The ABC’s of Talking Creation to Evolutionists

Slide1The Creation/Evolution issue isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, I think it’s only ratcheting up in intensity. A quick glance through my texts, emails, and Facebook messages showed that I had over 30 contacts from college students last year who were wrestling with the issue, either in the classroom or with a friend who held a different position.

As a result, I think there’s merit in posting some quick thoughts for Christians to use in the continuing dialogue. I’ve encountered many macro evolutionists who had very thoughtful, curious questions.  They deserve thoughtful responses. In other words, defensively writing someone off as a heathen for not immediately buying the Creation account probably isn’t going to be helpful in bringing them any closer to Jesus. An informed response, however, thoughts they might’ve missed, may open the gate for them to do more biblical investigation. The professional term for this is presuppositional apologetics. The Apostle Paul does it at the start of his sermon in Athens (Acts 17). It alone doesn’t make anyone a believer. But it’s sort of like driving your child to church. It may eliminate obstacles that would’ve otherwise prevented an individual from hearing the gospel. Furthermore, in an increasingly post-Christian society, I would suggest that it has increasing value for Christians.

Because there was so much other good stuff to study, we didn’t do too much Christian Apologetics (apologetics means “defense”) in my college or seminary. So, much of what I understand about it is gathered from writers like Alvin Plantinga, Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, Ken Ham and the Answers in Genesis group, and Timothy Keller. What follows, to a large degree, is a summary of Timothy Keller’s thoughts from several chapters of The Reason for God. Keller there himself is summarizing and explaining Plantinga’s lecture notes from “Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments.”

My hope, long-term, is that Christians can develop some basic philosophical and scientific arguments to disprove the old false concept that Christianity is a matter of faith and Evolution (i.e. macro-Evolution or Darwinian Evolution) is a matter of science.

The ABC’s of Defending Creation to Evolutionists

Keller makes the argument in The Reason for God that the underlying error of many atheists is that they approach the notion of God with a philosophy called “strong rationalism.” Strong rationalism says that the only reason to believe something is if there is undeniable empirical evidence for doing so. Therefore, many non-believers will say, “I cannot believe in God unless you give me absolute, undeniable proof that he exists.” Here’s the logical problem with that statement. There is no empirical evidence that “strong rationalism” is the way to find truth. In other words, it’s a self-defeating theory, much like denying absolute truth. If you suggest that there is no such thing as absolute truth, you just did the exact thing you claimed doesn’t exist – you proclaimed an absolute truth! Similarly, if you use the strong rationalist argument that you won’t believe in God unless there is undeniable proof, you need to give me undeniable empirical proof that the only way to properly believe something is if you have undeniable proof. You’re holding me and my beliefs to a standard that you won’t/can’t hold yourself.

So…..rather than look for undeniable proof of God, why don’t we see which direction the facts we BOTH agree upon is pointing us in?

Argument 1) The Universe Had a Starting Point

When I was a young Christian, I remember reading my science textbooks and thinking that perhaps the naughtiest and yet most fascinating chapter was always that on The Big Bang Theory. It is now the predominate cosmological model that describes the origins of the early universe, having replaced the Steady State Theory. Somewhat ironically, however, The Big Bang Theory actually puts Christians and Macro-Evolutionists on common ground. When Edwin Hubble looked through his telescope in the early twentieth century and made his painstaking calculations regarding the redshift, it was the dawn of an era in modern evolutionary science that said the universe had a finite starting point, a beginning. It was calculated at approximately 13.7 billion years ago. Approximately 🙂

Now, I don’t believe in The Big Bang, nor do I believe the universe is 13.7 billion years old. However, I do believe the universe had a starting point. So do most all secular scientists today. We agree on this. We both say that the natural universe had a finite, specific beginning. Furthermore, we also both believe that everything that has a beginning must have a cause. Consequently, if the natural universe does have a beginning and everything that has a beginning has a cause, that means that the thing which caused this universe would have to be beyond natural. So why would you ever expect to be able to prove the existence of this “Cause” through merely natural processes? Additionally, what exactly would you call this Cause that exists outside of nature?  Wouldn’t “God” be a possibility?

Now, does this argument prove God’s existence? No. But does it possibly point us in the direction of belief in God? For some, it might.

Argument 2) A “Goldilocks” Planet

Remember Goldilocks. She’s a fairy tale character in “The Three Bears” who always has to have everything “just right” – exactly the way she wants it to be. I always thought she sounded kind of like a spoiled brat. Anyways, sort of like Goldilocks, the conditions of our planet are curiously “just right” for human survival. Strangely precise, in fact.

Francis Collins, atheist turned believer and author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, has pointed out how there are 15 physical constants in the natural world that are exactly as they must be in order for life to survive here on planet earth. These include the speed of light, the gravitational constant, various constants concerning the strong and weak nuclear force, and others. If any one of these universal constants were off by one part in a million, the universe would not be able to continue as we see it today. Not only would there be no mankind, but there would be no such thing as stars, galaxies, or planets.

Seems shockingly coincidental that things are so finely tuned for human existence. In fact, Stephen Hawking once famously said, “The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.” And elsewhere, “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe would have begun in just this way except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.” 

The most common counter argument that I’ve heard today to the “finely tuned” universe, is that there are possibly billions and billions of other alternate universes out there. And if that’s the case, then one of them is bound to have circumstances that are ripe for human life. The problem with this is that we have absolutely zero evidence indicating there are other universes out there. In other words, to believe in the multi-universe theory requires faith based on nothing.

Doesn’t it simply make more sense to suggest that a planet that, against all odds, seems about perfect for humans, is that way because a divine being made it that way? If you see a painting of an image that you recognize, do you assume a random chance smattering of paint into an image/language that you comprehend? Of course not. You assume a painter. When you walk into a building, do you assume a coincidental, safe arrangement of tons of bricks that you can enter into? Of course not. You enter a building and you assume a builder. When you recognize the perfectly organized, infinitesimally unlikely, “just right” nature of the universe, doesn’t that point to an intelligent being? In other words, when you analyze the complexity and symbiotic organization of creation, don’t you assume a Creator?

Does this argument prove God’s existence? No. But does it possibly point us in the direction of belief in God? For some, it might.

Argument 3) What Can You Trust?

One of the most common arguments I’ve heard against the existence of God is not so much an argument against God’s existence as it is a rationalizing of why so many choose/want/need to believe in God. Many will suggest that Christians (and others) need God in order to have hope for the world, meaning in life, and security/comfort. More crudely, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura once said, “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.” Most people wouldn’t put it quite that condescendingly, but there nonetheless certainly exists this sort of underlying feeling in culture, particularly in academic circles, that emotionally, psychologically, relationally needy people, people who cannot think for themselves, are the ones who engage in faith beliefs.

Many who hold these opinions believe that “religion” is something that was developed for evolutionary purposes. In other words, long ago (and still today) humans who agreed to similar beliefs about God banded together. And because they were so tightly knit of a community, they were more likely to survive over the ages than free, independent thinking types. Subsequently, they created offspring who were hard-wired to believe in the existence of God, NOT because he is actually there, but because such beliefs would improve their chances for survival.

It’s not a bad try. Here’s why that thought doesn’t work though. Let’s say that the evolutionary biologists are right for a minute and the only reason humans have believed in God is because those beliefs led to stronger, more united tribes that were able to pick off the weak. The evolutionary biologist is suggesting that the thoughts we have, we do not hold because they are true, but because they help us survive. In other words, our thoughts and logic and rational faculties really don’t tell us the truth about the universe, only what is beneficial for continued existence. Now if that’s the case, to be consistent, then we must NEVER trust any of our rationale, including our thoughts about how humans have developed the idea of God in order to survive. You see, once again, it’s a thought that philosophically defeats itself! If you’re going to suggest that I’m biologically programmed to believe in God for survival, why can’t I suggest that you are biologically programmed to believe that God doesn’t exist but that some humans foolishly choose to believe in him? If none of us can trust our thoughts or logic, then you have to be consistent – you can’t trust your thoughts either!

Again, does this argument prove God’s existence? No. But it does possibly point out flaws in the logic of perhaps the most common argument against a God out there right now.

Conclusion

Can I prove the existence of a supernatural God through natural science? No. But I can show fingerprints in Creation that point to a Creator. I can highlight the inconsistent internal logic of those who have written off God or the Bible for personal reasons.

