I Get Mail: Creationism Edition!

I recently wrote an Introduction to Creationism over at SkepticsOnThe.Net, a new resource site that aims to be the premier directory for skeptical groups, blogs, and podcasts. When I cross-posted it to Startled Disbelief, it garnered some immediate feedback.


Cross-posted from Startled Disbelief.

That was fast.

I just received the following email from David Buckna, who I think is probably also the anonymous commenter from my previous post about creationism. [Edit: Nope, apparently it wasn’t him.]

Subject: Evolution: The Creation Myth of Our Culture

Gem:

Programmers utilized complex codes to create software. The genetic code, which is more sophisticated, controls the physical processes of life and is accompanied by elaborate transmission and duplication systems.

How does evolution, using natural processes and chance, solve the problem of complex information sequencing without intelligence?

My first question is this: In what way is the genetic code “more sophisticated” than, say, C++ or SmallTalk or Python or MATLAB? (Okay, I’ll grant you MATLAB.)

The theory of evolution proposes that mutations (insertions, deletions, changes) to the genetic “code” are acted upon by natural selection. Those that are advantageous are more likely to be passed on to the next generation.

It’s important to keep in mind that this code is does not constitute information in any abstract or absolute sense; it only constitutes a “code” in the context of the biological processes involved in reading and replicating it.

Similarly, the code “buffer = ( char* ) malloc ( i + 1 );” is meaningful in the context of C but meaningless in the context of Java. If C had never been invented, that code segment would be gibberish. And here’s the important bit: genetic “code” (e.g., “ATA CTG”) outside of the context of DNA is also meaningless gibberish.

I recognise that Buckna’s question was probably disingenuous: he’s not looking for an answer; he’s looking to play “stump the evolutionist”. But it’s possible that others may learn when proponents of science respond to his ramblings.

It’s interesting to note that this is probably also the same creationist who attempted to insert his propaganda into Jeff Proling’s Dinosauria On-Line. The story is enlightening. He’s also been trolling PZ Myers and the folks at Radio Freethinker, so I’m in good company.


Addendum (11 July 2011): After the 40+ comments that this response has garnered so far, it occurs to me that I should make a few things clear.

The original question that was posed to me (“How does evolution, using natural processes and chance, solve the problem of complex information sequencing without intelligence?”) should be better addressed to an evolutionary biologist. I briefly addressed some of the premises of Buckna’s argument from the perspective of a software developer, but I’m no expert in evolution, nor have I ever claimed to be. It seems to me that the combination of random variation and selection adequately explains increasing information content over time (as can be trivially demonstrated via computer simulation).

But let’s suppose for a moment that the answer was, “I don’t know. I don’t know how evolution accounts for that.” So what? The argument “Since evolution can’t explain X, creationism is true!” is fallacious. I’m told that there was a time before we understood how electrostatic discharges worked (although I wasn’t there). However, to assert that since science couldn’t explain lightning it therefore must have been a manifestation of Zeus’ divine will would be to appeal to a god of the gaps.

The evidence for special creation is non-existent, while the evidence for evolution is legion. (Look here if you’d like some examples.) That said, even if there were no convincing evidence for evolution, or if all evidence for evolution were convincingly falsified, that would not somehow make special creation a plausible alternative hypothesis—to promote this idea is to commit the fallacy of the false dilemma. Critiquing evolution does provide evidence for the creationist position.

If your only means of supporting your position is to attempt to poke holes in the position of your opponents, you demonstrate that your own position is untenable. Please present evidence for your position.

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108 thoughts on “I Get Mail: Creationism Edition!

      1. If I don’t beat you to it! (He seems to have been posting these on every anti-creationist blog he can find, the poor guy)
        It’s pretty funny that he calls his page “Evolution: The Creation Myth of Our Culture” and the first five points are not even about life!

    1. “Slaughter of the Dissadents” by Jerry Bergman documents dozens of scientists who were not only refused publication in “peer reviewed” scientific journals, but lost their jobs as well for being brave enough to publish anything contradictory to evolutionism. To claim that evolution is true because creationists don’t get their views published in science journals is childish and displays a real ignorance. Joe Taylor, paleontologist.

      1. I don’t think that anyone here claimed that evolution is true “because creationists don’t get their views published in science journals”. To do so would be to endorse the exact same false dichotomy that creationists are frequently guilty of.

        Proving evolution false would not prove creation true. Similarly, the fact that there is no evidence for special creation does not provide evidence for evolution. Fortunately, there’s plenty of evidence for evolution elsewhere. Here, for example.

  1. Your “answer” to David Buckna’s question looks more like smoke and mirrors than cogent prose.

    A list of man-made programming languages says nothing about the complexities of actual, specific programs (i.e., actual written code) and what they do. Your “answer” implies that you believe the code behind the assembly and maintenance of even a single-celled organism is so pathetically simple that you could presumably re-create it from scratch during a coffee break on the back of a napkin. (I don’t think so.)

    Never mind the simplicity of the language, it’s what it builds and maintains that Mr. Buckna was asking you to account for, limiting yourself to natural processes, chance, and no intelligence. (Congratulations, you succeeded in crafting an “answer” devoid of all three!) You evaded Buckna’s point completely by pretending that the existence of man-made programming languages, however complex and powerful they may be, somehow makes child’s play of the complexity of a one-celled organism, which, though written in a simple and elegant language, probably exceeds the complexity of anything you’ll ever write by an order of magnitude.

    You all but dismissed Mr. Buckna’s question as disingenuous, but I think your side-stepping (non)answer better qualifies for that label.

    1. Gem:

      I have to echo T. Wallace’s response. My first thought? This guy is using jargon to evade answering the question.

      Let’s look at your statement “It’s important to keep in mind that this code is does not constitute information in any abstract or absolute sense; it only constitutes a “code” in the context of the biological processes involved in reading and replicating it.”

      Ahem, and so just how does a biological process like me NOT see the code and information replete in the DNA molecule? Would you pick up an English dictionary and say “It’s important to keep in mind that this code (English) does not constitute information in any abstract or absolute sense; it only constitutes a “code” in the context of you understanding the English language”

      Nonsense. Now go back and try to answer Buckna’s question.

      EN

      1. Gem did not use jargon, he simply used a piece of code as an example, hence the quotation marks surrounding it. As someone who is completely ignorant of computer programming language, this was immediately clear to me. The only other “jargon” he used was code languages – if you ask a computer programmer about coding, surely you should be willing to allow him to refer to the field?

        As for accusations of avoidance, he answered to the premise, not the question itself. If you ask: “Unicorns and toenails are similar, how do you account for this?” it is a perfectly acceptable argument to point out that comparing unicorns and toenails is futile.

  2. “Programmers utilized complex codes to create software. The genetic code, which is more sophisticated”

    How does he figure that one? Computers use binary and dna uses 4 base pairs. Any sequence 3 base pairs long forms a codon. Sophistication? Not exactly. I’d say more like blindingly simple.

    “, controls the physical processes of life and is accompanied by elaborate transmission and duplication systems.

    How does evolution, using natural processes and chance, solve the problem of complex information sequencing without intelligence?”

    Could he be more specific, otherwise I can only suggest that he try reading a book.

    And if we’re sticking with the analogy computer programmers can and have used the basic principles of evolution to simulate the evolution of complex strains of dna.

    1. I’m going to disagree that the genetic code is simple. Four base pairs and codons is of course, the most well-known, but only the simplest part of genes. There is alternative splicing of coding regions, resulting in massive potential for each gene to encode different proteins. There is also non-encoding DNA which modifies the protein-coding DNA, and also heritable modification of the DNA itself which effects gene expression. There’s also non-coding DNA that gets transcribed to suppress

      That being said, examination of simpler organisms tells us a lot about how each of these processes could have evolved. Indeed, each of these are highly adaptive as they allow a lot more information to be packed into a lot less space. Bacteria lack the capacity for alternative splicing, even though if they were “designed,” there is no reason for them not to have it – it’s a great system, and would massively benefit organisms that are frequently limited by the amount of genes they can carry.

  3. Hmmm. If the genetic code is so simple then let’s get together and write a human program to construct a human being. Whoa…suddenly not so simple is it? In fact, I doubt if there is a human being alive who could do it. I could quote Bill Gates “Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” Gates, The Road Ahead, Penguin: London, Revised, 1996 p. 228. But what does he know about code right?

    1. First of all, appeal to authority is not an argument. It’s lovely that Bill Gates applies an analogy between the two. Congratulations, you have read a book.

      We cannot replicate the complexity of DNA because we do not fully understand many of the proteins that are known to be transcribed, or which non-transcribed DNA affects which genes. Biologists and geneticists are working hard on this problem, and the field is growing at an exponential rate, but full understanding is still remains a goal on the horizon. There is nothing magical about DNA – if we knew everything about it, we would be able to replicate it. There is an entire field of biology, computational biology, devoted to this.

      It is difficult, however, because the organization of DNA is so utterly haphazard. What code designer would create a code which opened a command thousands and thousands of lines of code away from its intended use? This is precisely what happens with promoter regions. What designer would create insidious bits of code, which add nothing to the program, but if not carefully monitored, could self-replicate to the point of destroying the program? This is precisely what happens with many genetic diseases, such as Huntington’s, via transposable elements. What intelligent designer would have their program hijacked by a computer virus and delete the line of code allowing it to be malicious, but otherwise leave the virus untouched? More importantly, what designer would imbed this hijacking virus themselves? And yet, every human being carries around the DNA of retroviruses long inactivated, sleeping giants within us, ready to hijack the systems once more.

      “God works in mysterious ways” is not a testable hypothesis, nor is it necessary to understand the many facets of the genome – including mutations, “junk” DNA, transposable elements, promoters, histone modification, etc. – all of these things can be understood and even predicted by evolution. As for invoking intelligence to create the diversity of genetic information, well, as Pierre-Simon Laplace once said: Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là. (“I had no need of that hypothesis.”)

    2. Quote mine, nice.

      It is blindingly simple, it’s just exceedingly long. Whereas gene expression is complicated. We are talking about the code right? You do realize they are two different things? Apparently not.

  4. Seriously here guys, how does DNA even equate to a machine language? I’ve heard some silly, some childish arguments that somehow “prove” that Evolution is somehow false (all of them seem to be based on the “I don’t understand it, so therefore it must be false” argument) but somehow NONE of them have a single, credible shred of evidence supporting their position.

