Where do Satan et al. publish, anyway?

I am sometimes accused of having a sense of humor. This base canard is completely unfounded; I merely have great material sent to me. For example, this is an actual abstract for a paper given at the 2004 Baramin Study Group conference. Just try to read it without laughing out loud.

The Origins of Natural Evil
Gordon Wilson
New St. Andrews College

In a cursory survey of life it is obvious that a vast number of species spanning most kingdoms and phyla have features that are teleologically designed to deal out disease and/or death. Many pathogens, parasites, and predators have sophisticated genetic, morphological, and behavioral arsenals (natural evil) that clearly testify to the God’s eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1: 20), i.e. they are not the result of mutation and natural mutation.

These range from the bacterial type III secretion systems, the cnidarian nematocysts, the toxoglossate radula and apparatus of Conus, the parasitic physiology of Wuchereria bancrofti, the piercing/sucking mouthparts of predaceous insects, and the solenoglyphous skull, pit organs, and venom apparatus of pit vipers. Scripture states that: 1) every green plant was given for food (Genesis 1:30), 2) death and disease are a consequence of sin (Genesis 2:17), and 3) creation was completed on the sixth day (Genesis 2:1). The following six scenarios attempt to explain the presence of natural evil in the biological world from a young earth creationist framework. I will then assess them in light of these aforementioned biblical truths.

At creation creatures that were to become pathogens, parasites, and predators:

  1. had dual gene sets: (such as in holometabola: larva, pupa, and adult) one gene set for benign morphology and behavior (sinless contingency) and one for malignant morphology and behavior (Fall contingency) with only the benign genes sets expressed prior to the Fall.

  2. had malignant morphological gene sets expressed for an imminent preordained (or fore-known) Fall, with no usage prior to the Fall. Malignant behavioral gene sets expressed after the Fall.

  3. had the same malignant morphology before and after the Fall, however benign usage was normative before the Fall. After the Fall micro-evolutionary factors altered benign behavior into malignant behavior.

  4. were morphologically and behaviorally benign and then subsequent to the Fall malignant genes were designed, created, and incorporated into the genome of certain creatures transforming them into pathogens, parasites, and predators.

  5. were subject to random mutation and natural selection after the Fall transforming their benign gene sets into malignant gene sets. The latter were not designed by God.

  6. were completely benign in all respects but at the Fall the enemy (Satan, et. al.) engaged in post-Fall genetic modification and/or bestiality that resulted in creatures with malignant behavior and morphology.

I will argue that the two scenarios that are the most harmonious with both scripture and the scientific data are 1) and 2). Any scenario attributing the presence of these highly complex morphological and behavioral arsenals to random mutation and natural selection is granting creative powers to mindless processes (this is no better than atheistic evolution). Any scenario that attributes these complex arsenals to God’s creative power yet shifts their time of origin to a post-Fall creative act, contradicts the finished creation on day six. Finally, any scenario that attributes these complex arsenals to Satan et. al., attributes too much creative power and intelligence to the powers of darkness.

I’ve been grading too many student papers. Did anyone else feel an urge to fix that citation he keeps making to Satan et al. to something like, Satan et al. (4004 BCE)?


  1. Gordon Wilson says

    Gordon Wilson:

    Actually welcome.

    Thanks, Caymen. I didn’t ditch out for good. I was at church today (what a surprise!), drove a friend to the airport, and had a psalm sing this evening.

    It’s nice to meet a friendly adversary. Someone you can actually communicate with, define terms, and generate more light than heat. Many of the above are only interested in taking a phrase out of context and then amuse themselves by heaping abuse through ad hominem in one short post. I have debated an evolutionary biologist several times from Washington State University and his demeanor (like yours) was always civil, respectful, and polite. We strongly disagree but always shake hands afterward. I have also had an evolutionary biologist over for dinner from the University of Idaho (we had a great time). Now for a quick response to the post you asked me to respond to first.

