Mandelbrot’s fractals

Patterns are models, or plans, used to produce nearly perfect copies of a specific design. In fact, the ability to discern a pattern from raw data is usually considered an indicator of advanced intelligence.

Some scientists (who happen to be avowed atheists, and curiously not agnostic) will argue that when words like “models”, “plans”, and “design” are used to describe an organic, natural process, those words don’t mean what they would ordinarily mean.  These experts also claim the appearance of design in a living organism is nothing more than an overwhelmingly convincing optical illusion.

In his book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, biologist (and renowned atheist) Richard Dawkins wrote,

Perhaps it was religious indoctrination that held us back (from believing in evolution). Or perhaps it was the daunting complexity of a living organ such as an eye, freighted as it is with the beguiling illusion of design by a master engineer.

Why does Mr. Dawkins believe that our eyes have deceived us, and the intuitively obvious appearance of design in our bodies only an illusion? It’s because he perceives design flaws in the human eye, probably due to the fact that the photoreceptor cells in the retina are allegedly placed backward. Dawkins has also been quite adamant about his belief that the vas deferens tube in humans and the laryngeal nerve in a giraffe are also examples of  “poor” design which, as this website suggests, commits the logical fallacy of personal incredulity.

This argument of Dawkins depends upon our making the assumption that a creator God could not, or would not, create an imperfect organism. We must trust that his ideas about “improving” the current design of a human being or a giraffe would actually be an improvement over what ordinarily works pretty well as-is, because he said so. We should trust that any personal bias toward atheism will not affect his “careful conjecture” and conclusions reached after studying the available evidence: the fossil record, comparative anatomy, and DNA analysis.

Dawkins suggests that any previously-held strong beliefs in creationism should be shattered by his “overwhelming” evidence for evolution, conveniently ignoring this one very important and obvious fact: creation (by God or good luck) must precede evolution, even if we assume that all of his claims about evolution are true.

Simply stated, life cannot evolve until it exists.

Do patterns exist that are the product of “unintentional” design? Some would say yes. But isn’t the very idea of an “accidental design” an oxymoron? Does the inference of “bad” design actually prove that no design was involved at all?

Born in Poland, French-American mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot discovered that geometric patterns occurred in nature which could be expressed in mathematical terms, regardless of scale that he called fractals.

While discussing Mandelbrot’s work, Dr. Ian Stewart said:

The same mathematics is generating chaotic behavior and pattern behavior. This changes completely how you think about all of this. The idea that there are regularities in nature and then totally separate from them are irregularities is just not true. These are two ends of one spectrum of behavior which can be generated by the same kind of mathematics. And it’s the closest thing we have at the moment to the kind of true mathematics of nature.

The “Thumbprint of God”

Of course, Mandelbrot’s fractals aren’t the only repetitive patterns seen ubiquitously throughout nature.

There are also Fibonacci’s spirals, sometimes called the “fingerprints of God”, found in things as small as a human fingerprint (and smaller) up to the formation of galaxies.

The Mandelbrot set has also been called “the thumbprint of God” because with Fibonacci’s spirals, the repeated patterns across a broad spectrum of natural objects strongly imply the work of an intelligent designer.

Dr. Andrea Sella said,

I think one of the great take-home messages from Turing’s work and from the discoveries in chemistry and biology and so on, is that ultimately pattern behavior seems to be woven very, very deeply into the fabric of the universe.  And it actually takes some very simple and familiar processes like diffusion, like the rates of chemical reactions, and the interplay between them naturally gives rise to pattern. So pattern is everywhere, just waiting to happen.

Does order emerge from chaos by accident, and not by design? Did the universe have a choice except to exist, and to create life from inanimate matter?

To see what I’ve called “the Big Picture” in my book Counterargument for God, we must look at everything from the Big Bang to natural selection. We must learn what the experts think they know about abiogenesis and speciation, and to contemplate the significance of Fibonacci’s spirals, Mandelbrot’s fractals, and the incredible complexity of DNA.

Cosmology, chemistry, genetics and geometry will all factor in the development of a better understanding of how we came to exist, leaving us to contemplate the question of why we came to be. The evidence for design begins with the precise values of cosmological factors necessary for the success of the Big Bang and the anthropic universe, as well as inflation. The chemical elixir that facilitated the origin of life did not brew itself in a warm, shallow pond, as advocates of Darwin believe — cells cannot be formed without enzymes, so the existence of enzymes had to precede the first cell.

Too many things must “accidentally” happen with perfect timing in proper sequence in order to answer an existential question without invoking a supernatural creator even remotely plausible: the origin of matter via the Big Bang, after an unbelievably precise calibration of cosmological factors, followed by a perfectly timed period of accelerated expansion (called inflation) that together allowed the universe that exists today, to exist today. For this “fine-tuned” universe to exist without divine intervention of any sort, the perfect blend of chemicals had to have coalesced and reacted until enzymes and cell membrane formed in preparation for the self-organization of LUCA, the first living single-celled organism.

Even grains of sand are fractals.

beach sand from Maui, magnified 300x (photograph by Dr. Gary Greenberg)

Have you ever looked at sand under a microscope? Nothing to be ashamed about, I haven’t either — but Dr. Gary Greenberg has, and he took photographs, which can be seen in this amazing TED talk video.

You can see an individual heart cell beat, and watch as an immune cell consumes bacteria. Those two cells look nothing alike, but if both come from the same organism, they have the same DNA. Watching live cells in action is even more impressive than looking at beach sand from Maui under a microscope.

The primary reason for my interest in Mandelbrot’s work on fractals is the idea that complex structures may develop from a simple set of rules. My personal belief is that DNA can be viewed as organic source code which uses a very simple pattern of a four value sequence in rigidly structured and organized patterns. Obviously, patterns exist. They are ubiquitous. Order is in everything. You only have to see it.

Unless (as atheists often claim about intelligent design) patterns and order are nothing but an illusion.

 

Iterative creation

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Fourth installment in the series of articles originally published as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner about existential questions and the theory of evolution.]

DivineEvolutionCover_eBook_finalIterative creation

A new Facebook friend sent me a link to an article by a scientist advocating his version of Divine Evolution, another reason I now think iterative creation might have been a better name for my own personal philosophical beliefs.

Stuart Kauffman wrote in the Edmonton Journal,

I believe that we no longer need a Creator God, we need God’s creativity.

In other words, Kauffman believes in a form of theistic evolution ala Francis Collins, where we have a creator God who doesn’t really do anything but get the ball of evolution rolling, more deist than theist.

Creation theory is concerned about the origin of things. If there is reason to believe that a supernatural entity of extraordinary intellect caused our universe to happen, why not believe that same Creator is directly responsible for the origin of life? Why would God put in all the work to set up the universe for life but lose interest before creating it?  What exactly are we saying here? Do “we” believe that God suffers from some sort of Attention Deficit Disorder, or what?

The so-called facts of evolution and the scientific evidence used to support my hypothesis of iterative creation are one and the same.

The conjecture about evolution is where the theories significantly differ. Iterative creation begins with a bang. Actually, it begins with the Big Bang. The Big Bang Theory makes sense, mostly because scientific evidence like redshift and CMB support it. It only leaves us with one real question: from where did the matter come?

Matter “exploded” with such great ferocity that the expansion of the universe began over 14 billion years ago continues to this day. How long was this dense, hot clump of pre-matter just sitting around before it decided to create the universe? It’s interesting to note the Bible reports in the first chapter of Genesis that God spoke and said, “Let there be light.” The Bible is claiming that God created matter to create our universe — simply by speaking.

I’ll be the first person to admit, that sounds pretty hard to believe — pun intended. But science tells us that plants turn into people once enough time passes, without any sort of help.  Is that really easier to believe than an invisible God?  Additional information offering very compelling support for belief in a supernatural God is readily available and has been reported upon previously, but my argument to support belief in a supernatural creator is best left for the next article, titled Supernatural evidence.

Science tells us light equals energy.  Energy equals matter. The Bible is essentially telling us that the first thing God created was matter. That makes perfect sense. You can’t make anything without raw materials. This universe, ideal for producing abundant life on Earth, is unbelievably improbable. Physicist Sir Martin Rees could tell you all about Just Six Numbers. He and most other cosmologists agree these cosmological values show how remarkably improbable it is that our universe originated by sheer luck or random chance.

In an article for American Thinker titled “Does science refute God?”, Vasko Kohlmayer presented the cosmological or First Cause argument favoring belief in a creator God. The Kalam Cosmological Argument goes as follows:

Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

The universe began to exist.

Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

This universe is required before we can get to the origin of matter.

The only answer Richard Dawkins seems to have mustered in response to the First Cause argument uses circular logic; he insists if God created the universe, then somebody must have created God. His argument completely ignores any concept of eternity. More recently he’s also entertained the notion Lawrence Krauss asserts, that an invisible creator God is preposterous, but quantum mechanics shows us that a universe from nothing created by invisible particles is easily believable.

Once matter, stars, and planets exist, complex chemical elements become stardust that sprinkles over the Earth. These chemical elements are essential to form life. Who knew Joni Mitchell was right?  She wrote the lyrics, We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon. She’s obviously a very smart woman.  And her song begins: Well I came upon a child of God

Stars are like cosmic volcanoes, spewing essential chemicals absolutely necessary for life into the universe.  These chemical elements bond to form molecules, which in turn combine to form nucleotides.

Following specific rules of recombination for nucleotides, “Lego” like building blocks assemble genes sequenced together into a unique single DNA strand of six billion coded instructions, all residing within a single living cell.  That does not happen by accident or random chance, my friend.

Richard Dawkins first advocated his theory of replicators in his book The Selfish Gene. It’s a simple theory: replicators are “anything in the universe of which copies are made.”

Iterative creation asserts that replicators do not really exist, because nature does not produce carbon copies of anything.  This information is easily observed using the tools of modern science. Every living organism is unique, conforming to a specific genetic blueprint.

