Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Use of Exotic Explanations to Perpetuate Flawed Theories

In his reply to a recent post, a frequent visitor to my blog, Steven J, mentioned epicycles. It reminded me of another practice often engaged by scientists, namely the use of “exotic” explanations employed to prop up flawed theories. For people not familiar with epicycles, let me give you a thumbnail description of what they are. In the geocentric (earth-centered) model of the universe, Ptolemy used the notion of epicycles to explain the apparent motion of planets. If a planet simply circled the earth, it should appear to move across our sky in a straight line at a steady speed. However, the planets seemed to move at different speeds and sometimes even seemed to move backward. Ptolemy suggested planets also made smaller orbits around an invisible point called the deferent. It wasn't a terrible idea, really, and it seemed to explain the motions of the planets very well. After all, we could see the planet moving and sometimes it really seemed to be moving backward so the epicycles were “observed”. However, we've since learned that the planets don't circle the earth. What looked like changes in speed was caused by the differences in relative speed between us and the other planets. Epicycles and deferents did not even exist at all!

In a similar fashion, people once believed in a fiery element they called phlogiston. Objects that would burn easily were believed to be rich in phlogiston and objects that didn't burn easily were had little phlogiston.  As an object burned, the phlogiston was released into the air and the object was turned to ashes.  But if it was the phlogiston that allowed the object to burn, then why did objects considered rich in phlogiston not burn in an enclosed space? To explain this, it was suggested the air could only hold so much phlogiston and once the air was completely saturated, it could not receive any more, thus the object could not release any more and so would stop burning. Again, the theory seemed to explain reasonably well what was being observed but we've since learned that it is the oxygen in the air that allows objects to burn. Phlogiston did not even exist at all!

Things like epicycles, deferents, and phlogiston were the symptoms of flawed theories. They seemed to smooth out problems with the theories but the real problems laid in the theories themselves. Yet as long as the underlying theory persisted, more and more fanciful sub-theories had to be invented to keep the failed theory afloat. You might call it the “fudge factor.”

So where am I going with all this? Well, when it comes to secular theories of cosmology, I've seen a lot of same behavior among scientists. There are several crazy, er... I mean, “exotic”... explanations that have been invoked in order to hammer down stubborn difficulties with their theories. Actually, I'm only using the term “exotic” to be nice. These theories are so insanely ridiculous that I suspect that deep down even their most staunch proponents don't sincerely believe them. They merely cling to them because without them their entire worldview completely fails.

There are several crazy ideas put forth by the long-age scientists. If I wrote just a couple of paragraphs on each one, it would make one very long post yet would still not give each idea enough explanation. What I thought I would do instead is make a short series where I spend a few paragraphs discussing each one. Here are some of the ideas I intend to discuss:
  • The “balloon model” of the universe
  • Hyperinflation cosmology
  • Dark matter/energy
  • The Oort Cloud
If I think of some other, extreme examples, I may include them too but at the very least, I will include these. Keep checking back!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Their Smugness Kills Me

So, I was perusing Yahoo! Answers again, hoping to be inspired with something to write on my blog when I came across this gem:

Can religious people (Christian's and Muslims) Survive an education invasion?
In the past thousand of years ago people belive that god created the first man and women adam and eve.

Now when people are getting, better education and scientific studies on top that we know that Adam and eve. Was fake and human evolution tells us there was homo erectus neanderthal cro magnon and modern human homo sapiens which came out of Africa and spread all over the world.

Since more people are getting smarter they now know that religious myths and. Superstitions are just to keep people down, Christian's how will you stop people from becoming smarter the next. Generations of people who will become doctors scientists and so on?

Do I even need to explain why questions like this annoy me? This person stereotypes all Christians (actually all religious people) as uneducated simpletons who fear education – and not only for themselves, this person alleges we fear anyone becoming educated. He goes so far as to suggest we're trying to stop people from “becoming smarter.” Why do critics have to resort to such tactics? Beyond the straw man representation of Christians, the whole question reeks of snobbery.

By the way, the user who asked the question was posting under the name, “southasiangurung.” English is probably his second language so I'm going to excuse the terrible grammar – the misspellings, the random use of capitalization, inappropriate punctuation, verbs not agreeing with nouns in number, sentence fragments, etc. Even so, I cannot excuse the premise of his question – namely that generations of “educated” people (by “educated” he obviously means “non-religious”) will go on to be doctors and scientists and Christians won't be able to stop them.

