Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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A friend, Dave, sent me an interesting article that was published several months ago in Science. This insightful and well-written article by Jennifer Couzin is important because it focuses on one scientist’s trauma and ensuing lifelong journey with rejecting his evangelical creationist upbringing to accept evolution as scientific fact. Below the fold is a summary of this article for you to read.


Paleontologist Stephen Godfrey, curator of the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland, started out his life incongruously as a young earth creationist with a keen interest in biology and a weakness for fossil collecting. Even though his parents were (and still are) fundamentalist christians (his father was a Sunday school teacher, in fact), they were unusual because they encouraged their son’s curiosity in the natural world.

Even though Godfrey grew up knowing that the earth was 6,000 years old, he heard the first whispers of dissention when his first-grade student teacher mentioned that apes were the ancestors of people. After discussing this comment with his parents over the dinner table, Godfrey correctly concluded that this “couldn’t be true because apes aren’t evolving into humans today; they’re apes.”

Upon enrolling in university as a biology student, Godfrey found that his coursework raised niggling questions that could not be answered through biblical literalism, questions such as what carnivorous animals ate since they are so well-designed to kill and eat other animals. By the time he was ready to graduate, he gave a presentation on the origin of flight, arguing that Archaeopteryx could not have possibly evolved from dinosaurs.

Nevertheless, the anatomic similarities between Archaeopteryx and dinosaurs impressed Godfrey so much that he decided to pursue his graduate degree in paleontology so he could learn, once and for all, whether the claims of evolutionary biologists were true. He joined the Robert Carroll’s lab at McGill University where he prepared and described fossil amphibians known as Greererpeton.

But Godfrey’s first summer as a graduate student was a turning point. He had been invited to help dig fossil pelycosaurs in Kansas by paleontologist Robert Reisz from the University of Toronto. Pelycosaurs, which lived 300 million years ago, are ancestral mammals.

So one stiflingly hot and humid day, Godfrey found himself sitting in a cow pasture in rural Kansas, looking at layer upon layer of fossil footprints made by ancient terrestrial animals, wondering how these footprints could possibly have been made during Noah’s flood.

“You can’t imagine a global flood and animals finding ground to make footprints on,” remarked Godfrey. “That, more than anything, any other experience in my life, really shook me to the core.”

Rebutting Noah’s flood. Godfrey drew these
sketches to show how Noah’s flood cannot explain
fossil footprints, as they’re found in different
layers of rock and depend on an animal resting its
weight on the ground.

Finally, in 1989, after Godfrey had moved to Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, he realized the veracity of evolution. He frequented Dinosaur Provincial Park and, as he drove there, he couldn’t help but notice that the landscape was covered in layer after layer of fossil-rich sediments. One layer of these sediments contained freshwater and terrestrial fossils, marine organisms and mollusks in another, and then there was a third layer of freshwater and terrestrial fossils.

“These animals were living here in this same place, but they couldn’t have all been there at the same time,” Godfrey says — an observation that directly conflicts with flood geology. After pondering this for awhile, Godfrey states that “the rest of the young-Earth creationist ideas kind of exploded.”

Godfrey was understandably upset with this elaborate deception. He sought out creationists to argue with. He became alienated from most of his family. His parents and siblings were upset by his acceptance of the veracity of evolution. In fact, families have so much difficulty dealing with a crisis of faith like this that they often turn their backs on the person experiencing it.

As the article points out, some former creationists think that changing creationists’ minds about evolution is not worth the heartache that it causes.

Fortunately, Godfrey did not lose his wife, a devout christian, nor his five children, all of whom still attend an evangelical, young-earth creationist church. However, it seems this experience has made it impossible for him to communicate with his own family about questions of faith. He admits that he doesn’t know what his children believe, nor does he know how strongly he should guide them in matters of faith versus science.

When asked, Godfrey admits that he believes in god today, but tomorrow may be different.

Reading this article makes it easier to understand why religous fundamentalists of all faiths have so much difficulty in accepting the truth since they stand to lose everything, including their very identity. Yet, people do turn their backs on their religious faith every day, so there is something that finally causes them to decide they’ve had enough. For Godfrey, digging up fossil footprints himself were his turning point, but I am interested to know what was that crisis point for others. Have any of you experienced a radical change in your personal belief system as Stephen Godfrey did? What was your ‘breaking point’? How did your crisis of faith affect you and those around you? Are there family members who still do not speak to you?

Source:

Evolution: Crossing the Divide. (2008). Jennifer Couzin. Science 319:1034-1036.

Comments

  1. #1 James McGrath
    April 25, 2008

    Thanks for sharing this. I am still a Christian, but I can tell you why I abandoned young-earth creationism (and eventually fundamentalism). The evidence. As a teenager I was a YEC. Then I read the book Science and Creationism edited by Ashley Montagu. It showed where the YECs were misconstruing the evidence. So I changed my mind on that subject. More importantly, I stopped trying to persuade others to adhere to young-earth creationism, and have repented of claiming to know things about science that I was in fact poorly informed about. My own experience gives me hope, that others may likewise realize that their confident certainty about “what the Bible says” and “Darwinism” will be replaced by an appropriate humility – something the Bible speaks about much more clearly than about the age of the earth or the origin of species! :)

  2. #2 elbogz
    April 25, 2008

    I grew up in a Methodist church and spent a childhood and college life learning all I could about science. During that time the conversations regarding science and the book of Genesis or Science and the story of Noah, never came up. It was all in the philosophy of “The bible teaches you how to go to heaven, and not how the heavens go.”

    The big conflict in my childhood was the end of times. The preacher that was certain that Armageddon was to occur in 1975, had a big influence on me, and when his claims did not come true, it caused me to walk away from the church. I had thought, if they lied to me about “that” then they must have lied about all the rest too.

    Years later it seemed to me that I had encountered God. In an instant it all became clear to me that God was real, and there was very little that could rattle my faith. I went on this merry journey for about 10 years, and it was wonderful. It is more comforting to believe in God, than it is to not.

    A YEC says to me to me one day, look, if the story of Adam and Eve was not factual history and was in fact a fable to teach us about God’s creation, then Jesus died on the cross, to correct a fable.

    I thought about that for a while and finally took my beliefs, crumpled them up and threw them in the trash. It was far easier to not believe anything that to try to reconcile how it was the bible said creation was this way, when in fact all of our knowledge and all our intuition says, that just isn’t so.

    I guess this was the time of the Dover trial, and the big debate in Kansas. I read everything I could about the debate and read almost the entire transcript to the Dover trial, and found it more fascinating than any book of the time. Meanwhile on Christian radio, preacher after preacher taught, “hate Darwin, hate science, only God’s word is true”. The told fantastic stories about how all the animals, including dinosaurs could fit on Noah’s ark. But most disturbing of all was the great Christian challenge. If you believe what the science says, then you can not believe in God. If Adam and Eve wasn’t real, and was just a story, then Jesus died to redeem the sins of a story book.

    One day, my faith collapsed. I realized once again, the church had lied to me. If they are going to lie to me about geology, and biology and archeology and astronomy, then, they probably lied to me about that Jesus thing and God.

  3. #3 Prazzie
    April 25, 2008

    I was raised a Christian and told that evolution was bullshit. I wasn’t even allowed to look at anything related to the theory of evolution. Programs about evolution on television were met with disgust and the channel changed.

    In my early 20’s, my father started reading more widely, encouraged me to do the same and after several books, including “The God Delusion”, my dad told me he was sorry they forced me to believe in such rubbish and it was ok, I don’t have to believe any of it anymore.

    It wasn’t hard, it was a relief to NOT have to work at believing any more. Faith, the faithful will notice, has to be maintained. One experiences loss of it, then you have to pray to God to strengthen your faith. What effort. So much easier to accept what is real and right in front of us. I also find that a life without faith is far more beautiful to look at, as I don’t spend so much time with my eyes closed, examining the invisible (non-existent).

    I continued onwards from TGD and read more Dawkins books on evolution and biology and continued on to other authors. I can’t believe that at one time I didn’t even know what evolution was about. It’s not “humans came from monkeys”, if any creationists are reading this.

    I’ve had some negative reaction from Christians, but as soon as they stop screaming at me about how God is going to send me straight to hell and we get to the science stuff, they tell me they’ll go compile a list of all the evidence that proves me wrong and then disappear forever. Either it’s a long list, or they’re hiding from the truth.

    Having been a Christian for 20-odd years, I think I know which of the two it is.

  4. #4 Wallace T. Ward
    April 25, 2008

    My break came in the seventh grade while I was looking through that old chestnut, H.G. Welles’ THE OUTLINE OF HISTORY. In an early section of the work there was a discussion of comparative religions in which various GENESIS stories were related to similar mythology in other Middle Eastern belief systems of that general time. All of this Biblical narrative had been presented to me in childhood as literal truth, not so much because my highly-intelligent parents were evangelizing me excessively, but because religion was something one did not criticize or analyze in the Deep South of the 1950s. I had been annoyed to learn while a fifth-grader that Jesus was not really born on Dec. 25; that news was delivered by one of the older kids in the Grace United Methodist Church Sunday school chaos in Harrisburg, PA. But I remember very clearly the sense of betrayal and, had I then had the vocabulary, existential dread, that followed upon my seventh-grade discoveries. Then, when I was being educated at an Episcopal school and taking the required sacred studies course for eighth graders, we were in class one day with the headmaster, an Episcopal clergyman, when he proffered the LIFE amgazine cover headed “I am the Baltimore atheist” (Madelyn Murray O’Hare [anyone notice there is some dispute as to the spelling of her last name?]) and said, “This makes me sick!” The headmaster rattled on for awhile, and I remember thinking that I had better keep my mouth shut about my own lack of belief henceforward. If there were any need for further buttressing my opinions, it was satified by, inter alia, finding Paleozoic fossils in sandstone all around my neighborhood in Alexandria, washed down into the Washington area from the Appalachian mountains and plateau in the Pleistocene/Pliocene. My Catholic girlfriend in college took a comaparative religions course her junior year and pretty well lost her religious baggage, too. And was she ever PISSED OFF after experiencing her own sense of betrayal.

  5. #5 Catherine
    April 25, 2008

    I am a recent convert.

    A few months ago, I was looking over my boyfriend’s shoulder (a card-carrying athiest) while he watched one of Dawkin’s Q&A sessions. Dawkins was asked the question, “What if you’re wrong?” .. his answer cut through me like a bolt of lightning, and still haunts me today. His answer can be found here:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=6mmskXXetcg

    Since then, I’ve made a point to keep up with as many evolution vs. creationist arguments that I can get my hands on.

    I am still in the phase of being pissed off that I’ve been lied to all of my life. I feel very similar to Godfrey … there are many things I’ve love to tell my family (Southern Baptist), but I keep quiet for fear of rejection.