    How exactly does attacking a 150+ year old theory, that has mountains of evidence supporting it, make creationism (the idea that an imaginary sky pixie waved his magic wand and *poof* everything appeared) even remotely plausible?

    I don’t pretend to be an Evolutionary Biologist. Or any kind of Biology. My background in Biology is good but certainly not at the Masters or PhD level. I do, however have a degree in Physical Anthropology and can tell you for a 100% certainty, that Evolution occurred and continues to do so. To ignore this truth and replace it with whatever fairy tale suits you at the moment, is not only childish at best, but willfully ignorant at worst.

    If anyone had a shred of evidence supporting Creationism, they’d have been published in a peer-reviewed Scientific publication by now.
    If any creationists out there could point me in the direction of said publication and what issue, I’d be VERY happy to read it.

  5. There are new species evolving that we can observe today. Either evolution is still occurring or the designer is still busy adding this “computer code”.

    The simple answer is trial and error. Life has the appearence of design because it has had so much time to develop.

    Of course, no amount of evidence will convince a creationist.

  6. In my 1997 article, Do Creationists Publish in Notable Refereed Journals?, I wrote:

    Creationists who publish scientific research in mainstream journals have found that they can publish articles with data having creationist implications, but will not get articles with openly creationist conclusions published. When they attempt to do this, their articles are usually rejected. Those who are well-known to evolutionists as creationists have more difficulty even with articles which do not have obvious creationist implications.

    For example, mathematics. Dr. Robert A. Herrmann (professor of Mathematics, Ret.)
    U.S. Naval Avademy

    http://ns.creationwiki.org/Robert_Herrmann

    Some of his peer-reviewed publications that had creationist implications:

    1) [CS] “A special isomorphism between superstructures,” Kobe J. Math., 10(2)(1993), 125-129.

    (3) [CS] “Nonstandard consequence operators,” Kobe J. Math., 4 (1)(1987), 1- 14.

    (4) [CS] “Supernear functions,” Math. Japanica, 30(2) (1985), 169-185.


    Nonstandard and Infinitesimal Modeling/ Mathematical and Theoretical Physics

    (1) [CS] “A hypercontinuous hypersmooth Schwarzschild line element transformation,” Internat. J. Math. and Math. Sci., (to appear)

    (2) [CS] “An Operator equation, and relativistic alternations in the time for radioactive decay,” Internat. J. Math. and Math. Sci., 19(2)(1996):397-402

    (3) [CS] “Operator equations, separation of variables and relativistic alterations,” Internat. J. Math. and Math. Sci., 18 (1)(1995):59-62

    (4) [CS] “Special Relativity and a nonstandard substratum,” Speculations in Science and Technology, 17(1)(1994):2-10.

    (5) [CS] “Fractals and ultrasmooth microeffects,” J. Math. Physics, 30(4), April 1989, 805-808.

    (6) [CS] “Physics is legislated by a cosmogony,” Speculations in Science and Technology, 11(1) (1988), 17-24.

    (7) [CS] “Rigorous infinitesimal modelling,” Math. Japonica, 26(4)(1981), 461- 465. Natural Systems and Cosmologies

    (1) [CS] “Mathematical philosophy and developmental processes,” Nature and System, 5(1/2)(1983), 17-36.

    I think it’s extremely rare for creationists or proponents of intelligent design to submit papers for peer-review in secular journals with openly creationist/ID conclusions. That’s why creationists for example, have set up their own peer-review system and publish their own journals eg. Answers Research Journal http://www.answersingenesis.org/arj

    1. This is not a conspiracy – this is scientific rigour. If a creationist has insufficient evidence to back up their claims they will not be published. Do not feel like you are getting special treatment. Anyone who makes wild conjecture with insufficient evidence will find their articles rejected. I have been called to task by reviewers for extrapolating the significance of my data too far – and my research has no application to creationism whatsoever.

      1. Fiona writes: “Anyone who makes wild conjecture with insufficient evidence will find their articles rejected.”

        Riiiight…..So why was the 1972 Eldredge & Gould paper [Punctuated Equilibria] accepted for publication?

        Marvin Lubenow writes in “Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils” (1992; revised edition 2004): “In the early 1970’s, when it became obvious that we had a more than adequate sampling of the fossil record, the grim reality dawned that those transitional fossils were not to be found. The punctuated equilibria model of evolution was then invented to explain why they were not found. However, it is imperative to emphasize that the punctuated equilibria model does not remove the need for transitional fossils. It just explains why those transitions have not been found.”

        “Certainly, the punctuated equilibria theory is unique. It must be the only theory ever put forth in the history of science which claims to be scientific but then explains why evidence for it cannot be found.”

    2. David,

      The scientific method works as follows:

      1. Natural phenomena is observed.
      2. Empirical data regarding the natural phenomena are collected.
      3. A scientific theory is posited to explain the empirical data.
      4. Empirical data continue to be collected regarding the natural phenomena.
      5. If further empirical data agree with the theory, the theory is bolstered.
      6. If data disagree with the theory, the theory is modified or a new one is posited.

      Using the above as a guide, creationism fails the scientific method because:

      1. Creation ex nihilo (i.e., magic) cannot be observed.
      2. Empirical data cannot be collected for unobservable phenomena.
      3. The unscientific theory of creationism can only posit dogma, with no empirical data to explain.
      4. Again, empirical data cannot be collected for unobservable phenomena.
      5. With no empirical data, creationism can neither be bolstered nor falsified.

      A solid scientific theory should be falsifiable. Evolution could be falsified by finding rabbit fossils in the Precambrian. Creationism cannot be falsified, as per #5 above.

      Creation “science,” intelligent design—whatever you want to call it—is nothing more than confirmation bias conducted on a large scale. It relies on the “antiscientific method,” which meanders its way along the following general path:

      1. A holy book explains the origins of the universe and humans through creation ex nihilo.
      2. The holy book is considered to be the unerring absolute truth.
      3. The conclusion, creation ex nihilo, is set; data must be shaped to conform to the conclusion.
      4. Scientific data are cherry-picked.
      5. Data that give the appearance of supporting creationism are documented and flaunted.
      6. Data that completely contradict creationism are swept under the rug and not discussed.

      Because creationism is nothing more than confirmation bias and because it follows the aforementioned “antiscientific method”—which is painfully obvious to actual scientists—it fails at real peer review. (ARJ is concocted peer review, not the real thing.)

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Peer_review#Creationists_and_peer_review

      1. Phillip:

        Interesting response to David. I was taught to disprove a theory not collect data to support it so I disagree with some of your understanding of the sci method.

        I have noticed that whatsoever evidence you find that doesn’t fit with the evolution theory…hey presto chango…it can be made to fit. Upset that the fossil record doesn’t support Darwinism? Invent punc eq. Now you don’t have to worry about finding billions of transitional fossils. It happened too fast for the fossil record to catch it. How convenient. Upset about the contents in 80 million year old fossil dino bones? Say it is poor science. Say it ain’t so. Or finally scratch your head and say isn’t it amazing how blood, RBC and proteins can survive so long even when experimental evidence shows otherwise. You want a rabbit in the pre-Cambrian? I can provide you with papers that find pollen, fragments of plants and six legged insects with compound eyes in pre-Cambrian strata. But you will say it ain’t so. Impossible. But given the source of the reference and the quality of the authors…you have no defense. So evolutionists will remark isn’t it amazing how quickly these organisms evolved. See? Unfalsifiable. I believe Popper said something like that and got into hot water. So are you thinking that’s what a good theory does. I would argue that any theory that explains all data (even contradictory data) is no theory at all.

        Isn’t it ironic that your points against the creation model apply equally or more so to evolution. Try this out:

        1. The generation of a new kind of organism (i.e. evolution) has never been observed (despite our best efforts re: Lenski). All we see are variety within a kind.
        2. Empirical data cannot be collected for unobservable phenomena (like punc eq?)
        3. The unscientific theory of evolutionism can only posit dogma, with no empirical data to explain. Isn’t this exactly the case!
        4. Again, empirical data cannot be collected for unobservable phenomena.
        5. With no empirical data, evolutionism can neither be bolstered nor falsified.

        I could go on but what’s the use. Evolutionists have closed minds and no matter how many times we creationists point out the problems…it just never seems to go in. You will believe what you want to believe.

        In case you are curious, I am an actual PhD scientist (synthetic organic chemist) who happens NOT to subscribe to evolutionary dogma. I don’t understand why every scientist alive isn’t criticizing the evolutionary theory. Scientists should be critical. Look for the errors and inconsistencies. Not come up with evidence to support but to tear down. Theory: all trees are green. So people are lining up to provide hundreds of examples of green trees. Ridiculous! The real scientists are the ones pointing to the blue spruce and saying “What about that one there”? That’s the way to do science. And there are more than enough blue spruces to go around IF you choose to be critical of evolution.

  7. Phillip Lemky writes: ” A solid scientific theory should be falsifiable.”

    Timothy Wallace writes at:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/creatheory.asp

    [snip]

    The Talk.Origins Archive “Welcome FAQ” also ascribes the following set of (reasonable) requirements to a genuinely scientific theory:

    “A scientific theory must have predictive value, must be internally consistent, must be falsifiable, and must explain at least those phenomena explained by the currently dominant theory.”

    These traits do loosely constitute a popular norm in defining scientific theories. As shall be seen below, an analysis of both the creation and evolution models reveals that the two theories conform with comparable integrity to such demands, when adequate information and analysis are allowed into the picture. But in typically dismissive style, the FAQ declares that:

    “such statements as ‘God created the heavens and the earth…’ are not theories, as they are neither predictive nor falsifiable.”
    What the Talk.Origins authors have failed to tell their readers is that there is much more to the creation science model than simply declaring “God created the heavens and the earth,” including much that is both as falsifiable and predictive (if not more so) as the evolutionary model.
    What then is the Theory of Creation?

    Table 2 (below) highlights a series of fundamental components of biblical young-earth creationism, providing a basic rendering of the creationary paradigm. To help illustrate its key points vis-à-vis the evolutionary model, they are presented side by side for comparison. This list is by no means exhaustive, and is likely to grow over time.

