As We Populists Like to Say

Over the last few weeks, a couple of epic comment threads have broken out here, and they have been revolving around the proposed view that I don’t know what I am talking about. In these cases it had to do with my idea that entropy and evolution are inconsistent, and also my lack of suitable respect for the whole climate change fiasco. The charge has been made that I am not appropriately respectful of the world’s experts. The charge has a certain weight, and so let this be my answer, let this be my apology — a cri de coeur, as we populists like to say.

Let me treat these in ascending order of importance.

First, look at the shape the world is in, and consider the fact that is run by experts. That should rattle us all right off. One wag has noted that an ex is a has been, and a spurt is a drip under pressure, and so there’s that. An expert consultant is someone from fifty miles away who brings a briefcase. Experts can always be hired to testify in court cases, for either side. There should be some leeway for the dubious.

But this does not mean that I am dismissive of genuine expertise. There is such a thing as genuine expertise, and it is held by a distinct subset of those who run the world. One of the distinctive markers of someone who is genuinely educated in his field is that he is humble. He knows how little he knows in his field — and his first impulse is not to demand that laymen confess how little they know in his field. He knows that there are people inside his field who have just memorized the passwords and the codes, plug and chug experts, and that there are people outside who are merely intelligent. He would rather talk with the latter.

Those experts who demand that everyone outside bow down are not really experts. They are priests of the hidden mysteries, and they want us to approach them suitably abashed. They are not really experts, but rather priests and posers, hiding behind jargon. Of course, every man who is truly learned should be treated with dignity and respect. But every high altar dedicated to the great task of crowd control and keeping people in their place needs to have a dead cat thrown at it from time to time, and I have a pile of dead cats right here.

Second, I know that my views on a number of subjects are outliers. I am a pastor, mainly, and yet as a contrarian I think that entropy is not consistent with evolution, I think that the outcome of the Civil War gave us Roe v. Wade, I think climate change is a con being run by power-grabbers, I think that people eat because they are getting fat, not that they get fat because they are eating, I think that the antebellum South was not accurately portrayed by the abolitionists, I think that God created the world six thousand years ago, and I think Beowulf was a work of Christian apologetics. I believe such things without having obtained the appropriate paper credentials authorizing me to say or even think such things. Whenever this is objected to, part of the response is to return to the first point made above.

Another part of the response is to note that I usually have the support of particular individuals from within the guild, who, when they write on these same subjects, are treated with the same contumely that I am. Apparently credentials weren’t the issue. What the establishment wants is compliance, not credentials. The credentials are just a tool they use to get compliance, so long as it works. When it doesn’t work, they don’t give up their insistence on compliance. They are the enforcers of Orwell’s “smelly little orthodoxies.”

Third, we have to remember that for those of us who are seeking to maintain an integrated worldview, disciplines overlap. A mathematician walks into a breakfast diner and orders three eggs over easy, and he gets two eggs back over hard. He remonstrates with the cook, who is standing right behind that little window where they push out the plates. He says that he ordered three eggs. If the cook replies that he is the trained professional, and that he has been slinging hash for lo, these thirty years, he is missing the point. At this moment, his expertise and the expertise of the mathematician overlap. He knows how to cook, but the mathematician knows how to count.

Order must be maintained, of course, and boundaries should be respected. But a border can be crossed from two directions. We need to learn that many of the clashes we have over issues like this are the result of scientists refusing to stay out of political science, and mathematicians venturing into theology. Many times I am accused of going back in the kitchen to harass the cook when all I am doing is sitting at the counter, counting my eggs. One of my eggs is the egg of being very well read in political theory, and the other is the same in theology. If I had a third egg it would be the egg of runaway metaphors. I can do that one too.

Fourth, I have been chided for not entering into respectful dialog with my intellectual adversaries. This is another objection that has to be divided in order to consider it in two aspects. One of the things I have sought to do, when given the privilege of debating various individuals — from Christopher Hitchens to Gordon Stein — is to be respectful, prepared, winsome, and affable. And by winsome, I don’t mean grinning at people through a fence of teeth. I mean loving them. Jesus said to love your neighbor, and He defined who that was — the person in front of us. He didn’t say anything about loving idolatrous abstractions like statism, socialism, feminism, and so on. And I don’t. I hate them with a perfect hatred, and I hope it shows.

Some people are surprised by this affability in person, because they think my writing is quite different from this. They think it is different for the very good reason that it is different. When I am writing for thousands of people, I am not responding to a dinner invitation from Smith, or a suggestion for a tête-à-tête over a beer with Murphy. In those circumstances, I would be as gracious as all get out. Let your speech be gracious, the apostle says, seasoned with salt.

But in this space, I am trying to rally the troops. I want us to man the barricades. Our structures of government are riddled with corruptocrats, and the need of the hour is for us to go into a full Kiev. We can have a discussion at this level when they repent of their coercions. When they put down the guns — with which they enforce their childish perspectives on political science and theology — then we can talk.

The imposition of same sex mirage on states that don’t want it is not an invitation to dialog. The outlawing of perfectly innocent objects like incandescent light bulbs was not a suggestion that we listen to one another’s points of view. The pillaging of the wealthy in the name of “fair-sharing” is piracy and plunder, pure and simple, and not a request for constructive interaction. If I might alter the saying of Chairman Mao, their wickedness comes out of the barrel of a gun. These people are framing mischief with a law. When the foundations are destroyed, what shall the righteous do?

When will you all wake up? When the National Cathedral gets its own SWAT teams?

When we are simply talking, and it is just an exchange of views, I actually believe that I am pretty patient. I hear people out. I do listen to them. This has been my goal at least, and I would be attentive to any admonition that warned I had been personally irritated by somebody. Let your speech be gracious, said the apostle . . .

But when in this space I write on the encroaching tyranny, I am not attempting dialog at all. I am telling people that the thugs in power are tyrants, and that the experts who testify on their behalf are shills. If you want me to stop doing that, then put down the guns. Stop fining bakers, for pity’s sake, because they don’t want to bake a homo-cake. And don’t even think about fining me for writing homo-cake in a blog post. If you want to discover the trouble our republic is in, go find a mirror and look in it.

And last, related to all of this. “I have more understanding than all my teachers: For thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts” (Ps. 119:99-100). The word of God is a skeleton key. It opens every room in the house. There is no way to appeal to this passage without sounding arrogant, and I get that. In this modern age, drilled as we have been by the catechisms of the experts, it even sounds arrogant to us when the psalmist says it. We flinch when we read the words. We are postmodern Christians, and we belong to the Grand Order of the Milquetoast. It is a problem passage for us. “Who is to say?”. . . etc.

But I would rather embrace the problem passage than make my peace with this problem world.

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212 thoughts on “As We Populists Like to Say

  1. Very well put. On most of these subjects the argument has already been framed. Tough to legitimately address an issue when the game is rigged beforehand.

  2. The last paragraph in this post is the reason I read this blog. No other evangelical blogger I’ve read would go there. Thank you Doug for being willing to say and defend the truth of scripture even when it makes you look like an arrogant d-bag. Also, +1 for effectively fitting the word “homo-cake” in a paragraph.

  3. I would hope in my case it is clear I am merely a gentleman insulting someone un-accidentally and more over with my tongue thoroughly chewed too.
    Was my response in-kind not thought through enough or too well thought through?
    Respectfully and also quite ironically-
    JC

  4. The world is most emphatically not ruled by experts, at least not in the United States.  If we were, it would be illegal to use corporal punishment on children, vaccinations would be mandatory, junk food would be illegal (or at least greatly limited in quantity), regular medical exams would be mandatory, schools wouldn’t use standardized testing, tobacco would be banned, and there wouldn’t be fights over teaching creationism in public schools.  Here in America, a complete moron who thinks the moon landing was a hoax and President Obama was born in Kenya gets to cast a vote in November that has the same weight as someone who doesn’t suffer from such disabilities, and, not to put too fine a point on it, there are far more idiots than there are thoughtful and intelligent people.  If you don’t think that is reflected in our public policy, you need to get out more.  And no, the experts aren’t always right, but that’s the way to bet.
     

  5. Just to clarify, I do not myself believe that everything on my list above should be enacted into law; I have enough libertarian tendencies to think that people should generally be free to make their own choices.  I merely point out what the world would look like if it really and truly were run by experts.
     

  6. Tis a gift to be simple tis a gift to be free, tis a gift to get to reply number three…
     
                                                                                                                                                     
    where Mathew has yet to hijacked the thread…..(:
                                                                                                                                                     
    Thank you for bearing these burdens Pastor Wilson..we appreciate it down here in the cheap seats.
     
    Grace and peace.

  7. “I merely point out what the world would look like if it really and truly were run by experts.  ”
     

                                                                                                                                                    That’s interesting.  I presume you are aware of, and reject the  Christian doctrine of a fallen world and the results of following false gods.
     
     

  8. JC, in reference your “A Response, to a Response, to my Belated Response to Pastor Doug Wilson” to offer the following chain of progress for our metaphorical 3-D Printer:

    a 2-d printer (Homo neanderthalensis)
    a type writer (Homo florsiensis)
    a pen and paper (Homo erectus)
    a quill with ink (Homo habilis),

    In what ways are you suggesting that a supposed homo habilis is to homo sapiens sapiens as what an ink quill is to a 3-D printer?  Your stretching the analogy so as to allow a progression through steps busts the analogy.  You have to assume that hominids have gotten better, or at least more complicated, as is the case for ink quills to 3-D printers.  My point is that there is a definite progression (in the sense of one thing being better than that which proceeded it, and not merely meaning a progression from Tuesday to Wednesday) from quill to printer, but there’s only (supposing evolution) more mutations and time with the case of hominids.  I believe that you are having to assume Pastor Wilson presumption that there is a standard by which things may be measured as being good/bad, better/worse.  Though that is a point that may be considered rather tangential to the conversation, I think that it shows that you necessarily have to step outside of a godless evolutionary worldview (if that’s what your worldview is, and I acknowledge that you don’t claim to be necessarily atheistic) which provides no standard (as evolution isn’t about being better, just about being) for such an analogy

    _

    However, I may be wrong and you don’t mean to say that homo sapiens sapiens are inherently better than homo habilis, or that the 3-D printer is inherently better than the quill, or the chisel—rather, just that we have progressed from one to the other, without attributing any subjective value.  You still have the problem that you have not applied the analogy correctly.  Wilson is not merely talking about moving from a lesser hominid to a greater, but rather the miraculous change from light (let us remember that matter is condensed light/kinetic energy) to matter, to one-celled molecules, to….. humans.  That is a point that Pastor Wilson has addressed before, that we’re asked to swallow the idea that if you just throw time and energy at, well, itself, then there’s always the possibility that this universe would happen.  And now, even more relevant to this post, the experts who make those claims then call us stupid for not drinking the punch.

    _

     
    I realize that this is Pastor Wilson’s blog and not “Anti-theism” but I saw you comment here and I didn’t see where to comment there.  I hope that I can be forgiven for this.

  9. Pastor Wilson, you are indeed a true master wordsmith and truth be told I envy your skill.  They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, however more and more often when I write down what I consider to be a witty turn of phrase, I have to stop and wonder if I inadvertently stole it from you.
                                                                                                                                                                             Thank you for your time invested in trying to rally the troops, even when faced with the daily specter of infiltrators attempting to drown you out..

  10. Tim, you’re right that I don’t  believe in a fallen world as you define, it, and I think all gods are false, including yours, but I don’t see what either of those has to do with whether Doug’s contention that the world is run by experts is true.

  11. It’s not that you weren’t kind when you interacted with Christopher Hitchens, but that part of being kind is, on non-ultimate matters, keeping an open mind that they might actually be right. Also, are you sure you haven’t been reading “rallying the troops” as requiring people to bow down, rhetorically problematic responses to idiots (they’re scientists, not rhetoricians, and their opponents mischaracterizations of their demeanor, as not actually being experts, but being “experts”? Or that they aren’t actually treating crackpots like crackpots, but you just can’t judge? Or that even if they don’t treat people who disagree with them well, that they have thought through in detail the objections you can come up with, and have, you know, real answers to them?

    If Luke’s right, and I’m out of line because you’re wiser than I, on this topic, your adversaries are wiser than you, and you’re out of line for raising your sophomoric objections. Even if they aren’t good humans, they do know the math considerably than you do, and you simply have not listened to their positions.

  12. “But in this space, I am trying to rally the troops. I want us to man the barricades. Our structures of government are riddled with corruptocrats, and the need of the hour is for us to go into a full Kiev. We can have a discussion at this level when they repent of their coercions. When they put down the guns — with which they enforce their childish perspectives on political science and theology — then we can talk.”
    Okay. It’s important to know who you are writing to and why. But if it is God’s kindness, His goodness, that leads us to repentance, how much more can our kindness open the door to others?

  13. If you rallied the troops with “I don’t know if climate change is happening, but if we fight it, don’t do it like that.” I wouldn’t have a problem. Or if you said “Evolutions is false, Scripture says that. But if you want to get real arguments against it, talk to my brother” I wouldn’t have a problem. (Unless you started pronouncing in the name of Jesus things that are dependent on your reading of the complex historical situation.) But that’s not what you’re doing. You’re saying “That stuff is false, and it’s so obviously false, on their terms, that even can see it is. So don’t buy into it.”

  14. As to whether the world is “run” by experts, that may be an issue of semantics (at least for me). But I’m pretty sure that most of these hot-button arguments have been framed by experts. Surely some shame on us for allowing it to happen. But now we have what we have.

  15. We need to learn that many of the clashes we have over issues like this are the result of scientists refusing to stay out of political science, and mathematicians venturing into theology.

    Sure, take their political science or their theology to task. But not their science and their mathematics. The same thing applies in the other direction: They’re qualified to critique your science, but not your theology. But if they are uncharitable to you, it isn’t a justification for a lack of charity to them.

  16. There is making a point and then there is making a difference. I think what pours the gravel in some Christian’s gravy is that they think you are more interested in making a point. You also don’t jive with what has been presented as “pastoral behavior.” And by that I mean avoiding terms like “homo-cake.” You write with passion, wit and sarcasm (which is the sixth love language.) But not everyone picks up on that. 
     

  17. I’m enjoying the remarks of Eric the Red (a chap with whom I think I might have a lot in common), Thursday, and Mr Petersen (whom I used to know many years ago). 
    If only the world actually WERE run by experts. The gods forbid that the populists, the “contrarians,” the demagogues gain any more control.

  18. The “experts” are the people who are good at framing the discussion in ways that empower them to get whatever it is that they happen to want. They are the political class – power, Wall Street – money, Hollywood – glory. Each forms a cozy alliance with a supporting cast (Researchers, Scientists, Ecclesiastics, Professors, Media ) who give “legitimacy” to whatever cause it is that gets them what they want.  Pastor Wilson has a way of helping people see through this as very few can. The saddest part is how some can’t see it, even after it has been put in front of them in technametaphor.

  19. Matthew N. Peterson, I suppose you have just verified my claim.  You are against being dogmatic in non-ultimate issues.  You said, ” It’s not that you weren’t kind when you interacted with Christopher Hitchens, but that part of being kind is, on non-ultimate matters, keeping an open mind that they might actually be right.”  Being dogmatic involves coming to a settled conviction that something is true beyond a reasonable doubt correct?  Certainty beyond a reasonable doubt is the level of certainty required to execute a man.  So a person who comes to a certain conviction of truth, i.e. certainty beyond a reasonable doubt, is guilty of being unkind and failing to listen.  Have I understood you finally?  What matters can we be certain about?  What do you include in the category of ultimate issues? 

