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Friday, April 21, 2017

It's a numbers game... and evolution is losing!

Evolution is a theory fraught with difficulties – so much so that I'm genuinely surprised that people still take it seriously. I'm not talking about answers we don't have – like, a plausible explanation for the origin of the first common ancestor or not finding any fossils for the “innumerable” transitional species Darwin understood must have existed if his theory were true; I'm talking about things that we do know, scientifically, that make evolution impossible.

Let me give you a thumbnail sketch of how the theory is supposed to work. Some people conflate evolution with natural selection. Natural selection is the opposite of evolution. If you start with a population of light and dark moths, and birds continuously eat (i.e. “select”) the light moths, you will eventually have a population of only dark moths. Natural selection can only “select” from traits already present in the population. You cannot add new colors by continuously removing colors no matter how long it continues. For evolution to be possible, you have to add new traits to a population. To turn a dinosaur into a bird, for example, you would have to add feathers. Get it? Natural selection is not a mechanism that can add new features to a population.

The only candidate for a mechanism that adds new features to a population is genetic mutation. Mutations are an observed phenomenon where duplication errors in the DNA of a the parent creature are passed along to its offspring. Most of these errors are neutral and are not expressed in the offspring. Even though they aren't expressed, though, they still exist in the genome. Sometimes, the mutations are expressed and can be harmful or fatal to the host. On very rare occasions, a mutation can convey a benefit to its host.

One example of an observed, beneficial mutation is tusk-less elephants. Ivory poachers will shoot elephants for their tusks. However, due to a genetic mutation, some elephants are born without tusks and so poachers won't shoot them. This is a benefit to the elephant. These elephants tend to live longer and pass the “tusk-less” mutation onto its offspring. In recent years, there has been a noticeable surge in the numbers of elephants born without tusks. But this type of mutation is not the trait-adding kind of mutation that could make evolution possible. Elephants being born without tusks does not explain how dinosaurs could acquire feathers.

The supposed first ancestor did not have feathers, hair, skin, scales, bones, blood, eyes, or organs of any kind. To turn a molecule into a man would require a billions of years long parade of novel features being added generation after generation. If evolution has happened, we should have many examples of observed, trait-adding mutations. We don't. In all my years of asking for examples of novel features appearing in a species, I continuously hear the same 3-4 questionable examples.

Trait-adding mutations are either astonishingly scare or non-existent. Evolutionists, however, are not deterred by the glaring lack of examples. Time is the hero of their fairy tale. In a 4 billion year old world, a new feature every million years or so is enough to rescue their theory. I'll tell you why it doesn't.

Are we agreed that trait-adding mutations are infrequent? OK. How often can we agree that they happen? Is it once every hundred mutations? Surely, it's not that often. I don't think it happens at all but, for the sake of argument, I could say it's more like 1 in 10,000 or even 1 in 100,000. Actually, in a moment you'll see why higher numbers are worse for evolution but I'm going to be very, very generous and say it's 1 in 1,000. Now, let's look at some math.

If 1 in every 1,000 mutations is a beneficial, trait-adding mutation for the host, then for the host to inherit 2 beneficial mutations means there will have been 1,000,000 neutral or harmful mutations (1,000 x 1,000). To inherit only 3 means there will have been 1,000,000,000 neutral or harmful mutations in the genome (1,000 x 1,000 x 1,000). Can you see where this is going? The genome is deteriorating 1,000 times faster than it is improving. To inherit even a handful of successful mutations comes at the great expense of billions and billions of unsuccessful mutations. How many successful mutations would it take to turn a molecule into a man? How long could such a wasteful process continue before the entire genome becomes too corrupted to sustain life? Remember, this is assuming 1 beneficial mutation in every 1,000. If it were 1 in 10,000, then 2 successful mutations comes with the burden of 100,000,000 other mutations!

In 1995, A.S. Kondrashov published a paper in the Journal of Theoretical Biology where he discussed contamination of the genome by very slightly deleterious mutations. Over time, the ratio of harmful mutations to good mutations should become unbearable and he says, This paradox cannot be resolved by invoking beneficial mutations or environmental fluctuations. In the title, he asks, Why have we not died 100 times over?” Can you see now the problem that he saw? Any small success a mutation might mean for a species comes with many more mutations that should eventually kill it. It's a numbers game... and evolution is losing!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Is creationism driving young people out of the church?