    [refer to web article to see Table 2]

    1. “What the Talk.Origins authors have failed to tell their readers is that there is much more to the creation science model than simply declaring “God created the heavens and the earth,”

      This is a thumping lie. And one that creationists love to tell to the echo-chamber.
      There is NO theorems in creationism, no falsifiable models, no verifiable and repeatable tests.
      Creationism fails every Scientific test it’s put to.

      Lying for your religion may be very popular, but it’s still lying (even if by omission, which many of you love doing) and I was under the impression that it was against your religion. I guess I was wrong about that…

  8. I find it very telling — but not surprising — that, while a handful of “the faithful” hasten to chime in with the standard fare in defense of evolutionism, nothing approaching a cogent answer to Mr. Buckna’s original question seems to be forthcoming.

    This is hardly the first time so much tired evolutionary boilerplate and misdirection was trotted out as a substitute for a meaningful answer — which we’re left to conclude is “Just believe!”

    How very … “scientific!”

    1. Actually, several cogent answers to Mr. Buckna’s original question were posted here. They simply were factual, and refuted his non-scientific nonsense. So, naturally, creationists ignore them and pretend that nothing was said.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Trying to educate a creationist is very much like trying to teach a dog to sprout wings and fly. It only frustrates the dog, and wastes your time.

      I’m going to watch paint dry, it will be a FAR better use of my time than this conversation is. As my dad used to say; “you can lead an idiot to knowledge, but you can’t make him think.”

      1. Peter, I totally agree with your Dad’s expression: “You can lead an idiot to knowledge, but you can’t make him think.” I wouldn’t necessarily use the term “idiot” though as that definition is rather based on one’s viewpoint at the time. One man’s idiot is another man’s genius. That said, I don’t have an axe to grind concerning origins. I couldn’t care less whether evolution (not defined as just change) was true or not. But looking at the entire story of evolution from the Big Bang to abiogenesis to “higher” forms of life…you could drive an 18 wheeler through some of the holes in that story. To all the evolutionists here…why do you so vigorously and confidently defend this inadequate attempt to explain what is around us? I think given what we understand about complexity/information, our own attempts at programming, mutations, the fossil record etc etc that the evolution theory has never really explained the data at all. Which leaves the true seeker with a creator origin. In the spirit of Peter’s Dad’s expression, creationists have led you to some new ways of looking at our knowledge. In the movie The Matrix, Morpheus says to Neo: “I am trying to free your mind.” and that is my hope for you. To think it through, asking yourself with each piece of the story “Is this really true or is it a guess?” You know where I stand.

        I wish you all the very best. Back to real life.

      2. Dismissing a question as irrelevant under false pretenses (suddenly genetic code isn’t code at all — voila!) hardly constitutes a cogent answer. Instead, it’s an evasion, a pretense that the religious dogma of evolutionism is not subject to the same rigorous objective critical analysis required of any *real* scientific hypothesis. Your addition of a few ad hominem insults add little credibility to either your belief system or your pretense that out-of-hand denials comprise “cogent answers” to a simple question.

  9. Could someone please tell me what an “Evolutionist” is?
    The term appears NO where in Scientific literature.
    I acknowledge that gravity is a real force, does that make me a “Gravitationalist”?

    1. “Peter” says:
      >Could someone please tell me what an “Evolutionist” is?
      >The term appears NO where in Scientific literature.
      Actually, Peter, I have located the term twice in Chapter 7 of a piece of scientific literature titled “Origin of Species,” by a Mr. Charles Darwin.
      About the middle of the chapter, Mr. Darwin writes: “It is admitted by most evolutionists that mammals are descended from a marsupial form. . . .”
      Toward the end of the same chapter, he states: “That species have a capacity for change will be admitted by all evolutionists. . . .”
      On the other hand, Peter, maybe you’re right. Perhaps we should admit that the “Origin” isn’t really a work of science at all. In many ways, it’s a lot more like a piece of speculative philosophy!

  10. On the publication question, and the response that it is simply rejection due to lack of scientific rigor, I think a true investigator should read Jerry Bergman’s _Slaughter of the Dissidents_. There is also much to be gained in understanding how people can look at a 150 year old “theory” and reject it (even in some cases after ardently believing in it) by reading _Persuaded by the Evidence_ (edited by Dr. Bergman and Doug Sharp).

    I’m surprised at the expressions of difficulty in seeing DNA as a sophisticated code, or even a code at all. Perhaps this is part of the response to the recent calls to revise (reverse/eliminate) the practice of using design terms in biology, although it came so naturally and has been so helpful in conceptualizations and guiding research. The references to coding have been used by evolutionists for years. And suppose we were visited by an alien probe that was like a living machine, as in Star Trek movies. Would there be any hesitancy to describe whatever system of data storage it would pass on to following generations as coding? Why the bias against biochemicals in place of simple electronic or magnetic bits?

    And as for the degree of sophistication, which is easier to write, the program for an immersive MMORPG or any other application we have now, or a program that can simulate — in full detail — one cell replicating itself into a human being? For that matter, has a team of scientists and programmers gotten together and simulated everything about a single bacterium? That would be a worthy science project for creationists and evolutionists alike, and it would give us a better feeling for (understanding of) just how complex a “simple” form of life is.

    We should keep in mind, too, that DNA is only part of the system in higher life forms. We have been discovering for some time that there is a second coding system (again, this is not a term creationists have tacked on) in the histone marking/tagging molecules which controls the expression of DNA segments. It has also been discovered that many sections of DNA that were once considered junk leftovers from past evolutionary events are actually important regulators of the protein-coding segments which, in “our” simplistic, limited, and evolution-influenced thinking/expectations were considered to be the sum total of the encoded blueprints of life. So if you have a problem with DNA being considered sophisticated coding, don’t blame creationists.

  11. Back to Gem’s response to my question. I received the following from a netfriend:

    ***

    The system of life is where DNA produces m-RNA, which is read like a NC tape by a ribosome, producing proteins that are constructed based upon that code, delivered by t-RNA, and then many of these proteins catalyze the formation of DNA.

    Most of the computer programs we write have meaning only in one dimension, in a linear fashion. The system of life has meaning in 4 dimensions: the three-dimensional shape of proteins, RNA, and DNA changes with time, regulated much like a servo mechanism where processes are turned on or off based upon the need. Furthermore, sections of code overlap and have meaning multiple ways whether the code is read forward or backward. Beyond that, the sections of code formerly called “junk DNA” by uninformed evolutionists is now known to also contain information, but in a compressed format.

    If this software developer is prepared to reproduce a system like that, I would be impressed. But the fact that he makes such statements belies his lack of knowledge of biochemistry, and of programming for that matter.

    ***

  12. Computers programmers are mentioned in this radio interview at about the 14:15 mark

    Kevin Anderson interview (he also mentions Eugenie Scott of the NCSE)

    —-
    Date: Sep 11, 2009 Length: 26:22

    Download: Dialup / Broadband Stream: Dialup / Broadband Comment: at
    TheologyOnline

    http://kgov.com/bel/20090911

    CRSQ Editor Kevin Anderson on Real Science Friday: Wow! Hear about the
    latest scientific findings on the human genome, junk DNA, and antibiotic
    resistance! If you enjoy celebrating the creative genius of our God,
    you’ll just love hearing the microbiologist editor-in-chief of Creation
    Research Society Quarterly, a refereed scientific journal, talk in studio
    with Bob Enyart about the latest in genetics!

    The Myth of Junk DNA (2011) by Jonathan Wells
    http://www.mythofjunkdna.com/

    1. David: “The Myth of Junk DNA (2011) by Jonathan Wells”

      I’ll never—and I mean *never*—take Jonathan Wells seriously, because he uttered the following (before going on to study biology at Berkeley):

      “Father’s [Sun Myung Moon’s] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Wells_(intelligent_design_advocate)#Opposition_to_evolution

      The above is not science; that’s pure, unadulterated ideology. It doesn’t get anymore antiscientific than that. You don’t approach science by declaring war on a theory.

  13. Ed,

    Ed: “Interesting response to David. I was taught to disprove a theory not collect data to support it so I disagree with some of your understanding of the sci method.”

    When Einstein came up with general relativity, he didn’t attempt to “disprove” Newtonian physics; he added to Newton’s work by providing a more comprehensive theory of gravitation.

    Ed: “Upset that the fossil record doesn’t support Darwinism? Invent punc eq. Now you don’t have to worry about finding billions of transitional fossils. It happened too fast for the fossil record to catch it.”

    Ed: “Upset about the contents in 80 million year old fossil dino bones?”

    Can you provide more info on what you’re referring to here?

    Ed: “Or finally scratch your head and say isn’t it amazing how blood, RBC and proteins can survive so long even when experimental evidence shows otherwise.”

    Can you provide more info on what you’re referring to here?

    Ed: “You want a rabbit in the pre-Cambrian? I can provide you with papers that find pollen, fragments of plants and six legged insects with compound eyes in pre-Cambrian strata.”

    Please provide links to the papers you refer to here, specifically links that are accessible (i.e., not behind a paywall).

    Ed: “The generation of a new kind of organism (i.e. evolution) has never been observed (despite our best efforts re: Lenski). All we see are variety within a kind.”

    Ed: “Evolutionists have closed minds and no matter how many times we creationists point out the problems…it just never seems to go in. You will believe what you want to believe.”

    I object to that statement. The misnomer “evolutionism” is simply an attempt, by creationists, to turn a well-supported scientific theory into an ideology, which it isn’t. I also do *not* have a closed mind. I was raised to be a Bible-believing, creation-believing Christian, but my respect for science, reason, logic, and the truth—and my open mind—led me to question, and ultimately reject, Christianity and creationism.

    Ed: “In case you are curious, I am an actual PhD scientist (synthetic organic chemist) who happens NOT to subscribe to evolutionary dogma.”

    Thanks for flaunting your credentials. Being a layman, I obviously can’t compete with you in that department.

    Ed: “I don’t understand why every scientist alive isn’t criticizing the evolutionary theory. Scientists should be critical. Look for the errors and inconsistencies. Not come up with evidence to support but to tear down.”

    Have you examined creationism as critically as you have evolution?