I've mentioned before that Yahoo! is a bunch of liberals and on several occasions my answers have been removed for allegedly violating community guidelines. I was a little surprised the first time it happened but I later realized that many liberal people are just offended by religious/conservative viewpoints because I certainly don't include any offensive language in any of my answers. Yahoo! certainly doesn't have time to sit and read every question/answer posted in their forum so they rely on Yahoo! members to report inappropriate comments. So why is it that same type of people who flag my comments as inappropriate see no problem in asking inappropriate questions like this?

The Yahoo! community guidelines says, Yahoo Answers is a diverse community of people with diverse opinions. It is up to each of us to be polite and treat each other with respect. I believe this question violates that point so, just for fun, I reported the question as a violation. It's the only time I've ever done that. I'm more curious to see if Yahoo! handles comments against Christians the same way it handles comments made by Christians.

In the meantime, let me just say that liberals are an intolerant lot. For all their talk about inclusion and equality, you certainly can't see any of it in their attitude toward Christians. They have this attitude that they're the enlightened ones, the educated ones, and the champions of “fairness” while all religious people are just stupid. I need to sign off and get some fresh air. Their smugness stinks.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Monopoly on the Evidence

I guess all writers have their own style. I know I do. For example, I know that I often begin sentences with “I” and “For example.” Anyway, when dealing with a subject that is often misunderstood – like evolution is – I constantly try to seek out new ways to explain the most commonly misunderstood parts. I sometimes try putting my arguments into different words hoping that I strike upon a way to make my point clear. In a recent comment I made to a visitor, I happened upon still a different way to make a point I've made many times before.

I've said over and over that evidence is neutral. It isn't “for” any theory. Rather, theories are invented in order to explain the evidence. A theory might seem to explain the evidence rather well but then later, the theory could still be rejected in favor of a new theory. As theories come and go, the evidence is always the same. The universe just keeps chugging along like it always has and nothing has changed except the theory.

For centuries, the prevailing model of the universe was that the heavenly bodies circled the earth. It's not an entirely unreasonable conclusion. When we look into the sky, the sun, moon, and stars appear to be moving around us in predictable patterns. At the same time, we don't feel like we're moving. The geocentric model seemed to explain well what we were observing. Of course, as we began to observe more of the universe, there were things that weren't explained well and the Ptolemaic model was eventually replaced by our current understanding. In all this time, though, the “evidence” didn't change; we just found a better way to explain it.

What is true of the sun, moon, and stars, is true for all of the evidence for any theory. Every phenomenon simply is and we invent theories to explain what it is, why it exists, and why it behaves the way it does. That's science.

Does anyone disagree with anything I've said so far? Certainly I've made it all very simple and there are some things I could elaborate on but I can't see any point that could be contended. Right? Okay, then. Creation and evolution are no different than any other theory. The scientific evidence for creation is the same evidence that is used for any secular theory of origins. It's the rocks and the fossils and the oceans and DNA and everything else that exists in the physical universe. So, keeping what I've said in mind, why do evolutionists repeatedly say, “There is no evidence for creation”?

Let me try to explain in still a different way how ridiculous that comment sounds. Take something like rock layers. Evolutionists believe that the strata were laid down gradually over millions of years. Where fossils appear in the strata supposedly approximates the time the creatures lived. Therefore fossils found in lower layers represent creatures that lived before the those found in higher layers. Now, because secular theorists have explained the rock layers this way, it seems to be their contention that rock layers cannot be explained any other way. In other words, because evolutionists have explained rock layers with their long age theory, the layers can no longer be used as evidence for a recent creation!

Evolutionists are playing a game of “dibs” on the evidence. Once they explain anything according to their theory, they refuse to let it be considered in any other light. That is why the rock layers can't be young because they've already said they're old. Similarities in features on different animals can't be because of design because they've already said it's because of common descent. There is no evidence for creation because they've already used it all as evidence for evolution!

Admittedly, some theories seem to explain certain things better than other theories do and if evolutionists want to say their theories explains the evidence better than creation does, we can have that discussion. In the meanwhile, I refuse to sit back and let evolutionists pretend they have a monopoly on all of the evidence. I will not be shamed into silence by the absurd statement that there is no evidence for creation. Perhaps Daniel Patrick Moynihan said it best when he said, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Friday, May 23, 2014

Typical Evo Rant

I've mentioned before that I sometimes post on Yahoo! Answers. Many of the questions asked there are on topics that I've already written about on my blog so I usually just copy what I've already written here and paste it there. I then paste a link to my blog so that people might visit if they want to read more. Anyway, one Yahoo! poster (who posts only under the name “Richard” with no avatar) asked the following question:

Why do creationists say there's no evidence for evolution? Is it possible they don't know what they're talking about?