In my last post, I made some comments about an articled titled, 5 Ways Creationism Is Bad For Christianity. Just recently, someone I am friends with on FaceBook linked an article from the Huffington Post titled, Creationists Drive Young People Out Of The Church. The headline might sound similar to my last post but I'm going to make different points. Bear with me.

My first thought when I read that article was that it is fake news. It's not fake in the sense that I don't believe it's correct (although it is very misleading). I'm saying it's fake in the sense that it's not news. Does anyone really believe a left-leaning site like The Huffington Post is at all concerned with young people leaving the church? The point of the story isn't, “What are we going to do about these young people leaving the church?” It's more like, “Ha, ha. Look at how stupid these young people think creationists are.” The author seems to want to shame people away from believing in creation. It's a common tactic which I've written about years ago. Consider this quote from the first paragraph:

Particularly disturbing is the finding that only 27 percent of evangelical pastors “strongly disagree” with the statement that the earth is 6,000 years old.

Do you see what I mean? The author finds a belief in a young earth, “particularly disturbing.” In spite of its headline, the article is less about young adults leaving the church and more about getting Christians to stop believing in creation. But the liberal bias and shoddy reporting of The Huffington Post is not the point of my post today. I was more interested in what my FaceBook friend said. When he posted the link to the article, he commented:

Young Earth Creationists need to think about this.

Now, I can't claim to know exactly what this person was thinking when he said this. He seems to be making the same point that unbelieving evolutionists make when they write similar comments; he seems to be saying to creationists, “Just stop it because you look silly.” Maybe this person was trying to make a legitimate point that completely escapes me. I've thought and thought about his comment and the only thing I can conclude is that it is a blatant appeal to consequences.

Let me ask this: if a six-day, literal, miraculous creation is the correct understanding of the Genesis account, then what else is there think about? If I tell people the truth, and they leave the church, am I wrong for having spoken the truth? Should I not tell the truth for fear of offending someone? What else about the truth should I water down? What if people leave the church because I tell them Jesus was rose from the dead? Another reason cited for people leaving the church is that they are uncomfortable with the exclusivity of Christianity. So then are we to teach universalism instead? Jesus is one way but any way is fine.

If people leave the Church because we believe the Bible about creation, that does nothing to prove a belief in a miraculous creation is wrong. And if creation is correct, then why should we compromise on the truth of it in order to make the Bible seem compatible with the incorrect theory of evolution?

Articles like this one and comments like that made by my FaceBook friend are pointless. It's a worthless argument. But I have something to say to Christians who make these arguments: I think you're doing far more harm than good with your compromise!

The Bible commands us to love God with our minds (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, et al). Evolution is a worthless theory. It is rife with difficulties, it makes no useful predictions, and it has made no contribution to any scientific advancement made in the last century. If a young person is wavering in his faith because he sees a conflict between “science” and the Bible, you need to know how to defend the Bible rather than giving credence to some useless, fairytale dreamed up by men how proudly boast that miracles never happen. Do you think it's helpful to say to an inquisitive youth, “Well, the Bible doesn't always mean what it says”? I think young people are leaving the church because they don't see the church as having any authority. When Christians pick and choose which parts of the Bible they will believe, it sets a bad example that these young people can see.

Jesus faced this same problem during His ministry. He preached the truth and people turned away because of it. John 6:53-68:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.

Jesus spoke the truth. People left following Him because they didn't want to hear the truth. I will be like Peter and accept the truth no matter how difficult it seems. I will not be like those Christians who compromise on the truth of the Bible for the sake of making it seem more appealing.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Is creationism bad for Christianity?

Allen Marshall O'Brien wrote an article on Irenicon titled, 5 Ways Creationism Is Bad For Christianity. Most of it is the same weak arguments I've heard before but, since theistic evolutionists keep trotting out these tired points, I have to keep answering them. Before I get into the points, though, let me just say I'm really getting tired of having to confront other Christians about what should be a non-issue. Evolution is a waste of time in science and, frankly, while many people may believe in evolution, the majority of those don't really give a whit about it. They're not “evolutionists.” I only discuss the issue because there are militant critics out there that use evolution to attack the credibility of the Bible. It's sad that some Christians feel it's important to “reconcile the Bible” with such a useless and godless theory. Evolution is an obstacle to the Faith and the time I spend addressing stupid points like the following is time I could have spent reaching lost people with the truth.