Things to keep in mind…

  1. Everything that has a beginning has a CAUSE.
  2. Everything that has complex order has INTELLIGENCE behind it.
  3. If notions about God biologically developed merely for survival, then logically, so did notions against God.

Nail these three points down and you’ll feel much more confident when the topic arises.

Finally, some might be disappointed that a pastor wouldn’t use more Scriptural support in a post like this. But that’s sort of the point. When dealing with those who simply do not regard the Bible as authoritative, it can be a tricky matter for many Christians to find talking points. I know many frustrated Christians who don’t know where to begin. Consider starting here.

But, since I wouldn’t want to leave you empty-handed….

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)

AND

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Heb. 1:1-3)

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67 thoughts on “The ABC’s of Talking Creation to Evolutionists

  1. Earl Ramlow says:

    Hello Pastor Hein. How are you?

    This is Earl Ramlow, Luke’s father . . . I have a question for you. What do you think of the Geocentrism verses Heliocentrism theory’s? I would like to hear your point of view.

    Have a great weekend and we will see you Sunday.

    Best Regards.

    Earl

    • Hi Earl,
      Thanks for reading and writing!

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing that you might be asking about the fact that the Church’s harsh and mistaken reprimanding of guys like Copernicus & Galileo, and the idea that many in the Church today might also be wrong concerning Macro-Evolution.

      Here’s just one reason why I don’t think Macro-Evolution is plausible for a Christian – It’s not just the issue that the Creation account clearly contradicts the idea of life crawling out of primordial fluid. The entire Bible depends on the concept of God as a direct Creator. For instance, the Bible teaches that death is the consequence of sin – not just a natural event. “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.” (1 Cor. 15:21; see also Rom. 5:12) If animals, dinosaurs for instance, were dying millions/billions of years before humans, then death is NOT the result of sin, as the Bible teaches. The Bible is then proven inaccurate. And when you get to the point when you don’t know what you can trust in the Bible, Bible study becomes a fairly futile exercise – humans will just pick and choose parts to believe that are convenient to them. How would they ever know what the “truth” then is.

      Is that what you were getting at with the question?

      Also, really looking forward to the baptism as well!!!

  2. These arguments are all well and good, as each side should be willing to take a critical look at the other. But as much as you try to poke holes in a naturalistic point of view, none of those holes points to your God as being the creator. What I mean by this is that you can point out that a beginning needs a cause all day, but there is no logical or empirical connection between that Deist perspective and one that identifies such a creator as the God of the Bible anymore than it does Zeus or Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And therein lies the rub of the creationist’s argument.

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for the thoughts. Correct me if I’m missing something, but I’m not sure I follow. How is complex organization in nature not at least a potential pointer/connection to an intelligent being?

      If a billion plus people on the planet, despite the mocking from a large portion of the scientific community, attested to the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s account of the origin of the universe, I’d probably consider taking it seriously. If even one person were willing to die for that account, I might read the book to see what the power of this message actually was.

      I’m not suggesting these arguments as “proofs” of God. I’m suggesting them as pointers. Furthermore, I’m asking evolutionists to be honest about the “proof” that exists. I’d like to see actual evidence of 1 single animal that changed kinds. Not bacteria to bacteria. Not bird to bird. Not fish to fish. That’s micro-evolution, or what I generally would just call “adaptation.” We have no observable, reproducible evidence for change of kind. We’ve watched hundreds of animals go extinct, but not one change kinds. Consequently, I think it requires a great deal of “faith” to believe macro-evolution.

      • Pastor Hein,
        Personally, I don’t believe in any sort of creator because I simply have no basis for doing so. I am sympathetic of that need to attribute everything to a creator, however, because of the lack of definitive and easy to understand naturalistic explanations for events such as the big bang and abiogenesis (and the comforting nature of doing so). With that as a preface, my point was that while believing that a creator is needed to cause events such as I mentioned indeed has some rational basis, there is no logical or empirical connection between such a creator and the one of the Bible (or any other religion). All supernatural explanations that begin with the creation of the universe or the creation of life are basically equally likely, because there is basically no evidence for any of it beyond those extraordinary events.

        You cite strength in numbers as a reason for taking a religion seriously, but at one time there were no Christians at all. And even today, there are other religions that have huge numbers of followers that I’m sure you don’t give a serious thought to. The belief in Zeus at one time greatly outnumbered the Jewish tradition, so does that mean that belief system was a superior one? And the concept that one need accept Jesus to be saved ignores the fact that billions upon billions of people will never have that opportunity (or never had that opportunity) to accept the “good news”, so are they just SOL?

        When I get into discussions like this, I try my best not to “mock” people’s beliefs, as they hold them quite dearly and for good reason (usually). However, it takes denial of hard (and I mean hard) facts to have any support for a YEC’s interpretation of the world. There is no controversy surrounding radiometric dating in the scientific community because it is extremely well understood, has been cross-checked with other means and shown to exhibit high precision, and is completely consistent (plate tectonic rates of movement vs radiometric dating for example). While macro-evolution isn’t observable in human time frames, it is simply micro-evolution (which you seem to agree with) over a long period of time. It’s like the telephone game stretched out over A LOT of people with multiple branches. You look at the relayed story a few people down each branch and it’s going to be fairly similar to the original (micro), but keep going down the line perhaps thousands of people long and those stories will no longer be recognizable as having the same origin (macro). And while we can’t observe macro in our lifetimes, there’s this little thing called DNA that keeps track of those changes for us. Common human ancestry with chimpanzees and other apes has been verified using these methods (and can be dated with reasonable accuracy based on the degree of mutations), as have a whole host of other related animals (such as dogs and wolves, the big cats, etc). That DNA evidence is observable, and has been reproduced by multiple entities, and is consistent with archaeological findings (and radiometric dating of course). From a non-evolutionary perspective, how does one explain vestigial organs, limbs, and behaviors? In the context of creation, these entities are unnecessary and downright absurd (eyes in blind fish, hind limbs in whales, simulated sex amongst female-only species of lizards, etc).

        From a scientist’s perspective, it’s incredibly maddening to see so many people in our nation deny the fundamental truths about our natural surroundings. And not only that, they actively seek to spread not only their religious perspective, but deny to so many the strength of a scientific education and understanding that has allowed our society to advance so rapidly (Earl’s geocentrism for example, that was settled 500 years ago!!!). Now there are legitimate reasons for criticism of scientific theories such as abiogenesis, evolution, and the big bang. But this doesn’t require throwing out all scientific knowledge in order to make things fit into your own box. That’s the problem with YEC “science”, they have the box already defined and everything else must fit into it or it is cast away. That is not science and it is not evidence. Be as critical to your own worldview as you are to things that don’t fit inside of it, that’s all that those of us in the scientific community ask.

      • Techie says:

        there is basically no evidence for any of it beyond those extraordinary events.

        You’re equivocating the word, “evidence,” Mark. Evidence and proof are not the same thing.

        There is no controversy surrounding radiometric dating in the scientific community because it is extremely well understood.

        This is quite similar to what climatologists claimed when they staked the, now marred, reputation of modern scientistry on global warming. The dating used for such long ages is not objectively testable, so it cannot actually satisfy the scientific method. In fact, much of the storytelling you provide does not. Which “hard (and I mean hard) facts” are actually observable or testable?

        Pastor Hein, Mark’s post does serve as a good example of how the terms “micro” and “macro” are often used incorrectly by both creationists and evolutionists.

    • Lisa says:

      Hello Mark–I read with interest your responses to Pastor Hein’s blog. You have obviously contemplated this subject matter a great deal. I will give you one more contemplation: While you may disagree with a creationist’s view (specifically as it relates to the bible), there is a God who knows you, loves you, and is at this very moment wooing you as to His very existence. Thank you for considering.

      • Jacob W says:

        Lisa, here is another contemplation:

        Let’s assume there is a God that created everything.

        Maybe this God appreciates intellectual honesty more than blind faith and retro fitting everything to your presupposed truths.

        Maybe nature is the only truth and God would rather that we treat each other as equals and use our brains to analyze the universe with the scientific method.

        Maybe this God is so Godly that it can simultaneously exist and not exist.

        Maybe this God allows you to believe the Bible is the authority much like you imagine the God of the Bible allows all nonbelievers the free will to choose to go to hell for believing some other popular Holy Book.

        Maybe this God doesn’t send people to hell for being gullible and not thinking critically enough.

        Maybe this God actually has the ability to forgive people who don’t obey exactly as the God wants people to.

        Maybe this God is way more reasonable than the God you believe in?

