subject to the restriction that the theories are naturalistic. More and more evidence could come in suggesting that a supernatural being exists, but scientific theories wouldn’t be allowed to acknowledge that possibility.
In other words, the guy most credited in getting us to the moon used science to get us there, but was a young earth creationist. His view on “origins” (origin science) is separate from his working science. Two categories.
Likewise one of the most celebrated pediatric surgeons in the world, whom a movie was made after, “Gifted Hands,” is a young earth creationist. And the inventor of the MRI, a machine that diagnosed my M.S., is also a young earth creationist.
Evolutionary Darwinism is first and foremost an “historical science” that has many presuppositions that precede it, making it a metaphysical belief, a philosophy, as virulent anti-creationist philosopher of science, Michael Ruse explains:
Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. . . . Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.
Michael Ruse, “Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians,” National Post (May 13, 2000), p. B-3. (Via ICR)
The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.
He thus acknowledged the need for any theory to allow that humans have genuine freedom to recognize the truth. He (again, correctly) saw that if all thought, belief, feeling, and choice are determined (i.e., forced on humans by outside conditions) then so is the determinists’ acceptance of the theory of determinism forced on them by those same conditions. In that case they could never claim to know their theory is true since the theory making that claim would be self-referentially incoherent. In other words, the theory requires that no belief is ever a free judgment made on the basis of experience or reason, but is always a compulsion over which the believer has no control.
If what he says is true, he says it merely as the result of his heredity and environment, and nothing else. He does not hold his determinist views because they are true, but because he has such-and-such stimuli; that is, not because the structure of the structure of the universe is such-and-such but only because the configuration of only part of the universe, together with the structure of the determinist’s brain, is such as to produce that result…. They [determinists – I would posit any philosophical naturalist] want to be considered as rational agents arguing with other rational agents; they want their beliefs to be construed as beliefs, and subjected to rational assessment; and they want to secure the rational assent of those they argue with, not a brainwashed repetition of acquiescent pattern. Consistent determinists should regard it as all one whether they induce conformity to their doctrines by auditory stimuli or a suitable injection of hallucinogens: but in practice they show a welcome reluctance to get out their syringes, which does equal credit to their humanity and discredit to their views. Determinism, therefore, cannot be true, because if it was, we should not take the determinists’ arguments as being really arguments, but as being only conditioned reflexes. Their statements should not be regarded as really claiming to be true, but only as seeking to cause us to respond in some way desired by them.
One of the most intriguing aspects mentioned by Ravi Zacharias of a lecture he attended entitled Determinism – Is Man a Slave or the Master of His Fate, given by Stephen Hawking, who is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Isaac Newton’s chair, was this admission by Dr. Hawking’s, was Hawking’s admission that if “we are the random products of chance, and hence, not free, or whether God had designed these laws within which we are free.”In other words, do we have the ability to make choices, or do we simply follow a chemical reaction induced by millions of mutational collisions of free atoms? Michael Polyni mentions that this “reduction of the world to its atomic elements acting blindly in terms of equilibrations of forces,” a belief that has prevailed “since the birth of modern science, has made any sort of teleological view of the cosmos seem unscientific…. [to] the contemporary mind.”
 Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 118, 119. My own summation. Michael Polanyi and Harry Prosch, Meaning (Chicago, IL: Chicago university Press, 1977), 162.
What merit would attach to moral virtue if the acts that form such habitual tendencies and dispositions were not acts of free choice on the part of the individual who was in the process of acquiring moral virtue? Persons of vicious moral character would have their characters formed in a manner no different from the way in which the character of a morally virtuous person was formed—by acts entirely determined, and that could not have been otherwise by freedom of choice.
If we were free persons, with faculties which we might carelessly use or wilfully misuse, the fact might be explained; but the pre-established harmony excludes this supposition. And since our faculties lead us into error, when shall we trust them? Which of the many opinions they have produced is really true? By hypothesis, they all ought to be true, but, as they contradict one another, all cannot be true. How, then, distinguish between the true and the false? By taking a vote? That cannot be, for, as determined, we have not the power to take a vote. Shall we reach the truth by reasoning? This we might do, if reasoning were a self-poised, self verifying process; but this it cannot be in a deterministic system. Reasoning implies the power to control one’s thoughts, to resist the processes of association, to suspend judgment until the transparent order of reason has been readied. It implies freedom, therefore. In a mind which is controlled by its states, instead of controlling them, there is no reasoning, but only a succession of one state upon another. There is no deduction from grounds, but only production by causes. No belief has any logical advantage over any other, for logic is no longer possible.
“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 (1924) pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18
(Originally posted in 2016 — UPDATED) What’s a greater leap of faith: God or the Multiverse? What’s the multiverse? Brian Keating, Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego, explains in this video.
Here are a couple of great articles to read on the “Multiverse” and the war on science, ala cultural atheism — I love Denyse O’Leary’s title of the first article excerpted:
Until recently, many were reluctant to accept this idea of the “multiverse”, or were even belligerent towards it. However, recent progress in both cosmology and string theory is bringing about a major shift in thinking. Gone is the grudging acceptance or outright loathing of the multiverse. Instead, physicists are starting to look at ways of working with it, and maybe even trying to prove its existence.
Maybe even trying to prove its existence? Yes because, remember, evidence is now superfluous. Methodological naturalism produced the Copernican Principle, which is an axiom. It axiomatically accounts for our universe’s apparent fine tuning by postulating — without the need for evidence — an infinity of flops. And cosmologists’ acceptance makes the multiverse orthodoxy.
…Ian Sample, science writer for Britain’s Guardian, asked Hawking in 2011, “What is the value in knowing ‘Why are we here?'” Hawking replied:
The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can’t solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those Societies most likely to survive. We assign them a higher value.
Sample had no idea what Hawking meant. But we can discern this much: Philosophy and religion may not matter, but Darwin does.
How far has the multiverse penetrated our culture? Tegmark observes, “Parallel universes are now all the rage, cropping up in books, movies and even jokes.” Indeed, multiverse models can hardly be invented fast enough, with or without science. Cosmologist Andrei Linde has commented that a scenario that is “very popular among journalists” has remained rather unpopular among scientists. In short, popular science culture needs that scenario.
Multiverse cosmologists look out on a bright future, freed from the demands of evidence. Leonard Susskind writes, “I would bet that at the turn of the 22nd century philosophers and physicists will look nostalgically at the present and recall a golden age in which the narrow provincial 20th century concept of the universe gave way to a bigger better [multiverse] … of mind-boggling proportions.” Physicists Alejandro Jenkins and Gilad Perez say their computer program shows that “universes with different physical laws might still be habitable.” And reviewing theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss’s Universe From Nothing (2012), science writer Michael Brooks notes that the multiverse puts laws of physics “beyond science — for now, at least.” Before methodological naturalism really sank in, undemonstrable universes, not the laws of physics, were beyond science….
War on science? Well, we hear about it more often than we see it. People—particularly naturalist atheists involved with progressive causes, who are flogging up some unverifiable thesis—are prone to claiming that their opponents are creationists (whether they are or not, in any meaningful sense), or else some other type of warriors against science.
There is, as it happens, an assault on the science concept of falsifiability as explained at PBS:
Does Science Need Falsifiablity?
Meanwhile, cosmologists have found themselves at a similar impasse. We live in a universe that is, by some estimations, too good to be true. The fundamental constants of nature and the cosmological constant, which drives the accelerating expansion of the universe, seem “fine-tuned” to allow galaxies and stars to form. As Anil Ananthaswamy wrote elsewhere on this blog, “Tweak the charge on an electron, for instance, or change the strength of the gravitational force or the strong nuclear force just a smidgen, and the universe would look very different, and likely be lifeless.”
Why do these numbers, which are essential features of the universe and cannot be derived from more fundamental quantities, appear to conspire for our comfort?
In fact, you can reason your way to the “multiverse” in at least four different ways, according to MIT physicist Max Tegmark’s accounting. The tricky part is testing the idea. You can’t send or receive messages from neighboring universes, and most formulations of multiverse theory don’t make any testable predictions. Yet the theory provides a neat solution to the fine-tuning problem. Must we throw it out because it fails the falsifiability test?
“It would be completely non-scientific to ignore that possibility just because it doesn’t conform with some preexisting philosophical prejudices,” says Sean Carroll, a physicist at Caltech, who called for the “retirement” of the falsifiability principle in a controversial essay for Edge last year. Falsifiability is “just a simple motto that non-philosophically-trained scientists have latched onto,” argues Carroll. He also bristles at the notion that this viewpoint can be summed up as “elegance will suffice,” as Ellis put it in a stinging Nature comment written with cosmologist Joe Silk.
“I think falsifiability is not a perfect criterion, but it’s much less pernicious than what’s being served up by the ‘post-empirical’ faction,” says Frank Wilczek, a physicist at MIT. “Falsifiability is too impatient, in some sense,” putting immediate demands on theories that are not yet mature enough to meet them. “It’s an important discipline, but if it is applied too rigorously and too early, it can be stifling.”
Astronomers are arguing about whether they can trust this untested—and potentially untestable—idea
Detailing the objections of those who want evidence, she then explains,
Other scientists say that the definitions of “evidence” and “proof” need an upgrade. Richard Dawid of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy believes scientists could support their hypotheses, like the multiverse—without actually finding physical support. He laid out his ideas in a book called String Theory and the Scientific Method. Inside is a kind of rubric, called “Non-Empirical Theory Assessment,” that is like a science-fair judging sheet for professional physicists. If a theory fulfills three criteria, it is probably true.
First, if scientists have tried, and failed, to come up with an alternative theory that explains a phenomenon well, that counts as evidence in favor of the original theory. Second, if a theory keeps seeming like a better idea the more you study it, that’s another plus-one. And if a line of thought produced a theory that evidence later supported, chances are it will again.
Radin Dardashti, also of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, thinks Dawid is straddling the right track. “The most basic idea undergirding all of this is that if we have a theory that seems like it works, and we have come up with nothing that works better, chances are our idea is right,” he says.
But, historically, that undergirding has often collapsed, and scientists haven’t been able to see the obvious alternatives to dogmatic ideas. For example, the Sun, in its rising and setting, seems to go around Earth. People, therefore, long thought that our star orbited the Earth. More.
