googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

“Kinds” versus “species”

The term “species” is surprisingly difficult to define. When asked, most people offer a reproductive test; that is, creatures that can reproduce naturally together and have fertile offspring are the same species. Of course, this definition is not without a myriad of exceptions. Wolves and dogs, for example, can mate and have fertile offspring yet they are considered different species. So can bison and cows, polar and grizzly bears, and dozens of other mammals. Hybridization is ridiculously common in plants. All of these are examples of different species mating so the ability to reproduce is not a rigorous definition of a species. Neither can a reproductive test be used to identify species of asexual organisms like bacteria.

Species is an invented term, I understand that. And, in spite of the many problems of defining it, I usually don't have a problem with the word. However, in some cases, an exact meaning of the term is necessary. I came across just such an instance the other day. On FaceBook, someone posted an article titled, Scientists watch as a new species evolves before their eyes. From the article:

Speciation, the formation of new species through evolution, is not usually an event you can directly observe. Organisms typically take many generations to accumulate enough changes to diverge into new species; it's a slow process. In fact, the difficulty of directly observing speciation is a reason cited by skeptics of evolution for why they have doubts. But biologists working at the University of California, San Diego, and at Michigan State University, may have just put a rest to all of those naysayers. They report to having witnessed the evolution of a new species happen right before their eyes, in a simple laboratory flask

You can see from this paragraph, the author of the article is suggesting that the emergence of a new species (in the article, it's a new species of a virus) is somehow evidence of evolution.  If the rise of a new species is to be used as an example of evolution, then yes, I'm going to ask what criteria are the scientists using to define a species?  In this case, a reproductive test is not sufficient since viruses are also asexual and cannot “mate” with the parent population in any manner.

Did you notice, too, how the author seems characterize critics of evolution as people who deny speciation happens? He was very careful not to use the word, “creationists,” but we all know that's who he means. It's typical of evolutionists to make this straw man argument. The reality is that most creationists don't deny speciation. In fact, it's a critical part of young earth creationism. God created animals according to “kinds.” Noah took terrestrial animals on the ark in pairs of “kinds.” All modern species are descended from these narrow groups. The 30+ species of modern cats are all descended from the 2 felines on the ark, for example.

When told that creationists accept speciation, evolutionists respond in one of two ways. One way is to ridicule the creation model as a type of “hyper-evolution” because the amount of diversification that has occurred during the time since the Flood is much faster than the slow, gradual process theorized by evolutionists. In a previous post, I've discussed the claim that creationism is a belief in hyper-evolution. It's also somewhat hypocritical of them to criticize creationists for believing in rapid speciation when they post articles like the one above talking about speciation happening before their eyes – but never mind that now.

The other way they respond is to throw out a red herring and ask the creationist to define the term, “kind.” It's a red herring because, whether or not a creationist can define the word, “kind,” it doesn't excuse the evolution from having to define a species when it's being used in the example above.

When I was discussing the article above on FaceBook, one critic actually said he couldn't respond to any of my points until I gave a precise definition of “kind.” Really? I doubt that. I mean, there may not be an iron clad definition of the word species but I understand the term well enough to discuss it. I use the term frequently myself and only ask for a rigorous definition when evolutionists try to leverage “speciation” as evidence for their theory. Am I supposed to believe that evolutionists can't understand the concept of “kind” well enough to discuss it unless we give them an iron clad definition first? Like I said, it's a red herring.

I've discussed species and kinds on my blog before. I might not be able to give a rigorous definition of either but here are some practical definitions. A species is a population of organisms that have enough traits in common that they can be identified as belonging to the same group. I admit, my definition may have a few difficulties but at least it's rid of the need of a reproductive boundary. A kind is a group of organisms originally created by God that would reproduce organisms similar to themselves and includes all the varied species descended from the original group. Maybe I could come up with a better definition but, I daresay, this one is more precise than nearly any definition of species that I've heard from evolutionists.

Think about examples of species and kinds. Dogs, wolves, and coyotes can breed together and have fertile offspring yet they are considered different species. Because of their very different anatomies, Great Danes can no longer reproduce with chihuahuas yet they are still considered the same species. Evolutionists and creationists both agree that all canine have descended from a common ancestor yet if creationists call the members of the canine group a “kind,” evolutionists act like they can't understand the term at all. //RKBentley scratches his head//

Evolutionists play word games. They constantly conflate natural selection and evolution. I talked in my last post about how they casually use the word theory but harp on creationists for calling evolution a theory. They claim macroevolution is evolution above the species level but they can't even define what a species is. When pressed for a definition of species, they attempt to derail the conversation by asking creationists to define a kind instead. I agree you can't have a conversation with someone if there isn't a clear understand of the terms being discussed. In the evolution/creation debate, evolutionists aren't interested in discussion. I know they're not stupid – they're just playing dumb. Conflate, equivocate, obfuscate. That's the tactic of evolutionists.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Evolution is “just” a theory after all

Creationists sometimes criticize evolution by describing it as “just a theory.” In other words, it's a “theory” not a “fact” or a “law.” In response to that criticism, Scientific American said the following:

Many people learned in elementary school that a theory falls in the middle of a hierarchy of certainty--above a mere hypothesis but below a law. Scientists do not use the terms that way, however. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution--or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter--they are not expressing reservations about its truth.

