Friday, March 31, 2006

Global Warming: Be Worried. Be Very Worried

Global Warming: Be Worried. Be Very Worried

Global Warming: Be Worried. Be Very Worried, TIME Magazine, March 31, 2006, Jeffrey Kluger, Cover Story [I was going to give my posting of global warming articles a rest for a while, but I could not resist this TIME magazine cover story!] Polar Ice Caps Are Melting Faster Than Ever... More And More Land Is Being Devastated By Drought... Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities... By Any Measure, Earth Is At ... The Tipping Point The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame. Why the crisis hit so soon--and what we can do about it No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth. Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us. It certainly looked that way last week as the atmospheric bomb that was Cyclone Larry--a Category 4 storm with wind bursts that reached 125 m.p.h.--exploded through northeastern Australia. It certainly looked that way last year as curtains of fire and dust turned the skies of Indonesia orange, thanks to drought-fueled blazes sweeping ... Global Warming Heats Up The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame. Why the crisis hit so soon--and what we can do about it. Feeling The Heat Global warming is already disrupting the biological world, pushing many species to the brink of extinction and turning others into runaway pests. But the worst is yet to come. A Science Adviser Unmuzzled Q&A: NASA's chief climate scientist, who charged that his views on global warming were being squelched, says we're getting close to a tipping point ... [When TIME magazine has a headline, "GLOBAL WARMING: BE WORRIED. BE VERY WORRIED," then that should be sufficient (if not conclusive) evidence that we are now in the period predicted by Jesus in Luke 21:24-32, characterised by,

"nations in anguish and perplexity"(v.25) and "men fainting at heart from fear, and expectation of the things coming on the world" (v.26 YLT)

in between the end of,

"Jerusalem trampled on by the Gentiles" (v.24)

which happened in 1967, and

"the Son of Man [Jesus] coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (v.27).

See my previous posts 28 Mar 06, 4 Mar 06, 4 Dec 06, etc.

So to my fellow Christians, don't be worried, but rather,

"When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near"! (my emphasis).]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"Again, at the other end of the process it is as difficult to account for the last touches of perfection in the mimicry. Some insects which imitate leaves extend the imitation even to the very injuries in those leaves made by the attacks of insects or of fungi. Thus, speaking of one of the walking-stick insects, Mr. Wallace says: `One of these creatures obtained by myself in Borneo (Ceroxylus laceratus) was covered over with foliaceous excrescences of a clear olive-green colour, so as exactly to resemble a stick grown over by a creeping moss or jungermannia. The Dyak who brought it me assured me it was grown over with moss although alive, and it was only after a most minute examination that I could convince myself it was not so.' [Wallace A.R., "Natural Selection and Tropical Nature," 1895, p.64] Again, as to the leaf butterfly, he says: `We come to a still more extraordinary part of the imitation, for we find representations of leaves in every stage of decay, variously blotched, and mildewed, and pierced with holes, and in many cases irregularly covered with powdery black dots, gathered into patches and spots, so closely resembling the various kinds of minute fungi that brow on dead leaves, that it is impossible to avoid thinking, at first sight that the butterflies themselves have been attached by real fungi.' [Loc. cit. p.60] Here imitation has attained a development which seems utterly beyond the power of the mere `survival of the fittest' to produce. How this double mimicry can importantly aid in the struggle for life seems puzzling indeed, but much more so how the first faint beginnings of the imitation of such injuries in. the leaf can be developed in the animal into such a complete representation of them - a fortiori how simultaneous and similar first beginnings of imitations of such injuries could ever have been developed in several individuals, out of utterly indifferent and indeterminate minute variations in all conceivable directions." (Mivart St.G. J., "On the Genesis of Species," Macmillan & Co: London, Second edition, 1871, pp.40-41)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ancient skull found in Ethiopia

Ancient skull found in Ethiopia, BBC, 27 March 2006 Fossil hunters in Ethiopia have unearthed an ancient skull which they say could be a "missing link" between Homo erectus and modern people. The cranium was found in two pieces and is believed by its discoverers to be between 500,000 and 250,000 years old. The project's director, Dr Sileshi Semaw, said the fossilised specimen came from "a very significant time" in human evolutionary history. It was found at Gawis in Ethiopia's north-eastern Afar region. Stone tools and fossilised animals including two types of pigs, zebras, elephants, antelopes, cats, and rodents were also found at the site. The skull appeared "to be intermediate between the earlier Homo erectus and the later Homo sapiens," Sileshi Semaw, an Ethiopian research scientist at the Stone Age Institute at Indiana University, US, told a news conference in Addis Ababa. The palaeoanthropologist said most fossil hominids were found in pieces, but the near-complete skull provided a wealth of information. "[It] opens a window into an intriguing and important period in the development of modern humans," he explained. Little is known about the period during which African Homo erectus supposedly evolved into our own species Homo sapiens. The fossil record from Africa for this period was sparse and most of the specimens poorly dated, project archaeologists said. The face and cranium of the fossil are recognisably different from those of modern humans, but the specimen bears unmistakable anatomical evidence that it belongs to the modern human ancestral line, Dr Semaw said. Scientists conducting surveys in the Gawis River drainage basin found the skull in a small gully. ...
Scientists say fossilised skull from Ethiopia could be missing link, The Independent, 28 March 2006, Sophie Goodchild The face and cranium of the fossil are recognisably different from that of modern humans, but it offers unmistakable anatomical evidence that it belongs in our ancestry, Dr Semaw said. ...
Ancient skull 'a look at ancestors', ABC, March 25, 2006. The discovery pushed back the known date of mankind, suggesting that modern man and his older precursor existed side by side. "The Gawis cranium provides us with the opportunity to look at the face of one of our ancestors," he said. ... [Repeated on MSNBC. Quite frankly Semaw is misleading the public (presumably to boost the important of his discovery and thereby his own importance), by claiming this fossil "belongs to the modern human ancestral line" and was "one of our ancestors". While I accept universal common ancestry, it is simply impossible to truthfully say that any particular fossil is literally an ancestor or descendent of another fossil or living organism. Even on the ~billion-to-one chance that this fossil was literally an ancestor of all living humans, there is simply no way that could be determined.

It is also a false claim that "modern man and his older precursor existed side by side" since: 1) these skulls are dated between "500,000 and 250,000 years old"; and 2) fossils of anatomically modern humans (not "modern humans") found also in Ethiopia are dated "about 195,000 years old" (Age of ancient humans reassessed, BBC, 16 February, 2005).]

Could Ethiopian skull be missing link?, CNN, March 25, 2006 Eric Delson, a paleoanthropologist at Lehman College of the City University of New York, who was not involved in the discovery said the fossil found in Ethiopia "might represent a population broadly ancestral to modern humans or it might prove to be one of several side branches which died out without living descendants." ...
Missing Link" Human Skull Found in Africa, Scientists Say, National Geographic, March 27, 2006 "There are at least one to three species of Homo recognized within that time period. But we don't know exactly what the relationship is of any of those to modern humans," said Eric Delson "This specimen doesn't seem to show any specific features like modern humans', but it's much more lightly built than Homo erectus," Delson added. [Full credit to Delson for stating the true position (note the two "mights" and the "broadly ancestral"). That this hominid fossil shared a common ancestor with modern humans is all that can be truthfully stated.