With so many people rethinking evolution, the Darwinians could use a theory that doesn’t require physical support too.
Smug Lawrence Krauss taken back to school by physicist David Gross.
It’s even in the title of Charles Darwin’s most popular book, On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection. But what Darwin didn’t know then was that natural selection can’t create brand-new genetic information. It’s never been observed to do this. In the case of the bacterium we looked at, it either LOST information or gained already existing information. Nothing brand-new was created! So, if natural selection can never create the brand-new information that evolution needs, how can it be considered the driving force of evolution? Just one more scientific reason that you shouldn’t believe in molecules-to-man evolution. It takes a LOT of faith.
Proof that God (a non-random process) exists and random chance evolutionary processes do not explain our origins.
Stephen C. Meyer appearing in Darwin’s Dilemma talks about Richard Dawkins’s “climbing Mt. Improbable.”
Biologist Ann Gauger discusses the challenge posed to Darwinian natural selection by the process of metamorphosis found in butterflies and other creatures. Gauger is featured in the science documentary “Metamorphosis,” which deals with butterflies, evolution, and intelligent design.
Before posting what I did on Facebook as part of a response to a conversation regarding the below graphic… I want to say that by showing vestiges…
a rudimentary structure in humans corresponding to a functional structureor organ in ancestral animals
…in no way undermines Intelligent Design, or somehow PROVES evolution. Let me explain.
Darwin said he didn’t see an issue with whales evolving from bears, or some bear like creature. In his first edition of Origin of Species, Darwin said this:
“I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths,” Darwin concluded, “till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.”
This does not involve “devolution,” a loss of specificity which the below picture captures… but rather, evolution demands an increase in specificity in gene and DNA specificity in the creation of whole new organs and how they act. Similarly, the Archaeopteryx is proffered as an example of evolution, but evolutionists themselves would say that this is only an example of “devolution,” and not an increase of specificity in a species (a clipping from my post: “Was Archaeopteryx Devolving? Thus Losing It’s Ability to Fly?“):
Since other feathered “birds” have been found around the same time or earlier than Archaeopteryx, causing Alan Feduccia to quip, “You can’t be older than your grandfather” (Creation.com)… NATURE has published an article pointing out that Archaeopteryx is JUST LIKE modern flightless birds. And so it could have been losing its ability for flight (like modern birds have).
“We know Archaeopteryx was living on an archipelago during the Jurassic. And with its feathers and bones looking so much like modern flightless island birds, it just makes me wonder,” says…. Michael Habib, a biologist at the University of Southern California….
“Just because Archaeopteryx was the first feathered dinosaur found, doesn’t mean it has to play a central role in the actual history of the origins of birds,” says palaeontologist Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland in College Park. “We have to remember it appears 10 million years or so after the oldest known bird-like dinosaurs and so our famous ‘first bird’ may really be a secondarily flightless one.”…
There is just as much [at best] evidence for this proposition as the next. “Devolution” — a loss of specificity/use, may be a more reasonable position to take via observed evidence. We see this all the time (directly below is an example from Lee Spetner’s new book), and EVOLUTION NEWS says that “looks like Archaeopteryx may have to be reclassified as a different sort of icon — symbolizing evolution by loss of function.” Oops.
So these types of examples ACTUALLY COUNT AGAINST the main idea that neo-Darwinism proposed… that I came from a rock.
I find it interesting that people think this whale bone pictured above is a vestigial organ. Very similar to the list of a 180 vestigial structures said to be in the human body in the late 1800’s dwindling to effectively zero, and the damage and laziness such thinking cost lives and sciences advancement (see more here):
In the 1930’s over half of all children had their tonsils and adenoids removed. In 1969, 19.5 out of every 1,000 children under the age of nine had undergone a tonsillectomy. By 1971 the frequency had dropped to only 14.8 per 1,000, with the percentage continuing to decrease in subsequent years. Most medical authorities now actively discourage tonsillectomies. Many agree with Wooley, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Wayne State University, who was quoted in Katz: “If there are one million tonsillectomies done in the United States, there are 999,000 that don’t need doing.”
Among the first medical doctors seriously to question the wisdom of tonsillectomies was Albert Kaiser. For ten years he kept complete records of the illnesses of 5,000 children. They were divided into two groups – those who had tonsils removed and those who did not. Kaiser found: “…no significant difference between the two groups in the number of colds, sore throats and other upper respiratory infections.”
Tonsils are important to young people in helping to establish the body’s defense mechanism which produces disease-fighting antibodies. Once these mechanisms are developed, the tonsils shrink to almost nothing in adults, and other organs take over this function. In the Medical World News, a story stated that although removal of tonsils at a young age obviously eliminates tonsillitis (the inflammation of the tonsils) it may significantly increase the incidence of strep-throat and even Hodgkin’s disease. In fact, according to the New York Department of Cancer Control: “…people who have had tonsillectomies are nearly three times as likely to develop Hodgkin’s Disease, a form of cancer that attacks the lymphoid tissue.”
My point is this, the Tonsils were once included in a list of 180 vestigial (“useless, or nearly useless”) organs. And because the assumption was first made that these were organs left over from a previous genetic ancestor (ape, dog, early-man, whatever), that they were deemed useless – ad hoc – because science did not know at that time what their functions were.
So for many years, doctors and scientists that accepted the evolutionary paradigm did not investigate the possible functionality of these organs. Many people suffered and died needlessly due to this philosophical assumption that evolution is true. You will see this assumption play out again and again where medical science and the evolutionary issue intersect. You see, if you come to the table with an understanding that we were created, then these structures serve a purpose, or are a neutral combination of the possible male/female outcome of the fertilized egg (for instance, male nipples). If the assumption is made that these structures are designed, then the medical world would strive to investigate and understand the organ in question, not simply state that it is useless.
Robert P Bolande, “Ritualistic Surgery – circumcision and tonsillectomy,” New England Journal of Medicine, March 13 (1969) pp. 591-595; Alvin Eden, “When Should Tonsils and Adenoids be Removed?” Family Weekly, September 25 (1977), p. 24; Lawrence Galton, “All Those Tonsil Operations: Useless? Dangerous?” Parade, May 2 (1976), pp. 26ff; Dolras Katz, “Tonsillectomy: Boom or Boondoggle?” The Detroit Free Press, April 13 (1972), p. 1-C; Samuel Lipton, “On the Psychology of Childhood Tonsillectomy,” found in: The Psychoanalysis Study of the Child (International Universities Press, New York: 1962). Galton, p. 26. Martin L. Gross, The Doctors (Random House, New York: 1966); Simpson Hall, Diseases of the Nose, Throat and Ear (E. and S. Livingston, New York: 1941). N. J. Vianna, Peter Greenwald, and U. N. Davies, September 10, 1973, p.10 Galton, p. 26-27. This is an important issue, for instance, during the famous Scopes trial in 1925 – which allowed evolution to be taught alongside creation – zoologist Horatio Hacket Newman, a defense witness, stated: “There are, according to Wiedersheim, no less than 180 vestigial structures in the human body, sufficient to make of a man a veritable walking museum of antiquities.” Also, if created by a personal God who has created sex to be pleasurable, then the nipples have a purpose other than the neutral canvas of the fertilized egg.
Jerry Bergman and George F. Howe, Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional (Creation Research Society Books, Kansas City: MO: 1990).
SIMILARLY, the laziness in neo-Darwinian evolutionary propositions in this “example” of a vestigial organ shows the laziness in thought, and, the stalling of advancing science in understanding nature. Now, we know, and even the secular world acknowledges this fact in “discovering” [yet again] that pronouncements made by the evolutionary community of scientists is woefully wrong. Here is an example via THE DAILY MAIL – take note how I and the researches end the article:
Whale Sex Revealed: ‘Useless’ Hips Bones Are Crucial To Reproduction – And Size Really Matters, Study Finds
Whales and dolphins have pelvic bones, which are evolutionary remnants from when their ancestors walked on land more than 40 million years ago
Scientists from the University of Southern California and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, analysed pelvic bones for four years
Muscles that control a cetacean’s penis attach directly to its pelvic bones
They found the bigger the animals’ testis, the bigger their pelvic bone
Males from more promiscuous species evolve larger penises, so larger pelvic bones are necessary to attach bigger muscles for penis control, they said
Study changes the way we think about vestigial structures
They wrote in the journal Evolution, the muscles that control a cetacean’s highly flexible penis, attach directly to its pelvic bones.
The scientist theorised that the pelvic bones could affect the level of control over the penis that an individual cetacean has, perhaps offering an evolutionary advantage.
To test their idea, they examined hundreds of pelvic bones and used a 3D scanner to make digital models of the curved bones in order to gain an unprecedented level of detail about their shape and size, as well as to compare them.
They then gathered data about testis size relative to the mass of whales. In the natural world, more ‘promiscuous’ species where females mate with many males, create a more competitive mating environment and the males develop larger testes as a way of attracting females.
The experts compared the size of pelvic bones to the size of an animal’s testes, relative its body size, and found that the bigger the testes, the bigger the cetacean’s pelvic bone.
Males from more promiscuous species also evolve larger penises, so larger pelvic bones appear necessary to attach larger muscles for penis control, they said.
‘Our research really changes the way we think about the evolution of whale pelvic bones in particular, but more generally about structures we call vestigial,’ Professor Dean said.
‘AS A PARALLEL, WE ARE NOW LEARNING THAT OUR APPENDIX IS ACTUALLY QUITE IMPORTANT IN SEVERAL IMMUNE PROCESSES, NOT A FUNCTIONALLY USELESS STRUCTURE,’ he added….
In conversation about the above, the person I was speaking with posted a series of evolution from creature-to-creature proving the evolution of the whale.
I have already refuted this clean progression, HERE, but I noted something that this person was not aware of. As most people are not. You see, when you bring your kid to the Natural History Museum, you see this picture of the RED OUTLINED creature in the evidence for whales evolving:
The problem with this evidence is that it is based primarily on an artists rendition. Here is the actual bones all this Ambulocetus Natans is based on — see #3:
I merely commented that his believing and passing along graphics showing full skulls by artists, or the above “skeletal” sequence, reminds me of the movie scene from the Matrix:
In similar fashion, this artistic rendition used in the Scopes “Monkey” Trial was used as evidence proving evolution:
However, this was based off a single tooth. NOT ONLY THAT, but the tooth put forward as hominid, ended up being an extinct pig’s tooth.