Now, it's typical for people in different lines of work to have industry specific terms or even specialized meanings for common words. It's called “jargon.” The word, “load,” for example, might mean something different to a truck driver than an engineer. It's always been a pet peeve of mine, wherever I've worked, to hear my employees use jargon when talking to customers. I would always have to remind them not to use terms like LTV, DI, or DDA when talking to customers. It's fine that people use jargon, but when you're communicating with the public, you need to use terms the public understands.

Scientists have a special meaning for the term, “theory.” I get it. Even so, I think evolutionists need to be a little more gracious when attempting to “educate” non-scientists in the scientific meaning of the term. I think their snobbery is unjustified in at least two ways: 1) Scientists are also a little casual in how they use the word and 2) the meaning intended by a lay person is not entirely incorrect. I'll expand on both of these points.

If the word theory is supposed to mean a “well-substantiated explanation” of some phenomenon, why do evolutionists habitually use the word “theory” when talking about abiogenesis? We have never observed life rising from non-living matter in nature; neither have we been able to artificially create life from non-living chemicals. There is no “well-substantiated explanation” of how it happened so there can be no theory of abiogenesis. All they have are guesses – wild guesses – about how it might have happened but none of the guesses have actually produced a living thing. Still, they call them “theories” about the origin of life. Why do they do that? It could be that they are trying to minimize the embarrassment of having no natural explanation for the origin of life by assigning to their guesses the “scientific” term, theory. It could be that they're really not as hyper-sensitive about the word as they pretend to be with critics and just use the technical definition of the word as a red herring to derail the debate. Either way, when they are so loosey-goosey with the term themselves, they lose credibility when they harp on how non-scientists use the word.

The other thing, though, is that, even according to the scientific definition, the “theory” is still just an explanation of something. It may be “well-tested.” It may seem to explain the thing well. But at the end of the day, the scientific meaning of the word isn't terribly different than how the non-scientist means it. They both mean explanations.

Let me give you an analogy: I can open a carton of eggs and see there are a dozen. That's an objective fact. But why are there a dozen eggs? In other words, why do they sell eggs in dozens rather than, say, in tens? If I had to inventory eggs, it's easier to count by tens than by twelves. If I had to guess, I would say it's because there are more ways to divide dozens than tens. If a farmer ships eggs to multiple families or a family is feeding several members, how many ways the eggs can be divided evenly is important because it reduces left overs. This could be my hypothesis and I could test it by questioning farmers or doing historical research into the practice. Maybe my hypothesis will be confirmed or maybe not. Regardless, why there are a dozen eggs will never be an objective fact in the same sense as there are a dozen eggs. Do you see? No matter how confident we may be with the theory, it will never be held in the same regard as the fact.

I've said before that calling evolution, “just a theory” is a weak criticism. I didn't mean, however, that it's wrong to say it. I think it's weak in the sense that it doesn't really address any particular weakness in the theory. It's sort of like saying, “evolution is stupid.” I think it is stupid but if I want to convince someone about why it's stupid, I'd better have something a little more substantial. On the other hand, evolution is not correct simply because evolutionists use the word, “theory” to describe it. When a critic expresses his doubts by describing evolution as “just a theory,” it means he's questioning the explanation. Scolding him about the technical meaning of the term, theory, doesn't really help the evolutionist. Let's face it, no matter how much smugness... er, I mean confidence evolutionists have, it really is just a theory after all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How Young Earth Creationists are not like Jesus Mythicists

It's not very often that I come across a truly novel argument against creationism. Just recently, though, I came across a headline that caused me to do a double-take. On FaceBook, Stephen Bedard posted an article comparing Young Earth Creationists and Jesus Mythicists. It just struck me as odd because I would never have viewed those particular beliefs in the same light. Obviously, I was curious about how anyone would consider them to be similar.

For anyone not familiar with Jesus mythicism, Bedard describes it as the belief there was no historical Jesus and that he is only another form of the common Horus/Dionysus/Mithras myth.” Weird, huh? Any way, as I read Bedard's article I saw that the claims he made weren't really novel at all. //Sigh//.  Before giving my opinion, let me highlight how Bedard sees Jesus mythicism as being similar to young-earth creationism. According to Bedard:
  • Both are views that a person would never get just by looking at the scientific/historical evidence.
  • [B]oth theories are highly suspicious of the scholarly consensus.
  • [B]oth YEC and JM are agenda driven rather than evidence driven. YEC start with their theory and then look to scientific evidence to see how it can be reinterpreted to fit the theory.
Bedard says in the article he was once a young-earth creationist, obviously intending to mean that he no longer is. He tries to deal politely with creationism and concludes his article by saying, I have tried to remain objective here. Either group could be correct.... My point is simply that two groups that have widely different belief systems actually go about their task in very similar ways. Bedard seems to be a nice guy so I will return the favor and not direct my comments toward him specifically. Rather, I will make my own observations of old-earth creationists or theistic evolutionists in general.

I'll start by saying that I agree with Bedard in some ways. For example, I am skeptical of scientific consensus. Just put me in the same category as people like Galiliei who argued against the “scientific” consensus of Ptolemy. Even the majority can be wrong.  Besides, truth is not decided by vote. If we stopped questioning anything after “the science is settled,” where would we be? Scientists are usually proud to say that we should question everything. However, when it comes to issues like evolution or global warming, they want critics to shut up because the science is settled!

At its heart, this is a question of our presuppositions. As people search for the truth, they have to decide what they will accept as evidence.  Personally, I have decided without exception that I will believe the Bible. Romans 3:4 says, let God be true, but every man a liar.  Even if the whole world were to disagree with me, I would like to think I would still stand firmly on God's word. If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong. And when I stand before God in judgment, let my plea be that I believed the Bible too much.