See the following quotes, all from Tom Bethell's "The Electric Windmill" (1988) which make this point (with my comments):

"In 1978, [Colin] Patterson wrote an introductory book called Evolution, which was published by the British Museum. A year later, he received a letter from Luther Sunderland, an electrical engineer in upstate New York and a creationist-activist asking why Evolution did not include any `direct illustrations of evolutionary transitions' Patterson's reply included the following: `You say I should at least "show a photo of the fossil from which each type of organism was derived."' I will lay it on the line-there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument. The reason is that statements about ancestry and descent are not applicable in the fossil record. Is Archaeopteryx the ancestor of all birds? Perhaps yes, perhaps no: there is no way of answering the question. It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favoured by natural selection. But such stories are not part of science, for there is no way of putting them to the test.' [Patterson C., Letter 10 April 1979, in Sunderland L.D., "Darwin's Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems," (1984), Master Book Publishers: El Cajon CA, Fourth edition, 1988, p.89]" (Bethell T., "Agnostic Evolutionists," in "The Electric Windmill: An Inadvertent Autobiography", Regnery Gateway: Washington DC, 1988, pp.192-193)

What I assume Patterson means (otherwise I disagree with him) is that "statements about [individual] ancestry and descent" are not able to be resolved by the fossil record. It impossible to tell from its fossils if the species Archaeopteryx is the literal "ancestor of all birds." But it is certainly possible to tell from the Archaeopteryx fossils (which in 1997 I saw a copy in San Francisco and then an original in London) shares a common ancestor with reptiles and birds.

"Colin Patterson, perhaps the leading transformed cladist, has enunciated what might be regarded as the cladists' battle cry: `The concept of ancestry is not accessible by the tools we have.' Patterson and his fellow Cladists argue that a common ancestor can only be hypothesized, not identified in the fossil record. A group of people can be brought together for a family reunion on the basis of birth documents, tombstone inscriptions, and parish records evidence of process, one might say. But in nature there are no parish records; there are only fossils. And a fossil, Patterson told me once, is a `mess on a rock.' Time, change, process, evolution-none of this, the Cladists argue, can be read from rocks. What can be discerned in nature, according to the cladists, are patterns-relationships between things, not between eras. There can be no absolute tracing back. There can be no certainty about parent-offspring links. Only inferences can be drawn from fossils. To the cladists, the science of evolution is in large part a matter of faith-faith different, but not all that different, from that of the creationists." (Bethell, 1988, p.196)

I agree with this, "that a common ancestor can only be hypothesized, not identified in the fossil record." But that is also true of the New Testament manuscripts (see below). We don't have the originals, only copies of copies, hundreds of years later. But by comparing them, scholars can group them into families based on changes made by scribes and then faithfully copies thereafter. A common ancestor manuscript of each of the thousands of manuscripts of the gospels of Matthew, Acts, Romans, Revelation, etc, can be hypothesised (but not actually identified) with a high degree of probability. But no one claims that there were separate creations of `basic kinds' of each of the NT books, e.g. multiple originals of the gospel of Matthew, etc.

"[Gareth] Nelson put the issue of evolution this way: In order to understand what we actually know, we must first look at what it is that the evolutionists claim to know for certain. He said that if you turn to a widely used college text like Alfred Romer's Vertebrate Paleontology, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1966 and now in its third edition, you will find such statements as `mammals evolved from reptiles,' and `birds are descended from reptiles.' (Very rarely, at least in the current literature, Will you find the claim that a given species evolved from another given species) The trouble with general statements like `mammals evolved from reptiles,' Nelson said, is that the `ancestral groups are taxonomic artifacts. These groups `do not have any characters that are unique,' he said. `They do not have defining characters, and therefore they are not real groups.' I asked Nelson to name some of these `unreal' groups. He replied: invertebrates, fishes, reptiles, apes. But this does not by any means exhaust the list of negatively defined groups. Statements imputing ancestry to such groups have no real meaning, he said." (Bethell, 1988, p.199)

Apart from the question-begging "evolved" (which I don't agree with, since common ancestry is not necessarily evolution), it seems to me this is true, but comparatively trivial, being merely verbal (the word "reptile" covers a group that has no unique characteristics but is defined by the absence of characteristics). The claim that "mammals descended from reptiles" could be correctly reworded to "mammals (and birds) share a common ancestor with reptiles" or "mammals, reptiles and birds all descended from a common ancestor."

But I have run out of time and this post has got too long. I will return to post and comment on remaining quotes on this topic from Bethell's book, when it comes up again.]

PS: I have added the following quote to a new section, of my "Why I (a Creationist) Accept Common Ancestry" page, "7. Common ancestry is inferred in the same way that the original common ancestor manuscript of each book of the New Testament is."

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"The special character of the New Testament has given rise to special types of errors over and above those which are common in all manuscript copying. ... The study of these witnesses to the original text and the restoration by their means of the original text as nearly as it can be determined belong to the science of Textual Criticism. This is not, of course, a science which has to do specially with the New Testament or the Bible as a whole; it makes its contribution to all kinds of literature. In English literature it is a very necessary science in the study of the works of Shakespeare and the determining of his original text by the comparative study of the early editions. There are four principal stages in the work of the textual critic. First, he makes a study of such individual manuscripts as are available to him, correcting obvious slips and taking cognizance of what appear to be scribal alterations, whether accidental or deliberate. Next, he arranges these manuscripts in groups. Those which share some peculiar feature of spelling or wording, or some common error, are probably related to one another and have a common archetype. There are different ways of grouping manuscripts, according as their evident relation to one another is more or less close. Those whose mutual relation can be fairly precisely established are said to constitute a family. But a number of separate families, while they are diverse from one another in many respects, may have a sufficient number of significant features in common to suggest that they all represent one rather early textual type. In the third place, when the arranging of manuscripts in groups leads to the establishment of an archetype for each of the groups which have been distinguished, these archetypes themselves are subjected to comparative study in the hope that it may be possible to reconstruct a provisional archetype from which the archetypes themselves are descended; if this is achieved, then we have arrived as closely as we can to the autographic text." (Bruce F.F., "The Books and the Parchments: Some Chapters on the Transmission of the Bible," [1950], Pickering & Inglis: London, Third Edition, 1963, pp.178-179)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Is It Too Late to Stop the Warming?

Is It Too Late to Stop the Warming?: Scientists Talk of Possible 'Tipping Point', ABC News, Ned Potter, March 26, 2006 - It was the summer of 1988, and strange things were happening: Repeated heat waves hit the eastern seaboard of the United States, while the Midwest was mired in massive drought. In some places, the waters of the Mississippi were so low that barges were stranded. Were these phenomena related? It was hard for scientists to say, but on one sweltering Washington morning, a Senate subcommittee called for testimony from a prominent climatologist named James Hansen. " Earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements," said Hansen . He would later say, "The warming of a few degrees is going to take us to a world that is perhaps as different from today as the last ice age is from today." .. No Turning Back? Hansen, still at NASA, now warns that a deadline of sorts is approaching: In the next 20 years or so, he says, greenhouse warming may cause enough changes that, even if everyone stopped burning fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, some processes would have been set in motion that would continue anyhow. "If we pass a certain point of no return that we're going to get large sea level rise, we will have started a process that we just can't stop," he says. Scientists refer to these processes as "positive feedbacks," even though they regard the effects as negative. A prime example: decayed vegetation in the Arctic, which contains massive amounts of carbon, used to be protected by the perpetual cold. As the climate warms -- sped along by human beings burning fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide -- scientists say the vegetation will dry out and break down, releasing even more carbon dioxide. That carbon escaping into the atmosphere would cause more greenhouse warming. Walter Oechel, a biologist from San Diego State University [said] "Humans are putting about 6 [billion] or 7 billion metric tons of carbon in the atmosphere a year, and we're standing on 200 billion tons here," "Any significant portion comes out, that's worse than current human injection into the atmosphere. And once that runaway release occurs, there would be no way to stop it."... [As previously posted (e.g. 4 Mar 06; 4 Dec 05 & 29 Nov 05), I expect that global warming will not be able to be stopped from accelerating by positive feedback, into a runaway greenhouse effect which will bring about the Great Tribulation (see below) in which there will be "great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again" (Mat 24:3,21-22).

I based this expectation on my Amillennial interpretation of Jesus' prophecies about what conditions will be like before He returns, especially Luke 21:24-32:

"24They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25`There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.' 29He told them this parable: `Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.'"

because it has a datum point, 1967, when Jerusalem was no longer under Gentile rule, for the first time since its destruction by the Romans in 70 AD.

