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May 16

Is everything in the Bible true?

Oxford philosopher Peter Millican, in this free series on philosophy (you should download it and listen to it – it’s free!), raises a very simple challenge to biblical innerancy. I’ve adapted it slightly below:

1. Commanding genocide is not morally praiseworthy.

2. Every act of God is morally praiseworthy.

3. God commands genocide in the Bible.

4. Therefore, not everything in the Bible can be true.

This is just a more formal representation of the type of argument you hear all the time. You may have heard something like, “How can the word of God contain all these atrocities?” I think this syllogism is actually quite powerful (even if we may have to adapt it slightly to meet a few objections).

I can see a few ways out of the problem – say that genocide can be morally praiseworthy when God commands it (huh?), say the bible is not inerrant, or say that not every act of God is morally praiseworthy. I don’t think any theist wants to take the third route, so let’s just consider the first two.

The first is to say that, if God commands it, then genocide is morally permissable and I would assume even praiseworthy. As far as I can tell, that is what Divine Command Theory – the moral theory of William Lane Craig – would entail. I would say we have some real problems with this view, but I’ll save criticism for it unless someone wants to comment and defend DCT.

So, we’re left with the idea that the Bible is not inerrant. And that, whether you’re a theist or not, is a very sensible conclusion.

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  1. Mike

    One last comment, George.

    I’ve pointed out your errors in reasoning. Nothing you’ve said corrects those. Your attempts to criticize my points only show misunderstanding, and anyone who has a solid grasp of logic will clearly see that.

    The evidence placed before me is mitochondrial DNA and that does not lead us to a single female ancestor 5,000 years ago. Whether you were a scientist or not, your assertion of this tells me that you don’t understand this particular subject. Perhaps you are very fluent in other scientific subjects, but this is not one of them.

    Thanks for the discussion. You’re welcome to have the last word on this thread, at least WRT responses from me, if you so choose.

  2. Ryan

    “There is no reason to assume anything in the Bible is not 100% correct, unless one is predisposed to errancy in the Bible.”

    If you start off with the assumption that the Bible is true, you will perform all sorts of apologetic gymnastics to justify apparent problems. If you start off with the assumption that the Bible is false, you will see errors where there is none and ignore resolutions. Either bias will color your perception.

    But these are not our only options. We can simply start off with the premise that a text should not be regarded as accurate until its claims are proven or sufficiently supported by other, reliable texts. If the text makes inherently unprovable claims, as the Bible does when it refers to supernatural events, it cannot be proven true. All you can really argue in this scenario is that the true claims in the Bible are so many and so impressive (perhaps the events of a prophecy have come to pass) that it is less reasonable to doubt the supernatural claims than to accept them. That is not a terribly convincing argument in the first place, but it is even less convincing when one sees how much work and interpretation apologists must pour into their “craft” to resolve contradictions and reconcile history with the text and its prophecies. One can do the same with many other–perhaps any other–text of this nature, but they cannot all be true unless your interpretations are so liberal that you can fit almost anything into your grand image of the universe, at which point the texts lose all of their authority because the subject has taken control of the object’s meaning.

    A truly authoritative text speaks objectively, factually. It does not require the interpretation of metaphors, which allow for subjectivity. Neither does faith guide our interpretation to truth, since that is both illogical (and, therefore, inappropriate here) and refuted by the number of different interpretations among the faithful themselves. In fact, there seem to be almost as many deities as theists–precisely because the theist fashions his deity from the contents of his own mind.

  3. tim d

    much better argument than the source msg of this discussion

  4. George

    The errors in reasoning seem to be all coming back on you. I understand exactly what you are positing. I just believe you are wrong in your thought processes and conclusions.

    You wrote, “The evidence placed before me is mitochondrial DNA and that does not lead us to a single female ancestor 5,000 years ago. Whether you were a scientist or not, your assertion of this tells me that you don’t understand this particular subject. Perhaps you are very fluent in other scientific subjects, but this is not one of them.” It may make you feel important to believe that I don’t inderstand mitochondrial DNA , but the conclusion that “the MRCA of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago in these models.” comes from Nature, a peer reviewed journal, and ws written by MIT and Yale researchers. Perhaps they, as well as their reviewers, are uninfromed as well.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v431/n7008/full/nature02842.html

    I am sorry you cannot see the truth of God in the things He has created. I have recently been reading about Dr. Matti Leisola, Dean of the faculty of Chemical and Materials Sciences at the Finnish Aalto University. He is an expert in enzyme research(must know something about DNA). He said,”Indeed, the Creator Jesus Christ is called the Logos, and makes sense of this orderly universe and complexity of life. Those believing in a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life are the ones with a blind faith.”

    Science does not disagree with the Bible and vice versa, some scientists disagee with the Bible.

  5. Mike

    I’m glad you’re enjoying it, Tim. These discussions really do make the blog better than I could do just spouting my own ideas all day.

  6. George

    Ryan,

    As I wrote, “There is no reason to assume anything in the Bible is not 100% correct, unless one is predisposed to errancy in the Bible.”

    To assume the Bible is errant one is directly contradicting what the Bible itself says. To do this, in my humble opinion, one must be predisposed to errancy in the Bible. One cannot treat the Bible like any other book that I am aware of, in particular, one that clearly and unequivocally says that all of it is true. That does not mean that all scripture is easily understood, as some would like. I believe that much of the way that we should treat the Bible is well expressed by what Matti Leisola, Dean of the faculty of Chemical and Materials Sciences at the Finnish Aalto University, says about science and Christianity. He says, “Christianity is the foundation of modern science and explains why we can do science: a rational God created a rational man in His own image so he is able to understand the creation with his mind.” We are to study and work at understanding both nature and the Bible. Indeed, the Bible says we can know the invisible things of God by the things He has created. Can you understand the Trinity? Neither can I. Can you understand how an electron can exist as both a wave and a particle? Neither can I. Why should the motion of en electron that we generally regard as a particle be described by the Schrodinger Wave Equation? How can the same beam of light give us both photons and waves? I believe there are things about God and His creation we will never fully comprehend, but it is a joy to study both.