Bedard, apparently, has decided to put more faith in scientific consensus than the Bible. Such a belief has a direct impact on how a person interprets Scripture. An examination of the chronologies in the Bible, for example, suggests that history only goes back about 6,000 years. Of course, old-earth creationists can't accept that because “scientific consensus” says the earth is billions of years old. Therefore, even though the Bible says God made the universe in 6 days, it can't believe it really mean 6 days.

When people start doubting the clear meaning of the words in the Bible, I'm not sure where they draw the line. Hank Hanegraaff – aka, the Bible Answer Man – also believes in an old earth. However, he rejects evolution. That's curious. Why would he accept the scientific opinion on one subject but not the other? I've heard him talk about both subjects and he always appeals to science. He believes that distant starlight proves the earth is old but feels the scientific evidence for evolution isn't as compelling. It seems even the “Bible Answer Man” doesn't necessarily start with the Bible when looking for answers.

Besides the origins issue, what else might these people compromise for the sake of science? The virgin birth? The miracles of Jesus? The resurrection? Where does it stop? And on what grounds can we say science is wrong there but not here? The rate of atheism is a lot higher among scientists than the public. If we trust their opinions, why should we even believe in God at all?

I suppose the ultimate irony in Bedard's article is that it is his views that are more like Jesus mythicism. Neither old earth creationism nor Jesus mythicism are supported by a plain reading of the Bible. Both conclusions are reached by starting with opinions from outside of the Bible and then projecting these unbiblical beliefs onto Scripture. Think about it, Jesus mythicists claim Jesus wasn't a literal person; well, most theistic evolutionists also believe Adam wasn't literal. Neither was Noah. Jesus talked about Adam and Noah as real people from history yet TE folks say they are fictional! Why? Because of science? Many professing Christians also claim Abraham, Moses, and David weren't real. At what point does Luke's chronology from Adam to Jesus stop being fictional characters and start becoming real people?

Let me just say, I agree on a lot of things with folks lot Bedard or Hanegraaff or William Layne Craig and others of that stripe. However, when they allow science to shape their understanding of the plain meaning of words of the Bible, they're setting a terrible precedent. I will paraphrase Martin Luther who said that, if we ever lack understanding of how the Scriptures can be correct, let us merely grant that the Holy Spirit is wiser than we are.

Friday, November 4, 2016

God is evident in what we DO know

Answers in Genesis has a list of arguments they feel creationists should avoid using. I too have heard Christian apologists making very weak points and I just shake my head wishing they'd stop. I've thought about making a list similar to AiG's but many of the items would overlap and AiG has a much bigger audience than I so what would be the point? There is one particular argument, though, that I've heard used frequently and no one is telling them to stop. The argument goes something like this:

A Christian will hold up a piece of paper or draw a circle on a whiteboard. He asks an atheist to pretend the circle or the paper represents all the knowledge there is in the universe. He then asks the atheist to draw another circle inside the larger circle to represent all the knowledge we actually possess. I've never really seen an atheist actually draw a circle; usually an answer is provided by the apologist. The apologist might put a tiny circle or even a dot, meaning we only know a tiny, tiny bit of everything there is to know. In other words, of all the things there are to know in the universe, we probably know less than 1% of it. The Christian then delivers the “death blow” by saying, “If this paper represents everything there is to know, and we only know this little bit, how can you be sure there's no evidence for God among everything you don't know?!”

This video shows Glyn Barrett making this very argument, recounting a supposed debate he had with an atheist. I've seen other videos where Christians make the exact same argument and I don't want to embarrass them by calling them out. Here, however, Barrett sufficiently embarrasses himself by obviously inventing the entire debate so if he should object to my using it as an example, I say he's brought it on himself. But I digress.

I guess the teeth of this argument is that it illustrates the fallacy of claiming a universal negative. That is, I really can't say a certain thing doesn't exist anywhere in the universe unless I already know everything that exists in the universe. Note – many people claim it's impossible to prove a negative but that's not true. For example, I can prove I don't have $100 in my pocket by turning my pocket inside-out and showing you it's empty. I can prove I don't have $1,000,000 in my checking account by showing you my account balance on my smart phone. However, I can't prove life doesn't exist anywhere else in the universe because I can't show you everything else in the universe.

Most atheists understand the impossibility of proving a universal negative and so won't claim to know that God doesn't exist anywhere. Instead, they simply say that they've never seen evidence for God. In that case, what does the argument above accomplish? We're just basically telling the skeptic there could be evidence we haven't found yet and he'll probably say, “OK, I'll look at it when you find it.” You see? There's nothing compelling in just saying there could be evidence out there somewhere.

Besides not being convincing, this argument actually reinforces some of the criticisms of Christianity made by atheists. For example, critics often claim that Christians only have blind faith and not evidence. This illustration tacitly admits that the evidence for God still hasn't been discovered, we just believe it's out there. Critics also accuse Christians of believing in a god-of-the-gaps; this argument seems to do just that by saying the evidence for God exists in what we don't understand.

Instead of saying the evidence for God can be found in what we don't know, I assert that God is clearly evident in what do know! We know that everything that begins to exist has a cause. We know that life cannot rise spontaneously from non-living matter. We know that nature displays design and purpose which are characteristics of created things. From everything we know scientifically, there must be a transcendent, powerful, intelligent Designer who made it all.