I also expect that all nations on the Earth will progressively cede environmental (which will mean economic) authority to a World Environment Organization, out of which Antichrist (1 Jn 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 Jn 1:7) will emerge (Rev 13:2-18), and launch the last great persecution of the Christian Church (Rev 11:1-8), just before Jesus returns (2 Thess 2:1-4)]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"In the Olivet Discourse Jesus speaks of tribulation [Gk. thlipsis = "pressure"] as a sign of the times which is to be expected by his people throughout the period between his first and second coming. So, for example, he says in Matthew 24:9-10, `Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another.' Since in the immediate context (v. 14) Jesus predicts that-the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world-a preaching which continues until the end-it is obvious that the tribulation spoken of earlier is not limited to the period just before the Parousia. Other statements by Jesus indicate that he foresaw suffering and tribulation in store for his people in the future. ... But we also find Jesus in the Olivet Discourse speaking of a final tribulation which is in store for his people-a tribulation of which the sufferings which would accompany the destruction of Jerusalem would be only an anticipation. Note the intensity of the following description: `For then there will be great tribulation (thlipsis megale), such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened' (Matt. 24:21-22). Though the setting of these words has a distinctly Jewish and Judean flavor ('Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath,' v. 20), the words `no, and never will be' and the reference to the shortening of the days for the elect's sake indicate that Jesus is predicting a tribulation so great that it will surpass any similar tribulation which may have preceded it. In other words, Jesus is here looking beyond the tribulation in store for the Jews at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem to a final tribulation which will occur at the end of this age. For according to verses 29 and 30 Jesus goes on to indicate that this `great tribulation' will immediately precede his Second Coming: `Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth, will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.' ... On the basis of Jesus' words in Matthew 24:21-30, however, it would appear that there will also be a final, climactic tribulation just before Christ returns. This tribulation will not be basically different from earlier tribulations which God's people have had to suffer, but will be an intensified form of those earlier tribulations." (Hoekema A.A., "The Bible and the Future," [1978], Paternoster Press: Exeter, Devon UK, 1979, pp.149-151. Emphasis in original)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Why the intelligent design lobby thanks God for Richard Dawkins

Why the intelligent design lobby thanks God for Richard Dawkins: Anti-religious Darwinists are promulgating a false dichotomy between faith and science that gives succour to creationists, The Guardian, Madeleine Bunting, March 27, 2006 On Wednesday evening, at a debate in Oxford, Richard Dawkins will be gathering the plaudits for his long and productive intellectual career. It is the 30th anniversary of his hugely influential book The Selfish Gene. A festschrift, How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think, has been published this month .... A week ago it was the turn of the US philosopher Daniel Dennett, second only to Dawkins in the global ranking of contemporary Darwinians, to be similarly feted at a series of lectures and debates across the UK launching his book on religion, Breaking the Spell. The two make quite a team, each lavishing the other with generous praise as the philosopher Dennett brings to bear his discipline on the scientific findings of Dawkins. The curious thing is that among those celebrating the prominence of these two Darwinians on both sides of the Atlantic is an unexpected constituency - the American creationist/intelligent- design lobby. Huh? Dawkins, in particular, has become their top pin-up. How so? William Dembski (one of the leading lights of the US intelligent-design lobby) put it like this in an email to Dawkins: "I know that you personally don't believe in God, but I want to thank you for being such a wonderful foil for theism and for intelligent design more generally. In fact, I regularly tell my colleagues that you and your work are one of God's greatest gifts to the intelligent-design movement. So please, keep at it!" But while Dembski, Dawkins and Dennett are sipping the champagne for their very different reasons, there is a party pooper. Michael Ruse, a prominent Darwinian philosopher (and an agnostic) based in the US, with a string of books on the subject, is exasperated: "Dawkins and Dennett are really dangerous, both at a moral and a legal level." The nub of Ruse's argument is that Darwinism does not lead ineluctably to atheism, and to claim that it does (as Dawkins does) provides the intelligent-design lobby with a legal loophole: "If Darwinism equals atheism then it can't be taught in US schools because of the constitutional separation of church and state. It gives the creationists a legal case. Dawkins and Dennett are handing these people a major tool." ... There's good evidence for faith improving mental health and optimism, and reducing stress; shamanism, with its placebo effect, was the best healthcare system for thousands of years. . This is the kind of conversation we want to have in this country, but we're not safe from American-style false dichotomies between faith and science yet (which would have particularly sharp consequences for the thousands of young Muslims in this country studying science). On the very day that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, made a useful and unequivocal intervention rejecting creationism, Charles Clarke, at a conference on faith and the state, was wobbling precariously on the proverbial pinhead: "in schools it's a good debate to have". Little did he realise that he was using a line straight out of the creationists' lobbying manual: "teach the controversy". Let's be clear, Clarke is wrong - some debates are not worth having. No one argues that it's a useful project for year 10s to research flat-earth theories, so why intelligent design? But if we agree on that, then equally we can also agree that some debates are so corrupted by prejudice and ignorance that they are also not worth having. All protagonists in a debate have a moral responsibility to ensure that the hot air they are expending generates light, not just heat. It's a point that escapes Dawkins. His book on religion, The God Delusion, is to be published this autumn. Dembski and the intelligent-design lobby must already be on their knees, thanking God. ... [This journalist Madeleine Bunting misses the point (or maybe she doesn't but hopes that her readers will). Dawkins (and Dennett) are being honoured by the scientific community. The last I checked Dawkins had an FRS (which he didn't get for his actual scientific work in elucidating "The ontogeny of a pecking preference in domestic chicks," Z Tierpsychol., 25(2), March 1968, pp.170-86), but because of his `defence of the faith' of atheism, and its creation myth, "the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process'":

"In one of the most existentially penetrating statements ever made by a scientist, Richard Dawkins concluded that `the universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.' Facing such a reality, perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February 2002. My emphasis)

Quite clearly Bunting (and Ruse for that matter) agrees with Dawkins on atheism (note her contemptuous equating of religious "faith" - including Christianity - with "shamanism"! and "intelligent design" with "flat-earth theories"-although see here). The reason why some atheists are becoming concerned about Dawkins and Dennett telling it like it is (which is the reason why Dembski and other IDists - including me - appreciate Dawkins for that at least) is because of the rising popularity of ID, and their fear of a backlash. But Bunting and Ruse are just another example of what Phil Johnson perceptively called the scientific materialists' "Two-Platoon Strategy":

"The Two-Platoon Strategy for Marginalizing Religion ... The National Academy's way of dealing with the religious implications of evolution is akin to the two-platoon system in American football. When the leading figures of evolutionary science feel free to say what they really believe, writers such as Edward O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Carl Sagan, Steven Pinker, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin and others state the `God is dead' thesis aggressively, invoking the authority of science to silence any theistic protest. That is the offensive platoons and the National Academy never raises any objection to its promoting this worldview. At other times, however, the scientific elite has to protect the teaching of the `fact of evolution' from objections by religious conservatives who know what the offensive platoon is saying and who argue that the science educators are insinuating a worldview that goes far beyond the data. When the objectors are too numerous or influential to be ignored, the defensive platoon takes the field. That is when we read those spin-doctored reassurances saying that many scientists are religious (in some sense), that science does not claim to have proved that God does not exist (but merely that he does not affect the natural world), and that science and religion are separate realms which should never be mixed (unless it is the materialists who are doing the mixing). Once the defensive platoon has done its job it leaves the field, and the offensive platoon goes right back to telling the public that science has shown that `God' is permanently out of business." (Johnson P.E., "The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism," Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2000, pp.87-89. My emphasis)

Well Bunting, Ruse and other members of "the defensive platoon" may be able to fool church politicians like "the Archbishop of Canterbury" but they won't fool the majority of the ~80% plus of the public who reject atheistic evolution.