Replication makes exact copies.  However, very human has unique DNA. Every human has unique fingerprints.  Each finger has a unique print.

Unique DNA is not limited to humans. According to science, any dog on the planet may be identified by DNA found in his poop.

DNA is really amazingly organized information, if you think about it. dna-structure-and-bases

We have learned through analysis of DNA culled from various organisms that each distinct morphological type has a unique pattern, and within that pattern each individual has a unique algorithm that differentiates that creature from every other known creature on Earth.

Evolution theory is only assumed true (and we recently learned that making flawed assumptions often leads to erroneous conclusions) because we know a very few “facts” and extrapolate beyond the limits of imagination simply because of the perception there isn’t viable alternative in the form of competing theory. That’s only because iterative creation hasn’t been seriously considered by anyone (but me) to date. Creationism in general is treated synonymously with Young Earth Creation (YEC), which cannot be true if the scientific tests we know as radio carbon dating are accurate for the first 50,000 years. Iterative creationism is not constrained by time.

Furthermore, the fossil record contains every indication that modern life is quite different from earlier and more ancient life forms. Unless the Bible references to “leviathan” and “behemoth” are references to dinosaurs, it’s reasonable to assume the Bible omitted mention of dinosaurs because its writers were unaware of its existence. As far as we know, mankind wasn’t around when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

But is it reasonable to assume humans descended from dinosaurs through a number of intermediate stages when the only means of produced a new generation was sexual reproduction?

The argument about the Bible and YEC is irrelevant to iterative creation. The value of Noah isn’t when it happened or whether the flood actually occurred according to the geological record, but the important fact to realize is that the Bible is reporting an incident of mass extinction.

Creation theory is often mocked by atheists because God is perceived as magic.  Its critics are quick to point out perceived errors and contradictions in the Bible and point out that the six days of creation are demonstrably untrue. Assuming radio carbon dating is anywhere close to accurate. I’m prepared to assume the margin of error is not plus or minus several billion years. Yet in evolution theory, time itself is magic.

Please consider this simple, elegant alternative to YEC (Young Earth Creationism) and Darwinian evolution: after creating the universe by speaking in the Big Bang anomaly, God formed the first living organism, solving the problem of abiogenesis (we have no idea how it happened.) The breath of life from a supernatural Creator caused inanimate matter to become animated. It’s much more logical to believe the origin of life happened on purpose than by accident. Iterative Creation also solves the “insufficient time” problem for DNA to form, eliminating the need for silly hypotheses like panspermia to move the problem of life off the Earth to give DNA more time to evolve. Simple life came first in order for the building blocks to come in proper sequence. Plants had to precede animals because animals need plants for food, to produce oxygen, shade, etc.  Interestingly, the order in which life emerged in the Bible according to Genesis Chapter 1 essentially matches the fossil record.

God made a blueprint, sexually paired the creature with male and female, and continued creating. Iterative creation hypothesis differs from biblical teaching in that life is not believed to be “perfect” from the onset as created by a perfect Creator, but more like a divine experiment. Each day of creation was not delineated by the revolution of the Earth on its axis, but punctuated by a period of extinction. Therefore, by human standards, our “experiment” and God’s “day of rest” may have only started between 6,000 – 10,000 years ago, but the Earth may have formed much earlier.

Why say “may” instead of “was?” Because I don’t know with absolute certainty when the Earth was created. I know that a consensus of scientists agree that the planet is around 4 billion years old, but I also realize that these are experts who believe they know certain things, not unlike how I believe that I know God exists.

southernprose_cover_CAFGThe creator God artiste periodically cleaned the palette of creation and formed new life.  The biblical account implies perfection of God is reflected in the finished product of creation. Dinosaurs were simply models, or prototypes, if you will.  Why do we assume each animal form is a “one and done” proposition?

A perfect creator is not required to create perfectly. Six mass extinctions create problems for evolutionary biologists – a lot of chlorine gets periodically poured into the gene pool.

Evolutionists proposed a theory called punctuated equilibrium or explosive evolution to explain the rather obvious periodic episodes of eradication and renewal.

The problem with punctuated equilibrium is that the theory strongly implies innate intellect is somehow programmed into our DNA. When asked directly how species came to rapidly diversify and repopulate the Earth with new organisms in what scientists term “the Cambrian explosion”, evolution expert Dr. Michael Ruse suggested that the remaining organisms somehow recognized environmental niches existed and evolved to fill them. With all due respect for Dr. Ruse, that sounded remarkably flippant, and not unlike the ridiculous plot in one of my favorite Monty Python skits.

I wish I’d been ready to propose my hypothesis of iterative creation as an alternative at the time.

The overall weakness of secular evolution is that obvious interdependencies must be denied so that theory can be separated from hypothesis and conjecture. Therefore evolution theory is unconcerned with abiogenesis.

Conversely, iterative creation acknowledges that the Big Bang, abiogenesis, speciation and natural selection must be explicable in order for life to exist.

My theory asserts this occurs when God creates a base pair of “species” (a term abused and bastardized by scientism advocates to muddy the waters). God didn’t have to individually create polar bear, grizzly bear, sun bear, etc.  He only needed to create the genetic blueprint for bear in male and female form. Afterward nature could take its course.

God created the dinosaurs. Then God apparently decided he didn’t like them and essentially wiped them off the face of the Earth.  Given the awesome power required to perform a supernatural act of creation (or destruction), I’d have to say it’s God’s prerogative. It seems logical to assume, after five major extinctions followed by emergence of almost exclusively new life forms, that some sort of divine plan is being executed to perfection.

It’s perfectly natural to believe God, the very creator of Nature, would use natural means to perform supernatural feats.  In fact, a future article will offer natural explanations for the ten plagues of Egypt.  God may work in mysterious ways — why not use natural methods?

Does it make sense that God might use evolution to shape new life from existing DNA? I suppose God does not have to actively create new creatures because he created a purposeful vehicle called sexual reproduction to accomplish His work without intervention.

Even variations within a morphological form occur; we call them ring species. Perhaps even mutations beyond what should be considered a species are possible. If the term species actually still meant something, we might be able to tell. Only God can say how he created life. Humans simply don’t live long enough to witness a mass extinction and the emergence of new life. The only thing we really know is that life exists.

Life is remarkable, diverse, wondrous, and incredibly resilient.

Apparently by design.

 

The conjecture of evolution theory

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the second installment of the series of articles originally published at Examiner.com while I was writing as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner. Lightly edited and re-formatted from the original version.]

dick-tracyThe conjecture of evolution theory

Change occurs constantly.  It’s impossible to deny.

However, the word “evolution” is often used analogous with virtually all “change”. That definition is much too ambiguous.

The philosophical theory called evolution describes an ambiguous process by which new life forms allegedly are created if given enough time. I will repeat the question I have invited my biologist friends to answer:

Assuming “evolution” is true, how does sexual reproduction create a new genome that alters a creature’s morphology to be different enough from its parents to be called a new animal (or plant)? 

What magic elixir or ingredient besides time causes or allows for this sort of change (I have somewhat mockingly referred to as shape shifting) to occur?

Surely we can all agree that for Archaeopteryx to evolve into another creature or vice versa, there has to be some point in time where the “base” parent animal (stealing terminology from my objected-oriented past) can be differentiated from the “derived” child animal as a fundamentally different organism, correct? Surely some explanation other than sexual reproduction can account for different morphologies in variant organisms derived from DNA?

In layman’s terms — at some point in time, my zoologist friends have got to be able to say the offspring of an Archaeopteryx is no longer Archaeopteryx. Dawkins insists the only possible explanation is natural selection allows for advantageous mutations accumulate over time to the point where a rat can go blind, grow wings, develop sonar and can then be called a bat. If given enough time. It sounds so simple. But how does it work?

Assuming some sort of answer to my question for the biologists does exist, it will provide the beginning of a foundation for my finally understanding how Darwin’s “evolution theory” (which is actually called natural selection) really works. Natural selection is not synonymous with evolution. It is merely one facet of the secular attempt to solve the creation equation.

My hypothesis for Divine Evolution includes an equation to express how best to explain the origin of life:

Creation = Big Bang + abiogenesis + (speciation + X) + natural selection.

This only stands to reason if evolution is asserted to somehow disprove creationism as the theory’s advocates such as Richard Dawkins have done.

My rationale is simple – creation is a philosophical theory (albeit with religious overtones) that attempts to explain the origin of the universe and the origin of life in addition to the origin of the species.

Any secular solution must be able to do the same if it can be successfully used to remove creation from all due consideration.

Any solution to the creation equation must solve for X.

The answer is not time. (Hint: Try X = God.)

I find it flabbergasting that so many people assert that science somehow “own” the facts of evolution. By contrast, religion is said to be purely based on faith, divorced from fact.

But facts are facts. Facts belong only to the truth.

And what is truth? Quid est veritas?

While faith is certainly a component of my belief in a supernatural Creator, I’m not sure why others automatically assume that logic, facts, and reason are absent because religious faith is present. Common sense and logic are not mutually exclusive to my faith in God. If anything, the opposite is true. Let’s examine evolution theory a little further, shall we? We can separate more fact from conjecture.

Sometimes natural selection is referred to as “micro evolution”. The theory no one seems to be able to explain is called “macro evolution”, another name for the many flavors of speciation.

Gene flow, allopatric speciation, or genetic drift seems to reasonably answer the question of why we have polar bears and grizzly bears that can mate and spawn polizzlies when they come into proximity. Peripatric speciation may well be a valid explanation for slight variations within an isolated population of fruit flies breeding on a bunch of floating rotten bananas. An excellent example of sympatric speciation seems to be available in the cichlids of Lake Victoria. Parapatric speciation ought to explain the existence of ring species such as Larus gulls. [Author’s Note: future posts will explain Larus gulls, which are a type of ring species.] I don’t have any problem with any these theories to explain changes to cause variations in sea gulls, fish, or salamanders..