    Phil

  14. Earlier today, “Peter” wrote:
    >Could someone please tell me what an “Evolutionist” is?
    >The term appears NO where in Scientific literature.
    Actually, Peter, I have located the term twice in Chapter 7 of a piece of scientific literature titled “Origin of Species,” by a Mr. Charles Darwin.
    About the middle of the chapter, Mr. Darwin writes: “It is admitted by most evolutionists that mammals are descended from a marsupial form. . . .”
    Toward the end of the same chapter, he states: “That species have a capacity for change will be admitted by all evolutionists. . . .”
    On the other hand, Peter, maybe you’re right. Perhaps we should admit that the “Origin” isn’t really a work of science at all. In many ways, it’s a lot more like a piece of speculative philosophy!

  15. I have a question for the creationists here, something I’m honestly curious about…

    Scientists within a particular field frequently disagree with one another, even amongst secular proponents of evolution.

    I assume—correct me if I’m wrong—that the creationists here are Young Earth creationists. And Answers in Genesis is a Young Earth creationist organization, correct?

    Now, Young Earth creationism isn’t the only form of creationism. There’s also Old Earth creationism:

    http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/creation.html

    The above web page actually refutes Young Earth creationism from an Old Earth creationist perspective.

    Another form of creationism, though you’ll most likely disagree that it’s creationism, is theistic evolution:

    http://www.theistic-evolution.com/

    I still consider it to be a form of creationism, because it asserts that a deity kick-started the evolutionary process.

    So, my question is… If creationism encompasses Young Earth creationism, Old Earth creationism, and theistic evolution, how do you guys handle disagreements amongst yourselves? Would Answers Research Journal, the “peer review” arm of Answers in Genesis, even accept “research” from Old Earth creationists or theistic evolutionists? If not, how on Earth do you expect secular scientists to take you seriously (if you don’t have honest “peer review” strictly within the creationist movement itself)?

  16. Phillip Johnson [Darwin On Trial] says naturalists define words like “evolution” and “science” in such a way that naturalism is true by definition. He said in World magazine:

    “Evolutionary science is based on naturalism and draws philosophical conclusions to that base. That’s why any theistic evolution is inherently superficial. It leads people into naturalistic thinking, and they don’t realize it.” (Nov. 22, 1997, p.13)

    There appears to be about/at least eight perspectives with regard to origins. This list is not exhaustive:

    ATHEISTIC NATURALISM God does not exist. There is no real design (only apparent design) and nature is all there is.[eg. Carl Sagan: “The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”]

    AGNOSTIC NATURALISM One is unsure whether God exists. Though nature may not be all there is, nature is all that matters.

    THEISTIC NATURALISM God exists. He designed the natural laws. There is no design in the strict sense, and although _in principle_ nature is not all that matters, _in effect_ it is.

    THEISTIC EVOLUTION (WEAK DESIGN). God designed the natural laws so that their ordinary operation would result in the intended outcome.

    THEISTIC EVOLUTION (STRONG DESIGN).To ensure the intended outcome, God not
    only designed the natural laws, but also determined their initial conditions.

    INTERVENTION To ensure the intended outcome, God not only designed the natural laws and determined their initial conditions, but also intervened in subsequent conditions.

    SPECIAL CREATION [old universe/old earth/recent global flood] To ensure the intended outcome, God designed the natural laws, determined their initial conditions, and intervened in subsequent conditions. God created the universe billions of years ago. Although micro-evolution /speciation occur, it is viewed as variation within created “kinds” (baramins) eg. the cat “kind”. Macro-evolution has never occurred.

    SPECIAL CREATION [young universe/young earth/recent global flood] To ensure the intended outcome, God designed the natural laws, determined their initial conditions, and intervened in subsequent conditions. God created the universe only thousands (not billions) of years ago. Although micro-evolution /speciation occur, it is viewed as variation within
    created “kinds” (baramins) eg. the cat “kind”. Macro-evolution has never occurred.

    Note: Many creationists and proponents of intelligent design prefer the term micro-variation to micro-evolution, because they argue no net “evolution” (vertical evolution: information-building evolution) has occured.

    1. David,

      That appears to be an exhaustive list of origin theories, but you didn’t answer my question…

      Does ARJ accept “research” from proponents of Old Earth creationism or theistic evolution?

  17. From the ARJ website:

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/arj

    “Answers Research Journal (ARJ) is a professional, peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework.”

    I recognize some of the names who have published in ARJ as young earth creationists (eg. Larry Vardiman, Jerry Bergman); other names I don’t recognize. Unless some proponents of Old Earth creationism or theistic evolution are writing papers from a recent Creation and global Flood perspective (how likely is that?) I would assume all contributors are young earth creationists.

    1. So, it sounds like ARJ has a Young Earth creationist bias. And it *doesn’t* sound like ARJ publishes papers based upon the perspectives of either Old Earth creationism or theistic evolution.

      Creationists, such as yourself, accuse secular scientists of ignoring intelligent design “research.” But don’t Young Earth creationists ignore the work of Old Earth creationists and proponents of theistic evolution? Shouldn’t you deal with the problem of openness within the creationist community before pointing an accusing finger elsewhere? You know, the whole “he who is without sin, cast the first stone” thing? (To borrow a phrase from your holy book.)

  18. From the “What I’d like to see” Department….

    “Evolution, the International Journal of Organic Evolution is a professional, peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of a 13.75 ± 0.11 billion year universe and based on a committment to philosophical naturalism.”

    See also:
    http://www.arn.org/docs/johnson/pjdogma1.htm

  19. http://wpcomics.washingtonpost.com/client/wpc/db/2011/07/10/

    http://thetribulationtimesherald-exhorter.blogspot.com/2011/07/intelligently-redesigned-doonesbury.html

    http://www.trueorigin.org/evomyth04.asp

    “Kids, welcome to Biology 101. We’re gonna learn lots of fun things in
    this class. We’re gonna learn how…we’re gonna cut up frogs, and we’re
    gonna pick flowers, and we’re gonna learn about pistils and stamens and
    all kinds of fun things, but the first thing you need to know, boys and
    girls, above all else, is that ‘You are an accident!’. You have absolutely
    no reason for being here! There is no meaning, no purpose to your life!
    You’re nothing but a meaningless conglomeration of molecules that came
    together purely by chance billions and billions of years ago! All the dust
    and the gas and the galaxy floated around for who knows how long, and they
    bumped into each other and they said, ‘I know. Let’s be organic!’ So they
    became organic. And they became little, little gooey, slimey things, you
    know, swimming around in the primordial soup, and they finally grew little
    feet, and they crawled up on the land, and they grew fur and feathers and
    became higher forms of life, and finally became, you know, a monkey, then
    the monkey developed into an ape, then the ape decided to shave, so he
    shaved, and became what you are today! It’s, you know, from goo to you by
    way of the zoo! As such we really don’t have any reason for being here.
    Your existence is pointless. The universe won’t mind a bit when you die.
    And when you die, you just become so much compost [Riiiiiing!] Oh, okay,
    class dismissed. Head on down the hall now, kids, down to that new class
    we’re starting this week on self-esteem!” –an excerpt from “What We
    Believe”, a presentation Frank Peretti gave at the Steeling the Mind of
    America conference (Vale, Colorado, 1997.)

    1. FYI, I keep having to scoop your comments out of the spam filter, which is why they don’t always appear immediately. I recommend against just pasting several links into your comments, as that seems to make WordPress think you’re a troll and block your comment.

  20. Yup Gem,
    Creationist: In evolution, blah blah blah, hyperlink, quote from authority…. therefore God is the answer.

    Evolutionary biologist: Yawn, (opens up a library of peer reviewed papers) I present evolutionary evidence.

    Creationist: It does not say “thou” in here anywhere therefore god did not write it. I win. Oh and your fat.

    Audience: Did you see that guys shirt? It did not match his socks at all.

  21. Gem wrote: “If your only means of supporting your position is to attempt to poke holes in the position of your opponents, you demonstrate that your own position is untenable. Please present evidence for your position.”

    You are not obliged in science to come up with an alternative theory for a theory you are criticizing. There is no rule like that in science.

    That said, there is ample evidence and related inferences for creation/intelligent design, but evolutionists choose to ignore them because evolutionists interpret evidence and data through the lense of philosophical naturalism. Why _is_ evolution the one subject skeptics aren’t skeptical about?

    Evidence for creation/intelligent design include: the universe is a Tri-Universe,

    http://www.icr.org/articles/view/2590/215/

    earth’s geologic features appear to have been fashioned by rapid, catastrophic processes on a global and regional scale, the fossil record (eg. the Cambrian explosion), man and apes have a separate ancestry, natural selection (a creationist’s idea), the design inference,
    rapidly nuclear-decay-generated helium escapes from radioactive crystals
    http://www.icr.org/article/new-rate-data-support-young-world/
    irreducible complexity, the complexity of living cells, etc.
    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100331/pdf/464664a.pdf

    Maybe it’s time for the evolutionists to read Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)

    Are we on the verge of another great paradigm shift?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions

    “In any community of scientists, Kuhn states, there are some individuals who are bolder than most. These scientists, judging that a crisis exists, embark on what Thomas Kuhn calls revolutionary science, exploring alternatives to long-held, obvious-seeming assumptions. Occasionally this generates a rival to the established framework of thought. The new candidate paradigm will appear to be accompanied by numerous anomalies, partly because it is still so new and incomplete. The majority of the scientific community will oppose any conceptual change, and, Kuhn emphasizes, so they should. To fulfill its potential, a scientific community needs to contain both individuals who are bold and individuals who are conservative. There are many examples in the history of science in which confidence in the established frame of thought was eventually vindicated. Whether the anomalies of a candidate for a new paradigm will be resolvable is almost impossible to predict. Those scientists who possess an exceptional ability to recognize a theory’s potential will be the first whose preference is likely to shift in favour of the challenging paradigm. There typically follows a period in which there are adherents of both paradigms. In time, if the challenging paradigm is solidified and unified, it will replace the old paradigm, and a paradigm shift will have occurred.”

  22. David, do you beleive the Bible creation myth of God creating everything in 6 days, as in 6, 24 hour periods as we understand them today, is literally true? This only requires a yes or no response.

    1. I believe: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” in 6 literal, ordinary days of approximately 24 hours each.

      See: http://creation.com/images/pdfs/cabook/chapter2.pdf

      The reason I say approximately is because the earth presently rotates on its axis approximately 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds, and I think it’s possible the rotation period during the time of the Creation week could have been slightly more or less than 24 hours.