    My saving grace is my boyfriend (ScienceAvenger). He has been an athiest as far back as he can remember, and has gone through this journey that I’m on right now. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those completely alone in their newfound realizations.

    Catherine

  6. #6 elbogz
    April 25, 2008

    I didn’t really address the issue of the people around me. Mostly I just stay quiet about my beliefs (except in the blogoshere). We can talk and talk and talk and blog and blog and comment and answer comments, but, we really aren’t changing people’s mind one way or another. I’ve yet to influence anyone to change their beliefs. We find comfort in listening and reading people who agree with us and we find outrage with those that don’t.

  7. #7 James F
    April 25, 2008

    #1 First off all, James, I had no idea you were a former YEC. My already-high estimation of you is that much higher.

    I have a copy of the article (benefits of institutional journal subscriptions) and I found it very moving – reading the struggle that Dr. Godfrey went through and still continues to go through makes me wish more kids could have heard a lecture by someone like Prof. Keith B. Miller of Kansas State University, a paleontologist and evangelical Christian. Watching the NOVA documentary Evolution in the segment, “What About God?” the college students were so clearly relieved at hearing a scientist say, you can have your faith and still accept the findings of science.

    I am happy to say that I was able to recruit Keith Miller as a scientific consultant for the Clergy Letter Project, founded by James’s colleague at Butler, Michael Zimmerman. I hope to recruit Francis Collins and Ken Miller – I never think small. ;-)

  8. #8 khefera
    April 25, 2008

    more importantly, this is about a guy from calvert county, md, which is not exactly a hot bed of any kind of progressive scientific thinking. i used to work as a reporter down there and i’m encouraging my friends still at the paper to hit this guy up for a profile. it would be a huge service to the community.

  9. #9 Bob
    April 25, 2008

    I can’t believe I’m reading this. You guys saw no problems with God creating the entire universe in six days, virgin births, water into wine, raising the dead, etc., etc.–but you’re going to quibble over a few fossil footprints?! That’s not only blasphemous, it’s dumb. You guys are all on the short bus to Hell.

  10. #10 Curt
    April 25, 2008

    Reconciling the Christian faith requires a bottom up rethinking of your beliefs and how they relate to the world and yourself. You can’t expect someone who hasn’t dropped their preconceptions about how they should be interpreting the Bible to be able to do this. There are a number of steps that have to be acheived first.
    1. The interpretation of the Bible you’ve been taught from childhood was given to you by your parents and teachers and is no better an interpretation than what you can come up with on your own, with study.
    2. Do not confuse the concept of Biblical infallibility with the infallibility of your own or anyone else’s interpretation. Yes, translation errors do happen.
    3. Biblical infallibility would have to apply to the historical representation of scientific understanding and fact handling abilities of its writers. So if the Bible contains mistakes and scientific discrepancies, it shows that the Bible isn’t a late-coming forgery. Therefore the Bible must contain mistakes to be a true historic document.
    4. The Bible should only be used as a guide for one thing, it’s plan of “salvation”. That’s its main point, anyway.
    5. Treating the Bible as perfect or infallible is flirting with the “sin” of making it into a god.
    6. Understand the development of man over the past several hundred years and learn how the early stories in the Bible fit into that development.
    7. Begin to interpret those early stories in the light of humanity’s awakening understanding of its place in the universe.

    From this point on, the journey is more personal. For example, I’ve come to see my faith in this light.
    8. “The Fall” didn’t come from “Adam and Eve’s” disobedience, per se, but rather from mankind’s awakening ability to have “The Knowledge of Good and Evil”. This is a mythic interpretation.
    9. The Genesis flood is one of many early flood stories from around the globe. It may even be carried over from the last iceage or something, when the world was covered in water.
    10. We’re human beings now, regardless of how we came to be. We act the way we choose to act, nothing less. Not a lot of evolution has happened to us since the times the Bible describes.
    11. Evolution doesn’t disagree with the idea that we are imperfect beings “in need of salvation”. It doesn’t dictate how we should see ourselves as human beings.
    12. So it is possible to reconcile Genesis and the Bible in general with an evolutionary history.

  11. #11 elbogz
    April 25, 2008

    It does lead to the question “Where am I going, and why am I in a hand-basket?”

  12. #12 Curt
    April 25, 2008

    6. Understand the development of man over the past several hundred [thousand] years and learn how the early stories in the Bible fit into that development.

  13. #13 MH
    April 25, 2008

    The journey for me was incredibly slow and gradual. From early on though something didnt feel quite right.

    Born/raised fundamentalist christianity.

    Kept hearing about feeling gods love and such, but never felt anything. This bothered me slightly. Was something wronge with me? These people all seemed so nice and sincere.

    We had “the truth” and thus were “free”. Yet in reality, almost nothing could be questioned. All knowledge is top down, god->pastor->member.

    Loved science. Was encouraged to become a scientist. Phew.

    Got all the early (80s) creationist texts, Duane Gish etc. Even then in the thick of it they felt hollow. No references were given for anything. No experiments.

    Late 90s cracks in deeply held “truths” started showing through.

    Cosmology was creating the biggest crack. Light speed + astronomy = old universe. Too many deep, well researched and explored things rely on this and mesh so well together.

    Another crack was the creepy absurdity that the god of the universe was filming everything I was doing and was going to play it back and judge me later.

    More and more stuff started becoming questionable. Such as, atheists and people in other religions were supposedly still in sin and rejecting god. Yet, _they_ were all nice and sincere also.

    Then like a necker cube my perspective changed. Right became left, god became evil.

    The dam started rapidly crumbling at this point. Too many “truths” declared by fiat that need to fit together.

    Creationism was the last to go, but go it did. Just like cosmology, too many things mesh together to allow any global explinations. The 2nd chromosome, endogenous retrovirus, etc. (Sure there will be squabbles over mutation rates, speciation events etc. Thats what makes it science).

    Science is a process for finding out how the world works. At any given point, the state of science is as close as we can get to whatever truths this universe has.

    And thats my story.

  14. #14 Firebyrd
    April 26, 2008

    Wow, the stories people are telling are really surprising to me, but then, a lot of the YEC’s I’ve seen probably wouldn’t even consider me a Christian in the first place. ;) I’m Mormon, have been my whole life, and I actually don’t see a problem with having both a love of science and a love of religion in my life.

    Perhaps it helps that my parents raised me with slightly schizophrenic scientific knowledge. On the one hand, evolution was false! But on the other, my mom always made sure we’d take all our antibiotics specifically for the reason of trying to prevent the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, and my overwhelming love of dinosaurs actually meant that there were a number of discussions (or at least my parents listening to me babble) about how dinosaurs might have become birds. How that didn’t equal evolution in any of our minds, I don’t know.

    I decided I was going to go into the biological sciences, wanting to grow up to be a mad scientist studying cephalopod behavior. My AP Biology teacher certainly brought questions to my mind. This was helped because, despite being in Utah, he had tried very hard to avoid telling anyone what his religion was. When I was in high school, however, so was one of his kids, so we all knew he was actually Mormon…just like me. Things continued to percolate until the summer after I graduated, I started to read Origin of Species. I didn’t get around to finishing it (still haven’t, actually *blushes*), but what I read was fascinating…and quite logical.

    Then I went to BYU, one of the universities run by my church, and what do you know. In my very first zoology class, the professor, /also/ a Mormon, not only taught about evolution as a principle that much of our understanding of biology is based on, he clearly believed every word of it. Every professor in the life sciences departments I encountered accepted evolution as fact. In fact, a packet was handed out in class to show all of our various church leaders’ statements that had been made on evolution.

    So it became clear to me that not only was evolution obviously a fact, it was not against the actual doctrines of my faith even though many or most members are creationists. There was no break with my family or my faith. If anything, I’m more impressed with God’s power and knowledge to be able to use natural laws to lead to such amazing things happening in this world. My mom disagrees with me, but we don’t talk about it much. I think I have my dad convinced now. Most importantly, just with my happy burbling about all the things I was learning in my classes, I convinced my husband to look at things rationally and accept the reality of evolution.

    I know I’ve already written a novel, but I want to add that I think a lot of the problem is that the average person just really doesn’t have the scientific background to even understand a lot of specific evidence of evolution, such a mitochondrial DNA and ribosome size. I would bet my mother-in-law, for example, doesn’t have a clue what either a mitochondria or a ribosome are.

    This was really brought home to me due to an ongoing argument I used to have with my stepfather when he was alive. Despite having majored in zoology in preparation for medical school (he was never able to finish his last semester or go to medical school due to a combination of problems with the army and the Vietnam war and a very sick child), he insisted that all organisms were either plants or animals, in part because that’s all that are talked about in scriptures. I thought he was just plain nuts, but to him, zooplankton were animals, phytoplankton were plants, and everything else could be divided up just that easily.

    Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I reluctantly took a beginning botany class. Some of the history of phylogenies and how the various kingdoms came to be classified was discussed. It was then that I realized that my stepdad’s attitude made a lot more sense given when he went to school. I’d had no idea, for example, that fungi weren’t even put into their own kingdom until /the year I was born/, long, long after my stepdad was out of school. When he was there, I think there were only three or four kingdoms classified, and given the era and the location being here in Utah, I’m sure evolution was tiptoed around a lot more than it is now. DNA and its structure was pretty cutting-edge science at the time.

    Even with some biological knowledge and background, since he didn’t keep up with things, he wasn’t really in a position to understand a lot of what might be argued. An average person has even less knowledge, compounding the problem, which I think is unfortunate. There really doesn’t have to be a war between religion and science and people certainly shouldn’t have problems with their families because of such things!

  15. #15 Firebyrd
    April 26, 2008

    Wow, looking at how long that actually ended up…I’m really, really sorry. I didn’t mean to spam everyone, I just have lots of thoughts about this subject!

  16. #16 Melvin H. Fox
    April 26, 2008

    I am the converse convert. I was an ardent atheist for more than 30 years. If there was a god, then I did not care. I was fine. I had a good life. I was a ‘good’ person. It was obvious to me that the stories in the Bible were made up and I thought scientists had a handle on how things worked. I was talented in math but spent most of my time playing ball and chasing skirts.

    I was unaware, or perhaps “willingly ignorant” is a better description, of the facts as they were. I was not fine. My life was a pretense. I was certainly not a good person and scientists have anything but a handle on things. While preachers do lie and exaggerate what they know about science; atheist scientists have lies and exaggerations, well, down to a science.

    The basic issue in the creationism verses evolutionism debate, as in most perennial debates, is each side begins with a different set of axioms. Those in the creation camp believe, a priori, that there must be an involved creator who designed and made all things. Those in the evolution camp believe, again a priori, that there can’t be an involved creator who designed and made anything. Now that will fuel a debate! If you are one of those who fancies themselves a believer in God and in the theory of evolution, then I suggest the book “Evolution and Ethics” by Sir Arthur Keith because you are in a position that is logically untenable.