Another claim made by skeptics is that our advances in understanding have continuously pushed back the need for God. Ha! If anything, we see more and more the need for God. Darwin, for example, believed a single cell was a “simple” blob of goo that could just fall together by a fortunate arrangement of amino acids. However, we now know that even a single cell is enormously complex. The more we learn about a cell, the more we realize such a thing requires a Creator.

The irony in all this is that it is the atheists who have put their faith in what we don't know. We know, for example, that matter/energy cannot be created naturally. How then can all the matter/energy in the universe have just appeared out of nothing? Even space and time had to appear out of nothing. So what must have happened flies in the face of what we already know can't happen yet atheists still cling blindly to the belief that an answer lies somewhere in what we haven't discovered. Neither have we observed a living cell form from non-living chemicals. Neither have we observed novel features appearing in a population. Many things necessary for secular theories of origins to be true have absolutely no evidence yet atheists sincerely believe the evidence for these things are going to be found someday.

I would say to all atheists that it's OK to ignore arguments that ask you to think evidence for God exists in what you don't know. Instead, I would ask you to think hard about what you do know and seriously question the evidence for what you believe. Do you have evidence that matter/energy/space/time can just appear out of nothing? Do you have evidence that life can rise from non-living matter? You know that you don't. Can you see that design and purpose are evidence for a creator? You know that it is. There's no need to wait around, wondering if clear evidence for God will someday be discovered. I'm saying that God is clearly seen in what you already know is true!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Textual criticism made amazingly easy

Critics often attack Christianity by attacking the integrity of the Bible. As is the case with any written work from antiquity, we no longer have the original writings of biblical authors. Critics point out that all we have are copies of copies transcribed over centuries and not all the copies agree with each other. They say the Bible has been copied, translated, and edited until we can no longer have any certainty about what it originally said. Have you heard any of this before? Well, I'm going to explain why we can have confidence in the integrity of the Bible in amazingly easy terms.

Trying to determine the original wording of a document is called, textual criticism. Here's a reading exercise. Below are five sentences that were copied from a single sentence. (OK, they weren't really copied, but let's pretend they were.) Each one contains an error.

The book si heavy
A book is heavy
The Bible is heavy
The book is hard
The book is not heavy

My question is this: if you only had these five sentences as a reference, do you think you could reconstruct what the original sentence was? Let's look at it word by word.

Four of the sentences say, “the” but only one says, “a.” Therefore, I would guess the first word in the original sentence was, “the.”

Four sentences say, “book” and one says, “Bible.” I happen to know that “Bible” is the Greek word for “book” so the person who copied that might have thought “Bible” when he saw the word, “book.” The second word in the original sentence was probably book.

Four of the sentences say, “is.” The fifth sentence says, “si” which is not an English word. It probably is simply a misspelling of the word “is” so the third word is probably, “is.”

One sentence says, “not” but none of the other ones do so I suspect “not” wasn't in the original sentence.

Finally, the last word in four of the sentences is “heavy.” One sentence says, “hard.” Both words start with “h” so it's possible the transcriber misread the original word “heavy” and wrote, “hard.” I think the fourth word in the original sentence was, “heavy.”

So, having compared every sentence and considered the differences, I believe the original sentence was, “The book is heavy.” Wouldn't you agree? I would be confident in that conclusion even though none of the sentences above actually say, “The book is heavy,” because there are enough similarities in just these five to justify that conclusion. Of course, if I had 10 sentences to compare, I would have even more confidence. If I had 100 or 1000 sentences to compare, there would no longer be any room for doubt. In this same way, we can have confidence in the integrity of the Bible – by comparing the manuscripts.

Now, suppose I'm a scribe and it's my job to make copies of the sentences above. But, for the sake of argument, I'm not a very dutiful scribe and I take it upon myself to change what the text originally said to what I think it should have said. I think it should say, “Reading the Bible is not hard.” That could be a problem. How would anyone reading my copy know I copied it faithfully? Well, there are still the 5 sentences above that could be compared against my copy. My edit is different enough from earlier copies that it would be easily identified as a fake. None of the earlier sentences even have the word, “reading,” for example. Of course, if I were especially nefarious, I could make 5 or 10 copies, hoping that the number of edited copies would overwhelm earlier copies. That might work if there were only 5 earlier copies. However, as was the case before, the more copies that exist, the harder it becomes to add intentional edits later. If there were 100 or 1000 earlier copies that did not resemble my edited copy, they would bear more weight than all of my later copies.

So you can see, the integrity of the Bible hinges upon the number of early manuscripts we have. The more manuscripts that we have to compare, the greater confidence we can have in determining what the originals said and the harder it becomes for forgers to edit the text later. How many manuscripts do we have of the New Testament, then? Greek scholar, Daniel Wallace, tells us the following:

As far as Greek manuscripts, over 5800 have been catalogued. The New Testament was translated early on into several other languages as well, such as Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Gothic, etc. The total number of these versional witnesses has not been counted yet, but it certainly numbers in the tens of thousands. At the same time, it should be pointed out that most of our manuscripts come from the second millennium AD, and most of our manuscripts do not include the whole New Testament. A fragment of just a verse or two still counts as a manuscript. And yet, the average size for a NT manuscript is more than 450 pages. At the other end of the data pool are the quotations of the NT by church fathers. To date, more than one million quotations of the NT by the church fathers have been tabulated. These fathers come from as early as the late first century all the way to the middle ages.... NT scholars face an embarrassment of riches compared to the data the classical Greek and Latin scholars have to contend with. The average classical author’s literary remains number no more than twenty copies. We have more than 1,000 times the manuscript data for the NT than we do for the average Greco-Roman author. Not only this, but the extant manuscripts of the average classical author are no earlier than 500 years after the time he wrote. For the NT, we are waiting mere decades for surviving copies.

