googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Ignorance on Display at the Creation Museum

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ignorance on Display at the Creation Museum

There was ignorance on display at the Creation Museum. No, I’m not talking about my good friends at Answers in Genesis. I’m talking about a group that visited there recently. There was a nerd… I mean “paleontologist”… convention held at the University of Cincinnati and a group of 80 of the nerds… I mean paleontologists… decided to take a fieldtrip and tour the museum. OK, I know I should be nicer because, after all, the museum’s tour guide greeted the group graciously saying, “Praise God, we are excited to have you here.”

So, what was their impression of the museum? The Courier Journal characterized their responses this way, “some were skeptical, some were amused, some were offended.” That’s typical. Professional evolutionists like these are militant about their beliefs. They don’t just disagree with creationists – they loathe them! Weren’t any of them curious? Weren’t any of them surprised? Didn’t any of them learn anything? No, I guess that’s expecting too much.

But even though their snobby attitudes are typical, I continued to be annoyed by them. Here are a few of their quotes for your consideration:
“I think it’s a very professional outfit and they put on a good show,” said Jason Rosenhouse, a math professor at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and manager of a blog on evolution. “If you can sort of suspend disbelief, you can see why people get caught up in it.”

Do you see what I mean? The Mr. Rosenhouse’s not-so-subtle implication is that the museum is merely “a good show” but only those people who “suspend disbelief” [sic] could “get caught up in it.” And he didn’t stop there. He went on to say this:

“I hate the fact that this exists,” he added. “But given that it exists, I can see why people would find it compelling.”

Can you believe that? He hates the fact that the museum exists!! I’ve said before that if it were in their power, there would be a pad lock on the museum right now. It’s a textbook example of the attitudes exposed in Ben Stein’s “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed”.

Arnie Miller, a geology professor at UC, echoed Rosenhouse’s sentiments during the tour:

“From a pure audio-visual standpoint, it’s spectacular,” he said. “Part of it I find offensive as a scientist. It’s more than just a different point of view. They contend that if you don’t accept their view of the story in Genesis, you’re responsible for the ills of society.”

Mr. Miller has misrepresented AiG’s position. Here are AiG’s true thoughts on the matter:

The concepts of right and wrong must have an ultimate basis from which to appeal, or else they become simply relative to the culture. This is what we see happening in today‘s Western world. The Bible teaches that God the Creator made men and women for each other, and experience confirms that we are made for each other physically. This was the Creator’s intention and plan. And any deviation from this is outside the created order. So it has been until very recent times, when, backed up by evolutionary ‘science’, the concept of homosexual acts being ‘wrong’ has been changed. Now they are promoted as neither right nor wrong, but a ‘choice’. And, unless one appeals to a Creator who sets the absolute laws for life, who can say this is incorrect? If there is no Creator who has made us and set the rules, then all our morals and ideas of what is right or wrong are simply subjective—what we ourselves decide.

The Courier Journal article concludes:

Julia Sankey, a geology professor at California State University at Stanislaus, said she wanted to know more about the attitudes some of her students are bringing to class.

“I’m not offended, just annoyed,” Sankey said. “Why are we wasting our time on this (evolution debate)? It’s not science, and we’re wasting our time.”

I suppose I should acknowledge that at least she sought to know more about her students’ attitudes but I’m sorry that Ms. Sankey feels she is wasting her time with this. After all, according to various polls, up to ½ of the US population believes in creation. I predict that one day her “it’s already settled” attitude is going to be the undoing of evolution.

Here’s what I predict. One weakness in creation science is the lack of enough practicing scientists. However, thanks to the efforts of creation ministries like AiG, more and more students will become interested in science, they will then study science in college, and eventually become practicing scientists. They will begin doing research, publishing papers, and making contributions to their field. The difference will be that they will be doing it from a creation perspective. When that happens, scientists will be forced to argue the science and can no longer argue by consensus (argumentum ad populum).

I say, let the nerds scoff. They have no idea what’s really going on at the museum!

14 comments:

Blenster said...

Not enough practicing scientists are creationists? Perhaps this is because you have to reject the core principle of allowing the evidence/data show you the truth rather than starting with the "truth" and then trying to justify it. The evidence is quite clear; it takes a serious level of cognitive dissonance to ignore it. Genetics alone is extraordinarily compelling and when combined with the totality of the other lines of evidence it is quite obvious that evolution has occurred for a very long time.

RKBentley said...

