Understanding Creationism VIII

Continuation of Panda’s Thumb series on Understanding Creationism.

8.  New Perspective

An excerpt:

I think there are several different varieties of creationism activists. Some are obsessed with the presumed negative effects of evolution and secular humanism. Some are driven by suspicion for science and the certainty that a conspiracy must be afoot. Some use creationist apologetics to make themselves feel smarter and better-informed than the general public. Some are genuinely interested in science and want to know the truth.

I maintained young-earth creationism without much difficulty through college. The major objection to creationism encountered in earning a physics degree is the starlight-and-time problem, and I believed that the gravitational-well time-dilation model proposed by Russell Humphreys solved this problem. It never really came up in my classes. My ongoing exposure to the evidence against creationism came mostly in the form of continued argumentation and debate in various online forums, just as I had done before college.

I still wanted to maintain intellectual honesty, but I felt constrained by my religious belief. When I encountered questions and evidence I didn’t know how to answer, I retreated to a position of false humility: “Well, I don’t know how that works, but I’m sure that if I was an expert in that area, I could figure out how the evolutionary argument is wrong.” I knew that there were physicists and biologists and geneticists working for creationist organizations who rejected evolution; surely they understood how it all worked.

There’s not much you can do to challenge that particular approach. It’s the same response I get now from creationists after I’ve answered all their objections. “Well, fine, but science is always changing, and scientists have been wrong before, and so you never can be sure about any of this.”

As frustrating as this response can be, it’s difficult to counter because it’s sincere. They really believe (and, at one time, I really believed) that the scientific process is constantly in flux, that evolution is “just a theory”, that scientists are just taking guesses in the dark. They really think that science can’t provide truly useful answers.

Though I still firmly maintained a belief in young earth and special creation, it became more and more apparent that evolution was not, after all, a theory in crisis. The evidence lined up and made sense; the model worked; the predictions were good. I kept looking for the smoking gun, the telltale traces and shortcuts I would expect to see if evolution were really the junk science I had always believed it to be – but I found nothing. Evolution was, to all appearances, rock-solid science.

I didn’t feel like this discovery was something I could admit. I still claimed confidence in the whole young Earth creationism worldview. But I had confidence in the scientific process, too, and they seemed to clash rather strongly. Moreover, while creationism had only demanded my confidence, science had earned my confidence. It was a distinction I wasn’t terribly comfortable with.

Movie Review: The Lunchbox

I have a penchant for foreign films (subtitled, not dubbed) and when I saw that the Indian movie The Lunchbox was going to be shown at the cinema, I knew what I wanted to do for my birthday.

What an absolutely delightful treat! Ila, a young housewife who yearns for more spice in her marriage, decides to employ the services of Mumbai’s dabbawalas by cooking hot lunches to be delivered to her emotionally-distant husband, Rajeev. The lunches don’t get delivered to Rajeev. Instead, they get sent to Saajan, a widower who is looking forward to retirement.

When Ila discovers that there has been a mix-up but that the recipient enjoyed the food, she starts putting in notes with the lunches. Thus begins a correspondence between Ila and Saajan.

I loved this movie because it is a story about people and their relationships (or lack thereof). It was subtle and yet managed to convey a lot of deep messages about life’s dreams and regrets and the possibilities for second chances.

Mr Yewnique remarked afterwards that he really enjoyed the film, too, and that he much preferred it to many of the films that come out of Hollywood. Some of the trailers that were shown before the film, showed characters being loud and obnoxious – and that was supposed to be a feature, not a bug!

Anyway, I digress.

The Lunchbox is best watched followed by a meal at an Indian restaurant! :D

Word Crimes

“Weird Al” has done it again!

When I saw this, I thought, “Please, please, please let there be something about it’s and its.”

He delivered!

This video has gone viral. When I first watched it, it had been viewed eight hundred thousand times. Now, two hours later, it’s over a million.

In the video, he makes mention of using proper pronouns, but does not go into detail. Pity.

(I had not heard the original before today. Now that I have, I must say the parody is much better!)

Understanding Creationism VII

Continuation of Panda’s Thumb series on Understanding Creationism.

7. The Religion of Evolution

An excerpt:

Many creationists assume as self-evident that evolution precludes the existence of God, not because of any qualities intrinsic to evolution, but because their concept of God is dependent on creationism. Officially, creationists usually teach that the Bible is our only infallible revelation of God’s existence, but in practice the “fact” of special creation is treated as a primary basis for belief in God. The “testimony of nature” is implicitly held up as proof of God’s existence. Every time a particular piece of purportedly creationist evidence is described, the underlying implication is that God’s existence depends on six-day special creation. Thus, to even propose that evolution could be true is automatically a “challenge to the evidence” for God’s existence.

The assumption that “evolutionism” and “secular science” denies God’s existence applies not only to the suggestions that evolution might be possible, but more generally to any challenge to creationist arguments. While some creationists take pains to discard the more outlandish arguments, others will fiercely defend obsolete and ridiculous theories simply because of their perceived apologetics value. This stubbornness is the source of animosity and division between the various creationist movements; each group points to “concessions” and “compromises” the other groups make, because any compromise is considered a tacit admission that maybe the evidence for God isn’t quite as strong as it would otherwise be. Such arguments are all God-of-the-gaps arguments, of course, but this fact goes unnoticed.

The idea that evolution is a religion (among YECreationists) is a rather baffling one to me. I once was told, “If you believe in it, then it is your religion!”