I've written before that we have more evidence for the historicity of Jesus than any other person of antiquity. All we know about ancient people is what has been written down about them. The number of New Testament manuscripts dwarfs any other ancient writing. If we know anything at all about history, then we can be as certain of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as any other event in history.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Climate change is now an interstellar problem!

It's sad but true. Alarmists blame nearly every disaster on climate change. Hurricane Matthew? Climate change! A drought in California? Climate change! Steve Erwin getting stabbed in the heart by a sting ray? Climate change! (Yes, I really heard someone say that). But even I didn't know climate change had become a problem of galactic proportions. First, some back story.

A few years ago, I wrote about the Drake Equation. Introduced in 1961, the Drake Equation is a formula secular scientists have used to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations that might exist in our galaxy. Starting with a couple of assumptions, all grounded in evolutionary ideas about the age of the universe and the origin of life, some scientists speculate that our galaxy teems with extraterrestrial life – as many as 100,000,000 civilizations! Convinced that there is life out there, groups like SETI have spent 3 decades and millions of dollars trying to find evidence for it. So far, they've found nothing.

The reason we haven't found life beyond earth was the subject of a article, recently. They described the problem this way:

It is one of astronomy’s great mysteries: Why, given the estimated 200bn-400bn stars and at least 100bn planets in our galaxy, are there no signs of alien intelligence?.... [A]ny life form with rocket technology could colonise the galaxy in a few million years, so why wasn’t there any evidence already?

If you start with the assumption that life will evolve on any planet that has liquid water; if you assume simple, reproducing cells will evolve over time to become more complex; if you assume there has been billions of years of time for life to evolve; then, yes, I can see why secular scientists are scratching their heads. There would have to be millions of intelligent civilizations out there. And given that our technology has virtually exploded in the last 100 years, it's hard to imagine what we will be able to do in the next 100 years. An intelligent life form that harnessed electricity 1,000,000 years ago could very possibly fly across the galaxy by now.

British physicist, Brian Cox, believes he knows why we haven't found any extraterrestrial life, and even says it's unlikely we ever will.

Professor Cox’s suggestion is that the rate of advances in science and engineering in any type of alien civilisation may outstrip the development of political institutions able to manage them, leading to a self-destruction model. So technology that allows the generation of power but produces greenhouse gases, or nuclear weapons, may destroy civilizations within a few thousand years of being developed, which could threaten ours too....

‘One solution to the Fermi paradox is that it is not possible to run a world that has the power to destroy itself and that needs global collaborative solutions to prevent that. It may be that the growth of science and engineering inevitably outstrips the development of political expertise, leading to disaster.’

There you have it! There are no aliens out there because they've all fallen victim to climate change. Burning fossil fuels and having nuclear weapons inevitably leads to self annihilation. It's already happened across the galaxy! It's just too bad the aliens didn't have the Democrat Party forcing them to lay down their guns and start using “green technology.”

I can't make this stuff up, folks! And they say creationists are science deniers? Please! From the same article, co-conspirator, Prof. Forshaw commented, “These seem outlandish ideas but they are based on solid evidence and reasoning.” Outlandish? Yes. Solid evidence and reasoning? Please, Dr. Forshaw, share this “evidence” with me. Have you found the ruins of an advance civilization somewhere? Have you intercepted radio signals of planets calling for help because they're on the verge of destruction? Have you found the escape pod Jor-El used to launch his son into space just before Krypton exploded? Come on, people! This isn't science; it's science fiction!

By the way, I believe there is no sign of life beyond our planet because there hasn't been millions of years, life hasn't formed on other planets, and so there's no chance that life evolved anywhere.

Now, please excuse me while I laugh my head off.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rejecting a straw god

I've been blogging for a while now; this month makes nine years. My online discussions with critics, however, go back over 20 years to the old, AOL chat rooms. I've been on FaceBook and many online forums like CARM where I've engaged atheists head to head – not just answering the comments left on my blog. I read other people's blogs, watch their videos, and listen to their arguments. Suffice it to say, I've heard about every reason there is that people use to reject God. Yet in all that time, all the different arguments I've heard can be grouped into just a few different categories.

Before I get into the categories, let me just say that I have my doubts that these are the real reasons why people reject God; they are merely the excuses they give. I think, deep down, they ultimately reject God because of their sinful, prideful, rebellious nature. They would prefer to continue in their sin rather than submit to God. They want to live life how they please and simply are trying to convince themselves there will be no judgment at the end of it. But since these are the excuses they give, they are what I will use.

Keep in mind that critics will seldom limit themselves to just one of these categories. Usually, it's only one of these things that will first cause someone to doubt, but once he has rejected the idea of God completely, he always embrace the other things as well. Here are the categories I've seen.

Some people claim to reject God because of the “bad things” they see in the world. It's common for people to say things like, “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” This includes not only people doing bad things but also natural disasters like earthquakes, plagues, famines, or tsunamis. Sometimes, there will have been a personal tragedy in the persons life, like the loss of a loved one or maybe a divorce or abuse. They believe that God doesn't act at these times because there is no God.