In similar form, many people still think the APPENDIX is a vestigial organ. Here is my response (since updated) to one of my son’s teachers in high school dealing with what was being taught as FACT… that is, that the appendix had no known use:
FULL UPDATED PAPER
Context this short paper was written:
This paper evolved over many years. It was one of the first subjects I debated at a science discussion board on the Internet many years ago prior to the NetZero days. Then I updated it to respond in writing to a Discover magazine article (a much larger paper, of which this takes up two pages).
Finally, as my son has been studying science in seventh grade, his science textbook states many “facts” wrongly, this being only one of the many I have since written about (peppered moths, embryos going through stages of a fish, homology, and the like).
I like to think that the teacher’s role is to not just teach what the “state” requires – this reminds me of the novels 1984, or Animal Farm – but to allow updated information into the classroom that will best challenge these students to become that medical doctor, chemist, or physicist. In other words, I want my son to have the best information that may spark the interest to become, say, a medical doctor. This is all that I argue for.
As it so happened, the teacher merely regurgitated what the “state” wanted her to (even after reading such a cogent and well laid response to her saying “there is no use for the appendix in the human body”). Much like when the dog cubs were taken and “educated” in the novel Animal Farm.
Much thought – and enjoy the read – SeanG!
Dr. Kawanishi, showed that human lymphoid cells in the appendix are immunologically functional as T helper cells and antibody-producing B cells, making IgA molecules in response to immunological challenges. He noted that:
“The human appendix, long considered only an accessory rudimentary organ, could posses a similar antigen uptake role prior to replacement by fibrosed tissue after repeated subclinical infections, or at least in early childhood when it is most prominent.”
The appendix is also rich in argentaffin cells, which can be identified with the use of silver salt staining. The function of these cells has long been obscure, but the evidence suggests that they may be involved with endocrine gland function. Many sources (encyclopedias, textbooks, etc.) still erroneously state that the appendix is useless. Interestingly, the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia states in one place: that “In humans the cecum and appendix have no important function,” and in another place that “the appendix is now thought to be one of the sites where immune responses are initiated.”
Dr. Howard R. Bierman… studied several hundred patients with leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the colon and cancer of the ovaries. He found that 84% [of his sample] had [their] appendix removed…. In a control group without cancer, only 25% had it removed.
Bierman himself had concluded that the appendix may be an immunological organ whose premature removal during its functional period permits leukemia and other related forms of cancer to begin their development. Bierman and his associates realized that the lymphoid tissue located on the walls of the appendix may secrete antibodies which protect the body against various viral agents.
While high school and college textbooks today will mention the appendix as vestigial, specialists in their field have for many years stated the necessity of the appendix as useful.
“There is no longer any justification for regarding the vermiform appendix as a vestigial structure.”
“For at least 2,000 years, doctors have puzzled over the function of… the thymus gland…. Modern physicians came to regard it, like the appendix, as a useless vestigial organ which had lost its original purpose, if indeed it ever had one. In the last few years, however,… men have proved that, far from being useless, the thymus is really the master gland that regulates the intricate immunity system which protects us against infectious diseases…. Recent experiments have led researchers to believe that the appendix, tonsils, and adenoids may also figure in the antibody responses.”
“The appendix is not generally credited with significant function; however, current evidence tends to involve it in the immunologic mechanism.”
“The mucosa and submucosa of the appendix are dominated by lymphoid nodules, and its primary function is as an organ of the lymphatic system.”
The appendix is in fact part of the G.A.L.T. (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue) system. The lymphoid follicles develop in the appendix at around two weeks after birth, which is the time when the large bowel begins to be colonized with the necessary bacteria. It is likely that its major function peaks in this neonatal period. Making it anything other than vestigial!
As Dr. Peter Faletra (Ph.D.), who is Senior Science Advisor Office of Science Department of Energy, says in response to a question on an online question-and-answer service for K-12 teachers run by the Argonne National Laboratories:
“As a histologist I see no reason to consider the v. appendix as having no function since it contains numerous lymphoid follicles that produce functional lymphocytes and a rich blood supply to communicate them. The general idea of vestigial organs is to me a measure of ignorance, arrogance and lack of imagination. Ignorance in that we label it as such because we do not know its function; arrogance in that we declare it of no value since we can see none; and lacking in imagination in so far as when we cannot see its function cannot imagine one. I call your attention to that other ‘vestigial organ’ the thymus without which, in early life, we would produce a severely compromised cell-mediated immune system as the ‘nude’ mouse and numerous thymectomized mammalian studies have shown. Although some general reference books still list the v. appendix as ‘vestigial’ most immunologists (I included) would strongly disagree!” (emphises added)
Since the above was removed, I want to embolden the thinking by excerpting a SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN article:
A study in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology finds that many more animals have appendixes than was thought, and that the appendix is not merely a remnant of a digestive organ called the cecum. All of which means that the appendix might not be so useless. Steve Mirsky reports.
Two years ago, Duke University Medical Center researchers said that the supposedly useless appendix is actually where good gut bacteria safely hide out during some unpleasant intestinal conditions.
Now the research team has looked at the appendix over evolutionary history. They found that animals have had appendixes for about 80 million years. And the organ has evolved separately at least twice, once among the weird Australian marsupials and another time in the regular old mammal lineage that we belong to.
Darwin thought that only a few animals have an appendix and that the human version was what was left of a digestive organ called the cecum. But the new study found that 70 percent of rodent and primate groups have species with an appendix….
While Scientific American still tries to relegate it to evolution, they do so by supposition. Almost by metaphysical statements. William Parker, Ph.D., assistant professor of experimental surgery, who conducted the analysis in collaboration with R. Randal Bollinger, M.D., Ph.D., Duke professor emeritus in general surgery – said this:
“While there is no smoking gun, the abundance of circumstantial evidence makes a strong case for the role of the appendix as a place where the good bacteria can live safe and undisturbed until they are needed”
WIKIPEDIA has a decent section on the appendix’s function as well.
PS – (from the original letter) This P.S. was to the teacher after she responded to my e-mail, I corrected her on something that any science teacher who isn’t guided by a presupposed philosophy – namely Naturalism – would have correctly defined.
Oh, I forgot, as I was falling asleep last night and running through the day in my head, something occurred to me. You mentioned that theories are, quote:
“Theories are well tested concepts scientists use to help explain something based on repeated findings.”
Yes, a great quick explanation of a proper theory. However, when the appendix was placed on the vestigial organ list along with 180 other organs by Ernst Haekel in the late 1800‘s – where it has stayed since – no repeatable tests were ever done to confirm the hypothesis that it was useless. In fact, every medical test done of the type of tissue found (argentaffin cells, and lymphoid cells) in the appendix shows that it has a use.
So I would say that the theory that it is useful is quite sound, where as the hypothesis that it is useless is waning and ill founded ~ un-scientific in other words.
H. Kawanishi, “Immunocompetence of Normal Appendiceal Lymphoid cells: in vitro studies,” Immunology, 60(1) (1987), 19-28.
 Marti-Ibanez (editor), “Tuber of Life,” M. D. Magazine (1970) #14, p. 240; William J. Banks, Applied Veterinary Histology (Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore: 1981), 390.
 Richard G. Culp, Remember thy Creator (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids,; MI: 1975).
Howard R. Bierman, “Human Appendix and Neoplasia,” Cancer 21 (1) (1968), 109-118.
 William Straus, Quarterly Review of Biology (1947), 149.
“The Useless Gland that Guards Our Health,” in Reader’s Digest, November (1966), 229, 235.
 Henry L. Bockus, Gastroenterology, 2:1134-1148 [chapter The Appendix, by Gordon McHardy], (W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, Pennslyvania: 1976).
 Frederic H. Martini, Ph.D., Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: 1995), 916
(Since removed) From the site Newton, which is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators. Argonne National Laboratory, Division of Educational Programs, Harold Myron, Ph.D., Division Director. Quote: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/mole00/mole00225.htm Home page: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/
 “That’s No Vestigial Organ, That’s My Appendix,” Scientific American (8-24-2009), found at: http://tinyurl.com/ycb9dcnv
Duke University Medical Center, “Appendix isn’t useless at all: It’s a safe house for bacteria,” EurekaAlert! (AAAS | 10-08-2008); found at: http://tinyurl.com/yadgop2l
 Appendix, Functions – found at: http://tinyurl.com/k245vmb
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.”
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
J.P. Moreland and William Lane Criag, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2003), 346-350.
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.
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.
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.
 John Kekes, Tic Nature of Philosophy (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1980), p. 158.
 David Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748; Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965), pp. 51-52 (section 4.2 in the original).
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.
This is not to suggest that new paradigms triumph ultimately through some mystical aesthetic. On the contrary, very few men desert a tradition for these reasons alone. Often those who do turn out to have been misled. But if a paradigm is ever to triumph it must gain some first supporters, men who will develop it to the point where hardheaded arguments can be produced and multiplied. And even those arguments, when they come, are not individually decisive. Because scientists are reasonable men, one or another argument will ultimately persuade many of them. But there is no single argument that can or should persuade them all. Rather than a single group conversion, what occurs is an increasing shift in the distribution of professional allegiances.
At the start a new candidate for paradigm may have few supporters, and on occasions the supporters’ motives may be suspect. Nevertheless, if they are competent, they will improve it, explore its possibilities, and show what it would be like to belong to the community guided by it. And as that goes on, if the paradigm is one destined to win its fight, the number and strength of the persuasive arguments in its favor will increase. More scientists will then be converted, and the exploration of the new paradigm will go on. Gradually the number of experiments, instruments, articles, and books based upon the paradigm will multiply. Still more men, convinced of the new view’s fruitfulness, will adopt the new mode of practicing normal science, until at last only a few elderly hold-outs remain.
Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd Edition (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1970), 158-159
A great definition of the Modern Synthesis can be found HERE
The first two articles are a report about the Royal Society meeting in regards to the failure of the neo-Darwinian model. The Royal Society is the world’s most distinguished and historic scientific organizations. The first article is an introduction to the upcoming event, the second is a partial description of it. What follows it are articles from scientific literature calling into question the General Theory of Evolution (GTE/NDT).
SCIENCE ALERT, “The world’s top biologists have met to discuss whether we should update evolution: Bringing Darwin’s theory into the 21st century,” Nov. 28, 2016
The world’s top biologists have met to discuss whether we should update evolution: Bringing Darwin’s theory into the 21st century. (Science Alert)
Evolutionary biology has helped scientists understand why the world looks the way it does for more than 150 years, since Charles Darwin released On the Origin of Species back in 1859.
But a team of researchers has now proposed an update to our current understanding of evolution – one that could completely shift our understanding of how species evolve.
Some of the world’s best known biologists just converged in London as part of a Royal Society meeting to discuss if it’s time to upgrade one of the most fundamental theories in science.
The researchers also argue that natural selection isn’t necessarily the primary force in evolution – the limitations of development and the environments organisms live in can also play a role.
MINA, “Scientists see the obvious, confirm Darwinism is Broken,” Dec. 14, 2016
Darwinian theory is broken and may not be fixable. That was the takeaway from a meeting last month organized by the world’s most distinguished and historic scientific organization, which went mostly unreported by the media.
The three-day conference at the Royal Society in London was remarkable in confirming something that advocates of intelligent design (ID), a controversial scientific alternative to evolution, have said for years. ID proponents point to a chasm that divides how evolution and its evidence are presented to the public, and how scientists themselves discuss it behind closed doors and in technical publications. This chasm has been well hidden from laypeople, yet it was clear to anyone who attended the Royal Society conference, as did a number of ID-friendly scientists.
The opening presentation at the Royal Society by one of those world-class biologists, Austrian evolutionary theorist Gerd Müller, underscored exactly Meyer’s contention. Dr. Müller opened the meeting by discussing several of the fundamental “explanatory deficits” of “the modern synthesis,” that is, textbook neo-Darwinian theory. According to Müller, the as yet unsolved problems include those of explaining:
-Phenotypic complexity (the origin of eyes, ears, body plans, i.e., the anatomical and structural features of living creatures);
-Phenotypic novelty, i.e., the origin of new forms throughout the history of life (for example, the mammalian radiation some 66 million years ago, in which the major orders of mammals, such as cetaceans, bats, carnivores, enter the fossil record, or even more dramatically, the Cambrian explosion, with most animal body plans appearing more or less without antecedents); and finally
-Non-gradual forms or modes of transition, where you see abrupt discontinuities in the fossil record between different types.
As Müller has explained in a 2003 work (“On the Origin of Organismal Form,” with Stuart Newman), although “the neo-Darwinian paradigm still represents the central explanatory framework of evolution, as represented by recent textbooks” it “has no theory of the generative.” In other words, the neo-Darwinian mechanism of mutation and natural selection lacks the creative power to generate the novel anatomical traits and forms of life that have arisen during the history of life. Yet, as Müller noted, neo-Darwinian theory continues to be presented to the public via textbooks as the canonical understanding of how new living forms arose – reflecting precisely the tension between the perceived and actual status of the theory that Meyer described in “Darwin’s Doubt.”
Much of the conference after Müller’s talk did discuss various other proposed evolutionary mechanisms. Indeed, the prime movers in the Royal Society event, Müller, James Shapiro, Denis Noble, and Eva Jablonka – known to evolutionary biologists as the “Third Way of Evolution” crowd, neither ID theorists nor orthodox Darwinists – have proposed repairing the explanatory deficits of the modern synthesis by highlighting evolutionary mechanisms other than random mutation and natural selection. Much debate at the conference centered around the question of whether these new mechanisms could be incorporated into the basic population genetics framework of neo-Darwinism, thus making possible a new “extended” evolutionary synthesis, or whether the emphasis on new mechanisms of evolutionary change represented a radical, and theoretically incommensurable, break with established theory. This largely semantic, or classificatory, issue obscured a deeper question that few, if any, of the presentations confronted head on: the issue of the origin of genuine phenotypic novelty – the problem that Müller described in his opening talk.
Indeed, by the end of Day 3 of the meeting, it seemed clear to many of our scientists, and others in attendance with whom they talked, that the puzzle of life’s novelties remained unsolved – if, indeed, it had been addressed at all. As a prominent German paleontologist in the crowd concluded, “All elements of the Extended Synthesis [as discussed at the conference] fail to offer adequate explanations for the crucial explanatory deficits of the Modern Synthesis (aka neo-Darwinism) that were explicitly highlighted in the first talk of the meeting by Gerd Müller.”
Rather, these complex behaviors were taken as givens, leaving the critical question of their origins more or less untouched. While there is abundant evidence that animals can learn and transmit new behaviors to their offspring – crows in Japan, for instance, have learned how to use automobile traffic to crack open nuts – all such evidence presupposes the prior existence of specific functional capacities enabling observation, learning, and the like. The evolutionary accounts of niche construction theory therefore collide repeatedly with a brick wall marked “ORIGINAL COMPLEX FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY REQUIRED HERE” – without, or beyond which, there would simply be nothing interesting to observe.James Shapiro’s talk, clearly one of the most interesting of the conference, highlighted this difficulty in its most fundamental form. Shapiro presented fascinating evidence showing, contra neo-Darwinism, the non-random nature of many mutational processes – processes that allow organisms to respond to various environmental challenges or stresses. The evidence he presented suggests that many organisms possess a kind of pre-programmed adaptive capacity – a capacity that Shapiro has elsewhere described as operating under “algorithmic control.” Yet, neither Shapiro, nor anyone else at the conference, attempted to explain how the information inherent in such algorithmic control or pre-programmed capacity might have originated. …
So one should be aware, while almost all the info posted here are from evolutionists or journals and magazines in the evolutionary field of study, intelligent design theorists have been ringing this bell for a LONG time. The more recent line of thinking that has devestated neo-Darwinian thinking the most started in 1986 with Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory In Crisis. Then came Phillip Johnson’s 1990 book, Darwin on Trial. Then came Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe (1996). (I would include in the mix a 1993 book by a non-theist, Richard Milton entitled Shattering the Myths of Darwinism.)
Here are some key definitions defined and built upon by Dr. Jay Richards:
Now, here are some journal or science magazine partial comments that call into question the Darwinian theory:
NEW SCIENTIST, “Evolution evolves: Beyond the selfish gene — For more than 150 years it has been one of science’s most successful theories, but we need to rethink evolution for the 21st century,” Sept. 21, 2016
…Some biologists are trying to shoehorn the new knowledge into traditional evolutionary thinking. Others, myself included, believe a more radical approach may be required. We don’t deny the roles of genetic inheritance and natural selection, but think we should look at evolution in a markedly different way. It is time for the theory of evolution to evolve.
NATURE, “Does evolutionary theory need a rethink?” Oct 8, 2014
Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? Yes, urgently
Without an extended evolutionary framework, the theory neglects key processes, say Kevin Laland and colleagues.
Charles Darwin conceived of evolution by natural selection without knowing that genes exist. Now mainstream evolutionary theory has come to focus almost exclusively on genetic inheritance and processes that change gene frequencies.
Yet new data pouring out of adjacent fields are starting to undermine this narrow stance. An alternative vision of evolution is beginning to crystallize, in which the processes by which organisms grow and develop are recognized as causes of evolution.
Some of us first met to discuss these advances six years ago. In the time since, as members of an interdisciplinary team, we have worked intensively to develop a broader framework, termed the extended evolutionary synthesis (EES), and to flesh out its structure, assumptions and predictions. In essence, this synthesis maintains that important drivers of evolution, ones that cannot be reduced to genes, must be woven into the very fabric of evolutionary theory.
We believe that the EES will shed new light on how evolution works. We hold that organisms are constructed in development, not simply ‘programmed’ to develop by genes. Living things do not evolve to fit into pre-existing environments, but co-construct and coevolve with their environments, in the process changing the structure of ecosystems.
The number of biologists calling for change in how evolution is conceptualized is growing rapidly. Strong support comes from allied disciplines, particularly developmental biology, but also genomics, epigenetics, ecology and social science. We contend that evolutionary biology needs revision if it is to benefit fully from these other disciplines. The data supporting our position gets stronger every day….
…Palaeoecologists like me are now bringing a new perspective to the problem. If macroevolution really is an extrapolation of natural selection and adaptation, we would expect to see environmental change driving evolutionary change. Major climatic events such as ice ages ought to leave their imprint on life as species adapt to the new conditions. Is that what actually happens?
“The link between environmental change and evolutionary change is weak – not what Darwinists might have predicted”
This view of life leads to certain consequences. Macroevolution is not the simple accumulation of microevolutionary changes but has its own processes and patterns. There can be no “laws” of evolution….
JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, “Epigenetics: Scope And Mechanisms | Evolution beyond neo-Darwinism: a new conceptual framework,” 2015 (218: 7-13); doi: 10.1242/jeb.106310.
Experimental results in epigenetics and related fields of biological research show that the Modern Synthesis (neo-Darwinist) theory of evolution requires either extension or replacement. This article examines the conceptual framework of neo-Darwinism, including the concepts of ‘gene’, ‘selfish’, ‘code’, ‘program’, ‘blueprint’, ‘book of life’, ‘replicator’ and ‘vehicle’. This form of representation is a barrier to extending or replacing existing theory as it confuses conceptual and empirical matters. These need to be clearly distinguished. In the case of the central concept of ‘gene’, the definition has moved all the way from describing a necessary cause (defined in terms of the inheritable phenotype itself) to an empirically testable hypothesis (in terms of causation by DNA sequences). Neo-Darwinism also privileges ‘genes’ in causation, whereas in multi-way networks of interactions there can be no privileged cause. An alternative conceptual framework is proposed that avoids these problems, and which is more favourable to an integrated systems view of evolution.
Denis Noble developed the first mathematical model of cardiac cells in 1960 using his discovery, with his supervisor Otto Hutter, of two of the main cardiac potassium ion channels. These discoveries were published in Nature (1960) and The Journal of Physiology (1962). The work was later developed with Dick Tsien, Dario DiFrancesco, Don Hilgemann and others to become the canonical models on which more than 100 cardiac cell models are based today. All are available on the CellML website.