Blenster,

Thanks for visiting my blog. I always appreciate it when I get feedback – especially from people who disagree with me. I visited your blog, BTW and see that you are sincere in what you wrote. Your comments were very civil and thought out so I wanted to take the time to reply.

You said:
>Not enough practicing scientists are creationists? Perhaps this is because you have to reject the core principle of allowing the evidence/data show you the truth rather than starting with the "truth" and then trying to justify it.<

I appreciate that you have this very noble opinion of scientists but let’s face it, no one is free of bias. I’ve blogged before about how scientists use their theories to interpret the evidence. It’s no wonder then that the evidence supports their theories.

Let me illustrate this is the most simple and obvious way. Science presupposes a natural explanation. Whenever any phenomenon is observed, scientists don’t immediately believe a miracle causes it. They assume there is a natural explanation for it. Now, in the case of origins, we are here either by natural means or supernatural means. There are no other options. If you rule out the supernatural option a priori, you are necessarily left with the natural option. If you refuse to consider creation, you must believe something like evolution. What else is there? Therefore, scientists’ bias toward the natural blinds them to the supernatural.

It’s like I said in a recent blog: if you are a hammer, everything else looks like a nail. To a scientist, everything looks natural. If you look at the evidence expecting to only see a natural explanation, you are sure to find one.

You said:
>The evidence is quite clear; it takes a serious level of cognitive dissonance to ignore it. Genetics alone is extraordinarily compelling and when combined with the totality of the other lines of evidence it is quite obvious that evolution has occurred for a very long time.<

But the evidence is not “clear.” After I posted this blog I posted another one discussing the recent findings of an OSU research team that has cast doubt on the entire bird-from-dino evolution. The transition of dino-to-bird has been a staple tenet of evolutionary dogma for nearly two decades. Now it looks like it may have been wrong all along. The biochemical and morphological comparisons which once “proved” the transition are now suspect. And what do scientists say about it? “Oh well, maybe we were wrong about that sub-theory but we’re still right about THE theory!”

How many “facts” surrounding evolution must be shown wrong before scientists begin doubting evolution all together? I suggest some people can never be disabused of their belief in evolution. It’s dogma to them. They may claim to go where the evidence leads but they will never let it lead to a miracle!

I could go on but I’ve made this too long already. Thanks again for visiting. Please come back.

God Bless!!
RKBentley

Alex Grigg said...

I'm very much on Blenster's side in this. You say "Science presupposes a natural explanation," but that's not exactly true. Science merely seeks to find the evidence that support any given fact, idea, or theory. The evidence for miracles is severely lacking so science can't just blindly assume that they happen. If you think about it, there's about the same amount of evidence that faerie dust can make you fly as there is that God hand created humans from dirt.

The other thing about science is that you can take into account new evidence and create better theories or adjust existing models. Religion usually does not give you much room to do that. That's why despite mounds and mounds of evidence that evolution has occurred and that the Earth is billions of years old many people such as yourself still believe in creation "science" and think the Earth can't be older than 10,000 years.

RKBentley said...

Alex,

Thanks for your comments. You said, “You say "Science presupposes a natural explanation," but that's not exactly true. Science merely seeks to find the evidence that support any given fact, idea, or theory.”

Allow me to quote for you from the Scientific American Magazine, July 2002:

"Creation science" is a contradiction in terms. A central tenet of modern science is methodological naturalism--it seeks to explain the universe purely in terms of observed or testable natural mechanisms.”

Scientists very much seek only a natural explanation for anything. They certainly accuse creationists with the cliché “god-did-it.” But to scientists “nature-did-it.” They may not know how something happened (such as the origin of life or of matter) but they KNOW God didn’t do it because that’s not scientific!

As I’ve said before, we are here only by natural means or supernatural means. There are no other options. If you exclude one a priori, you necessarily must accept the other by default. When scientists examine the evidence – looking for a natural explanation – they will find one. If you use your theory to explain the evidence, it’s no then wonder that the evidence will support your theory.

Thanks for visiting. Please come back and tell all of your friends about the fundamental, intolerant, right-wing, creationist's blog! :)

God Bless!!
RKBentley

Blenster said...

I am very glad that you’re interested in a reasonable discussion. I know where a calm, logical discussion leads and I’m happy to travel this path with you.

As a short introduction of myself I will state that I used to be a young earth creationist and was raised in a strictly “Christian” household of the “Mormon” persuasion. I was raised to believe that evolution was a lie among many other things. Learning the truth (and here my stubbornness caused me to vigorously pursue the question for many years) led to my passion at helping educate others who have been lied to in the ways I was or who simply have not ever bothered to learn about evolution and science.

