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Do OECs care about the truth?

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  • Richard Wein
    This mailing list has been very quiet recently, so let s stir things up a bit. ;-) The subject line of this thread is rather inflammatory, I know. But I think
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 11, 1999
      This mailing list has been very quiet recently, so let's stir things up a
      bit. ;-)

      The subject line of this thread is rather inflammatory, I know. But I think
      it's a valid question.

      Some of you may remember that I discovered a clear error in the logic of one
      of Hugh Ross's articles, and wrote to his Reasons To Believe organisation to
      let him know. I was interested to see whether he would correct the
      offending web page. Well, it's been over a month now, and there's been no
      change in the page or any reply to my message.

      Of course, it's possible that my message was overlooked, and it seems very
      unlikely that my message was ever brought to the attention of Hugh Ross
      personally. Perhaps Kyle Witten, who's on this mailing list and is a
      volunteer worker for RTB could ensure that the message is brought to the
      attention of someone who can take some action.

      For anyone who would like a reminder of the content of my original message,
      here it is in full...

      >Hello,
      >
      >I'm writing to point out a significant error I've noticed in one of Hugh
      >Ross's articles on the RTB web site. I'm sure Dr Ross would not want an
      >erroneous argument to remain under his name for any longer than necessary,
      >so I hope you will correct it soon.
      >
      >The article in question is "The Creation Sequence: A Matter of Perspective"
      >(http://www.reasons.org/resources/skeptics/creatseq.html). Dr Ross argues
      >that Genesis is very specific about the order of 11 prehistorical events,
      >from the beginning of the universe up to the appearance of mankind. He then
      >states that the probability of Moses (the putative author of Genesis)
      >guessing the correct order was only 1 in 11x10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1
      >(approximately 40 million), and concludes that, since Moses actually got
      the
      >order right, he must therefore have been divinely inspired.
      >
      >Dr Ross's argument presupposes that Moses could not have known any part of
      >the creation sequence other than by divine inspiration. However, much of
      the
      >sequence would have been obvious even to a person of Moses's time:
      >- You need the physical universe before you can have anything else.
      >- You need light, water and continents before you can have plants on the
      >continents.
      >- You need plants before you can have animals (they need something to eat).
      >- You need a transparent atmosphere before you can have flying creatures.
      >- And of course Moses would leave the most important (mankind) to last.
      >
      >Furthermore, Moses does not specify the sequence of the following events on
      >Dr Ross's list, which all occur in the same verse, so Dr Ross is wrong to
      >treat them as separate items in his calculation:
      >"7. production of small sea animals
      >8. creation of sea mammals (nephesh)
      >9. creation of birds (more nephesh, perhaps simultaneously with #8)".
      >
      >Given the above, the only sequences open to Moses were (using Dr Ross's
      >event numbers):
      >1
      >2, 3 & 4 in some order order (6 possible permutations)
      >5 & 6 in either order (2 permutations)
      >(7-9) & 10 in either order (2 permutations)
      >11
      >
      >That gives only 6x2x2=24 possible permuations in total. So Moses' chance of
      >guessing right (if it was a guess) was not 1 in 40 million, but 1 in 24.
      >
      >I think there are further issues which reduce the number of possible
      >permuations even further, but those are not as clear as the ones above, so
      I
      >won't mention them here. It's possible to quibble over the precise number
      of
      >permuatations which are possible, but, however you look at it, the number
      is
      >several orders of magnitude lower than the 40 million claimed by Dr Ross.
      >This seriously undermines the article's claim that this is evidence of
      >Moses' divine inspiration.
      >
      >I look forward to receiving a reply from you.
      >
      >Richard Wein <tich@...>
    • rlbaty@xxxxx.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
      Richard Wein wrote, The subject line of this thread (Do OEC s care about the truth?) is rather inflammatory, I know. But I think it s a valid question. My
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 11, 1999
        Richard Wein wrote,

        "The subject line of this thread (Do OEC's care about the truth?) is
        rather inflammatory, I know. But I think it's a valid question."

        My comment,

        I think the answer would be yes; for OEC's and YEC's (who would no doubt
        respond to their critics that the critics have no platform upon which to
        judge them in matters of truth because, to the "materialist" there is no
        real truth, or if there is, it doesn't really matter).

        I think the problem for all of us is one of practicing our professed
        principles. I don't think it's peculiar to "creationists", but they do
        seem to be easy to target and document their reluctance to acknowledge,
        explain, and retract the false claims.

        Maybe another location on this site might be put up and maintained to
        document specific factual errors that "creationists" have promoted and
        failed to properly address (I know, I know, you think the list would be
        too long). It might be separated between the simple and the complex.

        I can't much handle the more complex matters. I would offer some
        examples though that might make the list (some are personal, but I think
        relevant):

        1. Darrell Broking's claim that there was no explanation for short term
        comets.

        2. Bert Thompson, Ph.D.'s moon dust claim.

        3. Marion Fox, Ph.D.'s allegation that I argued that if he had no
        answer to the "light" question, there was no answer (if true, that would
        have involved me in a logical fallacy).

        4. Gil Yoder's claim that I told people over the Internet to write to
        him and tell him how stupid he was.

        5. Bert Thompson, Ph.D.'s claim there was a statue of Matthew Maury at
        the U.S. Naval Academy depicting Maury with a bible in one-outstretched
        hand and implying he had a source for such a claim that he had no reason
        to doubt.