        While you may disagree, this God surely loves you and will send signs to convince you. The signs are the complexity of nature.

  3. Jacob W says:

    When were you gonna talk about evolution or the underlying biological mechanisms of creation? You talked more about cosmology and philosophy.

    It’s odd that you would reference Timothy Keller and Francis Collins, since they are both theistic evolutionists and would oppose your young-earth view.

    Which Hawking book did you get your quotes from for this post? I want to see the context you pulled it from.

    About the perfect tuning of the universe, if it is so perfectly tuned, then why is our planet the only one that we know of that can support life? There are roughly 100,000,000,000 galaxies in the known universe, each with roughly 100,000,000,000 stars, and it was perfectly designed for us? Pretty inefficient engineering for a perfect design. Do you think there are any other solar systems in the known universe that also support sentient life? What if God has more projects going on than you, or the Bible, give Him credit for? What if this planet got the wrong Bible, and extraterrestrial colonists will reach the shores of our planet eventually and spread the legit Good Word (just like Europeans did to the Americas and Africa)?

    I mean, how many Pascal’s Wagers do you want to do? Think of all the different hells you are facing if you were corrupted by the Word of Jesus.

    Or, maybe hell is a state of mind and not a real place, and you have nothing to fear after death. Just a life, to appreciate and use to the best of your ability.

    • Jacob…

      Not sure what you’re asking for in Question 1 re. “underlying biological mechanisms” of Creation. From what I can tell, that’s a naturalistic question with a supernatural answer.

      Keller doesn’t believe in macro-evolution. He believes in micro-evolution, as I do. He simply refuses to give a concrete age for the earth, since the Bible doesn’t give us one. The common ground I share with these guys, however, is that we all believe the evidence of an intelligent designer is too compelling to ignore.

      Hawking quote given by Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press, 2006), p. 75.

      Genesis 1 says that we (humans) are the crown of God’s Creation. We are the center of his universe, so to speak. I’m not sure any human is qualified to say that the rest of the cosmos is inefficiency. If nothing else, it would demonstrate God’s awesome power, an argument which God uses with Abraham (Gen. 15) and Job (Job 38-40), i.e “Guys, if I can do this, don’t you think I can keep my promises to you? Don’t you think I might know what I’m doing?”

      I don’t believe there is other intelligent life or alternate Saviors or hells out there. Why? I have no legitimate cause for believing that. Is it possible? Well, most things are possible. It just doesn’t seem probable.

      I think you’re onto something though in the idea that hell is not merely a location. Many Christians miss that. The essence of hell, so far as I can tell from the Bible, is a state of existence. This is why, while on a cross outside of Jerusalem, when Jesus cries out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!” he’s going THROUGH HELL. It’s hell because he’s experiencing separation from the one he’s loved for all eternity. I’m not suggesting the Bible doesn’t teach that hell has a locational nature, but heaven/hell are best understood in terms of the eternal presence/absence of God.

      • Jacob W says:

        “Seems shockingly coincidental that things are so finely tuned for human existence. In fact, Stephen Hawking once famously said, “The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.” And elsewhere, “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe would have begun in just this way except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.”

        So when you read these quotes in Francis Collin’s book, you didn’t check to see where he got it from? Are you at all familiar with any of Hawking’s books?

        The first quote about religious implications was taken from John Boslough’s biography of Hawkings, entitled “Stephen Hawking’s Universe.” On page 121 it says:

        “The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous.” he told me. “I think there are clearly religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origin of the universe. There must be religious overtones. But I think most scientists prefer to shy away from the religious side of it.”

        To put the second quote in an intellectually honest context, you should reference Hawking’s book, “A Brief History of Time.” Read the full chapter, but if anything go to page 127 and read these paragraphs:

        “A second objection to the strong anthropic principle is that it runs against the tide of the whole history of science. We have developed from the geocentric cosmologies of Ptolemy and his forebears, through the heliocentric cosmology of Copernicus and Galileo, to the modern picture in which the earth is a medium-sized planet orbiting around an average star in the outer suburbs of an ordinary spiral galaxy, which is itself only one of about a million million galaxies in the observable universe. Yet the strong anthropic principle would claim that this whole vast construction exists simply for our sake. This is very hard to believe. Our Solar System is certainly a prerequisite for our existence, hand one might extend this to the whole of our galaxy to allow for an earlier generation of stars that created the heavier elements. But there does not seem to be any need for all those other galaxies, nor for the universe to be so uniform and similar in every direction on the large scale.

        One would feel happier about the anthropic principle, at least in its weak version, if one could show that quite a number of different initial configurations for the universe would have evolved to produce a universe like the one we observe. If this is the case, a universe that developed from some sort of random initial conditions should contain a number of regions that are smooth and uniform and are suitable for the evolution of intelligent life. On the other hand, if the initial state of the universe had to be chosen extremely carefully to lead to something like what we see around us, the universe would be unlikely to contain any region in which life would appear. In the hot big bang model described above, there was not enough time in the early universe for heat to have flowed from one region to another. This means that the initial state of the universe would have to have had exactly the same temperature everywhere in order to account for the fact that the microwave back-ground has the same temperature in every direction we look. The initial rate of expansion also would have had to be chosen very precisely for the rate of expansion still to be so close to the critical rate needed to avoid recollapse. This means that the initial state of the universe must have been very carefully chosen indeed if the hot big bang model was correct right back to the beginning of time. It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.

        In an attempt to find a model of the universe in which many different initial configurations could have evolved to something like the present universe, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Alan Guth, suggested that the early universe might have gone through a period of very rapid expansion. This expansion is said to be “inflationary,” meaning that the universe at one time expanded at an increasing rate rather than the decreasing rate that it does today. According to Guth, the radius of the universe increased by a million million million million million (1 with thirty zeros after it) times in only a tiny fraction of a second.”

      • Jacob W says:

        “Keller doesn’t believe in macro-evolution. He believes in micro-evolution, as I do. He simply refuses to give a concrete age for the earth, since the Bible doesn’t give us one.”

        As Mark already explained, macro-evolution is just the accumulation of micro-evolution. They are not two separate phenomena. Micro-evolution is the change in the frequency of alleles of a given population over a short time frame. Macro-evolution is the change in the frequency of alleles of a given population over a long, loooong period of time.

        So, you basically recognize the reality of evolution, but choose to reject any parts of the theory that don’t align perfectly with your predetermined religious beliefs, regardless of how strong the evidence is.

        The Bible doesn’t give a concrete age because they didn’t have radiometric dating in the Bronze Age, nor did Bishop Ussher in his era.

      • Jacob W says:

        “I don’t believe there is other intelligent life or alternate Saviors or hells out there. Why? I have no legitimate cause for believing that. Is it possible? Well, most things are possible. It just doesn’t seem probable.”

        What seems probable about a person coming back from the dead or a perfect God creating something imperfect?

        Let’s pretend you and I live back in the 1st century A.D. around the time Christianity was just starting up (back when Xmas was still known as Saturnalia).

        Let’s say I am a new convert to Christianity and you hold to the traditional pagan gods of ancient Greece and Rome.

        I knock on your door and tell you that there is only ONE God, with three personalities, one of which inhabited human flesh and died for the sins of all people, so that God wouldn’t HAVE to send us to hell. I tell you he was raised from the dead and is living in heaven until He returns to launch Heaven and Earth 2.0.

        You tell me it’s much more likely that Zeus and the other gods are real because look at how many people worship them? Look at how long they have been worshiped? Over 2000 years! Look at how people have fought and died and been tortured to honor the names of those gods.

        I tell you that my God is so awesome, He even gives you the free will to believe in Him, or to be a nonbeliever and go to hell for eternity.

        Then you say that you are going to just keep believing until I can prove that Zeus and the other gods couldn’t possibly exist.

        I wish you a pleasant Saturnalia, then quickly mumble “soon to be Christmas” under my breath, while I leave to continue my neighborhood canvassing.

      • Except that no one ever met Zeus, claimed he was God during his human existence, crucified him despite his innocence, or witnessed him risen from the grave.

        Not at all the same.

      • Mark Brown says:

        It says right there in the Quran that Muhammad ascended to heaven at the Dome of the Rock. He even split the moon in two before putting it back together again. It’s got to be true then, right? I mean it’s written in their holy book, given to them by the angel Gabriel directly from God, and we all know that everything written in a holy book with billions of adherents must be true.