He then cited 4 books he's read about evolution (Wow! Four books!) and concluded his question with this remark:

Countless dozens of evidences for evolution in each book with virtually no overlap. But still creationists say there's no evidence for evolution. Why do they say this even though they're completely wrong?

On my blog, I've written many times about the nature of evidence. I've explained many times that evidence is neutral and isn't “for” any theory but, instead, theories seek to explain the evidence. I had many posts that I could have used to respond to his question but I chose my post, “Evidence for the Tooth Fairy.”

You might visit that post and read it but here's the point I was making: a “Tooth Fairy” might seem to explain all the evidence (the missing tooth, the money under the pillow, etc) but it's still not true. Likewise, the theory of evolution might seem to explain some of the evidence reasonably well but that still isn't “proof” the theory is true.

Richard did not like my answer and posted this comment:

You just compared DNA sequencing and the other powerful evidences for evolution to evidence for the tooth fairy fantasy. Do you have any idea how f*cking stupid that is? Grow up you bloody moron.

Hmmm. Not a very thoughtful rebuttal, wouldn't you agree? As always, I remained calm and tried to respond with substance. I said to Richard:

Do you not understand the concept of analogy? I gave you an obvious example of how "evidence" can support an obviously false theory (like the tooth fairy) in order to demonstrate how theories can seem to explain the evidence yet still be wrong.

It was here that Richard completely blew a gasket. His responded with two more comments:

You compared the tooth fairy fantasy to the strongest fact of science. Take your complaints and your supernatural magic to the world's biologists. You disgust me. Drop dead.

"God made the world as described in Genesis." BULLSH!T. Where's your f*cking evidence? What kind of magic wand did your fairy use? You reject science supported by tons of evidence and instead invoke your Magic Man which has zero evidence. Obviously you're a f*cking idiot. Grow up or shut up tard boy

I got a little chuckle from Richard's rant. I was going to respond again but found that he had blocked me so I couldn't. Discussion and reason are the enemies of liberalism. Unfortunately for him, he can't block me from posting his rant on my blog. I was going to say something like, “You're obviously a very enlightened thinker. Do you persuade a lot of people with arguments like this? 'Grow up or shut up tard boy.' Brilliant!” The funniest thing is that I suspect Richard is probably 12-13 years old judging by how impressive he thinks having read 4 books is, yet he tells me to grow up.

So why am I posting this here? One reason is because I really did get a chuckle from it and thought maybe some of my readers would also. But beyond that, I wanted to show readers the kind of response I often get from militant evolutionists. Certainly, I wouldn't say this is representative of all evolutionists, but Richard has resorted to many of the same arguments I've heard and wrote about many times before. You could say that his is a typical rant.

Besides the scarcely censored profanity (Richard himself had typed it that way, obviously to hide his foul language from Yahoo! Answers) let me spend a few moments pointing out a few of his logical failings.

First, we see the oft use argumentum verbosium or “argument by verbosity,” sometimes called “elephant hurling.” This is where a person throws out lists of terms or lays claim to “mountains of evidence” without ever really making a specific argument. Richard has said there are “countless dozens” [that's an odd term, don't you think?] of evidences for evolution yet in all his rant, he fails to cite a single one. He did say, “DNA sequencing” but that is a simply a method of determining the order of nucleotides in a DNA molecule (per Wiki). It's not “evidence” for evolution. That would be like saying, “digging” is evidence for evolution because that's how paleontologists find fossils.

Did you notice too how he said, evolution is “the strongest fact of science.” I'm not sure if I should include that in with his fallacy of elephant hurling or count it as a separate fallacy. I'm not sure how to label it, though. Some have identified “overstatement” as it's own logical fallacy. If so, this would certainly qualify as such.  "The strongest fact of science?"  Tsk tsk.

Richard also conflates “science” with all of evolution, a tactic I just recently had addressed. He used the term “science” instead of “evolution” when he said, You reject science supported by tons of evidence.” I don't reject science at all. Yet, as I've already said, if I reject “evolution,” I'm accused of rejecting all of science as though science and evolution are the same thing.

Do I even need to point out the obvious use of ad homenim? This is where a person attacks his opponent rather than addressing his argument. I made a valid point, namely that evidence can seem to support even a false theory. Richard never addressed my point but, instead, merely called me names. Likewise, should I mention the frequent use of loaded words? Richard didn't make a case against creation; he merely described it using unflattering terms like “magic” and calling God a “fairy” and “Magic Man.”

