Re: Religion and Science [Professor M. Zimmerman]
- I also read _I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist_. See my post
on 1/8/05 about this book. I believe this book should be required
reading for every committed Christian.
> I agree that it is hogwash. I read a book lately called, I don'thave enough faith to be an atheist and there should be a book out
called, I don't have enough faith to be an evolutionist. I believe
Ken Hovind has a 250,000 dollor challedge if anyone has enough real
evidence that evolution is true. It is a farce and they know it. You
don't have to have big degrees in theology or any other area to see
that you have to have a lot more faith to believe the evolutionist
than you do those who believe in God and the Bible.
- You've got to be kidding! Guess who gets to decide whether evolution was proved to Ken Hovind? He and his own chosen panel of experts. Evolution is not a farce, I'll defend it any day, are you ready?
> From: "Joe" <joe@...>
> Date: 2005/02/09 Wed AM 10:22:52 EST
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [biblicalapologetics] Re: Religion and Science [Professor M. Zimmerman]
I agree that it is hogwash. I read a book lately called, I don't have enough faith to be an atheist and there should be a book out called, I don't have enough faith to be an evolutionist. I believe Ken Hovind has a 250,000 dollor challedge if anyone has enough real evidence that evolution is true. It is a farce and they know it. You don't have to have big degrees in theology or any other area to see that you have to have a lot more faith to believe the evolutionist than you do those who believe in God and the Bible.
Are you good enough to go to heaven? Take the test and see. http://www.livingwaters.com/needGod/001.shtml
What a load of postmodern hogwash. The entire proposition deserves a
response, but I am unclear as to whether this is the proper forum for
such a response. Thus, I will defer to Rob Bowman to weigh in on
whether a response to this issue should be posted here.
But I will suggest that those interested in a well reasoned and well
aruged response to this idea of two tiers of truth (religious truth
vs. scientific truth) check out the book _Total Truth_ by Nancy
Pearcy. If I am given the go ahead by Rob to respond in this forum, I
will use a good bit of Pearcy's material in my response.
> ... We believe that the theory of
> evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up
> to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and
> achievement rest... We ask that science remain science and that
> religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary,
> forms of truth.
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I almost regret posting the following, because I am certain that, due to time constraints, I will be unable to carry on an extended dialog with you regarding evolution. But I could not let your comments go unnoticed and without challenge. Therefore, I have provided below a few thoughts. First, I comment on an article in a recent edition of “National Geographic” regarding the subject of evolution. This particular article was discussed somewhat in this forum in November 2004. Next, I offer a few critiques that I see as significant flaws in evolutionary theory. To set the context of my comments, much of the following is taken from comments I made to a group of Christians instructing them in some of my thoughts on evolution. Since you are admittedly a skeptic, I wanted to make sure you understood that my comments were initially directed toward other Christian believers and so will have a certain emphasis and instructive tone to them.
At the end of the day, the arguments for the existence of life by either evolution or an intelligent agency boils down to one question: Which account can better explain the diversity and complexity of life as we know it today? I believe evolution falls short in providing a comprehensive answer to that question.
Also, at the risk of sounding ignorant, I must confess that I have no idea who Ken Hovind is. I have never heard him speak, have never read anything written by him, and I know absolutely nothing about him or what he believes.
The November 2004 issue of National Geographic contains a major article on evolution; it’s the cover story, in big bold letters, asking “Was Darwin Wrong?” The article takes up 30 pages of the issue. So let me quote a bit of the article and then comment on it.
“Evolution by natural selection, the central concept of the life’s work of Charles Darwin, is a theory. It’s a theory about the origin of adaptation, complexity, and diversity among Earth’s living creatures. If you are skeptical by nature, unfamiliar with the terminology of science, and unaware of the overwhelming evidence, you might even be tempted to say that it’s “just” a theory. The notion that the earth orbits around the sun rather than vice versa, offered by Copernicus in 1543, is a theory. Continental drift is a theory. The existence, structure, and dynamics of atoms? Atomic theory. Even electricity is a theoretical construct, involving electrons, which are tiny units of charged mass that no one has ever seen. Each of these theories is an explanation that has been confirmed to such a degree, by observation and experiment, that knowledgeable experts accept it as fact.”
