Back in October, philosopher Michael Lynch published thie essay in The New York Times He was discussing the problem of finding an epistemic justification for our confidence in science. A few days ago The Times continued the discussion with this exchange between Lynch and physicist Alan Sokal. The two pieces together are rather long. There is a lot to discuss, too much, in fact, for just one post. It seems to me, though, that both gentlemen are wrong about a central point in the discussion.

Here’s Lynch, from his original essay:

Rick Perry’s recent vocal dismissals of evolution, and his confident assertion that “God is how we got here” reflect an obvious divide in our culture. In one sense, that divide is just over the facts: Some of us believe God created human beings just as they are now, others of us don’t. But underneath this divide is a deeper one. Really divisive disagreements are typically not just over the facts. They are also about the best way to support our views of the facts. Call this a disagreement in epistemic principle. Our epistemic principles tell us what is rational to believe, what sources of information to trust. Thus while a few people may agree with Perry because they really think that the scientific evidence supports creationism, I suspect that for most people, scientific evidence (or its lack) has nothing to do with it. Their belief in creationism is instead a reflection of a deeply held epistemic principle: that, at least on some topics, scripture is a more reliable source of information than science. For others, including myself, this is never the case.

In a moment I shall explain why I believe this is mistaken. First, though, let’s consider what Sokal says on the same question:

I think you are absolutely right that the core disagreements between, to use your example, fundamentalist Christians and the rest of us are ultimately over epistemic principles. But I would argue that the epistemic challenge from fundamentalist Christians (and more generally from religious people of all kinds) can be fairly easily answered — where here of course I mean giving a logically efficacious answer, not necessarily a psychologically or politically efficacious one.

The point is, simply, that fundamentalist Christians’ epistemic principles are not, at bottom, so different from ours. They accept as evidence the same types of sense experience that the rest of us do; and in most circumstances they are attentive, just like the rest of us, to potential errors in the interpretation of sense experience.

The trouble is not that fundamentalist Christians reject our core epistemic principles; on the contrary, they accept them. The trouble is that they supplement the ordinary epistemic principles that we all adopt in everyday life — the ones that we would use, for instance, when serving on jury duty — with additional principles like “This particular book always tells the infallible truth.”

The question neither Lynch nor Sokal asks is: Why do fundamentalist Christians have so much confidence in the Bible? Lynch gives the impression that he thinks it’s just a first principle, something they accept without proof as the basis for all further reasoning. Sokal gives a very similar impression, by describing their faith in the Bible as an additional epistemic principle tacked on to the standard canon.

This is not correct. As fundamentalists see it, their confidence in the Bible is the most rational thing in the world. They talk more about facts, logic and evidence than just about anyone else you’ll ever meet. It certainly is not the result of blind faith or anything like that.

When I lived in Kansas I became a regular listener to a fundamentalist radio station. It seemed like every third sermon was about proving, rationally, the divine authorship of the Bible. When I went to creationist conferences and discussed this question with the attendees, the better informed among them would unleash a barrage of arguments meant to convince any reasonable person that the Bible is the Word of God. Go to any fundamentalist bookstore and look at all the books devoted to apologetics. None of them argue that faith in the Bible should be taken as an epistemic first principle.

In short, their view is that any reasonable person in possession of the facts should conclude that the Bible is the Word of God.

Their arguments are not very good, of course. One of their favorites involves the many instances of prophecies in the Old Testament that came to pass in the New. They never seem to consider the possibility that the New Testament accounts were specifically written with the Old Testament prophecies in mind.

An especially delicious argument they often use is this: They note that the Bible teaches that the Earth is young and that species don’t evolve. Then they summon forth the usual canon of creationist scientific arguments to show that the Biblical account is vindicated. The final step is to point to the eerie scientific accuracy of the Bible as further evidence of its divine authorship. It’s quite brilliant in its way. I’m sure, though, that I don’t need to point out that their scientific argument are really, really bad.

The arguments made by creationists in defense of the Bible’s divine authorship are very weak, but they are rational. They are not appealing to esoteric forms of evidence or taking an approach to the facts that is fundamentally different from what the rest of us do.

With regard to evolution, as creationists see it the dispute is not so much about the facts as it is about how one interprets them. The facts are the fossils, the minutiae of the genetic and anatomical comparisons among species, and so on. But what do the facts mean? To creationists the problem is that evolutionists simply impose on the facts a theoretical superstructure that does not make sense. They are driven to do this, creationists continue, because they are forced by their materialist blinders to accept any explanation that allows them to reject the existence of God.

Finally, they do not assert as a fundamental epistemic principle that scripture trumps science. What they actually say is that if science and scripture appear to be in conflict, then one of them has made a mistake. It is possible that the mistake is in our Biblical interpretation, as was the case when people said the Bible taught that the Sun orbited the Earth. In the case of evolution though, they are very confident they have Genesis right, and it is the scientific consensus that is mistaken.

My point is that it is a mistake to think that our arguments with the creationists are primarily about different epistemic first principles. The real sources of conflict are far more mundane. The creationists are misinformed about many basic facts, frequently misunderstand the theoretical constructs scientists use to explain those facts, and are rather undiscerning in deciding who to trust on these issues. It is giving them far too much credit to suggest that their intransigence stems from deep reflection on first principles.

I have belabored this point because it seems relevant to the broader question Lynch and Sokal are discussing. But I shall save that for tomorrow’s post. In the mean time you can go have a look at Jerry Coyne’s interesting take on the discussion.

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    March 15, 2012

    In one sense, of course, the Bible is an epistemic first principle to them, even though it’s quite true that apologetics that purport to “prove the Bible” are rife. The important factor is that the Bible is never really in question, never something to be looked at skeptically, for most of the believers. After all, those of us who did look skeptically at it ended up not being at all convinced of its prophetic capabilities or its purported agreement with demonstrable facts.

    I tend to be somewhat surprised at all of the stories of atheists who heard both Bible stories and “pagan” myths, and who early on recognized the similarity in veracity between the two. Of course that’s an obvious enough first impression, but we were certainly told as children how wonderfully Biblical prophecies were fulfilled, and naturally it was difficult to disagree with that assessment until one had some education and growing intellectual ability.

    What many believers experience is learning the epistemic “principle” that the Bible is the highest truth because of whatever apologetics they’ve been given (prophecy, or indeed, YEC), and are taught to defend this highest source of truth. And that is what they do. They can use science against other religions, no problem, but the Bible is the ultimate truth (trot out the old “arguments”) and not to be questioned like anything else at all, because only God could have foretold this or that, etc. And that’s a whole lot of the problem, because they’ve got this whole other hydra-headed “reality” going on, so if you hit them on evolution or the old earth, well, there’s this whole bunch of prophecies and what-not, so why would they give up over some old bones and something not “proven,” like science?

    Some guy at the Budget Travel poll on 15 sites kids should see before 15 started in on what evolutionists leave out, including those wondrous prophecies. I did note what a crock the “virgin conceiving” (Matthew going off of the mistranslation in the Septuagint), but there certainly was no real scope for discussing such matters in depth there.

    And this is why theology does in fact matter in the end. To be sure, it’s a bunch of rationalizations about nothing, but it is also the starting point for a lot of people who really don’t understand science and epistemology. Many of them no doubt will never do anything but retreat to another part of “the truth” no matter how much they’re challenged and answered, but some will actually take notice if you can point out the holes in everything, including those “rock-solid” prophecies. The argument most certainly isn’t finished at the level of science for a great many of them.

    Glen Davidson

  2. #2 Nick Matzke
    March 15, 2012

    I agree that what you say describes well many creationists, and much creationist rhetoric of the creation-science/intelligent design days.

    However, I think the “presuppositional” approach has really been increasing in popularity in recent years, mostly through the influence of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis. E.g.:

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n4/presuppositional-apologetics
    ==============
    What Is “Presuppositional” Apologetics?
    by David Wright, AiG–U.S.
    September 18, 2007

    When explaining their beliefs, Christians often feel they must first prove the Bible or prove the existence of God. This approach reveals that they do not yet understand the Bible’s approach, known as presuppositional apologetics.

    Presuppositions are simply beliefs that everyone has that affect how they think, view the world, interpret evidence, and read the Bible. Apologetics is a reasoned defense of beliefs. So presuppositional apologetics is a reasoned defense of Christian beliefs based on recognizing our presuppositions.

    For instance, my presupposition is that God exists and He has given us His Word (the Bible) that is absolute truth. So I use the Bible as the basis for how to think, interpret evidence, explain the world around me, and read the Bible. An atheist’s presupposition will most likely be that there is no God and that truth is relative. An atheist believes that man decides truth, and so he thinks, interprets evidence, and views the world and Bible accordingly.

    If we start off believing the Bible is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 18:30; Proverbs 30:5), then we use it as our axiom. An axiom (often used in logic) is a proposition that is not susceptible to proof or disproof; its truth is assumed. The Bible takes this stance, assuming God’s existence to be true and not something to be proven (Genesis 1:1; Exodus 3:14; Revelation 1:8).

    The battle is not over evidence but over philosophical starting points: presuppositions. As Christians, we should never put away our axiom—the Bible—when discussing truth with others. This would be like a soldier going into battle without any armor or weapons. Asking a Christian to abandon the Bible for the sake of discussion is like asking an atheist to prove there is no God by using only the Bible. You would be asking the atheist to give up his axiom.

    The prophets and the apostles never tried to prove God’s existence. They started by assuming God’s existence, and they always reasoned from Scripture (Acts 17:2, 17; 18:4, 19). By using the Word of God, we are actually pitting the unbeliever against God and not our own fallible thinking.
    ==============

    AiG’s Georgia Purdom, 2011:

    http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/georgia-purdom/2011/08/25/does-worldview-neutral-science-exist-part-one/
    ==================
    I remember thinking something very similar eleven years ago when I first started researching the origins issue. The evidence would lead me to the truth, I just needed to follow. But what I discovered was that evidence (e.g., fossils, rocks, DNA) doesn’t talk! And while science may be objective, scientists are not—especially in the area of historical science (i.e., evolution and creation). The presuppositions of the scientists play a major role in determining how they interpret the evidence. If the presuppositions are based on the truth, that will lead to the truth about the past, and vice versa if the presuppositions are false. There is only one truth source for the past as it concerns the beginnings of the universe, earth, and life—and that is the eyewitness account of God given to us in the Bible. Everything else is merely man’s opinions, imaginations, and ideas.
    ==================

  3. #3 AbnormalWrench
    March 15, 2012

    I too find it hard to imagine people could be so uninformed of the common argument on in the trenches. You spend 10 minutes in a general forum, you will run into the assertion that the bible is 100% backed up by evidence. It is a very rare religious person that actually admits their faith is subjective, let alone the bible requires faith.

    It is like the wall street occupation all over. Lets talk about the 99%, shall we?

  4. #4 Steven Carr
    March 15, 2012

    I agree that fundies are certain that the Bible is backed up by facts.

    For examples, they use prophecy as part of their proofs and one of the proofs of prophecy they use is that the city of Tyre was destroyed and never rebuilt, just like the Bible prophecies.

    It is in vain to show them photographs of the city of Tyre. To them it is a fact that Tyre was destroyed and was never rebuilt, and so photographs of the city of Tyre are irrelevant.

    They are photographs of another city which just happens to be where Tyre was.

    But what can you do when even photographs of cities do not convince people who base their beliefs on ‘facts’?

  5. #5 Nick Matzke
    March 15, 2012

    Nice post! I have a comment in moderation due to links.

  6. #6 NickMatzke
    March 15, 2012

    Oops you already posted it, thanks.

