He is risen!

He is risen

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

John 20:11-18

Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

In which we discuss the timeline of Genesis events and why so many Christians believe in a young universe.

JY writes to ask:

When you say that for God the Gen. 1 events unfold over six literal days, does this mean six twenty-four hour periods? If the earth is 4.5 billion years old (which I accept because I don’t think the Bible tells us so we should instead look to those with expertise in the field) how long should we envisage humans as occupying the planet? Were there epochs of other animal life prior to humans? Do you believe God used the evolutionary process or created humans like we now see them? Finally, why do so many Christians believe and argue so adamantly that the universe is 6,000 years old?

Gerald Schroeder, in his book The Science of God, elegantly makes the case for a 14 billion year-old universe that is developed over the course of six literal 24-hour periods. Genesis 1 does not explicitly state that the six days of Genesis are literal 24-hour periods, but it can be inferred from other passages in scripture that make reference to Genesis 1. Schroeder admits that this assumption is the one part of his argument that is subjective, but since the great Genesis commentator, Nahmanides, inferred it that way, this is what Schroeder chooses.

Biology is not my area of expertise, but I’m reasonably confident of the following. Homo sapiens has been around for about 200,000 years. Bacteria first appeared on Earth almost immediately (in geological terms) after the appearance of liquid water, a few billion years ago; animal life exploded well before humans appeared, about 500 million years ago in what’s aptly called the Cambrian explosion.

There is little doubt in my mind that what eventually became human lifeforms — I’ll refer to them as hominids — arose through some natural, but God-designed, process. Darwinian evolution has effectively been ruled out as the process, and nobody really knows what the actual process of the development of life is, but there are some interesting hints from a field of biology called “evo devo.” Anyway, the great biblical commentators, Maimonides and Nahmanides, had no problem accepting the idea that hominids predated Adam. These hominids were physically identical to Adam in terms of physiology, but lacked the neshama, the human soul. Schroeder talks about the process whereby God took a preexisting hominid and breathed the neshama into it to create Adam. In my mind, this is the most reasonable inference from scripture, and resolves some major problems with the young earth creationist view.

As for why so many Christians insist on a young universe, I am still trying to figure that out. Some of my Christian colleagues say it is because young earth creationism is primarily what’s taught in seminary, and it gets passed down to church members. I don’t know how much truth there is in that. I sense that a lot of it is pushback against atheist misuse of science, which is really unfortunate and completely unnecessary.

The physics of miracles: thermodynamics

W025_Exodus_std

Miracles are part of Christian tradition that are often ridiculed by atheists. The claim is that God or one of God’s agents does the impossible, and impossible things never happen, because they defy the laws of nature, so why do you believe in something as nonsensical as miracles?

But is that really what all miracles are — defying the laws of nature and doing the impossible?

Before we get into the physics, let’s first go to scripture to see how miracles are defined. (Generally speaking, in any argument with atheists over something in scripture, the first thing you should do is carefully study the relevant passages to see what the actual claim is. Atheists almost always get it wrong.)

There are two Hebrew words translated as ‘miracle’ in the Old Testament. They are

  • oth: this word refers to a sign. The purpose of this sort of miracle is to draw people’s attention to God. (e.g. Exodus 12:13)
  • mopheth: this word refers to a wonder and is often used together with oth (signs and wonders). The purpose of this sort of miracle is to display God’s power. (e.g. Exodus 7:3)

The Greek counterparts in the New Testament are

  • semeion: this word refers to a sign, and is used to describe acts that are evidence of divine authority, usually something that goes against the usual course of nature (e.g. John 2:11)
  • teras: this word refers to a wonder, and is used to describe something that causes a person to marvel (e.g. Acts 2:22)

There are two additional words used for miracle in the New Testament:

  • dunamis: this word refers to an act that is supernatural in origin (e.g. Mark 6:2)
  • ergon: this word means “work,” as in the works of Jesus (e.g. Matthew 11:2) (interestingly, ergon is the Greek word from which the unit of energy, erg, is derived)

Is it possible to square some miracles with the laws of nature without detracting from their wondrousness? I believe the answer is yes, based on two branches of physics: thermodynamics and quantum mechanics. In this first part, I’ll discuss miracles from the perspective of thermodynamics, the branch of physics that deals with heat, energy, and work.

What follows is more properly described as statistical mechanics, or statistical thermodynamics, but you don’t need to get hung up terms. This field of study deals with predictions about the behavior of systems with enormous numbers of particles. These numbers are so huge that no one could be absolutely certain about any predictions, but this is where statistics come to the rescue. You can make statistical predictions about systems of particles, and, as you’ll see, the more particles you’re dealing with, the more accurate the predictions become. And, interestingly, this is precisely what permits miracles that do not violate the laws of nature.

The laws of nature permit a lot more than most people realize. In our everyday lives, we don’t usually define common sense expectations in terms of probabilities, but that’s often precisely what common sense is. In thermodynamics, that which constitutes our everyday expectation in any given situation is what’s referred to as the most probable state of a system.

To see what I mean, let’s consider a room with air in it, and imagine that we divide the room into two equal parts. We’ll also imagine this room and the air molecules comprise a closed system: the room has been effectively sealed off with its doors and windows closed for several hours, with no energy or air added to or removed from it. This means the room has had time for the air particles to jostle around and distribute themselves randomly. What we expect when we walk into the room is that the air molecules will be relatively evenly distributed throughout the room with approximately the same number of molecules on either side. What we don’t expect is that all of the air molecules will be on one side of the room with a vacuum on the other side. Most of you probably couldn’t explain why you’d be astonished to find all of the air on just one side of the room — you intuitively sense that this would be extremely odd — but there is a sound reason for this expectation that is rooted in probability.

