Tagged: Scientism

Sagan and Tyson and Nye, Oh My!

Recently we’ve seen quite a rash of “celebrity scientists.” Most everyone knows this started with Carl Sagan and his popular, newly revamped show, Cosmos. Bill Nye and Neil Tyson have stepped up to fill his celebrity role as a scientist who is also good at speaking.

In case you think I’m picking on materialists, Ken Ham could probably be considered a celebrity scientist as well.

But that’s the thing. Most of these men stand in direct, outspoken opposition to the gospel. Can a Christian in good conscience appreciate The Science Guy or the new (or old) Cosmos? We may agree with some of the science presented here – but a great deal of it is not science at all; rather it is propaganda carefully crafted by fools (who say in their heart, there is no God) and falsely called science.

I like science. I like knowing weird things like how gravity might work and what relativity means. It’s temptingly refreshing when a man like Tyson brings that sort of thing into public opinion and makes it popular.

Despite that, despite how much I want to say I enjoy Nye and laugh at Tyson’s jokes and sit in awe of Sagan, I can’t. If I am of Christ, I cannot ally myself with men who have spit on his Name. That’s all there is to it.

“Sure, Hitler committed terrible crimes, but his paintings weren’t half bad, so I’m a big Hitler fan.” (The best defense against Godwin’s Law is to admit it right away)

These men are militant atheists. We are the Body of Christ. How can we who died to sin live any longer in it?

Understanding Our Preconceptions

Before proceeding further with this series on Creation, it is helpful, nay necessary, to examine preconceptions about nature, science, and the like.

Scientism (called by many names today) has as its core tenant “nothing is true until proven so by empiricism.” This is not really a correct view, although it has some helpful elements. As a scientist, I generally require proof before believing in magnetic monopoles, for instance.

This empiricist model claims that it preconceives nothing in order to arrive at truth. That’s simply impossible. First, you must suppose that logic is a thing that even exists, and that you are capable of understanding it. Then, you must assume that nature is uniform everywhere, and that your observations in one corner of the universe are applicable in every other square. Then, you must assume that your mind is equipped to handle observations about nature in the first place. None of this is able to be proven, yet scientists routinely take it on faith that these things are so (I believe them to be true as well, so I’m allowed to do science).

The only position that makes any rational sense of the universe (and indeed accounts for rationality at all) is the Christian position. This is the basis for presuppositional apologetics. The above principles are in fact consistent with and implied by Scripture.

So what am I presupposing? I am presupposing that the Bible is God’s unfallible and unchangeable revelation, perfect and true in all its teachings, though not exhaustive in its subject matter. Even an attempt to prove this puts us in the jury seat while the truth of God is held in doubt, if just for argument’s sake. That’s unacceptable.

What does that mean for our studies in Genesis?

  1. We must think as the Bible thinks. When the Spirit inspires the word “day,” is it internally consistent for this to be interpreted “age?”
  2. The only standard to compare to is the rest of the Bible which is always internally consistent. Babylonian texts that contain the same literary structures use those (usually heptameric) structures because the Bible does, not the other way around.
  3. Is creation/evolution consistent with the God revealed in Scripture?
  4. Science is a tool, not a worldview or a hermeneutic. Although it is often used as such, this is absolutely incorrect. Saying “I only believe in science” is equivalent to saying “I only believe in hammers.” So what? Hammers hammer nails because the Bible allows them to. They do not hammer nails despite what the Text may imply.

I am continuing to explore Meredith Kline’s framework hypothesis in order to respond accordingly.

Scientism 10, “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith,” Part 1

I’ve got good and bad so far.

The Good

Within the first couple pages, he’s already laying out the terms. There is no battle between science and Christianity. Science is a tool…it’d be like saying WWII was a battle between the Allies and the guns. Doesn’t make any sense. The war is between differing philosophies – the philosophy of Christianity and the philosophy of materialism.

At root, materialism is “an epistemological critique of religion.” The materialist claims that the Christians basis for truth is incorrect (God) and that there is a better source of truth (which varies but is inevitably dependent on the infallibility of man). These sorts of debates are never about the actual proofs or evidences involved; those may help or hurt a case, but the real issue is “Who do we believe?” Who is the more credible witness?

Of course, because materialism is not based on the Triune God of Scripture, it is inherently illogical from the start. There is also a glaring error in assuming that the self is the basis of knowledge.

For a person to accept as knowledge only what he had discovered and proved for himself from direct personal experience would put his knowledge at the level of the Stone Age.

There is very little (if anything) that we know based on our own experience. Even that which we claim to know from our own experience is interpreted based on rules or methods we picked up from other people.

Science is not scientism. Scientism is essentially materialism in the specific guise of the scientific community. And it is not the basis of truth.

