“The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. …
Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”
As the product of time and blind biological mutations, simply striving to survive to the next stage of morally-meaningless evolution, one wonders what exactly we need saving from, and why. “Cruelty,” “corrupt,” “hatred”—what do these words mean? What does it matter if one descendant of an amoeba drags itself out of the slime and “murders” another?
— Douglas Wilson, blogging through Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True.
Now this scientific racism (in which Darwin fully participated) got all tied up with the eugenics craze, as well as tied up with the increasingly accepted theory of evolution, and lots of scientific, chin-stroking words like biogeography. In the Introduction to The Descent of Man, Darwin said that one of the three goals of his book was to show “the value of the differences between the so-called races of man.” He needed that as part of his argument.
This was before eugenics and the rest of all this foolishness covered itself with dishonor in the heyday of scientific racism, the German version, and so it was still possible back then for scientists to talk about differences in humans the way Coyne talks about finches. Since they could, they did. Since Coyne can’t, he doesn’t, but I would love to be present at a Q & A session where for some reason they couldn’t turn my microphone off. I will put it this way — on the principles Coyne has been arguing for here, the theory of evolution justifies scientific racism as a clear possibility. It must be on the table. If we all evolved from a common ancestor, and if there are diverse populations of us, and if the rate of evolution is not a fixed constant like 9.8 meters per second squared, it follows that somebody could easily be a lot closer to that common ancestor than somebody else. Follow the argument wherever it leads, man. I thought scientists were supposed to be courageous.
The place where modern scientific hubris really kicks in is with the whole subject of “junk DNA.” and “dead genes” (pp. 66-73). How long have we even known about DNA? Since April of 1953, which means that our knowledge of the existence of DNA is two months older than I am. For pity’s sake! It is as though a couple archeologists discovered that the library of Alexandria didn’t really burn down, because they found the whole thing buried under sand, got into the first chamber, read two books, and declared the rest of the library worthless. They knew it was worthless because there were countless languages in there that they didn’t understand. Just a bunch of gibberish. For an example of some of the pronouncements that ought not to have been made about this, you can check out the book trailer here.— Douglas Wilson, blogging through Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True.
Now make the final adjustment [to this thought experiment]. Ten changes from species to species is absurdly low. A one in ten chance for the mutation to be beneficial is absurdly low. The chances that we will get identifiable survival advantage in less than a week is absurdly low. Get yourself a real calculator, one that goes up to the decillions, and enter the real numbers. The one thing you will not be able to do after that point is dismiss as an idiot someone who has trouble believing in this high speed miracle of yours with no God around. For mark my words, once the real numbers are entered, observing the process of evolution would be like watching a hummingbird fly.— Douglas Wilson is blogging through Jerry Coyne’s book, Why Evolution Is True.
The trouble for evolutionists is that they set the evolutionary chronology back when we had no idea of the staggering complexities that go into even one-celled organisms. The chronological framework was set for them, and poured into concrete, back when we thought 600 million years was plenty of time. It reminds me of the time when I had a computer that had 10 megabytes of memory, which I thought cavernous. And the more complexity we find, which we are doing all the time, the more we have to fit into our 219,000,000,000 days [allotted by modern mainstream science].
…much of present-day biological knowledge is ideological. A key symptom of ideological thinking is the explanation that has no implications and cannot be tested. I call such logical dead ends antitheories because they have exactly the opposite effect of real theories: they stop thinking rather than stimulate it. Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause! Sometimes one hears it argued that the issue is moot because biochemistry is a fact-based discipline for which theories are neither helpful nor wanted. The argument is false, for theories are needed for formulating experiments. Biology has plenty of theories. They are just not discussed—or scrutinized—in public. The ostensibly noble repudiation of theoretical prejudice is, in fact, a cleverly disguised antitheory, whose actual function is to evade the requirement for logical consistency as a means of eliminating falsehood.— Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert B. Laughlin, quoted by Vern Poythress
The authors of this book are very straightforward about the assumptions underlying their approach to science: they believe the Bible is true and authoritative, that it should be interpreted literally, and that it should inform every aspect of one’s life, including forming your paradigm for approaching science. Even if you disagree with their starting points (or conclusions), it’s refreshing to hear scientists articulate their a priori assumptions so clearly and unashamedly from the get-go. I wish everyone in this debate would do so. There is, in truth, no such thing as totally neutral science.