    If you applied the logic you use for the Bible to evolution you would find that both require faith to accept. Evolution, for example, posits that the universe expanded to its current size in something like 10^-35 seconds(much faster than the speed of light) and that at some point life came from non-life. Neither of these beliefs are can be tested, let alone proven, by experiment. One key difference between God and evolution is that God says that all who come to Him must come to Him by faith. Evolutionists teach that evolution is founded on science, but there is no experimental proof for evolution.

    I can appreciate your desire for a text that has no apparent ambiguities, but we did not write the Bible and for whatever reason God in his wisdom chose to write it the way it is. And then He has the audacity to tell us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

    Let me end this rather long writing with a specific example from my past. For years I tried to do two things. Prove that one part of the Bible was undoubtedly wrong and then, not being able to do that, prove that evolution could fit with the Genesis account. I could not do that either. In the end I was intellectually forced to accept that the Bible was true…….but I still had problems. One that really bothered me( perhaps no one else would consider this a problem, but I did for years) was the passage where Jesus said “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.” What bothered me was that Jesus did not say “look at”, He said “consider”. The Greek says to “observe fully”. MY problem: didn’t Jesus realize that what caused Solomon to be arrayed like he was determined by the human genome and its 3,000,000,000 base pairs? And didn’t he realize that (as was commonly taught) that simpler entities had simpler genomes? Sure a lily may be prettier, more delightful to look at and hold, but the very essence of any living thing is its genome. This was a spiritual struggle for me for years………..until one day at a conference I heard a speaker talking about genome sizes and he said, “Now all of this makes sense, except for the lily. While the human genome has 3,000,000,000 base pairs, the lily has 33,000,000,000.” Guess Jesus was right after all. The problem for evolution is now called the C Span Paradox.

    We may wish that God spoke differently, but He is God. I will agree with you about liberal definitions. I do not like them and believe that for the most part they have not found the real interpretation. In the same way that science is narrow minded(e=mc to the power 2, not the power 1.997), I believe the character of God and His word are precise and specific; whether we can fully comprehend it all is another question, but after all………. He is God.

  7. Ryan

    George,

    You said:

    “DNA analysis does nothing more than support Genesis. The Bible: Eve is the mother of all living. DNA: Everyone on earth is descended from one woman. Doesn’t get much clearer than that. QED ”

    and

    “the conclusion that “the MRCA of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago in these models.” comes from Nature, a peer reviewed journal, and ws written by MIT and Yale researchers. Perhaps they, as well as their reviewers, are uninfromed as well. ”

    The problem is in how you have interpreted the research and the concept of the MRCA itself. Please consult this link and its supporting citations:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_recent_common_ancestor#MRCA_of_all_living_humans

    Note in particular: “The MRCA of everyone alive today could thus have co-existed with a large human population, most of whom either have no living descendants today or else are ancestors of a subset of people alive today. The existence of an MRCA does therefore not imply the existence of a population bottleneck or first couple.”

    It is also called a “most recent” common ancestor rather than simply the common ancestor or the original ancestor for a reason. You seem to be engaging in precisely the behavior I pointed out earlier.

    It troubles me that you are so quick to suggest that this study supports your understanding of the Bible. Don’t you think this sort of thing would be in the news or at least have the scientific community in an uproar if it were anything like proof of the Bible’s claim? And yet here the research sits, available to anyone for free, changing no one’s beliefs. Scientists remain a very non-religious bunch.

    And I’m not sure what your quote from Dr. Matti Leisola is meant to do. He knows a lot about DNA, so his religious views must be right? There is no logical connection between the two. It is entirely possible–and quite likely–that his religious beliefs inform his perceptions rather than the reverse. Once again: the behavior I pointed out earlier.

  8. Ryan

    It seems we were responding to each other at the same time.

    I can’t stay awake much longer, so I’ll leave you with a small response to your most recent post, then perhaps address the rest of it tomorrow.

    “Evolution, for example, posits that the universe expanded to its current size in something like 10^-35 seconds(much faster than the speed of light) and that at some point life came from non-life. Neither of these beliefs are can be tested, let alone proven, by experiment.”

    Evolution makes neither of these claims. The first claim seems to be some variation on the Big Bang, while the second is abiogenesis, which we do not fully understand yet. Evolution comes after all of that.

    Perhaps you meant that the secular perspective assumes all of these to be true, but by using “evolution” as a term for two unrelated processes, you suggest to me that, as Mike believed, you do not have a very good grasp of this sort of science.

  9. George

    Mike,

    God says we must come to Him by faith. But He also says, “Come, let us reason together”. I believe that many times people, not just Christians, want a clear, simple statement that they can hang their hats on and live by. It seems to me that God does not really work that way, at least not all the time. I once told an adult Sunday School class, with the pastor present, that Christians were “lazy minded”.

    Your points are valid points to raise. Too often people don’t raise questions for reasons ranging from fear to not wanting to upset others. If we have honest questions, they do not scare God. Keep asking them until they are answered. Some times He gently leads us to the answer some times He just drops it in our laps and says, “Deal with it, that’s the way it is.”

    All this is to say keep seeking, searching, struggling, until you get what you are looking for…………..but be prepared for the answer you do not want to get.

    sincerely,

    George

  10. Mike

    George, I can appreciate how you feel. Many atheists were once Christians, like me, and we would have agreed with your sentiment. I once really did believe all this was true. But I look back now and think I was just talking to the wall.

    I’m not so confident in my own abilities that I think I will convert a great number of Christians, but hopefully I’ll at least make some stop and think. Maybe they will come to my conclusions, maybe they won’t. But hopefully they will be less certain than before. If there is one thing that worries me, it is certainty. You don’t fly into a building unless you are certain you will be greeted by virgins in Heaven. You don’t slit your own child’s throat with a box cutter unless you are certain the end times and fates worse than death are at hand. Let none of us walk around with that kind of certainty.

    Thanks again.

  11. San Diego Dave

    Mike, be careful. Rhetorical flourishes give your points a bigger punch, but they also make it harder to see problems with your own position. You don’t run into a burning building to save total strangers unless you’re certain it’s the right thing to do.

  12. Ryan

    George,

    “To assume the Bible is errant one is directly contradicting what the Bible itself says. To do this, in my humble opinion, one must be predisposed to errancy in the Bible. One cannot treat the Bible like any other book that I am aware of, in particular, one that clearly and unequivocally says that all of it is true.”

