Book Review: Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels

EvoAchillesHeelsby Anniel2/19/15
Latest: Part 5: Exposing the Big Bang’s Fatal Flaws  •  9 PhD scientists explain evolution’s fatal flaws – in areas claimed to be its greatest strengths. Edited by Robert Carter, PhD. Creation Ministries International (US) www.creationbookpublishers.com Also available on Kindle.

This book is the collaborative work of 9 PhD Scientists in different disciplines who deal with what they see as the impossibilities of Darwinian Evolution. The scientists all write from an admittedly religious perspective and tackle the following areas in Evolutionary thought:

• Natural Selection
• Genetics and DNA
• The Origin of Life
• The Fossil Record
• The Geological Record
• Radiometric Dating
• Cosmology and the Big Bang
• Ethics and Morality

I have finished reading the (long, but very interesting) Introduction to the book, written by Dr. Carl Wieland, MD. One of the first things Dr. Wieland gives is the following definition of evolution:

The word ‘evolution’ in this book’s title means much more than ‘genetic change’; more even than ‘the origin of life’s diversity.’ The term will be used to encompass the whole grand-scale scenario that modern culture takes as foundational in its rejection of the Creator God of the Bible: that stars, planets and galaxies supposedly came about when nothing somehow exploded; that lifeless chemicals, by largely mysterious processes, are supposed to have somehow formed the first living thing (a biological machine so complex as to be able to make copies of itself and to harness usable energy from the environment); and from this fortuitous first life has come the entire array of species, both past and present. Microbes have supposedly become not just microbiologists, but mosquitoes and magnolias, mushrooms and meerkats, and all this over billions of years of trial and error – random changes filtered by the unremarkable (and ultimately unguided) process of natural selection.

Dr. Wieland makes clear that evolutionists will not even consider God or a designer, and quotes one academic he knows as saying that science can only consider natural matters. Hence they cannot consider any evidence that points to ID because it’s not naturalistic. So we can only consider a world that made itself, no other can even be contemplated.[pullquote]One side sees the same rocks, stars, trees and animals as the other, so in the end evolution becomes a philosophical and moral matter of the will to believe what is actually seen.[/pullquote]

He also points out that both sides of the evolution controversy have the same “facts” to work with. One side sees the same rocks, stars, trees and animals as the other, so in the end evolution becomes a philosophical and moral matter of the will to believe what is actually seen. There’s that choice between truth and falsehood, good and evil popping up again. Like global warming, there can be only one “right” side in some people’s minds.

Genesis provides an eye-witness account of creation, a one time event that gives more clues about the history of creation and life than one might suppose. Evolution is thought of as an account of the same history as “science” based on theories about how these things must have occurred. Genesis may even be the historically correct account but there is no way to prove that one way or the other.

There may be debates about the how of creation and evolution, but it has become an article of faith to evolutionists that the universe and all life forms are the products of natural selection and the public must not be misled to believe otherwise, especially if one turns to the Genesis history.

Dr. Wieland closes by saying there is no third way to be considered in this battle. Either the world was created or it created itself out of hydrogen
molecules that had the ability to create themselves and everything else.
Otherwise it had to be created by a thinking being, who could only be God.

AchilleHeel

Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels – Part 1

Chapter 1 – Natural Selection Written by Dr. Don Batten, PhD, Plant Physiology [University of Sydney]

Dr. Batten has been involved for decades, as both a scientist and a Christian, in the philosophical battles over Darwinian Evolution. He writes that natural selection is the cornerstone of that battle.

I have to start by telling you this is a very long chapter, and one of the most eye-opening and astounding accounts I have ever read about beginnings and how God deals with all the creatures He made to inhabit the earth. To me there are so many new scriptural insights and ideas that this one chapter alone makes the book vastly worthwhile.

One of the first things Dr. Batten says is that, “Natural Selection is really a very straightforward, common-sense idea. Creatures with features (traits) suited to survival in a given environment tend to survive better than those who do not have those traits.” As an example, he says that wolves who live in the Arctic need thick fur, small ears and short legs in order to conserve heat. In a hot environment they would need the opposite traits.

Nature doesn’t “think”, so using the term “natural selection” makes sense when discussing how one species may thrive and survive in any given environment, while another will not.

Two parts of this chapter deal with the writings of Charles Darwin, and the many men who went before him, who not only believed the same things Darwin did, but wrote about them. He failed to give them any credit for their ideas. For instance, most of the scientists who predated Darwin were concerned about the term “Survival of the Fittest” because they feared it would be interpreted as meaning the biggest, fastest or strongest, when the truth is that the “fittest” are those who are able to produce the most surviving offspring. So when Darwin used the term it had already been in general use for some time.

Darwin and his adherents did wrestle with the question of what evolution actually is. Is it that things change over time (speciation), or is it the common ancestry of all living things? In his first writings Darwin addressed the issue of the common ancestry of all things and theorized that over time new traits arose that insured reproduction and survival and that those traits carried forward to the next generations. Later he discussed how one could see evolution in action in bird’s beaks that got thicker or thinner, and feathers and furs that changed colors. Even a peacock’s feathers were said to be an example of evolution because peahens preferred big, showy and colorful tails. But this speculation did nothing to say where the beaks, colors or feathers came from in the first place.

It would be 12 years from the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species before he published The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. He probably held back for fear of offending people. With Descent of Man everything was put out in the open. People were descended from apes with nothing special about them. They were just another evolved and evolving animal.

Of course Darwin and his fellow scientists had no idea of genetics or real heredity, so much of what they surmised and accepted as fact would soon begin to collapse under the weight of new discoveries in diverse fields.

Dr. Batten says, “It is a huge leap to go from looking at various changes in an existing feature (such as shorter, thinner, longer, fatter beaks) to explaining the origins of beaks, finches, birds, reptiles, mammals and everything else. How does looking at the variation in dogs explain the origin of dogs (wolves)? . . .”

Today researchers know that changes within a species are mostly from accidental rearrangements of genetic information in ways that are not always beneficial. If you try to go from microbes (if you can even make a self-replicating microbe in the first place) to higher orders of animals, how do you make information producing genes for muscle, bones, skin, feathers or any other necessary attribute? These matters are so complex that it is impossible to consider the transfer of necessary information occurring over ANY length of time.

Evolutionists seem to have a false impression they present to the public. Evolution is true because we say it is true. Here, they might say, we have a guppie which is bigger and more colorful, and then Richard Dawkins pronounces that this is “evolution occurring right before your very eyes.” But the color change may be the result of natural selection. If females prefer more colorful males and there are no predators in the environment, then more colorful guppies will be born. But if there are predators that eat the more colorful fish, more drab varieties of guppies will prevail and reproduce.

The same thing occurs with the wolves in the Arctic, discussed earlier. If there are larger, long eared and less furry wolves they will simply die out because of their liabilities in the cold. They are examples of natural selection, but their species does not change and they can still interbreed with other wolves.

Another quote from Dr. Batten, “. . .evolutionists . . . still like to talk of natural selection as a creative force, but it cannot create anything. It can only eliminate the unfit, not create the fit. Natural selection is not the same as evolution. ‘Survival of the Fittest’ (elimination of the unfit) does not explain the arrival of the fit.”

One thought from Dr. Batten that haunts me, “The desire to get rid of the Creator/God is a deep-seated human trait that did not start with Darwin.” The quickest path to destruction is for man to place himself on the throne of God.

And now we approach the creation history told in Genesis that clarified so much for me. I have chosen to cite the scriptures and to use the George M. Lamsa’s Translation From the Aramaic of the Peshitta, simply because I find it more clear than either the TANAKH or the King James Version of the Bible in this instance:

Genesis 1:11-12 And God said, Let the earth bring forth vegetation, the herb yielding seed after its kind, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, wherein is their seed, upon the earth, and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, the herb yielding seed after its kind, and the tree bearing fruit, wherein is its seed, after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:21 And God created great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind, and every winged fowl after its kind; and God saw that it was
good.

Genesis 1:24-25 Then God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind; and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and everything that creeps upon the earth after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Carolus Linneas (1707-1778) was one who wrote about natural selection long before Darwin, but he wrote from a biblical perspective that “Diversity has occurred with time WITHIN THE ORIGINAL GENESIS ‘KINDS’.” (quote from book note.)

I freely confess that the word “kinds” had no meaning for me at all before I read this book. I just assumed that when the text says God made every “kind” of animal, plant and insect, He did so all at once. While we acknowledge changes and hybridizations in both plants and animals happening around us, it never occurred to me that this natural selection had much to do with evolutionists claiming that species change and we all came from nothing because there is no actual Creator/God.

When we think of Adam naming the animals and that it must have taken a long time, maybe he assigned names to “kinds” and then by means of natural selection the same species went forth and by natural processes became differentiated.

The book shows a picture of all different breeds and sizes of dogs. They can all interbreed and produce hybridized offspring. Crossing a female chihuahua with a male Great Dane might not be wise, but the other way around would be no problem for the female. The point is they are still “dogs”. Wolves, coyotes, dingos, whatever, are still the same species and sometimes crossbreed with dogs.

It is also true that while some members of the same species can crossbreed, their offspring may be sterile so there is no new line. We had a neighbor with a mule, a cross between a horse and a donkey, and when it brayed we were glad it was sterile and not producing more mules.

Think of all the “kinds” that exist on earth in different locations that could arise from one prototype. All the “kinds” of horses, cattle, sheep, insects, arachnids, birds, vegetation – the list is long. But with the Creator’s sure hand at the controls of the earth’s birth and its flourishing, the whole matter makes more sense to me now.

The story of Noah and the Ark also makes more sense after reading and digesting this explanation.

Genesis 6:19-20 (KJV) reads:

And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.

Dr. Batten says that “what we see is the outworking of the created ability to adapt/diversify within the limits of the created kinds, such that earth’s ecological niches could be filled with life.” Did God use and record the same method to spread life twice? I have lots of questions about natural selection still, but this seems like a very intelligent answer to me.

If we can agree that changes do occur in all living things, then the real arguments over evolution are about how life actually arose and became differentiated. For Darwin it was easy to propose a theory about the origin of species, but because of new understanding about the biochemical makeup and genetics of all life forms, today that theory is much more difficult to accept.

The rest of this chapter in the book deals with problems surrounding supposed changes that “prove” the origin of species over long periods of time. The information is good, but I think the most important part deals with genetic mutations, or adaptability within a group, which really are caused by shutting down or turning on a gene, or part of a gene, to enhance survival in a certain environment. There is nothing that shows any species change to be possible.

There are a stupendous number of mutations that would have to occur within a species to change it, and then the mutation would have to be a “good” one. The preponderance of the evidence is that most mutations are not beneficial in any way to a host.

Ionizing radiation and chemicals were once used in experiments to “speed” evolution, but researchers wound up disappointed when it was shown that most changes only created more problems and the changes occurred when something “broke” or got shut down in the genetic structure.

Even the simplest of creatures and plants have proteins and chemical properties too numerous to make changes in the information stored in the cells. The favorite insect to test theories on has been fruit flies because of the their rapid growth, prolific breeding and short life span. Researchers who have attempted to change fruit flies to show evolution in action have wound up with crippled, malformed fruit flies and dead fruit flies. Nothing else.

It also appears that the rate of mutations man is experiencing are moving much faster than anyone has anticipated because we cannot “select” which mutations to keep. Thus, according to the evolutionary paradigm, we are well on the road to extinction.

Dr. John Sanford, a retired Geneticist from Cornell University, has summarized the following problems for evolutionists:

• Mutations arise faster than selection can eliminate them.
• Mutations are overwhelmingly too subtle to be ‘selectable.’
• Biological noise and ‘survival of the luckiest’ overwhelm selection.
• Bad mutations are often physically linked to good mutations, so they cannot be separated in inheritance (to get rid of the bad and keep the good). The result is that all higher genomes must clearly degenerate.

What a bleak future that presages! If, and it’s a big if, you buy into current evolutionary thinking.

This chapter then explains in great detail how information is or is not forwarded to the next generations, and what happens when that information cannot be processed or transmitted properly.

The biblical account of the creation of “kinds” is much more cohesive and hopeful to me than anything the origin of species has to offer.

One item not in the book (so far) is the vehicle by which people were persuaded that mankind’s different embryonic stages “proved” evolution. Remember when we were taught we once had gills, proving we came from the sea, so maybe we had once been fish or frogs, and that it was impossible to tell the species of an embryo in the early stages of gestation? The books and pamphlets in support of the claims always were accompanied by artistic hand renderings of different types of fetuses, all looking the same size. The whole thing was finally exposed as a fake. Of course a horse fetus is not the same size as a human fetus. And the gills were shown to be slits that accommodated brain and facial growth. EVERYTHING was faked. (Note: My 18 year old grandson says he was shown the drawings and taught this in school. I looked it up and found that this is, in fact, still being taught. Nothing is said in the text books to clarify the matter.)

After thinking this chapter through, I am amazed by natural selection and the idea of “kinds.” I am convinced more than ever that man really is a product of the information present in every gene and cell of his or her body from the moment of conception.
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187 Responses to Book Review: Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One side sees the same rocks, stars, trees and animals as the other, so in the end evolution becomes a philosophical and moral matter of the will to believe what is actually seen.

    People are taught to genuflect before science and acquiesce to whatever “consensus” is filtered through the news. But you state a deep truth here. The fact is, no one knows with scientific accuracy how life started or how the diversity of complex organisms came to be. There are (on both sides of the argument, speaking of theology and Neo-Darwnism) just lots of stories.

    Now, one can make a case for revealed religion. One story may be more probable than another. But my main point here is that the mystery and ambiguity are so large, we just don’t know yet with any kind of certainly how life got to how we see it today.

    But what we do know is that the complexity of the cell as discovered in the last 40 years or so has put a dagger in the heart of the materialist view of life. Although like some monster in a bad horror movie that just won’t die, Neo-Darwinism and materialism hang on despite having several lethal logical arrows thrust through its heart. What we now know beyond any reasonable doubt is that life is fully driven by immaterial considerations. Life is a function of information.

    To still speak of matter, and to obsess on it, is to obsess on the composition of bricks and to miss the Great Wall of China. It’s to obsess on the composition of ink while missing the headlines of a newspaper. The deep question (and by no means the only question…there are tons of interesting questions) is how that information — billions of bits of it — came to be. And the problem for Neo-Darwinism is that, at best, point mutations combined with natural selection can cause only the most minor changes. The reason why is gone into in great and understandable detail in Behe’s book, The Edge of Evolution.

    That doesn’t mean you’ll find any shortage of good Neo-Darwinian story-tellers who can spin a tale extrapolating boldly from fringe facts. And, let’s be fair, we’ll see the same thing if we take all of the world’s religions together. There are plenty of stories being told. Certainly all of them can’t be true. And most take a natural fact of the universe and give reasons for how something came to be. And this is fine, but little, if any, of this can be objectively shown to be true (and not all, or even the most important things, are amenable to objective measurement).

    So we have this amazing mystery of billions of bits of carefully-ordered information inside a cell, along with complex systems that had to co-exist with this information in order to make use of it. And that’s probably just scratching the surface as to the paradigm we’re dealing with. It would appear that DNA and cellular machinery are a combination of an operating system and a computer. And because no natural process can account for this information (and the abundant “irreducible complexity”), one is left logically to look for a designer.

    And that, baby, is one massive paradigm shift. There are those will will try to create 10500 parallel universes to try to gather up enough “randomness” to make this complexity we see seem somehow inevitable, but even that doesn’t work simply because there is no known attribute of any kind of algorithmic “law of nature” that could produce this complexity. Such laws, by definition, are simple and repeatable and therefore not amenable to creating complexity. Oh, you can tell a good story. But the logic and evidence are not there to back of the story as anything but pleasing fiction.

    So what we have is the equivalent of seeing an alien artifact, and right inside our own bodies. The wonder of this has not caught up with most people. And forget all the rope-a-dope issues that Neo-Darwinist fundamentalists try to bamboozle us with. It matters not the least even if it were true that we evolved from worms. Both worms and humans are so incredibly complex, it’s like trying to diss the Mona Lisa because you put a Rambrandt next to it. The truth is, both are miracles and neither of which can be created by the wind moving random swirls of paint.

    However, for sake of argument regarding the worm, the fossil record does not show the common descent of all life as I’m sure Annie will go into when she comes to that chapter. Jonathan Wells has some great information on that in his book, The Icons of Evolution, which is a terrific no-nonsense read. The fossil record is both fascinating and mysterious. What it doesn’t do is validate Neo-Darwinism and the idea of common descent.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to more info from Annie on this book. I hope the book is of the quality of some of the other critiques of Neo-Darwinism that I’ve read.

  2. Rosalys says:

    “There may be debates about the how of creation and evolution, but it has become an article of faith to evolutionists that the universe and all life forms are the products of natural selection and the public must not be misled to believe otherwise, especially if one turns to the Genesis history.”

    I don’t know the how of it and neither does anyone else. What I do know is that however it came about, God did it; specifically God the Son, Jesus Christ, because, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:3) I tend to believe the Genesis account because it seems Jesus did – and He should know! I have a few Christian friends who are evolutionists who hold to some other pretty questionable ideas as well. They seem to either ignore or explain away the clear teaching of Scripture on the sin of homosexuality, so I should not be surprised that they will take Darwin’s word over the Lord’s.

    I have heard several different explanations of evolution from a creationist point of view:
    1) “Hydrogen is a colorless odorless gas which given enough time turns into people.”
    2) “One believes, in the beginning God; the other, in the beginning dirt.”

    • Anniel says:

      Rosalys – My eyes are falling out of my head right now. I hope to finish writing the first chapter installment soon, but the chapter is loooong and cram-packed. I hope you are as excited as I am about the author’s take on Genesis and the actuality of what it teaches. It gives me goose-bumps.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    I will be interested in reading how they handle the various aspects of evolutionary theory. It was in reading Dawkins that I first learned that the radioactive dating is mostly from adjacent layers consisting of igneous rocks, which thus leads to some potential questions. (On the other hand, I know of no instance in which, say, Paleozoic fossils such as trilobites are combined with late Mesozoic fossils such as ichthyosaurs or later Cenozoic fossils such as cetaceans. I consider this a good argument against young-Earth creationism.)

    One must always remember the importance of the scientific method. This is truly the essence of science as a means of understanding nature. There has been much liberal wailing about distrust of scientists, and the reason is that many politicized scientists place their agendas above actual science.

    Faced with the snide question asked of Scott Walker, an interesting answer would be, “Which theory of evolution?” Darwin’s gradualism is different from Huxley’s saltation and the punctuated equilibrium of Eldridge and Gould. His exclusive reliance on natural selection is quite different from Lynn Margulies’s emphasis on symbiosis. One could sneak in a mention of Behe’s irreducible complexity and evolution as trench warfare. And perhaps a few interesting theories, such as Elaine Morgan’s aquatic ape theory of human evolution (especially her superb The Scars of Evolution).

    • Anniel says:

      I’m trying hard to write a critical essay, but it’s hard when I find some of the information in this first chapter so overwhelming in its implications. Wish me luck in trying to get the thinking across in a way that is understandable.

  4. Jerry Richardson says:

    Anniel,

    I’m trying hard to write a critical essay, but it’s hard when I find some of the information in this first chapter so overwhelming in its implications. Wish me luck in trying to get the thinking across in a way that is understandable. —Anniel

    Wonderful project! Thanks for the book link, I just purchased my Kindle copy. And I’ll not only wish you luck, although I don’t think you’ll need it—your talent will get you there—I’ll pray for you along the way. Looking forward to your usual good job of exposition.

  5. oldguy says:

    I remember a conversation that took place between two titans, William F Buckley and Mortimer Adler. Buckley asked Adler “what sort of creature is God”? Adler’s reply, “God cannot be a creature”. Most people have trouble thinking about God without making this God a creature, like themselves. I think all religions are based in creature worship. Adler further made the statement that God is that thing that can create something from nothing, and he pretty much left it at that.

    • Anniel says:

      I hope we can get some important clues about how God operates in this world from the learned gentlemen who wrote this book. I find it an exciting read.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The “something from nothing” reminds me of the story of the modern scientist facing God and showing how he could make organic chemicals (and ultimately life) from basic chemicals. To which God responds: “No, first you have to create the basic chemicals from nothing.”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Revealed theology aside, I have trouble wrapping my mind around the idea of God. And I know I’ll never do so. Heck, considering I can’t wrap my mind around advanced mathematics (and many other subjects), it would be foolish of me to suppose I could comprehend something that is ontologically so much larger and different than anything I know from experience. No wonder people want to remove the problem (among other reasons) and declare an undying devotion to materialism or atheism. In this gold-star narcissistic age, it’s not any fun feeling small.

      Annie brings up a good point: “I hope we can get some important clues about how God operates in this world…” One of the things Dennis Prager points out is that nature itself is not particularly benevolent. And Darwin himself commented famously on the cruelty of nature: “What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature!” Give Chuck his due, there are many aspects of nature that are harsh and grotesque.

      So I find it a bit problematic to get clues about a benevolent God from the world itself. The world itself is often a brutal place. Yes, it’s wondrous. It has rainbows, music, Mozart, Shakespeare, love, joy, creativity, adventure, and the nearly countless aspects of nature that are beautiful and fascinating. But there is the harsh stuff as well.

      And I say all this not to impugn God but to note that there are reasons that some are emotionally drawn to atheism and materialism. If reality is a harsh mistress, it might be easier to bear if you don’t take it personally. And the idea of a personal God directing so much suffering remains a quandary for many.

      But the other side of the coin is, again, to look at the evidence of the world. Maybe any kind of free world had to contain the harshness. That’s possible. But from my studies (superficial though they may be), the question is decided (or is highly probable) of some kind of Creator. My argument is primarily in three parts:

      1) Something cannot come from nothing
      2) The fine-tuning of the universe’s various constants defies any kind of “random” explanation
      3) The “specified information” (as I.D.er’s such as Stephen Myer refer to it) inside the cell and the “irreducibly complex” of cellular systems (Behe) of the cell are beyond the ability of blind chance to ever create.

      Such a proof does not say what type of Creator or designer. But that there is some Creator by the very evidence of the world ought to be the clear default position. And if I were to add a 4th tenet, it would be that the evidence to the contrary (Neo-Darwinism and materialism) is built upon a foundation of story-telling. These stories are flimsy rationalizations based upon scant or no evidence. It’s wishful-thinking dolled up by the prestige of the word, “science.” But it’s not science that drives Neo-Darwinism or a materialist metaphysics. It’s a religious sensibility masquerading as science (just as “global warming” or “climate change” does). It may be “secular” in origin, but no less dogmatic and hard-headed.

      Where I think this particular book is going (from reading a few reviews at Amazon) is somewhat toward proving the Bible literally. That’s not a place I”m comfortable going. I’m going to, for now, view things strictly from “the evidence of the world” as well as logical probabilities. And I think most of the important things that concern us are never hard certainties but always shades of probabilities. And I think the evidence of the world not only buries the idea of materialism/atheism, but makes it look like a foolish proposition.

      • Rosalys says:

        “…it would be foolish of me to suppose I could comprehend something that is ontologically so much larger and different than anything I know from experience.”

        It would be foolish for anyone to think he could comprehend God. Just think about it. If we could really, truly, fully understand God, then He wouldn’t be God.

  6. Annie — of all the things going on right now the development of ID is the most exciting. This book looks wonderful. Thank you for your review — I’m off to buy my copy. d

    • Rosalys says:

      I don’t have a Kindle and that seems to be all that’s offered at Amazon. I found it in hard copy from CBD. It was $10.99 with a $3.99 shipping charge; so I will have my copy by the middle of next week.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        We’ll be glad to take up a collection for your first Kindle, Rosalys, because we know that once you have one, you’ll be hooked. 🙂 Offhand, I’d recommend the Kindle Fire HDX 7″ Tablet. It does color, which is nice. If you plan on doing a lot of reading at the beach, you’d want one of the standard “digital ink” Kindles which read fine even in bright daylight. You could also spring for the slightly more expensive Paperwhite version, which I would think is one of the most serious book readers ever made. I use my Android 10.1″ tablet, which is a little heavy. The original Kindle I bought several years ago (and still have) doesn’t have that back-lighting (like the Paperwhite version has) which makes reading SOOO much more convenient (which is why I use my Android tablet, despite the weight).

        • Anniel says:

          I cannot imagine life anymore without my Kindle or e-reader, and my husband is thankful not to stub his toes on piles of books.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Ditto. As I think I mentioned before (and beware the claims of marketers), Amazon claims that owners of electronic book readers read about 4 times as many books as they did before. Or something like that. And that statistic certainly applies to me. I heartily recommend them — and that is coming from someone who still owns a turntable, a cassette deck, and often plays on an old Atari 2600 game system.

            I like books. I love looking through old book stores. But electronic books are a real step up for a variety of reasons. Yes, they’re newfangled, but they’re newfangled in a good way and not just yet another flavor of Coke taking up shelf space.

          • Rosalys says:

            I’ll always hold on to a few favorite books and I like the library.

        • Rosalys says:

          I’ve considered an E-reader for a couple of years. I like the feel of a book in my hand and besides I am slow to accept change. (I got my first microwave ten years after everybody I knew had one. And I still don’t have – or want! – a cell phone. I have as my goal to get into the Guinness Book by being the last person on earth to NOT have a cell phone.)

          If I decide I want one my husband will get me one for my birthday, so the technological advice is helpful. So you are saying that back lighting is good?

          I don’t do the sunbathing on the beach. To me beaches are for rock and shell collecting.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            So you are saying that back lighting is good?

            Yes. I now consider the back-lighting absolutely necessary. It allows you to read comfortably in so many different places and positions. Without the back light, you’re forced to get the external lighting set just right, which is a little more fussy in my opinion than the lighting for a regular paper book. I also find the back-lighting a little easier on the eyes, although that’s a subjective thing. Normally you’d think back-lighting might be the opposite. But it’s great on my Android tablet. And from what I’ve briefly seen of the back-lit “Paperwhite” Kindles, those give you the best of both worlds. You can take it to the beach and read in bright light or view it in the coziness of your armchair in a darkened room. That’s something I can’t do with my tablet. Bright light just washes the screen out.

            The only issue with the Kindle “Paperwhite” is whether or not you also wanted to use your book reader as a small tablet to surf the web and use various “apps.” The various free apps are often very cool and fun to fiddle around with. Also, something like the Kindle Fire will add color as well — making a better experience for downloaded books and magazines where the viewing of photos and graphics is integral. And although there are a host of various small tablet computers/book readers to choose from, I don’t think you could go wrong with the Kindle Fire.