Let’s construct what scientists call a toy model, which is a very simplified example of a situation you wish to study, in order to understand the fundamentals. Our toy model consists of a room divided in half with only two air molecules in it, an oxygen molecule and a nitrogen molecule. Here are the possible arrangements of these molecules:

miracles_thermo2

miracles_thermo1

miracles_thermo3

miracles_thermo4

Each possible arrangement is called a “state” of the room. We see that there are four possible states for the room. There are two states in which the air molecules are distributed evenly in the room, and two in which both of the air molecules are on one side of the room. The probability of finding a room in a state in which both molecules are on one side of the room is 2 out of 4, or 50%.

Easy enough. But things start to change quickly the more particles we add. Let’s see what happens when we double the number of molecules to four — one nitrogen, one oxygen, one argon, and one carbon dioxide.

miracles_thermo5

miracles_thermo6

miracles_thermo7

miracles_thermo8

miracles_thermo9

miracles_thermo10

miracles_thermo11

miracles_thermo12

miracles_thermo13

miracles_thermo14

miracles_thermo15

miracles_thermo16

miracles_thermo17

miracles_thermo18

miracles_thermo19

miracles_thermo20

As you can see, there are a total of 16 possible states for the room. Again, there are only two states in which the air molecules are on one side of the room, but now there are many more total possible states than before. The probability of all four molecules spontaneously arranging themselves on one side of the room is 2 out of 16, or 12.5%. This is a lot less probable than in the previous example, but not so low that you would be astonished to find all of the air molecules on one side of the room.

Based on this toy model, we can write the mathematical expression for the total number of possible arrangements of air molecules in a two-sided room as

total # of states = (2 sides of the room)# of molecules

or

2N

That’s 2 raised to the power of the number of molecules. For the two-molecule example, that’s 22 = 4, and for the four-molecule example, that’s 24 = 16.

Let’s consider a room with N = 100 air molecules in it, and calculate the probability of finding all of the molecules on one side of the room:

total # of permutations = 2100 = 1030

Even with a paltry 100 air molecules in the room, the probability of finding them all on one side of the room is a minuscule 2 out of 1030 possible permutations. Let’s put this in perspective. If the air molecules randomly redistributed themselves every second, you’d have to wait a trillion lifetimes of the universe before you’d have a reasonable expectation of finding all 100 air molecules on one side of the room.

Let’s now consider a typical room, which has N = 1027 air molecules in it. That number is a 1 with 27 zeroes after it

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

or a billion billion billion.

The total number of possible arrangements of the air molecules in a room divided into two equal parts is

2N = 21027

or 2 raised to the power of a billion billion billion. It’s an absurdly large number.

There are still only two possible ways for all of the air molecules to be on one side of the room or the other, so the probability of finding a room in a state in which all of the air molecules are, by random chance, on one side of the room or the other is 2 out of 21027. To say that this is an extremely improbable state is beyond understatement.

In fact, by any reasonable definition, we can say that it’s effectively impossible for the air molecules in a room to spontaneously arrange themselves to be on just one side of the room. But notice that it’s not strictly impossible. The probability of finding the air molecules on one side of the room by chance is extremely, extremely low, so low that we would never expect it to happen in the normal course of nature, but the probability is not precisely zero.

This toy model neglects other important physical effects, but it suffices to demonstrate the point that a lot of physical systems are largely governed by probabilities. Personally, I think this is how God has built leeway into the system of the universe to do the seemingly impossible in the natural world without violating the laws of nature. It is God, or an agent of God, doing what is effectively impossible, i.e. impossible for us, but not strictly impossible, and certainly not impossible for God.

Let’s consider a biblical example — the parting of the Red Sea. In Exodus 14, Moses is described as stretching out his hand at God’s command and parting the Red Sea so that the millions of people of Israel could cross it and escape from the pursuing Egyptians. This is referenced later in Deuteronomy 26:8 as one of the “signs and wonders” (oth and mopheth) God used to display his power and free Israel from Egypt. The probability of finding the waters of the Red Sea spontaneously parting on their own would be as exceptionally low as in our example of the air molecules in the room spontaneously arranging themselves on just one side. It’s so low that we would never expect it to happen in the usual course of nature, but, as we saw in the example of air molecules, it’s not strictly impossible.

Do not misunderstand me. I am not: a) claiming that all physical miracles have a foundation in probability — the miracle (semeion) of Jesus turning water into wine would involve a different physical mechanism than that illustrated by statistical thermodynamics; b) claiming that all miracles are physical in character; or c) attempting to explain miracles in a way that detracts from their miraculousness. That physical miracles could fit into the natural framework of the universe makes them no less wondrous than if they defied the laws of nature. Think of it this way. It’s not strictly impossible for you to win the Mega Millions lottery four times in a row — the probability is approximately 1 out of 1025, about 100,000 times more probable than finding 100 air molecules on one side of a room. However, the odds are so overwhelmingly against it that it no one would believe it happened without someone intervening in the system to force this outcome. Isn’t that what we’re talking about with miracles?

According to the laws of physics, a miracle like parting the Red Sea does not violate the laws of nature, it just requires a far greater power over the forces of nature than we humans could ever have.

In the next part, I’ll look at miracles from the perspective of the weird and wondrous world of quantum mechanics.

Since posting, I’ve lightly edited this article for clarification of two points: 1) not all physical miracles are probabilistic in nature; and 2) not all miracles are physical in character. Some miracles described in the Bible, such as the creation of the universe, the creation of the nefesh (animal soul) and the neshama (human soul), and Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, are entirely supernatural in character.

Parting of the Red Sea image credit: The Swordbearer.

