Thursday, July 23, 2015

Answering the 10 Theological Questions That No Young-earth Creationist Can Answer: Part 2

3. If physical death is part of the punishment for sin, why do Christians still die?

It's questions like this that really alarm me about the theology of theistic evolution. What is Francke saying? That physical death has no part in the punishment for sin? If that were true, then why does the Bible say that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22)? Why does Old Testament Law establish a system of sacrifices? Most importantly, why did Christ have to physically die?

We die physically because we are descended from Adam and we have inherited his body of flesh. God has redeemed us but it is not so that we can live an eternity in these clay vessels. The Bible is clear that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 15:50) so if our spirits are to be delivered, it will not be until we are rid of these cursed bodies. Paul lamented to the Romans, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24). I've written before that I believe God put Adam out of the Garden before he could eat of the Tree of Life precisely so that Adam would not live forever physically in his fallen state. It was an act of mercy and not one of judgment.

Conversely, if sin resulted only in a spiritual death, then why do we die physically? It's not sufficient to simply say, “well, that's just the way it is.” If God used evolution to create, then He would have intended things to die. But why would a loving God create a world where hunger, disease, famine, disaster, violence, and bloodshed are the norm? According to theistic evolution, there have been billions of years of bad, bad, bad, and more bad leading up to God's pronouncement that everything He created was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The idea that God would use evolution to create us makes no sense theologically and, in my opinion, makes God seem very capricious. It makes far more sense to believe that physical death accompanied sin rather than believe there is no connection.

Certainly there is a spiritual consequence to sin, but there is a physical one as well.

4. Why was Eve named “mother of life”?

Francke's point here is that, if Eve brought death into the world through her sin, then why did Adam name her Eve because she was the “the mother of all life.” Wouldn't, “the mother of death” be more appropriate?

It's a weak point. First, Eve is ultimately the mother of all the human race so it seems fitting to describe her as the mother of all who have lived. Indeed, that is precisely why she was named Eve. God's command to Adam and Eve was that they should multiply and fill the earth. Obviously, Adam had that in mind when he named her, “Eve.”

But Francke seems to gloss over a critical doctrine; God ultimately holds Adam responsible for the Fall. You will note in Genesis 2 that God commanded Adam to not eat of the Tree before Eve was created and warned that when he did, he would die. There's no record that God repeated the command to Eve. As a matter of fact, Eve misquotes the command to the Serpent adding “neither shall ye touch it,” so she is most likely repeating a command given to her by Adam.

Eve's mistake was that she listened to the Serpent. She believed the lie that nothing bad would come from eating the Forbidden Fruit. She admits to God that she was “beguiled” by the Serpent (Genesis 3:13). There is no record of lying or coaxing before Adam ate. His was a deliberate act of disobedience.

When the three stand before God, they each receive a punishment. However, you will see that God prefaces His judgment on Adam by saying, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it....Genesis 3:17.

It was only to Adam that God gave the command to not eat of the Fruit. When Adam and Eve disobeyed, God held Adam accountable and cursed the entire creation for his sake.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Answering the 10 Theological Questions That No Young-earth Creationist Can Answer!

I came across an article online titled, 10 Theological Questions No Young-Earth Creationist Can Answer. In the article, the author, Tyler Francke, tries to build a case that many points in young earth creationism are not supported by the Bible.

Headlines like this have always annoyed me. Besides sounding presumptuous, the “questions” asked have usually been answered many times before. What the authors are trying to do is make their argument seem irrefutable merely by claiming their questions can't be answered. It borders on dishonesty. I would rather they used headlines more like, “10 Questions for Creationists.”

As always, I recommend you click the link and read the article for yourself. The author expounds on each question he asks so if you just read the question by itself, you may not appreciate the full scope of what the author means by asking the question.

As he expounds on each point, Francke anticipates what he thinks are the most probable answers from creationists. This is a rather ordinary tactic of most debaters but I don't think Francke is very successful in overcoming the objections he raises. In some cases, his treatment of the criticism is barely more than ridiculing it. Perhaps he is merely attempting to poison the well by raising the possible answers before his critics can.

