June 19, 2019

How To Lose A Young Mind #1 (with a few thoughts on Dawkins)

ardi_2_090930_mn(or Why Waste All That Time Considering Evidence When You Can Announce Your Presuppositions and Be Done With It)

I’ve been monitoring a discussion at a prominent Calvinistic blog regarding Richard Dawkin’s defense of evolution in his new book, The Greatest Show On Earth.

I do a unit on the New Atheists in my Advanced Bible class, so I get several hours of Dawkins vs John Lennox each fall. I’m always amazed at how naive Dawkins is regarding any kind of religion that isn’t the backwoods, book burning variety. He seems to think that those who aren’t creationists or fundamentalists aren’t cooperating sufficiently with his certainties of what religion is doing to the world. I could easily do six posts on goofy conclusions Dawkins draws about religion, i.e. there is a logical connection between religion and violence, but there is not a single case where he can see a logical connection between atheism and violence. Mmmmkay.

On Darwinianism, however, I find Dawkins to be a voice worth listening to. He does understand the significance of Darwin’s theories- something that Christians who reject evolution should still appreciate- and he represents well that shrinking minority of atheists who believe science necessarily leads to atheism.

I always find it interesting how Dawkins will, without knowing it, start talking about feelings of transcendence or universal moral sentiments, without realizing he’s echoing some of the finest Christian minds who look at the same questions he does. In the Birmingham debate with Lennox, he gives as fine a statement of C.S. Lewis’s evidence for a universal morality as Jack himself could muster. Dawkins simply credits it all to a Darwinian “lust to be good.” I’m sure you’ve all observed that on the Discovery Channel.

But Dawkins and his book aside- someone will have to buy it for me if I am going to read it- there’s a point to be made in the discussion regarding the message young Christians are hearing, and it will be better made and better discussed here than elsewhere.

One creationist contributed the following after a mention of a recent series of articles regarding a fossil discovery in Ethiopia:

That would be “Ardi” and it wasn’t that recent that “it” was discovered. It was over ten years ago and the remains were apparently such a mess (along with other remains) that they spent the last ten years trying to put “it” together. And wow… what do you know… they managed to figure it out on the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”… what luck!

The commenter is commenting on the publishing of research regarding “Ardi,” a sensational fossil find made in the early 1990s.

Take a moment and think with me. Imagine that you are a young person sitting in a college anthropology class. (My young friend who recently left the faith, Greg, was such a person.) You’ve been brought up in the conservative evangelical faith. You’ve had creationism in science classes straight through middle school and high school. You’ve been exposed to Answers in Genesis and Kent Hovind as proof positive that the Bible, not any scientist anywhere, is the only reliable guide to scientific truth.

What do you learn in this commenter?

1) Scientists are making bones say what they want them to say.

2) The fossil finds say nothing coherent. They are “a mess” and any conclusions from them are imposed.

3) Announcements of discoveries like this are orchestrated for media attention.

4) Taking time to evaluate evidence is actually proof that the evidence is being “cooked.”

5) Creationists know all about Ardi and other anthropological discoveries. Trust what they say.

Now, if you are this young person and you read the above comment with understanding, your entire attitude toward science is basically going to be at stake. What you are being told is that such discoveries are tantamount to conspiracies and frauds. If you imagined that you could enter into the study of anthropology or similar fields and simply study the evidence, you’re in for quite a surprise.

This is all about the presuppositions that both “sides” have before any evidence is discovered or discussed. (If you read the review I have taken the comment quoted above from, that’s the major point: presuppositions make any consideration of evidence useless.) Instead of being a discussion of the evidence raised by “Ardi,” this is a “war of the worldviews,” in which considering evidence is apparently simply a casualty or, at best, a waste of time.

And if that sounded completely postmodern to you, too, then I’m glad to not be the only one.

Let me be simple: if we can’t discuss evidence, but are simply playing gorilla warfare with worldview weapons, then our young people aren’t coming to conclusions. They are simply deciding whether to stay on our team and play the game.

You are going to lose hundreds of thousands of bright evangelicals with that approach. You better homeschool them till they are 40 and keep the television firmly under parental control if you are going to pull this off. You’ll need lots of propaganda and manipulative tactics to keep your kids motivated against those evil scientists and their distortions.

Comments

  1. Great post! I agree completely. I was lucky enough to attend a Christian university that allowed for the examination of evidence and didn’t engage in worldview wars (great way to phrase it!). I am flabbergasted at the hubris on both sides of the creation/evolution debate. I recently read Who Made the Moon? by Sigmund Brouwer, which is a great layman’s view on origins for parents. I highly recommend it.

  2. Slight tangent: One way to buy books that you’d like to read without supporting the author is to buy them used. Alibris.com and Half.com are great sources for that. That way you don’t have to wait for someone to gift it or the library to get it, but you don’t give a dime to authors you don’t wish to support.

  3. It seems to be a universal truth nowadays that anything you read in the media has been ‘spinned’ to support some agenda of the author’s. I would love to weigh and consider evidence, but how and where do you get evidence that can be called even somewhat objective? Especially in areas such as the study of fossils what is presented is the researcher’s evaluation based on few tangible clues. You have to trust the source who’s doing the evaluation, and there is very little trust of experts in these controversial areas. Science (or at least some prominent scientists) has done itself great harm by in many situations giving up the mantle of objectivity.

    The wars of worldviews often revolve around the worldviews of the experts who’s evidence we’d like to evaluate.

    • Well stated, Dave R. You perfectly and completely exemplified the topic of IMonk’s article.

    • The great tragedy of post-modernism is that it destroyed the possibility of dialogue. In pointing out the great linguistic and presuppositional failings of modernism, it replaced those with . . . nothing. Rather it left a soup of non-philosophical thinking in which no one can explain well why they believe what they believe. So, the fragmentation into the soup in which every conclusion is just your worldview at work, and everything is supposedly spin and non-objective is a result of that philosophy at work.

      In part this is why even soundly conducted multiply repeated medical studies are not trusted. It only takes one claim of a conspiracy for people to believe that such studies are totally unsound. It has made “fact-checking” almost impossible because there is little agreement on what is a fact.

      As iMonk has pointed out, in this debate there is little agreement about facts, so it is no surprise the conclusions are at completely opposite extremes.

      • That sounds like bourgeois logic to me.

        • If we’re talking suspicion as to worldviews…

          ZOMG! Steven Pinker and the other guys were right! It *was* all a religious plot!

          http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-10-14-PopeNIH_N.htm

          “VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences.”

          Our tentacles extend everywhere 😉

          • Great point about post modernism Fr. Ernesto, but I would add that it is not JUST postmodernism that has made people skeptical, it is the awareness of people’s general lack of hinesty and character.

            When your politicians, preachers, and parents get caught in enough lies and scandels, it is reasonable to be skeptical.

          • I think that it’s interesting that we often seem to think that the problems of spin/objectivity are new.

            I think we wouldn’t be so quick to bemoan the lack of objectivity if we were used to taking the time to read carefully and form opinions at a responsible pace–based on facts gained over time.

    • How many scientists collaborated on Ardi over those ten years? Something like 70, in 40 or 50 universities in any number of countries?

      How can we realistically discard that expertise by defining it as subjective spin? If that number of scientists, arguing and debating as scientists do, for year after year, with all their work subject to outside scrutiny by other scientists, cannot produce an objective view, then we need to give it up.

      “Worldview” as it relates to science is like “lifestyle” as it relates to homosexuality. It is Christian code for “science is wrong and facts are relative.”

      • jjoe,

        I have to confess I didn’t read the article until after reading your response. I was surprised – a complete skeleton, other bones of the same group, fossils of surrounding environment, as you said many scientists over many years. It sounds like something worth following up on, real evidence that can be weighed.

        Again, the heated rhetoric and often baseless accusations that are flung about have so muddied the water it takes a huge effort at civility and engagement to even begin to have productive discussions. I’m a Christian, but I believe science is often right within it’s sphere. And I believe facts are absolute, not relative – by definition. I would be tempted to say “the other side” considers facts relative. Another baseless accusation….? shooting the same accusation back and forth when it often doesn’t apply…? And why is it so easy to assume you are “on the other side”? Side of what? I’m making big assumptions about who you are and what you believe and what “side” you’re on based on a couple of paragraphs. I’m probably wrong in more ways than one.

        Back to Michael’s article, we need to recover and teach our kids what science is, and what it’s good for, and it’s limitations. And how to engage in civil debate that doesn’t degenerate into name calling.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        How many scientists collaborated on Ardi over those ten years? Something like 70, in 40 or 50 universities in any number of countries?

        How can we realistically discard that expertise by defining it as subjective spin?

        “If your Conspiracy Theory doesn’t fit the facts, Invent A Bigger Conspiracy.”
        — quoted in Kooks Magazine

        “Worldview” as it relates to science is like “lifestyle” as it relates to homosexuality. It is Christian code for “science is wrong and facts are relative.”

        And code for calling Jihad.

  4. MOD NOTE: This site does not endorse this book.

    http://irrationalatheist.com/downloads.html

    Free download. Interesting approach to new atheists. A bit snarky but worth a look.

    • I have to say that providing Vox Day with readers disturbs me and free may be too great a price to pay to that man. To quote from wikipedia: “he has written that calling a feminist a feminazi is ‘an insult to National Socialism’.”, “He also wrote that according to the traditional Judeo-Christian ethic only a woman who is not entertaining the possibility of sex with a man can be considered a ‘wholly innocent victim under this ethic’ should she be raped by that man, and that rape is no better or worse than extramarital sex from a moral perspective because ‘Christianity knows no hierarchy of sins.'” and “Day argued for the feasibility of deporting illegal immigrants en masse from the United States by saying that the Nazis accomplished a deportation of comparable scale in a few years.”

      Theodore Beale (his real name) is the sort of Christian who helps entrence atheists, convince those on the fence that Christianity is not for them and makes the really hard line fundamentalists squeel with glee.

      Of course, I’m not a Christian, so what do I know about rational discussion and treating people well?

      Sorry about the bitterness and snark, it’s just that his advocacy of views that have not been seen for at least 65 years, and then back in Germany, disturbs me greatly.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    What’s the illustration? Australopithecus?

  6. I am curious, given the subject matter, if “gorilla warfare” is a mistake or done on purpose.

    This article describes what happened to me pretty well. I spent most of my youth listening to christian radio with broadcasts from AIG. Looking back I am ashamed of my naivete in believing that because someone professed to be a christian that meant they would not lie. Sometimes I wonder of their misrepresentations were done out of malice or incompetence. Maybe they thought that if they gave the true story it could lead to doubt and eventually to apostasy, so it would be better to lie for Christ and the good of the church than to let the truth speak for itself. One example of this would be creationists saying that since archeoraptor was a fake this proved evolution was fake as well, but neglecting to mention that archeoraptor was made by combining fossils including a feathered dinosaur, which ran contrary to their assertions that dinosaurs were reptiles and had no relationship with birds. Interestingly, one of the founders of the warm-blooded dinosaur hypothesis is Robert T. Bakker who is also a pentecostal minister. Another example is a creationist tract I read that used the Paluxy tracks to show that dinosaurs and humans lived together even though Zana Douglas said that her grandfather, George Adams, sculpted some human tracks in with the dinosaur tracks that he faked when the supply of real ones ran low.

    When it comes to questions of rationality or religion, I tend to side with rationality since any religion that requires you to abandon your rationality is obviously false and one that the world would be better off without.

    • “Looking back I am ashamed of my naivete in believing that because someone professed to be a christian that meant they would not lie.”

      WE HAVE A WINNER, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!

      That’s what this has always been all about: anxious Christian leaders whose ministries are stake, needing you to trust them.

      Trust their answers, surrender your will to their certainties one BIG time, where it counts: no, not morality. They can forgive you for your sins, silly. But SCIENCE! DOGMA!

      One thing that this cadre of Fundamentalists won’t ever forgive is demanding the independence to think things through at your own pace. It’s all or nothing with this kind of passive aggressive conservatism you’re-either lost or saved, with the Family or banished to the ice floes.

      It’s a reflex: this type of conservatism can’t help itself but to lie, obfuscate, cajole, manipulate and cast aspersions on any rival that might dethrone its mandate to be the Overmind for all true Christian soliders; scared parents and uneducated preachers and disenfranchised would-ve-been-intellectuals are scared to lose control to the dispassionate discourse of some strangers, and need to be reminded that we love them and are with them – by putting our name down in THEIR book for ever and ever, by letting their assurance trample our inquisitiveness.

      But no. Our parents are easy liars, our teachers are jealous of us, and our preachers are pathologized – at the end of the day, I think its all about love and listening, and the crazy ways we have of wanting ourselves to matter to each other that drives the Christian faction of this mess.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Interestingly, one of the founders of the warm-blooded dinosaur hypothesis is Robert T. Bakker who is also a pentecostal minister.

      “Dinosaur Heretic” Bob Bakker a Pentecostal minister?
      First I’ve ever heard of that.
      Could you be confusing two people with similar names?

      • Robert T. Bakker is most definitely a Pentecostal… and apparently has, at one time, been working on a book called “Bones, Bibles, and Creation”

        He, obviously, is not a YEC.

  7. “Let me be simple: if we can’t discuss evidence, but are simply playing gorilla warfare with worldview weapons, then our young people aren’t coming to conclusions. They are simply deciding whether to stay on our team and play the game.”

    And with atheists far better trained in the sciences, and thus far more convincing when our young people wander into a state university or community college science class, it really is a wonder that there aren’t more of these new atheists types already. Thanks be to our God and Savior.

    Growing up believing the earth was 7,000 years old and that scientists and science itself was inherently evil, I had a quite a shock waiting for me when my undeveloped worldview met a better argument in my early 20s. Thankfully, there were even more compelling reasons to stay with Christ, but it certainly wasn’t because the leading apologists of the day were compelling, logical or even accurate.

    • This was my experience exactly.

    • “Growing up believing the earth was 7,000 years old and that scientists and science itself was inherently evil, I had a quite a shock waiting for me when my undeveloped worldview met a better argument in my early 20s.”

      Could someone Please explain to me how this is in any way different from a cult? Cults can and sometimes do have good doctrine, they just add stuff to it. 99% of rat food is just corn meal.
      To a Christian never exposed to this, it really is mind boggling. I have worked with adults who came out of this type of belief system and they always seem to have problems with Legalism and Love.

      • Many of us feel adherance to AIG is like being in a cult. Believing in a 7000 year old earth without understanding how or why is different. There are some people who will never understand the science. From my mother to many K12 school teachers. For them, they’ve picked a side more on peronality or other life choices.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          6013 year old earth.

          (6014 if you use the September 22 date, at 9 AM in whichever time zone for the Garden Of Eden.)

        • PERSONALITY

          iPhones are neat but some of us could use smaller fingers. 🙂

    • It took me longer to get there because I was in my 20’s in the heyday of AIG and before many of the current discoveries. But, yes, I got there also.

  8. Let me be simple: if we can’t discuss evidence, but are simply playing gorilla warfare with worldview weapons, then our young people aren’t coming to conclusions. They are simply deciding whether to stay on our team and play the game.

    Crucial insight. I don’t hear this kind of thing anywhere else.

    A good counter example to the our-team-or-their-team worldview is Reasons to Believe–the Hugh Ross ministry. Biochemist Fazale Rana, for example, always treats the science and the scientists with respect as he evaluates whatever findings are under consideration.

  9. Dolan McKnight says

    Evangelicals (and all Christians) need to realize that Dawkins and his ilk present a rather crude version of scientism to support their atheism, not science. Science is not a philosophy or world view; it is a methodology to make sense of the physical world. Scientific inquiry does not (or at least should not) represent any particular philosophical position, but simply use the scientific method to reach admittedly limited conclusions. When anthropologists compare the anatomies of fossil remains to those of modern animals, they can see how these both differ and how they are similar. With the knowledge of DNA and how it affects anatomy as it changes they have a logical way to postulate how these changes occurred over a long period of time.

    Is this anti-Christian? Of course not. It has nothing to do with Christianity per se, except in the broadest sense of searching for truth. Is it pro-atheism? Not at all. It is only pro-science.

    Of course, the atheist may try to mold science into his world view, but it doesn’t quite fit because of its limited explanation of human experience. Science has a lot of answers, many of them practical, but nowhere near all of the answers, particularly those questions that are fundamentally important to most people.

    On the other hand, the creationist world view misses the main point of the Genesis record, which is focused on who created the universe and not on how it was created. They try to read way too much into the text to exclude scientific discoveries as anti-God.

    If a Christian wants to read Genesis as a science textbook, I would disagree with him, but I certainly would still consider him a brother. On the other hand, I have not found a lot of charity of creationists toward other Christians who might be considered to be theistic evolutionists or even somewhat neutral on the subject.

    • Amir Flesher says

      Theism is the unfalsifiable idea that the universe was brought into existence, and to some degree or another was shaped, and is still ruled by an unknowable character named God. The idea cannot be supported by any evidence because it is by definition a metaphysical speculation that require a blind leap of faith. Atheism simply states that unless evidence is provided (which it cannot be) there is no more reason to believe in God than there is to believe in any other fantastical creature such as the oft mentioned flying spaghetti monster, unicorns, or anything else you can think of.

      The good news is that there are simpler, evidence based explanations for how the universe and life came into existence, how it has evolved, and even for understanding feelings of awe and transcendence. There is a mountain of evidence regarding evolution that I will not bother to rehash here, and it seems that you (and some others) believe in both evolution and God, so I’ll address why God is not necessary to explain subjective experience that seems to suggest God exists.

      The subjective consciousness awareness we experience as humans arises out of the coordinated activity of the brain. Once the brain ceases to function, consciousness is gone. If certain parts of the brain are injured, then certain brain functions (such as language, memory, problem solving, emotional awareness) are compromised. Accordingly, conscious states that are associated with transcendent experience can be developed through engaging in training the mind through meditation and other technologies designed to develop mindfulness and concentration, such as certain forms of prayer. These changes in subjective conscious experience (increased feelings of peace, connection, tranquility, oneness, lack of boundaries, and a general dissolution of the self as a discrete entity) can be observed in changes to the brain of both long term and short term meditators. For instance, Tibetan lamas who have logged over 10,000 hours of meditation show a marked decrease in activity in areas of the cortex associated with placing an individual in physical space. Also, engaging in skillful actions such as being generous and kind, also appears to effect consciousness and the the brain. None of these mind states or their accompanying brain states need God to explain their existence. It can all be explained through observing how actions affect subjective awareness AND the physical brain in ways that are remarkably correlated.

      So, in conclusion, God may indeed exist, but there is no way to prove or disprove God’s existence. The existence of God is not necessary to explain any subjective state of consciousness we may experience (including transcendent states). In fact, I would argue that a belief in God actually diminishes experiences of peace, oneness and so on because it adds a mental layer of dualism that adds complication where none is present. Peace is just peace. Love is just love. Emptiness is just emptiness. Regardless of how Dawkins or anybody else uses scientific evidence, that evidence roundly supports the conclusion that God is not necessary to explain any physical or conscious phenomena.

      • Nicely stated, Amir.

      • Well, unless that guy came back from the dead 2000 years ago. God is necessary to explain that physical phenomenon.

        • Fearsome, tut- tut!

          Science has demonstrated that inanimate corpses cannot be reanimated – unless we’re talking very advanced medical technology.

          If there was indeed an instance of a clinically dead body being resusitated two millenia ago, there is no need to invoke the “God hypothesis” to explain this.

          Obviously, the reasonable explanation is that a more advanced culture, or the remnants of the Atlantean civilisation, or aliens from Proxima Centauri, possessing the requisite technology, intervened.

          You crazy theists! 😉

      • “The idea cannot be supported by any evidence because it is by definition a metaphysical speculation that require a blind leap of faith.”

        Only if you limit acceptable evidence to _empirical_ evidence. Other kinds of evidence do exist outside of an empiricist epistemology, e.g. general and particular revelation. Revelation is, of course, not scientific evidence, but not all truth is scientific truth.

  10. The problem with finding (or thinking at least) that things in the news have been spun for one side or the other is that we find most of the spinning was done by evangelicals! I hate that it’s this way, and maybe that a presupposition on my part, but I keep seeing it happen, and it saddens me.

    I grew up with this…people who didn’t think that dinosaurs ever existed, thought that scientists were bogus, etc. It damaged me, to be honest, and even reading through your points I had to clear my head a few times before I could continue. It’s taking a lot of work to try and be open-minded. Such is life. I wonder how much damage I’ll end up doing to my kids, even unintentionally.

    • Dan, you mention that most of the spinning is being done by evangelicals. I personally believe that it is done on both sides.

      I read the article and the reconstruction of the bones is most impressive. What bothers me is the drawing of what Ardi looked like.

      You see I know that it is very unlikely for nasal cartilage to have survived, not to mention impressions of hair, and skin texture. Just by different choices, you could have an almost normal looking homo sapiens if a different nose, less hair, and different hair texture were assumed.

