Earlier than Expected: Series Introduction

As an introduction to this series, let me explain why this topic is important. Darwinists needed deep time to give their theory even a modicum of believability. Thus, as time has passed, the age of the Earth and Universe has increased. Now, I wouldn’t claim that this is completely without evidence, but it is based on a number of assumptions. I won’t get into that here, as I’ve talked about it previously.(1)

Regardless of age assumptions, it is clear that the theory of evolution requires deep time to work it’s magic. So, for the sake of argument, we will grant the Darwinists deep time and use their own dating assumptions to discuss the problems with their theory. When a fossil is discovered much earlier than previously thought, it gives the purported gradualism or slow process of evolution less time to work its magic.

Stephen J. Gould postulated ‘punctuated equilibrium’ to attempt to fit the theory of evolution with the evident discontinuity of the fossil record. In other words, creatures appear in the fossil record with no evident precursors, and other fossils exhibit little differences from current species despite hundreds of millions of years of time that has purportedly passed. This can be thought of as the “naturalism of the gaps” hypothesis. The trend in paleontology is that these gaps are decreasing with each fossil find of a species that remains unchanged in the fossil record and appears earlier than previously thought.

As Cornelius Hunter, author of DarwinsPredictions.com notes:

It is now known that evolution has nowhere near the eons of time predicted and required by Darwin. Indeed, the time windows available are even less than those allowed by William Thomson, which themselves were unacceptable to the evolutionists. This falsification of evolution’s prediction does not derive from the age of the earth, but rather from the fossil record. We now know that, even with billions of years of earth history, the major events in the fossil record take place in time windows that are no longer than a few tens of millions of years or even less.(2)

It is with these facts in mind that I start this series to illustrate yet another glaring problem for naturalistic evolution.

    References

(1). On Christian Views of Creationism–Part IV (Continued: Young Earth Creationism)
(2). On Christian Views of Creationism–Part III (Continued: Young Earth Creationism)
(2). Evolution has hundreds of millions of years available, Darwin’s Predictions, Cornelius Hunter

    Notes:

I would like to thank my coauthor mynym for suggesting the idea for this series.

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10 Responses

  1. From Hunter:

    “evolution’s prediction has been falsified”

    Hilariously nonsensical assertion.

    Strange – you say “Cornelius” Hunter and the source document says “George” Hunter.

    “that are no longer than a few tens of millions of years”

    Fine. So what? Extraordinary selection pressure produces extraordinarily fast evolution? A “breakthrough” produces extraordinarily fast evolution? So what?

    This has nothing to do with “intelligent design”.

  2. I was wondering how long it would be before my criticisms were forbidden.

  3. onein6billion,

    This is not the first time we’ve had a problem with you. I know you were wondering how long it would be, because that is clearly what you intended. I hate to disappoint. 😉 Now, if you can start using some reasoning rather than just saying something is ridiculous, silly, stupid, or delusional, then I’ll approve your comments. Otherwise, go hang out with some friends.

  4. Sixer said,

    I was wondering how long it would be before my criticisms were forbidden.

    Let’s see, “criticisms?”

    Criticize: 2nd def = To judge the merits and faults of; analyze and evaluate.

    This is not the sixer’s method!

  5. You can’t argue cause for existence, or reason for being, with someone who denies that he even exists. Someone who believes there is no self-aware “I”. That it’s an illusion. That “I” am only random synapse firings in the brain.

    Worse is arguing with someone who believes that they exist as a self-aware “I”, but then refuses to accept any metaphysical basis for awareness other than those same random synapse firings in the brain.

    To me, they might as well be the same. Neither are able to give any reason why their thoughts should be taken seriously, because neither can assert on any logical basis that their thoughts are worth anything more than the molecules they are imprinted on.

    “Well, there this rat, see, and then somewhere, some magic kind of happened, and suddenly, well, that rat kind of had a sort of soul, but not really, and then, well, it kind of felt good about itself, while it grew into something completely different, but didn’t know that it was doing that, see….”

    Ugh!!

  6. Well, there’s reductionism, and then there’s reductionism. By which I mean, there’s science, and then there’s metaphysics, and the two are not the same.

    For example, it’s clearly one thing to say, “lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity,” quite another to say, “lightning is caused by separation of positively and negatively charged water molecules.” Both sorts of statements — classifications and causal assertions — have a legitimate role in science.

    But it would quite another matter for someone to say, “therefore, there really isn’t any lightning — it’s all just a strong electric field caused by the separation of charged particles.” That is a metaphysical move — not a scientific one — because it makes a claim about what there is, or isn’t. And that’s different from classifying or explaining.

    I put it this way in order to respond to Mike’s point above. Clearly one could be a strict materialist, even an “eliminativist,” so to speak. That’s a metaphysical view. But that metaphysical view is detachable from the science involved, even the neuroscience.

    In other words, there’s ample room for someone to say, “reasoning just is a particular kind of pattern of neuronal firings” — in the same sense that “lightning just is a particular kind of electrical discharge.”

    Two things to note:

    (a) this is not a denial of the existence of rationality, but a re-classification of it — so the debate between someone like Mike, and someone who holds this view, isn’t a debate about whether or not there is rationality, but a debate about the sort of thing that rationality is.