The good thing about Dawkins' making explicit the link between Darwinism and atheism (which if it was true would mean that God is indeed a delusion) is the flip side. That if God is not a delusion (and Christianity is true - which it is) then it is Darwinism which is the delusion (2 Thess 2:11)!]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"... many other instances will be found to present great difficulties. Let us take the cases of mimicry amongst Lepidoptera and other insects. ... Now let us suppose that the ancestors of these various animals were all destitute of the very special protections they at. present possess, as on the Darwinian hypothesis we must do. Let it also be conceded that small deviations from the antecedent colouring or form would tend to make some of their ancestors escape destruction by causing them more or less frequently to be passed over, or mistaken by their persecutors. Yet the deviation must, as the event has shown, in each case be in some definite direction, whether it be towards some other animal or plant, or towards some dead or inorganic matter. But as, according to Mr. Darwin's theory, there is a constant tendency to indefinite variation, and as the minute incipient variations will be in all directions, they must tend to neutralize each other, and at first to form such unstable modifications that it is difficult, if not impossible, to see how such indefinite oscillations of insignificant beginnings can ever build up a sufficiently appreciable resemblance to a leaf, bamboo, or other object, for `Natural Selection' to seize upon and perpetuate." (Mivart St.G. J., "On the Genesis of Species," Macmillan & Co: London, Second edition, 1871, pp.33, 38. Emphasis original)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Woman With Perfect Memory Baffles Scientists

Woman With Perfect Memory Baffles Scientists: Patient Remembers Every Day and Almost Every Detail of Her Life, ABC, News, March 20, 2006 -- James McGaugh, is one of the world's leading experts on how the human memory system works. But these days, he admits he's stumped. McGaugh's journey through an intellectual purgatory began six years ago when a woman now known only as AJ wrote him a letter detailing her astonishing ability to remember with remarkable clarity even trivial events that happened decades ago. Give her any date, she said, and she could recall the day of the week, usually what the weather was like on that day, personal details of her life at that time, and major news events that occurred on that date. Like any good scientist, McGaugh was initially skeptical. But not anymore. "This is real," he says. ... McGaugh teamed with two fellow researchers at the University of California at Irvine. Elizabeth Parker, a clinical professor of psychiatry and neurology (and lead author of a report on the research in the current issue of the journal Neurocase), and Larry Cahill, an associate professor of neurobiology and behavior, have joined McGaugh in putting AJ through an exhaustive series of interviews and psychological tests. But they aren't a lot closer today to understanding her amazing ability than they were when they started. ... "the woman who can't forget" remembers trivial details as clearly as major events. ... Some may have had a personal meaning for her, but some did not. ... Some people are able to recall past events by categorizing them. Certain events, or facts, are associated with others, and filed away together so that they may be easier to access. .... AJ does have "some sort of compulsive tendencies. She wants order in her life," McGaugh says. "As a child, she would get upset if her mother changed anything in her room because she had a place for everything and wanted everything in its place. "So she does categorize events by the date, but that doesn't explain why she remembers it." Also, her degree of recall is so much greater than any other person's in the scientific literature that it seems unlikely to be the complete answer, McGaugh adds. She is also quite different from savants who have surfaced from time to time with extraordinary abilities in music, art or memory. ... By contrast, AJ is a " fully functioning person," McGaugh says. The researchers are preparing to take their work in a new direction in hopes of understanding what is going on here. It's possible AJ's brain is wired differently, and that may show up through magnetic resonance imaging. Testing is expected to begin within six months. "We will be looking at her brain, using brain scanning techniques, to see if there's anything that is dramatically different that we can point to," McGaugh says. Those of us with normal, very fallible memories function somewhat like a computer in that different areas of our brains are interconnected and thus better-suited for general memories. We know where we live and how to get to work, but we may not know what the weather was like on this date four years ago. It's possible that AJ's brain has some "disconnections" that help her recall past events from her memory bank without interference from the parts of her brain that act as general processors. But the problem is that even if they find some interesting wiring through brain scans, the researchers will be limited in their conclusions by the fact that AJ seems to be unique. So unique, in fact, that the Irvine team has given her condition a new name. They call it hyperthymestic syndrome, based on the Greek word thymesis for "remembering" and hyper, meaning "more than normal." Some day, the researchers say, they hope to know what's different about AJ's brain, but they are still a ways off. ... [Thanks to Bill Dembski for pointing this article out.]
Researchers Identify New Form Of Superior Memory Syndrome, ScienceDaily, March 14, 2006 Researchers at UC Irvine have identified the first known case of a new memory syndrome - a woman with the ability to perfectly and instantly recall details of her past. ... Given a date, AJ can recall with astonishing accuracy what she was doing on that date and what day of the week it fell on. .. she "can take a date, between 1974 and today, and tell you what day it falls on, what I was doing that day and if anything of importance occurred on that day." She had been called "the human calendar" for years by her friends and acquaintances. According to McGaugh, her case is different from others who have been studied in the past with superior memory. . "What makes this young woman so remarkable is that she uses no mnemonic devices to help her remember things," said McGaugh ... "Her recall is instant and deeply personal, related to her own life or to other events that were of interest to her." ... While she has nearly perfect recall of what she was doing on any given date and instantly can identify the date and day of the week when an important historical event in her lifetime occurred, she has difficulty with rote memorization and did not always do well in school. She scored perfectly on a formal neuropsychological test to measure her autobiographical memory, but during the testing had difficulty organizing and categorizing information. She refers to her ongoing remembering of her life’s experiences as "a movie in her mind that never stops". ...
UCI studies woman who can't forget: UCI researchers assess woman with 'nonstop, automatic' memory, MSNBC, Gary Robbins, Orange County Register, March 13, 2006 The "human calendar." That's what some people call the woman who contacted UC Irvine neurobiologist Jim McGaugh six years ago and said, "I have a problem. I remember too much." McGaugh answered dozens of questions about AJ last week. Here are excerpts from our interview. Q: How would you describe AJ's autobiographical memory? A: Her recollections are quick and seem to be automatic. When asked how she knows an answer, she says, sometimes with frustration or impatience, that she "just knows." She says she can see the event in her mind and relive it, like she's watching a movie. When asked about a particular day, she immediately gives the day of the week it fell on and describes some activity she engaged in, such as taking an exam, having lunch with a particular friend. She gives an inordinate number of details and is deliberate and calm as she recalls the sequence of events. Q: AJ says she remembers too much. Is this a problem? A: Her memories seem just to come pouring out, and she can't turn off the flow. She's sometimes forced to remember things that she doesn't want to think about. ... Q: How have you confirmed the accuracy of her answers? A: The significant public events are a matter of record; we fact-checked. We are able to check her personal experiences against a diary she kept from the age of 10 to 34. ... AJ's ability is different; she has extraordinarily strong memory of daily personal experiences as well as public events. The odd thing is she hated studying history. And she's not especially good at rote memorization. Q: Do you find that odd? A: Yes. That is one reason we've spent dozens of hours over many years studying her. ... Q: Is there anything in particular she remembered that just amazed you? A:Yes. She readily and accurately recalled the specific dates, and days of the week, of every day she spent with us for the many interviews (over almost 6 years), as well as the weather on each day and many details occurring at the times of the interviews. ... [Further to my post about a week ago about how Darwinists compare the highest abilities of apes and the lowest abilities in humans to claim that man is just a "naked ape" or "third chimpanzee," when if the highest abilities of apes and the highest abilities in humans are compared, then the difference between man and his closest living relatives is analogous to a "kingdom-level `speciation'":