    Don’t other holy texts make the same claim? And can I not write my own book and say the same? We cannot believe the Bible is inerrant just because it claims to be. All of its other claims must stand up to reason, science, and history before we can actually establish that it is inerrant. If you start off with the belief, then work backwards, you will probably find a way to make it all work, but it will not be a satisfying account to those who don’t know if they should believe it or already reject it. Again, we are beings with the capacity for rationality, but we often abuse this power unknowingly, as we see here:

    “[Matti Leisola] says, ‘Christianity is the foundation of modern science and explains why we can do science: a rational God created a rational man in His own image so he is able to understand the creation with his mind.'”

    If so, God did a poor job of it: our brains are not collections of rational principles and our bodies are not perfect data receptors. Instead, our brains are matter, subject to disease, concussion, destruction, modification, and much more. In many cases, they work against rationality through plain irrationality, identification of false patterns in the world, confirmation bias, etc.. And it is remarkably easy to fool our senses once one understands the biological and psychological mechanisms of the body.

    “If you applied the logic you use for the Bible to evolution you would find that both require faith to accept…. Evolutionists teach that evolution is founded on science, but there is no experimental proof for evolution. ”

    Having shown that evolution is not what you claim it to be in my previous post (the Big Bang and abiogenesis are different subjects altogether), let me also say that actual evolution is well established. Small genetic changes over time within a species, which is documented, is evolution. The numerous changes that had to occur between what we and other animals are today and what the original organisms were long ago are this very process, simply over a very long period of time. But humans, being imperfectly rational, have a very hard time understanding large numbers. Billions or even just millions of years is enough time for considerable change. The anti-evolution position is absolutely absurd; I have much more respect for those who acknowledge evolution but question whether certain complex biological systems could have arisen or if circumstances and time were sufficient for humans to have developed, even if both of these objections can also be resolved by science. At least such positions attempt to understand the established science itself in order to criticize it.

    “I can appreciate your desire for a text that has no apparent ambiguities, but we did not write the Bible and for whatever reason God in his wisdom chose to write it the way it is.”

    You continue to work backwards. You say we must accept the Bible with all its ambiguities because that’s how God made it. But it is not established in the first place that God made it. Even if it were not impossible to prove that, we would have to go through the Bible to find and understand God, yes? But if it is not written to eliminate the possibility of reasonable but false interpretations, then even the Bible is not a reliable method of reaching God. If each man has his own interpretation even though only one can be completely accurate, how can anyone find the Bible authoritative? I find it far more reasonable to believe that a God of the sort that the Abrahamic religions worship would make its text as indisputable as possible–that is, a text to be taken at face value so that subjectivity would not be much of a problem. As it stands, some people have devoted their lives–their LIVES–to interpreting and understanding the Bible. If it really takes that sort of commitment to grasp the Bible–and if even that commitment is no guarantee of success–then how could God or any of its followers expect the layman, with historically little education, often the inability to read, knowledge of only one or two languages, and a life full of work and family-raising, to be able to understand it? Of course, you could take it at face value (which I think is a myth in the first place, as some aspects of the Bible simply do require interpretation), but then you stand opposed to science. A 5000-year-old Earth? Noah’s Ark? Give me a break.

    Let me end with an unrelated question. I recently noted this problem and wondered if there is an answer.

    In Genesis 1, God produces water, dry ground, and vegetation on the third day, then the Sun on the fourth day (which is itself a problem, since plants need sunlight to grow), then animals on the fifth, then, on the sixth day, mankind: “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…'” (Gen. 1:26).

    But Genesis 2:5-7 says, “Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

    From the order of verses, it seems that mankind had already existed before Adam, as God created us on the sixth day. Perhaps, then, Genesis 2:5-7 is supposed to be an account of the creation of man on the sixth day. Fine. But then the two chapters conflict with each other: mankind was made on the sixth day, but Adam was created before plants and rain: the third day. What is the resolution of this apparent problem? I am merely curious; I’m not using this to attempt to disprove the Bible or anything of the sort. I believe there is already enough reason to disregard the Bible without having to confront all of its contents.

  13. George

    Ryan,

    Re:July 20, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Everyone, evolutionists and creationist, has the same raw data. They differ in their interpretation of that data. The experimental data in this case is the analysis of the mDNA. It;i.e, the raw data, indicates that “the MRCA of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago….”

    The error in occurs in precisely the passage you have quoted, namely; “Note in particular: “The MRCA of everyone alive today could thus have co-existed with a large human population, most of whom either have no living descendants today or else are ancestors of a subset of people alive today. The existence of an MRCA does therefore not imply the existence of a population bottleneck or first couple.””

    Please note the authors say “could thus have co-existed’. They say “could have”. Why? Because there is no evidence that they co-existed with anyone. The “could have” statement is NOT even interpretation. It is pure extrapolation from nothing and is given to do nothing more than suppose what must have been the case if one believes in evolution.

    I am not quick to jump at these things as you suggest. I have been a scientist for over 40 years. I have learned to separate experimental data from interpretation and extrapolation. The first is, generally, true. The second and third are really someones opinion and are in all cases subject to the authors world view.

    I mean, just look at what the authors do in your quote. Not only do they write about people who “could have” existed, but they go on to state that either(1) none of their descendants are alive today(Then how would we know they existed at all?)or (2) they are the ancestors of a subset of people alive today(yet this is precisely and completely contrary to what they themselves observed experimentally:i.e., “the MRCA of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago….”) Not only that, but they proceed to use the proposed existence of this hypothetical group of people to support the concept that the MRCA is not a bottle neck or first couple. Of course they are a bottle neck and I believe the Bible allows two possibilities, Adam and Eve or Noah and his wife. See the difference between experimental data and interpretation.

    No, I do not think anyone who believes in evolution would be in an uproar. I will give you two quote from scientists who believe in evolution. You judge how objective they are. Wald was a Nobel prize winner.
    Richard Lewontin
    http://www.drjbloom.com/Public%20files/Lewontin_Review.htm

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    George Wald,

    http://conservapedia.com/George_Wald

    “When it comes to the origin of life, we have only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility…Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved one hundred years ago by Louis Pasteur, Spellanzani, Reddy and others. That leads us scientifically to only one possible conclusion — that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God…I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation arising to evolution.” – Scientific American, August, 1954.

