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Friday, February 27, 2004 7:58 AM

Subject: Beliefs

 

 

Dr. Olson,

 

I would first like to acknowledge that I have received a second response from you regarding some of the issues that I originally raised.  I appreciate your time in responding.

 

However I have not even completed responding to your first email to me.  I promise to discuss every point you raised in all of your email messages as soon as I can find the time.

 

Next, in your response, you raised some philosophical issues that I would like to comment on.  Specifically you said this:

 

“…  Maybe you had better draw yourself a diagram, but if a person thinks that evolution (undirected increase in complexity by natural processes including natural selection) is the only we could have gotten here, then he is not allowing for God.  If another person thinks there is a God who had nothing to do with the development of life (and perhaps nothing to do with its origin either) then that person is not an atheist.  He seems to believe in a peculiarly wimpy God, to be sure, but he is not an atheist.  If a person believes that there is a God, however, then he needs to allow for the possibility that God had something to do with creation, even if he personally believes in evolution.”

 

I disagree.

 

I am not saying that evolution is the only way that we could have gotten here.  I'm saying that ALL of the evidence indicates that evolution IS how we got here, so why should I believe anything any different?

 

It is possible that God created the universe at 4:51 am (CST) this morning. At the moment of creation, in addition to placing all of the planets, stars and galaxies in their proper positions, He also placed in all of our heads the memories and thoughts that we seem to have.  IF that had happened we would be unable to detect the difference between that “special creation” and any other possible reality.  (In addition, of course, in that instance BOTH evolution and the Biblical stories would be wrong.)

 

While that's possible, I suppose, why would anyone believe that?  Shouldn't we instead give credence to the more likely possibility that God is NOT trying to fool us and that what we see and measure reflects the facts of our reality rather than some other possibility?  Believing that God didn't create the universe this morning does not mean that we don't believe in God.  Neither does it mean that we only believe in a “wimpy” God.  It simply means that we believe in an honest and truthful God.

 

Which is evidently different from the nature of the God that creationists believe in.

 

What we need to do is to look at the evidence objectively and without any preconceptions.  We should also believe in a God of truth; we should therefore believe that God would not try to fool us.  If the evidence indicates that evolution has taken place, then that is where we should focus our beliefs.

 

And certainly that is what the evidence DOES indicate.

 

R***** C******

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. C*****

 

Not only do you not seem to understand logical necessity, you confuse evidence with interpretation.

 

As my final comment on natural vs supernatural, I can only repeat that it has to be one or the other.  When I say that, I am not making the complete case for what I believe –- young earth creation – I am only trying to lead you one baby step down the road of logical thinking.  If you can't see that, I cannot help you further.

 

As to whether God is deceiving us, I agree that the common interpretation is that the evidence points to evolution and old age.  What I am trying to show you is that at a very minimum you have to admit that there are other possible interpretations.  I have tried to present evidence that points strongly to a young earth.  You look at it and say you disagree and insist that to see it as evidence for creation and a young earth means God deceived us.

 

Let me put it this way, suppose Adam really were created instantaneously and you were miraculously transported back in time and were miraculously able to speak his language and talk to him.  If you asked him, “How old are you?”  He probably would not understand.  Minutes and hours did not have a meaning for him so you asked about days.  He needed an explanation so you asked him, How many times did it get dark and then get light again?”  He told you that it had not been dark in his entire life.  You conclude from this that he is less than one day old.

 

Then you call God and complain, “God, you deceived me.  When I looked at Adam, he seemed to be a full grown adult, perhaps in his 20's, yet he is only a few hours old.”  What do you think God would say?  It could be something like this.  “I created Adam and will soon create Eve – don't tell Adam, I want it to be a surprise – to fellowship with me and to tend the Garden.  They needed to be competent mature adults to do this.  If I created them as zygotes, fetuses or even newborns, they would have needed a mother.  I could have been their mother but I chose to create them fully formed.  Notice that I also created full-grown fruit trees that are already producing fruit to feed them.  The trees may even look 100 years old to you, but I made them only a short time ago.”

 

You might insist, “Well I still think it is deceptive.  You should have done it some other way.  How am I supposed to know?”  God could then reply, “You can ask me.  You have already asked Adam.  Do you insist that anything you do not understand could not possibly be true?  And by the way, did you notice that Adam has no navel?”

 

That is a fanciful story and I suppose you will find all sorts of problems with it.  The point is that there are certain necessities regarding creation.  If stars were for signs to humans, then their light would need to be visible.  There are also physical clues to what is true if you can break free of your presuppositions and actually see them.

 

The Grand Canyon, for example, is thought to be the product of slow erosion by a river, but it really does not fit with that interpretation.  It goes through a high plateau.  A river would have gone another direction rather than going up hill to start the process.  Also, a river would not erode straight down with nearly vertical sides that are so very far from the present location of the water.  It fits, however, with a catastrophic rupture of a natural dam made of incompletely consolidated sediments, holding back a huge amount of water.  A crack formed longitudinally in the mound and the water rushed through the crack, very rapidly enlarging it over an increasing width because of the flow characteristics, including the high impact collapse of bubbles known as “cavitation.”

 

There is evidence of huge lakes having once been present north of the Grand Canyon.  There would have been very high precipitation for centuries after the flood because of warm oceans and cool land.  There are clues.  It is not a case of “God implanted false memories.”  There is even evidence that clearly contradicts the usual explanations, such as the 200 million years of missing strata in the Grand Canyon, with the layers above and below inter mingled.  That indicates that they were deposited continuously and there was no 200 million gap between those layers.  See http://tccsa.tc/articles/grand_canyon_missing_strata.pdf  

 

Mount St. Helens lay down a large amount of sediment over a very short time and then with the rupture of a natural dam produced a 1/40 scale model of the Grand Canyon over a matter of about a day.  See  http://www.icr.org/research/sa/sa-r04.htm . If you say, “But it seems to me that things need to take a long time,” you are betraying a bias towards uniformitarianism (and also have not lived through a major natural disaster.)  If you fail to see the evidence for rapid action, you cannot blame God for deceiving you.  Actually the business of deceiving is the trademark of another “god,” also known as “the god of this age.” II Corinthians 4:4 "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

 

Ross Olson

 

 

 

Monday, March 01, 2004 10:41 AM

Subject: Claims and evidence

 

Dr. Olson,

 

I'm afraid that I am still working on your original response to my email on

your topic of "Evaluating Evolution".

 

One of the things that you said in that response is this:

 

"Look at my debate with Dr. Edward Max. (http://tccsa.tc/debate.html#max) He concludes that none of his examples support evolution - which he still accepts, apparently on faith - and yet he is quoted by others as having proved it."

 

I have no idea who Dr. Max is.  Nor have I seen his examples.

 

Dr. Max, whoever he is, does not have to depend on faith for believing in evolution.  There are, of course, many, many examples that DO, in fact, support evolution.

 

For example, in an earlier email I referred you to the web site:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/.  That site gives 29+ evidences of

macroevolution - specific examples supporting evolution.

 

There are other examples as well.

 

For example, let me use these two quotations from the very well known

evolutionary scientist, Stephen J. Gould

 

"The anatomical transition from reptiles to mammals is particularly well documented in the key anatomical change of jaw articulation to hearing bones. Only one bone, called the dentary, builds the mammalian jaw, while reptiles retain several small bones in the rear portion of the jaw. We can

trace, through a lovely sequence of intermediates, the reduction of these small reptilian bones, and their eventual disappearance or exclusion from the jaw, including the remarkable passage of the reptilian articulation bones into the mammalian middle ear (where they became our malleus and incus, or hammer and anvil). We have even found the transitional form that creationists often proclaim inconceivable in theory - for how can jawbones become ear bones if intermediaries must live with an unhinged jaw before the new joint forms? The transitional species maintains a double jaw joint, with both the old articulation of reptiles (quadrate to articular bones) and the new connection of mammals (squamosal to dentary) already in place! Thus, one joint could be lost, with passage of its bones into the ear, while the other articulation continued to guarantee a properly hinged jaw. Still, our creationist incubi, who would never let facts spoil a favorite argument, refuse to yield, and continue to assert the absence of all transitional forms by ignoring those that have been found, and continuing to taunt us with admittedly frequent examples of absence."

 

- "Hooking Leviathan by Its Past," Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in

Natural History, New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1997, pp. 360-361.

 

Dr. Gould also said this:

 

"Two organisms may maintain the same feature because both inherited it from a common ancestor. These are homologous similarities, and they indicate 'propinquity of dissent,' to use Darwin's words. Forelimbs of people, porpoises, bats and horses provide the classic example of homology in most textbooks. They look different, and do different things, but are built of the same bones. No engineer, starting from scratch each time, would have built such desperate structures from the same parts. Therefore, the parts existed before the particular set of structures now housing them: they were, in short, inherited from a common ancestor."

 

- "Inside a Sponge's Cell," The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural

History, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1980, p. 248.

 

Dr. Gould's observations would seem to be explained by evolution and by no other hypothesis.

 

Which brings me to my next point.  I believe that you support the Biblical accounts found in Genesis 1 and 2 of how the universe and life were created. I would be very interested in seeing some scientific evidence supporting that view.  In other words I would like to see scientific evidence - in fossils, DNA, whatever - which is explained by the hypothesized existence of the Garden of Eden and by no other hypothesis.

 

Please understand, "evidence" against evolution, by itself, will be unacceptable.  You must show evidence specifically FOR those Biblical accounts.  Even "evidence" showing that the Earth is young will not work because in the more than 1000 creation myths found around the world, many of those also speak of a young Earth.

 

I can suggest what I consider to be a fair test that could be performed to either support or falsify the Biblical accounts if you feel that no such test is possible.

 

If you cannot find such evidence, I expect that you will issue a statement similar to that of Dr. Max saying that you cannot find any scientific examples supporting the Biblical stories.  The implication being that the stories in the Bible can only be accepted as a matter of faith - not as a matter of science.

 

R**** C****

 

 

 

03/01/2004 08:12

Subject   RE: Claims and evidence            

                                                                          

 Dear Mr C*****                                                                       

                                                                           

                                                                          

                                                                          

I am finding it harder to believe that you are for real.  You say you know nothing about Edward Max or his examples, but I gave you the link and all you had to do was click on it.

 

                         Ross Olson

 

 


 

 

Tuesday, March 02, 2004 11:26 AM

Subject: RE: Claims and evidence

 

Dear Dr. Olson,

 

But what possible relevance do some supposedly false examples of evolution have when there are many, many valid examples of evolution, some of which I document below?  What possible purpose would it serve to look at Dr. Max's examples?

 

 

R**** C****

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. C*****

 

Evolution needs to prove that mutations can produce new structures and functions, like a copying mistake in Windows XP turning some obscure function into a video-editing capacity.  Now, of course, Richard Dawkins claims that it is not mutation but natural selection that increases information – according to a very clever definition of information -- by reducing the number of choices, but that does not make new features.  That is the kind of information that you get when there is a new baby, you ask, “boy or girl” and are told, “girl.”  You have gained information but that is not the process that starts with Dick and Jane and ends up with the Encyclopedia Britannica.

 

Edward Max, by showing that the immune system turns on hypermutation in a segment of DNA when producing antibodies to a new antigen (usually a bacteria or virus) seems to show that mutation can do these wonderfully creative things.  However, what is happening is not “natural” mutation in the wild but amazingly controlled incredibly rapid mutation in a specified area of the DNA, during a specified step in the production of antibody as part of an elaborate system that sure looks designed.  Dr. Max is considered by many to have proved the beneficial nature of mutations, but he himself denies that his findings help evolution, and he is right.  That is significant and you need to consider it. But you refused to click on the link.