Other people claim to reject God because they reject the biblical standards of morality. They will point to passages like 1 Samuel 15:3, where God commanded Saul to destroy the city of Amalek and describe it as genocide. They say a loving God wouldn't condemn things like homosexuality. Dan Savage once said that the Bible was “wrong” on slavery so how can we trust it on things like sexuality? They also question the “fairness” of God forgiving really bad people or condemning “good” people who reject Him. They aren't just questioning why God let's bad things happen, but claim God Himself is bad. Critics believe if there were a God, He wouldn't act like this.

People also claim to reject God because they see no evidence that He exists. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people ask, “If there is a God, why doesn't He just show Himself?” These critics see the universe operating according to fixed, physical laws and we don't really need to invoke a god to understand them. Just a few months ago, I blogged this quote: Why is God so stingy with direct evidence?... [T]he supposed miracles that attest to a supernatural power all happened in ancient, pre scientific, times, in which there existed no means of reliable verification. These supposed miracles are not being duplicated today so that we could see that such things are possible.... A loving God would not erect such high barriers to belief and then further compound the difficulty in believing by providing us with such strong evidential circumstances against the supernatural, such as the inviolability of the laws of nature. These critics believe if there were a God, He would make Himself known in an obvious way.

I could include people who reject the Bible on the grounds that they claim it contains contradictions and so can't be divinely inspired. This is more of an argument for agnosticism than atheism. That is, they may still think there could be a god, they just don't believe it's necessarily the Christian God of the Bible. This category isn't really relevant to my point today. I just raise it in case people later try to claim I didn't think of it.

As we review this short (but nearly exhaustive) list of reasons, we see a theme begin to develop. These people aren't merely searching for God and not finding Him. Instead, they've imagined how they think God should act but they can't find a god that acts like that! In other words, they aren't really rejecting God, they're rejecting a straw god, one they've created in their own imagination.

If we look at these reasons objectively, we can see they're non sequitur. Take the first excuse, for example: bad things happen so there can't be a god? How exactly does that follow? It's sort of like saying, “doctors are supposed to heal sick people but, since there are still sick people, doctors must be imaginary.” You can see how that doesn't work. The second point suffers the same way. It makes no sense to say, “I don't think homosexuality is a sin so if God thinks so He must not be real.” Finally, no one can seriously claim that God can't be real because He won't appear on the evening news and tell us He's real. OK, maybe they do claim that but it still doesn't make sense.

There is a God. He is loving but He is also just. The bad things that happen in the world are His judgment for our sins but He has made salvation available to all who believe. He has redeemed His people by shedding His own blood and He will restore His creation where there will be no more death. He also has made Himself known through His prophets, through His word, and through His Son, who became flesh and dwelt among us.

It's no wonder some people can't find God. They're looking for a capricious god who loves sin. They're not rejecting God; they're rejecting an imaginary god who doesn't exist.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ten Lies Evolutionists Tell: Part 5, Conclusion

9) Natural Selection is another word for Evolution

OK, to be perfectly honest, I can't recall hearing an evolutionist actually say, “Natural selection is another word for evolution.” Instead, what I hear are evolutionists who constantly use the two words interchangeably. Here's are some excerpts from a article titled, Natural Selection in Real Time:

Darwin thought that evolution took place over hundreds or thousands of years and was impossible to witness in a human lifetime. Peter and Rosemary Grant have seen evolution happen over the course of just two years.

Do you see? The title says, Natural Selection in real time but the opening paragraph says the Grants “have seen evolution happen over the course of just two years.” PBS is immediately beginning to confuse the terms. The article goes on to describe a long drought in the Galapagos Islands and how finches with bigger beaks could break open seeds while the birds with smaller beaks starved. The article climaxes to say:

In 1978 the Grants returned to Daphne Major to document the effect of the drought on the next generation of medium ground finches. They measured the offspring and compared their beak size to that of the previous (pre-drought) generations. They found the offsprings' beaks to be 3 to 4% larger than their grandparents'. The Grants had documented natural selection in action. [bold added]

What we see in this PBS article is typical of what I read from mainstream, pop-science articles all the time. They shamelessly conflate natural selection and evolution as though an example of one is evidence for the other.

Here's another example from ScienceDaily that I've used on my blog before.

Countering the widespread view of evolution as a process played out over the course of eons, evolutionary biologists have shown that natural selection can turn on a dime -- within months -- as a population's needs change.

Look how they changed from saying evolution to natural selection in the same sentence. Have they no shame? Here's a still more brazen example where this is done in an article aimed at educating children!

Natural selection is the term that's used to refer to the natural evolution over time of a species in which only the genes that help it adapt and survive are present.

Tsk, tsk. Natural selection is the opposite of evolution. I dare say many evolutionists don't even understand their own theory. I can't blame all evolutionists, though, because I think the laymen have been intentionally misled by the so-called elite. Scientists, and those who publish the articles consumed by the general public, should be more careful about how they use these words. They're not careful, though. I think they're happy for the confusion because they can use examples of what we do observe (natural selection) as evidence for what we don't observe (evolution). They lie.

10) Evolution is compatible with the Bible

From a article, we read the following:

Scientists would do better to offer some constructive thoughts of their own. For religious scientists, this may involve taking the time to talk to students about how they personally reconcile their beliefs with their research. Secular researchers should talk to others in order to understand how faiths have come to terms with science. All scientists whose classes are faced with such concerns should familiarize themselves with some basic arguments as to why evolution, cosmology and geology are not competing with religion. When they walk into the lecture hall, they should be prepared to talk about what science can and cannot do, and how it fits in with different religious beliefs.