Theory is not fact

Whenever someone even hints at a criticism of Darwinism or “climate change,” the True Believers come out of the woodwork to try to shame the heretics. You can always tell who they are, because they say things like “climate change is a fact” or “evolution is a fact the same way gravity is a fact.” The implication here is, you wouldn’t be so dumb as to deny the reality of gravity, would you, so why are you denying the reality of evolution or climate change?

But here the True Believer shows his blind faith, for with his inability to distinguish between fact and theory he exposes himself as someone whose understanding of how science works doesn’t even rise to the level of middle school. Another way to describe this sort of blind faith is science fetishism. As I told the anklebiting commenter to Surak’s article, we do not permit people to fetishize science here.

A fact is something we observe; for example, that objects in free fall accelerate toward the Earth’s center at a rate of 9.8 m/s2 or that the Moon orbits the Earth with an average orbital speed of 3700 km/s. There is no doubt of the fact that objects fall toward each other, because we see it and measure it all the time; this is what the science fetishist means when he says “gravity is a fact.” But what he apparently doesn’t realize is that gravity is a theory. Theories are not facts, they are models that attempt to make sense of the facts. And, as it turns out, there are several theories of gravity that attempt to make sense of what we know: Newton’s universal law of gravitation, Einstein’s general theory of relativity, modified Newtonian dynamics, and so on. And, as we all know from the various scientific revolutions that have taken place in the last several hundred years, no theory is invulnerable to being overturned by new and better evidence or new ways of thinking.

When a science fetishist leaps into a conversation to tell you that evolution is a fact, the first thing you should tell him is that you are fully aware of the fact that different lifeforms have emerged over the course of the Earth’s natural history and that lifeforms have been observed to change over relatively short periods of time. And then ask him which theory explains it — microevolution, macroevolution, speciation, microbial evolution, or chemical evolution — and why. At that point you will expose what Hugh Ross describes as the evolution shell game when fetishists argue about evolution, wherein he will either substitute the facts of fossils and other evidence for theory or well-established forms of evolution for those that are not at all supported.

As for climate change as “fact,” I can only surmise that our True Believer is not aware that scientists — including the famous hockey stick guy, himself — are now finally admitting that there has been no significant warming in the last two decades. It’s only a matter of time before the whole edifice of human-caused “climate change” collapses.

UPDATE: im2l844 asks in the comments:

Do you have a concise response to the “consensus” argument that is invariably trotted out by the AGW faithful?

Yes, there are two responses: who cares? and what consensus?

Who cares if there’s a consensus? Reality isn’t decided by a vote. There was a time when 97% of scientists thought the Earth was the center of the universe, so that tells you the value of consensus.

The reality is, there isn’t a consensus about global warming or climate change or whatever the True Believer wants to call it. The 97% statistic that is invariably trotted out is based on a very small number of scientists polled — just 77 — who met the criteria for a 2-minute survey as part of a student’s thesis. What the True Believer either doesn’t know or refuses to acknowledge is that over 31,000 scientists from an array of scientific fields have signed a petition stating they believe “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”

Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

In which the blind faith of a True Believer is exposed.

In response to my claims of philosophical corruption in biology and climate change, JLAfan2001 comments:

All of this is just biased assertions. No links or evidence was provided anywhere to support anything that was written in this article. Why? Because there isn’t any evidence for it. Climate change and Darwinian evolution are proven facts because the actual evidence is overwhelming in favor of them. Stop spreading misinformation.

A blog is not a research journal, and it’s unreasonable to expect a blogger to provide links and evidence for every claim he makes. On the other hand, if a reader wishes to engage in a meaningful discussion, he has the obligation to fairly consider and give a thoughtful reply to the claims made.

Darwinism, as some of you are hopefully aware, is based on four principles: common descent, random mutation, natural selection, and gradualism. It is not enough for Darwin to be right about one of these ideas; if any one of these foundations of Darwin’s theory is undone by the evidence, then Darwin was wrong.

There is no need to discuss common descent of all animal life on Earth for two reasons: the evidence for common descent is virtually conclusive, and there is no conflict between science and scripture on this point. There is also convincing evidence that random genetic mutations do occur. There is nothing in Christian scripture that conflicts with the notion of genetic mutation. The problems with Darwinism in regard to both science and scripture occurred from the beginning because of the lack of evidence for natural selection and gradualism, as Darwin’s friend, Thomas Huxley, pointed out to him. There is now overwhelming evidence against natural selection and gradualism.

Consider the following evidence provided by naturalists Peter and Rosemary Grant who studied Darwin’s famed Galapagos finches for about 25 years. Keep in mind that they are highly acclaimed supporters of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The following comes from the Wikipedia article about them and their work:

They won the 2005 Balzan Prize for Population Biology [2]. The Balzan Prize citation states:

“Peter and Rosemary Grant are distinguished for their remarkable long-term studies demonstrating evolution in action in Galápagos finches. They have demonstrated how very rapid changes in body and beak size in response to changes in the food supply are driven by natural selection. They have also elucidated the mechanisms by which new species arise and how genetic diversity is maintained in natural populations. The work of the Grants has had a seminal influence in the fields of population biology, evolution and ecology.” [Emphasis added]

It always amazes me that the followers of Darwin are so dogmatic they don’t realize the real significance of the evidence they uncover. Darwin was able to spend only a limited amount of time studying the finches of the Galápagos — long enough to observe groups of finches that had differences in beak and body structures, which seemed to be determined by available food supplies, but too short a period of time to actually witness changes the way that the Grants did.

The key words from the Grants’ observations are “…very rapid changes.” The Grants witnessed changes as they were taking place over a period of a few years. Darwinian evolution cannot take place like this. Yes, random mutations take place, but the overwhelming evidence is that positive genetic mutations are rare and do not occur often enough to allow natural selection to bring about such significant effects over the incredibly short period of time the Grants reported. According to classic Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism, natural selection cannot cause large changes in body and beak over a period of a few years or generations. The evidence shows that some other process must be at work, and the likely candidate is epigenetics.