But all of these theories haven’t begun to answer my question.

What biological process plus natural selection leads to polizzlies, fruit flies, cichlids and Larus gulls from a single common ancestor?  Why is it so easy to believe something that we know cannot happen within a short period of time will happen eventually if enough time elapses? We are told that bears “evolved” from an extinct ancestral species of mammal about 13 million years ago, but crocodiles basically haven’t evolved since they were dinosaurs.  Why?

Help me solve for X.

By regressing evolution theory to the origin of life, we will eventually reach LUCA and the hypothesis known as abiogenesis. Sort of like the hero of the movie Highlander, there can be only one LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor.) Abiogenesis (chemical origin of life) is grotesquely improbable enough without expecting it to happen more than once by accident.

Yet it’s precisely why Richard Dawkins would say it’s a “fact” that my dog is also my cousin.

And somehow I’m the one who’s labeled the delusional “history-denier?”

Now Richard Dawkins might be considered the equivalent of a modern day Emperor of science (by the average atheist) for all I care, but if he’s wearing no clothes, shouldn’t someone speak up? How can “fact” or even “theorum” possibly be constructed on the foundation of a relatively weak hypothesis?

It’s a rather curious use of the word “fact.”

Remember, in his book Dawkins kindly provided a definition he borrowed from Oxford Dictionary for the word “fact” which I repeated in The “facts” of evolution theory.

The salient phrase from the definition that Dawkins offered was truth known by actual observation or authentic testimony, as opposed to what is merely inferred, or to a conjecture or fiction.

Yet Dawkins disparages the reliability of eyewitness testimony, using himself as example after viewing the infamous Simons gorilla video experiment.

I marvel at the fact he took from the experiment that we should not trust our own eyes in favor of scientific inference because he can’t trust his. He was easily fooled, so Dawkins naturally assumes everyone else would be fooled as easily. He must believe that no one else on the planet would notice the gorilla…the implication seems to be that nobody else could possibly be as smart as Richard Dawkins. That may well be true — but I saw the gorilla.

True, if he hadn’t revealed the trick behind the real experiment, I might also have been fooled when I watched the video. I knew it was coming, only because he revealed the secret of the experiment. Now we’ll never know for sure. He’s such a spoil sport.

The key to creating the deception is that the viewer is told what to watch for something specific. Misdirection was a favorite trick of magicians long before the Bible was ever written. It’s an odd coincidence that the overwhelming appearance of intelligent design is said to be an illusion by people who freely admit they can easily be fooled into believing an illusion.

Dawkins does apparently have a sense of humor – he suggested in his book that scientists are like detectives investigating a crime scene. With all due respect, however, Mr. Dawkins makes for a pretty lousy detective.frontpagecolumbo1

However, I shall save my critique of his relative skill in deductive reasoning for my next article, tentatively titled Watching the Detective. [Author’s Note: pretty sure I never published an article by that title, but I do write detective novels and stand by my evaluation of his skills as a detective, which are rather poor.]

I’ve tried to explain to my biologist friends that you don’t have as much time as you think you do for life to “evolve” by random chance combined with natural selection and X. (Because of numerous mass extinctions shown in the fossil record.) That’s why we need more than hypotheses like panspermia and punctuated equilibrium just to give DNA enough time to form, much less create the extinct life seen in fossil record and modern life without God. And the whole reason for coming up with the hypothesis of panspermia is because according to “experts” like Richard Dawkins, DNA supposed to be formed by random chance.

Earth has finally existed long enough for DNA to have had time to form by random luck, but just barely. Yet we know carbon dating says the earliest forms of life are billions of years old.

Six billion coded instructions in one living cell!  Think about it! DNA is an enormous statistical improbability, to say the least. However, the “ultimate” argument made against supernatural creation is that it is more impossible to believe than natural evolution.

Belief in God is ridiculed, and Yahweh is called “an invisible man in the sky”. Creationists are ridiculed as delusional ignoramuses for daring to think a supernatural Creator might be responsible for everything. But shape shifting from plant to animal when simply “given enough time” should be accepted, no problem.

A Watchmaker loses to Cat People? Irony can be delicious.catpeople

The facts of evolution spoke for themselves. I have certainly accepted that Crick and Watson decoded the mystery of DNA, the common denominator.

DNA is the fundamental building block of life, the “Lego” of divine construction.

DNA is the most sophisticated yet simple source code algorithm to which I’ve ever been exposed. It’s brilliant, the ultimate source code. (Spoken as a former software developer.) Consider how remarkable it is that “spelling” the same simple code in different genetic patterns can create such unbelievably difference life forms as a peony and a porcupine.

But it does not stand to reason that peonies and porcupines share a common ancestor. The conjecture of evolution is that:

1. Humans are most closely related to bonobo apes or chimpanzees, slightly less related to other apes, and related to every other form of life on Earth by some form of descent over eons.

2. The fossil record proves the Earth is ancient, that primitive life forms came first and more complex life came later, and DNA proves the close relationship between different organisms.

3. Animals such as the cichlids in Lake Victoria and Larus gulls differentiate and alter genetic code to be distinguishable from similar fish and birds sharing a common ancestor, we should also assume that fish are related to birds because both have DNA.

4. Complexity such as eyes, wings, or the ability to navigate by sonar is not irreducible because useless organs could have genetically altered to become productive, as long as there is enough time. Hence we have the mousetrap/tie clip. (I bet this guy in the video does believe in the intelligent design of the pocket protector.)

5. Because “creation” means that a perfect God created life perfectly within a six day period and every known science provides rather obvious evidence to refute that claim, there is no viable alternative to scientific theory of evolution. (My next article I shall call Iterative Creation, and it will specifically address this claim.)

6. We can safely conclude that God does not exist because science has demonstrated that a Creator is not necessary for evolution to occur.

I promise not to cast aspersions on your character if that’s what you want to believe.  Believe whatever you want. But please don’t claim the theory of evolution is an indisputable fact.

The “facts” of evolution theory

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was another article originally published as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner, the first in a short series written shortly before the publication of my book Counterargument for God. The purpose of the series was to explain my alternative to Darwin’s theory of natural selection as the best potential explanation for the origin of new species, based on the existing evidence. Although my alternate hypothesis involves a supernatural intelligence capable of designing the universe and life within, it is called iterative creation. Other articles in this series include The conjecture of evolution, Compounded improbabilities, and Iterative creation.

This morning an atheist acquaintance on the internet inspired publication of this piece (originally written in 2012) by accusing me of advocating intelligent design as a scientific theory. The reality is that my argument is almost the polar opposite extreme — iterative creation is a philosophical hypothesis that competes with the philosophy known as “macro” evolution to explain the existing scientific evidence, which consists of DNA analysis, the known fossil record, and comparative anatomy.]

southernprose_cover_CAFGThe “facts” of evolution

This might take a while.

The argument from authority, which could also be called the argument of superior intellect, gets old after a while.

You don’t have to convince me that you’re smart.

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

You only need to convince me that you’re right.

Then I’ll actually believe what you tell me.

A new Facebook friend tried to help me, sending a link to a HuffPo article explaining why my Christian faith required accepting evolution as fact.

Article author Mr. Dudley said nothing new or interesting except:

In this analysis, Christians must accept sound science, not because they don’t believe God created the world, but precisely because they do.

With all due respect sir, I only must accept sound science when it makes sense or is provably true. Seeing is believing.

Ironically, Mr. Dudley might be tempted to join Mr. Dawkins and assure me that some things I have seen were “all in my head.”

I even devoted a chapter of Divine Evolution to ask that question, “Is It In My Head?”DivineEvolutionCover_eBook_final

Asked, then answered with a little help from Carl Jung.

In his article, Dudley advocates accepting Francis Collins’ theory called theistic evolution. The subject was broached first when I wrote a review of his book The Language of God.

While I appreciate Dr. Collins’ contribution to decoding the human genome, I think his skills in deductive reasoning are as challenged as, well…Richard Dawkins.

This article is the first in a series inspired by Dawkins’ book The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution.

It will be soon followed by a complementary piece tentatively titled The conjecture for evolution.

In his most recent tome, Dawkins made some rather audacious claims about evolution that demand to be addressed.

His first, and most bold claim, is to assert the “fact” of evolution.  He writes,

Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eyewitnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzee, somewhat more disk that cousins of monkey, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips…continue the list as long as desired. (pg 8) [bold and italics added for emphasis]

Did you catch that? Dawkins is asserting that I am insane and stupid for daring to question whether or not I might be the distant cousin of a turnip, but I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. What a curious definition of insanity!

I would never be so bold to respond in kind. Remember, he does argue from authority.

Richard Dawkins is a former Oxford professor and the Charles Simonyi beneficiary/recipient with a PhD in zoology. To be open and honest about the limits of my formal education, I graduated with a BBA in Management Information Systems from UGA.  So we’re not exactly comparing an apple to an apple. Advantage to Mr. Dawkins.

Mr. Dawkins has also written ten books, including the international best seller The God Delusion, with sales in excess of 2 million copies. By comparison, to date I’ve written one book called Divine Evolution that somebody else was kind enough to publish, some short stories I’ve sold and an unpublished detective novel. I’m certain the number of copies sold of Divine Evolution is greater than zero, but by how many is anyone’s guess.  It may not have reached triple digits — yet. [Author’s update: up to six published works as of this republication.]

Check. Advantage again to Mr. Dawkins, however.

The first chapter of The Greatest Show on Earth is littered with names dropped of clergy that support evolution theory: the Bishop of Oxford and the Pope, just to name two “enlightened bishops and theologians” as Dawkins quaintly described them.

Dawkins’s argument from authority is buttressed by scientific and religious authority, neither of which impresses me unduly. Sorry, but I’m not Catholic, Anglican, or a scientist.

