Thursday, January 15, 2009

Out on a Limb

Let me go out on a limb here-- this purported finding will end up being smoke but no fire, very similar to the fanfare a few years ago over the supposed finding of Martian fossils in Antarctica. That did not hold up to further scrutiny, and my prediction (I hear the drum roll, but not any creaking!) is neither will this.

Unfortunately, even some IDers have drunk the panspermia kool-aid. I'm not shaken by such reports because I always remember this simple truth: God not only created the heavens and the earth, but also the life here out of the dirt and water here. That branch under me looks pretty strong to me!


  1. If the branch to which you refer includes the notion that humans were created from mud about 6000 years ago, then your branch is mighty fragile.

  2. slw,
    Do your readers know how greatly you are feared by the Mouse Kingdom?
    BTW, what's up with the moustache and big gut?

  3. Hello Joe,
    I suppose it's good God made my reflexes cat-like then.

  4. Well, there may be a relex involved here, but I don't think that I'd call the ability to reject and ignore overwhelming geological evidence a "cat-like" reflex. At least, my cat would be insulted if I did.

  5. Your cat needs bigger shoulders,

  6. tmc,
    You are either being sarcastic and don't know me from Adam, or you're and old friend who knows of a certain mouse problem I had my senior year at Penn State. If the latter, your hair is blonde (if you still have it after all these years) and tmc are your initials.

    For any other readers who may see this, just for clarity sake: the mouse problem was not Pythonesque and I've overcame it by the word of my hegemony and blood on a steak knife.

  7. slw,
    Your gift of discernment is evident. I was witness to the Mighty Mouse Conqueror that summer at PSU. My hair is more grey now than it was back then but I still have it (and my gut is bigger as well). I'm naive to this blog stuff and tried to send you a more personal message but I guess it didn't post. I'll write to your church e-mail address. So glad I rediscovered you......

  8. Tom Chupp, then, wow! Good to hear from you, old friend. I'll keep an eye out for your message.

  9. I see you prefer believing to thinking. So it goes.

  10. Joe,
    I have nothing against thinking, nor even pursuing knowledge, but it's believing that gets one saved.

  11. Since getting saved is presumably the priority, one would also presume that if thinking and/or knowledge interferes with belief, then thinking and knowledge must stop.

  12. Joe,
    I think (sorry ;-) ) that is a false dichotomy. It didn't get in the way for Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Boyle, Newton, Faraday, Mendel, Maxwell, and hosts of others, like the contemporary PhD's that wrote In Six Days.

  13. Most of those you cited lived long, long before we knew what we knew today. YECers love to list these scientists, but they did not know anything close to what we know today. Who knows what these same men would think now? It's a specious argument to list their names. If he was alive today, would Newton think that dinosaurs and humans lived together? Would he chose absolute belief in Genesis over the knowledge we have available today? Not a chance.

    I read In Six Days. Almost none of the writers was directly in involved as research scientists in the fields of biology, geology and/or astronomy. They lacked essential knowledge of the subject.

    And yes, they had all stopped thinking. Anyone who thinks that the Earth is 6000 years old has stopped thinking. They stopped thinking, because the thought that the Earth is millions of years old threatens their beliefs. Belief is the only reason for thinking dinos and humans lived together. The actual evidence is overwhelmingly against it.

    How do I know the In Six Day authors have stopped thinking? Name one scientist who thinks the Earth is 6000 years old and who does *not* simultaneously believe that all of Genesis is literal, historical truth. Name one. You can't think and reasons and examine the evidence and conclude the Earth is young without first having an absolute belief that Genesis is literal history. Belief trumps thinking and knowledge, and belief stops thinking.

  14. Joe,
    Those you allude to don't believe the dead rise, but Jesus did. So you can cite a bunch of smart, but limited human beings that think their way to hell (unless grace intervenes). I'll stand by the testimony of one who rose from the dead, and offers life to those that believe. I don't see belief adversely effecting rationale, you do. I say that assessment is based on your belief system, not objectivity. Perhaps one could wonder how affected rationale is when it depends on putting words into mouths of the dead.

  15. So, I'm not objective, but you are?

  16. By the way, you forgot name a single non-fundamentalist scientist who believes the Earth is 6000 years old.

    And those "limited human beings" with limited knowledge? They include the men who wrote the Bible. Their errors can be found starting in the first chapter of Genesis.