  11. Steve in Toronto says

    I wish I had time for a more elaborate comment but for now all I have time to say is that this time you are really on to something. You have identify what I feel is the fatal flaw in “Truly Reformed” apologetics.

    God Bless
    Steve in Toronto

  12. This is something that I have struggled with since I was a 3rd grader from a Southern Baptist household who went to see Jurassic Park. I learned soon thereafter that I simply couldn’t grow up to be a paleontologist and be a Christian. The two are not compatible.

    All through high school, I struggled with the fact that scientific discovery pointed a completely different direction from what I was told I had to believe at church.

    I was a fairly intuitive teenager who was able to defend my faith in discussions with nonbelieving classmates, until evolution came up. At that point, I would simply sit with a worried look on my face. In college I just started to ignore it. I wouldn’t speak of Genesis unless I simply had to.

    And this continued until fairly recently when I discovered John Walton and Tremper Longman, and others like them. In other words, I discovered that many of those who are seriously trained in Old Testament exegesis seem to think that Genesis 1 primarily served to express theological truths, and, in Walton’s case, the account is primarily geared towards God giving function to those things that he had created from nothing earlier.

    • I’m sad that you thought that. I thought a similar thing about biology, but not because I thought it would be incompatible with Christianity, but that the standard scientific descriptions of biology were utterly _boring_. I have been interested in computers since I was 7 (my dad taught me to program shortly after I learned to read on an old TI computer), and in theology since I was about 12. At about 15 I took a course in chemistry and loved it. If someone had told me when I was 15 that if I studied biochemistry, I could look at the way that God programmed an information system using chemistry, I would have done it in a heartbeat. Instead, all I learned was random mutation and natural selection, which sounded pretty boring to me, so I just went into computers.

      There’s a great YEC dinosaur paleontologist named Art Chadwick. He has been digging out an Edmontosaurus bone bed for a long time, and is using high-resolution GPS to digitally record the position and orientation of each bone. You can see some of their work posted online:

      http://dinodig.swau.edu/collection/virtual/north/

      Art also did some work with another YEC geologist named Leonard Brand on rapid deposition of whale fossils that made the front cover of the journal Geology in 2004 (the paper was “Fossil whale preservation implies high diatom accumulation rate in the Miocene-Pliocene Pisco Formation of Peru.”).

      I’m sorry your parents thought that dinosaur paleontology was out of reach for YEC beliefs, but in fact some YECs are doing very cool work in this area.

  13. I’m a youth pastor with many youth whose parents hold very strongly to 6 day creationism. So I cannot suggest anything other than that. But at the same time, I have this overwhelming desire to sit down those students who are going off to university and tell them that 6 day creationism isn’t necessarily the only biblical view. I’m pretty sure I’d be hanged. Of course when their students begin drifting because they simply can’t believe what they’re learning in university and what they were told all their lives at the same time, I get blamed for that too.

    • dude. i was going to make the same post. please, someone help us out! any suggestions on how to address the biblical ambiguity with people who are so CERTAIN?

      • The world’s leading scholars of Hebrew language (who are not Christian or Jewish by the way) clearly say that there is no ambiguity in Genesis: that the writer clearly means 6 physical 24-hour days. They all agree that there is no other valid interpretation of the words used.

        In a Christian sense, it can’t be thousands/billions of years either. Death came into the world as a result of Adam & Eve’s sin. If creation took billions of years (or even thousands) how/why did all those animals die before humans entered the scene. And if death already existed, then Adam & Eve’s sin did not bring it into the world, so Jesus is not required to take that punishment for our sins later on. Therefore, a longer creation period actually removes any value from the rest of the Bible. Simple.

    • Wow! Brandon you are certainly not alone there. Actually, this situation is not the exception but the norm for youth pastors in almost all evangelical churches — even the more theological moderate. Even if the leadership has our back, is it worth creating a stir and upsetting the more conservative parents in our midst? I didn’t even take a stance and just mentioned in passing that there are Christians who believe in Theistic evolution and I was raked over the coals a a bit for it.

      Are there other youth pastors listening in who have had similar situations? Do you have any advice for us? We’re all ears.

      I’m with you in the fight, Brandon!

      • I have heard a lot of this, but sometimes I wonder if it is how it is presented. I’m a radical right-winger who goes to a radically left-wing seminary, and I’ve found that in the fundy Sunday Schools that I talk to that, if presented well, a lot of people like discussions on these topics.

        One thing that I’ve found (I have no idea if this applies in your case) is that many of the people who disagree with YEC have a complete lack of empathy towards the ideas of the YEC’ers. That was certainly where I was before I became a YEC. I told people they were silly for believing in a young earth, and certainly there were better ways of approaching the issues. The fact was that I had no empathy for the views of the people I was talking to. I had just assumed that they were stupid dullards, and gave such ideas no weight.

        I think that many people, if they took time to take these ideas seriously, could enjoy a much better conversation about all ideas. I’ve found that when you take the time to take others’ ideas seriously, they are much more likely to be willing to have an open conversation.

        I think one of the problems in evangelistic circles right now is that the evangelical intelligensia has started to snub their noses at people from more fundamentalist backgrounds, or started to explain away their ideas in sociological terms alone (as in, you believe this because of X, and not because it makes any sense). A lack of empathy between the groups is tearing us apart.

        • Empathy for ideas that make scientific claims but are without much scientific justification? You want empathy for clinging to a thoroughly discredited yet willfully promoted theodicy based solely on your preferred…. superstition? (What else can it be regardless of label?) And when you don’t receive such empathy, you think that’s the problem?

          Jonathan, these ideas have been taken seriously for a very long time and have been found to be seriously wanting. YECism is a very poor conclusion because it fails on so many levels to address the evidence from a variety of inquiries. Yet no matter how much corroborating evidence is painstakingly gathered and presented to YECists to show why a young earth theory just doesn’t make sense of the abundant evidence of an old earth that has undergone the processes of evolution, these legitimate criticisms of YECism are ignored by those who favour them… not on merit but on scripture. People who cling to these YECist beliefs have already decided that adherence to the ‘answers’ provided through scripture can be tortuously interpreted to make some sense even when to do so for this claim must be undone to make sense for that case. It’s scriptural cherry picking and very biased interpretation towards a theological aim rather than to discover what is probably true, probably accurate, probably correct. People who are okay performing such mental gymnastics to suit scriptural scientific claims do not have any right to ask for empathy from those who take the truth seriously. Why? Because the size of the mistake to think the world is only 10,000 years old is equivalent to believing that the United States is a few meters wide from east to west coast. It is a colossal error in magnitude. And you want us to take this suggestion seriously as well as with empathy? That’s asking too much from reasonable people.

          • How about empathy for people? Treating people like crap because they don’t agree with this or that is the sort of thing I thought atheists condemned religion for.

          • I agree with treating people with empathy. But my fallen nature makes that hard when they attack my beliefs without respite. After a while you tend to get back to your feet and swing back every now and then.

          • This is the sort of response I’m talking about. If you want an open atmosphere for discussion – I hate to tell you this – but discussions are two-way. To think that there’s nothing you can learn from another’s point of view that is different than yours is arrogant, and that arrogance has been one of the things that keeps the debate hostile. If you want to know why AiG is so popular, it is because many Christians feel completely stepped on with this issue. When you stop taking people seriously, they will stop taking you seriously.

            Now, don’t get me wrong – I actually like AiG, though I agree that a lot of their rhetoric is over-the-top and that they don’t dialogue like they should. But that’s largely because there hasn’t been room for dialogue for a long time. I prefer groups like the BSG who value criticism from the outside, and use it to improve their own views. Do you know of an evolutionary group or journal that takes the criticisms of Creationists seriously? If the answer to the question is “no”, then I think we can safely say where the dogmatism originated. The Church has rarely stepped in to put a stop to inquiry, even when it goes against its own interests, but the secular scientific academy often does.

            “Jonathan, these ideas have been taken seriously for a very long time and have been found to be seriously wanting.”

            Not really. If you look at the history, you find that the old-earth geologists of the 1800’s simply ignored the young-earth geologists at the time, and vilified their writings and their knowledge – much the same that goes on today. Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” compares evolution to a straw-man version of Creationism that was not being used even in his time (discussions about how much change can occur within a created kind had been going on since the 1500s).

            What changed was not science, but the view of God which was popular in the 1800s. The view of God changed to essentially a deistic one, and so any idea that God messes around in history was to not be believed on its face. You didn’t need evidence for or against it, it was simply irrational to think that God is involved with history.

            Lyell, who made the most popular case for the old earth, did so simply by ruling out the idea of a flood from the start. His goal was to limit geology to looking for causes “now in operation”. Can the evidence point to a cause that is not currently in operation? I certainly think so, but the theories on which the “old earth” was founded presupposed that it could not. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but that is nowhere near the idea of “these ideas have been taken seriously for a very long time and have been found to be seriously wanting”.

          • tildeb, starting out to convince someone they’re wrong by telling them “You are so stupid and dumb for believing this obviously nutty notion” is not going to make them willing to listen to you.

            Telling them “Here is why I believe your position is mistaken” and going through the evidence is more effective.

            If you’re dealing with, say, a man who believes he’s a poached egg, no medical professional is going to start off with “Listen, nutjob, pull yourself together and stop being crazy!”

          • The empathy being asked for was the idea of an Earth fewer than 10,000 years and not to the person who decided to hold such an opinion.

            The idea of a young Earth is, to put it bluntly, wrong. It is spectacularly wrong. It is wrong for excellent geological reasons. It is wrong for excellent paleontological reasons. It is wrong for excellent biological reasons. It is wrong for excellent tectonic reasons. It is wrong for excellent anthropological reasons. It is wrong for excellent cosmological reasons. It is wrong for excellent carbon dating, isochron, and radiological reasons. It is wrong for excellent climatological reasons. It is wrong for excellent astrological reasons. And that’s just the beginning of the list.

            It is right for poor religious reasons. And that’s the end of that list.

            If one truly wishes to find out the age of the Earth, one does not just assume that what the bus driver thinks must be true because he or she takes the bus. To assume that a religious person knows any differently on the merit of belief is no different. There is no reason to think the religious person has a better grasp on the age of the Earth than some scientist who has spent a good portion of his or her life doing just that, supported and criticized by peers of expertise. There are many thousands of people who have spent a great deal of time and effort under exacting conditions of inquiry to establish a platform of evidence that mutually supports an Earth of about 4.5 billion years. Sure, there are a few who suggest differently and their science is rigorously tested and their conclusions found lacking. If their science was powerful, then the whole table shifts and this hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps someday it shall. But to dismiss all of this work with a wave of the tongue to line up the age of the Earth with an ancient text is in itself highly arrogant not to mention unbelievably irresponsible.

            If someone can utterly and callously dismiss so much knowledge so easily to suit a particular belief, then why is the onus on someone who does take the time and make the effort to understand from people who have collected vast sums of knowledge supposed to show empathy to the idea vacuous of worldly knowledge? It seems to me that preference should be shown to the idea that is informed by multiple kinds of supportive objective expertise. But this is hardly a typical response between the religious, who often maintain ideas utterly dismissive of evidence, and the scientific, who utterly depend on it. The onus is placed on the scientist to somehow adapt what is to what others believe it should be, to show empathy to the uninformed idea out of some warped sense of respect, to adjust how something is presented, to cater to the sensibilities of the ill-informed, to somehow find a middle ground between what is known and what has been so easily rejected. Empathy, if empathy needs to be assigned, should not be shown to ideas at all; they either stand or fall on their own justified merit. Empathy should be shown to the person who cares enough about what is probably true, probably accurate, probably correct to find out. If one wishes to inform one’s own opinion on matters like the age of the Earth, then there is nothing stopping anyone from finding out. That’s where my empathy lies: with the curious and inquisitive and probing minds who seek what’s true. Showing empathy to the idea that all of this evidence is easily dismissed in the name of religious belief is not.

    • How can you feel bad for teaching students that God made Adam and Eve and we did not evolved from monkeys or Ardi or whatever. You guys are nuts. Why am I wasting my time reading all this?

      • If you don’t know the answer to your own question, it means you refuse to even think about it. You may thinks that’s a strength. You would be wrong.

    • This is a great question.

      I served as youth minister for 10 years and now with adult discipleship in churches that had a similar dynamic.

      Here is how I addressed it. I found two wise and loving christian adults who disagreed on this issue but still trusted each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

      I had them come into the group and talk about their journey. They disagreed and discussed why they disagreed but they also showed love for one another.

      This demonstrated that this issue was a non-essential of the faith. That was my first teaching goal. As long as they think it is an essential issue of the the faith, they will not be able to deal with the issue with love and compassion.

      That wouldn’t work in every setting but it worked well in mine.

      We did the same thing with lots of issues that divide Christians.

      • But it IS an essential element of the faith. If death existed before Adam & Eve (fossils and billions of years etc), then Adam & Eve did not bring death into the world as a punishment for sin. Therefore Jesus is not required to take away that death for sin. Therefore the entire Bible is useless.
        Food for thought

    • It is complicated by the fact that the parents who would support you, like my wife and I, have moved on to other churches.

  14. As far as I can safely get with this is to say there are many different ways GENUINE Christians get through this material, that not all are YEC, that ID is worth careful study (most of my YEC adults hate ID) and that there are Christians who believe in evolution. That’s my goal and even then I’m taking huge chances. My principal has my back and I appreciate him.

    • My principal has my back and I appreciate him.

      Isn’t this where the rubber meets the road ?? Sad to say it, but ‘daddy’ needs to set the rules, or else any number of agenda hounds will form a pack and…..well….do what hungry dogs do. IMO, what’s needed is for leaders/pastors to calmly and repeatedly tell the flock what MONK has stated, that there are informed, and reasonable takes on this by a VARIETY of people/viewpoints, and DON”T MAKE THIS A HILL TO DIE ON (sorry for the caps…)

      If leaders won’t spell it out, some of the kids WILL get cranky and fuss. That’s just how it is.

      Greg jR

      • When the pastors say it’s not a hill to die on but sponsor and support only one side and the people from that side make it a hill to be taken, held, to the death if needed, well the message comes through.

        In many evangelical churches old earth supporters are literally ghettoized.

        • Excellent poit and post; and you know what I’ve noticed ? It’s not just pastors, but ANYONE in a teaching, preaching, or leadership role (and this has included me at times, I’m sure) is typically NOT that secure in allowing lots of room to the ‘other side’ of an argument. Routinely in the studies I attend, if the convener holds to ‘once saved always saved’, then anyone leaning towards armenianism is hit with the ‘dufus brush’. Anyone who thinks seminary and formal training is a wate of time will mock advanced degrees (esp. science and psychology); and so on. Rarely are topics and issues handled fairly, what I mostly see is the flaunting of caricatures of the opposing side.

          Seen the same thing, or have I cooked this up myself ??

        • Perhaps I’m not being nice here, but I see no ‘nice’ way to say this. Is this conversation a bunch of people afraid to say what they think is true, complaining because the people who are not afraid to say what they think is true are running the show?

          Whenever I have overcome my fears and honestly stated my opinions, I have been better off. Not just in the long run, but in the short run. It’s not an issue of what’s best for the kids. It’s an issue of what makes you a courageous person and an authentic voice for whatever you happen to believe. Letting yourself be intimidated and living in fear will rot your relationships with others, yourself, and god.

  15. I understand this saga all too well, as I’ve said in the comments here (and elsewhere) on his topic.
    However, it is important to note that allthough Dawkins does understand his subject material quite well, his naivite on the philosophical grounding of his “scientism” is extremely obvious. his view is quite a crass form of materialism last seen in the Marxist world. He fails horribly when you consider his epistemological and even ontological grounding.

    As such, one should consider informing the young ‘uns going off into the big & bad world of higher education about Karl Popper’s approach to science, namely that you cannot prove anyhting right, you can only prove things wrong. This helped me through the rough patches till I came to a better grasp of the issues.

    Rationalism has been dead for a long time. It is only in Fundamentalist cirlces, whether it is Scientism (Dawkins), Creationism (Ham, Hovind) and all its other phantasms that it tries to haunt us. It is Pascal who alread recognised that over 3 centuries ago, shortly after the (re)birth of rationalism through Descartes and Voltaire and co. He said that the very final conclusion of Reason is that there is a limit to Reason. As a scientist, this doesn’t scare me at all. In fact, it reassures me, because it tells me it is ok, even normal, to be wrong.

    • I think every Christian that wants to wade in these matters ought to read Karl Popper. What a genius. It would take the edge off for many to consider looking at evidence, and understanding just how far it can lead you, and what it can’t do for the argument too. That there actually is a thing called Pseudo Science, and sometimes real scientists are guilty of it too.

    • Right on. Teaching creationism is a waste of time. We should be teaching our kids epistemology instead0.

      • Boaz – I totally agree about teaching epistemology.
        Google “God Talk” part 2 in the New York Times blog by Stanley Fish and you’ll see how many people struggle with this.

    • Poking the bottom of a shallow pond to muddy up the water doesn’t make it any deeper. Scientism? Fundamentalist scientism? What are you talking about? You don’t seem to have a very good handle on understanding Popper, either: his significant contribution was to include falsifiability in the scientific method so that you can directly impede cause and effect. This empowers scientific conclusions to be, as you say it doesn’t, demonstratively correct.

      Limits to reason? How do you determine when you’ve gone beyond it? By practicing irrationality? I don’t think that’s a good thing. And does this mean that anything irrational is equivalent in quality but higher in limit than reasoning? You seem to be suggesting as much. Yet what can that possibly mean and look like? You say you’re a scientist. Then why all the gobbly gook? Seems to me that all you’re really trying to do is muddy the waters.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Poking the bottom of a shallow pond to muddy up the water doesn’t make it any deeper. Scientism? Fundamentalist scientism? What are you talking about?

        In the words of SNL’s Church Lady: “Could it be… SATAN?”

      • “You don’t seem to have a very good handle on understanding Popper, either: his significant contribution was to include falsifiability in the scientific method so that you can directly impede cause and effect. This empowers scientific conclusions to be, as you say it doesn’t, demonstratively correct.”

        As someone with more than a passing interest in the philosophy of science, I see a few things wrong in this passage. Popper’s falsification criteria has nothing to do with being able to show that scientific conclusions are demonstrably correct. The falsifiability criteria was Popper’s attempt to solve the demarcation problem, that of distinguishing science from pseudoscience. He was not offering a definition of science, merely a necessary condition for science, i.e. not all falsifiable claims are scientific, but all scientific claims are falsifiable. It’s not clear, though, that Popper even firmly established falsifiability as a necessary criteria for science. For example, statements involving probability appear to be unfalsifiable (e.g. 50 coins flips turning up heads does not falsify the claim that the coin is fair), yet many scientific claims are based on probability. The falsifiability criteria is an interesting but ultimately unsucessfull attempt to solve the demarcation problem, but it does not provide either a necessary or sufficient condition for defining science.

        What I find amusing, and not just a bit ironic, is that YECs tend to be very strict Popperians, as in “if just one little bit of evidence appears to falsify evolution, then you must throw evolution out the window and accept creationism.” Of course they never apply that criteria in the other direction.

      • Tildeb: You are asuming a world of limitless rational argument and proof. If this was mathematics, you are Hilbert. You want to create, or at least, believe in the theoretical attainability of a flawless, faultless scheme of truth, rationally explained, that link all of (mathematical) knowledge together. But, what you refuse to see, is that this scheme is already flawed – and Godel has shown that. (Look up his Incompleteness Theorems). Formalism DOESN’T WORK. Even when you change it’s name, and the terminology 😉 THAT is the limit to Reason.

        You see, for things to work some unproven assumptions are necessary: If so for Mathematics, how not all the more for the rest of Science. Dawkins can’t stand this – unproven assumptions are too much like faith…

        And please don’t lump me in with ‘those Creationists’ – I have been to known to say that they are in the same rationalist boat as Dawkins and his ilk. And that boat is a sfull of holes as a collander.

  16. charlie.hr says

    What can I say…

    Brilliant!!!

  17. 1) Scientists are making bones say what they want them to say.
    2) The fossil finds say nothing coherent. They are “a mess” and any conclusions from them are imposed.
    3) Announcements of discoveries like this are orchestrated for media attention.
    4) Taking time to evaluate evidence is actually proof that the evidence is being “cooked.”
    5) Creationists know all about Ardi and other anthropological discoveries. Trust what they say.

    You mean all of the above is not true? Hold the phone! I was home-schooled and the whole 9 yards, and I still am affected by much of that type of thinking. Just not that strongly anymore, as I am more interested in theistic evolution. However, because of my over-sheltered ultra-conservative moralistic upbringing, if there is any clear evidence for anything to be found in the fossil record (contrary to points 1 and 2) I never learned it when I was supposed to. Both sides are guilty of #3, in hindsight #4 sounds like a conspiracy theory, and 5 seems to prove itself more and more wrong as time goes by.

    • Scientists publish as soon as they can if they want to keep their jobs and reputation. This leads to problems with material sometimes publish prematurely, but you’d be hard pressed to find a scientist with a new breakthrough who waited any longer than they felt they had to to publish. The phrase “publish or perish” is an actual truth in many large universities.