The Bad

Then he started to go into specifics. The first problem he tackled was that of genesis, concerning beginnings.

He considers the theory of the Big Bang a great leap for Christian science, because it implies that time had a finite, defined beginning. Unfortunately, this is the common conception of the Big Bang, not the scientifically stated theory, which says nothing about the Big Bang being the absolute beginning. The theory was developed in light of anti-creationism and only holds true in that light. Barr appears to be (at least so far) in favor of a theistic evolutionary mindset, which Bolton Davidheiser eloquently demonstrated was paramount to denying the Gospel altogether.

We shall see how this develops.

New Book on Review

So I am breaking my scheduled faith-science book reviews for a new book I just borrowed. Looks awesome, detailed, and promising

Modern Physics and Ancient Faith – Stephen M. Barr

Maybe I’m out of the loop, but I’ve never heard of this guy. I flipped though this book and was immediately entranced by all the scientific lingo and indepth discussion of physical concepts. I have high hopes for this book – at least it will provide a framework for biblical views of things like quantum theory.

Scientism 9: “Evolution and Christian Faith,” Part 3

And so we come to the last installment of Evolution and Christian Faith. He continues to wow me with his direct, to-the-point attacks.

I left off right in the middle of a discussion on the evidences for evolution. It seems that he’s left no stone unturned.

There is a popular misconception that if animals or plants are crossed and produce fertile offspring they belong to the same species; otherwise not. This is no longer recognized as an adequate criterion in taxonomy by most scientists.

He readily makes the distinction between facts, and facts that are twisted.

Natural selection is a fact; the trouble comes when one tries to apply it as a factor in real evolution.

Charles Darwin was greatly perplexed as to how to explain social organization, such as the organization of an anthill or beehive…In the end Darwin “explained” it much as he did the evolution of the eye – merely by deciding that it should not bother him any longer.

He brings up a form of “evidence” that I was not previously aware of: serological tests. If blood samples from two foreign species are mixed, they should react violently, and the degree of this reaction is a measure of how similar the blood serum is. The results of these tests were inconclusive at best and completely random at worst. (To be honest, I think this has great potential for medicinal purposes, but not for evolution.) The reason I’d never heard of this method is, despite being touted as the greatest proof of evolution at the time of its conception, it was proven inconsequential and quietly swept under the rug.

Hyenas appear to be more closely related to cats than cats are to themselves.

It was found that even different parts of the same organ may react differently, and even different parts of the same cell.

Of course, not all possibilities can be open to the closed scientific mind:

An honest evolutionist should consider the possibility of creation and not dismiss it on the grounds that it removes the matter from the field of scientific inquiry.

The fossil record is the most commonly cited evidence for evolution – sadly it’s the most damning. Worst of all is the blatant manipulation of data. Any other field, and this sort of scientific misdemeanor would result in harsh penalties.

Sometimes strata are designated as of a certain age and then as fossils not seen at first are discovered in them, the designations are changed accordingly.

If the shoe don’t fit – make it.

But of supreme importance, as always, is the fact that Christians are actually believing this stuff. Atheists have to believe in something – we expect that. And evolution is that something, at least for now. Something must replace God. But for someone who calls himself a Christian to believe it…unacceptable. We must remove the plank from our own eye before attending to the speck in the world’s eye.

While the evolutionists are exerting more and more pressure upon the public to accept evolution, a number of conservative Christians are playing into their hands by telling the Christian public that it is now all right to accept at least a certain amount of evolution.

This is one of my favorites so far:

In a letter to the editor of the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, Dr. John R. Howitt of Toronto chides the editor for taking the compromising view that “God may have worked through a biological process of natural selection.” Dr. Howitt replies that of course God could have worked through any process, but the question is not what God could have done, but what He did do.

Speaking of carbon dating:

This method of dating depends on a number of assumptions. Of course there is the assumption that the half life of carbon-14 has not changed during the period which is being measured…However, there is evidence that there have been alterations due to changes in the earth’s magnetic field, and also there seems to be evidences of changes in the radiation flux itself.

I first heard about variable half-lives about a year ago. Fascinating topic. Very hard to find any literature on it, either for or against it. That is suspicious.

The scientist who discovered radioactive dating (Willard Libby) was well aware of its limitations, including the following interesting fact:

Libby himself later said that he was very much surprised to find out that no material with a known date of more than about five thousand years was available as a standard.

So the man who discovered radioactive dating could not verify his method (shown by Ney and Winkler to be incredibly inaccurate) with any objects older than the Flood. That’s rather telling.

We can only speculate, but the evolutionists do a very great deal more speculating than Christians do.