  17. Joe,
    No, I think everyone's preconceptions color their views. I won't argue that my beliefs cause a tint to my view of the world, but I think that's true for everyone. That's why we have so much fun hashing things out in forums like the blogosphere.

    What I try to do is make sure I respect your attainments and skill (sometimes I fail and get cheesy or smug), and hear what you have to say to me. You certainly have given me plenty to think about!

  18. I agree that everyone has preconceptions that can tint or color one’s view of the world. Of course, if everyone’s views are “tinted” or “subjective”, to one degree or another, that strongly suggests that, in practice, there is no purely objective, absolute, capital-T Truth to be found. Or at least, if capital-T Truth does exist, it’s beyond our ability to find it. I didn’t expect to find that you were a relativist, but that seems to be where you are heading here.

    However, given the inevitable “tinting”, do you think that this means that we can’t come to any conclusions about how the natural world works? Are all views and opinions about the natural world equally likely to be accurate? In the following pairs, is there no way to determine which of the following statements are far more likely to be correct, given our inevitable “subjectivity”?

    Tuberculosis can be cured by bleeding.
    Tuberculosis can be cured by antibiotics.

    Cholera is caused by breathing bad air.
    Cholera is caused by ingestion of Vibrio cholerae.

    The Moon is made of cheese.
    The Moon is made of rock.

    The Sun circles the Earth.
    The Earth circles the Sun.

    The Earth is thousands of years old and humans lived with dinosaurs.
    The Earth is much, much older and humans did not live with dinosaurs.

    How can we determine which of the above statements are far, far more likely to correctly describe the natural world, despite our preconceptions? Are we to use thinking, reason, logic, observation, experimentation and hypothesis testing...or is it just a matter of blogosphere opinion and beliefs? Is one tinted answer really just as good as another? Are you really just a relativist?

  19. Joe,
    In saying that everyone's preconceptions color his or her view of reality, I'm not saying that there is no reality we can know with certainty. I'm saying that discovery of the more difficult aspects of it will be by trial and error, and the friction of differing opinions. Some aspects of reality, e.g. those that are occurring now in real time, are more discoverable objectively than others, e.g. those that are not happening now or that left no intelligent witness to report findings.

    I wouldn't doubt the discoverers of the more objective truth in the litany you outlined were people of Christian faith (I know Copernicus and Kepler were), but anyone speaking with certainty on issues revolving around that second aspect of reality are doing so on the basis of some faith (Hebrews 11:1), not objectivity. Some of us can admit our faith colors our views, some of us cannot. Are all faiths perspectives equally valid? No, mine, uniquely, was borne by the testimony of one who rose, witnessed, from the dead, what do the others have?

  20. Yes, it's easier observe events that are happening today, but there are plenty of methods available for studying historical events or "unwitnessed" events as well. There will always be uncertainty in the conclusions, but that’s true for every conclusion of science. Nevertheless, given enough observation and hypothesis testing, we can achieve a high degree of confidence in the conclusions.

    At the very least, we can conclude that certain events were very, very, very unlikely to have happened. And I'm sorry, but there is a massive and overwhelming amount of evidence that demonstrates that the Earth is not 6000 years old, humans were not created out of mud, humans and dinos did not live together and the world was not covered in a single global flood. These facts are as close to objective reality as anything else in this world. To ignore these facts is to stop thinking. I’d be glad to discuss these facts if you’d like.

    It's nice to have witnesses, but we don't actually need witnesses in order to understand past events. We come to such understanding of unwitnessed history all of the time in prosecuting crimes. There were no witnesses to the murder of Laci Peterson (yes, Scott was there, but he ain’t talking). But which of the following is more likely?

    Scott Peterson murdered Laci.
    Joe murdered Laci.

    Was Peterson convicted more on “faith” than on objectivity? Of course not. Should we release Scott Peterson from jail because some have "faith" in his innocence and there are no witnesses to the murder? Should I be put in jail in his place. Of course not. Past event leave objective evidence of their occurrence, and that real, physical evidence can be as objectively studied as the motion of the planets, whether the events were witnessed or not. Geology is as real as the DNA left at a murder scene.