  20. Timothy, I wouldn’t frame it as having the right experts so much as the right methodology.  Even with the best experts using the best methods they’re not infallible, and more information could always come in tomorrow.  But as I said, that’s the way to bet.

  21. In other words, if someone says, “I believe in science,” what they’re really saying is that they accept the scientific method as valid, and not necessarily that they accept the findings of any one particular scientist.  And the scientific method has the advantage of being self-correcting over time.

  22. “You write with passion, wit and sarcasm (which is the sixth love language.) But not everyone picks up on that. ” Ben,  some of us do pick up on that and simply do not believe it serves the lost very well.

  23. As I said in another comment above, if it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, how much more can our kindness impact others, in person and in our writing.

  24. Tim: If you really do have the expertise to be dogmatic, it’s fine to be so. (But don’t whine if your opponents are dogmatic, by calling it demanding that others worship their view.) But if you are clueless (and though Pr. Wilson has the qualifications to make theological arguments about evolution, and political arguments about the best response to Global Warming; he’s clueless about the science in either case–he changes the second law of thermodynamics from his arm chair, and doesn’t know the first thing about statistics), better not to be dogmatic.

  25. I don’t know Doug personally, nor am I in his church but I have seen his sermon’s and debates and I have read much of what he writes and I have found that the tone he often writes with is in line with the kindness of God. In fact I would say that he is much easier on people than Jesus was. Jesus used to just call people hypocrites or fancy tombs. Not kind things to say but it probably wouldn’t have been true kindness to not say them. All that said I understand why you would feel this way Sara and I can’t really blame you for feeling that way. 

  26. Thursday and Matt, if there was an error, tell me in English what it was.

    “It is never possible for a metaphysician to state his ideas in plain English. Those ideas, with few exceptions, are inherently nonsensical, and he is forced to formulate them in a vague and unintelligible jargon. Of late some of the stars of the faculty have taken to putting them into mathematical formulae. They thus become completely incomprehensible to the layman, and gain the additional merit of being incomprehensible also to most other metaphysicians” (H.L. Mencken).

  27. Sara,
    Sometimes God’s swift kick in the butt leads to repentance.When Paul was blinded, it was not pleasant for him.
     
    Besides that, Pastor Wilson is kind and patient and long-suffering. The evidences of the Holy Spirit are there in spades. God is using him to great effect. He is a ‘divider not a uniter’ in the sense that The Word is a divider–splitting families and all that.
                                                                                                                                                    
     
                                                                                                                                                    
     

  28. Pr. Wilson: The error was that you took “randomness” to have its usual English definition, when in fact it doesn’t. That said, who gives you the authority to judge that you’re right till we refute you? You’re a beginning student, and have no business demanding answers to your refutations. You may ask questions, but your questions are just that, questions, and you need to treat them as such. Till then, you’re just speaking dogmatically about things you know nothing about.

  29. Oh, you’re right Stewart. I know Jesus, so I can talk about Shakespeare without reading Shakespeare. Or mathematics without knowing the first thing about mathematics.

  30. Matthew which is it?  This?  ” It’s not that you weren’t kind when you interacted with Christopher Hitchens, but that part of being kind is, on non-ultimate matters, keeping an open mind that they might actually be right.” Or this? “If you really do have the expertise to be dogmatic, it’s fine to be so… But if you are clueless… better not to be dogmatic.”

  31. On the nature of Pastor Wilson’s rhetoric consider this:

      

    “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of a (relatively speaking) low tax burden, albeit one that we believe to be unjust because Parliament does not have the power to tax in the king’s name colonies who have separate charters from said monarch and therefore are their own governments and not represented by Parliament? Howbeit we do see that they may have a small point as tax money collected by Parliament did help to field the army that defended these colonies from the French over the Seven Years War, and from their perspective it does seem somewhat reasonable that they receive some sort of compensation for that economic burden from the colonies which they were protecting. Nonetheless, I…wait…what was I saying again? Oh yes! Give me liberty or give me death! (Though I have to admit, there may be more than these two options on the table which we should weigh with care before making any rash decisions.)”

         

    Doesn’t quite inspire as much as the original, does it? That’s because rallying the troops requires a certain type of rhetoric that is far removed from the give and take of a dialectic discussion. Both are appropriate in different places, unless you believe that all public discourse should come in the form of elenchus.

  32. Well, Matthew, I’m a chemical engineer and know a thing or two about the second law and a few things about biochemistry.  I saw nothing wrong with his use of the concept, either with the macro observation dQ/T nor with the more general underlying observation of tendency to randomness.  I would be interested in knowing what was wrong.  As for you, your response is that Dr. Minnich (sp?) said (when you were in high school) the 2nd law argues for a diversification of species…..To which you might (now) wonder whether he is an expert in the 2nd law.  As I said the implied defintion of randomness and order in that statement is like none I’ve ever seen.  Would you be so kind as to show me any article supporting Mr. Minnich’s assertion?  (I use Mr. in this context because I am not convinced his PhD comes into play here.

  33. Wesley I will respond when I get a moment (my first child is merely 2 weeks old) – I do find it bad form that Pastor Wilson has (more obviously with 2 tangent posts) ignored my reposte but enjoyed the fruit of our original argument.

  34. Matthew, my expertise is in English literature.  Occasionally I run across a student (or even a colleague) who insists Shakespeare is rubbish.  Now, I can respond in one of two ways.  I can show him why he’s wrong, pointing out to him the many beauties of Shakespeare’s plays, which is quite a difficult thing to do.  Or I can, much more easily, demand he shut up, insist that he’s a beginning student who has no business demanding answers and he couldn’t possibly understand Shakespeare because it’s so far out of his depth.  Which do you suppose is more valuable?  Which, on the other hand, leads to the suspicion that I, the authority, really don’t have an answer and am just trying to preserve the current power structure?

  35. Also a couple of quotes from Chesterton seem appropriate here:

      

    “To smatter the tongues of men and angels, to dabble in the dreadful sciences, to juggle with pillars and pyramids and toss up the planets like balls, this is that inner audacity and indifference which the human soul, like a conjurer catching oranges, must keep up forever. This is that insanely frivolous thing we call sanity… if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. ”

      

    “Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. The latest fads of culture, the latest sophistries of anarchism will carry us away if we are uneducated; we shall not know how very old are all new ideas…The educated man will always care too much for complications, novelties, the fashion, the latest thing. The uneducated man will always be an intellectual dandy.”

  36. @Mathew.
    What are your credentials? phd? Masters? Post-Doc? research scientist? Working Engineer? what papers have you written? original research?
     

  37. @Rick

    “Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. The latest fads of culture, the latest sophistries of anarchism will carry us away if we are uneducated; we shall not know how very old are all new ideas…The educated man will always care too much for complications, novelties, the fashion, the latest thing. The uneducated man will always be an intellectual dandy.”
     

    This!.

  38. Just one correct to the quotation I typed above though. where it says, “The educated man will always care too much for complications, novelties, the fashion, the latest thing” , it should say “the uneducated man will…”

  39. Maybe we need to approach the objection Matt poses from another angle….   “He doesn’t, or can’t, know what he’s talking about as he doesn’t have the proper credentials.”  Does that about sum it up?  I have heard from more than one quarter of the anti-Doug crowd over the years that Doug can’t know about everything he writes about, which being the polymath he is, ranges far and wide.  Yep, that’s the objection.  And it’s the same objection the Pharisees had with Jesus.  Nazarath Hebrew and Home School? …That’s it?  Where are his credentials.  Before the objections come rolling in that I’m comparing Doug to Christ…I’m not.  I’m comparing the the behavior of the present objectors to the Pharisees and calling both fallacious:  The proper response to what either says is: is it true and if not why is it not true…either that or ignore them.  It isn’t to say, “you can’t know A-Z therefore whatever you say about M must be wrong”.

    I believe Doug’s response is about right (paraphrasing):  “What exactly did I say wrong?”

     

  40. I understand rallying the troops. confronting the culture, and labeling as evil that which is evil.  I understand that the pastor’s purpose is polemical, not pastoral, and that he is beating the drums of controversy rather than playing the soft notes of an altar call.  Nonetheless.  My problem, as I have said before, is that I sometimes think the delight in being provocative and outrageous actually undermines Pastor Wilson’s persuasiveness.  It is not the opinions in themselves; I disagree with some and think others may not be supported by the evidence, but this is his blog and he is entitled to state them.  It is rather the impression, conveyed too often, that anyone who thinks differently is a fool or a villain with a wicked and godless agenda.  It is the tendency to demonize every expert (nutritional, political, theological, etc.) whose positions do not support a set of unique viewpoints many of which are not fundamental to a Christian worldview.  The extreme dogmatism becomes an issue when a personal idiosyncratic belief (that we eat too much because we are fat, not vice versa) is delivered with the same unyielding fervor as one should use to proclaim the wrongness of abortion.  The other problem I have is specifically with Pastor Wilson’s discussion of homosexual issues.  Presumably he believes that unrepented homosexual sin will lead a person to judgment and eternal condemnation.  Presumably he also believes that by unlawfully attempting to get  married, the homosexual is throwing his defiance in God’s face.  By Pastor Wilson’s reckoning, this lost soul should be an object of horror, of pity, and of terror–but not a figure of fun and the source of a cheap laugh or two.  He is not appealing to the better angels of our nature, and I sometimes wish I could believe he was unaware of this.

  41. David, most of the time when Doug talks about science, I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about, but the problem isn’t a lack of credentials.  There are uncredentialed people who know a lot about science; Doug just doesn’t happen to be one of them.  

  42. @Eric.
                                                                                                                                                                           
    I am glad to see you know that science gets it wrong as do the experts; a hallmark of the best scientists is their willingness to admit error–Feynman was an exemplar in that regard. Your science is self correcting statement is true as well–when scientists are honest.
     
     
    Since both science and the experts are so often wrong, why should we be ruled by them or prefer their judgement? Is not the Framer’s construct—-the one that limits power and influence of those who are so often wrong to a limited sphere and scope–wise?
     
                                                                                                                                                                           
     

  43. In fact, David, I think this is an example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.  Doug knows a little bit of science, but not nearly at the level to discuss some of the subjects he tries to discuss.  It’s the rough equivalent of somebody reading reading a single Martin Luther sermon and then thinking that makes him an expert on the Reformation.

  44. Matthew N. Petersen wrote:

    “Pr. Wilson: The error was that you took “randomness” to have its usual English definition, when in fact it doesn’t.”

    Contrary to Petersen’s narrow accusatory stance, the term randomness does indeed have a perfectly valid and useful English definition, even when speaking on the subject of entropy.  Go back and read the Pink Entropy post.  Doug states:

    Entropy is “a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.” … and … “Now the point of my illustration in the previous post is that the transfer mechanism that can make energy useful is itself an example of decreased randomness, and hence it is also something that must be accounted for.”.

    In the comments on that post, Petersen objects:

    “Yet you haven’t defined “decreased randomness”. And the definition is mathematical.”

    Petersen can’t accuse Wilson of giving an erroneous definition of randomness while accusing Wilson of not giving one.  But we see that Petersen’s actual objection is that Wilson simply didn’t use a particular mathematical definition that Petersen insists on.  In other words, Petersen is being a snit about his preferred semantics.  He hasn’t demonstrated any actual error in reasoning on Doug’s part at all.

  45. Eric,
    In these instances, global-warming-climate-change-so-called or 2nd Law, what exactly has he said that is wrong?

    By the way note the cascade of the argument.  Even if he is wrong on the science (and I wouldn’t grant that, I’m sure he doesn’t), he (and I) do not see state intervention as the solution.  For just one thing, when they put their hand to the plow, they have a hard time saying mission accomplished (the EPA has probably solved 98% of the problems that existed in the 60s, so how do we characterize what is left?:  100% of the problem).  For just another thing, if you are afraid of GWCC-so-called for its effect on the poor where do you think the poor are going to come out in the line up at the government-teat of proposed solutions?  Is Doug wrong on the poli-sci, human nature element as well?

  46. Matthew, you recently said this in part:

    … who gives you the authority to judge that you’re right till we refute you? You’re a beginning student, and have no business demanding answers to your refutations. You may ask questions, but your questions are just that, questions, and you need to treat them as such. Till then, you’re just speaking dogmatically about things you know nothing about.

    Has anyone ever accused you of being a pompous ass?  ..and I only ask you that in the spirit of honoring you…

  47. New to these threads, but here’s a newbie question: Am I reading it right? Doug’s in trouble for proposing critiques in areas he’s not credentialed in. But no one’s bothered to explain the substance of why his critiques are wrong, even though there are credentialed folks who think he’s right? Is that the sum of it? I hate entering a conversation late. 

  48. When asked, “Is it also your opinion that we just need the right experts?”, Eric said:
                                                                                                                                                                              “I wouldn’t frame it as having the right experts so much as the right methodology. . . . And the scientific method has the advantage of being self-correcting over time.”
                                                                                                                                                                              If it is the case that the God of the Bible created the world as in Genesis, scientists operating on the basis of methodological naturalism will never find the truth. Also, there is going to be exactly zero self-correction over time. So Eric, is methodological naturalism then the right methodology for finding the truth regarding the origin of things? Or should it be rejected? I ask this knowing your passion for truth and your attraction to pragmatic thinking.

  49. Eric the Red apparently thinks there is only one kind of expert; he is ignoring the possibility of experts in freedom, liberty, compassion, justice, and faith. Those experts would not allow the coercive and idolatrous policies he suggests would be the fruit of “experts” running things.

  50. I really used to enjoy posting and discussing Pastor Wilson’s blog, and basically still do. Except now it seems like either Eric the Red or Matthew N Peterson hijack every post by distracting us from the point and arguing (poorly) about something other than his point (poisoning the well or credentials). Can we stop responding to the pseudo intellectual equivalent of trolls? If all they can do is change the subject ignore them. 
     

  51. Gordan,
    Spot on! What the credentialed folk would really like is for us poor, un-credentialed rubes to just shut up and take their word for it because, well, credentials. It’s complicated and we wouldn’t understand, just trust them.
    But–and I suppose this places me firmly in Wilson’s camp–I’ve seen enough of these credentialed people to know I’m not buying what they’re selling. The hilarity of this particular spat is that the more the credentialed crowd foams and snarls and shouts at people to sit down and shut up because they’re not qualified, the less I trust them. I find myself backing away slowly looking for something sharp to put in my hands.
    The sad thing is they might actually have something productive or helpful to add to the conversation. All that knowledge but no wisdom. Piles of learning yet still so socially obtuse that they can’t communicate with the other primates on the blog. What’s the point of all the degrees and schooling and student loans if the best thing you can offer to an argument is, “Well, you’re not qualified so be quiet!”
     
    I’ve read enough of Matthew Petersen’s comments to know I wouldn’t trust him with one of those floppy plastic knives from a school cafeteria, let alone something of monumental importance like evolution or what the climate is doing lately.