            The “Paperwhite” Kindle would be perfect if all you want is to read books with it.

            Beaches, as we all know, are for shell and agate hunting.

  7. Jerry Richardson says:

    Brad,

    But from my studies (superficial though they may be), the question is decided (or is highly probable) of some kind of Creator. My argument is primarily in three parts:
    1) Something cannot come from nothing

    2) The fine-tuning of the universe’s various constants defies any kind of “random” explanation

    3) The “specified information” (as I.D.er’s such as Stephen Myer refer to it) inside the cell and the “irreducibly complex” of cellular systems (Behe) of the cell are beyond the ability of blind chance to ever create
    —Brad Nelson

    You have defined a very good watch-list, that I often use, for my reading of anything to do with creation. I have been reading and tracking different notions relative to
    “1) Something cannot come from nothing” for a long time.

    I am well aware that the supposed standard theological answer for the origin, not the detailed mechanism, of creation by God is Creatio Ex Nihilo (latin for creation out of nothing). However I have at least two problems with this as the explanation for the origin of creation.

    1) While I completely believe, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Nowhere in the Bible is there mention of a specific detail Ex Nihilo. And BTW, I don’t consider it a litmus test of Christianity to believe in Creatio Ex Nihilo.

    2) The phrase “out of nothing” is ambiguous. It could conceivably mean “from nothing” as in ‘constituted from nothing’ or it could conceivably mean “appearing out of nothing” as ‘in nothing was there and then it appeared.’

    I believe that “something cannot come from nothing” in the sense of being ‘constituted from nothing.’ As to how or why then God exists; I accept it as a brute fact, however I believe that the ultimate answer to “why is there something rather than nothing” must hinge upon a necessary impossibility of there being nothing.

    What I believe at the moment about the origin of creation can probably be best phrased as creatio ex deo (creation out of the being of God) even thought I strongly reject any sense of pantheism in this expression. I do not believe that everything is God.

    But, the energy that drives our universe, the energy that caused it to expand initially and continues to cause it to expand had to come from somewhere; and I believe that God was and is the source of that energy—in fact, when the Bible states that God said “…Let there be light: and there was light” I take that to be God’s bestowal of His energy that drives our physical universe.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Anniel says:

      Jerry, Your thinking on this matter connects with much in my mind. When Jesus told us to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect, and which we all wrote extensively about, it always leads me to believe that there are ways we need to “know” or understand God and His desires so we can follow His will for us. We all need to take a leap of faith to reach that understanding.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I think in one of John Lennox’s books — likely God and Stephen Hawking he makes a very clear philosophical case regarding the “something out of nothing” idea — which is a refutation of materialism. And I particularly like John’s arguments because they are so clear, absent any guile or subterfuge, and he is not guilty of a common technique these days: throwing enough words up against the wall like spaghetti to see if one can make something stick. I really enjoyed his book. I also very much enjoyed his God’s Undertaker. I know you’re (I think) working your way through a book I recommended (by Lennox or another) and hope that’s going well.

      Regarding Creatio Ex Nihilo, one would suppose it would take something like this for a Primary and First Creator to create things. Granted, who can really say how any of that happens? The best we can say is that something wasn’t there, someone did something, and then it was there.

      Whether the universe is created from “nothing” or there is some other process (akin to making woman from Adam’s rib), I don’t know. But the idea would seem to cover the gist of it. Any more talk about it and I guess we’d have to be privy to processes and powers that we are not familiar with now. So we talk in this shorthand knowing that the reality is probably far richer and more complex…or perhaps quite different from how we imagined. That’s similar to what people used to think about the cell. It was just all “protoplasm” to the Darwinists. And then a closer look revealed astonishing and complex things. And then the Darwinists had to revise their theory to Neo-Darwinism. And one suspects another major revision will be in the offing.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Another aspect of this is the idea of “randomness” that is invoked by materialists to explain the existence and properties of the universe. But in what sense does “randomness” have any meaning? Randomness is one happenstance occurring out of many possibilities. But in what sense is there a possibility of one of many things happening when there is nothing?

      “Randomness” is invoked in a way that I believe is just word trickery (self-trickery, I’ll grant you).

      The other aspect of a materialist metaphysics that seems wrong is that it makes more sense to me to appeal to a conscious Creator of some kind rather kick the problem down the road with a bunch of linguistic diversions. Stephen Hawking uses 10500 universes to try to make “randomness” work for him. But as John Lennox asks in his excellent book on the subject, and I paraphrase, What then is the thing churning out these universes in various types?

      Granted, it’s an honest question to wonder how there ever can be an eternally-existing First Thing that had no cause itself. But it requires only the simple and logical humility to acknowledge the limits of our ability to imagine such a thing, or the possibility of such a thing — indeed, the likely necessity of such a thing. Who could have imagined this universe, for example, if we were not in it, aware of it, and experiencing it? Clearly a heaping teaspoon of epistemological humility is in order. And it’s a dubious, if not arrogant and misguided, project to try to conjure up some far-fetched multiverse to keep from admitting the obvious. And it’s ranging into the realm of the dishonest to do so why calling those who believe in some kind of Creator as “Superstitious kooks who have lost all reason.”

    • Untermensch says:

      Jerry, I’d note that, contrary to what YEC fundamentalists maintain, the Bible has no clear and consistent cosmology. Genesis can support either an ex nihilo position or a position that has God organizing the universe from primeval chaos. But Isaiah’s cosmology, to the extent that it is recoverable, is heavily Babylonian in conception, with God as conqueror of the Dragon (chaos, although used rhetorically to stand in for Egypt). The Bible does not speak with one voice on such matters.

      In the latter view God is presented with a lot of unorganized “stuff” and is the agent that separates it, defeating chaos. This sort of view is evident in Genesis when God separates the light from the dark rather than just “poofing” it into existence or when the water surrounding the earth is separated from the oceans by the sky.

      I’d argue that a reader of Genesis not burdened by centuries of interpretive history would arrive at an understanding different from both YEC and ex nihilo positions.

  8. Jerry Richardson says:

    Rosalys,

    I have Kindle paperwhite, and I use it when traveling or sitting on the potty. However, most of the time I read my Kindle books on my laptop via Kindle for PC—its a free download—much nicer.

    • Rosalys says:

      I have resisted the temptation to download books to my computer. I spend way too much time sitting in this chair every day as it is. I will not download any books unless and until I have a Kindle-ish thing.

  9. SkepticalCynic SkepticalCynic says:

    If you can wrap your mind around it, the book, Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer is a good next book to read. Unless you are a biologist and chemist with a Ph.D. don’t expect to get the fine stuff in there. Even as detailed as this book is, if your mind is made up that intelligent chemicals made you rather than a Creator, it will not give you the definite answer that many are looking. As for myself, I agree with Voltaire when he said, “The world embarrasses me, and I cannot dream that this watch exists and has no watchmaker.” Growing up rather poor, even as a lad before I got out of grammar school knowing I would never see the inside of a college, I KNEW that this place was created and did not explode into existence.

    • Anniel says:

      I am now working on the third part of this book, or chapter 2. The fine stuff in this chapter is scary even though the author says it’s easy. If I ever had any doubts I don’t now and I am in awe of their studies and scriptural conclusions.

      Love the Voltaire quote.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Even as detailed as this book is, if your mind is made up that intelligent chemicals made you rather than a Creator, it will not give you the definite answer that many are looking.

      Yes, “Signature in the Cell” is an excellent book, Mr. (or Mrs?) Cynic. And it’s not a Christian apologetic book as “Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels” seems to be. I don’t consider it science’s job to try to make everything fit through either a materialist lens or that of the Bible. I think it ought to be more of a “Let the facts fall where they may” sort of situation.

      That said, I think Myer in one of his books (likely the one you named) wrote that there is a huge difference between the ink on the page and the information content of the writing. Materialists see only the ink (the material) and ascribe to it truly magical properties (to account for all the other remarkable stuff, such as consciousness) while generally denigrating as foolish any idea of a extra-natural Creator of some type. Metaphysician, heal (heel?) thyself, I tend to say.

      For my own part, I speak in terms of “of some type” and not specifically of a Christian God, for that is not the kind of thing that evidence is going to unambiguously show you. We can whack Neo-Darwinism over the head five days a week (as we should, because it’s so weak and dogmatic), but that doesn’t on the other hand prove anyone’s religion.

      But, positively speaking (as Myer does in his book), there is a good case to be made for a generic “Designer.” And that, to me, sounds more plausible than trying to imagine inert matter, via repetitive “algorithmic” laws-of-nature, producing the kinds of complex systems we have.

      I’ve read part of Chapter 1 and there’s some good debunking of “natural selection” particularly the rather central aspect that it may help explain “the survival of the fittest” but not the “arrival of the fittest.” Natural selection, in theory, can cause various alleles (versions of a gene) to be expressed in different amounts, but it can’t account for the creation of these genes in the first place.

      And I’m sure one of these essays in “Evolution’s Achilles’ Heel” will get to this point. But it’s a hugely central point that because of the nature of proteins, any kind of gradualism is just not possible. Nothing about the complexity of the cell was known when Darwin proposed his theory. And relatively little was known even after DNA was discovered and “Neo-Darwinism” was formulated to try to include this information.

      But all that Neo-Darwinism has is stories. Dawkins, for instance, tells the story of “Climbing Mt. Improbable.” And, logically, its a very convincing story. If you make small changes, and each small change improves something, then over millions of years the result will be very large change — basically the creation of different species, genera, families, orders, etc. And this is actually a pretty good idea. We shouldn’t dump too harshly on Darwin or Dawkins. This idea make sense — given a limited understanding of how the cell works.

      Unfortunately for these nice-sounding stories, the nature of proteins, and the very “irreducibly complex” systems seen in life, do not facilitate the idea of gradualism. Without getting into the details of Myer’s book, let me tale a story that is likely true as opposed the one Dawkins tells:

      Mount Improbable is less like a smooth-sided mountain that is easily climbed step by step with enough time and endurance. It’s more like the Egyptian Great Pyramid at Giza. Seen from afar, the Great Pyramid looks much like a smooth-sided Mount Improbable. One can easily imagine climbing it. But in reality (after time has worn away the outer smooth facing), the Great Pyramid looks like this. And although a man can climb from stone to stone with some effort, a short person or a child could not. And the nature of proteins is akin to those large steps of rocks but with the gap thousands of times larger.

      This is one of the major aspects you get from reading Myer’s “Signature in the Cell” and Behe’s “The Edge of Evolution.” You will find quite credible arguments that taking pot-shots with random mutations will, at most (aka “the edge of evolution”) allow a malaria organism to become immune to chloroquine which required two fortuitous random mutations to happen at the same time — odds that are so small that they could occur only because the population of malaria bugs is so large and they reproduce so quickly. But using this technique (mutation/natural selection), there hasn’t been enough time gone by in the entire history of the universe (14 billion years or so) to change a monkey in to human, let alone a worm into a giraffe. Neither have large populations (compared to malaria) nor is the reproduction rate remotely as fast. So the stories that Neo-Darwinists tell might sound good, even plausible, but the facts of proteins and the cell don’t allow this to happen.

      But that’s not to say that things don’t evolve. It seems likely that the very mechanism of life allows for change. But we’re just figuring all this out. There’s a lot to learn and about all we can say with any certainty is that Neo-Darwinism is a mostly dead-end. But that, again, doesn’t prove anyone’s religion.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Darwin was aware of the problem of where those different versions of the species came from. He just assumed that different individuals of a species would have different suitability for survival without regard for how they got that way. Not until much later did the concept of random mutation come in. Of course, there is also the Lynn Margulies theory, based on symbiosis, which may be more important in terms of macro-evolution. There’s a reason I refer to Darwin as the Copernicus of biology.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Of course, there is also the Lynn Margulies theory, based on symbiosis

          I’m vaguely aware of the gist of her theory, Timothy. And I don’t know how much stress she puts symbiosis. Clearly symbiosis is a part of life. It’s self-evident that (thinking simply in terms of the bare material) that two molecules together can do more than one. Life would be impossible as we know it without various parts acting together and somewhat harmoniously.

          I haven’t read Margulis’ thoughts on this first-hand so I admit this and give you speculation on what I’ve read second-hand. But it seems she’s just another banger-on-the-drums of a chorus of people who want to make one small element of the Big Picture the whole thing.

          Yeah, duh, symbiosis is an integral part of life, but so is competition. And although it’s certainly possible in the distant past that a eukaryotic cell gobbled up a bacteria (which was or became mitochondria), there doesn’t seem to be a heck of a lot of symbiosis going on between the lion and the gazelle. Gazelles can run fast for a reason, and lion have big teeth for a reason.

          Still, there is likely much more going on than “survival of the fittest.” I’ve read credible opinions regarding the falsehood of the core Darwinian and Malthusian idea that all life will tend to reproduce to the point of using up its resources and thus only the strong survive. There is apparently abundant and credible evidence that life (at least some life) has a kind of built-in sensing switch so that this doesn’t happen. There is some self-regulation.

          Simple, pleasing stories are easy to paint. But it became apparent as soon as we started probing the inner workings of the cell that things were much more complicated. Sorting out this picture will be particularly difficult because of the nature of a historical science. Like the Big Bang which (presumably) was a one-time event, we don’t see a lot of evolution (creation of new information) going on (or acts of special creation where, say, a phylum appears out of nowhere and then starts diversifying).

          And it seems apparent that a whole host of things are in play, including evolution (via means not yet known), natural selection (which may be an unconscious “force” that does help a animal adapt to its environment), Intelligent Design (there are indeed phyla that have jumped out of nowhere), symbiosis, competition, and who knows what else?

          How life came to be as it is is likely to remain a mystery for a long time. There are definite signs that life is indeed designed and is not random (or is only partially random). More work will have to be done to have to see how this works, if it works at all. My best guess, or at least a paradigm to hold to see if it helps explain things, is to assume that someone did create life from scratch, in various basic “kinds” (phyla), and plunked it down on the earth with the built-in ability to evolve. Roughly speaking, this is what the fossil record shows, along with the “specified information” and “irreducibly complex” systems inside the cell.

          And not only the information contained inside the cell, but the whole thing — including the cellular machinery — would appear to be a highly sophisticated miniaturized computer and operating system. That’s food for thought.

          • Anniel says:

            DNA is a folded Base 4, 4 dimensional microscopic computer, more powerful than the greatest Base 2 computer could ever be. I think I got that right, but it was kind of late when I read it so I’ll have to look again. If you need more food for thought – well, Timothy and Jerry can always act as consultants. Everytime I read this book I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, then I settle down a bit and think how learning keeps people young. Maybe my RNA will get that information to where it will do the most good, knees and hips first please.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I hadn’t heard of the idea of the proteins themselves being a Base 4 computer, Annie. That sounds interesting. (Oh, okay. I get it. AUGC). What I do know is that proteins provide function primarily from their shape. Their shape might catalyze the synthesis of some new protein (by taking, say, two different proteins and holding them just in the right position for them to combine or to be cut) or they can function like complicated Legos, being the shapes needed for various micro-machines or structures inside the cell. Complex networks of them seem analogous to complex electronic circuit boards.

              That’s really the aspect I find so amazing. In many ways, the cellular machinery (made out of proteins) is a glorified Tinker Toy set. And Thomas Huxley and others were content to dismiss the cell as just some kind of semi-magical “protoplasm.” Well, to some extent you can’t blame them. They couldn’t see what was going on inside. But we can. And it’s amazing (even if some of the presenters of the videos try to hide their amazement…one even saying that the whole point of studying this stuff was to lift people out of poverty…some presenters noticeably quell their awe as something that obviously could never be produced by blind chance).

              Here’s a video that shows some animation inside the cell. It gets interesting at about the 3:15 mark: Astonishing Molecular Machines. If you like, watch a little of the replication of DNA and then fast-forward to 8:45 and see the little protein “walkers” that literally walk along the microtubules. These walkers typically carry packages of “stuff” to where they need to go. And if they run into an obstacle, they have built-in ways to get around it. At the 3:40 mark of this video you get a good view of the “walkers.”

              Amazing stuff. The cell is clearly, at the very least, an information processing system and one heck of a micro-machine. But no ordinary computer can also give rise to life, feelings, and consciousness…and who knows what else. Random chance, my ass.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                She was saying that DNA has 4 bases (the nucleotides adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine). The proteins are created from the DNA by way of the RNA, and use 23 amino acids, each signified by 1 or more nucleotide triples.

  10. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Speaking of Base 4 computers, here’s an interesting animation of DNA transcription and translation. There are other videos that show both parts better (and if I can find them, I’ll post them). And I know from past explanations that the transcription part of this (copying the DNA) has been simplified in the video. But the video does give you an idea of how remarkable and complex this Base 4 computer is.

    Imagine how you could randomly assemble a 4-digit code, create a molecule to hold it (DNA), and then use the 4-digit code to create three-bit codes for each amino acid you want to code for. And then this information is translated by micro-machines into proteins, one amino acid at a time. It boggles the mind. If this isn’t irreducibly complex, I don’t know what is.

  11. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I was trying to find a few links of some good stuff that I had noted before. With some of this stuff, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s one of them.

    Endomesoderm Network. You can read the particulars on that page. The short story is that when someone graphed just a small part of a function in the cell, it came out looking like the kind of designed program you find on an electronics circuit board in terms of how the various program elements interacted. Anyone who has ever messed in even basic electronic understands you can’t increment your way to something this complex. It has to be designed. And just as in electronics, if one protein is not in the mix, it all breaks down.

    Most videos for DNA transcription don’t show error correction. Here’s a video showing one method.

    Another must-see video: Hidden Life of the Cell

    • Anniel says:

      I’m going to sleep tonight after reading the first part of Chapter 2 again. I have never done a systematic study of DNA and cellular life before. I think this is the first book I have read that is teaching me the HOW and WHY of life’s processes in a fashion that gives me a glimmer of understanding, or at least the HOPE of understanding those processes. I feel like a complete neophyte lost in space. But maybe that’s good for keeping me focused on looking for the important things.

      Thanks for the suggestions and links.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Well, Annie, you can take heart that in learning about the nuts-and-bolts of basic cellular biology, as well as the problems with Neo-Darwinism, that you’ll be heads and tails above those who hold “evolution” as little more than a dogma, a cultural affectation, dictates from the Smart Ones that are not to be questioned (even while they continue to hold Galileo as a hero).

        All that most on the materialist side of things know are the various stories they’ve been told to keep them from doubting their metaphysics. It’s a much wider-ranging Jim Jones type of cult with the kool-aid being ultimately as deadly.

        A study of DNA, proteins, and cellular mechanisms can’t help but evoke awe in whoever (or whatever, if you will) designed this stuff and for whatever reason. We leave it to religious and philospophical arguments to get into the “why’s” of the thing. And that’s where materialists’ arguments fail. They fail to distinguish between the facts of the world and what those facts mean. Because their world view comes first, the facts are filtered and interpreted to fit that. That’s not a good habit.

        For what it’s worth, I’m fine (not that anyone would care what I think, or should care) with Christians interpreting the facts through a theistic/Christian lens. That’s how it should be. But first we (and you) are obligated to take a look at the facts. And most people on the materialist side have no idea what is truly going on in the cell or they would not parrot such stale slogans and stories as they do.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          This has been pointed 0ut in a number of places. For all the liberal concern about ignorance of evolution, the reality is that both the Darwinists and the creationists tend to be equally ignorant of the actual science.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Darwinists and the creationists tend to be equally ignorant of the actual science.

            Yes. And to successfully engage this issue, one must take much time disentangling various words…one of them being “Creationism.” John Lennox (or Stephen Meyer) does that in one of his books and I think I’ve quoted the section already (somewhere). But “Creationism” is a word loaded by the Left to impugn anyone who doesn’t believe in a materialist, random, purposeless view of the universe. If you think it was somehow consciously created, you are thrown in with the snake handlers and those who believe the earth is 6500 years old.

            But the universe is inherently ontologically rich. And Lennox, in “God’s Undertaker” makes a highly relevant philosophical point:

            As we look back over the history of science we have every reason to be grateful to the brilliant thinkers who took the brave step of questioning the mythological view of nature that endowed various bits of the universe with divine powers they did not possess. We have seen that some of them did so, not only without rejecting the concept of a Creator, but in the very name of that Creator. Perhaps there is a subtle danger today that, in their desire to eliminate the concept of a Creator completely, some scientists and philosophers have been led, albeit unwittingly, to re-deify the universe by endowing matter and energy with creative powers that they cannot be convincingly shown to possess. Banishing the One Creator God they would then end up with what has been described as the ultimate in polytheism – a universe in which every particle has god-like capacities.

            Never let it be said that even atheists are not theists of some type. As Lennox notes, they may not believe in the standard idea of God, an idea that has been thoroughly besmirched in some quarters. Worse yet, it’s an idea that is “uncool” and marks one as not amongst The Golden Children (Leftists, libertarians, Progressives). But they do exactly what Lennox said. They imbue matter with God-like powers. This is self-evident to anyone but a genius given Hawking’s multiverse theory where somehow a magical something churns out 10500 universes.

            I have no doubt that there is more to matter and energy than meet the eye. And let’s not forget that scientists tell us that we don’t even know what 96% of the universe consists of. I sometimes think it matters little if one is an atheist or theist, for the amount of stuff we do not know, and likely cannot know, is so vast it draws those two seemingly opposite positions together like the ties in a railroad track when seen from a mile down the line.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              I think of “creationism” as a short version of “young Earth creationism”, which is basically the 4004 BC creationism (or variants thereof) — in other words, a strictly literal reading of Genesis.

  12. Rosalys says:

    Another quote from Dr. Batten, “. . .evolutionists . . . still like to talk of natural selection as a creative force, but it cannot create anything. It can only eliminate the unfit, not create the fit. Natural selection is not the same as evolution. ‘Survival of the Fittest’ (elimination of the unfit) does not explain the arrival of the fit.”

    I’m going to have to commit that phrase, “Survival of the Fittest does not explain the arrival of the fit.” to memory and use it. It has been missing from my vocabulary, but no longer. It is brilliant in its simple logic.

    “The desire to get rid of the Creator/God is a deep-seated human trait that did not start with Darwin.”

    This really is the crux of the matter!

    (Note: My 18 year old grandson says he was shown the drawings and taught this in school. I looked it up and found that this is, in fact, still being taught. Nothing is said in the text books to clarify the matter.)

    These fools (and they are fools according to Psalm 53:1, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'”) just cannot tell the truth! Their whole scheme is based upon lies and honesty would bring their whole house of cards crashing down around their gills! I am so glad you are doing this book review, otherwise I may never have come across this book. I cannot wait until my copy comes sometime in the middle of next week!

    I’ll have to make sure I have a good supply of Aleve on hand as I expect that my head will be doing quite a bit of spinning. Quite sure my brain will not be up to the task, but it probably needs some good exercise anyway. It won’t be a waste!

    • Anniel says:

      Rosalys, I’m so glad you are following this review. In the next installment Gregor Mendle and the beginnings of genetic research are discussed and last night the thought hit me that God ALWAYS balances things out to give man choice and freedom.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        And of course Mendel was a cleric in a monastery (I wonder if they still teach that), whose work wasn’t noticed for years because he reported it in a local journal.

        • Anniel says:

          Darwin apparently had read Mendel’s papers and wrote a little about them, but they didn’t fit his agenda. Mendel was a researcher whereas Darwin was a theoretician.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Well, it’s doubtful that Progressives/Leftists would play up Mendel’s religious connection. But one would have to check the modern textbooks to see if they mention that Mendel was a monk. They certainly call him “Dr.” Martin Luther King, and not “Reverend” Martin Luther King.

          The Left is at war with Christianity. And many Christians have simply adopted the beliefs of the Left, either out of ignorance, blind enculturation, or appeasement. Hey, maybe the Left is right. Maybe the problems of the world are due to poverty and not bad behavior. Maybe the world can best be understood in completely materialist terms instead of right and wrong. This is certainly a possibility. But then to claim that one is a Christian and fall for this thinly-disguised Cultural Marxism doesn’t say much for some people.

          But that’s who the West is now. “We are all socialists” as they say. I’m still cracking up about that one presenter in one of the videos I linked to who, after showing this truly miraculous cellular machinery, says that the very reason we study this stuff is to fight poverty.

          To me that’s funny, although to see human beings reduced to such simple-minded and shallow creatures is also cause for much pathos.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            In some cases, this sort of thing may be protective coloration. For example, a climate scientist who presents evidence that goes against CAGW fears not being published in closed-minded peer-reviewed scientific journals, so he puts in a rote statement that his paper doesn’t actually disprove Gorescam. The example you mentions seems a bit extreme for that. But who knows? Of course, when people give in to the zealots, they make it harder for those down the line.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              The example you mentions seems a bit extreme for that.

              I don’t know if this guy said it out of habit, because it fit into present cultural beliefs and it was soothing (and easy) to say it, or was covering his behind from the powers that be. But it’s reasonable enough to assume that in this case he was probably doing a combination of the first two. We’ve become such a silly people, to actually propose doing science for the sake of understanding this wonderful universe seems, to the pansy types, selfish. So they add “Oh, and by the way, we do all this to ‘help the poor.'”

              It’s the thing that weasely girly-men say. And that’s fine. I’ve read enough Catholic literature to understand the thing from the other end. A thoughtful writer will say what he has to say, and then bracket himself with “But of course we believe in all the teachings that Mother Church as on whatever-and-such.”

              It’s just part of human nature and the realities of covering your ass in situations where someone else holds power over you. Yeah, I get that. Still, it’s not much fun to watch.

  13. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the things that intrigues me about DNA and the remarkable micro-machinery in the cell is that this is probably as close as we can get to God writing “I am that I am” in Latin across the sky using an arrangement of stars. Surely, I have always imagined, a God who is not a trickster and who is real would not make his existence such a guessing-game.

    Well, one looks into the cell and very likely is seeing the work of some master intelligence, divine or otherwise.

    And it’s not that one can’t imagine life somehow spontaneously self-assembling. But the imagining is, as it is with most things, the easy part. The actual odds do not favor anything of the kind happening. As Jonathan Wells quipped (likely in his excellent book, “Icons of Evolution”) regarding the subject, and I paraphrase, “Take an existing cell and puncture it so that all its components spill out into a jar of water. Now, wait around for them to self-assemble into a cell.”