It is clear from your post you are not aware of the history of science in any great detail, nor the reasoning behind the use of this method to investigate the world around us. I will endeavor to clarify these points.

You state: “I appreciate that you have this very noble opinion of scientists but let’s face it, no one is free of bias. I’ve blogged before about how scientists use their theories to interpret the evidence. It’s no wonder then that the evidence supports their theories.”

Indeed humans are *not* without bias! This is why we use a system designed to root out and remove bias through vigorous crosschecking and analysis through every conceivable angle. This process is most emphatically *not* called “religion”, which has a long standing history of avoiding change and relying on dogma and “argument from authority” and no history of avoiding bias at all. Instead we use the scientific method to carefully and methodically explore reality and to continually push at our understanding of how things work. There are many examples of paradigm shifts due to established ideas being overturned by new evidence that does not fit old theories. This shows how constant testing and rethinking of assumptions (and biases) leads to corrective movements. You see none of this in religion; there are no corrections to “divine prophecy” and God doesn’t issue corrections.

You go on to comment on “presupposing natural explanations” but it appears you have never logically examined the opposite. What do we gain from the phrase “and then a miracle happens here”? Nothing. We learn nothing from imagining that just because we don’t currently understand some physical process that it must have been done by miracle. We gain nothing from presupposing a miracle and cannot prove such a thing empirically in any case. It is illogical to start with the idea that “magic happened” and doing so gives us no illumination whatsoever.

People have lived under the magical notion that “creation” occurred for many thousands of years and this has led to flawed and distorted concepts of life and biology. For example the bible teaches that the bat is a bird, which we know is absurd. We don’t hold this against Bronze Age nomadic Jews, however, but it’s certainly something someone in modern society should not get wrong. Using modern science, specifically evolution, we now know and understand far, far, far more about the world around us than we did for thousands of years of believing in creation. Recall that the creation concept you are promoting is far older than the modern scientific understanding and has a LOT longer to teach us the truth. It has failed to do so. Science, on the other hand, has begun teaching us so much that we now struggle to manage the massive influx of data we’re faced with and it’s very young compared to Creation mythology.

Blenster said...

You also talk about the “to hammers every problem looks like a nail” analogy without examining how it applies to your position. To you everything can look “magical” (miraculous, if you prefer) because you are looking for magic and not physical reality. Which is more useful for understanding the world around us, learning about physical reality or exclaiming “look, another miracle!” over and over? Which is helping us learn more? Which is helping us improve the quality of life? Which is useful and which is useless?

Humans have marvelous brains and these complex machines are being better understood with each scientific experiment (sadly prayer has failed to lead to similar results). We know, for example, that our brains are fantastic pattern-seeking engines. They are far from perfect, however, and sometimes miss legitimate patters and *often* mistakenly identify false patterns where none exist. One can go on at some length on this topic alone with many examples if you would like to learn more about this. For now suffice it to say that finding false patterns is remarkable “natural” for us and we often use these to rationalize things we do not understand. Religion is a direct expression of this (i.e. “I don’t know why your 3 month old died painfully of cancer, I guess God had a reason” as a consolation message) as are conspiracy theories (people seeking deeper meaning to an important event such as JFK’s assassination; they are uncomfortable with the notion one lunatic with a rifle could do something like that without any larger contextual reason than his own issues).

The evidence IS indeed clear. Finding disagreements on specific aspects of the theory doesn’t invalidate the theory. You mention dinosaur to bird digit numbering, an area of some interesting and subtle research. I suggest you read this for more detailed information: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/06/digit_numbering_and_limb_devel.php
Even if some specific area of a theory is found not to be true, however, it does not mean that the larger theory is also untrue. This is a common mode of thinking from a religious perspective; after all if part of the bible is wrong can we assume other parts are correct? It is the fundamental logical fallacy when dealing with an “argument from authority”. Examples of this already exist within science. Our understanding of gravity, for example, continues to be refined. Newtonian physics was revolutionized by Einsteinian relativity but it didn’t stop things from falling down. Indeed it didn’t even alter the overall facts of how fast things fall down, Newtonian physics is still precise enough to get us to the moon, however relativity builds upon the observed evidence and provides a refined understanding and modeling tools to predict how things will result in the future. Showing that Gravity “breaks down” on extremely small scales (it does – and we don’t yet understand very large scales well yet either) doesn’t invalidate the entire concept of gravity. Something falling UP would, however. It is indeed correct to say that a sub-theory is wrong without it invalidating the primary theory.

