This one’s also from the Christian Post and was part of a request by a creationist who took umbrage to my posts on evolution. Upon insisting that these 5 Christian Arguments are solid, and that had Ken Ham pulled these out, Bill Nye would have crumbled.
I was intruiged, because I came up with a similar argument. With regards to the anti-vaccine “debate”, I found that asking anti-vax about the basics of how the human immune system functioned would often cause them to stop talking altogether as there is no real response to it that supports an anti-vax standpoint.
So it is with interest we delve into this creationist equivalent of the ultimate weapon.
“My objection to the format of the debate, is that it’s Ken Ham verses Bill Nye, and I want people to know that there are more options out there,” Jack Collins, professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, told The Christian Post in an interview Thursday. Collins, who also served as Old Testament chair on the translation committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible, argued that the most important argument for Christianity and science is not the age of the earth, but the Christian foundations of science itself.
Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, and a leading voice of the intelligent design movement, argued that Ken Ham made a grievous tactical error by focusing on the age of the earth rather than the weaknesses of evolution. “Ken Ham has made a very significant mistake by focusing on that subsidiary issue and giving Darwinists a pass on the more significant issue that there is evidence for design,” Meyer explained.
Jay Richards, senior fellow at The Discovery Institute, noted, “The target audience was Christians who aren’t yet young earth creationists. That’s a rhetorical mistake when you’re debating somebody like Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy.’” Richards is co-author of The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.
Below, follow five of the arguments Collins, Meyer, and Richards made to enhance the faith and science debate.
Let’s delve into them….
1. The Evidence for Design
Apologist, scholar, and intelligent design advocate Jay Richards presenting his new book, “Infiltrated: How to Stop the Insiders and Activists Who are Exploiting the Financial Crisis to Control Our Lives and Our Fortunes,” at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, August 15, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
“When we focus on the age of the Earth, we lose sight of all the evidence in nature for intelligent design,” Richards argued. He listed the information in the cell, the origin of life, “mind, consciousness, our knowledge of moral truths – all of these things weigh in favor of intelligent design or maybe even theism.” Richards explained that the complexity of life, and the existence of human reason, seem more likely products of design than random chance.
Meyer agreed. “There is, I think, compelling evidence for intelligent design, and very little of that evidence was proposed in Tuesday night’s debate.” The intelligent design leader further lamented this failing, saying, “It seems really unfortunate for Ken Ham and others to make the young earth not only a point of orthodoxy but also the main argument they present the secular world which is wondering whether or not there is any evidence of design at all.”
The evidence for design is illusory. The notion that a clear repeating pattern is evidence of a divine engineer. The information in the cell is self replicating and does not require an intelligent designer merely because you cannot understand how it came to be. Neither is abiogenesis.
And the mind and consciousness are the operating system of our chemical brain. That to me is more wonderful than any divine mind. The mind is malleable and we know this. There are plenty of unfortunate souls who have had strokes and head injuries who have helped progress our understanding of the mind to know that the structure of the brain is vital to the mind and that our mind is merely an illusive concept brought about by trying to separate the physical structure of our brain and the metaphysics of our consciousness. The fact that we have people here attributing a natural process to a divine engineer who hates prawns is testament to the fact that human reason is not perfect and that reasonable humans can believe in unreasonble things.
Ken Ham is honest in his creationism, he believes in it because he is a literalist. The old earth creationist is a different beast. A man who has claimed that the age of the Earth is allegory but we were created by magic.
2. The Weakness of Darwinism
“Just at the time when the standard Neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is on the ropes, we’re focusing on this subsidiary issue” of the age of the Earth, Meyer said. He argued that the modern theory of evolution “is in its death throes,” referring to his book Darwin’s Doubt, which lists the different ways Darwin’s theory is failing and how biologists are searching for new theories.
Bio-Chemists “are working on new theories of evolution because they know the mutation mechanism has very little power,” Meyer explained. The Neo-Darwinian view, which argued for “an unguided, undirected biological process which presented the appearance of design,” is increasingly untenable, which creates a tremendous opportunity for proponents of design, Meyer said.
The fact you used the term “Darwinism” is testament to the fact that you know precious little about the topic.
Darwin’s theory was not perfect. It was bereft of a mechanism. Survival of the fittest is not the issue either. Fitness is determined by survival. That which survives is fit.
So there are creatures that die to pass on their genes like salmon. There are creatures like male birds whose plumage gets them killed and the risk of death is perfectly fine as long as they breed.
And Meyer is a fool if he thinks that a mutation has very little power. A single mutation can kill you. One single germline mutation is all there is to a genetic defect. And small changes to a genome give Beta-Lactam resistant Bacteria their capacity to beat penicillins.