 

You seem to have trouble evaluating the significance of pieces of evidence.  It is sort of like the Laurel and Hardy movie where they carry huge piles of papers into a court room and talk about “the weight of the evidence” as if it refers to the volume, not the quality of the data.  You don't think there can be any other explanation for homology besides common descent?  Where have you been hiding?  You claim to have taken a balanced look at both sides of the issue, but there is a response to this in every creationist piece dealing with it – namely common design.  You cannot rule out that God does variations on themes, unless, of course, you rule out supernatural explanations – which is what mainstream science does.  That is not scientific or logical but a philosophical position taken to rule out certain explanations a priori.   Yet you naively accept their tainted conclusions without question.

 

Of course there are other explanations for shared features.  It is a good engineering solution.  Do all Boeing planes share common features? Should the engineers feel obligated to start from scratch with each new model?  Is it even possible?  Since there are common functions needed, there are certain things that have to be the way they are.  It would be hard to have a plane without wings and control surfaces, fuel tanks and engines.  You could arrange the models in a sequence and pretend that they mutated into each other, but the fact that you actually know in this case is that every one of them was designed.  This concept is not “rocket science” ... well OK, it is Aerospace science.  If you have an engineering background it ought to be obvious to you, but you seem to have been unduly influenced by the phenomenon of PhDs shouting that anyone who disagrees is an idiot.

 

Also, you seem to think that evidence against evolution is no help to my case for creation.  As I keep trying to tell you, it is either one or the other.  If I can show that evolution could not have happened, then there must have been a supernatural origin.  If I can show design that does not happen by natural processes, then there must be a designer.  To prove the Biblical record takes a few extra steps but you seem to think that until I have an airtight case on that, evolution is still in the driver's seat.  WRONG! 

 

Suppose I give you directions to come to a cabin and tell you all the steps from the freeway exit through a small town and one mile out of town to a dirt road that goes down a hill to the left towards a lake with a sign that says “Olson Road.” Suppose you follow all the steps but get to the dirt road on the left which is headed down hill towards a lake and find no sign.  Is it logical to turn down the dirt road or keep going for another 100 miles?  You should obviously go on the preponderance of the best evidence.  The sign could have easily been removed.  The hill and the lake could not have been.  It is not likely that I was grossly wrong about the number of miles out of town.  This is the way logic and common sense works.  You do not hold on to the idea that the cabin is off some other freeway exit or near some other small town when all you were missing was a small bit of confirmation. 

 

As to tests for Biblical creation, we would predict that animals would be grouped into “kinds” with genetic barriers between them.  This is exactly what we see.  There is “dog-kind” which includes wolves, coyotes, foxes and domestic dogs, all basically inter fertile and never turn into bats, cats or whales.  There is “cow-kind” with similar characteristics.  There are indeed genetic barriers between kinds that can be demonstrated by breeding experiments and also by analysis of the genetic material. 

 

As to things such as “human tails,” the appendages that have been occasionally seen are not atavisms and not even true tails because they have no bone structure. They are mistakes in development such as ear tags or extra digits.  And if you think the coccyx is a vestigial structure, be reminded that the muscles that allow continence of stool are attached there.  To show bones on different species having different functions does not prove that one developed into the other.  Stephen Gould –- and I really wish he could communicate with you now because I think he is not an atheistic communist any more –- is talking through both sides of his mouth because his most famous contribution to evolution was punctuated equilibrium which he stated was necessary because “the trade secret of the paleontologist” is that there are no transitional forms. 

 

Evolution requires –- even punctuated equilibrium –- that there be transitional forms all over the place.  Classic Darwinism needs billions of them in a fine gradation and ought to have produced an evolutionary tree in which it is hard to even classify because there are no gaps between different body types.  But even in Punctuated Equilibrium, with changes taking place “in small isolated populations over relatively rapid geologic time,” because of the billions of transitions, there ought to be millions of fossils catching it in the act.  There are not and the few series you cite are really stretched. 

 

It would take books to refute in detail the 29 evidences and those books have been written.  Walter Remine even thinks that the evidence for design is so strong as to rule out other explanations at all turns.  See his web site at http://www1.minn.net/~science/ .

 

 

Ross Olson

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 03, 2004 10:57 AM

Subject: Science and religion in the Middle Ages

 

 

Dr. Olson,

 

I'm still working on responding to your original email to me.

 

In that email, you said this:

 

“You claim that Christianity hindered the progress of science.  That is the standard argument.  But on closer inspection it was the unquestioned acceptance of Aristotle's philosophy which caused the problems.  Aristotle believed that the earth was the center of the universe, not a position of honor but the lowest place.  The heavens were perfect because they were away from the center.  The Scholastic scholars of the universities were trained in this philosophy and anything else was forbidden until Francis

Bacon challenged the system and the societies of natural philosophy were formed to examine nature experimentally, analyze the results, discuss and publish.  The universities did not allow discussion and were very slow to change but “kept the faith” while this was going on around them. ”

 

No.  Your response is the standard response, and on closer inspection it contains nothing but revisionist history.

 

It was, in fact, the view of the religious establishment during the Middle Ages that the Bible was inerrant that hindered the progress of science. This is, of course, exactly the same viewpoint being promoted by creationists in the 21st century.

 

Let's look a little at the historical FACTS, shall we?

 

I mentioned in my first email a fact that you didn't feel the need to address.  Copernicus published his views about the structure of the solar system in a book titled “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium”.  It was published a few days after his death.  Why did he wait until he was on his deathbed to authorize the publication of the book?  Was it because of the influence of the “Scholastic scholars”?  NO!  It was because he knew that he would be persecuted by the church if his views were published before his death.  His fears were substantiated by the fact that his book was put on the index of forbidden books shortly after it was published.  Did the “Scholastic scholars” put it on the index?  NO! The church authorities did that.

 

Galileo was threatened with torture and placed under house arrest for his views on heliocentrism.  His prosecutor, Cardinal Bellarmine, sent a letter to another cardinal that said this, among other things:

 

"However, it is different to want to affirm that in reality the sun is at the center of the world and only turns on itself without moving from east to west, and the earth is in the third heaven and revolves with great speed around the sun; this is a very dangerous thing, likely not only to irritate all scholastic philosophers and theologians, but also to harm the Holy Faith by rendering Holy Scripture false."

 

(See http://www1.bellarmine.edu/strobert/about/foscarini.asp for the

complete text of the letter.)

 

Obviously, contrary to what you claim, the primary motivation for Galileo's prosecution was that his views violated a literal interpretation of Scripture.

 

Who made these threats (showed him the tools of torture) and placed him under house arrest?  Was it the “Scholastic scholars”?  NO! It was the Christian Church authorities.

 

There were others, less well known, whom the Christian Church persecuted for their scientific beliefs.

 

One example is Cecco d'Ascoli who was an Italian astrologer, mathematician, poet, and physician.  He was denounced as heretical by the Church and burned at the stake in 1327 because he said, about the temptations of Jesus, that it is not possible to see all the Earth down from a mountain however high it is, as was asserted by the gospels.  This is a scientific viewpoint that was punished by the Church – rather severely - thereby hindering the progress of science.

 

(See http://www.anti-religions.org/eng/bomba.php.)

 

I mention this example primarily because it obviously has nothing to do with Aristotle and the “Scholastic scholars of the universities” because it has nothing to do with geocentrism, but it has everything to do with Biblical interpretation.

 

But it wasn't just the Roman Catholic Church that hindered scientific progress.  It was the Protestants as well.

 

Martin Luther is a fairly well known Protestant Church leader of the Middle

Ages.  Martin Luther said this:

 

“Scripture simply says that the moon, the sun, and the stars were placed in the firmament of the heaven, below and above which heaven are the waters... It is likely that the stars are fastened to the firmament like globes of fire, to shed light at night... We Christians must be different from the philosophers in the way we think about the causes of things. And if some are beyond our comprehension like those before us concerning the waters above the heavens, we must believe them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding."

 

- Martin Luther, Luther's Works. Vol. 1. Lectures on Genesis, ed. Janoslaw

Pelikan, Concordia Pub. House, St. Louis, Missouri, 1958, pp. 30, 42, 43.

 

 

 

Note that Luther says that Christians should be different from the philosophers – the “Scholastic scholars” that you, obviously incorrectly, insist are the real hindrance to scientific progress.

 

Martin Luther also comments in that same source that, “This fool (Copernicus) wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, not the earth.”

 

Despite your claims, Martin Luther, a Christian religious leader, applied his influence to “hinder the progress of science”.

 

John Calvin was another important Protestant Church leader of the Middle

Ages.  He once said, "Those who assert that 'the earth moves and turns'...[are] motivated by 'a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding;' possessed by the devil, they aimed 'to pervert the order of nature.'"

 

- John Calvin, sermon no. 8 on 1st Corinthians, 677, cited in John Calvin:

A Sixteenth Century Portrait by William J. Bouwsma (Oxford Univ. Press,

1988), p. 72

 

John Calvin, also said: "If the earth is a planet, and only one of several planets, it can not be that any great things have been done specially for it as the Christian doctrine teaches. If there are other planets, since God makes nothing in vain, they must be inhabited; but how can their inhabitants be descended from Adam? How can they trace their origin to Noah's ark? How can they have been redeemed by the Savior?" (from Calvin's "Commentary on Genesis").

 

John Calvin, a man known neither for his sense of humor nor for his tolerance, also used his influence to “hinder the progress of science”.

 

Note that Luther and Calvin based their objections to heliocentrism strictly on their interpretation of Genesis – the same basis that creationists use for their objections to evolution.

 

It is well known that creationists distort and pervert facts when making their arguments.  Generally this only applies to scientific facts.  It is unfortunate to see that it also applies to historical facts.

 

R***** C*****

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. C*****

 

First of all, I don't think that Luther and Calvin are generally regarded as belonging to the middle ages, but rather to the Reformation period which Luther actually initiated. 

 

My point regarding the influence of the Scholastics is that they even influenced the church, just as Big Bang, evolution and billions-of-years philosophy influences the whole culture including the church today.  The lesson is that the church should stay true to the real meaning of Scripture and not let the world “squeeze us into its mold.”. 

 

I agree that there were misinterpretations of Scripture, such as thinking that speaking of the sun as standing still meant that the sun really moves rather than the earth.  There are two thoughts regarding that.  Do you ever hear the weather man say, “Sunset today will be at such an such a time?”  Does that meteorologist really believe that the sun revolves around the earth?  No, it is an expression, referring to the way things appear.  You have probably used the expression yourself.  And it has been an expression for millennia. 

 

But further, according to Einstein, there is no preferred frame of reference so whether you say the sun goes around the earth or the earth goes around the sun depends on which frame of reference you choose.  The motions can be still described accurately with the laws of motion. 

 

The way science thrived under Christianity has to do with worldview.  Perhaps you have not really thought about this because you are trying to have Christianity with a secular worldview.  What it means is that the universe is thought to be rational because it is the creation of a rational God.  It is predictable because God has revealed that he does not change.  Miracles may intervene occasionally, but we don't see apples falling up tomorrow and sideways the next day.  Also it is assumed that the human mind is capable of understanding the universe because we have been given the equipment to do so, since we were created in the image of God, able to know, reason and decide. 

