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

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Evolution: A Theory of Change? The Case of the Octopus.

Octopus fossil with modern comparison

Octopus fossil with modern comparison

Paleontologists recently discovered a fossil of an octopus and attributed an age of 95 million years (late Cretaceous) to the specimen.(1) They noted that:

“These things are 95 million years old, yet one of the fossils is almost indistinguishable from living species.” [EurekAlert] The fossils provide an extraordinary glimpse into the evolutionary history of the creatures, pushing back the birth of the modern octopus millions of years.

The fact that these fossils exist is a small miracle of science and a big victory for paleontologists and evolutionist alike.

Well, praise Science. It’s not quite a bunny in the Cambrian, but it would seem to me to be problematic at best for a theory of change. I suppose we are to believe that the right mix of blind processes and necessity were somehow kept at bay for this creature, or that it is a perfect adesign.(2) In other words, this creature has been in the punctuated stage of punctuated equilibrium for 95 million years.

What’s also interesting about the octopus is that Darwinists have claimed that the eyes of the octopus and human eyes evolved

Human to Octopus Eye Comparison

Human to Octopus Eye Comparison

independently.(3) They even go so far to note that the octopus eye shows that the human eye is poorly designed, as I’ve noted previously, despite obvious problems with that explanation.(4) The assertion is that a completely different set of blind circumstances results in technology with all the major functional parts in common.  What makes a great deal more sense is common design by a single Designer. Either that, or mother nature is smarter than you are.  Or as the old saying goes, “Evolution is smarter than you are.”(5)

Interestingly, the phrase is intended to be a rejoinder to the purported logical problem often attributed to IDists and Creationists who claim that blind processes are incapable of producing things of such complexity (i.e., argument from lack of imagination).  The trouble is, that it’s the same old attribution of sentience to blind processes, and the fact of the matter is, some things do not occur through blind processes.  Car parts in a junkyard will not assemble into a brand new car no matter what natural forces act upon those parts regardless of the number of billions of years given to do so.  Similarly, blind processes cannot lead to sentience or sight, but Darwinists will continue to follow that blind watchmaker no matter how incapable she may be.  All the while, they will marvel at her creativity and astounding abilities to create everything from nothing.

    References

(1). Against the odds ancient octopus fossils discovered
(2). Darwinists on Design: Jumping to Confusions
(3). Comparative Analysis of Gene Expression for Convergent Evolution of Camera Eye Between Octopus and Human
(4). An eye for creation
(5). Orgel’s rule

Other Interesting Reads:
Octopus–Beautiful AND Intelligent

The Intelligence of Mother Nature

Darwinists frequently engage in the personification of nature (i.e., they utilize language suggesting sentience).  In a recent press release, they do it again.(1)  There are a number of conceptual problems with the following statement:

He and his co-author, postdoctoral researcher Minglei Wang, were interested in tracing how proteins make use of their domains, or groups of domains, to accomplish various tasks. These domains or domain clusters can be thought of as “modules” that fit together in various ways to achieve different ends.

The attribution of accomplishing various tasks to molecules is problematic.  The molecules of course have no sentience, planning abilities, and so forth.  They are molecules and do not think, feel, or reason.  Yet, purpose and achievement are attributed to molecules.  This makes sense if you are working from an ID perspective, but the language is not appropriate to a non-design perspective.

They continue in a similar vein:

“As time progressed, these domains started to combine with others and they became very specialized,” Caetano-Anollés said. This eventually led to the big bang of protein architectures.

“Exactly at the time of the big bang,” many of the combined domains began to split apart, creating numerous single-domain modules again, he said. But these new modules were much more efficient and specialized than their ancient predecessors had been.

“This makes a lot of sense,” Caetano-Anollés said. “As you become more complex, you would want to fine-tune things, to do things in a more tailored way.”

As if the big bang materialist cosmology story were not enough, we now invoke it in biology.  It seemed to work fairly well for them in cosmology, why not try it in biology too?  But that’s beside the point.  So, we continue with the attribution of sentience to matter.    “…you would want to fine-tune things, to do things in a more tailored way.”  That’s what I would be thinking if I were a bacteria for certain, but this is a nonsensical way of describing material processes.