His argument from authority won’t stop me from asking a few pointed questions. We have not yet reached checkmate.

What is a theory?  What is a fact?

The Oxford English dictionary gives two meanings for the word “theory.”

Theory, Sense 1: a scheme or system of ideas or statements held as an explanation or account of a group of facts or phenomena; a hypothesis that has been confirmed or established by observation or experiment, and is propounded or accepted as accounting for the known facts; a statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed.

Richard Dawkins liked that first definition, but not this second one…

Theory, sense 2: a hypothesis as an explanation; hence, a mere hypothesis, speculation, conjecture; an idea or set of ideas about something; an individual view or notion.

Mr. Dawkins contends “Sense 1” conveys the appropriate use of the word “theory” as it applies to scientific theories such as the Newtonian theory of gravity or our “belief” that the Earth revolves around the sun.

We’re pretty sure about gravity and the operation of our solar system through direct observation of the effects of gravity and the annual revolution of the Earth around the sun.

Dawkins distinguishes between the two definitions by saying “common sense treats it [scientific theory] as a fact.”

Fact: Something that has actually occurred or is actually the case; something certainly known to be of this character; hence, a particular truth known by actual observation or authentic testimony, as opposed to what is merely inferred, or to a conjecture or fiction; a datum of experience, as distinguished from the conclusions that may be based upon it.

Eureka! He’s opened the door for me to use common sense to discuss the “facts” of evolution.

Now, we’re talking!

And the first thing I’d like to say is that the argument from authority does not allow one to make up words if the opposition isn’t allowed.

Remember how I got lambasted [Author’s note: you shouldn’t unless you read my work during my tenure as Atlanta Creationism Examiner] for inventing a term to describe a “scientific” theory that seemed to lack a name? I called it “forked speciation” (the actual technical term is allopatric speciation) to describe the “evolution theory” explanation for Archaeopteryx, and the objections were deafening.

Well, Richard Dawkins invented the word “theorum.”

I object. I was simply following his example, which was to make up a word to describe something for which I didn’t know the technical term. His definition of his made-up word was as follows:

Theorum: it has been confirmed or established by observation or experiment, and is propounded or accepted as accounting for the known facts; [it is] a statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles or causes of something known or observed.

Evolution is neither a theory or a fact. It’s a philosophy that extrapolates Darwin’s theory of natural selection as an interpretive explanation of scientific evidence. The evidence is indisputable. The interpretation is not.

It’s isn’t a silly made-up term like “theorum” or an equally ridiculous “meme.”

The facts of evolution are quite easy to summarize.

  1. Things change.
  2. All living organisms have unique DNA, meaning that an DNA can be classified to belong
    to a particular species, then further to one specific animal within that species.
  3. There are rocks with impressions of dead animals and plants called fossils. This “fossil jackwebbrecord” indicates that vastly different animals like dinosaurs lived in the past. Most modern creatures are quite different than these ancestral forms, but there are modern versions of the earliest forms of living organisms on Earth.

Those are “just the facts”, as Detective Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet. The “facts” of evolution speak for themselves.

And I will cheerfully stipulate that the above facts are true.

Assuming we agree on this much, we can now examine the conjecture about evolution.

The illusion of purpose

dawkinsingodhelmetWould a watchmaker create a watch that can’t tell time?  What would be the point?

After all, another name for a watch is timepiece. Does a watch have a purpose for existing, if it can’t measure time, in some form or fashion?

Can something be claimed to have a purpose, if that certain person, place, or thing was created by a blind force that has no true purpose in mind?

And why am I (once again) asking myself such ridiculous questions?

Naturally, I’ve been reading the work of Richard Dawkins. (I know, I know — I’m a glutton for punishment. But what else can I say? The ability of clearly intelligent people to say or write remarkably foolish comments never ceases to amaze me.)

While skimming through his book The Blind Watchmaker, I stumbled across this masterpiece of muddled thought, on page 9:

A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with a future person in his mind’s eye. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind’s eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.

Now with that silly little speech fresh in your mind, please watch this brief, fascinating video of a caterpillar allegedly mimicking a snake that a good friend of mine shared on Facebook only this morning. The word ‘allegedly’ was used because it is possible that the source of the video was misleading, and in actuality, the caterpillar is not pretending to be a snake. Because I didn’t film this caterpillar in action, I must decide whether or not the author is a credible source of information.

It certainly looks real. But of course, looks can be deceiving.

Assuming the video is legitimate for a moment, please contemplate the claim that evolution is solely responsible for the existence of that caterpillar, and know this…if evolution is true and no creator was involved in the origin of this creature, then only two possible explanations become apparent.

The first possibility is that the video itself is an illusion…I don’t mean literally faked with computer wizardry (though you can create many convincing illusions with computer software such as Adobe Photoshop),  but an illusion in the sense that the caterpillar doesn’t really look like a snake, and the behavior of the caterpillar is not because it wants to deceive predators by appearing to be a snake, and therefore just a coincidence.

The other possibility is that the caterpillar does intend to look and act like a snake, and it is deliberately using the natural camouflage found on his body to mimic a snake — meaning the caterpillar realizes that it has markings that make it look like a snake and uses that information as a means of self defense.

That would seem to make it one incredibly smart caterpillar — even a conscious one, at that.

Question: how does the caterpillar even know what a snake is, and that the predators that normally prey on caterpillars are afraid of snakes? How did its ancestors come to that same realization?

And how did those ancestors reconfigure their DNA so that the illusion of a snake would be created on its abdomen? It seems that if the theory of evolution could be summed up into one sentence, it probably should be this:

Given enough time, you can believe anything is possible.

The problem is that there isn’t enough time to observe evolution in action, real time.

But we do have enough time to watch a two-minute video of a caterpillar mimicking a snake, and time to wonder whether or not there might be a purpose for its appearance and behavior.

Your inner parakeet

2000px-Budgerigar_diagram-labeled.svgI love reading books written by Richard Dawkins. Quite ironically, he provides some of the very best material I could ever hope to find for use in discussions with my atheist friends about God and His creation, as well as existential science and evolution theory.

It turns out that virtually everything I might ever need for my argument in favor of a supernatural God can be found in his book The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution, simply by following the advice of Dawkins and accepting many of his claims about the theory of evolution on face value.

For example, in his book Richard Dawkins claimed that humans share a now-extinct ancestor with the budgerigar (another name for the common parakeet) that lived approximately 310 million years ago, writing that “Every species is a cousin of every other. Any two species are descended from an ancestral species, which split in two.” (pg. 254)

That would mean every modern living organism must be directly related to every other living organism on earth by descent — with modifications, of course. Not only is your cousin a chimpanzee, but your slightly more distant cousin is allegedly the cucumber.

The most obvious question coming to mind about this idea would seem to be “how?”

Now my atheist friends have frequently suggested that I publish the evidence that disproves my cousinship to fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers and turnips so that I might earn fame, fortune, and even to win a Nobel Prize. However, the Nobel Prize does not honor a category for evolutionary biology, making the goal itself nonsensical, even if one assumes that the purpose of pursuing a career in science is to earn fame, fortune, and win the Nobel Prize.

Not even Charles Darwin would have won the Nobel Prize if the award had existed when he wrote On the Origin of Species. Ernst Mayr never won the Nobel Prize, and also noted that there is no prize for evolutionary biology, presumably to silence his own critics. Besides, by the time I received my PhD in something, I’d only be a few years away from retirement age.

Furthermore, Richard Dawkins hasn’t won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, either. So winning one can’t be that big of a deal.

Ideas matter.southernprose_cover_CAFG Book sales matter. Being able to defend one’s ideas with logic, reason, and the support of available scientific ideas matter. An honest pursuit of existential truth matters. Prizes and book awards, not so much.

In case awards matter to other people and increase book sales, though, I will point out to the reader that the book shown on the right won a gold medal in an international book awards contest, as did collection of animal rescue short stories and the detective novel shown below.

Thus ends my brief foray into shameless self-promotion, which I freely admit only doing to irritate those critics of mine who often accuse me of relentless self promotion and trying to sell them a book that I’ve offered to give away.

This mentality reminds me of the classic line from Joseph Bologna in the movie Blame It on Rio: “Who packs, not to leave?”

DivineEvolutionCover_eBook_finalWho writes a book and manages to get published, but doesn’t want people to buy it?

Not that I’m complaining, but I think my accountant might still tell me today that Mick Jagger, Keith Richard, and Bob Dylan have all made more money off copyright permissions from Divine Evolution, my first book, that I have earned from sales to date. Writing is a labor of love that will eventually pay financial dividends to my estate, if not before.

Buy a book and read — it doesn’t have to be one of mine. Broaden your horizons. Try to learn something new. End of commercial.

Now back on point…

It has been frequently said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The assertion that humans might be related even to parakeets and even plants by sex, isolation of genetics, and time certainly would qualify as an extraordinary claim.

Dawkins writes (about the alleged reptilian human/parakeet common ancestor),

“In the unlikely event that a fossil of this ancestral species was ever found, it would need a name. Let’s call it Protamnio darwinii. We don’t know any details about it, and the details don’t matter [emphasis added] at all for the argument, but we won’t go far wrong if we imagine a sprawling lizard-like creature, scurrying about catching insects. Now, here’s the point. When Protamnio darwinii split into two sub-populations, they would have looked just the same as each other, and could have happily interbred with each other; but one lot were destined to give rise to the mammals, and the other lot were destined to give rise to the birds (and dinosaurs and snakes and crocodiles).” (pg. 254-5)

Now in order to reach this allegedly indisputable conclusion that humans and parakeets have ancestors in common, we only need to look at the evidence, according to Mr. Dawkins.

This is excellent advice, in my opinion. Never forget that extraordinary claims always require extraordinary evidence. So what exactly is this evidence, and what does it tell us?

