Archives for February 2014

The creationism versus evolution debate

drstevemcswain[Hat tip to my good friend Hiro for sending me the link to the Beliefnet article that inspired me to write this post.]

Dr. Steve McSwain looks like a nice guy with a friendly smile, if the picture I procured from his website serves as any indication.

Professor of communications at the University of Kentucky, Dr. McSwain is promoted as a former Baptist preacher, a spiritual teacher and motivational speaker with “respect [for] all spiritual traditions” at his website.

That courtesy has apparently not been extended to certain members of his own religion, in particular Ken Hamm and those Christians who advocate Young Earth Creationism, often referred to as YEC.

To be fair, I’m not particularly keen on Mr. Hamm’s apparent position that YEC beliefs are mandatory to be considered a “true” Christian.

But Dr. McSwain doesn’t even pretend to hide his scorn and disdain for these creationists.

He writes of “religious quackery” taught in Sunday School by “misinformed Christian zealots” blithering about like “a bunch of intellectually-bankrupt nitwits.”

Dr. McSwain is so embarrassed by the very idea of creationism that he wrote,

That there are still Christians promoting Creationism is actually more unbelievable than the illogical nonsense in Creationism they wish everyone would just believe.

I am reminded of the famous plea from Rodney King who asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention before going any further that I believe a form of supernatural intelligence called God is directly responsible for my existence.

Therefore, I should probably be labeled a creationist.

However, I do not personally gravitate toward YEC or require the earth to be only 6,000 years old. Instead, I have developed my own unique interpretation of the evidence, something I have coined “iterative creation” and described in some detail in my book Counterargument for God.

I can accept the scientific evidence for the Big Bang and an old earth and still think the catalyst, or First Cause of the extraordinary event was when God spoke and said, “Let there be light.”

And I am no more ashamed to think that some of my fellow Christians believe the earth is only six thousand years old than I am embarrassed to think some of my fellow humans believe that they are related to chimpanzees, bonobo apes and the bananas we all like to eat, and only by simple mutations naturally occurring through the process known as sexual reproduction, simply if given enough time.

My real issue with Dr. McSwain’s essay is that evolution theory has absolutely nothing to do with creation, except that it completely depends on two separate acts of creation to have occurred before anything can evolve. To explain this, I devised something I called my “Big Picture” argument, absolutely required for any serious attempt to answer one of our existential questions.

The problem is simple: life cannot evolve until it exists.

Indeed, theologians such as Dr. Conor Cunningham and scientists such as Dr. Ken Miller advocated a blend of Darwinism and creationism called theistic evolution.

So if it floats your boat to believe as Darwin suggested, that “monkeys make men,” be my guest.

I promise not to imply that you’re an imbecile for thinking so.

Dr. McSwain erroneously titled his article “Creationism Versus Evolutionism: When Will this Debate Ever End?” in spite of the fact that evolution theory does not describe the true origin of anything.

The debate about whether evolution theory can compete with or replace creationism will never end at least not until the really intelligent people such as Dr. McSwain realize the debate he is describing is completely nonsensical, but not for his reasons.

The Big Bang is the popular name of the scientific theory attempting to explain the origin of this remarkably improbable universe, actually capable of supporting complex life forms. In other words, the Big Bang is our attempt using science to explain how the universe was created.

The evidence supporting the Big Bang theory is very strong. There is redshift, indicating the universe is still expanding, first observed by Edwin Hubble.

Additional confirmation of the Big Bang is found in something called cosmic background radiation. Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias shared the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery.

In his article Dr. McSwain declared,

What the Genesis account is not is a historical account of the creation of the universe.

Dr. Wilson has been quoted as saying,

Certainly, if you are religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.

His partner Arno Penzias said,

Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.

Physicist Sir Fred Hoyle added:

A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as the chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.

Life exists; about that particular fact, there should be no doubt.

However, abiogenesis doesn’t even rise to the level of scientific theory. It’s a weak hypothesis that currently offers nothing more than a feeble guess about how code as complex and elegant as DNA came to exist and became the building block for life.

The question is whether God or very improbable good luck deserves all the credit for the events that brought the basic raw materials essential for life into existence.

Curiously, in his article Dr. McSwain quoted Einstein as saying,

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge will be shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.

Before launching into a future diatribe about creationism, perhaps it would behoove Dr. McSwain to learn a lesson in humility, or at least learn what creationism really means. He should know that the only alternative to creationism in some form or fashion is not evolution, but enormously improbable good luck.