    Darwinists are very good at telling themselves superficial stories whose purpose is to imbue their theory with realities not yet shown to exist. This was the huckster-like carnival barkering being sold from the Miller–Urey experiment, for example, where an experimenter (under unrealistic conditions in regards to how natural processes would need to operate) zapped some chemicals and produced a few amino acids. And this was hailed as proof of how obviously easy it was for life to have evolved on its own.

    Maybe life did evolve on its own. I don’t rule anything out. But that experiment showed nothing but the power of wishful thinking. Neo-Darwinism has indeed reached the level of a secular religion, and a fundamentalist one at that.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The main problem with the Miller-Urey experiment is that it was based on the conception of the proto-atmosphere commonly believed then. Later theory concluded that the atmosphere was different — but they never tried to repeat the experiment for their new conception to see if you could at least get simple organic chemicals (which is as far as they ever got) created spontaneously.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        There is that, of course. But what I got out of the chapter on this in Jonathan Wells’ “Icons of Evolution” was that the real deal breaker was that these experiments did not account for the whole range of gases what would likely be in the air (any air)…including ones that would quickly degrade any chemical reactions. These were highly idealized experiments that (as Wells and others have noted) showed what, in some respects, an intelligent designer could do, because it required the scientists to input quite a bit of information (in how they managed the conditions) just to get what they got. This is not unlike the various computer models that supposedly prove Neo-Darwinism but, in truth, prove nothing but the cleverness of the computer software designer’s initial inputs of information in the form of software.

        No, it doesn’t help that the atmosphere might not be as Darwinist proponents wanted. But to me the bigger issue is that the question isn’t one of having the ingredients hanging around, although that is important, of course. It’s matter of the credibility of equating sludge in a test tube with unlocking the secrets of life — in this case that it is a totally undirected process.

        It could even turn out that the atmosphere during some epoch was how the Darwinists hoped it would be. It seems to me that would still be irrelevant because there is no known way that mere algorithmic laws-of-nature could create that much information and those kinds of integrated systems. This is an information problem, not a enough-sludge-lying-around problem.

  14. Anniel says:

    I’m trying to come to grips with the teaching of embryonic development still being in textbooks as any sort of reality. One site discussed how embryos are very diverse at first, then about half way through gestation they come to resemble each other in a remarkable way, and then diverge. The article showed a line drawing of an hour glass with 4 fetuses at the top, lines of arrows from each converging at the “waist” of the glass, then the arrows down to the baby animals at the bottom. There sit a rabbit, a frog, a chicken, and a human baby – ALL THE SAME SIZE. It would take a remarkably advanced 6 or 7 year old to recognize the lie and realize that the human child should be much larger.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’m trying to come to grips with the teaching of embryonic development still being in textbooks as any sort of reality. One site discussed how embryos are very diverse at first, then about half way through gestation they come to resemble each other in a remarkable way, and then diverge.

      The “central dogma” proposed (dictated like Moses and his tablets, one supposes) by Francis Crick is that DNA encodes for proteins, and that’s all you need to know. This idea is important for Neo-Darwinists if only to keep the centrality of the gene, and thereby the centrality of point mutations/natural selection to drive and explain all change.

      The problem is, I remember reading in one of the various books critiquing Neo-Darwinism (Myer, Wells, Behe, Lennox, Dembski, Berlinski, Paul Nelson, Spetner, et al) about one species (I think the standard fruit fly) where they jiggered with every single gene that affected embryology in order to try to create something new. All they ever created were monsters or dead fruit flies. This is significant because it suggests (if not proves) that not everything that goes into creating life (and the functioning of the cell) is in the DNA, thus Neo-Darwinism, just on this one point, shows that it can’t be the answer.

      Yes, you can mutate certain developmental genes and get an extra pair of wings, extra body segments, legs in place of antennae, etc. But such mutating and jiggering isn’t creating new animals or new information. It’s just a glorified game of Mr. Potato Head…literally.

      If the idea of Neo-Darwinism is true — that vast changes can occur over time due to small changes caused by mutation which are then filtered by natural selection — then one really ought to be able to jigger with the genes and creates something new. But so far no one has been able to do anything but create dead fruit flies or monsters. This is not proof, but it suggests that life is a much more integrated whole (a “kind,” if you will) than commonly believed. It may not be just a matter of time until a chimpanzee becomes a human.

      Of course, this means that there is something such as a “kind” and that you can wait billions of years for the cows to come home, but those cows will never gradually change into giraffes. And there was a fairly recent study done on dogs (a common “icon of evolution”) that came to the conclusion that, as amazing as it is that you can create a Great Dane or a Chiguagua via selective breeding from the same wolf stock, such things are accomplished via the addition of no new information and quite often are accomplished by the degradation of existing systems and information (and we all know from the congenital hip problems in St. Bernards and stuff like that).

      None of this is to say that evolution didn’t happen via other means, and that great change over time isn’t possible. But the evidence of the Cambrian Explosion (where 20 or more new phyla — major body plans — appeared fully-formed out of nowhere) and of the fossil record itself (which shows a variation of change within a species, but no overall gradualism) suggests the idea of types or “kinds” within which a whole lot of change is built into the machinery of life itself…but not enough to jump the boundary from, say, a worm to a squirrel.

      I would say that there are a lot of issues still up in the air, and rightfully so. Behe’s “The Edge of Evolution” attempts to show where the boundary is in terms of a “kind,” if you will (not his term). There is still so much to learn. There are undoubtedly surprises galore ahead. And in another chapter, Wells expertly addresses the intentionally-faked charts of fetuses that are lined up to show how supposedly quite diverse species are closely related (or show ancestry) and how their embryological states supposedly show the gradualism of evolution. Faked. Faked. Faked. I consider “Icons of Evolution” to be one of the few books I would wholeheartedly recommend on the topic to get up to speed. I think it’s very fair, very scholarly, and clear as a bell. Wells is a very good thinker and writer and we can only hope he writes another book soon.

  15. Jerry Richardson says:

    Timothy,

    The main problem with the Miller-Urey experiment is that it was based on the conception of the proto-atmosphere commonly believed then. —Timothy Lane

    You are exactly correct, and this is one of my many pet-peeves in reading literature that discusses the possibilities of abiogenesis (life from non-living material).

    Here is a quote regarding that:

    Proponents of biochemical evolution generally assume the existence of an oxygen-free atmosphere that contains high levels of methane and ammonia, because biochemists agree that the presence of free oxygen would preclude biochemical evolution.

    J.B.S Haldane, the British biochemist, seems to have been the first to appreciate that a reducing atmosphere, one with no free oxygen, was a requirement for the evolution of life from nonliving organic matter.

    …the recent arguments against an oxygen-free atmosphere are so strong that the “new orthodoxy” is becoming a belief in an early oxidized atmosphere, according to Henderson-Sellers*, Benlow*, and Meadows*:

    Biologists concerned with the origin of life still often quote an early atmosphere consisting of reduced gases, but this seems to stem as much from ignorance of recent advances as from active opposition to them. In the latter part of the 1970s the concept of early oxidized atmospheres on the terrestrial planets is becoming the new orthodoxy.

    W.R. Bird, The Origin of Species Revisited, Vol 1, pp. 328-329

    Of course if someone mentions the Miller-Urey experiment favorably as suggesting a possibility for abiogenesis, I know that he is either ignorant or else assuming his readers are ignorant enough to give creditability to a discredited hypothesis.

    However, if he is aware of the discrediting of Miller-Urey then sometimes the author will push on to one or two other arguments. One of the usual suspects is the Primordial Soup theory.

    Biochemical evolutionists also assume the existence of a “primordial soup” (whether in the form of seas or evaporating pools) that was rich in certain organic compounds, which would be essential for the possible formation of amino acids, proteins, the genetic coding system, protocells, and other evolutionary stages.

    There are a number of problems with this assumption of a primordial soup, according to many evolutionists researchers, including (a) conflict with the geological evidence, (b) destruction of any such compounds by cross-reactions, (c) destruction by decomposition, (d) destruction of such compounds by radiation, and (e) prevention of biochemical evolution by dilution. Because of those problems, Shapiro* and Sillen* refer to “the myth of the prebiotic soup.”
    —-
    The first problem with the assumption of a “primordial soup” is that the geological remains it would have left do not appear to exist, according to Brooks* and Shaw*:
    —-
    In fact, no such materials have been found anywhere on earth…There is, in other words, pretty good negative evidence that there never was a primitive organic soup on this planet that could have lasted but a brief a brief moment.”

    W.R. Bird, The Origin of Species Revisited, Vol 1, pp. 335-336

    Of course when the inventors of these fairy tales reach the end of their current imaginations, they often spring for the ole panspermia hypothesis; and say something like, well the conditions we are describing exist in other places in space, so life, as we know it, could have originated somewhere in space.

    And these people ridicule those who believe in God.

    NOTE on References used: The Book that I have taken the quotes from and have reference in Amazon is one of a two volume set. The set is virtually an encyclopedia of experiments, concepts, and discussions relative to evolution and multiple topics that relate closely. The books provide an exceedingly broad and deep attack on virtually all areas of evolutionary assertions. The copyright is 1991, but don’t conclude that the information is outdated; much of it is still very good. I read through the two volumes when I got the set, about 10 years ago. It is dense and slow reading and it took me about a year to work my way through.

    If anyone is building a library on evolution-related books, I think this two volume sets belongs.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Good point, Jerry. That derned oxygen would have spoilt those molecules very fast apparently. Had they not degraded, they would have obviously all had time to jump on each other’s backs, arranging themselves into useful proteins. And the best estimates are that it would take a minimum of 100 proteins to create any kind of cell…along with the information storage system, of course. But if all these amino acids knew right where to jump, I suppose that could be accomplished.

      One of the things Stephen Myer does in “Darwin’s Doubt” is go through, one by one, all the suggested scenarios for self-assembly of the first life and shows the fatal problem. It’s often mind-numbing reading, but someone had to do it.

  16. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I think of “creationism” as a short version of “young Earth creationism”, which is basically the 4004 BC creationism (or variants thereof) — in other words, a strictly literal reading of Genesis.

    I’ll take your word for it, Timothy. It’s been a while since I handled any snakes! But I have sat around the campfire with people who believe in a 6500 year old earth. And I think the reason they believe in a young earth is that they feel embattled. (And I don’t blame them.) My impression is that they think that if they give in on one more point, the entire Bible will fall apart, so it must be defended from those awful Darwinists, no matter what.

    Well, I certainly didn’t ridicule her beliefs, and don’t ridicule those who believe in The Flood or the parting of the Red Sea. Who knows? If someone can create a universe it would be child’s play to jigger with nature. Speaking of which, I know the book that Annie is reviewing has one of the authors taking the Flood as a literal given. I find the idea of the Flood problematic for a number of reasons, least of which I’m not aware of any evidence of a world-wide flood.

    But, if there is a sort of deep knowledge in the Bible (not literal, but interpreted, perhaps by divine inspiration, by normal people who had no inkling of so much of what is possible or that exists and so didn’t have the words for many things), then perhaps a “Flood” is more like a comet or an astroid strike, for there have apparently been at least 2 or 3 mass extinctions in earth’s history. One or more of them may even have had significant contributions from a “flood” of lava with rampant vulcanism around the earth. But an actual water flood that isn’t just regional (as large as some of them may have been, such as the flooding of the Black Sea)? I don’t think that’s likely.

    But the main component of Creationism isn’t about the logic of it concerning any one thing. The main lesson to learn is that The Golden Children who believe in “reason” and in evolution (biologically and politically) are smarter than the rest of us. They’re nicer as well. Over at Taki’s Magazine there’s an article by Theodore Dalrymple where he writes:

    The great psychological advantage of conspiracy theories is that they explain the most disparate phenomena effortlessly and indubitably. They thus satisfy man’s intellectual longing to understand the world, but also, as importantly, man’s desire to be superior in his understanding to his fellows. To have penetrated the mystery of things is an achievement not given to everyone. Those who have developed a conspiracy theory both want to keep it to themselves so that they can retain their superiority over others and spread it as far as possible to recognized for their enormous contribution to human understanding.

    I didn’t get that much out of the rest of the article. But that quote was pretty good. And perhaps thus it has always been. And perhaps not all aspects of preening are bad. But I spent the day reading various articles online, not all of them conservative, but most of them. And it occurred to me that pop culture (even the conservative slice of that culture) is a bit crazy-making. It just becomes tiring reading what Rush has likened to a soap opera. And I think he’s right about that.

    But I do find writing from time to time that I think is enriching. But it’s very rare these days. Jonah called Facebook “The Devil’s Urinal.” But much of online content is not that much more healthy.

    Too much preening. Too much bitching. Too much trying to sound like the smartest one in the room. And far too many muddled minds. It would take the typical intellectual three internet pages to get to the point that Sarah Palin said in two words: “death panels.”

    And the entire subject of the origin of life, like global warming, has been highly politicized. There’s nothing wrong with having a working paradigm or world view, per se. But the world view of Darwinism is so obviously not about science but about promoting the materialist word view that it’s funny.

    So mixed into this entire subject (which would not have been easy, and is not easy, in the best of times) are politics, religion (including the atheist religion), and sociological aspects. And if one is actually interested in the scientific aspects of the origin of life (and it has other aspects as well) then one has to try very hard to separate the facts from the polemics, the fantasies, and the story-telling.

    And even then, at the end of the day (if we are honest), we’re left in jaw-dropping awe at the micro-machinery of the cell. And I think precisely because the inner workings of the cell are so self-evidently awe-inspiring that we haven’t heard more about it in the culture at large. The workings of the cell are the equivalent of discovering a pyramid on Mars or an intelligent signal from outer space via SETI. But because it doesn’t forward the religion of the materialists, I think it’s played down. All one gets is a graphic of double-helix which has become more of an idol than a thing that imparts much understanding. Instead of awe, the wonders of the cell become a thing used to fight “poverty.” Do you think Mozart wrote his music so that the poor could feel better? Who thinks like that? Some things are just self-evidently wondrous and in need of no human spin.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I don’t believe in young-Earth creationism either, but like you I don’t mock the believers. After all, I wasn’t there, so how can I really be sure? My problem is with “scientific” creationists, who pretend that their literal belief in Genesis has nothing to do with religion. The problem isn’t the belief, it’s the dishonest way they present it — even in court after swearing on the Bible to tell the truth.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Well, maybe that’s why I’m not particularly religious, Timothy. I don’t understand a lot of that either. I don’t do well with literalism in regards to these ideas.

        But we live in a universe where we are sort of forced to interpret what is going on. The materialist viewpoint, on the other hand, takes the approach that there is nothing to interpret. And that mindset walls itself off from the most interesting questions by saying “Those aren’t scientific questions.” Well, neither is one’s first kiss, but it’s infinitely more important and relevant to a person than 10500 supposed other universes in the fictional multiverse.

        One of the interesting aspects of science is that we are no closer to understanding what it’s all about. Many would say, and not without some reason, that we know even less now that we have pushed the idea of God out of the way. To understand matter to the nth degree is perhaps like examining the insides of one brick in the Great Wall of China. The interesting thing here is not what the wall is made out of. It’s that it’s a wall.

        One of the points Lennox makes in one of his books is both extraordinary and clear: Scientists have not discovered any “laws of the universe” that in any way seem necessary. Instead, going back to the Christian idea of a Creator, we have to concede that the universe could have been another way than the way that it is now. (The idea of the fine-tuning of the universe is based exactly on this idea). That is, the universe is not, as far as we can tell, necessarily the way it has to be. There’s nothing about gravity or the charge of the electron that points to these either having to exist or to have the attribute that they do. We cannot, as the Greeks thought, understand nature via pure logic from the armchair. We have to actually take a look at what is going on because nature is not logical, per se. It’s arbitrary.

        And it’s quite possible, even probable, that the matter that materialists all but deify is of no more importance than the bits in your computer’s RAM that are certainly useful but are only a substance with which to express other things.

        It’s possible, even likely, that the matter (including proteins, amino acids, and DNA) are mere conventions in order to fulfill some other function. It might have been done some other way. We can find nothing in our sciences that suggest things logically had to be how there are (necessary) rather than arbitrary (allowing for designers, teleology, and such).

        Perhaps Yoda was right. And I think is some profound way he was: Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.

  17. Jerry Richardson says:

    Anniel,

    DNA is a folded Base 4, 4 dimensional microscopic computer, more powerful than the greatest Base 2 computer could ever be. I think I got that right, but it was kind of late when I read it so I’ll have to look again.
    —Anniel

    With all due respect to the author, Dr, Carter, I think the section on Hyper-complexity of a four-dimensional genome is very poorly written from the standpoint of explanation. Perhaps his purpose is to emphasize the importance of his topic with talk of 4-dimensional entities.

    What does the term, “dimension” mean in the context and what its significance? I think that Dr. Carter should have at the very least explained that he is not talking about any 4-dimensional analogue to 3-dimensional space such as found in Star Trek .

    The term “dimension” is normally a term used in mathematics or physics and usually refers to different measurements related to a given entity, in some particular mathematical space. Of course, the term “dimension” is not restricted to mathematics and physics, but can be used to relate and present different parameters of some object of interest.

    For example, if I describe a human-being as being a 4-dimensional creature in which his 4 dimensions are spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical; I would then select certain parameters (identifiable elements in each of the separate 4 sets) from each of those 4 dimensions to describe a particular human-being. This would seem to be the sense in which the author is using the term “dimension.” But I wish he had been more clear and concise in matching parameter definitions to his selected “dimensions.”
    It seems that his task is outlining the different ways in which the components of the human genome interact to produce and maintain a specific individual human-being.

    But I think his use of the term “dimension” does not help very much.

    Here is a quote from a current [2/18/2015] online article that, perhaps explains in different terms the significance of Dr. Carter’s “dimensions”; the article talks in terms of “variability and regulation of gene expression” and “correspondence with the physical structure of chromosomes”; The article also uses the term “three dimensional structure of chromosomes” which presumably correlates with Dr. Carter’s 3rd Dimension.

    Two landmark studies link the 3-D arrangement of the genome to the variability and control of its expression
    —-
    Newswise — February 18, 2015, New York, NY – Two international teams of researchers led by Ludwig San Diego’s Bing Ren have published in the current issue of Nature two papers that analyze in unprecedented detail the variability and regulation of gene expression across the entire human genome, and their correspondence with the physical structure of chromosomes.
    —-
    If the human genome is a recipe book, its chapters are 23 distinct chromosomes—each of which is stuffed, in rough duplicate, into the nucleus of almost all the cells of the human body. But how exactly is that single recipe book read appropriately to build the body’s diverse constituency of cells? Or, for that matter, to generate a community of humans so variegated in their appearance, internal biochemistry and susceptibility to disease?
    —-
    The two papers address key elements of these riddles. One captures the extent to which the same genes—known as alleles—inherited from each parent are expressed at different levels across the genome, so that each version of the gene generates different amounts of the protein it encodes. It links that difference in expression to the distribution and sequence of “enhancers” on each copy of each chromosome. Enhancers are stretches of DNA that do not encode proteins but can boost gene expression from great distances along the linear strand of DNA.

    “This is the first time that anyone has looked globally at how gene expression differs between each matching pair of chromosomes across a diverse set of cell types, and our findings are striking,” said Ren. “Some 30 percent of the gene set we carry is expressed variably across some 20 types of tissues, depending on which parent the alleles came from. Much of that variation appears to come from differences in sequences that regulate the transcription—or reading—of genes.”

    The other study examines how the three dimensional structure of chromosomes and the distribution of biochemical (or epigenetic) tags that regulate gene expression differ between different types of cells. It also integrates data from the former paper into this analysis to reveal how all of these phenomena interact to control the appropriate expression of the genome. Taken together, these findings add dimension and depth to our understanding of the physical and functional dynamics of the genome, and how its expression is globally regulated to generate the sublime complexity of the human body.
    —-
    Stemming from five years of research, the papers are two of six published this week in Nature that capture the key discoveries of the $300 million Roadmap Epigenomics Program of the US National Institutes of Health. Ren led one of four reference epigenome mapping centers for the program, and his center focused primarily on how DNA and chromatin—the complex of DNA and its protein packaging that makes chromosomes—are chemically tagged at specific places to control the expression of genes across the human genome.

    Deconstructing the Dynamic Genome

    I realize that it’s being picky, but I am somewhat puzzled at the size of his illustration with no mention of significance of the presented size, The first several hundred letters of the human chromosome is a good example of the first dimension of the genome. This is just a string of As, Ts, Gs, and Cs.

    I dropped the illustration into Mathematica so I could calculate the length: 3758 characters.

    I presume that Dr. Carter is illustrating a portion of one of the strands (nucleotides) of the DNA double-strand; since he states earlier, “What we had done was sequence the linear string of nucleotides only” But why take an entire page to illustrate a portion of one strand of the immense 3 billion base-pairs of human DNA (more accurately, and with proper jargon 3,234.83 Mb (Mega-basepairs)? Is the idea to give a feeling of immensity? I’m not sure.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Interesting info, Jerry. That reminds me on some of the stuff Stephen Meyer or Lennox noted about the organization of DNA. It is not apparently a hodgepodge of information. Instead, it would appear that certain kinds of information are kept together and that there seems to be a logical arrangement (as with data on a hard drive) that facilitates speed of copying and economy of storage. The point being, DNA looks organized, not hodgepodge. I wish I could remember precisely where I read that so that I could quote it.

      Regarding the base-4 aspect of DNA, what a nifty little code indeed. Each triplet (in gene-coding regions) codes (called a “codon”) for one amino acid. Three bits, each bit of which can be any one of the four bases (TCAG), gives you the ability to code for 64 different amino acids (4 x 4 x 4). There are 20 standard amino acids used in the proteins that are used in the cell. And I can’t begin to understand the how or why, but this means more than one codon can encode for a particular amino acid (see this chart).

      From what I’ve read, there’s a lot more complexity and variability to all this. Every amino acid, for instance, comes in a left-handed or right-handed version. And some amino acids can substitute for each other in certain situations. There’s a whole bunch of other messier and more complex things I’ve read about, but couldn’t begin to sensibly articulate.

      There are other interesting aspects. To read a gene encoded in DNA you have “start” regions and “stop” regions on the gene. And you also (amazingly) have spliceosomes and editosomes that do precisely what their name suggests: They don’t read the genetic code sequentially from the DNA. A spliceosome will (under some conditions) take different pieces of a string of code and edit that into a protein (perhaps dozens of different proteins able to be spliced from this one DNA string of data). And the editosome can do some skillful editing and accomplish much the same thing.

      What controls when a string of data is edited or spliced? Other proteins. Some proteins enhance, some inhibit, and some (as Meyer or Lennox note) are not mere binary “on/off” switches but have shades of gray in how they effect things.

      So this really is a quite advanced computer and information processing system, however and whoever made it. I don’t know that it’s particularly fast compared to a binary computer. But it likely doesn’t have to be fast. But it is certainly powerful.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Some codons have a grammatical meaning, but there are many amino acids with more than one codon. This can lead to harmless mutations on occasion, with the codon being changed to one for the same amino acid (or one that can substitute for it).

  18. Anniel says:

    Gentlemen: In trying to understand this chapter by Dr. Carter I’m having to expand my learning into areas that, frankly, baffle me. Now Jerry says that Dr. Carter’s article “is poorly written from the standpoint of explanation.” I admit that the 4 dimensional model had me scratching my head, so thank you Jerry for giving some clarity there. I hope to make some sense to readers of the review about Carter’s explanations and where they have taken me in a biblical sense.

    As I was thinking about this last night I was struck by the differences in mathematical and scientific abilities between men and women. As a generalized statement, I think men have feelings for math and science “in their bones”in ways that few women do. I sense that difference strongly when I read your comments. Any woman who can shine in these fields has my greatest admiration.

    However, as a female who got straight A’s all the way through college algebra by following the rules, but never really understanding the WHY’s, I fully intend to soldier on. Salutations to all of you.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      As I was thinking about this last night I was struck by the differences in mathematical and scientific abilities between men and women. As a generalized statement, I think men have feelings for math and science “in their bones”in ways that few women do.

      Why, you sexist little woman, you. 😀 Yes, men are generally the better mathematicians and programmers. It’s just the way it is. But in some of the fields we’re talking about, these guys are very smart indeed. And me being a guy is of little help at all. They’re still on the mountain and I’m in the valley.

      But some of these guys (John Lennox and Jonathan Wells, in particular) are very good at explaining the gist of something without bogging down the non-expert (man or woman) in details. Some writers are not, although they may be extremely competent as a scientist. But the art of writing and the craft of science are two different skills. Very few have both, at least in regard to reaching a layman audience.

      I may buy the book just to read the chapter and give my two cents. Perhaps I can help condense down what the writer is trying to say — or verify that he’s just garbled it all. And if you have any specific questions, ask away. I may be able to help.

    • GHG says:

      As I’ve expressed a few times, this topic grabs my attention probably more than any other topic. So I salute you Annie for bringing this book to my attention (I got my Kinkle copy yesterday) and I encourage you to continue soldiering on.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I’m with Mr. Lesser. Marshall on, Annie. It was certainly Glenn the Greater who prodded me to learn more about this subject. I hope we are all with our various viewpoints (and books read) painting a fuller picture and putting a few more pieces of the puzzle together. And life itself is the grandest puzzle of all.

  19. Jerry Richardson says:

    Brad,

    From what I’ve read, there’s a lot more complexity and variability to all this. Every amino acid, for instance, comes in a left-handed or right-handed version. And some amino acids can substitute for each other in certain situations. There’s a whole bunch of other messier and more complex things I’ve read about, but couldn’t begin to sensibly articulate. —Brad Nelson

    I minored in chemistry in college, so of course I was required to take a course in Organic Chemistry. The professor was well known as one of, if not, the most demanding in the college. I may have not always understood what he was saying, but by golly I pretended to be intently listening.

    I can vaguely remember him discussing the concept of chirality in organic molecules. Chirality is handedness—like your right hand compared to your left hand—and could be detected in molecules by passing polarized light—like the one-plane light in some sunshades—through a solution containing the molecules.

    Every amino acid (except glycine) can occur in two isomeric forms, because of the possibility of forming two different enantiomers (stereoisomers) around the central carbon atom. By convention, these are called L- and D- forms, analogous to left-handed and right-handed configurations.