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but birds have beaks, wings, and feathers. Their bones are hollow, yet incredibly strong. Birds lay eggs. Most birds can fly. They have a specially-adapted digestive system. In other words, birds are very, very different than human beings that appear to be engineered specifically for the capability of flight.

Neither birds nor humans are closely related to insect-eating lizards, though. Sure, birds, lizards, and humans have central nervous systems and cardio-vascular systems as well as skeletons, hearts, brains, eyes, and other organs that may be found in virtually every living animal, but this hardly qualifies as evidence for being the product of common descent.southernprose_cover_AANO

Furthermore, Richard Dawkins admits that there is an “overwhelming illusion” of design we may observe in nature, but then dismisses even the possibility of design versus descent because of his personal bias towards atheism. To justify his assumption, he refers to alleged evidence of “bad” design like the routing of the vas deferens through the human body or the laryngeal nerve in giraffes. My dogs are theoretically not only my best friends, they are allegedly my cousins as well.

Does anyone else (besides me, of course) have a problem with the absence of logic being shown here? We are being asked — no, told to believe that humans are related to giraffes and parakeets through common ancestry, conditioned to believe that evolution theory is the only conceivable explanation for the existence of a human being.

We are told to basically ignore all the differences like feathers and wings and emphasize any perceived similarities. If we attempt to ask intelligent questions about the science, we are branded as evolution deniers, as if we know some great existential truth that we stubbornly refuse to admit.

Skepticism about science will not be tolerated. Only skepticism about religion is allowed.

Nevertheless, common ancestry means that the primary factors that cause such incredible diversity are sexual reproduction, isolation of the gene pool (usually due to geography), and time. Both Dawkins and Coyne clearly agree on the importance of those three factors, especially isolation, in the formation of new species. Quite frankly, we are being conditioned to believe that only descent can possibly explain how a lizard, a parakeet, and a human being are allegedly “related” to each other.

Dawkins insists that we should go and look at the evidence — perhaps he should take his own advice and speak with paleontologist Michael Benton. An excellent candidate for Protamnio darwinii might well be a dicynodont named Lystrosaurus, the primary terrestrial animal that survived the Permian extinction of about 250 million years ago, according to Professor Benton. What’s sixty million years in the Big Scheme of things, compared to the life span of a human being?

More time than we have to observe the alleged processes in action, that’s for sure. That is roughly the same amount of geologic time that has elapsed since the Cretaceous extinction killed off the dinosaurs. Most modern animal species we can observe today allegedly “evolved” within the last 65 million years, with a few notable exceptions such as crocodiles and coelacanths.

It would be absurd to deny the possibility that descent alone might explain the existence of both the ant and the anteater, the cotton plant and the boll weevil, because we know that species (or kinds) are perpetuated by sexual reproduction, which is of course, descent. But why should we assume descent must be the only possible contributing factor, when there is overwhelming evidence drawn from inference that suggests manipulation and design might also be involved?

My point is merely this: it is absolutely silly to assume that descent explains the relationship of humans to bananas, while details of the process by which it occurred remain completely unknown. My goal is not to persuade the reader he or she should not believe Darwin’s theory solves all problems — I’m asking for someone to explain how it works to me, so that I might believe, too.

Currently we don’t even seem to know how recent evolution occurred, for example how humans evolved from ape ancestors. The “smoking gun” evidence that advocates of evolution theory love to cite is the commonly believed fusion of human chromosome 2, which biologist Ken Miller has said appears to be so clear that it appears “something” joined two primate chromosomes together as clearly as if a piece of Scotch tape had been used to connect them.

However, when pressed to explain how a fused joining of those chromosomes could occur slowly over many generations, Professor Miller explained that the joining of those two chromosomes had no discernible impact on ape-to-human evolution. But how can an event with no known relationship to human evolution be claimed to provide evidence that it occurred? If the evidence that humans evolved from apes doesn’t explain how it happened, why should we believe that it even happened?

And if human chromosome 2 created by fusion didn’t cause ape-to-human evolution to occur, what did?

It’s very important to note that Richard Dawkins admits that we don’t have the slighted clue about what causes or allows macro evolution to occur, writing: “What actually happened at this epic parting of the ways (divergence from reptiles into species that evolve into both humans and parakeets), nobody knows.” (pg 255) How…inconvenient. Or convenient, depending on your point of view.

Doesn’t that seem like something vitally important to know before it becomes universally accepted to be an indisputable truth? How can we assume something could have only happened one way, if we don’t even have the slightest clue how that way actually works in the real world?

Remember, if evolution as Dawkins describes it really is true, you’re not only a cousin of a chimpanzee, you’re also literally the cousin of a cucumber. All dramatic (and beneficial) mutations only made possible by sex. Plus isolation of two gene pools from the same ancestral creature. And lots and lots of time, of course. Dawkins also wrote in his book that “Biologists use the word ‘speciation’ for the splitting of a species into two daughter species.”

The problem with what biologists call “speciation” is the definition of the word species, originally redefined by Ernst Mayr to mean animals that don’t reproduce for whatever reason, regardless of their kind. Doesn’t this sort of diminish the whole concept of selection? In ring species, is it true that the animals can’t reproduce, or could it be possible they don’t mate by choice? Is a bluebird absolutely unable to mate with a cardinal, or possibly just not attracted to them?

I don’t ask questions because I know all the answers…I’d only like to know them.

According to Dawkins, the cichlids of Lake Victoria have allegedly evolved into hundreds of new species of cichlids. But the cichlids haven’t actually become a truly new kind of organism. Only more diversity in cichlids can be observed, even 400,000 years after the lake formed.

The real question of speciation is this: how long does it take for tilapia to evolve into trout?  Remember that in open ocean waters, a decent fisherman might catch bass, trout, flounder, salmon, mackerel, or they might encounter countless other forms of marine life — or perhaps they might even hook an alleged fossil fish, the coelacanth. Will the cichlids of Lake Victoria ever evolve into something other than a cichlid?

During Richard Lenski’s experiments with e-coli bacteria didn’t evolve into a completely different organism with a new body plan. It didn’t even evolve into a different form of bacteria such as salmonella or listeria. The e-coli merely adapted to changes in its environment. The experiments do demonstrate the remarkable resilience and ability to adapt to a changing environment for a well defined kind of animal, but haven’t shown how truly new organisms emerge.

My atheist friends want to know how I can dismiss evidence of evolution seen in ERVs, meaning the endogenous retroviruses that may become part of the DNA inherited by offspring.

Under what circumstances might an infection from a virus have beneficial results to the host organism? Trying to think of candidates for viruses that may become permanently embedded in the host’s DNA, I’m only coming up with examples such as herpes simplex/Chickenpox thus far — viruses without beneficial effect on the host organism.

New information might get added to the genome, all right, but it’s more than likely detrimental in nature, if it’s viral.

The latest and greatest discovery in evolutionary biology is the identification of the miR-941 gene that allegedly “helps to explain how humans evolved from apes. It appears to have played a crucial role in the development of the human brain and may shed light on our use of tools and language.”

The problem is that the article making this stunning announcement also had this to say:

Scientists say, however, that this gene emerged, in a startlingly brief interval of evolutionary time, fully functional out of non-coding genetic material. This material has been termed “junk DNA.” [emphasis added] Previous to this study, it has been remarkably difficult to see this process in action.

In light of these new clams, perhaps calling Sir Fred Hoyle’s famous tornado-through-a-junkyard analogy a “fallacy” is the truly egregious logical error in this exercise. I just don’t believe that the traits which make humans special formed quickly and naturally came from AREs and junk DNA.

southernprose_cover_SHSIn his book The Greatest Show on Earth, Dawkins repeatedly encouraged his readers to imagine being private detectives investigating a crime scene. As it just so happens, that is precisely what I do for a living — I write detective novels, published using the pen name Rocky Leonard.

So I’ve had to train my mind to imagine crimes and then to solve them.

It seems intuitively more obvious to me that God, not good luck, has monkeyed around with our DNA.

God doesn’t make junk. Complexity exists for a reason.

Perhaps the most telling comment of all from Dawkins was this: “Once again, I must stress, the details [emphasis original] of my little story are pure fiction [emphasis added].” (pg. 256)

He follows that up with: “Most biologists will tell you that geographical isolation is the normal prelude to speciation, although some, especially entomologists, may chime in with the reservation that sympatric speciation can also be important. Sympatric speciation, too, requires some kind of initial, incidental separation to get the ball rolling, but it is something other than geographic isolation.” (pg. 257)

Given the stated importance of genetic isolation of two breeding populations within species boundary, does this mean that humans, in the age of worldwide travel, can no longer evolve on earth?

That thought seems to beg yet another question: must humans colonize outer space in order to be able to evolve into new species? How else might two different human gene pools get isolated long enough to diverge, in this day and age?

I know this article turned out to be long, but I wanted to cover as much territory as possible and get all of the residual questions off my chest, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t see future books about evolution or religion.

I’ve pretty much said all that needed to be said, and what I wanted to say. Until the announcement of next great evolutionary breakthrough, that is.

Perhaps when they claim to have discovered how gene mir-942 helped turn monkeys into men.

How did I get here?

southernprose_cover_CAFG

The title poses what is known as an existential question — questions that are much easier asked than answered.

Who am I? What happens when we die? Is there a purpose for my life?

Existential questions are the sort that you’re never completely sure that you’ve really solved them, until you die. The answers that you decide are most correct will often determine whether or not you believe in God, which may impact many of the life decisions you make.

So these are not trivial questions…in fact, they are the most important and difficult questions that we may ever contemplate.

How in the hell did I get started writing books that talk about things related to religion and science, when I only received a business degree in college?

That’s also an excellent question, and an easier riddle to solve because the question itself isn’t existential in nature. And this is my answer…

I’ve always loved writing, whether it was source code for computer programs, a short story, or an effort to communicate important thoughts and ideas in concise language through documents I’ve written. I’ve always enjoyed tackling difficult problems and then working diligently to solve them. One of my earliest dreams was to become a professional writer one day.