Ken Ham also promotes the idea that ‘evolution’ and ‘millions of years’ is a religion. This is puzzling, because he also equates them with atheism.

Understanding Creationism VI

Continuation of Panda’s Thumb series on Understanding Creationism.

6. Genetic Evidence

An excerpt:

Once they cannot deny that both the fossil record and the genetic evidence are unassailably valid, creationists unveil one more argument: “common design”.

Common design – that morphological and genetic similarities are the result of a designer re-using the same parts – is the perfect creationist argument because it can apply to absolutely anything. No matter how obvious the path of descent is, creationists can simply claim it was intentional. They may also use it in combination with the other objections. For example: “Common design created genetic similarities in creatures with similar environments, similar diets, or similar appearances. These similarities reduce the number of phylogenetic trees to the point that researchers can simply pick whichever one happens to match their evolutionary assumptions.”

The obvious problem is that common design is unfalsifiable. There’s no limit to what it can explain, no level of commonality it cannot be used with. We recognize that an explanation which can fit literally anything is useless; it doesn’t tell us anything. Unfortunately, creationists don’t care whether their explanations are falsifiable. Their presuppositionalist background tells them that it doesn’t matter whether explanations are falsifiable – it’s just necessary to make sure they have the right presupposition at the outset, and everything else flows from that. As long as their denial of mainstream science seems vaguely plausible, they are okay.

So instead of pointing out the unfalsifiability of common design, it’s better to let them use it, but challenge them to take it to its logical conclusion. If their divine common design can really produce the observed levels of genetic similarity, then it should also produce clear and obvious genetic similarities in species that aren’t anywhere close on the evolutionary tree. Not just small sequences in common, but entire gene suites. If God is in the practice of re-using the exact same gene sequences in creatures that happen to show up close together, then we should see the same thing in distant species. Species identified in mainstream science as examples of convergent evolution – the same traits or abilities having evolved separately – should have perfectly matching gene sequences placed there by the creator. For example, bats and birds evolved echolocation separately using different genes, but the “common design” argument would predict the same exact gene sequences.

The ‘common designer’ argument rings a bell. In the Jonathan Park series, Dr Park said, “Evolutionists think that similarities point to a common ancestor, but Creationists say that it points to a common Creator.” Meaning, God just used similar pieces to create all the different plants and animals. Like using Lego.

Understanding Creationism V

5. Evolution of Evolution

An excerpt:

In the creationist worldview, the ideas proposed by Darwin came from a desire to explain the existence of life apart from God. They believe all “evolutionary science” came out of this particular worldview. But that is simply not the case. Darwin was not setting out to explain life apart from divine creation; he was discovering the mechanism behind the already well-established progression of life on Earth. Naturalists already understood that life had existed for millions of years at the very least; they already knew that the geologic record showed innumerable species living and flourishing and going extinct all one after another. Creationists like to frame the story as though Darwin invented the theory of common descent and then looked for evidence to fit it, when in fact his theory explained the evidence that already existed.

 

More here.

Understanding Creationism: An Inside Guide by a Former Young-Earth Creationist

The Panda’s Thumb has been featuring a series by David MacMillan, a former young-Earth Creationist, on understanding  Creationism.

1. Introduction and overview: Philosophy of pseudoscience

An excerpt:

During my tenure as an active young-earth creationist, I never once heard other creationists accurately describe what evolutionary theory is or how it is supposed to work. Nor did I understand it myself. Creationists often seem familiar with a lot of scientific terminology, but their understanding is filled with gross misinformation. Thus, a host of misconceptions is believed and taught throughout creationist circles, making it almost impossible for actual evidence to really sink in.

From listening to the Jonathan Park Audio Adventure Series, I would say that the above is correct. There is just enough scientific terminology in the programs to persuade the listener to believe that what is presented is accurate.

Read the rest of this entry

Warning: Stumbling Blocks Ahead

Link to Article

If the purpose of our clothes is to glorify God, how are you doing so by wearing something that obviously causes others to sin in their minds? Yes, it is everyone’s job to control their own eyes, but you ALSO have a responsibility to not give them reason to sin.

- See more at: http://thesaltcollective.org/modesty-whensuitsbecomestumblingblock/

Warning: Contains Photographs of Men

Actually, you know what? Stuff all that nonsense about what to wear or not to wear so as to not make someone else stumble. There are some people that are gonna look and go “Mmm…” no matter what you’re wearing. If you have a Y-chromosome, I’m gonna look. There is a reason why a friend a uni dubbed me ‘the most heterosexual person’ she knows.

“God is a Plotter.”

The friend from church who said that he had an article to share with me about how believing in young-Earth Creationism is anti-Christian — well, it turns out it wasn’t an article after all. (I must have misunderstood/misheard. Sorry.)

He shared his thoughts with me. Here are some of them:

There is so much evidence for evolution now, not just from biology, but from many other fields such as mathematics and physics.

He has heard of people taking the Creation Account in Genesis literally, but has never heard of Ken Ham or Answers in Genesis. Colour me surprised! Sometimes it is good to be reminded that YECism is really a very, very small subset of society.

Since there is so much evidence for evolution, if you say that the Creation Account in Genesis has to be interpreted literally, you are effectively saying that God is a plotter.

And that, is anti-Christian.

Candy Crush Saga

I’ve reached the end of the currently available Candy Crush Saga levels (Level 605).  One other friend got there before I did! I think she was playing at the same time and just beat me to it!

Now to go back and try for three stars for each level.

Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga

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