    Just came across this, which is more explicit about the source of the increase in presuppositionalism: the revival of the “Reformed” (i.e. hardcore Calvinist) tradition:

    http://lovejoyfeminism.blogspot.com/2011/09/evidentialism-v-presuppositionalism.html
    ==========
    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Evidentialism v. Presuppositionalism

    I have noticed a worrying trend among some Christians. It is the turn away from evidentialist apologetics toward presuppositionalist apologetics.

    Evidentialism holds that belief should rest on evidence.

    Presuppositionalism holds that belief rests on presuppositions.

    Evidentialist apologetics attempts to bring converts by revealing the evidence behind Christianity. Evidentialists say that scientific evidence actually supports Young Earth Creationism, that archeology has proven the truth of the Bible, both new testament and old, and that the evidence for Christ’s historic existence is overwhelming.

    Presuppositionalist apologetics attempts to bring coverts by arguing that the only rational, coherent worldview is that which begins by presupposing the divinity of the Bible, the existence of God, and the reality of Christ’s sacrifice. In other words, presuppositionalists say that one must presuppose Christianity, and that trying to convince someone based on evidence is flawed.

    Evidentialist apologetics is traditionally associated with evangelicalism and fundamentalism while presuppositionalist apologetics is associated with more reformed traditions. This actually makes a lot of sense given that arminianism emphasizes free will while calvinism emphasizes predestination. It also makes sense given that Cornelius Van Til and Francis Schaeffer, both reformed, are the major luminaries who developed presuppositionalist apologetics. More and more these days this approach is spreading beyond reformed circles and into evangelicalism and fundamentalism in general.
    ==========

    I think this is a useful framework for understanding what is going on, although in real life its less than clear. E.g. a lot of “evidentialist” creationists, maybe virtually all of them, more or less take the inerrancy of the Bible as a presupposition, no matter how much they talk about evidentialism, or even how much they themselves think their views are based on physical evidence. And all the presuppositionalists will say at the very least that evolution doesn’t work on its own terms, even if they sometimes admit that the geology on its own terms looks like it’s from an old Earth.

    So we are talking about real inside baseball within fundamentalism here. And really this is mostly with the intellectuals (quote-unquote) of the movement, I doubt the fundamentalist on the street understands much of this in any depth.

  7. #7 Nick Matzke
    March 15, 2012

    From the AiG statement of faith:

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/about/faith
    ===========
    By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.
    ===========

    It would be interesting to find out when this presuppositional emphasis started. IIRC Answers in Genesis was originally just an Australian version of a creation-science organization.

  8. #8 Kel
    March 15, 2012

    In terms of the epistemology, I can’t really imagine any framework being in place for anything beyond justification of the beliefs when challenged. In practice, perhaps, “Their belief in creationism is instead a reflection of a deeply held epistemic principle: that, at least on some topics, scripture is a more reliable source of information than science.” isn’t too far off the mark. Though I think it would be too much to say that there’s some deeply held epistemic principle behind the acceptance.

  9. #9 Wow
    March 15, 2012

    “An atheist’s presupposition will most likely be that there is no God and that truth is relative.”

    That, however, is incorrect.

    The Atheists’s presupposition is that god hasn’t been shown to exist yet.

    After testing that presupposition against evidence, it then becomes shown that whatever god was proposed has been shown not to exist in the form stated.

    In much the same way as we can show that a kabgaroo apparently cannot eat enough food to power its movement to that food by jumping doesn’t exist, but one that isn’t just a sack of bones that bounces up and down HAS been shown to exist.

  10. #10 Richard Wein
    March 15, 2012

    I find Lynch’s position weird. He argues that we can’t give an epistemic grounding to the principles of science. So he looks for a political grounding instead: we should accept science’s epistemic principles because they’re good for democracy! But he’s just exchanged one problem for two: he still needs some epistemic principle to ground his argument that science’s epistemic principles are good for democracy; plus now he needs a normative principle to ground his normative claim that we should adopt the epistemic principles which are good for democracy. What’s more, Lynch’s position effectively turns the goal of science into believing what’s good for democracy, rather than what’s most likely to be true!

    Lynch and Sokal are both correct on the broadest point: we can’t justify our epistemic principles all the way down. Every justification starts from one or more premises, and we can always ask for another justification to justify those premises, ad infinitum. And the problem doesn’t end there. Empirical justifications depend on induction (or abduction). We cannot make deductive arguments that take us all the way from evidence to conclusion. That means our arguments have gaps which we can only cross by making fallible inductive judgements. Some people may make different judgements, and however poor we may judge those judgements to be, we can’t give some ultimate proof that they are poor. Ultimately, all reasoning is a matter of fallible human judgement. Arguments serve as an aid to good judgement, but they cannot substitute for judgement.

    To me, the big error in the traditional way of looking at epistemology is to see arguments (justifications) as primary, when in fact it’s human judgement which is primary, and arguments are just a tool that may help us to make good judgements. Because we see arguments as primary, we tend to feel there’s a problem if our beliefs aren’t secured by arguments (justifications) all the way down. But that’s expecting too much from arguments. Accepting that judgement is primary doesn’t mean accepting that all judgements are equal. But it does mean accepting that all assessments of the merits of judgements are themselves fallible human judgements.

    There’s no magic in the fact that science works. It works because it’s evolved to work. Scientists have selected and developed what works and rejected what doesn’t. And science didn’t appear overnight as some radical new way of thinking that was completely distinct from what went before. It evolved gradually out of ordinary everyday inductive judgements of a sort which humans had been making (and gradually improving) for thousands of years. And human inductive judgement evolved from the more primitive inductions of our evolutionary ancestors, in a chain going back to the very first organisms capable of learning about their environment. We can see science as the latest stage in a long process of organisms getting better at learning about their environment by doing what has worked before.

  11. #11 Richard Wein
    March 15, 2012

    P.S. I wrote:

    “We can see science as the latest stage in a long process of organisms getting better at learning about their environment by doing what has worked before.”

    That’s not quite right. Of course it’s not enough to do what has worked before. To get better we need to try out potential improvements. Those improvements may be the result of random mutation (in the case of biological evolution) or reasoning about what might work (in the case of science). Either way, changes that work are more likely to be retained than changes that don’t.

  12. #12 Thanny
    March 15, 2012

    I think Sokal is closer to the truth. The attempts at demonstrating the validity of the Bible are rationalizations of something already believed. They do not in any way represent *why* the Bible is believed.

  13. #13 SLC
    March 15, 2012

    I think that Prof. Rosenhouse has it wrong. The position of the YECs is that their minds are made up, the evidence is irrelevant. The best discussion on this issue I have read is an essay by Richard Dawkins on Kurt Wise, which I link to below. Dr. Dawkin’s conclusion is reproduced below with the bottom line in bold.

    Whatever the underlying explanation, this example suggests a fascinating, if pessimistic, conclusion about human psychology. It implies that there is no sensible limit to what the human mind is capable of believing, against any amount of contrary evidence. Depending upon how many Kurt Wises are out there, it could mean that we are completely wasting our time arguing the case and presenting the evidence for evolution. We have it on the authority of a man who may well be creationism’s most highly qualified and most intelligent scientist that no evidence, no matter how overwhelming, no matter how all-embracing, no matter how devastatingly convincing, can ever make any difference.

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/dawkins_21_4.html

  14. #14 TomS
    March 15, 2012

    I’d like to point out two different approaches to what is in the Bible which are generally taken by the same people:

    1. The question of geocentrism. It had been generally accepted, up until about the year 1500, on the basis of what the Bible says up until about the year 1500, that the Sun goes around a motionless Earth. After a couple of centuries of turmoil, this view was discarded solely on the basis of naturalistic evidence, and today it is rare to find anyone who denies that the Earth is a planet of the Sun.

    2. The question of the fixity of species. Up until about the same time, there was no notion of the fixity of species (indeed, there was no concept of “species”), and in particular no one said that the Bible says that God created fixed species.

  15. #15 SLC
    March 15, 2012

    Re TomS

    and today it is rare to find anyone who denies that the Earth is a planet of the Sun.

    Actually, some argue, using an argument based on General Relativity, that it is just as accurate to claim that the Sun revolves around the earth as it is to claim that the earth revolves around the Sun. I believe that an essay by one Joseph Ratzinger, now better known as Pope Benedict XVI, which I believe some linked to on Jerry Coyne’s blog, is an example of such thinking. Of course, given that relativistic effects in the Solar System are so small and can be treated in first order perturbation theory, the argument is totally preposterous.

  16. #16 SLC
    March 15, 2012

    Re TomS @ #14

    The question of the fixity of species. Up until about the same time, there was no notion of the fixity of species (indeed, there was no concept of “species”), and in particular no one said that the Bible says that God created fixed species.

    But the Hebrew scriptures talk about “kinds”, which creationists identify with species, when they don’t identify them with higher order levels in the Linnean system.

  17. #17 Mike Gage
    March 15, 2012

    I’d like to add to what Nick said. Some of the popular apologists, like William Lane Craig can sure sound like evidentialists, but they will often fall back on some presupposition. For Craig, somewhat famously by now, it’s the “internal witness of the Holy Spirit.” I think Craig has even said in his weekly Q&A that even if all his evidential arguments were proven false, he still would not have reason to abandon his faith because of this internal witness.

    So, the mere presence of arguments that seem very evidential does not seem sufficient to show that their epistemic justification is really built on that. Quite often, that case seems to come later as they search for soem way to defend against attacks, but it was never their reason for accepting the beliefs to begin with. It seems like we actually face a sort of faux evidentialism (in addition to those who really do rely on evidence – I’m sure there are some).

  18. #18 Ben Fulton
    March 15, 2012

    I think Sokal has the right analysis here. Fundamentalist Christians assert by faith that Biblical infallibility is an axiom, and no counterargument will ever change their minds. Attempts to try to prove the axiom to unbelievers are merely an aspect of the Biblical command to spread the gospel.

  19. #19 TomS
    March 15, 2012

    @SLC #16

    I know that creationists (in particular, the “baraminologists”) have produced an interpretation of Scripture which backs up their ideas. I don’t make the mistake of trying to argue interpretations of Scripture, but I can point out that for a couple of thousand years nobody had that interpretation.

  20. #20 TomS
    March 15, 2012

    @SLC #15:

    If one is to take the “relativity” approach, this means that the Bible is not wrong when it says that the Sun goes around a motionless Earth, but that it is meaningless. Not much of an improvement IMHO.

    But my main point is that the revised interpretation of the Bible, whether it is to say “the Bible is speaking metaphorically” or “all motion is relative”, has come about only on the basis of naturalistic arguments. Nobody has come to a non-geocentric interpretation of the Bible because of spiritual arguments. Someone may construct a non-geocentric “spiritual” interpretation, but nobody for a couple of thousand years, before the naturalistic arguments gained traction, said that the Bible didn’t mean that the Sun goes around the fixed Earth.

  21. #21 eric
    March 15, 2012

    Good post, and good comments by Nick. There’s obviously a mix of both presuppositionalist and evidentialist fundies – even Nick’s sources admit that, if only to contrast their own apologetics to the evidentialists’.

    In any real conversation with a fundamentalist, then, probably the first thing to do is understand where they are coming from. Ask which position they’re taking, and repeat it back to them. Heck, ensure they write it down in a post if you are having an online conversation. Because I suspect that regardless of what type of fundamentalist you’re conversing with, the presuppositionalists will happily gish gallop over to evidentialist arguments when it suits them, and vice versa.

    I believe (at least one of) the textbooks cited in ACSI vs. Stearns, for example, did both. They stuck a presuppositionalist-like statement in the front of the book, and then scattered bits of creationist ‘evidence’ throughout it.