The Darwinist’s basic premise about time and evolution was stated by Harvard biologist George Wald in Scientific American in August 1954,

Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the “impossible” becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracles.

For Darwinism to work, very long periods of time and countless generations are required.

Wald’s argument was undone in the 1970s when Elso Barghoorn, a Harvard paleontologist, discovered fossils of bacteria and algae in rocks that were about 3.5 billion years old. What this fossil evidence shows is that life occurred on Earth almost immediately (in geological terms) after the formation of the oceans at about 3.8 billion years ago. Water is necessary for life as we know it, and the evidence that life suddenly (in geological and biological terms) appeared just after water showed up in significant amounts completely undercuts Wald’s argument. As a result of this conclusive new evidence, Scientific American published a retraction of Wald’s article in 1979. Because of this time problem, Darwinism now has no credible hypothesis about the origins of life on Earth.

Also in the 1970s, eminent paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould advanced their hypothesis of punctuated equilibrium in response to the severe problems the fossil record posed for Darwinism. Niles Eldredge was quoted in a Nov. 4, 1980 New York Times article:

The fossil record we were told to find for the past 120 years (since Darwin) does not exist.

The plain truth is that the fossil evidence has fractured the field of evolution.

The genetic evidence discovered during the last few decades has not only failed to support every version of Darwinism, it has simply destroyed the Darwinist notions of natural selection and gradualism. First, this from the book Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, by the well-known science writer and ardent Darwin supporter Carl Zimmer:

But they [referring to Darwinists] assumed that the genes that built fruit flies would be peculiar to insects and other arthropods. Other animals don’t have the segmented exoskeleton of arthropods, so biologists assumed that their very different bodies must be built by very different genes.

Joy turned to shock when biologists began to find Hox genes in other animals — in frogs, mice, and humans; in velvet worms, barnacles, and starfish. In every case, parts of their Hox genes were almost identical, regardless of the animal that carried them.

Biologists discovered that the Hox genes did the same job in all of these animals: specifying different sections of the head-to-tail axis just as they do in insects. Hox genes in these different animals are so similar that scientists can replace a defective Hox gene in a fruit fly with the corresponding Hox gene from a mouse, and the fly will still grow its proper body parts.

In the simplest possible words, the genetic evidence described by Zimmer refutes the Darwinist and Neo-Darwinist ‘tree of life.’ The Darwinists are seriously wrong.

The genetic evidence gets even worse for Darwin’s theory based on natural selection and gradualism. The following comes from noted biology professor, Sean Carroll, who in his 2005 book, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo, quotes and supports Thomas Huxley’s opposition to Christian beliefs:

As a natural process, of the same character as the development of a tree from its seed, or of a fowl from its egg, evolution excludes creation and all other kinds of supernatural intervention.

Once again, we find an ardent supporter of Darwinism who is incapable of understanding the most important implications of his own research. Carroll draws these conclusions from the best and most recent fossil and genetic evidence:

For more than a century, biologists had assumed that different types of animals were genetically constructed in completely different ways … But contrary to the expectations of any biologist, most of the genes first identified as governing major aspects of fruit fly body organization were found to have exact counterparts that did the same thing in most animals, including ourselves. [emphasis added]

The discovery that the same sets of genes control the formation and pattern of body regions and body parts with similar functions (but very different designs) in insects, vertebrates, and other animals has forced a complete rethinking of animal history, the origins of structures, and the nature of diversity. [emphasis added]

…the prevailing view of the architects and adherents of Modern Synthesis was that the process of random mutation and selection would so alter DNA and protein sequences that only closely related species would bear homologous genes…Virtually everything I have described…has been discovered in the past twenty years … they have forced biologists to rethink completely their picture of how forms evolve.” [emphasis added]

The fact that such different forms of animals are shaped by very similar sets of tool kit proteins was entirely unanticipated … the discovery … has forced a complete change in our picture of how complex structures arise.” [emphasis added]

Carroll appears incapable of drawing the final conclusion that is irresistible to anyone who is not a dogmatic Darwinist. The evidence from the field of Evo Devo conclusively demonstrates that classic Darwinists and Neo-Darwinists need to “rethink completely” how evolution took place. Let’s help Carroll out and state the obvious: Darwinists have always been and continue to be wrong about the way life evolved on Earth.

Carroll goes on to put a final nail in the coffin of Darwinism. Open your mind if you can to the following evidence from Endless Forms Most Beautiful:

The surprising message from Evo Devo is that all of the genes for building large, complex animal bodies long predated the appearance of those bodies in the Cambrian Explosion. The genetic potential was in place for at least 50 million years, and probably a fair bit longer, before large, complex forms emerged. [emphasis added]

It does not appear that scarcity is a fault of the fossil record. Without confirmed body fossils, paleontology is reluctant to conjure up more than a vague image of a featureless, wormlike creature for the last common ancestor…” [emphasis added]

If we can’t say much for certain from the fossil record, what can we say about the animal ancestors based on other kinds of evidence? We can make inferences based on what is shared among descendants. This is the critical logic used in Evo Devo to peer into the distant past.” [emphasis added]

…the common ancestor of bilaterians…(…Urbilateria…)…had a tool kit of at least six or seven Hox genes, Pax-6, Distal-less, tinman, and a few hundred more body-building genes. It is intriguing to ponder just what so many genes were doing in Urbilateria. [emphasis added]

So, according to the best and latest genetic evidence, the tool box genes necessary for the formation of eyes (Pax-6), hearts (tinman), limbs (Distal-less) and many other complex structures of large and complex animal forms must have predated the Cambrian explosion of animal life forms by at least 50 million years. But, it is during the Cambrian Age when all of these structures, organs, and basic body plans are first observed in the fossil record. What this evidence means in terms of the Darwinian evolution hypothesis is that some very primitive, worm-like, as yet undiscovered animal form must have possessed all of the genes necessary for the Cambrian explosion even though it didn’t have any of the complex structures itself.