“Evolutionary theory, though, is a bit different. It’s such a dangerously wonderful and far-reaching view of life that some people find it unacceptable, despite the vast body of supporting evidence. . . . Many fundamentalist Christians and ultra-orthodox Jews take alarm at the thought that human descent from earlier primates contradicts a strict reading of the Book of Genesis. Their discomfort is paralleled by Islamic creationists…”
“Two big ideas, not just one, are at issue: the evolution of al species, as a historical phenomenon, and natural selection, as the main mechanism causing that phenomenon. The first is a question of what happened. The second is a question of how.”
These opening paragraphs of the _National Geographic_ article contain a number of fundamental problems in the way assertions are made. The problems fall into a category of critical thinking called “logical fallacies,” which are errors in logic or reasoning. Let me point out a few of these from the article.
First, the author confuses observable science with theoretical science. He compares the “theory” of evolution with the theory of orbital mechanics regarding how the earth orbits the sun, or the theory of electricity, which can be directly observed, measured, and repeated (three fundamental requirements of any scientific process). Evolution, in the sense of the word given in the article and used by scientists in general (more on that later) is NOT a theory in the same way as the theories we hold about the earth’s orbit around the sun or how electricity is produced. It does not even fall into the same category, so it is a fallacy to force a comparison. The author states that each theory, including evolution, has been tested by observation and experiment so as to be accepted as fact. The question to ask, though, is how does the author define “evolution”? I’ll address that in a moment.
Second, the author commits a common fallacy used by those who are unable to refute the merits of their opponent’s position, and who instead launch into an attack on their opponent’s character. They commit character assassination of their opponent instead of addressing the argument. This fallacy is called an _ad hominem_ argument, or “argument against the man.” You can see it in the following statement the author makes, which I quote:
“Many fundamentalist Christians and ultra-orthodox Jews take alarm at the thought that human descent from earlier primates contradicts a strict reading of the Book of Genesis. Their discomfort is paralleled by Islamic creationists… [who] calls the theory of evolution 'nothing but a deception imposed on us by the dominators of the world system.’”
Rather than address directly the objections that Christians make against the so-called theory of evolution, the author attempts a character assassination of Christians by comparing them to “Islamic creationists…who see evolution as a deception imposed by the dominators of the world system.” Essentially, what the author has done is to state “I do not care what kind of objections Christians raise against evolution or how valid those objections may be. The objections are irrelevant because Islamic fundamentalists raise the same objections, and we know what radical Islam is capable of doing.” When we encounter objections like this raised by evolutionists, we need to point them out and force the evolutionist to actually evaluate and answer the objections Christians raise, rather than making an irrelevant comparison and dismissing our objections in an _ad hominem_ manner.
Before I provide some of my thoughts on ways to argue against evolution, let me point out one more problem with the article. This is a common tactic when discussing evolution with hard-core evolutionists. The problem or fallacy is called an equivocation – which means that one or more key words is defined with more than one meaning. In other words, the meaning of a word changes mid-stream in the argument. The word “evolution” is such a word, because there are actually two kinds of evolution. Micro-evolution is what Charles Darwin observed as he journeyed around the world aboard the HMS Beagle. Micro-evolution is defined as the small, incremental changes that occur within a species which allow the species to adapt to changing environmental conditions. This definition of evolution is undisputed even among fundamental Christians; it has been observed in nature and continues to be seen on an ongoing basis. This is what the author of the article is talking about when he states “that small, random, heritable differences among individuals result in different chances of survival and reproduction…”
The other definition of evolution is more properly called macro-evolution. Macro-evolution is the idea that small changes within a species (micro-evolution) leads ultimately to large, significant changes over time such that an entirely new species evolves which is more complex than its predecessor. Macro-evolution is not really science at all, because the evolution of a new, more advanced and complex species from a less complex one has never been observed, nor is there any evidence to suggest such a massive change between species has ever occurred. Macro-evolution is a philosophical point of view, or a faith-based belief system if you want to call it that, which says “this is what we believe happened, although we cannot prove it.” It is a belief system based on a philosophic point of view called ‘naturalism.’ Naturalism is a worldview which assumes that nothing supernatural can exist; therefore, everything which happens or appears to happen must be explained solely by naturalistic means. Naturalism eliminates, up front, the possibility of the existence of a supernatural being or “creator” and is thus as much a “religious” viewpoint as creationism. Because naturalism dismisses the possibility of the existence of a divine creator a priori, naturalists have difficulty with the evidence of design which exists in the natural world. They attempt to explain away the apparent design of the world as “merely appearing to be designed.” Their naturalistic belief forbids them to even consider that things appear to be designed because they ARE designed. They have to explain away the discrepancy between the available evidence and their own belief system.