    There are probably plenty of fundamentalists who – out of either ignorance or intentional deception – wouldn’t think twice about using two contradictory arguments at the same time to support their point. Its the old “my client was nowhere near the crime scene, your honor..and besides, it was self-defense” approach.

  22. #22 Glen Davidson
    March 15, 2012

    However, I think the “presuppositional” approach has really been increasing in popularity in recent years, mostly through the influence of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis. E.g.:

    They do use presuppositionalism in their “museum,” but then they also use prophecies as their “proof” that the Bible is reliable, and they also “conclude” that “God’s word and God’s world agree.”

    Presuppositionalism is to them just another defense against the godless, and they’re not at all willing to rest upon it alone. They like presuppositionalism because that accords with their sense that the Bible is the first and foremost truth (an old Protestant view), and because they can use it to pretend that both science and they use prejudices (the trouble with that view is that we all accept science’s “prejudices,” they just privilege the Bible for no good reason (they will claim otherwise) whenever the two are in conflict).

    But they’re still not willing to rest upon presuppositionalism alone, and so try to show that the Bible is the best presupposition. It’s just a kind of post-modern figleaf for the Bible prejudices which have always been at the core of their beliefs.

    Glen Davidson

  23. #23 hoary puccoon
    March 15, 2012

    This is an interesting discussion. In practice, however, many, if not most, creationists base their position on:

    1. Scientists don’t know everything. It’s all just people’s opinions.

    2. It’s rude to criticize other people’s opinions, so scientists are rude.

    3. Good Christians believe in the Bible. I want to be a good Christian, so I believe in the Bible, too.

    4. Anyway, who cares? Evolution is just a theory. It has nothing to do with actual life.

    5. Did you see American Idol last night?

  24. #24 Stu
    March 15, 2012

    hoary, you missed

    3a. Besides, Jesus helped me when I had a rough time. So Jesus exists.

    3b. Anyway, churches do a lot of good. Why are you attacking people who do a lot of good?

  25. #25 AL
    March 15, 2012

    @15

    Actually, some argue, using an argument based on General Relativity, that it is just as accurate to claim that the Sun revolves around the earth as it is to claim that the earth revolves around the Sun. I believe that an essay by one Joseph Ratzinger, now better known as Pope Benedict XVI, which I believe some linked to on Jerry Coyne’s blog, is an example of such thinking. Of course, given that relativistic effects in the Solar System are so small and can be treated in first order perturbation theory, the argument is totally preposterous.

    Yeah, I saw Ratzinger’s argument on Ed Brayton’s blog. Ratzinger assumes ahistorically that geocentrism merely presumes that the earth is the center of the universe, and since “center” is arbitrarily defined in any system, geocentrism is somehow vindicated. But this as I just said is ahistorical. The old geocentric view contains many more assumptions than just the earth being central, including the assumption that orbits must be circular and uniform, thus resulting in a very elaborate model of deferents and epicycles which can’t really be defended today.

  26. #26 hoary puccoon
    March 15, 2012

    Stu @ 24–

    I suspect your point 3b. is the most important one.

    A former boyfriend once actually told me, “Scientists don’t know anything the rest of us don’t. It’s all common sense stuff. They just use big words to sound important.”

    I said, “you mean, words like ‘ion’?”

    which is why he promptly became a former boyfriend.

  27. #27 Jim Harrison
    March 15, 2012

    Perhaps because so many of the Internet critics of Fundamentalism come out of the sciences or because the loudest public debate over the last century has been about religion vs evolution, it’s easy to forget how large a role philology played in weakening the foundations of biblical literalism. Reading the Bible too closely is far more dangerous to the faith than worrying about the origin of species.

  28. #28 harrync
    March 15, 2012

    I am not sure these “proofs of the Bible” type arguments are the reason people believe in their religion. I suspect the actual logic of their belief is more like: My parents have my best interests at heart. People who have my best interests at heart tell me the truth. My parents tell me the Bible is true. Therefore it is. [This logical argument probably is done at a subconscious level. And of course, it’s not real good logic.] Or for converts, substitute “The missionary has my best interests at heart.” Of course, if the missionary’s truth conflicts with the parents truth, then they might have to rely on “proofs of the Bible” type arguments. And hoary and Stu [23 & 24] probably are right, too.

  29. #29 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    March 15, 2012

    When I lived in Kansas I became a regular listener to a fundamentalist radio station. It seemed like every third sermon was about proving, rationally, the divine authorship of the Bible. When I went to creationist conferences and discussed this question with the attendees, the better informed among them would unleash a barrage of arguments meant to convince any reasonable person that the Bible is the Word of God.

    If they all truly believed that, why would they spend so much effort and verbiage trying to convince each other of it?

  30. #30 Stu
    March 15, 2012

    hoary: I know a lot of people like Steve Harvey. Go look up his CBN interview and try to not have your head explode.

  31. #31 Stu
    March 15, 2012

    If they all truly believed that, why would they spend so much effort and verbiage trying to convince each other of it?

    Because they don’t. Not on an intellectual level. Hence the need for isolation, constant reinforcement and massively passive-aggressive behavior.

  32. #32 Owlmirror
    March 15, 2012

    (indeed, there was no concept of “species”),

    Well… a nit: philosophers were arguing about the concepts of species and genera for quite a while before 1500, but they probably did not mean the same thing that modern biologists do.

    Of course, even modern biologists don’t necessarily mean the same thing by the term, when used in different contexts. There are quite a few biological species concepts out there.

  33. #33 Alex
    March 16, 2012

    Something else I’ve noticed in terms of the epistemological foundation for belief is the thorny bushes of evidence. We often say there’s no evidence for a god, to which they respond that everything we see in this world is obvious evidence for a creator, otherwise how could you be here? I’m with Wittgenstein the elder on this; ontological masturbation and equivocation is too rife in the language we use to talk about these things. The same with definitions for unmoved mover / first cause and the fallacies of absolute knowledge of something you are at best agnostic about.

    That’s actually one thing that really bugs me – or, perhaps, more correctly, something I’m not really understanding or are ignorant about – is the fuzzy foundation in logic of most philosophy for agnostic definitions. We always suppose this and that. What we need is to suppose something like this or that and then deal with probabilities. Can anyone recommend some reading in this territory? I’m aware of some philosophers using Bayesian inferencing (can’t remember names, but Luke Muelhausen / LukeProg interviewed a couple before he jumped ship), but how to get this more widely accepted?

  34. #34 Richard Wein
    March 16, 2012

    Alex,

    Richard Carrier has apparently made a Bayesian argument against God in a recent book (http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/80). You might like to take a look at that. I haven’t read the book, but I’m skeptical. I doubt that Bayesian inference is much use in arguing against the existence of God, because there’s no good basis for calculating the required probabilities. The fact that Carrier claims to have “proved” that there’s no God and to have “proved” his theory of morality doesn’t encourage me to take him seriously (especially as I’m convinced his theory of morality is wrong). These are not the sorts of questions where you can demonstrate the answers so definitively as to reasonably call them “proofs”.

  35. #35 Wow
    March 16, 2012

    St, 24, you also missed

    3c) Besides you’re all mean, so you must be wrong

    3d) Your science is just a religion too

    (note that this doesn’t stop them demanding that you can’t criticise a religion and at the same time criticising science (“our” religion))

  36. #36 Alex
    March 16, 2012

    Thanks, Richard, yes, that was the guy LukeProg interviewed. I don’t remember the specifics of it, but I’m not sure he proved anything as much as only stated the probability as very low, and a chapter was spent on working out the parameters for the probabilities, but then I haven’t read the book, either. I find it interesting, because at some point we need to merge mathematics with philosophy for the latter to survive in any meaningful way (IMHO, of course). I’m too Wittgenstein-the-latter-ian. Wonder if anyone around here has read it, and better yet, reviewed it?

  37. #37 Gingerbaker
    March 16, 2012

    Richard Wein:

    “…The fact that Carrier claims to have “proved” that there’s no God and to have “proved” his theory of morality doesn’t encourage me to take him seriously (especially as I’m convinced his theory of morality is wrong). These are not the sorts of questions where you can demonstrate the answers so definitively as to reasonably call them “proofs”….”

    If only Dr Carrier had the benefit of your sophisticated analysis before he so obviously wasted all of his time and effort! You can still give him the benefit of your expertise at his blog: http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier

  38. #38 TomS
    March 16, 2012

    @AL #25

    ISTM that a major difference introduced with heliocentrism is that the heavens are made of the same stuff as the Earth. What Galileo observed with his telescope were things like: the Moon has mountains, the Sun has spots, Jupiter has moons, just like the Earth. Geocentrism demands that the heavenly bodies be made of the kind of stuff which has unending motion, something totally different from the kind of stuff of which the Earth is made.

    It is clearly impossible today to think that the Moon and Mars are different from the Earth.
    How, then, can they be in motion while the Earth is fixed?

  39. #39 Area Man
    March 16, 2012

    In short, their view is that any reasonable person in possession of the facts should conclude that the Bible is the Word of God.

    Their arguments are not very good, of course.

    But this just begs the question. If belief in the Bible is so rational and has overwhelming evidence behind it, why do they spend so much time concocting transparently bad arguments? This is what we would normally call rationalizing. The human brain tries to make up rational justifications for beliefs that were arrived at for non-rational reasons. It still leaves unanswered why they are compelled to belief the truth of the Bible in the first place, and why no amount of reason or evidence is going to convince them otherwise.

  40. #40 Dan L.
    March 16, 2012

    re: SLC @13

    I think that Prof. Rosenhouse has it wrong.

    No offense, man, but given the amount of time Prof. Rosenhouse has spent going to creationist conferences and talking to creationists (to the point of writing a book about it) I would definitely take his word over yours on this matter. Not that there isn’t such a thing as presuppositional apologetics, but I believe him when he says — based on his own first-hand experience — that there is a rationalist variety of creationists that is large in number.

  41. #41 Lenoxus
    March 17, 2012

    One flaw in many arguments for the Bible’s truthfulness/accuracy is that there isn’t really “a book” called “the Bible”; it’s a massive collection of texts with clear redundancies, overlapping stories, etc. Even fundamentialists (most of them, anyway) admit that the Biblical canon has many authors, not just one.

    Given that fact, it’s even more of a stretch to claim that things like fulfilled propechies are significant evidence that “the Bible” is reliable. That would be like my taking a geography textbook off the shelf of my home’s library and demonstrating its reliability, then claiming that obviously “my library” is a reliable source of knowledge, and therefore Hogwarts probably exists.

    Of course, no book in the Bible actually has anything close to the accuracy of a modern textbook, but even if it did, a lot more reasoning is necessary to establish the canon as having some sort of general trustworthiness. 

    (Consider the following hypothetical: some time during the Bronze Age, aliens visit a small village and dictate a text which turns out to contain all sorts of amazing knowledge about the universe. This text naturally becomes part of that village’s Canon of Sacred Texts, and centuries later, apologists use the alien text’s uncanny accuracy to argue for the accuracy of the Canon, which happens to include passages explaining how each planet in the solar system is shaped like a different fruit, and the Earth naturally has the shape of God’s favorite fruit, the banana. The problem should be apparent.)

    Anyway, it seems to me that most everyone in this conversation is at least a little right about the nature of creationists’ epistemology. Almost no creationist argues solely from one basis or the other, even if that would make more sense than mixing the two.