      • Jacob W says:

        “Except that no one ever met Zeus, claimed he was God during his human existence, crucified him despite his innocence, or witnessed him risen from the grave.

        Not at all the same.”

        The details of the supernatural accounts differ, but they are both within the same realm of probability.

        Plus, Zeus was worshiped much longer than your religion has been worshiping Jesus. Besides, how many stories about Zeus do you know?
        The only incarnation story I can think of is the one where he turned into a bull.

        Why does popularity and anecdotal evidence suffice to convince you of Christianity, but not other religions?

      • Jacob W says:

        I just wanted to add this link, because I felt like Stephen Hawking’s views were misrepresented in this blog post.

  4. Techie says:

    Good post, Pastor.

    I’d be careful about the macro/micro terminology. Many times people use it incorrectly in these discussions. This classic by Carl Weiland explains it well: The evolution train’s a-comin’.

    I think Ray Comfort had a good approach when he asked for examples of “changes in kinds” – necessary for neo-Darwinian evolution – in this video: Evolution Vs. God. He pointed out that it’s misleading to call something scientific if it cannot actually satisfy the scientific method. This is where a very basic understanding of science can go a long way.

    On a related note, I find it fascinating that so many people do not understand that natural selection is, by itself, never a creative process. If anything, it’s only ever destructive. Many people will cite examples of natural selection in defense of neo-Darwinian evolution. This is affirming the consequent, however, as evolution necessarily requires more than merely natural selection.

    It actually seems that scientific maleducation – undermining basic principles of science – has been required in order to convince the masses. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so disappointing.

    • Techie, you are correct in saying that natural selection is, by itself, not a creative process. Natural selection is simply a filter by which characteristics of organisms are judged. The creative process is the mutation of DNA. Now Carl Weiland seems to think that DNA mutations are only destructive in nature via his train analogy (and you seem to have adopted that view, at least in part). While this is usually true, it is that natural selection mechanism that gives a strong selection bias to those mutations that are not destructive. As an example, (similar to Weiland’s mosquito/DDT reference) we have an antibiotic resistant bacteria known as MRSA that is causing a lot of problems right now. Its resistance is due to a mutation in a gene that is involved with cell wall synthesis that is typically affected by penicillin type antibiotics. The mutation made it so the enzyme that the gene coded for was no longer affected, all the while maintaining its original function. This change was not destructive in nature, but rather inferred a new functionality for the bacteria (that being in can survive the presence of antibiotics). Another example, a point mutation (that being a single DNA base change) can cause brain size in mice to increase by 50%. Now I’d like to see how you make a case that increased brain size is destructive.

      Mike, thank you for your kind words. Now I have to take issue with your account of evolution as being an “impossible order”. Automatically casting aside evolution because it conflicts with your view of the Jesus story is the danger that I was alluding to in my last paragraph to Pastor Hein. Evolution certainly does not exclude the possibility of Christianity, though perhaps it does a young-earth perspective. There are many religious people (including the Catholic Church) that hold that view as well. Do not get stuck in your “box”, as there is a beautiful world out there that existed before 6,000 years ago. Don’t be afraid of the evidence that supports this, but rather look at the science for yourself and seek to understand it. Science is simply the study of what is, and if you believe in God, he made it that way so that truth is nothing to fear.

      “and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

      • Hey Mark, I know we don’t know really anything about each other so I’ll apologize ahead of time if something comes off as judging without better knowledge. Just wanted to reply to the “stuck in your box” comment. I’m a meteorologist professionally and I’m a Christian as well as a Christian artist so I will admit that my starting point is that there is a God and that the Bible is his word. This is my starting point and as we as humans often struggle to find peace, I hope that people will know that Jesus is Life, a statement that also takes a lifetime to get ones head around, something that I can’t properly convey in a blog post. Just wanted to up front and honest. While I know that the bible isn’t a literary science book, what is contained within it is of greater importance than where we’re at in understanding what happened in our historic past when nobody was around to see it. I don’t fear science, I love it actually, but all scientists are people who pre suppose things, we’re just not always honest about this.

        As for the evidence, I’ve heard both sides of the arguments, but there is a lot that is admittedly over my head and out of my price range so to speak. I have a friend who is an outstanding speaker in Creation Sciences and I’m about 1/3 of the way through Bryson’s book “A Short History of Everything”, which so far has been a guide to how evolutionist theory has come to be. Just like you, I have not learned all that there is, nor have I experienced all that I will and those things will continue to work and shape us.

        Evolutionary science is not my specialty, but I understand how science works. I also know that in all fields there have been unethical scientists who have undermined their own “evidence” in an effort to win what is ultimately a faith based argument when it comes to the study of historical science. I can not escape the fact that the media offers snippets of science in headlines to capture our attention and then does little to really support it other than to produce dogma, often on both sides. I can’t escape some articles that I have read in evolutionary magazines, which give instruction on how to shout down and lobby against creationists other than to say that creationists are a real problem that must be dealt with. And I have never seen evolutionists actually acknowledge the research and questions of creationists, but I have read a lot about how they tend to ignore and blow them off as incoherent and their viewpoint skewed by “the box”. So again, just wanted to be honest that my experiences show that I am a skeptic when it comes to most of what evolutionary science has portrayed.

        One of the most common requests to the Christian/Creationist is to ask them to move from their faith based box by making them ashamed of “the box” of their pre suppositions and faith based starting point and ask them to move from their foundation of Jesus, which the Christian believes is the only way to Life (again, loaded statement for another blog). Move away from that and we will be able to see the evidence from your viewpoint. To that I’d like to invite you to move from your box and step more fully into the Creationists understanding. As confident as you are that we will begin to see the way evolution is supported, we’re confident that you will begin to see the evidence for God’s view of Creation, and more fully, the world around us and the ultimate purposes of life. As you said to me, I would also say to you, don’t be afraid of the evidence that supports Creation science, but rather look to the science in light of God’s word and seek to understand it from that standpoint.

        My own personal view of science is that we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle and I really do believe that God is excited when he reveals parts of the mystery of his creation. We see something and he can’t wait to say “if you thought that was cool, wait till you see the next thing”. Christians and Secular Scientists really don’t have a lot of disagreement in talking about science as the study of what IS, rather it’s in the conclusions of science trying to understand what WAS and evolution is largely led by people and scientists who have an atheist viewpoint or one of a god other than what is revealed in the Bible. Naturally we will not come to interpret the data the same way and we will come to significantly different conclusions.

        Again, thanks Mark for the way you challenge me and the Christian perspective.

      • Techie says:

        Now Carl Weiland seems to think that DNA mutations are only destructive in nature via his train analogy

        That’s not exactly correct, Mark. You’re equivocating the word, “destructive.” You’re a bit confused, as shown by your contradictory words, “maintaining its original function” and “inferred a new functionality.” It would benefit you to read up on information science; the CMI site has much material on the matter. In fact, a quick search shows that Wieland himself addressed your example in “Superbugs not super after all” a decade and a half ago.

      • Techie, those terms aren’t contradictory at all, as they are referring to two separate things. The “new functionality” is that the bacteria can survive in conditions that it couldn’t do previously and hence that strain will become the dominant strain. The “original function” has to do with the enzyme itself. In the non-mutated form it is rendered nonfunctional, but thanks to the mutation it is able to regain its original function in cell wall synthesis. Now you (and Weiland) may be pointing out that these types of mutations aren’t really making the bacteria more complex, only allowing it to survive in basically the same form. I happen to agree with that, but that is certainly not the case with all mutations. As I pointed out with the mice example, a simple mutation can have dramatic effects on the abilities of the organism. One only need to look at the difference between us and chimpanzees (or even more acutely Neanderthals, who are something like 99.7% identical). A fairly small difference in our DNA can have dramatic effects in behavior, physical presentation, intelligence, etc.

        Mike,
        I just wanted to comment on two things. First, I think the notion that evolution is led by atheist scientists and hence has an atheist bias is wrong. Science by definition is unbiased, except to the facts (though being a human institution, that does have flaws). People that are in the scientific fields are taught to evaluate evidence logically and rationally without emotion. When so much of what we see and work with everyday contradicts the dogma of most religions, obviously we are going to separate from that which we see as not being evidence based (and shun work that is not steeped in evidence). Young-Earth creationist “scientists” seek to invalidate entire bodies of work by only picking at the crust by pointing at exceptions (that are well known) and taking them out of context or misrepresenting the science (the various Mt St Helens “controversies” for example). All the while ignoring the vast majority of the body of work that they have no chance of refuting. Their goal going in is to invalidate anything that doesn’t fit into their preconceived “box”, while a scientist’s goal is merely to gather evidence. If said evidence fits current scientific understanding it simply provides more weight to existing theories, but if it doesn’t they become famous. So the bias in science is actually to be extremely critical of relevant theories, and that makes science all the stronger.