That's curious. When I think about what the Bible says and about what evolution or the Big Bang theories say, I see some immediate difficulties:

BIBLE : Earth before the sun (Genesis 1:1, Genesis 1:14-15)
EVOLUTION: Sun before the earth
BIBLE: Plants before marine life (Genesis 1:20, Genesis 1:24)
EVOLUTION: Marine life before plants
BIBLE: Birds before land animals (Genesis 1:20, Genesis 1:24-25)
EVOLUTION: Land animals before birds
BIBLE: Man created at the beginning of creation (Mark 10:6)
EVOLUTION: Man appears near the end of creation
BIBLE: Sin before death (Romans 5:12)
EVOLUTION: Death before sin

The plain words of the Bible are the opposite of some scientific theories in many areas. It's not debatable. So how do scientists make their theories “fit” with the Bible? Do they tweak their theories? Of course not. In order to make the Bible compatible with evolution, we must compromise on what the Bible says. That's exactly what too many Christians do. There have been a plethora of theories invented by Christians for the sole reason of making the Bible seem to agree with scientific fads – things like theistic evolution, progressive creationism, the Gap theory, the day-age theory, etc. These questionable hermeneutics not only make a mockery of a straightforward reading of the Bible, they seldom accomplish the intended goal of making Scripture fit with evolution.

Look, scientists teach science. I get it. The prevailing scientific theories regarding origins are evolution and the Big Bang so these are what are being taught in science classrooms. Again, I get it. But their scientific credentials do not qualify them to tell me how to interpret Scripture! Why do they feel the need to say this? I'll tell you: it's not because they really care how well their theory comports with the Bible but, rather, they say it in order to trick hesitant, creationist students into compromising on their beliefs. Shame on them.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Ten Lies Evolutionists Tell: Part 4

7) People who believe creation don't understand science

I routinely hear evolutionists saying that people who believe in creation don't understand science. For example, in a NY Times Interview, Bill Nye made the following comments:

If we have a society that’s increasingly dependent on these technologies, with a smaller and smaller fraction of that society who actually understands how any of it works, that is a formula for disaster.... My biggest concern about creationist kids is that they’re compelled to suppress their common sense, to suppress their critical thinking skills at a time in human history when we need them more than ever.

There are several things wrong with statements like this. First, it's a tangle of logical fallacies. Let's see... it's non sequitur in the sense that there's no link between believing creation and understanding technology. What, I can't use a computer because I'm a creationist? It's also an example of a No True Scotsman argument because it invents a qualifier for understanding science – that is, “everyone who truly understands science believes evolution.” Finally, it's an appeal to consequences; even if people who believe creation don't understand science, that's not evidence against a miraculous creation.

Next, Bill Nye – nor anyone else to my knowledge – has ever provided some scientific survey to demonstrate that a belief in creation affects a person's ability to understand science. If somebody knows of such a survey, I would love to see it because, to this day, I've seen nothing – not one thing – that evolutionists can point to that supports their assertion. It is nothing more than a tactic, an insult meant to ridicule creationists and scare us into thinking we are doomed unless people believe in evolution. On the contrary, I've written before that on standardized tests, students who attend private schools or are home-schooled, places where creation is more likely to be taught, tend to outperform students who attend public schools, where evolution is more likely to be taught.  By the way, I attended public schools and was taught evolution.  I believed it for many years.  Most people in the US attended public schools.  I would say that most of the people who believe creation sat in the same classrooms as most evolutionists  and so would understand science at least as well as the people who believe evolution.

If you're interested in anecdotal evidence, I could provide quotes from people like Newton, Mendel, or Kepler that show they believed in a Divine Creator. I could talk about Dr. Ben Carson whose achievements include, “performing the first and only successful separation of Siamese twins joined at the back of the head, pioneering the first successful neurosurgical procedure on a fetus inside the womb, performing the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins, developing new methods to treat brain-stem tumors and reviving hemispherectomy techniques for controlling seizures” (not bad for someone who doesn't understand science). I could mention that Dr. Raymond Vahan Damadian, the guy who invented the MRI, is a creationist, too. But I'm not saying that creation is true because people like Newton believed in a Creator. I'm saying that their belief in a Creator did not affect their ability to make contributions to science or invent life improving technologies.

On the other hand, I would ask Nye for an example of how believing in evolution has contributed to science in any way. Name one invention in the last century that was born out of a belief in evolution. Evolution is the trivial pursuit branch of science.

8) Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution

In a 1973 essay, biologist and evolution-apologist, Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Really, Dobzhansky? Nothing? Normally, I could dismiss this as a simple use of hyperbole but I've heard this quote cited many times by many people and, yes, they really mean, nothing. From the same Wiki article linked above, there is this quote:

The underlying theme of the essay is the need to teach biological evolution in the context of debate about creation and evolution in public education in the United States. The fact that evolution occurs explains the interrelatedness of the various facts of biology, and so makes biology make sense. The concept has become firmly established as a unifying idea in biology education.