  52. Doug-thank you for not
    being an evangelical pansy homo, seriously. I continue to find your example guts in the face of opposition quite encouraging

  53. Just a comment on the repeated allegations that creationists, of Wilson’s caliber, are not listening to their scientific superiors.  I would argue that the evidence shows the evolutionist popularizers are the ones failing to listen.  Doug recently interacted with an internet evolutionist named, “JC”.  On JC’s website reply, there were unattributed paraphrasings taken from the Talk Origin faq (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html#thermo).  If you read their section on thermodynamics, you find this gem:

    “The confusion arises when the 2nd law is phrased in another equivalent way, “The entropy of a closed system cannot decrease.” Entropy is an indication of unusable energy and often (but not always!) corresponds to intuitive notions of disorder or randomness. Creationists thus misinterpret the 2nd law to say that things invariably progress from order to disorder.”  [emphasis mine]

    Notice there is no citation of a creationist actually making such a claim.  Doug has certainly not said that the move from order to disorder is invariable.  Those who accuse him of such are not listening to him.  Doug acknowledges that decreased randomness occurs in photosynthesis, but that any such decrease requires or represents a transfer mechanism.  So the objection is not to decreasing randomness in the world.  The objection is that evolution has not given an account for how it came to be.  Continuing his argument, Wilson says:

    “Now the point of my illustration in the previous post is that the transfer mechanism that can make energy useful is itself an example of decreased randomness, and hence it is also something that must be accounted for.”

    So creationists aren’t arguing that organization and increased complexity is impossible because of the Second Law.  That’s a canard from the non-listening evolutionists.  Instead creationists argue that a transfer mechanism is required, and must be accounted for.  Evolution has, thus far, failed to provide one that arises without such mechanisms already in place.  Pointing to photosynthesis (or any other living system) is not a solution, but an example of the problem that evolutionism needs to address.
                                                                                                                                                               So, my advice to the evolutionists would be to stop putting strawman objections in the mouth of creationists, and address what creationists are actually saying.  In other words, the evolutionists are the ones who need to start listening to their opposition.

  54. Timothy, I wouldn’t say that science “so often” gets it wrong; I think science mostly gets it right.  As far as being ruled by scientists, as I’ve said, I have enough libertarian tendencies to generally allow people to live as they like.  At the same time, sometimes not paying attention to the experts creates adverse consequences for everyone.  There are a half dozen diseases that would be eradicated by now if anti-vaccination nuts would get their children vaccinated.  Worse, a few unvaccinated children weakens “herd immunity” and enables disease to develop resistance to treatment.  So, should society humor the idiots who endanger everyone’s health by not having their children vaccinated, or should society say that eradicating disease is more important than some parents’ superstitions?  It’s not an easy answer.

  55. David, to tell the truth, I didn’t read the global warming thread, so I will limit my comments to the thermodynamics thread.  The second law only applies in a closed system.  Earth is not a closed system since it receives energy from the sun.  The universe is not a closed system because it’s expanding; we know this from the red shift, and expanding systems by definition aren’t closed.  Even if the earth were a closed system, that doesn’t mean there can’t be pockets here and there where things move from disorder to order.  For example, if you take a pan of salt water and let the water evaporate, leaving only the salt crystals behind, the salt has gone from disorder to order, but it did not violate the second law in order to do so.  Whatever questions there may be about evolution, reconciling it with the second law of thermodynamics isn’t one.

  56. Gianni, do you also accept the flat earth cosmology of Genesis 1?  Look at the order of creation.  You have the earth being created first, ahead of everything else, with a firmament stretched out above it.  You have the stars placed inside the firmament.  (Even a single star inside the firmament would burn the earth to a crisp in nano-seconds, but I digress.)  This is classic ancient flat earthism.  None of that makes any sense whatsoever in a heliocentric model of the solar system; it only makes sense if you have a flat earth with the rest of the heavenly bodies orbiting around it.  So Gianni, the answer to your question is that whatever problems the scientific method may have, the answer is not to embrace a text that requires a flat earth at the center of the solar system.

  57. Anyone who brings up The Flat Earth Myth in any context, except to chuckle at the secular lunkheads of the 18th century who invented it to smear their opponents, is not to be trusted with the simplest of historical analysis. 

  58. Lawrence, well said: “The “experts” are the people who are good at framing the discussion in ways that empower them to get whatever it is that they happen to want.”  Exhibit A: Al Gore.

  59. Eric, this wasn’t a particularly charitable thing to say: “So, should society humor the idiots who endanger everyone’s health by not having their children vaccinated, or should society say that eradicating disease is more important than some parents’ superstitions?”  As we’ve discussed on other posts, you vehemently support homosexuality, even though it’s clear that many are dying due to AIDS.  So I guess you’re ok with this behavior, but you’re radically opposed to “idiots” who don’t have their children vaccinated?  Does this seem like a very consistent position to take? 

  60. Eric the Red wrote:

    “Worse, a few unvaccinated children weakens “herd immunity” and enables disease to develop resistance to treatment.  So, should society humor the idiots who endanger everyone’s health by not having their children vaccinated, or should society say that eradicating disease is more important than some parents’ superstitions?”

    Once again Eric the Red ventures into the swift current of prescription and moral obligation without his water wings.  This is quite bizarre coming from Eric the Red.  He must be aware that evolutionists trumpet sickle cell anemia as an example of advantageous mutation, narrowly, in regard to malaria.  What if the eradication of one disease (through forced vaccination) actually renders the resulting population a monoculture, vulnerable to a future plague?  Where’s Eric’s celebration of evolutionary bio-diversity?  There is no predictability in a world driven forward by random mutation.  What can kill you today may save you tomorrow.  Eric the Red must think himself a god to pretend to be able to see the future course of evolution.
                                                                                                                                                               Also notice carefully how Eric pits arbitrary “society” against arbitrary individual parents.  Eric has no rational basis to set the values of an abstract “society” over the values of real parents.  As we have explained to him previously, value itself is completely arbitrary and irrational within utilitarianism.  If the values of “society” outrank those of the individual, then why isn’t Eric a Christian if the society he lives in values Christian theism over atheism?  Does he suddenly proclaim that his individual values outrank those of the collective?  I’m afraid Eric is completely irrational on this point, and not in a position to be going around labeling others as “idiots”, or “superstitious”.  Pot meet kettle.

  61. Eric the Red wrote:

    “The universe is not a closed system because it’s expanding; we know this from the red shift, and expanding systems by definition aren’t closed.”

    Where do folks like Eric the Red get the pompous nerve to look down their noses at us as if they are our scientific betters?  I have some questions for Eric.  Imagine a closed universe (U) composed only of a large closed warehouse.  Within this warehouse is a complete vacuum of matter and energy, except for another closed system (S) composed of a lit stick of dynamite inside a small glass bottle.  Is Eric the Red suggesting that closed system S can’t explode/expand when the fuse runs out?  Or is Eric the Red suggesting that if we observe the expanding glass debris then system S was not really closed?  On what scientific basis was S not a closed system?  On what basis would universe U not be closed just because there is expanding debris inside it?  It seems that Eric the Red is simply wanting to declare the universe open by definition, rather than by scientific observation or evidence.  Eric the Red continues:

    “Even if the earth were a closed system, that doesn’t mean there can’t be pockets here and there where things move from disorder to order.”

    This is another classic example of the evolutionist camp’s failure to listen to their opposition.  What creationist has said there can’t be local order from disorder inside a closed system?  Who are these creationists that Eric the Red and Matthew N. Petersen seem so eager to refute?  Do they have names, or do they exist only as bogeymen in Eric the Red’s imagination?  It seems to me that creationists are acknowledging, openly, that increased complexity and increased organization, and reduced randomness can all exist and even expand locally, inside either a closed or open system, and that this itself is a problem as evolutionism doesn’t provide the needed transfer mechanism to sustainably direct matter and energy to such ends, nor does evolutionism provide for the gradualistic development of such mechanisms without assuming their presence to begin with.  Eric the Red continues:

    “For example, if you take a pan of salt water and let the water evaporate, leaving only the salt crystals behind, the salt has gone from disorder to order, but it did not violate the second law in order to do so.  Whatever questions there may be about evolution, reconciling it with the second law of thermodynamics isn’t one. ”

    Disorder to order is not even the most interesting issue with regard to the 2nd Law.  Eric the Red is showing a serious lack of familiarity with the more serious problems, which have to do with increased complexity and increased potential energy.  I’ve already addressed the examples of snowflakes, crystals, and gravitational sorting.  These are each manifestations of reduced potential energy and reduced complexity.  Highly ordered is not the same as highly complex.  A periodic crystal structure represents an energy valley.  It is the track left behind as energy is released.  In other words, these examples take us in the wrong direction from what evolutionism needs to supply to get to a living system.

  62. Jon, how do you read the order of creation in Genesis 1 as anything other than flat earth?  You’ve got the earth created first, a firmament stretched above it, with sun, moon and stars inside the firmament.  If there’s a way to get a heliocentric solar system from that, I’m all ears.
     

  63. Dan, you’re right, it was uncharitable.  However, when superstition causes innocent children to die — http://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/children-flu-deaths.htm — I tend not to be charitable.  Every year hundreds of children die in this country from diseases they could have been vaccinated against.  Worse, their parents are endangering the health of other children by posing a threat to herd immunity.  And if you go back and read what I said when this same subject came up in the context of gays and AIDS, you will find I was equally uncharitable toward gay people who have unprotected sex because they, too, are helping to keep a virus alive that could be eradicated.  But there’s no reason to paint gays who are responsible and who do have protected sex with the same brush.

  64. Katecho, to whatever extent sickle cell anemia helps prevent malaria, there are far better and less painful ways to combat malaria.  Sickle cell anemia would not be missed if it were eradicated; we could instead focus on mosquito control and developing a vaccine (if there isn’t one already; I’m not sure without looking it up).  And you keep equivocating on the concept of values; you’re using it to mean something different than what I mean when I use the word.  You are using it in the sense of an abstract moral imperative; I’m using it in terms of being preferable in the pleasure/pain departments.

  65. I won’t say that Herric the Red is a master of Red Herrings, because that sounds like something to be proud about. That’s not what I mean. Also, his name is not Herric the Red. So you understand my hesitation. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Eric the Red says,
                                                                                                                                                                                                 “Gianni, do you also accept the flat earth cosmology of Genesis 1?  Look at the order of creation.  You have the earth being created first, ahead of everything else, with a firmament stretched out above it.  You have the stars placed inside the firmament.  (Even a single star inside the firmament would burn the earth to a crisp in nano-seconds, but I digress.)  This is classic ancient flat earthism.  None of that makes any sense whatsoever in a heliocentric model of the solar system; it only makes sense if you have a flat earth with the rest of the heavenly bodies orbiting around it.  So Gianni, the answer to your question is that whatever problems the scientific method may have, the answer is not to embrace a text that requires a flat earth at the center of the solar system.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Eric, that’s a red herring. Those are exegetical questions regarding the text of Genesis. Whether or not your view of Genesis is correct, my question still stands.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 You say, “Whatever problems the scientific method may have”. But I am talking about a damning problem. I am saying that if it is the case that the origin of the world is supernatural, then methodological naturalism makes it certain that scientists will never find the truth. The principle of self-correction is likewise lost. Scientists operating under this framework can be stuck in believing a falsehood for centuries.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 This is a problem which is devastating for the method, but extremely easy to fix for scientists. At least, for those scientists who are interested in finding the truth, and who won’t let an arbitrary a priori methodology stand in the way. Do you agree? Where does your love for truth lead you? What does your inclination for pragmatic solutions tell you?
                                                                                                                                                                                                 In passing, and not that this is what my comment is really about, but in the interest of saying something possibly related to your passion for truth, let me just note that, with the exception of the earth being created on the first day, you are not reporting fairly what the text is saying. You are wrong about flat-earthism. You are wrong about the firmament. You are reading things into the text, not out of it. We have experts for that sort of thing. I hope you are interested to know what they say. There is a history of biblical scholarship for that. There is a range of positions regarding the meaning of the text, and the position you report is neither the most common, nor the most traditional, nor the most careful, nor the one adopted, I would venture to guess, by any of us here. Talking about failure to listen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 So what you say is not only wrong, but beside the point.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Back to the point, then, which is about the ways of science.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 You are not answering my question.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Please address my question:
                                                                                                                                                                                                 If it is the case that the God of the Bible created the world as in Genesis, (or, if you prefer, as how many Christians have traditionally interpreted Genesis — or, even more generally, if it is the case that the world was supernaturally created), then it follows that scientists operating on the basis of methodological naturalism will never find the truth. Also, there is going to be exactly zero self-correction over time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 So Eric, is methodological naturalism then the right methodology for finding the truth regarding the origin of things? Or should it be rejected?
                                                                                                                                                                                                 I ask this knowing your passion for truth and your attraction to pragmatic thinking.

  66. Katecho, the fact that a system is closed today doesn’t mean it can’t be opened by an explosion tomorrow; your analogy essentially boils down to “Well, you say the door is open, but yesterday you said it was closed; which is it?”  Also, where did I say creationists don’t believe in local order from disorder?  I cited local order from disorder in answer to the question of why evolution doesn’t violate the second law, but it does not follow from that that creationists disbelieve local order from disorder.  Evolution may not provide a transfer mechanism, but you might want to familiarize yourself with recent developments in physics, which does.  Are you even remotely familiar with the scientific literature that explains how complexity can arise in an evolutionary framework?  Here’s a useful article that will get you started:  http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/VIICComplexity.shtml  Google “how did complexity evolve” and you’ll find more. 

  67. Gianni, I understand your question to be “If Genesis 1 is literal history, could that be discovered through the scientific method,” and the answer is yes.  If the earth were 6000 years old and all organisms created within a brief period, there would be evidence that would show that (assuming God didn’t deliberately mess with the evidence).  Such evidence would consist of fossils for all life forms being found in the same strata of earth, instead of being spread throughout different strata.  But when you have carbon dated fossils showing new life forms appearing in younger strata that aren’t found in older strata, that’s a pretty good clue.  Also, the fact that evolution is still happening, and observed, is another clue.  And I’ve read enough Christian apologetics to know what the party line is about flat earthism, and it strikes me as mostly attempts to evade the plain meaning of the text.  It’s essentially the same thing that so-called activist judges do when they want a result that they can’t find textual support for.  “Oh, you can’t just go with the words on the page, you need us to interpret them for you.”  Well, if you don’t it persuasive when liberal judges do it to the Constitution, then neither do I find it persuasive with Christian apologists do it to the plain text of Genesis 1.

  68. And Katecho, to whatever extent I come across as pompously looking down my nose at you, it’s not because I consider myself your scientific better.  It’s because you obviously haven’t looked at the evidence before you speak.  Every question you ask has an answer from the evolutionary biologists, and most of them are easily findable on google, but you leave me with the distinct impression that you can’t be bothered to make the inquiry.  I’ve read a shelf of books on Christian apologetics.  In fact, I used to be one of you.  I used to make those same arguments myself when I was a Christian.  I do understand your position, probably more thoroughly than you realize.  I am not left with the impression, however, that you’ve even tried to understand mine, except for the limited purpose of taking my words out of context and using equivocation.

  69. If your focus is on the inability of science to observe the supernatural, the answer is that even in that case, there would be evidence in the form of things having happened for which no natural explanation is possible.

  70. Eric the Red wrote:

    “Jon, how do you read the order of creation in Genesis 1 as anything other than flat earth?  You’ve got the earth created first, a firmament stretched above it, with sun, moon and stars inside the firmament.  If there’s a way to get a heliocentric solar system from that, I’m all ears.”

    Eric the Red attempted this flat earth argument before, but abandoned it when confronted.  See http://dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/to-curvette-and-simper-in-the-pulpit.html#comment-29952 .  Eric was unable to point to a specific Scripture passage in support of a flat earth interpretation.  Instead he seemed to transform himself into a wooden literalist, instead offering references that he thinks support geocentrism simply because they mention the stability of the earth.  It all seemed like a smokescreen, just like it appears here as he regurgitates it again in this thread.  Complete red herring.