However, for the longest time, I was too busy working a full-time job and raising my family to write prose on the side, or to worry much about seeking answers to my existential questions. I had things to do, and people to see. I stayed busy.

Then a fateful television interview that was mostly background noise while I worked  completely changed my attitude and my priorities. When I heard Richard Dawkins claim that cars and computers were intelligently designed, but human beings were not, I had to understand the rationale he used to justify his assertion. To this day, I still marvel at that absurd claim, even more so now that I more fully understand his flawed thinking.

I’ve always loved to read detective novels. Now I also enjoy writing them, along with the occasional nonfiction book. Richard Dawkins served as my motivation to become a writer.

Recently I promised a new friend of mine that I’d write something to specifically explain how I came to hold the beliefs I currently hold about science, given my published criticisms of evolution theory.

My new friend wanted to know how I came to write my book Counterargument for God.  The best way to answer his question will be to go back to the very beginning.

Similar to the experience of many atheists, I was inculcated in the beliefs of Christianity by my mother, with strong assistance from the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. Also, as many atheists have experienced, I went off to college and promptly lost my faith after being indoctrinated into mainstream secular beliefs. In college I was taught to believe that science and religion were incompatible. I was taught that science was right and religion was wrong, as if they were mutually exclusive.

I’ll never forget my professor who broke the news that God hadn’t created the universe, the Big Bang had. Immediately, a question popped into my mind. So I asked, “From where did the matter for the Big Bang come?”

Of course I realize now is a question a theist would naturally think to ask, which is probably why my professor seemed to get defensive. I could accept the idea that the Big Bang occurred, but not the professor’s flippant response, which was that the origin of matter didn’t matter.

Without matter coming from somewhere, there is no Big Bang. In my opinion, it’s everything that matters. Naturally, I interpreted his reply to actually mean that he didn’t know.

Without a Big Bang, there is no universe, no stars. No complex chemicals that can by some unknown process cause dead matter to become a living organism. I said as much, and our exchange ended. Apparently that professor, whose name escapes me, wasn’t even sharp enough to offer the multiverse as an answer.

So I graduated from college knowing about Darwin and evolution, and knowing about the Big Bang theory, but without understanding how those theories truly help answer our existential questions.

Nowadays when someone tries to tell me that I have to believe something, I like to quote the Buddha, who said: “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

Sage advice.

When our children still lived at home, my wife and I both worked at demanding full-time jobs in order to support the family in the lifestyle to which we had become accustomed.

Working full time as a software developer and my parental duties required most of my time.

Writing software in complex computer languages paid very well, and I was pretty good at my job. In the world of computers, I was the intelligent designer.

People actually paid me to go from the United States to Australia, a trip that would have cost thousands of dollars, had it been a vacation. I was Down Under for six months, but only worked eighty hour weeks for the middle four. In my free time, I visited zoos and Australian landmarks. I  saw kangaroos and petted a koala bear. I watched a professional tennis tournament with world class players competing on beautifully manicured grass courts. I went to see an America’s Cup boat race in Fremantle.

And I was getting paid to be there. Is this a great country, or what?

Without a doubt, I’ve been blessed — with intelligence, and then with opportunity. My dreams of writing a book one day and becoming a published author were put on indefinite hold, and practically forgotten as years and decades passed, with the continued success of my career.

Then one fateful day, Richard Dawkins woke up the writer sleeping inside me.

I’ll cut to the chase right here: when Dawkins said what he said, I knew he was wrong, but also knew that I couldn’t explain why. So I began to research.

I sincerely believed in a supernatural God because I believed in the existence of ghosts, due to many personal experiences. My ghost stories have been told before: in my first book Divine Evolution and online here at my website, so for the sake of brevity, I won’t repeat them.

And I understand that my own personal experiences won’t mean much, if anything, to my atheist friends. But I’d sincerely appreciate it if people would not insist my experiences should also mean nothing to me. A single incident can probably be explained away with somewhat plausible rational thought. But not hundreds of them.

Richard Dawkins proclaimed (rather emphatically) that there is no such thing as a supernatural God. He boldly asserted that supernatural entities do not exist: no God, angels, demons or ghosts or anything related to the supernatural are permitted in his worldview. images

When I first heard Dawkins being interviewed on Stephen Colbert’s comedy show, I had forgotten most of what I’d known about the theory of evolution. Darwin’s theory just wasn’t very interesting to me.

I had no need to understand the origin of species in order to write computer software, so the theory was useless, as far as I was concerned.

About all I remembered about the theory of evolution was the famous progression chart showing an Old World monkey evolving into a human being. Good for a laugh, perhaps, but nothing that might help me write code in an object-oriented programming language, or coach my son’s baseball team.

Only years later, when my curiosity had finally been piqued by Dawkins, I began to buy books by him and other prominent atheist authors, devouring just about every book related to science I could find, and began to haunt our local library.

I took copious notes as I read that were eventually edited into my first book, Divine Evolution, released by a small independent “no-fee” publisher who paid royalties.

DivineEvolutionCover_eBook_finalThe focus of Dawkins’s “argument” against God positions the argument for the theory of evolution against the biblical description of creation. This is absurd, for one simple reason:

Life cannot evolve until it exists. The Big Bang, inflation, and abiogenesis are equally or more important as the theory of evolution, because they must occur first.

Before evolution ever becomes possible, this universe (capable of supporting life) must first exist, and lifeless matter must somehow become animated.

My critics will often scoff and suggest that if my science arguments really could effectively challenge Darwin’s theory of natural selection, I should gain fame, fortune, and a Nobel Prize.  However, Richard Dawkins doesn’t have one of those, either, and my initial goal was responding to him.

My science arguments are not even “my” arguments. I stand on the shoulders of giants, merely reinterpret work produced by the experts in their respective fields. I’m a writer, not a scientist, and never pretended otherwise. The question is not whether I offer new evidence that discredits Darwin, but does my philosophical analysis of the scientific evidence explain that evidence as well or better than the theory of evolution? The question boils down to design, or descent.

No one seems to believe me when I say that my goal has never been to “destroy” Darwin or his theory as much as it has been to understand how evolution might produce the incredible diversity of life that we see in our current world. If evolution really does cause the origin of new species, I’d like to fully understand the process by which it happens.

The atheist/naturalist explanation for existence claims that nothing created this universe from nothing, that life itself is nothing more than a few chemical reactions, and that all life itself descended from a common ancestor. Descent with modification not only causes astonishing variety within an existing species, it also creates new ones.

If the universe could come to exist without any help or divine intervention, then there is no reason that ghosts would exist as the displaced spirits of the dead.

The atheist will probably say, “That’s right!”

The problem is that I’m not willing to ignore or worse, insist that hundreds of my own personal experiences were untrustworthy hallucinations and abandon my beliefs because someone else refuses to believe in ghosts.

Invariably, God will be mocked as a somewhat vacuous and superfluous invisible man in the sky, a figment of the imagination for the weak-minded. Talking snakes and donkeys will probably get brought up as well, because there are no new arguments for atheism. It’s all been said before.

But I have to wonder — how much easier it is really to believe in a universe coming from nothing for no reason than it is to believe in ghosts, or a virgin giving birth?

The end of a delusion

DivineEvolutionCover_eBook_finalMy career as a writer was inspired by the word delusion, more than any other word which can be found in the dictionary.

Delusions are defined as “fixed false beliefs or opinions” that are resistant to reason even when confronted by actual facts.

For this reason, the term is frequently used to describe symptoms of mental illness.

The book The God Delusion by renowned atheist and biologist Richard Dawkins was the inspiration for my first published book, Divine Evolutionafter I heard Dawkins say in an interview that cars, computers, and even his book were all intelligently designed, but human beings were not.

I still haven’t gotten over the absurdity of his comment — I began learning about computers while matriculating as a student at UGA, which was followed a long career as a software developer before becoming a professional writer.

So I am well aware that the capabilities of an “intelligent designed” computer actually pales in comparison to the human brain, that DNA is exponentially more complex than computer machine language, and that the “software” that operates the human body works independently of our conscious brain is infinitely more complex than the source code for Google’s search engine.

Richard Dawkins made it crystal clear in his book that he believes supernatural phenomena does not exist. According to him, only the “real” or material world exists — no gods, devils, ghosts, angels, or demons. No miracles, no answered prayers.

Of course, I couldn’t write Divine Evolution until I’d done quite a bit of research into the science of evolution theory and then tackled Dawkins’s objections to belief in a God, which I think can be adequately summarized in a few sentences, this way:

There are two possible explanations for the existence of a human being.

Either creation by a supernatural God as described by the Bible is true, or evolution theory, as described by Charles Darwin is true.

The evidence for evolution theory is overwhelming. There is no evidence for special creation. Therefore, evolution is true, and no gods exist. Anyone who believes in a supernatural God obviously must be suffering from a form of mental illness.

Those people are science-deniers.

A couple of significant problems are rather easily identified with the very simplistic worldview of Richard Dawkins. First of all, Dawkins is a professional zoologist and biologist, not a psychologist or psychiatrist. He simply is not qualified to evaluate mental health or diagnose mental illness.

The real argument is whether or not existence may occur by descent or design. The suggestion that our “choice” to believe in a God boils down to a choice of creation over evolution, and faith over evidence, is a false dichotomy for this simple reason:

Life cannot evolve until it exists. If we assume evolution is true, it could only become a factor in the emergence of life on earth after God (or incredible good luck) caused this universe to exist and the first living organism to form.

However, in order to challenge Dawkins’s interpretation of science with any sort of credible counterargument, first I realized that I had to better understand the arguments and evidence for evolution theory.southernprose_cover_CAFG Years of voracious reading that began with Divine Evolution continued for several years as I became the Atlanta Creationism Examiner sort of peaked after my book Counterargument for God was published in 2013.