    None of them says: “The facts of creationism necessarily rest solely on the truthfulness of the Bible. I mean, duh, it’s obvious that if you subtract the Bible, the evolutionists are right. They have all the evidence, no question. But appearances can be deceiving, and evolutionists fail to realize that God’s Word is more important than human-based reasoning. The Bible’s truth is a brute fact about reality.”

    At the same time, they don’t say this either (although what they do say can be closer to this): “My faith in the Bible is tentative and could be overturned rather easily, or it may turn out that the Bible is only partially true. However, at this time, all the evidence seems to point in favor of a young earth and recent flood. These are simple facts, which have little to do with God’s existence (although he does indeed exist) or human salvation (although that’s true as well). Why do scientists fail to see them? I suppose it’s because they don’t like the Bible being confirmed, or something. I myself have no stance on the matter of the Bible’s ‘confirmation’ or ‘disconfirmation'; I don’t think there is some kind of moral duty to believe the Bible.”

    How can these be reconciled? Well, if I were a creationist, I might argue this: The Bible’s truth is indeed a necessary presupposition, but God doesn’t lie or contradict himself, and therefore, we should expect our universe to look “Biblical”, which also adds evidence in favor of the Bible’s reliability. If scientists started citing the Bible, that wouldn’t be a problem (because the Bible is indeed necessarily true), but they shouldn’t have to do that in order to arrive at young-earth views. They merely avoid young-earth views because of their own atheism or (in the case of religious scientists) our modern world’s rampant secularism. (Some creationists do indeed come close to this view.)

    A counter-argument to this common line of rhetoric comes to mind: What exactly is “theistic” about a young earth, or a recent global flood? I mean, it’s not like atheists deny the existence of Egypt on the grounds that Egypt is in the Bible and the Bible is nothing but lies. So why would scientists perversely insist on an old Earth and universe? They seem perfectly happy to say “I don’t know, but we’re working on it” when asked questions like “Where did the universe come from?”, so why invent a hugely complicated story about common descent when they could just say “Species appeared suddenly by naturalistic means which we have yet to fully figure out.”

    A grand irony in creationist quests for things like the remains of Noah’s Ark is that the only reason it would help “vindicate” the Bible is the massive absence of evidence for a worldwide flood. If such an event had really occurred, then it would just be a plain fact, accepted by all, with the only disagreement being over a divine or natural origin.

  42. #42 lenoxus
    March 17, 2012

    An additional thought comes to mind. A famous creationist “gotcha” is “Were you there?” They also like to say things like “The fossils don’t speak for themselves; they have to be interpreted through one paradigm or the other”. Given these ideas, it seems like an additional ingredient is at play: The notion that only eyewitness testimony is a truly reliable source of evidence, and as it happens, the Bible is the best eyewitness testimony we have.

    For us non-creationists, it can be weird to see all these apparent confusions over whether or not the BIble or the physical evidence has primacy. But for many a creationist, there really is no such thing as physical evidence. Without the book of Genesis, one cannot say anything at all about prehistory, because You Weren’t There.

    Of course, this doesn’t stop AiG and others from contradicting themselves about that by trying to defend one thing or another as physical evidence for the Flood, or attempting to refute a fossil’s transitional status with paleontological arguments, etc. Technically, if they were fully consistent, they would treat all prehistory as a black box that only the Bible can illuminate. There would be no “evidence” for or against the Flood, outside of the Genesis testimony, because You Weren’t There. They would even say that we cannot say one way or the other whether any humans had existed anywhere outside the Middle East prior to modern civilization, because You Weren’t There. But for some odd reason, they don’t.

  43. #43 AL
    March 17, 2012

    @38:

    Yeah, those were some additional assumptions of the geocentric view defended by the Church as well. Ratzinger takes the narrow view that geocentrism is just the idea that the earth is the center of the universe, solely because that’s what the word geocentrism means etymologically. But historically the Church defended a much more elaborate view that contained a lot of premises, not just the earth-centered premise.

    It’s funny, your comment about what Galileo observed through his telescope reminded me of an article I read recently by Michael Shermer, where he includes some actual objections raised by Galileo’s colleagues when he told them to look through a telescope and confirm his findings:

    http://www.edge.org/responses/what-is-your-favorite-deep-elegant-or-beautiful-explanation

    (You’ll have to use ctrl+f to find Shermer’s article, since Edge put all the articles on one page.)
    Basically, the objections can be summed up as looking through a telescope makes my head hurt, and telescopes are obviously not accurate instruments if they defy Church teachings.

  44. #44 Kurt Helf
    March 18, 2012

    I don’t know for whom David Wright thinks he is speaking but I highly doubt most atheists see truth as relative.

  45. #45 SLC
    March 18, 2012

    Re Dan L @ #40

    I would argue that all creationists (at least YECs) are presuppositionalists, whether they admit it or not. Thus, I would argue that “scientific” creationists like Kurt Wise, Jason Lisle, Marcus Ross etc. start from the notion that the Hebrew and Christian scriptures are inerrant and then proceed to look for scientific support for that position, which usually amounts to making shit up.

    As an example, if one raises the question as to how light from distant galaxies arrived at the location of the earth in less then 6000 years, they will argue that:

    1. The supposed distances to those galaxies are in error.

    2. The speed of light was much faster 6000 years ago then it is today.

    3. There are intense gravitational fields in the neighborhood of the earth that dilate time such that clocks run much slower here then elsewhere in the universe due to gravitational time dilation.

    There is, of course, not a jot or a tittle of evidence supporting any of these notions. In fact, there is evidence that all of them would lead to predicted observations that are not observed. For example, if item 3 above were true, light coming from those distant galaxies would be blue shifted far outside the visible spectrum and they would be invisible to optical telescopes.

  46. #46 Lenoxus
    March 18, 2012

    SLC @ 45: To play devil’s advocate for a moment…one creationist counter-argument would be that we do have sufficient evidence that at least one of those three propositions must be true, or something like them — because of all our evidence in favor of the Bible’s infallibility. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and for a creationist, “the Bible has it wrong” is an extraordinary claim.

    Consider actual science: numerous known phenomena seem not to fit into current scientific models, but that doesn’t mean we abandon the models altogether if there is enough other evidence for them. (For example, biologists make the assumption that there is a complete tree of life even if two analyses of some cladistic relationships seem to contradict.)

    One counter-counterpoint would be my argument above that it is no small task to “prove” an entire text, whatever that could possibly mean. Even if the “trustworthiness” of most of a book were well-established, a mere sentence or two from The Trustworthy Book wouldn’t be enough to actually overturn massive amounts of contrary evidence. A human being may say nothing but truthful statements her whole life, and appear to predict things she couldn’t possibly have known, but if one day she says “Arsenic consumed in any amount will make you live forever”, don’t reach for the arsenic. Usually, we can work out which is the less extraordinary of two claims. Maybe her psychic powers simply went faulty one day.

    I think it is correct that creationists hold to some form of presuppositionalism even if they assert otherwise, though at the same time, they do truly believe that evidence/reason have some value in determining the truth. I think one reason that people are disagreeing with Jason is that it seems like a real stretch to suppose that most creationists actually became creationists because of the evidence — the evidence just grabbed them by the shoulders against their will — rather than their playing the evidence game post-hoc. (Of course, many of them think the same thing of us, for what that’s worth.)

  47. #47 TomS
    March 19, 2012

    @SLC #45:

    Rather than pointing out that there is no naturalistic evidence or reasoning to support those
    hypotheses, I would point out that there is nothing in the Bible that has ever been proposed in support of them. (At least, not before the 20th century. Were there no “Bible-believing Christians” before the 20th century?)

    To me, this means that they are not relying on the Scriptures alone.

    Just as they are not relying on the Scriptures alone for their belief in heliocentrism.

  48. #48 Wow
    March 19, 2012

    “and for a creationist, “the Bible has it wrong” is an extraordinary claim.”

    How about “The bible is just a storybook”?

    Or “The bible contains the mythology of the Christians”?

    Of course, the creationist may not *hear* those, instead “hearing” “God goesn’t exist”, which then again comes back very much to your extraordinary claim label to a fatheist.

  49. #49 Wow
    March 19, 2012

    “2. The speed of light was much faster 6000 years ago then it is today.”

    However, that would require

    a) the change in the speed of light has now stopped. Why?

    b) while the speed of light was changing, the observed speed of events were changing dramatically.

    both adding yet another “turtle” on the way down and creating a massive special pleading in a oner.

    “3. There are intense gravitational fields in the neighborhood of the earth that dilate time such that clocks run much slower here then elsewhere in the universe due to gravitational time dilation.”

    So where is the cutoff point? Or, if gradual, you again have a problem with the apparent homogeneity of galaxies or stars (depending on whether the cutoff is at intergalactic distances or interstellar ones) despite the actual volume comprised being nonlinear to the extreme.

    EVERY SINGLE CASE of “answer” only “answers” in the same way as “God did it that way” is an “answer” to any phenomenon. It works only as long as you accept it works and NEVER ASK QUESTIONS.

    That forbidding of questioning is why religion is anti-science.

  50. #50 Wow
    March 19, 2012

    “So why would scientists perversely insist on an old Earth and universe?”

    For the same reason mathematicians insist on a larger-than-3 value for pi as opposed to a value of 3 exactly.

  51. #51 Wow
    March 19, 2012

    “Not that there isn’t such a thing as presuppositional apologetics, but I believe him when he saysthat there is a rationalist variety of creationists that is large in number.”

    But all Jason has is what these people *say*. Not what they’re *thinking*.

    How many people have you read on Realclimate et al who start off with “I’m not a denier…” but then go on to spout the denier mythology, then deny any and all evidence behind human influence on climate?

    Despite having specifically claimed otherwise, they certainly appear to THINK like a denier.

    IMO apologetics theologians are using “facts” and “evidence” not to see if the bible is right, but to rationalise their faith in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

    Just like AGW deniers like to point out “we don’t know everything” so they can ignore the evidence of what we do know.

  52. #52 Raging Bee
    March 19, 2012

    Wow: In addition, how about: “The Bible is not a literal document, because the truth it supposedly contains is not literal truth”?

    Or: “The Bible is about one thing and one thing only — Man’s relationship to God. It was never meant to be about biology, geology, piano-tuning, quantum physics, Iraqi politics, or anything else.”

  53. #53 Lenoxus
    March 19, 2012

    Wow:

    For the same reason mathematicians insist on a larger-than-3 value for pi as opposed to a value of 3 exactly.

    I had to think about it for a moment to get this. Ha!

    I hope my original point was clear, though. Hypothetically, one can imagine a universe in which all the evidence pointed to its youth; this wouldn’t necessitate theism, except perhaps by some rather baroque arguments that people could quite freely reject (just as they reject the “complexity” arguments against evolution). Therefore, the creationist argument that “scientists just want to deny God” doesn’t seem to hold up.

    Meanwhile, my analogy of a psychic who seemed to get everything right was just meant as an extreme scenario, to say that even that wouldn’t be enough to justify YEC. In reality, of course, the Bible doesn’t seem to get very much right at all, not even the history of the people who wrote it. One would do better with a principle that says “the Bible is always, always wrong” than the opposite, though of course such a principle would occasionally err.

  54. #54 Wow
    March 19, 2012

    What I really don’t get about the YECs is that they’re completely willing to tell their god what he can and can’t do.

    For example, if the earth really WAS made 6000 years ago, that god who did it has put EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF EVIDENCE to the contrary on here deliberately. EVEN IF the age of the universe is a big con, then that god has done so for a reason.

    A True Believer in a God would be saying with all the evidence available something like:

    “The Bible says that the earth is young and I believe it to be true. However, God has made it appear much older and this means he’s trying to tell me something with that evidence.