  71. Eric the Red wrote:

    “However, when superstition causes innocent children to die — http://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/children-flu-deaths.htm — I tend not to be charitable.”

    Eric the Red seems to be on an absolute tear of red herrings and evasions.  In any case, how many “innocent children” died in the name of the superstition of eugenics, explicitly grounded in a belief in evolution?  Recall that many of Darwin’s family were founders and leaders of the eugenics movements and societies.  Eric the Red may want to remove the plank from his own eye first.  He can start with Planned Parenthood.

  72. Eric the Red wrote:

    “Katecho, to whatever extent sickle cell anemia helps prevent malaria, there are far better and less painful ways to combat malaria.  Sickle cell anemia would not be missed if it were eradicated; we could instead focus on mosquito control and developing a vaccine”

    Once again Eric the Red assumes godlike powers to intelligently design vaccines on-demand to tackle any future plague that random mutations might throw at us.  The need for bio-diversity is obsolete!  Eric the Red is confident that mankind’s best stance against any future plague is to create a monoculture out of humanity, through eradication of all current diseases, including sickle cell anemia.  Eric neglects to explain how any of it follows from his commitment to evolutionism.

  73. Eric the Red wrote:

    “And you keep equivocating on the concept of values; you’re using it to mean something different than what I mean when I use the word.  You are using it in the sense of an abstract moral imperative; I’m using it in terms of being preferable in the pleasure/pain departments.”

    Moral imperatives imply a value system of some kind, but I haven’t equivocated the two concepts.  There is no need for me to do so.  I simply pointed out that Eric the Red’s values are utterly arbitrary.  In materialism, there is no rational way for Eric to prioritize the arbitrary values of an abstraction called, “society”, from the arbitrary values of an individual.  Eric didn’t even attempt to address that problem.  He just let it fall to the floor.  Thus his appeal to the herd values over the values of the individual parent remains unsupported and arbitrary.  As another example of this, Eric failed to address the problem of his refusal to follow the herd values with regard to theism.  It seems the values of the herd are only invoked when Eric thinks they serve him.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I will grant that when Eric speaks of morality, he certainly doesn’t mean what most people mean by that term.  When it suits him, he equivocates for the sake of manipulating our sense of good and evil, but, as a utilitarian, his morality doesn’t have to do with right and wrong, good and evil at all.  In utilitarianism, a certain behavior might be more or less efficient toward some end, but the behaviors themselves are neither good or bad in the moral sense that we refer to.

  74. Herring the Red unleashes all his powers and then collapses to bed. So there are limits to what a man can do with Weapons of Massive Evasion. I won’t rephrase the question. I have done enough rephrasing with you. Deal with it.

  75. @Mathew N. Peterson.
     
                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

    What are your credentials? Post Doc ? Grad Student? MA? MS? An expired subscription to Popular Mechanics? What original work have you done? How many businesses have you created? You argue from the authority of experts, well, expert, show your papers please.

  76. Eric the Red wrote:

    Katecho, the fact that a system is closed today doesn’t mean it can’t be opened by an explosion tomorrow; your analogy essentially boils down to “Well, you say the door is open, but yesterday you said it was closed; which is it?”

    This ranks among the weakest responses I’ve seen from Eric.  I offered a straightforward thought experiment to refute Eric’s statement that an expanding system must somehow be open, by definition.  Eric seems to want to suggest that a closed system becomes open if it expands in size, however, I specifically placed the expanding closed system (S) inside another closed universe which does not expand (U).  How does the mere observation of this expanding matter tell us anything about the openness or closedness of the universe of space that contains the expanding matter?  Eric doesn’t say.  He apparently just assumes.  Which is unscientific.

     “Also, where did I say creationists don’t believe in local order from disorder?  I cited local order from disorder in answer to the question of why evolution doesn’t violate the second law, but it does not follow from that that creationists disbelieve local order from disorder.”

    I quoted the Talk Origins faq which falsely accuses creationists of the misunderstanding that the 2nd law leads things to “invariably progress from order to disorder”.  Then Eric the Red cited salt crystals as evidence for local order from disorder, as if creationists needed convincing.  However, if no one disputes that local order can exist and even increase locally within a closed or open system, then I guess Eric was just chasing his usual red herrings.  Eric says that he:

    “cited local order from disorder in answer to the question of why evolution doesn’t violate the second law”

    This shows a persistent and severe comprehension problem that has already been pointed out by Wilson.  If we ask how life from non-life is possible in evolution (given the second law), it does no good for Eric to point to life as the answer to the question.  That is gross question begging.  Life, with its energy organizing machinery, is the problem that evolutionism needs to account for.  A prolonged increase in complexity and organization is the problem that evolutionism needs to account for in order to ever arrive at life.  Evolutionists cannot invoke the organizing machinery of living systems to account for growing complexity prior to life.  What else have they got to offer us?  Apparently nothing.

  77. Eric, you are not telling the truth again on at least 5 counts!
                                                                                                                                                                       First of all, a Closed System only exchanges matter (but not energy) with its surroundings. An Open System exchanges both matter and energy with its surroundings. Thus, expansion of the universe would have nothing to do with an Open System-universe as you asserted since there isn’t any observation that warrants the notion that the universe is expanding into surrounding extra-universe matter and energy.
                                                                                                                                                                           Second, John Ross (Harvard) says in Chemical and Engineering News, 7 July 1980:
                                                                                                                                                                              “… there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily, the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems. …  There is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.”
    [Note: an Isolated System doesn’t exchange any matter or energy with its surroundings — so in this case, if you think redshift is conclusive evidence that the universe is expanding, then such a universe would be an isolated system since it’s not expanding into surrounding extra-universe matter and energy. Consequently, when The Police and these Asians bear witness that the (corruptible) world is running down, their witness is true since the total entropy of the universe as an Isolated System (i.e., if universe = world) never decreases as shown
    here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyOghZum-Io ]
                                                                                                                                                                           Third, crystallization in company with the 2nd law of thermodynamics is irrelevant to evolution (to include chemical evolution) because crystals form when the temperature is low enough (below the freezing point) so that the loss of entropy in the crystal during its formation in the release of latent heat is less than the increase of entropy in the surroundings due to concurrent heat dissipation. However, formation of proteins and nucleic acids as biopolymers don’t spontaneously form at any temperature from standard concentrations of monomer amino acids and nucleotides. Therefore, your mention of crystals is irrelevant since it does not take into account the simplified order of crystals due to their regular/periodic network of atoms against the specified complexity of protein and DNA– if you break a crystal, smaller but identically ordered crystals spontaneously result, where as breaking protein or DNA results in their spontaneous destruction because the complex information isn’t an aggregate of simple repeated information of their smaller parts (as is the case with crystals).
    For more info on the above, see:
    http://creation.com/the-second-law-of-thermodynamics-answers-to-critics .
                                                                                                                                                                           Fourth, your reduction of ‘Genesis 1′ cosmology in your reply to Gianni is another instance of your typical straw man style since the expanse between the waters that is called heaven (Genesis 1:8,20) is not necessarily the same or entire expanse for all the heavens (Genesis 1:1,14);  yet even if this was the entire expanse, your objection of the heat of a star “burning the earth to a crisp” is another fallacious  straw man because the miraculous nature of God’s creation of the universe (including the earth and stars) obviously isn’t limited to the natural laws that describe how He has normally/regularly governed the world.
                                                                                                                                                                           Fifth, you are lying when you write that Genesis requires the earth to be flat and in the center, rather what is required/implied from Genesis is the earth to be in the midst (rather than the center) of the heavens, being surrounded by the heavenly bodies God subsequently placed in the heavens/expanse.
    Although you don’t commit to such a degree the fallacious abuse of appealing to authority/credentials by prescribing to Doug, the beginning student, that he may ask questions as long as if he remembers that they are just questions, rather than him critically pointing out the irrationality in various scientific analyses & conclusions (as if credentials or titles of nobility/royalty themselves actually warrant any implicit employment of sound and valid methodology/argumentation or proper/dignified clothing); you also still haven’t offered any concrete set of considerations to conclusively support your claim that Doug has made false or arbitrary claims regarding entropy or any other scientific topic.  Yet, making false and arbitrary claims is what you’ve hypocritically done with your own silly scientific claims concerning entropy in your above comments to David and Gianni.   Repent and believe, Eric.  

  78. Eric the Red wrote:

    “If the earth were 6000 years old and all organisms created within a brief period, there would be evidence that would show that (assuming God didn’t deliberately mess with the evidence).”

    God did deliberately mess with the evidence, to an extent.  Creation was not business as usual.  God spoke the earth into being, whole.  He created Adam and Eve as full grown adults, and a full grown garden too, and perhaps other such things, all in six days.  It’s called a miracle, and God told us that this is what He did, even if evolutionists choose to ignore the account.  So, for example, apart from this revelation, the evidence available to the scientific method would be insufficient to determine that Adam was younger than he appeared to be.   This means that one of Eric’s starting assumptions about the evidence is false.

  79. @Katecho wrote:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
     

    .  A periodic crystal structure represents an energy valley.  It is the track left behind as energy is released.  In other words, these examples take us in the wrong direction from what evolutionism needs to supply to get to a living system.
     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
     
    I never encountered that idea until I saw your comment; it is beautiful. Thank you!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
     
    The quality and fluency of your responses to Eric is a joy to behold  a treasure trove of information and a lesson for all.
     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
    You do Pastor Wilson and all Christendom a great service with the gifts God has given you. thank you.
     
     

  80. Eric the Red wrote:

    “And I’ve read enough Christian apologetics to know what the party line is about flat earthism, and it strikes me as mostly attempts to evade the plain meaning of the text.”

    Which text?  Eric the Red alludes to something in Genesis 1 that might suggest a flat earth, but he fails to be more specific when asked.  At this point I can only conclude that he doesn’t know how to finish his own argument.  Perhaps he has concluded that if he doesn’t ever present the full argument, then no one can refute it?  That would be irrational.

  81. Eric the Red wrote:

    “If your focus is on the inability of science to observe the supernatural, the answer is that even in that case, there would be evidence in the form of things having happened for which no natural explanation is possible.”

    Such as effects without causes?  Something from nothing?  Meaning from meaninglessness?  Ought from is?  One problem I have is that materialist evolutionists keep calling their supernatural beliefs science even though it looks just like religion to me.

  82. And one small implication that I frequently see in reading Eric’s posts. He mentions “innocent” children. What are they innocent of, and in his amoral universe, why is not everyone, not just children, innocent? Why single out children for special treatment? In a meaningless but seemingly organized pleasure/pain construct, why does he care? Is it just implausible tea and sympathy? In his pleasure/pain amoral universe the dead are just that, they feel no pain and miss nothing. Why does he care if they die as “innocent children”?

  83. The reason that environmentalists are so stuck on global warming is that it is a religious tenet for them. If you have not seen Michael Crighton (Jurassic Park, the Andronema Strain) talk on the subject, I have linked it

  84. The problem I have with your political and culture posts is not that you aren’t an expert.  Most of these are questions of preferences and trade-offs, and have no “correct” answer that one might use expertise to attain.  Rather, the problem is how predictable it all is anymore, and the complete lack of engagement with any idea.  It’s like you learned the script back in the Reagan years, and haven’t deviated since.  Hence, we hear things like “The pillaging of the wealthy in the name of “fair-sharing” is piracy and plunder, pure and simple” and it just baffles me what you could possibly be talking about.  If the rich in this country are being plundered, then all I can say is being plundered must be a heavenly experience.  For that matter, paying taxes isn’t being “plundered”, and the total internalization of this absurdity has done its part to completely discredit conservatism in this country.  I mean, when are we going to wake up?  When will you?  You want to talk about thugs, how about we talk about the antebellum South?  You don’t like anti-discrimination law as applied to bakers and wedding photographers, fine, but at least realize that those laws are a reaction to real thuggery from the not-so-distant past, the kind of thuggery that we can only imagine ourselves to be subject to.  You don’t have to ditch your principles, not at all, but please ditch the right-wing script.  You are above it.

  85. Eric,
    Your example of salt water drying up is an example of a spontaneous process due to physical forces:  That’s what salt does under conditions of increasing dryness.  So yeah in this case, adding energy, simpliciter, will decrease the entropy of the salt.  (Note that the salt chyrstal itself is in a relatively high entropy situation since every atom of Na and Cl are indistinguishable, and in a relatively low energy situation). And this would explain everything if life occurred spontaneously due to physical forces as a result. 

    But for most processes you don’t just put energy in randomly and expect order to occur.  Most chemical processes take feed stock and turn it into some useful product that will not magically appear on its own.  Most involve separation processes that require energy to be applied in just the right way to exploit some difference between two species mixed together.  In a still or distillation column you apply heat at one place and remove the heat at another to exploit a difference in vaporization between water and (say) alcohol.

    With respect to life, we are asked to beleive (because it is acknowledged by evolutionists) that random procesess are responsible for concatenting amino acids (and you have your choice of 20) to form useful long chain protiens.  Those protiens serve as 1) catalysts for (nearly) EVERY important oxidation and reduction reaction reaction in the cell, 2) the feedback mechanisms for controlling the production of each of those catalysts to control the amount of various reactions going on 3) the structures that build the protiens, 4) the structures that build and control the DNA which, it just so happens, is the code for building the protiens and.  So the DNA must have come first…except it is a code with nothing to read it, so the protiens must have come first, except how do they get connected to the DNA?  An all this occurs randomly.  We have not touched on the building and division of a cell, or the material for specific functions of a cell, or how cells work together, or how collections of cells reproduce. This is the movement from disorder to order with purely random application of sunlight  (all of which does occur in an already built life form) that defies belief.  And the theory of evolution is only posited because modern science having abandoned God, lives in its own closed system which requires, as a postulate, a “natural” explanation.  And if God really did create everything?  Well so much the worse for God and that fact.  Doesn’t fit in the system.

    You live in a world that shouts creation and you live by that message.  Very little you do relies on random chance.  It is the ORDERED application of energy that brings about what you desire.  That is the way God made the world.  I mean that in both senses.  But you deny the only means of creation that brings about the world system that you cannot help but live by.

  86. Jonathan: What do you do when you have a recalcitrant student who not only says that Shakespeare is bunk, but that his teachers (you) are bunk, and won’t begin to listen to you? What if he uses his position among his friends to make anyone who could possibly disagree with him look like a fool? Perhaps the best response is to decide that he’s a fool and not talk to him. But that is definitely less respectful than trying to engage him. So here. Pr. Wilson is entirely over his head. But he continues to speak with a magisterial voice, claiming that he will only change when his opponents have said their point on his terms, and refusing to engage them on their terms. That is the first issue, and until he repents, there can be no attempt to show him where he’s wrong. I shouldn’t need to explain everything to him, he should seek it out himself, admitting his (great) ignorance. But till he can admit his ignorance, there is no point in attempting to explain the science.

    David: Read some of John Baez’s stuff on evolution or thermodynamics.

  87. Eric: 

    You have the earth being created first, ahead of everything else, with a firmament stretched out above it.  You have the stars placed inside the firmament.  (Even a single star inside the firmament would burn the earth to a crisp in nano-seconds, but I digress.)  This is classic ancient flat earthism.  None of that makes any sense whatsoever in a heliocentric model of the solar system; it only makes sense if you have a flat earth with the rest of the heavenly bodies orbiting around it.  So Gianni, the answer to your question is that whatever problems the scientific method may have, the answer is not to embrace a text that requires a flat earth at the center of the solar system.