"In comparing humans to older primates we indeed have many similar biological characteristics. We have manipulative hands and highly mobile (brachiating) shoulders and large brains, but we also have a unique bipedal locomotion and subtle differences in the air passages and tongue, changes that provide for the complex shaping of sounds. The combination of the possibilities for speech along with a greatly enlarged brain provide for the development of abstract symbols (as evidenced in the cave art) and the highly complex social exchange we call language. Ecologically, humans are extremely diverse. No species on earth is so widespread and diversified in terms of habitat, resource utilization, and societal plasticity. We are the adaptive animal! If an extraterrestrial biologist were asked to explain the difference between ourselves and our ancient ancestor the chimpanzee, who still is confined to the African jungle, he would probably suggest that something quite extraordinary must have happened. In David Wilcox's words: `Our Martian friend would probably conclude that the human species has indeed recently penetrated a radically new adaptive plane, one as great as the invention of photosynthesis or multicellular life. Perhaps he would conclude that a kingdom level "speciation" event has occurred, the first since the Cambrian.' [Wilcox D.L., "Created in Eternity, Unfolded in Time," Unpublished manuscript, 1990, Chap.7, p.4]" (Templeton J.M. & Herrmann R.L., "Is God the Only Reality?: Science Points to a Deeper Meaning of the Universe," Continuum: New York, 1994, pp.139-140)

The problem of this for Darwinism is that, as Darwin himself admitted, "Natural selection tends only to make each being as perfect as, or slightly more perfect than, the other inhabitants of the same area" (my emphasis). Yet, as Wallace pointed out, man's mind was far in advance of any other species, i.e. "An instrument ... developed in advance of the needs of its possessor" (see also Eiseley quote below):

"Second Corollary-Too Much Perfection. Darwin formulated this himself in the first edition of The Origin of Species: `Natural selection tends only to make each being as perfect as, or slightly more perfect than, the other inhabitants of the same area.' [Darwin C., "The Origin of Species," 1859, First edition, Harvard University Press, Reprinted, 1966, p.201] Eiseley reports that in 1869, after only ten years, it was brushed aside by no less a person than Alfred Russel Wallace, co-inventor with Darwin of the doctrine of natural selection. Perceiving that the gap between the brain of the ape and that of the lowest savage was too big, Wallace announced a heresy: 'An instrument has been developed in advance of the needs of its possessor.' [Wallace A.R., "Geological Climates and the Origin of Species," Quarterly Review, Vol. 126, 1869, pp.359-94, p.393] He challenged the whole Darwinian position by insisting that artistic, mathematical, and musical abilities could not be explained on the basis of natural selection and the struggle for existence. Something else, he contended, some unknown spiritual element, must have been at work in the elaboration of the human brain." (Macbeth N., "Darwin Retried: An Appeal to Reason," Gambit: Boston MA, 1971, pp.102-103).)

I have added an excerpt of the above first article (and references to the other two) to my "Problems of Evolution" book outline, PE "Man ... Uniqueness ... Intelligence ... Mental feats.]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"Third, and most important perhaps in its final effect upon the thinking of Wallace, was Darwin's heavy emphasis upon utility, upon limited perfection. `Natural selection,' he had contended in the Origin, `tends only to make each organic being as perfect as, or slightly more perfect than, the other inhabitants of the same country with which it had to struggle for existence. Natural selection will not produce absolute perfection.' [Darwin C.R., "Origin of Species,"1872, Sixth edition, Modern Library: New York, pp.172-73] It was just this reservation when applied to the problem of the rise of the human brain which led Wallace to break with the views of his distinguished colleague. In 1869, much to the dismay of Darwin, he came to the conclusion that natural selection and its purely utilitarian approach to life would not account for many aspects and capacities of the human brain. [Wallace A.R., "Geological Climates and the Origin of Species," Quarterly Review, 1869, Vol. 126, pp.359-94] Furthermore, he began to express concern over the difficulty of accounting for the absence of numerous human remains in the older geological deposits, if humanity had been indeed as numerous as the Darwinian theory demanded. [Wallace A.R., "Darwinism," London, 1896, p.458] Wallace contended in the Quarterly Review article, which soon drew the attention of Darwin and Huxley, that the brain of the lowest savages, or even of the known prehistoric races, was little inferior to that of Europeans. `Natural selection,' he argued, `could only have endowed the savage with a brain a little superior to that of an ape, whereas he actually possesses one but very little inferior to that of the average member of our learned societies. ... Wallace pointed out `that, among the lowest savages with the least copious vocabularies, the capacity of uttering a variety of distinct articulate sounds, and of applying to them an almost infinite amount of modulation and inflection, is not in any way inferior to that of the higher races. An instrument has been developed in advance of the needs of its possessor.' In this last sentence we come upon the clue to all of Wallace's later thinking upon man. He had become firmly convinced that man's latent intellectual powers, even in a savage state, were far in excess of what he might have achieved through natural selection alone. 'We have to ask,' he said later, `what relation the successive stages of improvement of the mathematical faculty had to the life or death of its possessors, to the struggle of tribe with tribe, or nation with nation; or to the ultimate survival of one race and the extinction of another.' [Wallace A.R., "Difficulties of Development as Applied to Man," Popular Science Monthly, 1876, Vol. 10, p.65] Musical gifts, high ethical behavior, he had come to doubt as being ever the product of utility in the war of nature. They lay ready for exploitation as much among savages as among the civilized. They were latent powers." (Eiseley L.C., "Darwin's Century: Evolution and the Men Who Discovered It," [1958], Anchor Books: Garden City NY, Reprinted, 1961, pp.310-312)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The gods [sic] of cosmology

The gods of cosmology: Questions about why we and the universe exist are worth asking even if there are no answers, The Guardian, Tim Radford, March 21, 2006 ... For the third year running, a physicist has won the Templeton prize. It went on Wednesday to the cosmological polymath John Barrow at Cambridge ... Barrow made a name beyond astrophysics 20 years ago by co-authoring an argument known as the anthropic principle: that the universe looks as though it has been tailored for the emergence of intelligent life. This frames two huge riddles: is there something special about the universe that means intelligent beings will inevitably emerge to understand it? Or does it just appear like that because we look back down the long tunnel of time so of course it would seem to point exactly towards us? Einstein put one version of the same question when he observed that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe was that it was comprehensible. The Nobel prize winner Steven Weinberg put another version when he said, in a 1977 book called The First Three Minutes, that the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless. Most science involves taking a large subject and reducing it to ever smaller, more precise questions. Physics seems to start with precise questions about atomic particles or strong nuclear forces and end up with very big, imprecise ones such as: why are we here? No wonder even physicists who don't believe in God tend to invoke Him. ... Others leave the divine question open; yet others overtly believe in God. This is not quite what anyone expects from science, which got where it has by firmly excluding the supernatural and following the evidence of the natural. But then cosmic physics is the odd science. It can explain, with huge confidence, the entire history of the universe from about the first tenth of a second of time onwards. A few years ago cosmologists were inclined to claim that at any moment they might have the whole answer: they would be able to explain how the universe borrowed energy from nowhere, puffed itself up from nothing, burst into starlight, exploded with supernovae and produced a sludge of elements that finally delivered a creature intelligent enough to read The Da Vinci Code. You hear less of that now. Physicists cannot be sure whether this universe right here is the only one; or one of zillions of universes, one just lucky enough to produce Aristotle and Oprah Winfrey. Perhaps the answers lie within that tiny fraction of time right at the beginning of everything, and perhaps they do not. As both atheists and believers are fond of saying, God knows. The questions are worth asking, even if there are no answers. As Steven Weinberg said in The First Three Minutes: "The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy."... [There is a third possibility: The Universe "looks as though it has been tailored" by God "for the emergence of intelligent life" because it was! This is in fact given by Barrow and Tippler as "the most obvious" consequence of their "Strong Anthropic Principle":

"Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP): The Universe must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage in its history. An implication of the SAP is that the constants and laws of Nature must be such that life can exist. This speculative statement leads to a number of quite distinct interpretations of a radical nature: firstly, the most obvious is to continue in the tradition of the classical Design Arguments and claim that: ... There exists one possible Universe `designed' with the goal of generating and sustaining 'observers'. This view would have been supported by the natural theologians of past centuries .... More recently it has been taken seriously by scientists who include the Harvard chemist Lawrence Henderson [Henderson L.J., "The Fitness of the Environment," (1913); Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, Reprinted, 1970] and the British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, so impressed were they by the string of `coincidences' that exist between particular numerical values of dimensionless constants of Nature without which life of any sort would be excluded. Hoyle [Hoyle F., "Religion and the Scientists," SCM: London, 1959] points out how natural it might be to draw a teleological conclusion from the fortuitous positioning of nuclear resonance levels in carbon and oxygen:
I do not believe that any scientist who examined the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce inside the stars. If this is so, then my apparently random quirks have become part of a deep-laid scheme. If not then we are back again at a monstrous sequence of accidents.
The interpretation ... is a view either implicit or explicit in most theologies." (Barrow J.D. & Tipler F.J., "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle," [1986], Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, Reprinted, 1996, pp.20-21. Emphasis original)

Yet that possibility is not allowed to be even considered in science. Even when the atheistic alternative renders "the universe pointless" and "human life" at best being "a little above the level of farce," and having only "some of the grace of tragedy"!