        Second, I have moved out of my original “box” quite a bit, actually. As I’ve studied this debate more and more, I have become increasingly sympathetic to the creationist viewpoint regarding abiogenesis. I still believe that life had a natural cause, but I certainly can’t take issue with those that don’t share that because of the extraordinary steps that had to take place. If we had “all the pieces of the puzzle”, I would probably have to change my own naturalistic view on that, but our understanding regarding those issues has expanded greatly over the last 20 years and I see no reason why we won’t make further progress.

      • Techie says:

        Mark, you’re now equivocating the word, “function.” By that latter definition, the loss of a beetle’s wings is a new function if its survivability on windy islands increases. That meaning of function has nothing to do with the kinds of advancements that are required for neo-Darwinian evolution – only natural selection. Exactly as I said, originally. Why bring it up?

        Now you (and Weiland) may be pointing out that these types of mutations aren’t really making the bacteria more complex, only allowing it to survive in basically the same form. I happen to agree with that, but that is certainly not the case with all mutations.”

        You’ve not given any observable examples.

        As I pointed out with the mice example, a simple mutation can have dramatic effects on the abilities of the organism.

        You said that the brain size grew, not that abilities were gained. A mere change in size or capacity is not necessarily indicative of additional information.

      • “Why bring it up?”

        I bring it up because natural selection is ambivalent to the nature of the mutation, only in its result. For the beetle example, they no longer have wings. So this could be considered a “loss” of function at least in the phenotype, but the genetic information for wings is probably still present. As for the bacteria example I gave, there is no loss of function but rather an increased fitness for a given condition. And in the mice example, that 50% difference in brain size is the same difference between us and homo erectus, so I’m hardly out on a limb inferring that entails a significant advantage/gain of function. Speaking of limbs, in crustaceans the difference between a normal limb and a feeding limb is the expression of two genes. That same family of genes (Hox) is responsible for turning moth legs into wings through a single gene malfunction (so is that a gain or a loss?). Still within the Hox family, small changes in expression dictate whether a fin forms (lobe-finned fish) or a leg (tetrapods). So it appears you can both lose and gain functions simultaneously! Isn’t DNA wonderful?

      • And if those examples aren’t enough for you, here’s some more (quoting from experimentalmath.info):

        “Ample and well-established experimental evidence supports the scientific view. For example, in a 1974 paper by biologists Barry Hall and Daniel Hartl, a gene was identified in the bacterium E. coli that is responsible for metabolizing lactose, using a complicated three-part process. They removed this gene, and then permitted the bacteria to multiply in a stressed environment containing lactose. Within 24 hours the bacteria had evolved a capability to utilize lactose, by means of a similar but distinct three-part biochemical pathway, involving two mutated genes [Hall; Miller, 1999, pg. 145-147].

        In another interesting result along this line, Japanese biologists recently discovered a bacterial species that has adapted to thrive on nylon waste (which did not exist until the 20th century). It turns out that this bacterial species has undergone a “frame shift” mutation, where an extra base pair has been inserted into the bacteria’s DNA. This mutation significantly changed the bacteria’s biology, since a long series of amino acids were altered, but by remarkable chance this alteration endowed the bacteria with the facility to metabolize nylon, albeit not very efficiently [Negoro].

        As a third example, scientists recently discovered that certain persons in an Italian community, all descended from a single individual several generations back, possess a genetic mutation that increases “good” cholesterol and provides an effective anti-oxidant, thus resulting in measurably improved cardiovascular health [Krotz]. Dozens of other examples could be cited.

        In short, the probability arguments used by the creationist and ID movements, when analyzed carefully, are fallacious, and are simply countered by the observation that natural evolution, operating in the real world, does in fact produce novel features.”

      • I’m not a creation scientist as it’s not my scientific background, but I would love to see the response of a creation scientist, someone who can speak your language and bring a balanced response. In this back and forth, you site research that I have not been able to read up on. I’ll be willing to bet that you did not conduct the experiments yourself and therefore have to trust in the conclusions that others have arrived at. And this is still part of a story that is unfolding. The hard part of this is that tomorrow, a new paper will come out and say something a little different, then a while later something will come out and refute it all together, while still later another one will come out and say that had it, but just not quite.

        It’s great that we can observe certain things happening today and have a conversation about some of the things that we’re seeing or trying to understand today, but we then try to apply them to an environment we know nothing about from direct observation (that goes for the Creationist and the evolutionist). A scientist can shrug their shoulders and say “hey, I wasn’t expecting that, look at this new thing we’ve found” without really being held accountable for what is now mis information on our way to trying discover the next thing.

        The Christian objects because we believe that life is eternal and that there really is only one way to experience the life God intended and that is a matter of faith in who Jesus is, what he has done for us and the life and hope we have because of it. So when science gets something wrong and atheist’s use it to attack Christians and the Christian story, it can often undermine and destroy faith. When they turn around and say “oh, guess we were a little off”, the damage is often done.

        That’s why I would love to have a scientist at your level from a Creation standpoint speak into this and answer your objections.

      • Techie says:

        I bring it up because natural selection is ambivalent to the nature of the mutation, only in its result. For the beetle example, they no longer have wings. So this could be considered a “loss” of function at least in the phenotype, but the genetic information for wings is probably still present. As for the bacteria example I gave, there is no loss of function but rather an increased fitness for a given condition.

        Everything here is perfectly consistent with the creationist view of natural selection. None of your other Google-fu examples actually demonstrate an increase in information, either. Is your understanding of the basic requirements of neo-Darwinian evolution truly that deficient?

        And in the mice example, that 50% difference in brain size is the same difference between us and homo erectus, so I’m hardly out on a limb inferring that entails a significant advantage/gain of function.

        Of course you’re out on a limb for that. Correlation is not causation. In fact, you’re not even able to scientifically demonstrate a correlation. You claimed that scientists are trained in logic and reason, and yet you’re unable to recognize basic fallacies like this.

        You’re demonstrating at least one of two things with your fundamentally flawed knowledge of science and logic: either you’re not a scientist or scientists are not nearly as well trained as you claim. Perhaps both.

      • Techie,
        Perhaps we are having an issue with the phrase “gain of information”. Now I have been speaking to gain of functionality, and that it can occur in a wide-variety of ways as I have shown. Now I guess what you are referring to is the genesis of new genetic functionality. I believe I pointed you to a number of examples where functions were born where previously there were none (in the experimentalmath.info examples). In addition to those mechanisms, there is such a thing as gene duplication. Most of the time the duplicated gene becomes a non-functional pseudogene and is eventually evicted from the genome, but occasionally it can mutate to another functional form that may or may not be related to the original function (EDN and ECP genes, and red- and green-sensitive opsin genes of humans). This is by definition new information, as it is a new gene that did not exist before. Now I have provided you with an array of different ways that genetic mutation can infer “gain of information” changes in the host organism.

        One last note, you should be careful with the tone of your comments. If you insist on disparaging personal comments I will no longer participate in this discussion.

      • Techie says:

        I believe I pointed you to a number of examples where functions were born where previously there were none (in the experimentalmath.info examples).

        You believe incorrectly. You have not pointed to the observation of any such thing, as a cursory search of critical sources shows once again.

        You were the one that made claims of scientific credibility. I merely pointed out how you’ve demonstrated those claims to be false. I do so because it serves extremely well to underscore my original comment:

        It actually seems that scientific maleducation – undermining basic principles of science – has been required in order to convince the masses.

      • Hey, if you want to deny what I have placed in front of you, that is your business. But it is no longer mine. Just to summarize my examples:

        Observed “gain of information” mutations:
        Lactose metabolism in E. coli
        Nylon metabolism in bacteria
        Cardiovascular health mutations in a line of humans

        “Gain of information” from gene duplication:
        EDN and ECP genes
        red- and green-sensitive opsin genes of humans

        I welcome your attempts in proving these examples false and in pointing out how I am “undermining basic principles of science”. But thus far it seems you are no different than a child who is holding his hands over his ears screaming “nah nah nah, I can’t hear you”.