A question for you: How could the facts lead to a miracle and if they did, what would this tell us and ho would we know that its really a miracle and not a gap in our understanding?

Thanks for a calm discussion. I look forward to our continued discourse.

RKBentley said...

Blenster,

You’ve raised a lot of points and I appreciate the discussion. I would love to respond point by point but the demands on my time are such that I can’t. But I do want to hit a few of your main points.

First, let me say that I didn’t mean to give the incorrect impression that there’s something inherently wrong with a bias. It seems we both agree that no one is free of bias. My point is that our bias is what shapes our understanding of the evidence. You and I live in the same world and so we have the same rocks, fossils, DNA, etc. We also have the same tools of science to study them. In a real sense, we have the same “evidence” for our theories. The difference is how we interpret the evidence. In spite of the popular saying, facts don’t speak for themselves. We seek to understand the facts and our bias influences how we do that. It becomes our paradigm through which we view the evidence.

The funny thing about paradigms is they are notoriously hard to change. Since we view everything through our paradigm, our paradigm becomes self reinforcing. For example, when you look at an animal, I’m sure you don’t ask yourself, “Did this animal evolve?” You already “know” that it did so instead, you ask yourself, “How did this animal evolve?” It is then that your bias begins interpreting the evidence. In the end, the “evidence” will always support your theory.

Now you asked, “How could the facts lead to a miracle and if they did, what would this tell us and ho[w] would we know that its really a miracle and not a gap in our understanding?”

That’s an interesting question. I say to you that it’s because I understand science that I know a miracle has occurred. Let me quote from a post I made 9/23/08 http://rkbentley.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-is-scientific-evidence-for_8259.html

“Now, I don't dismiss scientific reasoning. I've made it part of the equation. I'm just more open to interpreting reality than many scientists are. As we've already seen, many folks only consider the natural possibilities. By doing this they immediately disqualify one possible explanation - the supernatural one. And if the supernatural explanation happens to be the correct one, then I guess they're screwed from the start and practice "science" in vain. When real people are looking for answers, many of them aren't interested in theories that immediately disqualify what might be the TRUE answer.

Certainly reality includes science but it's not just science. It's especially not the restricted science that limits itself to only what is natural. Jesus rose from the dead. By all accounts, that's a miracle. Did it not happen because it's not scientific? And if He did rise from the dead, doesn't that add weight to the things He promised about our eternal life?

If the Creator of the universe walked on earth, told us how to be saved, and proved His divinity through miracles such as rising from the dead, do I reject that because the resurrection from the dead is unscientific? If I lived in a third world country, and never saw someone doing card tricks, I might believe some doing card tricks was a wizard. But it's because I know that dead men don't rise from the dead that I know a miracle has happened. It's because I know that matter is neither created nor destroyed that I know God created the universe. It's because I know that life only comes from life that I know that abiogenesis is impossible.”

***

Once again I’ve gone on too long. Thank you for indulging me and for visiting my blog. I encourage you to check out my archives since some of the points you’ve raised have been addressed already. Email all of your friends and tell them to visit the intolerant, right-wing, fundamental, creationist’s blog! ;)

God Bless!!
RKBentley

Blenster said...

You seem to have forgotten the part of the conversation where I implicitly state that I used to hold your views. Shifts do occur! It's possible to change. It's inevitable if you search with an open and honest intent for the TRUTH, and not just "what I want to be the truth". Once upon a time I didn't "know" that animal had evolved. It took a couple of years of study and searching out answers to understand how evolution is absolutely the best explanation for nature. Only after that did I really how truly idiotic the notion of "Intelligent Design" is. One of my favorite examples is the human eye, often lauded by Creationists as a perfect example of God's great engineering. No matter how cheap a digital camera you buy you will never find one where the engineer put the power wires over the top of the image sensor. Never will you find a sensor they have drilled a hole in to run the signal wires back to the image processor where software has to compensate to the resulting hole in the data. No one would be that stupid. Except, perhaps, whoever "intelligently designed" our eyes because that's exactly how they're formed.

What evidence do you have for this miracle of resurrection? Specifically, what SCIENTIFIC evidence do you have for this miracle? I ask because this is, after all, a conversation about science leading to a miracle; not faith. Please be aware that the bible is NOT scientific evidence. In point of fact, it's terrible evidence for anything. We've already discussed the undeniable fact that the bible refers to bats as birds. I can get into quite a few other biblical errors as well. Rabbits chewing cud, if you want to stick with biology... Re-reading the bible in an effort to "prove" it to a skeptical friend is what led to my awakening and current agnosticism.