 

Contrast the Hindu view of the universe as an illusion. Why try to do experiments on it when it is only a projection of my mind? Of what of the animistic view that all things are under the control of capricious spirits that are influenced by our magic words or sacrifices.  You cannot formulate rigorous laws but only catalogue the spells that seem to work.  It is the theistic creationist worldview that gives hope that the universe is knowable and that we are capable of knowing it.

 

Ross Olson

 

 

 

Mar 3, 2004 11:00 AM

Subject: RE: Claims and evidence

 

 

Dr. Olson,

 

It appears that you are the one unwilling to look at the evidence.

 

There are some examples that do not prove evolution.  Neither do they disprove evolution.

 

I just dropped my pencil on the floor of my office.  Gravity still works.

 

Does that prove evolution?  No.  Does it falsify evolution?  No.  What does it have to do with evolution?  Absolutely nothing!  The fact that I dropped my pencil has no relevance to arguments about evolution.

 

The same applies to Dr. Max's examples.  They evidently don't prove evolution.  But neither do they falsify evolution.  They are therefore completely irrelevant to our discussion.

 

On the other hand, what is relevant, are the numerous examples that I mention in my email - examples that you are trying desperately to evade - that do show exactly what you say is impossible - provide evidence of macro-evolution.

 

You are also evading my challenge to you - providing any form of scientific evidence that creationism is true.

 

All of this indicates that these following statements are valid:

 

Evolution is a fact and creationism is a myth.

 

Thank you for your implicit concession regarding these statements.

 

There is a also a practical factor for not visiting the web site you mention.  Since facts are the enemy of creationists, I have found that they often depend on a form of obfuscation when they are debating.  What they will sometimes do when pressed to provide evidence is simply reference a web site.  When I go to that web site I find maybe 10-20 printed pages of claims that are the usual creationist hogwash - out of context quotes, misrepresented scientific experiments, etc.  I then address those claims and am soon directed to yet another web page.  Very soon the discussion gets very far away from the original issue.

 

It is important to provide references, but if you have a claim that you are making that you feel is relevant to a particular topic being discussed, then I feel that you should do more than simply reference an entire web site.  Instead, if there are specific claims that are important at that site, then you should cut-and-paste the most important claim or claims from that source and put them into the context of the document that you are sending.  We can then discuss specific claims without being distracted by other, somewhat superfluous, claims that aren't really relevant to the discussion at hand.

 

This is what I always try to do.

 

The only exception to this rule is the 29 proofs of evolution at the talk.origins web site (which I reference below).  I think that each of those is so persuasive that they, by themselves, really prove that evolution is a fact.

 

I am sending this email along with another one on the topic of science and religion in the middle ages that illustrates what I am talking about.  It shows references but also highlights the specific points that I want to make.

 

Obviously if there is no specific point on the web site regarding Dr. Max that you think is important enough to address directly, then I am correct in my opinion that the information at that site is irrelevant to our discussion and is only an example of an attempt by you to move the topic away from some questions about evolution and creationism that you cannot answer.

 

R**** C****

 

 

 

Monday, March 08, 2004 7:38 AM

Subject: Free Will and "Random Events"

 

 

Dr. Olson,

 

I'm still working on your initial set of answers to my email on your paper titled “Evaluating Evolution”.  In that email you have a second discussion on the subject of free will.  Specifically you say this:

 

“ When you talk about God's foreknowledge and man's free will, I suppose it is not surprising that you get tangled up because many people do.  But when you really think about it, God, who sees the future, can see what I will do even if it is entirely my choice to do so.”

 

No.  You answer makes absolutely no sense.  You are “tangled up”, which is “not surprising” because many creationists do get tangled up as you do.  It is absolutely, even mathematically, impossible to absolutely see the future and yet all of us have the choice, based on free will, to do one thing rather than another.  It is an absolute logic contradiction.

 

You are essentially saying that God “knows” us in some way.  I agree with that.  God can see into our very souls.  We have certain characteristics that will make us “tend” to do one thing rather than another.  By knowing us so well, God can do an excellent job of being able to predict our tendencies.  But that is something quite different from saying that all of our actions are absolutely predictable – and that at the same time we can still have any type of free will.

 

Many news shows on TV and the radio have political or economic pundits who express their opinions on who is likely to be win a particular election or in which direction the stock market is likely to go.  Many of these people are very smart and their predictions have a good degree of accuracy.  But none of them would ever say that their predictions are fated.  Maybe, if they are really, really, smart we can say that they are right 80% of the time.  But they will never be right 100% of the time.

 

None of them can touch God when making predictions.  God knows us so well that His predictions about us are probably right over 99% of the time.  But even He cannot be right 100% of the time – if we have free will.

 

Here's the bottom line: if God can predict our actions 100% of the time then our actions are 100% predictable.  If our actions are 100% predictable then our minds are only molecules bouncing around – as you once described – because we cannot change our own actions; no one can change anything that is 100% predictable.  In fact anything that is 100% predictable is, by its very definition, unchangeable.  We only think that we have control.  If our actions are 100% predictable then we can have no control and, therefore, no free will.

 

In other words, contrary to what you say, it is a logical impossibility for

God to be able to see what you will do and still have it be entirely your choice to have control over what you will do.

 

On top of that there's a lot that can happen in that 1% or less that God can't, or more accurately won't, control.  For example someone with an impeccable driving record could be driving a car but be distracted for just a fraction of a second and, because of that, cause an accident that kills someone destined to be President of the United States.  Such an action could change world history.  God can probably calculate the odds that the driver would be distracted, but if God were to intervene that person would have lost free will.

 

Simply put, if Biblical prophecy is true, then we do not have free will. Those two things logically contradict each other.  You are “tangled up” if you believe otherwise.

 

Then you say:

 

“Claiming that evolutionists believe in free will, take another look at what you wrote.  Gould says that if you ran evolution again it might be smart insects at the top of the food chain.  What does that have to do with free will?  Evolution does not have free will!  There are no creatures along that randomly generated path exercising free will!  It is all just a series of random events.”

 

I'm not sure what your point is here.  But either way, your answer makes absolutely no sense.  Please take another look at what you wrote.

 

On one hand you might be arguing that insects are incapable of “free will”.

But you describe them as “smart insects”. A “smart” anything has the possibility of free will.  Why wouldn't it?  Does something have to have two arms and two legs to have free will?  Who wrote those rules?  Isn't intelligence the only requirement?

 

On the other hand you may be saying that “a series of random events” imply a lack of free will.  It is true that evolution is based on “random events”.  But that doesn't deny free will.  In fact it emphasizes the existence of free will.

 

Free will is really the tool that we use to react to events – primarily “random events” - that occur in our lives.  If there were no “random events” there would be little need for us to have free will.

 

When I leave my house in the morning to drive to work, I drive through two controlled intersections.  One of them is a four-way stop sign.  The other has a signal light.

 

The intersection with the four-way stop sign is not a “random event”.  I know that I will be expected to stop at that intersection.  I do have free will so I suppose that I could drive right through the stop sign without slowing down.  But that's dangerous.  Realistically I would never do that. My free will – though present – isn't really tested by the four-way stop.

 

On the other hand, occasionally at the stop light, as I approach it when the light is green, the light suddenly turns yellow.  This is essentially a “random event”.  I cannot predict when I leave the house if this will occur or not.

 

If I'm close to the intersection under these circumstances I continue through without slowing down or stopping.  If I'm far enough away, I always stop.  But there are times that I have to make a sudden decision.  Should I stop or should I continue through?  These types of decisions – because they are the result of “random events” – test my free will much more than do the events, such as at the four-way stop sign that are not random.

 

Having random events in our lives doesn't imply a lack of free will.  Such events actually emphasize the need and increase the opportunities for using free will.

 

I'm saying that evolution could have taken many other paths based on a different set of “random events”.  That is completely consistent with free will.  One time one decision was made.  If the tape of evolution were to be rewound as Gould suggests, another time a different decision might be made. As a result evolution may have gone in a completely different direction. To say, as you seem to, that there is only one path that could have taken towards intelligent life means the exact opposite – the same decision would be made every single time.  This implies a complete absence of free will. Every single decision was fated.  Fate is the exact opposite of free will.

 

But before I end this email message, there are a couple of other points that I need to make.

 

First, I quoted Gould (as you mention) in response to some mathematical calculations that you made regarding the odds that a particular protein could be created by chance.  The calculations you presented are only valid if the protein that you are using as an example HAD to be produced in order to have life on Earth.  Gould's quote shows that this is not necessarily the case.  In fact there are an incredibly large number of other possibilities.  Therefore your calculations are based on an invalid assumption.  Your calculations are, therefore, irrelevant and have nothing to do with evolution.

 

In response to my quotation of Gould and my other arguments you completely dropped the discussion of your mathematical calculations.  Instead you shift the discussion towards the topic of free will.

 

This is a debating technique called “bait and switch”.  You obviously feel that you lost the debate on your mathematics and, rather than admit defeat, you  “switched” the topic to something completely different.  In fact you switched topics drastically – from a fairly objective mathematical topic to a very subjective philosophical one.

 

As it happens, you are wrong on both the mathematics and the philosophy.

 

Secondly, I'm still waiting for an explanation as to why topics such as free will are even relevant to our discussion of the scientific subject of evolution.  Evolution happened or it didn't.  (Any objective person would admit that it did.)  But scientific evidence - like fossils and DNA - are the things that will falsify or confirm the existence of evolution.  Your philosophical topics will have, or at least should have, no influence on the outcome of the debate.

 

This second point is especially perplexing because, as far as I can tell, evolution wins all of the philosophical arguments as well as all of the scientific ones.

 

R**** C****

 

 


 

Dear R***** C*****

 

Your response illustrates the reason why I will not continue on to a round three.  You keep going around the same block.  In the words of the wit, you are redundant, repetitive and keep saying the same thing over and over again.

 

On the issue of God's foreknowledge and man's free will, I will give you credit for having thinkers who will agree with you.  I still think that you –- and they –- are wrong.  What I am asking, for you to understand my point, is to really think and not just react. You do not have to agree with me –- you are free to disagree – but you should be able to understand that given my premise, the logic makes sense.

 

One last time, it comes down to the question of whether or not God is trapped in time as we are.  I claim that He is not, but that He created time as He created space, matter and all living beings.  He exists outside of time in eternity.  He has invaded time and space at various times but is not limited to them.  Therefore, when He created us, He gave us free will supernaturally and allows us choices.  He influences those choices by many ways because He loves us, but we are truly free.  Looking down from eternity, however, He can see the results of those choices even though we made them freely.

 

I do also credit you with noticing that in real life we truly have free will.  That is a step up from B. F. Skinner who tells us that it is all an illusion.  This is because B. F. Skinner knows that in a naturalistic universe, there cannot be true free will.  And that is my point regarding the relevance of this topic to evolution.  Naturalistic evolutionists have to admit that they have no mechanism for free will.  You look at the evidence that we do indeed act freely and that is enough for you because you do not really dig to the basis for it.  You know it is there and don't really think about whether it is a mini-miracle or the action of the soul on the body because those things do not concern you.  And that is why we cannot communicate on the other aspects of these issues either.

 

As to the odds of putting together a protein by chance, you cling to the assertion that because there are many possible ways to skin a cat, that the cat will get skinned one way or the other.  Put another way, because there are many theoretical ways to put together a living system, the odds of getting something that works for at least one of them are greatly improved.  Again, you have bought into an idea without following it out to the logical conclusion. 