But there is nothing new in man imagining that, like the proverbial ostrich, if he puts his head in the sand so he cannot see the approaching danger then that will make it not exist! This reminds me of my reading today about Psalm 2 (in connection with my morning `quiet time' study of Messianic prophecy), where in ~1,000 BC the secular rulers and people sought to rebel against God's (and Messiah's) rightful rule:

Ps 2:1-6: "1Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. [Heb. Messiah] 3`Let us break their chains,' they say, `and throw off their fetters.' 4The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6`I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.'"

But such rebellion, while permitted for a season, is (of course) ultimately doomed (Ps 2:7-9). So God's recommendation then (and now) to all such rebels is that the "wise" thing for them to do is submit "with rejoicing" to the rightful rule of God's Son (Christ the King), while they still can (Ps 2:10-12)!]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"There is yet another point. Vast as may have been the time during which the process of evolution has continued, it is nevertheless not infinite. Yet, as every kind, on the Darwinian hypothesis, varies slightly but indefinitely in every organ and every part of every organ, how very generally must favourable variations as to the length of the [giraffe's] neck have been accompanied by some unfavourable variation in some other part, neutralizing the action of the favourable one, the latter, moreover, only taking effect during these periods of drought! How often must individuals, favoured by a slightly increased length of neck, have failed to enjoy the elevated foliage -which they had not strength or endurance to attain; while other individuals, exceptionally robust, could struggle on yet further till they arrived at vegetation within their reach." (Mivart St.G.J., "On the Genesis of Species," Macmillan & Co: London, Second edition, 1871, p.32)

Friday, March 24, 2006

The locked migration of giant protoplanets

The locked migration of giant protoplanets, March 21, 2006 . In an article to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, two British astronomers present new numerical simulations of how planetary systems form. They find that, in the early stages of planetary formation, giant protoplanets migrate inward in lockstep into the central star. Gravitational interaction between the gaseous protoplanetary disc and the massive planetary cores causes them to move rapidly inward over about 100,000 years in what we call the "migration" of the planet in the disc. The prediction of this rapid inward migration of giant protoplanets is a major problem, since this timescale is much shorter than the time needed for gas to accrete onto the forming giant planet. Theories predict that the giant protoplanets will merge into the central star before planets have time to form. This makes it very difficult to understand how they can form at all. For the first time, Paul Cresswell and Richard Nelson examined what happens to a cluster of forming planets embedded in a gaseous protoplanetary disc. Previous numerical models have included only one or two planets in a disc. But our own solar system, and over 10% of the known extrasolar planetary systems, are multiple-planet systems. ... Cresswell and Nelson's work is the first time numerical simulations have included such a large number of protoplanets, thus taking into account the gravitational interaction between the protoplanets and the disc, and among the protoplanets themselves. The primary motivation for their work is to examine the orbits of protoplanets and whether some planets could survive in the disc for extended periods of time. Their simulations show that, in very few cases (about 2%), a lone protoplanet is ejected far from the central star, thus lengthening its lifetime. But in most cases (98%), many of the protoplanets are trapped into a series of orbital resonances and migrate inward in lockstep, sometimes even merging with the central star. ... [If this holds up it will mean that Earth-like planets will be much rarer than previously thought. If this theoretical model proves robust and predicts there should be a lot less exoplanets, then maybe some (if not most) of these claimed exoplanets are actually dwarf stars in binary star-systems? See this article of last year which suggested that is possible.]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"It may be also objected, that the power of reaching upwards, acquired by the lengthening of the [giraffe's] neck and legs, must have necessitated a considerable increase in the entire size and mass of the body (larger bones requiring stronger and more voluminous muscles and tendons, and these again necessitating larger nerves, more capacious blood-vessels, &c.), and it is very problematical whether the disadvantages thence arising would not, in times of scarcity, more than counterbalance the advantages. For a considerable increase in the supply of food would be requisite on account of this increase in size and mass, while at the same time there would be a certain decrease in strength; since, as Mr. Herbert Spencer says: ["Principles of Biology," vol. i. p.122] 'It is demonstrable that the excess of absorbed over expended nutriment must, other things equal, become less as the size of an animal becomes greater. In similarly-shaped bodies, the masses vary as the cubes of the dimensions; whereas the strengths vary as the squares of the dimensions. ... Supposing a creature which a year ago was one foot high, has now become two feet high, while it is unchanged in proportions and structure-what are the necessary concomitant changes that have taken place in it? It is eight times as heavy; that is to say, it has to resist eight times the strain which gravitation puts on its structure; and in producing, as well as in arresting, every one of its movements, it has to overcome eight times the inertia. Meanwhile, the muscles and bones have severally increased their contractile and resisting powers, in proportion to the areas of their transverse sections ; and hence are severally but four times as strong as they were. Thus, 'while the creature has doubled in height, and while its ability to overcome forces has quadrupled, the forces it has to overcome have grown eight times as great. Hence, to raise its body through a given space, its muscles have to be contracted with twice the intensity, at a double cost of matter expended.' Again, as to the cost at which nutriment is distributed through the body, and effete matter removed from it, `Each increment of growth being added at the periphery of an organism, the force expended in the transfer of matter must increase in a rapid progression - progression more rapid than that of the mass.'" (Mivart St.G. J., "On the Genesis of Species," Macmillan & Co: London, Second edition, 1871, pp.31-32)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Archbishop of Canterbury backs evolution

Archbishop of Canterbury backs evolution: Well, he is a Primate, The Register, Chris Williams, 21st March 2006. The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the teaching of creationism in schools. [See also BBC. This is a good (bad) example of a modern, secularised, naturalistic, "lukewarm" Laodicean church:

Rev 3:14-22: 14"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit [Gk. emesai = "vomit"] you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (my emphasis)

which has completely lost the plot! The leader of the Anglican Church is more concerned about the teaching of "creationism" than he is about the teaching of atheism. Because that is what the "evolution" that is taught in schools is, "the standard scientific theory that God had no part in this process'":

"Facing such a reality, perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February 2002. My emphasis)]

In an interview with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, Dr Rowan Williams said the Biblical creation stories do not belong in the same category as evolutionary theory. [This is missing the main point. The Bible says in its very first sentence," In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen 1:1) but "evolutionary theory" says "God had no part in this process". If Christianity is true (which it is) then the twin metaphysical pillars of evolution: 1) materialism (matter is all there is = there is no God); and 2) naturalism (nature is all there is = there is no supernatural = there is no God) are false. If the Archbishop had any guts (assuming he is even a Christian) then he should make that point, loud and clear, before he criticises Christian schools who are, after all, teaching creation , even if they may be wrong on the timeframe.]

He explained: "My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it." [He does not say what he thinks "the doctrine of creation" is; nor how can teaching that God created reduce it; nor how teaching "evolutionary theory" which claims "God had no part in this process", enhance it!]