      Of course, in a conspiracy world that believes in point 4, scientists would never compete with each other and try to publish first and have petty infighting like any other field.

      I do have to say that I really appreciate both your acknowledgement of how your past shaped your views and your attempts to view things empirically despite some of the distrust of science you were brought up with.

      • Amen! I’m glad you mentioned that “publish or perish” thing. I had not realized that before but it makes tons of sense! That will be helpful as I sort through the muddy waters of fundamentalism. I must say that I’m currently with the pope on the whole issue: Creation and evolution must be compatible. The details of how, I’m not sure about. However, I am pretty sure that “How” makes a very poor theological question.

  18. iMonk-
    you continue to provide challenging and enlightening articles which cause me to re-evalutate my beliefs (in a good way, mind you). This is one such article. Thank you for being gracious- to give me something to chew on, to ponder, and to come to conclusions on. T’is a far cry from my high school days, where we skipped over the evolution chapter because it was “unimportant” and it “wasn’t taught by the Bible anyway”.

  19. IM, love you man but please don’t lump answers in genesis (a pretty upstanding organization) with Kent Hovind (a wacko felon).

    As a proud 6-day creationist, it also frustrates me that Christian evangelicals who are inclined toward theistic evolution always assume that their more conservative brethren are anti-science. I graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in science and I loved getting in discussions with my fellow Asbury classmates (who were mostly LSA undergrads) about the subject. They would always condescendingly tell me that I was simply ignorant about science. When I asked, “which science am I ignorant of?” they usually were very vague and gave me statements like “all scientist agree”.

    I agree with the general post. We should not ignore the evidence. I don’t think however that this means we should not approach evidence with presuppositions. Philosophy 101 tells us that is impossible.

    • Will S:

      AIG and Hovind were used together on the students at my school for several years. No Creationist differentiated them, though I agree that AIG appears more mainstream. But I live in the shadow of the “Creation museum” and find it hard to see how AIGs attitude is anything close to a real pursuit of science. Watch Ham’s recent “State of the Church” message. He clearly says that people who aren’t creationists are Bible rejectors who are supporting abortion, etc. It’s AIG creationism or a worse case scenario. And none of it is science, not in Ham’s presentation nor in the museum nor in the video debates with Dawkins and other atheists on Youtube. Its just fundamentalism carping about “were you there?”

      • IM, of course not everything that comes out of Ham’s mouth is science. Nor is Dawkins using science when he says that parents who raise their kids Christian are child abusers. No one then extends that fact to say that “evolution is not science” or “Dawkins is not interested in science”. The problem the YECists have is that they are in a no win situation. Their arguments are not engaged in a serious way. They spend countless hours engaging evolutionists only to be attacked with ad homs and told that they are anti-science.

        I guess you and I see things differently because we were raised on different sides of the issue. I was raised in a secular environment and attended a Catholic church where we were taught that evolution was fact. It was not until I was half way through Michigan and considering Christianity that I questioned evolution. I had spent much time with professors at this top 5 engineering school and knew that they were not exactly omniscient. It always made me a little queezy when I heard people quote my professors as though their word was as good as sure. I was willing to question their approach because I saw it first hand. I saw them be confused. I saw them misunderstand things. I saw their unhidden political agenda. In other words, I knew that the conclusions they came to could be questioned without ever being ‘anti-science’.

        I think for most people science departments are magical places where they use impartial methods to reach indisputable facts. I know this is not true.

        When I actually started reading serious thinkers on all sides of the debate, I quickly saw that evolution was a big confidence trick. I think that is why they are so quick to jump to the ad homs.

        • “When I actually started reading serious thinkers on all sides of the debate, I quickly saw that evolution was a big confidence trick.”

          I have to ask exactly what serious thinkers you have read that have led you to this conclusion. Were any of them (non-YEC) scientists working in fields related directly to evolution?

          • I have to ask K Bryan, what serious thinkers have you read that led you to your conclusion against YEC……

            Doesn’t it sound so condescending when it comes from someone else’s mind. It sort of reads like “you are an idiot that probably can’t even read above a third grade level. My guess is you are also a liar.”

            But I am sure that is not what you meant. Because that would make you harsh and unthoughtful and the working assumption around here is that all the harsh unthinking people are on the YEC side.

          • “I have to ask K Bryan, what serious thinkers have you read that led you to your conclusion against YEC……”

            C.S. Lewis, B.B. Warfield, Francis Collins, Alister McGrath, Kenneth Miller, Edward Larson, Denis Lamoreaux, Hugh Ross, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Keith Miller, Bernard Ramm, Sean B. Carroll, Michael Ruse, Gary Rendsburg, Conrad Hyers, Tremper Longman III, John Sailhammer, Robert Alter, Robert Hazen, Neil Shubin, John Haught, Davis Young, Barbara Forrest, Doug Futuyma, Robert Pennock, J.P. Moreland, Niles Eldredge, Donald Prothero, Ronald Numbers, David Livingstone, off the top of my head. That list includes scientists, philosophers, historians, theologians, and bible scholars.

            My question was sincere. I’m sorry that you read ill intent in it. I do hope you answer.

          • I don’t doubt that you are sincere. Most people on sincere in their belief that all YEC are ignorant hillbillies who can’t read past a 3rd grade level.

            I have read Christian evolutionists like Francis Collins (I even wrote a 10 page critique of his ‘Language of God’), Van Tilll, Walter Bradley, J.P Moreland, and Vern Poythress. I have also read plenty of secular evolutionists such as Dawkins and Hawking. Remember that I attended 12 years of public schools (being taught evolution as fact every step of the way) and 4 years at the UofM (taking classes in Biology, Geology, Chemistry, Thermodynamics, and Combustion). Pretty much every text advanced evolution in some way. I have certainly I have read way more evolutionists than I have read creationists.

            Regarding your list, have you read GK Chesterton’s ‘Everlasting Man’? If there is one book that caused me to see the folly of so much of what comes across as science. Another group of stuff I don’t see is the ID stuff. Have you read Behe or Dembrowski?

          • “I don’t doubt that you are sincere. Most people on sincere in their belief that all YEC are ignorant hillbillies who can’t read past a 3rd grade level.”

            I gather that you’ve received un-Christian treatment at the hands of non-YECs. I’m sorry about, and saddened by, that fact, but I can assure you, especially being an ex-YEC, that I don’t hold that attitude. I have many friends (especially at church), family members, and acquaintances that are YECs, and I respect both them and their opinion, though I strongly disagree with it.

            I’ve found that there are basically two reasons why people are YECs, and neither involve them involve them being illiterate, ignorant hillbillies. 🙂

            1) They are ignorant of the science that provides compelling evidence for an old universe and evolution, and the weakness of the “science” underlying YEC. I was in this group myself for many years.

            2) They are aware, to a greater or lesser degree, of the evidence for an old earth and evolution, but their epistemology is grounded in a commitment to a particular view of Biblical inerrancy and a commitment to a literal hermeneutic. To them, scientific argument and evidence simply doesn’t matter if it contradicts their reading of scripture. As I said above, I know personally many people who take this position, and I respect this view though I think it is grounded on false premises.

            “I have read Christian evolutionists like Francis Collins (I even wrote a 10 page critique of his ‘Language of God’),”

            I would be interested in reading that.

            “Regarding your list, have you read GK Chesterton’s ‘Everlasting Man’? If there is one book that caused me to see the folly of so much of what comes across as science. Another group of stuff I don’t see is the ID stuff. Have you read Behe or Dembrowski?”

            Yes, I have read _Everlasting Man_, though I obviously didn’t get the same thing as you did out of it. 🙂 Chesterton most certainly wasn’t a YEC. From the first chapter of _Everlasting Man_.

            “Nobody can imagine how nothing could turn into something. Nobody can get an inch nearer to it by explaining how something could turn into something else. It is really far more logical to start by saying ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth’ even if you only mean ‘In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process.’ For God is by its nature a name of mystery, and nobody ever supposed that man could imagine how a world was created any more than he could create one.”

            Chesteron clearly thinks that the creation account in Gen 1 and 2 are attempts to describe in human language what humans are incapable of conceiving.

            “But evolution really is mistaken for explanation. It has the fatal quality of leaving on many minds the impression that they do understand it and everything else; just as many of them live under a sort of illusion that they have read the Origin of Species.”

            Note that Chesterton is _not_ criticizing evolution as a science. He is criticizing the use it is being put as an ultimate explanation for everything. (He makes the same criticism in _Orthodoxy_. See this post at “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” for further explanation: ) He probably had Huxley in mind when writing this, but it could be just as fairly applied to Dawkins, Harris, et. al.

            Yes, I have read Johnson, Dembski, and Behe, and found that their arguments lacking. I was fairly convinced by _Darwin in Trial_ when it first came out, but then I started comparing Johnson’s arguments to the actual science, and found them wanting. _Darwinism Defeated?_, a book that contains an exchange between Johnson and Denis Lamoreaux, drove the final nail in Johnson’s coffin for me. Lamoreaux gently and civilly pressed Johnson on where Johnson’s arguments were defective, and Johnson, in the end, responds with lawyer’s tricks of evasion, escape, name calling, and casting aspersions on Lamoreaux’s character. Any respect I might have had for Johnson evaporated after reading this book.

            Dembski’s take on information theory is flawed. Just google “dembski information theory” for a selection of articles that demonstrate why.

            Behe’s _Darwin’s Black Box_ was another book that convinced me of the failure of evolution, but again only until I did some more study of the science involved. One of the claims Dembski makes in that book is that there has been no research into the evolution of the vertebrate immune system. Dembski repeated this claim on the witness stand at the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial. The examining attorney proceeded to create a pile of books and journals that reported the research that Behe claimed didn’t exist. The pile was so high that Behe couldn’t see over it. Behe’s response, “Those don’t address the question to my satisfaction.” That’s the response of creationist type 2 I described above. And that’s a perfectly acceptable position to take, but it is clearly a religious position and one shouldn’t claim that it is scientific.

            Behe’s latest book _The Edge of Evolution_ fares no better. See this post at the ERV Blog for a short explanation of just one of the problems.

          • I never said that Chesterton was a YEC (although I think you are misinterpreting his writing to fit your view). What impressed me about his book was not that it advanced a view of creation (one way or the other) but that he understood how silly scientists that speak with so much confidence about what happened thousands (and millions) of years ago are. His discussion on the difference between applied sciences and historical reconstructions was particularly useful. “The marvelous and triumphant airplane is made out of a hundred mistakes. The student of origins can only make one mistake and stick to it.” , is perhaps the most salient quote in the book and indeed the whole creation/evolution discussion. His notes on the fact that we have this picture of a man in a jungle as privative but the oldest human artifacts are pyramids and amazing technology pointed out a right skepticism on our understanding of the evolution of society. Overall, the book may not advance YEC but it is a pointed critique of evolution.

            Let me preface my response to your ID review with this statement of the problem in the whole discussion. The modern science world has set up the question of origins to ask the following question, “how did these things come about naturally?” Look at that question carefully. There is an assumption in it that almost everyone misses. Do you see it? It assumes that they *did* come about naturally and that any evidence to suggest they didn’t should be ignored (because such evidence doesn’t answer the question at hand). If I started with that question, I would be an evolutionist too. Because evolution is the only possible answer to the question.

            Now about ID, when Behe or Dembski or Johnson point out complications in the evolutionary theory their critiques are not really taken seriously. I mean they may cause people to question certain elements of evolution. They may force scientists to go back and revise theories. But because Behe et al accept the question (or at least don’t challenge the question) they don’t change minds. As soon as a scientist comes up with a plausible way (however statistically unlikely) that thing might have happened that becomes the assumption of what *did* happen. The problem with all this is that we all know from our day to day lives that what is plausible and what is actual are two different things.

            As long as the question is “how did these things come about naturally.” YEC will never be taken seriously and ID will only slow things down a bit. It should be noted that this question is inherently anti-bible. The bible is all about God’s actions in the world. It is full of tales about things happening in very unnatural ways. Even if Christians want to concede origins and move onto other apologetic fronts, the same debate will rage there too. The problem is not the data it is the question.

        • “Overall, the book may not advance YEC but it is a pointed critique of evolution.”

          You misunderstand Chesterton. Note what he says “But evolution really is _mistaken_ for explanation.” As I noted before, he is not criticizing evolution as a science. He is criticizing the philosophical use to which the science of evolution is being put.

          “Now about ID, when Behe or Dembski or Johnson point out complications in the evolutionary theory their critiques are not really taken seriously.”

          Simply untrue. As I pointed out, their critques _are_ taken seriously, and have to date all been clearly refuted. There are no end of books and articles that take ID seriously: Ken Miller’s _Finding Darwin’s God_ and _Only a Theory_, Eugenie Scott’s _Creation and Evolution_, Young and Edis’s _Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism_, just to name some off the top of my head.

          It has nothing to do with an assumption of naturalism. The ID proponents attempt to present scientific arguments and evidence, and those arguments and evidence are found wanting.

          “As long as the question is “how did these things come about naturally.” YEC will never be taken seriously and ID will only slow things down a bit.”

          And that’s as it should be. Science can only deal with natural explanations. If you allow non-natural explanations, where do you draw the line. God? Fairies? The Flying Spaghetti monster? The invisible little green elf standing beside me? Such “explanations” explain nothing because they explain everything. They are science stoppers. Don’t understand something? God (or faries or the FSM) did it. End of inquiry.

          Science looks for natural explanations for phenomena in the natural world. It makes no other claims. It is purposefully limited in scope. Some scientists, such as Dawkins, make further claims, but they are speaking as armchair philosophers, not scientists, when they do so.

          “It should be noted that this question is inherently anti-bible.”

          Not at all. The question is perfectly neutral in regard to the Bible. Science makes no claims about the existence of God, the resurrection, and revelation. Those questions aren’t even on its radar. Some scientists may claim otherwise, but they are not speaking as scientists when they do. Some would argue, Jonathan Edwards springs immediately to mind, that the purely natural study of the natural world is a kind of worship. God reaveals part of his nature in his creation and by studying that creation we learn more about the nature of God.

          You said “Let me preface my response to your ID review with this statement of the problem in the whole discussion,” but you never got to a review of the specific examples I listed. Is the review forthcoming?

          • You think a question that presumes that all things came about naturally (before exploring data) is congruous to the Bible. Ok. I think we have come to a point where we can end that part of the discussion. I strongly disagree; we can leave it there.

          • “You think a question that presumes that all things came about naturally (before exploring data) is congruous to the Bible. Ok. I think we have come to a point where we can end that part of the discussion.”

            Fair enough. I’ve enjoyed discussing the issues with you. You’re the first YEC in a long time that hasn’t questioned my salvation. 🙂

    • “As a proud 6-day creationist, it also frustrates me that Christian evangelicals who are inclined toward theistic evolution always assume that their more conservative brethren are anti-science.”

      Because many of us conservative non six day Christians get told repeatedly we are wrong wrong wrong and likely not really saved by our “brothers”.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        As in “DIE, HERETIC!”

      • Hmm, should I call evolutionists ‘anti-science’ because they tell me I am wrong wrong wrong and not likely smart in anyway? It seems that there is a working assumption that all unreasonable people are on the YEC side of the debate and all the evolutionists are thoughtful and emotionally detached. My experience has been that the opposite is closer to the truth.

        • “As a proud 6-day creationist, it also frustrates me that Christian evangelicals who are inclined toward theistic evolution always assume that their more conservative brethren are anti-science.”

          The truth is, sadly, that it’s not an assumption. To be YEC you have to reject the conclusions of biology, genetics, molecular biology, geology, palentology, anthropology, paleoanthropology, astronomy, cosmology, astrophysics, and developmental biology, just to name the ones that pop immediately to mind. So yes, it is fair to call someone who rejects the majority of modern science “anti-science”. And I say all of this as a former YEC.

          • Do you realize the irony of your approach? You can’t question the conclusions of biology, genetics… etc. Why? Because these are unquestioned conclusions.. Anyone notice the circle here?

            K Bryan, what is your degree in?

          • “Do you realize the irony of your approach? You can’t question the conclusions of biology, genetics… etc. Why? Because these are unquestioned conclusions.. Anyone notice the circle here?”

            No, they are not unqeustioned conclusions. They are conclusions based on evidence.

            “K Bryan, what is your degree in?”

            That doesn’t matter, though it is in science. The truth of my arguments doesn’t depend on what degree I have, where I live, or what color my hair is. Arguments stand or fall on their own merits, regardless of who presents them. To say otherwise is to commit the ad hominem fallacy.

          • And me, being a YEC, I don’t have any evidence obviously. Evolution = evidence. Anyone who questions evolution = no evidence. Things that look like evidence are clearly just religion pretending to be evidence.

            You miss the crazy circle you have created. That’s ok. Most evolutionists do.

            The reason I ask about the degree is that my degree was very helpful in my coming to the realization that evolutionary thought was a bit of a confidence trick. I have actually done scientific experiments. I know how difficult they are to do and how many assumptions go into the setting up of the experiment and how if you don’t have a good idea of the answer before setting it up you can get into trouble ensuring you did things right. I know how human the professors are. I know how data can be rejected, reinterpreted, and massaged to get the answer that ‘makes sense.’ People without science degrees say things like ‘based on the evidence’.

            So much of evolutionary thought rests on Positivism. As someone who has read philosophy certainly you should refresh yourself on what positivism is and why it is now universally rejected in the philosophical world. Statements like “based on evidence” will hopefully disappear once this philosophical fact finally spills into the science departments.

          • “And me, being a YEC, I don’t have any evidence obviously. Evolution = evidence. Anyone who questions evolution = no evidence.”

            I never said that. _I_ have yet to see any scientific evidence for YEC that stood up under scrutiny, but I’m always open to new evidence.

            “I know how data can be rejected, reinterpreted, and massaged to get the answer that ‘makes sense.’ People without science degrees say things like ‘based on the evidence’.”

            You appear to be saying that since science is fallible — a fact every good scientist will admit — that it can never be trusted? Am I understanding correctly.

            “So much of evolutionary thought rests on Positivism. As someone who has read philosophy certainly you should refresh yourself on what positivism is and why it is now universally rejected in the philosophical world. Statements like “based on evidence” will hopefully disappear once this philosophical fact finally spills into the science departments.”

            I have to admit this paragraph doesn’t make sense to me. Positivism has been rejected by both the the scientific and philosophical community for many decades. The basic premise of positivism is that every cognitively meaningful statement is either analytic or is a claim about possible experience. Evolution is in no way based on positivism. Evolutionary thought existed centuries before Darwin and centuries before positivism. In what way do you see evolution being based on positivism?

          • Positivism states that something only has meaning if it is tautology or empirically verifiable. The rise of positivism may have come after Darwin but its antecedents were present within the empiricism of Darwin’s century. Positivists, “see things straight” as NT Wright put it. They just see facts. Unfortunately this is overly optimistic. We know that the culture we are born into; the family experiences we have; the history of our lives all influence our experience to the extent where we can not “see things straight.”

            I have noticed in the evolution/creation debate the evolutionist’s main critique of YEC is that the work is done from a certain worldview (conservative Christianity). It therefore, they say, is not science. But the fall of positivism and optimistic realism shows us that this same charge has to be leveled at ALL people from any background. No one “sees things straight”.

        • “Positivism states that something only has meaning if it is tautology or empirically verifiable.”

          That’s a restatement of what I said, but it says nothing about how you see Evolution being based on positivism. As I noted, scientists and philosophers have rejected positivism for decades. It’s a fringe idea at best today. Dawkins sometimes sounds like a positivist, sometimes not. And when anyone speaks as a positivist, they are not speaking as a scientist; they are reflecting on their personal philosophy.

          “I have noticed in the evolution/creation debate the evolutionist’s main critique of YEC is that the work is done from a certain worldview (conservative Christianity). It therefore, they say, is not science.”

          I think here you mike IM’s point for him:

          “Let me be simple: if we can’t discuss evidence, but are simply playing gorilla warfare with worldview weapons, then our young people aren’t coming to conclusions. They are simply deciding whether to stay on our team and play the game.”

          As I’ve noted in my various other posts, YEC and ID proponents have tried to present scientific arguments and evidence, and to date all of those arguments have been refuted on purely scientific grounds. The evolutionists main critique oe YEC has nothing to do with worldview, and everything to do with a failure of evidence.

          • N.T. Wright notes that although positivism has been widely abandoned by philosophers, there is much adherence to it in other spheres, including the physical sciences. (The New Testament and the People of God 32-33). Your conclusion humurously illustrates the point. My point was that YEC, ID, *and* evolutionists all come at the issues with an agenda. They can’t help it. That is what the fall of naïve realism is all about. You seem to acknowledge this and then conclude by saying the problem with YEC is that it comes at the issue with an agenda. A decent Philosophy 101 class would help this discussion so much.

          • “N.T. Wright notes that although positivism has been widely abandoned by philosophers, there is much adherence to it in other spheres, including the physical sciences.”