 

For one thing, since you do not claim to have any interest in abiogenesis –- you apparently allow God to make the first life forms – you are dealing with life as it has been designed in its simplest form.  That includes the preset conditions of using DNA and RNA with the nucleotide codes for amino acids.  It includes the use of 20 amino acids of the optically active levo or “l” forms.  It includes lipid membranes and certain basic enzyme systems that are basic to life. 

 

Because this much is now a given with the living systems that you want to improve, you cannot say that almost anything can be added and still potentially do some good.  For example, if you have a Mac, you cannot just throw in a program that works only with IBM clones.  In fact, if you throw in a program, that may work with your operating system, but has not been tested and debugged with your total configuration and all the programs you already have running, then there is a good chance that it will mess things up in a big way. 

 

Overall, you underestimate the degree of design needed to make something work, which is very surprising for an engineer.  There may be many ways to build an internal combustion engine, but that does not mean that you can build one out of a junk heap, especially if you are not allowed to use intelligence to choose which one to try.  In fact, you need to have all the parts shaped right and fitting together before it will do anything that natural selection can act on. 

 

Even in technical writing, although there are many ways to convey an idea, when you compare the number of those effective combinations of letters with all the possible combinations and permutations of the component letters, you will realize that your job is not in danger to a bevy of monkeys on typewriters or any number of random script generators.  This holds true whether you are trying to build the first living cell or improve that one up to the level of a complex plant or animal. 

 

There is no sense going through this again and again.  If you don't get it, I leave it to our readers –- if there are any –- to decide. 

 

 

Ross Olson

 

 

 

Monday, March 08, 2004 8:12 AM

Subject: Young Earth evidence?

 

Dr. Olson,

 

In response to my claim that there is NO evidence of a Young Earth, you said this:

 

“You state categorically that there is no rational case for a young earth.

Apparently you are omniscient since otherwise there might be a case outside of your knowledge.  As a start, I recommend that you start by looking at some of the articles on age.  (See http://tccsa.tc/articles.html#age )”

 

You are right.  I do state that categorically.

 

Actually I enjoy looking at the young earth arguments, probably more than any other set of arguments.  They clearly demonstrate the complete lack of intellectual integrity in the creationist community.  Unfortunately they also provide intellectual support for atheism by their sheer absurdity and that lack of integrity.

 

By the way, I do not need to be omniscient to make such statements.  I just need to know that the Earth is 4.5 Billion years old.  Which I do.  I could also say that there are no valid arguments indicating that the Earth if flat.  That doesn't make me omniscient either.  It simply means that the amount of evidence indicating that the Earth is a sphere is so overwhelming that I can quite comfortably expect that there will never be any evidence indicating otherwise.

 

I don't normally like to visit a web site such as the one that you reference because there will inevitably be many, many invalid references that should be refuted resulting in a geometrically increasing number of email messages being exchanged as we discuss the topics raised.

 

In this case I decided to check out your web site.  Young Earth arguments are my favorites for the reasons that I have already mentioned.  As expected I found many, many invalid references.  In fact the arguments presented on that web site would be, quite simply, completely silly if they weren't such excellent examples of lies and distortions by creationists.

 

For example, the site http://tccsa.tc/articles/how_long.html contains an article titled “HOW LONG AGO? - The Dating of Bones by Radio-isotopes” by Bill Overn.  There isn't a single specific experimental reference mentioned at that site.  But most of them are so lame that they have been repeated numerous times at other creationist web sites so I can get the references from my own files.

 

For example, Mr. Overn speaks of “20-million year radiometric readings obtained for an Hawaiian lava flow known to be less than 200 years old.” It is apparent that he is speaking of the article by John G. Funkhouser and John J. Naughton, titled "Radiogenic Helium and Argon in Ultramafic Inclusions from Hawaii," Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 73, No. 14 (July 15, 1968), pp. 4601-4607 (especially p. 4606)

 

The article describes a volcanic eruption from 1800 on Hualalai Island, Hawaii, which produced rocks that, according to creationists, were falsely "dated" by radiometric techniques as being between 160 million to 3 billion years in age.

 

The explanation for this apparent problem is found in the title of the scientific article.  The term “Inclusions” means other rocks that are “included” in the lava but are not made of the lava.

 

Hawaiian lava, as it flows along the ground, is at about 2000 degrees F. While this is obviously very hot, it is not hot enough to melt most rocks. As it moves along the surface of the Earth, it will occasionally pick up non-volcanic rocks and carry them along without melting them.  The scientific paper mentioned above was written to describe experiments designed to test whether or not radiometric dating could be used reliably for dating rocks exposed to such a great deal of heat.

 

The lava itself had its age measured using radiometric techniques and it was found to be effectively zero – the 200 years that the lava had existed were less than the margin of error of the radiometric techniques used. However the non-lava rocks (the “inclusions”) found within the lava were measured as being old because they WERE old.  Those rocks were not produced 200 years ago.  The “inclusions” were precisely the age that the radiometric dating techniques said they were.

 

Ironically the article confirmed rather than falsified radiometric dating.

 

This is obviously just another example of distortion and lies by creationists.  I'm sure that EVERY ONE of the other examples from Mr. Overn's web site are similarly distorted, although without specific references it is difficult to specifically disprove each one.

 

I decided to leave the ramblings of Mr. Overn, who obviously has no idea what he is talking about, and move on to the reference from the ICR web site that was authored by Henry Morris – who is an icon in the Scientific Creationist movement.  (The specific web site I am speaking of is at

http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-017.htm.)

 

On that web site Dr. Morris gives a table showing, according to his own description:

 

                                 “Table 1

                Uniformitarian Estimates—Age of the Earth”

 (Unless otherwise noted, based on standard assumptions of closed systems,            constant rates, and no initial daughter components.)

 

The entire table is filled with inaccurate and flawed examples.  Let me point to just a few pieces of such flawed data.

 

Argument number 1: the Efflux of Helium-4 into the atmosphere shows that the Earth is between 1,750 - 175,000 years in age.

 

The young-Earth argument goes something like this: helium-4 is created by radioactive decay (alpha particles are helium nuclei) and is constantly added to the atmosphere. Helium is not light enough to escape the Earth's gravity (unlike hydrogen), and it will therefore accumulate over time. The current level of helium in the atmosphere would accumulate in less than two hundred thousand years, therefore the Earth is young.

 

But helium can and does escape from the atmosphere, at rates calculated to be nearly identical to rates of production. In order to "get" a young age from their calculations, young-Earthers "handwave away" mechanisms by which helium can escape. For example, Henry Morris says:

 

 

 

"There is no evidence at all that Helium 4 either does, or can, escape from the exosphere in significant amounts." (Morris 1974, p. 151)

 

But Morris is wrong. Surely one cannot "invent" a good dating mechanism by simply ignoring processes which work in the opposite direction of the process which the date is based upon. Dalrymple says:

 

"Banks and Holzer (12) have shown that the polar wind can account for an escape of (2 to 4) x 106 ions/cm2 /sec of 4He, which is nearly identical to the estimated production flux of (2.5 +/- 1.5) x 106 atoms/cm2/sec. Calculations for 3He lead to similar results, i.e., a rate virtually identical to the estimated production flux. Another possible escape mechanism is direct interaction of the solar wind with the upper atmosphere during the short periods of lower magnetic-field intensity while the field is reversing. Sheldon and Kern (112) estimated that 20 geomagnetic-field reversals over the past 3.5 million years would have assured a balance between helium production and loss." ( Dalrymple 1984, p. 112)

 

   Dalrymple's references:

 

 (12) Banks, P. M. & T. E. Holzer. 1969. "High-latitude plasma transport: the polar wind" in Journal of Geophysical Research 74, pp. 6317-6332.

 

 

 

 (112) Sheldon, W. R. & J. W. Kern. 1972. "Atmospheric helium and geomagnetic field reversals" in Journal of Geophysical Research 77, pp. 6194-6201.

 

The amount of Helium 4 in the atmosphere provides no evidence that the

Earth is young.

 

Argument 2 – the Influx of meteoritic dust from space shows the Earth to be 5,000 to 10,000 years old.

 

This is actually my favorite argument.  Thank you for offering it in a reference (even indirectly).

 

The amount of dust on the Moon not only shows that Moon, and therefore indirectly the Earth, is every bit as old as the evolutionists say that it

is, this is also an excellent example of even more distortion by creationists.

 

A scientist named Hans Pettersson originated the moon dust issue in the 1950's.  In 1959 he went to the top of a tall mountain (Mauna Loa) in Hawaii, ran some air through a filter designed to measure air pollution, and then measured the dust in the filter.  He concluded that at the very most, 15 million tons of dust was arriving yearly from outer space.  He really had no way of gauging how much of the debris was terrestrial in origin.  He guessed that about 2/3 was generated from the Earth itself so that 5 million tons was a more likely figure for the stellar component of the debris.  He wrote an article about this research that was published in the February, 1960 issue of “Scientific American”.

 

This sounds like a great deal of debris, but it works out to about a shoebox full of debris per acre per year on the Earth.  This is negligible when compared to the amount of erosion that occurs on the Earth.  However, there is no such erosion on the Moon.  If you assume a similar amount of dust landing on the Moon, and adjust for its smaller size and gravitational pull, you have to conclude from Pettersson's data that there should be a very large dust layer (about a hundred feet thick) if the Moon is several billion years old.

 

The year that Dr. Pettersson's article was printed (1960) was also the year of President Kennedy's promise to put a man on the moon during that decade. NASA got a lot of money, and started up a lot of committees.  One of the committees pointed out that they should make a measurement IN SPACE of space dust.  This was done, and McCracken and Dublin announced (at the 1963 Lunar Surface Layer conference) that the earth gets a piddling 18,000 to 25,000 tons per year.  At the 1965 conference, the photographs taken by the Ranger probe were shown, and it was agreed that the moon didn't look dusty. In May 1966, Surveyor I landed on the moon, and the issue was settled.  The engineers designing the Lunar Lander were told to give it short legs.

 

In 1974, Henry Morris the founder of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), in his book ‘Scientific Creationism” raised the Moon Dust issue as an argument against an old Earth.  On pages 151-152 in that book, he says:

 

   The best measurements have been made by Hans Pettersson, who obtained the figure of 14 million tons per year.

 

(Before the moon landings, there was considerable fear that the men would sink into the dust when they arrived on the moon, but no comment has apparently ever been made by the authorities as to why it wasn't there as anticipated).

 

Let's look at these statements made by Henry Morris.  His book was published in 1974, well AFTER the measurements made in space showed the lower values for space debris.  Yet he calls Hans Pettersson's readings the “best measurements” – surely an incorrect statement.  Even the number that Morris gives – 14 million tons per year – disagrees with what Morris' source Petterson says should be the actual value – 5 million tons per year.

 

Morris also talks about the “considerable fear” of the astronauts sinking into the space dust.  But his book was published eight years after Surveyor I had actually explored the surface of the moon!  It should be pointed out that during the late 1960's the general public had an intense amount of interest in all of the lunar activities.  At the time you didn't have to find out about Surveyor I in some obscure scientific journal.  Instead it was discussed in all of the national TV news outlets and in all of the newspapers.  You would have had to effectively live in a cave or under a rock not to know about such endeavors.

 

Therefore, regardless of any debate as to the age of the Earth or the Moon or the rate of dust landing on the Moon, surely there was no basis for such a fear about a lunar lander sinking into hundreds of feet of moon dust. Nor was there any reason for authorities to comment – everyone who watched TV or read the newspapers knew that there were not going to be any problems.  Morris' statements are at best incredibly ignorant, and at worst obvious lies.

 

Not just one lie, but lie after lie after lie.