    Neither sound particularly objective, eh? Oh. and BTW; the data do support the Bible.

  14. George

    Ryan,
    Re: July 20, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I believe I have a good understanding of a belief in evolution and the consequences of such a belief, especially as evidenced by those who share the philosophies of the two people I quoted above. One who accepts evolution because he is an atheist has, as Wald says, no choice but to believe in the spontaneous generation of life. Argue with Wald, not me. Secondly, does one who does not believe in God have any choice but to believe in the big bang? Most of the evolutionists
    I know consider both the origin of the universe and of life to be a part of their evolutionist belief. If you wish to confine evolution to what came after life arose it will make no difference. Experiment does not support evolution in that case, either.

    I will agree that no one “fully understand(s)” these constructs yet.

  15. George

    Hi Mike,

    I certainly agree with your sentiments about making people think. When I take my fossils(fossil collecting is my hobby) to schools, etc. what I tell the audience is that I am not there to tell them what to think, but I am there to teach them how to question what they see and hear, both on TV and in the class room.

    I think you are wrong about certainty. The problem is not in with certainty, but in what that certainty is based on. If it is based in love it can change the world. Look at Wilberforce and Newton. Personally, I hope I would rush into a burning building. As a matter of fact I have, a few years ago to save the birthday presents of a young girl I did not even know. I will admit that I did not consider it to be a real danger………..although I have since thought that may not have been my brightest hour.

    Mike, why not try each of the things in the Bible that bother you and work them through one by one? I think you will be surprised at the outcome.
    sincerely,
    George

  16. Mike

    Dave,

    I’ve never considered it before, but I think you can make the case that less reason is required to motivate potential helping acts than potential harming ones. I’ll have to think about it.

    George,

    I have worked through many alleged contradictions, not all. I don’t think we would agree on the success of the proposed resolutions.

  17. Ryan

    “Everyone, evolutionists and creationist, has the same raw data. They differ in their interpretation of that data. ”

    To have the same raw data, they would have to agree on the methods of retrieving it. They often do not. Many creationists reject critical data because of myths about unreliable scientific methods. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen Young Earth creationists reject the very well-established approximation of the Earth’s age because “carbon dating can’t be trusted,” even though the issue is quite a bit more complex than that argument would suggest.

    Regarding the MRCA:

    I see what you’re trying to do here. What you say would actually be reasonable if the MRCA were all we knew about the history of humanity, but that is not the case. The link I provided states that the MRCA likely lived between 5000 and 2000 years ago, but humans were around many thousands of years before that. Taken from the Wikipedia page for human: “Anatomically modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago, reaching full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago.” You have to put the MRCA into the context of other science to see that it is simply the most recent, not the One True Ancestor. It is very difficult for me to take your supposed 40 years of work in science seriously when you fail to do so.

    Regarding the quotes from Lewontin and Wald:

    What is it with these quotes? They show nothing but what one man thinks. They are not perfect beings, so they can make mistakes. More importantly, you have used a fabricated quote (I’m not surprised; your link is the notoriously biased Conservapedia) for Wald. Please consult the following link: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part1-4.html

    But I will take it seriously for the sake of argument. Wald’s [fake] quote is ridiculous. “Spontaneous generation” has not been disproven; at best, some variations on it have. How can we say that it did not happen at all when our scientific knowledge of the subject is so incomplete? Furthermore, “spontaneous generation” and “a supernatural creative act of God” are not the only possibilities. There are various other supernatural explanations that could have nothing to do with God at all. They are equally unsatisfying to the materialist, of course, but we need not even consider them (how could we, anyway, when they are beyond nature and thus beyond the scientific method?) until “spontaneous generation” is thoroughly debunked, which might be never.

    Lewontin’s quote is another matter, but it seems objective to me. Science is indeed inherently materialistic. It must be, as we cannot apply the scientific method to the supernatural. Given also that we do not and may never have all of the answers to our questions, there is always another materialistic hypothesis to test–even if we haven’t thought of it yet–that would be infinitely preferable to a supernatural one precisely because it actually explains something. “God did it” tells us nothing and leaves us nowhere to go. The inherent materialism of science is also, however, the reason we cannot use science to disprove the existence of the supernatural. We can use it to prove that holy texts are in fact errant if their own materialistic claims conflict with science (or we can use logic to show that certain things cannot be), but, at best, this shows only that a particular text cannot be trusted. There is always another variation of “God” out there, eluding science and logic. But we are not wrong to behave as if these beings do not exist, since there is no proof that they do.

    When Lewontin says that “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door,” he means quite literally that we cannot, not that we should not. This is not bias; it is a fact. Science simply cannot work with it. That doesn’t mean that the “supernatural approach” to understanding the universe is an equally valid, simply “alternative” view that scientists happen to reject for their work. There are simply too many supernatural approaches and no way of verifying any of them for that to be a legitimate approach. And when Lewontin says that “[w]e take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories,” he is not saying that science is actually fallible, that it is a religion akin to any of the others, but that the scientific method is employed by fallible humans with imperfect instruments. It is a wonderful method in theory; in practice, it is only as good as the practitioners and their tools.

    I don’t care about its constructs and promises and just-so stories, for these are the products of men. I care about the method. For this reason, I have little attachment to the theories that method produces. Have a new, better theory than the Big Bang? Great, I’ll adjust my beliefs. Have an alternative to evolution that is simpler with equal explanatory power (Occam’s Razor) or complex with greater power? Tell me all about it. I’m flexible: I don’t build my life around these theories in the same way that the religious build theirs around their sacred texts.

    As for your second post (8:53 pm):

    Like I said before, the secular scientific view might entail the Big Bang and abiogenesis if it accepts evolution, but those are still distinct from evolution itself. We don’t define a term by everything that relates to it in some way, otherwise we would simply have “Science” without all those pesky individual fields, since they are all related. I’m compelled to point out, however, that a secularist might believe a completely different theory for the origins of the universe or think aliens made us, so we are, again, not limited to God and currently leading scientific theories.