    Actually, neither “above”, not “orbit”, nor “center” make sense from a flat earth perspective. Those terms all assume a round earth. You could perhaps argue that it implies geocentrism (though, we would need to be very careful, and to remember that for the ancients the earth was often the center because it was least central), but even that, I think, would be a hard view to force through. Does it imply geocentrism, or is it told from an earth-bound perspective, and your objections are just modernist attempts to find a view from nowhere?

  88. Jonathan:

    I believe such things without having obtained the appropriate paper credentials authorizing me to say or even think such things. Whenever this is objected to, part of the response is to return to the first point made above.

    Given his claim that precisely his lack of credentials qualifies him to judge, and that calling him to task for acting like he knows what he’s talking about, when he in fact does not, only proves that he’s correct, you’re probably right that I should decide that he has passed the point of no return. There is literally no way to speak to him, he has removed all the places one could respond.

  89. Another epic thread. Keep rallying the troops, Pastor Wilson. It seems that some don’t like Christian commentary on social issues unless there’s plenty of ambivalence and coddling. Thanks for not using either. I’ve watch some of your debates and can attest to your kindness and respectful demeanor.

  90. “I know only that I do not know.  If only Pr. Wilson knew as much.”  Matthew, we all know that you don’t know much because you keep typing it in black and white exposing more and more of your ignorance.  You don’t have to have an upper level math degree to know that two plus two does not equal five.  We also know that those with degrees are often out of their league when making critical decisions.  The McNamara Whiz Kids were exactly that way.  They could devise formulas and run computer programs to give a best estimate if they were given all the parameters.  However, they did not know how to look at a situation and devise an optimum response in a timely manner.  As a result, McNamara needlessly killed lots of people in Vietnam because he and his whiz kids kept trying to find solutions without looking at the overall picture.  In a similar manner, The Osborne Reef offshore Florida was devised to recycle old tires.  The idea was to put tires in the ocean so that they would provide refuge for aquatic life, allowing coral to grow, the waters and mother earth to be healed.  Anyone who picked up tires out of estuaries or the ocean knew that this idea wouldn’t work because only slime builds up on tires.  That scam was foisted on the taxpayer and now it is a continuing  world class disaster.  Global Warming is another scam foisted on the taxpayer and upon those who slept through high school physics.  In the 80’s it was a new ice age coming to freeze all of us.  Then it was warming that will melt the ice and drown everyone near the coasts and on islands throughout the world.  Now, everything — hot, cold, wet or dry — is caused by man made global warming.  It is a scam.  Matthew, you need to get out of the house more often.  Then you will realize you are a bush league player trying to get into the major leagues.  Note:  To Doug and the other readers, I apologize for taking Matthew to task on this thread.  His continued inability to properly handle basic science and earthly matters is heart breaking.

  91. Pastor Wilson.  Please continue to write, just as you are doing now.  Yours is a voice that needs to be heard.  This time has a crying need for people to stand up to experts and to speak the truth.  For Matthew, Eric the Red and some others, I would like to clarify a few things.  First, my agreement with most of what Pastor Wilson says comes out of a common Biblical Christian worldview, which stands in great contrast and conflict with the prevailing secular wisdom.  My life has been transformed by Christ, and I think that our society is losing its way as it loses sight to the truths of the Gospel.  Please do not run away with the idea that all Christians are in lockstep on all issues, particularly those that do not involve truths of the faith.  Both evolution and global warming are fundamentally scientific issues, which I do not believe Christians need to agree upon.  On evolution, I disagree with the Young Earth position that Pastor Wilson epouses.  I see no contradiction between Genesis and Darwinian theory.  Nowhere in the text of Genesis is there any statement that the Earth is 6,000 years old.  One can make an argument that Genesis implies a young Earth, just as one can make an argument that Revelations means that the Earth will end on a particular date in the future.  I see no reason for Christians to be dogmatic on points such as these.   I also disagree, and disagree very strongly, with those on the “science” side of the aisle who believe that Darwin somehow disproves the Bible and proves that God does not exist.   When  “scientists” make such arguments, they are not doing science; they are doing theology, and they are pretty bad at it.  Science, by definition, studies the created world, and it tells us nothing much about the Creator.  As for global warming, the debate involves what ought to be scientific questions.  Is the Earth warming?  (The bulk of the evidence says “yes,” in a long-term trend since 1750.)  Is mankind causing the warming by putting CO2 into the air?  (I see the argument for “yes,” but it seems to me to be unpersuasive.  I have spent a lot of time looking into that evidence, and it seems fairly clear to me that the modern trend is consistent with past historical experience.  I could be wrong on this.  This is a matter of evidence, not of faith, one way or the other.)  On this issue, what strikes me as remarkable is how many people who loudly wave the banner of “science” are not willing to look at the evidence and not willing to look at alternative theories.  Most advocates of the Al Gore view of global warming speak, not with the open-mindedness of science, but with the dogma of religion at its worst.  

  92. Matthew.  I think you would do yourself a favor, and be more persuasive, if you would focus more on explaining why Pastor Wilson is wrong, in your view, a less time telling us why Pastor Wilson is not qualified to speak.

  93. Rick: You may be right that I’d be more persuasive then. The issue is that the real issue isn’t whether he’s right or not, but that when he looks at himself, he sees a very wise person, qualified to talk about anything.

  94. Final call for Eric the Red. After providing entertainingly cheesy answers to several questions I was not asking, Eric asked me to restate my original question. I refused. I figured that Eric could freely continue answering questions I was not asking without any action on my part, since my original question was still there, in simple English. Plus, copy & paste seemed like too much of a work. But apparently Eric meant business. Not only did he stop answering questions I was not asking: he stopped writing altogether. This got me thinking. What is he up to? So I have decided to give in, for now, and to give him a chance to answer another question I am not asking.
                                                                                                                                                                               First, some background. When asked, “Is it also your opinion that we just need the right experts?”, Eric said:
                                                                                                                                                                               “I wouldn’t frame it as having the right experts so much as the right methodology. . . . And the scientific method has the advantage of being self-correcting over time.”
                                                                                                                                                                               Now my question:
                                                                                                                                                                               If it is the case that the God of the Bible created the world as in Genesis, (or, if you prefer, as how many Christians have traditionally interpreted Genesis — or, even more generally, if it is the case that the world was supernaturally created), then it follows that scientists operating on the basis of methodological naturalism will never find the truth. Also, there is going to be exactly zero self-correction over time.
                                                                                                                                                                               So Eric, is methodological naturalism then the right methodology for finding the truth regarding the origin of things? Or should it be rejected? I ask this knowing your passion for truth and your attraction to pragmatic thinking.
     

  95. And I’ve spent lots of time pointing out errors on, for instance, global warming, and my posts on evolution started with pointing out that he had the science wrong. It was really effective, because everyone here, especially Pr. Wilson, is willing to say “oh, I didn’t understand…”. /sarcasm

  96. And insisted on understanding things on his own terms. And then his friend Al Stout, and CREC elder came in and mocked me. (Al Stout thought I’d linked to the wrong entropy, though I had not.) And dismissed the concern that just maybe, Pr. Wilson shouldn’t insist on understanding on his own terms, but should actually try to figure out what his opponents are saying. (And know what I’m saying, rather than mocking me with cheap metaphors that win rhetorical points, but are of no substance.)

  97. Rick Gibson wrote:

    “Matthew.  I think you would do yourself a favor, and be more persuasive, if you would focus more on explaining why Pastor Wilson is wrong, in your view, a less time telling us why Pastor Wilson is not qualified to speak.”

    Indeed.

  98. Matthew.  OK, Pastor Wilson’s self-confidence irritates you.  I get that.  But here is the thing.  This is still America.  We are all entitled to our opinions.  The whole idea of free speech is that,if everyone is allowed to talk, and people try to listen, that more truth will emerge from the debate than if we simply all bowed down before the experts.  I find Pastor Wilson highly persuasive about a range of topics, although certainly not everything.  I find you far less persuasive, because, rather than arguing for a comprehensible point of view, you tend to challenge Wilson’s authority and to raise long arguments about side issues.  For example, you say that he has the math wrong, but you do not explain what the correct math would be.  Scientific and mathematical concepts can be translated into simple English.   It is not easy, sometimes, but it can be done.  You would do yourself a favor, in my view, if you would focus on explaining — not asserting, but explaining — where you see errors in his logic.  As I have said, I do not agree with Pastor Wilson about Young Earth evolution, but I saw considerable force in his basic argument that complex things do not tend to arise from simple things.  I am familiar with various answers that can be made to this logic.  For example, if we posit the existence of simple life forms, given enough time, natural selection can (logically) create great complexity.  (Of course, this begs the question of where the simple life forms came from in the first place.)  You did not reply to him, however, with any simple logic, but by asserting that his definitions were wrong.  You also seem irritated with Pastor Wilson, because he uses simple, direct English.  Personally, I have a great preference for simple, direct English.  I think it is simply good writing.

  99. Rick: Yeah, it’s the U.S. and there isn’t a legal obligation to speak honestly. But we still have a moral obligation not to speak over our heads. You’re right the mathematical terms can be translated into English, and when I can, I do. But the burden is not on the mathematician to explain to him what he is saying, the burden is on Pr. Wilson to recognize that he is in over his head, and shut up. And not to mock people who point out that he’s over his head. And for his friends not to join in the mockery.

  100. Matthew.  I have tried to understand what you are saying, on a number of subjects.  I have not generally been successful.  Perhaps I was lazy, and did not take the time to really delve into it, but my view — for what it is worth — is that you were not very clear.  

  101. Again, I was respectful, and was repeatedly mocked. Then everyone else joined in the mockery, and Pr. Wilson put up a few posts defending his authority to mock. And now you’re coming in telling me to just peacefully explain. Nope. Tried that. I got mocked.

  102. Matthew says: “Yeah, it’s the U.S. and there isn’t a legal obligation to speak honestly. But we still have a moral obligation not to speak over our heads. You’re right the mathematical terms can be translated into English, and when I can, I do. But the burden is not on the mathematician to explain to him what he is saying, the burden is on Pr. Wilson to recognize that he is in over his head, and shut up. And not to mock people who point out that he’s over his head. And for his friends not to join in the mockery.”
    Matthew, forgive me, but you are just being peevish.  To say that someone is not being “honest” is to assert that he does not believe what he is saying.  With regard to Pastor Wilson, that assertion is just silly.  He may be right, or he may be wrong, but its transparently obvious that he is sincerely writing what he believes to be true.  You also say that you have no burden to explain the truth of what you are saying?  Why don’t you?  Why is that, when you speak, and call yourself a mathematician, that we should all recognize that we are “over our heads” and stop talking?  I remind you again.  America is still a free country.  Just because you call yourself an expert, and demand deference, does not mean that anyone has to give you deference.  You need to earn deference by proving that you are correct.
     
     

  103. Matthew.  I am sorry that you feel that people were being rude to you.  It is not my intention to be unkind in any way.  I think, however, that you are being rather thin-skinned and irrational.  When you engage in debate, you have to expect strong replies.  To say that you were mocked, and thus will not explain, is basically an admission that your feelings were hurt, and you are now too emotional to try to reply coherently.  I am sorry your feelings were hurt, but your hurt feelings does not make your, thus far, not very coherent arguments, any more coherent.

  104. Honest in that context means virtuously. Anyway, I wasn’t  saying Pr. Wilson wasn’t being honest, but that this appeal to “We live in a free country” is nonsense. We aren’t legally required to be honest, only morally. I haven’t ever called myself an expert, and have repeatedly denied it, and I have never demanded deference. Though, Pr. Wilson has successfully manipulated this forum so he can say whatever he feels like, and can mouth off about things he knows nothing about, and no one is capable of calling him on it.

  105. Rick: I tried to explain, and rather than listening, my attempt to reason was mocked. It wasn’t “Matt’s stupid” but “I’m still awesome, and you’re not”.

  106. I shouldn’t have posted so much on this thread. I thought Rick was trying to be respectful to me, but I should have just let it go when I saw he wasn’t.

  107. Matthew N. Petersen revealed:

    “But the burden is not on the mathematician to explain to him what he is saying, the burden is on Pr. Wilson to recognize that he is in over his head, and shut up.”

    Petersen has denied it in the past, but has opened up here.  He simply asserts that Wilson is unqualified and should shut up.  It doesn’t get any more substantive than that.  This has the aroma of envy.  Petersen seems to be doing more spiritual harm to himself at this stage than he will ever do to Wilson.  He’s not even serving as a useful foil at this point.

  108. Perhaps a link to a thoughtful and well-reasoned article will serve as a sort of balm to those seeking respite from the onslaught in much of the commentary feed above.      .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     
    “On the myth of “Settled Science” ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-the-myth-of-settled-science/2014/02/20/c1f8d994-9a75-11e3-b931-0204122c514b_story.html

  109. If Matthew N. Petersen is genuinely apologizing, I’d be happy to continue to interact with him on the merits of his thoughts.  Something really needs to change though.  I hope it does.

  110. Ugh. Ok, so, yes, in a sense, science isn’t settled. But f=ma. And Maxwell’s equations are true. Etc. And relying on a physicist who has published a little on atmospheric chemistry, but not on the climate, doesn’t work well. As for the arguments: The models aren’t nearly as central as the press thinks they are. And climate change science is based off of none of the models. There isn’t really a pause. (Though the statistics here are hard.) And it doesn’t really do to link to a post refuting your arguments as if they are defending your arguments. Yes, it isn’t right to attribute the weather to climate change–as any climate scientist will tell you. Refuting the popular press is kinda pointless. But President Obama did not blame climate change, he said that climate change will make this sort of thing more common. And the scientists agree, so it isn’t quite honest to pretend they don’t. His point on Sandy doesn’t make any sense. “Some people think we’ll have disasters like Sandy more often, but Sandy wasn’t even a hurricane. lolz” Say what?

    None of this is dispositive. It doesn’t settle the issue. But that’s the point. It mocks the very notion of settled science, which is nothing but a crude attempt to silence critics and delegitimize debate.

    No, you’d have to make actual arguments that interact with the science for it to mock the notion of settled science. But none of the comments even remotely touch the arguments they supposedly cast doubt on.

    Climate-change proponents have made their cause a matter of fealty and faith.

    Now he’s asserting that it isn’t science. But without any proof.

    Sounds like California. Except that today there’s a new god, the Earth Mother. And a new set of sins — burning coal and driving a fully equipped F-150.
    But whoring is whoring, and the gods must be appeased. So if California burns, you send your high priest (in carbon -belching Air Force One, but never mind) to the bone-dry land to offer up, on behalf of the repentant congregation, a $1 billion burnt offering called a “climate resilience fund.”

    This is just an ad hominem. And he still hasn’t engaged his opponents at all.

  111. katecho: When you can apologize for taking my denials of X as assertions of X; for talking in the third person about me, without ever actually talking to me; and for pontificating about what I’m saying, without ever making sure you’re correct; then, we can have a real discussion.

  112. My post responding to Jay’s link had too many links, and so won’t be posted for a bit. But it’s there. Look back for it later if it isn’t there soon.

  113. Katecho, well said.  I also wish Matthew would just state why he thinks Pastor Wilson is wrong on a topic, and then make a counter argument.  That’s all that is needed here.  Matthew, please, that’s all we’re asking.  Who cares if Pastor Wilson is not an expert on every subject he writes about.  We can learn from him, but we can also learn from others who may be experts on the subject.  If you disagree with him on something, then just state why and then make your case.  No need to beat him over the head for not being an expert, or for not “listening” to others.  Pastor Wilson is in your head; it’s as plain as day.  But he doesn’t have to be in your head.  He’s just a man with an opinion, and he has a vehicle to express it.  But he gives his readers the same vehicle to engage in spirited debate.  It’s time to turn the page, Matthew, and change your tactics.  I’m really hoping you do.