I still read every article and post I find online promising new information about scientific discoveries related to our “existential” questions, but until a credible challenge to my counterargument for God and what I have coined “iterative creation” is published, I don’t anticipate the need to write future books on this subject.

It is the atheist who must deny science, in the growing body of evidence known as corroborated veridical NDE events. This is a phenomena in which information has reportedly been learned by an individual while the physical brain and spiritual “mind” were literally separated. That new information may then be investigated and either confirmed or refuted.

Critics of this scientific evidence complain that the “near death” aspect of this information automatically makes it highly suspect.

This much is true — extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and they should.

In the body of research work compiled by Drs. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Raymond Moody, Melvin Morse, Sam Parnia, Pims van Lommel, Bruce Greyson, and many others, extraordinary evidence of this phenomena does exist. The cases of Pam Reynolds. Michaela Roser, and Colton Burpo are only a few of the more compelling examples of people claiming to learn new information while their normal senses were incapacitated and it should not have been possible.

My work has led me to conclude that if anyone is “denying” science, it would have to be people like Richard Dawkins, and not me because I don’t deny the existence of any scientific evidence.

Currently I’m focused on writing my “Rocky Leonard” crime fiction and detective novels because logic, reason, and scientific evidence supports my counterargument to atheism very effectively. There isn’t enough left for me to say about it to merit another book on the subject.

In short, my belief that a supernatural creator probably exists is not a delusion and therefore has not ended. On the contrary, my belief in God keeps getting stronger, growing toward conviction, as new evidence comes to light.

imagesYet as the title of this article implies, I suspect the end has come for a rather silly personal delusion, inconsequential compared to the question about belief in a supernatural God — a rather pleasant delusion about what it meant to be a proud fan of Georgia Bulldog football. I was deluded to believe that something existed known as “The Georgia Way”.

The Georgia Way meant winning with integrity, not at all costs. Sadly, that seems to have been a fixed, false belief.

While most people would argue that Mark Richt was fired because Georgia lost to Florida this year, I would strongly but respectfully disagree.

I believe that the firing of Mark Richt became inevitable when Todd Gurley was suspended last year for four games, and Georgia subsequently lost an important game to Will Muschamp and a bad Florida Gators team. That one loss cost UGA the opportunity to play Alabama for the SEC championship, and probably cost Mark Richt his job.

Nick Chubb and Sony Michel played well that game, but Todd was an experienced, very talented running back now dominating the NFL as a rookie. He could have made the difference.

While it isn’t guaranteed that Gurley would have changed the outcome of the game, it certainly wouldn’t have hurt to have him on the sideline in uniform. Remember, only a few days before the game, the NCAA ruled his suspension would be upheld, which deflated the team’s attitude.

If you want to blame Mark Richt for his players acting like human beings, fine. It won’t any difference at this point. He’s already been fired. What’s done is done.

Numbskull Jeff Schultz from the AJC suggested that Greg McGarity should have replaced Mark Richt with Jimbo Fisher instead of Kirby Smart, ostensibly because Jimbo has won a national championship at FSU, which in his pea-sized brain, automatically makes Fisher a better coach than Mark Richt.

With all due respect, this is why Jeff Schultz needs to find another job. He just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s true that under the “leadership” of a Jimbo Fisher, Todd Gurley would have probably been counseled to deny the allegations he’d been paid for his autograph, in clear violation of NCAA rules, and could have avoided the four game suspension.

But let’s be brutally honest here for a second — Jimbo Fisher and the word “integrity” have no business being mentioned in the same sentence.

He has grown accustomed to his university covering up rape allegations against his student athletes. While boosters and powers-that-be at UGA seem to have now become desperate to win championships, I don’t think they’ve gotten quite that desperate yet.

Jimbo Fisher is the antithesis of The Georgia Way.

I’d like to think that an athlete with the questionable character and unacceptable behavior of a “superstar” athlete like Jameis Winston will not be tolerated in Athens by Kirby Smart any more than Mark Richt would have put up with his antics, had he been the coach at Florida State at the time. But Mark Richt would have never accepted a player thrown out of Alabama for physically assaulting his girlfriend into his program, either.

I am a Georgia Bulldog.

It isn’t as simple for me as simply choosing to like another football team if UGA starts bending all the rules in order to win.  I graduated from UGA in either late 1983 or early 1984 — my memory is a little fuzzy because I had a little bit too good of a time as a student in Athens.

So I will always be a Georgia Bulldog.

And I’d like to believe that in the same situation as Todd Gurley’s head coach, Kirby Smart would give the same advice that I believe Mark Richt gave — to tell the truth.

Actions have consequences. Even if the lie succeeded and no playing time is lost, what message was being sent to the student athlete? Should we only view them as commodities that can entertain us on the field of play, but as young men being shaped into mature adults?

Johnny Manziel almost certainly lied to the NCAA about the same offense Todd Gurley admitted — signing autographs for money. The only difference between their two cases is that Todd Gurley admitted what he did.

And obviously, Manziel got away with it in the short run– he was only suspended for one half of football, not four full games like Todd Gurley.

However in my opinion, Coach Kevin Sumlin did Manziel a great disservice by failing to discipline his player and apparently turning a blind eye while Manziel lied to the NCAA.

But can anyone claim that Johnny Manziel learned from his mistakes in college? Apparently not. The Cleveland Browns recently demoted him to third string for lying to his coach.

Later, when he was drafted out of Texas A&M, Manziel slid to the bottom of the first round, presumably because teams had questions about his character and work ethic, not his talent.

Conversely, Todd Gurley was taken with the tenth pick in the first round by the St. Louis Rams, despite the fact Todd was still in the process of rehabilitating after surgery for a severe knee injury. In spite of missing several games at the beginning of the season, Gurley remains a strong candidate to win the 2015 NFL Rookie of the Year.

Teaching Todd Gurley to do the right thing may have cost Coach Richt his job, but it was the right thing to do for his player. Win with integrity, and lose with dignity.

Now I hate losing just as much as anybody, maybe more. Still, no one will ever convince me that it’s better to cheat (and win) than to lose a game.

I don’t care what Vince Lombardi said — winning is NOT everything, and the only thing. It does matter, how you play the game.

One thing will never change — I will always be a Georgia Bulldog alumnus.

I sincerely hope that I can also remain a fan of the football team, but that currently remains to be seen. A lot will depend on where we go from here.

I’d be lying to you as badly as Greg McGarity has been lying to every Georgia Bulldog fan since November 29th, and that has been every time his mouth has moved. It’s hard to have confidence in leadership that doesn’t even care enough to lie convincingly.

I’d like to believe that Kirby Smart can win national championships “The Georgia Way”, but I’m not quite sure what that even means anymore. Is “The Georgia Way” now going to become coaches screaming profanities at their players on national television at the top of their lungs?

I’m not sure how proud that’s going to make me to be a Georgia Bulldog. Instead, I’m afraid that I’m going to be very embarrassed by Will Muschamp on our sideline.

Mark Richt was more than just a great though under appreciated coach. He has been a terrific leader who turned overgrown boys into mature young men.

I will miss seeing him lead the Georgia Bulldogs. My delusion was that I thought “The Georgia Way” meant doing things the right way, which was the Mark Richt Way. Silly me.

It remains to be seen what “The Georgia Way” will now become, and how many corners leadership will cut to win at all costs. I guess I’m in the small minority of people who thinks maybe UGA just made a terrible, disastrous mistake.

I have nothing against Kirby Smart…well, that’s not exactly true. I still haven’t completely forgiven him for turning down the defensive coordinator job in 2010, leaving us stuck with Todd Grantham. He could have proved it really was his defense, not Nick Saban’s, winning all those national titles for Alabama.

But his loyalty was not to Georgia. He stayed at Alabama, and Georgia lost the 2012 SEC Championship game to Nick Saban, with Smart coaching the defense on the wrong sideline.

And now he’s coming to UGA with zero head coaching experience. Please forgive my pessimism (especially because it isn’t normally part of my nature) but I see more risk than reward with these decisions by those UGA fans who sit in the skyboxes and own the program.

I certainly wish the best for Kirby Smart, but my expectations must be tempered. He’s got huge shoes to fill.

I hope I’m wrong. I wish I could be more optimistic about the direction UGA football has taken, but at the moment, there’s only one thing that could make me feel better right now.

Fire Greg McGarity!

Why evolution is probably false

Dr_Kenneth_MillerI’ve never wanted nor pretended to be a biologist. I prefer to blame this possible character flaw on the fact I never liked dissecting animals, or the smell of formaldehyde.

My approach to science has always been “need to know” — meaning if I decide that I need to know something, I’ll put a little effort into figuring out how it works.

In the years since graduating from college I have certainly learned how to make children and grandchildren. For the longest time, I felt like that was enough knowledge of biology to satisfy my curiosity; I knew how to do my part to perpetuate of the species, and that was all I thought I needed to know.

When these evangelists for atheism like Richard Dawkins began using their belief in evolution as justification for attacking belief in the existence of a creator God, I decided it was probably time for me to learn a bit more about this theory used to justify their claims of having eliminated the possibility that a supernatural God could exist.

The Business Dictionary provides an excellent definition that I like which describes information as “Data that is (1) accurate and timely, (2) specific and organized for a purpose, (3) presented within a context that gives it meaning and relevance, and (4) can lead to an increase in understanding and decrease in uncertainty.”

As a former professional software developer, that definition seems both useful and apropos. Computers accept raw data as input. Software applications inside the computer process that raw data to convert it into useful information.

The key phrase in the definition was “specific and organized for a purpose.”

DNA is very compacted, specific information– genetic raw data is processed by organic cells and turned into information exponentially more complex than computer machine language.

