Postmodern Creationism: A Better Story

Add a new category to the creationist bloc in America: postmodernists who don’t “believe” anything.

Journalist Virginia Heffernan has caused a mini-uproar this week by explaining why she’s a creationist.

In a recent essay on Yahoo! News, Heffernan argued that the stories of creationism are simply more “compelling” than those of mainstream science.  In her telling, she wanted to embrace science, since she loves technology.  But science just doesn’t have the right stories.  In her words,

I was amused and moved, but considerably less amused and moved by the character-free Big Bang story (“something exploded”) than by the twisted and picturesque misadventures of Eve and Adam and Cain and Abel and Abraham.

Predictably, science pundits reacted with dismay.  University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne lambasted Heffernan’s “remarkable celebration of ignorance.”   University of Minnesota biologist PZ Myers noted Heffernan’s anti-science history: “every time she meets a scientist she opens her mouth and says something stupid . . . .”

Also predictably, evangelical Christians defended Heffernan.  In the Christian Post, journalist Leonardo Blair noted that Heffernan had become a “lightning rod for ridicule,” but that she has also won support from religious people for “standing by her beliefs.”

It seems to me, however, that both the fervent anti-creationist commentators and the evangelical pro-creationists ignore the central thrust of Heffernan’s essay.  Heffernan is not making a case for the truth of creationism.  Indeed, as she explains, “I guess I don’t ‘believe’ that the world was created in a few days, but what do I know? Seems as plausible (to me) as theoretical astrophysics, and it’s certainly a livelier tale.”  This is not a full-throated defense of Biblical creationism.  Instead, Heffernan is making a case for the plausibility of creationism.

And, as far as that goes, she’s right.  Creationism is more than just a religious belief.  It is a convincing and intuitive way of understanding humanity’s predicament.  This is why leading science educators have recognized that simply pouring more science on Americans will never convince them of the truths of evolution.

Heffernan’s attitude does not result from childhood brainwashing in the Bible.  Heffernan does not howl at mainstream institutions from the wilds of San Diego or Northern Kentucky.  She complains, instead, that it is hard to admit to creationism in New York restaurants, to acquaintances from her jobs, perhaps, at the New Yorker or New York Times.  With her handy PhD from Harvard, Heffernan’s attitude does not come from a lack of mainstream education.

Heffernan’s avowed creationism, instead, comes from an over-abundance of mainstream education.  Her attack on mainstream science comes not from Genesis, as she suggests elsewhere, but from Derrida.

Other creation/evolution commentators have made similar points, without going as far as embracing creationism.  Jason Rosenhouse, for instance, in his book Among the Creationists, admits that creationist explanations of life and humanity are much more appealing than the messy truths of mainstream science.

Unlike Rosenhouse, Heffernan takes the postmodern leap.  IF we have no Archimedean perspective from which we can judge competing truth claims, THEN we are forced to choose between competing narratives.  BECAUSE creationism has the better narrative, Heffernan concludes, she must call herself a creationist.

Plus, it generates better headlines to say “I’m a creationist” than to say “Creationism tells better stories of humanity’s origins, but I don’t really believe those stories, but you gotta admit, they are better stories, plus scientists can sometimes be jerks.”

 

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66 Comments

  1. Since when was mainstream science in the business of offering truths?

    Reply
  2. willbell123

     /  July 14, 2013

    @ChazIng Truth in this context is an appropriate placeholder for ‘facts and plausible explanations of them’.

    Reply
    • @ willbell123, since when was mainstream science or any science about facts?

      Reply
      • willbell123

         /  July 14, 2013

        @ChazIng The entire purpose of science is to organize facts into testable predictions and theories about the nature of the universe. It is literally what science is.

      • No dear willbell123, science is the aggregation of data (not facts) and the proposal of possible interpretations of said data.

        A fact does not change, science changes because it deals with data which is affected by our human perception and engineering bandwidth (measurement device sensitivity).

        The interpretations are affected by our state of ignorance, what we do know generally, our ability to arrange data for trends, accuracy of our trend analysis and extrapolation, accuracy of measuring device[s], our culture (Eastern, Western), finances (sources, funding agendas), personal biases, unquestioned axioms (worldview), educational framework (method of accumulating and processing information) and probably many other things.

      • willbell123

         /  July 14, 2013

        Data reveals facts, its hard to change the fact that two species have x amount of the sequences of their DNA in common, or that Helium has a tendency not to form compounds. And from those facts we can make theories, theories of evolution and phylogenetics in the case of the first and the octet rule and bonding in the case of the second.

        Things can change, our technology, our culture, our motivations, our beliefs, will all change but those will remain the same.

      • Data may reveal what we think or interpret to be facts. Two species according to one method of data analysis may lead to a conclusion that x amount of DNA is common.

        Extrapolation: Said common DNA is indicative of common descent and not a common designer.

        Evolution is not a theory, it is an extrapolation from the analysis of data which presumes certain unquestioned ‘facts’ or axioms (e.g. that random evolved minds can interpret data, uniformitarianism, accumulated micro-evolution can lead to macro-evolution).

      • willbell123

         /  July 14, 2013

        The thing is that we have so much evidence that it cannot all be explained by any one alternative theory, at least not without making huge assumptions and if that is the case then we run up against Occam’s Razor.

        Uniformitarianism (that the laws of physics are constant) is a fair assumption and assumes much less than any alternative, therefore it is allowable by Occam’s Razor. There is no evidence for the alternative.

        We are not ‘randomly evolved’, the mechanisms of evolution (natural selection, sexual selection, etc) are decidedly non-random.