What follows is 6 pages of single spaced quotes (81 to be exact) from respected evolutionary scientists admitting that evolution is “a baffling mystery.” (Andre Lwoff) It is a quite impressive collection as well as a useful arsenal. Buy the book.

If scientists produce something which can be defined as living, this does not necessarily mean that life on earth was produced by a similar method. If the scientists are successful in their endeavor, it will be through much intelligent planning and the use of elaborate equipment. It will be very different from the chance actions which they postulate started the original life on earth.

Interestingly enough, some scientists claimed a few years ago to have made amino acids assemble into proteins by replicating what they thought to be primeval conditions. Whether this was actually what happened or media hype remains to be seen (by me, since I can’t find the paper), and there is no doubt it is a significant source of controversy as to whether this constitutes the creation of life. Davidheiser makes the excellent point, “so?” a point that is far underused. What’s the real issue? Does this prove what they want it to? What are their assumptions and preconditions? All important questions for good scientists to ask, yet often ignored when the answers are unsatisfactory.

Speaking of man in the image of God:

In Old Testament times, certain men were privileged to see and talk with God as a man, and we understand this to be the Lord Jesus, for no man has seen God the Father at any time (John 1:18).

I point this out for two reasons. First of all, most people have apparently forgotten this in their haste to throw the Old Testament baby out with the Old Covenant bathwater. Second, it is stunning the ease at which Davidheiser goes from talking about complicated scientific concepts to Old Testament theology in the Gospel of John without skipping a beat. We need more men like him.

I will conclude this post by briefly summarizing the section on the ancestors of man. Davidheiser goes through all the famous hoaxes and points out the ease with which they are disproven, as well as the comments by the few scientists who were able to view the better preserved skeletons – all of whom conclude that there are no features in any case that point to a “missing link,” and in many cases, the skeletons were indistinguishable from “modern man.” Surprise! Of course, if you want to study these remains now, good luck with that. They are not allowed to be studied, on account of damage through handling. I’ve never been one to call conspiracy…

Scientism 8: “Evolution and Christian Faith,” Part 2

When people are told over and over that they are backward and ignorant, it is natural for them to make an effort to counteract such aspersions, and the easiest way to do this is to fall into the trap which their adversaries have baited with the aspersions. In other words, in this case they are likely to endeavor to show that they really are broadminded and intelligent by professing an interest and even a belief in evolution.

Repeating something ad nauseum doesn’t make it true. This is a fallacy of repetition, and it often works.

The American Scientific Affiliation originally had a statement of faith in God and the inerrancy of the Bible that all members were required to sign as part of their initiation.

It was charged that the statement of faith caused some prospective members to refuse to join. This is a strange reason to give, for the purpose of such a statement is to screen out persons who are not in accord with it.

Again, evolution is a faith-based system and not a serious scientific endeavor, though it masquerades as such.

Much of what constitutes evidence for evolution is not repeatable and cannot be investigated by the scientific method. Therefore it is believed by some that the theory of evolution should be considered under the heading of philosophy instead of science. However, it is generally taught as science, and students and the public are constantly being told that all reputable scientists accept it as fact.

Repetition does not constitute truth.

I even take issue with calling it a theory, even though it is treated as practically an untouchable law. A theory is something that is backed by evidence and repeatable experiments. Once those experiments have been performed and are in accord with the original hypothesis, it may advance to the status of theory. Once the theory is backed by much evidence and investigation, it may perhaps advance to a law, if it has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt. Not only has evolution never been proven, it cannot be proven because it is not repeatable and there is no evidence for it. Therefore, it is merely a hypothesis.

[B]ut the evolutionary scientists have already ruled God out and will not consider the possibility that He did create.

Now that’s not good science at all.

There follows an excellent treatment of teleology, namely, the end, purpose, or goal of history. Evolution has no purpose. It’s random. There are many specific examples of nature in this section, including the honeycombs of bees, the design of which turned Darwin, in his own words, “sick with panic.” This is not the only thing that did so, the eye being another. Fortunately for Darwin, he just filed these facts away under “facts that cease to exist when they are ignored” and brushed it off by the time he wrote Origin, saying that it cannot otherwise be so (obviously).

Then there’s a section on faith, and it’s presuppositional, so don’t get your panties in a wad.

Since evolutionists and Christian anti-evolutionists both have facts and depend on faith, the final question is: Upon what will you place your faith?

There is no such thing as objectivity, ever or anywhere.

Opinions about some of these things may change, but the point is that when it comes to evolution, scientists are not all objective or even honest in their approach to the problems.

The embyonic development drawings so famous in textbooks were not based on evidence, and were in fact merely falsified sketches to support a deeply flawed theory. Ernst Haeckel was a far better artist than scientist, and everyone familiar with the issue knows that they’re falsified evidence. But that’s one of those things that cease to exist when they are ignored. Don’t address your problems and they will go away.