            Wright has been a big influence on me, and I agree with much of what he says, but he overstates his case on positivism. Again, it’s not a case of scientists qua scientists being positivists. It’s a case of scientists speaking of their personal philosophy.

            “Your conclusion humurously illustrates the point.”

            What conclusion was that?

            “You seem to acknowledge this and then conclude by saying the problem with YEC is that it comes at the issue with an agenda. A decent Philosophy 101 class would help this discussion so much.”

            I’m starting to think an English comprehension 101 class would help this so much. 🙂 I never said anything about YECs coming at the issue with an agenda. I concluded by saying that “As I’ve noted in my various other posts, YEC and ID proponents have tried to present scientific arguments and evidence, and to date all of those arguments have been refuted on purely scientific grounds. The evolutionists main critique oe YEC has nothing to do with worldview, and everything to do with a failure of evidence.” Nothing about agendas.

          • And, having a graduate education in philosophy, with a particular focus on philosophy of science, Philosophy 101 is a distant memory. 🙂

          • Failure of the evidence to show what K Bryan?

          • “The evolutionists main critique oe YEC has nothing to do with worldview, and everything to do with a failure of evidence.”

            Are you serious? Have you ever read a critique on YEC? Why do they want to keep it out of public schools? The attack *starts* with the fact that they are coming at it from a religious point of view; as though that fact disproves the whole YEC movement.

          • “Are you serious? Have you ever read a critique on YEC? Why do they want to keep it out of public schools? The attack *starts* with the fact that they are coming at it from a religious point of view; as though that fact disproves the whole YEC movement.”

            YEC and ID are religious ideas, and therefore have no place in a public school classroom. But that’s not the primary reason scientists and educators don’t want it in the classroom. They don’t want YEC in the science classrom for the same reason that they don’t want geocentricism, flat earth theory, or lysenkoism in the science classroom: it’s either bad science or pseudoscience. The same reason they don’t want holocaust denial taught in history classes. It’s bad history.

          • “Failure of the evidence to show what K Bryan?”

            That YEC or ID are supported by scientific evidence or argument.

          • No. Remember what the question is. They fail to falsify to your satisfaction that a particular explanation of how things came about naturally is true.

            Are you seeing the naturalistic foundation to all this yet?

          • By the way, since you mentioned your education do you mind explaining it. Maybe then I can craft my discussion to things you should know (I never know where to start). You have an undergraduate in science (what field) and a master’s of philosophy (what school). I don’t ask because I doubt you I ask because it helps my understanding of your narrative.

          • “No. Remember what the question is. They fail to falsify to your satisfaction that a particular explanation of how things came about naturally is true.”

            No, that’s not it at all. Popperian falsification was a failed attempt to solve the demarcation problem. It doesn’t enter into the contemporary discourse about what constitutes science.

            “Are you seeing the naturalistic foundation to all this yet?”

            Are you referring to the fact that science is based on methodological naturalism? That’s obvious and necessary, as I’ve noted above.

          • “By the way, since you mentioned your education do you mind explaining it. Maybe then I can craft my discussion to things you should know (I never know where to start). You have an undergraduate in science (what field) and a master’s of philosophy (what school). I don’t ask because I doubt you I ask because it helps my understanding of your narrative.”

            As I noted earlier, my educational credentials don’t matter. The facts at hand have nothing to do with my “narrative”.

          • Why is it * necessary* that science is based on naturalism? Isaac Newton, the most brilliant scientist of all time (he invented both modern physics and Calculus) was an YEC. Was his belief that *God did it* a failure to think scientifically? Why is it impossible to scientifically say that the most likely explanation of the facts is that God did it?

          • “Why is it * necessary* that science is based on naturalism?”

            From a philsophical standpoint, it is not strictly necessary. One could attempt to come up with a defintion or description of science that allowed the supernatural. Alvin Plantinga has made an attempt to sketch out such a “theistic science,” but the attempt has so far not proven sucessful.

            The reason that modern science relieson methodological natrualism is that opening up the door to supernatural explanations torpedoes science’s explanatory power. If you open up science to all “God did it”, you also have to open science up to “Zeus did it”, “Odin did it”, “invisible green elves did it”, and “the flying spaghetti monster did it.”

            And as I noted before, ” did it” is a science stopper. It’s an end to inquiry. What would the world be like today if the explanation for the Bubonic Plague, for instance, ended with “god did it”, with no further research.

            Now, it’s _very_ important to keep in mind that science doesn’t claim to be able to answer _all_ questions. All science claims to be is the best set of methods we have for understanding, explaining, and, to the extent possible, controlling the natural world

            “Isaac Newton, the most brilliant scientist of all time (he invented both modern physics and Calculus) was an YEC.”

            Whether Isaac Newton was the “most brilliant” scientist is a matter of debate, especially since Alchemy was a lifelong passion of his. Newton was certainly not a scientist in the modern sense of the word, given that the word “scientist” didn’t enter the english language until 1833. Newton was what was termed at the time a natural philosopher, and he was still working under the old Baconian model of induction that is no longer the foundation of what we call “science”

            Further, Newton died almost 100 years before Darwin published the origin of species, and 150 year before the scientific becan to confirm Darwin’s theory. Newton was a creationist because nearly all natural philosophers were creationists at the time. There weren’t many alternatives. We have no way of knowing how Newton would respond to the evidence for evolution.

            And making the argument that Newton being a YEC is somehow evidence for the truth of YEC is to commit the fallacy of the appeal to authority (argumentum ad verecundiam).

            “Was his belief that *God did it* a failure to think scientifically?”

            Yes, it was, but that is not casting apersions on Newton. I believe that “God did it”, He created the universe ex nihilo, but I readily admit that such a belief is not scientific. Nor does it have to be.

          • “Why is it * necessary* that science is based on naturalism? Isaac Newton, the most brilliant scientist of all time (he invented both modern physics and Calculus) was an YEC.”

            Isaac Newton was one of the most brilliant men of all time. But in terms of religion his beliefs were a bit (or a lot) off the rails to most anything anyone considers a “real” faith today. He wrote 1000s of pages of utter nonsense on religion.

            As to math he was brilliant. As to religion he would be considered a heretic (or nut) by most anyone who’s ever read this blog.

          • Ross: You are suggesting that some people who quote the names of scientists as supporting their position haven’t actually read their work. Shocking.

          • I feel like I am in the twilight zone. I reference Newton’s well established belief that order should be expected in the universe and I get a list of all the wrong things Newton believed. My point was that science and some acknowledgment of God are not mutually exclusive.

            But I am done with this conversation. There have been about 10 times here where my words have been taken 180 degrees from their intent and it is driving me crazy. Not sure if I am just a really bad writer or if people are responding without reading. But it is very frustrating.

          • “I feel like I am in the twilight zone. I reference Newton’s well established belief that order should be expected in the universe and I get a list of all the wrong things Newton believed. My point was that science and some acknowledgment of God are not mutually exclusive.
            But I am done with this conversation.”

            So maybe you’ll not see this. I had lunch yesterday (before reading any of these posts from the 17th) with some friends. One has read Newton extensively in the original texts. He’s even translated some of his math texts. I mentioned that Newton’s name had come up and we discussed him briefly. Basically Newton was a brilliant mathematician. Maybe the best of all time. But in almost any other aspect of his life he was “off the reservation”. He was big into alchemy and like to taste his experiments. Maybe he had heavy metal poisoning. Who knows. His math works have stood up to the test of time. His various philosophies are all over the map. So any attempt to use his conclusions about anything but math is suspect at best. Total cherry picking.

          • Ross, it would be cherry picking if I said, “YEC is true because Newton believed it”. But I didn’t. This is what is so frustrating in this whole conversation! I am fully aware that many brilliant people can be very wrong on a variety of issues. I am also quite aware that Newton was not orthodox in his faith and that I would disagree with him on many things.

            Let me explain my point of bringing up Newton. I will try to make myself very clear and I would encourage you to read carefully. Somehow, I have been totally misunderstood so far. It might be my fault, it might be your fault. I will write this carefully, you read carefully…..deal?

            I brought up Newton for this reason: I was arguing that science is not *neccessarily* tied to an assumption of naturalism.

            That is it. Newton was my example. I was not arguing that Newton was right on ANYTHING. I was simply noting that he is the founder of modern physics and Calculous and he did not separate his religious views (however wacky they may have been) from his amazing discoveries in physics and mathmatics. It is well known that Newton’s assumption of an ordered universe (as the result of an ordered creator) led to his searching for uniform laws of the universe.

            Make sense? If you want to refute me, you would have to either:

            1) argue that Newton was not a good scientist or
            2) argue that Newton separated his religious views from his physics and mathmatics

            Saying that Newton was a wacko doesn’t do it. Saying that Newton was not orthodox doesn’t do it. Saying that Newton didn’t understand the elements in that he tried to change lead into Gold (and no one of his day had a good grasp on this) doesn’t do it.

            Make sense?

    • “answers in genesis (a pretty upstanding organization)”

      I’m sorry. But many of us conservative Christians with technical and scientific background feel they are in no way an upstanding organization. What they call science is more like how most 5th graders would argue a case before a judge.

      • What is your degree in Ross? I have a science degree from a major secular university and feel pretty comfortable with their work.

        • I studied EE. Friends studied mechanical Eng, PHD in Math with physics, plus other engineering, plus MDs. Some of the none high tech people are RNs, MBAs, etc…

          When we’ve discussed these issues with the AIG fans they want to pick and choose the data they like and dismiss any data that doesn’t fit their game plan. They make comments like you can’t trust science. Carbon dating is nonsense. You really must assume that the constants in the universe changed a lot over the last 6000 years. Etc…

          With those as starting positions it’s hard to have any discussions involving any science. And that’s the issue. They, and AIG, keep telling us that real science would show that the earth is about 6000 years old.

          • You have a degree in EE? What school?

          • No degree. I ran out of money and went to work.

            Are you saying no degree means I can’t study and understand the arguements on both sides? Especially when done in groups of others?

            One of the guys in my circle doesn’t have a degree in astronomy but could likely wipe the floor with most folks with higher degrees who didn’t continue their research. Are his opinions also not valid?

            Another has his doc in math. Works in computer security. Travels the world consulting on the subject. Does that mean his opinions on physics and astronomy aren’t valid even though he knows more than most with degrees onthose fields?

          • Sorry I didn’t answer your question fully. I went to Ky. I’m sure it doesn’t count because only fools would go to such a school for a technical degree. Of course of the two people in my study group I kept up with one was immediately hired by Bell Labs (when they did real research) and is now a tenured professor at Auburn and my room mate got his Masters at Ga Tech and his PHD while working at Lawrence Livermore Labs. But hey they must have been give a pass since Ky definitely isn’t considered a “major” (your term) university in terms of engineering.

          • No, their opinions are valid thanks Ross. But it is interesting, the first thing that people do when attacking YEC is they go after credentials. They make statements like “all *real* scientists agree.” If a YEC who doesn’t have a PHD from a major secular university says something he is rejected outright. Usually the rejection comes from someone who has no degree at all.

            I am convinced that if this debate was about data and not about credentials the YEC side would have a lot more respect. Unfortunately, the evolutionist side tends to start by rejecting anything not written by a PHD from a major secular university.

          • “I am convinced that if this debate was about data and not about credentials the YEC side would have a lot more respect.”

            And here we disagree. I think. I’m going to talk about AIG. I and my friends find the AIG side totally blows it with the way they handle data. I don’t care what your degree is in if you can make a coherent argument. But much of AIG work tosses out data they don’t like and cherry picks the remaining to support their ideas. Things like you can’t trust carbon dating, nuclear decay, the speed of light, etc….

          • I am no expert on AIG but what I have read was pretty good. Do you have any examples?

          • Regarding Carbon dating, you do realize that even if you think it is reliable, it only goes back 60,000 years (so it is hardly an argument for a world millions of years old). Do you understand what it is and how it works? I do and I feel that there are some pretty valid critiques. At the very least we have to acknowledge that any dating older than a few thousand years is unverifiable (how do you go back in time to prove how old it is to see if the dating worked).

        • “Regarding Carbon dating, you do realize that even if you think it is reliable, it only goes back 60,000 years (so it is hardly an argument for a world millions of years old). Do you understand what it is and how it works? I do and I feel that there are some pretty valid critiques. At the very least we have to acknowledge that any dating older than a few thousand years is unverifiable (how do you go back in time to prove how old it is to see if the dating worked).”

          Carbon dating is not used to establish dates older than a few tens of thousands of years. For older dates, methods such as Potassium-Argon, Argon-Argon, Rubidium-Strontium, Samarium-Neodymium, Lutetium-Hafnium, and Uranium-Lead are used. Isochron methods involve no assumptions and and are verifiably accurate within a few percent. See “Radiometric Dating A Christian Perspective” by Dr. Roger C. Wiens

          http://www.asa3.org/ASA/RESOURCES/WIENS.html

          for a comprehensible overview of radiometric dating methods and how the dates are verifiable. I highly recommend Dalrymple’s _The Age of the Earth_ as a readable explication how ancient dates are determined. Anything by Davis Young, _Christianity and the Age of the Earth_ and _The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth_ are both excellent.

          • What is the assumption that precedes these measurements K Bryan?

          • “What is the assumption that precedes these measurements K ”

            There isn’t one. Read the linked article on Radiometric dating.

          • There isn’t one? It is so hard for a fish to see the water it swims in.

          • “There isn’t one? It is so hard for a fish to see the water it swims in.”

            What assumption do you think those dating methods make. It’s isnt that the decay rates might have changed over time. That would change the shape of the isochron line. It’s not that the samples of the parent or child isotope have been introduced late in the sample. Again, that would change the shape of the isochron line. So what assumptions do they make?

          • The same assumption that every other evolutionary theory makes. That things are as they have always been and that all things came about naturally. There is nothing scientific about this assumption. There is no way to verify this. But it is an assumed foundation to the field of study. It leads to the assumption that the earth is very old. How did millions of trees get here if not for millions of years, right?

            You don’t see the underlying naturalistic foundation? Its the air we breathe when we talk science.

          • By the way, can you explain what isochron means or what a isotope is? I spent four years studying these things and I am surprised you appear to be an authority on them (to the point where it appears that no other explanation is possible).

          • You’re right. Carbon dating doesn’t work past 60,000 years. And it’s dicey near that point. But AIG says you cant trust it for anything. Or anything past about 5000 years. I’m not sure which. Because if it’s valid the earth has to be older than 6000 years.

            As to mistakes, they make they make a big deal of the concentration of one element in the earth’s oceans. (I forget which one.) Someone with AIG has done estimates of how much is dumped into the oceans from rivers world wide and the concentration in the ocean matches up to about 5000 years or so. I.E. the time of the flood. But you can take a dozen or two other elements in the ocean, do the same estimating and get answers that range from 300 to 1 billion years. This is what I mean by picking and choosing data. And of course none of this simple chemistry concentration analysis deals with the real chemistry of the oceans and what is being dumped into them from undersea volcanos and other processes.

            As to this statement:
            “The same assumption that every other evolutionary theory makes. That things are as they have always been and that all things came about naturally. There is nothing scientific about this assumption. There is no way to verify this.”

            I don’t think there’s as much agreement about the “came about naturally” as you state. So I’ll skip over that and just address the “always been” part.

            The problem is over time the various theories have risen and fallen over how the physics of the universe works. But the more and more we study the more and more we come up with theories of how things work than all point to a steady state of physical constants. It all “just works”. Yes there are some rough edges but nothing much “off the reservation” so to speak. If you take the books K Bryan noted you’ll see that there’s a lot of physics that points back to an old universe. And the point to basically the same place. I.E. they mesh together.

            Now Humphrey’s book, which AIG was flagging when I started digging into this 2 or 3 years ago and I bought and read, puts out a supposed scientific way that the universe was formed in 6 days FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE EARTH. Everyone I know who’s read it, including me, thinks it’s nuts. Twice in the 6 days he has God re-define the physics of the universe. Plus there are a LOT of issues even if you accept the 2 miracle premise. Big issues.

            But your statement and Humphrey’s book both mean that God re-defined the physics of the universe at some point in our past. But he did it in such a way that it appears he didn’t. So even if you accept that he did, you have to work as if he didn’t as the result makes it look like he did not. Or else you can’t have nuclear power, iPhones, LCD TVs, etc… The physics used to design these devices and many others in our modern world is based on a stable universe in terms of how the physics works. So is God playing tricks on us? Or just creating a situation where the evidence is for an old earth just to confuse us sinners?

          • “I don’t think there’s as much agreement about the “came about naturally” as you state. So I’ll skip over that and just address the “always been” part.”

            Really, where is this disagreement? You think that science allows someone to say, “and this cam about when God acted in a miraculous way.” Show me the scientific journal that allows a statement even remotely close to that. The question they ask is “how did these things come about naturally.”

            “But your statement and Humphrey’s book both mean that God re-defined the physics of the universe at some point in our past.”

            I don’t know who Humphrey is and would appreciate not being lumped together with someone I have never read. Let me speak for myself. I generally believe that the “fine tuning” of the universe was done at Creation and that the constants and patterns we see have generally been the same since the completion of the creation week. Of course during those first few moments God certainly was not following good Newtonian physics (he was making matter out of nothing and bringing life out of dust). But since then, I would say the current way we see things has been more or less constant (although scripture is clear that God is willing to act differently and stop the Sun or do something that would make a physicists’ head explode from time to time).

            One thing that I think is a simple explanation for YEC (at least for most of the critiques) is God made things the way we see them. How old was Adam when God made him? He may have looked 25 but according to scripture he was a newborn. How old were the trees that were in the garden? It appears they were tall and most likely had many rings if you were to cut one down but they were only a few days old by the time Adam came looking for fruit. What was the carbon content (or argon) of the soil and rocks? There is nothing in scripture that indicates God created things to be in some mythical virgin state. The picture of Genesis is a picture of a world grown up. Which came first the chicken or the egg? The chicken did. Scripture says so.

          • Dalrymple is pretty much a standard text. I personally ran an Ar-Ar laboratory for some years, and where involved in other isotopic work. I have worked with Rb-Sr, and U-Pb (from SHRIMP analysis on zircons). I have seen many bad geochronological reports and papers. I’ve alse seen some good ones. And then I’ve seen a little of what AIG & others in that camp has done to “disprove” geochronology. It is quite evident that they either don’t understand the first principles, or that they knowlingly set up straw-man arguments, or misrepresentations. Neither of these are ok.

            However, if you want to understand some basic geochronology, as well as basic geology, a good place to start would be Physical Geology by Levin, used for First year students for many years now. .

          • “I don’t know who Humphrey is and would appreciate not being lumped together with someone I have never read.”

            Sorry. But you sounded a lot like him in your points. He’s a big hero of the AIG group. He wrote _Starlight and Time_ and it was all the rage on the AIG web site for a fairly long time.
            http://www.amazon.com/Starlight-Time-Russell-Humphreys-Baumgardner/dp/0974864935/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1255721633&sr=8-2
            But now it seems to be missing from their store. Interesting. He was (still is?) a big deal in the AIG group.

            But to your other point. God created the universe to look old. I think that’s what you’re saying. And if so you are not where near Humphreys as he doesn’t believe in this at all. If the universe is created old then we must operate as if it IS old. Otherwise science and technology will not work. And if we have to operate as if it’s old, why should people believe it is not? And just because your interpretation of the Bible makes it only 6000 years old will not win any arguments on the other side of the aisle and will loose a lot on “our” side.

            But “created old” is heresy to most YEC folks that I’ve met. And to be honest I’ve only know one person who held this view. Very strongly I might add.

          • “The same assumption that every other evolutionary theory makes. That things are as they have always been and that all things came about naturally.”

            No, as I noted above, that is not the case. Isochron dating has a built-in mechanism to detect changes in decay rates and contamination of samples.

            “You don’t see the underlying naturalistic foundation? Its the air we breathe when we talk science.”

            Because science is, rightly, based on methodologial naturalism.

            “By the way, can you explain what isochron means or what a isotope is? I spent four years studying these things and I am surprised you appear to be an authority on them (to the point where it appears that no other explanation is possible).”

            I think I see where this conversation is going, and I think it’s time to draw it to a close before it becomes uncivil. When the argument turns to sophistic attempts to call into question the other person’s intelligence or knowledge, I bow out. Since you have “studied the topic for years,” you know what an isochron and an isotope is, you have no other reason for asking the question.

            If you honestly don’t know what they are, I again point you to the article I linked above. And, as The Scylding points out, Dalrymple is pretty much the standard text.

            I think what this discussion boils down to is this: you think “God did it” should be allowable in scientific explanation. I, along with the vast majority of scientists and philosophers of science, disagree. As long as we disagree on this foundational principle, discussion at any level above it will be fairly pointless.

            Peace.

          • What if God did do it? Or is to even ask that question unscientific?

          • “What if God did do it? Or is to even ask that question unscientific?”

            Then the answer will be unacessible by the methods of science.