    Who changed my set of axioms? It was God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. When I crashed and ruined my life by exulting myself, I asked Jesus to save me. He did. Am I any better in my flesh? NO! Am I acceptable to God Almighty? Yes! Why? It is because I am a new creation through faith and by the Grace of God. These are not lies and I know them to be true more than I know that my fingers are hitting the keys of my computer.

    Now the Truth of the real existence of Adam, Eve, Noah and the flood are the things that are obvious. Now the biases and deceptions of man present in all scientific interpretation of facts (ex. Ernst Haeckel) is evident to me. Am I quick to load you all on the “short bus to hell”? NO! However, those who have the Son have life; those who do not have the Only begotten Son of God do not have life. This is the Truth. You must decide for yourself to accept it and live or reject it and be left behind.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  17. #17 Albatrossity
    April 26, 2008

    Mel wrote: Those in the creation camp believe, a priori, that there must be an involved creator who designed and made all things. Those in the evolution camp believe, again a priori, that there can’t be an involved creator who designed and made anything.

    Nope. That’s a strawman argument, Mel.

    I’m in the evolution camp, and I believe in evidence. Nothing more, nothing less. If there is objective evidence pointing to an “involved creator”, I’m not aware of it. I am aware of objective evidence on the side of evolutionary theory.

    Show me some evidence, Mel, and I’d be perfectly willing to change my mind.

  18. #18 Melvin H. Fox
    April 26, 2008

    Albatrossity,

    May I call you Al? I was not making an argument. I was making an observation. So you believe in evidence, “objective” evidence do you? Also, you claim that all the evidence that you are aware of is on the “side” of evolutionary theory. Interesting.

    Alright then, lets take cosmic evolution. We observe (evidence) that the vast majority of stars and galaxies are red shifted. I will grant you that this could mean all of them started from the same point (singularity) 12 billion years ago. But, you are telling me that this could not be evidence that God stretched out the heavens as the Bible declares He did. Your only logical reason to discount the posibility that God pulled them apart is an a priori assumption that there is no God. This out of hand rejection of God is masked in how the assumption is couched. Atheist scientists assume that the universe is a closed system. Why? We have never observed a closed system. So, why would anyone assume that one exists? It is because the alternative leaves room for a pre-existing creator.

    Now, the objective person must conclude that the red shift observations can be interprited as evidence supporting cosmic evolution or as evidence supporting the Bible’s account of how the heavens were formed. Only by faith can we discount one or the other. What say you?

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  19. #19 Jon
    April 26, 2008

    There are so many issue in debate about this. A young earth is entirely possible considering the evidence surround us. fossils, footprints, layers of the earth…all of that is possible through a worldwide flood. its not to mean thta all things(footprints, animals) would have been wiped away. it is plausable that an earth changing flood would redeposit sediments, turn whole sections of ground upside down and such. how else do you explain why on mountain peaks they have found fossilized sea animals? why are their fossilized dino footprints with people footprint in them? their is evidence used on both sides and items dismissed by both sides
    either “theory” of creation or evolution takes a measure of faith to hold.

  20. #20 Albatrossity
    April 27, 2008

    Mel wrote: Alright then, lets take cosmic evolution. We observe (evidence) that the vast majority of stars and galaxies are red shifted. I will grant you that this could mean all of them started from the same point (singularity) 12 billion years ago. But, you are telling me that this could not be evidence that God stretched out the heavens as the Bible declares He did. Your only logical reason to discount the posibility that God pulled them apart is an a priori assumption that there is no God. This out of hand rejection of God is masked in how the assumption is couched. Atheist scientists assume that the universe is a closed system.

    First of all, you’re assuming that I am an atheist, because only atheists can accept evidence for evolution. False dichotomy. Try to understand that lots of scientists have lots of beliefs about lots of gods, and that most of them understand that their beliefs about deities are irrelevant.

    Secondly, where is your evidence? In re-reading your comment a few dozen times, I couldn’t find any, other than the Bible. That is not evidence. It’s anecdote, and it is likely that there are other religious texts out there that have statements that contradict it. This is the converse of the situation in science. There is consilient scientific evidence that the universe is old, based on repeatable objective measurements and observations in a variety of disciplines.

    Evidence obviously means different things to you and me. In your world, evidence comes either from single statements in serially translated old books, or from subjective experience. In my world, evidence comes from multiple independent directions, and from objective repeatable measurements. And I’m afraid that my perspective reflects the scientific perspective, rather than your strawman version of how science works. Science does not reject deities a priori, but merely waits for evidence that goes beyond the anecdotal and subjective. And it appears that you don’t have any of that.

  21. #21 Chas
    April 27, 2008

    I always enjoyed science studies but became “born again” while in college studying engineering. While attending fundamentalist church after college I kept reading christian apologetics material trying to reconcile bible version of creation with evidence cited by scientists for earth’s age, evolution, etc.

    When my wife died unexpectedly at age 29 following difficult pregnancy I found my faith wavering and within two years became what I jokingly call a “born again pagan”. Actually I came to realize that the bible, while good for some moral instruction, was useless as a science book.

    Now I realize new truths: we live in an awesome universe, no good argument for god exists, and most important, this is the only life we’re going to get so we better start experiencing it fully rather than planning on an eternity with some white haired father figure who doesn’t exist.

    So my late conversion to skepticism and unbelief in god came about from trauma combined with study of unsupported christian arguments for young earth.

  22. #22 David D.G.
    April 27, 2008

    Chas, my condolences on the death of your wife. That’s an awful thing to have to experience, especially so young.

    ~David D.G.

  23. #23 David D.G.
    April 27, 2008

    I was raised nominally Methodist, but never took religion all that seriously, and I certainly never took the miraculous or obviously mythic parts of the Bible as literally true after about the age of 8. I was shocked and appalled the first time I ever realized, at about the age of 13, that some adults in my church actually believed that these stories were all literally true!

    For a long time, I identified as a Christian, simply because that was the “default” identity in my culture (i.e., Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.), and because I hadn’t learned the words to express what I really thought. Finally, though, I learned the term “agnostic,” which describes my science-based attitude perfectly, suspending judgment because of what cannot be known. I was reluctant to use the term “atheist,” because for a long time, the only sense of it I had ever heard was the positive-assertion, “strong atheist” stance (i.e., that there definitely is not and cannot be a god), which did not sit well with my agnostic view that such things cannot be known (or the logical position of trying to assert a universal negative).

    However, I finally learned of “weak atheism” (though I dislike that phrasing of it), in which gods are viewed as unproved assertions that we can assume to be nonexistent until or unless extraordinary evidence is presented for their existence (and holds up to scrutiny). This, then, finally expresses my position: I am an agnostic atheist whose moral stances are largely consonant with Protestant (but not fundmentalist) Christianity because of my cultural upbringing.

    ~David D.G.

  24. #24 Melvin_H_Fox
    April 27, 2008

    Look, Al, the evidence I am talking about is the red-shift repeatedly observed in distant objects. That is the evidence, the red-shift. That evidence fits a theory where all mater and energy existed in a single point of no dimension. That evidence also fits a theory where God spoke everything into existence and then stretched out the expanse of the universe by some external force. It fits both. And that fact obviously agitates you.

    Go ahead and ask someone you know who does not care or harbor any stake in this discussion. They will concede very readily that the evidence fits both stories and then go about the business they believe more important. But you and I know different. This is very important.

    So, go ahead, tell me that the red-shift is inconsistent with a theory where an intelligence exerts an external force on the universe and stretches out the heavens in an instant. Show me the objective reliable evidence that supports a closed universe. Otherwise, in your reasoning you are faced with the ridiculous prospect of defending an assumption about the universe as a system that flies in the face of every single example of a system that is known to man. They are all open. We can’t even engineer one that is closed. You think yourself objective, really?

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  25. #25 Albatrossity
    April 27, 2008

    Mel,

    I myself have no stake in the discussion of red shifts and open or closed universes; I’m a biologist. And I’m not at all “agitated” by facts; I do get concerned when it seems that facts are being misunderstood, however.

    I don’t disagree that this singular bit of evidence is consistent with the notion that “God spoke everything into existence and then stretched out the expanse of the universe by some external force”. The only problem with that sort of explanation is that it can’t be tested. Furthermore that explanation can be applied to any and all facts. It makes no predictions that can lead to experiments that can lead to an advance in our knowledge. Thus it is not science.

    Let’s see if you can understand this by the use of an analogy. I say that the red shift was caused by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. How would you prove me wrong?

  26. #26 Melvin_H_Fox
    April 27, 2008

    Ok. I was beginning to think you were merely taking a position. Now, I contend that Biblical account is in harmony with any singular bit of objective evidence. Let me be more specific. Biblical account does not contradict any point of objective evidence.

    You object because the creation explanation can’t be tested. Well let me remind you of the status of some other explanations: cosmic evolution can’t be tested, planetary and stellar evolution can’t be tested, organic evolution eludes the most sapient of homosapien sapiens, macroevolution can’t be tested (amount of time required is too long). The last reminds me of two fairytales taught to children: 1) frog plus kiss equals prince, 2) frog plus time equals prince.

    So, my creator explanation is not the only one with a problem. Here is how the 9th grade science textbook “Science Spectrum” (Holt: 2001) used at the high school where I teach math explains the dilemma. “Some questions, such as how Earth’s continents have moved over millions of years, cannot be answered with experimental data. Instead of getting data from experiments, geologists make observations all over Earth. They also use models based on the laws of physics…” Did you know that scientists such as D. Russell Humphreys and Gerald L. Schroeder have constructed models based on the laws of physics that reconcile galactic distances with a six day creation? Why does one scientist construct a mathematical model requiring billions of years and another scientist construct a mathematical model that does not? They use the same evidence. Could it be their personal biases? Say it isn’t so.

    Al, I am not interested in proving you wrong. I would like to make you aware that you have placed your faith in the creature (man and his science) rather than in the creator. Romans chapter one contains strong warning against such foolishness.

    In a court of law personal testimony is readily accepted into evidence. This evidence should be scrutinized to be sure. A biologist, I am confident you are aware of the lies told by Ernst back in the 1800’s. I see they still could not give up on this nonsense even by 1991 when HarperCollins published “Biology: The Science of Life”. On page 1053 they continue to speak of “gill slits” as some sort of “objective” evidence for common ancestry.

    Some may believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, some believe in evolution; as for me and my house, we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I predict He will come again to judge the earth and all that in there is.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  27. #27 DeafScientist
    April 27, 2008

    “You object because the creation explanation can’t be tested.” – You didn’t answer the question, but asserted that it can’t be proven true it doesn’t matter to you, in other words “what I want to be true, I’ll call true regardless of lack of any evidence”. In that sense, you’ve just confirmed Al’s point ;-)

    Careful observations are valid, too. Your point about continential drift not being a consequence of “experiment” is moot (in the British sense of the word).