    Who painted the images in the Lascaux caves (estimated radiologically to be around 16,000 years old) and how old are they really (according to you)?
    Who created the images on Ayers Rock, and when? Were they on the ark, too? [Archaeological findings to the east and west of Uluru indicate that humans settled in the area more than 10,000 years ago]

    I would like to respond generally regarding radiometric dating. YEC biologists obviously don’t accept the dates copiously published by evolutionists. We don’t reject the data; we simply have a different set of starting assumptions (presuppositions) when interpreting the data. We don’t buy some or all (depending on the dating method)certain assumptions accepted by uniformitarian scientists. These assumptions include, with regard to radiometric dating:
    1. at time zero, there was only parent and no daughter.
    2. decay rates remain constant.
    3. system has remained closed.
    If these assumptions are correct, then the dates are correct. The problem is, there is no absolute way to know if these assumptions are correct since we can’t observe the initial conditions or the history of a particular sample or formation. We are simply doing some critical thinking. Sure we have a bias but so do evolutionists. Geochronologists often want to know what they are dating (i.e. what are the index fossils?). Why? That gives them a target period (Jurassic, Ordovician, etc.) to shoot for (looks biased to me). Evolutionists interpret data usually using uniformitarianism; we usually use catastrophism. There is no way to objectively figure out the unobserved past with out relying on unprovable assumptions.


  2. Sven DiMilo says

    We can’t know for sure, so we can ignore whatever data we don’t agree with and accept any old story? What about parsimony?

  3. Steve_C says

    So glad Gordon came to defend his work with complete bullshit. He not only ignores geology but physics and astronomy. Gordon you start with the supposition that the bible matters or is scientifically relevant. It isn’t. Stick to the choir. Science isn’t your bag.

  4. says

    When rocks are tested, it’s not just one technique but several. So when several tests all with different decay rates show approximately the same time frame, does that not add validity to the process of dating? Likewise when relative dating and absolute dating both correspond with consistent results, again does that not give validity to the idea that radiometric dating has validity? And when the oldest rocks date to over 4 billion years – that’s over 700,000 times older than what YECs age the earth at, would the error margins presented in those techniques really preclude an old earth interpretation? And finally, when we see light form galaxies that are over 13 billion light years away, does not the principle of parsimony call for the age of the earth to be relatively consistent with the universe it resides in?

    It feels like all you are doing is pointing out the limitations of the methodology as flaws by which it can all be dismissed.

  5. Owlmirror says

    These assumptions include, with regard to radiometric dating:

    There are 40 different dating methods, radiometric and non-radiometric. Your so-called “assumptions”, as well as many other potential problems, are known and accounted for, as described here:

     → Radiometric Dating : A Christian Perspective
     → http://www.asa3.org/ASA/RESOURCES/WIENS.html

    1. at time zero, there was only parent and no daughter.

    Citing from the above paper (Wiens 2002):

     → 10. To date a rock one must know the original amount of the parent element. But there is no way to measure how much parent element was originally there.

     → It is very easy to calculate the original parent abundance, but that information is not needed to date the rock. All of the dating schemes work from knowing the present abundances of the parent and daughter isotopes. The original abundance N0, of the parent is simply N0 = N ekt, where N is the present abundance, t is time, and k is a constant related to the half life.

     → 11. There is little or no way to tell how much of the decay product, that is, the daughter isotope, was originally in the rock, leading to anomalously old ages.

     → A good part of this article is devoted to explaining how one can tell how much of a given element or isotope was originally present. Usually it involves using more than one sample from a given rock. It is done by comparing the ratios of parent and daughter isotopes relative to a stable isotope for samples with different relative amounts of the parent isotope. For example, in the rubidium-strontium method one compares rubidium-87/strontium-86 to strontium-87/strontium-86 for different minerals. From this one can determine how much of the daughter isotope would be present if there had been no parent isotope. This is the same as the initial amount (it would not change if there were no parent isotope to decay). Figures 4 and 5, and the accompanying explanation, tell how this is done most of the time. While this is not absolutely 100% foolproof, comparison of several dating methods will always show whether the given date is reliable.

    2. decay rates remain constant.

    Citing from the above paper (Wiens 2002):

     → 2. No one has measured the decay rates directly; we only know them from inference.

     → Decay rates have been directly measured over the last 40-100 years. In some cases a batch of the pure parent material is weighed and then set aside for a long time and then the resulting daughter material is weighed. In many cases it is easier to detect radioactive decays by the energy burst that each decay gives off. For this a batch of the pure parent material is carefully weighed and then put in front of a Geiger counter or gamma-ray detector. These instruments count the number of decays over a long time.