          • Ok so then let’s hypothetically play this out. Hypothetically, let’s assume that 6000 years ago God created a ‘grown up world’ (tree rings and all). Let’s, for the purpose of this thought experiment, just assume this was true. You are saying that science demands that we sit around and think of ways that it could have happened by millions of years of evolution? Doesn’t that seem ridiculous? I thought science was about truth not making up fables.

            You don’t see the problem here?

          • “Ok so then let’s hypothetically play this out. Hypothetically, let’s assume that 6000 years ago God created a ‘grown up world’ (tree rings and all). Let’s, for the purpose of this thought experiment, just assume this was true. You are saying that science demands that we sit around and think of ways that it could have happened by millions of years of evolution?”

            No. Science will only have to offer an explanation that excludes supernatural causality. Millions of years and evolution may or may not be part of that explanation. As I noted before, given your assumption above, science would never arrive at the correct answer. And that’s just fine. Science isn’t infallible; no one has ever claimed otherwise.

            Again, I think there’s little point in continuing this discussion. You desperately want science to include “God did it” as an explanation, for reasons that I don’t understand. I disagree and stand with the majority that thinks it’s a very good idea to keep the supernatural out of science, for reasons I’ve detailed many times in this comment thread.

            Peace.

          • K Bryan, I want science to be a search for the truth. If certain types of truth are rejected out of the gate (in the assumptions that you admit and defend being there), I would argue there is a problem with the assumptions.

            Science doesn’t have to be that way. It didn’t start that way. Remember that Newton worked with the assumption that since God designed the world there would be order to it and laws that govern it. It was an assumption of theism that was causal to the creation of science (read God and History by Larry Wood for a great argument to support this). I would say ID and YEC are closer to having an earnest search for the truth than people who reject the supernatural a priori.

          • “K Bryan, I want science to be a search for the truth. If certain types of truth are rejected out of the gate (in the assumptions that you admit and defend being there), I would argue there is a problem with the assumptions.”

            Just to make sure I’m understanding you, you wish science to concern itself with _all_ truth, not just truth about the natural world. Therefore science will involve itself with:

            – Proving the existence of a God or Gods

            – Experimentally verifying that someone loves their spouse, children, parents, etc.

            – Scientifically establishing that a piece of music, a painting, or a sculpture is beautiful.

            – Proving that someone likes the taste of vanilla ice cream, but not chocolate ice cream.

            If science makes assumptions that reject those kinds of truths out of the gate, is there something wrong with science?

          • No, what I am saying is that if you are going to use science to figure out how, for example, life came on earth, we are hoping that science will provide a true explaination of actual events and goings on. If God created the world 6000 years ago and whatever scientific process we use tells us that things have been around for 600 million years, then science has led to a falsehood. I think that science needs 600 million years to explain things because of the unneccessary naturalistic assumption.

            Science that leads to falsehoods is not helpful to anyone. If you want to be a purist and say that including a mention of a designer is “against the rules”, that’s fine but realize that by doing that you are no longer searching for truth you are making up a system that leads to falsehood at any point that “God did it”.

            If you are comfortable with that, fine. Its not the biblical story (the bible is full of things that God did). But it is a story that has a certain flair to it (false as it might be).

      • “I’m sorry. But many of us conservative Christians with technical and scientific background feel they are in no way an upstanding organization. What they call science is more like how most 5th graders would argue a case before a judge.”

        I’ll go further and say that what AIG is doing is immoral and anti-Gospel. Ken Ham will probably send as many people to hell as Richard Dawkins.

        • Ken Ham can send people to hell? That cool power. He is like an evil superhero.

          Seriously, what is so evil about YECism? That was the overwhelming majority opinion in the Christian world for most of our history. I would wager that it still is. Are you seriously of the opinion that those who hold that the scripture is literally true (YECists just add up the years listed in the Bible) are evil and sending people to hell?

          • “Are you seriously of the opinion that those who hold that the scripture is literally true (YECists just add up the years listed in the Bible) are evil and sending people to hell?”

            No, I am saying that people who teach that you must believe YEC and reject evolution to be a true christian, as Ken Ham does, is sending people to hell. See the IM Post for a sad, but all too common example.

          • Please note the I consider AIG to be the over the top branch of YEC. And for all intents and purposes Ken Ham is the voice of AIG.

          • The Roman Catholic Church- 1 billion Christians and half the Christian world- rejects YEC and accepts evolution.

          • IMonk, that is a big overstatement. Behe is a catholic. My family is a large catholic family and I would guess that about half of them reject evolution (not to say they are YEC but they just don’t think we came from monkeys [their words not mine]. I have known a lot of Catholics who are not evolutionists. The first man who ever challenged me to question my evolutionary thought was a Catholic.

          • Further, it should be noted that the pope never affirmed evolution as true, he just permitted it as a view. There is a big difference in catholic thought.

          • Will,

            If you continue to represent those who believe in intelligent design (Behe, McGrath) as Ken Hamm version young earth creationists, I’m going to have to put you on moderation for the sake of the conversation.

            Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Will. It is NOT a YEC document. Behe is not a YECer. He’s an ID guy. You continually cite ID types as YECs.

            If you don’t know the difference you are going to muddle the conversation beyond repair.

          • IM, never suggested that ID was YEC. You said catholics ( you through out the Billion + people) accept evolution. I noted that not all do. Does that really warrant this response? I am not going out on a limb here. I just was noting that not all Catholics ‘accept evolution’. Can we agree on that?

          • Will, you have cited Wright and McGrath to your position. They are in my camp. Evolution and old earth. Not Ham.

            The Catholic position is in the catechism. You can read it without my help. Catholics don’t get to make up their own views on that one. They can be YEC, but their church isn’t teaching that.

          • I cited McGrath and Wright as *NON YEC*. I never suggested they were YEC. The reason I cited them as people I read was to acknowledge that I am not ant-science. Please go back and reread my post. I cited them as examples of NON YECsts that I respected.

          • Here is the last paragraph of the origional post where I noted my admiration for Wright and McGrath:

            “For the record, given that I love Wright and McGrath (and many others *who like them are not YEC*) you can probably guess that I am not one of the guys condemning you to hell for not being YEC – maybe I should have clarified that out of the gate.”

  20. Absolutely spot on.

  21. I think both sides have been high-jacked by extremists, just like our political system. All that remains is polarization. Maybe let Dawkins and Hovid have their fallacious playground name-calling session, and saner minds could find a place to have a more open-minded debate.

    I think you are right about what world view studies have become: merely ideology indoctrination. But I think presuppositions need to be considered. No one is truly empirical; presuppositions color and filter the way we observe details. And I am not trying to be snarky. I wouldn’t expect an atheist to look at the complexities of a human cell and discover evidence for intelligent design. But I respect his or her scientific observations.. Actually, I think “respect” is what is missing in our culture, whether it concerns debates about science, health care, marriage, or religion. We’ve become so obnoxious as a nation. This has become a scorched earth cultural war, with the death of civility as acceptable collateral damage.

    • this country is definitely getting more and more obnoxious. Christians are supposed to love their enemies yet we can’t even show basic respect to other Christians, let alone love our enemies!

    • Very well said, and disrespect is no respecter of worldview, if you’ll excuse the redundancy.

      Idealogues abound on both sides of the aisle, but it IS harder, for me, to countenance those who claim to have the Prince of Peace moderating the discourse (on their side, at least).

      An aside to I-MONK: you have not changed my views about this issue, but you have RADICALLY changed how I wish to see this topic taught and presented. The HOW in this case may end up being more important than the WHAT.

      Pax
      Greg R

      • That is my point, that there is a general visceral mood. Plenty of hypocrisy and ill will on both sides. Recent news stories reveal that outspoken conservative figures are ostracized, while their liberal counterparts are not. I would be very careful accepting too much criticism, just because we are humble, loving Christians. Vicious stereotyping, such as in which Dawkins engages, should not be tolerated. On the other hand, it also does not justify an eye-for-an-eye.

        • this visceral mood is spreading, is it not ? LORD I miss Tim Russert (sp?) who could moderate opposing views with intelligence and charity. The best ‘defense’ to the ugliness of Dawkins and Hitchens is to speak truth , calmly, then ask if they’d like more tea.

          • We tried to have such a discussion about 18 months ago in a Sunday School class I was in. Personally I said I thought it was a bad idea that we might not like the result. We did it anyway.

            While there were definitely some strong opinions expressed by both sides in side conversations the presentations were all allowed to proceed without interruption over 8 weeks.

            The YEC side (to be honest it was really an AIG presentation) was by a local creation science advocacy group that helps churches setup a mostly AIG curriculum for their middle school and high school Sunday School classes. The old earth side was presented all by members of the class with deep interests in astronomy, cosmology, physics, geology, etc… Very deep.

            It got ugly by the end of the 8 weeks. The YEC/AIG group kept using as arguements that you can’t trust carbon dating, astronomical measurements, solar spectrographs, the speed of light, nuclear decay, tree rings, etc… Basically any science they didn’t like was just wrong because it HAD to be. If it contradicted their interpretation of the Bible it just had to be wrong. Not just on 6000 years but a lot of other incredibly minor points that had nothing to do with science. Disagree and you’re wrong because AIG has a paper saying so.

            Then came the inferences in the side discussions by the presenters that if you were not YEC/AIG you weren’t really saved. That’s when it basically broke down. And some of the emails were just flat out ugly.

            Now there are a lot of YEC folks who just say “I don’t understand it but I have to believe it.” They also don’t say I’m not a Christian and it not wrong or evil to teach my kids or others old earth. But the AIG group wasn’t like this.

            Tim Russert would likely have lost it trying to moderate this kind of discussion.

          • I miss him, too. I think some Russert-like figures are currently on the rise within evangelicalism. Perhaps it’s too early to tell. If the liberals stumble anymore and conservatives smell blood in the water ahead of the next mid-term elections, I think all bets are off. I know that is off-topic a bit. But in light of Ross’ comments, I think the YEC folks should be careful. One doesn’t win arguments by intimidation and bullying.

  22. I think there is a different way of looking at it than just “conspiracy”. There is also “marketing” and “culture”. If we have learned anything from postmodernism, it is that (a) there is always more than one way of looking at things, and (b) that anything that pretends to be persued “disinterestedly” most assuredly isn’t. Scientists are people, and they do “peoplish” things and make “peoplish” mistakes. One of those things is to get overly-invested in an idea. That shows through in the many things they do to venerate Darwin and how they spin so many stories.

    It is really interesting to read scientific journals. I encourage anyone here interested in the subject to take time to do it. It takes about a month to get through some interesting articles at first, but once you understand their structure and lingo, they aren’t hard to read. It is truly amazing to read some really interesting scientific discovery, and to see how carefully it was examined, and to see how painstakenly it must have been worked on to make sure every detail is right.

    And then, all of a sudden, somewhere in the “discussion” section, there is a story about evolution. Sure, it sounds reasonable, but it is nothing like the detailed, careful measures beforehand. Another interesting thing is to listen to, I think it was the Berkeley (but it might have been MIT) biology lectures available on iTunes U. The scrutinize every single last assumption of any proposal in genetics, no matter how obvious it might seem, and show all of the detailed work that was required to prove X, Y, or Z, but never do the same thing for evolution – that is simply assumed, and anything that remotely might have an evolutionary explanation is just thrown in as fact.

    This is simply the way in which science operates today. It isn’t a conspiracy (although the NCSE does their darnedest to make one), it’s just the culture of science today.

    What is at stake in the creation/evolution debate is not theology but rather science. If science refuses to own up to its biases and admit the things which they take on faith instead of evidence, it is going to cause a generation of people to lose faith in the persuit of science. If they fail to allow dissenting voices, then they are just going to be the dogmatic priests of the 21st century. As I view the role of science being “to think God’s thoughts after Him”, I think this is terribly sad.

    • Not really sure what you are asking for here… Evolution is axiomatic in scientific research. Asking for each scientist to go back to the beginning in each paper would be not only repetitive but irrelevant.

      Imagine how much time, not to mention paper, would be wasted if every physicist was required to provide evidence for uncontroversial first principles such as Maxwell’s Equations every time they produced a paper that invoked them.

      The issue is not taking ideas on faith rather than evidence, it is taking up their work from where their predecessors and colleagues left off. It is a continuous movement rather than millions of one-man-shows.

      Scientists are a skeptical and sometimes rowdy bunch, I am one, or at least aspire to the title, and I assure that no assumption is ever left unchallenged. The guy that proves the other guy wrong wins the game, and trust me, we always try to win!

      • “Evolution is axiomatic in scientific research. Asking for each scientist to go back to the beginning in each paper would be not only repetitive but irrelevant.”

        There are two issues:

        1) Evolution storytelling is just that – storytelling. If it has any place in scientific papers, it should be noted and regarded as simple storytelling. That isn’t to say that there isn’t real work in evolution, but about 90% of evolutionary ideas that appear in the discussion section of papers are simply stories, and have only a tangential relationship to science.

        2) Not everyone accepts the axiom, and science as an institution refuses to accept the work of those who work from different axioms. Then, in public policy decisions, it pretends that other axioms do not exist. The ideal solution is to simply recognize that not everyone has agreed on the axioms, and allow for multiple paradigms to be working at once. Another alternative is to simply acknowledge that it isn’t open to question, but also acknowledge that this is a limitation on the scientific enterprise, and not a limitation on reality.

        I agree with you that it would be stupid to require people to re-prove foundational ideas. The problem is when this gives way to removing all questioning of foundational ideas. Most good ideas in science started out as questions of foundational ideas. It’s instructive to note that in the Galileo debate, Galileo’s theory actually fit _less_ of the data than Ptolemy, and what he thought was his clenching argument we would find idiotic (he thought the tides were the result of the earth moving, and that the idea that they were caused by the moon was preposterous).

        Nonetheless, we criticize those who tried to shut Galileo up. Why? Not because Galileo had better evidence (that wouldn’t come until Newton), but that science shouldn’t leave its foundations unquestioned.

        And you are simply mistaken that “no assumption is ever left unchallenged”. The history of science is simply against you. You may be right if you expand out to 100-year timescales, over which a scientist was right, ridiculed, ostracized, but after he died (or was near death) people finally started to see his point. In that sense you are right. But if you are talking about “winning” being equivalent with “scientific success in your lifetime”, then in numerous documented cases your statement is simply untrue.

        • That isn’t to say that there isn’t real work in evolution, but about 90% of evolutionary ideas that appear in the discussion section of papers are simply stories, and have only a tangential relationship to science.

          This is nothing to do with evolution and everything to do with the way in which journalists report on subjects they know nothing about. This is no more an argument against the veracity of evolution than the dreadful multiverse articles are an argument against physics.

          There is fringe science, but see the reaction to it (google ‘Overybye Higgs Boson’ as an example).

          And you are simply mistaken that “no assumption is ever left unchallenged”. The history of science is simply against you.

          Though this does not mean that there are large scale conspiracies amongst scientists to suppress the truth.

          • “This is nothing to do with evolution and everything to do with the way in which journalists report on subjects they know nothing about.”

            I’m not talking about journalistic reports of papers, I’m talking about the papers and books themselves. You will find that, when it comes to evolution, you will find plenty of story-telling even in scientific journals.

            “Though this does not mean that there are large scale conspiracies amongst scientists to suppress the truth.”

            Perhaps you failed to read my original post. The point is that postmodernism shows us that you don’t need a conspiracy for this to happen on a large scale and in a particular direction.

        • You are misrepresenting Galileo. Go back and read what he actually wrote On The World Systems. His system, based on Copernican principles, was far more simple, elegant, and some would say beautiful than the tortured and retrograde explanation of Ptolemy. It is upon this particular thinker who had the audacity to test his ideas that Newton referred to with his If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants. Having studied Galileo, I can assure you that the “we” you refer to does not include me in thinking his explanations idiotic.

          I also take exception to the oft repeated idea that any and all scientific claims are somehow open to debate. That’s not true. The scientific method is rather strict and it requires discipline to practice and to understand. Your example of Galileo is flawed because his evidence for heliocentrism was very strong and he was not in competition with other scientists: he was in competition against those who believed they already knew the ‘correct’ answers from scripture, also known to us as the Traditional World View or, more commonly, Ptolemy – a compilation of mathematical and philosophical cosmology that was absorbed into the newly created Mother Church. That’s the ‘science’ you think Galileo was questioning and from that faulty conclusion you liken claims without good evidence made today to be recognized as legitimate years later without making it perfectly clear that it is the evidence that is of central importance and not merely the claims.

          • “His system, based on Copernican principles, was far more simple, elegant, and some would say beautiful than the tortured and retrograde explanation of Ptolemy.”

            Very true. But it was also a worse fit of the data.

            “I can assure you that the “we” you refer to does not include me in thinking his explanations idiotic.”

            You think that the tides are created by the sloshing of the oceans as the earth moves around the sun?

            “he was in competition against those who believed they already knew the ‘correct’ answers from scripture”

            Actually, he was up against the academics. Very few in the Church really cared.

            “Your example of Galileo is flawed because his evidence for heliocentrism was very strong and he was not in competition with other scientists”

            You don’t think that Tycho Brahe was a scientist?

            You also have to realize that, until Newton, the geocentric universe is what unified physics and astronomy. Otherwise, there was no explanation for why the stars hung in the sky but everything else fell to the ground. Accepting the Galilean system would mean (a) having a system that was _less_ predictive of the position of the stars and planets, and (b) having to reinvent physics.

            Thankfully, Newton did reinvent physics and Galileo was shown to be partially correct (part of Galileo’s problem was that he was stuck on circles). But none of that was known at the time of Galileo. In fact, it was not even until after Newton that the parrallax motion of the stars was observed.

            Also remember that the Church actually commissioned Galileo’s works. But when you put the arguments of the pope in someone named “simpleton”, you can usually expect trouble.

            The history of science is usually written in a triumphalist manner. In fact, many histories of science are essentially hagiographical.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            “His system, based on Copernican principles, was far more simple, elegant, and some would say beautiful than the tortured and retrograde explanation of Ptolemy.”

            Very true. But it was also a worse fit of the data.

            At least until Kepler analyzed Tycho’s observational data and found it DID fit elliptical heliocentric orbits, with some sort of mathematical function describing the resulting variable orbital velocity.

            And Newton reinvented physics with Inertia and Gravity, showing that the variable orbital velocity was consistent with an inverse-square atttractive force proportional to mass. (On the way, he invented Calculus to do the math required.) At that point, all the anomalies about Fr Kopernik’s heliocentric theory fell right into place.

            “I can assure you that the “we” you refer to does not include me in thinking his explanations idiotic.”

            You think that the tides are created by the sloshing of the oceans as the earth moves around the sun?

            Don’t forget what Galileo was like as a person — an arrogant intellectual bully who Always Had to Have the Last Word. This made him lots of enemies who didn’t mind seeing Pope Urban take him down (popcorn, anyone?) Especially after he called Pope Urban an idiot (“Simplicio”) in print.

            There’s a science-fiction novel dealing with the Galileo Affair that gets the history right (after turning it into alternate-history courtesty of time-shifting a West Virginia town into the midst of the Thirty Years’ War): 1634: The Galileo Affair by Eric Flint. One of the novel’s many story arcs centers (the one in the title) around a hare-brained attempt to rescue Galileo, caused by the difference between what “everybody knows about the Galileo Affair” and what was really happening.

            “he was in competition against those who believed they already knew the ‘correct’ answers from scripture”

            If you mean the Bible-Believing Protestant Reformers, yes. They denounced Copernicanism just like their intellecual heirs today denounce Evolution. Same SCRIPTURAL(TM) arguments, same Bible waving. Even including Gideon’s “Sun Standing Still” held up in a way worthy of Ken Ham holding up Genesis 1.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Also, remember when the Galileo Affair went down — the height of the Reformation Wars, when Europe was being destroyed under a world war called the Thirty Years’ War.

            The RCC was on a war footing at the time, and when you’re in full wartime mode you can’t afford anything that might weaken your home front. And you tend to overreact to that anything when it happens.

          • “His system, based on Copernican principles, was far more simple, elegant, and some would say beautiful than the tortured and retrograde explanation of Ptolemy. ”

            Those would be the principles developed by Nicolaus Copernicus, Roman Catholic Canon of the Frombork Cathedral and doctor of canon law, amongst other things? 🙂

            Same Canon Copernicus that was written to by the Cardinal of Capua urging him to disseminate this new theory of his?

            “LETTER OF NICHOLAS SCHÖNBERG
            Nicholas Schönberg, Cardinal of Capua,
            to Nicholas Copernicus, Greetings.