 

This issue has been a source of continuing study because it affects more than just how old the moon is and what a lunar landing station should look like.  NASA and similar organizations from other countries have continued to do research in this area as they have a vested interest in knowing the actual value.  It is, after all, relevant to the health of satellites and space stations.  (In 1998, more than 600 satellites were orbiting the Earth.)  The more space debris that there is, the more robust (and more expensive) that the satellites have to be.  To that end, there have been theoretical calculations.  There have been measurements done by shining lasers into space.  There have been measurements based on the chemistry of deep-sea sediments.  And NASA put up a satellite, the Long Duration Exposure Facility, LDEF, to measure space debris.  It went up in 1984.  All of these independent tests show the rate to be on the order of tens of THOUSANDS of tons per year, rather than tens of MILLIONS of tons.

 

This rate, combined with the known depth of moon dust, is consistent with a

Moon that is billions of years old.

 

The amount of data supporting this lower rate of stellar debris is so extensive that even creationists are impressed.  At the web site www.christiananswers.net/aig/creation/s93news.html there is a creationist technical paper on this topic that admits that the depth of dust on the moon is consistent with the mainstream age and history of the solar system (Snelling and Rush 1993). Their abstract concludes with:

 

"It thus appears that the amount of meteoritic dust and meteorite       debris in the lunar regolith and surface dust layer, even taking into       account the postulated early intense bombardment, does not contradict      the evolutionists' multi-billion year timescale (while not proving it).

 

 

 

Unfortunately, attempted counter-responses by creationists have so       far failed because of spurious arguments or faulty calculations.       Thus, until new evidence is forthcoming, creationists should not       continue to use the dust on the moon as evidence against an old age       for the moon and the solar system."

 

So, we can probably summarize this argument with these facts:

 

1. It appears that Henry Morris, apparently like other creationists, is quite capable of telling lies.

2. The actual amount of moon dust does NOT disprove the concept of an old Moon (nor of an old Earth)

3. This example actually provides more evidence in favor of deception by creationists than it does for anything else.  (But then, what would we expect?  Creationism, after all, is nothing more than a long series of bogus arguments.)

 

Argument 3 – The influx of Minerals into the Oceans

 

The basic creationist argument is that there are a number of different minerals that are borne by rivers into the ocean.  These are Mineral Deposits.  It would seem that you could measure the amount of each that exists in the ocean, divide it by the rate that the mineral is being deposited and thereby get an estimate for the Age of the Earth.

 

A typical list of such minerals is shown below (as taken from Morris' web site that you reference).

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Mineral         | Indicated Age of the Earth|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Magnesium       |                 45,000,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Silicon         |                      8,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Potassium       |                 11,000,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Copper          |                     50,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Gold            |                    560,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Silver          |                  2,100,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Mercury         |                     42,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Tin             |                    100,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Nickel          |                     18,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Uranium         |                    500,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Lead            |                      2,000|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

| Aluminum        |                        100|

|-----------------+---------------------------|

 

 

 

 

All of these ages (even the one for magnesium) are much less that the currently accepted scientific Age of the Earth which is about 4.5 Billion years.

 

So, faced with this data, how could anyone believe that the Earth is actually many billions of years old?

 

Before answering that question, it's worth noting that there was a time – primarily towards the end of the nineteenth century, before radioactivity was well understood – where mineral deposits were used by the general scientific community as the basis for calculating the age of the Earth. While those deposits admittedly indicate an age lower than the current estimate, almost without exception they give estimates for the age of the Earth that are thousands of times higher than the age that the young earth creationists insist is correct – 6,000 to 10,000 years.  If scientific creationism had existed back during those days, there would be no doubt that the creationists would be arguing against mineral sedimentation as a basis for calculating the age of the Earth rather than embracing mineral deposit calculations.

 

Also the ages are all very different.  In order to justify the estimates that are higher than 10,000 years, creationists say that God created the seas with some of these minerals already present.  If so, why would He put in 45,000,000 years of magnesium but only 50,000 years worth of copper? Doesn't this imply a great deal of deception by God?  Isn't this really, therefore, an anti-God argument?

 

Finally, though nearly all of the mineral deposit calculations give ages much longer than the Biblical chronology, sometimes the calculations give impossibly low estimates.  Even according to Henry Morris, at the very web site you reference, the lead deposits in the ocean give a terrestrial age of only 2,000 years and for aluminum it is only 100 years!  Surely we all know that the Earth is older than that.

 

Isn't it obvious that there is something radically wrong with these estimates?  If there is only 100 years worth of aluminum in the oceans, isn't it obvious that these mineral deposit calculations can give unusually LOW estimates for the actual age of the Earth?

 

What these measurements actually give are the “replacement times” for the minerals.  All of the minerals are deposited into the ocean through erosion but also taken out of the oceans in a variety of different ways.  The amount of time that it takes for this process varies depending on how actively each mineral reacts with water and with other minerals in the oceans.  These time calculations therefore just represent the time required for each mineral, on average, to leave the ocean.  The very longest times are found for minerals that react very little with the ocean.  In those cases the “replacement time” is the time required for plate tectonics to recycle the material.

 

These problems were appreciated even before scientific creationism became popular.

 

T. M. Reade, an eminent geologist at the end of the nineteenth century, said in 1893 in an article titled “Measurement of geological time” that appeared in The Geological Magazine:

 

If our modulus is the maximum thickness of all the formations we are naturally met with the objection that such a pile of strata nowhere occurs in nature.  If we take as our gauge that actual thickness in any one place, it may be reasonably objected that 10 feet of one set of strata may chronologically represent 1,000 feet or more of another.  In addition to this, how can the hiatus represented by unconformity be estimated?  If, again, we start with the average thickness of the sedimentary rocks as our principal measure, it is obvious on the slightest consideration that this will give a result much below the actual time, as the particles of such sedimentary rocks have been used up over and over again.

 

Note the phrases “much below the actual time” and “used up over and over again”.

 

As Reade points out all elements end up at basically a balance point in nature.  They are reintroduced through crystallization of rocks and uplift of the continents.

 

The web site http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/debate-age-of-earth.html makes the arguments shown below.

 

  The processes that work against this dating method are:

 

·     Crystal recycling. Much of the ocean floor is relatively young, so it doesn't make any sense to expect 5 billion years of sediments there.

·     Sediment recycling by tectonic uplift. Many rocks exposed to erosion today are sedimentary and have been eroded at least once already. One cannot simply multiply age by erosion rate to get amount of sediment.

 

The amount of sediment on the ocean floor is not surprising or unexpected. Sediments increase in thickness from near zero at the mid-Atlantic ridge, to several million years' worth near America and Europe.  This data supports plate tectonics, but not a ten thousand-year-old earth.

 

The "recent creation" model does not explain the sediment pattern on the ocean floor, nor the accumulation of the geologic column. The "erosion/accretion" model nicely explains many geologic features.

 

Shouldn't the Biblical account of creation expect a consistent depth of sediment around the Earth?

 

In other words, because of plate tectonics, the position of sediment on the ocean bottom is constantly changing because the location of the edges of the continents is constantly changing.  The amount of a particular type of sediment on the coast of Florida, for example, is not 4.5 Billion years worth, because the coast of Florida has not been in that position for 4.5 Billion years.

 

Finally, on page 68 of the book ‘The Age of the Earth” (1991) by G. Brent Dalrymple, these points are made:

 

Probably the most serious flaw in the method, however, was the one about  which Reade had no qualms: the assumption of uniform rates of erosion and   deposition.  These factors are now know to vary so much, because of the high degree in variation in the conditions on which they depend, that it is simply impossible to determine an accurate average rate for virtually any period of geologic time.  Calculations based on such rates, therefore, are little more than educated guesses – better than nothing perhaps but subject to a high degree of uncertainty.  Moreover, the Precambrian [Period] for which the record is both highly incomplete and nearly intractable to detailed stratigraphic analysis, constitutes the bulk of geologic time.  Thus, ages based on sedimentation are, at the very most, useful in dealing with the Phanerozoic, or only the last 10-15% of the history of the Earth.

 

Once again, rather than an argument in favor of a young Earth, we really have really found evidence of fraud by creationists.  It is exactly this type of fraud that makes atheism intellectually respectable in comparison.

 

That's about eight to nine printed pages of evidence against your arguments

in favor of a young earth.  I could go on and on, but I think that I can substantiate these statements:

 

1. You don't seem to have ANY evidence of a young earth.

2. The only thing that we seem to be able to find is evidence of deception by creationists.

 

There are NO valid arguments in favor of a Young Earth.  Once again I can state that categorically.  No omniscience is required.

 

Having done my part by visiting a web site you recommended and finding numerous flawed arguments, it seems incumbent on YOU to visit a web site that I recommend on this subject and find a similar number of flawed arguments.

 

Please visit the site http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html

 

.  I would particularly like to have you discuss the information found on that site relating to the discussion on “How Old Is The Earth, And How Do We Know?”  Please focus primarily on the vast number of examples showing a nearly identical age of the Earth (and the solar system).

 

Note that I expect answers as specific as the ones that I provided to you.

I would consider a simple reference to another web site as a non-answer and nothing more that proof that you are wrong.

 

R***** C*****

 

 


 

Dear R***** C*****

 

Obviously the age of the earth is your favorite topic because you devote lots of words to it and seem to think that the number of words determines the strength of the response.  But 10 airplanes that do not fly will not get you there any better than one that does not fly.  So the question is what flies and what does not.  You still seem to have trouble distinguishing evidence and interpretation.  Yes indeed, it is the standard interpretation that there is no question about the ancient age of the earth, but there are problems. 

 

As I mentioned on the previous time around this block, only one firm young age proof is enough to trump any number of those that seem to indicate old age.  For example, the rate of accumulation of ice in Greenland is thought to be very slow, yet it was discovered that the “Lost Squadron” of P-38's was buried under 258 feet of ice in 1988 having landed on top of the ice and snow in 1942.

(See http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/233.asp ) You could argue until you were blue in the face about the number of layers in the ice and their correlation with annual cycles or the isotope mixture and its significance, but the fact that the planes are in the 258 foot layer means that the layer cannot be older than 46 years!  The idea that they sank into the ice would only apply when they were warm – and they certainly cooled off quite quickly. (But that is the only hope of the long ager and will probably be played up to the hilt.) Therefore, the ice cores that purport to show vast ages have to be called into question.

 

You only selected a couple of articles to respond to, Bill Overn's non-technical article on the age of the earth and Henry Morris 1974 article. Why did you not respond to Mr. Overn's articles on isochrons?  The problem with straight radiometric dating by ratios of the elements has to assume that there was no daughter product in the original rock and nothing was gained or lost by diffusion over geologic time, both uprovable and the later stretching credibility. Isochrons were supposed to solve this problem.  The original work by Overn and Arndts has given a challenge to this supposedly most sophisticated technique of calculating ages and has not been refuted by Dalrymple or anyone else.

 

You also did not respond to the presence of pressure in oil deposits, which should have long dissipated if millions of years were involved.  Nor do you seem to be familiar with the challenge of Robert Gentry's work on radio halos, indicating that the bedrock granite had to be created and solidify within seconds.  This was answered without any explanation by Dalrymple as merely “a tiny mystery.”  (See http://www.creationists.org/Robert_Gentry.html )  I suppose you will not look at it because of you opposition to looking at websites – although you recommend them to your opponents. 