I think this goes to a deeper issue.  That is that biology does not make sense outside of the concept of design.  The language to understand and explore the functions of proteins does not exist in blind materialist terms.  The reason is that these things are designed, and must be understood from that conceptual framework.

Access Research Network also has a good post on the language problem faced by Darwinian evolutionists.(2)

(1). Study of protein structures reveals key events in evolutionary history
(2). Darwinists on Design: Jumping to Confusions

Hat Tip: Creation-Evolution Headlines

ID is False; ID is not Falsifiable: Which is it?

Dickie D, and another fellow discuss evolution in this video.  They start off talking about the eye, and state that it is not designed because it is poorly designed.  In other words, they claim this falsifies ID.  Which is interesting given that Darwinists state that ID is not science and not falsifiable.  Then also interestingly, they claim that the octopus eye does not have these design flaws.  But that’s okay, evolution can explain that too. Then, Dickie’s friend, I assume he’s an MD, tries to lay out how Darwinism informs medical decision making.  I think they both probably think that those who would view things from an ID perspective would not conceptually consider the functions of medical symptoms.  This is basically a teleological view of symptoms, which is not entailed by a Darwinian perspective, and certainly comports with an ID perspective.

Humorously, they continue to use the word Design throughout the video, and engage in the typical anthropomorphism of Darwinists when talking about natural selection.

Naturalism is true; therefore, evolution is a fact

At the conclusion of the series of essays on DarwinsPredictions.com, the author summarizes the viewpoint of Darwinists through the relevant philosophical assumptions.  The gist is that naturalism is seen as metaphysically true; therefore, through the process of elimination, evolution is true.  The question from this perspective cannot be, “Did evolution occur?”  It can only be, “How did it occur?”

The irony here is that evolutionists make naturalism unscientific according to their own criterion of testability. This is because naturalistic explanations are the only explanations that are allowed. They therefore cannot be tested because they are true by definition. The only testing that can be done is between different sub-hypotheses of naturalism. Gradualism can be compared with punctuated equilibrium, drift can be compared with selection, and so forth. But naturalism has been defined as the only scientific option available.

Imagine if the species were designed, as they appear to be. Imagine that the DNA code, the bat’s sonar system, the towering redwood trees, and the other biological wonders were designed. If this were true, it would never be allowed within evolutionary science. How can evolutionists claim their theory is a fact while simultaneously ruling out certain explanations? They can do this by allowing for only scientific explanations to be factual. The world outside of science may be beautiful, awesome, intriguing, enchanting, and so forth, but it is not factual. In a word, science deals with facts while non-science deals with values.

So the basis, the philosophical underpinnings, of their position is untestable, and is, therefore, unscientific by their own criteria. Science, it seems, lacks a definition apart from philosophical naturalism, which is held as a metaphysical truth…a metaphysical “truth,” which is untestable.

In the century and a half since Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, science has discovered a plethora of contradictory information. Many predictions of the theory have been falsified, including foundational expectations. The theory has consistently failed and as a consequence it has grown far more complex than anything Darwin ever envisioned. Evolution is not a good scientific theory and in this sense it is comparable to geocentrism. Both theories grew ever more complicated in response to the evidences of the natural world, adding epicycle upon epicycle.

In stark contrast to these evidential problems, evolutionists believe that their theory is a fact. Evolution is a fact, they say, just as gravity is fact. This remarkable claim is an indicator that there is more to evolution than merely a scientific theory. In light of the scientific evidence, the claim that evolution is a fact may seem to be absurd. But it is not.

The fact of evolution is a necessary consequence of the metaphysical assumptions evolutionists make. Metaphysical assumptions are assumptions that do not derive from science. They are made independent of science. These metaphysical assumptions that evolutionists make would be difficult to defend as necessarily true outside of evolutionary circles, but within evolution their truth is not controversial. All of this means that the scientific problems with evolution are relegated to questions of how evolution occurred. The science cannot bear on questions of whether or not evolution occurred.