    So, you acknowledge that your views are "colored by faith", your preconceptions color your view of reality, and therefore, your views suffer from the same problems of subjectivity as the views of anyone else (including me, of course). But at the same time, you’re absolutely certain that your truth is capital-T Truth, your faith is the absolutely correct faith, and that your particular “faith perspective” is superior to all others. Interesting.

  21. Joe,
    I don't think the Peterson analogy flies, it's dealing with things too contemporary-- a warm, smoking gun as it were. Putting together that puzzle is child's play in comparison to the question of our origins-- with no smoke, no gun, and not even fabricated metal or gunpowder!

    I don't know how old the earth and the cosmos are. I know they look aged as if about 13.5 billion years or so, but my eyewitness says they're not nearly that old.

  22. The Peterson analogy and numerous other CSI examples do fly. It doesn't matter how old an unwitnessed event in question is, the key is that it was *unwitnessed*. Something has happened, but no one saw it happen. Can we say anything about that event? All we have is physical evidence, logic, hypothesis testing, etc., by which we are to reconstruct the events. Is that enough? Yes, after all, we execute people based on these methods. Using these methods, we can draw reasonable conclusions. At the very least, we can determine which views of past events are clearly wrong.

    You're the one who made the big deal about "witnessed" versus "unwitnessed" events. That was your big point. The history of life on Earth was unwitnessed. The implication was that we can't say anything objective or testable about witnessed events. But this is clearly false. It's harder to study more distant events, but it's clearly possible to do so. There may be no guns available, but we do have an entire planet’s geology to guide us, and that’s just the starting point. What more do you want? How many mountains, how many fossils, how many observations do you need?

    “I don't know how old the earth and the cosmos are. I know they look aged as if about 13.5 billion years or so.”

    Good. Stop right there. You got it. There is no need to deny what is right in front of your eyes. Yes, this is what the evidence tells us.

    You may think that you have “an eyewitness to the history of life on Earth”, but you don’t. All you have is a belief that you have an eyewitness. There is nothing remotely objective here, just a belief. The reality is that the stories in Genesis were invented and recorded by men living thousands of years ago. That we know for certain. No one involved in the creating of these myths was any more of an eyewitness than I was.

    Now, one can start with the possibility that God whispered the history of the Earth into the ears of these Hebrew tribesmen. But if God truly did whisper into the ears of these Middle East tribesmen, then one would expect that the Genesis account would get the history right. But it doesn’t. Repeated testing has shown that it doesn’t. When tested, the Genesis account fares no better than countless other creation myths. That’s precisely why the only “scientists” who accept it are those “scientists” who begin with an absolute belief in the myth. No one has ever come to the conclusion that the Earth is 6000 years old by empirical observation and testing. No eyewitnesses support it, it’s just belief.

  23. And so your point is...? That I believe, some scientists believe, but you and some (even most) others don't. That's not exactly a mystery.

    You say your case is sign, sealed and delivered; we say, not so fast, we don't interpret the data the same as you. You say, we don't do justice to the data; we say you weren't there, God was.

    You say, if he even is, he didn't tell anyone; we say he came to earth and told plenty, and verified his testimony by rising from the dead. You say... what, that Jesus did not rise from the dead?

    Therein is the BIG issue. If he rose from the dead, a cobbled together picture by forensic scientists with limited skill and knowledge is NEVER going to trump his testimony. Furthermore, when a lab-coated Darwinist can speak to my heart, tell me what is going to happen, heal my body, and change my entire outlook on life, then maybe I'll shut up about Jesus.

    Until then, I have an historic hero who rose from the dead and who has become tangible in my here and now. What allure does a tale of radiated slime and fused monkey genes have to offer me?

  24. You say that God was there. Then why did he get the history wrong? I'm sorry, but your eyewitness has proven to be unreliable. He could have gotten it right, but he didn't. The geological record could confirm what the testimony predicts, but it doesn't. It just doesn't. Maybe your witness is just the imagination of desert tribesmen. That's just reality unless you chose to stop thinking.

    But you want your comfort, and you don't want to discuss the evidence, so I guess that's that. God said it (or so you think), you believe it, that settles it.

    By the way, it's a fused ape chromosome, not fused monkey gene.

  25. And just to clarify, you're problem is not with the "lab-coated Darwinist", whatever that means. Your problem is with the dust-covered field geologists. At the very least, you should be able to correctly identify and label your enemies.


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