    Experimentation does indeed support evolution, which is accepted by a supersupermajority of scientists. But it also just makes sense. Given natural selection, genetic drift, mutation, and so on, we should expect organisms to change over time, especially given many millions or billions of years. We have even used artificial selection to breed a wide diversity of dogs with a common ancestor. Once you accept this, the hurdle appears to be speciation, for which I refer you to this: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html (Talkorigins.org does, of course, have an agenda, but it is well-written, well-thought out, and well-documented–unlike Conservapedia). Like I said before, I have some respect for people who accept the science but question whether the processes could lead to complex structures (see the irreducible complexity argument) or, to a lesser extent, if there has really been enough time for the original simple organisms to eventually become humans.

    Since I have little attachment to this belief, however, I will happily adjust it if a superior scientific–and therefore materialistic–theory emerges. If you have convincing evidence against evolution, you should gather others of like mind and develop a superior theory. But if all you do is propose that “God did it,” you can’t possibly expect people to agree. This is not an either/or proposition; we need not choose between your deity and current scientific theories. Sometimes it is okay to leave it at “I don’t know.”

    I’m not sure if this post has changed your mind. I suspect that someone who uses Conservapedia as a resource might be too far gone, but perhaps you came across the link at random and did not realize what it is. If that is not the case, then I suggest that you not waste your time with another lengthy reply to me, as I will most likely not respond. In any case, out of waning interest in the subject matter and the types of arguments I’m reading and writing, the only issue I might be willing to discuss further is the philosophy of science, but I’m not sure if there is really much else to say. Thanks for your patience; I wrote this much to get it all out of my system.

  18. Ryan

    George,

    I forgot to respond to this part earlier:

    “Evolution, for example, posits that the universe expanded to its current size in something like 10^-35 seconds(much faster than the speed of light) and that at some point life came from non-life. Neither of these beliefs are can be tested, let alone proven, by experiment.”

    The Big Bang theory suggests that the universe is and has been expanding since the initial “bang,” not that it reached its current size in 10^(-35) seconds. And though we cannot replicate the Big Bang itself, we can find if new observations continue to support the hypothesis. In the case of abiogenesis, however, experimentation is certainly possible. We can take inorganic matter, apply some process, then observe if it produces organic matter or not. But we cannot actually disprove abiogenesis through mere experimentation, since abiogenesis is not in itself a specific hypothesis, but the study of various hypotheses.

  19. Ryan

    Ryan,
    Re: July 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    You asked, “Don’t other holy texts make the same claim? “. Note that I said, ” …..that I am aware of….”. I have not found it in the Koran or the book of Mormon. Do you know of any that make that claim?

    You wrote, “All of its other claims must stand up to reason, science, and history………” I say that all of its claims must stand up to being true. No more; no less. You will probably never be able to test the truth of all the claims in the Bible under all circumstances, but surely you can pick one and prove it untrue, but again it comes down to bias, right? You assume it could be untrue. I assume it could not. I guess we start from where we are, but I doubt that in your life time you could ever prove all the claims true in all circumstances. Hence, the small matter of having to act on faith at some time.

    You wrote, “…..God did a poor job of it……” What would you have done differently. Certainly we have disease today and mutations in our bodies that are not helpful; but that was not our original. All the things you list came about because of sin and turning our backs on God and His plan. Paul writes, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Creation includes man. It is remarkably easy to ignore what is plain in front of us as you will note from the above examples of Lewontin and Wald.

    You wrote, “Small genetic changes over time within a species, which is documented, is evolution.” Small genetic changes over time are nothing more than small genetic changes over time. They do not lead to new kinds of things, although they make lead to new species, which by definition are groups which can no longer interbreed to give fertile offspring, although they may lead to such things as ligers and mules. I raise beef cattle.I can select for certain characteristics literally, till the cows come home”, but they will still be cows even if I could come back in a billion years. The small genetic changes are not creating anything new; just rearranging what was already present and using the diversity God originally programmed into the genomes. You may choose to believe in a concept for which there is no proof nor evidence, in which as you write there are those , “who acknowledge evolution but question whether certain complex biological systems could have arisen or if circumstances and time were sufficient for humans to have developed.” They are right to question, because experiment does not support their theory. They, and you, are acting on, dare I say it, faith.

    You wrote, “…we would have to go through the Bible to find and understand God.” Absolutely, and then we would still have to do material research to understand some things because as Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” We cannot know and understand all about God without studying His creation……..and even then we won’t get everything. If we did we would be like God, a position that the devil offered Eve in the garden. If we can’t grasp the duality of the electron, how can we hope to grasp the Trinity.

    You wrote, ” …then you stand opposed to science.” Go back and look at the original definition of science. It originally meant knowledge; all knowledge, not just materialism. Biology, the science of life. Geology, the science of the earth. Zoology, the science of living things, etc. Incidentally, Darwin had only one earned science degree. That was in theology, the science of God. Science means knowledge in its true sense, but has been highjacked in recent times to mean only materialism. from the point of view of what you call science, love, hate, fear, do not exist. Materialism may be able to measure some of their effects, but it cannot quantify them.

    You wrote, “it seems that mankind had already existed before Adam” and referred to two passages from Genesis. It’s the kind of question I struggled with when I tried to prove one could make Genesis fit with evolution, but as you have shown these two passages just don’t seem to plug in to one another. Then I remembered that when I wrote scientific reports at work I included an executive summary hitting the high points that would be discussed in more detail in the body of the report. Now try considering 1:1 as the title, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It’s shorter than some of the titles I have used. Then, Genesis 1:2 – 2:1 becomes the executive summary. Then the body of the report starts with Genesis 2:2 with a new heading, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth …..” After this God starts to discuss some of the mechanisms He used to bring forth plants and man. Plants did not spring forth until Go sent a mist because there was neither man nor ain to water them. This I believe happened on day 3, hence no man. Then God created man and planted a garden for him which seems to have been really what we would call an orchard. This is how I read it. Hope that is helpful.

    Incidentally, as I said above, I raise beef cattle. It is now haying time here and there may be times when I do not get back to you for a few days. Doesn’t mean I am upset or ignoring you, just that 14 hours a day on a tractor leaves one a bit drained. I use the computer for looking at the satellite weather and go to bed. TTFN

  20. George

    Mike
    Re:July 20, 2011 at 9:31

    If you want to try, I am willing.