Meyer’s statement is a hopeless lack of understanding of genetics. And the literal throwaway of the cornerstone of evolution.
3. The Bible and Old Earth Creationism
One of Ken Ham’s major arguments hinged on a “literal” reading of Genesis 1, that the world was created in six twenty-four hour days. Collins argued that this is not supported by the biblical text.
In Genesis 2, which has traditionally been seen as an expansion of the sixth day of creation, there were no plants on the land until God made it rain. This, Collins explained, is a reference to the climate cycle in Mesopotamia. “You need to have the climate cycle to be in effect for at least one year – that tells you that the creation period is longer than a regular week.”
Another problem with the six 24-hour day interpretation is the fourth day. “In day one, you have God saying ‘let there be light’ and then in day four you have the sun, the moon, and stars,” Collins explained. Then there’s the issue of God’s rest on the days of creation – the Bible scholar argued that this is “an analogical presentation, because God doesn’t really get tired and need rest as we do.”
Many Christians – especially Ken Ham – argue that no animals died previous to Adam’s sin, because Scripture says that death entered the world with sin. But Collins explained that the Bible does not portray animal death as an evil. Rather, it celebrates it in Psalm 104:21, which praises God for giving lions their food. “Biblically, the death of humans is the problem, the death of animals is not.”
This is literally like watching two Harry Potter fans argue over the minutae of their book.
The only difference is that Harry Potter fans realise their book is an act of fiction and do so for their pleasure rather than to insert Dumbledore into our children.
4. Christianity Supports Science
Collins said if he were given the opportunity to debate Bill Nye, he would start out “by insisting that the Christian faith gives us grounds for scientific enterprise because it assures us that the God who made the world also made our minds so we can understand the world and manipulate it.” Christianity presents an understanding of the world uniquely suited for scientific discovery.
Meyer agreed, referring to the history of science. “It is a widely recognized point by leading historians of science that science in its modern form came out of an early Christian milieu that the world would submit itself to rational investigation precisely because the world had been made by a rational creator who had also made our minds,” he said. Christians in the late medieval period investigated nature “to figure out how God put it together because they realized God was free and could have made it any number of ways.”
Which ignores the countless scientific advances that were stymied by the Church if they tread on the feet of their god. Or that the declaration of some aspects of creation as sacred will eventually have real science run up against those constraints and demand to know what is so sacred about those things.
This ignores the scientific knowledge that was effectively crushed by religion or the fact that the divine attitude towards evolution would in effect stop all biology and that includes medicine where an understanding of genetics has revolutionised our attitude to disease.
The fact remains that evolution means we share a genetic code. Which allows us to make drugs like insulin from genetically modified bacteria. This would be impossible if humans were a unique and divine creature rather than something that evolved from a common ancestor.
5. The Miracle of Life
Collins argued that science should follow wherever the evidence leads. “There certainly seems to be a discontinuity at the beginning of biological life,” he claimed, and “nobody in science actually has a better explanation than the idea that something special happened.” If Christians call it a miracle, “a biologist doesn’t have any grounds to disagree with that.”
The gulf between human beings and other animals is similar, the biblical scholar explained. “There is not a chimpanzee or dolphin scientist,” he quipped. He argued that the uniqueness of humans – who alone reason, make conscious choices, and investigate nature – is “fantastic” and “should fill us with wonder.”
“I would want somebody to understand that I as a Christian think that science is cool,” Collins concluded. “God likes it and He wants me to like it.”
Yes. Yes we do.
We don’t know how abiogenesis has occurred. We do not know if life is found in other parts of our own solar system, let alone other planets. We are going to assume it’s a natural process since the alternative is to say “it was magic” and that is stupid. Nothing else turned out to be magic and experiments show that it is very much possible that it is a natural process.
If Christians call it a miracle then Christians are ignorant. They are taking a little understood process and saying that we cannot fathom it so we should call it a miracle since that is what supports our divine view of the world. Do not seek the knowledge.
It is not an alternative. If “Jehovah” is an alternative then so is Allah or Brahma and I bet you would balk at the idea of Hindu creationists. The fact of the matter is, evolution and biology is a sticking point for religion because this brings life out of the notion of divinity and into the idea that life is just another natural thing.
It is a fear that we will no longer be special or unique. Just a small being on a planet in an uncaring galaxy in a universe. And we cannot fathom how impotent that makes us.
But that is because we demand in our arrogance that the stars spin to tell us about our love lives. That all of the universe was created for some hairless apes to hate prawns and Elton John. These are terrible arguments, arguments made from a position of ignorance about the reality of evolution and science.