The questions in this article are somewhat interesting but they're hardly not answerable. I know I always say I'm going to stop writing series but here I am getting ready to start another. I intend to answer the 10 questions. I'm not going to write 10 posts; instead, I'm going to answer 2-3 answers at a time.

I wonder if, when I'm done, the author will retract his headline? Chuckle.

1. What was the point of the tree of life?

Francke's point in asking this question is that, if God had intended people to not die in the original creation, why would He create the Tree of Life whose purpose seems to be granting immortality to anyone who eats from it? In his own words, why, exactly, did God create a magical tree that grants immortality in a world where every living thing was already immortal?”

First off, I believe we always risk sounding foolish when we begin to ask why God does any certain thing. We simply do not know everything God knows. In asking this question, Francke says the purpose of the Tree of Life is “abundantly clear.” I disagree. If the Tree of Life were pointless in the initial creation where there wasn't any death, then Francke should maybe ask why God also puts the Tree of Life in the new creation (Revelation 22:1-2, 14)? After all, the Bible is perfectly clear there will be no more death (Revelation 21:4) so, according to Francke's logic, God has no reason to put a Tree of Life in the new creation. Yet there it is.

What does seem clear from the text is that the Tree of Life does have a role in a world where there is no death. I admit I'm not completely sure of the purpose of the Tree of Life but, unlike Francke, I will grant that God knows what He's doing.

2. If human sin is the reason animals die, why can’t they be saved?

Let’s recap: young-earth creationists believe all death, even animal death, is a consequence of human sin. Now, ignoring for a moment the fact that the Bible never once actually says animal death is a consequence of human sin

The author dismisses 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, saying it only describes human death. I suspect he would make the same argument about Romans 5:12, even though that verse is a little more compelling. Before I address the animals, I would ask Francke what these verses mean in relation to human death? According to his blog, he believes in a god of evolution which means men have always died. Death was in the world – including death in the supposed homo ancestors – long before there was sin. So while he may claim these verses only describe human death, he doesn't explain exactly how that works in the theistic evolution paradigm.

Of course, we know the Curse wasn't limited to Adam. Genesis 3:17 attests that God cursed even the ground because of Adam's sin. The world would no longer be the paradise He created but that the ground would now bring forth thorns and thistles. Furthermore, Romans 8:22 says, “...the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. So the notion of a very narrow Curse that is limited to death among men but having no change on anything else is contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible.

The crux of the matter, though, is that man is separate from the animals. We alone are created in the image of God and have a spiritual dimension that is not present in animals. The earth and the animals were created to be our dominion and for our service. Christ died to redeem the descendants of Adam; not the animals. So, no. Animals can't be saved.  Don't get me wrong, though. God has a plan for the creation.  He redeemed us by His own blood and He also will restore the creation. 

Animals are described in Genesis 1 as “living” (nephesh) in the same way people have life. Since there was no death in the initial creation, neither would animals have died. Indeed, prior to the Fall, animals were not carnivorous. Genesis 1:30 says,  

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

When the curse has ended, so will death among animals end. Isaiah 11:6 is habitually misquoted as, “The lion shall lay down with the lamb.” The verse actually says,

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

When death began among men, it also began among the animals. When death has ended among men, so will it end among the animals.  The fate of the creation turns upon man's relationship with God. There is no separate salvation for animals.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What about my rights?

There isn't a law that says gay people can't marry. It's just that there hasn't been a law compelling everyone else to recognize a gay marriage.... until now.

You've probably already heard that the Supreme Court has just ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide. But I say again, whoever said they didn't have the right to marry? I don't know every law on the books in every state but I do know that most laws against sodomy were overturned years ago. There is no law, to my knowledge, that says same sex people can't marry. I'm sure they can find a pastor, have a ceremony, exchange vows, and live together happily ever after without fear of anyone from law enforcement knocking on their door and hauling them off to jail for it. Gay marriage isn't “illegal.”