    L and D Amino Acids

    The term optical activity is derived from the interaction of chiral materials with polarized light. In a solution, the (−)-form, or levorotary form, of an optical isomer rotates the plane of a beam of polarized light counterclockwise. The (+)-form, or dextrorotatory form, of an optical isomer does the opposite. The property was first observed by Jean-Baptiste Biot in 1815, and gained considerable importance in the sugar industry, analytical chemistry, and pharmaceuticals.

    Chirality

    The very interesting things to us, relative to the discussion of evolution is the fact that amino acids occur in both L and D forms, but only the L-form is used by cells. So the question is, if life started and evolved “randomly” in the presence of amino acids of both kinds why are only L-forms used by cells? No one knows the answer.

    Leslie Orgel is another of the foremost origin of life researchers today.

    He contributed a chapter, “The Origin of Biological Information” to the book, Life’s Origin. Orgel begins: “Organic chemists should have invented the computer scientist’s motto, ‘Garbage in, garbage out.”” Orgel says that if they have garbage rather than a pure compound going in, garbage will come out {p. 140}.

    While school text books use Miller’s famous experiment to convince students that chemicals built up to become life, Orgel uses the same experiment as an example of the extreme difficulty of producing the chemicals needed for living cells.

    Orgel writes: “For example, Miller’s classic experiment (discussed in chapter 3) produces tar along with a percent or two of a complex mixture of racemic amino acids.” {Leslie E. Orgel, “The Origin of Biological Information,” from the book Life’s Origin, edited by J. William Shopf, 2002, p. 140.}

    Orgel is saying three things:

    • Miller’s experiment, the most famous of all origin of life experiments, produced all garbage except for a percent or two of amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins, the main ingredients of cells.

    • The amino acids that made up that percent or two were “Racemic,” which means mixed, half right and half left handed. Proteins will not work in cells unless all their amino acids are left handed. All amino acids made in nature or in experiments that simulate nature are mixed left, and right-handed, and will not work in proteins. Even if there had been a way to produce all left-handed amino acids, over time, they break down to half and half.

    The book mentioned above is available in Kindle at Amazon:

    Life’s Origin

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks, Jerry. It will be nice to have some backup on the chemistry. I took one quarter of it in college. And as Barbi said, “Chemistry is hard.”

      And from what I’ve seen on the web regarding just the chemistry of amino acids, that goes double. And what scientists have been able to discover is remarkable, complex, and somewhat mind-numbing. A certain amount of the mind-numbing detail is needed for purposes of talking intelligently about the complexity of the cell and what the complexity may mean about its origination. Thankfully it is not necessary to remember which codon(s) goes with which amino acid. But I think it’s helpful to have an overall knowledge.

      I remembered the right-handedness vs. left-handedness in one of the books (possibly one of Behe’s) (or maybe he used the terminology “L” and “D,” but I don’t think so) in regards to calculating the odds of any particular useful protein spontaneously being generated. Yes, it is interesting that only one form is used.

      And that really is the stumbling block. I read through a few of those reviews of the book you mentioned. And basically it sounds as if the case is all but solved for how life started. It’s an RNA world! But I think Stephen Meyer, in particular (drawing partially on the work of others), has shown that mere stories and fanciful thinking won’t get you to life. Yes, as one review of the book mentioned, molecules have natural affinities. But as Meyer notes, there is no natural affinity that generates information. In fact, regarding the DNA molecule, it is vitally important that the amino acids used have no natural affinity or else they could not hold information via their positions in a chain.

      And the central problem for life starting via natural causes is the problem of the odds of generating useful proteins (and not just one, but a suite of them at one time, all made to function together in a complex system). The odds so against this as to be non-existent.

      And that’s a problem for any origin-of-life study. That magnetic attraction of atom for atom, and molecule for molecule, is all well and good, and certainly necessary for their use as various Lego-type things to construct other things. But there’s nothing about this attraction that can produce information (above a certain very small limit as noted by Behe in “The Edge of Evolution”). And the odds against amino acids randomly falling into position in a chain of 100 or more (for common, useful proteins) is not likely. Nor is there any evidence that one can somehow increment one’s way to a large protein. This is so, as you well know, because of all the possible combinations of amino acids, only a vanishingly small amount of them are useful for doing anything.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      That’s a very interesting point about the handedness of amino acids created by natural or imitation-natural processes. Incidentally, carbohydrates are also divided that way (think of dextrose vs. levulose). George Gamov in one of his Mr. Tompkins stories has a guy whose body handedness was reversed, so he could only consume butter and hard liquor (handedness is irrelevant for fats and ethanol). Poul Anderson also used handedness as a key aspect of the plot of The Man Who Counts.

  20. Jerry Richardson says:

    Brad,

    I read through a few of those reviews of the book you mentioned. And basically it sounds as if the case is all but solved for how life started.

    Yes. When I purchased this book I had no conviction that the beliefs of the writers would coincide with my beliefs. I wanted to explore this book in search of admission’s by evolutionists in the naturalist’s narrative of evolution.

    Very early on this comment is made:

    So even though detailed understanding has yet to be achieved, the main story of life’s beginnings is abundantly clear: Life is a natural outcome of the evolution of cosmic matter.

    —J. William Schopf. Life’s Origin: The Beginnings of Biological Evolution (Kindle Locations 56-57). Kindle Edition.

    I’m not expecting the rest of the book to have any sort of fair-minded balance between a naturalist/physical view and a transcendent view.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Jerry, I’m certainly not against reading a variety of sources. But it’s interesting to see these leaps of faith from the other side. It is really so clear that “life is a natural outcome of the evolution of cosmic matter” as Schopf says? There is zero evidence to show this.

      If that was the case (and it could still be…there may be aspects of the universe we are not yet aware of), then we would expect to see these natural processes even now in the midst of evolving life. We might see primitive early molecules or primitive forms of life perhaps on their way to what we have now — or taking some other route. We would see perhaps part of the “RNA World” that is proposed as how life started. Instead, all we see is a DNA Information World.

      I think it’s Lennox who makes the logical case that you cannot expect novel information to come from dumb algorithmic processes such as the “laws of nature.” Such forces do not lend themselves to creating information. There are, as you well know, lots of interesting patterns in nature outside of living things such as seen in minerals such as salt. Magnify a salt crystal and you will see a matrix like this.

      That is a tremendous amount of order. The natural forces are certainly capable of creating order. But the information content in that salt crystal (and I’m reiterating somebody’s argument…likely Behe’s) is nil. As you male-brained programmers out there know, all that it takes to describe a matrix such as this his just a couple bits of information.

      Simple algorithms can produce tremendous order, even infinite order. Go to your pocket calculator and put in “2 divided by 3.” You’ll get something very salt-crystal-like…an infinite series of 6’s following the decimal point. That’s a lot of order, but it took very little information to achieve it.

      But there is something like roughly 3 billion bits of information in human DNA…and some species are even vaster than that (for reasons yet unknown). That is a problem for anyone who believes in life resulting from the “evolution of cosmic matter by natural processes.” It’s not that we know this is logically impossible. Again, there is so much that we don’t know. But on the other hand, there is not one good reason to suppose this is so.

      As I think Behe notes in “The Edge of Evolution,” the only significant evolution we’ve ever witnessed is the malaria bug which, via a chance pair of mutations, acquired immunity to chloroquine. All of the other stories of “evolution” (and they do happen) require the degradation of existing functions in order to forestall some pathogen. This is what sickle cell anemia is all about, for example. A random mutation has degraded the hemoglobin molecule in such a way that when infected by the malaria bug, the hemoglobin molecule in some way “gels” itself and become non-functioning…and non-functional for malaria to use as a host for part of its life cycle.

      No new information was created. As Behe notes, cases such as this (and there are lots of them) are a matter of “scorched earth tactics” where degradation of function (by sheer mutational chance) serves to be beneficial. And, yes, this shows “natural selection” in action which, as others have noted, needn’t have been given such a fancy term for a very obvious effect.

      One of the fasted reproducing organism is E. coli. And biologists have been studying it for decades. And as yet no one has seen it evolve new features. But the E. coli (like malaria) is perfect for Neo-Darwinian evolution because there are so many in the overall population and they reproduce so fast. But so far, notta.

      We look all around the natural world, and we don’t actually see evolution in the sense of new information and features being added. If this is such a natural and inevitable process, it ought to be common to see it occurring in some form. But we don’t.

      The faith of materialists is far greater than that of theists.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Yes, one would think that by now there would be a new species somewhere created out of E. coli (or maybe even a new genus) after all those generations of tests.

      • GHG says:

        Just to play devil’s advocate – couldn’t/wouldn’t evolutionists claim the evolutionary process is too slow for observation? After all, scientific observation that can confidently claim to be able to observe on a global scale is a very short span of time compared to the billions of years before. Not that I think that argument comes even close to validating their hypotheses, but it gives them an anchor for their faith.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          The point Behe makes in The Edge of Evolution is that gradualism requires a large number of generations to get small changes. The number of generations for large animals is orders of magnitude smaller than the number for bacteria, so a good case can be made that by now we should have seen some sort of significant change in a bacterium as heavily studied as E. coli. Note that there’s no evidence that the plasmodium that causes malaria has evolved into a new species in all this time despite its micro-evolution of various immunities against medicines.

  21. Jerry Richardson says:

    Brad,

    As I think Behe notes in “The Edge of Evolution,” the only significant evolution we’ve ever witnessed is the malaria bug which, via a chance pair of mutations, acquired immunity to chloroquine. —Brad Nelson

    This is quite true; also Behe used the malaria bug to point out a curious and interesting feature relative to “evolution” that is not always mentioned: Environmentally delimiting factors (temperature in this case) of evolution.

    The fierce malarial parasite—the same evolutionary dynamo that shrugs off humanity’s drugs—has an Achilles’ heel: It won’t develop in its mosquito host unless temperatures are at the very least balmy, so it’s restricted mainly to the tropics.

    Why can fish evolve ways to live at subfreezing temperatures while malaria can’t manage to live even at merely cool temperatures?

    Somewhere in the middle of such examples lies the edge of evolution.

    —Michael J. Behe, The Edge of Evolution, p. 16

    I’m not sure if Behe gives an exact definition of “edge of evolution”; but I take it to mean that there may be many other uncategorized factors that delimit evolution (microevolution); and if that is the case, and from his evidence, it seems to be; then any sort of evolution (micro, macro, or otherwise) may not be the slam-dunk that evolutionists want it to be, and portray it as.

    It might be more akin to the Anthropic principle of fine-tuned physical laws that are fine-tuned to permit life. Of course if this is true then the question cannot be avoided: Who or what fine-tuned those laws?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Jerry, I thought that was a good example as well regarding the malaria bug not being able to evolve to warmer climates. After all, Behe says, if all it takes is a little evolution to propel a species into a far wider range of environments, why doesn’t that happen? If you can supposedly evolve a whale from a terrestrial species in a mere 40 million years with slow reproduction rates and rather minuscule overall populations (adding echolocation and all sorts of fancy stuff in the process), why can’t the malaria bug, with huge populations and short reproduction rates, evolve what you would think would be a relatively simply feature and expand its range enormously?

      Near the end of the book, I think Behe puts the “edge of evolution” at the genus or family level, at most. By that he means that natural selection has the ability to shape things to that extent. Beyond that, you’re looking at organized systems that are irreducibly complex (a sort of fixed system or “type”) not amenable to forever stretching into other shapes like a piece of Silly Putty. I found the conclusion of that book somewhat unsatisfying. And yet the “edge of evolution” also exposes the “edge of our knowledge.” I’ll cut Behe some slack.

      And if the information/speculation of Dr. Spetner is correct, what Behe is saying is irrelevant. Life may have (probably does have…to what extent is the question) the built-in ability to evolve. So although one can see natural selection working in some way on the lower edge of a species (and some say natural selection will tend to fix majority traits, not favor fixing new ones into a population), the real driver of change — at perhaps any level — is a factor built into the machine itself. And that change is driven by its response to the environment (or whatever other cues for change may exist).

      This would mean that “natural selection” (an organism interacting with its environment) is the main drive force after the fact of the built-in machinery. But the machinery itself defines the parameters of how much change is possible. You could think of this as the theory of Neo-Neo-Darwinism which finally dispenses with the worn-out and highly implausible idea of point mutations creating complex systems.

      I think we’ve just scratched the surface on this stuff. As Spetner (or someone) notes, there are species of amphibians who have absolutely gigantic genomes, even compared to humans. What’s all that information for? Spetner suggests that at least some of it has to do with the built-in mechanisms for change (evolution). Some experiments of this type suggest this is so (at least to the extent that this information doesn’t have anything to do with the normal day-to-day function of an amphibians and in producing more amphibians). And if this is so, and let’s do some logical speculation, one can suppose that as species go down certain avenues of change from the primal stock (all happening only within a phylum…or basic body plan) that the ability to change can be lost (at least beyond a certain range) — whether through losses caused by mutations (a series of useful “scorched earth tactics” as discussed in another post) or some other factor.

      The fossil record, even according to Marxist/atheist Stephen Jay Gould, shows not gradualism but species suddenly appearing in the fossil record, changing over their life span, and then looking pretty much the same when they exit the fossil record (go extinct) as when they entered it. That suggest built-in variability, but only so much. It also suggests the possibility of a least some species being created from scratch, then and there.

      On the other hand, it would appear that 20-plus brand spankin’ new phyla suddenly appeared in the Cambrian Explosion including the chordates (that may be us as well). These were fully-formed creatures with quite advanced features. Again, this is speculation, but speculation to fit the facts into some logical order and not an attempt to stuff them (as Neo-Darwinists do) into a pre-existing metaphysics.

      It’s certainly possible that from those seeds (or “kinds”) that an entire menagerie of species eventually evolved. If so, it explains why some creatures do indeed appear to be related. It also explain why no coherent “tree of life” has ever, and can likely never, be constructed that ties all of life into one family tree. That probably cannot be done because there is not just one tree. There are many trees.

      If this (or something close to it) is the reality, you could see (from our limited knowledge) how one could throw a number of theories over the top of it (including Neo-Darwinism) that could seem to explain some things (such as the power of “natural selection” or, really, the organism’s ability to change according to the environment) while getting other things profoundly wrong (such as the idea of common descent and point-mutations as the model for building complex systems gradually).

      I think if scientists keep digging, and keep an open mind, they will make some interesting discoveries. I believe the paradigm will change from a strictly materialist outlook (which presumes dumb and simple algorithmic “laws of nature” can alone create complex systems) to one that acknowledges that life is a function (at the very least) of information. And information is inherently an immaterial thing.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The Cambrian explosion is the strongest argument against the gradualism of Darwin (though not his supporter, Huxley, who believed in saltation). Dawkins argues, reasonably in its way, that there were plenty of Pre-Cambrian precursors, too soft-bodied to survive as fossils. Of course, he neglects to notice that they’re purely theoretical constructs until we actually find evidence of them. I doubt he’s capable of realizing that anymore, if he ever was.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Apparently there are fossils of sponge embryos in the pre-Cambrian fossils. This show that the fossilization of pre-Cambrian creatures was very much possible, shell or no shell. And from what I’ve read, even those on the Darwinian side admit that it is no longer the case that one can say that we’re still waiting to find the missing fossils. Enough searching has been done that we can say that they are just not there.

          It’s an extremely difficult problem, the Cambrian Explosion, whether one is a Neo-Darwinist, an Intelligent Designer, or something else. To me it is extremely odd that there should be only blue-green algae for a couple billion years (or so) and then — boom — you get this profusion of life in many different kinds.

          It’s an obvious problem for the gradualism of Neo-Darwinism, and Darwin himself was right to say that unless this was resolved, it was fatal to his theory. Well, it’s indeed fatal to his theory. The head is dead but the body stays alive out of habit.

          And those who believe in Intelligent Design (if it is to be a serious line of enquiry) need to deduce some kind of overall purpose and plan regarding this designing. And if at the end of the day one has only just-so stories that function as little more than substitutes for what looks like haphazard contingency, then design falters as a theory. That is, if the designer’s effects look as random and haphazard as you’d expect of a natural cause, then why invoke a designer?

          One must find a way to make sense out of having nothing apparently but cyanobacteria for billions of years and then — boom — the Cambrian explosion. Did the blue-green algae serve the purpose of seeding the atmosphere with oxygen?

          And if there is a design and a Designer, why the various mass extinctions? Surely no one disagrees that the dinosaurs were amazing creatures. Why would a designer (if that designer had the power and stayed engaged with his designs) allow a random comet to destroy his garden?

          If the Cambrian Explosion, and its 20 or more phyla, represents multiple acts of specific creation, why were there later phylum that emerged? Is re-seeding of the earth necessary or is the earth more of a play thing? What does the preponderance of the evidence suggest? Can we divine any patterns?

          I think the biggest problem with Intelligent Design is that the history of life on earth is so haphazard that it doesn’t look like a coherent plan. Again, perhaps someone will note some kind of coherent and logical overall plan. Could happen. But there could be even weirder and more surprising influences going on. I’ll keep an open mind in the meantime.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            One interesting theory suggests that the key is vision. Until the atmosphere cleared sufficiently for the Sun (and Moon) to be visible as bodies, there was no use for any visual capacity other than general recognition of light. After that, vision began to develop, and this drove evolution. (It also links in well with a symbolic reading of Genesis.)

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              and this drove evolution

              Well, that’s the $5000 question. What is “evolution”? What “drives” it? What creates biologically complex features that are useful?

              The presence of light can’t really “drive” evolution unless evolution is considered an inevitable outcome of the workings of natural processes given time. But certainly a designer would not likely create life with advanced vision if there was little to see.

              We have two choices at the moment: Complex systems and information are an inevitability of the known laws of chemistry and physics.

              Or, these systems as they exist in life were designed.

  22. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Annie, it sounds as if you’re giving yourself a good lesson in biology. This is the newfangled version of dropping acid (amino acid, that is).

    I’m not sure where Dr. Carter is coming from in terms of the 6000 year old earth. It seems to me the evidence is abundantly clear that the earth is much older than that.

    Of course, there are those who think the same thing about any non-materialist approach to the universe. One is considered not just in error but a little bit cracked if one believes that someone actually designed the universe (and life).

    But one would hope there is some kind of happy medium here. Thomas Aquinas said that if there is a conflict between the facts of the world and one’s faith, that it was one’s faith one had to reconcile with the facts of the world.

    One thing that fuels the zealousness of Neo-Darwinists and atheists is no doubt the young-earthers. It gives them a reason do dump everyone into the same basket and to dismiss serious critiques of Neo-Darwinism and the materialist view of the universe.

    I find the idea of God completely mysterious and yet ultimately inevitable. But I’ve never been of the type who so needs his personal world view affirmed that I would ignore mountains of evidence. The spreading of the oceans at the mid-Atlantic works like a clock. It can be measured. The oceans spread at about the rate that a fingernail grows. You can see unambiguous signs of this spreading that add up to at least a million years.

    We may interpret what the evidence means, but we’re advised not to dispense with it altogether. And I find it difficult to take Dr. Carter seriously on the rest of his views if he also believes in a 6000 year old earth. He seems to be twisting the evidence to fit his biblical views. Well, that’s his right. But one aspect so infuriating about Neo-Darwinists is their incessant twisting of any and everything to fit their theory, no matter how absurd the twisting gets.

    To do science properly requires objectivity. The point is to get to the truth, not bolster one’s pet theory. The lack of integrity in science has led to the corruption of much of science as we see in the global warming fraud, for example. For what it’s worth, I think Stephen Meyer in his books sets a very good tone. He reasons logically, and at the end of one of his books he notes that he’s a Christian and has certain beliefs. But he’s willing to deal in logic, data, facts, and reasonable inferences when taking on the the subject of Neo-Darwinism critiques and intelligent design. He doesn’t mix the two even if what fires him may be his belief in God.

    But science itself still has certain requirements. Holding a young-earth view, in my opinion, is highly problematic. And it’s unnecessary for belief in the Bible as far as I’m concerned.

    • Anniel says:

      I also have problems with the young earth theory, but I can easily believe that the “days” of creation were not each 24 hours. That’s why I speak of what someone means by “day.” Some things I can well believe didn’t happen until after the Fall, so the timing of happenings is crucial, for either side of the controversy.

      I began reading the next chapter last night, hoping that it would be more manageable. HA. But reading made me decide to change tactics here and make what I write more of a real Review. This book, if it was honestly meant to appeal to a general audience, should have been handed over to a good editor and maybe even a translator, because these guys speak a different language than most people I know. But there are so many gems of thought to be teased out that I have decided to make those accessible to our readers if I can.

  23. Timothy Lane says:

    Lamarckism is the idea that animals make changes (such as proto-giraffes stretching their necks to reach leaves on trees), and those changes are inherited. Skeptics have suggested that the persistence of circumcision among Jews is a good argument against the theory, but I have encountered, at least in microbiology, some sort of Neo-Lamarckism.

    • Anniel says:

      From today’s perspective, Lamarckism really seems kind of silly, but it’s understandable how he came up with the idea. Neo-Lamarckism, I can remember a form of that when I was in High School.

  24. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Annie writes in Part 3:

    Everyone on both sides of the Evolution controversy agrees that our genetic structure is degrading.

    In Appendix A of Stephen Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell,” one of the dozen ID-inspired predictions he makes is:

    • If an intelligent (and benevolent) agent designed life, then studies of putatively bad designs in life—such as the vertebrate retina and virulent bacteria—should reveal either (a) reasons for the designs that show a hidden functional logic or (b) evidence of decay of originally good designs.

    Meyer also writes:

    The theory of intelligent design also predicts that instances of “bad” design in nature may turn out to be degenerate forms of originally elegant or beneficial designs. Critics of design have pointed to the existence of organisms such as virulent (disease-producing) bacteria to refute the ID hypothesis, arguing that an intelligent and beneficent designer would not have made such organisms. Some design theorists (in this case, those who hold that the designer is both intelligent and benevolent) predict that genetic studies will reveal that virulent bacterial systems are degenerative systems that have resulted from a loss of aboriginal genetic information.6 University of Idaho microbiologist Scott Minnich, an ID advocate, has specifically predicted that the virulence capacity in Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that caused the black plague in medieval Europe, resulted from genetic mutations that stopped it from manufacturing molecules and structures recognized by the human immune system. He is currently conducting experimental tests of this hypothesis. He and his team already have shown that the more limited virulence capacity of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis (a bacterium that causes gastroenteritis) resulted from the mutational degradation of genes that produce flagellin, a protein that the human immune system recognizes in flagellar motors of bacteria. Minnich and his team have found that virulence in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis can be reduced by restoring its gene for producing flagellin.7 This plus a growing body of data showing that virulence capacity in bacteria generally results from a loss of genetic information have provided a significant initial confirmation of the ID-generated prediction about the cause of bacterial virulence.8

    Meyer also has some writing in the appendix which talks about the various conceptions of Intelligent Design. He notes there are various (as one would expect) takes on it. Some think that the Designer pre-loaded his creation at the front end with all the information necessary to then evolve at will (in either one cell, or several kinds or types). Others think several creation events could have been sprinkled through time. These are logical ideas based on the overall idea of Intelligent Design and what we see in the fossil record which is truly a bit of a hodgepodge.

    It’s also a completely logical idea that if you create a structure — no matter how good — that it will degrade over time. Meyer and others speculate that some of the diseases or viruses we see were once not harmful to humans but became that way due to degradation of its genome. Could be. But this kind of thinking also veers very close to a sort of “make everything fit into your theory no matter what” thinking so typical of Darwinism. Still, IDers present such things as possibilities to help guide research, not restrict thinking….which is so often the case with Neo-Darwinism. I applaud the IDers willingness to speculate on the implications of ID and how one could determine by the evidence of life which is more likely. Let’s hope they maintain the spirit of true science and also gladly point out things that don’t jibe with their idea of an Intelligent Designer.

    And I guess that’s my job, because I haven’t read too much about this in the literature leaving some evidence for the idea (from the materialists/atheists) that ID is only about forwarding one’s religion. Still, to read Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell” is not to give him credit for the effort he put into the book to try to rise above any such criticism. Still, I haven’t read much, if any, learned opinions from IDers about the problems their theory faces given what we know at present. It’s an obvious question, for example, why an Intelligent Designer (assuming god-like powers) would let a Comet wipe out his creations, or why one would need to create an entire universe if, indeed, only the earth is to be the reservoir of life. Appealing to ideas such as “The Privileged Planet” sounds more like painting a mythology than dealing with some interesting facts.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One thing to remember is that an intelligent designer need not be a perfect designer. Consider the Ford Pinto (which I think of mentioned here before). It was, technically, an intelligent design — but flawed. Unless one presumes that the designer must be an omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-compassionate, this possibility cannot be ruled out.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I agree. Technically speaking, an Intelligent Designer need not be a perfect designer even though probably 99.9% of people equate this designer with an all-powerful god.

        And as Meyer notes in the appendix of “Signature in the Cell,” it is common to parse the idea of a designer as benevolent as well.

        But a designer need not be omnipotent nor perfect (or even particularly benevolent). A designer may be imminent (some sort of space alien) or transcendent. Of course, who designed the space alien? But, logically speaking, we don’t know these sorts of details. And, to my mind, what we see on earth, in the fossil record, and the way life works (it eats each other, for example), the idea of Earth being seeded as some kind of glorified ant farm or experiment for vastly more advanced creatures seems as probable as anything.

        Being a fellow lover of science fiction, I’m sure you find that scenario exciting and can likely think of others. But I think it is likely, in practice, that “intelligent design” means “God” and it means sort of proving one’s religion. And even without ID or Neo-Darwinism, one would tend to want to do that anyway. But considering how nasty the materialists/atheists have been to believers, I can understand a little bit of payback.

        What I’m convinced of beyond a reasonable doubt is that the laws of chemistry and physics cannot produce these complex systems full of specified information. Perhaps when we find out what that other 96% of the universe is made of, we’ll have some more ideas as to the possibilities. And if a designer is involved, perhaps some pattern will arise by which we can deduce some sort of purpose, let alone technique.

        • GHG says:

          I may be oversimplifying this or maybe missed the point entirely – but it seems to me the reason for degradation is that life was not designed to be permanent/eternal, both in terms of individual organisms and species.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Mr. Lesser, you’re far beyond “missing the point.” It seems to me that your opinion on this is as good as anyone’s. And yours may be a good point. And I hate to go all philosophical on you (well, really, that’s not true) but something to consider is that if we all had perfect genes, a perfect body, a perfect mind — what would we be? Narcissistic, vulgar vegetables?