    George

  21. Mike

    George,

    In general, I try to avoid quibbling over individual contradictions, which was kind of the point of my probability post. However, I did highlight a few here: http://foxholeatheism.com/gospel-truth-important-contradictions/

    You’re welcome to comment on that thread to argue your point and I’ll respond. Like I said, though, I’m worried we’ll just have a fundamental disagreement about the likelihood of proposed resolutions (again, something I hoped my probability post would cover).

  22. George

    Ryan,
    Re:July 21, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Every experiment gives raw data based on the procedure used. No one can quarrel with that be one evolutionist or creationist. You always get the answer to the experiment you conduct; the procedure you use. That is the raw data. It is why any responsible journal will report data only if the procedure is included. The underlying premise being that anyone should be able to repeat the experiment and get the same results within experimental error. As long as the procedure is reported then everything is fine. The differences occur in the interpretation. No one has to agree on any methods. One does the experiment, reports the procedure, reports the data, and then gives their interpretation of the what the data mean. If I repeated your experiment, we should get the same results for the first three parts. The differences would come in the interpretation.

    Any Young Earth Creationist who disputed the age of the earth, “because “carbon dating can’t be trusted,” ” would be 100% correct to do so. Carbon14 has a half-life of 5,730 years. There is no way it could be use to date the earth to anything coming close to the billions of years evolutionists claim the earth existed. Even hard core evolutionists realize that C14 is only theoretically good back to about 50-60,000 years. Check your facts, K/Ar might be a better used for supposedly really old ages, not C14. If you want to get into radioactive dating that is fine. Nuclear chemistry was one of my fields of study. There are more problems with radioactive dating than you could shake a stick at. Did you know that samples from the lava of a volcano in Hawaii that erupted in 1802 gave radioactive ages back billions of years?

    You quoted, “Anatomically modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago, reaching full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago.” This is merely a statement someone who believes in evolution made. Where is the data to back it up? C14 from the bones does not. The fossils were obviously found encased in rock, but what does that show? That some old rock got carried along in a flood and buried some poor creature. That may say something about the age of the rock around the creature. It does not say anything about the age of the creature.

    You wrote, “Wald’s [fake] quote is ridiculous. ” If you do not believe Wald quote to be true go the library and look it up in the Scientific American. Then argue with a Nobel prize winner who believes in evolution because he does not want to believe in God.

    If the statement “”we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door,” , is anything but objective. Simply because the materialist does not want to acknowledge the possibility of God and His creation does not make it logical to choose to not consider it. It’s interesting that evolutionists are willing to consider just about anything except God. Want another logical explanation of how the universe arose? Try reading Humphreys’ “Starlight and Time”. the concept of a white hole is just a valid as the big bang.

    You wrote, ” the hurdle appears to be speciation”. Speciation is no hurdle. Separate two groups of one kind under the right conditions and they may lose the ability to interbreed. That does not change cows to horses.

    I have a superior model that fits all the observable data. God did it just as Genesis says. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I do expect they that if they really want the truth they will separate the data from the baffle gab and draw their own conclusions. Some like Wald, Lewontin and others will obviously find it philosophically unacceptable to acknowledge God did it, but evolution has been around since the Babylonians. Peter described the drift to uniformitarianism well when he wrote, “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” God will be ejected by many right to the end.

    I hope you feel better for having written what you did and I can see why you would want to consider only philosophy from now on. It does not require a hard answer. One can go on and on as long as there are other ideas around and never have to come face to face with hard data. I hope some of what I have written will stick with you.

  23. Ryan

    George,

    “You asked, “Don’t other holy texts make the same claim? “. Note that I said, ” …..that I am aware of….”. I have not found it in the Koran or the book of Mormon. Do you know of any that make that claim? ”

    From the Koran:

    “It [the Koran] is an invincible book. Falsehood does not invade it neither from before it nor from behind it, a revelation from a a Mighty, Praised.” (Koran 41:41, 42)

    “Do they not ponder on the Qur’an? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.” (Sura 4:82)

    Now, you could try to argue that these do not claim what they seem to claim, but that is also an issue with Biblical inerrancy. There is debate over the meaning of “Word of God.” In any case, my real point was: it is easy to claim inerrancy, but that doesn’t mean the claim is true. Here: I declare my words are inerrant. Must you now submit to my wisdom?

    “but again it comes down to bias, right? You assume it could be untrue. I assume it could not.”

    How is the assumption that a claim could be untrue biased? Any claim could be untrue until proven true. The only way you could assume that the claims could not be false is if you start off with the religious belief, which ends up being circular: “The Bible is true because it says it’s true; I know this because the Bible is true.”

    Let’s be reasonable here. You would apply the same skepticism I do to any (or almost any) other aspect of your life. To steal Mike’s example from a previous post: you do not develop or purchase dragon repellent out of fear that there might be dragons; you assume dragons do not exist or at least that they are not near you and are of no threat to you until it is proven otherwise. (Note: the assumption that there are no dragons is not the same as the assumption that dragons cannot exist.) What you are saying is a problem I have consistently encountered with Christians who are apparently either unwilling or unable to step outside their beliefs for a moment to see how non-Christians view Christian claims. It is an altogether different matter to claim that the Bible is inerrant because you have read it and found no contradiction. I would disagree with your findings, but the conclusion you make from those findings–the inerrancy–would at least be valid. But I cannot abide an initial assumption of inerrancy, as that absolutely forces you to resolve all textual problems you come across and either find a way to reconcile non-Biblical knowledge (like science) with the Bible or reject it in favor of the Bible. With the initial assumption of inerrancy, it can never be shown that the Bible is wrong.

    My previous, long post deals with the quotes you offered, the problem of speciation, and the rightful materialistic philosophy of science based on the scientific method.

    As for the issue of Genesis 1-2:

    So you have chosen the “executive summary” route, which I also raised as a possibility. But the following contradiction then arises:

    “Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth[a] and no plant had yet sprung up…. then the Lord God formed a man” (Genesis 2:5,7).
    >>So man came to be before plants had ever existed.
    “Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. ” (Genesis 1:11)
    >>So the land produced vegetation on the third day.
    “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image…. I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food’…. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:26, 29, 31)
    >>So mankind was created on the sixth day and plants (with fruit!) were already around.