    I could go, but from experience its pointless in the hands of people who aren’t prepared to even *consider* anything beyond their present point of view.

  28. #28 DeafScientist
    April 27, 2008

    I should all, all credit to those who had the willingness to consider other points of view. Its good to read of your stories.

    I’m curious about one thing, though. If you had one thing that a scientist could have done to help you see that Creation (or religion) isn’t “true”, what would it be?

    I have a suspicion that it might be evidence that stood “on its own” without anyone “pushing” it. In which case, would more (sound!) science communication would help?

  29. #29 DeafScientist
    April 27, 2008

    I should add, all credit to those who had the willingness to consider other points of view. Its good to read of your stories & thanks for posting them here.

    I’m curious about one thing, though. If you had one thing that a scientist could have done to help you see that Creation (or religion) isn’t “true”, what would it be?

    I have a suspicion that it might be evidence that stood “on its own” without anyone “pushing” it–? In which case, would more (sound!) science communication would help?

  30. #30 Brit-nontheist
    April 28, 2008

    Mel, Occam’s razor disagrees.

    There is no reason to add the proposition of a god to red-shift observations, it adds nothing and overcomplexifies everything. Also, there isn’t two sides (one of creationism and one of atheism, both as positive positions) but one ‘side’ of creationism and then everyone else waiting for some evidence for what barely counts as an hypothesis, never mind a theory, of how god is involved in red-shift. While red-shift-by-god doesn’t directly contradict the evidence that is because it conveniently doesn’t bear any relation to evidence at all and so is at no risk of contradicting it; other phenomena understood by many fields of science do, however, contradict the bible.

  31. #31 Albatrossity
    April 28, 2008

    Mel,

    Your entire argument is basically – “you can’t explain it, so that means my god did it.” As others have pointed out, that addition of a deity is simply unnecessary. As I have pointed out, there is no way to prove or disprove it, it leads to no predictions, and thus can never lead to scientific progress. And finally, this position even has a name; it’s a god of the gaps argument.

    If that makes you happy, that’s great. Just don’t call it science. And try not to be disappointed when your god gets smaller and smaller as the gaps get filled.

  32. #32 Melvin_H_Fox
    April 28, 2008

    Al wrote: “I say that the red shift was caused by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. How would you prove me wrong?”

    DeafScientist wrote: “You didn’t answer the question, but asserted that it can’t be proven true it doesn’t matter to you, in other words “what I want to be true, I’ll call true regardless of lack of any evidence”. In that sense, you’ve just confirmed Al’s point.”

    Brit nontheist wrote: “Mel, Occam’s razor disagrees.”

    I can’t prove Al is wrong about the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). By your logic then, we eliminate the possibility of there being a FSM (closed system assumption) at the cost of eliminating the God of Creation. Are you sure you want to do that? We must also then eliminate the theory of evolution. We must eliminate it because it is not falsifiable. That was my point.

    It is necessary to make an assumption about the openness of the universe. It is not necessary to assume it is open; but, it is more reasonable. Once the more reasonable open system assumption is made, we can’t, that is CAN NOT, scientifically discount an intervening Creator. Note: I understand an open system does not imply an intervening Creator.

    DeafScientest is concerned about establishing things to be true. Yes, it is easier to establish things true in a closed system. You take the easy way out if you would like. The consequences will be grave. What makes something “true”? Well, it must conform to the facts. Now a fact is something that actually happened. Problem, our scientific method uses our sensory observations to establish what has happened. We can’t observe anything without making an error. Therefore, we must settle for evidence in place of facts.

    You all claim that the theory of evolution conforms to the evidence better than does an intelligent Creator. I claim that an intelligent Creator conforms to the evidence better than does the theory of evolution. Our two opposing perspectives have little to do with objective evidence. They have more to do with our bias about God. You don’t want God telling you what to do and I know I will die for lack of His instruction. His instruction is contained in the Holy Bible.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  33. #33 Albatrossity
    April 28, 2008

    Mel wrote: I can’t prove Al is wrong about the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). By your logic then, we eliminate the possibility of there being a FSM (closed system assumption) at the cost of eliminating the God of Creation. Are you sure you want to do that? We must also then eliminate the theory of evolution. We must eliminate it because it is not falsifiable. That was my point.

    Sorry, Mel, that is incomprehensible yammering; you seem to be a black-belt master of the non sequitur. How do you get from a discussion of an open or closed system to the conclusion that we must “eliminate the theory of evolution”?

    My point, which you failed to even make a pass at, is that in the absence of evidence, all deities are created equal. You may think that your deity is the “God of Creation”, but you have no way to show anyone else that your subjective opinion should be given any more credence than the FSM, aliens, or turtles all the way down.

    And then there’s this passage from the Book of Non Sequitur – You all claim that the theory of evolution conforms to the evidence better than does an intelligent Creator. I claim that an intelligent Creator conforms to the evidence better than does the theory of evolution. Our two opposing perspectives have little to do with objective evidence. They have more to do with our bias about God. You don’t want God telling you what to do and I know I will die for lack of His instruction. His instruction is contained in the Holy Bible.

    This completely ignores all that has been written in these comments previously. Indeed, your perspective has little to do with objective evidence. You accept it on faith alone; you are not willing to even begin the process of thinking about modifying it to accommodate new evidence. Unfortunately for you, however, my perspective depends on objective evidence. Furthermore, if new evidence comes to light, I have no problem modifying my perspective. I’ve done it several times in my career, and I expect to do it again as new information becomes available. That has nothing to do with any “bias about God”, despite your repeated assertions that it is so. Show me the evidence, not your subjective opinions, please. If all you have is subjective opinions, that I agree that your “bias about God” may be coloring your perspective. But it would be more accurate to say that I have a bias for evidence, and that colors my perspective.

    Mel, it seems to me that you need certainty in your life. When it comes to the origin of the universe, I’m perfectly comfortable with saying “I don’t know”. It seems that you are not comfortable with that, so you retreat to an evidence-free non sequitur – “God did it”.

    What’s wrong with saying “I don’t know”?

  34. #34 Melvin_H_Fox
    April 28, 2008

    Al wrote: “Show me some evidence, Mel, and I’d be perfectly willing to change my mind.”

    Lets see if you can follow this.

    Premise: There is no such involved entity as Albatrossity.

    If you show me some evidence that Albatrossity exists, then I’d be perfectly willing to change my mind.

    Go ahead, give it your best shot. Show me some evidence.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  35. #35 Albatrossity
    April 28, 2008

    Mel,

    I asked you for evidence that your God exists, or even that he/she/it is any better than any of the myriad other deities created by the human mind. I have asked this several times, but so far you haven’t been able to give a coherent response. Quit moving the goalposts. Evidence, not subjective opinions. Thanks.

    And while you’re at it, I really would like to know what bothers you about the statement “I don’t know”. That doesn’t require you to track more than a single question. Give it a try.

    thanks again

  36. #36 DeafScientist
    April 29, 2008

    “Problem, our scientific method uses our sensory observations to establish what has happened.”

    Not correct Mel and a clear illustration that you don’t understand how science works. Given that, please try not “say how science works” to others, but learn how it works first yourself. Without first understanding how it works as you’ll only end up putting up “straw man” versions of it that follow the thinking of your church, not the thinking of science. It’d be like me telling you how your church runs when I haven’t a clue: that’d be pretty arrogant, wouldn’t it? ;-)

    Also, given you don’t understand science, its not “our” scientitific method as in “you and us”, as you wrote, but “our” scientific method as in scientists and not you. It can’t be your method if you don’t understand it after all!

  37. #37 Melvin_H_Fox
    April 29, 2008

    Am I to understand that the DeafScientist has invented a sensor that can collect measurements that are certain? I must have been away on holiday when this momentous occasion took place. Or, perhaps it is the DeafScientest who does not understand what every beginning physics text book is quick and clear to point out: “Uncertainties in measurement cannot be avoided, although we try to make them as small as possible. For this reason, it is important to clearly describe the uncertainties in our measurements.” As a result, we never have facts only evidence (estimates of fact containing precision error and accuracy error). The most familiar example of this is the 2000 presidential election.

    The next step is interpretation. Does the evidence support or contradict the hypothesis? Here we have the most prolific source of error (again, look no further than the 2000 election). You have already concurred on this point with respect to the creationist. You have yet to concede your own biases. Is this due to unwarranted pride? You think yourself immune to a preconceived agenda. You are human; are you not? Reading your blogs I am asked to take scientists as only those people who can be completely objective. Well, there are none that qualify. By your definition there are no scientists.

    In the study of origins all of these sources of error are compounded by the FACT that we can’t make any direct observations and there is no standard of measurement to compare against. So, if Al wants to believe the FSM did it and I want to believe the God of Creation did it and the atheist wants to believe that it happened all by itself (theory of evolution), then no scientist can declare one explanation superior to the rest unless his or her conclusions are based on a myriad of assumptions.

    The creationist is up front about his or her underlying assumption and how that assumption affects their world view. Why is it that you can’t be?

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  38. #38 Albatrossity
    April 29, 2008

    Mel,

    I noticed that you didn’t answer any questions, but merely galloped off on another tour of the book of non sequitur.

    Here they are again, just to keep them fresh in your mind.

    1) What is the evidence (objective, reproducible) for your god?

    2) When confronted with something that is unexplained, why is “god did it” a better explanation than “I don’t know”?

    As for this statement: The creationist is up front about his or her underlying assumption and how that assumption affects their world view. Why is it that you can’t be?

    it (once again) ignores the previous comments. My underlying assumption, as noted before, is that evidence is required before an explanation can be tentatively accepted. Your underlying assumption seems to be something else, but it obviously doesn’t involve evidence of any sort.

  39. #39 Melvin_H_Fox
    April 29, 2008

    Al, I KNOW that the One True Living God, Jesus Christ, exists and is involved in the future of creation.

    Unfortunately, that does not imply that I can prove it to anyone else. If I were to tell you that “I don’t know” these things, then I would be lying.

    I am reluctant to talk about evidence with you. This is not because the evidence itself is a problem. It is rather that you have already attached your interpretation of this evidence to it and called the pair “objective evidence on the side of evolutionary theory.”

    As example, I have bid you give evidence for your own existence. Why? I will simply use your arguments against my evidence for the existence of God. I will use them against your evidence for the existence of you. Since, your own evidence for the existence of you will not even be able to convince you (with me as proxy) that you exist, then how would anyone expect I could convince you that God exists?

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  40. #40 Albatrossity
    April 29, 2008

    Mel wrote: I am reluctant to talk about evidence with you. This is not because the evidence itself is a problem. It is rather that you have already attached your interpretation of this evidence to it and called the pair “objective evidence on the side of evolutionary theory.”