He was elected President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) at its Congress in Kyoto in 2009, and the opening speech is available as a pdf on this page. He was then elected for a second term at the 2013 Congress in Birmingham, UK. He also delivered the opening plenary lecture at the Congress (see Music of Life link) which is also published as an article in Experimental Physiology (2013).
He is the author of the first popular book on Systems Biology, The Music of Life, and his most recent lectures concern the implications for evolutionary biology. To follow the debate on this see the FAQ (Answers) pages on the Music of Life website.
Denis Noble has published more than 500 papers and 11 books. A new book is in preparation. (SOURCE)
The Below presentation notes at the 40:40 mark he asks:
do we know what the precise mechanisms for speciation are?
Then he said:
I think the honest answer is that we don’t know yet.
“The science of neo-Darwinism was poor all along, and supported by very few facts. I have become ever more convinced that, although Darwinism has been promoted as science, its unstated role has been to prop up a philosophy—the philosophy of materialism—and atheism along with it.” (Page 20)
“The scientific evidence for evolution is not only weaker than is generally supposed, but as new discoveries have been made since 1959, the reasons for accepting the theory have diminished rather than increased.” (Page 45)
“Darwinian evolution can be seen as a way of looking at the history of life through the distorting lens of Progress. Given enough time, society in general, including human beings, would be transformed into something superior and perhaps unrecognizably different.” (Page 248)
“Lewontin’s worldview encouraged him to take a critical look at natural selection, which Darwinians have almost always been reluctant to do. Today, in fact, some of those who might well agree with Lewontin about natural selection are likely to remain silent lest their unorthodoxy should attract reprisals within the academy. Lewontin had no such fears, and he made an impression on me and many others for that reason.” (Page 69)
“Darwin might well have been dismayed if the meager evidence for natural selection, assembled over many years, had been presented to him 150 years after The Origin was published. ‘A change in the ratio of preexisting varieties? That is all you have been able to come up with?’ he might reasonably have asked. It is worth bearing in mind how feeble this evidence is, any time someone tells you that Darwinism is a fact.” (Page 79)
“Natural selection functions in the realm of philosophy, not science.” (Page 81)
“Evolutionists, of course, believe that they are appealing to science, in contrast to the religionists’ reliance on faith. But the truth is that when they utter their two-word incantation, ‘natural selection,’ they are not being remotely scientific. Nor are they expected to provide any details.” (Page 123)
The issue involved in the above video is not evolution, but in fact, DEVOLUTION. In other words, “no newly evolved complex information has been demonstrated,” EVOLUTION NEWS AND VIEWS continues with a quote and then some commentarry [I am working on getting the graphic mentioned]:
A key aspect of bacterial survival is the ability to evolve while migrating across spatially varying environmental challenges. Laboratory experiments, however, often study evolution in well-mixed systems. Here, we introduce an experimental device, the microbial evolution and growth arena (MEGA)-plate, in which bacteria spread and evolved on a large antibiotic landscape (120 × 60 centimeters) that allowed visual observation of mutation and selection in a migrating bacterial front. While resistance increased consistently, multiple coexisting lineages diversified both phenotypically and genotypically. Analyzing mutants at and behind the propagating front, we found that evolution is not always led by the most resistant mutants; highly resistant mutants may be trapped behind more sensitive lineages. The MEGA-plate provides a versatile platform for studying microbial adaption and directly visualizing evolutionary dynamics.
The key to understanding the paper is its Figure 3C. There it shows the genes that have undergone more than one mutation across tested bacteria. They break the mutations down into silent changes, changes of amino acids (point mutations), and insertion-deletion or nonsense mutations, which almost certainly are loss of function (LOF). Over half of genes contain such LOF mutations, along with some point mutations, which likely also degrade or destroy function. In other words, devolution….
In another post over at EVOLUTION NEWS AND VIEWS, it is mentioned that “Evolutionists often speak in generalities about beneficial mutations. They may be rare, we are assured, but they happen.” But is this the case? Continuing we read:
…when they do [happen], “natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life” (Darwin, Origin of Species). All right, we have some data to look at. We can put a number to the frequency of beneficial mutations in a large sample. The number is zero.
Genome sequencing technology has progressed very rapidly in only the last few years. NATURE just published results of the Exome Aggregation Consortium (ExAC), the largest survey of human genes to date. (An “exome” is the portion of the genome that codes for proteins.) The exomes from 60,706 individuals from a variety of ethnic groups have been collected and analyzed. If we multiply 60,000 people by the 20,000 genes in the human genome (the lowest estimate), we get a minimum of 1.2 billion genes that have been examined by ExAC for variants. That sounds like a pretty good sample size for scrutinizing some of those beneficial variations that Darwin said his law of natural selection could add up and preserve.
Large-scale reference data sets of human genetic variation are critical for the medical and functional interpretation of DNAsequence changes. Here we describe the aggregation and analysis of high-quality exome (protein-coding region) DNA sequence data for 60,706 individuals of diverse ancestries generated as part of the Exome Aggregation Consortium (ExAC). This catalogue of human genetic diversity contains an average of one variant every eight bases of the exome, and provides direct evidence for the presence of widespread mutational recurrence. We have used this catalogue to calculate objective metrics of pathogenicity for sequence variants, and to identify genes subject to strong selection against various classes of mutation; identifying 3,230 genes with near-complete depletion of predicted protein-truncating variants, with 72% of these genes having no currently established human disease phenotype. Finally, we demonstrate that these data can be used for the efficient filtering of candidate disease-causing variants, and for the discovery of human ‘knockout’ variants in protein-coding genes. [Emphasis added.]
Out of this high ratio of variants (one in eight bases shows variation, they said), there should be some proportion, even if small, that improves fitness. But we search the paper in vain for any mention of beneficial mutations. There’s plenty of talk about disease. The authors only mention “neutral” variants twice. But there are no mentions of beneficial mutations. You can’t find one instance of any of these words: benefit, beneficial, fitness, advantage (in terms of mutation),improvement, innovation, invention, or positive selection.
They mention all kinds of harmful effects from most variants: missense and nonsense variants, frameshift mutations, proteins that get truncated on translation, and a multitude of insertions and deletions. Quite a few are known to cause diseases. There are probably many more mutations that never survive to birth. As for natural selection, the authors do speak of “negative selection” and “purifying selection” weeding out the harmful mutations, but nowhere do they mention anything worthwhile that positive selection appears to be preserving…
▼ 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!]
Excerpt: “Pioneering work being carried out in a cave in New Mexico by researchers at McMaster University and The University of Akron, Ohio, is changing the understanding of how antibiotic resistance may have emerged and how doctors can combat it in the future.
In research published in Nature Communications today, the scientists examined one bacterium found 1,000 feet underground (called Paenibacillus) that demonstrated resistance to most antibiotics used today, including so-called ‘drugs of last resort’ such as daptomycin. These microorganisms have been isolated from the outside world for more than four million years within the cave.
The results show the bacterium is resistant to 18 different antibiotics and uses identical methods of defense as similar species found in soils.
Among the different ways that the bacteria could be resistant to antibiotics, the scientists identified five novel pathways that were of potential clinical concern. Finding these new pathways is particularly valuable, as it gives researchers time to develop new drugs to combat this type of resistance, potentially decades before it will become a problem for doctors and their patients.
“The diversity of antibiotic resistance and it’s its prevalence in microbes across the globe should be humbling to everyone who uses these lifesaving drugs,” said Gerry Wright, an author of the paper and scientific director of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.
“It reflects the fact that we must understand that antibiotic use and resistance go hand in hand.”
My [Tomi’s] comment: How could anyone talk about bacterium evolution after this finding? We can’t observe evolution, we can only observe reaction and adaptation. We can also see strong evolutionary stasis here. Bacteria have not experienced changes in assumed millions of years. They have not evolved the ability to rapidly adapt to modern medicines. Instead, they already have all necessary genomic information and capabilities for ecological adaptation. These features are built in by Intelligent source and the Creator. The evolutionary theory is a dangerous heresy.
✦ “My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.” After chewing on his scientific worldview for more than five decades, Flew concluded, “A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature.” Previously, in his central work, The Presumption of Atheism (1976), Flew argued that the “onus of proof [of God] must lie upon the theist.” However, at the age of 81, Flew shocked the world when he renounced his atheism because “the argument for Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.” Prominent in his conclusion were the discoveries of DNA. | Antony Flew |
What naturalism is is described in the last paragraph. It is also described in a more relational way here, “Love.”
Professor Werner Gitt – Director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology – tells us that:
“The highest information density known to us is that of DNA molecules…. The storage capacity of DNA, the information carriers of living things, is 4.5 x 10 (to the 13th power) times more effective than a megachip!… The sum total of knowledge currently stored in the libraries of the world is estimated at 10(to the 18th power) bits. If this information could be stored in DNA molecules, 1% of the volume of a pinhead would be sufficient for this purpose. If, on the other hand, this information were to be stored with aid of megachips, we would need a pile higher than the distance between the earth and the moon.”
The DNA molecule, of which even the simplest – some would say the most “primitive” – forms of life are composed, is thus 45 million million times more efficient at holding and conveying information than a megachip. This is because the DNA molecule is an incredibly complex three-dimensional information storage system, where the megachip is only two-dimensional. But the DNA molecules ability to store and convey such inconceivably large amounts of information so efficiently does not tell us where the itself comes from. What is the source of that?
Information Theory, of which Professor Gitt is one of the world’s leading exponents, is an important branch of scientific investigation which has shown conclusively and consistently that information cannot and does not arise from any state of non-information, just as life cannot proceed from non-life. Moreover, information has now come to be recognized as the Third Fundamental Quantity of the universe, which hitherto was thought to consist of merely two fundamental quantities, those of matter and energy. The DNA molecule is, of course, matter. Its activities are funded by energy. But the information that it carries is something else entirely. In other words, it is not sufficient to have only matter and energy for DNA to work. What is also required, at least to begin with, is a massive input of information for which matter and energy can give no account, and which neither of them can supply. Again, Professor Gitt:
“According to Norbert Wiener, the founder of cybernetics and information theory, information cannot be of a physical nature, even though it is transmitted by physical means: ‘Information in information, neither matter nor energy. No materialism that fails to take account of this can survive the present day.’”