            For those on the materialist Left (atheists, Neo-Darwinists, etc.), being flawless is what is important or defines the ultimate goal. But if one is on the theological right, one realizes that it is in overcoming and dealing with imperfections that we gain meaning and purpose — not to mention more than a little wisdom. For a human to be perfect would be to take something away from him, as harsh as our imperfections often are.

            You remind me of Stephen Meyer who says that if one picks up the design argument as a hypothesis, one might discover things (such as that Junk DNA is not junk) that one might not have discovered otherwise. I shall therefore take your idea, put it in my pipe and smoke it, as they say. (Does anyone still really say that?)

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Also…

            Degradation is sort of a feature rather than a bug . . . at least in terms for giving evidence for design. Anything designed and then set into motion is going to bend to the laws of thermodynamics. It’s going to degrade, no matter how clever the programming or the programmer.

            This is quite in contradiction to Neo-Darwinism (and the utopian ever-onward-and-upward mindset it has spawned on the Left in politics and social thinking). With Neo-Darwinism, one should see steady improvement. Indeed, mankind, and the societies he lives in, are considered perfectible. Imperfections, rather than being opportunities for learning as conservatives and true Christians believe, are to be rubbed out.

            I’m willing to bet, for example, that people who believe in God engage in less cosmetic surgery than atheists.

  25. GHG says:

    I’ve just started “The Origin of Life” chapter and so far I find the book chock full of fun facts that I didn’t know. However, although the author explains what the evolutionist position is in many cases as he juxtaposes the creationist position, it is after all the creationist speaking for the evolutionist and therefore must be held with at least some skepticism. Obviously this is part and parcel with this type of book and done by all sides of an issue to some degree, but wouldn’t it be more enlightening to hear an evolutionist defend his position – a debate or point/counterpoint. So while all the reasons (so far) seem logical in the refutation of evolutionary theory, I sure would like to hear from the other side.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      One of the reasons this is difficult, Mr. Lesser, is that “evolution” is typically just a narrative thrown over the top that adds nothing to our understanding. In this article by Michael Eynor, he writes:

      . . . evolutionary inferences are of no significant help to medical research. Inference to evolution is a narrative gloss on the real science in medicine.

      That is consistent with what Dr. Spetner says in his book. Neo-Darwinism is little more than a collection of stories.

      This is one of the problems of getting information from “the other side.” The “other side” is akin to the global warming zealots. And like these zealots, there isn’t anything that happens in biology that isn’t said to fit the predictions of Neo-Darwinism. This is similar to the global warming cult. If it’s warming, it’s a sign of global warming. If it’s cooler, it’s a sign of global warming. Etc.

      So, really, although one should be cautious regarding the positive claims of Intelligent Design for their theory, the claims of Neo-Darwinists can be dismissed wholesale. And it seems the best critiques of Neo-Darwinism – whether Intelligent Design is true or not – come from the IDers, but not just from the IDers.

      We’re dealing with a conflict of worldviews. In the middle (potentially) is that neutral position of science which will let the facts fall as they may while honestly expressing the limitations of what science can tell us about the world. Such limitations are huge.

      As Stephen Meyer notes, it’s inevitable that the idea of Intelligent Design will have theistic implications. But as I might note, neither critiques of Neo-Darwinism or positive arguments for Intelligent Design ought to automatically be put in the service of defending one’s religion. That just muddies the waters, although to draw implications from Intelligent Design in regards to one’s religious beliefs seems perfectly reasonable. It’s just that I think one should be careful of arguing a counter-narrative only, leaving the logical facts and evidence to be the lone bastards of mere ideology, with scientific thought or logical reasoning left an orphan.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        One thing I’ve seen in Darwinist arguments is the notion that all of biology depends on evolution. This is so obviously ridiculous that it has helped increase my skepticism about their argument.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Timothy, one of the things that Jonathan Wells in “Icons of Evolution” notes is that even many modern college-level textbooks on biology typically do not mention evolution, or if they do, only three or four times, and even then they are token mentions. The fact is, to understand the systems involved in no way requires an evolutionary mindset.

          But as Stephen Meyer has noted, much can be gained by putting on the mindset that supposes there is design involved. And that, apparently, is the de facto way of approaching biology, if only because to assume some sort of integrated system gives biologists answers and supposing something “evolved” is of no practical use. That alone should tell us something.

  26. Jerry Richardson says:

    GHG,

    Obviously this is part and parcel with this type of book and done by all sides of an issue to some degree, but wouldn’t it be more enlightening to hear an evolutionist defend his position – a debate or point/counterpoint. —GHG

    I agree; however, I choose to look for “counterpoint” by exploring other books. The primary reason is that a well-written book that actually can and does present accurately and fairly both sides of any controversial issue is almost an impossible find. Hidden biases and unstated, often unrecognized, assumptions are virtually impossible for any author to avoid.

    One of the books that I am currently reading (studying) in conjunction with EVOLUTION’s Achilles Heel is the following:

    The Unintended Disservice of Young Earth Science

    The author Andrew S. Balian, Esq. is openly a Christian, and a Creationist, but not a Young Earth Creationist (YEC). The main thrust of his book is to argue that the YEC movement hurts the cause of Christianity; but also that it argues for an interpretation of Creation that is not mandated by the actual Biblical text, and some of the interpretations do not fit at all with many reasonable scientific facts.

    My personal view initially will sound very similar to the young earth view. I believe Genesis 1:5 defined yôm to mean a daylight period. This means that unless the context makes clear otherwise, the meaning is 12 hours (not 24 hours), assuming the Sun was the source of light since day one.58 Where I diverge from a young earth reading is when I look at the term “evening.” It is not necessarily to be equated to “night,” which would be the general 12 hours after daylight. (Gen. 1:5.) Instead, the term “evening” in Genesis One was regarded in the early church as a figure-of-speech. It meant the end of knowledge or developments. It could encompass a long period of time between creative actions.
    —-
    Hence, in my personal view, there are unquestionably two alternative ways that a long period exists within the Genesis One account: (a) the evening prior to day one but after the beginning when the heavens and the Earth were created can be a long period; and (b) the term “evening” is not part of God’s definition of day (or of “night”) but was used as a figure-of-speech wherein we can find an undefined and potentially long period of time precedes each of the days one through six.
    —-
    Incidentally, I call my view the modified long-lag view.
    —Balian, Andrew (2011-05-05). The Unintended Disservice of Young Earth Science (Kindle Locations 359-375). Kindle Edition.

    In terms of the science discussed in his book, Andrew presents a quite lengthy discussion of “Protein Folding.” If you have a Kindle version of EVOLUTION’s Achilles Heel and you do a search for “folding” or “protein-folding” you will find only 3 instances—at least that’s all I found—in the book where it is mentioned; but not expounded-upon. Why is that? I’m not sure since “Protein Folding” has long been a research topic; and is still a hot topic in protein microbiology.

    Protein folding 01: The protein folding problem

    Feb 5, 2015 • ericminikel • Cambridge, MA • mit-7.88j

    These are my notes from week 1 of MIT course 7.88j: Protein Folding and Human Disease, held by Dr. Jonathan King on February 5, 2015.

    Introduction
    This class focuses on a central unsolved question in biology: how does amino acid sequence direct the folding of proteins? How does cellular machinery assist? We will also discuss human pathologies associated with failures of protein folding. Because the central question here is unanswered, we still do not know what areas of knowledge will prove most relevant to solving it. Dr. King predicts that the problem will be solved – that protein structure will be predictable from sequence alone – within 5-10 years.

    The Protein Folding Problem

    It is curious to me that Dr. Carter would not write at least a paragraph of explanation especially since he pronounced 3-D structure of DNA to be “very important.” Here’s is only a part of Andrew Balian’s lengthy discussion on “Protein Folding” in his book:

    Study On DNA Backfires On Naturalistic Origins

    The protein-folding to build the machinery of your cells—controlled by DNA—requires super-computing capacity built into DNA. This DNA-computer skill tremendously exceeds the power of any super-computer man has ever built.
    —-
    DNA operates precisely as if it had a tool bag of protein patterns and then, depending on which protein tool it needs to perform cell repair, cell transport, etc., it builds that specific protein. To do so, it folds a strand of synthesized amino acids into a precise three-dimensional shape without which it cannot serve its function: “[D]ifferent structures [of protein’s shapes] reflect specifically different functions….”481 Thus, DNA operates like it has schematic drawings of thousands of different proteins (which serve as tools) from which to choose for thousands of different and highly specialized tasks. At the very moment necessary, a gene somewhere on the DNA strand first spits out the amino acids to create a highly specific polypeptide chain—sometimes very long. After doing so, it initiates a fold into a three-dimensional complex molecule-assembly known as a protein. This is folded into a very precise shape necessary to the specific function that such protein is to perform. In science, this is known as the “protein folding problem.”
    —-
    That is, it must precisely sequence each amino acid into one molecular chain until it has generated about a minimum of 300-plus amino acids. Then it next faces the protein folding problem. The gene segment within DNA which controls this creation must solve a true traveling salesman problem. This means it must find the equivalent of the shortest path between at least, on average, 300 cities.
    —-
    The Killer Issue: Protein Folding Is Computationally Hard

    Now we turn to the most enormous problem of all, and one never discussed as far as I know in creationist literature. In other words, ‘you have seen nothing yet.’ We now discuss the protein folding problem. This problem requires hard computational ability to be present in DNA. It necessarily operates at a level that far exceeds any human computers by a quantum leap. And DNA has indeed been proven to have this ability comparable to the imagined quantum supercomputer of the future! (Indeed, it is reasonable to infer that DNA has a quantum computer built-in, which other scientists are nibbling at as the solution, undeniably awestruck that this might be the solution.)

    —Balian, Andrew (2011-05-05). The Unintended Disservice of Young Earth Science (Kindle Locations 3906-4071). Kindle Edition.

    If you are familiar with the so-called “Traveling Salesman Problem” then you will have some appreciation for the difficulty of the problem.

    What we are about to discuss is how difficult is the choice which the gene is faced with when it assembles the protein into a three-dimensional shape. The three-hundred-plus amino acids that are minimally necessary to form a single protein must be shaped by the gene in DNA into a three-dimensional shape which is precisely the single right shape to have its appropriate function. Without this shape, it does not have the intended function and would be useless debris within the cell. The gene segment of the DNA doing this must execute unseen algorithms and compute solutions that are the same as what is known as the travelling salesman problem, as mentioned earlier.492 This famous mathematical problem is present in protein folding. It represents the difficulty of finding the one right path out of millions of possibilities that is the shortest route that passes only once through each of numerous cities—which in a protein is the right three-dimensional angulation/connections of each polypeptide on the chain of 300-plus amino acids.

    —Balian, Andrew (2011-05-05). The Unintended Disservice of Young Earth Science (Kindle Locations 4071-4080). Create Space. Kindle Edition.

    There are many other interesting earth-age related discussions in the book. Especially worth reading, I think, is the Appendix L: Moon Dust Clock.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That sounds like an interesting book, Jerry. One of the reviewers at Amazon wrote:

      I was surprised to learn that the young-Earth position was virtual history until Henry Morris revived it in order to refute evolution, thinking (erroneously) that any old-Earth position would necessarily include evolution.

      That makes sense. For Darwinism to work, you need lots and lots of time for gradualism to work its magic. And the dagger in the heart of Neo-Darwinism is the reality of the protein. Each is made of highly improbably strings of amino acids (and the reality of folding adds to the complexity).

      When the idea of point mutations jigging the DNA one mutation at a time was the conceptual model, this was a reasonable proposition. If mere bricks are your building material then, with time, you could conceivably build the Great Wall of China.

      But what if the “bricks” were the size of a house? Who could ever lift them into place? And that’s the problem faced by the gradualism of Neo-Darwinism which uses the point-mutation/natural selection model for constructing things. The protein itself is not amenable to this kind of gradualism.

      Irreducibly complex systems also exist as well, and Neo-Darwinism can’t account for them. David Klinghoffer quotes Howard Glickman in a post at Evolution News:

      That may be why scientists are much more prone than engineers to posit a chance origin for a complex system. The most likely reason for this disparity is that the overwhelming majority of scientists have never had to conceive, specify, design, test, field and maintain such a system themselves. In the real world of complex digital and analog systems, one wrong bit, in one message, in one interface, in one component of the system may bring the whole thing to a screeching (or smoking) halt.

      Design for robustness and fault tolerance hopefully minimizes the probability of this, but that is, of course, design. There are infinitely more ways to get it wrong than to get it right.

      Having written a few programs myself, it’s remarkable how much time goes into error correction (usually filtering out inappropriate input data from the user) and not just the nuts-and-bolts intended functions of the program. You have to put a lot of time and thought into preventing ways of your system from coming crashing down. Even if one could conceive of some kind of complex system self-assembling, it would all fall apart in a hurry without carefully-designed (and there is no other word than “design”) error-correction and fault-tolerance systems being built on top and all throughout it.

      But it’s very easy to tell just-so stories, to rationalize anything, to prop up one’s materialist religion with a few equivalent “Hail Marys” from the naturalist side of things. And make no mistake, Neo-Darwinism is a religion, a narrative thrown over the top. And unlike a theistic narrative (which has an inherent and inexorable logic), Neo-Darwinism doesn’t explain anything other than relatively minor workings at the micro level via “natural selection.”

      Neo-Darwinism is, in many respects, just what critics have said it is…an obvious tautology. “Survival of the fittest” is a tautology. The fact that someone who gets sick as a child and dies will not pass on his or her genes is considered a revolutionary thought. And it’s not that “natural selection” doesn’t powerfully help to shape a species, and in ways we’ve barely come to grips with. But it’s no more of a statement than saying “things effects things” or “when it rains, you get wet.” But they blow it up into a Cosmic explainer of all things — ideologically and politically laying claim to the amazing reality of DNA, cellular mechanism, and the diversity of life itself without being able to explain them.

      If Leftism makes you stupid then so does Neo-Darwinism. And anyone who has listened to the ravings of Richard Dawkins (who has an otherwise superior brain) can see how true this is.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        When I was studying Computer Science at Purdue, at least one professor pointed out that most of the work was spent in error correction. As a professional programmer, I learned how right he was. If you have a program executing thousands of times every day, then blowing up one time in a thousand means blowing up several times a day, which is totally unacceptable. This requires a phenomenal degree of reliability.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Perhaps “Intelligent Design” should be called “Intelligent Degeneration.” Think about how (if designed with forethought) the human immune system is designed to deal with all kinds of invading viruses and bacteria….even ones it has never met before (and thus, one supposes, were not directly designed). It’s not just fault-protection but it’s fault protection that is adaptive.

          And if there is a designer, this shows unambiguously that life was either designed to evolve or that evolution (through degeneration or however) was inevitable.

          The Designer knew that his creation would degenerate (or at least change), for why else would he need to protect it from unknown circumstances? Either that, or the Designer intentionally pitted life against life and thought it would be sporting to give hosts a chance against invaders.

    • Anniel says:

      Jerry – all I can say is Wow! Thank you for the additional info.

  27. Jerry Richardson says:

    Brad,

    And the dagger in the heart of Neo-Darwinism is the reality of the protein. Each is made of highly improbably strings of amino acids (and the reality of folding adds to the complexity). —Brad

    I feel the same way. What I don’t get is why, if it’s true:

    Now we turn to the most enormous problem of all, and one never discussed as far as I know in creationist literature. —Andrew Balian

    I’ve been speculating as to why this might be true, if it is true. Currently, here’s my only speculation: The “protein problem” definitely seems to support ID (Intelligent Design). Is it possible that YECs are uncomfortable with ID? If so, why? The most common hit on ID that I hear from them is that ID proponents refuse to acknowledge God as a formal part of ID; however, it is a well-known fact that many ID proponents are Christian.

    Does the author just have it wrong? What are your thoughts?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Is it possible that YECs are uncomfortable with ID? If so, why?

      Jerry, as you know, it’s not my job to insult the religious. People believe all kinds of things of various veracity and probability. Life puts us in the driver’s seat of a car going 100 mph down a winding road and we have no option but to adopt some kind of functional paradigm. Therefore, I don’t consider it low-brow to have a belief system. The nature of the world not only requires it, but the remarkable nature of the existence demands it from any thinking person.

      But as for young earth theory, my best guess would be that it’s a reaction against Darwinism (probably, at heart, for the reasons which that Amazon reviewer maintained, that a young earth leaves no time for Darwinism to work); it’s an aspect of a certain Christian sub-culture out there where beliefs play more of a social function; and it’s a product of the so-called low information voter (believer, in this case).

      It’s worth noting that many Christians have tried to dispense with the label of “low-information voter” by adopting Darwinian evolution and saying, “Well, if that’s the way God designed it then that’s the way God designed it.” And, indeed, it is entirely possible (from our limited understanding) that built-into nature is the ability (via organizing factors we do not yet know of) for life to evolve out of inanimate matter. But I suspect most Christians of this type are simply mindlessly flowing with the culture. They’re particularly afraid of appearing dumb or backward by not believing in Neo-Darwinism.

      But pretending not to be a low-information voter by adopting ideas one does not really understand does not make one any less of a low-information voter. The more we look at Neo-Darwinism, and the more we look at how life actually is and operates, the more legitimate reasons there are to doubt it as a theory, whether or not intelligent design is true.

      Scott Walker certainly flubbed the question. But it wasn’t an honest question to begin with. But Walker, like most people who are immersed in the culture (particularly including anyone who has gone to university), likely knows little of legitimate critiques of Darwinism. They may have heard (no thanks to the young earth theory) that those who doubt Neo-Darwinism tend to be snake-handlers. Much like homosexual marriage is becoming, the idea of Neo-Darwinism right now plays a social role in determining who is supposedly not a knucklehead. To not believe in it puts one in a difficult social position. You are considered low-brow, uninformed, if not (as Dawkins says) insane. But scientifically, one is on very firm ground to disbelieve the Neo-Darwinian theory. So what matters more, the truth or looking stupid to others?

      It’s only now — thanks in large part to Meyer, Wells, Behe, Berlinski, Spetner, Dembski, Paul Nelson, David Klinghoffer, and others — that serious critiques of Darwinism beyond the snake-handler variety have started to take hold. It’s becoming socially acceptable (which, in a perfect world, would not matter in the least) to doubt Darwin. And the word seems to be that most scientists already understand Neo-Darwin’s weakness. But the culture of science still demands that they genuflect to the idol. But the stature of that idol will likely continue to erode until most see that the emperor is not fully clothed.

      Surely part of the problem in all this was identified by Barbie long ago: “Math is hard.” And, indeed, understanding the basics of biology, DNA, cellular systems — let alone how any of this could have started — takes a lot of leg work. So people in this dumbed-down culture reach for cultural signposts instead of doing the work that Annie is doing, for instance, and trying to get a basic understanding of this stuff. It’s not enough just to be pro-Darwin or anti-Darwin, to be a part of a knee-jerk faction. The actual information and complex systems of life aren’t going to be explained by cultural conceits. There is real stuff down there in the cell begging to be understood and explained. Snake-handlers on either end of this argument don’t add much to figuring this stuff out.

      As for whether ID proponents refuse to acknowledge God as a formal part of ID, I think the real issue here isn’t facts or science. It’s the metaphysics of naturalism that have been so propagandized into people that to even think that it might not be true (and that some form of theism is therefore true) is mind-boggling to them (and to me still, really). I’m the first to say that I don’t think we know a tinker’s damn about any purported Creator’s nature. But that there is a thoughtful and purposeful cause to everything is, and ought to be, the obvious default position.

      But we can have some sympathy for just how badly propagandized many have become, particular with the extreme corruption of scientific thought as it proposes all kinds of absurdities, from the inflation theory of the universe to the theory of the multiverse, all to avoid the idea of a Creator. Add the global warming fraud and the general perversion of science (and religion) by the offshoots of Marxism, and one can see why we are where we are today: a culture that is, at the cultural level at least, mentally ill.

      Dennis Prager often notes the Biblical idea of “The fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Well, “fear” isn’t a very PC word. But certainly if one is hell bent on excluding this idea and thus infusing mere matter with magical properties, then can one really expect much rationality in this debate? It used to be the default position that there was a Designer. It was a general guideline for people such as Newton, Galileo, and many others. And this proposition has proved enormously fruitful. On the other hand, a strict materialist metaphysics has turned many into the equivalent of mental eunuchs. We get the multiverse and other absurdities.

      It’s perfectly okay for ID to have a God in the background. Or not. Critiques of the obvious problems of Neo-Darwinism don’t yet actually require a design inference. One can take a wrecking ball to a dilapidated old building without first having an idea of what you will build there next (although it might help). Some forthright critics of Neo-Darwinism, such as Dr. Spetner, don’t give much credence to ID (or at least he’s just not going there at the moment).

      And that is the crux of it. The Neo-Darwinists like nothing more than to paint all critics of Darwinism as fundamentally snake-handling young-earth Christian kooks. And that, by inference, has been spread to the very idea of God, of a Designer. To even suppose such a thing is to put you in that same grouping. But a reasonable and honest approach will recognize that critiques of Darwinism and arguments for Intelligent Design are two different subjects. One might do the former and not believe in the latter.

      But at some point, unless some new law of nature is found, we’re going to face the apparent fact that we are stuck with the idea of purposeful design in nature. As Meyer explains, if you dispense with every other explanation, that is what is left (and, as he would note, is the only explanation with the power to create the specified information in the cell and the various systems). And it’s truly an astonishing proposition. It’s one thing to sort of have “God” as a Cosmic religious constant in the background. We all know that if religious people actually acted as if God was real, most would not act the way they do.

      But Intelligent Design challenges all sides. Here we have quite possible a real artifact of God Almighty in unambiguous terms. Neo-Darwinists cling to their theory because it functions more as a world view. Snake-handlers likely do the same in regards to the young earth. But I have a feeling that Thomas Aquinas, among others, would be comfortable with doing careful work regarding the theory of intelligent design while holding in the background the idea of Almighty God. One might (probably does) necessarily lead to the other. But scientific investigation — even regarding major paradigm shifts — still has a logical process that should be followed.

      If only Dawkins and his ilk were of the fundamentally careful and honest nature of a Richard Feynman who ultimately was interested in what was true. But apparently the Feynman types are quite rare in science these days. Heck, he was rare in his own day as well.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Elizabeth’s brother-in-law is a Baptist preacher and creationist who has little use for ID, seeing it in essence as a cop-out.

        The current National Geographic (which just came a day or two back) has an article on “the war against science” that, to judge from the cover, includes topics such as disbelief in “climate change” and evolution as well as various other topics. Since few people doubt either climate or climate change, this already sounds like hackwork. It’s such dishonesty from scientists that leads to skepticism about science.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Elizabeth’s brother-in-law is a Baptist preacher and creationist who has little use for ID, seeing it in essence as a cop-out.

          That’s interesting, Timothy. For starters, one thing I won’t do regarding the subject is apply an emotional connection in place of reasonable reasoning about the evidence and general subject. One might be “copping out” and yet still be on the right track. Richard Dawkins may be an asshole, but it is not yet proven how life started and evolved, so he could yet turn out to be right (or partially right).

          I won’t, and don’t, argue this in regards to factions, common conceits, what is politically correct, considerations of what might make me look less foolish, etc. None of that has anything to do with good science and good thinking.

          That said, how could anyone be a Creationist and not be for Intelligent Design? It all depends what “creationism” means to the particular person in quest ion, and John Lennox notes about the various meanings of that word (just as there are various meanings to the word, “evolution”). But if one thinks that God created the universe, I fail to see how it is a “cop-out” to suggest that he created life.

          Granted, he might have created the universe in such a way so that the evolution of life was a given via overall “laws,” thus he wouldn’t have tinkered directly with what kind of life would emerge, although an omniscient Creator would likely have some idea in regards to that.

          So, with all due respect, it sounds as if Elizabeth’s Baptist preacher is preaching out of his backside and hasn’t the barest idea what Intelligent Design is. For a theist, the question isn’t *if* there is design, but at what stage or stages it occurs. One could, of course, take a more deist approach and see the design elements front-loaded at the start of the universe and then it all just sort of plays out as it will. Even so, the universe would still be “intelligently designed.”

          So I think we’ve run into an emotional reaction rather than anything with, to my mind, the barest familiarity with what this preacher is talking about.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I suspect that you’re right that he doesn’t really know anything about ID (or likely Darwinism, for that matter). But then, most people don’t, and have some sort of opinion on the subject anyway. One reason I find this interesting is that Michael Shermer claims that ID is simply creationism in disguise.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              But then, most people don’t, and have some sort of opinion on the subject anyway.

              Have opinion, will travel. That’s what this place is all about. And Elizabeth’s pastor is more than welcome to submit an essay here if he’d like.

              One reason I find this interesting is that Michael Shermer claims that ID is simply creationism in disguise.

              Well, Shermer is an idiot. And I say that with all the conservative compassion I can muster. But some people have a little bit too much fun playing around with the dark side of the force.

              Of course Intelligent Design is creationism. It just matters what one means by “creationism.” Which type? As John Lennox notes in “God’s Undertaker”:

              Secondly, before we address the question whether intelligent design is crypto-creationism we need to avoid another potential misunderstanding by considering the meaning of the term ‘creationism’ itself. For its meaning has changed as well. ‘Creationism’ used to denote simply the belief that there was a Creator. However, it has now come to mean not only belief in a Creator but also a commitment to a whole additional raft of ideas by far the most dominant of which is a particular interpretation of Genesis which holds that the earth is only a few thousand years old. This mutation in the meaning of ‘creationism’ or ‘creationist’ has had three very unfortunate effects. First of all it polarizes the discussion and gives an apparently soft target to those who reject out of hand any notion of intelligent causation in the universe. Secondly, it fails to do justice to the fact that there is a wide divergence of opinion on the interpretation of the Genesis account even among those Christian thinkers who ascribe final authority to the biblical record. Finally, it obscures the (original) purpose of using the term ‘intelligent design’, which is to make a very important distinction between the recognition of design and the identification of the designer.

              These are different questions. The second of them is essentially theological and agreed by most to be outside the provenance of science. The point of making the distinction is to clear the way to asking whether there is any way in which science can help us with the answer to the first question. It is therefore unfortunate that this distinction between two radically different questions is constantly obscured by the accusation that ‘intelligent design’ is shorthand for ‘crypto-creationism’. The oft repeated question whether intelligent design is science can be rather misleading, certainly if we understand the term ‘intelligent design’ in its original sense. Suppose we were to ask the parallel questions: Is theism science? Is atheism science? Most people would give a negative answer. But if we were now to say that what we are really interested in is whether there is any scientific evidence for theism (or for atheism), then we are likely to be faced with the reply: Why, then, did you not say so?