 

But one additional piece of evidence for young age is the deformation of radio halos in coalified wood in Colorado. Also consider getting his book "Creation's Tiny Mystery." Gentry's work on identical superimposed round and elliptical halos in three layers of coalified wood in Colorado, normally dated as Triassic, Jurassic and Eocene indicates that they were all formed simultaneously by compression of the biologic material over a period of only a few years, completely consistent with the flood model of the geologic column and totally incompatible with the standard dating of 230 to 180 million years ago, 180 to 135 million years ago and 60 to 35 million years ago for the respective periods.

 

You have to understand something about radiohalos to know the significance of these evidences.  In many igneous rocks there are spherical halos with shells of different radii that have tiny lumps of radioactive material in the center.  The discolored shells are caused by alpha particles which discolor the rock where they stop so that their energy can be calculated by the distance they have traveled.  Thus the steps in the decay sequence that have taken place since the inclusion formed can be determined by the number and size of the “halos” and the material remaining in the center.  The halos only form in solidified material so that the process can only begin at that time.  In the case of the primordial granite, the precursors of the polonium have half lives so short that the polonium had to be created in situ. 

 

In the case of the coalified wood, in three layers of these deposits, there were identical oval halos superimposed on spherical halos caused by radioactive material that diffused in.  This implies that there was a compression event that crushed the early part of the halo, then stabilized while the rest of the halo was formed.  The fact that this very unlikely event is seen in three layers of coal, separated in standard chronology by millions of years, boggles the imagination. Also, the fact that the wood is not completely coalified is strange if that amount of time has elapsed.  It is known experimentally that coal can be formed very rapidly.  It is all much more compatible with the flood model in which the layers are deposited quickly, vegetation mats covered with sediment in cycles having to do with the tides and wave action.  Then as water ran off there would have been isostatic readjustment with some areas rising or falling and layers being folded or compressed.

 

Even if you continue to hold an old earth position, I think it is arrogant to claim that there is NO evidence that favors a young earth and to call all who disagree with you “ignorant.”  As Will Rogers said, “We are all ignorant, just about different things.”

 

Regarding the Hawaiian volcanic rocks, If you have access to the actual article, I would be grateful to have a copy.  I suspect that the data gave a mix of young and very old ages, then the spin doctors came up with the explanation.  As it turns out, radiometric dates are often rejected as contaminated without any physical evidence if they conflict with the desired age as was true of the Laetoli footprints.  Also washing a rock with distilled water for 4 & ½ hours increased the age.  (Clementson, S.P. “A Critical Examination of Radioactive Dating of Rocks” Creation Research Quarterly Journal, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 137 – 141, December 1970.) See http://www.tccsa.tc/articles/radioactive_dating.pdf

 

The moon dust argument is no longer endorsed by most creationists. (http://www.icr.org/research/as/drsnelling7.html)  So in this case you have picked one that is out of date, just as if I picked quotes endorsing Piltdown man as applying to evolutionists today.  Don't try to claim that because there were questioning articles published before the date of Henry Morris' 1974 article that this proves he was “lying.”  It takes a while to decide if a counter-argument is valid or not.  (I CAN point to current biology text books, however, that still endorse Haeckel's discredited embryo drawings supposedly illustrating the biogenetic law that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.”  The fraud was recognized in that case over 100 years ago.)

 

 

As to helium, the quotes you offer are theoretical solutions but not firm.  For example, depending on solar wind “during magnetic reversals” is defunct if there were no magnetic reversals.  There is no mechanism for reversals and the earth's dipole has only been shown to decrease over time.  The magnetic stripes by the mid Atlantic ridge can be explained as temporary disruptions due to the tectonic and volcanic activity accompanying the flood.  (See http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-242.htm)  And the polar wind can accelerate positive ions out of the earth's gravity and thus speed up loss of hydrogen, but helium does not ionize.

 

Another recent use of helium to date a young earth is the high levels of helium in rocks that should have lost it long ago by normal diffusion.  (See http://www.icr.org/research/rate/heliumdiffusion.html )

 

As to the minerals in the ocean, you really do not understand the principles.  By looking at the amount of various minerals in the ocean compared to influx and removal by all mechanisms, it is possible to determine a maximum age for the ocean, assuming that it began with none.  Thus if there is a 45 million year maximum age using magnesium, that does not mean creationists have to accept a 45 million year age for the ocean.  We believe that God created the ocean with salt in it to be compatible with the salt-water loving creatures He created.  I assume you will allow God to do that, since you seem to be willing to allow Him to make the first living cell.

 

The questions then revolve around the rates of inflow and outflow of the various minerals.  Magnesium precipitates with carbonate as does Calcium so they are not good for determining age.  Aluminum is also one that comes out of solution easily.  Sodium is very soluble as we know from the Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake.  Influx and removal mechanisms can be calculated and indicate a maximum age much less than evolutionists require.  Glenn Morton thinks he has found a mechanism for more removal but he has not published it in a peer reviewed journal.  It involves sea water circulating through the basalt sea floor and exchanging ions, which stretches the imagination since basalt is quite impervious and is also under tremendous pressure at that depth.

 

The young earth model does explain the continental sediment and the ocean floor and much more as I will try tried to explain in abbreviated form.  Dr. Walter Brown's book, which is posted on line, goes into great detail.  See http://www.creationscience.com/

 

Here is a Young Earth scenario that is a composite of many ideas but is close to what many Young Earthers will endorse.

 

The young earth position takes the Scripture as a starting point.  I know that you feel old earthers do the same but let me explain where that leads us.  The ocean would have been created with enough solute content to be compatible with the creatures that were to live in it. Although there is some adaptability and tolerance for differing salinity, since there seem to be salt and fresh water loving creatures, we would expect that God made a home for each type. The earth also had a different climate than we have today, without rain but with a mist that came up from the ground. This is described in Genesis – not a technical scientific explanation but something YEC accept as an accurate inspired description.  Thus there must not have been circulating winds and therefore must have been a much more uniform mild temperature with less topographic variation. 

 

People lived to a very ancient age of over 900 years, even post fall when humans were separated from the Tree of Life and the dying process began.  Part of the longevity was undoubtedly the nearly perfect genetic makeup of our first ancestors (perfect at creation), without the accumulated mutations that have been handed down the germ line since then.  But this also implies the presence of a more perfect environment for health and life.  Plants were considered by God to be sufficient for food for man and other creatures to begin with and only after the flood was permission given to eat meat.  Protection from ionizing radiation is a logical possibility because it is a danger to living things and since the creation was described as “very good,” God would have taken it into account. Thus, many have proposed a vapor canopy that caused a uniform greenhouse effect and protected the surface of the earth from short wave electromagnetic radiation.  This apparently also prevented the appearance of rainbows, since that seemed to have been a new phenomenon to Noah and his family. 

 

A stronger magnetic field, which is the simple conclusion that one can make by looking at historic decay of the dipole strength, would have also had a protective effect in warding off bombardment by particles.  A reversing magnetic field requires a mechanism and cannot be proven by the magnetic “stripes” near the mid Atlantic Ridge, which YEC attributes to local field changes during the turbulent events of the flood and rapid continental separation.

 

It was the canopy theory which played a major role in Glenn Morton's estrangement from his previously held YEC view because he could not come up with a canopy that was both stable and would not produce catastrophic heat when it collapsed at the time of the flood, perhaps accounting for the statement “the windows of heaven were opened.”   I do not recall if he was trying to create a canopy that would account for 40 days of rainfall or not, but of course that is not a necessary requirement for being Scriptural.  The continuing rainfall had to also be related to the “fountains of the great deep” spewing water into the atmosphere. Nevertheless, there seems to be less interest lately in a vapor canopy as part of the explanation for the Biblical data of uniform climate.

 

What are the fountains of the great deep?  The descriptions indicate something very different from present experience.  Walter Brown has developed this more fully as “the waters below” trapped in the earth's crust which were released when the crust ruptured, causing catastrophic erosion as the water shot upwards.  There was also massive abrasion of the continents by wave action so that this material plus that sent into the air by the fountains of the great deep became the substrate of the widespread sedimentary layers.  Even if they do not endorse Browns' whole view, however, most YEC feel that the Biblical description requires some sort of shooting of water into the air.  Regardless, the descriptions of the flood sound massive, comprehensive and catastrophic.  It is not really possible to make them compatible with a local or tranquil flood. 

 

Once the earth was covered by water, tides would be unimpeded by any barriers.  They would increase and sweep harmonically across the continents.  Tsunamis would be expected from all the geologic activity and in the view of many Young Earth Geologists there was rapid continental separation and mountain building, in many cases while sediments were still soft, allowing for the bending of strata that would have otherwise been fractured.  Local elevation and colliding masses of water would have caused periodic changes in the local erosion/deposition cycles.  Vegetation mats would have been buried, sometimes in rapid cycles, to form the coal beds whose structure does not fit with periodic subsidence and elevation of peat beds.  The bark layer at the bottom of Spirit Lake on Mt. St. Helens appears to be an example of the way the material could settle out, but without the ongoing catastrophe to bury it under layers of sediment.  Likewise, marine organic material could have been buried to form oil deposits, and like coal, covered too quickly to decay.  Hot and cold brines, mixing in different environments could have produced chemical deposits of salts.

 

If the flood were local, it would not make sense for Noah to build an Ark and gather all those animals when all he would have had to do is move to higher ground, as the animals would have naturally done.  It was God's intention to destroy the human race except for the eight in the ark.  Of course, He could have made sure that everybody was located in the area of a local flood, but by the time of the flood, there had been 1600 years of time since creation for migration to take place and the command to subdue the earth did not seem to have been rescinded when Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden. 

 

After the flood, Noah and his family emerged to a very different world.  The whole earth was not dry when they got off the ark, but there was land for them to live on.  It would have taken centuries for the water level to drop and the continents to rebound  from the weight of the water.  There is some evidence that Minnesota was under much more water in the 1300's when Vikings boated here.  There are holes in the rocks of a type they used for anchor pins at a uniform elevation on the hills suggesting that the hills were islands.  That is indeed what the controversial Kensington Runestone inscription says, when it states that “on this island” several men were slaughtered by redskins.  If the farmer who found the stone really were perpetrating a fraud, he would hardly have called a hill an island.

 

After the flood, the conditions for a one time ice age were fulfilled – a warm ocean and cold continents.  Otherwise, it is not possible to come up with a mechanism for a buildup of snow and ice.  This has been shown by computer simulations.  If the temperature is lowered, less snow falls in the winter.   Although it is slower to melt in the summer, still there is no accumulation.  If temperature is raised, there is more snowfall but it all melts and there is likewise no accumulation.  Only a warm ocean and cold land will work.  The oceans were warmed by all the tectonic activity and the subterranean waters as well as the collapse of a vapor canopy if it existed.  The land, with newly elevated higher mountains and without the greenhouse effect, was cooler.  Massive glaciers would have accumulated over a relatively short time, depressing the crust with isostatic raising of other areas as a natural consequence.  The sea level would have dropped as more water was tied up in ice.

 

The warm oceans would have protected what were then the coastal areas from glaciation, as Scandinavia is warmed by the Gulf Stream, which accounts for the tropical vegetation found in the mouths and stomachs of Mammoths – which are not arctic animals – found buried in Alaska and Siberia.  The hypothesis is that they had migrated into that hospitable strip of land but that at some point the gradual cooling of the ocean reached a critical juncture and the climate changed suddenly and catastrophically, trapping them in sudden storms and burying them in snow, mud and ice, perhaps several centuries after the flood. 

 

Perhaps this was about the time when the Tower of Babel was built and God confused the languages so that people began to move out and fill the earth, perhaps taking advantage of land bridges due to the lower sea level.  They took with them the stories, handed down by Noah, of the creation, fall and flood.  They also took with them knowledge of at least part of the pre-flood technology so that they were capable enough to build cities and civilizations fairly quickly.