//Sigh// Anyway, here we go.

1. It suppresses critical thinking. Demanding conclusions which rise from evidence is part and parcel of human reasoning. If Christians say, along with Ken Ham, that no evidence could ever change their mind about Genesis 1-3 (or anything else for that matter), then they turn off the only function by which we arrive at logical thought and rational conversation.

There's an old Abbott and Costello skit where Lou “proves” to Bud that 7 x 13 = 28. Obviously, he's wrong but he reaches the same answer by adding, multiplying, and dividing and completely stymies Bud. I see evolution in much that same light. It's a clever explanation of the “facts” and some people have fallen for it completely. It's still absolutely wrong.

If something is true, then it's true regardless of how persuasively anyone might argue to contrary. God created the world miraculously. That's the truth. I will never let someone use clever stories like evolution to make me to believe in a lie.

I would like to ask Mr. O'Brien if he believes the Bible or not? I mean, what sort of evidence might convince him that Jesus isn't Lord? Might he ever change his mind about the resurrection? I admit that I believe the Bible. I believe that Jesus is the Risen Savior. I believe these things for the same reason people believe anything – I'm convinced it's the truth. Now that I've accepted Jesus as my Savior, no criticism will ever make me stop believing. For some reason, O'Brien thinks that's a bad thing.

2. It consciously promotes a lying God. The creation of a “mature” Earth is one way creationists attempt to explain a whole host of scientific evidence. But isn’t it troubling to think that God should make a universe which only looks old and life that looks evolved, then bequeath humanity a contradictory account of the real “truth” on the situation?

On the day that God made Adam, I wonder how old Adam “looked”? Obviously, God created Adam as a mature man who was able to walk and talk and speak. He commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply meaning they were post-pubescent. Was God being deceitful making a man fully-grown even though he was only 1 day old? God made trees with fruit on them ready to eat. Just imagine Adam questioning God saying, “Lord, trees this big with fruit take years to grow so, when you say you made them in a day, I know you mean many years because You're not a deceiver.”

This argument is absolutely ridiculous. If God created a working universe in six days and told us that He did it in 6 days, that's not being deceitful. The irony is that if God did create the universe over billions of years but said He did it in six days, then He really would be a deceiver. Theistic evolutionists believe in a lying god!

3. It disrespects the legitimacy of human culture and the meaning-making power of literature. Ken Ham has said time and again that the Bible rises and falls with the scientific viability of Genesis. In fact, I’d venture to guess that most avid creationists feel this way; they deny that God could/would speak to humankind through ancient, scientifically inaccurate, mythology.

Jesus often taught using parables. When He did this, it was clear that He was not speaking something that was literally true. The Psalms are a collection of poetry that teach spiritual, though not necessarily, literal truths. The Bible uses many literary devices like metaphor, simile, and personification. However, the Bible also talks about historical facts like the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In Luke's chronology from Adam to Jesus, at what point do the people stop becoming myth and start becoming real? At Adam? Noah? Abraham? David? Jesus? How do I know Jesus wasn't a literary device? If we begin assigning the genre of “figurative” to passages that are intended to be literal, then the entire Bible becomes suspect. When we read the Bible, we understand it like we would any other written work – the way the author intended it. Some parts are figurative, some parts are literal, and it's not really that hard to tell the difference.

And by the way, I'm not that concerned with respecting the legitimacy of human culture. I am much more concerned with correctly understanding the revealed word of the Creator.

4. It hinders our vision of Jesus. Tethering creationism to Christianity places an unnecessary obstacle between us and Christ. The slippery-slope rhetoric of creationist pastors and theologians has regrettably set up a false dichotomy between evolution and “true” Christianity.