              If Shermer is as intelligent as he thinks he is, he knows this. So I take it that he is either dishonest or blinded by his zealous fundamentalist religion of naturalism/atheism. What Lennox is articulating here isn’t fancy thinking. It’s clear as a bell. If atheists can’t be bothered with learning history then who is the uninformed party? Who is the arrogant one?

              • Timothy Lane says:

                I would say Shermer is blinded by the zeal of his professional skepticism. As for the pastor, note that he isn’t Elizabeth’s pastor. He and Elizabeth’s sister live somewhere around Richmond, Kentucky (they moved since we last visited).

  28. Jerry Richardson says:

    Timothy/Brad,

    Elizabeth’s brother-in-law is a Baptist preacher and creationist who has little use for ID, seeing it in essence as a cop-out. —Timothy

    And that is the crux of it. The Neo-Darwinists like nothing more than to paint all critics of Darwinism as fundamentally snake-handling young-earth Christian kooks. And that, by inference, has been spread to the very idea of God, of a Designer. —Brad

    Please don’t imagine that all Baptist preachers are anti-ID. The large Baptist church where I am a member invited William Dembski (my personal favorite of the ID proponents because of his mathematical expertise) to speak in church a couple of years ago. He was well received. Later, he sold and autographed his books from a table in the forum—yes I got in line and met the man personally, had a few words, and bought his autographed book. One of the major proponents of ID had received a warm reception in a large Southern Baptist Church. In light of full-disclosure, my church is theologically very conservative.

    Unfortunately, I think Brad’s comment is substantially correct. And the problem, I think, is that many Baptist “moderates” (theological liberals in the view of many of us who consider ourselves “conservative”) were engaged in an unbelievably bitter battle—in the Southern Baptist Convention—with those that they characterized as “fundamentalists.” In fairness to both sides, the bitterness was often unleased in both directions—neither side took many prisoners. Theological battles, fought over interpretation of the Bible, have historically been very intense.

    And so, I think, that because “moderates” did not understand or take the time to listen and learn what ID proponents were actually about, they lumped ID proponents into the same category as the despised “fundamentalists” simply because both groups opposed neo-Darwinism.

    If you are a glutton for all the unpleasant details of Dembski’s conflict with his opponents, all you have to do is Goggle “William Dembski at Waco” and you will find plenty of documentation of the conflict. Here’s a small sample (with a favorable opinion of Dembski):

    If you only heard about Bill Dembski from his enemies, you would think Baylor University was well rid of him as head of the Michael Polanyi Center, an institution that Baylor invited Dembski to found in 1999. According to faculty opponents, Dembski posed a threat to the science department at Baylor with his ideas about intelligent design. In published stories last year, some even accused him of practicing pseudo-science.

    Dembski is a leader in the intelligent design movement and the author of several groundbreaking books, including The Design Inference (Cambridge University Press) and Intelligent Design (InterVarsity). (In March, Signs of Intelligence [Brazos Press], an expansion of Touchstone’s 1999 issue on intelligent design, was released, edited by Dembski and me.)

    A Front for Creationism?

    So why was Dembski fired as director of a center dedicated to intelligent design theory–at a Christian school? Essentially because intelligent design is not considered legitimate science by many in the academic establishment and because Dembski tired of playing the part of second-class citizen expected of him.

    Intelligent design is opposed by scientists such as Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, who are philosophically committed to Darwinism, essentially a purely naturalistic explanation for everything that exists: the cosmos, life, and everything that makes us human beings. But materialist scientists are not the only ones fiercely fighting Dembski and others. Some Christian scientists committed to Darwinism (such as those at Baylor, a Baptist school) oppose intelligent design as science because they believe it may be too closely associated with “creationism,” and creationism is not welcome in serious academic circles. Creationism, generally speaking, takes as its starting point Genesis 1, a “religious text,” and seeks to conform scientific findings to what is read (often literally, i.e., six 24-hour days) therein.

    But Dembski and his intelligent design associates have limited their claims for intelligent design to purely scientific research and data. In April 2000, Dembski organized a conference at Baylor on “The Nature of Nature,” which brought scientists together to debate intelligent design. Did the conference–boycotted by most of the Baylor science faculty–live up to its opponents’ billing as a front for creationism?

    Hardly. Prominent scientists opposed to intelligent design, including two Nobel laureates, dominated the three-day event. And at the closing dinner of the conference, Christian De Duve, the Nobel laureate from Belgium and one of the world’s leading cell biologists and evolutionists, rose and publicly complimented the scholarly quality of the conference and the civility of the debate. He toasted the organizers of a conference that had been, in his words, “intelligently designed.”

    Misbehaving

    Despite such affirmations, Dembski was treated as a bastard son of real science. His critics tried to put Dembski in his place, but he didn’t behave himself.

    Shortly after the conference, the Baylor faculty voted to ask President Sloan to close the center. Sloan formed a review committee. In October the committee released its report, recommending that Dembski’s work be recognized as legitimate science. They also said that the Faith and Learning Center, under which the Polanyi Center had been operating, should be free to run programs dealing with intelligent design. But they also said the Polanyi name should be dropped, effectively closing the center as it had been established. Further, they moved the new unnamed entity under the umbrella of the Faith and Learning Center, stipulating that Dembski could work there under an advisory board.

    William Dembski at Baylor

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That’s pretty neat that you met Dembski. I’ll have to get myself over to the Discovery Institute in Seattle when they’re giving a lecture, which they seem to regularly do at a local college or other facility. I’d love to meet Meyer, Paul Nelson, or Wells.

      Has anyone read Mark Steyn’s book, Light’s Out? I’ve read enough of his essays to get the gist of it. And when, among conscious and intelligent people, it becomes verboten to talk about teleology — in even the broadest terms — then you can understand how it isn’t just the lights in Europe going out.

      Now, of course, we know that not all Christians and conservatives unfailingly behave with the demeanor that is required of their outlook on life. But we can know that the Left is a fundamentalist, bully religion with supremacist undertones. That’s what we’re dealing with, whatever you want to call it.

  29. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Reading in this chapter on all the complexities of DNA, mRNA, ribosomes and ATP Synthase leaves one feeling overwhelmed with the certainty there had to be “intelligence” at work here. ID always leads to the God question for many people who would rather not ask the question or face it. What or who is the intelligence that controlled this whole marvelous process?

    Annie, your chapter 4 thoughts sound coherent (not that the others didn’t). One of the difficulties of academics and learning is separating out the core ideas from the over-complicated and inarticulate. You’ve done that. It’s easy to get bamboozled and intimidated by too much information and/or too much information articulated in an obtuse way.

    The term “Fossil Record” indicates that a record is kept in the fossils, but fossils are interpreted by people who have a point-of-view to put forward.

    Great point.

    This phony fossil record of Equus is today still taught in textbooks and classes as fact. Forty years later and the lie is still there!

    Indeed. And let me again recommend Jonathan Wells’ excellent “Icons of Evolution” which discusses this and other case studies as well. I may have to buy this book just to read this chapter by Silverstru.

    Is this assessment fair to other paleontologists? I would have to read a lot more to be certain. But there certainly are enough questions about the fossil record to view it with a certain amount of skepticism.

    Yes, that’s the feeling that one gets. One is a bit cautious. Could the fix really be in and be this widespread? It slowly dawned on me that, yes indeed, the fix is in and it is widespread.

    I’m not sure why Silverstu is embedded in the idea of a young earth. Oh well. One really does have to tip toe through the cow pasture in search of truth sometimes.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Interpreting the fossil record can be difficult. Gould’s book on the Burgess Shale discoveries is interesting, but some of the fossils have since been reinterpreted. The horse lineage used to start with Eohippus; I gather that this is no longer the case, and the animal has been renamed as a result.

  30. Timothy Lane says:

    Isaac Asimov once commented that if he couldn’t understand something he read, he figured it was the fault of the author for not writing comprehensibly. Of course, this includes not using too much scientific jargon.

    My high-school biology test discussed Pasteur and the final disproof of spontaneous generation — and then noted that this was, nevertheless, how scientists believe life was initially created. They also note that the conditions were very different then.

    Karst geography is found in many places, of course, including Kentucky. The recent giant pothole in the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green is a reminder of one of the dangers of karst country.

    Richard Dawkins admitted in one of his books that the dating of fossils is based not on the fossils themselves, but on adjacent igneous-rock layers. This naturally leads to greater possibilities for error.

  31. GHG says:

    Brad wrote “Yes, that’s the feeling that one gets. One is a bit cautious. Could the fix really be in and be this widespread? It slowly dawned on me that, yes indeed, the fix is in and it is widespread.”

    Thats the thing that leads me to believe I’m not getting the other side of the story. That so many presumably very intelligent people who made it their life’s work to search for the truth can be so willfully blind to the facts that are so clear to anyone who allows themself to see. And I get that there’s a fidelity to one’s beliefs, especially when those beliefs are wrapped into your life’s work, but it’s still difficult to accept nonetheless. I guess human nature is what it is whether you’re a regular Joe or a highfalutin scientist.

    • Anniel says:

      I am trying to be cautious about some of the fossil record claims, but I so clearly remember the “horse” line up and how it was impressed on us in science classes that it “proved” evolution. I didn’t know what to think. When I was cleaning horse hooves I would check out the hock on the leg and tried to see how the fossil record accounted for it, or for the hooves themselves. Nothing seemed squared up to me. Then when it was shown to be a fake line up I was relieved. But when I looked eohippus up and saw the line up was still taught, I felt just like I did over the old embryology pictures – do these people never give up? No, I guess they don’t.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Mr. Lesser, I know where you’re coming from. Here’s what I currently think about all this.

      Scientists, particularly evolutionary scientists, have become like Muslims. In Islam, no matter what happens, it is considered “Allah’s will.” In science, no matter what they find it’s “Evolution built.” It’s a narrative often thrown over the top of even excellent science.

      And there have been tons of excellent biology done in the last 50 years. It’s amazing what scientists have learned about the inner workings of the cell, and some of the larger workings as well (such as would connect with medical science). And there’s little doubt that most of the biologists who are diligently and painstakingly unlocking the minute mysteries of the cell have been indoctrinated into evolutionary theory.

      Now, here’s the thing: Evolutionary theory is unnecessary to the work that biologists do and, in some respects, is a hindrance to thought. One may do an amazing amount of work unlocking the secrets of how, say, ATP and mitochondria work to produce energy for the cell. And at the end of a detailed research paper, the writer may conclude, “Evolution has created a vast and efficient system for the production of energy.”

      This last sentence (and sentences like it) is just a gloss, a narrative thrown over the top. The fact is, evolutionary theory has in no way shown how life started or how the complex systems and vast amounts of specified information were created. To be fair, the theory of intelligent design does not do so either. It just says that someone created these things from scratch, and that’s all we can say about it. And if that’s how things are, then that’s how things are. If intelligent design is true, there may not be a hell of a lot we can say about the hows of it all.

      But what we do know without a doubt is that much of evolutionary theory has corrupted the science just as the dynamics of global warming have corrupted science. Instead of honestly appraising things such as the fossil record with an objective eye, evolutionary scientists jam them into where they *must* go. And Jonathan Wells in “Icons of Evolution” tells of a remarkable instance of this where, in effect, fossil evidence in later layers was said to be a precursor to an earlier fossil. Why? Because that’s what the theory of evolution demanded, no matter how ass-backwards it was.

      Certainly on the bottom end of the scale (at the micro level), the theory of natural selection (an inherent tautology that really does tell us nothing but “what survives, survives”) can help with understanding things such as some of the life cycles and population distributions of various species. And this is all very interesting and shows us the feedback loop that exists between life and the environment. This is not disputed by anyone.

      But evolutionary theory in no way has shown us how the complex systems of the cell came to be. Neo-Darwinian theory is in a shambles. Attempts to create one “tree of life” to prove common descent (THE core element of Neo-Darwinism) have failed. And Darwin himself noted the centrality of the problem of the Cambrian Explosion. He knew that unless more fossils were found to show the kind of gradualism that his theory required, then his theory was doomed. Well, there are no fossils of any significance that have been found or likely will be found. None. Notta. Zip. Zilch.

      But, indeed, biologist all around the world — whether they believe in Neo-Darwinism like a religion, believe in God, or remain agnostic about all things — are doing tremendous work. But the theory of evolution is completely superfluous to these accomplishments. And according to what I’ve read, most scientists know this. But like global warming, it’s not a career-enhancing thing to be an “evolutionary denier.”

      So at the end of the day, layered over the top of science is this theory that has explained nothing but requires everyone to think the same — all while standing on the supposed victimhood shoulders of Galileo who showed us all what a danger orthodoxy was to free thinking.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Note that this sort of reflexive excuse also applies to the “climate change” cultists. No matter what happens, they reflexively claim that it proves their cause. I believe I’ve commented on the claim on National Putrid Radio a few years back, when there was a May “named storm”, that this supported CAGW — even though the evidence they presented actually, correctly analyzed in light of known climatic history, actually supported the opposite.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I quite agree, Timothy.

          Let me state for the record that there may be a Trinity that governs from heaven, and that every word of the Bible could be either true or true in the sense that it was ever meant to be (rough metaphor). But young earth creationism is an entirely different subject, seemingly one formed by fundamentalists as yet another means to be a “true believer” and set oneself apart from the ignorant masses.

          There are (at least) three active factors or lenses through which many issues are parsed, whether talking global warming, young earth theory, or Neo-Darwinism:

          1) Emotional
          2) Aspirational (I hope it’s true)
          3) Evidential/logical

          With the first and second factors, there’s not much one can do. It is a higher value to disengage from those things (at least at times) to engage in thoughtful thought. Whatever the case may be, if someone really really really wants something to be true, there’s no arguing against it.

          That, of course, does not make bullet-point #3 supreme. I’m the first to admit that the universe is not a function of “reason.” It is arbitrary. It very likely did not have to be the way it is. That’s why there will never, ever be a scientific equation that is “the theory of everything” because such a theory (beyond its inherent limit in describing immaterial things such as the mind) cannot tell us why things are one way rather than another. It can say much about the substance of the bricks but not much else.

          That is to say, evidence and logic are not the be-all, end-all of what we can say about something. But, particularly when debunking things such as Neo-Darwinism or global warming, it undermines one’s argument that the *other* is running of half-cocked if one *also* runs off half-cocked. And if the young earth theory isn’t half-cocked it’s very near that, if not fuller up on the dial. Hell, by measuring overlapping tree rings you can apparently get to well over 6000 years for the age of the earth.

          It’s just a non-starter as a way to critique Darwinism and, fairly or unfairly, taints even the good points one is making. It’s not wrong to be in error. No person can keep up on all subjects. There’s just too much to know and (as we have seen) too many people actively dispensing misinformation. But the earth is older than 6000 years. There are at least a dozen easy ways to show this.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            The important thing about point 3 is that it’s the only way one can have a civil discussion concerning any disagreement. Note that the words to describe such a discussion, such as “reasonable” and “rational”, imply facts and logic rather than emotion. Without them, one can only “agree to disagree” and avoid discussing a topic — which is just fine for closed-minded liberals, who prefer to Believe without question.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I tend to agree, Timothy. It’s likely only point 3 that will reveal that there are other points. Someone arguing completely inside emotion or wishful thinking (which often describes Darwinists) is creating a sort of Tower of Babel for themselves if there are others who are considering, or talking from, other aspects (such as point 3 — one might also add tradition/precedent as point 4, and even trolling as point 5).

              The scientific process itself is, in theory, cold-blooded. One approaches a subject with a theory in hand, but just as willing to disprove that theory if it brings him closer to the truth.

              This is why Richard Feynman could dip a piece of o-ring in a glass of ice water to get straight to the point — a point hidden by others for various reasons (you could add a point 6 for reputation-preservation, point 7 for money, and point 8 for power). Because Feynman had such respect for facts, he could easily blow through all the other stuff.

              If the earth is 6000 years old and one wants to state this as a fact, then be willing to show your evidence and supply good arguments for why one should ignore:

              1) Tree ring data (which can go back 11,700 years using overlapping techniques)
              2) Continental drift
              3) Erosion (the Grand Canyon couldn’t have been made in a day)
              4) Fossils
              5) Sedimentary rock
              6) Petrified Wood
              7) Stalactites
              8) Carbon dating / radioactive decay
              9) Coral reefs
              10) Geomagnetic reversals

              Yes, fundamentalists, I get it that scientists sometimes fudge their data for ideological reasons. But not all their data is fudged. And there isn’t one monolithic “science.” One might also note that two wrongs don’t make a right.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                The usual version is that God simply created the universe that way, already appearing to have been lived in, perhaps as a test of faith. My response would be Galileo’s, that God gave me a brain and I don’t consider it a sin to use it. I would also suggest that the God who created the world as a test sounds more like Coyote, the Indian trickster god.

              • Untermensch says:

                Brad, since you brought up the list above, I’ll mention that the authors of the book in question argue that 3–7 all are evidence of the Flood and that non-Creationists have interpreted the evidence incorrectly. They do not mention 1–2, which are among the direct evidences I mention below (e.g., the forces required to move continents apart in the time frame they argue would have generated so much heat as to liquefy the earth’s crust and/or break the earth into a number of major fragments, but plate tectonics explain things like hot spot island formation and the magnetic reversals found in mid-ocean ridges in a way that YEC cannot).

                Your point 1 is one I discussed with Anniel, because you can derive continuous dendrochonology going back over 9000 years in the very areas of the American Southwest that they claim show irrefutable evidence of a totally catastrophic Flood.

                Number 8 they explain their way around, although I will say that they bring up some problems in their account that seem quite troublesome, although I’d like to hear a response from someone who knows the science.

                They do not address number 9, so I do not know what they would argue or assert there. But number 10, combined with number 2, is for me a rather convincing argument against YEC.

                Now I suppose someone who accepts YEC as a natural fact could argue that God created the world in a way that it appears older than it is. But I find that sort of thing problematic, because it forces God to be a liar in their terms: either the Bible lies or God’s creation does. But if you do not read the Bible as positivist history, the contradiction goes away. It is thus they who force God to be a liar and then, to resolve it, they elevate their understanding of the Bible to the realm of fact. Not to put too fine a point on it, they are thus guilty of idolizing their own understanding and conception. I understand why they get there (they want the Bible to be a fixed point of absolute truth), but that doesn’t mean that they don’t end up idolizing their own understanding. (Such “idols of the mind” are a universal tendancy of humanity, as Francis Bacon points out in his Novum Organum, so we all need to be ever vigilant to avoid them.)

  32. Fenevad says:

    I read the book at my mother’s request so I could give her feedback on it. I’ll limit my comments here to what she has already covered (the first four chapters), but I’ll note that I found the book to be rather mixed in its quality. The chapter on The Origin of Life is, for me, the best of the chapters, because it identifies substantial problems that even leading theorists of Evolution, when pressed, admit are real conundrums.

    The irreducible complexity of certain chemical processes and the requirement for an existing life process to mediate the creation of life are among the reasons why the theory of Panspermia — essentially, that the earth was “seeded” with life by intelligent aliens — is popular in some atheist circles. Of course, Panspermia simply pushes the problem to another level of remoteness but does not resolve it. In essence it posits a non-Creator creator for life on earth and those who maintain it have essentially stuffed the mess in their room into a closet and proclaimed that they have cleaned the room.

    So I found this chapter absolutely fascinating and the strongest of the bunch. Unfortunately some of the other chapters were much less satisfying. And when I try to find out why, it comes down to the commitment of the authors to Young Earth Creationism (YEC), the belief that creation took place in exactly six earth days and that all of the universe’s history is contained in the 6000-odd years since the day of the Fall. The driving reason to believe in YEC is the fundamentalist view that the Bible can be reliably understood as history, a point that many of the authors explicitly make, furthermore claiming that Jesus and other earlier figures clearly understood it as history, so we know that it is history. But they leave unspecified the assumption that by “history” they mean a positivist historical account, one in which each and every event can be taken as a scientifically and logically accurate accounting of what it says. Problematically for the Fundamentalist/YEC position, such an understanding of history is a product of the past few centuries, not of the period in which the Bible was written. (And they make it clear that, for them, anything short of a YEC interpretation is not really Christian. So they consider ID or even olded-earth creationism to be too much of a compromise with Evolutionism and a denial of divinity.)

    The authors of the book, by embracing their own ahistorical notion of the Bible as scientific history, thus have a (rather openly declared) a priori commitment to how they interpret evidence, one just as strict as the one they deride Evolutionists for holding. (In noting this, I’m not claiming that having an a priori commitment is a bad thing, but it does limit what one will accept.)

    What the book does a good job of doing is convincing me that evolutionary theory has no remotely plausible way to account for (a) the existence of the universe or (b) the existence of life within the universe. What it fails to do is convince me that there is clear and convincing evidence for a YEC position. (Later, when I won’t be jumping the gun, I’ll elaborate on why the chapters on geology and cosmology aren’t convincing to me. I’ll just note for now that I was astonished at how the Flood serves as a Swiss Army knife/get out of jail free card in YEC arguments, pretty much in the exact same way as some of the Evolutionist arguments they rightfully deride as special pleading or ad hoc kludges.)

    One of the problems is that many of the argument amount to arguments from incredulity. A few times the authors use the “microbe to microbiologist” phrase to express their incredulity that evolution could lead from point A to point B. The problem with such arguments is that if X actually happened, then one’s perception of likelihood has no bearing on that, and if X did not happen, then the perception of likelihood also has no bearing. So at times the authors engage in cheap shots amounting to “if you believe X you’ll believe anything since X is so absurd”, without ever seriously addressing the arguments for X.

    Finally, I’ll note that there is some pretty direct evidence against the YEC 6000-ish year-old world, evidence that the authors do not engage with. Maybe they have answers, and didn’t address these issues due to lack of space, but I find it telling that they engage with much less direct evidence and ignore areas where the evidence rather clearly cuts against their arguments (in ways that do not allow them to invoke the Flood as a deus ex machina argument).

    If the book were just arguing for a Divine role in creation, for life appearing through the active intervention of God, I think it would work. The material is there for a strong argument in this vein. But considering its strict YEC interpretation, I find the book rather less convincing. It is a shame because by claiming more than they can demonstrate, I think they ultimately do themselves a disservice.

    • Anniel says:

      Fenevad, Thanks for clarifying your thinking on this book. As I have said I, too, have a problem with YEC, even though I like John Gideon Hartmann and what he has to say. While I believe in an actual flood, I did note that it is used to answer everything and agree that is a weakness in argument. Thanks again.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Excellent comments. I have the feeling we’ve met before. If not, I hope you stick around.

      • Anniel says:

        Brad- Let’s just say that the Untermensch has an alter ego he uses from time to time. “Fenevad”, if I recall correctly, has something to do with a play on words from our last name in Hungarian having to do with “horse chests” (but only the kind of “chests” applied to mares).

        Suffice it to say, you have an excellent ear, or should we say eye, for language. Once you’ve read someone I’m not sure they could pull an “anonymous” off on you.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Whatever one might say of YEC, Biblical literalism has certain problems, one of which I came across years ago: The regnal lengths around the time of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah/Azariah of Judah don’t match with any known system of basic arithmetic. The relevant verses in 2 Kings are 14:23, 14:29, 15:1-2, and 15:8.

      • GHG says:

        Lot’s of names and dates and reigns – what specifically doesn’t add up?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          According to 2 Kings, Jeroboam son of Joash (Jeroboam II) ruled Israel 41 years; Azariah/Uzziah became king of Judah in Jeroboam’s 27th year; and Jeroboam died and Zechariah succeeded him in Azariah’s 38th year. Those numbers don’t add up unless you make some sort of modification, like the co-rulerships Jerry Richardson mentions.

          These are quite reasonable (in fact, this is how David Rohl gets his new chronology for the Egyptian pharaohs, which makes David and Akhenaten rulers simultaneously and leads to some very interesting results), but there’s no mention of anything of the sort in the Bible. This is only a problem for a strict literal and inerrantist reading, of course.

  33. Tom Riehl TRiehl says:

    I’m obviously late to this conversation, and it is illuminating, but I just want to express my appreciation for this book review. I’m printing it out for my beloved wife to read, who works too hard and appreciates the “Cliff Notes” version of the facts. Thanks, Anniel, for your effort to expand exposure to this book. And, thanks to all the commenters for their additions to this important topic.

    From a guy who doesn’t have time to write much at this time, but deeply appreciates this site.

    Tom

    • Anniel says:

      Tom, Brad has been most generous in the latitude he allows us all. I am most touched by the responses and the learning that has come about because of this forum. My thanks and blessings to you and your bride.

  34. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    My response would be Galileo’s, that God gave me a brain and I don’t consider it a sin to use it.

    I agree, Timothy.

    And reverence for the maker needn’t mean not questioning things. It was to a large extent the Judeo-Christian view of a rational and created universe (not one that comes out of the navel of Vishnu), and one that was available to man’s intellect, that opened the door to science and to understanding at least the material aspects of the universe.

    Granted, that is perhaps the downside of young earth creationism. It makes it easy to forget that before the Judeo-Christian worldview, nature was not considered something that could be understood. But when we understand it as an artifact, a created thing, we can take a look at the nuts and bolts of that thing.

    And our deepest look at the nuts and bolts isn’t the quark, as interesting as that may be. It’s DNA and the micro-machinery of the cell. These are most likely created things. Even so, we needn’t believe so to marvel at these things. But we do drain them of their majesty, and prove the centrality of our own inflated egos, when we require them to be the result of blind, purposeless, directionless chance.

    • Untermensch says:

      Brad is right here. The Judaeo-Chistian understanding of the universe as a rational construct of a rational God indeed did lead to science. Other traditions held creation to be the inscrutable manifestation of God’s/the gods’ arbitrary will. Some strains of Islam (but certainly not all) actually consider attempts to understand nature to be idolatrous since they would be to try to impose human constraints on Allah. Since everything is determined solely by the will of Allah, and His will is completely sovereign, He can do whatever He wishes.

      That is quite the contrast to the Christian notion of God as a God of order and rules, who is not arbitrary, but instead created a rationally intelligible universe. It is not coincidental that science was actually nurtured in monasteries and developed in a devoutly Christian environment.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Thanks, Herr Untermensch. A lot of this good thought I picked up from the excellent book, How The West Won. And I think John Lennox i a couple of his books really does this idea justice….including giving credit where credit is due to earlier culture (the Greeks, for instance). But Lennox also notes the stark difference of the more “modern” Judeo-Christian view, which is that (duh!) a created thing has to be studied in order to be understood. Armchair logicians can’t divine the nature of the universe simply because it is very likely it didn’t have to be the way it is. It was designed.