 

If I can just encourage you to be a little more humble, I will be satisfied, but an open minded person ought to question the old age dogma.

 

 

Ross Olson

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 10, 2004 8:26 AM

Subject: Analyzing the fall

 

Dr. Olson,

 

I am down to the last couple of items in your original email response to my evaluation of your web site titled “Evaluating Evolution”.

 

One of the last paragraphs of you first email response to me is:

 

“Finally, although you claim to have been listening to your pastor's sermons, you seem to have missed the Biblical teaching about the Fall.  Or perhaps you rejected it because the doctrine starts with the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis.  It permeates the whole scripture, however.  Because of man's sin, the whole creation was changed.  Death and suffering entered. Struggle for survival became the norm after the perfect creation was spoiled.  Jesus came to take the penalty for sin not only s that individuals could be redeemed and restored to communion with our Creator-Redeemer, but so that eventually the whole of creation could be remade as described in Revelation.”

 

I normally prefer to keep the discussion to scientific topics, but you seem intent on bringing in theological arguments so I will do my best to answer your questions.

 

You start out by saying that all men are sinners.

 

I couldn't agree more.  I'm a sinner.  Jesus came to save me from my sins. I really and truly believe that.  I will be eternally thankful that I came to understand that.

 

But why does that demand that we believe in the Garden of Eden exactly as creationists define it?

 

Many Christian evolutionists believe that the story of the Garden of Eden is a parable.  As such it offers important lessons but it does not need to be literally true in order for those lessons to be valuable to us.

 

Jesus used parables as his favorite method of teaching.  There is much to be learned from those parables.  Do they have to be literally true for us to learn from them?

 

Consider what is probably the most well known parable, that of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).  (Some people feel that it could be more appropriately called the parable of the loving father.)  I'm sure that you are familiar with it.

 

Did the events in that parable really happen?

 

Certainly they could have.  There's no magic involved.  No scientific laws are broken in the story.  I think that it is entirely possible that Jesus heard about such an event in his youth and remembered it because of the lessons that it could teach us.  He then shared the story with his followers later in His life.

 

On the other hand, Jesus could have just used His imagination to make up the story.

 

So should we debate whether it really happened or not?  Would our faith be weakened if someone proved that it didn't happen?  How significant would it be if someone added, “based on a true story” to the text?

 

I submit that the lessons that we can learn from that story – about the love of a father and the hardened heart of an unforgiving older brother – are just as powerful regardless of whether it actually happened or not.

 

Why is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden any different? Can't we learn from the story even if it never actually took place?  Why does the creationist interpretation have to be the only one that allows us into heaven?

 

All of this begs the question: do creationists really believe that ALL of us are sinners?  Often it seems that creationists don't view themselves as sinners.

 

You see, creationism is really not about an inerrant God.  It is not even about inerrant authors of the Bible.  It is really about creationists who can say that THEY are inerrant.  THEY can interpret the Bible inerrantly. Anyone who questions THEM or who has a different viewpoint is WRONG!

 

There are many different viewpoints on how the Bible should be interpreted. Many of them allow for evolution.  But creationists say those are all wrong.  The idea that anyone could have a different interpretation of the Bible than the one offered by creationism is absolutely abhorrent.  In fact they are willing to lie and deceive to promote their own viewpoint.  The TRUTH is irrelevant.  The only thing that they feel is relevant is their viewpoint.

 

I think that the most difficult thing for creationists to accept is that THEY might be wrong!!  Not wrong in their belief that the God exists.  Not wrong in their belief that Jesus came to save us from our sins.  Not even wrong in their belief that the Bible was written by divinely inspired authors.  What bothers them the most is that THEY might be interpreting the Bible incorrectly!

 

As far as I can tell, the creationists don't really believe that THEY are sinners.  THEY, after all, are inerrant.  It is everyone else – including the scientists that look at 2 plus 2 and say that it must equal 4 – that are wrong.

 

What is hugely ironic about all of this is that there is not even complete agreement within the creationist community regarding how Genesis should be interpreted.  There are Young Earth Creationists (such as yourself).  There are also Old Earth Creationists who fall into multiple camps: one viewing the days in Genesis as longer than 24 hours; others believing that there were actually two creations (the one described in Genesis I and the other taken from Genesis II) with a long time gap between them.  I've even heard of a third group of OECs who believe that the seven days of Creation refer to the seven days God used to reveal the story to Moses (the traditional author of Genesis). The members of this last group believe that the Creation itself took much longer than seven days.

 

There are others who believe that Adam and Eve were merely the first humans with souls.

 

There are also progressive creationists and theistic evolutionists (which have sub-groups called "evolutionary creationists" and  "providential evolutionists").  There are others, such as Phillip Johnson, who have their own unique interpretation of the Biblical Creationist account.

 

Most recently we have seen the "Intelligent Design" advocates, among whom the most well known is Dr. Michael Behe of Lehigh University, the author of the book "Darwin's Black Box".  (Admittedly there could be some debate about whether these people could even be considered creationists.)

 

With the exception of the ID group, all of these viewpoints support an inerrant Bible.

 

So which of these viewpoints is correct?  How do you know for sure?

 

Even more ironically, the views of even the strictest Biblical literalists have evolved over time.  Time and again they have changed their interpretations as new scientific evidence has been found.

 

Martin Luther, based on his interpretation of the Bible, believed that the Earth was the center of the universe.

 

Should we believe that?  Most creationists don't.

 

John Calvin, based on his interpretation of the Bible, believed that if there were planets in our solar system other than Earth, “since God makes nothing in vain, they must be inhabited”.

 

Should we believe that as well – that Mercury and Venus and Mars and Jupiter and all of the other planets MUST be inhabited?  I doubt that any creationists believe this.  Other planets certainly exist and the presence of life on those planets would actually be an argument against creationism.

 

Only the very rare creationist believes either of those things.  But Martin Luther and John Calvin were far from amateur interpreters of Scripture. The Bible itself has not changed since they read it.  Why is the current young earth creationist interpretation better than theirs?  Is it because the current creationists are inerrant and Luther and Calvin were not?  Or could it be because the scientific evidence against those views is simply too imposing to resist?  Isn't it because modern creationists are willing to adapt the clear message in the Bible to better represent a viewpoint that agrees with the scientific evidence that they know is correct?

 

Why should that adaptation stop now?  Why can't your interpretation of the Bible be adapted to accept evolution and the Big Bang?  I was stunned to see that you are arguing against the existence of quarks.  What does that have to do with what is written in the Bible?  Why do any creationists care?

 

There is nothing in different interpretations of Scripture that argue against anything in Christianity.  Are we all sinners?  Of course we are. No one – not even the most adamant atheist - would disagree with that. What does a belief in a literal Garden of Eden change about that?  If the Garden of Eden never existed, would you no longer be a sinner?  If evolution were true, would you still need a savior?  I believe that I would still be a sinner.  I believe that I would still need a savior.  Jesus is that savior.

 

I actually believe that science will eventually show us God.  Look at what Daniel Dennett, a committed atheist, said:

 

“As more and more has been learned about the development of the universe since the Big Bang, about the conditions that permitted the formation of the galaxies and stars and the heavy elements from which the planets can be formed, physicists and cosmologists have been more and more struck by the exquisite sensitivity of the laws of nature.  The speed of light is

approximately 186,000 miles per second.  What if it were only 185,000 miles per second, or 187,000 miles per second?  Would that change much of anything?  What if the force of gravity were 1% more or less than it is?

 

The fundamental constants of physics - the speed of light, the constant of gravitational attraction, the weak and strong forces of subatomic interaction, Planck's constant - have values that of course permit the actual development of the universe as we know it to have happened.  But it turns out that if in imagination we change any of these values by just the tiniest amount, we thereby posit a universe in which none of this could have ever happened, and indeed in which apparently nothing life-like could ever have emerged: no planets, no atmospheres, no solids at all, no elements except hydrogen and helium, or maybe not even that - just some boring plasma of hot undifferentiated stuff, or an equally boring nothingness.  So isn't it wonderful that the laws are just right for us to exist?"

 

Yes, it is wonderful. Many people, including scientists (see the books of Paul Davies), consider this incredible complexity and order to be the strongest possible proof of God's existence.  In fact it is this type of evidence - found by science - that allows a belief in God to be a profoundly reasonable and rational point of view.

 

How much of this would be known if the Biblical literalists of the Middle Ages – people like Martin Luther and John Calvin – had their way?  I submit that none of it would be known.

 

What secrets of the universe, showing the path to God, will be unknown if the creationists of the 21st century have their way?  Who can say?  Surely if we believe in a God of truth, there will be some that will not be known if the creationists win this battle.

 

And that is the key difference between evolutionists and creationists. Evolutionists believe in a God of Truth.  Creationists, clearly, do not. Look at the arguments in favor of a young Earth.  They are nothing but lies and deceit.  Creationists should be outraged.  People supposedly speaking for God but telling lies?

 

Are they outraged?

 

Of course not!

 

Creationists are generally disappointed when evolutionists can point out these lies, but not because telling lies shows some lack of intellectual integrity on their part.  Instead their primary wish seems to be that these arguments were simply better lies, not so easy to discover.

 

Creationists don't believe in a God of Truth.  They believe that they are inerrant.  Anything that shows that they are wrong is what they are fighting against.  The TRUTH – which can often be evidence in favor of God – is irrelevant as long as they can convince some people, who don't know any better, that they are right.

 

If you add all of this to the demonstrable fact that there is not a single shred of scientific evidence showing that the Garden of Eden actually existed, how can anyone believe that it did?

 

R**** C****

 

 

 

Dear Mr. C****

 

I am glad you recognize that you are a sinner and that Jesus is your Savior.  That is the core of the gospel and the basis on which we can have a relationship with God.  We may be mistaken about many things but if the core is intact, we are born again with the potential to grow.  Some errors may just lie dormant and not cause any problems, but some may endanger our relationship with the Lord or our witness.  For example, if a person believes, as many in America do who claim to be born again, that “there is no absolute truth,” then the logical conclusion is that there are many ways to God and there is no urgency to evangelism.  A person of that mindset may also dabble in spiritism or witchcraft or yoga, thinking that it is all of one piece, thus putting themselves under the influence of the master deceiver.

 

You believe that young earth creation hinders witness because it “turns off” those who are committed to the present ruling paradigms.  I believe that theistic evolution endangers spiritual life because it attacks the veracity of the Scripture and the nature of God.  You don't seem to have a lot of faith in the Scripture and believe in a sort of “hands-off” Deistic type God, although you also believe that He answers prayer.  I see it as an incompletely integrated worldview.

 

The point of the theological interjections are first of all that I care about your eternal destiny, but secondly because you claim to speak as a Christian on this topic.  You claim that a creationist has to believe that God created evil and I simply pointed you to the most common explanation for that dilemma, namely that God created us good but free and that we chose wrongly which has not only altered our relationship with God but also the economy of the entire natural world.  That is the significance of The Fall. 

 

Now you don't accept it as a real event and talk about it being a parable and say we can draw lessons from it even if it is not literally true.  That is of course one possible response.  What I am trying to tell you is that creationists believe that it is true and that it explains the presence of evil.  Of course you do not accept it but can you step out of yourself long enough to recognize that if it were true it would solve the mystery?

 

By the way, is the resurrection a parable?  Physical laws are broken if it is true, since dead people do not naturally come alive again. 