Alas, gay couples weren't content with just having the right to marry. They also wanted everyone else to recognize their marriage as being legitimate. This ruling, then, doesn't free gays from some imagined shackles and finally allow them to marry. They already had that. Instead, it places shackles on me and forces me to acknowledge gay marriage as being normal. The ruling doesn't affect the 1-3% of people who are gay; it places a burden on the 97% plus of us who aren't.

So let's say I owned a piece of property and, because of my religious convictions, I did not want to rent it out to a gay couple? Then it's too bad for me. What if I, as a Christian business owner, did not want to spend money buying benefits for the gay spouse of my employee? Again, too bad for me. If I owned a catering company that doesn't want to cater a gay wedding, the gay couple is free to find someone who will. But that's not enough for them. They want to sue me. They want to use the law to force me to violate my religious convictions.

My right to exercise my religion is pushed to the back of the bus whenever a gay person wants to sit down. There wasn't a law against gay marriage but now there's a law that can close my business, take my property, and maybe put me in jail for standing by my religious beliefs. I've said it before and I'll say it again: liberals are tyrants!

When Jesus was asked about marriage, He said:

Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female... For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? (Matthew 19:4-5)

God created marriage and He defined it as one man and one woman. I don't care what the Supreme Court says. I don't care what the gay community says. All the gay “couples” out there, listen to me very carefully: You're not married!!

So there! Sue me!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'd say their theory is bird-brained but birds are smarter than that.

From a Scientific American article:

Darwin concluded that color differences between sexes in birds... result largely from female preference for bright colors in males. This general rule has received much support since Darwin's time, but other influences have also been noted. For example, females of species that are exposed to predators while incubating tend to have dull colors.

Sometimes I'm fascinated with how evolutionists' minds work. Secular scientists claim they go wherever the evidence leads. In practice, though, they only go where evolution can lead them. As we study birds, for example, they don't ask, “Why are some birds brightly plumed?” Instead they ask, “Why did bright plumage evolve?” Evolution is the paradigm through which they interpret the evidence. Therefore, their conclusions will always seem to support evolution. It's a vicious, circular argument.

Let's consider the quote from Scientific American. Their point is that bright feathers in male birds evolved because female birds are attracted to the bright feathers (known as sexual selection). At the same time, female birds have drab plumage because, during nesting, bright feathers would make them more visible to predators. In both cases, there seems to be an obvious survival benefit in having bright or drab feathers. The evidence, therefore, could be said to support evolution. This is a standard argument which I've heard made many times before. Such simple attempts to describe the origin of bright plumage sound plausible at first. However, I don't believe they can stand up to scrutiny. I see in them a host of unanswered questions.

First, explanations like this still don't answer why bright feathers evolved. I know what they're trying to say: that the male birds with the brightest feathers are the most successful in attracting mates so the brightest plumage is selected more often over the drab. But evolution is not a directed process. The desire for bright plumage does not cause bright plumage. That would be sort of like saying that dinosaurs evolved into birds because they wanted to fly. For females to select bright feathers in a mate, bright feathers must already be present in the population. If there is not bright plumage, sexual selection will not create them no matter how hot the hens think colorful feathers are!

This tactic of using the survival benefit of a feature as the explanation of why the feature evolved is prevalent in evolutionary philosophy. I wrote about this a while back after reading an evo-article that said crying evolved as a way for humans to garner sympathy from each other. No it didn't. Still, I hear stories like this all the time: lions evolved heavy manes to protect themselves while fighting. Giraffes evolved long necks so that they could reach the leaves at the tops of trees. Poisonous frogs evolved bright colors to warn away predators. The list goes on and on. It's about as ridiculous as believing that Michael Jordan grew tall in order to play basketball. Merely pointing out the survival benefit of a trait is not a sufficient explanation of how or why the trait evolved.

Another funny thing about these types of explanations is that they are so flexible that they can describe anything. Male birds evolved bright feathers to make themselves more attractive to females while females of the same species evolved drab feathers in order to make them less noticeable to predators. Wow! Members of the same species evolved completely opposite traits in exactly the same environments for completely different reasons.