    I will therefore believe that in coming to understand what evidence God has put there for the age of the Universe and the Earth will bring me closer to understanding God”

    Except that they’d much rather tell their God he CANNOT do that, that he MUST ONLY do as was said in the bible.

    The arrogance of it is really breathtaking.

    Even if God had created the universe last Wednesday, he made it look older for a reason. Instead of telling Him He’s wrong, look at what he’s telling you.

  55. #55 TomS
    March 19, 2012

    @Lenoxus #46
    it seems like a real stretch to suppose that most creationists actually became creationists because of the evidence

    And I claim that it is not obvious that creationists became creationists because of what the Bible says.

    On the one hand, there are plenty of things that the Bible says that are reinterpreted to mean something else, on the basis of outside evidence.

    On the other hand, it is difficult to find some of what creationists say in the Bible.

  56. #56 Wow
    March 19, 2012

    “And I claim that it is not obvious that creationists became creationists because of what the Bible says.”

    Apart from the bible saying specifically that the world was created, you mean?

    To me, that’s a bit of a clincher there for me.

    “On the one hand, there are plenty of things that the Bible says that are reinterpreted to mean something else, on the basis of outside evidence.”

    So you *really* meant something along the lines of:

    “I claim that it is not obvious why creationists believe creation happened solely from what the Bible says”.

    I.e. with all the other stuff considered allegorical, why is that one thing taken as immutable to them?

    My answer would be the obvious one: it makes them a priori important. It gives them carte blanche to do whatever they want since God Made Them Special. And gave them lordship and dominion over all creation. If you want to go laping and rooting all the stuff off the planet and want to quash any feelings of guilt over the mess you’re making, that bit there is rather attractive.

  57. #57 Lenoxus
    March 19, 2012

    TomS:

    On the one hand, there are plenty of things that the Bible says that are reinterpreted to mean something else, on the basis of outside evidence. On the other hand, it is difficult to find some of what creationists say in the Bible.

    It’s true that the Bible doesn’t discuss many of the things that creationists attribute to it, such as the “vapor canopy”, nor the things they will indeed admit are not in there but say that it’s reasonable to infer, such as the origin of Cain’s wife. If creationists were utterly consistent, they would believe in a flat Earth that was disc-shaped (and maybe sometimes rectangular). Heck, they would even say that “we just don’t know” whether much of anything exists or has existed anywhere apart from what the Bible has to say. There’s no North or South America in the Bible, and no Pluto or basketball or logarithms.

    Still, those things are merely not mentioned; the Bible seems to outright contradict other things. So in order to simultaneously maintain “The Bible is completely literally true” and “Most of our everyday knowledge is correct (heliocentrism, known species diversity, etc), you have to massage and reinterpret some verses until they say what you want them to. So that explains some of the apparent differences going on here.

    (A similar phenomenon is found in the political and ethical arena. Plenty of folks really do think that the Bible condemns slavery, or that it explicitly defines marriage as between only a man and a woman. This is part of why I don’t think “literalists” are actually somehow being more Biblical than anyone else; they’ve merely hammered into our heads the idea that their worldview is the “Biblical” one.)

    I think Wow has a good point about the “Special” thing as well. The Bible strongly implies that weather events are directed at God, but we have yet to see a push for Intelligent Meteorology. If we were raindrops and snowflakes, things would be different.

  58. #58 Iwe
    April 1, 2012

    “Rick Perry’s recent vocal dismissals of evolution, and his confident assertion that “God is how we got here” reflect an obvious divide in our culture. In one sense, that divide is just over the facts: Some of us believe God created, human beings just as they are now, others of us don’t.”

    If God indeed created humans the way they are, then what would be the need to constantly correct them(physically, mentally and intellectually) in order to bring them to the level of perfection? Firstly, I don’t know if correcting God’s work is something God would appreciate. Second of all, if God does want humans to be perfect, then why didn’t he create humans perfectly to begin with?

    I think the problem here is not so much over the divide in beliefs, as it is with the fact that believers in God themselves find it hard to believe that god created all humans. You may simply notice that while talking to a religious person – they don’t view you as a god’s creation.

    And I know why it’s so hard for the concept of creationism to sink in. If god really existed and was the one, who created humans, he would’ve, most likely, chosen non-carbon materials to work with. There are so many things that god would’ve created differently.

  59. #59 Yrom
    April 1, 2012

    Do Creationists have any explanation as to why God created humans malignant? Does he want humans to be that way intentionally, meaning constantly harming one another? I don’t get it. What is the purpose of living damaged?

  60. #60 Kiop130
    April 2, 2012

    @9

    “An atheist’s presupposition will most likely be that there is no God and that truth is relative.”

    That, however, is incorrect.

    The Atheists’s presupposition is that god hasn’t been shown to exist yet”
    —————————–

    This is incorrect as well because the point of atheism is to exist without god even if he exists. Imagine the scenario when god’s existence IS finally proven, what are atheists (according to your view of them) going to do – convert to Christianity? Or will they tell god to leave them alone? Wouldn’t it be a scary existence knowing that there is god looming over you and favoring only a certain group of people?

  61. #61 NJ
    April 2, 2012

    Kiop130@60:

    This is incorrect as well because the point of atheism is to exist without god even if he exists

    Bzzzzzt! Sorry, thanks for playing.

    You personally want “the point of atheism is to exist without god even if he exists” because that allows you be a theist without having to prove your belief.

    All atheism means is that you don’t get a free pass in having your ideas accepted; you have to prove them. And that is the “scary existence” to you, we suspect, because deep down you know you cannot meet even the loosest standards of proof.

  62. #62 Klai
    April 2, 2012

    “I think the problem here is not so much over the divide in beliefs, as it is with the fact that believers in God themselves find it hard to believe that god created all humans. You may simply notice that while talking to a religious person – they don’t view you as a god’s creation.”

    The concept of creationism is extemely difficult to grasp for the human mind. I don’t know if there is a creationist out there, who truly understands what it means, the seriousness of it, and who actually views people as god’s creations. Literally.

    You might call this a flaw in reasoning, however, just this aspect alone discredits the concept, which becomes more like an implanted delusion due to its unnatural character, creating a disconnect between the idea and its comprehension.

  63. #63 Kiop130
    April 2, 2012

    @61
    “You personally want “the point of atheism is to exist without god even if he exists” because that allows you be a theist without having to prove your belief.”

    No, that allows me to be an atheist in case God does exist and his existence is proven.

    “…And that is the “scary existence” to you, we suspect, because deep down you know you cannot meet even the loosest standards of proof.”

    My existence will be much scarier, if atheists actually do find evidence for god’s existence.

  64. #64 Wow
    April 3, 2012

    “The Atheists’s presupposition is that god hasn’t been shown to exist yet”
    —————————–

    This is incorrect as well because the point of atheism is to exist without god even if he exists.”

    This isn’t correct at all.

    If god doesn’t exist, even the faithiests will continue to exist, despite their theism being the opposite of a-theism.

    The existence of God or Gods is all Atheism is about.

    And the point is that there is no reason for god to exist at all.

  65. #65 Kiop130
    April 3, 2012

    @64

    “If god doesn’t exist, even the faithiests will continue to exist, despite their theism being the opposite of a-theism.”

    Are you saying god does exist?

    “The existence of God or Gods is all Atheism is about.”

    Atheism means “without god”. The prefix “a” means “without”.
    Atheists dispute the existence of god, but it doesn’t mean their lives revolve around god or gods.

    “And the point is that there is no reason for god to exist at all.”

    Unfortunately, believers in god might find this argument very weak. However, even though some of them do not need evidence for god’s existence, they do respond well to atheists’ evidence that proves the contrary.

  66. #66 Wow
    April 4, 2012

    “Are you saying god does exist?”

    No.

    “Atheism means “without god”.”

    Nope, it means “not theist”.

    “The prefix “a” means “without”.”

    So a-typical means “without typical”?

    “believers in god might find this argument very weak.”

    Well yes. They believe in God, therefore anything that doesn’t accord to their belief the same status as fact is weak. To them, everything is faith.

    There is no reason for a god to exist.

    We can manage to explain anything much better or at least no worse without the god there.

    “There was no need for that hypothesis”.

  67. #67 Kiop130
    April 5, 2012

    @66

    “a” means both “without” and “not”, thus your correction is pointless.

    “Atypical” means irregular or without a type.

    “We can manage to explain anything much better or at least no worse without the god there.”

    There is nothing in my hypothesis that contradicts this statement. What exactly are you trying to pick on?
    Were you offset by the variable that distinguishes my hypothesis from typical atheism, where according to my theory, you can be an atheist even if god exists, and his existence is proven?

  68. #68 Elte
    April 6, 2012

    “There is no reason for God to exist”

    In this case, there is no reason to look for evidence for either his existence or non-existence. In the atheist reality, there is no god(s), never was and never will be. Period. It’s a matter of perspective – you either view the world through religious persepctive, which creates the perception of god being real, or you put on the atheist perspective, through which he disappears. The dabate is over!

  69. #69 Jon S
    April 22, 2012

    As a Creationist, in order to answer the question, “Why Do Creationists Believe as They Do”, I immediately want to know the answer to the question, “Why do atheists believe as they do?” I used to ponder that question, but as I’ve read this website over the years I think I have a pretty good understanding of why they hold to their beliefs. At one point I used to think that many who believed in evolution were consciously lying, didn’t care about the evidence and just didn’t want to believe in God and the Bible. It was easy for me to see through the false premises propping up evolution. I’ve since learned that evolutionists really do “believe” in evolution wholeheartedly, and that they believe all living organisms are related a single common ancestor and that the universe really is over 13 billion years old. I understand that they believe deep down in their hearts that this has been proven just as thoroughly as the law of gravity, and that all the evidence demands evolution, that there’s not a shred of counter evidence, that there’s no evidence for God’s existence, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is either stupid or a fool. But I think they believe this primarily because that’s what they’ve been taught to believe. In other words they’ve been indoctrinated. They haven’t been taught to think critically and they don’t know any other way to think. They don’t believe in God or what’s taught in the Bible, and they don’t want to believe in God or the Bible, and some atheists are completely hostile towards any religion other than their own. If one doesn’t accept evolution there’s extreme pressure to conform, and if the pressure doesn’t work, then there could be punishment or retaliation. Today’s secular schools, colleges and universities aren’t interested in truth or any debate or discussion over the facts. They’ve reached their conclusion that evolution is true and will do everything within their power to indoctrinate students to believe and conform to their conclusions. Therefore many students believe what they’ve been taught because they don’t know any better. They assume the teachers and professors are telling them the truth and can’t imagine that they could be wrong. According to the evolutionary establishment there’s no longer any debate on whether or not evolution is true, and any counterevidence is prohibited or censored. Evolution has become dogma and religion so much that questioning it produces all kinds of assaults, such as the attacks on Rick Perry or any other politician or individual who rejects it. Atheists first and foremost reject God, and therefore, their natural inclination is to accept an origins theory or worldview that is natural rather than supernatural. Evolution is then the natural belief system chosen since there are no other alternatives. God’s word has been rejected, so natural explanations for the universe and man are all that’s left. (Of course you can be a theist and believe in evolution too, however that’s more of a progression of accepting the dominating theory v.s. what scripture teaches.) Atheists, however, by their very nature, are unwilling to accept any supernatural explanation and therefore will overlook the truth in favor of a natural explanation. The truth is irrelevant. They’re only interested in explanations that fit their preconceived worldview. Therefore any evidence that supports the Biblical explanation for the existence of man and the universe is rejected. Any testimony given by the Biblical writers are rejected. Any evidence of miracles is rejected. Any evidence of fulfilled prophecies is rejected. Any evidence in favor of a young earth is rejected. And then the atheist claims there’s no evidence for Creationism. But there is plenty of evidence that has been rejected a priori, rather than examined on its own merit. The atheist will never examine the evidence in favor of Creation with an open mind or seek out Creationist explanations.