      If events such as the 2004 Indian ocean earthquake could cause earth’s rotation to speed up by about 3 microseconds, then perhaps the rotation was a little faster during the time of the Flood. Why? Some creationists such as geophysicist John Baumgardner theorize that earth may have been bombarded with several hundred or more meteorites either preceeding or during the time of the Flood.

      1. “I believe: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” in 6 literal, ordinary days of approximately 24 hours each. ”

        Why do you beleive this?

  23. Design is a positive diagnosis. You make it when you distinguish an arrowhead from a stone merely acted on by natural forces, even though it is quite low tech. And as to the information content of DNA being produced by random changes acted upon by natural selection, just do the math and you will see that there is not enough time or matter in the universe to get one baby step in the direction of the first biologically active molecule, which could not function even if formed, without the entire mechanism within which it operates.

      1. You didn’t even mention the recognition of design in identifying arrowheads., Why?

        Lets look at just one simple protein molecule. You may want to start with DNA or RNA but it isn’t any better for your side if you do and DNA cannot function without the protein helper molecules.

        Natural processes produce order, but it is of a different sort from the effects of intelligence. The sorting of pebbles and sand on the beach is easily explained by the action of wind and waves. The piling up of cut stones, cementing them together and forming them into a house with windows and doors, electrical and plumbing is the result of planning and work and is not innate in the nature of the materials or the natural forces acting on them.

        We can tell the difference and would not normally confuse a rock pile with a beach house. Nor would we attribute the presence of a house to the action of the wind and waves, but would assume that someone built it, even if we did not see the builder or know who it was. I think this would be true even if we had never seen a house before.

        Attempts to explain away this distinction generally appeal to long ages of time and say that eventually, the unlikely becomes inevitable and the impossible becomes likely. In real life, however, we all know that time will not help to produce this kind of order. Given many years of exposure to the forces of nature, a beach house will not transform itself into a 400-room castle, nor will a rock pile become a beach house. No, in time, both the castle and the house will be reduced to a rock pile and will blend in with all the other rocks along the beach.

        In the case of living things, the degree of order is so incredibly complex that the chance of it coming about by natural means is essentially zero.

        For those familiar with molecular biology, the next few thoughts will be understandable. For those who are not, I only ask that you just try to appreciate how intricate and interrelated the factors have to be for it all to work properly. One scientist put it this way, “For life to occur by natural processes would be like a Boeing 747 assembling itself by means of an explosion in the junk yard.”

        The simplest living cell must have many functioning parts to be alive – that is to respond to its environment, to extract energy, to protect itself, and to reproduce. There must be coded information, usually stored in long molecules called DNA. This information must be retrieved and transferred when necessary to perform a function. This is generally done within cells by the manufacture of protein molecules, which catalyze chemical reactions and guide construction of structural parts of the cell.

        All this must be organized in space for it to work. An auto parts store may have all the pieces needed to build a car, but until they are put together, you cannot drive it. Even one minor problem with the construction, such as a disconnected wire, may make the whole thing inoperable, and random changes in the parts or connections are not going to make it better.

        For those who think that “maybe we just got lucky,” let me put a few numbers behind those ideas. Proteins are the basic building blocks for the function of living cells, and are essentially long chains of individual amino-acid molecules. They fold and assume various globular shapes, depending on which amino acids occupy which positions, and their function is determined by the shape, atomic affinity and electrical charge at various points on their surfaces.

        There are 20 different amino acids which are used by living systems to make proteins. A few of these amino acids may occur naturally, but they exist in a mixture of “d” and “l” forms, which are like mirror images of each other. Only the “l” forms are used in living systems.

        A protein molecule of 100 component parts would be a small part of a living cell. There would have to be, it is estimated, at least 230 very specific proteins, some as large as 10,000 amino-acids long, each coded by a gene, to complete the most simple, basic living cell. There would also have to be the coded information in the DNA for manufacturing that protein and the mechanisms for retrieving and transferring the information when the cell needed the function which that protein performed.

        For the sake of illustration, let us look at the probability of putting that small protein molecule together from a “primordial soup” of individual amino acids, setting aside other difficulties such as the fact that long chains tend to fall apart. Let us forget about the need to select only “l” form, and the problem that amino acids, even if they do occur in nature, tend to deteriorate over time.

        Since the chance of selecting the correct amino acid for the first position from an equal mixture of 20 possibilities is about one in 20 (1/20), and the chance of selecting the second position correctly is also 1/20, the chance of getting both correctly is (1/20) to the second power or 1/400. Therefore, the chance of getting all 100 positions correct is (1/20)to the 100th power which is (1/10)to the 130th power or 10 to the minus 130th power. On the average, therefore, 10to the 130th power different chains of 100 amino acids would have to be tried before it is likely that one of them would be the correct configuration to do that particular job for the cell.

        This is an incredible number which we can only begin to understand. The probability of this protein coming together is far beyond the bounds of possibility since there are only about 10to the 80th atoms in the entire universe and about 10to the 18th seconds in 30 billion years. Therefore, we will run out of time and matter before even getting close to the order of magnitude needed to make it probable.

        But suppose, what if someplace in the universe, some chain of molecules got lucky on this one protein? Still, the DNA for controlling that protein would need to “just happen” as well. Then, in order to have life, the other 229 different proteins and their DNA would also have to be put together by chance, some of them 10,000-amino-acids long.

        And this is just to produce the simplest living cell. What about improving it by random
        changes into all the life forms that exist, each with its own incredible complexity? For instance, we human beings have more than one billion bytes of information in each cell, forming thousands of genes, each coding the information for making a specific protein. The human brain contains a hundred-billion neurons and a hundred-trillion connections.

      2. You didn’t even mention the recognition of design in identifying arrowheads., Why?

        Because it was an idiotic point, and I didn’t want to waste my time on it. Iron Chariots deals with this fairly well. In brief:

        We recognize designed objects by comparison with previously known designed objects and by contrasting them with naturally occurring objects. Also, in a universe that was actually designed, it would not be possible to compare, for there wouldn’t be anything that would be naturally occurring.

        In the case of the watch [or the arrowhead], we have knowledge about how watches are designed, we can identify specific designers and manufacturers. We even teach these skills to new designers and manufacturers. Thus, we know the watch had a designer because there is no evidence that watches occur naturally and a mountain of evidence that they are designed and manufactured.

        With regard to your other point, I appreciate the copypasta.

        Yawn.

  24. Dr. Danny R. Faulkner is professor of astronomy and physics at the University of South Carolina (Lancaster) has been on the faculty since 1986. His research interests include stellar astronomy, especially binary stars. He has published more than 30 papers in various astronomy and astrophysics journals including the Astronomical Journal, Astrophysical Journal, the Publication of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the Information Bulletin on Variable Stars.

    Faulkner is the author of “Universe By Design: An Explanation of Cosmology and Creation” (Master Books, 2004). In chapter 6, he mentions particle physicist D. Russell Humphreys, who published the book “Starlight and Time” in 1994, outlining his “white hole cosmology”.

    http://creationwiki.org/White_hole_cosmology

    Faulkner writes: “Indeed, general relativity demands that time pass at different rates at different locations in the universe. With certain initial conditions a literal day or two could have passed on the earth while permitting millions or even billions of years to have elapsed
    elsewhere. Such things are possible as a consequence of general relativity. Therefore the Humphreys cosmology could provide a resolution to the light-travel-time problem.. Whether or not the Humphreys cosmology survives, we should be encouraged by its proposal.”

  25. Mark’s musical essay uses the tactic of Richard Dawkins that by eliminating possibilities, information is increased. It is a clever special case but does not get you from basic elements to complex macromolecules or protozoa to people. You can’t add by subtracting. And the TalkOrigins rebuttal of improbability hypothesizes several imaginary entities for which there is no evidence or even theoretical reason to believe they exist — replicating macromolecules, hypercycles and protobionts, etc. Everything we continue to learn about life indicates that there is no such thing as a simple cell and there are very strict minimum requirements for life. It is only wishful thinking, or rather “logical necessity” if you already believe evolution is true. Talk about blind faith!!

    1. And the TalkOrigins rebuttal of improbability hypothesizes several imaginary entities for which there is no evidence or even theoretical reason to believe they exist

      Oh, you mean like Yahweh?

  26. This is hilarious…

    An evolutionist blogger, faced with a question concerning how his belief system comports with certain facts of science, first “answers” the question by *avoiding* the question and simply denying the scientific facts, but then admits that only an “evolutionary biologist” could answer the question (though to hear them speak, *every* evolutionist automatically qualifies as an expert evolutionary biologist).

    Not content to leave well enough alone, said evolutionist apparently feels compelled to compensate for his failure to answer the question by — for the second time — changing the subject by (surprise!) asserting an unprovable negative and demanding evidence for the questioner’s “position.”

    Classic stuff!

    1. Again, critiquing evolution does not prove creationism. You said you beleived in a literal 6 day creation because of the Bible. First you have to prove that the Bible is factual, then we can move onto other issues.

      1. Scott writes: “First you have to prove that the Bible is factual, then we can move onto other issues.”

        One cannot prove everything recorded in the Bible is factual, but there continues to be a growing amount of archaeological evidence for the peoples, locations, etc. that the Bible mentions. For example, skeptics used to say (maybe some still say?) that the Philistines were a mythical tribe, until archaeological discoveries documented their existence.

        http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2006/05/the-genesis-philistines.aspx

        Skeptics also used to say the 5 Cities of the Plain mentioned in Genesis 14 were made up, until the Ebla tablets were unearthed:

        http://www.formerthings.com/ebla_tablets.htm

        Genesis 14:8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim

        The Ebla archives, however, refer to all five Cities of the Plain and on one tablet the cities are listed in the exact same sequence as Genesis 14. The tablets further reflect that the region was prosperous and successful with a patriarchal culture consistent with that recorded in Genesis prior to the catastrophe recorded in Genesis 14.

        http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/04/16/The-Discovery-of-the-Sin-Cities-of-Sodom-and-Gomorrah.aspx

        Is there any evidence for the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction by fire and brimstone (sulfur)?
        http://www.christiananswers.net/q-abr/abr-a007.html

      2. And if in 2,000 years the ruins of the mythical “New York City” are discovered, then surely that’s evidence that stories of The Amazing Spider-Man are factual accounts.