    Translation – “I can’t talk about the evidence, because there is no real evidence for my god.” Thanks for playing.

    It is also hilarious that you accuse me of conflating evidence with interpretation, while at the same time you have no evidence, but only interpretation. Furthermore my interpretations are based on logic and repeatable experiments; your interpretation is based on hearsay and a serially-translated Bronze Age text. I can make testable predictions based on my understanding of the evidence; you can only invoke miracles, which are the antithesis of testable (or repeatable).

    Finally, I’ll try again to see if you can give me a straight answer to this question.

    When confronted with something that is unexplained, why is “god did it” a better explanation than “I don’t know”?

  41. #41 DeafScientist
    April 29, 2008

    Mel,

    As I don’t generally post to rude people with childish arrogance, this is my last post to you. Strawman arguments are cheap and most often reflect a person “simply wanting to win at all costs, even sly rudeness”. They certainly don’t reflect sincere effort to understand the material being presented.

    You show the “sidestep” approach to arguments, each reply moves to a new issue, sidestepping the point raised in the last. Perhaps you could challenge yourself to address the points people raise, instead of running away by shifting topics?

    You have persisted in trying to say “how science works” after I suggested that you are best to stop doing that given you clearly don’t understand science (your latest points only illustrate this further). I think scientists can speak for themselves, y’know? Like most people with some skills/experience/etc, they need not be told how to do their own business by someone ignorant of it (never mind someone wilfully ignorant of it). I know I’m ignorant of your church: should I tell you how to run it? (Rhetorical, as I won’t be around to hear you, but something you should think about.)

    I now I happily bid you good riddance ;-)

  42. #42 Melvin_H_Fox
    April 30, 2008

    Fare the well, DeafScientist.

    Setting the record straight (things that DeafScientist seems to be unwilling to observe):

    I have, from my opening post until now, not hidden my premise that God exists as involved Creator. This frustrates some. They don’t want me to have this premise. Yet, they have not shown my premise to be false. So, keep it I will.

    I have been called rude for allegedly telling scientists how to proceed as scientists. I have not. I have merely related my observations on how they DO proceed in the practice of science (method). I only fault them when they refuse to admit it. If that is rude, then I am rude.

    I have been accused of a “sidestep” approach to these issues. If you return to my opening post, then you will find I have consistently focused on the tendency of all human beings to proceed from a basis set of fundamental assumptions. We tend to give these up only after great struggle. If the premise is shown to be false (leads to a contradiction), then logic dictates we give it up. Sometimes this is not even enough. I have not shown the assumption that God does not exist as false. In fact I have admitted that I can’t. You are allowed to have this premise. However, you should be made aware that you have it. I try.

    I tend to think that Al and DeafScientist attempt to derail the discussion onto a swirling track of he said, she said over the particular items of evidence. For example, the evolutionist looks at the Grand Canyon and sees millions of years of slow erosion; while the creationist looks at it and sees a post flood dam breach. There already exist countless blogs and forums containing these go arounds.

    There does seem to be one bright spot at the end of DeafScientist’s last post. He or she seems to be acknowledging that fundamentalist science is analogous more to a church than to an objective institution of learning.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  43. #43 Melvin_H_Fox
    April 30, 2008

    Al, I conflate evidence with interpretation. How many different ways would you like me to admit that?
    Logic and repeatable experiments:
    Premise: All animals that lived before 1945 had the same 14C/12C ratio in their bones when they died as did the atmosphere on earth in 1945.
    Conclusion: Carbon 14 dating will give the accurate age of a bone found in the dirt.
    However, we “don’t know” what the ratio 14C/12C was when the animal died whose bone we found?
    What is wrong with saying: “We don’t know how long the bone has been dead?”
    When confronted with origins, very few say “I don’t know!” least of all scientists and evangelicals.
    Evidence that the earth formed instantaneously:
    Polonium halos in the earth’s granite (google: halo Robert Gentry).
    In the love of Christ,
    -Mel

  44. #44 Albatrossity
    April 30, 2008

    Mel wrote: I have, from my opening post until now, not hidden my premise that God exists as involved Creator. This frustrates some. They don’t want me to have this premise. Yet, they have not shown my premise to be false. So, keep it I will.

    Quit putting words in other peoples mouths; I think that is known as “lying” and might even be forbidden by some commandment or other. Nobody has said that they “don’t want” you to have this premise. Everybody has said that it is evidence-free. Obviously you have no problem with holding positions that are evidence-free. Carry on. I really don’t care what you think; I only care that you quit confusing your evidence-free posturing with real science.

    And you don’t answer questions, but merely dance around them with new garbage gleaned from other websites that are also unencumbered by evidence. It seems pretty clear that “god did it” is an answer that you strongly prefer, compared to “I don’t know”. Nevertheless, you can’t answer my question as to WHY that is a better answer. So you dance and twirl and hope nobody notices. Unfortunately, we all noticed. So let me fix this sentence for you.

    When confronted with origins, very few say “I don’t know!” least of all … evangelicals.

    I defy you to find any practicing biological scientist who claims to know how life began. Certainly there are hypotheses that can be tested, but unlike the evangelicals, no competent scientist has any certainty about this interesting and unexplained phenomenon. Quit projecting your own logical flaws onto others.

    Thanks

  45. #45 Melvin_H_Fox
    April 30, 2008

    I am glad to say that the biology text (BSCS Biology: An Ecological Approach 9th edition) used by the Catholic school where I am an instructor (mathematics) confesses repeatedly that the story of life evolving from nonlife is based on assumption and built on inferences made from human observations. This supports Al’s claims.

    However, “Biology” (Miller; Levine – 1993) is penned with a very different attitude:

    “Our planet was born approximately 4.6 billion years ago as a great cloud of gas and dust condensed into a sphere. As gravity pulled this matter tightly together, heat from great pressure and radioactivity melted first the planet’s interior and then most of its mass. As far as we can tell, Earth cooled enough to allow the first solid rocks to form on its surface about 4 billion years ago.” [page 342]

    Does it sound to you as though the authors don’t really “know” how the earth formed? Later they have this to say:

    “Experiments first performed in 1953 by American scientists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey provide a fascinating glimpse of events leading to the appearance of Earth’s first life forms.” [page 343]

    Note that they are clear that these events did lead to the appearance of life. They do not use the words “might”, “could have”, or even “probably”. I would say they feel they know. Later still we read this:

    “The next step in our story is the most difficult to understand completely. For the jumbled mixture of molecules in the organic soup that formed in Earth’s oceans, the highly organized structures of RNA and DNA must somehow have evolved.” [page 344]

    Did you catch that? They MUST have EVOLVED. Now if you are saying something must have happened, then you are saying you know it happened. Unfortunately, Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, Ph.D. is a practicing biologist at Brown University.
    It is better to say that “God did it!” because that God has done it is manifest in what He has done. It is obvious. It is a trivial conclusion. Much like the phrase “We hold these truths to be self evident…”, God’s hand at work is clear to the objective observer and He has left His finger prints.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  46. #46 Albatrossity
    April 30, 2008

    It is better to say that “God did it!” because that God has done it is manifest in what He has done. It is obvious. It is a trivial conclusion. Much like the phrase “We hold these truths to be self evident…”, God’s hand at work is clear to the objective observer and He has left His finger prints.

    I’d be very interested in hearing about those “finger prints”, since they must be the evidence that you don’t seem to be able to talk about.

    Where are these finger prints, Mel?

  47. #47 Melvin_H_Fox
    May 2, 2008

    Fingerprints:
    This is taken from http://www.halos.com and is written by Dr. Robert Gentry:

    “For over thirty years I have been publishing experimental results verifying that Po halos in granites and other crystalline rocks did not originate with secondary Po from U decay, but instead with primordial Po, and hence constitute prima facie evidence of almost instant creation of those rocks.”

    His references:

    1. Gentry, R.V. 1967. “Extinct radioactivity and the discovery of a new pleochroic halo.” Nature 213:487-490.
    2. Gentry, R.V. 1968. “Fossil alpha-recoil analysis of certain variant radioactive halos.” Science 160:1228-1230.
    3. Gentry, R.V. 1971. “Radiohalos: some unique Pb isotope ratios and unknown alpha radioactivity.” Science 173:727-731. PDF
    4. Gentry, R.V. et al., 1973. “Ion microprobe confirmation of Pb isotope ratios and search for isomer precursors in polonium radiohalos.” Nature 244:282-283. PDF
    5. Gentry, R.V. et al, 1974. “‘Spectacle’ array of 210Po halo radiocentres in biotite: a nuclear geophysical enigma. Nature 252:564-566. PDF
    6. Gentry, R.V., 1992. Creation’s Tiny Mystery, Earth Science Associates, Knoxville, TN, 3rd edition. See also http://www.halos.com.
    7. Gentry, R.V. 1974. “Radiohalos in radiochronological and cosmological perspective.” Science 184:62-66. PDF
    8. Gentry, R.V. et al., 1976. “Radiohalos and coalified wood: new evidence relating to the time of uranium introduction and coalification.” Science 194:315-318.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  48. #48 Albatrossity
    May 2, 2008

    Mel

    You can read more about Gentry’s pseudoscience here. The take-home message from the science is that “there is no good evidence they are the result of polonium decay as opposed to any other radioactive isotope, or even that they are caused by radioactivity at all. Gentry is taken to task for selective use of evidence, faulty experiment design, mistakes in geology and physics, and unscientific principles of investigation and argument style” (my bolding).

    More importantly, however, is that you interpret these structures as god’s fingerprints, and, more specifically, you assert that this god is the Christian god. That is another pair of non-sequiturs; there is no logical bridge between the observations and the conclusions.

    Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that these structures are unexplained by current science. A scientist would say, if asked how these structures arose, “I don’t know”. To me that is a most reasonable response. But not to you, apparently. You leap to “God did it” without any logical support for that conclusion.

    What evidence do you have that a supernatural being made these structures? In other words, what SPECIFIC ASPECTS of these structures can you point to as the “fingerprints” of a deity? Are there nano-copyright notices (© God, 6000 BC ) within the rocks?

    More specifically, what SPECIFIC ASPECTS of these structures can you point to as the fingerprints of your chosen deity, rather than Zeus, Thor, Baal, or even the FSM? Are there tiny Hebrew letters within the halos? Tiny crucifixes?

    Please provide some specific evidence (observable, reproducible, etc.) that these structures are indeed derived from the actions of a deity. If you can do that, please provide similar evidence that these structures are derived from the actions of your singular chosen deity.

  49. #49 Melvin_H_Fox
    May 2, 2008

    Logical Bridgework:

    The universe is an open system (assumption). The universe is highly structured (observation). Structure is statistically rare (observation). High structure is statistically anomalistic (observation). An outside intelligent force is responsible for the high structure in our universe (hypothesis). Phenomena contrary to all combinations of internal deterministic forces should occur (test). Repeated discovery of disassociated Polonium decay chains within the earth’s granites have been made (evidence). No correlation between decay chain location and the existence of rock fissures have been made (more evidence).