On a side note, have you ever seriously examined the logic behind God making humans and then sacrificing himself as a child of himself to himself (for the weekend) to save us *from* himself and the way he made us? I mean, why even have the tree there? Why even make it possible for the world to be the cold, callous, uncaring place that it is where "evil" seems to "win" with reckless abandon (if you frame such experiences in those terms; I no longer do myself) or even be possible? Is this really the best plan an all-knowing being could come up with?

RKBentley said...

Blenster,

It doesn't appear you've read my own personal history in the creation section of my blog (http://rkbentleycreation.blogspot.com/). I once held your views. I wasn't born a creationist. I didn't become a creationist until I was grown and married. Like you, I looked at the evidence and eventually changed my mind.

As for the design of the eye - your position is typical of armchair quarterbacks. The eye works marvelously in spite of the alledged "backward wiring."

Now to the resurrection. By definition, there can be no scientific evidence for the resurrection because it is a miracle. Though it lacks a scientific explanation, it happened none-the-less. Science is not the final arbiter of what is real and evidence isn't limited to scientific evidence.

Finally, God's plan of salvation makes perfect sense. God is perfectly holy, He is perfectly just, and He is perfect love. He cannot bear sin, the wages of sin is death, yet He gave His own life as the payment for our sin.

God Bless!!
RKBentley

Blenster said...

The eye may function (my need to wear glasses argues against "marvelously") but that's hardly an argument that an intelligent agent would have made such an inefficient and frankly stupid design. This is especially true when you study the eyes of other creatures and see where far better "designs" are used. The eye isn't "wired backwards" (and I haven't said as much); it's incompetently designed in such a poor manner not even the dumbest of electrical engineers would come up with the design. The fact that such an awkward system ends up working rather brilliantly shows the power of evolution; even non-optimal solutions can present advantages that lead to adoption (indeed "optimal" is a rarity in nature). I suggest that you study the biology of various eye types and various eye examples within those types before declaring who is playing "armchair quarterback".

My personal favorite example is the Mantis Shrimp (interestingly it's neither a mantis nor a shrimp). You might also like to see own eyes, cat eyes, and predatory bird eyes (with built in zoom lenses!) as well as the progression (and digression) of trilobite eyes (similar to modern insect eyes). After you have actually examined the evidence we can continue that aspect of the conversation.

You failed to mention any scientific evidence that shows a "miracle". Given your statements that science should lead one to such a conclusion I await your demonstration thereof. If you concede that science cannot demonstrate such a thing then you should abandon all pretense of using the method and stick to faith. Faith, of course, has done wonders for the advancement of human understanding. Like... Um... Maybe you can help me out here, I'm having a hard time remembering any examples...

You appear to keep forgetting that I wasn't raised a rationalist or skeptic, I was raised a fundamentalist. I've been to dozens of different Christian denominations. Please stop pretending I've never experienced "faith" before and just blindly follow my upbringing... I stopped that years ago and I've learned so much since then!

Brandon C. Nuttall said...

An essential part of critical thinking is to accurately identify any biases or assumptions made by someone in a statement advocating one position or another. However, the analysis itself goes very wrong when the analyst's conclusions and assertions about those assumptions of others are incorrect.

When I read your posts, Mr. Bentley, I find you have made errors in your assertions of the kinds of things various scientists assume. If you are basing your arguments on subjective realities (making arguments to the effect that we see the same evidence only to interpret it from differing starting points), I suggest you be more diligent in determining exactly what it is that scientists assume. See for example the Millions of Years post on my Answers2Genesis blog (http://answers2genesis.blogspot.com/2009/07/millions-of-years.html)

RKBentley said...

Brandon,

Thanks for visiting my blog. I did read your post and I believe you're a little off the mark in your characterization of me.

I can't recall saying anywhere that evolutionists assume "millions of years." My assertion is that scientists seek a natural only explanation for any phenomenon. Actually, it's more of an observation than an assertion. I'm sure you would concede that methodical naturalism is a fundamental tenet of science.

If you look at the evidence with the intent of finding a natural explanation, you are going to find one. "Millions of years" is not the presupposition - it's the consequence. If I excluded the possibility of a miraculous creation, I would have no choice but to believe in something like evolution including the long ages.

I'm more interested in finding out what is true, not necessarily what is natural. If God created the world by fiat then that is what is true regardless of whether or not it is scientific.

Thanks for your comments.

God Bless!!
RKBentley

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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RKB: Good Job and God Bless!