        Absurd.

  27. The scientific evidence indicates there is design that cannot be accounted for by natural processes and like the diagnosis of design we make in finding an arrowhead or a house or a computer, this conclusion can be made on that evidence alone. Then follows the logical conclusion that where there is design, there is a designer. That is totally separate from the chain of evidence for the Bible — which is also powerful. See http://www.tccsa.tc and http://www.rossolson.org. There are only two possibilities for the origin of life, natural or something outside of natural. If natural is impossible, the working hypothesis has to be supernatural. (You can say it is tentative and keep looking but there is nothing in nature that encourages you.) The only way to avoid that logic is the mental gymnastics of defining science as the search for natural explanations and then making the little under-the-counter declaration that there is no truth but scientific truth. Neither of those steps is logical or scientific.

    1. “The scientific evidence indicates there is design that cannot be accounted for”

      This is just a God of the Gaps argument, thousands of years ago light refraction wasn’t understood, so rainbows were the “work of God”, etc.

      “chain of evidence for the Bible — which is also powerful”

      Yikes, maybe you should read the thing. The Bible is flawed, and boring, and not science.

      “There are only two possibilities for the origin of life, natural or something outside of natural.”

      No, becasue all that is shown to exist is nature, so the original of life is natural. The super-natural by defintiion is outside of nature, so it doesn’t exist.

  28. It is impossible to have a discussion with a person who does not obey the laws of logic. Suppose you are a coroner who only believes in natural causes of death. You find a body with a knife sticking in the chest and can only conclude that the victim died of a heart attack, since you have ruled out ahead of time the possibility of anything outside of your very truncated view of reality. By the way, there are two kinds of people: those who believe there are two kinds and those who do not. Can you deny it?

  29. Well said, Ross. I can’t add anything to that.

    15 July 2011

    Now You Can Watch Casey Luskin School Tom Hartmann On ID And Evolution

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/now-you-can-watch-casey-luskin-school-tom-hartmann-on-id-and-evolution/

    *

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/07/radio_hot_talker_thom_hartmann048451.html

    Radio Hot Talker Thom Hartmann Uses Classic Darwin Lobby Tricks to Ignore Challenges
    to Evolution
    Evolution News & Views July 14, 2011 11:33 AM

  30. Scott Carnegie: “No, becasue all that is shown to exist is nature, so the original of life is natural. The super-natural by defintiion is outside of nature, so it doesn’t exist.”

    Like I said, one of at least 8 origins perspectives:

    ATHEISTIC NATURALISM God does not exist. There is no real design (only apparent design) and nature is all there is. [eg. Carl Sagan: “The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”]

  31. http://www.trueorigin.org/evomyth03.asp

    30. In May 2000, Michael Ruse (philosopher of science) wrote: “Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion–a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint–and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it–the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”

    If religion cannot be taught in science classes, why is evolution taught in science classes?

    Ruse, M., “How evolution became a religion: creationists correct?
    Darwinians wrongly mix science with morality, politics”, National Post, pp. B1, B3, B7 (May 13, 2000)
    http://www.omniology.com/HowEvolutionBecameReligion.html
    http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9404/ruse.html
    http://www.arn.org/docs/orpages/or151/mr93tran.htm

  32. If you had no receiver, you would think radio waves do not exist. We perceive the supernatural because of the effects — like the presence of things that have no natural cause.

    By the way, Carl Sagan now knows the truth — and it is too late for him.

    1. If we ‘perceive the supernatural because if the effects’ then it is natural. It’s a “there’s no such thing as Alternative Medicine” situation.

  33. Regardless of their origin perspective, most cosmologists and astronomers believe the universe wasn’t eternal, but had a beginning.

    So… which statement requires the most faith/belief?

    In the beginning, NOTHING.

    In the beginning, a SINGULARITY.

    In the beginning, GOD.

    I don’t have as much faith as the atheist!

    1. “In the beginning, GOD” – that’s not the beginning. What was before then? At least science can provide evidence for it’s claims.

    2. I don’t have as much faith as the atheist!

      Atheism is not a faith position: it is a position that the burden of proof for the proposition “one or more gods exist” has not yet been met, and consequently belief in that proposition is unwarranted.

      Neither does atheism propose faith in either “NOTHING” or “a SINGULARITY”. I accept the current scientific consensus with regard to cosmogeny, not on faith, but because that’s what the evidence suggests. To quote Stephen Jay Gould:

      In science, ‘fact’ can only mean ‘confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.’ I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

      If sufficient evidence comes in against Big Bang cosmology, then the scientific community will adjust its perspective, as will I.

      I have no idea what occurred before the Big Bang, but as this event was an explosion of space-time, it may be nonsensical to speak of “before” the Big Bang. I’m not sure. But that’s not a faith position: I have the intellectual integrity to admit that I don’t know.

      I hope that you stick around, Buckna. It’s fun to have our very own creationist jester! 😀

    1. What the Bible says is no more relevant than what the Bhagavad Gītā says or what The Lord of the Rings says, nor is quoting Jesus more persuasive than quoting Gilgamesh or Jean-Luc Picard.

    1. uncommondescent is OEC I’m pretty sure, and there are plenty of people covering them already. I consider young earth creationism to be the funnier of the two, you know.

    2. The crev lot seem to mostly post the same stuff as the ICR does, really…
      Same spin, same fallacies, different word order.

      (and you should not that if I did I would call it eyeoncrev if I followed the same pattern. And that doesn’t have the same ring to it, really:)

  34. For Scott, if you found a house in the woods, complete with doors, windows, electrical and plumbing systems, you would not have to prove the existence of the builder before you could consider that the house was designed — in fact, the house would be the proof of at least one intelligence involved in explaining what you find.

    1. This is what we call PRATT: previously refuted a thousand times. I already addressed the same point with regard to the arrowhead above. Boring.

  35. On July 9 Joe Taylor mentioned the book “Slaughter of the Dissidents” by Dr. Jerry Bergman. He will be speaking in Alberta and B.C. in mid-October.

    http://www.amazon.com/Slaughter-Dissidents-Jerry-Bergman/dp/0981873405

    [snip]

    Systematic Discrimination, Yes. But why…., March 1, 2009
    By Fritz R. Ward “dayhiker” (Crestline, CA United States)

    This review is from: Slaughter of the Dissidents (Paperback)

    There is no question that those who doubt Darwinian orthodoxy are subject
    to personal discrimination in academe. Dissenters from any orthodoxy are
    rarely treated well, but in the case of those who doubt Darwinian
    conclusions about the development of life on earth, this discrimination is
    systematic and comprehensive. In this extended book, the first of a
    projected 3 volume set, Dr. Bergman highlights how this discrimination
    occurs, who is behind it, and provides a substantive discussion of the
    promising careers that were lost to science because of this systematic
    discrimination.

    [snip]

    A SCIENTIFIC DISSENT FROM DARWINISM
    http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

    http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=660

    1. Yes, the fact that your drivel can’t pass peer review and that sloppy scholars are denied tenure amounts to “slaughter”. Boo hoo.

  36. Gem wrote: “And if in 2,000 years the ruins of the mythical “New York City” are discovered, then surely that’s evidence that stories of The Amazing Spider-Man are factual accounts.
    Absurd.”

    I _didn’t_ say finding archaeological evidence for the Philistines, the 5 Cities of the Plain, etc. therefore PROVES everything recorded in the Bible happened. But each new discovery only builds the case for the historicity and reliability of the biblical accounts. There’s probably skeptics who thought Pontius Pilate was a mythical person until the Pontius Pilate Inscription was found in 1961.

    http://www.formerthings.com/pontius.htm

    I wonder what percentage of archaeologists who unearth artifacts of ancient civilizations are atheists?

    Then there’s the evidence for Jesus healing a blind man at Bethsaida:

    http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?action=printpage;topic=7430.0

    [snip]

    D. Keith Mano writes in National Review (21 April 1997):

    And the blind man (in what I had always considered a poetic image) replied
    to Jesus, “I see men as trees, walking.”

    That is not a poetic image. It is a clinical description. Like Virgil, the
    Bethsaida blind man can now see, but he cannot yet make sense of what he
    is seeing. Tree and man run together, as did trunk and tree-top for
    Virgil. (Both men could see movement because, according to Sacks, motion
    and color are inherent in the brain; they need not be learned or
    relearned.) All this, moreover, is not surprising to Jesus. He knows, it
    would seem, that a newly healed blind man has neither depth perception nor
    the ability to synthesize shape and form. The blind man’s brain must first
    be recalibrated: must be taught (in one miraculous instant) what you and I
    have known since childhood — how to see.

    So Jesus heals the blind man for a second time. “After that he put his
    hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and
    saw every man clearly.”

    As far as I can judge, this is irrefutable evidence that a miracle did
    occur at Bethsaida. Back in 30 A.D. the blind did not often receive sight:
    there were few, if any, eye surgeons and seldom a decent miracle-worker.
    No shill in the crowd could have faked it all by pretending to be blind —
    because only someone recently given his sight would see “men as trees,
    walking,” would see the Cubist jumble that Virgil told Oliver Sacks about.
    A faker, not knowing about post-blind syndrome, would have reported that
    Jesus had given him perfect vision.

    [snip]

    Oliver Sacks has written about the new seer in An Anthropologist on Mars.
    Virgil, age fifty and blind since childhood, has had “successful” eye
    surgery. Five weeks later “he often felt more disabled than he had felt
    when he was blind. . . . Steps . . . posed a special hazard, because all
    he could see was a confusion, a flat surface of parallel and crisscrossing
    lines; he could not see them (although he knew them) as solid objects
    going up or coming down in three-dimensional space.”

    Note: The 1999 film, “At First Sight” is based on Virgil’s story; Oliver Sacks makes a cameo
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0132512/

    1. Yes. “Irrefutable” is exactly how I would describe that evidence.

      You clearly have no idea what “evidence” means.

  37. To Gem and the other atheists on this blog… do you believe a person named Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth even existed? Yeshua (Hebrew: Joshua) was a fairly common name back in biblical times, but I’m referring specifically to Yeshua of Nazareth. I’m not asking you if you believe he was the Son of God (obviously atheists don’t believe that!) but do you believe he existed? A real person.