    I must run for now. More ‘specific aspects’ to come. Understand, I make no attempt to prove to you any of my conclusions. I only hope you can see that they are indeed valid.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  50. #50 Albatrossity
    May 2, 2008

    Mel

    I asked some specific questions(why introduce a deity as an explanation, and why introduce this particular deity), but didn’t see any answer in what you wrote. But I can see some stunning logical flaws in that string of sentences, again consisting of non sequiturs. I won’t bother with those now, but may return to discuss those when/if you do indeed answer my specific questions.

    good luck

  51. #51 Melvin_H_Fox
    May 3, 2008

    Well of course if you have discovered or discover any contradiction you will present it I am sure. Otherwise, your inability to follow my bare bones line of thinking must be due to either my inability to articulate or the unforgiving ness of your own assumptions.

    Continued Bridgework:

    Life is an anomaly of structure (observation). There exists a huge volume of information stored in the structure of the DNA molecule (observation). The balance between specificity/fidelity and flexibility/adaptivity of the system [coding - transmission - decoding - construction] is a marvel of design engineering by the external intelligent force (evidence + interpretation).

    An external intelligent force would communicate with the intelligent object of His creation (hypothesis).

    More to come (wedding in the family this weekend so short on time).

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  52. #52 Albatrossity
    May 3, 2008

    Mel wrote: your inability to follow my bare bones line of thinking must be due to either my inability to articulate or the unforgiving ness of your own assumptions.

    Another logical error, known as the false dichotomy.

    From years of arguing with creationists, I have learned not to get distracted by the clouds of blather that they can throw up in just a few sentences. There is plenty of time to dissect the illogic of your statements in the last two comments, and I assure you that I will do that in due time.

    But before we do that, I will remind you of the two questions that you have so far avoided re your assertion that Gentry’s debunked polonium “halos” are the fingerprints of the Christian god who created the universe. Here they are again.

    What evidence do you have that a supernatural being made these structures? In other words, what SPECIFIC ASPECTS of these structures can you point to as the “fingerprints” of a deity? Are there nano-copyright notices (© God, 6000 BC) within the rocks?

    More specifically, what SPECIFIC ASPECTS of these structures can you point to as the fingerprints of your chosen deity, rather than Zeus, Thor, Baal, or even the FSM? Are there tiny Hebrew letters within the halos? Tiny crucifixes?

    Please provide some specific evidence (observable, reproducible, etc.) that these structures are indeed derived from the actions of a deity. If you can do that, please provide similar evidence that these structures are derived from the actions of your singular chosen deity.

  53. #53 "GrrlScientist"
    May 3, 2008

    mel, this is getting tiresome. you’re not running for political office: just answer albatrossity’s questions, fer crissakes.

  54. #54 Melvin_H_Fox
    May 4, 2008

    Of course I am not running for office. If I were I might be tempted to tell you exactly what you want to hear. I am sure you are tired of reading what I write as might anyone who does not wish to encounter the living God. All you have to do is ask and I will not even attempt to post to your blog.

    The specific aspects, if you would care to read the actual research, are (1) the halos of the primordial Polonium would not have been preserved in slow cooling rock, given the accepted half-life constraints and (2) no statistical correlation between the discovered halos and the fissure network of the rock can be found. Therefore, it is inferred that the granite formed instantaneously, which is consistent with Biblical account. Hence, we have supportive evidence.

    The consistency with Biblical account is the specific aspect that points to the living God and not to mere fables of false gods.

    Continued Bridgework:

    In a hotel room in Rehoboth Beach Delaware the living God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came to me in my hour of need and offered to save me from the pathetic mess I had made of my life (test). In the weeks that followed I accepted this saving grace and all things in my life were made new; I had been saved both physically and spiritually (evidence – God speaks to, listens to, and answers His creation). The evidence of a new creation in me is overwhelming and can be attested to by all who knew me previously. The Spirit that came and met me where I was, led me to repentance, and took me from the miry clay to the solid rock of Jesus Christ IS by revelation the very same Spirit who inspired the Holy Bible.

    Therefore, I have accepted God’s Word as True as stated unless proven wrong. The non-believer has declared the Bible false unless proven true. Having chosen these glasses, the observations of both the believer and the non-believer are colored. Am I any more clear now?

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  55. #55 Albatrossity
    May 4, 2008

    Mel

    Let’s go through this again, slowly, since it appears that you really don’t have any idea about how logical scientific thinking might work, or about the nature of evidence.

    Science starts with an observation about some phenomenon in the universe. From that observation one generates the hypothesis about the cause of the phenomenon. If the hypothesis is a proper one, one can generate a logical prediction (if X is the cause, then I ought to see Y if I look in the right place or do the right experiment). Once the new observation has been collected, or the experiment done, you have the evidence to support or negate the hypothesis.

    If we apply this framework to your comments, here is what we get.

    Observation – polonium halos
    Hypothesis – the Christian god created these halos.
    Prediction from the hypothesis – ?????
    New observation or experiment – ????
    Conclusion – the Christian god created these halos

    Mel, you can’t use the same observation twice. You made no predictions, nor performed any new experiments. Yet you made a conclusion that seems to be the same as the original hypothesis, without performing any of those intermediate steps.

    In addition, as noted before, there are alternative hypotheses about the formation of these halos, and these hypothesis have not been eliminated.

    As for the experiences you may have had in Rehoboth Beach, those are irrelevant in this context.

    So let’s try again. Based on the observation of those halos in the rocks, and your hypothesis that a specific deity created them, what predictive hypothesis can you generate, and what new observations or experiments can you provide that fit the definition of evidence?

  56. #56 Melvin_H_Fox
    May 5, 2008

    OK. I will put my line of thinking into your format.

    Observation – polonium halos
    Hypothesis – the Christian god created these halos.
    Prediction from the hypothesis – halos should be consistent with Biblical account. THEY ARE!
    New observation or experiment – No correlation between fissure network and halo locations
    Conclusion – the Christian god created these halos

    The reasonable alternative hypothesis that the disassociated (from the Uranium chain) halos were the result of migration of the Polonium along cracks in the cooling rock was investigated and no evidence was found that this could be the case. Until someone offers a better explanation, I will stick with my conclusion.

    Let’s put the textbook explanation of the formation of granite in the same format.

    Observation – granite exists
    Hypothesis – it was formed by cooling magma over millions of years
    Prediction from hypothesis – We should observe granite in the crust of the earth?
    New observation or experiment – The halos are interesting but we still feel that the granite formed over millions of years even though we can’t reproduce this process in the laboratory.
    Conclusion – Since we can’t devise an experiment to test our hypothesis, then we accept it until God comes down and tells us He did it. Oh, wait. He already did that. Well, then He has to do it again to verify the story. Yea, that’s it. He has to come back and tell us again.

    I predict He will.

    Al wrote: “As for the experiences you may have had in Rehoboth Beach, those are irrelevant in this context. ”

    At last you admit your bias. Although, you probably did so unintentionally. I presume to know nothing accept Christ and Him crucified. To study the universe is to study Jesus. Apart from Jesus there is no study of the universe. Therefore, in any discussion with me, what happened at Rehoboth Beach is relevant. You, on the other hand, reject what happened at Rehoboth and more importantly reject what happened at Calvary. Therefore, your view of the universe is colored completely different than my view of the universe. This contrast of colors is right from the start of the discussion. Do you understand now?

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  57. #57 "GrrlScientist"
    May 5, 2008

    i understand you, and understood quite awhile ago. i understand so well that it terrifies me to think that people with a world view such as yours can be found on juries and in the voting booths of this nation, deciding the fate of people whom they have never met.

  58. #58 Albatrossity
    May 5, 2008

    Mel waffled:

    Observation – polonium halos
    Hypothesis – the Christian god created these halos.
    Prediction from the hypothesis – halos should be consistent with Biblical account. THEY ARE!
    New observation or experiment – No correlation between fissure network and halo locations
    Conclusion – the Christian god created these halos

    But the biblical account was the reason that you generated that hypothesis in the first place. If you didn’t already assume the existence of a deity, here is no a priori reason to postulate creation by a deity, of any sort. If you didn’t already assume the existence of the Christian god, here is likewise no a priori reason to postulate a deity of the sort embodied by the Christian god.

    So you don’t get to use consistency with the Biblical account as a “new observation or experiment”. It is an integral part of the reason you generated the hypothesis; it is considered to be part of the original set of observations. This is a circular argument, and most high-school students would recognize it as such.

    You need to generate a predictive hypothesis that is independent of the observations and assumptions used to make the hypothesis. That’s how science works.

    Furthermore, mere words written by other men do not constitute evidence. If that was the case, I would have to believe in unicorns, and ghosts, and alien spaceships. It is certainly possible that such things exist, but in the absence of actual physical evidence (beyond mere words written by other men), it’ll be hard to convince me of their existence.

    Try again. Based on the observation of those halos in the rocks, and your hypothesis that a specific deity created them, what predictive hypothesis can you generate, and what new observations or experiments can you provide that fit the definition of evidence?

    Mel further wrote; The reasonable alternative hypothesis that the disassociated (from the Uranium chain) halos were the result of migration of the Polonium along cracks in the cooling rock was investigated and no evidence was found that this could be the case. Until someone offers a better explanation, I will stick with my conclusion..

    This goes beyond your apparent difficulties with the definition of evidence, or your inability to think logically. This is mere head-in-the-sand denialism. I don’t know why you are ignoring the facts about Gentry’s claims. Try reading this paper, published in the Journal of Geological Education, and written by an actual geologist. In case you also have trouble with paying attention until the end of the paper, here is the conclusion.

    The geology of the sites at which Po halos are found clearly shows that Gentry’s proof of instantaneous creation and a young Earth is nothing of the sort. Gentry’s Po halos simply do not occur in primordial granites, but instead were formed in relatively young dikes that demonstrably crosscut older sedimentary and igneous rocks. Gentry claims to be an objective scientist but he has, in fact, ignored the very extensive published evidence that disproves his hypothesis. In addition, when confronted with this evidence he simply denies its existence. Such behavior is not characteristic of scientists, but of pseudoscientists.

    And finally, despite your assertions to the contrary, your religious experiences are completely irrelevant. Furthermore they are insulting. When you write “To study the universe is to study Jesus. Apart from Jesus there is no study of the universe.”, you are disregarding the work of millions of scientists of all faiths, including several Muslim and Jewish scientists (e.g. Moazed, Hashemi-Nezhad) whose work on geology and radioactive decay mechanisms formed the underpinning of Gentry’s bogus arguments. Just as their religion is irrelevant when it comes to interpreting the science, your religion is irrelevant. Stick to the science. Please.