      • Techie says:

        Actually, it is you who is being demonstrably ignorant. I’ve already shown other claims of yours to be fallacious – the mouse brains, for example. I’ve already provided you with the means to verify your claims before publishing them, as any good scientist would do, and yet you still refuse to do so. I could continue to do it for you.

        As an example to demonstrate this point yet again, I could show that a simple search of a helpful source that I’ve already listed, and recommended that you peruse, points out that the nylon digesting bacteria almost certainly did not undergo a frame shift as you falsely claim. Negoro was speculating without evidentiary support. More than two decades ago it was known that the ability resides on plasmids, and that the genes on these plasmids are recombined in a way that is non-random due to the absence of stop codons. You have much catching up to do.

        What this reveals, again, is that you actually do not know what you are talking about, and that your claims of scientific credibility are deliberately deceptive. It has become quite clear that your accusation against creationists – that they ignore scientific facts – is merely projection. You’ve shown, repeatedly, that any assertions you make are immediately suspect. I doubt any amount of scientific facts will convince someone that so willingly blinds himself.

      • Techie, I appreciate your desire to speak out against the “evidences” and that you’re willing to put out responses to specific assertions. However, if you’re not careful, you will do little to garner credibility with other people when you write in ways that are condescending and dissmissive. It will not help a dialogue, it will simply cause people to look past your evidence and right at the attitude/heart of the person saying it. Most evolutinonsts are not stupid and when you treat them as if they were, they simply won’t take you or your information seriously or worst of all, it can lead them to dismiss Jesus. At the end of the day, this is really a matter of what any of us puts our faith in.

        Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see – Hebrews 11:1 It’s as good a definition of faith as I have ever seen. We have a sin and death problem and a question of eternity that also weighs on mankind and evolution leads you to very different conclusions than the God of the Bible.

        Better to take time defending what you believe than trying to blow up others for what they believe. It rarely helps people see your point of view. With that Techie, what is it that you believe?

      • Techie says:

        Aah, but falsely asserting that creationists deny hard facts is, itself, both condescending and dishonest. It is not reasonable for you to demand that others abide by such standards when you observably violate them yourself.

      • So subsequent study showed that it wasn’t likely a frame shift, but rather transposon activity on a plasmid. Even creation.com states “Plasmids seem to be adaptive elements designed to make bacteria capable of adaptation to new situations while maintaining the integrity of the main chromosome.” This only further proves the point that new genetic information can arise, whether that is due to a frame shift or this plasmid activity is irrelevant, except that you have pointed to an additional mechanism by which new genetic information can be created and also a potential mechanism by which gene duplications are preserved in functional form by virtue of these nonstop frames. You do realize that plasmids are inheritable elements as well, right? And since you brought up the subject of fallacious comments, Nogoro was not the one that “speculated” that it was due to frame shift mutation, but rather was the one that indicated that it was NOT due to that. But speaking of those frame shift mutations (with gene duplication), regardless if they were responsible for the nylon enzymes, they are responsible for plenty of others as 470 were found in a single study in humans and 108 in mice (Frequent appearance of novel protein-coding sequences by frameshift translation, Okamura, 2006).

        You have done nothing of the sort on the mouse brains. You have just presumed that it did nothing for the organism. Brain size is correlated to intelligence, as many studies have shown. And if I am making the case for common descent, it is important to show how simple changes in DNA can significantly alter the organism. In our case, the oldest hominid species known had a brain size only 1/4 of ours. Should I not make a case for how that can change? And about that brain size vs. intelligence issue (in humans):

        “Another notable genetic sequence, located within the HMGA2 gene on chromosome 12, was linked with intracranial volume — in other words, the space inside your skull that marks the outer limit as to how big your brain can get. At this spot, every C-allele variant was linked to not only lower intracranial volume, but also to lower IQ scores on the Multidimensional Aptitude Battery, a measure of intelligence.

        “This is a really exciting discovery: that a single letter change leads to a bigger brain,” said Thompson.”

        Hard facts: Any number of dating procedures (ice cores, tree rings, periodic sediments, radiometric, DNA mutation rates, red shift, size of universe, speed of light, plate tectonics, magnetic field reversal, etc). Yes, you must deny our understanding of these phenomena/events (and this is but a small subset) in order to maintain a young earth worldview. That is not being condescending and dishonest, but rather consistent with the facts.

        Tone: “deliberately deceptive”, “ignorant”, “blind”, “deficient” – need I say more. If I have used anything approaching these adjectives, I apologize. But I am most certain I have not.

      • Techie says:

        This only further proves the point that new genetic information can arise, whether that is due to a frame shift or this plasmid activity is irrelevant, except that you have pointed to an additional mechanism by which new genetic information can be created and also a potential mechanism by which gene duplications are preserved in functional form by virtue of these nonstop frames.

        It is false that the distinction is irrelevant. Because a different mechanism has been discovered, the question is now whether that mechanism could have come about by random mutations – as neo-Darwinian evolution requires. No such conclusion has been established. Mere non-random adaptability does not satisfy the exclusive requirements of neo-Darwinian evolution. I congratulate you on attempting to get up to speed with modern science, however.

        And since you brought up the subject of fallacious comments, Nogoro was not the one that “speculated” that it was due to frame shift mutation, but rather was the one that indicated that it was NOT due to that.

        What fallacy is this? The fallacy of imprecise attribution? That would be a new one. I can’t help but conclude that you’re not actually aware of what a fallacy is. Oh my. It is indeed telling, however, that you referenced him as the source for something that he contradicted.

        Brain size is correlated to intelligence

        Again, correlation is not causation. It’s a simple, but commonly misused fallacy. You have established no causal link to new abilities with the mice.

        You’re really not helping your case here.

      • Fallacious : based on a mistaken belief.
        synonyms: erroneous, false, untrue, wrong, incorrect, flawed, inaccurate

        Making a false statement about someone’s research certainly fits in this category.

        “the question is now whether that mechanism could have come about by random mutations”

        By virtue of your above statement, you are no longer denying that evolution exists, but now it is apparently God’s hand that forces those mechanisms. If that’s how you want to believe it, that’s fine with me as there is no refuting such arguments and at least you don’t deny the mechanism for increased complexity. I could just as easily say a pink unicorn was responsible for the mechanism, and there would be no way you could contradict that. Regardless, I have shown how genetic information is created. I have shown how existing genetic information can be modified. I have shown how simple mutations can have dramatic effects on the host organism (either good or bad). That is what I set out to do. For those that are still reading the remnants of what started out as a fruitful discussion, you have the sources for these various points. Good day.

      • Techie says:

        Making a false statement about someone’s research certainly fits in this category.

        Wow. You really can’t keep up, can you? The statement itself – that the frame shift was a false assumption – is true. Only the attribution was incorrect. Which fallacy is that, again?

        By virtue of your above statement, you are no longer denying that evolution exists

        You’ve equivocated the word, “evolution.” Another common fallacy – the fallacy of equivocation. Creationists believe in genetic change, as I pointed out long ago. If you want to claim that alone meets all the requirements for neo-Darwinian evolution, you’re free to move the goalposts to convince yourself.

        Again, this is an excellent example of dumbing down science in order to push an agenda.

        I could just as easily say a pink unicorn was responsible for the mechanism, and there would be no way you could contradict that.

        Aah, but the onus is not on me to prove that God created the mechanism. You are the one asserting that it is a fact that this came about using the exclusive requirements of neo-Darwinian evolution.

      • Creationists believe in genetic change, as I pointed out long ago. If you want to claim that alone meets all the requirements for neo-Darwinian evolution”

        Good, now in various conversations I have had with creationists you also believe in natural selection. Genetic change + natural selection = evolution. I’m glad we have come to an agreement finally.

      • “evolution necessarily requires more than merely natural selection.”

        Apparently you have forgotten your own words. Genetic change is that “more” that you reference, and you have already said that you don’t have a problem with that. You are correct in saying that natural selection is not a creative process, but I have provided examples in which the genetic change is that creative process. Perhaps you have a problem with the “+” in my equation, I hope you know how that is used.

      • Techie says:

        Apparently you have forgotten your own words.

        Oops! Yet another fallacy. This one is affirming the consequent.

        I have provided examples in which the genetic change is that creative process.

        You’ve never successfully shown that random mutations lead to gains in genetic information as necessary for neo-Darwinian evolution. Merely claiming that this is so does not make it so.

      • Apparently I have to repeat things at least three times for you before they sink in. You must have had patient parents.