    1. I’m not convinced that the stories of Jesus were based on a real historical figure, no. I’m not aware of any contemporary, extra-biblical historical accounts of Jesus, for example, nor do we require such an historical figure to explain any features of the Bible or of early Christianity. I don’t find myself entirely convinced by Christ mythicists such as Robert Price, however. An itinerant rabbi who was called Yeshua or something similar may well have wandered Palestine 2,000 years ago.

  38. On March 30, 2004 Dr. Paul Maier (www.wmich.edu/wmu/news/2011/04/062.html)
    was interviewed on the “100 Huntley Street” telecast:

    David Mainse: My guest, Dr. Paul Maier, will be on ABC Television this coming Monday evening with Peter Jennings who is doing a special “Jesus and Paul.” Dr. Maier is Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University, and also, he is a Harvard graduate. He was awarded a full scholarships for post graduate study at the University of Heidelberg,
    Germany, and also Basel, Switzerland. After studying at the latter under the famed scholars Karl Barth and Oscar Cullman, he received a Doctor of Philosophy degree “Summa Cum Laude,” the first American ever to win highest honours at the Swiss university. And of course, in ‘68 with Doubleday he has published many scholarly books. Pontius Pilate was one of the first ones. He is the definitive modern translator of the History written by Josephus. Dr. Maier is also the modern translator of Eusebius, the first ever Christian who wrote a history of the first three centuries of Christianity. He was named
    Professor of the Year, and one of America’s 25 finest educators by the Washington based Council for Advancement and Support of Education This is secular stuff, this isn’t religious stuff, you know. Please ladies and gentlemen, welcome Paul Maier. What are you doing in connection with The DaVinci Code?

    Paul Maier: The book will be called the “DaVinci Code Fact Or Fiction” and it is coming out next month.

    David Mainse: You are being asked to come on TV by ABC’s Peter Jennings as a guest, next Monday night and obviously they’re pulling together scholars and you are such a scholar. Now we have here in Canada, a book that’s just come out by a man whom I love. Tom, I have called you on the phone and congratulated you on articles in the Toronto
    Star. And we have been together on a number of occasions. But this book has come out. “The Pagan Christ – Rediscovering the Lost Light.” I asked you to read it specifically. I sent a copy to you down to Western Michigan University. What is his main thesis?

    Paul Maier: Basically Tom said that Christianity is really nothing new. And that there are references to Jesus in every aspect of his life already in the Egyptian records 18,000 years ago, and that the gospels really offer nothing fresh. They traced Jesus’ life from infancy to the visit of the Magi, to a star involved, to miracle working, to healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, crucified, resurrected three days later. Supposedly, every aspect of Jesus life has been already written in past myths. And again he defines myth in
    a very positive sense. He uses Joseph Campbell’s definition, “myth is what never was but always is.” And in the sense that although it is not history, nevertheless the timeless truths that are taught in myths are the things that really count. And the problem is that as an
    historian, I don’t find Jesus mentioned in Egyptian records 18,000 years ago. There were no Egyptian records 18,000 years ago, and there wasn’t even an Egypt at that time. I don’t find any of these things that he is claiming. It is one thing to say I don’t believe the present gospels but it’s another thing to say there is nothing new in those gospels, and all of this material was from primitive and such humanity on, timeless truths will continue, even after Christianity quits.

    David Mainse: You were raised in this. Your Dad was a PhD of Ancient Semitic languages– (shades of rosetta stone). So you were raised in this milieu. And in fact one of the reasons I understand you took the path that you took was in order to verify from secular sources for your own mind your father’s faith.

    Paul Maier: Well, I was always concerned that if these marvellous extraordinary events as reported in Scripture really happened, that we ought to be able to find fall-out, as it were, in the secular sources.

    David Mainse: Tom, no attack on the personal level. I love you. Remember that. Is Tom’s research according to you, Dr. Maier, most eminent professor of ancient history, is his research reliable?

    Paul Maier: I would like to say “yes” to a fellow colleague in Academe, but I must say “no”. I am quite surprised at how he footnotes things. In fact, I found the first problem in a paragraph on page 28 of his book in which he is talking about Eusebius, the person that I translated. He says that Eusebius claims that the gospels of the New Testament were really the old dramatic books of the Esenes from pre-Christian days. Now I knew that not to be true. So I immediately looked up his foot note number one. Instead of providing any documentation for that statement, as you should do in a footnote, instead all he does is add
    additional argument or material that does not prove what he is stating. And this is really not the way you do footnotes or endnotes. This is really the wrong way to do historical methodology, and that really bothered me because you find this again and again. When I am trying to pin him down to some primary source to see where he gets this, we don’t get the primary source. All we usually get is a reference to Alvin Boyd Kuhn, a scholar that died back in 1963, I believe, and who is hardly known but, evidently, was very influential for Tom Harpur, and that’s not the way you do research.

    David Mainse: All right. Let me go on. How does Tom view the gospel of Jesus?

    Paul Mainse: What bothers me is that Tom, first of all, has a very outmoded view of when the gospels were written. He again and again says that the four gospels received their definitive form about 175 A.D. Now that’s almost a hundred years too late. That’s the view of the old Tübiugen school in Germany as to when the gospel of John came along, and they said probably 175 A.D., that is, until they found parts of the gospel of John way up the Nile in the famous Ryland Papyrus from around 110 A.D. And so, nearly all Biblical scholars today say that all four gospels had to be written before the year 100. So really he is using rather outmoded research here. What bothers me is that while disdaining the Gospels, he will accept so many of the same supposedly faux names that show up in gospels. Then he will find a parallel word from thousands of years back that supposedly shows that this is
    nothing new. For example, Abraham, Father of the faith– said Abraham is composed of “A” as in the alpha privative which means as “Amoral,” not “Moral.” Thus Abraham means “Not Brahma.” Trying to relate this, of course, to Indian religion does not work. Obviously, Abraham is the Semitic meaning “Exalted father.” You just shouldn’t play those tricks. Another one is “Jesus”, for example. He is supposedly found back in ancient Egyptian records (I will read from page 39), “According to the historian, Herodotus, “the father of history,” the Egyptian Jesus was known as Iu-em-hetep.” Now, of course, Herodotus
    does not mention Jesus. Tom implies that he does. Tom claims that Iusu, “was one of the eight great gods who were described in the papyri almost 20,000 years ago,” Folks, they didn’t have writing 20,000 years ago. There was no Egypt 20,000 years ago. The art of
    writing was invented about 4,000 BC at the earliest. So right there you have an impossible situation. Tom, why did you do that? I don’t quite understand that. In future editions do some emendations, if you please.

    David Mainse: All right. Tom many years ago, probably 25 years ago was on “100 Huntley Street.” He and his wife had taken a donkey from Nazareth and travelled down to Bethlehem, and I thought it was so unique that I called Tom up and said you got to come on and tell that story which he did. And so, Tom, I thank you for being willing to do that. But, in this book, does it come out that Tom at least believes that there is historical personality named Jesus?

    Paul Mainse: Well, I was shocked. He devotes a whole chapter to this. And you realize that 99.9% of scholars across the world will acknowledge that Jesus is an historical person. They may not say that Jesus is the Son of God, but they will say there was an historical figure named Jesus of Nazareth. But Tom has very grave doubts about this, so he claims.
    Now that floored me right there. Because, we have copious evidence for Jesus’ existence. If you don’t like the gospels, go to the Roman historian, Tacitus, who talks about the great fire of Rome and how Nero got blamed for it. To save himself, he blames the Christians. This Roman historian says that they are named for a Christus, who was crucified by one of our governors, Pontius Pilate. What more do you need? That quote alone would establish the historicity of Jesus. Suetonius mentions Christ in connection with the riot of those for or
    against Jesus across the Tiber. Pliny, the younger, Governor of Asia Minor, says that these Christians get up on Sunday morning and sing hymns to Christ as to a God. The Jewish rabbinic traditions mention Jesus of Nazareth in their own language. What more do we need of witnesses? Josephus mentions Jesus twice. I want to point out that Christian faith is based upon fact and not on fiction. The problem nowadays is that so many people are trying to turn fact into fiction.

    David Mainse: Not on “100 Huntley Street”, and don’t forget I love you Tom. God bless.

  39. Hi Gem

    Delete my last message and I will make the corrections and repost. In a few places I typed Paul Mainse instead of Paul Maier!

  40. Repost

    On March 30, 2004 Dr. Paul Maier (www.wmich.edu/wmu/news/2011/04/062.html)
    was interviewed on the “100 Huntley Street” telecast:

    David Mainse: My guest, Dr. Paul Maier, will be on ABC Television this coming Monday
    evening with Peter Jennings who is doing a special “Jesus and Paul.” Dr. Maier is
    Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University, and also, he is a
    Harvard graduate. He was awarded a full scholarships for post graduate study at the
    University of Heidelberg, Germany, and also Basel, Switzerland. After studying at the latter under the famed scholars Karl Barth and Oscar Cullman, he received a Doctor of Philosophy degree “Summa Cum Laude,” the first American ever to win highest honours at the Swiss university. And of course, in ‘68 with Doubleday he has published many scholarly
    books. Pontius Pilate was one of the first ones. He is the definitive modern translator of the History written by Josephus. Dr. Maier is also the modern translator of Eusebius, the first ever Christian who wrote a history of the first three centuries of Christianity. He was named
    Professor of the Year, and one of America’s 25 finest educators by the Washington
    based Council for Advancement and Support of Education This is secular stuff, this
    isn’t religious stuff, you know. Please ladies and gentlemen, welcome Paul Maier.
    What are you doing in connection with The DaVinci Code?

    Paul Maier: The book will be called the “DaVinci Code Fact Or Fiction” and it is
    coming out next month.

    David Mainse: You are being asked to come on TV by ABC’s Peter Jennings as a guest,
    next Monday night and obviously they’re pulling together scholars and you are such a
    scholar. Now we have here in Canada, a book that’s just come out by a man whom I
    love. Tom, I have called you on the phone and congratulated you on articles in the
    Toronto Star. And we have been together on a number of occasions. But this book has come out. “The Pagan Christ – Rediscovering the Lost Light.” I asked you to read it
    specifically. I sent a copy to you down to Western Michigan University. What is his
    main thesis?