            Some years ago word reached me concerning your proficiency, of which everybody constantly spoke. At that time I began to have a very high regard for you, and also to congratulate our contemporaries among whom you enjoyed such great prestige. For I had learned that you had not merely mastered the discoveries of the ancient astronomers uncommonly well but had also formulated a new cosmology. In it you maintain that the earth moves; that the sun occupies the lowest, and thus the central, place in the universe; that the eighth heaven remain perpetually motionless and fixed; and that, together with the elements included in its sphere, the moon, situated between the heavens of Mars and Venus, revolves around the sun in the period of a year. I have also learned that you have written an exposition of this whole system of astronomy, and have computed the planetary motions and set them down in tables, to the greatest admiration of all. Therefore with the utmost earnestness I entreat you, most learned sir, unless I inconvenience you, to communicate this discovery of yours to scholars, and at the earliest possible moment to send me your writings on the sphere of the universe together with the tables and whatever else you have that is relevant to this subject. Moreover, I have instructed Theodoric of Reden to have everything copied in your quarters at my expense and dispatched to me. If you gratify my desire in this matter, you will see that you are dealing with a man who is zealous for your reputation and eager to do justice to so fine a talent. Farewell.

            Rome, 1 November 1536”

            The problem is, the Galileo Affair was not one of pure science. He got entangled in politics, managed to p_ off his supporters, and got in the middle of the Jesuit-Dominican feud, not to mention the whole Reformation thing (Luther was no happier with him than the Holy Office was).

        • Just a quick reply, for your first concern, see my original post. Evolution is not only widely accepted, but highly explanatory, which leads me to your second concern.

          The reason those that start their work by rejecting the evolutionary axioms are not taken seriously by scientists is because their work has been fruitless in the advance of knowledge. ID and creationism are not science, because they don’t possess predictive power, they don’t explain the data better than evolutionary models, and no one has devised a repeatable test for an intelligent designer.

          • “Evolution is not only widely accepted, but highly explanatory”

            Totally agree. But when folks say that it’s a “fact” that because of evolution … I tend to go a bit nuts. It’s a great explanation. Explains a lot. Has some problems but does explain a lot. But it isn’t a “fact”.

            And way too many people claim it is.

        • nice post; I esp. liked point #2; and hence the hurdle with epistemology and reality, as we understand it. The ghost in the machine is the limits of science and our finite condition. nice writing

      • As someone who believes in old earth and that evolution has been occurring for a very long time my problem is with things like my kids 7th grade biology book starting at least 1/3 of the paragraphs with a phrase like ” Because of evolution …”

        That’s propoganda.

        • And those physics books that say “Because of quantum effects” and “because of gravity”..

          Propaganda!

          • Ouch!

          • Quantum effects and gravity you can go out and test. Over and over again. And again. And when you design better instruments you can do it again. And when you come up with a new theory (gravity can bend light) people might laugh but if you can test it and it’s true, well that’s different.

            To say we have green light rods in our retinas because of evolution made it so because we needed to see green better because that’s what we ate because …. is a nice theory but it’s very untestable. May make a lot of sense but you can’t test it. And just because if might be true doesn’t make it a provable fact.

            And I’ve never seen a physics text where 1/3 of the paragraphs started with the same phrase over and over again. That’s the way to write a position paper, not a text book.

          • Yeah, because of evolution, that’s why Joe can’t keep his trousers zipped because men are programmed to maximise their reproductive opportunities, is why he chases everything in a skirt and his wife has kicked him out of the house three times already, is because of evolution.

            An’ that’s a FACK!!!!

            😉

      • Excellent post. Thanks, Colin.

        • I just want to say thanks for sticking around and talking with us, tildeb.

          It seems we’re all piling on top of you, but I hope that’s not discouraging. It’s good to have someone who knows what they’re talking about and is willing to discuss things, argue his corner, and address the points raised without needing to prove his superiority 🙂

    • Also, while you do state the positive side of what post-modernism taught us, you miss the negative side. Post-modernism has never been able to state a way in which knowledge can be agreed upon or verified. It has led to two things. One is what I mentioned earlier, the constant chain of conspiracy theories. But, the unintended effect is the hardening of positions since no evidence can be presented that will “satisfy” the requirements of the person holding a position.

      By “destroying” the systems of verification and philosophical debate, post-modernism left us nothing but a sea in which there are bubbles of belief that are tenaciously held against any other bubbles. That is, the connections and possibilities of connections have been lost.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        One is what I mentioned earlier, the constant chain of conspiracy theories. But, the unintended effect is the hardening of positions since no evidence can be presented that will “satisfy” the requirements of the person holding a position.

        “THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS! WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!”

        By “destroying” the systems of verification and philosophical debate, post-modernism left us nothing but a sea in which there are bubbles of belief that are tenaciously held against any other bubbles. That is, the connections and possibilities of connections have been lost.

        There is no truth, there is no reality, there is no thought, only FAITH FAITH FAITH. Don’t Think, Just BE-LEEEEEEEVE! (Whether YEC, Truther, Birther, or Hollow Earth Reptoid.)

        Just like Mohammed al-Ghazali did with Islamic theology some 800 years ago. Reason is the Enemy, observable reality is Mutable at Will, and FAITH FAITH FAITH must prevai.

        Just that everybody has a different TRUTH for their FAITH FAITH FAITH and All Heretics Must Be Burned, that’s all.

      • Mmmm, there was ever a way in which knowledge was agreed upon or verified? Which one of the classical or modern philosophers got it right? Can’t really blame a movement for having the decency to acknowledge a failure that was the failure of every era before it, unacknowledged. Limiting critical theory to an analysis of discourse doesn’t lead to relativism or disallow belief of any kind, it only delineates what you can’t say to someone who doesn’t share your assumptions.

        This is a good representation of the effectiveness of traditional philosophical debate, and ya can’t really accuse me of picking straw men to make my point: http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p20.htm

        But take the example at hand. The evolutionary biologist justifies the existence of an extinct creature utilizing the discourse of science. Science is a discourse designed for the evaluation of such things. The creationist, at least in the above example, posits the scientist is wrong, then posits things are believed on the basis of presuppositions. The creationist believes what the creationist believes because that’s what the creationist believes, and moreover, the scientist should believe it too. An analysis of the evolutionary biologist yields a discourse identical to the science implemented, assuming it was sound science, which it more than likely was; an analysis of the creationist yields, “Believe what I believe!” (pretty much Dawkins’s position, too, at the end of the day). There aren’t any truth values assigned, but this ain’t exactly relativism. The first discourse seems much more worthwhile and fruitful than the second.

        Please don’t unleash Fr. Orthoduck on me. 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      If science refuses to own up to its biases and admit the things which they take on faith instead of evidence, it is going to cause a generation of people to lose faith in the persuit of science. If they fail to allow dissenting voices, then they are just going to be the dogmatic priests of the 21st century.

      Like Young Earth Creationists and Global Warmers already are?

      As I view the role of science being “to think God’s thoughts after Him”, I think this is terribly sad.

      That was the original reason behind Intelligent Design, before the term got hijacked as YEC’s latest coat of camo paint.

    • If they (sciience) fail to allow dissenting voices…….” here’s a thot: maybe the CHURCH can lead the way and model how this is done. I think that one of MONK”S bullet points is that the church hasn’t really done a lot of the heavy lifting in setting up the arena for reasonable and charitable discussion. Instead, it’s become a worldview WWF, with all the requisite pagaentry. I’ve noted that your posts, personally, reflect quite a bit of self-restraint, and seff-refledtion. I think you’ve made a great start at what I’m suggesting . WE don’t need blind dogmatists of any stripe, sacred or secular. Well said.

  23. so wait, Ken Ham is wrong? kids aren’t leaving the church because they don’t believe in a literal 6-day creation account?

    • They aren’t really leaving. It you are asked to stop coming to SS by the teachers did you “leave”?

  24. Great post! Uhm, it’s guerilla warfare…

  25. There’s a deep-seated human need to be right or correct on what one sees as important matters — or, at least, to maintain a self opinion of being right on those issues. I recognize this need in myself, and I see it in the people around me. And I’ve observed that maintaining a self opinion of rightness usually involves surrounding oneself with people and things that bolster that opinion and seperating oneself from or even villifying anyone or anything that calls one’s rightness into question. Look closely into just about any aspect of human culture and society — be it politics, academia, business, art, sports, science, or religion — and you’ll see this need playing itself out in in a million different ways and contributing to the numerous divisions and ideological battle lines within our culture. And I believe this deep need for rightness is fueled primarily by even deeper fears — the fear of being wrong about something crucial, the fear of being ridiculed or regarded as foolish by others, the fear of building one’s life on an erroneous set of conclusions or beliefs.
    When I look at mainstream Christian culture in this country, I see far too many systems of control designed to feed this need and insulate us from the fears behind it — including much of what passes for Christian apologetics, creation science, and all the anti-science propaganda floating around out there. And I think one of the main reasons we Christians often come across as arrogant, ignorant buttheads is that our motivations and positions on various issues are far too often rooted in fear, rather than in the central truths of the Gospel. Sometimes it seems like we’re so busy trying to establish our various positions as indisputably right and vanquish or discredit all who oppose us that we’ve forgotten our prime directives to reveal and demonstrate God’s love for humanity and spread the good news of salvation through Christ. As I see it, we really don’t have to have established, carved-in-stone positions on evolution or the age of the earth to pursue those directives — and I don’t think we have any business at all throwing in established positions on such things as part of a package deal for being a legitimate Christian.

  26. really helpful.
    thanks.
    what you’ve described doesn’t seem to be such a huge issue here in the UK but it still bubbles quietly beneath the surface – and erupts now and then…

  27. This is simply a symptom of a much broader issue in fundamentalism – the rejection of all that does not fall within their lines. When you don’t like Justo Gonzales because of his Methodist background, or wont even read Alister McGrath because he is an Anglican, that is simply the paranoid delusions of a certain side of fundamentalism that all must live and believe and read only that which is acceptable – the Roman Catholicisinaztion of Protestant belief.

  28. Two things.

    First, a friend of mine who went to a fundamentalist Christian High School frequently tells me, “You didn’t go to a Christian High School, you went to LMH.” LMH is a Mennonite High School where I became a disciple of Jesus and was grounded in the Faith. The reason my friend says it’s not a “Christian High School” is because it didn’t demand the type of “stick your fingers in your ears and close your eyes while shouting LA LA LA LA” mentality towards other world-views that his school had. In fact, the school had a sizable minority of people who were not-Christians with no attempt to overtly proselytize them (I was one of them). The principle of the school said, “If they can’t see Jesus in the way we live, then altar calls won’t to anything anyway.” (that my paraphrase remembering what he said during my admissions interview) LHM stuck with me, and continues to influence the way I disciple and evangelize as a pastor 19 years later. Oh, and YEC and anti-darwinism were just not on the menu.

    Second, I do have some folks steeped in YEC among both youth and adults in the Church I pastor. I have stated quite plainly that I view YEC as an imposition on to the text and do not teach it in the slightest. I teach what might be called the theology of the text. People are free to disagree with me, and if their home-schooling curriculum wants to make cases for the scientific causes of the flood that’s all fine and dandy. I don’t care about such things, nor does the text. I have yet to lose anyone because of this (largely because the folks I pastor know how deeply committed I am to the Truth of Scripture and to the Christian faith), and some of my more thoughtful youths have been freed from the burden of deciding between thinking and believing. I actually tackled the thing head-on by writing a Sunday School curriculum for Genesis 1-11 which might be used as an adult Bible Study in the coming months.

  29. Your observation that the so called “Christian” argument against evolution is postmodern struck a chord. The segment of the conservative church that has organized itself to fight against evolution, sexuality, and so on has in reality, become a postmodern and gnostic sect. Jesus Christ is not the center of the faith they proclaim. He is however a powerful wedge they use to clearly divide all who are “us” from all that are “them”.

    Their passionate argument misses Christ altogether, and I grow tired it. I”m not tired of the things you are saying in this piece, but of the fact that you and other Christians must continue to address such things ad-nauseum.

    I believe Creationist ringleaders are our modern day Judaizers. Paul and the other Biblical writers had to butt heads with them repeatedly in the early church. Like the Judaizers, Creationists preach a gospel that is no gospel at all. Because they present themselves as the true defenders of the faith and are so boldly arrogant in their speech, too many of us have cowered and ceded them center stage. Like Peter with the Judaizers, we’ve stopped eating with the unwashed, and now sit only at the table of the Creationizers.

    Enough! It’s wrong and we need more Paul’s who will shame us into living as free men and women in Christ for the sake of the world.

  30. Christopher Lake says

    In my own views on origins, I lean toward Young Earth Creationism. I understand it to be most consistent with a plain reading of Genesis 1. An elder in my church who is a Hebrew scholar also apparently leans toward YEC. We could both be wrong though. I won’t die on this particular hill. I would also never, in a million years, question the Christian faith of B.B. Warfield, the great “Old Princeton” professor who was a theistic evolutionist. C.S. Lewis held the same view, and anyone who would question the actuality of his faith is no friend of mine (brother or sister in Christ, yes– friend, no).

    I might have just read the wrong things, but I have not heard Ken Ham, or others from AIG, say that non-YEC’ers are not Christians. I *have* heard Ham use such phrases as “compromise,” “slippery slope,” and the like. This is not the same as denying the truth of another’s faith. Can we really expect strongly convinced YEC’ers such as Ham to *not* see Old Earth, Intelligent Design, and Theistic Evolution as forms of compromise? Isn’t such a reaction simply, logically inherent in the “strong YEC” worldview?

    • That’s a point – that Ham et al don’t typically say non-YECers aren’t Christians. That is really cold comfort and an invisibly fine line when the YEC people ask you to leave their church.

      You’re absolutely correct in the precisely defined statements – they aren’t accusing all non-YECers of being non-Christians.

      You’re absolutely wrong in the behavior engendered from AiG – non-YEC people are treated far worse than non-Christians.

      At some point we have to start interpreting their words by what they actually do and by the behaviors they seem to promote.

      • Christopher Lake says

        WebMonk,

        I hear your frustration, and I feel for you, especially if you, personally, have been treated badly by obnoxious, graceless YEC’ers. That being said (and I mean it sincerely), I have read articles by, and listened to presentations by, Ken Ham and others at AIG, and I haven’t read or heard anything therein that would make AIG directly or indirectly responsible for YEC’ers asking other Christians to leave their churches. Graceless, loveless behavior on the part of certain people who listen to certain ministries is not necessarily the *fault* of those ministries. Ham has strong convictions and states them, but I have not heard him say that YEC and non-YEC Christians should not fellowship in the same church. Isn’t it often the case, seemingly, that the *devotees* of certain teachers/leaders end up being more radical and extreme than the leaders themselves? Are the leaders always necessarily responsible for how certain of their listeners act?

        • Sorry Christopher, but with the language he throws around, “Bible deniers”, “compromisers”, “those who deny God’s power”, etc, etc, etc….

          No, there’s no excuse for Ham. That sort of language is designed to stir up the masses. It’s not the language of discussion or teaching, it’s the language of someone stirring up the passions of the audience. The person who does something like that can’t then be excused from the “extremely passionate” responses of those he is talking to.

          There is a WILD difference between saying

          These people are compromising Scripture,

          and saying

          Those people compromise Scripture, denying God and driving children to reject Christ and the Bible, and are siding with the theory that caused the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin, and have lead to the horrors of abortion and homosexual marriage and we have to stand firm on the YEC or else we have to reject the diety of Christ and those who believe in evolution can’t also believe in the Bible, and they are those liberal sorts who are sliding down into supporting gay marriage, abortion, and, and, and, and.

          Ham, the publications of AiG, and the speakers of AiG put forward the second. I CAN GO TO THE AIG WEBSITE AND GET PAGES THAT SAY EVERY ONE OF THOSE THINGS!

          No, Ham and co are fully encouraging the mindset that treats non-YECers as worse than infidels.

          • “No, Ham and co are fully encouraging the mindset that treats non-YECers as worse than infidels.”

            I attended a YEC seminar put on by the ICR at the church I used to attend a few years ago. Frank Sherwin, one of the ICR representatives, said from the stage the of Hugh Ross that old earth creationism was a pagan philosophy and that he wished that Ross would come over into the Christian camp.

        • Web monk is completely right. Ham’s recent turn to culture war rhetoric- watch the “State of the Culture” video- is filled with dividing the entire Christian community using YEC.

        • I have personally heard Ken Ham say that if you don’t believe in a literal, six-day interpretation of the creation account in Genesis 1, you ought to wonder if you’re really a Christian. Is that graceless and loveless enough?! 😛

          A whole roomful of people, many of whom I still work with, heard this and other nuggets at his keynote address at the Gospel Communications International (gospelcom.net) members conference in 2001 in San Francisco. I might be misremembering the finer details of the conference, but I cannot forget his keynote; in addition to questioning the faith of anyone that doesn’t subscribe to YEC, he also made disparaging remarks about homosexuals and showed a slide of Christians throwing rocks at “culture”. It was… surreal.

          But being the son and grandson of critically-thinking Ph.D. chemists and physicists and talking a whole lot about origins growing up… Ken Ham effectively telling me I wasn’t a Christian sure sticks in my maw.

        • Have you watched the DVD debate with Ken Ham, Jason Lisle, Hugh Ross, and Walt Kaiser? Several hours ong.

          I have seen much of it. KH drives many stakes in the ground.

          KJ is the only true bible. (I assume he means for English speakers but missed that distinction if he’s said it.) If you try and talk about Genesis and don’t use the KJ then he will basically refuse to consider anything you say.

          A major stake is if you don’t believe in 6 literal days of creation and the literal Garden of Eden you likely don’t really understand atonement and thus really don’t understand the cross. He never says you aren’t a Christian but he walks you to the door, opens it, and lets it be know he thinks you should leave.

          And many more stakes which get into really really narrow readings of the KJ translation and how it should be interpreted.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Webmonk: That’s the difference between “DIE, INFIDEL!” and “DIE, HERETIC!”

        • Christopher Lake says

          Headless Unicorn Guy,

          I lean toward YEC and read Answers in Genesis material. I also embrace Old Earther’s, ID’ers, and Theistic Evolutionists as my brothers and sisters in Christ. Your reply is no more helpful than the screeds of extremist YEC’ers.

  31. While I see where you’re coming from, I think you’re a bit on the uncharitable side toward the original review. I read it, and while I disagreed with him to a certain extent, I don’t think his entire review comes down to “Worldview conflict so no point in even thinking about it.” His point, as I read the article, was to note that a significant portion of the debate – that Dawkins has overlooked – is the impact of framework on evaluation of evidence. That’s exactly the same mistake that’s been made by Hovind and Ham (though I’d say they’ve done so much worse than Dawkins). And I don’t think it’s unfair in a book review to note that the author misunderstands why his opponents disagree. Yes, Dawkins is a fine biologist, and that’s certainly where he’s at his best. But he also has significant blindspots, especially in terms of understanding WHY people – rational, intelligent people – might disagree with him, and that’s the thrust of the review’s criticism, as I read it.

    What I think is missing in this blog post and the ensuing discussion, frankly, is the same humility whose lack is being so decried throughout. Certainly I see less here than I saw in the original post:

    “Is there value in reading The Greatest Show on Earth?. I am inclined to think that there is, at least for some people. I find it useful to read books written from an opposing viewpoint since they provide a very natural “check” for me. They help me wrestle with not only what I believe but how I express what I believe. This book gave me a lot to think about in that regard.”

    It’s much more difficult to sit down and read a book you don’t agree with, and walk away saying, “You know, there’s still some value in reading this, at the least so you really understand what others believe and why they disagree with you,” than it is to call the reviewer’s point of view stupid. You can disagree all you like, and I’ve no doubt I’d find plenty to disagree with in the comments section there.

    But unless you want to police your own comment section so thoroughly that no one says anything contrary to what YOU believe, I think it might be worth a little more charity toward others.

    • Uncharitable toward the original review? I’m sorry, but that’s completely unfounded.

      Could you please show you me, specifically, how I was uncharitable towards the original review? I simply pointed out the emphasis on worldviews. Where was the lack of charity?

      What is it about Challies that you can’t even mention something over there without being told you are being uncharitable. He’s the #1 blog in the world. Think he might get some occasional mention? Sheesh.

      I qiuoted a commenter, not the reviewer. I mentioned the review itself in 2 sentences.

      • Fair enough, and I suppose my issue was more with this particular point, and then your commenter’s responses (and I should have been clearer on that latter point in particular – I think your commenters a good deal less charitable than your own post here). The particular things I found to be a bit off, and which a lot of your commenters seem to have run with, were: “This is all about the presuppositions that both “sides” have before any evidence is discovered or discussed. (If you read the review I have taken the comment quoted above from, that’s the major point: presuppositions make any consideration of evidence useless.) Instead of being a discussion of the evidence raised by “Ardi,” this is a “war of the worldviews,” in which considering evidence is apparently simply a casualty or, at best, a waste of time.

        And if that sounded completely postmodern to you, too, then I’m glad to not be the only one.”

        Challies’ review was anything but postmodern, and I think it’s pretty clear that the thrust of his argument, even on the point you’re referencing there, is that worldview matters – not that it’s the ONLY thing that matters, but that it does matter: it deeply and dramatically affects how we understand and interpret evidence. Sure, postmodernism is nonsensical on the whole, but it’s hard to argue with the insight that our cognitive framework influences how we interpret any piece of evidence. On that count, I think Challies was actually closer to where you’re wanting people to be than the commenter you quoted, and I just think you did a bit of a disservice launching the discussion on that basis, though perhaps even that statement sounds a bit harsher than I’d like… I hope it at least clarifies why it bothered me. 🙂

        In any case, I wasn’t meaning to be uncharitable or to have a “leap to the defense of” attitude — I disagree with quite a lot of what he says. I also apologize if the tone came off as overly aggressive in my own comment – I wrote it quickly, taking a brief break from work, and that was probably unwise!