    (b) one might reject this view on the grounds that it reduces norms to causes. (Indeed, I think one should reject any view that reduces norms to causes.) But then matters become, philosophically speaking, even more complicated — in part because it’s not immediately obvious why norms are irreducible to causes, and in part because it’s not immediately obvious whether the irreducibility of norms to causes is best explained by metaphysical dualism.

    I myself am inclined to think that the irreducibility of norms to causes can be accommodated within naturalism, or at any rate, is by itself no objection to naturalism — though there may be others.

  7. To me, that would be like person A and person B both agreeing that “lightning” is responsible for devastating a particular tree. But let’s say A doesn’t believe in the existence of electromagnetism, while B claims electromagnetism exists. The concept, or norm, of “Lightning” may be self-evident to both A and B. But B’s rationale for claiming such is not self-refuting, while A’s obviously is.

    However, this may not be an obstacle to rational dialog – unless A and B disagree on what downed the tree! Because if A claims something other than lightning downed the tree, then in order for B to make his case, he must first convince A to believe in electromagnetic fields! Thus B is forced to either reduce the norm to a cause, or just walk away frustrated.

  8. I wouldn’t use the terms “norm” and “cause” in quite that way, Mike, and I want to precise in the terminology I use, because I think that there is a serious — perhaps even fatal — objection to be raised against “naturalism,” if the terms are used in the way I suggest.

    In the scenario above: if A and B agree on the truth of “lightning downed the tree” but disagree on the truth of “there are electromagnetic fields,” then they disagree on the sort of thing that lightning is. Perhaps then the explanatory burden is on B to provide an alternative explanation of lightning. Whether it is a better or worse explanation can only be evaluated once it’s been presented.

    The difference is, perhaps, more different in the case of rationality than my analogy above indicated.

    For the purposes of this conversation, I’d like to think that we can agree on the thought that rationality is fundamentally normative — so, when we invoke concepts such as “justification,” “warrant,” “evidence,” “reasonable,” etc. we’re invoking concepts that are essentially tied up with how we ought to think. We are doing something really quite different from what we do when we merely describe patterns of human behavior.

    Now, it seems to me that one could put an objection to naturalism as follows:

    Naturalism might be perfectly all right with respect to description and explanation, but it goes too far. For we human beings, at least, understand ourselves as obedient to rules, whereas other animals (and plants) are, at best, merely exhibit tendencies. There are descriptions of the activity of sunflowers and lions, but sunflowers and lions do not follow rules, and we humans do.

    In response to this objection, it seems to me that we need either to do one of the following:

    (i) show that normativity — that is, rule-obedience — is consistent with naturalism;
    (ii) abandon normativity altogether and just be strict naturalists; (iii) abandon naturalism altogether and show that some other metaphysical system is necessary in order to accommodate normativity.

    I take it that (ii) is not a serious option, despite the vague noises that Dawkins sometimes seems to make in that direction. So the real debate is between proponents of (i), such as myself, and proponents of (iii), such as most of the others who comment here.

    Still, I think the burden of proof is on those who insist on (i), not on those who insist on (iii). For we clearly have inherited, at least in the Western world, a rich and sophisticated system of cultural assumptions, which are articulated through metaphysics, theology, ethics (etc.), which form the default setting for how we proceed in thinking through ethical and political problems.

    So the burden of proof is on someone like me, who wants to show that we can, indeed, have all the normativity offered by the tradition which runs from Plato and Aristotle through the New Testament to secularized thinkers like Kant, within a broadly naturalistic framework. And in the absence of such a burden of proof being met, the challenge remains open for a defender of the tradition to say, “naturalism cannot accommodate normativity, therefore naturalism cannot be the whole story.”

    (Of course this does not address criticisms such as DB’s, but his opposition to naturalism is on quite different grounds, even though it is related to this one.)

  9. Still, I think the burden of proof is on those who insist on (i), not on those who insist on (iii).

    For we clearly have inherited, at least in the Western world, a rich and sophisticated system of cultural assumptions, which are articulated through metaphysics, theology, ethics (etc.), which form the default setting for how we proceed in thinking through ethical and political problems.

    Aha! An appeal to cultural conventionalism. Spoken like a true relativist! Ok, so in light of that, here’s how I then see your dilemma:

    To make your appeal (since you insist the burden of proof is on your side), you inevitably will have to submit to dualism at the very least. But then, while seemingly having made your case, you find you’ve taken one firm step into the other camp at the same time. So, I’m sure you’d rather retreat and come up with alternate theories to submit as proof. Now, I’m not nearly as educated as you are, but from my perspective, that’s what you’re up against.

  10. (i) show that normativity — that is, rule-obedience — is consistent with naturalism;
    (ii) abandon normativity altogether and just be strict naturalists; (iii) abandon naturalism altogether and show that some other metaphysical system is necessary in order to accommodate normativity.

    And the metaphysical version of my response above is this:

    position (i) doesn’t actually exist!!

    (And you’ve wondered why Dawkins is afforded respect in ID circles? It’s probably because he takes a metaphysical position – even if it’s basically that “I/Dawkins” don’t really exist. That stance resonates with ID’ers on a deeper level, I would guess, than the “let’s try to figure out how this rat eventually evolved the awareness to write symphonies and build skyscrapers” crowd).

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