I've also heard that humans evolved altruism because there is a survival benefit in a peaceful, cooperative community. Except, of course, when we express aggressive behaviors like fighting, raping, and killing each other. In that case, years of field research has taught us that we're acting the same way as our cousins, the chimpanzees. One story... er, I mean, “study,” says that we're monogamous because that insures the greatest chance of rearing our progeny to maturity; but another story says we're habitually unfaithful because our evolutionary success hinges upon leaving the greatest number of offspring.

I'm reminded too how often we hear that similar structures in different species are the result of shared ancestry – except when they're the result of convergent evolution. How predictive can any scientific theory be if it can be used to explain anything – even completely opposite results in the evolution of members of the same species?

Yet perhaps the funniest thing about the Scientific American's explanation is the seeming circular nature of it. Think about it: make birds evolved bright feathers because female birds are attracted to bright feathers. It's a tautology. The next question should be obvious: why are female birds attracted to bright feathers? If evolution were true, the preference for bright feathers is also an evolved trait. The evolution of bright feathers isn't necessary unless a preference for bright feathers had already evolved. Yet how could a preference for bright feathers evolve before there were bright feathers? What a pickle! And by the way, what survival benefit is there to the species for the female of a species to be attracted to the males who are the most visible to predators? That part of the equation isn't as neatly explained.

It's sad, really, that scientists waste their time inventing these “just so” stories that have no value as scientific theories and, frankly, don't even explain anything. They then foist these half-baked ideas upon the unsuspecting public and have the nerve to be appalled that lay people just don't understand evolution. Is this the kind of evolution Bill Nye believes kids need to learn in order to be good scientists?

Good morning, class. Today we're going to talk about bird evolution. Please turn off your critical thinking skills and don't ask any questions.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

Failed Predictions of Evolutionary Theories

The strength of any scientific theory is measured by its ability to make predictions. It works sort of like this: I might have a guess about what causes (or caused) some phenomenon. I would then say, “If my theory is true, I would expect to find this other thing.” If that other thing is found, it gives weight to the theory that it might be correct. If that other thing is not found, then it could be evidence that the theory is not correct.

I'll give you a hypothetical example of how this works. Before we ever went to the moon, pretend that I insisted that the moon is made of cheese. If my theory were true, I could predict that any rock brought back from the moon would actually be cheese. Technically, theories are never “proven” to be true. If the rocks brought back from the moon did turn out to be cheese, it still doesn't mean the entire moon is made of cheese – it could have been just those few rocks. Even so, it does make my theory seem more likely. However, if all the rocks brought back turned out to be ordinary rocks and none were cheese, it's very strong evidence against my theory.

Some people claim evolution is a strong theory that has made many successful predictions. What they always fail to discuss is how evolution is so plastic a theory that it's virtually impossible to falsify and even some of the things we might predict if the theory were true are epic fails. I thought I'd take a moment and discuss just a few of evolution's failed predictions.

Radiometric dating: Certain, naturally occurring substances are unstable and so will decay over time until it becomes a stable substance. Uranium, for example, decays over time and eventually becomes lead. The rate at which the decay occurs varies from substance to substance. Some decay at an extremely slow rate while others decay more rapidly (relatively speaking). By measuring the ratio of the parent/daughter elements (uranium/lead, for example), scientists can estimate how long the decay has been occurring. Many scientists consider radiometric dating to be the final word in determining the age of any sample and it is from radiometric dating that many people are convinced that the earth is very old. If radiometric dating actually dates things accurately, we could make a few predictions:

Prediction #1: Newly formed rocks should not have any of the daughter element present and should show an age of “zero.”

Results: Rocks formed at the Mt St Helen's eruption were dated using potassium/argon dating, the samples yielding ages up to 2.8 million years even though the known age of the rocks was 10 years old. FAIL.

Prediction #2: Carbon 14 is an unstable element found in all living things. As living things breath and eat, they accumulate C14. Once the thing dies, the C14 begins to decay and becomes C12. The key difference in this radiometric dating method and those discussed in the previous paragraph is that the decay rate of C14 is much quicker than many other types. It has a half-life of only 5,730 years. Due to its short half-life, we can predict that samples more than 100,000 years old should have no detectable C14 remaining in them.