The point of making the distinction is this: If you as a Christian are accused of ignoring hard scientific evidence because you deny the theory of evolution, clarify exactly which definition of evolution is under discussion. Don’t allow your opponent to equivocate on the definition of “evolution,” because it’s almost a certainty he will try to, just like the author of the _National Geographic_ article does. I know of no believer who wants to be accused of being willfully ignorant of science in the face of overwhelming evidence. And with regard specifically to evolution, I am unaware of anyone who denies the existence of “micro-evolution.” One would be foolish to try and deny it, since the evidence IS overwhelming. On the other hand, one would be well within reason to object to and deny “macro-evolution” without the fear of being labeled anti-science, because macro-evolution is not science at all, but a philosophical, naturalistic (i.e. “religious” naturalism) explanation of what scientists “think” happened. Don’t let your evolutionist friend confuse the two.
In order to define my terms, when I use the term “evolution” in the following comments, I mean “macro”-evolution rather than “micro”-evolution.
One compelling argument against evolution and for a creation model of life is called the “Argument from Design.” The argument goes something like this:
1. Anything which exhibits properties of design must have had a designer.
2. All of creation exhibits properties of design.
3. Therefore, all of creation must have a designer.
The common analogy used for the argument from design is the watch, and goes something like this: “Suppose you take a stroll through the woods, and upon looking down you see a watch on the trail. You pick it up and examine it. It has springs, gears, a dial with information on it, pointing devices, and the like. The watch appears to have been intentionally designed, because it could not have self-formed with such intricate detail. You surmise, therefore, that the watch had a designer.” Of course, you would be correct.
The argument from design has been around a long time, and evolutionists have been grappling with this argument unsuccessfully. In fact, one evolutionist by the name of Richard Dawkins wrote a book called _The Blind Watchmaker_ in an attempt to rebut the watch analogy. In it he argues that, although the cosmos “appears” to have been designed, the designer was nothing more than the unguided, random nature of chance occurrences over billions of years; i.e., The Blind Watchmaker. One of the passages often quoted from his book is: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
Dawkins, however, seems to be part of a fading minority among scientists who continue to try and use the “Blind Watchmaker” analogy. As astronomers learn more about the nature of our earth, its relation to the other planets in our solar system and our moon, and the nature of our solar system as it is positioned within the Milky Way galaxy, these astronomers are beginning to understand that even the universe has the appearance of having been designed to operate within very tight limits which are conducive to sustaining life on planet Earth.
Robert Jastrow, an astronomer and self proclaimed agnostic, somewhat kicked off the “design of the universe” concept several years back with a book called _God and the Astronomers_. Here is an interesting quote from the book regarding what he notes as a universe which appears to have been intentionally designed to be the way it is: "For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
Another concept useful for refuting evolution is the idea that some things found in nature appear to be irreducibly complex. Evolution cannot explain away irreducible complexity. Let me try to define it for you.
Something is irreducibly complex if it is made of several independent components which function together as a unit. None of the parts has any functional value apart from the rest of the parts. And if one part of the whole is missing, the unit ceases to be a functional unit. An analogy is useful to help understand this concept.
An example of something that is irreducibly complex is the simple, old fashioned mouse trap. The mouse trap is made of a handful of components: a flat block of wood, a spring, a hinged hammer which snaps closed, a retainer bar which holds back the hinged hammer, and a bait latch which secures the retainer clip. This mouse trap is irreducibly complex. Every individual component is required in order for it to perform the thing it was designed for: catching mice. If one piece is missing, it does not simply become less able to catch mice; it stops working altogether. If five of the six components of the trap were present, and only the spring was missing, it would not catch 5/6 as many mice as it would if all six components were present, it would catch no mice at all. We find examples far more complex in nature of this sort of irreducible complexity.