Dr Williams's comments indicate he believes that creationism and evolution are not two sides of the same coin, however. He said: "I think creationism is...a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories. If creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories I think there's just been a jarring of categories." [The Archbishop ignores that it is "evolutionary theory" which is the "stark alternative theory," claiming that "God had no part in this process." Even the strictest YEC can accept that God worked 99.999% through natural processes, but "evolutionary theory" cannot accept that God worked even 0.001% supernaturally. As Christian geneticist David Wilcox pointed out, "One can be a theistic `Darwinian,' but no one can be an atheistic `Creationist'":

"I conclude that the easy acceptance of neo-Darwinism as a complete and adequate explanation for all biological reality has indeed been based in the metaphysical needs of a dominant materialistic consensus. One can be a theistic `Darwinian,' but no one can be an atheistic `Creationist.'" (Wilcox D.L., "Tamed Tornadoes," in Buell J. & Hearn V., eds., "Darwinism: Science or Philosophy?" Foundation for Thought and Ethics: Richardson TX, 1994, p.215)

So the real extremists are the evolutionists! ]

As leader of the Church of England, the Bishop's intervention also puts the heads of the two most popular flavours of Christianity, Catholicism and Anglicanism, at odds with creationists. Both Pope John Paul II and current Pontiff Benedict XVI have spoken out in favour of evolution being incorporated into religious people's view of the world. [This is just playing the usual word-games with "evolution". If the question is, "did God have a part in this process?" then the "creationists", as well as the "Pope John Paul II and current Pontiff Benedict XVI" (and Archbishop Williams if he claims to be a Christian) are on the same side in their answer "yes", as opposed to the evolutionist side's answer that "God had no part in this process."

That is the crucial part of "evolutionary theory's" two-part claim, which is not just that: 1) "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life" (since God may have "guided this process"), but 2) "God had no part in this process."

If the Archbishop wants to stem the worldwide decline of the Anglican Church:

Statistics Suggest Anglican Church of Canada in Huge Decline, Christianity Today, February 13 , 2006, Daniel Blake ... The Anglican Church of Canada has experienced a huge decline over the past 40 years, according to a new independent survey. ... A retired marketing expert, Keith McKerracher carried out the report, according to the Church of England newspaper. The report was then passed on to the House of Bishops. After the report was released, McKerracher explained, "My point to the bishops was: Hey listen, guys, we're declining much faster than any other church. We’re losing 12,836 Anglicans a year. That's 2 percent a year. If you draw a line on the graph, there'll only be one person left in the Canadian Anglican church by 2061." The decline has coincided with the liberalisation of the Church views over the past four decades; something that has also been witnessed in the Episcopal Church USA. Ted Byfield, a long-time observer of Canadian culture, who has published a weekly news magazine in Canada for 30 years and now serves as general editor of `The Christians', a 12-volume history of Christianity, has suggested that this liberalisation of the Church is the core reason for the decline, reports Dutch Christian newspaper ‘Reformatorisch Dagblad’. McKerracher, however, also said that he did not believe that the Anglican leaders in Canada would respond in any significant way to the findings. He continued, "The church is in real crisis. They can’t carry on like it’s business as usual. They talk things to death. And my impression is that the bishops are not going to go around telling priests to shape up." (my emphasis)

then he needs to start publicly supporting creation and attacking "evolutionary theory" in its claim that "God had no part in this process."]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"But some of the cases which have been brought forward, and which have met with very general acceptance, seem less satisfactory when carefully analysed than they at first appear to be. Amongst these we may mention `the neck of the giraffe.' At first sight it would seem as though a better example in support of `Natural Selection' could hardly have been chosen. Let the fact of the occurrence of occasional, severe droughts in the country which that animal has inhabited be granted. In that case, when the ground vegetation has been consumed, and the trees alone remain, it is plain that at such times only those individuals (of what we assume to be the nascent giraffe species) which were able to reach high up would be preserved, and would become the parents of the following generation, some individuals of which would, of course, inherit that high-reaching power which alone preserved their parents. Only the high-reaching issue of these high-reaching individuals would again, ceteris paribus, be preserved at the next drought, and would again transmit to their offspring-their still loftier stature; and so on, from period to period, through aeons of time, all the individuals tending to revert to the ancient shorter type of body, being ruthlessly destroyed at the occurrence of each drought. (1.) But against this it may be said, in the first place, that the argument proves too much; for, on this supposition, many species must have tended to undergo a similar modification, and we ought to have at least several forms, similar to the giraffe, developed from different Ungulata. ... A careful observer of animal life who has long resided in South Africa, explored the interior, and lived in the giraffe country, has assured the Author that the giraffe has powers of locomotion, and endurance fully equal to those possessed by any of the other Ungulata of that continent. It would seem, therefore, that some of these other Ungulates ought to have developed in a similar manner as to the neck, under pain of being starved, when the long neck of the giraffe was in its incipient stage. ... If, as Mr. Darwin contends, the natural selection of these favourable variations has alone lengthened the neck of the giraffe by preserving long necked individuals during droughts ; similar variations, in other similarly-feeding forms, ought similarly to have been preserved, and so have lengthened the neck of such other Ungulates by similarly preserving them during the same droughts." (Mivart St.G.J., "On the Genesis of Species," Macmillan & Co: London, Second edition, 1871, pp.28-29, 31)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Re: Thanks for your site


Thanks for your message and apologies for the delay in replying. As is my usual practise when I receive a private message on a creation/evolution topic that I consider to be of general interest, I am copying your message (minus any personal identifying information) and my reply, to my blog CreationEvolutionDesign. I have further made my words bold to help distinguish them from yours and minor changes.

----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Sunday, March 19, 2006 6:00 AM
Subject: Thanks for your site

AN>Hi Stephen,
>My name is AN and I am a Christian and creationist living in …. I had occasion to come across your site recently when searching for quotes to use in a debate on a forum site. I wanted to write and introduce myself to you and thank you for your site.

Thanks for your encouraging feedback, which is much appreciated.

AN>I read your testimony and thought that you seemed quite experienced in the battle and this seems to be reflected in the way that your quotes are given in such detail.

When I terminated my Yahoo group CreationEvolutionDesign in July 2005, I had been debating against all-comers, on almost a daily basis (except for holidays) from early 1994, that is for over 11 years. Most of that time (1995-2001) was on evolutionist-run lists, the last 4+ years (2001-2005) being on my own list which did not allow personal attacks.

AN>I have been a Christian for 16 years and have followed the debate for all that time but apart from discussions at work this is the first time that I have actively taken part in any discussion forum about creation/evolution. I lasted 1 week on the forum before I was kicked off by the evolutionist cabal that seemed to control the thread and would brook no dissent from the "party line" I received all the usual treatments, ridicule, mockery, changing definitions (evolution is just change through time etct) being accused of being a creationist (even though I never claimed to be) despite trying to argue from a logical position and not mentioning the bible. I was not surprised by this of course as I didn't really expect anything else.

Although I was never actually forcibly removed from an evolutionist list, on the last such list I was on, I found answering the abuse and ridicule to be a waste of time, so I left it to start my own list.

Indeed, I agree with Phil Johnson that the nasty way that evolutionists argue their case is itself evidence that they have something to hide (and deep down they know it ):

"In the final analysis, it is not any specific scientific evidence that convinces me that Darwinism is a pseudoscience that will collapse once it becomes possible for critics to get a fair hearing. It is the way the Darwinists argue their case that makes it apparent that they are afraid to encounter the best arguments against their theory. A real science does not employ propaganda and legal barriers to prevent relevant questions from being asked, nor does it rely on enforcing rules of reasoning that allow no alternative to the official story. If the Darwinists had a good case to make, they would welcome the critics to an academic forum for open debate, and they would want to confront the best critical arguments rather than to caricature them as straw men. Instead they have chosen to rely on the dishonorable methods of power politics." (Johnson P.E., "The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism," Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2000, p.141)

However, I am not saying my entire ~11 years debating evolution was a waste of time. It wasn't - I learned an enormous amount about creation/evolution/design issues, and I would recommend it to any creationist/IDist who is prepared to put up with the constant ad hominems. What I meant was that after ~7 years on evolution-run lists and then another ~4 years on my own list, I had by then completed a biology degree (2000-2004) and so I had for many years been travelling down a path of diminishing returns, where I was learning increasingly less from my debates. Indeed, most of what I was learning was from my researching webbed articles and posting them with my comments, not from my opponents' arguments about my comments. I came to a point that I realised (with the help of Denyse O'Leary) that I could better spend my scarce time starting a blog and posting to it, as well as writing my book, "Problems of Evolution."