     → 4. The decay rates are poorly known, so the dates are inaccurate.

     → Most of the decay rates used for dating rocks are known to within two percent. Uncertainties are only slightly higher for rhenium (5%), lutetium (3%), and beryllium (3%), discussed in connection with Table 1. Such small uncertainties are no reason to dismiss radiometric dating. Whether a rock is 100 million years or 102 million years old does not make a great deal of difference.

     → 5. A small error in the half-lives leads to a very large error in the date.

     → Since exponents are used in the dating equations, it is possible for people to think this might be true, but it is not. If a half-life is off by 2%, it will only lead to a 2% error in the date.

     → 6. Decay rates can be affected by the physical surroundings.

     → This is not true in the context of dating rocks. Radioactive atoms used for dating have been subjected to extremes of heat, cold, pressure, vacuum, acceleration, and strong chemical reactions far beyond anything experienced by rocks, without any significant change. The only exceptions, which are not relevant to dating rocks, are discussed under the section, “Doubters Still Try”, above.

     → 8. The decay rates might be slowing down over time, leading to incorrect old dates.

     → There are two ways we know this didn’t happen: a) we have checked them out with “time machines”, and b) it doesn’t make sense mathematically. Both of these points are explained in the section titled, “Can We Really Believe the Dating Systems?”

    3. system has remained closed.

    What does this even mean?

    Evolutionists interpret data usually using uniformitarianism; we usually use catastrophism. There is no way to objectively figure out the unobserved past with out relying on unprovable assumptions.

    False. The age of the Earth is a conclusion based on the evidence. If by “Catastrophism” you mean “Global Flood and other similar massive sudden world-wide Earth changes a few thousand years ago”, then “Catastrophism” has been proven false, many times and in many ways. Catastrophes leave evidence. While there were and are earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and other geological catastrophes in the past and present, geologists know of them and can see the evidence they leave behind. They do not magically happen and then leave no evidence.

    There is no evidence of a global flood ever, or massive sudden world-wide Earth changes a few thousand years ago. None.

    Young Earth Creationism is proven false.

  6. Steven Sullivan says

    Africangenesis wrote:
    “Life exists and it has been good at evolving for a few hundred million years. ”

    Based on best estimates today of when life began, you’re off by an order of magnitude: life’s been evolving for ~3.5 billion years.

  7. Rey Fox says

    “Just because you can’t imagine it doesn’t mean it’s false.”

    In fact, given the trajectory of scientific discoveries over the last two hundred years or so, I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that if you CAN imagine it, it’s most likely false. No, you have to tax your brain a bit more to actually understand things.

  8. Bitchfinder General says

    “These range from the bacterial type III secretion systems…”

    Nice to see creationists acknowledging the existence of the type 3 secretory system, but this begs the question: is it irreducibly complex?

  9. clinteas says

    We don’t reject the data; we simply have a different set of starting assumptions (presuppositions) when interpreting the data

    A creationist admiting their presuppositons are influencing their interpretation of the data !
    But,but,shouldnt we go where the evidence leads us??

  10. Africangenesis says

    Steven Sullivan#506,

    No, my point was that life has been “good” at evolving for only a few hundred million years. It evidently took far longer for the properties I mentioned that enabled that evolvability to take shape.

  11. says

    Soooo, God designed a bunch of creatures to be non-predatory, non-viscious, friendly little bunnies. However, because he foresaw the ‘FALL’, he also gave them recessive genes that could become dominant at that point. But if he could foresee the ‘FALL’, why didn’t he do something to stop it? Why did he design stuff to work one way, knowing full well that it would HAVE to end up working another way. Sees like very stupid design to me.

  12. Knockgoats says

    Hey brokenSoldier @ 235
    Can you explain why you think my blog entry is bullshit?
    Intelligent Designer

    I can answer that: brokenSoldier thinks your blog entry is bulllshit because it is bullshit; and he’s well able to recognise bullshit when presented with it. Any more questions?