One such example in nature is the bacterial flagellum. This is the little, whip-like tail attached to a bacteria cell which propels it through its environment. I’m sure you’ve all seen examples in science books or on the Nature Channel of a microscopic view of, say, pond water, with little things whipping around in the water when viewed through the microscope. It turns out that the flagellum of a bacteria is a very complex mechanism, constructed much like many modern day motors. If any of the numerous components of the flagellum is missing, it ceases to work, meaning that the bacteria can no longer propel itself around in its environment, and do whatever it needs to do to survive. Evolutionists have a very difficult time trying to explain how many tries “evolution” had to attempt before it got the design right for the flagellum to work properly. In actuality, all the individual pieces had to be present at the same time, for the very first bacteria. There is no opportunity for a “try the design, modify it by natural selection, and try again until you get it right” approach of Darwinian evolution. It had to work right the first time.
Another example of irreducible complexity is the simple one-celled bacteria itself. Even the smallest or least complex single cell entity is composed of multiple structures, all of which are required for the cell’s continued existence. Remove one of these systems and the cell ceases to function. Without getting into specific detail here (read any first year biology textbook for the details), the following are some of the subsystems within any cell that perform the following functions:
- gather nutrients from the cell’s environment
- process nutrients and convert them into useable energy (metabolism)
- dispose of the waste by-products created by metabolism
- repair the cell when damaged
- allow the cell to reproduce
- propel the cell around within its environment
Macro-evolutionists would have us believe that each of these subsystems developed through a random process over a long period of time through small modifications, as needed to insure the survival and propagation of the species (the cell). Yet it is clear that no cell can exist without all these individual subsystems present and actively performing its specific function within the cell. It had to be that way with the very first living cell.
Yet another problem for evolutionists is the issue of DNA. There are several things which can be said about DNA, but here are a couple to think about. First, DNA is information, the information needed to direct how a cell develops, what structure the cell will take, what function the cell will serve (liver cell, blood cell, skin, eyeball, nerve, and on and on). Information implies an information-giver, an intelligent agency which is responsible for assembling the information. As Geisler and Turek point out in their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, the volume and complexity of information contained in one strand of DNA is equivalent to 1,000 volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Additionally, the information content of DNA is not random, but appears in a very precise order, using sequences of the molecules adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine, abbreviated as A, T, C, and G (this can also be found in any first year biology text). As Geisler notes, if one were to find a piece of paper on which the letters “Drink Coke” appears, one would properly conclude that the letters were placed by an intelligent agent, since the letters are not random but rather convey a very specific message. Thus, as Geisler notes, if a simple message such as “Drink Coke” requires an intelligent being, then why doesn’t a message 1,000 encyclopedias long require one?
Second is the issue of exactly how DNA is used to create amino acids. Amino acids are the “building blocks” of life and are necessary components of protein. The instructions in the DNA for creating an amino acid are just that: instructions; they cannot, of themselves, create an amino acid. Instead, another substance, RNA, must “read” the instruction set on the DNA. The sequence (simplified) works like this: The RNA “reads” the instruction from the DNA, and based on combination of the instruction, the RNA retrieves a polypeptide, or sugar molecule, for the first link of the protein chain. This process is repeated—DNA, RNA, polypeptide, until the protein strand is complete.
The point is this: both DNA and RNA are necessary to create and form an amino acid, which is foundational to living organisms. So we have the classic “chicken and the egg” dilemma for the evolutionist. Which came first in the evolutionary process? Answer: neither did; they both had to exist simultaneously in order for any living organism to create the amino acids essential to life, not only to create the essential amino acids which composed that first living cell, but also for that first cell to carry out the essential functions that insure its survivability.
There is much more to be said regarding the idea that life as we know it is nothing more than a series of small, incremental, and random changes that have taken place over billions of years, as macro-evolution would have us believe. Neither my time, nor space here, permits me to go into greater detail at the moment. I would be interested in seeing some responses. I will try and address any comments, but my current workload, working full time plus going to graduate school, may prevent me from responding quickly. I also invite others to weigh in on this topic.
From: TL [mailto:skepticdude@...]
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 1:05 AM
Subject: Re: [biblicalapologetics] Re: Religion and Science [Professor M. Zimmerman]
You've got to be kidding! Guess who gets to decide whether evolution was proved to Ken Hovind? He and his own chosen panel of experts. Evolution is not a farce, I'll defend it any day, are you ready?