Because of the increasing disillusionment with the role of chance, a shift took place in the late 60’s and the 70’s to the view that life was somehow the inevitable outcome of nature’s laws at work over vast spans of time. Terms such as “directed chance” and “biochemical predestination” have entered the scientific literature to mean that life was somehow the result of the inherent properties of matter.
But more discomforting still to the materialist, is not just the recent discovery of information to be the Third Fundamental Quantity, but rather the startling realization of its source:
“If a basic code is found in any system, it can be concluded that the system originated from a mental concept, and did not arise by chance…. Meanings always represent mental concepts. They are distinct from matter and energy. They originate from an intelligent source. It is by means of language that information may be stored and transmitted on physical carriers. The information itself is invariant…. The reason for this invariance lies in its non-material nature.”
It would seem then that while some materialists have been busy looking in all the wrong places, certain physicists have stumbled upon the Mind of God.
The problem with most of modern science is that the philosophy of reductionism is the ruling paradigm. According to George Williams, a scientist of some stature in the evolutionary community, the crucial object of selection in evolution is inherently non-material:
“Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter…. These two domains can never be brought together in any kind of the sense usually implied by the term ‘reductionism.’ … The gene is a package of information, not an object. The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA molecule is the medium, its not the message…. Just the fact that fifteen years ago I started using a computer may have had something to do with my ideas here. The constant process of transferring information from one physical medium to another and then being able to recover the same information in the original medium brings home the separability of information and matter. In biology, when you’re talking about things like genes and genotypes and gene pools, you’re talking about information, not physical objective reality.”
Perhaps evolutionary biologists have avoided noticing that information and matter are fundamentally different things because that insight is fatal to the whole reductionist project in biology. If the message is truly not reducible to the medium, then trying to explain the creation of the information by a materialistic theory is simply a category mistake. One might as well try to explain the origin of a literary work [say, Hamlet] by invoking the chemical laws that govern the combining of ink and paper, and then proposing speculative hypotheses about how those laws (with boost from chance but without intelligence) might have generated meaningful sentences.
I had a wonderful conversation with a very nice fellow at Starbucks (I will simply refer to him at times as John D.). The encounter started because of the book I was reading and an unsolicited question about it. It was only AFTER the conversation that I noted why question about the book was asked. The book was “Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed.” (Watch the author speak about the book HERE.) After the conversation had concluded, I realized what drew John D. into engaging me. During the conversation, as you will see, he intimated that he was a lawyer. Hence, the large title that drew him in is “Undeniable.”
Light conversation took place about the book, mainly because I am just beginning the book and do not know the content well enough yet to discuss it specifically. I did steer the conversation towards DNA just a tad — with Stephen Meyer’s book in mind.
For the reader of this post, keep in mind that while I did not go in-depth into the discussion of DNA that immediately follows, I did reference briefly the aspects of information being separate from the means of transmission [matter]:
Evolutionary biologist George Williams observed: “Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter…. The gene is a package of information, not an object. The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA molecule is the medium, it’s not the message…. These two domains will never be brought together in any kind of the sense usually implied by the term ‘reductionism. Information doesn’t have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise, matter doesn’t have bytes…. This dearth of shared descriptors makes matter and information two separate domains of existence, which have to be discussed separately, in their own terms.”
As the information theorist Hubert Yockey observes, the “genetic code is constructed to confront and solve the problems of communication and recording by the same principles found . . . in modern communication and computer codes.” Yockey notes that “the technology of information theory and coding theory has been in place in biology for at least 3.85 billion years,” or from the time that life first originated on earth. What should we make of this fact? How did the information in life first arise?
Codes are not matter and they’re not energy. Codes don’t come from matter, nor do they come from energy. Codes are information, and information is in a category by itself.
A great example is a newspaper. If you read an article on a topic that is information being passed on to you by another intelligence. The modern roadblock for today’s naturalist is the problem of looking at the molecules that make up the ink printed page stores information via the 26 letters of the alphabet as somehow related to the origin of the information being passed on. The problem is that the newspaper is merely the medium, for the information. Like a Compact Disc is for music. The CD is merely the medium to carry the information.
The next question is, how much information can the DNA molecule hold?
a) A pinhead made of DNA: Let us imagine we had enough DNA to fill the volume of a pinhead with a diameter of 2 mm. How many paperbacks (each with 189 pages as in [G19]) could be represented by the information held in that amount of DNA? Answer: about 25 trillion. That would be a pile of these paperback books approximately 920 times the distance from the earth to the moon (384,000 km). In 2011, if we were to equally distribute these paperbacks amongst the approximately 6.93 billion people on Earth, every person would receive about 3,600 copies.
b) Drawing a wire: Now let us stretch the material of the 2 mm diameter pinhead into a wire of the same thickness as the DNA molecule (2 x 10-6 mm). How long would this wire be? Unbelievably, it would stretch 33 times around the equator, which has a circumference of 24,860 miles (40,000 km).
c) One thousandth of a gram of DNA: If we were to take a milligram (1 mg = 10-3 g) of a (double helix) strand of DNA material, it would almost stretch from the earth to the moon!
(Click to enlarge)
Dr. George Church, a pioneering molecular geneticist at Harvard/MIT, informed us in a Sciencexpress article in August of 2012, that the digital-information storage capacity of DNA is “very dense.” How dense? One gram of DNA can store 455 exabytes of information. For those readers like myself whose eyes glaze over as soon as computer nerds start talking about bytes and RAM’s I will put it in simple layman’s terms. 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 hundredbillion 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.
I will repeat a line from the above graphic description:
“This particularly ingenious storage method reaches the limit of physical possibility.”
Let me give you another example of the same sort of reasoning. Imagine that you have just finished reading a fabulous novel. Wanting to read another book like it, you exclaim to a friend, “Wow! That was quite a book. I wonder where I can get a bottle of that ink?” Of course not! You wouldn’t give the ink and paper credit for writing the book. You’d praise the author, and look for another book by the same writer. By some twist of logic, though, many who read the fabulous DNA script want to give credit to the “ink (DNA base code) and paper (proteins)” for composing the code. In a novel, the ink and paper are merely the means the author uses to express his or her thoughts. In the genetic code, the DNA bases and proteins are merely the means God uses to express His thoughts.
Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.
Information is information, neither matter nor energy. No materialism that fails to take account of this can survive the present day. – Norbert Weiner, MIT Mathematician and Father of Cybernetics
 This is a fuller quote adapted from two sources: Donald E. Johnson, Probability’s Nature and Nature’s Probability : A Call to Scientific Integrity (Charleston, SC: Booksurge Publishing, 2009), 44; Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York, NY: Harper One, 2009), 17.
 Meyer, ibid.
Perry Marshall, Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design (Dallas, TX: Benbella Books, 2016), 187.
 The graphic to the right of the footnote is from, Werner Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information (Bielefeld, Germany: Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, 1997), 86.
 Werner Gitt, Without Excuse (Atlanta, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2011), 288 (graph from p. 286).
BTW, Without Excuse is an updated edition of the book in footnote number four.
Moshe Averick, Atheistic Science is Rapidly Sinking in the Quicksand, algemeiner.
 Gary Parker, 1.3 The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein, AiG.
 Bill Gates, The Road Ahead (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 1995), 188.
 Stan Lennard, So Easy a Caveman Could Do It?, RtB.
The beginning of the universe is more at home in a theistic worldview than an atheistic one
The beginning of the universe fits in well with the Bible, e.g. – Genesis 1, Titus 1, etc.
In case you are wondering about what the evidence is for the Big Bang, here are that are most commonly offered:
Three main observational results over the past century led astronomers to become certain that the universe began with the big bang. First, they found out that the universe is expanding—meaning that the separations between galaxies are becoming larger and larger. This led them to deduce that everything used to be extremely close together before some kind of explosion. Second, the big bang perfectly explains the abundance of helium and other nuclei like deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen) in the universe. A hot, dense, and expanding environment at the beginning could produce these nuclei in the abundance we observe today. Third, astronomers could actually observe the cosmic background radiation—the afterglow of the explosion—from every direction in the universe. This last evidence so conclusively confirmed the theory of the universe’s beginning that Stephen Hawking said, “It is the discovery of the century, if not of all time.”
“They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have SEEN the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can CLEARLY SEE His invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:19-20)
The Bible is indispensable to the Christian walk and faith. How do we know it’s the Word of God though? For instance, I know the Bible is God’s Word because of two “books.” The “Book of Nature” and His “Book of Revelation.” Often times people view this “Book of Revelation” as just the Bible, which is surely a major part of the equation. But this revealed truth and revelation comes by way of us interacting with the Holy Spirit – who is the revealer of revelatory truth.
Evangelical theology holds that Revelation can be found in two spheres: 1) Nature and 2) Scripture. Romans 1:19-20 speaks of the former:
Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Romans 1:19-20 speaks of what is theologically called general revelation and 2 Tim. 3:16-17 speaks of special revelation. Human reasoning can show that general revelation is possible since it can demonstrate the existence and nature of God, finite beings that can receive and understand it, and the possibility of objective meaning and truth. However, it is special revelation found only in the canonical books of Scripture that actually manifest the reality of God’s specific message, in human language, to human beings. It is only here that we learn God is a Trinity (Tri—unity), the plan of redemption, and the savior Jesus Christ. General revelation is to all humans, but special revelation is specifically for believers. General revelation contains truth and morality available to all humankind, but special revelation contains truth and morality specifically to God’s people. General revelation is sufficient to condemn humans, but only special revelation contains the message and means of salvation.
Special revelation consists of the sixty-six books recognized as Scripture. What identifies these books as Scripture concerns the rule, standard or canon applied to discover what books constitute special revelation. Norman Geisler’s General Introduction to the Bible lists and applies the following general principles in discovering the canon of Scripture.
Norman L. Geisler and Douglas E. Potter, A Prolegomena to Evangelical Theology (Indian Trail, NC: Norm Geisler International Ministires, 2016), 113-115.