        By the way, I just noticed that Lennox has a new one due out March 27: Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I see Western civilization as the result of two intellectual strains. One is the Greco-Roman classical civilization, with Roman engineering combined with Greek culture (and philosophy, especially Aristotle). The other is Judeo-Christian. Perhaps the key was the combination of the two by Thomas Aquinas.

  35. Jerry Richardson says:

    Timothy,

    One of the things I really love about Stubborn Things is the robust comments section. We all seem to branch-off into interesting topics that may or may not have any direct connection to the main topics of the article. This probably strikes some readers as a bit incoherent; but, I love it.
    You have reminded me of a topic that I was really into a number of years ago, but had forgotten about. Thanks for bring it up.

    Whatever one might say of YEC, Biblical literalism has certain problems, one of which I came across years ago: The regnal lengths around the time of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah/Azariah of Judah don’t match with any known system of basic arithmetic. The relevant verses in 2 Kings are 14:23, 14:29, 15:1-2, and 15:8.
    —Timothy

    “The regnal lengths around the time of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah/Azariah of Judah don’t match with any known system of basic arithmetic.”

    Yes, Timothy, this was the consensus at one time in biblical scholarship; it no longer is due to the highly respected work of Edwin R. Thiele, M.A., Ph.D., D.D.

    Thiele’s doctoral dissertation was later published as THE MYSTERIOUS NUMBERS OF THE HEBREW KINGS and is widely considered the definitive work on the chronology of the Hebrew kings.

    The book is considered the classic and comprehensive work in reckoning the accession of kings, calendars, and co-regencies, based on biblical and extra-biblical sources.
    —-
    Footnote 2. Thiele’s chronology is accepted in several recent study Bibles, and is the chronology used for the Hebrew monarchs in the Cambridge Ancient History (T. C. Mitchell, “Israel and Judah until the Revolt of Jehu (931-841 B.C.)” CAH 3, Part 1, p. 445). Thiele’s chronology with the slight modifications of Leslie McFall, (“A Translation Guide to the Chronological Data in Kings and Chronicles,” Bibliotheca Sacra 148 [1991], pp. 3-45) is accepted in Jack Finegan’s influential Handbook of Biblical Chronology, rev. ed. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1998), p. 249

    NUMBERS OF THE HEBREW KINGS

    Jeroboam II had served as coregent with his father Jehoash from 793 to 782 b.c. The 15th year of Amaziah… king of Judah marked the beginning of his sole reign (782 b.c.). In all, he reigned 41 years (793-753 b.c.), longer than any other king of Israel before him.
    The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 2 Kings 14: 23-24

    The confusing and seemingly contradictory numbers are shown to chronologically relate under Thiele’s systematic and scholarly-developed system. The numbers in fact do match-up when they are appropriately understood with the proper chronological meanings as understood by the original authors. Thiele’s book can be obtained from Amazon; unfortunately there is no Kindle version.

    THE MYSTERIOUS NUMBERS OF THE HEBREW KINGS

    I highly recommend that anyone interested in the issue of the chronology of the Hebrew Kings read and study this book; it is a very detailed, scholarly study of a portion of bible-history; the book is not really for simple reading—it must be studied to be comprehended. Here are a few pertinent quotes:

    The essential points of the chronological scheme we will present are in brief as follows. Judah began with the accession-year system, both for its own kings and its synchronisms with Israel. At a time of alliance and intermarriage with Israel, the system of Israel was adopted by Judah and was used through four reigns, after which Judah returned to its original system of reckoning. Regnal years in Judah began with the month of Tishri. In Israel the nonaccession-year system was used for the length of reign in Israel and the synchronisms with Judah. When Judah shifed back to the accession-year system, Israel also adopted that method. Regnal years in Israel began with the month of Nisan. In both Judah and Israel a number of coregencies occurred, and in Israel there were two instances of rival reigns.
    —Thiele, TMNOTHK, p.21

    Another point of major importance is what I have termed dual dating. This is discussed on page 55 of the present volume and should be carefully studied. This is the method used for the regnal data in five of the nine coregencies, or overlapping reigns, in Israel and Judah. More than anything else, the failure to understand dual dating has been responsible for the bewilderment that came in dealing with the numbers in Kings.
    —Thiele, TMNOTHK, p.23

    Whether or not coregencies were used is not a question that can be settled a priori. The evidence must be carefully examined, and if it points to the existence of a coregency the historian should accept that fact. Double dating at times provide the necessary clue…
    —-
    In the case of Israel two dates are given for the accession of Joram, the second year of Jehoram of Judah (2 Kings 1:17) and the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 3:1). This undoubtedly points to a coregency between Jehoshaphat and his successor Jehoram, a coregency that is again referred to in 2 Kings 8:16. In 2 Kings 15:5 mention is made of Jotham’s judging the land during the illness of his father, Azariah.
    —Thiele, TMNOTHK, p.54-55

    Here’s a link to Thiele’s Diagram 15 (page 110)—with annotation—that shows Thiele’s chronology for the synchronism between Judah and Israel and the coregency of Jeroboam II/Jehoash (Israel) and the coregency of Azariah/Amaziah (Judah).
    Hebrew Kings

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I don’t doubt that there are explanations, and they may well match the original Hebrew Bible for all I know. But the English translations that I’ve checked (King James Version, Revised Standard Version, and Jerusalem Bible) don’t mention any co-regencies, and the discrepancy is too large to be explained by a minor shift in the counting system. My point is that this section is an argument against a strictly literal reading of the Bible.

      • Jerry Richardson says:

        Timothy,

        Of course there is no word coregency in any translation of the Bible. Likewise there is no word Trinity , in any translation of the Bible.

        However, that does not mean that the concept of Trinity is not a legitimate biblical concept, drivable from a literal reading of scripture.

        I’m sure that you are well aware that The Trinity is a foundational concept of modern and historical Christianity.

        However, with your approach, any claim to a literal reading of the Bible would have to discard the concept of the Trinity.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Not only is the word not mentioned, but there’s no mention of any sort of co-rule. As best I could tell from the timeline, the author simply assumed such co-rulerships on the basis that something of the sort is needed to explain the otherwise incorrect arithmetic. I don’t think acceptance of the Trinity requires such a degree of modification of (or addition to) the actual content.

          • Jerry Richardson says:

            Timothy,

            Not only is the word not mentioned, but there’s no mention of any sort of co-rule.
            —Timothy

            I certainly agree there is no word such as co-rule or coregency mentioned. I also would agree that we are talking about an interpretation or reading of scripture.

            Here are two examples that Thiele provided in support of his conclusion of coregencies:

            2 Kings 15:5 and 2 Kings 8:16.

            2 Kings 15:5

            And the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the house, judging the people of the land.
            —2 Kings 15:5 KJV

            Let’s take this verse literally. Nowhere does it say that the king (Azariah) relinquished or lost his power or status as king or died. The verse also says that Jotham (Azariah’s son) “was over the house, judging the people of the land.”

            Though there is no terminology of co-rule or coregency used here; the only reason it would be immediately rejected as logical applicable is if it were decided by a priori reasoning, or positively known from other sources, that two people in that day in Judah—even a father and son—could not share the status of “king.”

            2 Kings 8:16

            And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign.
            —2 Kings 8:16 KJV

            Again, let’s be literal: Nowhere in this verse is it written that Jehoshaphat stopped, for any reason, “being then king of Judah.” So since the verse states “Judah began to reign”; once more, without a priori judgment, or other evidence of the meaning; it seems a very reasonable interpretation that two people, a father and a son, were sharing the status of “king.”

            You and I can endlessly tweak a discussion, and both enjoy it; but I’ll cease and give you the last word.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Both those citations would indeed seem to refer to some sort of co-rule. But there are no such references regarding Jeroboam, Amaziah, and the two Joashes (Joashim?).

              By the way, I would recommend David Rohl’s Pharaohs and Kings. I think you would find it very interesting. Consider his translation of a message from Mutbaal (a name he thinks refers to the Biblical Ishbaal aka Ish-bosheth): “I don’t know where David is. Ask Jesse. Ask Joab.”

  36. Jerry Richardson says:

    Brad,

    If the earth is 6000 years old and one wants to state this as a fact, then be willing to show your evidence and supply good arguments for why one should ignore: —Brad

    I also like the one about “Moon Dust.”

    Another argument which backfired on young earth scientists, and ended up proving a multi-billion year old earth was the Moon Dust Clock unless God miraculously made the Moon appear old for some unknown reason. Henry Morris was the first in 1974 and 1985 to put forth vigorously the Moon Dust clock to measure the Earth’s age. He did so in the 1974 and 1985 editions of his classic book Scientific Creationism…

    However, by 2005, the Moon Dust clock had backfired. The true facts when applied in the clock formula conclusively proved the earth was very old—4.5 billion years old—unless God made the amount of dust on the Moon with the deliberate intention to make it look old. (Why would He do this?) At that juncture, the Moon Dust clock was abandoned as no longer reliable by the organization Morris founded. (Morris was still alive when this happened.) Now other YE writers and leading organizations have acknowledged the Moon Dust clock should no longer be mentioned. The Moon Dust Clock simply backfired. Now it is ignored by YE proponents.

    When Henry Morris first advanced this Moon Dust clock in 1974, he relied solely upon the readings of Hans Petterson from 1960. Petterson estimated that 14 million tons of cosmic dust falls on the Earth each year. Petterson had used a ground-based position on top of a volcano in Hawaii to make his estimate. If Petterson were correct, and the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, this would mean there would have been 54 feet of dust on the Moon.

    Our astronauts in 1969 should have sank into a quicksand of dust if Petterson were right and the Earth and Moon were 4 billion or more years in age. Henry Morris concluded that because the astronauts did not disappear into 54 feet of dust on the Moon, this proves the Earth cannot be anywhere near 4.5 billion years old. Morris said this is one of the best proofs that the Earth is young.

    In fact, the findings from Surveyor 3 which landed on the Moon on April 20, 1967 collected meteoric dust for thirty-one months. It proved conclusively that Petterson’s earth-bound data was contaminated by atmospheric dust. Petterson had advanced a wildly erroneous figure. It was off by a factor of 1000 times too large.

    As a result, the Christian geologists who wrote Science Held Hostage (1988) wrote: The accumulation of meteoric dust on the moon would contribute a layer less than one centimeter thick in four billion years. And this level of thickness is what the astronauts encountered in 1969 on the Moon.

    Henry Morris had unwittingly proved an old earth. No one could say the evidence garnered in 1967 was biased. No one knew in 1967 that Henry Morris would have not known about such evidence and then would rely upon a Moon Dust Clock to estimate the age of the Earth in 1974. In fact, all the evidence since 1967 has confirmed the accuracy of that initial space-based data. And hence, if Morris’s Moon Dust clock is a proper chronometer, Morris proved unwittingly the Earth was several billion years old.

    —Balian, Andrew (2011-05-05). The Unintended Disservice of Young Earth Science (Kindle Locations 3754-3800). Kindle Edition.

  37. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Oh, how tremendously interesting, Jerry. In regards to the moon dust clock, is that what they call being “Hoisted with one’s own petard”?

    Annie said: “Tom, Brad has been most generous in the latitude he allows us all.”

    Doesn’t it make sense to let a conversation break out? I may be an organizing-freak in some areas. But I’ve participated in so many sites before this one. And most had the idea that being “off-topic” was the equivalent of pulling the wings off of a butterfly.

    Any principle can be taken too far, even a loosey-goosey one. But although I think we deal in important ideas, does anyone really think that what we have to say is so important that it must be chiseled into stone and card-catalogued forever for posterity? I try to express this to contributors when I tell them that they can come down off their high horses. They don’t have to mimic Charles Krauthammer. They don’t have to sound like those ridiculous female newscasters who adopt a “serious” voice (if you can call it that).

    Which brings us to something very interesting that Herr Untermensch said when speaking about young earthers: “Not to put too fine a point on it, they are thus guilty of idolizing their own understanding and conception.”

    You’ve just described libertarians. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noted about them, and others, behaving as if they had some sort of “secret knowledge” which they then lord over us supposed lunk-heads.

    The age of the earth is an interesting question. And it’s been established, And not by “settled science” or “scientific consensus,” which is the domain of the dishonest. It’s been established by measuring it. No doubt such a measurement is open to fine-tuning. And in rare cases, even complete re-appraisal when vastly new information is discovered. This could happen.

    One reason I’m attracted to St. Francis is because here’s a guy who says he not only believes in the benevolent Judeo-Christian god of the bible, but acts that way as well. It’s not a matter of pointing out people’s hypocrisy when I say that I think many people who profess a belief in God do so in more of a hypothetical way and/or they’re really talking about themselves, about their own wants and needs.

    And anyone clinging to the idea of a 6000-year-old earth is talking about something other than God. And to bring all this back on-topic (yuck yuck), here we have the most amazing artifact man has ever seen: DNA and the micro-machinery of the cell. And although there is much to be determined (and perhaps much that will always remain obscure), let’s give this Designer his due. This is real. The 6000-year-old earth is not.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      My mother and I noticed over 40 years ago how a conversation could wander from one topic to another. I suspect it’s a form of free association. And I also found the moon dust clock very interesting. I’ve read quite a bit on this general subject, and I’d never heard anything about that. (For that matter, I find Jerry’s point about the co-rulerships interesting as well; I just find the notion incompatible with a strictly literal and inerrant reading of the Bible.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I suspect it’s a form of free association.

        Timothy, I read a book a few years ago on networks (neural or otherwise). It may be up on the Bookshelf somewhere. But it makes clear that the very power of what we call intelligence has to do with association. We are not some step-wise algorithm.

        He notes (if I remember correctly) that unlike a computer, our brains don’t crash if we run into an invalid thought or bit of illogic (although there can, of course, be implications for ignoring the logic of the real world…such as stepping off a cliff). The brain (as are apparently all systems of the type) does very well with partial information. It can make amazingly quick associations that way, and valid ones. (And invalid ones as we see the low-information voters do in regards to global warming and such.)

        Of course, its weakness (if you can call it one) is that, no, it can’t multiply numbers as fast as an electronic calculator. But it can build a calculator (and the reverse certainly isn’t true, no calculator is likely to build a human).

        I don’t like setting myself up as ringmaster here. Think of me as the benevolent organizer. But someone has to take out the trash and keep the gas tank filled. Other than that, I wan’t no respect. And I think free-association is very human and attempts to squeeze people into a card-catalogue type of framework can be stifling. A little bit of organization is necessary, for anarchy is no piece of cake either.

        I’d never heard of the moon dust clock. That’s a neat concept.

        • GHG says:

          An example of the amazing power of the brain to associate is that exercise where all the words in a sentence have many of the letters removed and the sentence is still readable because the brain knows what the words are based on the word association to complete a logical sentence.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Yes, that’s a great example.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            This can also be used to trick people, by having a sentence that is slightly incorrect. They know what they’re supposed to see, so it’s hard to see what it really is. (I can say that this is also one of the great difficulties in debugging code, and one reasons why it’s often easier to debug someone else’s.)

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              There’s a trick we printers use when “spotting” negatives (opaquing any little clear spots out of them). You turn the negative upside down so that you’re not tempted to read the letters and you view everything more as a shape.

              And having some small experience with debugging code, it is very easy to not see an error, as you said. This is most likely how we got Obama.

    • Jerry Richardson says:

      Brad,

      Oh, how tremendously interesting, Jerry. In regards to the moon dust clock, is that what they call being “Hoisted with one’s own petard”?
      —Brad

      I can recall that in the not too past, when someone used that phrase concerning “petard” that they were talking about something like a medieval pike or spear. I was surprise when I discovered what it really was. Maybe there are a few readers like me.


      What Is the Origin of the Saying “Hoisted by One’s Own Petard’”?

      The term hoisted by one’s own petard means to fall foul of your own deceit or fall into your own trap. This term has its origin in medieval times when a military commander would send forward one of his engineers with a cast-iron container full of gunpowder, called a petard, to blow up a castle gate, obstacle, or bridge. The fuses on these bombs were very unreliable, and sometimes the engineers would be killed when the petards exploded prematurely. The explosion would blow (or hoist) the engineer into the air.

      Hoisted by One’s Own Petard

      Do you think this would be an appropriate reversal of fortune for an Islamic Terrorist?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        A petard, at least later, became a type of mortar. But that fate for a terrorist would be most appropriate, and it has been known to happen — both to them, and to liberal terrorists as well. As Dirty Harry observe in Magnum Force, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Sounds as if those moon clockers got hoisted indeed.

    • GHG says:

      Speaking of St.Francis, I like a maxim popular in some Christian circles that epitomizes people who live their beliefs – “Evangelize. If necessary, use words”.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        St. Francis may never have said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words.” But there’s a wisdom there that even a football coach understands. I remember years ago a reporter noted one coach saying to a player who was trying to talk him into more playing time, “Your play speaks so loudly for itself that I don’t need to hear your words.” Or something like that. It may have been Landry, but I’m not sure.

        The other side of this is that Francis apparently preached to Gospel everywhere and anywhere…even to the birds.

  38. Jerry Richardson says:

    Untermensch,

    Jerry, I’d note that, contrary to what YEC fundamentalists maintain, the Bible has no clear and consistent cosmology.
    —Untermensch

    That’s what I personally believe.

    And as had been said about a thousand times by others: It’s not what I don’t know or understand about the Bible that is troubling; It’s what is perfectly clear to me that is bothersome.

    In other words, it’s the hardcore moral and spiritual lessons that are really sobering. In fact, I think that too much focus on the cosmological meaning of Genesis 1-3 can be a distraction to the main message.

    And what do I think that main message is?

    I believe John Lennox has stated it well:

    In Genesis 2:7 it is explicitly said of humans, “the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Therefore Genesis affirms that (human) life has a chemical base, but Genesis denies the reductionist addendum of the materialist
    —that life is nothing but chemistry.
    —John Lennox, SEVEN DAYS THAT DIVIDE THE WORLD, p. 69

    Untermensch or Fenevad or whatever your latest Internet-handle is:

    I am delighted to see your very real and thoughtful personal intelligence (PI) emerge from the silicon bowels of spiritless AI; Is this a form of Untermensch Ex Nihilo or Fenevad Ex AI ?

    Regardless, I am delighted to see you return to Stubborn Things and I wish we could all persuade you to periodically post an article—any subject of your choice.

    Thanks for sharing.

  39. Jerry Richardson says:

    Anniel,

    Allow me a short criticism of the whole book here. If these authors intended this book for an audience of laymen, as seems to be the case, they should have hired a scientific translator and a good editor to make the information readily available to the general reader. I will cover that aspect of the book more in my conclusions.

    Expecting great enjoyment, I began my reading of Dr. Safarti’s chapter. I finally looked up and told my grandson that I wanted to read a paragraph aloud to him. I cannot even reproduce the paragraph for you because I don’t have a program that would type what was on the page between the English words. When I finished reading, Jack’s eyes were like saucers and he could hardly breathe. “What’s the matter?” I said, “Don’t you speak Physical Chemistry?” Then we began laughing and couldn’t quit until tears were running down our faces. —Anniel

    Yes, and part of the difficulty is that there are multiple authors; each with his own individual writing style more or less.

    I have been enjoying, in parallel to your book, a book from Amazon entitled, The MUSIC of LIFE Biology Beyond Genes , written by Denis Nobel.

    The MUSIC of LIFE

    Nobel does not seem to be a Christian or a Creationists; but he doesn’t spend time in those areas, he makes a few comments concerning eastern religious metaphysics, and nothing he has said sounds put-downish to me. I find him quite readable. He is the single author of the book and he covers much of the difficult stuff in your book and makes quite liberal use of metaphor. But don’t get the wrong idea, there’s plenty here to get your teeth into. I’ll give you one small sample of his writing:

    An organ of 30 000 pipes
    In Chapter 1, I proposed that the genome is not at all like a program that ‘determines’ life. It is more like a CD, a digital database that stores information to enable something to be reproduced. In this chapter we have wondered what to make of the fact the human genome includes around 30 000 genes. Should we be surprised that there are so few?

    Should we not rather be amazed at the immense range of functional possibilities that such a genome can support?

    A musical analogy may be helpful here. The genome is like an immense organ with 30 000 pipes. Pipe organs were developed to enable the impressive music to be played for which organs are so famous. The larger the organ, the more pipes it has, and the wider the range of pitch, tonality, and other musical effects it can be made to produce.

    The music is an integrated activity of the organ. It is not just a series of notes. But the music is not itself created by the organ. The organ is not a program that writes, for example, the Bach fugues. Bach did that. And it requires an accomplished organist to make the organ perform.

    By happy coincidence, 30 000 is about the number of pipes in the world’s largest organs. Even much smaller organs, as in most cathedrals, enable a vast range of music to be played. One of 30 000 pipes can, surely, permit the whole music of life to be played.

    If there is an organ, and some music, who is the player, and who was the composer? And is there a conductor? These are questions for the next chapters.

    —Noble, Denis (2008-02-14). The Music of Life: Biology beyond genes (Kindle Locations 672-685). Kindle Edition.

    I am not suggesting that you engage this book while you are busy with the current one. But you might wish to try it out later just to lock-down some of the concepts you are learning.

  40. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Walker is an ardent proponent of Young Earth Creationism, and sees the catastrophe of the Flood in Noah’s time as an answer to some perplexing questions of erosion, mountain building, volcanic activity, petrifaction of once living plants and animals, cave formations, stratification, etc.

    And that’s a real problem for me. Dr. Walker is right to point out that the geological record is open to interpretation and that one will see what one wishes to see. But then he seems to engage in that to an even worse degree than the Darwinists. After all, evolution of some type does happen. Darwinists have that going for them.

    But a great flood would leave detritus all over — which I know well because there was a mini-flood in the Great Northwest that gouged out the Grand Coulee when an ice dam across what is now Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho broke unleashing a sudden torrent of water. There is a gouge 200 feet deep at the margins of the continental shelf to show for it (as well as other evidence).

    I certainly agree that a commitment to uniformitarianism is unnecessarily constricting. This is in line with the same thing Stephen Meyer says regarding a prior commitment to methodological naturalism. Well, would it really hurt to suppose a designer had something to do with life? To just suppose? But some people are so committed to a certain paradigm that the can’t see the forest for the trees. And in regards to uniformitarianism, comets and asteroids apparently really do hit the planet from time to time and cause great devastation. Giant floods can happen as well.

    But those who see Noah’s Flood in all things I think do a disservice to the idea of evidence. It may sound crass when a scientist says that one of the purposes is to free science from Moses. And yet that is necessary if one is going to engage in objective measurements of nature instead of trying to prove the Flood at every turn — or prove neo-Darwinism at every turn, for that matter.

    I don’t know of any hard evidence for a Great Flood. But certainly lots of big floods have occurred. But geology really does happen. And when one finds fossils in mountains and attributes that to a great flood, I think that’s doing a great disservice to evidence, for there are clear differences in strata that are carefully laid down over time and the strata that form when things are jumbled together from floods. And you can see the difference. And to not see the difference is to exactly what Dr. Walker accused others of doing, of seeing only what one wishes.

    And this is the very thing we’re bumping up to in regards to the intransigence of neo-Darwinism. And all I can say is that two wrongs don’t make a right.

  41. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    If you try to go from microbes (if you can even make a self-replicating microbe in the first place) to higher orders of animals, how do you make information producing genes for muscle, bones, skin, feathers or any other necessary attribute?

    That’s the crux of the matter. It would seem life is designed so that natural selection can occur. Species, to some extent, really do naturally (that is, in an undirected way) adapt to their environment.

    But the basic body plans themselves seem to be set in stone. Micro evolution? Yes. Macro evolution? No one as yet has even a clue how the complex systems and digital data in DNA were put together.

    In an article talking to co-religionists (of a sort) at BioLogos, Meyers writes about the key elements that need to be explained, and that stepwise mutation-via-natural-selection is not powerful enough to do:

    (1) the origin of genetic information and novel proteins (given the size of the combinatorial sequence space that must be searched in the available evolutionary time), (2) the origin of epigenetic information (given that genetic mutations only act on genes, not epigenetic sources of information), (3) the origin of body plans (given that developmental mutations invariably produce embryonic lethals), and (4) the origin of novel gene regulatory networks (given that all known experimentally induced perturbations in such networks disrupt animal development).

    Certainly it’s very interesting that life seems to be divided into “kinds.” As experimenters have noted, the network of genes that control animal development can’t be messed with without producing dead or severely deformed animals. This is surprising (or should be) to anyone committed to the gradualist view of life. If life really could be stretch around like a piece of Silly Putty, one would expect to find that the gene regulatory networks would be very friendly to mutations.

    But they are apparently dead stone cold set against an Obama-like “fundamental change.” And this is both surprising and interesting. All that neo-Darwinists have are just-so stories. They’ll tell you about how they’ve mutated some developmental gene and given a fly an extra set of wings or put legs on its head. But this is just rearranging the part on Mr. Potato Head, not creating a new kind of potato. They are not creating any new information, nor have they ever produced an improved fly.

    As an aside, if you read that article by Meyer that is linked above, you’ll find what I thought was a somewhat surprising division. One might suppose that most of the heat is between neo-Darwinists and those who forward Intelligent Design (or, like David Berlinski, are just harsh critics of the theory).

    But Meyer highlights a division I wasn’t aware of. It’s one between those who advocate Intelligent Design and those who advocate some kind of evolutionary creationism (theistic evolution). Meyer quotes Darrel to show the philosophy of this other faction::

    I see no scientific, biblical, or theological reason to expect that [an intelligent agent might have acted discretely or discernably in the history of life]. Natural processes are a manifestation of God’s ongoing presence in the universe. The Intelligence in which I as a Christian believe, has been built into the system from the beginning, and it is realized through God’s ongoing activity which is manifest through the natural laws.[2] Those laws are a description of that which emerges, that which is a result of, God’s ongoing presence and activity in the universe. I see no biblical, theological, or scientific reason to extend that to extra supernatural “boosts” along the way. . .

    And, indeed, that’s not an illogical view, the idea that a Creator put the ability for things to evolve into the back end of nature. This idea has a couple obvious advantages to it. One, it’s not “messy.” You don’t have, as Meyer believes, many instances of the insertion of genetic information by a Designer. And probably most importantly, given the human factor that people find so hard to put behind them, it allows one to believe in evolution and thus not mark oneself as one of those low-brow creationist snake-handlers or other boobs.