    As for me I’m a Creationist because I believe the Bible is the Word of God, and I believe that scripture teaches that God created the heavens and the earth in six days (Exodus 20:11). In other words I believe that God has revealed to us our origin of how we and the universe were created by him supernaturally in just a short period of time not so long ago. I believe the eye witness testimonies of the prophets and disciples who wrote scripture, I believe in the prophecies recorded in scripture, I believe in the miracles recorded in scripture, and I believe that even today prayers are answered by God and miracles are performed. I understand that the Creationist position is in conflict with evolutionary theory, and I’m okay with that because I understand evolution, how it works, and all the arguments in favor of evolution. I’ve studied them enough to know how they work, and I reject evolution and all the dating techniques used to support it because they’re unsound and weak. I think if anyone really studies and analyses evolution, it’s pros and cons, and then examines the Creationist claims, including the pros and cons, then one will see that either Creation is true, or at worst it’s impossible to determine which is right and which is wrong. From a completely scientific perspective I think it’s impossible to know the true age of the earth because there are so many unknown variables, and that the only way we can really know the truth is if it were revealed to us. Therefore, since the Bible is a revelation from God to man, I believe what he says despite the popular belief system called evolution. I believe that God knows more than any human, and since he’s the one who created us, it makes more sense to believe him than to believe human beings who reject him in favor of naturalistic causes. In short, because I believe in God I find it easy to accept YEC over evolution. And because I understand both sides of the argument I find it just as easy to reject the so called evidence in favor of evolution because the evolutionary arguments aren’t very good once they’re understood. On the other hand the Creationist arguments actually make the most sense once you accept that God and his Word are true.

  70. #70 NJ
    April 23, 2012

    Jon S @ 69:

    I find it just as easy to reject the so called evidence in favor of evolution because the evolutionary arguments aren’t very good once they’re understood.

    Except, of course, that you have demonstrated convincingly that you have not understood ‘evolutionary arguments’.

    Or the rules concerning run-on sentences or paragraphs.

    It’s most likely that you are just another drive-by creationist, full of the spirit and devoid of IQ. Run along now.

  71. #71 Jon S
    April 23, 2012

    NJ: Except, of course, that you have demonstrated convincingly that you have not understood ‘evolutionary arguments’.

    Wow. You mean I don’t understand that no one has observed evolution because it happens so slowly, or it happens so fast that we can’t see it in the fossil record? Of course evolutionists will deny both and believe both at the same time, depending which is more convenient. Is it possible that any supposed evolutionary links are figments of your imagination, based on faith and hope? Can you provide any observational evidence to back up your evolutionary claims? Or is evolution really pseudoscience? Every time someone claims they’ve seen evolution in action, upon closer examination, we can be certain they’ve seen no such thing. At best they’ve seen species change, but never “evolve”, depending on how the term is defined. We’ve never observed one organism become another organism (such as an ape become human or a dinosaur become a bird). It’s all based on faith that it can and did happen.

  72. #72 NJ
    April 24, 2012

    Jon S @ 71:

    Is it possible that any supposed evolutionary links are figments of your imagination, based on faith and hope?

    Sorry, faith and hope are your bailiwick; we deal with actual data.

    Since my expertise is in the geosciences rather than biology, I can only provide basic discussion off the top of my head. But here is a nice summary that will at least give you a starting point:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-intro-to-biology.html

    Read it over and come back with specific questions, not long refuted platitudes like “We’ve never observed one organism become another organism” or “Every time someone claims they’ve seen evolution in action, upon closer examination, we can be certain they’ve seen no such thing.”

    Of course if you want to argue a different point, based on your nonsensical statement in #69:

    I reject evolution and all the dating techniques used to support it because they’re unsound and weak.

    then I can be vastly more specific, as dismantling YEC claims about the age of the Earth (which are independent of biological evolution btw) is where I have spent much more time.

    I have little faith that you will actually do this, but being fair-minded, I will offer you the opportunity. And should you decide to return, it may attract others who have more training in the biological end of the spectrum.

  73. #73 Jon S
    April 24, 2012

    NJ: Since my expertise is in the geosciences rather than biology, I can only provide basic discussion off the top of my head.

    Nice. You’re not the first to offer me the talkorigins website in order to defend their beliefs. Talkorigins is a biased source dedicated to defending evolution and attacking Creation. In fact the very first sentence convicts itself by stating that evolution is the “cornerstone” of modern biology. That’s laughable. I bet if I randomly interviewed five biologists and asked them what the cornerstone of modern biology was I’d wager that not one of them would mention evolution. As a matter of fact the first paragraph even admits that the majority of biologists don’t even have a grasp of it. This should be enough for you to reject this hogwash too! Goodness, if the majority of biologists can’t grasp evolution then why do you have such faith and confidence in it? I’d suggest studying some Creationist websites and try to understand their arguments. I think you’d learn a lot more about evolution than you will from talkorigins.

    Talkorigins isn’t peer reviewed or published in scientific literature and should be viewed skeptically. Any supposed refutations of Creationist research don’t measure up. I only read the first three paragraphs of that nonsense and don’t plan to read any further unless you have a specific argument you’d like to discuss. Then we can research and present our arguments from various sources.

    Then I can be vastly more specific, as dismantling YEC claims about the age of the Earth (which are independent of biological evolution btw) is where I have spent much more time.

    I am very open to your challenge. I contend that carbon dating and radiometric dating are unreliable and flawed. No doubt you will claim that they are reliable and will suggest that other dating techniques (such as fossil evidence) confirm them. But I will argue that there’s plenty of documentation to show that radiometric dating is often in disagreement between other dating methods and can produce vastly inflated ages for rocks of known ages. Therefore data is “fudged” in order to “make” them conform because if different techniques don’t complement one another, then one is discarded to whatever the assumed date is, and the date that isn’t acceptable is discarded due to contamination for example. In the end there are too many unknown variables that make the dating techniques unreliable. But I look forward to discussing this further and listening to your arguments.

  74. #74 RLW
    April 25, 2012

    TomS (comment 14)
    SLC (comment 15)

    The issue between the Catholic Church and Galileo has been misunderstood and the wrong conclusion continually passed on. The problem for the Catholic Church was not new science, but old science. During the Dark Ages, most of the educated were either nobility, wealthy, or in the church. The church had about 2,000 years to reconcile the Bible (Old, then New Testament) with science. With their education this they proceded to do. Unfortunately, the astronomy at hand in the Middle Ages was Aristotilean and Ptolemaic in nature. They supplanted a natural, common sense reading of Scripture in order to align it with the “latest” science. Having commited to the sicence of the day, and accepted its understanding in their interpretation of Scripture, they made their reconciliation with Scripture, and the Bible look foolish. This, of course in the concern of creationists today.

    The pace of scientific discovery is breathtaking and involves a vast number of fields. This pace has led to much in the way of conjecture which parades itself as science. Proof is regualted to only that which can be tested. As none of us was there at the begininng of space and time, ALL of man’s attempts on his own to understand his origins are at best conjecture. This should be recognized by all sides in the debate over issues in which science can really excel (observable, repeatable, testable).

    How do we know how old the universe is? We observe the current universe, the speed of light, and other things we assume to be fixed laws. Then scientist assume the laws never change (that they have observed)and they assume uniformitaritanism (things have always been as they appear now). They take the known size of the universe and extrapolate back to a singulatity. They say it took the universe 14.5 billion years to reach its current size. While this is a very sophisticated deduction based on sophisticated math, it is really nothing more that speculation based on assumptions that cannot be proved. They are man using man’s wisdom to guess at how things began.

    The creationist begins with, they claim, an eye witness account from God to a Hebrew writer. If they are a true Christian they have a relationship with this Creator and therefore, His existence is not just something to debate (except with those who wish to deny that he exist, and then only for their benefit to try and persuade them otherwise). However, the problem comes when they too use man’s knowledge to try and interpret the Scripture more to their liking, and beyond what the Bible provides. At this point they become just like the scientist, a speculator. Both sides need to be careful in their claims, and simply and humbly admit that man’s knowledge is often incomplete and often changing. Just think of his view on social and other issues. Even science has studies which change our understanding, the understanding that was change previously only a few years ago. Man’s understanding of truth is constantly changing based on new data. God’s truth is timeless and never changes. When man approaches the truth of God (God doesn’t provide all the answers we would like)he ends up revealing his own errors no matter which side of any debate he is on.

    As to “types” or “kinds”

  75. #75 Wow
    April 26, 2012

    “Wow. You mean I don’t understand that no one has observed evolution because it happens so slowly, or it happens so fast that we can’t see it in the fossil record?”

    I mean both. Or neither. The problem could be merely that you do not wish to see it.

    We HAVE seen evolution. That, by the creationists is called “micro-evolution” because it HAS been observed.

    And the mutation and obvious descent visible in the fossil record (which happens to be extremely rare: count how many genuine fossils of Tyrannosaurus Rex there are in the world. Not copies, genuine original fossils. Then consider how long these creatures existed for) cannot be ignored and is therefore ignored by asking “where are the transitionals!”.

    “Is it possible that any supposed evolutionary links are figments of your imagination, based on faith and hope?”

    Nope. They may be figments of my imagination, but how on earth could they be predicated from faith and hope? Faith and hope in WHAT?!?!?

  76. #76 Wow
    April 26, 2012

    “As for me I’m a Creationist because I believe the Bible is the Word of God”

    Why do you believe that?

    “and I believe that scripture teaches that God created the heavens and the earth in six days (Exodus 20:11)”

    But why has that God created a universe that looks as though that book is completely wrong? If your God really did create the world in six days as per spec, then what is he trying to tell you by making it look 17 billion years old?

  77. #77 RLW
    April 26, 2012

    Wow (Comment 75)

    This is the kind of comment that “hopefully inadvertently” but consistently undermines the case for evolution. It is true that “micro-evolution” so called has been observed in bacteria. Let us examine what this means. “Mutations” have been observed in bacteria. Are they really mutations? If a drug kills off those bacteria which are prone to die from a drug, and only those resitant to the drug survive and breed, they produce more drug-resistant bacteria. It would seem to be evolution. What we have actually witnessed is a shrinking of the genetic pool for this species as many traits may have been killed off by the drug. What if the next drug or threat is better survived by traits in the bacteria that were killed off? No evolution has taken place, merely a shrinking of the gene pool to the survivors. This will limit further survival options.

    How do we know that this is “good evolution?” Who decides whehter this is “good evolution?” In evolution theory, this role has been given to the god of natural selection. This god is given the powers attributed to God. He knows just which mutations will be best and which won’t. Yet if you find this idea absurd, then the god is really random chance. If in a disaster (say a volcano/tsunami) the weakest, least desirable member of a species and his mate by chance happen to be in a cave on a hill, and are the only survivors of the disaster? This would undo (as would disease, famine, etc.) any evolutionary accomplishemnts in progress since these two came to be. Not only is evolution unlikely under the best of circumstances, but circumstance regularly destroys any “progress” (mutation) that was made. But let us concede “micro-evolution.” Has “macro-evoution” ever been observed? This is what a creationist means by no observable evolution. No one has observed a species evolve into another species. Leave aside the many hoaxes perpetrated by scientist looking to may a splash in the news, a species that appears to be in between two species, may have been created that way, or may have a deformity, or may be nothing be a dead end of evolution. There is no proof that it is a “transitional” link.