Supervenience Physicalism and the Darwinian Mind

The notion of supervenience is that, “A set of properties A supervenes upon another set B just in case no two things can differ with respect to A-properties without also differing with respect to their B-properties. In slogan form, “there cannot be an A-difference without a B-difference”. (1) So, this notion when combined with physicalism is the assertion that all mental activity is reducible to physical causes. In other words, there is nothing that happens on a mental level without a supervening physical change in the brain. This does not allow for mental changes to affect the physical only the other way around.

Superveniences establish such a relationship between the mental and the physical, so that any change in the mental is caused by a change in the physical. Just as a shadow is dependent upon the position of the object causing it, so is the mental dependent upon the physical. (2)

Logically, the notion of supervenience physicalism is the default explanation of the mind from a Darwinian perspective. There is research; however, that goes against this notion (3,4). In other words, there is evidence that changes in the “mental state” affect the physical state of the brain.

Darwinists may purport determinism and physicalism in general arguments, but when applied to their own experiences and thoughts, they often balk. The essential problem for them from this framework is that their beliefs in Darwinism are nothing but illusory experiences supervened by physical processes in their brains. Their belief that they are rational scientists, or thinkers, is nothing but the result of complex biochemical processes, which results in the illusion that they have rationally selected among alternative worldviews or interpretations of data.

Many Darwinists, when faced with this type of argument, will retreat from a position of physicalism. Even Darwinists are distressed by, and most often don’t believe in, the notion that their mental processes are fully determined by physical substrates. In fact, they must retreat from this position, because it refutes their notion that they are rational in their abilities to evaluate evidence, or that they have freely chosen their worldviews.

(1). http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/supervenience/
(2). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism
(3). The Mind and The Brain
(4). The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul

Even the Unmeasurable Points to Design

IT’S not just the nature of dark matter that’s a mystery – even its abundance is inexplicable. But if our universe is just one of many possible universes, at least this conundrum can be explained.(1)

Indeed. It’s a conundrum for an anti-design perspective. From an ID and theological perspective, it’s not surprising that even the quantity of this material points to design. The notion from the anti-design perspective is that “common sense doesn’t work.” Fine. Sometimes it doesn’t. But, I don’t think people even have to rely on “common sense” to support a design perspective. You can rely on logic, philosophy, and scientific reasoning to support a design perspective. It just happens that these perspectives can also correspond with “common sense.” The same cannot be said for an anti-design perspective.

The total amount of dark matter – the unseen stuff thought to make up most of the mass of the universe – is five to six times that of normal matter. This difference sounds pretty significant, but it could have been much greater, because the two types of matter probably formed via radically different processes shortly after the big bang. The fact that the ratio is so conducive to a life-bearing universe “looks like a tremendous coincidence”, says Raphael Bousso at the University of California, Berkeley.

It does look like a “tremendous coincidence.” Thankfully, purely naturalistic scientists have an out. Of course it can’t be verified. Of course it can’t be measured. But it doesn’t start with a “g” or even a “G.” Therefore, it makes rational sense, and is science.

Freivogel focused on one of the favoured candidate-particles for dark matter, the axion. Axions have the right characteristics to be dark matter, but for one problem: a certain property called its “misalignment angle”, which would have affected the amount of dark matter produced in the early universe. If this property is randomly determined, in most cases it would result in a severe overabundance of dark matter, leading to a universe without the large-scale structure of clusters of galaxies. To result in our universe, it has to be just the right value.

In a multiverse, each universe will have a random value for the axion’s misalignment angle, giving some universes the right amount of dark matter needed to give rise to galaxies, stars, planets and life as we know it.

Praise Science that they have an alternative explanation. “So what?” if it is unmeasurable, untestable, and unfalsifiable. It doesn’t involve any kind of “G” word (a scientific explicative). It sounds good, and appeals to Science Fiction; therefore, it’s science.

(1) http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026854.800-universes-dark-matter-mix-is-just-right-for-life.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news