  59. #59 Melvin_H_Fox
    May 5, 2008

    Translation of Al’s last post: Mel, take off your glasses and put mine on.

    Al wrote: “You need to generate a predictive hypothesis that is independent of the observations and assumptions used to make the hypothesis. That’s how science works.”

    I am sorry to be the one to break the news to you Al, but where origins are concerned, your request is impossible. I have admitted time and again that my assumptions greatly influence my conclusions about origins. You are the one that is trying to hide the fact that this is true in the scientific community at large. I could site countless examples of this but you are a skilled researcher and able to look them all up should you decide to face the truth.

    You sit on some self appointed bench and task me time and again to show conclusions not based on assumption. I have failed. I predicted that I would fail. I am comfortable with that failure. Try again for you Al? I will not.

    It is your turn. You have ignored my challenge to prove yourself an entity that exists. You have ignored where I have pointed out that scientific reasoning tries but fails to conclude on origins apart from assumption. I task you now in open forum: Based on the observation of the present condition of the universe, and the hypothesis that these present conditions have evolved from a singularity of nothingness along an undirected path, what predictive hypothesis can you generate, and what new observations or experiments can you provide that fit your definition of evidence?

    As far as Wakefield’s rebuttal: “This is a common creationist tactic – when confronted by problematical evidence, deny it.” I can only say that the two have different glasses on when they look at the same evidence. Or, is it geologists like Wakefield who are “denying” the evidence?

    I should not ignore the work of scientists of other faiths just because of their faith; that is your game when you ignore the work of Gentry, Dembski, etc. I should work to understand their assumptions even when they are reluctant to admit them. You can study Jesus without realizing or admitting you are studying Jesus. If I am taken to insult, I can’t control. The Pharisees were insulted by the words of Jesus. He promised me that if they reject Him, then they will reject me. Sounds like a prediction.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  60. #60 Albatrossity
    May 5, 2008

    Mel wrote: I am sorry to be the one to break the news to you Al, but where origins are concerned, your request is impossible.

    That’s not news, Mel; that was always exactly my point. I’m glad that you finally got around to admitting it. If we eliminate a serially-translated Bronze age text because there is no science or evidence there, there is no evidence at all for your notions about creation. It might have saved a lot of time if you had admitted that in the first place, rather than waste electrons and time with your vapid attempts to provide evidence that you now admit is nonexistent.

    Mel then wrote: I have admitted time and again that my assumptions greatly influence my conclusions about origins. You are the one that is trying to hide the fact that this is true in the scientific community at large. I could site countless examples of this but you are a skilled researcher and able to look them all up should you decide to face the truth.

    No, Mel, there are not countless examples of it. I’ve looked, and not even one example can be found, much less “countless” ones. Furthermore, every time that I encounter a creationist on the web or elsewhere, I ask them to provide this evidence. And I have been disappointed every time, most recently by you. Finally, it is completely illogical to presume that scientists are hiding the evidence for god. Any scientist who discovered such evidence (that is, evidence that could be verified and accepted by others) would be guaranteed a Nobel Prize. Ditto for any scientist who discovered evidence that evolutionary theory was not the best explanation for the diversity of life on the planet. Automatic Nobel Prize. So please, unless you have evidence of this conspiracy, or unless you have even one example of the countless examples you think are out there, give up this illogical and pathetic position. The burden of proof is on those who say that this evidence exists. You failed. But I’ll keep looking, and asking, ’cause that’s how scientists work.

    Scientists, unlike creationists, seek new knowledge all the time. We’re just not satisfied with ancient explanations found in a Bronze Age tome. If you are satisfied with that stuff, that’s wonderful. I do think it would be better if you would quit trying to deny reality in order to keep your world in order, but that’s your choice. I’m a fan of reality; it’s much less confusing than trying to figure out which god to believe in, or which demon or witch is responsible for that flat tire I got this weekend.

    Then we get to the fun stuff. You write: It is your turn. You have ignored my challenge to prove yourself an entity that exists. Yes, Mel, I have ignored it for two reasons. First, it is a red herring, which you would like to use to distract us from the fact that your position is entirely evidence-free. Now that you have proven that your position is evidence-free, I find it hilarious that you come back to it as if it will still save your arguments from the trash bin. Here’s a clue – It won’t.

    Second, I am satisfied that I exist, and I suspect most of the readers of this forum are satisfied as well. Some of them have even met me in person. Proving my existence to someone who already lives in a fantasy world is not going to change reality, or your fantasy world.

    Finally, you whine: I task you now in open forum: Based on the observation of the present condition of the universe, and the hypothesis that these present conditions have evolved from a singularity of nothingness along an undirected path, what predictive hypothesis can you generate, and what new observations or experiments can you provide that fit your definition of evidence?

    This brings us full circle, Mel. I answered this already. But here it is again.

    I don’t know how the universe originated.

    And neither do you, obviously.

  61. #61 Melvin_H_Fox
    May 5, 2008

    Al wrote: “That’s not news, Mel; that was always exactly my point. I’m glad that you finally got around to admitting it.”

    I did in my opening post: “Those in the creation camp believe, a priori, that there must be an involved creator who designed and made all things.”

    The scientists may be hiding evidence for God but that was not my point. They are hiding their assumptions that there is no God. I haven’t the time to list all the examples; this will do to start anyone in the right direction: “‘ontogenesis is a brief and rapid recapitulation of phylogenesis” (Ernst Haekel). You yourself would be a second example.

    Al wrote: “I am satisfied that I exist, and I suspect most of the readers of this forum are satisfied as well. Some of them have even met me in person.”

    I am sure you are, however, this is not scientific evidence by your definition. All they have met is a bag of reacting chemicals. That it is reported there exists some sort of entity or causal being somewhere inside the bag – the person of Al – is of the sort of myth we do not consider worth talking about in scientific circles. Come on. You want me to rely on personal testimony for evidence; get real.

    Aren’t you going to make some sort of hypothesis and then test it by experiment? Where is the evidence for Al? Stick to the science Al. Your high school students employed earlier to mock me are laughing at you now Al. Remember now, whether or not you respond to these questions is not up to you any more than it is up to the stone whether or not it falls to the earth once tossed in the air. There is no being “Al”.

    Al wrote: “I don’t know how the universe originated?”

    Then why no uproar over evolutionism as science?

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  62. #62 Albatrossity
    May 5, 2008

    Mel wrote: Al wrote: “That’s not news, Mel; that was always exactly my point. I’m glad that you finally got around to admitting it.”

    I did in my opening post: “Those in the creation camp believe, a priori, that there must be an involved creator who designed and made all things.”

    Mel again shows his mastery of the non sequitur. Those who are reading these comments understand that I was referring to the fact that Mel finally admitted he had no evidence. Mel ignores that admission in favor of citing his assumptions. Most of us know that assumptions and evidence are not the same thing. Most of us understand that there is no logical link between what I pointed out and what Mel said in his second paragraph above.

    Mel then wandered further off course: The scientists may be hiding evidence for God but that was not my point. They are hiding their assumptions that there is no God. I haven’t the time to list all the examples; this will do to start anyone in the right direction: “‘ontogenesis is a brief and rapid recapitulation of phylogenesis” (Ernst Haekel). You yourself would be a second example.

    As has been pointed out ad nauseam, I don’t assume that there is no god. I would happily “follow the evidence” for that if Mel, or anyone, would only provide the evidence. Mel has repeatedly been unable to provide evidence. In fact, he finally admitted that it would be “impossible” to provide the needed evidence. We can’t follow a nonexistent trail, Mel.

    In addition, as has also been pointed out ad nauseam, lots of scientists have lots of beliefs about lots of gods. They don’t assume that there is no god, and Mel has been unable to substantiate this assertion. Unlike Mel, scientists can understand that those religious beliefs are irrelevant in the course of doing their work.

    Finally, citing Haeckel (note the spelling, Mel) is simply hilarious in this context. Besides the fact that citing one person as if they represent some monolithic institution is simply ridiculous; it again ignores reality. Throughout the time when Haeckel was an active scientist, he was also a Lutheran. If you have evidence that Haeckel’s scientific conclusions were based on his “assumption that there is no God”, Mel, please provide that as soon as possible. Otherwise, get a clue.

    Then Mel really gets serious: I am sure you are, however, this is not scientific evidence by your definition. All they have met is a bag of reacting chemicals. That it is reported there exists some sort of entity or causal being somewhere inside the bag – the person of Al – is of the sort of myth we do not consider worth talking about in scientific circles. Come on. You want me to rely on personal testimony for evidence; get real.

    Again, Mel? You are simply putting words in my mouth (aka lying); I never said that was meant to be scientific evidence. Since you reject scientific evidence completely, I merely provided you with something that you seem to be able to accept. Hearsay. Why isn’t that good enough for you this time? It seems to be convincing enough for you to accept special creation, and the folks who wrote that stuff down are long dead. At least I could cite folks who are still living! Furthermore, as noted before, my existence or lack thereof is completely irrelevant to your argument. Argue against the facts and logic; don’t just take a pathetic stand and argue that I don’t really exist…

    Mel’s final insight from the book of non sequitur: Al wrote: “I don’t know how the universe originated?” Then why no uproar over evolutionism as science?

    Because, as any high schooler knows, evolutionary theory is not an explanation of how the universe originated. That branch of science is called cosmology. When are you creationists going to get that right? You can (and should) look it up. Or go back to high school…

    In addition, as pointed out before, “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer for a scientist. I understand that saying “I don’t know” has probably never been uttered by any creationist with respect to the origin of the universe. I further understand that admission of such a heresy would probably cause plagues and boils and weeping and tooth-gnashing in the houses of creationists. But the fact remains that there are lots of things that science doesn’t explain. The difference between you and me, Mel, is that I will admit it, and you will just make stuff up (god did it!) rather than admit that there are gaps in your understanding.

  63. #63 Melvin_H_Fox
    May 5, 2008

    Al, it is you who dance with the non sequitur. You change definitions and dodge the issue of my opening post. You give rehearsed responses from your many debates and do not consider my comments.

    I assume God exists based on my personal experience with Him. As you assume you exist based on your personal experience. Everything I observe corroborates this assumption. You do not want to call that evidence for God yet you call the same sort evidence for you (non sequitur).

    You claim an open mind for God, yet you exclude the possibility to discover Him by beginning with an outrageous closed system assumption (non sequitur).

    You count Haeckel, call himself what he will, objective yet you know full well him a liar to promote his assertions against the God of the Bible (non sequitur).

    You demand scientific evidence from me, yet laugh it off when it is called for from your argument(non sequitur).

    You claim the question of the origin of the universe has nothing to do with evolutionism, yet you know full well that cosmology is the theory of cosmic evolution (non sequitur).