  114. Katecho, your reply to Eric the Red was well stated: “Such as effects without causes?  Something from nothing?  Meaning from meaninglessness?  Ought from is?  One problem I have is that materialist evolutionists keep calling their supernatural beliefs science even though it looks just like religion to me.”  I couldn’t agree more. 
     

     

     

     
     
     
     

  115. Truly, if we lived in such a universe, then it would be governed by an amoral law of the survival of the fittest, where everyone would be driven by their own survival and self-interest, based on their instincts, impulses, and urges.  Eric, I don’t understand how you can assert that mere natural selection, through blind, random chance forces, will compel people to be just and fair and altruistic, other than by pure coincidence.  Your position is philosophically untenable. 
     
     
     

  116. Rick Gibson, you said: “I see no contradiction between Genesis and Darwinian theory.”  Well, either man is a special creation by God and made in His image, or man evolved from a lower form of animal.  You don’t see any contradiction?  

  117. I think Pr. Wilson is wrong because he isn’t claiming anything definite at all, and so it is impossible to disagree with him or to agree with him. It would be like trying to disagree with a horses whinnying.

  118. I’m afraid I’m not convinced that I have a pattern of misrepresenting Petersen in my critiques of his statements on this blog.  I’m also completely unconvinced that the use of third person is grounds for offense (though the right to take offense seems precious to some).  So I don’t feel I need to apologize, or be manipulated by guilt on those points.  I’m happy to be shown if I’m at fault, but I would need to be shown specifically.
                                                                                                                                                          Although I could (and do now) apologize for my hasty tendency to want to be right first, before noticing the spiritual and personal things going on that are more immediate concerns.  Doug has helped me to consider that “truth first” zealousness, or a desire to simply be right, is not the same as love.  I like Doug’s expression that, “there is something more important than being right”.  Love is not milquetoast.  Love can deliver a gut punch, and a faithful wound.  Still, Scripture says that even if I have all truth, without love I am nothing.  That means something.  I need to learn to apply this consideration more deliberately before I hit “Post Comment”.  It may be a fine line in my private heart, and may not be a glaring public concern on the blog, but I know my motives drift over time, so I do have something legitimate to repent of.  I’m not just tossing Petersen a bone.

  119. Matthew, I’m simply at a loss here.  You said: “I think Pr. Wilson is wrong because he isn’t claiming anything definite at all, and so it is impossible to disagree with him or to agree with him.  It would be like trying to disagree with a horses whinnying.”  That is just irrational nonsense.  Seriously, if Pastor Wilson isn’t claiming anything at all, and you find that you cannot agree or disagree with him, then really, what is your point?  Why do you even bother?

  120. katecho:  More people than I have noted that you often mischaracterize people. Jonathan was particularly bothered by your seemingly dishonest quotations of him. And I had to post recently that you have a unique talent for making denials of X into assertions of X. Even when Pr. Wilson was writing about the doors of the sea, I thought you mischaracterized me, as did the the other interlocutors on my side. I have told people before to ignore your comments to me because I had to give up on responding to you, since you’ll twist any comment I make. This isn’t a small problem.

  121. Mathematics is the discipline in which we never know what we are talking about nor whether what we say is true–Bertrand Russell.
    Everything I say, you [students] should take not as a statement but as a question–Neils Bohr.
    So say the experts.

  122. Matthew N. Petersen wrote:

    “I think Pr. Wilson is wrong because he isn’t claiming anything definite at all, and so it is impossible to disagree with him or to agree with him. It would be like trying to disagree with a horses whinnying.”

    Petersen is revealing more of his heart condition than he may realize.  It’s one thing to shrug off someone’s praiseworthy arguments as “horses whinnying”, but notice that Petersen still concludes that “Pr. Wilson is wrong”.  If it is “impossible to disagree with him”, how can Wilson still be wrong?  Which is it?  It can’t be both.  This doublespeak reveals a deep prejudice against Wilson, and a failure to interact with integrity.  It doesn’t appear that Petersen has repented from poisoning the well.  He still seems to just want Wilson to be wrong regardless of what he says, and to be silent.
                                                                                                                                                             Earlier in this very thread, Petersen accused Wilson of giving an erroneous definition of randomness while accusing Wilson of not giving one at all.  Now Petersen accuses Wilson of being wrong while not claiming anything definitive at all.  Petersen has lost coherence.  Many other folks understand what Wilson is getting at, and find it compelling.

  123. Matthew, you said to Katecho: “I have told people before to ignore your comments to me because I had to give up on responding to you, since you’ll twist any comment I make.  This isn’t a small problem.”  Yet you keep on replying to Katecho, don’t you?  And you’ve also said (many times) that you’re not going to comment on Doug’s blog anymore.  Yet here you are.  And you’ll be here tomorrow, and the next day.  That is the problem, Matthew.  I’ve read enough of Katecho’s comments to know that he doesn’t have your problem.  You need to look within yourself and contemplate why you do what you do.  It isn’t normal, Matthew.  You seem to have no interest in merely engaging the arguments, but you’re looking for something more sinister here.  And your constant berating of Pastor Wilson is just annoying and tiring.  Like I said earlier, he seems to be stuck in your head, and I’m not sure why.  He’s just a man, Matthew.  He has zero power over you.  Yet you seem to act as if he does.  You need to let it go. 

  124. Matthew,
    I read one of this Baez’s lectures and found another lecture on entropy as relates to diversity of species and I find them wanting and beside the point.  Near as I can tell:
    1) The “entropy” discussed in an analogue to thermodynmic entropy.  Just as information theory is an analogue.  I’m not against analogues.  In information theory it has its roots in randomness and statistics off aggregate populations as does thermodynamic entropy.  But an analogue is not a thermodynamic driving force.  And it is that driving force (or lack of impediment) which must first allow for the existence of species in which the analogue can begin to function.
    2) More to the point, the logic is circular.  We assume that impersonal (admittedly very complex) chemical species survival and adaptation is the fundemental operating mechanism for evolution,then, given that this is the operatational mode, it can be shown that an analogue of entropy explains diversification.  Well, ok.  By the same token would you be impressed if I were to posit that if we can figure out how we can drive a Model A Ford to the moon, I can show by good and necessary consequence that a pig would be able to drive it?  The objection continues to be that the fraction of random chemical combinations that would give rise even a single useful compex molecule such as a useful enzyme is vanishiingly small relative the random combinations of useless molecules.  And this doesn’t even include the fact that these moelcules are actively constructed and many, probably mot and perhaps all would not come together spontaneously. No amount of species diversification entropy faux or otherwise addresses this.

    If I’m wrong please show me.  This is a pretty basic objection, made by one who possesses a Master’s Degree (in Science!).  If I’m wrong it should not be too unreasonable to expect the theory to have answered this objection.

  125. Ok, Katecho, I’m going to explicitly call you on your misrepresentations.

    Petersen is revealing more of his heart condition than he may realize.

    This is an ad hominem

    This doublespeak reveals a deep prejudice against Wilson, and a failure to interact with integrity.

    This is not the only reading. Perhaps I was sloppy with my language? Perhaps you don’t understand? Perhaps…But no, a rush to moral judgment.

    He still seems to just want Wilson to be wrong regardless of what he says, and to be silent. 

    There isn’t an argument there, it’s just a personal attack. And it is false.

    It’s one thing to shrug off someone’s praiseworthy arguments as “horses whinnying”

    I didn’t do that.

    It doesn’t appear that Petersen has repented from poisoning the well.

    I didn’t poison the well.

    Earlier in this very thread, Petersen accused Wilson of giving an erroneous definition of randomness while accusing Wilson of not giving one at all.  Now Petersen accuses Wilson of being wrong while not claiming anything definitive at all.  Petersen has lost coherence.  Many other folks understand what Wilson is getting at, and find it compelling.

    Katecho, the third person makes this accusation. Are you sure you want to be the accuser?

    What I said is entirely coherent: Pr. Wilson’s attacks are ill-founded, since they are not founded at all, since there is no coherent definition behind them. Earlier I said that he was not using the same definition his opponents used. This is an entirely coherent claim, and is entirely consistent with my claim just now. Katecho, stop being the accuser–even people who generally agree with you have said you sound scornful.

  126. Matthew N. Petersen wrote:

    “And I had to post recently that you have a unique talent for making denials of X into assertions of X. Even when Pr. Wilson was writing about the doors of the sea, I thought you mischaracterized me, as did the the other interlocutors on my side.”

    I don’t really want to rehash the past, but I am interested in making a reasonable effort at reconciliation if I’m actually guilt.  Unfortunately, I’ll need a few more clues.  I’ve heard the repeated accusation that I turn denials of X into assertions of X, but I haven’t been told what X is.  Does a fill-in-the-blank accusation merit a fill-in-the-blank apology?  Similarly, I am not given any clues as to how I may have mischaracterized Petersen when Wilson wrote about “doors of the sea”.  I couldn’t find any post by that title, although it appears to be a tag for a group of related posts.  Petersen needs to be a lot more specific before I can start feeling guilty.  For all of the offense Petersen seems to be carrying around, he doesn’t seem to be able to put his finger on any specifics.  What does that say?  It could say that Petersen knows that he is offended more than he knows why.  Being offended may have become an end unto itself.

  127. David: Baez is one of the leaders in his field. My guess is that your understanding of the situation is the one that is beside the point. When I direct you to someone fields medalists take seriously, you don’t come away saying that he doesn’t know his physics well. In this case, so far as I can tell, thermodynamic entropy is a type of Shannon entropy, but Shannon entropy is the more basic concept. I’ll try to make sense of the circular argument when I’m not exhausted and get back to you. I’m too tired for that right now.

  128. Katecho: I’m not going to dig through the archives. I distinctly remember Jonathan repeatedly telling you you were misquoting him, sometimes even leaving off critical qualifying words in your quotations. In the post in question, I was arguing that in Genesis, the light and darkness was the most basic unit, and you repeatedly said that I was denying that, even after I said I was asserting it, not denying it. Earlier, when I said that Girard’s theory led him to Christ, you accused me of saying that his theory led him from Christ. I could go back in the archives and find more.

  129. Mablog needs a live chat.  I’m sure that would help us sort this out so much more efficiently.  Or perhaps we really need to take a few more breaths between replies.  :)

  130. Matthew,
    Shannon information theory may be more general, but it only applies to the entropy on view when we are dealing with molecules and atoms banging around…ie statistical thermodynamics.  That is what is supposed to drive purposeless evolution.  You can have a completely non-physical information or communication and if the same assumptions of underlying randomness apply (to a large collection of similar objections)  they you can use the same equations and the same words and concepts, but it is not the entropy of classical thermodynamics and statistical thermodynamics (it may be related in the case of signal noise with a basis molecular level behavior).  That is the point I am making.  This wonderful order of life has to make it out of disorder and that is a tall order.

    Here are a couple of videos that give a sense of a miniscule fraction of what goes on in even a single cell:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YM2X1c4K1x0 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJyUtbn0O5Y

  131. David: Again, we learn from people like Baez, we don’t tell them they don’t know the physics well. He knows his stuff far better than you or I do.

  132. Petersen just dissected one of my posts from a bit ago and invited me to apologize for a laundry list of things that I’m still willing to stand by.  I’m simply not persuaded that I should feel guilty.  But I do appreciate the sudden burst of specificity, and the use of quotations of what I actually said.
                                                                                                                                                       As for the other ones that Petersen feels are important enough to take offense over, but not important enough to go back and find in the archives, these do sound somewhat familiar, but I don’t recognize myself in the words Petersen is using to describe what happened.  If Petersen is going to harbor so much hurt, I think a specific quote of what I actually said is warranted (for his sake as well as mine).   Petersen wrote:

    “I was arguing that in Genesis, the light and darkness was the most basic unit, and you repeatedly said that I was denying that, even after I said I was asserting it, not denying it.”

    I do recall this exchange, since it was fairly recent (see “Pink Entropy”).  But I don’t recall it the way Petersen does.  For one thing, Petersen didn’t present any argument that light and dark were the basic unit of the Genesis day.  Petersen never even used the word dark at all, and only mentioned light once in his last comment on the thread.  Instead, Petersen’s central tactic was to suggested that since Genesis doesn’t provide independent time units to measure the day (such as Cesium oscillations, or fractions of an earth rotation) then we cannot say anything definitive about the length of Genesis days.  Petersen was chiding folks for importing modern notions of time measurement into the text, anachronistically, but I pointed out that it was Petersen who had introduced those time units.  Petersen wanted to pursue the red herring about Cesium ticks, and 3/365ths of a solar revolution before the sun was created.  I know that Petersen was attempting to confuse the issue of the length of the Genesis day for his own purposes, but in the attempt, he was the one who imported the anachronisms.  He can’t blame others for concepts he introduced.
                                                                                                                                                         I observed that Genesis defines the day by the presence of light (a quality), not by time units (quantity).  This definition has specific thermal implications for the length of a day, and I challenged Petersen to resolve those implications with day-age theories.  Petersen protested that he wasn’t advocating a day-age theory, so I left it there (even though Petersen’s adherence to evolution requires a day-age belief of some kind, even if he isn’t prepared to advocate or defend it publicly).
                                                                                                                                                                In summary, I’m just not feeling any conviction of guilt for the things that Petersen is offended by.  Petersen’s recollections don’t match the record.  I’m still open to consider any other specific areas where I might have spoken out of line.

  133. Just catching up on the excitement over Weapons of Mass Confusion and As We Populists Like to Say. Two thoughts occur to me regarding truth and liberty. 
    1) Facts have half-lives: http://www.arbesman.net/the-half-life-of-facts/. A good read if you have not read it.
    2) James 4:17
    My other thought is in regards to reading peer-reviewed scientific publications. Most folks only read the abstract (more now because often it is the only portion that can be viewed online without paying for the article) and/or the conclusion. The conclusion is an interpretation of the data and recommendations for other scientists as to how to best proceed with this new information. This section is paradoxically essential for the average reader to understand the study but also the most fraught with assumptions and biases. 

  134. Mathew, from the next thread, you tell Carole you have a Masters in Math.  Since you debate like a 15 year old boy, I assumed you had no qualifications and was going to use your lack of credentials to discredit your argument from authority–he without authority using argument from authority is a non-sequitur and I thought that 15 year old would notice the error of his ways.
     
                                                                                                                                                        
    Now, you could be an especially bright 15 year old with a flair for mathematics and no sense of logical argument; I find this doubtful. Therefore, I am going to address you as a man who has an advanced degree in mathematics from here on out. Please  correct me if you are a teenager and not a man and I will address you differently.
     
    Grace and Peace.
     
     

  135. Matthew Petersen, you wrote:
    “…the real issue isn’t whether he’s right or not, but that when he looks at himself, he sees a very wise person, qualified to talk about anything.”
    Matthew, I once heard Oprah (I think) say that everybody has issues, but when you’re fat people can see your issues.   I mention this to you now because that quote of yours is like an extra 300 pounds on your backside. Clearly, you have issues with Doug. And trust me — everybody can see it. 
    Matthew, stand back and look at what you just wrote. You don’t care if Doug is right, but it chaps your hide for Doug to think he’s right. Even if he IS right. You’re apparently never going to let up untitled Doug THINKS he’s wrong, or unqualified, or inexperienced, even if he’s actually none of those things. You want Doug to stop speaking, EVEN IF HE’S SPEAKING THE TRUTH.  The truth doesn’t matter to you, you say, only Doug’s humility matters to you.  Matthew, I bet you know enough bible to know what sort of person this sounds like. How much longer before you hire false witnesses and bribe sepulcher guards?  Please do yourself good and make peace with Doug, in private, in person, and in your heart. Your knees can’t bear much more weight. 