So, the best a Darwinist can do to reconcile the evidence with current theory is to “conjure” a primitive organism that developed these genes vital to complex life forms even though no advantage had been gained from the genes and, therefore, natural selection had no chance to work. Carroll’s genetic evidence is irrefutable and his logic is devastating to Darwinism. But, as a devoted secular evolutionist, he does not take and is likely incapable of taking the last step demanded by both evidence, logic, and a commitment to science. So it is left to you to draw and honestly state the only possible conclusion:

Darwin was wrong about natural selection and gradualism.

For someone like our doubtful commenter, being able to admit and publicly state Darwin’s limitations is a test of one’s commitment to true science. Can he pass that test by stating here and now that Darwin was wrong?

Science as true worship, Part III

In Part I of this series, Sarah talked about the Christian influence on the philosophy of science and the increasing corruption of science the further it moves from its Christian roots. In Part II, she discussed how to avoid this corruption. In Part III, Surak delves into where science has dangerously strayed from the pursuit of truth.

Modern science arose in only one time and place: Western Europe, during its peak as the realm of Christendom. Science as an institution is the result of cultures based on Christian beliefs, values, and faith. No other belief system or culture that has ever existed has proven itself capable of originating or sustaining science. With the collapse of Christian culture in Western Europe and North America, one of the most urgent questions mankind faces is whether or not there is any hope that some emerging belief system or culture other than Christianity can effectively support the continued scientific search for knowledge.

The evidence says no. The only likely candidate for the next cultural champion of science is the secular humanist culture that has replaced Christian culture in Western Europe and Canada, and is currently locked in a winner-take-all struggle with Christian culture in the United States. Secular humanists constantly congratulate themselves on how scientifically superior they are to Christians, but the evidence leaves no doubt that humanists have done nothing but corrupt science in the fields of study they’ve dominated for the last century and a half. Let’s examine them.

Biology

It was inevitable that Darwin would get lots of things wrong. He was a scientific pioneer who came up with his theory before the first major work was done on dinosaur fossils, so he couldn’t have known about the profound effects natural catastrophes had on the development of life on earth. He wrote his books before the discovery of the Burgess Shale fossils that led to the discovery of the Cambrian Explosion of animal life about 540 million years ago. All of the fossil evidence uncovered since the publication of Origin of Species has destroyed Darwin’s primary conjecture of a gradual evolution of life on earth, as the modern biologist Niles Eldredge made very clear to his fellow biologists in the early 1970s.

Darwin also formulated his theory long before all of the great advances in the field of genetics. The most recent discoveries in the new field of Evolutionary Development (Evo Devo), which combines the study of embryology with the study of evolution, has utterly destroyed the Neo-Darwinian notion of the ‘tree of life.’

None of this has been publicly admitted by biologists, because biology is no longer a faithful servant of science. Biology’s first loyalty is to the militantly missionary faith of atheistic secular humanism. Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s original arch defender, initiated the use of evolution theory to attack the beliefs and influence of Christianity even though he did not believe in two key parts of Darwinism: gradualism and natural selection. Huxley rightly pointed out to his friend and colleague that there was no evidence for these necessary elements of early evolutionary theory. Darwin countered that people should be patient because as yet undiscovered fossil evidence was sure to confirm his hypotheses. The fossil and genetic evidence has done just the opposite, but humanists dogmatically oppose any challenge to Darwin’s beliefs because he has been anointed as one of the three great prophets of atheistic humanism.

There is a simple way to test this assertion. Find a professional biologist and try to get him to say the following, “Darwin was wrong about most things.” This statement is undeniably true. Darwin was a true scientist worthy of honor, and a case can be made that Darwin’s contributions in the field of biology are equal to those of Copernicus in astrophysics. But, physicists have no problem giving Copernicus credit for his immense contribution to modern science while fully accepting and publicly acknowledging that he was wrong about a lot of things. Biologists who cannot or will not make a similar public statement about Darwin’s limitations because of their opposition to Christianity are not true scientists, they are apologists for atheism who are corrupting science.

Behavioral Science

The effects of secular humanism are even worse than the corruption of an existing science such as biology. Secular humanism has proven to be an absolute barrier to new science. The other two prophets of atheistic humanism, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, are truly disturbing examples of the deadening effects of humanism on science.

Marx’s so-called ‘scientific socialism’ was dominant for generations in the social sciences. The application of truly scientific beliefs based on Christianity led to genuine science, the Industrial Revolutions, and the rise of governments based on the observance of human rights. Efforts to reform societies according to Marx’s atheistic ‘science’ led to the horrendous death, destruction, and inhumanity of the communist movement. It is truly appalling that after such complete theoretical and practical failure, Marxism is still influential on America’s college campuses.

Freud, the other great prophet of atheism, dominated the study of individual behavior from the beginning of the 20th century. Freud was a charlatan who couldn’t even cure himself or offer any credible evidence for his beliefs. He gained his immense power over behavioral science by simply telling humanists what they wanted to hear — that Christianity is bad. His influence and that of many other atheist intellectuals has prevented psychology from becoming a true science. Again, if you doubt this, ask yourself, “Where are the great accomplishments of the behavioral sciences?”