        To do justice to the issue, it would probably be appropriate to have a
        standing offer which would allow the persons implicated in the errors to
        offer a rebuttal (requiring an "open, honest" exchange, not just "ex
        cathedra" statements as is seemingly the preference of Bert Thompson,
        Ph.D.) or make the appropriate corrections, explanations, and
        retractions. The list of course, could include specific and similar
        claims by "creationists" against mainstream science (if only they would
        reasonably engage the issues).

        Sincerely,
        Robert Baty
      • Todd S. Greene
        Hi, Richard. What I have found interesting about Dr. Hugh Ross (as just one case in point) as an old earth creationist is that in his own area of expertise
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 11, 1999
          Hi, Richard.

          What I have found interesting about Dr. Hugh Ross (as just one case in
          point) as an old earth creationist is that in his own area of expertise
          (astrophysics) he accepts "mainstream science," but outside of his area
          of expertise with regard to biological evolution he rejects "mainstream
          science" while espousing the same arguments that young earth creationists
          do. He sees the flaws in YEC argumentation with regard to his own area,
          but fails to acknowledge the same kinds of flaws in other areas.

          This is the *general point* I would make, without ever even touching on
          beliefs regarding biblical inspiration.

          The other general point I would make, in agreement with you, is that my
          own experience shows me that most YECs will choose to do one of two
          things in cases where you actually nail them down to the details of a
          specific issue, such as in my recent discussions with YECs regarding the
          Moon & Spencer conjecture and the alleged comet mystery: (1) The actual
          proponent of the argument will "stick to his guns" regardless of the
          evidence. (2) Other YECs will actively ignore their responsibility to
          "check into the details" of the specific issue for themselves, to see
          whether or not you, the critic, have indeed been representing things
          accurately, and along with this they will refuse to acknowledge that you
          have pointed out a legimitate error in YEC argumentation (in their minds
          they don't *have to,* because in actively choosing to refrain from
          checking into the details that have been pointed out by the YEC critic,
          they can honestly say "Well, I don't know whether or not your criticism
          is legitimate").

          In the case of the alleged comet mystery, for example, the person who
          stated the argument (Darrell Broking) remained silent and never
          commented on my immediately pointing out that he was flatly wrong, that
          old universe advocates did indeed have an explanation for short-term
          comets (the Kuiper Belt) and had had this explanation since the early
          1950s - and in addition to this, the explanation had in recent years
          been empirically verified. Another YEC discussion participant, with a
          Ph.D. in physics (Dr. Marion Fox), promptly jumped in with comments to
          the effect that I was simply "jumping to conclusions" and that the
          Kuiper Belt was still just a figment of evolutionists imaginations and
          that his Christian brethren should not pay any attention to me. And -
          guess what - they did indeed heed his request. Up until this very day (a
          few months after the discussion took place), no one in that discussion
          forum has acknowledged either aspect of my criticism of Broking's
          initial claim (that an explanation did indeed exist, and that the
          explanation had recently been empirically verified). (And a few of them
          who had been particularly active in the discussion, I had even emailed
          them personally specifically requesting some responsibility in their
          approach by at least checking out the several references I had provided
          with my criticism. I wanted them to acknowledge in the discussion forum
          who had represented the issue correctly - me, the critic, or Dr. Fox,
          the YEC. Yet even on this very specific and easily verifiable issue,
          they refused to do the right thing.)

          It is this very common attitude among YECs of total obstinance
          (abstinence?) with regard to just simply checking out the specific
          details of a particular issue that I think makes it perfectly proper for
          YEC critics to make the claim that such YECs are simply not practicing
          genuine honesty when they behave in this way. I would never claim that
          all YECs are like this, and having been a YEC myself I understand the
          whole mindset behind believing in young earth creationism in the first
          place and why YECs are so skeptical of YEC critics because of this. What
          I say to YECs is simply that when someone points out the truth (by which
          I mean that, in this context, a critic points out specific details
          regarding a specific issue), then it is the responsibility of anyone
          who proclaims himself to be a truth-seeker to check out the details and
          see where the accurate representation lies, *at least* with respect to
          that particular issue. YECs will express agreement with me in words, but
          in practice there seem to be few who are willing to carry out their
          responsibility. The devil is in the details.

          I am NOT at all trying to be inflammatory. I am simply describing it as
          have experienced it.

          This being said, there *are* YECs who are genuine truth-seekers, who
          are willing to listen to the details you present and who are willing to
          check into them. After all, I myself was one of those YECs, which is why
          I ended up rejecting it.

          Now I realize that "age of the universe/earth" is independent of
          "biological evolution," and I think that as general points what you and
          I have been saying is applicable to both YECs and OECs, and, actually,
          to the context of any "true believer" type of area. Truth-seeking is a
          general process, and not just relevant to the creationism topic.

          I think the biggest obstacle to this area is these "statistical" type
          of arguments that keep being made. Statistical calculations based on
          ignorance are hardly informative about the way things really were. You
          can build up large and sophisticated models, all based on complex
          series of "if statements" or assumptions. But assumptions is what they
          are, and when you realize this it all boils down to honestly
          acknowledging, "Well, about this we just don't know yet." This is what
          I have found YECs and OECs unwilling to do.

          Regards,
          Todd S. Greene
          mailto:tgreene@...
          http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Thebes/7755



          ###### Richard Wein, 12/11/1999 ######
          This mailing list has been very quiet recently, so let's stir things up a
          bit. ;-)

          The subject line of this thread is rather inflammatory, I know. But I think
          it's a valid question.

          Some of you may remember that I discovered a clear error in the logic of one
          of Hugh Ross's articles, and wrote to his Reasons To Believe organisation to
          let him know. I was interested to see whether he would correct the
          offending web page. Well, it's been over a month now, and there's been no
          change in the page or any reply to my message.

          <snip>
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