Jesus believed in the creation and the Flood. When asked about marriage, He cited the creation of Adam and Eve. He mentioned Abel by name in Luke 11:51. He compared His second coming to Flood of Noah. He talks about the events of Genesis as though they were historical events. Conversely, He never suggested even once that the books of Moses were meant to be figurative. At times, He confronted the Pharisees on their abuse of the Law. When He cited Old Testament passages to them, He always relied on a clear understanding of the text and never once appealed to some figurative meaning.

If Jesus treated Genesis as history, what does it say about Him when theistic evolutionists say none of it happened? Why would anyone need the last Adam if there never really was a first Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45)? If His return shall happen suddenly, like the Flood of Noah, what does it mean if there wasn't a Flood?

Theistic evolution destroys the gospel.

5. And yeah, it makes us look really, really silly. The silliest (read: saddest) part of fighting, speaking, preaching, and spending millions of dollars touting creationism is that our fights, speeches, sermons, and millions of dollars are needed elsewhere.

The risk of looking silly is hardly a reason to compromise on God's word. Indeed, Matthew 5:11-12 says that we should rejoice when people mock, insult, and persecute us because we will have a great reward in heaven. I guess that means Christians always have the last laugh.

What else in the Bible might make us look silly for believing it? Are we silly to believe Jesus turned water into wine? Could a person believe it didn't happen and still be a Christian? Maybe. What about feeding the crowd or healing the sick or walking on water? What if I believed in a Jesus that did NO miracles? A Jesus that did no miracles is not the Son of God revealed in Scripture but is just an insane, lying rabbi who was executed along with a couple of thieves and is still buried somewhere. Likewise, the god of evolution is an impotent god who is bound by the physical laws he supposedly created and is indistinguishable from dumb luck. I will not let scoffers shame me into believing in some farce of a god.

Regardless, O'Brien is missing a major point. Richard Dawkins once said that Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. The rate of atheism among scientists is greater than the general population. Secular theories of origins are obstacles that hinder people from coming to the faith. Theistic evolution and theories that compromise the Bible to make it “compatible with science,” do harm to those people who don't think God is necessary to explain the origin of the universe, of life, or of man. Telling them that God guides evolution sounds as compelling as saying gravity is accomplished by angels dragging the planets in their course. Theistic evolutionists should stop wasting their time trying to explain how “six days” (as in Exodus 20:11) really means billions of years.  It makes them look silly.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bill Nye on video lying about evidence!

Bill Nye on video lying about evidence! I wrote that headline to grab people's attention. It's a little sensational, I'll admit, but I still mean it to be literal. I'm referring to the 2 hour video released by Answers in Genesis where Nye debates Ken during a tour of the recently opened Ark Encounter. Is it just me or is Nye really that rude of a person? He referred to several AiG staff scientists as “incompetent,” despite their doctorate degrees from reputable colleges like Harvard or Ohio State; he told Ken Ham he needed to study geology more; he told Ark visitors they needed to go to university; and concluded his tour saying that he couldn't be friends with someone like Ken Ham, though he might try to rescue him if he were drowning or something like that. That last comment was real big of you Nye! //RKBentley rolls his eyes// Look, there are people with whom I disagree but who aren't jerks. Bill Nye is a jerk. Maybe it's not very Christian of me to say that. I must say that Ken Ham was very gracious with Nye, even praying for him after Nye's comment that he might rescue him from drowning (which I guess also means he might not). But you can see in the video that Nye seemed to annoy even Ham at different times.

Anyway, back to my point of Nye lying. I haven't counted, but I would guess Nye used the term, “evidence” at least fifty times during his tour of the Ark. How he used the term, though, was often, grossly misleading.

Before I get into Nye's use of the word, let me talk a little bit about what evidence is and what it's not. Evidence is raw data. It's facts or observations. Contrary to the popular expression, facts don't really speak for themselves. Evidence just is. What we do, then, is look at the evidence and invent theories to try to explain why the evidence is the way it is. What is this thing? How did it get here? What might I conclude from it? Theories are our attempts to make sense of the evidence. A good theory should seem to explain the evidence reasonably well. In any case, the evidence itself is mute and doesn't care about our theories. In other words, the evidence is never really “for” a theory.