Just think about the absurdity of saying nothing in biology makes sense except for evolution. What are some things we include in the science of biology? How about reproduction? Do they mean to say we can't understand anything about reproduction unless we understand evolution?! It was Prissy in Gone With the Wind who said, Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies. I guess that's what evolutionist think about creationists. They want us to believe that reproduction equals evolution – end of story. What other things are under the umbrella of biology? There's animal migration. Does migration make no sense except that they evolved? Please explain that to me. We can't grow crops, study medicine, or understand anything about living things unless evolution is true? Please!

Evolutionists are so convinced of their theory that they can no longer see the evidence except through the lens of their theory. Perhaps to them, evolution explains the evidence but other people didn't need any understanding of evolution to study biology. Evolutionists, for example, believe animals share traits because they are related. Carolus Linnaeus, however, developed taxonomy more than a century before Darwin published Origin. When you think about it, nearly every field in biology was founded by people who didn't need to understand evolution to do their work – people like Mendel or Pasteur. Edward Blythe wrote about natural selection decades before Darwin published Origin.

Dr. Jerry Bergman published an article on True Origins dealing with this same subject. Consider this interesting excerpt from that article:

National Academy of Science Member and renown carbene chemist, Professor emeritus Dr. Philip Skell of Pennsylvania State University,... did a survey of his colleagues that were “engaged in non-historical biology research, related to their ongoing research projects.” He found that the “Darwinist researchers” he interviewed, in answer to the question, “Would you have done the work any differently if you believed Darwin's theory was wrong?” that “for the large number” of persons he questioned, “differing only in the amount of hemming and hawing” was “in my work it would have made no difference.”

Like I've said above and numerous times in the past, evolution is the trivial pursuit branch of science. It's a theory that makes no useful predictions and has led to no life improving discoveries. It's something that is hashed out in peer reviewed journals yet has no practical application in the real world. Biology would work – indeed, it does work – just fine without evolution. Molecules to man evolution isn't even real. How can it be fundamental to anything?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ten Lies Evolutionists Tell: Part 3

5) There is no evidence for creationism

I'm sure you've heard, on many occasions, evolutionists say, “There is no evidence for creationism.” First, I think it's hilarious that they routinely use the word “creationism” incorrectly. Words ending in “ism” describe world views or philosophies – like “atheism.” “Creationism” is the belief that God created the universe miraculously. Obviously, there are people who believe this – me being one – so “creationism” is real. Attention all evolutionists: what you mean to say is, “There is no evidence for a miraculous creation.” You're welcome. However, even to say, “there is no evidence for creation,” while grammatically correct, is still a lie. Let me explain why,

I read an analogy once that really nailed this point. People used to believe the sun moved around the earth, a belief called, geocentricism. Obviously we can't feel the earth moving and we can see the sun moving across the sky so the theory of geocentricism seemed to explain the evidence very well. There were a few things, though, like the retrograde motion of planets, that geocentricism didn't explain so we kept searching for answers. Over time, we began to see that the earth orbits the sun, a theory called heliocentricism. This new theory seems to be a better explanation of our observations, including the apparent motion of planets. Yet in all this time, though our theory may have changed, the evidence is still the same. We still can't feel the earth moving and the sun still appears to travel across the sky.

You see, there is only one universe. There is only one fossil record, only one geological column, only one earth, etc. These things are the “evidence.” The evidence isn't for any theory. Evidence merely exists and we develop theories in attempts to explain why things are the way they are. So the evidence “for” evolution is the same evidence “for” creation.

A good theory should explain all the evidence but there are still some things one theory or the other doesn't seem to explain well. That's why we keep studying – not to find evidence for our theories but to find a better explanation for the evidence. The evidence itself doesn't care about our theories.

6) 99.9% of all the species that have ever lived are extinct

On, we see one Christian struggling with this question:

I recently took a friend’s three-year-old son to the Natural History Museum in London. We stood together in awe in the hall of dinosaurs, wondering at the beauty, strength and majesty of the long-departed creatures. I questioned how a good God could let such magnificent creatures as the iguanodon or the allosaurus simply fade from the earth. My question could extend well beyond dinosaurs: about 99 percent of all species that have ever lived are now extinct.

I've heard this statistic quoted so many times that I assumed there must be some truth to it. It's a lie. What makes it an especially grievous lie is that this Christian believed it and felt compelled to engage in mental gymnastics to explain why a “good” God would create everything through such a wasteful, slow, and cruel process like evolution.

Wikipedia estimates there have been 5 billion species. Scientists have identified only around 1.2 million living species. Some people speculate there may be another 10 million species still undiscovered. Maybe there are, it doesn't make much of a difference. There are also around 500,000 species that are known only from fossils. Again, maybe there are more but it's surely only a few million more. That totals only 1.7 million of species known to exist and maybe 10-15 million not discovered.

If we have identified only 1.7 million species, where is the evidence for the other alleged 4.99 billion species? There are no fossils at all for more than 99% of the species evolutionists claim have existed. None!! The statistic is entirely invented.

How did they get such a high estimate? It all has to do with their assumptions – primarily their assumptions about the age of the earth. It works sort of like this: if life began 1 billion years ago, and if the average species only appears during 5 million years in the geological record, then all species have been replaced around 200 times. If there are 10,000,000 identified species (an inflated number to begin with), that means there must have been 2 billion total species that have lived! Get it?

Their vastly inflated estimate of the number of species is merely the consequence of assuming an ancient earth which virtually demands countless generations to fill all those millinea. If the earth is young, then most of the species that ever lived are still alive! What we actually observe, aka – the evidence, is better explained by a recent, miraculous creation. The 99.9% estimate of extinct species is a lie.