The “Book of Nature” can reveal truth about my Creator and this revelation goes a long way to show me a lot about God and build my trust in Who He says He is and His Word.
Nature as a Book
The metaphor of referring to nature as a revelatory book is deeply rooted in Christian church history. “Book of Nature” references are found even in the patristic writings. For example, Augustine of Hippo (AD 354–430), made the following statement in his classic work the Confessions: “In your great wisdom you, who are our God, speak to us of these things in your Book, the firmament made by you.”1
Protestant reformers continued the Christian practice of speaking of nature as a revelatory book. The Reformed (or Calvinistic) theological tradition in particular articulated the “two books” revelatory perspective. The fullest expression is found in the Belgic Confession, Article 2, written in 1561:
We know him [God] by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God…
Second, he makes himself known to us more openly by his holy and divine Word, as much as we need in this life, for his glory and for the salvation of his own.
Later, during the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, the Christian forefathers of science readily referenced the “two books” of revelation idea. For example, Francis Bacon (1561–1626) famously spoke of “the book of God’s works” and “the book of God’s word” in his work Advancement of Learning in 1605.
So to speak about this book of nature in relation to God and how Romans describes this book… I can agree with Dr. Moreland when he says that he KNOWS God exists from natures evidence:
I, like Dr. Moreland, have a “belief/faith” similar to this:
“I suspect that most of the individuals who have religious faith are content with blind faith. They feel no obligation to understand what they believe. They may even wish not to have their beliefs disturbed by thought. But if God in whom they believe created them with intellectual and rational powers, that imposes upon them the duty to try to understand the creed of their religion. Not to do so is to verge on superstition.” Morimer J. Adler, “A Philosopher’s Religious Faith,” in, Kelly James Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of 11 Leading Thinkers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 207.
Certain words can mean very different things to different people. For instance, if I say to an atheist, “I have faith in God,” the atheist assumes I mean that my belief in God has nothing to do with evidence. But this isn’t what I mean by faith at all. When I say that I have faith in God, I mean that I place my trust in God based on what I know about him. (William A. Dembski and Michael R. Licona, Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010], 38.)
I. Half a Dozen (or so) ontological (or metaphysical) arguments
(A) The Argument from Intentionality (or Aboutness) (B) The argument from collections. (C) The argument From (Natural) numbers (D) The Argument From Counterfactuals (E) The Argument from physical constants (F) The Naive Teleological Argument (G) Tony Kenny’s style of teleological argument (h) The ontological argument
I. Another argument thrown in for good measure.
II. Half a dozen Epistemological Arguments
(J) The argument from positive epistemic status (K) The Argument from the confluence of proper function and reliability (L) The Argument from Simplicity (M) The Argument from induction (N) The Putnamian Argument (the Argument from the Rejection of Global Skepticism) (O) The Argument from Reference (P) The Kripke-Wittgenstein Argument From Plus and Quus (See Supplementary Handout) (Q) The General Argument from Intuition
III. Moral arguments
(R) moral arguments (actually R1 to Rn) (R*) The argument from evil.
IV. Other Arguments
(S) The Argument from Colors and Flavors (Adams and Swinburne) (T) The argument from Love (U) The Mozart Argument (V) The Argument from Play and enjoyment (W) Arguments from providence and from miracles (X) C.S. Lewis’s Argument from Nostalgia (Y) The argument from the meaning of life (Z) The Argument from (a) to (Y)
(See also this long list of responses to many skeptical issues.)
Again, this is a faith from the natural side of man and his environment. The “revelatory” side of faith is a miraculous typeof faith. Albeit reasoning powers and truth still play a significant role in the Revelatory side of the equation as well, our “reasoning” is guided by the Holy Spirit: “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come” (John 16:3, HCSB).
This faith is more akin to what Dr. Craig speaks about in his excellent book, Reasonable Faith:
….fundamentally, the way we know Christianity to be true is by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit. Now what do I mean by that? I mean that the experience of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable (though not necessarily irresistible or indubitable) for him who has it; that such a person does not need supplementary arguments or evidence in order to know and to know with confidence that he is in fact experiencing the Spirit of God; that such experience does not function in this case as a premise in any argument from religious experience to God, but rather is the immediate experiencing of God himself; that in certain contexts the experience of the Holy Spirit will imply the apprehension of certain truths of the Christian religion, such as “God exists,” “I am condemned by God,” “I am reconciled to God,” “Christ lives in me,” and so forth; that such an experience Provides one not only with a subjective assurance of Christianity’s truth, but with objective knowledge of that truth; and that arguments and evidence incompatible with that truth are overwhelmed by the experience of the Holy Spirit for him who attends fully to it.
William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 43 (More at the bottom of the page)
These Christian positions I emphasize above are believed by myself with 100% certitude. This “belief” is both a combination of the book of nature (showing me evidences that support reasons to trust my Creator) AS WELL AS the revealed truth of the Holy Spirit, of which the Bible plays a huge role in.
In other words, I can have a firm basis for my belief just like a jury hearing the testimony of two eyewitnesses that saw a crime happen… but this is not a 100% belief, just like a jury’s is not a hundred-percent. The addition to the Christians certitude about God’s existence and the trusting of His character would be analogous to transporting the jury to the crime for them to have an inner witness of this past event.
This is what the Christian believes, and is what Nicodemus struggled with:
There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.”
Jesus replied,“I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
“But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”
Jesus answered,“I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
“How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus.
“Are you a teacher of Israel and don’t know these things?” Jesus replied.“I assure you: We speak what We know and We testify to what We have seen, but you do not accept Our testimony. If I have told you about things that happen on earth and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about things of heaven? No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.
“This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”
How can these things be… exactly.
There is still a supernatural side to our faith. And one cannot even “see the kingdom of God” unless one is born again. And so the “miraculouse” portion needed to bring certitute that the skeptic is asking for is kept from him-or-her until this regeneration, otherwise the mind is at a state of war with God (Romans 8:6-9).
But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone. (Galatians 1:15-16, HCSB)
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9, HCSB)
For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. (Romans 12:3, HCSB)
How do I know the Bible is God’s Word then? Tentatively by the Book of Nature. Assuredly by the witness of Holy Spirit.
Again, there are many streams that combine into this trust of the Bible. I know God exists by the preponderance of the evidence and through the witness of the Holy Spirit… but I bring this dichotomy to the Bible as well.
Having read many of the holy books of the world religions (in part or in full), I am familiar with the structure of these religious scriptures as well as Holy Scripture. These differences are stark! Likewise are the claims in these scriptures that separate the Bible from other works. For instance, “[t]he writings from the Far East, the teachings of Confucius, Buddhism and Hinduism do not even make a claim to be God’s word,” continuing:
They present to their followers a path to a simpler, more satisfactory life. The Muslim Koran makes no claims to being words from Allah. Rather it is the writing of Mohammed, a religious leader, his record of history as well as his desire for the future. But has any prophecy in the Koran come to pass? Only the Christian Bible claims to be God’s very word to man and only the Bible contains the verifiable track record of prophetic fulfillment as evidence of its claims. Biblical prophecies are batting 1000. No other religious group or religious writings can make the same claim.
Similarly, we are called to examine the Scriptures, and this book, unlike any other religious book, has the means to do so… one of the most important arguments that is pivotal to the Christian faith can be found at a post on the Resurrection, entitled: “Christianity Is the Only Falsifiable Religious Worldview.” Other posts that compliment this are:
This belief has been a source of contention with many people, even Christians, in the past. But the more I research, the more I find it to be the case that Christianity is the only viable worldview that is historically defensible. The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith.
Think about it: The believer in the Islamic faith has to trust in a private encounter Muhammad had, and this encounter is unable to be tested historically. We have no way to truly investigate the claims of Joseph Smith (and when we do, they are found wanting). Buddhism and Hinduism are not historic faiths, meaning they don’t have central claims of events in time and space which believers are called upon to investigate. You either adopt their philosophy or you don’t. There is no objective way to test them. Run through every religion that you know of and you will find this to be the case: Either it does not give historic details to the central event, the event does not carry any worldview-changing significance, or there are no historic events which form the foundation of the faith.
This is what it looks like:
So far we have demonstrated the fact that the world’s great religious books cannot all be right. In fact, if any of them is correct in its teachings regarding the supernatural and eternal, the others are by definition wrong. So, how do we decide which documents to trust?
Examine the evidence for their truth claims. Hindu documents, for instance, posit an afterlife filled with reincarnations. Is there any historical support or objective evidence for such a position? Does objective, independent evidence exist to document the Buddha’s enlightenment, or Mohammad’s experiences with Allah? A number of cities, inscriptions, and places are described only in the Book of Mormon; to date, none have been found by archaeologists.
Conversely, independent evidence for the existence and deity of Jesus Christ is remarkable. Manuscript evidence documenting the trustworthy nature of the biblical materials is overwhelming. There are excellent reasons to believe the Bible is what it claims to be: the word of God.
So in looking at the Bible I look to it’s INTERNAL TESTS (it’s consistency, it’s claims, the claims of Christ, etc.):
Internal Evidence, of which John Warwick Montgomery writes that literary critics still follow Aristotle’s dictum that “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic to himself.” therefore, one must listen to the claims of the document under analysis, and do not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualified himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies. As Dr. Horn continues:
“Think for a moment about what needs to be demonstrated concerning a ‘difficulty’ in order to transfer it into the category of a valid argument against doctrine. Certainly much more is required than the mere appearance of a contradiction. First, we must be certain that we have correctly understood the passage, the sense in which it uses words or numbers. Second, that we possess all available knowledge in this matter. Third, that no further light can possibly be thrown on it by advancing knowledge, textual research, archaeology, etc…. Difficulties do not constitute objections. Unresolved problems are not of necessity errors. This is not to minimize the area of difficulty; it is to see it in perspective. Difficulties are to be grappled with and problems are to drive us to seek clearer light; but until such time as we have total and final light on any issue we are in no position to affirm, ‘Here is a proven error, an unquestionable objection to an infallible Bible.’ It is common knowledge that countless ‘objections’ have fully been resolved since this century began.”