Some people, like Nye, conflate their theories with the evidence. During the video, Nye routinely makes comments like (paraphrasing), “All the evidence says that the earth is 4.5 billion years old.” Do you see what I mean? The evidence doesn't say anything. Bill Nye subscribes to a theory – his interpretation of the evidence – that says the earth is billions of years old. But he never says, “My theory is that the earth is billions of years old”; he merely repeats over and over, “The evidence says it.”

Evolutionists believe they have a monopoly on the evidence. It's sort of a game of dibs where, once evolutionists explain the evidence, that evidence is not available to explained by any other theory. The earth can't be young because they've already said it's old. There is no evidence for creation because it's already been used for evolution! Evolutionists do this so that when we disagree with their theory, it looks like we're disagreeing with the evidence. Tsk, tsk.

Nye certainly did this in the video. On a couple of occasions, Ken Ham tried to pin Nye down on the differences between the evidence and the conclusions we draw on the evidence. About 52 minutes into the video, for example, Ham and Nye are talking about tree rings. It's Nye's contention that there are living trees that can be dated to before the time of the Flood based on their rings. Ham counters that the rings aren't evidence in the sense that Nye is using them. Rings are something that simply exist in the present. We could count the rings of a tree and extrapolate backwards (4,000 rings means 4,000 years old) but we know that trees sometimes grow more than one ring per year. So 4,000 rings is the evidence and 4,000 years is a conclusion about the evidence. Even after Nye acknowledged that multiple rings can grow in trees each year, when Ham asked him if he could then be wrong about his conclusion, Nye stubbornly refused to concede even that simple point. “No. Absolutely not,” Nye says, “.... My interpretation with respect to the age on the earth in this regard is absolutely correct.” Time after time during the entire video, Nye offers his theory while calling it the evidence.

But look, if all Nye did was conflate his theory with the evidence, I wouldn't necessarily say he was “lying” - though it is still grossly misleading. However, Nye made other statements that were even more misleading. At about 1:17 in the video, Ken Ham mentions the account in Joshua where the sun stopped in the sky. Bill Nye replies, “Why would it do that? There's no evidence for that.”

That's very curious. What type of evidence would Bill Nye expect there to be for such an event? Historical events cannot be studied scientifically. I could ask, for example, “Where is the evidence that George Washington crossed the Delaware?” You can't study the river and discover it. The only way we can know it happened is because people who lived at the time wrote that it happened. The written accounts are the only evidence we have. And the evidence we have for Washington's crossing of the Delaware is the same evidence we have for Joshua's long day. Nye doesn't have to believe the written account but to say there is no evidence is a lie.

From there, Nye segues into a point he made several times in the video. He defines science to mean “the search for a natural explanation.” According to Nye, any time you invoke a miracle, it's not science. Of course, however a person defines science does not change what is true. If God stopped the motion of the planets for 12 hours, then that is what happened regardless if Nye thinks it's scientific. Nye desperately wants people to believe that, if something isn't scientific, it's not true. Nye told Ham he was “absolutely” wrong about Joshua's long day. Such a rebuke implies that Nye has absolute knowledge of the event. We know he doesn't. Therefore, Nye's continuous appeals to the “evidence” or to an arbitrary definition of science is pure bluff.

This leads me to Nye's most blatant lie about evidence. While Nye was waxing on about the account from Joshua and how science does not allow miracles, Ham interrupts him and asks, “Why should I accept your definition [of science]?” Nye pauses for a moment, then, with a straight face, replies, “Because we have so much evidence for it.”

You can watch him make the offensive remark at 1:18 on the video. Nye actually claims there is evidence for natural-only definition of science. Incredible! Please, Nye, show me this evidence! Where in the universe can I observe it? Can I put it under a microscope or weigh it on a scale or hold it against a ruler? Can I put it in a test tube?

Perhaps Nye is ignorant about how much of science is based on philosophy rather then evidence. In one Big Think video, Nye admits he's skeptical of some of the claims of philosophy. What he doesn't seem to realize is that his “natural only” view of the universe has a philosophical premise. It's a tenet of science – a belief akin to religious faith.

In his dogged determination to prove Ken Ham wrong, Nye repeated the word “evidence” over and over and over. He said there was no evidence for miracles but there was evidence for his definition of science. Watch the video for yourself. Time and time again, Nye lied about evidence.