Working Toward a Mature Faith

In undergraduate school, I remember one professor marveling at various features of brain functioning and talking about the reasons that a particular function evolved.  It was just as easy, or easier, for me to think of reasons that these features were designed into the system.  In my first class on physiological psychology, the professor did not have an evolutionary bent that I could tell, and merely marveled at the function and complexity of the brain.  I think many students are unprepared for the naturalistic worldview, and that this often can trigger a crisis of faith.  In their book, God Attachment, Clinton and Straub (2010)1 note that people often enter adulthood with the same views they had with their faith that they learned in early childhood.  In other words, they have not developed a more mature faith that allows them to have an understanding of the problem of evil, the existence of many different religions, and the evolutionary viewpoint (a view espousing the all-powerfulness of useful accidents).  Thus, they are setting themselves up for a crisis of faith that will inevitably come with real-world life experiences and the hard knocks that life delivers.  I frequently encounter people who become sort of paralyzed in that crisis of faith without attempting to find answers to their questions.  They will often just resign themselves to somewhat of a wishy-washy stance like, “I’m not sure I believe everything in the Bible.  I believe, but I’m just not sure about X.”  When asked, they’ll admit they’ve never tried to resolve the issue with learning more about the subject.  So, they end up assuming a distant stance with God on the basis of a particular issue that they have not taken the time to resolve.

I don’t think people have to believe that Genesis is literally true to be saved.  I don’t think there is anything in the Bible that would suggest that.  But I do think it is possible to be logically consistent and hold an intelligent worldview encompassing a literal account of Genesis.  Frankly, I think a literal account of Genesis leads to the most logically consistent stance in explaining the problem of evil in the world (i.e., the fall).  Also, one only needs a vaguely possible scenario to explain certain observations (apparent age of the Earth and Universe) to make this tenable.  If God is all-powerful, then He could have done it.  I’m not advocating a kind of “God did it” approach to science, but I am rather asking believers to explore the issue in more depth and to develop a more mature way of viewing their faith.  This can help believers have a more mature relationship with God.

I would also caution creationists against the view of saying that people who advocate for evolution are liars.  Evolution contains many lies, but to lie involves intent to deceive.  There are times when they do likely lie, but it’s better to be careful about this.  I’d rather look at it as a worldview, which I think contains many untruths.  It’s understandable, just false.

I urge fellow believers, and those with doubts, to more fully explore these issues in order to develop a more mature faith—a faith which can stand up to the complexities of the world and the problem of evil in the world.  More personally, it will help with the very difficult things that you face in your own life and promote a deeper connection with God.

1). God Attachment: Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God

A Naturalistic Fairy Tale-Part XXX

And because we know that you may be less than appropriately scared about global warming we do now turn to what we have discovered from history. We ask that you not be distracted by Climategate, and listen carefully to what we have to tell you about the past.

We did discover a fossil in Antarctica of an animal that lived 252 million years ago.1 It was during the time when Pangea was whole, and the volcanoes did emit high amounts of greenhouse gasses. This gasification of the Earth did produce catastrophic global warming resulting in the death of 80-95 percent of life in the oceans and on land (Praise Science).

So, we do imagine that this fossil is of an animal that had no fur and “probably laid eggs.” We imagine it on the line between reptiles and mammals. We did find some related fossils in Africa, and therefore pieced together that these animals migrated south and lived with other animals that were probably the ancestors of mammals.

The team’s findings, published in the journal Naturwissenschaften, may offer insights into potential survival techniques for modern day animals threatened by climate change .

“Countless species are threatened by global warming today,” said Frobisch. “A prime example of a threatened species is the polar bear, whose habitat becomes increasingly smaller as a result of melting sea ice in the Arctic Circle.”

“However,” he added, “it is questionable whether the polar bear or other threatened animals can respond in the same way as Kombuisia did in the Permian, simply because human activities severely limit the animals’ possibilities.”

He concluded: “The primary lesson we should learn from the studies of extinction due to climate change in the past is that it is of utmost importance today to control and reverse human induced global warming by taking counteractive measures, such as greatly reducinggreenhouse gas emissions.”

Anyway, the animals and fossils are irrelevant, because the point is, if we don’t act soon, we’ll all be dead in a couple hundred years (Praise Science). Please don’t give up on being terrified of the environment, because Mother Earth is very angry at what you are doing to her. She will punish and probably kill you if you don’t straighten up and curtail your gaseous emissions.

