Saturday, May 31, 2008

Evolution as Myth (Part 4 of 5)

In this installment of the Myth of Evolution, the authors delve into the differences between micro-evolution (adaptation) and macro-Evolution. Here are the definitions they offer of each:
Microevolution (n): Evolution resulting from a succession of relatively small genetic variations that often cause the formation of new subspecies.

Macroevolution (n): Large-scale evolution occurring over geologic time that results in the formation of new taxonomic groups.
As I have discussed before, the former is not controversial while the latter has no evidential support. But in the Evolutionary Mythology, the former must lead to the latter. That is the crux of the theory. Intermediary fossils should offer us a historical picture of just how this occurred.
If this tree of life grew as claimed, we should find literally billions upon billions of “intermediate” forms of life fossilized all over the Earth. The patterns we would expect to uncover should show barely detectable differences in body forms as plants and animals made the minute transformation between their original and current forms. Not only so, but the pattern formed by those billions of fossils should also reveal the equally minute transformation of life from the simplest form (originating in the “warm little pond”) to the most complex advanced life we are surrounded by today (you).

So what do we find? In the 150 years since Darwin proposed this idea, the lack of transitional fossil evidence is the most glaring deficiency in Evolutionary Theory. There simply isn’t any. Though Darwinian devotees are quick to run some of their “missing links” up the media flagpole, the examples they use are lame to insufficient.

Or, as Phillip Johnson puts it, “…if Evolution means the gradual change of one kind of organism into another kind, the outstanding characteristic of the fossil record is the absence of evidence for [Macro]-evolution.” (Darwin on Trial, 50)

Henry, Dyke and Cruz offer a compelling discussion about the distinctions between these ideas that is well worth the read. A summary of their observation is that: "the simple truth is that there is no hard evidence for macroevolution; it is inferred by extrapolating microevolution over geological ages. Yet this inference is questionable." And, once again, the most damning evidence against the myth of Evolution comes from the scientists themselves:
Even when he originally proposed this notion, Julian Huxley observed: "It must be admitted that the … proof of the utilization of mutations in evolution under natural conditions has not yet been given."

And the same is true today. Zoologist Pierre-P. Grassé claims: "to insist … that life appeared quite by chance and evolved in this fashion is an unfounded supposition which … (is) not in accordance with the facts."

Biologist Lynn Margulis says, "I have seen no evidence whatsoever that these changes can occur through the accumulation of gradual mutations."
Now, I have bantered with Evolutionists who avoid this distinction by claiming that there is no "magical point" where microevolution stops and macroEvolution begins. This is a credible rejoinder in theory but the facts are these:

1) There is no evidence for naturally occurring change of the magnitude required for macroEvolution, even in intelligently driven experimentation. For example, dog breeding may produce some wildly varying types of dogs but it has never resulted in something that wasn't a dog!

2) Where species-altering mutations do result in significant changes to an organism, those changes are always detrimental to its survivability.

Despite the mythological claims of the Evolutionists to the contrary, the actual scientific evidence (that inconvenient little detail that is too-often ignored) does not support the myth of macro-Evolution.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Atheist Rebuttals (1)

As promised earlier, this is the first (of many) rebuttals to the so-called "New Atheists." I will try to keep them short and sweet, citing a quote or argument from their book(s), complete with a page number for reference. I will then attempt a response. Your comments are welcome ...

Assertion: (The God Delusion, p. 4) “…delusion [is] ‘a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom of psychiatric disorder’. The first part [of this definition] captures faith perfectly. As to whether it is a symptom of a psychiatric disorder, I am inclined to follow Robert M. Pirsig … when he said, ‘When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.’ … Of course, dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads are immune to argument.”

Response: On what basis does Mr. Dawkins separate himself from the possibility of being likewise deluded? Yes, there are people for whom faith is a blindly accepted belief devoid of the need for evidence. Likewise, there are atheists, apparently like Mr. Dawkins, who fully admit that they could never be convinced of the existence of God, regardless of evidence produced to the contrary. Is it too much to ask that, instead of mischaracterizing the position of his opponents, Mr. Dawkins would instead engage the arguments of those who do not accept their faith blindly? Can Mr. Dawkins offer an example of what amount of evidence it would take to convince him to change his belief? Some like him claim that no amount of evidence would convince them -- proving that their atheism is not intellectually based, but rather volitionally or emotionally based.