  13. Marion DelgadoC. says

    C.S. Lewis was EXACTLY this stupid about EXACTLY these topics. And he threw in his own laundry list of reactionary crap bashing anything and everything he considered liberal, too.

    But since he did the Narnia books and they’re not badly written, he gets excused a lot.

  14. CJO says

    Geochronologists often want to know what they are dating (i.e. what are the index fossils?). Why? That gives them a target period (Jurassic, Ordovician, etc.) to shoot for (looks biased to me).

    Appreciation for consilience is not evidence of bias. However, special pleading for a favored (unparsimonious) conclusion, against consilient results across fields, is clear evidence of bias. If god made the universe in such a way as to appear to be one way to empirical investigation but is actually some other way, what should scientists do about that? Subscribe to your idiosyncratic interpretation of one particular religious text? It’s absurd.

  15. says

    It may surprise you all, but I too think this paper is ridiculous.

    It rests its foundation upon the idea that God is infinitely “good”, by human standards, when the Bible explains the exact opposite. As it is written:

    Isaiah 45:7
    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    Yet these liberal, Bible-ignoring nominal Christians claim that God is only “good”, by their own standard of what is “good”, and claim that Satan, who was created by God, is the “creator” of evil! They take the glory away from God!

    Good is what God decides is good. His opinion is the only one which matters. God made malaria; therefore, it is good. He made tapeworms; therefore, they are good. He made Britney Spears . . . but she allowed herself to be corrupted. (Thought you had me, didn’t you?) Etc.

    This Gordon Wilson’s bizarre logical contortions only show that he is weak in his faith. I have no doubt this is something God does NOT think is good.

  16. Caymen Paolo says


    You wrote:

    “The problem is, there is no absolute way to know if these assumptions are correct since we can’t observe the initial conditions or the history of a particular sample or formation.”

    But since then others have written back (I had to work in the meantime) and pretty thoroughly laid out the interlocking evidence for radiological dating — even finding the paper by Wiens particularly addressed at christian doubts that tackles each in turn.

    As you contend there’s no absolute way to know these assumptions are correct as there wasn’t an eye witness to watch these rocks over the billions of years, however all the independent dating methods point to pretty much the same ages and the conclusions are based upon many independent methods beyond radiological dating. — The weight of evidence — any contradicting conclusion would have to have evidence as strong. In English absolute does mean absolute, but the evidence comes so close to it that you couldn’t tell the difference. Have you read Jerry Coynes new book? — “Why Evolution is True”

    Of your remaining three assumptions above:

    1) Wiens shows that dating methods are not dependent upon “all father and no daughter.”

    2) Decay rates are known sufficiently accurate to discriminate between a 6000 year rock and a 4 billion year rock. That does not of course preclude a hypothetical god from having arbitrarily changed things half way through, but the simpler explanation is the more likely without any evidence to the contrary, don’t you think?

    3) Wiens specifically addressed the “system remains closed.” Under any conceivable circumstance other than conscious meddling these dating system are dealing with effectively closed systems.

    The simpler answer (parsimony) is that things are as we have observed them and have remained the same. It would seem that your arguments could only work if a god came in and actively changed decay rates or messed with the closed system. Is that how you invoke “catastrophism?”

    In order to persuade us that this complicated answer was reasonable you’d have to produce evidence of a catastrophy that changes the assumptions

    What would that evidence be?

  17. D. Anaya says

    to Paliban Mom #516,

    I vote you off the island as PZ suggested in another thread.

    Bible-Babble won’t get you very far here.

  18. Mike Fish says

    This article gave me an epiphany of sorts… this nonsense makes L. Ron Hubbard almost readable… but not really.

  19. Some guy says

    It’s cute how the eloquent Gordon Wilson suddenly went MIA instead of countering the arguments. I guess he very well could overlook an elephant in a room too…

  20. says

    Sadly, I came by this a few weeks to late to have truly enjoyed the fun! Where do I begin? As a demon journalist I suffer from two potentially fatal cases of bad public relations. Do keep up the good work for Reason and Science young man as they are your only hope on Terra.

    Qu’ul cuda praedex nihil!

    Cavalor Epthith, Esquire, D.S.V.J.
    Summa cum laude
    Universtije di Dis
    Class of 1622
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