Around the time Marx and Darwin were becoming influential, true scientists in the field of medicine were developing the germ theory of disease. Through the work of genuine scientists, such as the devoutly Christian Louis Pasteur, medical science has saved and improved countless millions of lives through advances in sterilization and immunology. If psychology, sociology, economics, and the other behavioral disciplines had become true sciences, there would be similar scientific accomplishments and benefits to humankind by now. There is a reason that emotional disorders like chronic depression cannot be prevented or cured, and that reason is, psychology is not yet a true science. It will never be a true science as long as the study of human behavior is dominated by humanists who consistently bend science in their pursuit of social influence and political power.

Humanists will never renounce the three greatest prophets of atheism, because Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudianism form the dogmatic foundation of the secular anti-Christian belief system. Darwin is used to argue that God is not necessary. Freud gave a thin scientific veneer to the atheist lie that Christian values constitute unhealthy restrictions on human desires. Marx justified an all-out assault on Christian culture by falsely characterizing it as an intolerable oppression of the masses. The behavioral disciplines will only become true sciences if secular humanism is overthrown and the barriers to truth that humanism has built over the last fifteen decades are torn down.

Climate Change

The corrupting influence of humanism on science is getting worse. The failed science of climate change demonstrates that not only does humanism stand in the way of science, it is diverting humankind in the direction of collective insanity.

The first clue that something was terribly wrong in the study of ‘global warming’ was the assertion that the science is settled. No true scientist would ever utter or condone such a blatantly anti-scientific statement. Science is never settled! It will never be settled unless people someday achieve a god-like understanding of the world in which they exist. The greatest scientists in the study of physics understand this and would recoil in disgust at any suggestion that the great questions in the fields of astrophysics or quantum mechanics are settled. Any person who makes such a statement or agrees with it is a dangerous enemy of science.

Climate change alarmists constantly disregard the basic law of science, which is to go where the evidence takes you no matter what. They violate the rule, because humanist political goals are more important to them than the search for truth, which Christians hold as sacred. Climate change activists posing as scientists have ignored the evidence about global temperatures from satellites that shows no global warming for almost two decades, they’ve ignored the evidence about global temperatures from weather balloons that confirms the satellite evidence, and they have been caught shamelessly manipulating the ground station evidence so that it conforms to their failed climate models.

Christian beliefs, values, and faith lifted the majority of mankind out of ignorance, squalor, and tyranny through genuine science, the Industrial Revolutions, and the pursuit of human rights. At the beginning of the 20th century about three-quarters of the world’s population lived in abject poverty. At the end of the century only about one-quarter of humanity remained in poverty. The world economy fueled by fossil sources of energy and fired by the Christian scientific spirit could put an end to poverty by the middle of the 21st century if current economic trends are allowed to continue.

The stark reality that mankind should be focused on is the estimated 18 million people around the world who still die as a result of poverty each year. If humanists succeed in stopping economic growth by restricting the use of fossil fuels, over a half billion people could die needlessly of poverty by 2050. Climate alarmists have expressed no concern about these hundreds of millions of victims of poverty. Instead the anti-scientists of the global warming crusade obsess about saving polar bears and preventing a modest rise in sea levels, which even if it occurred would pose only a relatively mild inconvenience to nations free of poverty. It is truly insane to believe that science has achieved the ability to control the climate of the world. It is nowhere near that goal. It is absolutely insane to stop the economic progress that is benefitting billions of people in order to prevent mythical hazards. We can only hope that the evidence that refutes climate change theory becomes so overwhelming that it will be impossible to ignore.

Christians have allowed themselves to become alienated from the science generated by Christian beliefs and faith. There is no past or foreseeable alternative to Christian culture as the champion of science. The humanist corruption of, resistance to, and abuse of science must be ended. Christians have to take back science and turn it back into the search for God’s truth.

For the rational person, is faith a bad word?

I had the chance to speak with Oxford mathematician, John Lennox, while he was visiting Austin a couple of weeks ago, and as an experienced Christian apologist, he offered me some very good advice. One piece of advice that surprised me, however, was that I should limit my use of the word “faith” in conjunction with science.

The problem is, while we Christians understand what is meant by the word “faith,” atheists don’t. The word has been co-opted and corrupted to mean “blind faith,” as in “believing without reason or evidence” or “believing in spite of evidence to the contrary.” Here’s a typical example (sent to me by an atheist on Twitter):

blackmore_faith

Christians and atheists use the same words, but it should be evident we’re speaking different languages. For the atheist, faith is the act of surrendering your intellect. However, C. S. Lewis probably put it best when he explained that faith is, in fact, the opposite of that: it is the act of holding onto a belief you once accepted through reason in spite of your transitory emotions.

There is a wonderful example of faith in Carl Sagan’s novel, Contact, which did not make it to the film adaptation. In it, Dr. Arroway, who understands and believes in the laws of physics, is admiring an enormous Foucault pendulum. Her friend, the not-quite-priest, Palmer Joss, asks her if she’s willing to test her faith in the laws of physics by placing herself just a little beyond where the pendulum is predicted to stop in its upward swing. (See the video below.) Admirably, she does so, but admits to having her faith shaken a bit as the several-hundred-pound weight at the end of the pendulum was swinging towards her face. This is precisely what Lewis meant by having faith–holding on to a reasonable belief in spite of your emotions.

There is another, slightly different, sense in which Christians use the word “faith,” which doesn’t have anything to do with emotions. It means to accept something as likely to be true in spite of your inability to prove it. Christian philosophers, William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga, point out ways in which we take things on faith, probably without even realizing it. For instance, most of us take it on faith that there is a past. Does that sound ludicrous to you? Well, try proving that the universe didn’t just pop into existence five minutes ago, complete with fake memories of everything that we think happened in the past. You can’t prove it didn’t happen. Try proving that you aren’t in the Matrix and being manipulated to think you’re experiencing things that you really aren’t. You can’t. Yet you very likely go through your daily life taking it on faith that reality is reality and that you are in fact experiencing these things and that your memories are real, because that is a reasonable thing to do.