AN>The reason for my email is to say hello as I think it is important for fellow creationists and believers to stick together. This quote from your testimony expresses it best I think and is one which I would agree 100% with.
>"Evolution, particularly the reigning Darwinian version, has had a catastrophic effect on Christianity8, and more than anything else is responsible for the evils of our modern world, including Nazism, Communism and, strangely enough, `robber-baron' Capitalism9. These are all manifestations of the underlying philosophy of materialism-naturalism which holds that either God doesn't exist (materialism), or if He does exist, then he doesn't intervene in nature (naturalism). I therefore conclude that belief in evolution is a "strong delusion" (2 Thess. 2:11), a terrible consequence of rejecting the plain evidence of creation (Rom. 1:18-32), and part of Satan's torrent of lies directed against the Church (Rev. 12:15-16). This is not to say that I believe that individual evolutionists are evil (I don't), but I do believe that Evolutionism, which functions as a modern secular "creation-myth"10, is evil and must be resisted to the end by all Christians."

I made that distinction between "evolution" (i.e. the actual scientific evidence of biological change over time) and "evolutionism" (the materialistic-naturalistic philosophy) which is fallaciously piggy-backed onto the scientific evidence, way back in 1999. Interestingly, the Darwinist philosopher Michael Ruse is making that distinction in his new book, "The Evolution-Creation Struggle":

"All told, Ruse claims, loading values onto the platform of evolutionary science constitutes `evolutionism,' an outlook that goes far beyond the scientific acceptance of evolution as a means of explaining the origins and development of species. Provocatively, Ruse argues that evolutionism has often constituted a `religion' itself by offering `a world picture, a story of origins, and a special place for humans,' while its proponents have been `trying deliberately to do better than Christianity.''' (Dizikes P., "Evolutionary war," Boston Globe, May 1, 2005)

But I have since realised that as nature does not come with "made by evolution" stamped on it, the labelling scientific evidence "evolution" is necessarily a philosophical choice (i.e. evolutionism). The same facts of nature could just as reasonably (in fact more reasonably since other evidence shows that naturalism is false and Christianity is true) be labelled "creation" (i.e. mediate creation):

"Mediate and Immediate Creation. But while it has ever been the doctrine of the Church that God created the universe out of nothing by the word of his power, which creation was instantaneous and immediate, i.e., without the intervention of any second causes; yet it has generally been admitted that this is to be understood only of the original call of matter into existence. Theologians have, therefore, distinguished between a first and second, or immediate and mediate creation. The one was instantaneous, the other gradual; the one precludes the idea of any preexisting substance, and of cooperation, the other admits and implies both. There is evident ground for this distinction in the Mosaic account of the creation. ... It thus appears that forming out of preexisting material comes within the Scriptural idea of creating. ... There is, therefore, according to the Scriptures, not only an immediate, instantaneous creation ex nihilo by the simple word of God, but a mediate, progressive creation; the power of God working in union with second causes." (Hodge C., "Systematic Theology," [1892], James Clark & Co: London, Vol. I, 1960, reprint, pp.556-557. Emphasis original)

AN>I noticed in your testimony that you made this statement. "Evolution seems to me like a fierce giant in a computer game I once played. No matter what I did, this fierce giant killed me. If I picked up a weapon to defend myself the giant killed me. If I ran away the giant killed me. If I stood still and did nothing the giant killed me. The giant seemed unbeatable and so I felt very discouraged. Then I did the only thing left I could do. I advanced unarmed straight towards the fierce giant and it backed away! Similarly I have found with evolution that the evolutionists act fierce and intimidating, but it is mostly bluff. When one advances towards them without fear they invariably back away."

That was a memory of my earliest days when I knew very little about evolution and felt intimidated by evolutionists. I don't feel that way anymore. Maybe I should update my testimony, but: 1) I don't have the time; and 2) it is a historical record of how "how I became involved in the Creation/Evolution debate."

AN>While I don't think I got killed in any way ( I have thick skin and know who I am in Christ) I do take your point and would be interested to know if you have any advice on tactics or any arguments that you have used which you have found to be particularly effective in advancing unarmed into the face of the giant.

One tactic I found useful when I was still finding my feet was to ask the evolutionists exactly what they mean by "evolution" (and other terms). I found that one can go a long way in the creation/evolution debate just, as Johnson put it "analyzing the logic of arguments and identifying the assumptions that lie behind those arguments":

"Before undertaking this task I should say something about my qualifications and purpose. I am not a scientist but an academic lawyer by profession, with a specialty in analyzing the logic of arguments and identifying the assumptions that lie behind those arguments. This background is more appropriate than one might think, because what people believe about evolution and Darwinism depends very heavily on the kind of logic they employ and the kind of assumptions they make. Being a scientist is not necessarily an advantage when dealing with a very broad topic like evolution, which cuts across many scientific disciplines and also involves issues of philosophy. Practicing scientists are of necessity highly specialized, and a scientist outside his field of expertise is just another layman." (Johnson P.E., "Darwin on Trial," [1991], InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, Second Edition, 1993, p.13)

However, it definitely does help to eventually master the scientific evidence. That is the ultimate "tactic", "knowing your stuff":

"Thus we come to another powerful winning technique: knowing your stuff. If you listen to many arguments you will quickly notice how many people have very little grasp of the facts. They depend mainly on their own prejudices and inclinations. To these they will add selectively from bits and pieces they have read, or television and radio programmes they have listened to. However, you can safely bet that their knowledge of the facts is sketchy at best, and probably most of their so-called facts are downright wrong. Someone who has the patience to commit facts, figures, names and dates to memory is in a very powerful position to win arguments. ... Nothing, but nothing, is more destructive to your case than to be caught out in an error of fact. If you want to be taken seriously you must have the facts straight. What is more, you must be able to quote the source of your facts." (Allen R., "How To Win Arguments: The Complete Guide To Coming Out On Top," Thorsons: London, 1996, pp.49-50)

AN>My concern in this issue is not so much for the dogmatic evolutionists as I doubt whether I will change any minds but I sometimes wonder how many undecided's are watching who may be influenced to take a deeped look at the issues and come across God in the process.

That is something which helped keep me going for as long as I did. Those evolutionists who debate on Internet discussion groups tend to be hard cases who suffer from the `disease' called "invincible ignorance", the symptoms of which are "no amount of evidence seems to be clinching":

"There does remain, nonetheless, a cast of mind which seems peculiarly closed to evidence. When confronted with such a mind, one feels helpless, for no amount of evidence seems to be clinching. Frequently the facts are simply ignored or brushed aside as somehow deceptive, and the principles are reaffirmed in unshakable conviction. One seems confronted with what has been called `invincible ignorance.'" (Fearnside W.W. & Holther W.B., "Fallacy the Counterfeit of Argument," Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs NJ, 1959, 25th printing, p.113)

AN>Any advice you can give would be most appreciated.

Have you considered a blog? That way you can make your arguments without having to put up with nastiness. If you post interesting posts and regularly, you should attract readers.

But if you want to debate on an evolutionist-run list (which is where you learn the most, the quickest, albeit by the sink-or-swim method!) that may have some control over evolutionist ridicule and abuse, you could try the list I left, CreationEvolutionDebate (not to be confused with my now-terminated list, CreationEvolutionDesign).

AN>Kindest Regards


Thanks again for your message and God bless you on your apologetic ministry. However, it is my long-standing policy, not to get involved in private discussions on creation/evolution/design issues.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"