I would also offer that many who profess atheism could likewise be accused of suffering from a psychological disorder stemming from the absence or abuse of the father figure in their lives (see: Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless). If it is acceptable to see religion as a compensatory psychological disorder, fair play would demand that atheism should also be subjected to the same test.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tenacious Tim

Two years ago, I related the story of my friend Tim (here) who had just been diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia. At the time, Tim's battle had just begun but he was already showing signs of being a fighter who would not allow some silly stinking disease to take him down. Just a sample excerpt ...
At one point a doctor sat by the side of his bed discussing the treatment plans and protocols that were in store for him. That was fine … until she began to rattle off a string of percentages about how many people make it through this course or that, and their survival rates at each stage of treatment. Tim had had enough. He leaned forward and, with a piercing determination in his voice said, “I don’t care about all your statistics. Just tell me what I need to do. I’m going to beat this thing.”A few days later, still reeling from the chemotherapy that was racking his entire system, and with blood counts that had all dropped to near zero, his wife Missy arrived at the hospital to visit him only to find his room empty. She asked the nurse if he had been taken somewhere. No, he hadn’t.

Now Missy was getting anxious. She began searching the hallway knowing that Tim hated being trapped in his hospital bed; thinking he had escaped to just go move around a little. As she walked a little frantically down the hallway, she began to hear a rhythmic squeaking sound emanating from a room up ahead. Missy approached the door and peaked into an area she hadn’t seen before. There was Tim, his blue hospital gown draped over his pumping legs. Next to him stood a drip stand from which intravenous medicine flowed through tubes connected to his neck. Tim was peddling a stationary bike for all he was worth.
Today is the two year anniversary of his diagnosis. I could try to comment on how much Tim's battle affected all of us and describe what an inspiration he is to so many, but instead of doing that I choose to let you hear directly from Tim. His words reveal the kind of guy he is -- and the kind of faith we should all hope to mimic ...
Today is May 26th, exactly 2 years from my diagnosis of ALL. Thanks to God and great Physicians/meds/research, I am still in remission and doing great. In usual form I celebrated with a 60 mile bike ride yesterday and today I am hanging with my family celebrating Missy's B-day. The experience of being a cancer patient has changed my life forever. I have greater appreciation for life and its fragility. I am much more spiritual and have greater reliance and trust in God. I have learned that life is about our relationships and not our accomplishments or material prizes. I have experienced fear at its greatest level, bitterness, and pain, but also peace, love and perseverance. Most of all I have realized how blessed I am to have have so many awesome people around me ready to drop everything and be there when the times are tough. For this, I thank them (YOU) all today for their unbelievable love. My wife is an angel sent from god, my true soul mate. She has gone through this battle and back and never wavered in her support or strength to keep this family together. I am blessed with three beautiful kids that are the light of my life. Thank god they take after their mother. I have friends that I have cried with, some that have picked me up when I am down, and others that are just always by my side. Of course, I still have the ability to ride and run until I feel like my heart is going to explode and remind myself that I am ALIVE! If I had not had cancer, I don't know that I would have realized how great my life on earth is even though I have been faced with tough trials and will again. However, once was enough to wake me up so let's all pray today for this last year of treatment to be successful and that in three more years we are celebrating a cure. Pray bold prayers for this situation and the difficulties you have in your life. All things are possible through God. Take the time to thank God for all the blessings we have in this life, give credit where credit is due!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Evolution as Myth (Part 3 of 5)

As discussed in the first installment of this series, all myths contain a creation narrative meant to explain how life got going. Evolution is no different. In the case of Evolution, the creation myth is entitled: "Abiogenesis." In this post, Henry, Dyke and Cruze summarize not only the ridiculous improbabilities associated with abiogenesis, but the utter lack of evidence that it did, or ever could, occur at all -- regardless of the probability.