Atheists engage in faith every bit as much as Christians, but the ones who object to “faith” are either too blind to realize they engage in it, or they pick and choose what sort of faith is acceptable and what is not.

Faith is not a bad word. Unfortunately, Lennox is right, and you won’t get very far with non-Christians if you insist on sticking to the strict definitions of words that carry emotional baggage. By all means, correct atheists who accuse you of having faith as though it’s a bad thing, but when trying to convince them that Christian beliefs are reasonable and not at all incompatible with, say, modern science, you will have to use other words. For all their talk of reason, most atheists are no different than most people in general, and are far more readily convinced by rhetoric than by dialectic. In other words, they are more easily moved by clever appeals to emotion than by strictly logical arguments.

Jewish authority on scripture

I grew up atheist in a secular country, so my experience with Christianity was very limited until I moved to the U.S. As I explained in my testimony, I came to my belief in God and acceptance of Jesus Christ mostly through my work in astrophysics, and particularly through the work of an Israeli physicist named Gerald Schroeder.

Schroeder is an Orthodox Jew who has been living in Israel since the 1970s, and he describes himself as an applied theologian. I have found his commentary on Genesis and modern science to be extremely insightful and inspired. Not everyone agrees with Schroeder’s interpretation of Genesis and its compatibility with modern science, but nevertheless, it is honest work based on deep scholarship, an obvious love for God, and respect for both scripture and science. It was through Schroeder’s work that I came to believe in the God of the Bible, and eventually to accept Jesus Christ.

Most Christians I have encountered through public speaking events and this website are intrigued by Schroeder’s work and willing to explore it, but I recently had a reader try to warn me against trusting Schroeder for the reason that he is an “unbelieving Jew.” According to this person, Schroeder, as a Jew, has failed to recognize his Messiah, so his authority on scripture is called into question. It never occurred to me, as someone who came to Christianity by way of Jewish wisdom, that I should mistrust an Old Testament authority, because he has not accepted Jesus. When I began my ministry several years ago, I had been told by some Christian friends to expect a bit of this, but I was still taken aback by it.

I contacted “Rabbi B,” a friend who is a Messianic Jew and a rabbi, and asked him whether a person’s failure to recognize Jesus as the Messiah is a sufficient reason to reject his authority on scripture. Below is his response.

The idea that Jews who do not embrace embrace Jesus as the Messiah can’t be trusted to elucidate the Scriptures is a specious argument. Paul indicates in Corinthians, I believe, that when the unbelieving Jews read the Scriptures, there is a veil over their eyes which prevents them from recognizing the Messiah.

But this does not preclude their understanding of the Scriptures generally or that they have not been given a certain amount of understanding concerning other matters.

Jesus also stated that though the Jews diligently search the Scriptures, they fail to recognize the Messiah. Again, this does not mean they have no insights to offer, it simply means they do not recognize or have failed to identify who the Messiah is. In fact, we have a very old tradition that the patriarchs all experienced blindness. Abraham was blind to who the son of promise would be — he experienced a spiritual blindness. Isaac experienced a physical blindness when he was fooled by Jacob, as his eyes were dim. Jacob’s blindness was due to the environment, as it was darkness which prevented him from seeing Leah, when he thought he was marrying Rachel.

Here is the interesting part. The rabbis look at the blindness of the three Patriarchs and conclude that it portends the blindness of Israel when the Messiah comes, that they will not recognize Him when He comes. Which, as we know, has been very much the case.

Paul, alludes to this idea in Romans, I believe, when he speaks of a ‘blindness in part’ that has come upon Israel, particularly regarding the identity of the Messiah. Again, it’s a blindness IN PART … not complete and utter blindness. It is important to remember too, the Jews were entrusted with the very oracles of G-d, i.e. the Scriptures, again, according to Romans.

Rabbi B offers more insightful commentary at his blog, and may be contacted at rebbaruch10 -at- gmail -dot- com (replace the ‘at’ and ‘dot’ with the appropriate symbols).

Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

In which we discuss the confluence of biblical wisdom and evolutionary science.

Ken writes in the comments to “Is God’s word difficult to understand?” the following:

This is a very interesting site. I like reading scientific articles on here and anyone who visits your site can learn a lot about science. However everyone who comes here needs to be careful when comparing the unique scriptural interpretations found here to 2000 years of Biblical understanding. TF is correct. The Bible is not impossible for average people to understand and one does not need to jump thru hoops altering the clear meaning of scripture in order to make it comport with the latest of atheistic evolutionary Beliefs in order to remain true to empirical science. The nature of time at the fringes of the universe is an intriguing discussion, and there is no doubt that science supports scripture, but then you swerve into supporting Evolution, saying, “It does not matter that evolution is scientifically correct in its finding that the mortal human body is biologically related to that of other primates. The basics of evolutionary science are entirely consistent with the biblical account?” None of that is true. There is no evidence of it. I am amazed you would say that. I also believe what you said above is a misrepresentation of both Genesis and Corinthians 15:46-47. You are probably relying on the unique interpretations of Dr. Schroeder who fails to recognize his own Jewish Messiah as described in the Old Testament in which he is such an expert. So although I enjoy your site, and look forward to seeing an article on the “discovery” of “gravitational waves” as has been in the news today, I do not agree with some of your theology as it seems to be twisted in favor of satisfying the claims of “science falsely so-called” —in some cases, unintentionally, invalidating parts of essential Christian doctrine.