Result: An 8 year long endeavor by creation scientists known as the RATE project, has found it is impossible to find any old samples without detectable levels of carbon. Even diamonds, the hardest natural substance and virtually impossible to contaminate, consistently yield trace C14 even though they are supposed to be a billion years old. FAIL.

Progression in the Fossil Record: According to secular dating, the rock layers represent the accumulation of sediment being laid down over time. The layers further down are older than the layers above them. Where fossils are found in the layers supposedly represents when those creatures lived. Creatures found in fossils in lower strata lived before the creatures found above them.

Prediction #3: If evolution were true, there should be a clear progression of simple to complex in the fossil record where the older creatures are more primitive than the younger creatures.

Result: Dinosaurs allegedly evolved into birds. However, I recently wrote about feathers identified as 78 myo yet are still described as being “nearly identical to those of modern birds.” I also wrote about the supposed human ancestor, Australopithecus afarensis. This very ape-like creature was found in the same age of rocks as the Laetoli Footprints which are described as “almost indistinguishable from modern human footprints,” matching our feet in both the toe pattern and stride. In both of these cases, and many others I could cite, we see evidence of modern creatures living simultaneously as their supposed ancestors. There is no clear progression in the fossils of simple to complex. FAIL.

Transitional Forms: Evolution is a history of descent with modification. A lobed fin becomes a leg which become wing. A fold in the skin becomes a scale which becomes a feather. The structures found on every creature of every species are simply adaptations of more primitive structures found on the creatures' ancestors.

Prediction #4: If evolution were true, we should expect to find volumes of fossil evidence showing creatures in transition from one species to another. In Darwin's own words, innumerable transitional forms must have existed.... [J]ust in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, be truly enormous.” We should not be able to turn over a shovel of dirt without finding another transitional form.

Result: Darwin himself was surprised that we didn't find, “every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links.” After more than a century and a half of looking, and the trillions of fossils that exist, evolutionists have – at most – a few dozen examples of transitional forms and even most of these are suspect. The “innumerable” amount we would expect to find are simply not there. FAIL.

The Appendix: As we've already discussed, evolution is a history of descent with modification. Over time, some structures have supposedly lost their original function and have either become useless or have been adapted for some completely different function. Such structures are called, “vestigial.” The appendix is perhaps the most touted example of a vestigial structure.

Prediction #5: The appendix appears in many different species of mammals. If descent with modification has occurred, we should be able to trace the appendix along the so called, “tree of life” and find that all the creatures who have an appendix also share a common ancestor.

Result: The appendix appears in some species of primates, rodents, and even marsupials but is absent from the intermediate groups linking these species. It appears on the tree of life in no discernible pattern. FAIL.

Tiktaalik: I bring this up because it is often cited by evolutionists as an example of a successful prediction made by their theory. It was even used by Bill Nye in his debate against Ken Ham. The most commonly accepted understanding of history is that life began in the sea and evolved onto land. If this has occurred, scientists would expect to find fossil evidence of creatures with structures in transition from sea-to-land.

Prediction #6: Based on their understanding of when the supposed transition of sea-to-land occurred, researchers began exploring an area of exposed, Devonian deposits in the Canadian Arctic in hopes of finding fossil evidence of a creature in transition from sea-to-land. They found Tiktaalik. According to one website detailing the prediction, “Not only was it exciting to find a new species, but it was made all the better by the fact that scientists had predicted the existence of a creature like this all along.”

Result: A few years after the discovery of Tiktaalik, a track of fossilized footprints belonging to a tetrapod were uncovered in a quarry in Poland. They were dated according to evolutionary dating methods to be 18 million years older than Tiktaalik. This would mean that fully evolved, ambulatory tetrapods were walking around millions of years before their supposed ancestor, Tiktaalik, ever lived (see failed prediction #3). FAIL.

In summary, I'll just say that I'm not sure of any successful predictions the theory of evolution has made. Many of those that endure are what I call, “predictions after the fact,” like “if evolution were true, I would predict that creatures could reproduce.” These types of “predictions” are worthless. I only know that there are many, many failed predictions. It's generous that we still even call it a “theory.”