    This second factor wouldn’t surprise me at all, since many Christians have disavowed their faith in regards to moral principles because they were considered “uncool” or backward by cliques they (for whatever reason) need approval from.

    Meyer notes that those who believe in theistic evolution are committed to methodological naturalism (materialism). This I find to be very interesting, for if one actually believes in a Creator, why would one be shocked if that Creator actually created something other than at the Big Bang? Again, I’m not saying that all bets are off regarding what can be shown to have happened using evidence and reasonable logic. But Meyer says it is unnecessarily shrinking one’s ability to solve problems if one commits ahead of time to a naturalistic solution, for only minds have been shown to be able to create the information content in DNA and the cell.

    You can read more of Meyer’s opinions on this subject here. And what I garnered from this is that various hoops people will jump through (sometimes semi-dishonestly) in order to mask their prejudices or base assumptions. I think Meyer is justified in saying that we should at least consider intelligent design, an answer that is outside of methodological naturalism. And I don’t think he’s saying that one abandon naturalist solutions or to try to stuff everything through a teleological lens. I think he’s just arguing to add one more tool to one’s utility belt.

    • Untermensch says:

      I like the view articulated here. My own person view, as a theist, is that the universe is an ongoing machine of creation and that evolutionary diversification may well be part of a divine plan. Thus I do not see evolution as a physical process to be at odds with the idea of a creator. Although the analogy isn’t entirely apt, I see it as something like an inventor making a discovery and sharing it with others who extend it in new and exciting ways that benefit all. A deity who creates something that can diversify and create new forms is much more interesting than one who has everything in mind from the beginning.

      I grant that my notion would be considered heretical in a traditional Christian setting, but there is no a priori reason other than a theological commitment to a particular view on the Bible (not contained in it) to assume that a physical process of evolution might not be entirely within the plan of a creator who supplies all the needed materials at the start for creation to erupt into glorious diversity.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Thus I do not see evolution as a physical process to be at odds with the idea of a creator.

        And, again, it matters what one means by “evolution.” Change over time? Yes, obviously this occurs. But does one mean neo-Darwinism? There is reason to be suspicious of this theory that has not as yet explained how any complex feature has gained the form it has.

        I think Meyer might note that it’s all well and good to believe that evolution is somehow “built in” which I think is the view of theistic evolution. Some (including myself) have posited the idea of some as-yet-hidden basic law-of-nature algorithmic-like force that would make the evolution of life as inevitable as rock crystals.

        The problem is, any algorithmic-like “force of nature” that works with constant and simple action is not likely to be a good candidate for actually creating the digital information inside DNA as well as the epigenetic information and complex integrated systems. My beef isn’t with you, but I think anyone who proposes theistic evolution needs to read Stephen Meyer’s two books. There are huge logical problems with any “natural” algorithmic process creating the kind of information content found in life.

        One could say that the Creator (indeed, this seems self-evidently so) gave the universe very specific starting conditions so that stars, galaxies, atoms, and molecules would form. But there is no known force (other than an intelligent and conscious mind) that has the ability to create the information and complex systems that we see in life.

        I think Meyer is useful (possibly even because he may be right) because he helps to clarify things. One is free to conjecture some hidden force or thing (the ether, the cosmological constant, inflation theory, the multiverse, etc.) to try to make things work out according to one’s ideology and wishes. One might even posit some all-pervasive “élan vital” as was done in the past. But we see no force in nature that gives any kind of “oomph” to matter so that it intelligently forms these complex systems and large stores of specified information. We one day could find something like that. But we need to admit the problems regarding any kind of algorithmic “force of nature” in producing life. And if that hidden force is more than just a dumb force, then, by definition, it is likely an intelligence of some kind that acts not because it must (the very definition of a “force of nature”) but as it prefers to.

        That said, it seems a 100% sure bet that life systems are specifically designed to evolve to some degree (but probably not outside of their “kind” or phylum, which the fossil record agrees with). Behe titled one of his books “The Edge of Evolution” because this was such an open question, and one that begs some kind of answer. We know that natural selection can have some effect on the micro end of the scale (even if it is just seasonal changes in the beaks of finches). But how much ability to evolve in more complex ways is built in? And, frankly, I don’t think we’re yet familiar enough with the process to know how to lay out the parameters and possible options. Today “evolution” is typically used in a way that it can mean anything to anybody. When we get down to the specifics — which seems to be, at the very least, the mechanics of it including the information of it — we get down out of the clouds of generalities and can see (and shall see even more in the future) what is going on.

        And none of the mystery thus far has touched on sentience — the ability to think, feel, have emotions, and be aware. Is consciousness some other type of primary “law of nature” that pervades the universe? I haven’t a clue, although this, frankly, is why strict materialism is a dead-end in regards to understanding ourselves and the universe. The most important aspect of ourselves is not material.

        Both mind and life are anomalies in regards to a materialist, mechanistic view of the universe. Even as we study DNA and the operating system of the cell, what makes it (or us) “alive”?

        there is no a priori reason other than a theological commitment to a particular view on the Bible (not contained in it) to assume that a physical process of evolution might not be entirely within the plan of a creator who supplies all the needed materials at the start for creation to erupt into glorious diversity.

        Absolutely. And once committed to one view or another, one is left to either describe a natural process that can create life or to try to divine when a Designer has specifically intervened. Or is there a credible third option?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Alfred Russell Wallace, who was the co-discoverer with Darwin of the theory of evolution, considered the brain impossible to explain by purely natural means. (Michael Shermer himself has pointed this out, ironically failing to realize that this effectively makes Wallace the progenitor of ID theory.)

  42. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Regarding radiometric dating, I’m certainly no expert…not even an advanced amateur. But it’s my understanding that radiometric dating comes with a built-in error percentage and some inherent assumptions — of the kind that are a part of any historical science. We assume the Big Bang although no one was there to see it. Even so, and even despite the cosmic background radiation and other clues, it’s not impossible that something a little different happened. It’s the nature of not being there as an observer and therefore having to do a fair amount of extrapolation and logical guesswork.

    I’m certainly open to hearing of any scientific collusion on such subjects as there obviously has been regarding global warming and neo-Darwinism where ideology trumps mere facts. That there could be an over-statement of the usefulness of radiometric dating wouldn’t surprise me.

    But is that the case? Yes, I get that sometimes these measurements might be millions of years off. But if what you’re dating is billions of years in the past, that’s a mere rounding error. What concerns me is that it is typical from the religious side of things to make mountains out of molehills. Would Creationists (in the fundamentalist sense of the word) dislike radiometric dating if it proved the earth was 6000 years old? Probably not. Then they would likely be apologists for any built-in error to the dating method.

    I’ll remain open-minded on this topic, but have to admit that many on the religious side of things have made such topics easy to dismiss because of past intransigence. What I will say is that my bias is that I’m more interested in proving how old something is rather than proving the bible correct or neo-Darwinism correct.

    Nevertheless, whatever the date of the earth (or fossils), I would want corroboration from other dating methods if at all possible. I think it’s understood (or should be) that any kind of historical science (such as neo-Darwinism, Intelligent Design, or cosmology) is fraught with the inherent perils of uniqueness. We can’t run another Big Bang to measure it. We can’t go back and see how and why life started and differentiated. And the idea of natural selection shows the perils of extrapolating from a small cause to the supposed whole cause.

    So I have no problem with being skeptical of radiometric dating. But I do believe that the phenomenon of the half-life is true and can act as a very accurate gauge (within a margin of error) of elapsed time (all dependent, of course, on having a reasonable estimation of starting conditions, which seems to be the main area of dispute).

    What probably perplexes not only me is trying to figure out how many objections to radiometric dating are legitimate and how many are of the type where one “sees what one wants to see”? Like most of you, I don’t have time to become an advanced amateur in all subjects. One has to make certain assumptions. I’m of the position that even if large errors are made by radiometric dating, it’s likely not going to return the earth to 6000 years old. And I think that, not a concern for accurate measurement, is what spawns a lot of this concern over this method of dating.

    • Anniel says:

      This particular chapter was to me one of the weakest because it does make assumptions about start times for the universe that I find unrealistic. A lot of credible scientists are beginning to question the “Big Bang”, so who knows where this is all headed.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I haven’t read that chapter, of course, Annie, but even if we throw out radiometric dating entirely, we’re left with at least another dozen credible ways to date the earth. And although perhaps many of those way won’t reliable date into the billions of years, some will into the millions. The point being that the idea of a 6000-year-old earth is a non-starter.

        I haven’t read it, but if someone is trying to shoehorn the age of the earth into the Genesis account, John Lennox has written Seven Days That Divide the World. The Amazon.com synopsis reads thusly:

        What did the writer of Genesis mean by “the first day”? Is it a literal week or a series of time periods? If I believe that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, am I denying the authority of Scripture? In response to the continuing controversy over the interpretation of the creation narrative in Genesis, John Lennox proposes a succinct method of reading and interpreting the first chapters of Genesis without discounting either science or Scripture. With examples from history, a brief but thorough exploration of the major interpretations, and a look into the particular significance of the creation of human beings, Lennox suggests that Christians can heed modern scientific knowledge while staying faithful to the biblical narrative. He moves beyond a simple response to the controversy, insisting that Genesis teaches us far more about the God of Jesus Christ and about God’s intention for creation than it does about the age of the earth. With this book, Lennox offers a careful yet accessible introduction to a scientifically-savvy, theologically-astute, and Scripturally faithful interpretation of Genesis.

        That’s not my particular area of interest. But having read two books by Lennox, I would be tempted to read this one because he’s a good writer and great thinker. These are relatively rare traits in those who handle technical or scientific issues (and this issue would be some mix of science and theology). One Amazon reviewer writes:

        This book primarily makes a biblically based case for an old earth, or at least that the Bible does not preclude an old earth. The book begins with a well-developed analogy between the current young-earth/old earth debate and the 17th century fixed earth/moving earth debate. He concludes this portion of the book with a final lesson from the Galileo affair: “The Galileo incident teaches us that we should be humble enough to distinguish between what the Bible says and our interpretations of it. The biblical text might just be more sophisticated than we first imagined, and we might therefore be in danger of using it to support ideas that it never intended to teach. The Bible could be understood to teach that the earth was fixed. But it does not have to be understood that way. At least, Galileo thought so in his day, and history has subsequently proved him right.”

        I guess this is my way of saying that is someone is going to try to mix science and theology, I trust Lennox to at least give a good account of himself. The man, to my mind, seems congenitally honest and fair-minded.

        • Untermensch says:

          I cannot recall the name of the individual, but there was one Christian physicist who insisted that the age of the universe in the literalist interpretation of the Bible is actually correct, but not from the perspective of the Earth. Rather, he argues, that the age of the universe depends greatly upon where one is in it, and that due to relativistic effect, the age at the center point of the universe is roughly six days or so, but that here on the periphery it is much older. (The same fellow argues that if you take that perspective, the days in Genesis correspond to varying lengths here on earth and that the sequence for the creation of life in the Bible comes across as a schematic version of what evolution is purported to do.)

          I mention this not to advocate for his view. (If I find his name, I’ll let you know what it was.) Rather, I cite it point out that the assumptions one has when we talk about things like creation, the end of the universe, etc., can have tremendously outsized impacts on where you end up. And far too often those assumptions are unstated. So let us assume, with our YEC friends, that the Bible is to be taken entirely literally. Then it may be that we still need to ask from where and when the statements were made and how they relate to us now. And that is a non-trivial question.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            I believe you are talking about Gerald Schroeder.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I think I read something like that. It was based on relativistic time dilation, so that a single day can be equivalent to billions of years.

          • Anniel says:

            Untermensch – Tbanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate your thoughts being presented this way. I should finish this review in a few days so stay tuned.

          • Untermensch says:

            That is the right guy. I kept thinking Gerhard Schroeder, but that got the German politician. I’ve actually heard Gerald Schroeder give a lecture on that topic about fifteen years ago. It was an intriguing idea.

  43. Jerry Richardson says:

    Untermensch,

    I cannot recall the name of the individual, but there was one Christian physicist who insisted that the age of the universe in the literalist interpretation of the Bible is actually correct, but not from the perspective of the Earth. —Untermensch

    I think the author you are looking for is Gerald L. Schroeder, Jr. Ph.D.; and his book is
    GENESIS and THE BIG BANG

    Here are a few pertinent quotes:

    There is just no avoiding the issue. The Bible gives God six days to form mankind from the material produced at the creation. Current cosomology claims, it even proves, that nature took some 15 billion years to accomplish the same thing. Which understanding is correct? Both are. Literally. With no allegorical modifications of these two simultaneous, yet different, time periods.

    It is unequivocal. Six 24-hour days elapsed between “the beginning,” that speck of time at the start of the Big Bang, and the appearance of mankind, and, simultaneously, it took some 15 billion, 365-day years to get from “the beginning,” or the Big Bang as astrophysicists call it, to mankind. We are not talking about easy explanations such as calling each day of Genesis 3 billion years so that 3 × 6 equals 18 billion years of cosmology . We also are not seeking changes in the functioning of the laws of physics.
    —-
    The difference in perceived time is called relativistic time dilation, the dilation that makes the first six days of Genesis reassuringly compatible with the 15 billion years of cosmology.
    —-
    Now if there were only six days prior to Adam, how do we squeeze all the cycles of formation and destruction of worlds into the allotted time? The biblical commentators on whom we rely said explicitly that the first six days of Genesis were six 24-hour days. This means that whoever was in charge recorded the passage of 24 hours per day. But who was there to measure the passage of time? Until Adam appeared on day six, God alone was watching the clock. And that is the key. During the development of our universe and prior to the appearance of mankind, God had not yet established a close association with the Earth. For the first one or two days of the six days of Genesis, the Earth didn’t even exist! Although Genesis 1: 1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” the very next verse says that the Earth was void and unformed.
    —-
    Relativity has taught us that there was not even a Divine option of choosing a calendar that would eventually be compatible with all the various parts of the universe, or even with the more limited number of parts that eventually contributed to mankind. The law of relativity, one of the inherent traits of the universe established at its creation , makes it impossible for a common reference frame to have existed between the Creator and each part of the mix of matter that eventually became mankind and the Earth on which we stand.

    —Schroeder, Gerald (2011-09-21). Genesis and the Big Bang Theory: The Discovery Of Harmony Between Modern Science And The Bible (Kindle Locations 512-877). Kindle Edition.

  44. Jerry Richardson says:

    Brad,

    I haven’t read it, but if someone is trying to shoehorn the age of the earth into the Genesis account, John Lennox has written Seven Days That Divide the World. —Brad

    I have the book and I think it is a good read. Here’s perhaps my favorite quote from his book:

    In Genesis 2:7 it is explicitly said of humans, “the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Therefore Genesis affirms that (human) life has chemical base, but Genesis denies the reductionist addendum of the materialist—that life is nothing but chemistry.
    —John Lennox, SDTDTW, p. 69

    I guess this is my way of saying that is someone is going to try to mix science and theology, I trust Lennox to at least give a good account of himself. The man, to my mind, seems congenitally honest and fair-minded. —Brad

    My favorite apologetic discourse in this Lennox book is the following:

    After giving a lecture on “Science and God” to a large group of scientists at a major research establishment, I was (pleasantly) accosted by a physicist, who said, “I deduce from your lecture that you not only believe in God, but you are a Christian. You are therefore obliged to believe that Jesus Christ was simultaneously God and Human. How can you, as a scientist, explain that?”

    My reaction was to ask him a question as a quid pro quo. And, as I regarded it as a simpler question, I suggested he answer first. “Agreed,” he said. “What is consciousness?” I asked. “We don’t really know,” he responded. “Never mind,” I said, “let’s try something even simpler. “What is energy?” “Well.” He replied, “we have equations governing it, we can measure it and use it…” “That wasn’t my question! What is energy?” After some thought, he said (as I knew he would) “We don’t really know.” Then I said, “Do you believe in consciousness and in energy?” “Yes,” he said.

    “So you believe in them, and you do not know what they are? Should I write you off as a physicist?” “Please don’t,” he asked. I responded, “Yet you were prepared to write me off as a scientist, unless I could explain something vastly more complex than consciousness or energy—the nature of God himself.”
    —John Lennox, SDTDTW, p. 101-102

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      but Genesis denies the reductionist addendum of the materialist—that life is nothing but chemistry.

      Leave it to John to make an excellent and clear point. I was thinking/writing much the same thing a moment ago. Although we may wonder at the mechanical aspects of life (the large stores of DNA, the epigenetic information, the complex networks, the integrated systems of micro-machines), we should’t forget that they are mere things that act according to some prior or overall purpose. They are not an end unto themselves.

      I think I read that exchange Lennox had with the physicist in one of his books. It is writing such as that which makes him worth reading. Like Limbaugh, Lennox has a talent for getting to the essence of a things — making the complex understandable.

  45. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Regarding Chapter 7:

    One of the things Dr. Hartnett points out is that Cosmology is not a science based on observation, trial, experimentation and error. It is rather a philosophy

    I believe that Stephen Meyer refers to that (cosmology, Darwinism, Intelligent Design, plate tectonics) as “historical sciences” because (generally speaking) you’re dealing with things that happened in the past and are no longer available for direct measurement. But obviously his point seems valid: What will tend to easily predominate if you can’t directly measure something directly are the philosophies, worldviews, and metaphysics that one already holds. As we see with even great minds like Stephen Hawking and his multiverse theory, it is very easy to build castles in the clouds.

    Given that science is deeply corrupted by a dogmatic commitment to methodological naturalism and the bureaucracy of status-quo science (there’s a great essay regarding this by Frank Tipler in Uncommon Dissent), I have no problem believing that our entire cosmology could be bolloxed up. “Inflation” seems a complete invention in order to avoid fine-tuning. Neo-Darwinism is an invention in order to avoid the logic of design. There is precedent.

    And if you have to posit that 96% of the universe is unknown to you in order to make your theories work out, maybe your theories need changing. I’m a little disappointed (as alway) that a critique of a theory is in hopes to retain biblical literalism or fundamentalism. But you could knock me over with a feather in regards to the idea the cosmologists might be making HUGE guesses and constructing models that, while sensible from a certain point of view, are only one possibility. But when all this is put into the service of trying to prove a literal interpretation of Genesis (which is literal by one interpretation), I admit my eyes start to glaze over.

    Good stuff, Annie. Obviously as you said, this can become an all-consuming task. But a good task indeed.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One thing to point out here is that orthodox scientists were reluctant to accept both the Big Bang theory and continental drift because they fit the religious worldview better than the scientific one. (The Big Bang was even conceived by a Belgian cleric, Georges Lemaitre.)

      Cosmology is not subject to experiment, but one can use the theories to make predictions of further observations. If those observations occur, they validate (though they never quite prove) the theory. Of course, when they only work by adding a fudge factor after the fact, then they don’t work at all. Dark matter and dark energy are the modern equivalent of the epicycles that enabled the Ptolemaic theory (and ultimately the Copernican theory before Kepler made his modifications to it) to work.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        One thing to point out here is that orthodox scientists were reluctant to accept both the Big Bang theory and continental drift because they fit the religious worldview better than the scientific one

        Good point. That jibes with what I’m reading in “Uncommon Dissent.”

        Dark matter and dark energy are the modern equivalent of the epicycles…

        That’s an interesting thought. I don’t remember the rationale for dark energy. But I believe dark matter (possibly also dark energy) are the fudge factor to try to explain the extra gravity that galaxies supposedly must have to keep them spinning like they do without their spiral arms ripping off into space. I can’t pretend to know the details of it, but that’s the overall as I understand it.

    • Anniel says:

      Thank you, thank you to you, Timothy, Jerry and all the other wonderful commenters for your help. I could hardly wait to see what everyone had to say that would clear my thinking. Now I can follow all kinds of philosophies and theories with greater clarity.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Annie, you’re doing a great job. And as you know, we don’t give out gold stars here for just showing up. You’re doing something that I initially envisioned for this site, but quickly grew cynical about. I expected that if you gave people an avenue to pursue their interests, they would do so. But so many people (none here that I’m talking about amongst regular contributors) can’t seem to crawl out of their shell (as you and Mr. Kung have done par excellence, for example).

        We live in a bizarre and corrupted entertainment/pop-culture world where the only thing that matters is to appear to be superior, not actually to do something superior. People are thus often afraid to have an opinion because they implicitly know the unstated rule, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” But to actually take up weighty topics that are complex, and to grapple with them online without a net, is beyond most people’s comfort zone. The low-brow world out there of hungry ideological sharks typically is waiting for one small mistake so that they can bash you over the head and prove their own superiority.

        Knowledge dries up in such an environment. That’s why, frankly, those on the left don’t know all that much. (As Reagan said, “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”) Without also trying to play the superiority card, this is undoubtedly so. The Left has infected their advocates with the truly insane-style logic of a Richard Dawkins who is needlessly adversarial about stuff that, really, should be of hearty interest to discuss and debate. What should be fun he turns into something traumatic. Following their ideological leaders, the Left tends to produce angry people with an agenda, not the Richard Feynman types who enjoy the pursuit of knowledge and don’t have an axe to grind other than figuring stuff out.

        Lies and misinformation are so thick, it’s difficult to keep up with all of it. It’s difficult keeping up with your stuff as well because I’m also reading similar books in the background. Everyone has an opinion. And some people, I would say, have a very good opinion. But when it comes down to it I can probably say three things with certainty:

        1) There is a Creator
        2) Neo-Darwinism is way past its sell-by date
        3) No one really knows how life got started, how it evolved (by whatever means), and how it came to have all the information and complex systems inside the cell.

        Also, although my own opinion is to be very cautious when critiquing a scientific theory in order to verify the bible, it’s clear that science has been highly politicized, suffers from bureaucratic sclerosis and chronic careerism, is hostile to any new idea that doesn’t fit the status quo, and is beholden to methodological naturalism with a dogmatism that at least equals, if not exceeds, Pope Urban VIII.

        And all the little tweety birds of the second tier have learned to mindlessly parrot “just-so” stories to prop up Darwinism and the other Stations of the Cross of the naturalistic religion (the multiverse, global warming, etc.). And these small-minded little buggers are also quick to assume that anyone who questions established theory is a rube. Scientism/atheism has become a religion for a whole lot of people, and a fundamentalist one at that. The spirit of science has been lost. People aren’t arguing facts and theories. They’re protecting their religion and their extremely smug sense of superiority.

        If God created the universe in 6 days or six billion years, I fail to see how this friggin’ matters one iota. We have this miracle called “reality” and it should be enough to know the facts as they are, or can best be determined. If the Big Bang was a little different that we suppose, who cares? How does that make Baby Jesus weep (or Charles Darwin cry)?

        But this stuff does matter too much, and sometimes to people on both sides. People need to understand that reality has a whole ton of mysteries in store. We have barely scratched the surface in regards to our knowledge. The wonder of discovery, not hammering one’s ideology down someone’s throat, ought to drive the process.

        And right now it doesn’t. Not by a long shot.

  46. Jerry Richardson says:

    Anniel,

    There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly. Tis the crown & glory of organic science that it does thro’ final cause, link material to moral . . .You have ignored this link; &, if I do not mistake your meaning, you have done your best in one or two pregnant cases to break it. Were it possible (which thank God it is not), to break it, humanity in my mind, would suffer a damage that might brutalize it – & sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history —Adam Sedgwick

    Perhaps in the final analysis what offends me most about the “devote” materialistic evolutionary viewpoint is the unavoidable reductionism —man is only a physical being. It seems to me that only a “willfully blind” view of history could fail to see the dehumanization that followed programs of ideological reductionism in the 20th century. Nazi Germany and Communist Soviet Union are only perhaps the two most obvious.

    The scientific reductionism in both of these instances is easy to pinpoint. In both cases, man was considered a creature that was owned by the state.

    In the Communistic Soviet Union God was as completely booted-out of public and private life as was possible. Man was reduced to a human machine owned by the state and his only meaning was to serve the collective, Marxist, interest. Estimates for people killed under Joseph Stalin alone are usually given as 20 million.

    In Nazis Germany the authority of God was effectively replaced by the authority of Adolph Hitler. All German citizens, other than those slaughtered such as Jews, were reduced to their supposed essence of belonging to the “superior Ayran race” and pawns of the 3rd Reich, German state-machine. Estimates for people killed under Adolph Hilter are as high as 19.3 million just for the number of civilians murdered by Hitler’s regime.

    My recent readings relative to Elie Wiesel and Viktor Frankl have made me aware of the connection between the absence or loss of “meaning in life”, “reductionism”, and “dehumination.” Viktor Frankl wrote the following in one of his books:

    As I see it, this [American existential vacuum] is due to the exposure of the average American student to an indoctrination along the lines of reductionism. To cite an instance, there is a book in which man is defined as “nothing but a complex biochemical mechanism powered by a combustion system which energizes computers with prodigious storage facilities for retaining encoded information.” Or, to quote another example, man is defined as a “naked ape.” By offering our students such reductionist concepts of man we are reinforcing their existential vacuum. I well remember how I felt when I was thirteen-year-old junior-high-school student and our natural-science teacher told us that life in the final analysis was “nothing but a combustion process, an oxidation process.” I sprang to my feet and said, “Professor, if this is the case, what meaning then does life have? To be sure, in his case
    reductionism had taken on the form of “oxidationism,” one might say.

    Viktor Frankl, The Unconscious God (paperback), p. 92.

    Reductionism of mankind’s humanity is a dangerous type of dehumanization.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I would agree, but evolution doesn’t necessarily require this (though it probably follows very easily from it). For example, one could believe that at some point the human brain (especially the cerebral cortex) became large and complex enough to enable the sort of abstract thinking represented by religion — and that it was at this point that humans became, in effect, ensouled. Of course, with ID one could simply postulate that at some point (perhaps the same one) God simply provided the souls, which would require no further physical change (and thus would be untestable by science).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      To cite an instance, there is a book in which man is defined as “nothing but a complex biochemical mechanism powered by a combustion system which energizes computers with prodigious storage facilities for retaining encoded information.”

      In essence, reductionism/relativism/naturalism/atheism has given permission to people to become slackers and vulgarians. No wonder I see so many yutes these days with odd-looking beads and bobbles pierced through their lips as if the were some new-found tribe from New Guinea.

      Prager often quotes the “two kind of people” idea and I didn’t know that came from Frankl. But, in a broad way, it does seem to hold true.

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