  32. “gorilla warfare.” Was that a Freudian slip or deliberate? Are talking about primates or little wars (guerilla) or the happy convergance of the two? : )

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Or it could be a double meaning as in “400-pound Gorilla” warfare. Become so Big Bad and Threatening (like a 400-pound gorilla) that everyone else has to submit.

  33. *…but there is not a single case where he can see a logical connection between atheism and violence.*

    Honestly, I can’t see any cases, either. “Atheism” never was the rallying cry of the violent: In all cases, I’m ever presented with, the “atheism” was a lesser aspect of a much, much bigger pseudoreligious ideology of one alloyance or another.

    I’m with Sam Harris: “Concentration camps and gas chambers are not what happens when people become too reasonable.”

    Holding my nose and cannon-balling right into the deep end of Godwinism: The Nazi motto was Got Mitt Uns. God With Us. They wore it on their belts.

    • People are violent. Period. Poitics makes them violent. Sex. Money. Religion. Yawn. Dawkins is making religion relevant in the same way I could make noses relevant. He missed that pitch.

      • You miss the important point here: nobody uses atheism as a rallying cry to do violence. This is not the case for religion: people do, daily, use their religious belief as the rallying cry to do what they consider justifiedviolence. You may have the audacity to yawn at this terrible and very real danger but until you and the faithful around the world recognize religion’s terrible power to motivate as much violence as attributable good, the problem of doing violence will continue to be justified by faith. THAT’S what Dawkins is criticizing: this unwillingness to even recognize the problems that come attached to faith.

        • The Cult of Reason in the French Revolution, which used force and in its turn was put down with force?

      • A quote I read in an interview with Chris Hedges (who speaks against fundamentalists Christians and the new athiests equally)

        “The problem is not religion. The problem is the human heart. And the new atheists don’t get that. People will always find reasons to act inhumanely, whether it’s religion, or nationalism, or “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” or the workers’ paradise.” http://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/396/moral_combat?page=1

        I’m not sure all your readers would appreciate this magazine, but I appreciate a voice like Hedges even when I don’t entirely agree. He’s angry at the church for not standing up to all this taking sides on issues that are not at the center of Christ’s teaching.

        Thanks for your posts imonk — they, you, are a breath of fresh air. I learn a lot about what’s out there from your commentors, and it makes me thank GOD I attend a church which welcomes questions and wrestling and people on the journey.

    • “Atheism was never a rallying cry of the violent”? Wow, I guess this must be just a figment of someone’s imagination then…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians_in_the_Soviet_Union

      The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed.

      Some actions against Orthodox priests and believers along with execution included torture, being sent to prison camps, labour camps or mental hospitals.[11][12][13][14] Many Orthodox (along with peoples of other faiths) were also subjected to psychological punishment or torture and mind control experimentation in order to force them give up their religious convictions (see Punitive psychiatry in the Soviet Union). [12][13][15][16]

      It is estimated the some 20 million Christians (18 million Orthodox, 2 million Roman Catholic) died or were interned in gulags under the Soviet regime 2.7 million martyred under Stalin.[17]

      • Even the most cursory examination of Stalin/Leninist Communism, Nazism, etc shows that these movements were religions in their own right. Complete with they’re own ‘holy’ warriors and priests (ie the Nazi SS). And could the KGB and Gestapo by anything other than Inquisitions to purge heretics and the unfaithful? Trotsky was killed for the same reasons Catholics and Protestants slaughtered each other.
        Such groups even spent amounts of time and money Christian churches can only dream of on ‘educating’ their children in all the proper rites, rituals, and creeds of their respective faiths. Stalin may have claimed otherwise; but these Christians, and Jews, and others, were killed because they would not convert to the worship of the state approved orthodoxy. Atheism had nothing to do with it.

        • dreamwings: Faith is what you say after the words “I believe”. It is what you take as an operative handle on the world. It is what you trust in. It could Jesus, free love, a sacred tree, or a logical principle. The myth of the existence of a non-religious person is one of the greatest ones currently around. so, not all atheists are Marxist propogandists that might kill you. Yawn. I am not going to kill you for (presumably?) being an atheist either. I might offer you a beer though….

        • I certainly don’t think atheism was primarily to blame, but I do suspect it was a factor. If people like Stalin and Hitler have personal religions, I would call it the religion of self worship and the will to power. And to power-hungry self-worshippers, things like religious systems, political ideologies, nationalistic and racial loyalties, or some combination thereof are merely tools to be used to move the masses in desired directions. Sure, a lot of highly religious people in high places have historically done some terrible things believing they were carrying out the will of God. But when you combine meglomania with a purely materialistic world view in which there is no transcendent authority or judge of human behavior and no gods on Olympus to punish the ambitious for their hubris, you get an added dimension of freedom to do absolutely anything within the scope of human governmental power without any fear of reprisal in some world to come.

          • So are you suggesting that should we base our behaviour on fear of next-world reprisals? Is that really the major factor – fear- that informs our daily decisions on how best to behave?

            If you found out later today that your entire religious faith was imaginary, would you on this very day begin behaving any differently? If not you today, then why others with presumably more political power?

          • “If you found out later today that your entire religious faith was imaginary, would you on this very day begin behaving any differently?”
            Yeah, I probably would. I’d probably go out, buy a hooker, lots of alchohol and narcotics, and resume my previous quest for personal oblivion. As a former nihilist of a rather extreme variety — heck, I even held contempt for many atheists for what I viewed as their naive faith in human potentiality — I can say without a doubt that there is a vast gulf between my behavior then and my behavior now. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that there is a vast gulf between who I was then and who I am now. I’m not too big on systemized religion, but, through faith in Christ, I have discovered what I can only describe as a real relational connection with my Creator — and that inexplicable connection (as thin and as fragile as it sometimes seems to be) has somehow revolutionized the way I act, think, and feel.
            I’m only speaking from personal experience, but I know for a fact that my utter rejection of any kind of transcendent moral judge or truth made it a lot easier for me to justify a life of moral and spiritual poverty. And while fear is certainly not the best foundation for personal beliefs or behavior, if fear of prison keeps someone from murdering their annoying neighbor or fear of divine judgement keeps a tyrant from crossing over the boundaries of atrocity or genocide, then it’s not such a bad thing.

        • “…Complete with they’re own ‘holy’ warriors and priests (ie the Nazi SS).”

          You’ve metaphorized the word ‘religion’ into meaninglessness.

          -2 pts.

          • He’s related the similar form correctly between dogmatic religion and National Socialism. They are indeed very similar and use many of the same techniques. There is hardly a fine line between the feelings evoked by patriotism and religious belief: the object of devotion are different and the reasons for the devotion are different but they both contain this element of devotion that look very much the same in action.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            And National Socialism (like Communism) functioned as a State Religion in all but name. (The latter still around in the form of such State Religions as Juche. What is Dear Leader Comrade Kim Jong-Il except a God-King?)

            How else do you explain the Blood Flag? And the “answers from dead martyrs” in the Blood Flag ceremony commemorating the Beer Hall Putsch? And Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler’s long-term project to eliminate all religions except a neopagan Hitler-worship with his beloved SS as the Holy Priesthood, operating out of their “New Vatican” in the Wawelburg?

        • In any case, it’s certainly hard to argue that the new atheists in particular haven’t done precisely the same thing with their claims – neutrality has ceased to be an option, and they’re using moral language to advocate their own position and attack the positions of others. Which doesn’t bother me a bit, but it certainly seems it ought to bother the rest of the postmoderns!

      • Wasn’t Stalin first a seminary student?

        • The same way Hitler was a vegetarian?

          I would have thought the rejection of organised religion and the dropping out of the seminary would have met with approval – obviously, he came to his senses and discovered the liberty of using his reason instead of swallowing the nonsense about pie in the sky!

          If a religious believer does something wrong, it’s BECAUSE of religion, even if the religion in question condemns the act.

          If a non-believer does something wrong, it’s DESPITE his disbelief and BECAUSE of religion – even if that religion was never believed in or was discarded long beforehand.

          tildeb, if we are to accept that our beliefs have consequences and affect our actions, and if our bad deeds are reflections upon the philosophies we hold, then atheists don’t get off the hook that easily either – it’s all very well believing in the universal brotherhood of mankind under a system of scientific rationalism, but if you still kick the cat and cheat on your taxes, you don’t get to say “It’s because my granny went to Sunday school!”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The Nazi motto was Got Mitt Uns. God With Us. They wore it on their belts.

      No, that was the GERMAN ARMY motto predating the National Socialist takeover in ’33; “they wore it on their belts” under the Kaiser in WW1. The Nazi takeover just added the Reich Adler as the centerpiece of the belt buckle, replacing whatever had been there before. (But then, the takeover added Reich Adlers — the spread-winged eagle with the wreathed hook-cross in its claws — to just about anything and everything.)

      The Nazi motto worn on the belt buckles and engraved on the dress daggers of the SS was (I don’t remember the German) “My Honor Is Faithfulness”.

  34. IMonk,

    How comfortable would you feel if religion was taught to a sizable number of children by atheists who, as part of the conditions of their job, were expected to be philosophically hostile to religious belief? Is it reasonable to suggest that you would be justified to be suspicious under such an arrangement, that the tenets you hold dear might be represented in a less than flattering light?

    How comfortable should atheists be that you are teaching children about the New Atheists and the nature of their nonbelief?

    Now imagine if your job was to teach aerodynamics and human flight throughout the world. The very first hurdle you face is from those – and they are billions – who lend some measure of support to those who say, “Don’t be ridiculous. The subject is anti-God and immoral. If God wanted man to fly He would have made them with wings. Besides, aerodynamics is just a theory and you are a bad and evil man for aiding the Forces of Darkness, falsely raising man’s quest for knowledge above God’s intentions for us, His special creation, and failing to teach the truth that man can only fly spiritually with correct beliefs in God…. (insert pertinent quotations from the Bible and the Koran and the Gita and the Torah)… yada, yada, yada.”

    How can you do your job without tackling this immediate and ubiquitous and devotional bias? And when you try to tackle it as you must, you are called a strident, arrogant, contemptuous, fundamentalist, aerodynamatician, someone unwilling to give proper respect to the other ‘side’ of the ‘debate’, and so on. In addition, if only you would spend an appropriate amount of time studying religious belief, then you might inform your naive opinion about the true nature of spiritual aerodynamics with something more than contempt for any kind of religion that isn’t of the backwoods, book burning variety.

    Hardly seems fair, does it?

    But what of the matter that aerodynamics and human flight is all about physics, and has nothing whatsoever to do with competing interpretations of divine intentions and the wispy notions derived from refined religious study? You see the problem: religion has inserted itself between those who can learn, be inspired by and amazed with the beauty and function of aerodynamics – physics in motion – a very real and practical knowledge that can and does allow for a variety of kinds of human flight, not only in the atmosphere but beyond.

    Evolution has been set upon by the religious from the start as a direct threat to most kinds of creationism, with varying amounts of support for those religions from silence to active interference. Dawkins has been faced with considerable religious interference about teaching and understanding evolution from the getgo – at home and abroad. He sees this interference as a single entity – religious belief – and treats it like the clothing the Emperor pretends to wear. He will not bow to those who suggest he should study the wispy notions of refined fashion before he dare criticizes the emperor’s nakedness. Nor will he bow to pressure from moderates to fundamentalists to stop criticizing the direct role religious belief plays in thwarting the legitimate teaching of biology and evolution. For this he is vilified.

    What is and remains at stake is the public understanding of science in general and evolution in particular. When religious beliefs that purport to define divine intentions interfere in this process to transfer knowledge from one generation to the next, we have a problem because science and evolutionary theory provide us and those we teach with working knowledge of the world. To forgo that educational component that is based on practical knowledge in favour of teaching some sanctified religious belief in its place is just plain wrong. It is professionally unethical for any teacher, religious or not, to do so. But we both know it happens often without penalty and sometimes with rewards for the offender. Correct belief, however, is not a legitimate excuse.

    You are one of those on the front line of this fight but handcuffed by the conditions of your employer and influenced by your preferred theology. Perhaps you can see the wisdom of a public education free from any one particular set of religious beliefs, and can appreciate more fully the frustration that comes with having to find some way to tolerate the intolerable, being okay with whatever the interference may be that intercedes between students and knowledge, to somehow find a way to teach around the very thing that doesn’t belong there in the first place, namely, religion.

    • I’m a grad of public schools and a major supporter of public schools.

      Where did you get the idea I was against public education?

      • Not against it; just teaching outside of it to those students whose parents probably think a Christian education is somehow better. I was merely suggesting that you can see why that may not be so.

      • You’ll have to forgive me, but I have real problems understanding your posts and what your basic position is.

        • Religion to survive has to evolve. For that to happen, we have to allow for doubt. Without doubt, there can be no honest inquiry and no religious belief that has integrity. If we want religion to survive it must allow room for people with intellectual integrity to be honest in their beliefs.

  35. “Suggested Reading”

    Pg. 1-15 by William Edgar [intro] to Christian Apologetics by Cornelius Van Til.

    Brings up both the “evidences” and “postmodern” issues.

  36. Ryan Fehrmann says

    Imonk, I have BA in Anthropology – emphasis in Archaeology. I was not raised with creationist fundamentalism, never really thought about it until I became a Pastor. But the five conclusions you list above – 1 and 3 have merit (2 is a subset of one) and 4 and 5 do not have merit. This does not deny true work is done but to wit.

    1. They often do make the bones say what they want, just as much as the Jesus Seminar make the text speak what they want. Unlike the hard sciences, Anthropology (as with Archaeology) have an element of story telling, educated guessing and conjecture if you will. This is not wrong so much as a reality, if you are honest you built that story/theory around the evidence you have, if not honest you take the evidence you want and disregard the rest – and sometimes the stuff you have is so thin you can say just about anything (until a new discovery challenges your theory). The Leakeys have dominated in human origins research, they are the rock stars, and they have tried to crush others who disagree. But go to a conference on Early Man and you will see every theory under the sun.

    2. Tthere is many different views that don’t agree. From bones being a human ancestor to being some non related extinct primate. Its not so much a mess but that there is a false idea of unity promoted, we think everything is all sewed up when we read an article in Time when it really is not.

    3. This often happens for two reasons – one the media likes to hype things (and/or they don’t know what is going on) don’t we get a missing link every year? This stuff happens in all the scientific fields, medical stuff is notorious for this – are eggs bad or good for you? Second, honestly, the more attention you can get to a find or project the more funding you can potentially get for ongoing work. The competition for grants is highly competitive and can get very, VERY vicious.

    4. Actually the problem is things don’t get published in a timely way. This is frustrating all around since your work may dovetail with some one else’s. Sometimes the time gap is due to careful or ongoing research, other times its not wanting your work nabbed by another guy or perhaps not wanting your theories debated too hotly with the evidence. I never saw ‘cooking’ the evidence the way it is described here.

    5. Some do and some don’t. A degree after your name, in any field, in the end means you have been publicly acknowledged to know the specific language/vocabulary of the field, the basic assumptions/theories and where to go to be well read in it. You don’t need a degree for that, but without a degree you generally wont get the respect – unless of course you are so good that someone awards you an honorary degree.

    In the end you are right – to dismiss work being done by professional in this field for the above reasons is silly. Still it is important to be aware that Anthropologists, indeed all Scientists, are human and thus their work and theories are not neutral, and motivations can be other than noble, is helpful in thinking through clearly the issues and the evidence brought to fore.

    • Like this post….so we can add to Michael’s comment “People are violent…….and biased….” Amen to scientists not being in some kind of ‘neutral’ category, although the discipline shoots for that.

      Greg R

      • Ryan makes the big distinction that I wish evolutionist and creationist had the humility to be honest about:

        They are at best scientific theories in a field that is not hard science.

        Only a fool or a willful deciever will ignore evidence, but we must remember that the conclusions/hypothosises of where evidence points are not themselve observeable facts.

        Intellectual honesty requires that we admit that we cannot PROVE that either THEORY is FACT.

  37. Talk about coincidence. My daughter is a senior in high school this year. She’s spending the fall semester in Germany as an exchange student. So I get to collect the college avalanche of mail that’s showing up. Today’s mail has a large envelope from Liberty. She and I basically agree with iMonk on the topic of this thread and others like it. So I guess this one can be placed at the bottom of the pile.

    Oh, well. Should I be sorry or glad they wasted the money on us?

    • L. Winthrop says

      Maybe they need to change their name!

      • I’m currently attending Liberty through their Distance Learning Program. Just finished my first class (8 week sessions) and I’ve had no issue with my professor diminishing my comments or insight offered to the class. There have been a few staunch legalists within the topics of suicide and euthanisia, but I’ve been able to speak of a personal God and free will pretty openly; and I’ve experienced quite a bit of support from at least 33% of my classmates (18 of us, total).

        I’d not discount Liberty. Believe me, I never thought I’d be enjoying it like I do after hearing of similar concerns to those aired above. But I’m quite pleased.

        • I have no idea what class you’re taking or plan to take but based on what they have said about their science programs have as axioms a 6000 year old earth and dinosaurs on the ark, I think I’ll pass.

  38. Dwight Kurt Schrute III says

    Frankly I’m not interested in getting into a scientific debate, there seems to be a lot of frustration and/or bitterness from people on all three sides (YEC, OEC, TE, and Atheist) who believe they were tricked in their up-bringing and are now carrying around a chip on their shoulder, meh.

    Reading through the comments, it is nearly impossible to separate someone’s rhetoric from fact, it doesn’t help when both YEC, OEC, Theistic Evolutionists, and Atheistic Evolutionists exaggerate their research or make claims which aren’t provable. From my experience, no one is exempt and it doesn’t help me think this through when people sling mud-pies at each other (in all comparisons, not just Christian against Christian).

    This is my main problem, I’d be an OEC or Theistic Evolutionist in a heartbeat,but I see no reason from Scripture to replace a miracle (literal 6 Day Creation) with a scientific belief (trillions of years ago – big bang).

    Anyway, question for OECs and Theistic Evolutionists…

    What is the cut-off point? When does Genesis stop being poetry and begin being historical?

    What do you think about the argument that the universe appears old but is actually young?

    appreciate your thoughts.

    p/s: I’ve not posted my real name simply because I’ve had repeated instances of vigilante Atheists successfully both hack my blog and a video channel for being a YEC and challenging the philosophical aspects of evolution. they even sent me an email telling me that’s why they did it.

    Yes I got them (the blog and the video channel) back, no I’m not BSing anyone, and no I’m not saying the Atheists here haven’t been respectful or that Atheists are the only group with vigilante fringes. YEC Youtube vote bots anyone? there. done.

    • I think Genesis starts being historical when people began to write it.

    • joel hunter says

      Dwight, I think Gordon Glover addresses the problems with the appearance of age doctrine very well in his video series. See episode 9 here. Here’s my own brief take.

      Suppose we agree that creation, the fact that anything at all exists, is a miracle. Let us further agree that the sciences have constructed a coherent and very detailed picture of natural history. Piecing together this story has been arduous and there are still gaps in it. The problem with the claim of a recent creation is the sheer quantity and detail of this picture, from physics to chemistry to geology to biology, that must disputed. And why? Not for scientific reasons, but for theological reasons. The problem then becomes the extent and degree of the deception involved in creation. An actually young universe that has 13.7 billion years of detailed, coherent history built into it thus detracts from the glory of the creation miracle.

      Further, if we cannot accurately distinguish a young universe from an old one, if we are wrong by so many orders of magnitude, then we must conclude that our senses and reason are radically defective. And if we’ve done all this erroneous scientific work, then we are left with some vicious consequences:
      1. Skepticism. The radical unreliability of our bodily senses and minds entails that the conclusions of science, despite the rigor of its methods, are highly improbable. Anything which depends on the senses and human thought is highly dubious.
      2. Nihilism. A science which is premised on the intrinsic intelligibility of the physical universe, and whose aim is to discover universal natural laws, is therefore a meaningless endeavor, a waste of time.
      3. The only source of information that qualifies as true, genuine knowledge is that which is revealed in the Bible.
      4. But (1) defeats (3). For even if the Bible is the lone source of all nontrivial truths, we’ve already established that the human senses and mind are radically defective. Insofar as our access to the contents of the Bible depends on activities like seeing, hearing and thinking, we are forced to be skeptical of what we see, hear and infer from the Bible, too.
      5. And (4) leads again to nihilism. For a theology which is premised on the intrinsic intelligibility of the Bible and whose aim is to discover the central points of doctrinal unity is therefore a meaningless endeavor and a waste of time.