The BIBLIOGRAPHICAL TEST is important for the trust of the Bible’s claims as well. The bibliographical test is an examination of the textual transmission by which documents reach us. In other words, since we do not have the original documents, how reliable are the copies we have in regard to the number of manuscripts. I compare, for instance, Buddhist scripture to the record of the manuscript evidence to the Bible in a very long post, but here is one graphic from that post:
There are other evidences that get to within a couple of years of the Messiah’s death that no other religious Scripture can. Here again is a comparison between Christian Scriptures and Buddhist Scripture via Dr. Habermas:
So the above video is a mix of the Bibliographical Test as well as the EXTERNAL TEST. Do other historical materials confirm or deny the internal testimony provided by the documents themselves? In other words, what sources are there – apart from the literature under analysis – that substantiate its accuracy, reliability, and authenticity? Here are a couple examples from differing categories found in my post entitled: Evidence OUTSIDE the Bible for Jesus (Updated w/ Bill Maher)
Hostile Non-Biblical Pagan Witnesses
Thallus is perhaps the earliest secular writer to mention Jesus and he is so ancient that his writings don’t even exist anymore. But Julius Africanus, writing around 221AD does quote Thallus who had previously tried to explain away the darkness that occurred at the point of Jesus’ crucifixion:
“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1)
If only more of Thallus’ record could be found, we would see that every aspect of Jesus’ life could be verified with a non-biblical source. But there are some things we can conclude from this account: Jesus lived, he was crucified, and there was an earthquake and darkness at the point of his crucifixion.
Early Christians are also described in secular history. Pliny the Younger, in a letter to the Roman emperor Trajan, describes the lifestyles of early Christians:
“They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”
This EARLY description of the first Christians documents several facts: the first Christians believed that Jesus was GOD, the first Christians upheld a high moral code, and these early followers et regularly to worship Jesus.
Hostile Non-Biblical Jewish Witnesses
In more detail than any other non-biblical historian, Josephus writes about Jesus in his “the Antiquities of the Jews” in 93AD. Josephus was born just four years after the crucifixion. He was a consultant for Jewish rabbis at age thirteen, was a Galilean military commander by the age of sixteen, and he was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A.D. Under the rule of roman emperor Vespasian, Josephus was allowed to write a history of the Jews. This history includes three passages about Christians, one in which he describes the death of John the Baptist, one in which he mentions the execution of James and describes him as the brother of Jesus the Christ, and a final passage which describes Jesus as a wise man and the messiah. Now there is much controversy about the writing of Josephus, because the first discoveries of his writings are late enough to have been re-written by Christians, who are accused of making additions to the text. So to be fair, let’s take a look at a scholarly reconstruction that has removed all the possible Christian influence from the text related to Jesus:
“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared” (This neutral reconstruction follows closely the one proposed in the latest treatment by John Meier, Marginal Jew 1:61)
Now there are many other ancient versions of Josephus’ writing which are even more explicit about the nature of his miracles, his life and his status as the Christ, but let’s take this conservative version and see what we can learn. From this text, we can conclude that Jesus lived in Palestine, was a wise man and a teacher, worked amazing deeds, was accused buy the Jews, crucified under Pilate and had followers called Christians!
Jewish Talmud (400-700AD)
While the earliest Talmudic writings of Jewish Rabbis appear in the 5th century, the tradition of these Rabbinic authors indicates that they are faithfully transmitting teachings from the early “Tannaitic” period of the first century BC to the second century AD. There are a number of writings from the Talmud that scholars believe refer to Jesus and many of these writings are said to use code words to describe Jesus (such as “Balaam” or “Ben Stada” or “a certain one”). But let’s be very conservative here. Let’s ONLY look at the passages that refer to Jesus in a more direct way. If we do that, there are still several ancient Talmudic passages we can examine:
“Jesus practiced magic and led Israel astray” (b. Sanhedrin 43a; cf. t. Shabbat 11.15; b. Shabbat 104b)
“Rabbi Hisda (d. 309) said that Rabbi Jeremiah bar Abba said, ‘What is that which is written, ‘No evil will befall you, nor shall any plague come near your house’? (Psalm 91:10)… ‘No evil will befall you’ (means) that evil dreams and evil thoughts will not tempt you; ‘nor shall any plague come near your house’ (means) that you will not have a son or a disciple who burns his food like Jesus of Nazareth.” (b. Sanhedrin 103a; cf. b. Berakhot 17b)
“Our rabbis have taught that Jesus had five disciples: Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni and Todah. They brought Matthai to (to trial). He said, ‘Must Matthai be killed? For it is written, ‘When (mathai) shall I come and appear before God?’” (Psalm 92:2) They said to him, “Yes Matthai must be killed, for it is written, ‘When (mathai) he dies his name will perish’” (Psalm 41:5). They brought Nakai. He said to them, “Must Nakai be killed? For it is written, “The innocent (naqi) and the righteous will not slay’” (Exodus 23:7). They said to him, “Yes, Nakai must be kille, for it is written, ‘In secret places he slays the innocent (naqi)’” (Psalm 10:8). (b. Sanhedrin 43a; the passage continues in a similar way for Nezer, Buni and Todah)
And this, perhaps the most famous of Talmudic passages about Jesus:
“It was taught: On the day before the Passover they hanged Jesus. A herald went before him for forty days (proclaiming), “He will be stoned, because he practiced magic and enticed Israel to go astray. Let anyone who knows anything in his favor come forward and plead for him.” But nothing was found in his favor, and they hanged him on the day before the Passover. (b. Sanhedrin 43a)
From just these passages that mention Jesus by name, we can conclude that Jesus had magical powers, led the Jews away from their beliefs, had disciples who were martyred for their faith (one of whom was named Matthai), and was executed on the day before the Passover.
The many avenues of evidence for the Bible as unique — some discussed here and many not — bring me to a preponderance of evidence that the Bible is the unique Word of the Living God whom I already have natural and revelatory evidence of His Being. And not only does the Bible claim to be the actual Word of God in contradistinction to other “holy” scriptures, so to does Jesus claim to be God whereas Mohammed never claimed to be God, Confucius never claimed to be God, Zoroaster never claimed to be God, Buddha never claimed to be God, Joseph Smith never said he was God….
We have both eyewitness and corroborative witnesses to these events and to the character and person of Jesus. In fact… that is how we attain most of our information about reality and history. History, by-the-by, would be in the category of the Book of Nature:
✦ “What are the distinctive sources for our beliefs about the past? Most of the beliefs we have about the past come to us by the testimony of other people. I wasn’t present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I didn’t see my father fight in the [S]econd [W]orld [W]ar. I have been told about these events by sources that I take to be reliable. The testimony of others is generally the main source of our beliefs about the past…. So all our beliefs about the past depend on testimony, or memory, or both.” ~ Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies (Foster City, CA: IDG Books; 1999), 57-58.
✦ “In advanced societies specialization in the gathering and production of knowledge and its wider dissemination through spoken and written testimony is a fundamental socio-epistemic fact, and a very large part of each persons body of knowledge and belief stems from testimony.” ~ Robert Audi, ed. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 2nd edition (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 1999), 909.
✦ “But it is clear that most of what any given individual knows comes from others; palpably with knowledge of history, geography, or science, more subtly with knowledge about every day facts such as when we were born..” ~ Ted Honderich, ed., The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995), 869.
How does the “character” of as well as the teachings of Jesus stand up to the other founders of the major religions of the world? Let’s see:
The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strong-minded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshipped, even with multitudinous idols.
All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances.
Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.
Robert Hume, The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.
Jesus did say He was God.
His character and actions proved it.
All the other world religious leaders/founders still lie in their graves and had characters that were not Godly ~ Jesus rose to prove His point.
BUT, I also have a confirmation by the living God through the miraculous intervention and witness of the Holy Spirit that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God, making my best inference more than that… making it a certitude that no other worldview offers their adherents.
The study of God and delight in knowing God requires a mode of understanding that transcends simply empirical data gathering, logical deduction, or the dutiful organization of scriptural or traditional texts into a coherent sequence. The Christian study of God intrinsically involves a mode of knowing from the heart that hopes to make the knower “wise unto salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15, KJV, i.e., a knowing grounded in the “sacred writings which have power to make you wise and lead you to salvation,” NEB), to save the soul, to teach the sinner all that is needed to attain saving knowledge of God (Clement of Alex., Who Is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved? pp. 591-604; Catherine of Siena, Prayers 7, pp. 58-61; Baxter, PW II, pp. 23-25; Wesley, WJW VIII, pp. 20 ff., 290 ff.).
Faith’s knowing is distinguishable from objective, testable, scientific knowledge, although not necessarily inimical to it. It is a form of knowing that embraces the practical question of how we choose to live in the presence of this Source and End of all (Clement of Alex., Exhort. to the Heathen IX, ANF II, pp. 195-97; Teresa of Avila, CWST, III, pp. 219-22; Calvin, Inst. 1.11-13).
Thomas C. Oden, Systematic Theology, Volume One: The Living God (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson, 2006), 9-10.
The assurance that God has spoken to them directly through his holy Scriptures gave the Reformers their unique boldness. The formation of that truth theologically was the fundamentally new element in the Reformation. The Reformation battle cry was sola Scriptura, “Scripture alone.” But sola Scriptura meant more to the Reformers than that God has revealed himself in the propositions of the Bible. The new element was not that the Bible, being given by God, speaks with God’s authority. The Roman Church held to that as well as the Reformers. The new element, as Packer points out,
was the belief, borne in upon the Reformers by their own experience of Bible study, that Scripture can and does interpret itself to the faithful from within—Scripture is its own interpreter, Scriptura sui ipsius interpres, as Luther puts it—so that not only does it not need Popes or Councils to tell us, as from God, what it means; it can actually challenge Papal and conciliar pronouncements, convince them of being ungodly and untrue, and require the faithful to part company with them. . . . As Scripture was the only source from which sinners might gain true knowledge of God and godliness, so Scripture was the only judge of what the church had in each age ventured to say in her Lord’s name.
In Luther’s time the Roman Church had weakened the authority of the Bible by exalting human traditions to the stature of Scripture and by insisting that the teaching of the Bible could be communicated to Christian people only through the mediation of popes, councils and priests. The Reformers restored biblical authority by holding that the living God speaks to his people directly and authoritatively through its pages.
James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive and Readable Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press, 1986), 48-49.