This is a crucial issue, even to those sympathetic to the theistic worldview. Many Christians despise the idea of an old Earth in general, or the Big Bang in particular, because they believe that to accept either of these is to capitulate to an anti-Biblical science simply to allow Evolution enough time to "get going." Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem with Evolution, as this post points out, is not that it needs enough time to get going, but that it lacks a mechanism to ever get going at all. I have mentioned this before (here), but the authors put specific numbers on the problem of the origin of life from non-life.
cytochrome c, a small protein found throughout the biological realm, had to appear early in the evolutionary process. Yet information theorist Hubert Yockey calculated a probability of ~10-75 to generate it spontaneously from an amino acid-rich environment. To put this into perspective: a 10-75 chance is less likely than winning the Powerball lottery nine weeks in a row, buying only one ticket per week!
For reference, mathematicians define an impossibility as something with a probability of less than 1 in 10 to the 50th power. But cytochrome c is a simple structure. The simplest self-sustaining life form must consist of 1500 to 2000 gene products, each of them more complex than a simple cytochrome c. The authors provide even more mind blowing confirmation about the ridiculous improbability of abiogenesis in their article but, as is always the case, hard core naturalists cannot back down from their appeal to abiogenesis because, for pure Darwinian Evolution to get started, abiogenesis must be true. Just because it's unlikely (no matter how unimaginably unlikely), that doesn't mean it didn't happen. To which the authors refer us to the work of Trevors and Abel with respect to the incredible complexity of the genetic code:
Could the genetic code have been spontaneously generated? Biologists J. T. Trevors and D. L. Abel conclude: "The argument has been repeatedly made that given sufficient time, a genetic instruction set and language system could have arisen. But extended time does not provide an explanatory mechanism for spontaneously generated genetic instruction. No amount of time proposed thus far, can explain this type of conceptual communication system. It is not just complex. It is conceptually complex."
All this has led one researcher to conclude:
An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to be satisfied to get it going.
A Creationist conclusion you ask? Oh no. That quote is from no one other than Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the DNA molecule and one of the most ardent proponents of Darwinian Evolution and abiogenesis you will ever find.

A miracle? I think in this case I would be glad to agree with Dr. Crick.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nasty Maybe, But Not Convincing

To piggyback off this post, I have decided to start a series of short responses to the claims of the so-called "New Atheists." Interestingly, the story I cited (here) about the impact of the September 11th attacks on the faith of some is directly related to a phenomenon that literally sprung to life on 9/12/2001 -- the aggressive attack by these new atheists on the concept of God and the legitimacy of religion. Case in point:
... 9/11 seems to belie the notion of an all-loving, all-powerful God. Sam Harris began writing The End of Faith, his best-selling attack on religion, the day after the attacks.

Jonathan Miller, who wrote and narrated a 2004 BBC series on atheism, says that given the hijackers' militant Islamist theology, 9/11 would have been "inconceivable without religion."
Harris later wrote a Letter To A Christian Nation -- a stinging diatribe about the danger that religion of any kind, but Christianity in particular, poses toward civil society. During the years that have followed we have been treated to several books that take up the banner of atheism with a renewed vigor and a take-no-prisoners attitude.

Christopher Hitchens weighed in with his God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. For a fascinating review of that book go (here) and read what Hitchens' brother Peter has to say about some of the claims he makes and the source and the scathing attitude Christopher brings to the debate. Hitchens is a hard core atheist who "hates God." This is not my assessment of his view. It is something he is comfortable proclaiming for himself. It is his belief that religion is the source of most of the problems we have in this world.

Finally, there is Richard Dawkins, a zoologist and evolutionary biologist who turned from a deep religious belief in his youth to become Darwinism's (and atheism's) most vocal proponent. His book, The God Delusion, spent many weeks on the NY Times bestseller list and was instrumental in his being sought out as an interviewee in the Intelligent Design movement's new documentary film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Some of his answers in that film are shocking to hear -- especially when you consider them in contrast to his arguments against intelligent design.

These are not the only atheists who have jumped on the anti-God bandwagon but they are the most popular. Each of them is intelligent, clever, and unapologetic in their disgust for religious ideas. Both Hitchens and Dawkins are arrogantly antagonistic in the way they approach the subject. Hitchens in particular is nasty in debates and frequently resorts to profanity and/or sarcasm to belittle his opponents. Dawkins won't debate anyone from the ID or Creationist camps (which, in his mind, constitute one-in-the-same thing) because he believes that doing so would lend them credibility they in no way deserve.

Last summer I made it my mission to read each of their books. What struck me as I did so was the utter vacuousness of some of the arguments these guys use. It amazed me how people who are so highly educated and intelligent can be so lacking in their assessments of, and arguments against, spiritual issues. I think this fact shows that their opposition to religious ideas is not as rooted in intellectualism as they would like to believe. Instead it betrays their real problems with religion and God as being volitional and emotional.

With that as a backdrop I intend to begin a regular series of short rebuttals to some of the arguments they pose in their books. I plan to keep these short (as best I can) and to the point. Hopefully these will help offer quick rebuttals to those who may be using the same arguments against you.

[Note: For a lively, in-depth discussion of the so-called "New Atheists" that you can listen to as you drive to work, I suggest Greg Koukl's, "The New Atheists: Old Arguments, New Attitude." You can order it from him here.]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Evolution as Myth (Part 2 of 5)

Though you may not have known it, and though you will be chastised for saying it, feel free to go here to find out that Evolution is not a scientific theory. As Henry, Dyke and Cruze point out ...
Science is usually defined by a process called the scientific method. Typically, this includes an observation about a natural phenomenon, a hypothesis formulated to explain it, and a test performed via a controlled experiment. If the test results are not as expected, the hypothesis may be revised and retested (feedback).
The problem(s) with Evolution as a scientific theory is that it is not predictive or falsifiable, at least in the sense that other scientific theories are. Science is the study of natural causes and effects. In other words, the only reason science works is because we observe phenomena, decipher how they occurred, and then, based on those observations, make predictions about how phenomena we observed should operate in the future. If we are correct, the phenomenon we are considering should be repeatable. If not, the theory can be falsified. But, as ...
Information theorist Mark Ludwig elaborates, “Darwin’s hypothesis … has the character of unfalsifiable philosophy: it can explain anything and predicts practically nothing… . Darwinism … requires belief… . It has become the scientist’s paradigm, and he is rarely able to admit that it is fragile and charged with philosophy.”
This is because Darwinism, by definition, is built on unpredictable randomness (as opposed to the predictable randomness of something like radioactive decay). In short, Unhindered by the predictability that defines other scientific endeavors, Evolutionists can explain everything they see after the fact, but not before.
"If an animal evolves one way, biologists have a perfectly good explanation; but if it evolves some other way, they have an equally good explanation… . The theory is not … a predictive theory as to what must happen."
Evolution is a form of mythology based on a level of unwarranted belief that must be in place before the data is analyzed. It is only after the fact that the theory is seen to be at work. The data is fit to the theory instead of the other way around -- and that is not the way real science is done.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Evolution as Myth (Part 1 of 5)

It is a common criticism of creationist and intelligent design advocates that they have bought into an unprovable myth and are therefore guilty of "wish thinking." This is the mantra from the "new atheist" crowd or anyone else who believes Evolution is a Fact and that we all just need to deal with it. In light of that, I am offering links here to a series of 5 articles by some very qualified guys who argue that evolution is also a myth. To summarize the first post, their argument begins by establishing a few facts and characteristics concerning mythology:
  • All cultures utilize myth as an important part of their sociology in that it "validates the thinking, practices, and ideals of a culture."
  • Mythology " ... is hard to prove (or disprove) with the technology of the culture; a myth requires faith."
  • All cultures have some kind of creation myth that explains the cultural foundation and most "... involve a powerful, supernatural “god” who creates the world and causes life-forms to be brought forth."
Evolution is no different. It involves an explanation for our existence that assumes our naturalistic origins, contains an agent capable of creating all life forms (natural selection), a prophet who informs us of the myth (Darwin), and it gives rise to fundamentalist defenders of the myth who will not tolerate any departure from its tenets (the Darwinist scientific establishment).

Please go here: Evolution As Mythology (Part 1 of 5): The Theory of Evolution is a Myth and check out installment one. I am biased of course (these guys are fellow members of my local Reasons To Believe affiliate) but they are obviously qualified to discuss the subject.
  • Dr. Hugh Henry received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Virginia in 1971, retired after 26 years at Varian Medical Systems, and currently serves as Lecturer in Physics at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, KY.
  • Mr. Daniel J. Dyke received his Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary 1981 and currently serves as Professor of Old Testament at Cincinnati Christian University in Cincinnati, OH.
  • Dr. Charles Cruze received his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences in 1977, and currently works in research at Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals.
Their work is a fascinating read. More to follow in the coming days, I hope you enjoy ...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Rocking The Vote Boat

[cross-posted on the LTI Blog]

It is easy to become dismayed and frustrated in observing the general apathy and lack of urgency that seems to prevail within the general public toward the cause to which Scott Klusendorf and Jay Watts have dedicated their full-time professional lives. Jay's poignant post (here) reflects the anguish that comes in dealing with the general disinterestedness we have all observed. Regardless, we must continue to minister, educate and multiply the forces that do both. We each have to make the case for human personhood at all stages of life in our own little corners of the world. But what is the prognosis for the project of moving the culture at large? I want to make two observations, one here, another in a separate post ...

Peter Wehner, a former deputy assistant to President Bush, in his discussion (here) of the media’s hope-filled frenzy regarding the impending “crack up” of the modern evangelical movement, brings up some statistics that, when considered alongside some other pro-life thought, may offer pro-lifers some optimism. While Wehner is more concerned with the pure political and electoral implications of the changing evangelical movement, buried in his essay are some promising facts:
  • According to a recent Pew poll, 70 percent of evangelicals age 18-29 favor making it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion compared with 55 percent of evangelicals 30 and above

  • Younger evangelicals are more suspicious of big institutions and skeptical of big government

  • Most evangelicals still care a great deal about the advancing culture-of-life agenda; abortion remains their most consistently important and galvanizing issue. Yet more and more evangelicals are showing concern for environmental issues like global warming; human rights issues like religious persecution and genocide; and “social justice” issues like poverty and AIDS. The evangelical movement’s longstanding concern about abortion isn’t receding; the area of concern is enlarging.
Included in this enlarged area of evangelical concern are issues that, though not specifically pro-life, share characteristics that cross political boundaries: sex trafficking in Africa, AIDS, tribal genocide, the plight of Tibet … and the list goes on. If Wehner is correct in his assessment of the concerns of younger evangelicals, they share these as pressing issues even with their secular peers. And while we conservative evangelicals rightly (no pun intended) knee-jerk to labeling many of these as left-leaning issues, they are at their core human rights issues that are considered important among the young.

To add to that, I can only offer concrete numbers from Super Tuesday but, exit polling showed that the youth vote (under 30) was up 84% over 2000 in Ohio and nearly quadrupled in Texas (from 172,228 voters in 2000 to an estimated 620,384 on March 4, 2008). Anecdotal evidence throughout the primary season suggests that the involvement of the young in politics is on the increase -- maybe even dramatically so.

The point: Youth voters see abortion as a human rights issue and they are voting in record numbers. This is good news for pro-life causes and candidates.

LTI does not argue the pro-life case on strictly religious grounds. Though his case is grounded in moral and theistic realism, Scott does not directly invoke the precepts of the Judeo-Christian faith to argue what the fetus is. At its root his case is a philosophical and moral case for personhood at all stages of life. The pro-life case is, in other words, an appeal to human rights that should resonate with the young.

This is not to dismiss potential problems, not the least of which is that the only pro-life candidate in this year's presidential race is 72 years old, while the youth vote seems to be magnetically attracted to the pro-abortion Obama. Nevertheless, it seems that this should have significant political impact in the future and that the pro-life movement needs to capitalize on the trend.

Unfortunately, ESCR is a different issue. More on that later ...