        Observed “gain of information” mutations:
        Lactose metabolism in E. coli
        Nylon metabolism in bacteria
        Cardiovascular health mutations in a line of humans
        EDN and ECP genes
        red- and green-sensitive opsin genes of humans
        586 other novel proteins from gene duplications observed in humans and mice from one study (Frequent appearance of novel protein-coding sequences by frameshift translation, Okamura, 2006).

        You are right in one aspect, I haven’t “successfully” shown anything because it requires a willing pupil to have a successful educational exchange. I might as well be talking to a wall.

      • Techie says:

        “Nylon metabolism in bacteria”

        By an already existing mechanism that is non-random. It took you a while to learn that, didn’t it? Definitely not something that points only to neo-Darwinian evolution. It’s okay, though. You can move the goalposts if it helps you deal with the cognitive dissonance.

        As for the others, if your grasp of them is as juvenile as you’ve already demonstrated with everything I’ve addressed, good luck with your research. You’ll need it; it’s not my job to do it for you.

      • If by “non-random” you mean that gene duplication or transposon events aren’t random. But that’s not really accurate at all (fallacy alert!). I quote:

        “…transposable elements can result in rapid adaptation, but the mechanism is pure random mutation and natural selection. Transposons are not specifically targeted anywhere, but jump about at random without regard to the cell’s “need”. They can generate new enzymes by producing recombination of existing enzymes, but they are just as likely to cause damage. One strain produced by researchers had lost nylA as the transposable elements cut it out. Transposable elements are well known as possible agents of evolution.”

        Wow, if only you’d turn those skeptical superpowers you have to your own religion…

      • Techie says:

        An out-of-hand dismissal without references attached to the specific points of said dismissal? Not extremely convincing. By contrast, the AiG piece was extremely detailed in its documentation of the rates and probabilities involved. It would be interesting to see if Musgrave’s claims can actually be confirmed.

        I see you still haven’t learned what a fallacy is, however.

      • Shocking, you are relying on suppositions that have yet to be confirmed. Wait, I’m not shocked at all. Like I said before, apply the same skepticism to yourself.

        I am getting the idea that anything anyone else says that you don’t agree with is a fallacy. Apparently I also missed the part in the definition where it says that Techie is entirely immune from fallacious comments, even when it is seemingly obvious. I’ll try to keep that in mind for the future.

      • Techie says:

        “Shocking, you are relying on suppositions that have yet to be confirmed.”

        Mere projection, as evidenced by the extremely dubious nylonase claim. Remember, you’re the one hanging your hat on it. For my part, I prefer the scientific method.

        “Apparently I also missed the part in the definition where it says that Techie is entirely immune from fallacious comments”

        You have yet to actually name one fallacy that I’ve committed, whereas I’ve actually named the many that you’ve committed so that you can see where your logical errors are. Such comments only serve to further demonstrate your incapacity for following such basic principles of logic and reason.

      • I didn’t realize how prescient my child analogy was earlier.

        “Mere Projection” = I know you are but what am I

        “You have yet to actually name one fallacy that I’ve committed, whereas I’ve actually named the many that you’ve committed” = I am right, and you wrong!

        This has been a complete and utter waste of time with you. I’d like to thank Mike for his patient words and actual attempts at understanding the other side and keeping the peace. But Techie, when those that actually agree with you are criticizing your comments, it’s time to self-evaluate.

      • Techie says:

        “I know you are but what am I”

        Except I actually backed up the “projection” claim by pointing out that you’re the one doing the asserting, which comes with the burden of proof.

        “I am right, and you wrong!”

        You can’t even name one? Despite your claims that I have committed them? I’m merely asking for clarification on attacks on my reasoning.

        I’ll take your advice and do some self-evaluation, though.

      • Techie says:

        Mike Westendorf, if you’re still reading this, I apologize for mistaking your comment for Mark’s earlier.

      • I have been watching you guys argue about definitions of words and research. I’ve been reminded of why I need to be a good listener so I can properly defend what I believe. I remembered that intelligent people want to be respected and that requires a willing listener. I’ve been reminded that whether you’re a creationist or evolutionist, all of us agree that we’re here because of a miracle. A miracle of divine proportions or the existence that we see against astronomically impossible odds for evolution to be true in the “traditional” portrayal of evolution.

        I’m reminded that part of why anyone believes something is partially based on faith and partially what they know or have experienced personally.

        I’m reminded that we are ALL one experience away from having our world rocked, where everything we thought we knew is stressfully challenged. Whether it’s a new study, a personal tragedy, a national catastrophe.

        I’m reminded that we will all die and that every one of us will take only our faith to the grave. Faith that nothing is there, faith that pearly gates are there, faith that there is a Savior, faith that hell awaits…

        I’m reminded that people won’t usually believe in a God that loves them when the people pushing that God demand that the ignorant people give up their idols of evolution and accept creation as a prerequisite to Salvation. (I hate when Christians do this because all too often they “communicate” the opposite of the words they say)

        I’m reminded that you can throw out “did ya knows” until you’re blue in the face, but it will never prove your stance because it must be answered within the big picture, not just the lab.

        I’m reminded that there is not one example of Kind mutation, but lots of species mutations.

        And I’m reminded that at this time in my life and understanding, I believe in a young earth for a number of reasons:

        * When God said “let there be”, how old were all the things he called into existence? I wonder if the planets and solar systems have a “born on” date. If we used our calculations at the moment God said “let there be”, what would the calculations be?

        * Scientists are studying a fallen world, not the world that the Christian believes was called into existence.

        * If God was an instigator and then it took Billions of years for things to come together… he’s pretty lousy at creation. Certainly doesn’t seem to jive with the God of the bible.

        * The biblical translation for “day” in Genesis is 24 hours, not period of time. There are other words that the writers use for “long periods” and it is not the same word. If I believe the Bible is God’s word, I think God would know the difference.

        * If God started evolution, death has been a part of the world much longer than Adam and Eve. Theologically it nullifies the need for a Savior and the whole love of God thing because the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life, which is the main story of The Bible. God would thus be a liar and a poor designer requiring billions of years of death before he finally accomplished Life.

        * Everything tends to decay (laws of thermodynamics), not bigger and better things.

        * The big bang… sounds an aweful lot like “Let there be”

        * Science is the study of what is, and in a perfect world, is not interested in the truth as we normally talk about it. It is the uncovering of information on how things and why/how things work.

        * Science is filled with a history of hypocrites as rich as the church and has many examples in which money taints pure research (just think of the tobacco/oil company research arguments).

        * If the proof for creation is the bedrock of your faith… you will be tossed about by the latest research, you will be a very defensive Christian and you will spend a lot of your life not living in the peace of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only Foundation that is unshakable and the only one that doesn’t change. Science admits that it is “self correcting”, which means the conclusions can and will change, especially in historical science. To the Christian, we need to be careful that “evidence” does not become our God, which is a matter of Faith – sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see – which is also a huge component of Science. They are certain of something they don’t see, which is why they continue to pursue it so passionately. It would be great if Christians also pursued their faith as passionately.

        That’s where I am today, right now. This banter has been an experience that caused me to dig a little bit into what I saw going on between Techie and Mark, which devolved into the classic “he said she said”, “you’re not listening” as it predictably does. I come away being reminded of some of the things I believe to be true about the world around me and I’m sorry, I just don’t see the scientific excellence in the theories of evolution as they have been taught to me and pushed on me in museums and in our culture. If you tell the lie long enough, people will blindly believe it. A great example of that is in the Field museum in Chicago, which has a fascinating colorful display that tells the story of evolution, without any proofs other than “Scientists NOW believe…” Looks convincing until you look under the hood and take in the big view, that according to many Christians who are also scientists could not and did not happen.

        In the end, I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the one that was to come into the world and with his life atone for the sin of every person. So that we would know how great the Father’s love that for us, even in a broken world that God himself weeps over. That the author of life and purpose, would step into time and fix the sin problem for humanity and make a way that we could find the peace that all of us are looking for… you only find it in one God, the God of the bible. Why would I believe that? Because by faith, I see this “life” all around me in the world today.

        I love Science, thanks for reminding me that I really do love it. And I love my evolutionist friends that I will likely never win an argument with. I just hope they’ll know that Jesus loves me, and I love them because Jesus loves them and when life gets hard and they are wondering where peace comes from in the hard times, I can share where I believe peace comes from. Not as a Scientist, but as a Christian friend who wants everyone to know that Jesus is the Way, is the Truth and ultimately is the Life we are looking for.