1) Ancient animals escaped warming in Antarctica

More Complex than Previously Thought – Part XI – Simple Bacteria?

Because of their rigid adherence to a failed framework, Darwinists have continuously been surprised at the sophistication of even the simplest organisms.  The researchers examined mycoplasma pneumoniae and found the following.

The inner workings of a supposedly simple bacterial cell have turned out to be much more sophisticated than expected.

An in-depth “blueprint” of an apparently minimalist species has revealed details that challenge preconceptions about how genes operate. It also brings closer the day when it may be possible to create artificial life.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which causes a form of pneumonia in people, has just 689 genes, compared with 25,000 in humans and 4000 or more in most other bacteria. Now a study of its inner workings has revealed that the bacterium has uncanny flexibility and sophistication, allowing it to react fast to changes in its diet and environment.

“There were a lot of surprises,” says Peer Bork, joint head of the structural and computational biology unit at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. “Although it’s a very tiny genome, it’s much more complicated than we thought.”

The biggest shock was that the organism gets by with just eight gene “switches”, or transcription factors, compared with more than 50 in other bacteria such as Escherichia coli. Transcription factors are generally thought of as the key components enabling living things to respond to environmental conditions by switching genes on and off.

Another unexpected discovery was that bacterial genes grouped together in clumps or families called “operons” don’t work as had been thought. The assumption was that if there are four genes in an operon they always work in unison, but the new analyses show that only one, or perhaps two, operate at any one time.

Even more surprising, the proteins the genes make don’t necessarily always couple with their nearest neighbours – again contrary to previous assumptions. Instead, they often join up with proteins originating from other, distant operons, vastly increasing the bacterium’s flexibility and versatility when faced with a changed environment.

(1). ‘Simple’ bacterium shows surprising complexity, NewScientist, 11/26/09.

The God Gene Redux

Darwinists of all stripes can hardly refrain from evolutionary storytelling when it comes to human psychology.  Not surprisingly, they focus largely on their opponents–those who have faith in God.  The recent work by archeologists Joyce Marcus and Kent Flannery seems to follow the familiar template.1  Start with an actual study, then speculate wildly about how natural selection brought about the observed results.

During 15 years of excavation they have uncovered not some monumental temple but evidence of a critical transition in religious behavior. The record begins with a simple dancing floor, the arena for the communal religious dances held by hunter-gatherers in about 7,000 B.C. It moves to the ancestor-cult shrines that appeared after the beginning of corn-based agriculture around 1,500 B.C., and ends in A.D. 30 with the sophisticated, astronomically oriented temples of an early archaic state.

This and other research is pointing to a new perspective on religion, one that seeks to explain why religious behavior has occurred in societies at every stage of development and in every region of the world. Religion has the hallmarks of an evolved behavior, meaning that it exists because it was favored by natural selection. It is universal because it was wired into our neural circuitry before the ancestral human population dispersed from its African homeland.

For atheists, it is not a particularly welcome thought that religion evolved because it conferred essential benefits on early human societies and their successors. If religion is a lifebelt, it is hard to portray it as useless.

For believers, it may seem threatening to think that the mind has been shaped to believe in gods, since the actual existence of the divine may then seem less likely.

In case you missed it before, I think John Cleese’s work in this area is as good or better than any other Darwinist speculating in this area.


Whence Scientific Hypotheses?

Scientific hypotheses can come from anywhere at all (well actually just from an intelligent mind).  One important thing I learned about science in graduate school was, it did not matter where your hypothesis originated, it only mattered that it could be tested and falsified in a rigorous, repeatable, and measurable way.  Scientific notions can arise from any metaphysical framework or lack of a framework.  At the basis of creationism and naturalistic evolution are presumed metaphysical truths.  Quite possibly, neither of which can be falsified, leaving the resolution to be a matter of faith.  However, that does not prevent scientists from developing testable hypotheses that spring from those underlying beliefs.  One could argue that intelligent design has fewer metaphysical entanglements than either creationism or naturalistic evolution.  The point is that testable hypotheses may come from almost any underlying belief or idea, whereas the actual underlying belief or idea itself may not be a scientific hypothesis.