      • Dwight Kurt Schrute III says

        Just an aside

        One of the greatest frustrations I’ve had is that often when I talk to an OEC or TE about this; they are usually very condescending towards me because I really do think that Genesis is in the historical genre and should be taken at face value. Something to consider for everyone here, mocking other Christians in front of people who don’t believe is not very wise.

        Condescension and Open Mockery is not something Christians should do to other Christians, it doesn’t make me anymore likely to be an Atheist when Dawkins does it (and likewise goes to any Christian groups that do it as well)


        anyway

        @ Joel

        Thanks for the link Joel, I will watch the videos.

        Setting aside the appearance of age argument, what would be your argument from the book of Genesis? Feel free to pass on some links. Thanks again, I really do appreciate it.

        • joel hunter says

          You’re welcome, Dwight.

          I’m not sure how we’re supposed to “set aside the appearance of age argument.” I have just explained why I think that if the appearance of age argument is sound, then any endeavor to pursue truth, be it scientific, philosophical or theological, is permanently crippled. And it only get worse, for if the human senses and mind are so radically defective (as the appearance of age argument requires), then what becomes of the argument itself, indeed, of any argument whatsoever? If the laws governing logical thought and reasoned discourse are also unreliable, then there’s no point to further discussion. We’re all just talking nonsense.

          You ask,

          what would be your argument from the book of Genesis?

          My argument for what? I don’t understand what you’re asking.

        • “Setting aside the appearance of age argument, what would be your argument from the book of Genesis? Feel free to pass on some links. Thanks again, I really do appreciate it.”

          “One of the greatest frustrations I’ve had is that often when I talk to an OEC or TE about this; they are usually very condescending towards me because I really do think that Genesis is in the historical genre and should be taken at face value. Something to consider for everyone here, mocking other Christians in front of people who don’t believe is not very wise.”

          My experience has been the converse. When I talk about this subject with a YEC, the first question out of their mouths is, almost without fail, “are you sure you’re saved.” “Heretic”, “compromiser”, “bible denyer”, and “satan’s minon” (seriously) are some of the things I have been called, in person and to my face, by YEC’s. OECs and TEs don’t have a monopoly on uncivility. 🙁

          “Setting aside the appearance of age argument, what would be your argument from the book of Genesis? Feel free to pass on some links. Thanks again, I really do appreciate it.”

          Just a sketch as that is all that time permits. I’d divide the evidence from scripture into two categories, internal and external.

          Internal: the literary structure of the Genesis 1 creation account: three days of creation, followed by three parallel days of filling what was created in the first three days. The repeated literary refrains: And God said, ‘Let [such and such happen].’” “And God saw that it was good.” “And it was evening and it was morning.” The lack of the “and it was good” refrain on day 2 because the chaotic waters were symbolic of evil and so could not be called good.

          External: comparison and contrast to contemporary Ancient Near Eastern mythology and religion. The representation of the seas as chaotic and evil, out of which the Creator draws order. The demythologizing of of the sun and moon and seas as not gods but created things.

          I can’t point to any links, but here are some books and audio courses I’d recommend that I’ve found helpful in understanding Genesis:

          The Book of Genesis – Gary Rendsburg – The Teaching Company audio/video course
          http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=6234

          Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World – Glenn Holland – Teaching Company
          http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/CourseDescLong2.aspx?cid=6340

          Ancient Near Eastern Mythology – Shalom L. Goldman – Teaching Company
          (out of print, but you can probably find it on ebay)

          _The Genesis Debate_ – this book presents three interpretations of the Genesis creation accounts, the 24 hour view, day-age view, and framework view. Each author gets to respond to the views of the others
          http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Debate-Three-Views-Creation/dp/0970224508/

          The Bible and the Ancient Near East – Rendsburg and Gordon – Excellent book that helps put the old Testament in its historic, social, and literary context.
          http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Ancient-Near-East-Revised/dp/0393316890/

          How to Read Genesis – Tremper Longman III – the title says it all
          http://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Genesis-Tremper-Longman/dp/0877849439/

          The Meaning of Creation – Conrad Hyers – another book that helps explain Genesis in its context. Recommended by the Internet Monk.
          http://www.amazon.com/Meaning-Creation-Genesis-Modern-Science/dp/0804201250/

          Genesis 1 Through The Ages – Stanley Jaki – a comprehensive history of Jewish and Christian interpretation of Genesis 1
          http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Through-Stanley-L-Jaki/dp/1897713002/

          Myths from Mesopotamia – Stephanie Dalley – a good collection of mythology antecedent to and contemporary with Genesis
          http://www.amazon.com/Myths-Mesopotamia-Creation-Gilgamesh-Classics/dp/0199538360/

          The Context of Scripture – an excellent 3 volume set with a comprehensive selection of Ancient Near Eastern document. This one is _really_ pricey. Use it at a library, or get one of the cheaper electronic versions.
          http://www.amazon.com/Context-Scripture-Archival-Documents-Biblical/dp/9004106200/
          http://www.amazon.com/Monumental-Inscriptions-Biblical-Context-Scripture/dp/9004106197/
          http://www.amazon.com/Context-Scripture-Compositions-Monumental-Inscriptions/dp/9004131051/

  39. IM,

    You write that Dawkins represents well that shrinking minority of atheists who believe science necessarily leads to atheism.

    Shrinking? Can you back that claim up please?

    I can back up that about 93% of scientists in the National Academy of Science do not believe in a personal God (and that grows to 94.5% for biologists) and about 40% believe in some kind of God. Which part of that ‘shrinking minority of atheists’ does Dawkins represent? As an evolutionary biologist, I think Dawkins represents quite well the striking majority of scientists no matter how you want to parse the numbers.

    Evolution, I argue, inevitably reveals the incompatibility of belief in special creationism for humans. Whether that science leads to atheism – and the numbers seem to indicate an association if not a cause – seems to me to go through many pivotal points but I will stay on topic and address evolution specifically: if one does not believer in the necessity of a creator God for humans, as so many strains of science dealing with evolutionary evidence for human ancestry collectively agrees, is one necessarily an atheist? I don’t think so. If one does not believe in the necessity of a creator God for much of life as we know it here on Earth, does that make one necessarily an atheist? I don’t think so, either, but I can appreciate how this line of thinking would shake one of the fundamental pillar of many religious beliefs: the incorrect claim that humans are a special creation of God. That God created humans is a central claim to many religious textual doctrines. But evolution shows this claim to be false. Not just unnecessary, but false. I think a lot of religious people have yet to seriously deal with these incompatible claims.

    But holding fast to these scriptural claims is just Platonic thinking: a necessity to maintain belief first causes and dualism and all that biz. It is not necessary. I think many people could alter their beliefs enough to maintain a belief in God without having to cling to a creator-of-humans God. But there’s another point here, too: special creation for humans does reveal a central weakness in the holy texts: if the text cannot be trusted here, can it be trusted to be the Word of God elsewhere? Well, I think most people have gotten over the commonly held geocentrism fallacy contained in the holy texts but there are still sizable numbers of people who place their faith in the inerrancy of these texts above astronomical knowledge. To any reasonable young person who deals with science’s progeny – amazing technology that works – I think such entrenched theistic views is a weakness that invites young people to put aside the whole belief set.

    What I think many religiously inspired people are forgetting is that religious belief can occur without a creator God of specific things and, I think, will have to push the notion of a creator God back into deep time like 13.7 billion years ago before we can situate God a safe distance in time and space from scientific inquiry. That’s where belief religiously or scientifically inspired is as good a guess as any. But even evolution and all the science that backs it up as a explanatory framework to investigate ancestry is not in itself a cause for atheism but it is a cause to argue for its truth claims passionately. If one must have religious belief, then one will have to learn to discard a creator God for humans if stability and mutual respect between belief and knowledge is to be established. Whether giving up the notion of there being a natural compatibility somewhere between belief and science is equivalent to becoming an atheist, I think is highly questionable assumption. Dawkins merely suggests that one doesn’t need any belief in God at all – and is, in fact, a considerable impediment – to understand and appreciate the marvels of evolution. But he is standing on firm intellectual ground to insist that belief in a special creationism for humans makes the understanding of evolution (and by extension, any meaningful respect for honest intellectual inquiry) all but impossible. Hence, it is not strident but eminently reasonable to argue that there is a consequential incompatibility between belief in special creationism – a root belief in most religions – and understanding evolution. And he’s got a point.

    • I think I’d actually flip that around to say that atheism does not necessarily lead to science.

      It’s possible to not believe in a personal God (or god(s)) and still believe in ‘forces’, ‘energies’, spirits, human consciousness as evolving to ultimate spiritual ascendancy, the universe being itself a sentient entity, and so forth. Have you really never heard the “I’m spiritual, not religious” line?

      Buddhism for one is, in its origins, atheist: there are no separate creator gods, the gods and demons are just as much products of the universe as humans or the other creatures, we are all stuck on the wheel of the law and until we achieve enlightenment and escape the illusion of this ‘reality’ we’ll still be going around and around.

      Even someone who is an atheist may still prefer to derive his or her values and sense of meaning from art or nature or whatever, and may still reject what he or she perceives as a materialistic, reductionist scientific world-view.

      I’m not saying one is bettter than the other, I’m just pointing out that thinking lack of belief in deities = acceptance of the primacy of science ain’t necessarily so. There can be just as much irrationality amongst non-theists.

      • I agree; atheism does not lead to science. It leads to honest inquiry and interaction with the natural world without applying a screen of assumptions between one’s perceptions and conclusions. We then test those conclusions to see how well they work. That’s the foundation necessary for scientific inquiry. Religions generally have no problem with this kind of investigation…. right up until a discovery competes with a theological claim.

        And I also agree with your suggestion that people believe all kinds of suppositions. They create all kinds of metaphors and allegories to assign agencies to patterns. (Galileo was the first to publish hard evidence that things did not possess natures – refuting that rocks possessed ‘heaviness’, wood the natures to burn and float, the eye possessed a nature to ‘see,’ and so on, but responded instead to physical forces.) Some of these descriptions work beautifully, some, not so much. There is a line, however, between the ability to test what is natural -regardless of the kind of method used to investigate or describe it – and what is assumed to be beyond the natural, outside of nature, out of reach of our perceptions. This is defined as the supernatural. Yet still even this unknowable domain is assigned with agencies and assumed to be as true, as accurate, as correct as that which can be tested and validated and verified in this world. And here is where we run into some real and significant problems.

        If anyone claims to gain wisdom, values, knowledge, or what have you from this supernatural domain, then on what basis may we test the source of such claims? We can’t. It’s a simple as that. Anyone who assigns validity to the source of these claims has the job of providing the rest of us with something more than assertions sanctified by other supernatural (untestable) entities or the horrifically bad argument that it’s some other person’s job to disprove such source claim and, until then, it’s as good as any other. That’s why no one can prove that mushrooms could not be intergalactic spaceships sent to spy on us!

        So when one decides to dismiss or reduce or disregard the scientific method, you know, the method we rely on daily to navigate our way in the natural world, then one must wonder about the reason and motivation. Dawkins says such a decision is delusional. Hitchens calls it poisonous. Harris calls it dangerous. Dennett calls it many things but no way to really get at truth unless you treat religion like any other topic of inquiry. I think rejecting science simply isn’t an option because our lives already depend on its understanding of how our materialistic world works.

        How we formulate our values and ethics and morality must have source better than one claimed to be supernatural in origin no matter who suggests such a justification. And I will continue to rank irrational, untestable assertions well below rational, testable ones. My life and yours depends on it.

        • “How we formulate our values and ethics and morality must have source better than one claimed to be supernatural in origin no matter who suggests such a justification.”
          What if, after a great deal of searching and trying out various viewpoints and philosophies, the source of supernatural origin is the only one you’ve found that actually works in transforming your ethical and moral behavior for the better? Should you intentionally abandon it in the name of rationalism? And if you’re firmly under the impression (or delusion) that God has revealed Himself to you to the extent that discounting it requires questioning your own sanity (which I have on many occasions), is it better to believe yourself insane than to continue to embrace something that can’t be explained by science or reason?
          I can truly relate to where you’re coming from, Tildeb. Believe me, I can. If my present self could have a conversation with who I was 15 years ago, the 24-year-old me would laugh off the 39-year-old me as a seriously deluded, superstitious fool who had betrayed the convictions of his own intellect for the empty comfort and assurance of a fairy tale. But that’s okay. I’ve put all my chips out there, I’ve chosen to believe, and I fully intend to play this hand out to the last card. As far as my reasons for this choice, I admitt that they wouldn’t hold water with any skeptic worthy of the name, but they were (and continue to be) enough for me.

          • What if, after a great deal of searching and trying out various viewpoints and philosophies, the source of supernatural origin is the only one you’ve found that actually works in transforming your ethical and moral behavior for the better?

            Go to town. But the source is you, along with the decisions and choices you make about how to behave. You can attribute your decisions and choices any way you wish but that does not offer evidence for the literal existence of the attributed supernatural source. Back in the natural world, I can claim broccoli is the source of my morality and behave very morally. I doubt you would think my behaviour indicates that my belief in the primacy of this wise vegetable in directing my life caused my behaviour – moral or otherwise.

        • “I agree; atheism does not lead to science. It leads to honest inquiry and interaction with the natural world without applying a screen of assumptions between one’s perceptions and conclusions.”

          Believing that there is no God is certainly a screen of assumption and rules out truely honest inquiry. The atheist is just as likely to ignore any evidence that points towards a supernatural explainationa as the theist. The fact is that those whose careers depend on it (athiest or thiest) will be even more likely.

          The only thing that can lead to honest inquiry is the willingness to suspend your own beliefs when examining evidence and to be willing to give them up if the evidence points to your being wrong.

          • Believing that there is no God is certainly a screen of assumption and rules out truely honest inquiry.

            Rubbish.

            That’s like saying believing (not as a starting position but because there isn’t a shred of evidence to support the claim) that mushrooms could not be intergalactic spaceships sent to spy on us is equally a screen of assumption and rules out truly honest inquiry. Such a list of believing what ISN’T, meaning that there’s no good reason to believe that there IS, is endless. We don’t believe in almost everything unless and until there is reason for doing so. But the problem here is determining whether or not there are justifiable reasons.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            …that mushrooms could not be intergalactic spaceships sent to spy on us….

            Only if you’re eating the right kinds of mushroom…

    • But he is standing on firm intellectual ground to insist that belief in a special creationism for humans makes the understanding of evolution (and by extension, any meaningful respect for honest intellectual inquiry) all but impossible.

      And yet, occaisionally Mr. Dawkins DOES choose to join us in our attempts at rational inquiry. What a swell guy, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with gratitude. I haven’t read “God Delusion”, and it’s not on my hot list, but it seems to me that the best defense of Dawkins is Dawkins.

    • Dawkins says, in his debate with Lennox, that most scientists do not believe evolution leads to atheism and they fault him because he does.

      • Where in the debate does he say that? If you could give me that time, I would appreciate it.

      • There is an entire section where Dawkins says his fellow atheists criticize him for how he ties evolution to atheism. It’s in the first third. Under the second point: Science supports atheism.

        • Dawkins is quite clear that he thinks evolution has led him to atheism. He also explains that what many scientists (like Coyne and E.O. Wilson) see as the problem in American education is between naturalism – represented by evolution in this case – and supernaturalism – represented by religious belief’s creationism. He points out that the context in which he is quoted is in regards to Coyne’s description of why defrocking NOMA is the real battle between naturalism and supernaturalism. Nowhere does he say (unless I’ve missed it repeatedly) that most scientists do not believe evolution leads to atheism but rather that Dawkins’ issue – that there is no need for the God explanation; no reason to coddle those who would prefer there to be room for divine creationism for humans – regarding evolution is but one part of this larger battle.

          If one understands evolution to provide evidence that we come from ancestors not categorized as human, nor mammalian, nor even vertebrate, then one must discard any literal sense in special creation for humans by God. That hypothesis is not borne out by the evidence. There is simply no need for any ‘divine intervention’ explanation for the creation of humanity, and in that sense Dawkins, who thinks this is a very important battle, explains why evolution has led him to atheism. He also allows other scientists to place God somewhere beyond in the ancestral chain leading back to bacteria b ut think that any reason to do so is misapplied awe of nature.

  40. If no copies of the OT survived, we’d still have Jesus and we’d still have science and its offspring evolutionary theory.

    What we wouldn’t have is the Genesis creation story – and so what? Would there be any difference in how we act, feel or think (other than the US GDP would probably increase as the time spent debating creation was turned toward productive uses)?

  41. A comment from ‘that guy’.

    I for one believe that the universe is what it is. For example, it is 15 billion years old. The earth is 4.5 to 5 billion years old. I believe that a Deity created everything but the hows are up to us to discover.
    The creation account was a third millenium BCE person’s account of the making of everything by the Deity as opposed to the creation accounts of the pagans around at the same time.
    I believe the ideas of Michael Behe (ID) as he states them in “Darwin’s Black Box”. Please read the book before you rip his ideas apart.
    Also read “Rare Earth” by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee. If their theory is even remotely accurate we may be the ONLY planet with eukaryotic lifeforms. Peter and Donald are definitely proevolution!
    Finally, what is wrong with a God who created everthing and lets it run by itself but definitely at times profoundly steps into space-time and moves stuff to suit his plans?
    As a developing Trinitarian I see a God (Father,Son and Holy Spirit) who at all times is engaged with his creation but lets stuff happen too.

  42. You are putting a lot of words in the mouth of the person you quote that go way beyond the point he was making. The main thing he/she is saying (as I read it) is “Look at the evidence with a healthy degree of skepticism. Be cautious with science-media frenzies.”

    That is simply good science.

    Behe et al are constantly saying “Look at the evidence and ask hard questions of the evidence. What does it really prove?”

    What can possibly be wrong with that?

  43. In all fairness, both sides are guilty of stacking the evidence to suit their side. What I find most disturbing is that neither side will let this be a matter of personal belief but use it as a litmus test. The Dawkins/Dennett crowd will castigate any who allow any form of deity whatsoever while the Ken Ham/Kent Hovind set will accuse you of not being a Christian if you’re not a literal 6-Dayer.

    Seems to me both are guilty of unnecessary polarization about what is in essence a secondary and ultimately philosophical/theological issue. It’s interesting that the Creationists purport to follow a founder who said in Luke 9, “whoever is not against us is for us” and interpret it to mean, “whoever is not for us is against us.” There are a lot of people who don’t really care one way or the other about literal 6 days. It is unfortunate that Dennett calls them stupid or wicked while Ham calls them infidels or ignorant.

    Leaves poor Francis Collins either in the cold or assembling a broad middle that relegates both sets of extremists to shouting at each other on the sidelines.

  44. [MOD edit] without reading any other posts ( I read your article and immediately dropped to this comment), I totally disagree with you. I was raised in a non-religous home. Not necessarily athesitic, but non-religous. No discussions about God. We raced motorcycles, went swimming, drank beer. Basic Americana. But my parents did teach me to read. I mostly read Marvel comics, which as anyone knows is full of science. I also watched Star Trek and Doctor Who. I was inundated with evolutionary theory. Like many kids my age I loved dinosaurs. But when I was in 7th grade of public school I was taught the scientific method. Evolutionary theory does not follow the scientific method. I discarded it then and there. I did not become a Christian for 20 more years. But from age 13 on I knew that darwinism was bogus because I was taught real science, not a belief system about the past. [Mod edit]. Look at the science via the scientific method. Observable, empirical, and measurable evidence. Observation & experimentation and testing. Darwinism has none of these. Which is why Dawkins and Gould disagreed on the mechanism of evolution. Gould could no longer agree on slight positive modification of mutations producing the Cambrian Explosion. Which is why Gould proposed his stupid idea of Punctuated Equilibrium (horrible monster theory of the 1920’s). [Mod edit] Don’t fall for the idiocy of darwinian evolutionary theory (as opposed to the good science of natural selection).
    Mutations do happen, but they don’t turn lizards into chickens or vice versa.

    As far as Dawkins. He is an idiot. To say that lizards scales evolved into feathers is fantasy. For him to even teach that is so far out it is ridiculous. There isn’t any evidence to support that. NONE. If he didn’t have the credentials of teaching this nonsense for decades he would be laughed at as a moron. He also used the “evolution of the Corvette” as an example in his Blind Watchmaker book. Uhhh Corvettes have intelligent designers. Any average Christian could easily debate him. He likes to “muddy the waters” in his discussions. Change the subject when cornered for a single scrap of evidence to support his belief system. It is not even a theory because no science is involved. NONE.

    • Wow. Keen insight. Now submit your startling grade 7 revelation that overthrows 150 years of scientific review to a reputable journal of evolutionary science and revolutionize biology! You’ll be a shoe-in for a Nobel. Well done, Galatian Man. Good catch. I wonder how that slipped by so many others?

      While you are waiting, you may want to glance at the work of Richard Lenski and his team over at Michigan State and come up with another plausible explanation that DOES include your (apparently) singular definition of science. Unless, of course, almost every biologist who grasps and works with evolutionary theory is also an idiot, in which case you need to step up and show what proper science looks like. In either case, I await your revelations with anticipatory awe.