Ah, theistic evolution. What a joke. What an oxymoron.

However, what is important is what the Bible says, and not what men may think is grander.

If you cede the Bible, you have nothing left. Nothing at all. Don’t tell me it’s ok because you “still love Jesus.” You just called him a liar and spat upon his word. Say that the Bible is wrong, and you become an apostate.

In the section on the mechanism of evolution, he goes into many of the things that most anti-evolutionists use as apologetical material. And a lot of it is good, of course. Just because we rely primarily on the Scripture as our authority doesn’t mean we can’t show the glory of God in nature.

An important difficulty in the theory [hypothesis] of natural selection is the fact that many useful characteristics would be liabilities instead of assets while still in an incompleted state of development.

Darwin said that natural selection could never produce anything for the sole benefit of another species.

This is false. It happens all the time.

After reading what he [Darwin] said about the eye, it is understandable why he was able to say this [, that it’s no difficulty for his hypothesis]. As he himself said, he “got over it.” He did not solve the problem. He just hardened himself so that the fact that he could not solve the problem did not bother him any more.

How’s that for open-minded, eh? That’s why I laugh when unbelievers call us things like illogical, naïve, hard-headed, simple, etc. Yet they are the ones most guilty. Ah well. Nobody’s perfect, I suppose.

Professor Richard Goldschmidt of the University of California at Berkeley, another outstanding geneticist, commented on this explanation of the production of new genes [through chromosome duplication]: “I have always felt that this idea is very crude and, in addition, contrary to all that we know about the action of the gene…”

Well that’s ok, Professor. We’ll just ignore that fact.

What’s he’s commenting primarily on here is the fact that when genes mutate, they produce an effect merely alternative to the effect they would have produced otherwise. When the gene for brown eyes mutates, it produces blue eyes. It does not produce a third nostril. Yet evolution and natural selection depend upon methods like this for the introduction of new genetic material. It’s been said over and over that Satan cannot create, he can only twist what God has made. This is an example. Mutations can be thought of as evil (most are deletrious, and those that aren’t are largely inactive and unhelpful). Without an act of special creation, they cannot make something new. They can only rearrange the information that they already have.

It is, of course, this mechanism of gene mutation that is the reason that the human race is not all one height, one skin color, one hair color, one eye color…you get the point. Gene mutation happens. And when it doesn’t kill you, it merely changes an attribute – and only the attribute that it controls. So in order for one species to turn into another, not only would most genes have to mutate simultaneously, there would have to be of necessity an introduction somehow of new genetic material – something that is impossible.

“Well, we haven’t found it yet, but we will.” Oh…so you’re taking it on faith. I knew that.

It takes faith to believe that mutations and natural selection have brought about the world of living things.

Another less commonly purported mechanism is that of polyploidy, an increase in the number of chromosomes.

The classic example of a new species produced by polyploidy is Rapshanobrassica, a combination of radish and cabbage. It has a root like a cabbage and a top like a radish, so it is of no value except to prove that this sort of thing can happen.

It is highly questionable whether real evolution – the evolution of all animals and plants and human beings from simple beginnings – could have come about through small inheritable changes.

Then of course, there’s the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which states in part that order will always decrease in a system. Things cannot get more orderly when left to themselves. They degrade. Evolution states the opposite – things left to themselves become more complex.

Arthur Eddington, the renowned British astronomer, has expressed the belief that this law holds the supreme position among the laws of the nature. After saying that hardly any difficulty need be fatal to a theory, he adds, “But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.”

They retort by saying that the addition of energy into a system can increase the order. It can…

Such things as intelligence, skill, instinct, and genetic constitution were also required.

In other words, the only way order can increase is through God, or his agents in nature.

Anyone could make a fortune at the horse races if permitted to do what the evolutionists do with atavistic structures – choose the horses he wishes and reject the others on the basis of the outcome of the race after the race is over. In the case of the evolutionists, moreover, the choice is made not only after the alleged event and in accordance with its believed outcome, but it is used as evidence that the event really occurred.

This is just…puerile, to be honest.

More to come. I’m much enjoying this book. Get you a copy. Get two.

Scientism 7: “Evolution and Christian Faith,” Part 1

The next book on my list is Evolution and Christian Faith, by Bolton Davidheiser (I hereby reserve the right to name my child “Bolton”). This book was published in 1969 by the Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company. Before this time, evolution wasn’t seen as that big of a deal in Christian circles. Of course, it was, and had infiltrated much of Christian thought. This book was a wakeup call. Almost every active creation science group today can be traced back to Davidheiser’s work. He was the primary inspiration for Dr. Morris and all of his wonderful work on the subject.