 

You describe many different viewpoints on origins and ask which is correct and how we can know.  I hope you realize that the presence of many answers to a question does not rule out the possibility that one of them is actually right and the others all wrong.  Of course there are some questions that have more than one right answer and some that are just a matter of taste, like “what is your favorite color?” 

 

You have had trouble understanding the principle that some answers are mutually exclusive and there are some dichotomies that eliminate whole categories.  For example, “life must have had a natural explanation or a supernatural explanation.” You keep insisting that there are all sorts of supernatural explanations and that there may be undiscovered natural explanations.  OK, that's fine.  But if there are no natural explanations available now, then the working hypothesis needs to be that there is a supernatural explanation.  Of course it is subject to change if new information comes in, but there is no theoretical reason to believe that there is an ordering principle that has escaped our notice any more than the likelihood that we will discover that money really DOES grow on trees!

 

You list errors of creationists of the past and seem to think that discredits everything that every creationist says from then on.  Give me a break!  Are you really so illogical that you cannot see the fallacy?  You still have to look at each point on its merits.  And suppose that a pathological liar tells you that 2 + 2 = 4, will you be obligated to disbelieve it?

 

You are “stunned” that I argue against the existence of quarks.  If you actually read the Foundations of Science Newsletters from Common Sense Science (www.commonsensescience.org) you would see that they have been able to explain everything that quantum mechanics explains, and far more, with two particles, electron and proton (and their antiparticles) and two forces, the interrelated electricity and magnetism, which could also be described as electromagnetism.  The products of particle accelerator collisions are not elementary particles but highly unstable broken particles and quarks are an attempt to make sense of the particle zoo.  All that becomes unnecessary under the simplified elegant spinning ring of charge model for the electron and proton. 

 

Does it fly in the face of common knowledge?  Of course!  Does that mean it is wrong?  I hope you understand that science is not done by referendum.  Are you familiar with phlogiston theory which held sway for over 100 years and died very hard?  It was absolutely wrong but the big names in science endorsed it for a long time.  See http://www.jimloy.com/physics/phlogstn.htm

 

I was surprised to hear your opinion that “even the most adamant atheist” will agree that we are all sinners.  I have tried to see if some of my atheist friends will nibble on that bite.  Most atheists will agree that there are something is wrong with people but attribute it to various other causes ranging from lack of education and poverty to moralistic upbringing and Ronald Reagan. 

 

I am glad you agree that design in nature –- the anthropic principle -- points to a designer.  Of course, you realize that the hard core atheist will come up with rationalizations such as multiple parallel universes of which ours is just the one out the infinite variations that supported the intelligent life that can think about it.  I hope, however, that you can also see that the argument from design applies in spades to that found in life.  There is no natural process that produces successive editions of the Encylopedia Brittanica every year or for that matter at any interval.

 

Ross Olson

 


 

Wednesday, March 10, 2004 1:27 PM

Subject: Evolution is cruel???

 

Dr. Olson,

 

It's taken slightly more than a month but I have finally reached the end of

your original email!  I will now be able to look at your responses to my

email messages.

 

The last two paragraphs of you first email response to me are:

 

“You claim that God is dishonest, cruel and uncaring if the creation story in Genesis is true, but the truth is that the God you believe in seems to have allowed suffering, competition and death to go on for hundreds of millions of years after He created the first simple living organism until it produced human life (into whom He placed a soul.)  The world which they first perceived as soulish creatures was one with all the suffering you describe.  If this is what can be described as “very good” by God (Genesis 1:31), then how much confidence can you have in the goodness of heaven?

 

I believe that God created a perfect world but allowed free moral agents to be free.  Yes, I do believe that He knew we would fall – that did not cause the Fall but makes us wonder if He could have made us free and able to remain good.  But that is a much more sophisticated argument than you have come up with.  There seems to be a logical necessity for freedom to allow the possibility of failure.  Yet even in the face of this tragedy, God has taken the results of evil and turned them into something beautiful. In our suffering we recognize our need for Him.  And in redeeming us, He shows how deep and wide is His love.  I sincerely hope that you know that love – I hope that this is what you mean by being a Christian.   That is the most important thing in all of eternity and forms the foundation for the discussion of everything else.  We could even continue this discussion in heaven in that case, although I sincerely believe that by that time your thinking would be radically different.  If your thinking now keeps you or others from the truth of the gospel, then there will be bitter tears in eternity.”

 

First, I have to point out that I argued that if the cruelty in nature was designed – as you feel it is – then God – the designer – must have a cruel nature.  You don't argue against that.  You only raise an argument against my views.  I presume, therefore, your inability to address that argument means that you agree that creationism demands a belief in a cruel and uncaring God.

 

Isn't that inconsistent with the very thing that you talk about in your second paragraph, the deep and wide love God shows to us?  How can we trust that love if God is cruel and uncaring in other ways?

 

Isn't creationism, therefore, just as anti-God and anti-Christian as I insist that it is?

 

In your main point, however, you say, in essence, that evolution is cruel. You say that it demands a God that would "allow suffering, competition and death to go on for hundreds of millions of years".

 

But this isn't really a point that we can argue about.  The things that you are complaining about are simple, demonstrable facts.

 

Does suffering exist in nature?  Of course it does!  Have you ever seen a cat torment a mouse?  Have you heard how when a dominant male lion takes over a pride he nearly always immediately kills all of the cubs fathered by the previous dominant male?  Have you heard of the many forms of parasites? Surely as a physician you can detail examples of suffering that I can only imagine.

 

Does competition exist in nature?  Of course it does!  It happens everywhere.  But why is competition even a bad thing?  Do you ever watch sports?  Isn't being “competitive” considered to be a positive characteristic?  We have an economic system called capitalism that thrives on competition.  Are you implying that we should all become communists because that economic system is not based on competition?

 

Finally, and most obviously, doesn't death also exist?  Isn't this the very reason that Jesus came to save us?

 

God created a world with all of these things in it.  That's indisputable. So what's your point?  Maybe you are complaining about the length of time evolution demands.  But does that really make a difference?  Is a serial killer who kills 10 people really any better morally than a serial killer who killed 100?  Pain, suffering and death clearly all exist.  Evolution didn't invent them.  Neither will they go away if everyone gave up a belief in evolution.

 

In fact evolution is simply a scientific principle.  It is neither good nor bad.  It simply IS.  It is just a part of God's world.

 

To make my point, let me discuss what is probably the most obvious and well established scientific principle of all – gravity.  I can make the argument that gravity is cruel.

 

On September 11, 2001 two planes crashed into the World Trade Center building in New York.  More than 3000 people died as a result.  Many of them died by jumping from the burning buildings.  They chose to do that because the alternative that they faced was being burned alive.

 

If gravity had been much less than it is, those people would not have had to die.  They could have simply floated to the ground.  In fact if gravity had been much less, the buildings themselves probably wouldn't have collapsed.  Gravity therefore undeniably contributed to the death of those thousands of innocent people.

 

In fact every day, in many different ways, people fall and hurt themselves in various ways because of the force of gravity.  You've no doubt had to treat children's injuries that wouldn't have taken place if gravity were weaker than it is.

 

It would seem by your reasoning that gravity is therefore evil and cruel.

 

But you demand even more than that.

 

You are really arguing that if someone can be convinced that gravity is in fact evil, then that person should stop believing that gravity even exists! Suddenly, to such a person, if they were to drop a coin they should believe that it is as likely to float up as it is to fall to the ground!

 

Of course both of these are obviously completely ridiculous beliefs. Gravity is not evil and cruel.  But neither is it “good” in any sense. Gravity just is.  Certainly bad things happen because of it, but, among many other examples, it is gravity that keeps the Earth close enough to the Sun that we can live in a temperate climate.  Without gravity we would all freeze to death.

 

But even more to the point, gravity exists completely independently of any debate about whether it is good or evil.  This is the basic point that everyone understands.  This is why no one even thinks to engage in a silly argument about the moral implications of gravity.

 

Evolution is the same.  It is neither good nor evil.  But even more so, a debate about the moral implications of evolution is silly and absurd; especially if someone is supposed to have their belief in evolution's existence depend on their views on that “moral” issue.

 

Scientific evidence will confirm or falsify the existence of evolution just as it does the existence of gravity.  Any other arguments are simple obfuscation intended to confuse people.

 

Of course, the problem for creationists is that the real scientific evidence DOES confirm the existence of evolution.  So obfuscation is all that they have to depend on.

 

R**** C****

 

 

 

Dear R**** C****

 

Your final entry of Round 2 illustrates eloquently why there should be no more rounds of discussion.  You just don't get it.  And there is no reason to keep circling the track over and over again.  I will not respond in detail to any more entries.  You may send them and I will post them but at most will refer you and any readers back to my previous comments.

 

You claim that I believe cruelty was designed into nature by God.  Ridiculous!  I said nothing of the sort!  Evil entered into creation because of human sin.  But YOU believe that God used evolution to create.  And although you later say that evolution is neither good nor evil, just as gravity is neither good nor evil, you still call attention to suffering and want to blame it on God -– but only if God is a creationist.  Somehow, if God is an evolutionist, it is all OK.

 

It is one thing to argue with someone is rational but is quite something else to try to teach logic while making points.  Look at my previous entry for details on how human sin spoiled God's perfect creation.  Then think about your view of a God Who didn't start out with a perfect creation at all but let it unfold by itself with resulting suffering and death a NECESSARY part of the creative process!

 

Is competition a good thing, you ask?  In many ways competition goads us into higher achievement, but don't think for a minute that God is an advocate of unrestrained free market philosophy.  In present society free markets work better than the alternatives, but we have all seen corporate scandals that arise from the evil bent in human nature. And there is a big difference between striving to be the best you can be and fighting to the death or eating the last of the food supply.

 

Do you remember that in some places the early church was communistic?  And it actually worked in a small community of spirit-filled believers, although we do hear Paul saying in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” 

 

But have you also noticed that we are told to love our enemies (not kill them), to give to those who ask (not compete for resources), to relinquish our rights in order to show love (rather than always put ourselves first) and to care for the poor, the widows or orphans (instead of considering the negative effects on the gene pool of allowing losers to survive.)

 

The whole Christian life is contrary to the principles of evolution.  Jesus was the ultimate example because as He became our atoning sacrifice He gave up His life to save ours.  That is the ultimate anti-evolutionary act. 

 

You seem quite proud of your gravity analogy, but I have to remind you that gravity, like fire, can be used for good or evil.  It also, unlike evolution, is demonstrable scientifically.  Despite your protestations about how widely evolution is accepted and your attempts to support it scientifically, it is not on solid ground.  And further, evolution requires winners and losers whereas with proper use of wise principles, everyone can use gravity or fire for good things.  But for you to claim that my arguments are equivalent to claiming that gravity does not exist absolutely boggles the mind. 

 

And why do I keep bringing up the moral arguments?  Because you claim that God created by way of evolution.  If you were an atheist, I would not be able to appeal to your understanding of God as good.  But if you were an atheist, I might point out that according to Christian teaching and the Biblical record, there are evil spiritual forces that are intent on deceiving human beings and that they have the ability to produce powerful delusions.  An atheist will reject that assertion, of course, but philosophically ought to grapple with the possibility of how they could ever know if it really were true.

 

My final comments to you are that you, too, need to be aware of delusions because the Scripture says that in the latter times many will follow doctrines of demons.  I think that we are seeing it in our society today.  Have you let the Spirit of God examine your own heart with the Psalmist's prayer, “Search me O God?”

 

Ross Olson

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