The basics of evolutionary science as it stands today in 2016 are completely consistent with the Biblical account of creation. Both biology and scripture agree on the following:

  1. Life began after the formation of oceans on Earth
  2. The first forms of life seem to have been built into the creation of the universe
  3. Vegetation preceded animal life
  4. There was a sudden explosion of animal life
  5. There is no scientific explanation for the sudden appearance of animal life
  6. The first animal life appeared in the oceans
  7. Then come animal forms that crawled from the oceans
  8. Then come great reptiles
  9. Then winged flying creatures
  10. Then mammals
  11. Then hominids
  12. Finally, unique beings appear in hominid form that have consciousness
  13. Science has no explanation for human consciousness
  14. All species of life on Earth are connected to each other
  15. Biology and scripture are in total agreement on the order of the stages in the development of life

This is a remarkable amount of agreement between modern biological science and Christian scriptures. He is wrong when he says this is not true.

I am grateful to Dr. Schroeder for bringing to our attention something so obvious and important that I am embarrassed to admit I didn’t see it myself. But that is what genius so often does for us — helps us see something we are blind to. Unless one thinks that God would be very casual in the use of the words chosen to express his message to humankind, it has to be admitted that the very different words ‘make’ and ‘create’ were used in Genesis 1 for an important reason.

Schroeder’s genius was recognizing that the word ‘make’ means to take whatever is already available and fashion it into something new. That’s what God caused to happen when he took the basic primate body plan and reshaped it into human form through some process we label evolution but do not adequately understand.

The meaning of the word ‘create’ on the other hand is something very different. We can take our cue from the first use of the word ‘create’ in the Bible to understand what God did with humans. God’s first act of creation brought a universe into existence from nothing. So when the Bible then says that humans were created in God’s image, that can only mean that the spiritual, non-material aspect of humankind was brought forth without using anything from this world. 1 Corinthians 15:46-47 confirms in a totally unambiguous way the difference between making people and creating people:

The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.

What else could Genesis 1 and 1 Corinthians be saying about God’s work in relation to humankind? Ken’s criticism of Schroeder is unfounded.

It is worth the effort to clear up the confusion around evolutionary theory as much as possible. Darwinism in its classic form did maintain some things that were not stated in Genesis. The four pillars of Darwinism in its original form were common descent, random mutation, natural selection, and gradualism. The genetic and fossil evidence in favor of common descent is overwhelming. Common descent is the closest thing to a proven theory in all of science. But, the Bible has no problem with common descent because every life form on Earth was brought into existence by God, so of course all life on Earth is connected.

The evidence for the other pillars of classic Darwinism is far less favorable. Random mutations do occur in the DNA of all animal species including human beings. But, there is currently no hard evidence that random mutations work in a way that make species stronger. The evidence for natural selection is almost non-existent, which is why even Thomas Huxley rejected it. The fossil evidence has completely overthrown Darwin’s most important principal, gradualism. That is why Stephen Jay Gould had to propose ‘punctuated equilibrium’ as an alternative to gradualism. Gould’s attempt to save Darwinism from the contradictory fossil evidence created more problems for evolutionary theory than it solved. Punctuated equilibrium makes the combination of random mutation and natural selection completely untenable by removing the vast amounts of time needed to make the Darwinian process mathematically plausible.

But, all efforts to defend Darwinism in its classic, Neo-Darwinist, Modern Synthesis, or punctuated equilibrium forms are now moot because of the findings of Evolutionary Development (Evo-Devo). Evo-Devo has found, contrary to everything Darwinists have ever believed, that all of the animal phyla are connected in ways that make Darwinism impossible. In the words of one of the pioneers of Evo-Devo and a loyal Darwinist, Sean B. Carroll, in his book Endless Forms Most Beautiful:

                  …the prevailing view of the architects and adherents of Modern Synthesis was that the process of random mutation and selection would so alter DNA and protein sequences that only closely related species would bear homologous genes…Virtually everything I have described…has been discovered in the past twenty years…they have forced biologists to rethink completely their picture of how forms evolve. p285 (emphasis added)

The fact that such different forms of animals are shaped by very similar sets of tool kit proteins was entirely unanticipated … the discovery … has forced a complete change in our picture of how complex structures arise. p285 (emphasis added)

In other words, current evolutionary theory is wrong. Most biologists are either ignorant of the findings of Evolutionary Development or are loathe to admit what the most recent genetic evidence so clearly demonstrates; Darwinism in all of its variations is a failed hypothesis. What evolutionary science now shows is that something totally inexplicable in Darwinist terms happened about 540 million years ago in what is now called the Cambrian Explosion or the Biological Big Bang. Animal life appears to have exploded out of nothing – there is no fossil evidence of life forms that preceded it. The Bible has no problem with this latest findings of evolutionary science. Christians understand what happened with the beginning of animal life as one of the three acts of creation that God performed during the Genesis 1 account.

Professor Carroll even confirms in his own way what Christians know to be true. In describing the way interchangeable genes organize all of the various animal life forms, Carroll uses the word ‘logic’ throughout his book (pages 8, 12, 26, 35, 54, 55, 56, 60, 60, 61, 106, 195, and 271 for example) to describe something he believes is the result of a mindless, Darwinian, random process. Logic is the product of a rational mind — its Greek root, logos, is translated as “Word” in the opening passages of the Gospel of John — but Carroll can’t help himself in this seemingly inappropriate use of the word because everything he observes in the operation of animal DNA is so elegantly intricate, efficient, and consistent — something like an unimaginably good computer program. His mind is evidently so closed by Darwinist fundamentalism that it doesn’t occur to him what he is really saying:

His field of evolutionary development is providing significant evidence of a great, creative, rational mind behind the workings of the genes he studies.

This is the current state of evolutionary science and the reason I can say with great confidence that biological science and Christian scriptures are in agreement.

Fools for Christ

God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools, and He has not been disappointed. If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.

— Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia