Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Darwinism's Leakey Bucket

"Can you not hear me?! I said, 'the debate is OVER!'"
It would be comical if it wasn't so farcical but, in case you hadn't heard, the debate about evolution is, or soon will be, over.

Richard Leakey said so.

This is no doubt news to the 1000 or so scientists (listed here) who have taken the public risk, and therefore encountered the public wrath, of defying folks like Richard Leakey who will do their best to destroy the career of anyone who happens to disagree with them.

If you doubt it, consider the case of Dr. Ben Carson, as an example of what happens when you dare to doubt Darwin. Even though he holds some of the most impressive medical and scientific credentials, Carson was targeted with the outrage of the Darwimafia family leaders because they could not stomach the fact that "he's not impressed by the evidence on offer for Darwinian theory and why a materialist philosophy is at odds with the idea of free will and therefore makes it tough to offer a coherent account of moral principles." The fact that Carson is one of the top neurosurgeons on the planet was irrelevant to the Leakey-like Darwinist Priesthood.

In academic circles, you see, joining the growing list of those who "Dissent From Darwin," is tantamount to performing career hare-kari ... but people are doing it anyway. Why do you think that might be?

It seems just a little self-serving to claim that a debate in which you are supposed to be engaged is "over" simply because the evidence in opposition to your position is getting stronger by the day. But beyond that, let's consider why Leakey demands that "evolution" is true:
"If you don't like the word evolution, I don't care what you call it, but life has changed. You can lay out all the fossils that have been collected and establish lineages that even a fool could work up. So the question is why, how does this happen? It's not covered by Genesis. There's no explanation for this change going back 500 million years in any book I've read from the lips of any God."
For starters, Leakey points out that "life has changed" whether we want to call it evolution or not. But no one that I know of -- even the most ardent young earth Creationist -- doubts that "life has changed." So what? The fact that "life has changed" says exactly nothing about whether life was designed, and that is the real question. PhD philosopher of science, Stephen Meyer addresses this point by noting that there three different definitions of "evolution" in play these days:
  1. Change over time (a.k.a. micro-evolution or adaptation)
  2. Common Descent (the history of life shows a continuous pattern of relatedness)
  3. The cause or mechanism for change in life forms that creates an appearance of design
Leakey doesn't identify which of these he is talking about and that is a problem considering the fact that definitions 1) and 2) are perfectly compatible with the work of an intelligent Creator. Definition 3) is an attempt to claim that the design we all recognize in nature is not the work of an intelligent Designer at all, but just an appearance of design brought about by the work of natural selection acting on random variations in the genome.

Ask Dr. Leakey how that mechanism works and he will be stuck for an answer. Ask Dr. Leakey how life began and he will be stuck for an answer. Ask Dr. Leakey why all those fossils he claims have "established lineages" always seem to be found to be out of chronological order, or genetically unrelated, and he will be stuck for an answer -- beyond the unsubstantiated claim that you are a fool to doubt him. Ask Dr. Leakey why all the completely formed, complex creatures of the Cambrian Explosion show no evidence of their predecessors in his "established lineages" and he will be stuck for an answer. Ask Dr. Leakey why his Darwinist assumption that so-called "junk DNA" was nothing but the useless leftovers of eons of failed evolutionary mutations has proved to be a complete and utter predictive failure and he will be stuck for an answer. Ask Dr. Leakey what theist claims that Genesis can, or should, explain how all this happens and he will be stuck for an answer. Ask Dr. Leakey which proponent of intelligent design relies on that belief based on what he/she has "read from the lips of any God" and he will be stuck for an answer.

In other words, ask Dr. Leakey what evidence he has for any of the claims he is making and you will be met with deafening silence. And that is why Dr. Leakey wants to force an unnatural and unsubstantiated end to the debate. It is not because the debate is really over -- it is because he is losing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Evolving" On The Slippery Slope

A few months ago, in a discussion about the issue of same-sex "marriage," a commenter chastised me for saying that the same logic being used to justify the practice could be used to justify any number of variations of the moving target this new definition of marriage would allow. My opponent mocked me for my "old guard" position and promised that the younger generations would eventually overcome the current resistance to same sex "marriage" by pointing out that "laws and culture both change ... Polygamy is also something illegal/intolerable now."

I responded that he had made my point when he used the word "now," and warned him that the basic building block of society never changes, while the definitions of terms can change any time at the whim of what some group of people "like." If someone decides they want to define a "marriage" as the union of a boy and his dog at some later time, the logic of their argument would be exactly the same one we hear being used now to allow same sex "marriage" because once you decide that there is no objective definition of a term, you have no logical way to limit the point where it ends.

His response was telling:
"... I think that if a guy wants to marry his dog, while personally repulsive to me, I don't see why he can't. It would be important though for the dog to provide informed consent. Additionally, you should know better than to resort to 'slippery slope' arguments."
This is the enlightened tolerance of the "young guard" I guess.

It is common to mock the use of the "slippery slope" argument because it has been so illegitimately abused in the past. But there is a difference between the old: "next-thing-you-know-they'll-be-saying-it's-OK-to-marry-your-dog" argument (I mean, seriously, who would ever say that?!), and invoking the exact same logic to make the case for one thing that can be used to make the case for another. This is called a "logical slippery slope" and it is a completely legitimate argument to make.

You might think it would require a robust philosophical explanation to prove that last statement, but since I'm not the most robust philosophical guy in the world, I will make it easier ... I'll just report some news.

On the day after New York legalized same-sex "marriage" last June, Moein Khawaja, executive director of the Philadelphia branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a radical Islamist propaganda unit, Tweeted the following:
"Easy to support gay marriage today b/c it's mainstream. Lets see same people go to bat for polygamy, its the same argument. *crickets*"
Now, you might think Khawaja is just a goofball. But what about the October, 2011 article titled: "Polygamy: Tis the Season?" in the Muslim Link, a newspaper serving the Baltimore-Washington area.*
There are murmurs among the polygamist community as the country moves toward the legalization of gay marriage ... As citizens of the United States, they argue, they should have the right to legally marry whoever they please, or however many they please ... As states move toward legalizing gay marriage, the criminalization of polygamy is a seemingly striking inconsistency in constitutional law ... Be it gay marriage or polygamous marriage, the rights of the people should not be based on their popularity but rather on the constitutional laws that are meant to protect them.
Same argument, different definition of marriage. This is a textbook case of the logical slippery slope.

And this is why the recent "evolution" of our President on same-sex "marriage" is so dangerous. His support of same-sex "marriage," when applied to any other kind of mutually amorous relationship, offers no reason to deny any kind definition someone may dream up.

So while I'm at it, let's check the "evolution" of Barack Obama on the same-sex "marriage" issue:**

  • 1996 - Running for Illinois state senate in a trendy Chicago district: Barack Obama was for same sex "marriage"
  • 2004 - Running for U.S. Senate and needing statewide support: Barack Obama favored "civil unions" but opposed homosexual "marriage."
  • 2008 - Running for President of the United States and needing the elusive swing voters to win the presidency: Barack Obama said, "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I'm not in favor of gay marriage."
  • 2012 - Facing a re-election in which he needs to appeal to his party's base: Barack Obama supports same-sex "marriage."

See how the "evolution" works? Or is this just a demonstration of what we might call the "opportunistic misrepresentation of the truth"?

If the stakes weren't so high for the moral character of our nation, these could be considered the comical machinations of a spineless political hack. But the stakes are high for the future us old guard folks leave our children. I pray that there are enough of us left to stop the slide.


_______________
* Source: National Review, April 16, 2012, p. 24
** Source: Elliott Abrams, The Weekly Standard

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Philosophy Made Simple

I read a short article by R. C. Sproul this morning and this jumped off the page at me:
When the writers of the Wisdom Literature say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, they are saying that the absolute, essential starting point if you want to acquire true wisdom is reverence and adoration for God. 
Showing a contrast, the psalmist tells us, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1). Wisdom is contrasted with foolishness. However, in the Hebrew literature, the term fool does not describe a person who lacks intelligence. To be foolish to the Jew is to be irreligious and godless. The fool is the person who has no reverence for God, and when you have no reverence for God, inevitably your life will show it. 
The Wisdom Literature also makes a sharp distinction between wisdom and knowledge. A person can have unbounded knowledge and not have wisdom. But the reverse is not the case; no one can have wisdom if he does not have knowledge. The anti-intellectual spirit of our times declares: "I don't need to study. I don't need to know the Bible. All I need is to have a personal relationship with Jesus." 
That viewpoint is on a collision course with what the Wisdom Literature teaches.
Too many of us ignore or even fear the study of philosophy. For someone like me, who for many years avoided and even mocked it, these words hit close to home. After all, philosophy is simply two Greek words jammed together: philo (derived from phileo -- "to love"), and sophia ("wisdom"). Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and there is nothing in the Bible that cautions us about pursuing that.