    Man could not have been created both before (day 3) and after (day 6) plants existed. Unless you want to tell me that the lines are mistranslated (entirely possible, at which point we can get into the problems of translation on TOP of interpretation, like the way “Hell” is translated the same way from a few different terms), this appears to be a contradiction.

    Take your time with responses. I have other things to do as well.

  24. Ryan

    George,

    You appear to have not understood my point about methods. Let me try again.

    If someone does not acknowledge the data produced from a scientific method because he wrongfully believes the method is flawed, then he begins with less data than those who do accept the method. We see this with Young Earth Creationists who reject data because they believe the method is fallible.

    Young Earth Creationists would indeed be right to mistrust carbon-dating for the purpose of identifying the age of the Earth. I never said otherwise. What I meant was that I have seen them dismiss ALL data supporting a billions-of-years-old Earth simply because they disagree with the one method. They sometimes wrongfully believe that it is the only method or that all similar methods must likewise be completely untrustworthy, but this is not the case.

    However, there is nothing I can say to you if you do not acknowledge the reliable methods of dating the Earth and fossils. This point will have to be dropped.

    As for the quotes:

    It seems like you did not even read what I said. Wald’s quote is apparently fake, but it doesn’t matter if it’s not. I would indeed argue with Nobel prize winner from 50 YEARS AGO that his position is mistaken. I already made the case for it. I also made the case of materialistic science, because we CANNOT TEST THE SUPERNATURAL. It is outside the realm of science! And, again, science does not have to dismiss God, but it cannot be satisfied with “God did it” because that leads us nowhere. A good scientist would prefer to understand the processes behind everything rather than give up research because we can always fall back on “God did it.”

    I have nothing else to say. I feel like I am talking to a brick wall. You might feel the same. But my intelligence is insulted when you attempt to use arguments from authority: that you were a scientist for 40 years and you raise cattle, so you know all of this material and can disregard the huge consensus within the scientific community; that a Christian view should be accepted because there’s an expert in enzyme research (Matti Leisola) who agrees with it (but apparently the same cannot be true for atheists who are experts in the same field!); that I apparently cannot argue with the philosophy of a Nobel prize-winning scientist, even though it seems he won his prize for his science rather than for his (supposed) ignorant philosophy.

    I said last time that I would likely not respond. This time I simply will not, so feel free to have your last word. I see that Mike was wise to let go much earlier.

  25. George

    Ryan
    re: July 21, 2011 at 5:53 am

    You wrote, “The Big Bang theory suggests that the universe is and has been expanding since the initial “bang,” not that it reached its current size in 10^(-35) seconds.”

    Check this quote, “The instant before inflation began, 10-35 seconds after the Big Bang, the “stuff” that expanded to become our universe was only about 10-24 centimeter in diameter. All matter and energy were in close and uniform contact.
    Within the briefest instant, the universe expanded exponentially by a factor of about 10^50, stretching once intimately connected matter and energy to the farthest reaches of the universe. The information contained in the pre-inflationary universe didn’t have to travel the speed of light–indeed it couldn’t have–it traveled at the speed of inflation. ” http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~afrank/A105/LectureXVI/LectureXVI.html

    Would you agree that 10-35sec plus “the briefest instant” is, as I said, “something like 10^-35 seconds”? Or do you consider “the briefest instant” to be somewhat longer?

    You wrote, “But we cannot actually disprove abiogenesis through mere experimentation, since abiogenesis is not in itself a specific hypothesis, but the study of various hypotheses.” Obviously your evolutionist Nobel prize winner disagrees with you. He said, rather clearly, I thought, “Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved one hundred years ago by Louis Pasteur, Spellanzani, Reddy and others. ” Of course the fact that Pasteur was a creationist and yet in spite of this he came up with Pasteurization and vaccination, partly because he did not accept the generally held view that spontaneous generation of life was true. Of course if one needs to believe in evolution they will come up with all sorts of weird ideas like the Miller experiments, but as I told some students at a university in Java, having the right amino acids mixed together even in the right proportions, even if they were not racemic, would not give life any more than the amino acids present in my father’s body as he lay in the coffin gave him life.

  26. Mike

    Ok, I know I said I was out of this particular thread of the conversation, but I have to step back in and say something. Let me preface this by saying that I may not have an immediate answer offhand to all of your claims, but I have generally found that creationist critiques are overstated and sometimes deceptive. I don’t get the sense from you, George, that you would be intentionally deceptive, but there’s a lot of bad information floating around out there. Let me give one example and then I’ll retreat back into silent enjoyment of reading the comments.

    You said, “If you want to get into radioactive dating that is fine. Nuclear chemistry was one of my fields of study. There are more problems with radioactive dating than you could shake a stick at. Did you know that samples from the lava of a volcano in Hawaii that erupted in 1802 gave radioactive ages back billions of years?”

    Argon incorporated with potassium does happen, but being careful in selecting your material can overcome the problem. Or, you can use 40Ar/39Ar dating rather than K-Ar dating.

    I believe you are referring to the claims of Henry M. Morris regarding the lava dating (Scientific Creationism, 1974). He cited the work of Funkouser and Naughton (1968), but did so with incorrect statements. These were:

    “It was not the lava that was dated, but inclusions of olivine, called “xenoliths”, present within the lava. These gave anomalously old age because they contained excess argon that the enclosing lava did not.

    Morris failed to mention that the lava matrix without the xenoliths was dated and found to be too young to date using potassium-argon […] The problem of excess argon was only a problem for the xenoliths but not for the lava containing them.”

    Resource: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CD/CD013.html

    There are more issues, but that should hopefuly be sufficient. For the record, I disagree with much of what you’re saying, but I don’t really have the time right now to get into it in full. I do think, though, that perhaps I should do a post on science and the bible and that might better frame a debate on the subject than this comment thread. I don’t know when I would get to it, but there definitely seems to be a lot to discuss. (no time to proof so sorry for any mistakes)

  27. George

    Ryan,
    Re: July 21, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    You wrote, “you could try to argue that these do not claim what they seem to claim”. I would make no such argument. The quotes you have from the Koran clearly state, in my opinion, that it is inerrant. I did not claim to read all the Koran, nor did I read all the Book of Mormon. In the former I was specifically looking for references, to Christians(people of the book), paradise and entry to it and its reference to the virgin birth of Jesus. One of the Muslims I was talking to did not believe the Koran said that Jesus was born of a virgin. Thanks for the info.