    Paul Maier: Basically Tom said that Christianity is really nothing new. And that
    there are references to Jesus in every aspect of his life already in the Egyptian
    records 18,000 years ago, and that the gospels really offer nothing fresh. They
    traced Jesus’ life from infancy to the visit of the Magi, to a star involved, to
    miracle working, to healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, hearing to the
    deaf, crucified, resurrected three days later. Supposedly, every aspect of Jesus
    life has been already written in past myths. And again he defines myth in
    a very positive sense. He uses Joseph Campbell’s definition, “myth is what never was
    but always is.” And in the sense that although it is not history, nevertheless the
    timeless truths that are taught in myths are the things that really count. And the
    problem is that as an historian, I don’t find Jesus mentioned in Egyptian records 18,000 years ago. There were no Egyptian records 18,000 years ago, and there wasn’t even an Egypt at that time. I don’t find any of these things that he is claiming. It is one thing to say I
    don’t believe the present gospels but it’s another thing to say there is nothing new in those gospels, and all of this material was from primitive and such humanity on, timeless truths will continue, even after Christianity quits.

    David Mainse: You were raised in this. Your Dad was a PhD of Ancient Semitic
    languages– (shades of rosetta stone). So you were raised in this milieu. And in fact
    one of the reasons I understand you took the path that you took was in order to
    verify from secular sources for your own mind your father’s faith.

    Paul Maier: Well, I was always concerned that if these marvellous extraordinary
    events as reported in Scripture really happened, that we ought to be able to find
    fall-out, as it were, in the secular sources.

    David Mainse: Tom, no attack on the personal level. I love you. Remember that. Is
    Tom’s research according to you, Dr. Maier, most eminent professor of ancient
    history, is his research reliable?

    Paul Maier: I would like to say “yes” to a fellow colleague in Academe, but I must
    say “no”. I am quite surprised at how he footnotes things. In fact, I found the
    first problem in a paragraph on page 28 of his book in which he is talking about
    Eusebius, the person that I translated. He says that Eusebius claims that the
    gospels of the New Testament were really the old dramatic books of the Esenes from
    pre-Christian days. Now I knew that not to be true. So I immediately looked up his
    foot note number one. Instead of providing any documentation for that statement, as
    you should do in a footnote, instead all he does is add additional argument or material that does not prove what he is stating. And this is really not the way you do footnotes or endnotes. This is really the wrong way to do historical methodology, and that really bothered me because you find this again and again. When I am trying to pin him down to some primary source to see where he gets this, we don’t get the primary source. All we usually get is a reference to Alvin Boyd Kuhn, a scholar that died back in 1963, I believe, and who is hardly known but, evidently, was very influential for Tom Harpur, and that’s not the way you do research.

    David Mainse: All right. Let me go on. How does Tom view the gospel of Jesus?

    Paul Maier: What bothers me is that Tom, first of all, has a very outmoded view of
    when the gospels were written. He again and again says that the four gospels
    received their definitive form about 175 A.D. Now that’s almost a hundred years too
    late. That’s the view of the old Tübiugen school in Germany as to when the gospel of
    John came along, and they said probably 175 A.D., that is, until they found parts of
    the gospel of John way up the Nile in the famous Ryland Papyrus from around 110 A.D.
    And so, nearly all Biblical scholars today say that all four gospels had to be
    written before the year 100. So really he is using rather outmoded research here.
    What bothers me is that while disdaining the Gospels, he will accept so many of the
    same supposedly faux names that show up in gospels. Then he will find a parallel
    word from thousands of years back that supposedly shows that this is
    nothing new. For example, Abraham, Father of the faith– said Abraham is composed of
    “A” as in the alpha privative which means as “Amoral,” not “Moral.” Thus Abraham
    means “Not Brahma.” Trying to relate this, of course, to Indian religion does not
    work. Obviously, Abraham is the Semitic meaning “Exalted father.” You just shouldn’t
    play those tricks. Another one is “Jesus”, for example. He is supposedly found back
    in ancient Egyptian records (I will read from page 39), “According to the historian,
    Herodotus, “the father of history,” the Egyptian Jesus was known as Iu-em-hetep.”
    Now, of course, Herodotus does not mention Jesus. Tom implies that he does. Tom claims that Iusu, “was one of the eight great gods who were described in the papyri almost 20,000 years ago,” Folks, they didn’t have writing 20,000 years ago. There was no Egypt 20,000 years ago. The art of writing was invented about 4,000 BC at the earliest. So right there you have an impossible situation. Tom, why did you do that? I don’t quite understand that. In
    future editions do some emendations, if you please.

    David Mainse: All right. Tom many years ago, probably 25 years ago was on “100
    Huntley Street.” He and his wife had taken a donkey from Nazareth and travelled down
    to Bethlehem, and I thought it was so unique that I called Tom up and said you got
    to come on and tell that story which he did. And so, Tom, I thank you for being
    willing to do that. But, in this book, does it come out that Tom at least believes
    that there is historical personality named Jesus?

    Paul Maier: Well, I was shocked. He devotes a whole chapter to this. And you realize that 99.9% of scholars across the world will acknowledge that Jesus is an historical person. They may not say that Jesus is the Son of God, but they will say there was an historical figure named Jesus of Nazareth. But Tom has very grave doubts about this, so he claims. Now that floored me right there. Because, we have copious evidence for Jesus’ existence. If you don’t like the gospels, go to the Roman historian, Tacitus, who talks about the great fire of Rome and how Nero got blamed for it. To save himself, he blames the Christians. This Roman historian says that they are named for a Christus, who was crucified by one of our governors, Pontius Pilate. What more do you need? That quote alone would establish the historicity of Jesus. Suetonius mentions Christ in connection with the riot of those for or
    against Jesus across the Tiber. Pliny, the younger, Governor of Asia Minor, says
    that these Christians get up on Sunday morning and sing hymns to Christ as to a God.
    The Jewish rabbinic traditions mention Jesus of Nazareth in their own language. What
    more do we need of witnesses? Josephus mentions Jesus twice. I want to point out
    that Christian faith is based upon fact and not on fiction. The problem nowadays is
    that so many people are trying to turn fact into fiction.

    David Mainse: Not on “100 Huntley Street”, and don’t forget I love you Tom. God bless.

    1. Your Gish gallop is nothing new or even remotely interesting. In the future, please keep your posts much shorter. You’re not likely to find anyone even marginally interested in reading all of that, let alone responding to it.

  41. Regarding Gem’s comment:”This is what we call PRATT: previously refuted a thousand times. I already addressed the same point with regard to the arrowhead above. Boring.”

    This is a variation on the “everybody knows” argument in which the actual reasoning is not examined or even understood. The evidence for spontaneous design is smoke, mirrors and wishful thinking.

    Also, although I occasionally join these blogs on the small chance that someone with an open mind and honest heart might look, for the most part they are fruitless because the owner will never in a public setting risk losing face by admitting to any mistakes.

    Gem, if you were actually convinced that you were wrong, would you have the guts to admit it to your “adoring” groupies?

    I will say that your blog is not as nasty as P.Z. Myers’.

    1. This is a variation on the “everybody knows” argument…

      Nope. That’s an exceptionally dishonest way to frame the response, considering that I addressed the same argument earlier.

      I work for a living, and obtain zero income from my work with the Winnipeg Skeptics. I’m not going to waste my time addressing silly, easily refuted claims or long-winded obfuscations because it’s not worth it. They are chronicled and addressed exhaustively elsewhere.

      I’m not your teacher. Go look these things up.

      Also, although I occasionally join these blogs on the small chance that someone with an open mind and honest heart might look

      Yup. Because everyone who disagrees with you is closed-minded. That sounds like something an open-minded person would say.

      Gem, if you were actually convinced that you were wrong, would you have the guts to admit it to your “adoring” groupies?

      I have always been very forthright with my opinions, and have publicly admitted mistakes and issued corrections before. If I have garnered some measure of respect from the readers of this blog, then I’m gratified—but they have never shown any hesitation in disagreeing with me (or any of our other authors) before. The fact that you frame them as “groupies” is fairly sad, actually.

      I will say that your blog is not as nasty as P.Z. Myers’.

      Oh. Sorry. Let me be clearer, then.

      I think that you are an intellectual coward who is unwilling to set aside his religious indoctrination and examine the scientific evidence with a modicum of objectivity. I think that you are a crank conspiracy theorist with a persecution complex who thinks that his pet theories and distorted assessments of the evidence outweigh the overwhelming majority of the experts in the relevant fields. I think that you are a complete waste of time.

      That’s just my personal opinion, of course. Others are welcome to disagree.

    2. “with an open mind and honest heart might look”

      You will find that skeptics here are open to good evidence, that’s all it takes to pursuade me anyways.

      ” for the most part they are fruitless because the owner will never in a public setting risk losing face by admitting to any mistakes.”

      Here are a bunch of mistakes I have made.
      – joined Mormonism when I was 21, big mistake
      – beleived Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, big mistake
      – was opposed to same-sex marriage, big mistake
      etc.

      I didn’t realize Gem had groupies.

  42. Well, I guess you are at least proto-nasty and given time can refine your personal attacks to the level of the elite Dr. Myers. Anyone who cannot see design in life and thinks the supernatural can be eliminated by definition is intellectually blind. I truly feel sorry for you. Your description is in Romans 1 and some day you will see that you have been deceived and there will be great regret. A consistent skeptic will be skeptical of his own assumptions

  43. Yes, I was wondering if or when the name calling would start–Gem using words like “intellectual coward” and “crank conspiracy theorist”. But personal attack is not an argument. Rather, it just shows Gem doesn’t have a rebuttal, so is forced to make an argument of last resort: personal attack.

    See you guys…”and see the bird with a leaf in her mouth/After the flood all the colours came out/It was a beautiful day”– U2
    http://canadianchristianity.com/entertainment/music/u2-quiz-ears-hear/
    http://canadianchristianity.com/entertainment/music/u2-quiz-ears-hear/2/

    1. Never claimed it was an argument, Buckna—just an opinion. It’s not an ad hominem fallacy unless I claim that he’s wrong because he’s a crank conspiracy theorist.

    1. 99.9% huh? I’d like too see a citation for that. Given that the earliest we can place the story of Jesus is after Paul writes about him, which is after the time in which he purportedly lived, and that the scholars around during his lifetime said diddly squat about him, a reasonable argument for christ as myth alone can be made.

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