I could go on but I've gone on too long already. Let's wrap this up with some life lessons. It's because of people like Richard and Human Ape that I have to moderate my comments. Without it, my comments would be filled with rants and profanities worse than theirs. The simple presence of moderation causes most visitors to reflect on what they will say before they write it. But it's also because of people like Richard and Human Ape that I blog. I want people to hear the truth. People as bitter as they are usually hardened against the truth but I still want them to hear it. Remember the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-7). The Sower didn't just sow in the good earth, he sowed in the hard earth as well.

I also want to encourage other Christians. You will encounter people like this. Don't let them bully you. Don't let them shame you. Be reminded of Jesus' instructions to His apostles: Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).

Monday, May 19, 2014

What Does Noah Have in Common with Barney?

My daughter loved watching Barney the Dinosaur while she was growing up. I mean, she really loved it. She would dance, sing the songs, and be memorized the entire ½ hour the show was on. My wife and I didn't mind so much because barney was a decent show. It taught lessons like sharing, playing nice together, picking up after yourself, and other things kids need to learn. I guess a lot of parents felt the same way because Barney, at least at that time, was enormously popular.

So what does any of this have to do with Noah? I'll tell you. Have you ever been in a kids' Sunday school class where they told Bible stories about Noah, or Daniel, or David? They sometimes color pages with little cartoons of Bible characters. They sing songs and play Bible themed games. They hear life lessons about being nice to other people, obeying your parents, and worshiping God. These are all things that Christians parents should want their kids to learn. It's a lot like watching Barney.

My daughter is 21 now and doesn't watch Barney anymore.

I think Churches sometimes do a disservice to kids by teaching them from the Bible like it's a fairy tale. They might not say it's a fairy tale, but they teach it with the same trappings and trimmings as kids see on Barney. It has the music, the games, and it always seems to end with “a moral to the story.” In their little minds, I'm not really sure how kids can be expected to distinguish between Bible stories taught in this manner and other fairy tales like Barney, Mother Goose, or Aesop's Fables.

When these same kids start school, what might happen? Ask yourself this question: If I wanted to learn about science or dinosaurs or the universe, where might I look? Really. Think about it for a second. Name some places where you might learn about science. Next ask, If I wanted to learn about morality or religion where might I look? The answers seem obvious. Like it or not, if people want to learn about science or “facts,” the first places they think to look are schools or text books and if people want to learn about religion, only then would they look to the Bible or the Church. People tend to only think of the Bible as a book about religion. If they want to learn about the “real world,” then you have to go to school or turn to science.

We are telling kids that schools are important and will teach them things they need to know about the world. We believe it ourselves. So when these kids go to school and hear that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, there really was no Flood, and men used to be apes, I think they're apt to believe it. Worse yet, these things directly contradict the “stories” they heard in Sunday school. On Sunday, they sing songs like, Oh God said to Noah, 'There's gonna be a floody floody....' Then they go to school on Monday and hear that there really was no Flood. Which do you think they'll believe? The nursery rhyme or the “facts” they learned in school?

Simply telling children that we don't believe in evolution isn't enough. Imagine a group of kids going to a museum and seeing the fossils of dinosaurs, seeing stone tools used by “ape-men,” and reading that these things lived hundreds of thousands or even millions of years ago. To them, these are “facts.” This is “evidence.” They might ask their Sunday school teacher about evolution or if dinosaurs really lived millions of years ago. The Sunday school teach might answer, “Oh, we don't believe that.” A curious child might ask, “No? Then what do we believe?” The teacher answers, “We believe that, 'God said to Noah there's gonna be a floody floody....' You can see how that's not convincing.

Christ called us first to preach the gospel. He then commanded us to make disciples. Preaching the word is only have the job; we also must be teachers. When we teach the Bible to children, I think we should approach the task in much the same way that kids learn in school. We don't just talk about a man named Noah. Instead, we explain that he was a person who lived in history. When they find a fossil (probably of a shell), it's evidence that this place was once under water – just like the account of Noah tells us. Instead of showing cartoons of Noah's Ark with Noah standing on the deck of the Ark in a raincoat surrounded by a menagerie poking out of every window, we need to show them to scale drawings of what the Ark might have looked like. When they ask us about fossils of dinosaurs or Neanderthals, we need to show them how these things are explained by the Bible.

Making lessons interesting and understandable to kids is fine. But above all else, we need to be sure that they understand that the “stories” from the Bible are real events that happened in history. David, Daniel, and Noah were real people just like their moms and dads are real. We need to explain that Barney is just a character like Sponge Bob.

Kids grow up and they stop believing in Barney.  We don't want them to grow up and stop believing the Bible.  Noah is really nothing like Barney.