Paganism in Science

British biologist, James Lovelock, seems to view humanity as an infection of mommy Earth.  While many Darwinists may wish to crawl back into the womb of mommy nature, as mynym has noted, some want to eradicate the infection of humanity within their deified mother.

“Individuals occasionally suffer a disease called polycythaemia, an overpopulation of red blood cells. By analogy, Gaia’s illness could be called polyanthroponemia, where humans overpopulate until they do more harm than good,” Lovelock writes. He says the cure won’t come until the human tribe is trimmed back from its current 6.8 billion to, say, 1 billion people.

Others see mother nature as a mean woman who will take care of herself by killing us off when we get out of hand. Paleontologist Peter Ward seems to find this view of mommy more compelling.

“I hypothesize that life and its processes, together often referred to as ‘Mother Nature,’ was, is, and will be anything but a good mother to her many evolved and evolving species,” Ward contends in his new book, “The Medea Hypothesis.”

Gaia vs. Medea … that sounds like the start of a philosophical catfight.

Ward, however, says he’s not just trying to pick a fight with the 90-year-old Lovelock. “Most every scientist is trying to ‘pick a fight’ with another scientist,” he told me today. “We try to do it in a collegial fashion. … I’m trying to do science, but I’m also trying to point out that there has never been opposition in a formal sense – it’s been Gaia, Gaia, nothing but Gaia.”

So the scientific debate here seems to be whether mommy E is kindly, but infected, versus potty training conflicts projected onto the environment.

While Lovelock uses “Gaia” to refer to Earth’s biosphere as a kindly mother goddess, Ward uses “Medea” as a reference to the mother in Greek myth who killed her own children. Ward says life, like Medea, eventually sows the seeds of its own near-destruction – over and over again. “Life boils up and bubbles up, and through its own waste products and activities makes the planet no longer inhabitable,” he said.

So, the important question seems to be, shall mommy kill us with her flatus?

Ward’s “rotten-eggstinction” scenario begins with a shift in climate that sparks blooms of sulfur-loving microbes in the world’s oceans. Their belches of hydrogen sulfide – the gas commonly associated with rotten eggs – triggers a sequence of events that end with a global poisoning of marine and land species. (This scenario is detailed in Ward’s previous book, “Under a Green Sky.”)

In “The Medea Hypothesis,” Ward sketches out similar biocidal scenarios for other extinction events. He goes with the conventional wisdom that a huge asteroid touched off the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction that killed off the dinosaurs, but says continent-spanning forest fires most likely sparked a global winter that finished the job. Thus, he writes, “it could be argued that the effects of life magnified the extent of the extinction.”

One certainly hopes not! However, we must await the outcomes of future science to know for certain.


Recent Work in Creation Science

Jerry Bergman has written an article on CMI entitled, Did immune system antibody diversity evolve?

From the article:

The voluminous research on the evolution of the adaptive immune system describes in enormous detail both the similarities and differences between the immune systems of a wide variety of animals, but does not provide evidence for the evolution of these irreducibility complex systems. The complex, designed processes used to produce antibody diversity and then to fine tune the adaptive immune response are not evidence of Darwinian evolution, but rather of intelligent design.

Recent work has also shown that innate immune systems formerly thought to be very primitive are far more complex than once believed, blurring ‘traditional distinctions between adaptive and innate immunity.’38 Various phyla use ‘a remarkably extensive variety of solutions to meet fundamentally similar requirements for host protection.’37 The large discontinuity between the various means of generating immune system diversity in the animal kingdom makes it highly unlikely that one system could have evolved into another.

Creation scientists have also been hard at work in generating theoretical frameworks and hypotheses on a number of fronts.

1). A framework has been developed for explaining bacterial pathogenicity.

2). Fungi have been examined from a creationist perspective, and natural selection is considered as a process for the development of pathogenicity.  Similar to the first paper, evolutionary processes are considered corrupting influences of the original designs.

3). Initial work has been done on developing a field of creation microbiology.  Promising areas for future research and practical applications are also considered.

While those who pontificate about the absence of any real scientific progress being made from a creationist perspective, creation scientists are laying the groundwork for biological studies, and are generating testable scientific hypotheses.  Whereas materialist scientist do not often recognize their metaphysical assumptions, creationist scientists and IDers are generally much more aware of the metaphysical assumptions of science on both sides of the issue.