The most valuable lesson that any reader can take away from this book, whether he is sympathetic to it’s viewpoint or not, is the recognition that paradigms are integral to one’s view on any subject. Paradigms provide the entire intellectual framework for how one evaluates data and what “makes sense” to classify something as reasonable or not. In other words, paradigms provide a context for understanding the world. They are inescapable, but they are often unrecognized. For more, see Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Anyway, in the paradigm of these researchers, the history in Genesis is all true, the Flood really happened, and the Tower of Babel was the source of human civilization’s spread throughout the globe. If you accept this premise and work your way outward from it, the book argues, all of a sudden a lot of otherwise unexplainable historical anomalies make sense and find a place in science and history. The modern naturalistic evolutionary worldview, which assumes a linear progression of human cultural development over millions of years, cannot account for the evidence of advanced civilization at many of the places in history that we find it, nor can it make sense of the similarities among ancient cultures that arose—apparently independently—thousands of miles apart, separated by oceans and continents. For example, there are scores of ancient architectural works that today’s scientists still can’t explain how they were built because the degree of advanced knowledge and understanding required is far ahead of what the evolutionary paradigm allows for. Another example is the commonality of various creation myths and religious laws. If Babel is true, and if this diaspora was indeed the headwater of a global expansion of highly civilized man, these commonalities make sense.
This book was obviously prepared by a team of college students overseen by one or more professors. The voice and writing quality varied by chapter. I also found some pretty unforgivable typos. This may be nit-picky, but a book about rigorous and intellectually honest science should set the bar high.
This book is neither a comprehensive defense of creationism nor a complete dismantling of evolution. It’s simply an exploration of an sideline approach to some of the issues involved, and an exposition of how a different paradigm from the “mainstream scientific consensus” can explain the otherwise unexplainable. It definitely stretched my thinking
This last Friday I had the privilege of debating David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. The debate was sponsored by the fine folks in the Federalist Society at Liberty University Law School. We were debating whether Christianity or humanism provided the better path for culture, law, politics, and so forth. I was advocating, natch, mere Christendom.— Douglas Wilson
Mr. Niose, who struck me as a very nice man, said in the course of the debate that the Bible was a tired and ancient book, with a bunch of irrelevant laws, citing as one example the Old Testament prohibition of eating shellfish. In my reply, I pointed to the stark alternative this presented — a faith in which the adherents were at one time prohibited from eating shellfish, and on the other hand a faith in which the adherents used to be shellfish.
This actually made me LOL.
god i hate being human sometimes.
How perfect is it that Kirk Cameron’s show was called GROWING PAINS??!!
This is brilliant.
My friend Ard Louis, an Oxford physicist who studies protein folding, once compared the origin of life in terms of children’s toys. Find cars and spaceships made out of Legos, he told me, and you’ll be impressed. (And so I will be, having boys who do brilliant things with Legos.) But come into a room and find Legos snapping themselves into complex, coherent shapes, and the wonder is all the greater. Thus evolution itself is (he believes) a subtler but ultimately more impressive expression of God’s creative activity than direct design would be.— David Marshall (via wesleyhill)
In this landmark work, based on his 2009 Gifford lectures, Alister McGrath examines the apparent “fine-tuning” of the universe and its significance for natural theology. Exploring a wide range of physical and biological phenomena and drawing on the latest research in biochemistry and evolutionary biology, McGrath outlines our new understanding of the natural world and discusses its implications for traditional debates about the existence of God.
For long centuries, God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself. He gave it hands whose thumbs could be applied to each of the fingers, and jaws and teeth and throat capable of articulation, and a brain sufficiently complex to execute all of the material motions whereby rational thought is incarnated. The creature may have existed in this stage for ages before it became man: it may have even been clever enough to make things which a clever archaeologist would accept as proof of its humanity. But it was only an animal because all its physical and psychical processes where directed to purely material and natural ends. Then in fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say “I” and “me,” which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments of truth, beauty, and goodness, and which was so far above time that is could perceive time flowing past. … We do not know how many of these creatures God made, nor how long they continued in the Paradisal state. But sooner or later they fell. Someone or something whispered that they could become as gods. … They wanted some corner in the universe in which they could say to God, “This is our business, not yours.” But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were and must eternally be, mere adjectives. We have no idea what particular act, or series of acts, the self-contradictory, impossible wish found expression. For all I can see, it might have concerned the literal eating of a fruit, but the question is of no consequence.— CS Lewis (via azspot)