  136. David: I think the Shannon entropy definition is the correct one to use in the Second Law. It’s for instance, what is used in negative temperatures. If we try to write up the second law to disprove the formation of order, I don’t think it’s possible, since we aren’t dealing with an isolated system. But feel free to try. And, really, I think that objection is strongest when it’s dealing with the origin of life, which isn’t evolution. And even then, it just says we don’t have an explanation, not that there isn’t one.

  137. Rick Gibson, you said: “I see no contradiction between Genesis and Darwinian theory.”  Well, either man is a special creation by God and made in His image, or man evolved from a lower form of animal.  You don’t see any contradiction?  
    Dan.  No, I see no contradiction.  Genesis tells us that man was created by God in His image.  Darwin tries to explain how humans were created.  Maybe Darwin is right, maybe he is wrong; he is a scientist, not the Bible, and what he says is subject to revision.  If Darwin is right, however, that does not contradict Genesis, in my mind, because he is explaining some of the mechanism which God used.  Why couldn’t God have created us, using evolution?  God often works in subtle and indirect ways.  Does the idea that we evolved slowly from lower creatures contradict the idea that God created us, as a special creation?  I do not think so.  Even evolutionary biologists admit that there was a very difficult to explain jump in evolution from the lower creatures to man.  I have no difficulty seeing the hand of God in that jump, and I have no difficulty seeing God operate through natural selection.  I should also say that my thinking is influenced by the fact that I do not want science and conflict.  I do not look for ways for them to contradict each other; I look for ways to harmonize them.  Thomas Aquinas taught that truth cannot contradict truth.  I see the Bible as revealed truth, and science as man’s best effort to find the truth.  I am not eager to read them as contradicting each other.  By the same token, I totally disagree with those on the “science” side who argue that Darwin disproves the Bible.  I think that their claims are nonsense.
     

  138. Let me just add to my last post that the key issue really is the age of the Earth and how one reads the seven days in Genesis.  If the Earth is 6,000 years old, then Darwin is wrong, period, end of discussion, because evolution through natural selection takes far longer than that.  Most scientists believe that the Earth is about 4 billion years old, which is time enough for one-celled creatures to have evolved into all life on Earth.  So, the key question for a Bible-believing Christian is whether Genesis says that the Earth is 6,000 years old.   And the quick answer is “no;” Genesis nowhere makes that statement, in direct language.  It is possible to construct an argument that Genesis should be read as supporting a 6,000 year old Earth.  The argument goes as follows.  (1) Genesis gives us genealogies from Adam down to historical figures such as Abraham.  If we make certain assumptions about the age of each generation, we can derive a fair approximation of the amount of time backwards from historical figures (whose dates we know from many sources) to Adam.  (2) Genesis says that creation was completed in seven days.  If we assume that “days” means 24 hour cycles, then we can only add a week from (2) to (1), and yes, at that point, we have proven that the Earth is 6,000 years old and evolution could not have happened.  I see no reason, however, to assume that the seven days of Genesis refer to a literal week.  As 2 Peter 3:8 tells us, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and thousand years are like a day.”  This tells us that God’s sense of time is not the same as ours.  I think that the most natural reading of the first part of Genesis is that we are being given the big picture version of Creation.  It is accurately describing how Creation occurred, from an extremely general point of view.  Genesis is not, and does not present itself as, a science textbook; it does not pretend to give technical details about how Creation was achieved.  The seven days that it refers to, it seems to me, refer to segments of time, and the Lord only knows how long those segments were.  Obviously, many brothers and sisters disagree with me on this, but I read the first section of Genesis as a text very similar to Revelations, Daniel and Ezekiel.  Each of these texts is poetic and prophetic.   They state the inerrant truth, as does the entire Bible, but exactly what that means, in day to day terms, is hard to say.  In the same way that I do not feel that we should be dogmatic about the exact date when the end times will come, I do not feel that we should be dogmatic about the date of Creation.   The Bible tells us what we need to know; it does not tell us everything.

  139. Hi Rick,
    Last week when the discussion started about evolution, I started reading as much as I could from folks who attempt to harmonize the Bible as special revelation and Nature as general revelation.  Like you, I have always been taught that the Bible teaches us who and why but not the how and when.  I loved when I read that St Augustine too sought to harmonize both and stated that if we cannot we are misinterpreting one or the other.
    However, I will speak for myself ,that as I robustly devoured the pages of theories, (I currently have a lot of time on my hands) I was becoming quite influenced by the BioLogos foundation.  And then a post by Dan sort of snapped my head/heart back.  Again just speaking for myself, I find these theories seductive.  And I do think we to be very careful when reading them, as I am sure you are.  As fun as it is to try and figure out how He has done what He has done,  the ultimate Truth of Scripture cannot be compromised.
     

  140. Carole.  Thank you for the reply.  You have read a lot more on this subject than I have.  I, frankly, have read none of the theories that you are talking about, so I can’t speak on them.  I have not found that science is any threat to my belief in the Bible; I find it easy to reject the Christopher Hitchens of the world, whose arguments that science somehow disproves the Bible are simply ludicrous to me.

  141. Rick, thanks for your thoughtful responses; you write very well.  You said that the Bible tells us what we need to know; it does not tell us everything.  I completely agree with you.  However, if the Bible asserts something to be true, then we must believe it to be true.  I don’t think there’s room for us to maneuver around that.  You said: “I see the Bible as revealed truth, and science as man’s best effort to find the truth.  I am not eager to read them as contradicting each other.”  Rick, since you see the Bible as revealed truth, I must ask you, do you adhere to the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture?  I assume you do.  So my next question to you is: did God create Adam directly like Genesis says, or did Adam evolve?  Was Adam the first man on earth as Genesis says, or was he not the first man?  Here’s another question.  In the New Testament, doesn’t Jesus clearly view Adam as a created being?  Thus, if Adam wasn’t created but merely evolved, was Jesus wrong?  Is the Bible wrong?  You see, when we seek to elevate science above God’s Word, and give our allegiance to it instead of to God’s Word, there can be a danger.  For too many in our culture, Darwin (and Darwinism) has become an idol.  The seductive nature of Darwin’s theory causes many to shift their trust and allegiance away from God’s Word to science for deriving truth.  But our faith must always be rooted in God’s Word and not in the world’s wisdom, especially when the world’s wisdom contradicts God’s Word.  And this notion should not be considered “fundamentalism” but rather faithful adherence to God’s revealed truth.  After 160 years, Darwinism is still unproven.  The truth is, living organisms (plants, animals, and people) reproduce according to their own kind; in other words, minor variations “within” species.  There is no macro-evolution, whereby living organisms evolve into new species.  Not only does the fossil record not support speciation, but the DNA in cells forbids it.  Programmed into the DNA of every living thing is a genetic code that defines its characteristics.  The precise and complex information contained in DNA is one of the strongest challenges to macro-evolution.  Extremely complex information embedded in cells is unlikely the result of some blind, random chance mechanism of natural selection.  Furthermore, for a living cell to even function properly, all the components within the cell must be present and in working order.  Thus, a living cell could not have evolved into a fully functioning organism, because the cell from its inception would not have functioned with critical missing parts.  Again, this is another challenge to natural selection, where simple cells supposedly evolve into more complex ones, through blind, random chance forces.  This is what Darwin theorized in the 1850s, since he didn’t know anything about DNA and he didn’t understand the complexity of cells. 
     

  142. Rick, you also said: “Even evolutionary biologists admit that there was a very difficult to explain jump in evolution from the lower creatures to man.  I have no difficulty seeing the hand of God in that jump, and I have no difficulty seeing God operate through natural selection.”  But one can’t subscribe to the mechanism of natural selection and then come up with various excuses as to why such transitional forms are absent from the fossil record.  They can’t have it both ways.  If evolution by natural selection is true, then there should be billions of fossils revealing these transitional forms.  Darwinists often try and explain away the sudden appearance of new species by saying that the transitional intermediates were for some reason not fossilized.  But the consistent absence of fundamental directional change is positively documented.  It is the norm and not the exception.  Thus, it’s a gaping hole in Darwinian evolutionary theory.  When theistic evolutionists try to devise ways to harmonize and blend some form of direct creation with evolution, I think it just misses the point.  Either God directly created the species, including humans, or He did not. 
     

  143. Rick, one final point I want to make.  You said: “The seven days that it refers to, it seems to me, refer to segments of time, and the Lord only knows how long those segments were.”  I’ve found this day/age interpretations to be problematic.  It’s definitely not something I think Christians should divide over, like you said, since it’s a peripheral issue.  Nonetheless, what does this interpretation really buy us, other than our need for respectability?  I can understand why many people may find the day/age interpretation compelling, since it’s one way to reconcile the “young earth” tradition with the “old earth” appearance and the “old earth” dogma of modern science.  So I get that.  However, I find it more compelling to conclude that the reason the earth “appears” older than it really is, is because of the flood.  I think many people drastically underestimate the power and the damage that water can do.  We get glimpses of it here and there with Katrina and other major hurricanes and storms, but I don’t think we can quite fathom a worldwide, cataclysmic flood such as the one described in Genesis.  Thus, I don’t think we have an understanding or an appreciation for what would have taken place at the time.  The amount of destruction and decay to the earth and its surface must have been overwhelming and horrific.  Therefore, from the outset, the Genesis Flood should be factored into any discussion concerning the age of the earth, the age of rocks, minerals, bones, etc.  Not to do so would seem to reflect a lack of humility or a lack of common sense (or both).  But as I stated above, I don’t think Christians should divide over this issue, and these are good and fair debates to have.  The gospel of Christ doesn’t in any way hinge on these in-house debates regarding day/age and young earth/old earth interpretations.  Our hope is in Christ, and our trust should remain in Christ and His Word.     
     

  144. @ Charlie Long: But Doug ‘s humility — all of every Christian’s humility — does matter.  Philippians 2 continues to come to mind when I think through this issue. Humble people — credentials or no credentials — are safer people — to trust, to listen to, to be in relationship with. Humility does matter.

  145. Sara, humility certainly matters, to everyone. I think Charlie’s point was that being the self-appointed protector/enforcer of another person’s humility, particularly in public, just isn’t constructive.

  146. Due to the influence of hard popostmodernists humility has been redefined to exclude certainty. Under this definition Jesus was extremely arrogant and encourages his followers towards the same.

  147. Jane, I agree.    Last night I listened to the Pastor’s sermon on Romans 14:1-4.  I wish I knew how to link it, and I wish everyone I know would listen to it. The message was … let not the weaker brother pass judgement…. and let not the stronger brother despise.

  148. Dan.  Thank you for your thoughtful replies.  As I hope is obvious, you have read more, and thought more, about this subject than I have.   In your conclusion, you say: “I don’t think Christians should divide over this issue, and these are good and fair debates to have.  The gospel of Christ doesn’t in any way hinge on these in-house debates regarding day/age and young earth/old earth interpretations.  Our hope is in Christ, and our trust should remain in Christ and His Word.”  I agree 100% with that statement.  Whether Darwin is true or false is an interesting question, but one which, in my opinion, has no bearing one way or the other on the truth of the Bible and the hope that we have in Christ.  Science perpetually changes, as it should.  It is based on deeply imperfect human understanding, and its only hope of progress lies in perpetual revision.   Our faith in Jesus Christ, however, is unchanging and absolute.       

  149. Dan.  To be clear, of course I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.  It is the revealed word of God.  To believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, however, and in the inerrancy of any particular interpretation of Scripture are two very different things.  Parts of Scripture, of course, are crystal clear, and debate about them is not possible.  Other parts of Scripture, however, are far more difficult to understand.   I have read through the Bible, as a whole, maybe ten times.  I find that every time I read it, my understanding of it opens up.  As I read it, Scripture is not an inflexible rule book, but a living well of inspiration that yields more and more fruit as I study it more.  I do not believe that any of us can exhaust the riches of Scripture; it is the one book that, while never-changing, is ever-changing in what it teaches us.  To me, the key message of Genesis is that we were created in perfect harmony with the Creator, that we rebelled against God and that, every since then, this world has been in rebellion.  That our nature is now fallen, and that we need Christ to restore us to what we were supposed to be, seems to me to be the central message of the Creation story.  I do not see Darwin or evolutionary theory as having anything to say about that central truth.

  150. Dan, as a final thought, I agree with you that Darwinian theory appears to have a number of holes, both in its evidence and its logic.  Its central hole, it seems to me, is that it is entirely unable to explain how life appeared in the first place.  I follow the argument that, if we presume that one-celled life existed, and if we presume four billion years of natural selection, all life on Earth can be explained.  But, as you say, how did the first cell come to exist?  How do we explain life itself?  For that matter, how do we, from a purely scientific perspective, explain why the Universe exists at all?  I am reminded of the words of Isaac Newton, one of the world’s greatest scientists.  I do not recall the exact quotation, but he said something like this.  “As I think about my life’s work, I seem to myself to be a small child wandering on a beach, and picking up a few shiny stones, while all around me the great ocean of Creation remained unexplained.”    Real scientists, in my experience, are humble; they are not under any illusion that they have, or ever could, explain everything.

  151. Tim, good point about postmodernist humility being redefined to exclude certainty.  According to Scripture, humility means not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought (Rom. 12:3).  It does not mean that we shouldn’t hold or assert strong opinions about things that we care deeply about; nor does it mean that we need to be shy about stating the truth, even when it’s unpopular.  Of course it’s going to be unpopular, since the truth can, and does, divide.  It’s what the truth has always done throughout history.  But Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life! 

  152. Dan, definitely makes it difficult to keep from concluding that Luke was an arrogant prick for trying to help Theophilus know with certainty the things that he has been instructed (Luke 1:4).  It sounds like many of Doug’s criticisms run this direction.  

  153. Matthew: “Evolution is not the same as the origin of life?  ”

    Maybe in your nicely compartmentalized world  (it would help to detail a bit more so we can understand where you are coming from, rather than letting the little line out bit by  bit argument by argument).  But the world of secular science, which Doug was engaging, goes illogically from we cannot scientifically measure the supernatural, ergo there can be no supernatural explanation for anything, ergo there is a natural explanation for everything, ergo God is not necessary for anything.  In that climate the origin of life and the evolution of life are all of a piece.  So yes I was attacking the origin of life, since subsequent evolution kind of depends on it. 

    If you want to hold to Shannon information theory, fine, I won’t quibble over definitions, as long as we acknowledge it must in these arguments apply to physical processes on every scale.

    As for open systems, have you studied thermodynamics?  An open system with a random application of energy produces a mind-boggling array of possible statistical distributions of which  the order that life is a minisculely small fraction.  Any reduction in entropy due to heat transfer from a system to the surroundings is always accompanied by a device which allows the decrease of entropy in the system (and a larger increase to the surroundings for a net increase).  Without a device (which even Maxwell requires with his demon) any spontaneous, significant and sustained decrease in entropy is just not tennable, crushed by the massive improbability of Shannon/statistical thermodynamics.  Doug is entirely right in this both in quality and in appeal to the 2nd law his overall expertise not withstanding.  