The origin of life was either planned and implemented on purpose, or nothing more a happy accident.

There really isn’t a third option. And evolution had nothing to do with it.

 

Watchmaker fallacies

southernprose_cover_CAFGWilliam Paley’s rather famous teleological “Watchmaker” argument advocating Intelligent Design goes something like this:

[S]uppose I found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think … that, for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for [a] stone [that happened to be lying on the ground]?… For this reason, and for no other; namely, that, if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, if a different size from what they are, or placed after any other manner, or in any order than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it (Paley 1867, 1).

Okay, it goes exactly like that…so what’s the problem with the argument?

An obvious one. But Paley’s mistake was both simple, and an easy one to make. He assumed the possibility of an eternal universe, where a rock could have conceivably existed forever.

We now believe that we cannot assume the stone was always there, any more than we can assume the watch always existed.

In his defense, insufficient scientific evidence existed during his lifetime, for William Paley to assume that the universe once had a beginning and the stone could not have always been there.

However, contemporary scientific evidence called “red shift” and “cosmic background radiation” allows modern day scientists to assure us with some degree of certainty that this universe, allegedly “fine-tuned” for life, has not always existed.

There was a beginning, and no justification to assume the universe has always existed in its current state.

If the current scientific consensus is correct, the rock hasn’t always been there. But Paley didn’t know about the Big Bang theory, making his mistake an honest one.

Yet according to biologist Richard Dawkins, the real problem with Paley’s argument for Design is a counterargument that he called The Blind Watchmaker.

Mr. Dawkins wrote,

But of course any God capable of intelligently designing something as complex as DNA/protein replicating machine must have been at least as complex and organized as the machine itself. Far more so if we suppose him additionally capable of such advanced functions as listening to prayers and forgiving sins. To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer. You have to say something like “God was always there”, and if you allow yourself that kind of lazy way out, you might as well just say “DNA was always there”, or “Life was always there”, and be done with it.

The logical fallacy committed by Mr. Dawkins is far more egregious and virtually impossible to justify, because he happens to be well aware of the Big Bang.

Surely Mr. Dawkins must know that you can’t just as well say “DNA was always there” or “Life was always there”, because there wasn’t always there.

Life, or DNA, could not have existed prior to the existence of the universe that contains it. Nor does chaos does not randomly organize itself into useful information. Not ever, that we can prove. Therefore, we should not assume it.

Elegant code and intelligent code does not write itself or spontaneously come into existence. Furthermore, life cannot evolve until it exists.

Now he’s certainly not stupid. So why is Mr. Dawkins pretending to be this dense?

Apparently in order to placate his fan base of fawning atheists, Mr. Dawkins doesn’t actually have to be clever; sounding clever is obviously sufficient to sell claptrap like that found in his book The God Delusion.

The only possible way Mr. Dawkins can maintain his charade of speaking with authority on matters existential is to deny rather clear and incontrovertible evidence that a supernatural realm probably exists.

It is also rather clear, from reading his books, that Mr. Dawkins asserts himself to be a strict materialist.

However, strong evidence of supernatural phenomena can easily be found in well-documented cases of corroborated veridical NDE events, notably found in the extraordinarily experience of Pam Reynolds, which comes complete with detailed medical records.

Therefore, Mr. Dawkins can only manage to perpetuate such a convoluted and irrational argument by demonstrating his willingness and determination to remain ignorant of any real truth.

In stark contrast, “the lazy way out” as Mr. Dawkins describes my conclusions based on the Big Picture argument found in my book Counterargument for God took more than five years of research and writing, plus a lifetime of experience, to complete.

If only Mr. Dawkins was as lazy as me, his logic wouldn’t be so easy to eviscerate.

I must go wherever the evidence leads me because I only care about one thing: the real truth, not winning a popularity contest, or winning an argument against a person who clearly and willingly limits his own intelligence.

The unbiased reader will be left to decide whether my counterargument to Mr. Dawkins’ atheism is more solidly supported by logic and scientific evidence than the best argument he has offered.

Sadly, more than likely, the biased atheist won’t read my book, even if I offer it to them for free, and the electronic copy only costs three dollars.

The body of evidence needed to see the Big Picture overwhelmingly supports a rational belief in a supernatural Creator.

Only a blind fool doesn’t see it.