    WRT, “I declare my words are inerrant.” I would analyze your words until I found and error and the situation would be resolved as it now is. I am comfortable in the belief that neither you nor your words are inerrant.

    You wrote, “With the initial assumption of inerrancy, it can never be shown that the Bible is wrong.” Your statement is obviously another example of your being errant. If I start out accepting the Bible is true and live my life believing it is true and then come on a passage that is conclusively not true, you statement is proven incorrect. It matters not which way I started out believing. In the end the fact would be one part was untrue.

    As for the issue of Genesis 1-2:

    The way I read it is that God is going back to the beginning again at 2:2 when He says, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth …..” I think you can not go chronologically from Chapter 1 to Chapter 2. They are different parts describing different aspects of Creation. note that the order is the same in both sections. Frankly, if it were not for that statement in verse 2, I would have a real problem with the passages. As I understand it, in Chapter 2 onward God is trying to tell us in more detail some of the mechanisms, procedures He used to accomplish the new earth and its creatures. Can’t you just see some one coming along and, if the passage were not there, saying so how did God water the plants if there was no rain until the flood and no one to water them?

    Thankfully it started to rain here a couple of hours ago and one of my tractors is broke so I could catch up on some of these.

  28. George

    Ryan,
    Re: July 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    You wrote, “If someone does not acknowledge the data produced from a scientific method because he wrongfully believes the method is flawed, then he begins with less data than those who do accept the method. We see this with Young Earth Creationists who reject data because they believe the method is fallible.” If you are going to critique science you really should learn how experimental science is carried out.

    The scientific method has never conducted an experiment and never will. It is a philosophy of how material science studies should be carried out. In essence it says: get an idea, do an experiment to validate the idea; if the experimental data fit the idea, test it under other criteria to learn the scope of its validity, then repeat until the idea progresses from idea to law: if the experimental does not fit the data, modify the idea until the two agree(and then expand the scope)or the idea has been shown to be false.

    In no way does the scientific method propose, limit, suggest or comment upon the procedure to be carried out. The procedure is limited only by the creativity of the researcher and the tools available for collecting data. I think that no one can quibble with the scientific method. Like, eh, I mean, otherwise, what would one just put a bunch of procedures in a hat and draw one out and carry them out and then just file the data away somewhere.

    As I said before, there are four essential parts to an experiment; namely, the carrying out of the experiment, the reporting of the procedure so that someone else may repeat it, the reporting of the data, and the interpretation of the data. It is only in the last part that any disagreement should arise. As one of my professors once said, “You always get the answer to the experiment you do, but you must keep in mind that the experiment you do may not be the one you set out to do. ”

    Just wanted to show you that all scientist do not support, agree with or even conclude that evolution is a viable hypothesis. It seems that if Dr. Wald had an ignorant philosophy, that evolution must be wrong, because that is the philosophical option that he chose.

    It is always wise to know when to leave the debate, especially when you are losing. One question, as you seem to resent arguments from authority and knowing “all of this material “, are arguments from ignorance preferable?

  29. George

    Mike,
    Re:July 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I don’t know if this is what Morris was referring to or not, but I do know it was from a book I by a creationist author(not Morris, but he may have gotten his info from Morris). I no longer can find that book(A significant amount of my reference material disappeared coincident with a divorce.) I do recall that the book referred to an American Geological journal and that there were several ages given that ranged from something like 200,000 years to over 1 billion. I expect to be going to the Science Library at the university sometime next month and I will get a copy of the article if they have it. Do you have copy that you could email me? I expect that it all this refers to the same article. After all how many volcanoes likely exploded in Hawaii in 1802?

    One thing I will point out is the first thing I noticed about the blog is in his attempt to refute what he defines as claim a, he says, ” With 40Ar/39Ar dating, it is possible to calibrate this dating method by using volcanic deposits created in historic volcanic eruptions — for example, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 C.E. (Renne et al. 1997). ” 40Ar is stable, 39Ar undergoes beta decay with a half-life of about 269 years. As I noted earlier, it is generally accepted that to extend any interpretation of radioactive data beyond 8-10 half-lives may not give reliable data I because of the uncertainty in the measurements. Thus, while I have no problem using the 40/39 ratio to date Vesuvius, which according to an abstract of Renne’s article(http://www.sciencemag.org/content/277/5330/1279.abstract) gave a date seven years from the actual with a stated uncertainty of +/- 94 years), in general, I do have a problem with using data from an isotope that has a half-life of 269 years being used to calibrate data from an isotope, 40K, with a half-life of 1,248,000,000 years.

    All this may be talking past the point, however. I’ll check out the references that I can find and get back to you.

    I’ll also see if I can get copies of the other papers cited in the blog you referred to.

    Have not read your other blog references, yet

  30. George Jenkins

    July 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm (UTC 0)

    Mike,
    RE: your email of July 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I have sent a response to your blog you referred to above.

    Some comments on this one.

    “In general, I try to avoid quibbling over individual contradictions, which was kind of the point of my probability post. However, I did highlight a few here: http://foxholeatheism.com/gospel-truth-important-contradictions/

    You’re welcome to comment on that thread to argue your point and I’ll respond. Like I said, though, I’m worried we’ll just have a fundamental disagreement about the likelihood of proposed resolutions (again, something I hoped my probability post would cover).”

    The set of “individual contradictions” that you refer to are the basis for your probability calculations. To resolve anyone of them weakens your thesis and probability calculation and attenuates philosophical discussion. I can see your aversion to doing so. From my point of view, solutions arise from carrying out one experiment at time while controlling as many variables as possible.
    When I went to get an encyclopaedia to answer a question that had led to a rather heated discussion, the other person said to me, “Oh there you go, you don’t want to have a discussion, you just want to find the answer.” That just about sums me up. I’m not interested in endless discussion. I like answers. Some people would rather engage in discussions that really have no hope of resolution because they can no more determine the truth than can someone say the ice is safe by calculating the probability it is thick enough. In the end someone has to take an axe and find out how thick it is, or find a math guy who likes probability calculations and get him to go first. Both are legitimate scientific experiments, one more fun than the other.

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