The best analogy I can think for DNA is that it seems to be a perfectly blended recipe comprised of four nucleotides organized into specific sequences to produce one unique living organism of the same species as the parents — we know from experience that hybrid animals are biological dead ends.

However, advocates of evolution theory typically take a dim view of criticism. They will vociferously object to the idea of intelligent design being offered as an alternative for evolution theory.

Dr. Ken Miller has openly said that he believes people like me who have raised questions about the theory of evolution are motivated by bias toward religion and belief in the supernatural rather than scientific curiosity.

I would respond to that accusation that my stubbornness stems from the inability of experts such as him to answer my questions, which admittedly pose challenges the theory of evolution.

And before I swallow Darwin’s theory hook, line, and sinker, I need to know what mechanisms allow physical transformation that could most easily be described incredible shapeshifting that allegedly takes over many generations — the transformations necessary to evolve from apes to men must be nothing short of spectacular.

Nevertheless, I have frequently been accused by my critics of being too dumb to understand the theory of evolution, which strikes me as a relatively simple concept. Given enough sex, isolation, and time, monkeys can allegedly evolve into men.

I’ve learned to consider the source, and to take into account that that the most obnoxious and personal insults come from less well-educated people and frequently contain numerous grammatical errors and misspelled words. My thirst for knowledge exceeds my ego. I’m willing to swallow my pride and risk the wrath of my critics to make myself clear. It also helps that more intelligent people like Dr. Miller tend to be very courteous and respectful, so risking the potential embarrassment of asking the question often proves to be well worth the effort.

My response to my critics is always the same: my inability to understand how the theory of evolution works in the real and observable world to cause the origin of new species certainly hasn’t been for the lack of trying.

What biological process(es) other than sex, isolation, and time, might exist that allows monkeys to turn into men? It seems we are missing a critical piece to the Big Picture puzzle.

I’ve read a lot of books on evolution theory, including The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins, and of course Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True, in my attempts to understand the theory of evolution yet my fundamental “how did it happen?”questions have remained unanswered to my satisfaction.

Evolution theory isn’t a terribly complicated concept, in my opinion. It may be summed up using only three words: descent with modification.

According to this theory, because you don’t appear to be clones of your parents or grandparents, you may safely assume that several million years ago, your ancestors were apes. Not modern apes, of course. Extinct, common ancestor apes that we know weren’t gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, even though we don’t know what they were.

My problems with this theory of evolution are fairly simple and straightforward: if humans evolved from apes, how did this happen? And if every living organism is related through descent by sex, isolation, and time, then we are cousins to all plants and animals on Earth.

So here we go, one more time: apes have 24 pair of chromosomes (48 total.)

Humans have 23 pair, or 46 total chromosomes. a mismatch in count.

About ape-to-human evolution Dr. Miller has said,

If a whole primate chromosome was lost, that would be lethal. So there’s only two possibilities. And that is, if these guys (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and humans) really share a common ancestor, that ancestor either had 48 chromosomes or 46.

Nevertheless it seems to be quite logical to assume that at some point in time, a living organism with 48 chromosomes must have given birth to an organism with only 46, if we’re going to work from the assumption that humans descended from other primates.

After reading those books and many others on evolution theory, I published open letters written to biologists Jerry Coyne, Francis Collins, and Ken Miller so that I might also learn why design is considered inconceivable and descent believed without question.

Replies from Dr. Miller and a response that came from Dr. Benoit LeBlanc on behalf of biology professors (in lieu of Dr. Coyne) were published in unexpurgated form.

1506128_10151920696573075_80923712_o

My question remains simple: how did humans really descend from creatures that resembled the one as claimed in the picture to the right?

According to the theory of evolution, the answer is simply sex, isolation, and time.

In this video Dr. Miller said,

What must have happened is that one pair of chromosomes must have gotten fused. We should be able to look at our genome and discover that one of our chromosomes resulted from the fusion of two primate chromosomes. So we should be able to look around our genome and you know what? If we don’t find it, then evolution is wrong, and we don’t share a common ancestor.

When I wrote Dr. Miller to question his use of the word “fusion” to describe the joining of two chromosomes, he assured me that the word was appropriate, though the official biological term for the phenomena was a “Robertsonian translocation.

A little research on Robertsonian translocations taught me the following:

  1. Robertsonian translocations are rare mutations caused by the fusion of two chromosomes in offspring created by sexual reproduction.
  2. Most cases of Robertsonian translocations are either harmful or fatal to offspring (trisomy 13 (Down), trisomy 21 (Patau), and Edwards syndromes.)
  3. In the event of “balanced” Robertsonian translocations, the individual is not harmed because no genetic information has been gained or lost.
  4. Variations in the number of chromosomes caused by fusion does not create a new species. There is a healthy human male allegedly discovered to only have 44 chromosomes, but in reality chromosomes 14 and 15 merely joined together. Nevertheless, the article found at the Stanford Tech Review reported that the man’s “chromosomes are arranged in a stable way that could be passed on if he met a nice girl who had 44 chromosomes too. And this would certainly be possible in the future given his family history.”

But how could this this possible?

If this man can’t produce viable offspring with anyone except a “nice woman” with a matching count of 44 chromosomes (presumably with the same two chromosomes fused), how could we ever have a new species of humans that only have 44 chromosomes?

If these traits are both rare and undetectable within members of a population, how do the “44s” know to pair together in order to produce viable offspring?

Before I can believe evolution is true, I need to know how these things could happen.

This article was titled Why evolution theory is probably false for these reasons:

  1. Robertsonian translocations are rare events, and usually detrimental or fatal.
  2. Genetic information cannot be added or subtracted to an existing genome without causing the offspring serious harm.
  3. Robertsonian translocations do not cause the origin of a new species. Therefore, if translocations have no relationship to the origin of new species, then any examples of an apparent translocation between two species could only be coincidence or illusion.
  4. The primary feature of other genetic abnormalities such as Klinefelter syndrome is sterility.
  5. The title of Jerry Coyne’s book is Why Evolution is True, but I don’t think it is true. I’m allowing for the possibility that I might be wrong, however.

Evolution theory tells us that unguided and unintelligent processes gradually transformed less intelligent animals into more sophisticated creatures, including from apes to human beings simply through sex and isolation, given the vagaries of time.

The “experts” can produce evidence that they claim “proves” species have originated in this way, but they don’t have the foggiest idea how it possibly could have happened. The ape on the right above had to have mated with a male ape that looked like her and matched her genetics. There’s nothing I’ve discovered in biology that might explain why their descendants would ever look significantly different.

Genetic material cannot be accurately described as information until it has been processed according to specific rules by an intelligent application to produce meaningful results.

Otherwise you end up with useless gibberish.

[hat tip to Maurice D. for posting the YouTube video featuring Dr. Ken Miller titled “How to Shut Up Pesky Creationists” that inspired this article.]

 

The Spiritual Brain and the God helmet

images-4In a very good book written by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary, titled The Spiritual Brain, (I would give it five stars, if I rated books with stars at my website) there is a chapter called “The Strange Case of the God Helmet” which describes a physical device that “scientists” place on their head so that low-powered magnets can stimulate the temporal lobes of the test subject.

Seriously. The tin-foil hat crowd now has legitimate competition.

Only a person who doesn’t believe God exists and has apparently become desperate to prove it would deliberately try to artificially simulate the effect that belief in God has on people of faith.

About neuroscientist Michael Persinger (co-inventor of the God helmet) Beauregard wrote:

Echoing Dawkins, Persinger has called religion “an artifact of the brain” and a “cognitive virus.” (page 81)

Speaking of Richard Dawkins, he had to try the helmet dawkinsingodhelmethimself, of course, but he didn’t experience any of the hallucinations the helmet can allegedly sometimes cause.

Persinger attributed the failure of Dawkins to “experience God” using the helmet was due to his “well below average” score in temporal lobe sensitivity to magnetic fields, whatever that means.

Of course, Persinger had to publish the results of his 2002 “study” in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders. Beauregard (and O’Leary) wrote:

Persinger concluded two things: that the experience of a sensed presence can be manipulated by experiment, and that such an experience “may be the fundamental source for phenomena attributed to visitations by gods, spirits, and other ephemeral phenomena. The first conclusion is a research result that should be able to be replicated if it is valid. The second is, of course, an opinion. (page 84)

Persinger is far from the only atheist looking for the scientific explanation for religious experience.  Though he claims his work is agnostic, Dean Hamer has been looking for God in our genes. Hamer was quoted by Beauregard and O’Leary as saying:

I think we follow our basic law of nature, which is that we’re a bunch of chemical reactions running around in a bag. (page 48)

This is why atheism can be such a hard sell — that’s not exactly a cheery outlook on life, is it?

Probably he best two chapters (my favorites) in The Spiritual Brain were called “Are the Mind and Brain Identical?” and “Toward a Nonmaterialist Science of Mind.”

Beauregard gets to the heart of why the famous account of corroborated veridical information learned during the neurosurgery of Pam Reynolds, known as “Operation Standstill.” He writes,

Pam’s case is unique for two reasons. First, she had the experience at a time when she was fully instrumented under medical conditions and known to be clinically dead. Clinical death is the state in which vital signs have ceased: the heart is in ventricular fibrillation, there is a total lack of electrical activity on the cortex of the brain (flat EEG), and brain-stem is abolished (loss of the corneal reflex, fixed and dilated pupils, and loss of the gag reflex.) Second, she was able to recall verifiable facts about her surgery that she could not have known if she were not in some way conscious when these events were taking place. [emphasis added] (page 155)

How can a person be conscious and clinically dead at the same time?

There seems to be only two alternatives: either liars have conspired to perpetrate a fraud for no discernible benefit, or Pam’s experience defied natural law.

Why on earth would anyone strap a helmet on their head designed to alter their brain waves with magnetic forces to force a fake hallucinogenic effect as a false religious experience?

Sincere prayer is a much more effective means of making a real connection with God.