  154. Rick, thanks again for your thoughtful (and well written) replies.  I really enjoy the discussion, and I’m thankful that we’re brothers in Christ.  I wanted to give you some additional thoughts to ponder regarding theistic evolution.  As the Bible teaches, due to sin entering the world, man doesn’t just die a physical death, he dies a spiritual death as well.  Man was created in the image of God, therefore man bears God’s likeness and His communicable attributes.  Since we are created in His image, we have His law written on our hearts, to which our consciences also bear witness (Romans 2:14-15).  Thus, all of us have a moral intuition and a moral conscience because of God.  From a biblical and theological standpoint, I don’t see how any of these realities can be derived within a theistic evolutionary framework.  This is why it’s an important question to ask: did God create Adam directly, or did Adam evolve?  Was Adam the first man on earth as Genesis describes, or was he not the first man?  Even if we posit that Adam evolved, and that he was the first human being to evolve, I still see two problems.  First, we’d have to acknowledge that man is not a unique, special creation with a body and spirit, and thus is no different from any other evolved animal (e.g. fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal, etc.) since man would have evolved from a common ancestor, as the evolutionists always insist.  Second, did man’s spiritual nature evolve too?  Or did God supernaturally infuse it during the evolutionary process?  The essential part of man is his spiritual side, his soul.  Thus, if God has to supernaturally intervene in the naturalistic process of evolution in order to infuse man with the spirit, then what’s all the fuss about direct, supernatural creation in general?  We either believe man is created in God’s image and likeness or we don’t.  If man has merely evolved and is not a direct creation of God, then it seems to me something is incomplete regarding man’s nature.  Lastly, even if God did supernaturally infuse the spiritual side of man after he evolved, it would be impossible for evolutionary science to demonstrate this, since man’s spiritual nature is metaphysical and thus is beyond the realm of science.  Once you start adding divine intervention into the evolutionary process, then it essentially defeats the purpose of trying to be “scientific”.  This is why I believe theistic evolution is an untenable position.  It not only undermines what the Bible describes in Genesis, but it really doesn’t offer a plausible explanation for man’s unique, dual nature.  In an effort to harmonize Christianity with modern science in order to be respectable in the public arena, all they’ve done is devise a really confusing, non-demonstrable blend of evolutionist and creationist theory.  I think this view is an unnecessary and unfortunate compromise.  
     

  155. @Carole,
                                                                                                                                                       
    I am finding the book ‘Darwin’s Doubt’ by Steven C. Meyer to be a fantastic introduction to Evolutionary theory. Like all honest polemicists, he takes the time to accurately state his opponent’s claims before proceeding with his case. Meyer is of the Intelligent Design camp and not in the manner of Tim Ham.

  156. David: You are right that the naturalizing impulse is often very poorly defended. That said, Nagel does a very good job explaining, and defending, it in Mind and Cosmos. While the atheist is wrong to rule out God, to the atheist, the insistence on finding a supernatural answer to origins questions  is on par with seeking to find a supernatural answer to the perturbations in planetary orbits. And in a very real sense, they are correct. God is the first cause, causing creation from outside creation, and the final cause, toward which creation aspires, and God is everywhere present in creation, and all things in creation are God’s Words, a Torah for the gentiles, as it were. But when considered in itself, to insist that God has made a creation that he needs to tinker with to keep it running, is to claim that God is not a good author, but could not fill all the gaps in his creation itself, and has to intervene from outside to fill them. That is, a God of the gaps is an affront to God, and only thereby, an affront to creation. But Nagel says this (without the theological part) much better than I can.

    As to whether evolution is a theory of origins: Wikipedia lists “Evolution does not attempt to explain the origin of life[166] or the origin and development of the universe. While biological evolution describes the process by which species and other levels of biological organization originate, and ultimately leads all life forms back to a universal common ancestor, it is not primarily concerned with the origin of life itself,[167] and does not pertain at all to the origin and evolution of the universe and its components. The theory of evolution deals primarily with changes in successive generations over time after life has already originated. The scientific model concerned with the origin of the first organisms from organic or inorganic molecules is known as abiogenesis, and the prevailing theory for explaining the early development of our universe is the Big Bang model.” If we insist on conflating the two, we just come off as ignorant, and convince our opponents that we don’t know what we are talking about. There is no reason not to say, as Nagel does, that evolution is a powerful and strong theory (even if, for non-scientific reasons we must reject it) but that there isn’t a coherent theory of the genesis of life, nor, on our current understanding, can there be.

    As to thermodynamics: The point is that the entropy of the sun-earth system *has* been increasing, and isolated bubbles of order do not disprove that. There may be other problems about information organization, there may be problems with the origin of life, etc. But even there, they aren’t problems with evolution, per se, and we should acknowledge that, and acknowledge that evolution is a strong theory, and our objections are not based on science, and that we respect their science.

  157. Thank you Timothy, I saw that and am glad to hear it is good. I will read it next, if you think it’s worthwhile. I ordered and am expecting The Devil’s Delusionby David Berlinski.  Someone posted a link to an interview with him which I enjoyed.

  158. If you copy and paste online text into the comment, links remain in it, and it awaits moderation. My comment is awaiting moderation, not because it says anything bad, but because has links in it. I could try and post it again without the links.

  159. David: You are right that the naturalizing impulse is often very poorly defended. That said, Nagel does a very good job explaining, and defending, it in Mind and Cosmos. While the atheist is wrong to rule out God, to the atheist, the insistence on finding a supernatural answer to origins questions  is on par with seeking to find a supernatural answer to the perturbations in planetary orbits. And in a very real sense, they are correct. God is the first cause, causing creation from outside creation, and the final cause, toward which creation aspires, and God is everywhere present in creation, and all things in creation are God’s Words, a Torah for the gentiles, as it were. But when considered in itself, to insist that God has made a creation that he needs to tinker with to keep it running, is to claim that God is not a good author, but could not fill all the gaps in his creation itself, and has to intervene from outside to fill them. That is, a God of the gaps is an affront to God, and only thereby, an affront to creation. But Nagel says this (without the theological part) much better than I can.

    As to whether evolution is a theory of origins: Wikipedia lists “Evolution does not attempt to explain the origin of life or the origin and development of the universe. While biological evolution describes the process by which species and other levels of biological organization originate, and ultimately leads all life forms back to a universal common ancestor, it is not primarily concerned with the origin of life itself, and does not pertain at all to the origin and evolution of the universe and its components. The theory of evolution deals primarily with changes in successive generations over time after life has already originated. The scientific model concerned with the origin of the first organisms from organic or inorganic molecules is known as abiogenesis, and the prevailing theory for explaining the early development of our universe is the Big Bang model.” If we insist on conflating the two, we just come off as ignorant, and convince our opponents that we don’t know what we are talking about. There is no reason not to say, as Nagel does, that evolution is a powerful and strong theory (even if, for non-scientific reasons we must reject it) but that there isn’t a coherent theory of the genesis of life, nor, on our current understanding, can there be.

    As to thermodynamics: The point is that the entropy of the sun-earth system *has* been increasing, and isolated bubbles of order do not disprove that. There may be other problems about information organization, there may be problems with the origin of life, etc. But even there, they aren’t problems with evolution, per se, and we should acknowledge that, and acknowledge that evolution is a strong theory, and our objections are not based on science, and that we respect their science.

  160. Here’s how I summarized Nagel’s book back when I read it:

    Nagel: Evolution is nifty. But what about the vegetative, animal, and rational souls? Perhaps you need teleology. #bookcheat

    I think that first part is important. Even if we ultimately reject evolution, it’s a very respectable theory, and any scientific objection we can raise has already been answered.

    -

    As for the viability of evolution, I think Dr. Fesser’s [http://bit.ly/1fjRUMz] objections to ID, as well as Sheldrake’s [http://bit.ly/1p97AEY] are relatively telling. We object to evolution as if it is bad science. But it’s good science, and our objections betray a captivity to scientism.

  161. Thank you Matthew for explaining this argument so clearly. I know you were writing to David, but if I could jump in.  I think this is the kind of thing I was trying to say to Eric (in much simpler terms of course).  Evolution is beyond my capabilities of understanding, but even so, it does not, and does not attempt to, answer the question I am interested in which is about the very beginning of life of any sort.  So even if I understood singularities, Science does not explain what/ who created that spark/rush that came exploding out.  So that is why some folks don’t see evolution as threatening their faith, right?  Let us agree that it is a brilliant theory of how, it does not and does not intend to address the who.

  162. Yes. This video is obnoxious in some ways, but his comments that the Big Bang is actually a Christian answer to science is very interesting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3MWRvLndzs

  163. Actually, that was great thank you. I am afraid I got lost in the middle, but it did help.  I read somewhere that “The Big Bang” name was originally used to mock the priest’s theories when at the time scientists still favored the eternal theory.  

  164. Whenever Christian’s argue for the supernatural, they have conceded too much ground already.  To speak of the supernatural is to assume naturalism and seek to add God to this alien worldview.  A biblical worldview is fundamentally opposed to a naturalistic worldview; like oil and water, the two do not mix.  A Christian approach to science would begin with the Creator God who sustains the universe by the word of his power.  As a result, the fact that we can develop natural laws,  is a reflection of the fact that God providentially upholds his creation in a consistent way.  However, it is better to speak of God’s consistent upholding of the universe in terms of laws of God’s ordinary providence.  In a similar way, it is better to describe miracles as acts of extraordinary providence than to define them as supernatural acts.  It is important to remember that there is no such thing as a brute fact, there are only interpreted facts.  Thus, when a person declares evolution to be “good science,” they are not only arguing that there is an internal consistency to the system, but they are also validating the presuppositions that support the system.  Therefore, one can argue with the quality of the “science” by arguing with it’s explanation of the details, it’s internal consistency, or it’s presuppositions.  When we evaluate science we cannot leave epistemology at the door.

  165. Tim, well said: “However, it is better to speak of God’s consistent upholding of the universe in terms of laws of God’s ordinary providence.”  I agree with you.  What we attribute the “laws of nature” are really phenomena of God’s power and wisdom sustaining His creation.  As A.W. Tozer once wrote: “Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern somewhere, and fixes it as a law.  The uniformity of God’s activities in His creation enables the scientist to predict the course of natural phenomena.  The trustworthiness of God’s behavior in His world is the foundation of all scientific truth.  Upon it the scientist rests his faith and from there he goes on to achieve great and useful things in such fields as those of navigation, chemistry, agriculture, and the medical arts.”  Tozer also wrote: “One cannot long read the Scriptures sympathetically without noticing the radical disparity between the outlook of men of the Bible and that of modern men.  We are today suffering from a secularized mentality.  Where the sacred writers saw God, we see the laws of nature.  God ruled their world; ours is ruled by the laws of nature and we are always once removed from the presence of God.”  

  166. David Douglas wrote:

    “Maybe in your nicely compartmentalized world …  In that climate the origin of life and the evolution of life are all of a piece.  So yes I was attacking the origin of life, since subsequent evolution kind of depends on it.”

    Good for David.  I agree with his approach.  It still surprises me the number of times an evolutionist has tried to dodge the origin of life question by claiming that “evolution does not attempt to explain the origin of life or the origin and development of the universe”.  While Darwin was trying to provide a mechanism for the origin of species, the philosophy of evolution is the same philosophy regardless of whether they are talking about life, the earth, the stars, or the universe.  Though we can distinguish origin of life questions from speciation questions, David is correct that they are all of a piece.  This is particularly true for the materialistic, godless evolutionist.  There is no such thing as evolution of species apart from the origin of life.  The term evolution is heavily abused.  Most of the time evolutionists start out implying macroevolution, but when they seem to be losing traction, they imply any change in frequency of alleles at all.  They don’t indicate when they have switched, and they may not even be aware they are doing it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          So I like the term evolutionism because it captures the sense in which we are dealing with an entire worldview philosophy that stands or falls together.  It really is an -ism.

  167. Matthew N. Petersen wrote:

    “But even there, they aren’t problems with evolution, per se, and we should acknowledge that, and acknowledge that evolution is a strong theory, and our objections are not based on science, and that we respect their science.”

    “Their science”?  It appears that Petersen has gone full postmodern on us.  For the rest of us, science has a particular meaning which is the same for everyone, and it involves repeatable observation.  This is what gives science its special persuasive power as compared with other means of knowledge.  Repeatability is something which evolutionism doesn’t provide, since it deals with particular events in the distant past.  As I’ve pointed out before, even if evolutionists could repeatedly evolve a butterfly from an elephant in a lab by natural selection, it wouldn’t prove that butterflies evolved from elephants in earth’s history.  Hard science (the kind that people find highly persuasive) doesn’t deal with particular events of the past, but with the class of repeatable events under well defined conditions.  Evolutionists want to swing the authority of hard science when what they really have are layers and layers of extrapolation and assumption about the past.  Origin theories are not in the realm of hard science because they deal with particulars of the past that are not available for repetition.  

  168. Matthew, Carole, Dan and Katecho.  Thank you for a series of well-written, clear and useful posts.  You have all given me a good deal to think about.  There are many interesting issues here, and many useful references to thinkers and books with which I was not familiar. You have also shown that a Christian thread of comments can combine sharp argument with civility and actually listening and responding to each other.  I would like to see more internet discussions conducted at this level of quality.  And a special thanks to Matthew.  You have clearly stated your objections to what Pastor Wilson said about evolution, and I think you are basically correct.  Good work.

  169. Evolution is good science. ”   Nonsense.   If you mean that all the complexity, functionality, diversity, and phenomena of biological organisms is merely the product of an inherited accretion of “selected” transcription errors over billions of generations, you are talking about a belief system – wildly extrapolated from some scattered observations we’ve seen over the past century and a half or so.
    This omni-darwinian paradigm reigns, not because it is really good science, but because the alternative disintegrates the power of sheer naturalistic explanation. If the sphere of science is limited to non-intelligent or non-supernatural explanations no matter what , then we might concede that omni-darwinism is the best possible “scientific” theory we’ve got. But this still does not actually mean it’s “good science”. Rather, it’s limited sphere renders the dogmatic acceptance of omni-darwinism into plain ol’ bad thinking. 
    Worse, it’s dominant purview over society and culture at large renders bad thinkers into worldview makers. Rather than humbly accepting the limitations of extrapolatory reasoning to fully explain complex and unobservable historical occurances, the consensus-backed scientist of today has become The Prophet and Priest of Reality itself. 
    Put another way; while their true sphere of understanding is limited by the definition of science itself, their sphere of influence is approaching omnipotence. 

  170. Jay, well said: “This omni-darwinian paradigm reigns, not because it is really good science, but because the alternative disintegrates the power of sheer naturalistic explanation.”  I couldn’t agree more.  It is undoubtedly a worldview and therefore a belief system.  This worldview masquerades as science in order to rule out any opposing views from the outset.  And like you said, “their sphere of influence is approaching omnipotence.”  I’ve always subscribed to the truism that ideas have consequences, and bad ideas can have bad consequences.  Unfortunately, the false (and seductive) worldview of Darwinian Evolutionism is one of the most harmful ideas that has plagued the West.  Darwin’s grand idea provided the intellectual justification for agnosticism and atheism, since God was explained away as being unnecessary for creation.  Thus, Darwin’s theory has done more harm to Christianity than almost any other philosopher I can think of.  Darwin, and Thomas Huxley after him, made it easier, and more fashionable, to take God out of the creation business.  Thus, one may ask: if God didn’t create all this, and if God doesn’t sustain all this, then what does God do?  Well, to millions of people, God became either expendable, or irrelevant.  As a consequence, Darwin’s grand idea has contributed significantly to the secularization of the West’s Judeo-Christian heritage.  Such is the pride and foolishness of man, when he turns away from God, and God’s Word, and seeks his own path and his own truth. 

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