Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I get email too...

Yesterday I received an email from a co-worker where he tries to demonstrate to me that Creationism is Science:

Hi Robert,

Please check this out. The article talks about how creationists like myself are science people too.


Are creationists anti-science?
One of the most common arguments that evolutionists use against creation researchers is the old refrain that creationists are “against” or “anti-” science. However, the same critics fail to answer one important question. Ken Ham explains:

Recently a reporter from a secular magazine interviewed me for an article on the creation/evolution issue. One of the first things he asked was, “How do you react to those who claim you creationists are against science?”

As I always do in such instances, I asked him: “What do you mean by science?” He just looked at me and said, “Good question—so how do you define science?”

This is a question that many do not consider when examining the issue of creation versus evolution. The word science has the root meaning of “knowledge.” Scientists can make repeatable, testable observations about our present world and gain knowledge about the present—such knowledge has built the technology that puts humans into space.

Scientists also try to obtain knowledge about our past—our origins. But this sort of knowledge is very different from knowledge about the present. It must involve assumptions about how the universe and life arose—when no human was there to see it all happen. Fossils, rocks, dating methods, all of these require the observer to interpret the evidence, and this interpretation is always filtered through beliefs about the past.

There is a major difference between observational (or operational) science—what we can observe in the present—and origins science—interpretations about the past with no direct observation. Creationists are not against science, but they do want people to understand what the word science means.

For more information, see Science or the Bible?

The following is my response:

Hi Bob

I appreciate your trying to engage me on this issue.

While I am sure that you are convinced by the arguments that are made that support a creationist model for the the Universe. To my mind they do not stand up to the rigor of peer review.

I am very familiar with ALL of Ken Ham's views. He picks and chooses the data that support his pre-conceived ideas. Unfortunately for him that's not Science.

I accept the model for speciation as modeled by the theory of evolution BECAUSE it is the explanation that is BEST supported by the evidence we have. As I explained to a you a few weeks ago The Theory of Evolution says NOTHING at all about HOW the chemistry of life came to be. Evolution only deals with how to explain the diversity of life we now see. Where did life come from? I don't know. That phrase is the beginning of wisdom. For all I know life is the result of the act of a Supreme Being or Super-intelligence of some kind. I have NO evidence that directly supports such an idea BUT to be intellectually honest I have to allow for that possibility. I have made a concession that it is possible that GOD created what we call life. As a naturalist it is my contention life COULD just as possibly have arise on it's own in accordance with laws of physics. Now we could also discuss where those laws come from. Here again my answer is: "I don't know". You would posit God, and I am comfortable with that in a general sense. However, you will further posit that it's the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and there I cannot follow.

Let me try to explain my thinking a bit more for you.

You and I are atheists! Now stay with me here...."Madness" you'll say! Do you believe in Zeus? I am confident that you will say 'No'. Good! Neither do I. So we are atheists with respect to Zeus. How about Thor? Ganesh? Pele? Allah? Marduk? Jupiter? Krishna? I will step out on a limb here and ASSUME that you have answered in the negative to each of these candidate Gods. So we are in agreement. Where we disagree is that I add one more god to the my list.

Now, in any of that previous paragraph did I say that I believe there is NO God? I did not say any such thing. Any human being possessed of only five senses who definitively states: "There is NO God", is not being intellectually honest. He or she cannot make such a claim because we are not possessed of infinite knowledge.
Even though I, myself, have made no such statement, people who accept the existence of God will often require someone like me to "Prove there is NO God". This is a ridiculous proposition. It is no more necessary for me to prove that a god DOESN'T exist than it is necessary for me to prove that unicorns nor leprechauns DON'T exist. Nor would I definitively state such a thing as I cannot be everywhere at once.

I will not elaborate on my reasoning for rejecting the idea of God as described by the Judeo-Christian tradition. Such a treatise could fill a book by itself. Please do not make the wrong assumption that my view is based in some sort of anger or resentment towards God. It isn't! Suffice to say I do not make claims about the almighty, because to my mind if such a being does exist, it is a being so far above our existential plane that we couldn't possibly begin to understand it let alone ascribe very human traits to it as the Bible does.. As far as the natural world, I base my knowledge of the world on the work of men and woman who have gathered evidence using human senses and tools and then constructed models based on that evidence to predict future behavior. This is empirical naturalism. It has made possible vaccinations that have stopped diseases that wiped out millions. We have global communications, computers that would be equivalent to magic in the eyes of Newton or Galileo. All of this not possible without the human constructs of logic and reason i.e. empiricism and the human drive to figure things out.

Back to Evolution....Many Creationists and/or proponents of Intelligent Design (IDer's) like to paint the concept of evolution as a 'theory in crisis'. This is just NOT so. With every year that goes by the basis of evolution: change through random mutation and descent with modification, is further strengthened. Pretending otherwise is not intellectually honest. In my experience what Creationists and IDer's are doing is trying to poke holes in the framework of the Darwinian Model. Are there aspects of life on Earth that this model cannot explain? Absolutely! Does that mean that these things can NEVER be explained through a naturalistic means? Absolutely NOT.

To my mind Creationism proposes a dangerous view...that view being that life and speciation is 'too complex' and cannot possibly happen without the direct involvement of some supernatural agency. If that's true then why bother investigating at all? Why try to understand the mechanism behind the complexity of life? Even if Creationism is would you begin to PROVE such a thing? To suggest that there is NO possible way that speciation can possibly occur without intelligent design is the same type of intellectual dishonesty as someone stating: 'There is NO God'. Both positions boil down to Arguments from Personal Incredulity. This a common are some examples"

"I can't see how two airliners could possibly bring down the World Trade Center, so therefore it was an inside job!"

"I have absolutely no evidence that the Judeo-Christian God exists, so therefore NO Gods exist."

"The human eye is too complex, it looks designed, design implies or needs a designer, therefore evolution can't possibly be true"

These are all common arguments foisted by people of very disparate views!

The Darwinian Model is NOT perfect. However, it is the best model we have given the evidence. To be fair, we've only been at this study for just over a 150 years. What will the next 150 years of evidence gathering and scientific inquiry bring? It sends a chill down my spine.
I am ALWAYS open to new evidence. Unfortunately, Creationists and IDer's are not bringing anything new to the table.

Whew! That's enough of that!

Bob, a couple weeks ago, you mentioned some sort of proof of a young earth involving the atmosphere. Please elaborate or point me to an article that demonstrates this.


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