        Thanks guys, have a great rest of your week!

      • Techie says:

        Interesting thoughts, Mike. I know the thread was long and prone to skimming, but think you may have misunderstood one important aspect of it.

        I don’t believe I ever insisted on any proofs for creation. I was countering the claim that creationists ignore “hard (and I mean hard) facts.” Marks position was a positive one (in the sense of something being stated, asserted) and mine was negative (as in showing absence, negation). The mere fact that you felt it “devolved” into nothing solid is a testament to the latter. It shows that the supposedly “scientific” or “fact-based” beliefs are actually based on a kind of faith. I believe this is an important distinction.

        Besides that, you make some great points that are well worth considering. Good day!

      • “Everything here is perfectly consistent with the creationist view of natural selection.”

        This is hardly a null, or negative, stance on the subject.

      • Techie says:

        That’s another obvious fallacy, Mark. It’s affirming the consequent. Evidence can be consistent with more than one paradigm.

      • Jacob W says:

        Mike the meteorologist, imagine how easy your job would be if we still thought (insert name of a God) was controlling the weather patterns! Well, maybe not, on second thought, they would have probably put you to death for guessing wrong. Harsh.

        So, you said you understand how science works, but all you went on to say about it is basically that you can’t trust scientists because some of them aren’t honest.

        Science is fruitful, because the process has error-correction built into it. A hypothesis doesn’t graduate to a scientific theory by popular opinion among scientists, it gets to that level after the hypothesis has been tested over and over and still not yet found to be untrue.

        When a genuine scientist is forming a hypothesis, the most vital part is designing experiments to demonstrate your hypothesis is wrong (falsifiability). It’s also vital to encourage other professionals to think of ways to test it’s validity. Good scientists go to great lengths to discredit their own hypothesis and other peers. It’s very basic intellectual honesty. You have to be as critical of your own ideas as you are of others. You have to use the same metric for both, in order to stand on firm ground.

        If your hypothesis is repeatedly tested and the results confirmed by independent authorities, reviewed over and over by peers, published so that anyone can access it, and still stands up to continuing scrutiny, the credibility for the hypothesis grows proportionally.

        The technology you are using to forecast weather patterns has developed and keeps getting more sophisticated because of people correctly using the scientific process to discover details about the natural world. The word “science” comes from the Latin “scientia” which means “knowledge.” It’s the best process ever discovered that yields knowledge.

        The theory of gravity is to physicists (and meteorologists) what the theory of evolution is to biologists. You might have noticed how much better your quality of life is thanks to modern medical science. Those advancements are thanks to people who understand the mechanisms of evolution.

        Here is a hypothetical to illustrate how a scientific mind works:

        Let’s say you tell me that you are one of the best weathermen in the midwest, but I’ve never seen your forecasts. Then tons of people I run into in person or on the internet also tell me you are the best and are very accurate. Even without seeing any of your forecasts, after hearing these reports from many people, I would be inclined to believe the claim, since why would these people lie about it? If I wanted to KNOW instead of just believe what the truth was about your forecasting ability, I could possibly get the archives of past forecasts, then compare them to records of what weather phenomenon actually happened afterwards. I could make a graph and see what your margin of error was in reality.

        In reality, I have no knowledge of how skilled you are in your professional field, nor am I making any assumptions, but now I’m just interested in what type of occupation in meteorology you have. Do you work at a TV or radio station?

        I think meteorology is a very important field to do research in.

      • Jacob W says:

        Mark, I just wanted to say that I understand your frustration with Techie (ironic name). I think Techie could easily get a job working as Ken Ham’s secretary at AIG. 🙂

        Is it just me, or do you face palm every time you here the label, “neo-Darwinian evolution?”

        It’s all just evolution, people. Darwin is not supreme overlord of evolution, he was just an exceptional scientist of his era, much like a Galileo, Newton, or Copernicus.

        Accepting the theory of evolution says nothing definitive about you. It doesn’t automatically make you anything else.

        Thanks for the references to check out, I am very interested in biology and it’s mechanisms. I’d like to be a primatologist some day. Have you ever heard of Kanzi the bonobo?

      • Mark Brown says:

        Yes Jacob, facepalm is putting it mildly. As soon as you see that term you know exactly where they are getting their information. I was not aware of it until recently as there is no such term in the scientific lexicon (for good reason). It is sad that AiG and others misinform and seek to portray doubt on evolution in the scientific community when there is none. I don’t think it’s intentional, but of course people will go to all sorts of lengths when their worldview is threatened.

        I had heard of that bonobo but not in detail until I looked him up after your mention. It’s really cool and hopefully serves to inform that we are not all that separate from our primate cousins (and nature in general). I should go down to that sanctuary soon as it’s only 30 miles away.

  5. We had a fantastic speaker lay some of these things out named Jay Seegert, you can see some of his talk here: http://tpog.net/the-gathering-videos/

    You know, it’s funny how we often ignore things like “Worldview”, “evidence”, “information” and “faith” in these conversations. This is the foundation for this conversation whether you’re a creationist or an evolutionist. We’re also in America where people insist Christian and Scientist don’t go together. Jay does a nice job of dealing with this in the video. At the end of the day, not one of us understands how all of these fit together, physics, biology, philosophy, astrophysics, chemistry etc… We read the research of others who tell us that “all” knowledgeable scientists believe this theory. Or conversely, bible scholars and pastors/teachers/parents tell us Jesus, God, Creation etc… We ALL interpret the “evidence/information” … what we see through a worldview and in doing so demonstrate faith.

    Point? Jesus said he came to bring Life and to give it to the full and that there is an enemy who seeks to kill and destroy. The Christian story is astonishingly beautiful, complete, logical and eternal. And, like evolution, it has to be seen through the eyes of faith. The only way to see the creationists view and how the evidence fits so beautifully for a young earth and God breathed creation, is through Jesus and the story that surrounds him. The only way that you can see the evidence and the impossible order of evolution is to see it in life without the biblical account of Jesus. Even for the “Christian” that tries to merge bible and evolution, you have to dismiss significant components of the biblical narrative… in which case you arrive at an incomplete and less than biblical story of Jesus.

    For the Christian “In the beginning… God”
    For the Evolutionist “In the beginning… No God”

    The facts/evidence and all of that will generally be interpreted from these two starting points. A good friend of mine who is an excellent scientist and doesn’t believe creation, has always said that “Science is self correcting”. A bad theory will eventually lose and be replaced be a better one that lines up with the current evidence. The problem is that we’re always a discovery away from having some understandings completely undone. Camel Cigarettes, were once championed by doctors – 4 out of 5 doctors preferred them according to commercials from the old Abbot and Costello routine. Decades later science/marketing/culture have something completely different to say.

    To Mark and Jacob, it’s really hard in our culture to articulate differing thoughts well in email or written/blog type posts. My hats off to you for doing it the way you did!

    Mike

  6. A couple of sites that I “liked” on Facebook give me some great help and reminders on this and related topics. The full websites are:
    http://www.answersingenesis.org and
    creationmuseum.org

    For me, it’s simple. God said it. I believe it. And yes, I was a premed student who ended up a nurse, so I’ve had a few science classes 😉

    Kara

    • Jacob W says:

      Yes, as a nurse, you can memorize scientific facts that have been discovered by others, but from your unquestioning faith in the people that wrote the Bible, I have doubts about you understanding the heart of the scientific method, which is objectivity.

      I wonder what it was like to be a nurse in the Dark Ages. I guess it probably would have been terrible, except if you were clergy or royalty.

  7. Wendy says:

    Mike Westendorf, You are a model of how a Christian should conduct themself in discussions like these. I felt that you were tactfully explaining in your first paragraph that this discussion disintegrated into a playground spitting contest. I felt things took a turn downward after Techie posted the following comment where I felt anger coming from him and then things deteriorated from there:

    None of your other Google-fu examples actually demonstrate an increase in information, either. Is your understanding of the basic requirements of neo-Darwinian evolution truly that deficient? Of course you’re out on a limb for that. Correlation is not causation. In fact, you’re not even able to scientifically demonstrate a correlation. You claimed that scientists are trained in logic and reason, and yet you’re unable to recognize basic fallacies like this. You’re demonstrating at least one of two things with your fundamentally flawed knowledge of science and logic: either you’re not a scientist or scientists are not nearly as well trained as you claim. Perhaps both.

    Again, Thank you Mike for showing us how to behave like Jesus would want us too.

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