    This points to the fallacy of much of sciences answers to the question of origins. Here “micro-evolution” which is said to have been observed (conceded), is extrapolated to “macro-evolution” without proof. Conclusions are reached without the facts to back up the conjectures. Creationists can be guilty of the same error. I have no problem with either side postulating ideas of how things happened, but both need to be careful in noting when they are doing so. This would make the debate more useful and truthful.

  78. #78 Jon S
    April 26, 2012

    RLW: The creationist begins with, they claim, an eye witness account from God to a Hebrew writer. If they are a true Christian they have a relationship with this Creator and therefore, His existence is not just something to debate (except with those who wish to deny that he exist, and then only for their benefit to try and persuade them otherwise). However, the problem comes when they too use man’s knowledge to try and interpret the Scripture more to their liking, and beyond what the Bible provides. At this point they become just like the scientist, a speculator. Both sides need to be careful in their claims, and simply and humbly admit that man’s knowledge is often incomplete and often changing. Just think of his view on social and other issues. Even science has studies which change our understanding, the understanding that was change previously only a few years ago. Man’s understanding of truth is constantly changing based on new data. God’s truth is timeless and never changes. When man approaches the truth of God (God doesn’t provide all the answers we would like)he ends up revealing his own errors no matter which side of any debate he is on.

    You’ve made some very valid points. However I disagree with the problem you identify with Creationism. It is a problem when man uses his own wisdom to interpret scripture more to their liking, but what I like about Creationism is that I don’t believe this is the case. The Creationist accepts what scripture says as true, believes that we can have confidence in it and rely on it in all areas, including science when it speaks on such matters. There’s great humility when we listen to and accept what God tells us and believe it by faith (Hebrews 11:3), despite the opposition. The Creationist believes in a young earth because we believe that’s what God has revealed in His Word. We don’t try to make scripture conform to a young earth. The plain reading of scripture clearly provides the message that the Creationist uses to shape their worldview. For example when the Bible tells us that God created the heavens and earth is six days (Genesis 1:31, Exodus 20:11) we believe it. It’s problematic to suggest that God really didn’t create the universe in six days, or that God really meant something else, or that science has authority over the interpretation of scripture. You’re right that God doesn’t provide all the answers we’d like, but he does tell us enough. In fact he tells us enough about the origin of man and the universe that we can trust what he’s told us over what man tells us.

    Your post 77 is well stated, however I’d like to know if you have any specific examples of conclusions Creationists have made without facts to back up their conjectures. There may in fact be some, but I’d like to know what you’re referring to.

  79. #79 Jon S
    April 27, 2012

    75: Wow: “Wow. You mean I don’t understand that no one has observed evolution because it happens so slowly, or it happens so fast that we can’t see it in the fossil record?”

    I mean both. Or neither. The problem could be merely that you do not wish to see it.

    Ah, that is a possibility. But your comment is very revealing because that would also suggest that the evolutionist sees evolution because that’s what they wish to see. And that’s the point I’m trying to make.

    We HAVE seen evolution. That, by the creationists is called “micro-evolution” because it HAS been observed.

    You’re right to point out that this depends on how we define our terms, and that’s the point. If we use the terms “micro-evolution” v.s. “macro-evolution”, then yes, we’ve observed “micro-evolution” but have not observed “macro-evolution”. The typical evolutionist doesn’t differentiate between the two and assumes they’re both one in the same. In other words any change in an organism is “evolution”, therefore they assume “evolution” is a fact because we can observe changes in organisms over time. But what they haven’t done is differentiate between fact and fiction or what is observed and what is unobserved. When a Creationist refers to evolution they’re typically referring to the general theory of evolution, in which all living organisms are related to a single organism which itself came from non-living material (this is what the Creationist denies). They’re not referring to speciation, which is a term Creationists prefer to use over “micro-evolution”. The Creationist believes in speciation but prefers not to call this evolution of any kind because it’s not the same thing, and this is where the typical evolutionist accuses Creationists of believing that organisms don’t change, which is absurd. So the evolutionist provides examples of changes in bacteria, fruit flies, bird beaks, moth color, etc., claims that this is evolution in action, and then uses that as proof that evolution is a fact. But what they’ve failed to do is demonstrate that what is observed even supports the general theory of evolution. Of course we observe change in organisms over time, but that change is not the same kind of change that is assumed to have caused a dinosaur to turn into a bird. So the magic of evolution is the bait-and-switch tactic that provides the illusion that it’s true. The change in the size of bird beaks over one season doesn’t demonstrate that scales can turn into feathers over millions of years. These are two completely different processes: one observed and the other assumed.

    And the mutation and obvious descent visible in the fossil record (which happens to be extremely rare: count how many genuine fossils of Tyrannosaurus Rex there are in the world. Not copies, genuine original fossils. Then consider how long these creatures existed for) cannot be ignored and is therefore ignored by asking “where are the transitionals!”.

    The argument you’re trying to make is disputed by Creationists. We don’t accept that there’s an obvious visible descent in the fossil record. At best it’s a supposed descent that is disputable. We don’t observe whale evolution in the fossil record, nor ape to human evolution, or dinosaur to bird evolution. All of these are heavily disputed. The evolutionist claims that Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, Kutchicetus, Protocetus, Rodhocetus and Basilosauras are all transitional forms of whales, but they can’t demonstrate that they are transitional forms. They’re assumed to be transitional without any direct observational evidence. Forensic science has difficulty figuring out what happened last week, yet evolutionists act as if they can tell us what happened 53 million years ago and that we have to accept it as fact?

    Nope. They may be figments of my imagination, but how on earth could they be predicated from faith and hope? Faith and hope in WHAT?!?!?

    They’re predicted by your faith and hope that that’s what you expect to find. You have faith that the supposed evolutionary links are authentic and real. And you hope to find evidence to support that faith. When you find a possible match then that’s accepted without question or skepticism.

    “As for me I’m a Creationist because I believe the Bible is the Word of God”

    Why do you believe that?

    Various reasons. I think it makes the most sense of the world we live in. It’s consistent with various beliefs of other cultures around the world. I believe what the Biblical writers wrote regarding eye witness accounts and testimonies. I believe miracles are real and happen today. I believe there’s plenty of evidence supporting the prophecies of Jesus Christ in the Bible. I even believe in supernatural beings such as angels and demons and that they’re actively involved throughout the world today. I believe that Jesus Christ rose from the grave and conquered sin and death. And I believe that the Bible and science are consistent.

    “and I believe that scripture teaches that God created the heavens and the earth in six days (Exodus 20:11)”

    But why has that God created a universe that looks as though that book is completely wrong? If your God really did create the world in six days as per spec, then what is he trying to tell you by making it look 17 billion years old?

    I think that’s your interpretation based on limited knowledge of the universe and God’s power. You incorrectly assume that if God and the Bible are real, then we shouldn’t have any unsolved mysteries and that everything should be nice and tidy so that we don’t get confused. Of course I could make the same accusation against evolution: If evolution is real then why does it look as if it’s completely wrong? For example we know that life only comes from life. There are no known violations to this rule. But for evolution to be true then there would have to have been at least one violation of this law at some point in time so that a non-living entity gave rise to a living organism. But since we don’t ever observe this in nature then it looks like evolution is completely wrong, and according to this evolutionary belief we live in a universe that is completely wrong. So to get back to your question, I suggest that the universe doesn’t look 17 billion years old or 13.75 billion years old, or however old scientists wish to speculate. The world looks very young to me. We see mountains which should have been eroded long ago if the earth were billions of years old. There are many other things that cause the universe and earth to look young, such as the salinity of the ocean, galaxies that are wound up too fast, the amount of short-lived comets, too few supernova remnants, not enough sea floor mud, the earth’s magnetic field, tightly bent strata, DNA and soft tissue found in fossils, radiohalos, helium in minerals, etc.

  80. #80 Wow
    April 27, 2012

    “But your comment is very revealing because that would also suggest that the evolutionist sees evolution because that’s what they wish to see.”

    Nope. In no way is this true, merely your projection. This is how you “know” god exists, therefore everyone must think this way and therefore you’re not wrong.

    Why do you think they “wish” to see evolution?

    “And that’s the point I’m trying to make.”

    Yes, but you’re trying to make it (and failing) because you wish it to be so, therefore your fairy godfather story belief can be put on the same or higher pedestal than other people’s “fairy story”.

    “In other words any change in an organism is “evolution””

    Nope.

    “we’ve observed “micro-evolution” but have not observed “macro-evolution””

    There is no difference. It’s a shibboleth of creationists because to begin with they could refuse to see any evolution. At some point, they could no longer do so and then made a false split between evolution we’ve seen and evolution that is the natural consequence of the evolution we’ve seen.

    “The argument you’re trying to make is disputed by Creationists. We don’t accept that there’s an obvious visible descent in the fossil record”

    And Nelson didn’t accept that he could see any ships.

    Archaeopteryx.

    “At best it’s a supposed descent that is disputable.”

    At best it’s only disputable when you decide you have to dispute it. There’s no rationality behind that decision.

    ” “Why do you believe that?”

    Various reasons. I think it makes the most sense of the world we live in.”

    Why? What sense did it bring to your table?

    The only sense it gives you is that you’re supremely important and will never die.

    “It’s consistent with various beliefs of other cultures around the world.”

    It’s inconsistent with 100x as many religions, inconsistent with the world we see (Bats are not birds) and inconsistent with itself.

    “I think that’s your interpretation based on limited knowledge of the universe and God’s power.”

    Really? You don’t think it is possible for your god to create a universe that looks 17 billion years old?

    I’m not the one fitting god into a tiny box of what he can and can’t do.

    You creationists do.

    “There are many other things that cause the universe and earth to look young, such as the salinity of the ocean”

    Wrong. There’s absolutely no problem with the salinity of the ocean. If it were REMOTELY possible, then in the 3000 years of a 6000 year proposed creation, we would have seen a doubling of the salinity of the ocean.

    “too few supernova remnants”

    Sorry, what number of supernova remnants do we need? And why?

    “not enough sea floor mud”

    What on earth are you wibbling about now? There’s plenty of sea floor mud. The Himalayas are made of the damn stuff.

    “the earth’s magnetic field”

    Nope, nothing wrong there. A small bit of permanent magentism, a conducting core (iron is quite common being the endpoint of fusion energy production) and rotating are enough to create the field.

    “tightly bent strata”

    Nope. No problem either. Rock can be bent extremely without cracking if it’s moved under pressure. We have machines doing this.

    “DNA”

    WTF?

    “soft tissue found in fossils”

    Since there aren’t any, then that is rather a problem of this problem.

    “radiohalos”

    ‘Radiohalos or pleochroic halos are microscopic, spherical shells of discolouration within minerals such as biotite that occur in granite and other igneous rocks. The shells are zones of radiation damage caused by the inclusion of minute radioactive crystals within the host crystal structure’

    Another non problem.

    “helium in minerals”

    You mean alpha particles as can be emitted from many radioactive isotopes, many of them being components in minerals?

  81. #81 Wow
    April 27, 2012

    “We see mountains which should have been eroded long ago if the earth were billions of years old.”

    Plate tectonics and mountain range building.

    And since these mountains billions of years old would have worn down by now, we wouldn’t SEE these mountains. However, any mountains built more recently would be seen and not billions of years old and therefore no problem.

    Your issue is that you think creation was fixed and permanent. Mountains wearing down means they’ve worn down and you can’t see them any more: they’re worn down.

    Go out, find a clue, and ask it for some help. You desperately need it.