    Al, I see you for what you are. If you would have been alive at the time of Jesus you would have found some reason to reject. Even if you would have seen him die on the cross and then resurrected, touching the holes in his hands and side, you still would reject Him. “Non sequitur” you would proclaim. “I must be seeing things” you would reason. You would find some excuse to reject the King of Glory. I pray that same King would melt you and you would seek Him with your whole heart. He promises you will find Him if you seek Him with your whole heart.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  64. #64 Albatrossity
    May 5, 2008

    Mel

    Please provide me with evidence of your assertion that I have changed definitions anywhere in this commentary.

    As for the assertion that I have “dodged the issue of your opening post”, that also fails the reality test. Here is what I took to be the main issue, in your own words:

    The basic issue in the creationism verses evolutionism debate, as in most perennial debates, is each side begins with a different set of axioms. Those in the creation camp believe, a priori, that there must be an involved creator who designed and made all things. Those in the evolution camp believe, again a priori, that there can’t be an involved creator who designed and made anything.

    I have, from the beginning all the way until my last comment, addressed this ignorant assertion. I have shown that it is illogical, unsupported by evidence, and insulting. You have provided no evidence to support this point, other than your misunderstanding of how science works, and your irrelevant experiences in Delaware. If you have evidence for this opening point, let’s hear it. If this is NOT your main opening point, perhaps you can clarify that for those of us here who have become confused by your circumlocutions and evasions.

    You also apparently think that you are making sense with these comments. Let’s go through them one by one.

    I assume God exists based on my personal experience with Him. As you assume you exist based on your personal experience. Everything I observe corroborates this assumption. You do not want to call that evidence for God yet you call the same sort evidence for you (non sequitur).

    You need to look up the meaning of “non sequitur”. beyond that bit of ignorance, however, there are other problems with your logic here. There is, on the whole, far more evidence that I exist than there is evidence that your god exists. Secondly, the fact of my existence or non-existence is not relevant. You are arguing not only for the existence of your deity, but for the fact that he created the universe. The evidence for the latter is even more sketchy. Pointing to my failure to prove my existence to your satisfaction is not going to mask your failures to prove not only his existence, but his purported actions in creation of the universe. Nobody cares if I exist or not; you certainly care if your god exists. And lots of folks have died on account of belief or non-belief in your god; nobody has died on account of belief or non-belief in me.

    You claim an open mind for God, yet you exclude the possibility to discover Him by beginning with an outrageous closed system assumption (non sequitur).

    Again, look up non-sequitur, please. And again, please quit putting words in my mouth. I have made no assumptions about the open or closed system state of the universe. You might recall, in fact, that on this very topic I merely said “I don’t know”. How is that an outrageous assumption? It is an honest admission, which I guess you have never seen before.

    You count Haeckel, call himself what he will, objective yet you know full well him a liar to promote his assertions against the God of the Bible (non sequitur).

    Again, please look up non sequitur. As for the rest of this incoherent sentence, all I can say is that you have yet to provide the evidence requested in the last comment. So here it is again. If you have evidence that Haeckel’s scientific conclusions were based on his “assumption that there is no God”, Mel, please provide that as soon as possible.

    You demand scientific evidence from me, yet laugh it off when it is called for from your argument(non sequitur)>/i>.

    Again, please look up non sequitur. You obviously are very comfortable with non-scientific evidence, or even just plain old non-evidence. I see no requirement to provide you with anything more rigorous than what you have already obviously accepted. Furthermore, you have shown that you don’t understand the very meaning of evidence. How do you know that I haven’t provided it already? I don’t think you can even recognize it!

    You claim the question of the origin of the universe has nothing to do with evolutionism, yet you know full well that cosmology is the theory of cosmic evolution (non sequitur).

    Again, please look up the meaning of that term. I do not think it means what you think it means. Otherwise, this argument is just a sophomoric play on words. Evolution, as a concept, can be applied to many things, from cosmology to automobiles to video games. But the opening post of this thread specifically addressed biological evolution – the origin of the diversity of life on the planet. Understanding biological evolution, and producing scientific progress in this area, does not depend at all on any specific notions about the origin of the universe. You know that, and I know that. Why do you persist in this dishonesty?

  65. #65 Melvin_H_Fox
    May 6, 2008

    You will not accept testimony as evidence; yet you give testimony as evidence (clear change of definition).

    No, you insisted I give evidence for my original assumption even when I objected. You would not address my points until I played your game of hypothesis making.

    You are correct; non sequitur is not the best term to use. A better word for your failed reasoning is contradiction.

    You have made assertions for a closed system when you disallow evidence that is not accessible by physical five-sensory device. An outside force may not be detectable by our senses or even mechanical extensions of those senses.

    Look Ernst faked the drawings (still in some textbooks over 100 years after his trial) to show evidence for evolution and against special creation. Evolution is atheistic. If you don’t accept an example as clear as this one, then you won’t accept any example. People such as yourself don’t come right out and tell you their assumptions; you have to infer them based on their actions and arguments.

    Al wrote: “I see no requirement to provide you with anything more rigorous than what you have already obviously accepted.”

    Look long and hard in the mirror above Al. This is the reason nobody can get through to you. You place the burden of proof for God on me, one who readily admits to assuming God a priori, and then sit back in some ivory tower of self righteousness. What’s wrong with admitting that you don’t know if you exist?

    Al wrote: “Understanding biological evolution, and producing scientific progress in this area, does not depend at all on any specific notions about the origin of the universe.”

    And here is where we disagree most pointedly. The only aspect of evolution you can study scientifically is micro evolution (variety within kinds). All other aspects are speculative and require assumption about origins. Yes even origins of the universe. Your assumptions about the origin of the universe will affect the way you perceive, speculate, and make inference with respect to every bit of indirect observation made. The assumption made about a universe millions of years old led to assumptions about the alleged geologic column which led to assumptions made for the ages of fossils (and dating techniques for that matter) which led to assumptions made about macro evolution which led to assumptions made about alleged vestigial organs and so on. You simply can’t escape it.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

  66. #66 Albatrossity
    May 6, 2008

    Mel whined: You will not accept testimony as evidence; yet you give testimony as evidence (clear change of definition).

    Fair enough. Except that I was being facetious, and you were being serious. If I thought your red herring argument about my existence or lack thereof had ANY relevance to any of this discussion, I might get serious about proving my existence by showing up at your door. But since it is irrelevant in a discussion about evidence for creation by your special god, i won’t bother.

    And I’m glad to see that you managed to look up a definition of non sequitur. That’s real progress.

    But you are still babbling when you write You have made assertions for a closed system when you disallow evidence that is not accessible by physical five-sensory device. An outside force may not be detectable by our senses or even mechanical extensions of those senses.

    It appears that now you need to look up a definition of “closed system”, at least as used by most of the rest of the world. Let’s see if we can agree on a definition – “A physical system on which no outside influences act; closed so that nothing gets in or out of the system and nothing from outside can influence the system’s observable behavior or properties”, from here.

    As for the rest of that sentence, as I noted before, show me the evidence and I’d be happy to follow it. Evidence in the form of reproducible objective observations. Evidence in the form of successful predictions that generate the expected reproducible objective observations. Unlike you, I use the evidence to generate the conclusion. You have the conclusion already in mind (god did it), and are looking for things that you can call evidence. That’s not how it works. Show me the evidence and I might come to the same conclusion that you made. But if you can’t show me the evidence, I will never get there.

    As for this statement – Look Ernst faked the drawings (still in some textbooks over 100 years after his trial) to show evidence for evolution and against special creation. Evolution is atheistic. If you don’t accept an example as clear as this one, then you won’t accept any example, it is pure baloney. And again (sorry!) it is a non sequitur. How can one false step by one scientist over a century ago negate the evidence and conclusions of literally thousands of researchers? And how is evolution atheistic, based on the one false step of a Lutheran scientist a century ago? How does one logically follow from the other? Sorry, Mel, but that sort of thinking is just plain addled. And it’s based on lies; Haeckel’s drawings don’t appear in any modern textbooks except for creationist ones. Take a peek at my survey of many college level biology textbooks. Perhaps if you could quit reading creationist propaganda about science, you would have a better understanding about science and science education…

    You have obviously convinced yourself that your faith is threatened by science. Specifically, you have convinced yourself that a particular scientific theory, which actually has no postulates about the presence or absence of a deity, is atheistic and therefore dangerous. But how can that be? Is the cell theory atheistic? If so, do you also disbelieve it? Is the germ theory atheistic? Is plate tectonic theory, which also invokes an earth that is billions of years old, also atheistic? NO, on all accounts. Your faith is only threatened by scientific theories if your faith requires you to deny facts and reality. If that is the case for your faith, I’m sorry for you. But it does not have to be that way.

    Francis Collins, in his book “The Language of God”, has a message for you. Collins is an evangelical Christian and the director of the Human Genome Project. On page 211 of that book, he writes

    Will we turn our backs on science because it is perceived as a threat to God, abandoning all of the promises of advancing our understanding of nature and applying that to the alleviation of suffering and the betterment of humankind? Alternatively will we turn our backs on faith, concluding science has rendered the spiritual life no longer necessary, that the traditional religious symbols can now be replaced by engravings of the double helix on our altars?

    Both of these choices are profoundly dangerous. Both deny truth. Both diminish the nobility of humankind. Both will be devastating to our future. And both are unnecessary. The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshipped in the cathedral as well as the laboratory. His creation is majestic, awesome, intricate, and beautiful…and can not be at war with itself. Only we humans can start such battles. And only we can end them.

    You are at war with creation, Mel. It’s all around you, and can be studied and admired without threatening your faith, or the Muslim faith, or the Jewish faith, or the non-faith of an atheist. Good luck in your battle against reality.

  67. #67 Bob
    May 6, 2008

    Good grief, this is still going on?

    OK, let me explain the situation: God created the universe 6000 years ago, but He created it with all the “evidence” of greater antiquity (fossils, isotope ratios, red-shifted starlight, etc.) already in place, just to test the faith of wiseasses like Albatrossity. He flunked the test, so he’s going to burn in hell for all eternity. Isn’t that enough? Meanwhile, let him enjoy his Darwinist fool’s paradise–he’ll smell the burning sulphur soon enough.

  68. #68 Albatrossity
    May 6, 2008

    Hi, Bob

    How nice of you to drop by.

    Have you seen any good birds lately?

  69. #69 Bob
    May 7, 2008

    Glad I could help find some common ground and and settle this dispute for you guys in a mutually agreeable way. Blessed are the peacemakers.

    Have you seen any good birds lately?

    As a matter of fact I had one for lunch yesterday–a chicken pesto very artfully presented and garnished, and quite tasty, too.

  70. #70 Albatrossity
    May 7, 2008

    Hi, Bob

    Yes, I’m glad you could come by and take credit for everything. All that hard work; it must be tough being you…

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