  82. #82 RLW
    April 27, 2012

    JonS @78

    As usual in discussions like this it is best to define terms. In the paragraph referenced, my use of “creationist” or “creationism” was meant to be in the general sense. This includes “old earth,” “young earth,” etc. It covers several points of view. Your definition appears to be “young earth creationist” as those who stand on God’s word as truth. If this is what you believe and you believe in God, stand firmly. Based on your presuppositions, that is a rational point of view to take. However, my reference referred to other view points within “creationism” which are merely using man’s knowledge to project back into the Bible their point of view. Then they become like the evolutionist, whose view is rational until he steps outside of scientific fact. Both need to know their limitations.

    Given, however, the above definitions, I was referring to “old earth” creationist who try and reconcile science to Scripture. It is better to believe either your presupposition or science, a hybrid or changing the meaning of Scripture apprears to me to be a frustrating and ultimately fruitless endeavor.

  83. #83 RLW
    April 27, 2012

    Wow @ 80

    I would not go so far as to say that evolutionist “wish” to see evolution, but they as the creationist, are bound by their presuppositions. Most (not all) evolutionist are bound by materialism and uniformitarianism. There is also a inordinate belief that all paraded as science is science.

    Materialism says all the universe must be explained by what we observe in the physical universe, its “natural” laws, and what man can see and rationalize. However, science itself in the area of quantum physics and mechanics is disputing whether we even understand what reality is, and is postulating that there is a reality other than the one we are in. Much of this is still theory, but it is being put forth by serious members of the hard sciences. If this is born out to be true and this is the way science seems to be moving, then materialism is on the way out as the answer to our reality. This flow of thought and study began with Einstein and others in the early 1900s, but the implications are now more fully understood. The beauty of science is that if all scientist seek the truth (no always true), fallacies are eventually revealed. This can lead to truth or another fallacy (repeat cycle). Thus at any point in time, science is full of “facts” (what we think to be true) and “hypothesis” (what we speculate based on the “facts”). Science is attempting, and in many cases does a great job of explaining what reality is like based on the data they have. They are also seeking to to have a grand explanation of everything, and this is where they get in trouble. Science can if not careful mascarade as truth, while the facts underneath that truth are constantly changing.

    The “micro-evolution” (Micro) and “macro-evolution” (Macro)are actually a serious distinction. One was observable (Micro)within a species (only), the other has never been observed. For it to be science it must be observable, verifiable, and replicated, only then can it become a theory. Macro has never been observed, that is a change of one species into another, much less from one kind of orgainsim into another (dinosaur into a bird). This is simply a nice story devised from extrapolating observable facts from a materialistic, uniformiitarian presupposition. The evolutionist has no proof. He has speculation from a scientist as to how it may have happened. No one can say you are wrong, because no one was there, and no one can replicate the conjecture to see if it was true. Go back and look at all the evolution literature and see how often the words “seems,” “appears,” “must have” and other vague verbiage like this is used. This is not scientific terms of fact, but speculative terms. Science does a great job for all mankind when it sticks to the facts and makes the honest and admitted conjectures necessary to do research. Today too much of science is paraded as fact, when it is at best theory. So just like the creationist, the evolutionist is viewing the facts/evidence presented by scientist through their own set of presuppositional glasses, and “rightly” interpret the evidence to fit their understanding.

    I must correct a couple of things in your taking the poor chap Jon S to task over his “evidences.” Both sides are very bright and know much about evidence for both sides. However, there are two items that I am familiar with in which the facts were incorrectly stated. One has to do with soft tissue in fossils. Please look this up on the internet as this is well established by both sides. Evolutionists have said that soft tissue can survive in the right conditions for millions of years. This explanation begins to sound like the objection they have to creationists who reject uniformitarianism because of special conditions. It is amazing that any tissue has survived at all. This soft tissue, thought widely known in the scientific community, has not been made widely known to the public. Perhaps this is why most people do not know about it.

    The other error was the mention of Archaeopteryx (A). While there are similarities between it and dinosaurs (D), there are insurmountable issues that would prevent this kind of evolution (of all evolution needs is millions of years to make anything happen, but mathematical probability prohits evolution in this case). First the similarities. Both D and A had teeth. Look up “bird teeth” on the internet and you will see that several modern birds have teeth, yet they are clearly classified as birds, not dinosaurs. A and D had three toes. OK? A bird must have hollow bones to fly, he must have completely differnet lungs, body wieght distributed differently, feathers are completely different than scales. If you still believe dinosaurs are cold-blooded, birds are warm-blooded. I could go on. This is just not possible mathematically and scientifically. Too many changes of entire systems required.

    Two sets of glasses through which two sides view the same facts and evidence with their presuppositions. The presuppositions are materialism and uniformitarianism or a personal God who created, sustains, and involves himself in his creation. Those are the choices, and they should be debated, but that is a debate for another venue.

  84. #84 Wow
    April 30, 2012

    “I would not go so far as to say that evolutionist “wish” to see evolution, but they as the creationist, are bound by their presuppositions”

    The only presupposition is that the universe is understandable.

    The rest of that was just bafflegab, demonstrating nothing other than your ideological demands and the broken-headed thinking you have to entertain to retain your faith.

  85. #85 Jon S
    May 6, 2012

    Wow: “But your comment is very revealing because that would also suggest that the evolutionist sees evolution because that’s what they wish to see.”

    Nope. In no way is this true, merely your projection. This is how you “know” god exists, therefore everyone must think this way and therefore you’re not wrong.

    It is true. You haven’t seen evolution, yet you believe by faith it has happened in the past and will happen in the future. It’s clear you’re not interested in the truth, wherever that may lead. You have your mind made up and nothing will convince you otherwise. RLW has made some very fine points regarding speculation, conjecture, facts, theory, observation, extrapolation, materialism and seeing things through different glasses. You only see things through one narrow perspective and can’t fathom thinking any other way.

    Why do you think they “wish” to see evolution?

    For a variety of reasons: perhaps they have an incorrect view of science; they think naturalistic answers are the only acceptable explanations and that supernatural explanations are “illegal”. But this way of thinking is political, self-serving, one-sided, close minded, etc. Students are being taught that evolution is a fact and cannot be questioned. They may put a blind trust in their teachers and professors and therefore believe what they’re being taught, accepting the premise of evolution without question, debate or critical thinking; any evidence presented to them will be accepted even if it’s tainted or could be explained from a Biblical perspective. So indoctrination is one reason. Another reason could be that people don’t want God to exist because they have an incorrect view of who he is, and they want to be in control of their own destiny. God would then be a threat to them, their life and way of thinking. By believing that we exist by some stroke of accidental luck or chance we can live lives unaccountable to God, which is very appealing to some people. Some people see evolution because it’s appealing and makes for good entertainment, just as a good science fiction story is appealing. It allows us to believe in alien life, that our future offspring will be superbeings like the X-Men, and provides for all sorts of thrilling expectations for the future of humanity. And because of all this any organism that can be shoved into an evolutionary tree of life will do- even if those organisms are in fact unrelated, and it will be believed by believers.

    “In other words any change in an organism is “evolution””

    Nope.

    “we’ve observed “micro-evolution” but have not observed “macro-evolution””

    There is no difference. It’s a shibboleth of creationists because to begin with they could refuse to see any evolution. At some point, they could no longer do so and then made a false split between evolution we’ve seen and evolution that is the natural consequence of the evolution we’ve seen.

    So which is it? You’re contradicting yourself. You claim there’s no difference between micro or macro evolution. This would imply that any change in an organism would be evolution, yet you flatly deny that. Further, how is it a false split when we differentiate between what is observable and what is unobservable? I claim that that’s good science, demonstrates good common sense, and is the most responsible and logical path to take. Demanding hard evidence to validate these claims should be welcomed by the scientific community. But the very fact that such evidence is shunned should serve as a red flag and give you pause to reflect on what’s being touted as truth in our schools and universities. These so called “natural consequences” are exactly what we’re disputing, yet you shrug it off as if it’s so obvious that it’s not worthy of discussion. Can’t you see the recklessness of that type of thought? This demonstrates the brainwashing that goes on in evolution. You see evolution because you’re not willing to think critically about the “natural consequences” of evolution that you’ve seen (change in bird beak size) and consider whether or not something unobserved (dinosaur to bird) is even possible. You assume there’s no difference and that it’s possible without any critical thought. But if there’s no difference, then why don’t we see such dramatic changes in any organisms today? Can you point to any organism and say that scales are in the process of turning into feathers? Beak size is predominantly due to genes that already exist within the organism, but in order to turn a dinosaur into a bird you’ve got to have massive beneficial mutations imposed upon an organism that is already fully functional. The scientific community should be demanding evidence that this can happen and did happen instead of blindly accepting it without serious discussion. Lastly, I think RLW did a fine job providing distinction between micro and macro evolution as well.

    Archaeopteryx.

    “At best it’s a supposed descent that is disputable.”

    At best it’s only disputable when you decide you have to dispute it. There’s no rationality behind that decision.

    It’s disputable because scientists have reached conclusions that don’t match the evidence, and people are falling for it without critical thought. RLW did a fine job disputing your claim. In addition there were already true birds living prior to archaeopteryx, which is problematic for evolutionists. Protoavis existed far earlier than archaeopteryx and is more bird-like. Furthermore, modern birds such as the ostrich have claws on their wings, the hoatzin doesn’t have much of a keel, and the penguin has an unfused backbone and a bony tail. So there’s no reason to classify archaeopteryx as a transitional form. As I’ve already stated it’s pure speculation and easily disputed based on the facts. Labeling it as transitional is clearly in the imagination of hopeful believers.

    ” “Why do you believe that?”

    Various reasons. I think it makes the most sense of the world we live in.”

    Why? What sense did it bring to your table?

    The only sense it gives you is that you’re supremely important and will never die.

    In the sense that it’s consistent with what we observe in science and history. And I’m only important in the sense that I, like all men, are made in the image of God. And once I die I know I’ll be united with Christ and fellow believers in heaven where there will be no death.

    It’s inconsistent with 100x as many religions, inconsistent with the world we see (Bats are not birds) and inconsistent with itself.

    There’s a lot of Biblical history associated with Islam, starting with Ishmael. Biblical history is also associated with many other nations and cultures around the world, including Egyptian, Greek, Rome, African, China, etc. Other cultures can’t escape the impact Christ and the Bible have had on them. Just look at all the flood stories of various cultures, all describing the same event. All people are descendants of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and we can trace their lineage through the various people groups today, and we can see how the knowledge of God was carried down through the generations. For example in China they worshiped ShangDi, who bears close resemblance to God. So it’s fair to say that there was knowledge of God throughout all history and all cultures. Further, if you’re referring to the bat in Leviticus 11:13-19, Moses used the word “owph”, which means “winged creature”, “to fly” or “has a wing”, so clearly there’s no contradiction. The only problem is the English translation.

    Really? You don’t think it is possible for your god to create a universe that looks 17 billion years old?

    I’m not the one fitting god into a tiny box of what he can and can’t do. You creationists do.

    Of course it’s possible for God to create a universe to look 17 billion years old. But the point is that he never suggests that he did. Just the opposite in fact. A clear reading of scripture makes it quite apparent that God is telling us that we live in a very young universe (Exodus 20:8-11). Even Jason has said on several occasions that the Bible seems to favor the YEC position. So please explain, if you think that Creationists are putting God into a tiny box, how is that so? We believe what God is telling us. Trusting God and his word cannot be interpreted as putting him in a box. If we determined that the earth was young based on our own wisdom and rejected what God has told us in favor of man’s reasoning then we could be accused of putting God in a box. But that’s not the case when we actually believe what he’s told us.

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