        Unless there is some barrier to evolution what is stopping ‘microevolution’ from becoming ‘macroevolution’? It is up to the people who believe such a barrier exists to prove its existence, not the other way around.

        You act like science is so questionable but you wouldn’t question the Octet Rule would you?

      • Occam’s razor is irrelevant in science and even that doesn’t work for naturalistic evolution since a designer is much simpler than believing that things evolve for no innate reason. Things do not necessarily work by the simplest explanatory pathway and science is not simplistic (at least engineering science).

        The laws of physics are not constant as they would have been applicable only at t = 0+ after the big bang and only in the 4/5 dimensions created by said bang. And there is no reason to assume even then that the laws of physics were constant. They could have fluctuated until some equilibrium was achieved. We simply do not know (as yet). And then we have to add the mathematical and chemical laws, all of which have to combine just right for life to exist.

        One does not necessarily need evidence for the alternative. One needs to question the axioms AND the alternatives by the same method. The issue is that since we don’t know, we are not dealing with facts (unchanging) but with data and interpretations which need to be constantly questioned and updated.

        We are not ‘randomly evolved’, the mechanisms of evolution (natural selection, sexual selection, etc) are decidedly non-random.

        Random: Having no specific pattern, purpose, or objective
        At best you may argue that the mechanisms have patterns but how did they get there and why are they as they are? Inanimate mechanisms (in and of themselves) cannot have purpose or objectives unless you presume a designer.

      • Micro to macro-evolution barriers:

        1. Initial conditions (form and function);
        2. Limitations of postulated mechanism (accumulated mutations, divergence, etc); and
        3. Limits to the degree of change which would sustain and promote organism survival.

        I suspect there are probably others and you are assuming abiogenesis and favourable environmental conditions in the first place, but I digress.

        Imagine a simple uni-purpose snippet of C++/Java code. Change one comma and most (if not all) of the code is non-functional (dead). For evolution to occur via coding changes (DNA) in a simple life form, the language of the codes would need to co-mutate. However, we know of no coding language which self-mutates (or gives itself meaning or new meaning), thus evolution is not plausible. We also know of no self-designed repair code (self-repair mechanism present in all life and necessary for life given natural breakdown), thus evolution is again not plausible.

        Science is not questionable. The methods and subsequent interpretations are by default questionable and that is the essence of science as a knowledge aggregator. It is not about questioning something like the octet rule. Rather it is about the interpretation of why the rule exists in the first place (e.g. reflects purposeful design vs. result of nothing exploding with no ultimate purpose). Repeatable and testable science would infer the former aka creationism (though not necessarily YEC).

      • With respect to the snippet, there is another possibility, namely that the language is able to accommodate mutations (render them ‘nearly neutral’) and then anticipate or expect beneficial changes. This would be information front-loading aka creationism.

      • willbell123

         /  July 14, 2013

        Occam’s Razor does apply – and you show yourself to have very little understanding of it. The purpose of Occam’s Razor is that the theory with the least unsubstantiated assumptions is usually correct, this applies to science because if one theory requires x to be true and another requires the overturning of a, b, and c, all far more supported than x by data, then the former is probably true.

        In the case of non-constant laws of physics (and I’m not sure why you think they matter a lot to evolution) they are constant until proven otherwise. That is the same logic I apply to god, it doesn’t exist until proven otherwise.

        You describe patterns as random, which is a contradiction because patterns are by definition non-random. They might not have a purpose without conscious agency involved but they are still non-random.

        For your ‘barriers’, you give no explanation, explain and then I will consider what you are asking.

        Chances are that none of the cells in your body have the same code you had when you were conceived, every cell has mutated, only a few of our genes are identical to what they were a thousand years ago. So I believe comparisons to coding is not extremely relevant. There are in fact beneficial mutations I should add, for example in the Longterm E.coli Evolution Experiments at Michigan University, bacteria that were cultured over thousands of generations managed to evolve to harness a type of sugar they would not normally digest, this experiment is going on in real time for years, so imagine what millions of years can do.

        There is no evidence that something like the octet rule is the result of design, and if there were that is the job of theology to consider not of science, science by definition is methodologically naturalistic it does not pick a side in design vs no design. All that science can do and all it actively declares regarding how we came to be is that there is evolution (meaning change in the frequency of alleles from generation to generation), universal common descent of all life on Earth, and ~13.7 billion years ago the universe formed (or perhaps re-expanded) from an event we describe as the big bang. This is obvious from the evidence we have right now, and if new evidence comes to light we may have to reconsider. However no evidence could be said to show the act of creation or anything like that if we examine it with unbiased (well… as unbiased as we can manage) eyes.

      • You are contradicting yourself. By Occam’s razor, creationism has fewer assumptions and wider explanatory scope. I have explained why the big bang posits non-constant physical laws. I have thus ‘proven’ that it isn’t, and should not be assumed, as constant. Something that exists (physically, metaphysically) does so independent of any proof or acceptance on your part. I have NOT stated or inferred that patterns are random. If patterned mechanism are “non-random” contra all we know about patterns in science (psychology, computer science, engineering, math), then you must explain why they are that way in a purposeless cosmos. I gave an explanation by providing a practical example which you can test with many different types of code snippets. I am not in the mood to type asunder so what exactly do you not understand? Frankly, if you are the evolutionist, you should know exactly what I am referring to.

        Chances are that none of the cells in your body have the same code you had when you were conceived, every cell has mutated, only a few of our genes are identical to what they were a thousand years ago. So I believe comparisons to coding is not extremely relevant.

        Gasp! You don’t say. So exactly what amount of initial (birth) cell codes does an adult also have? Every cell has NOT mutated but everyone has mutated to some degree (mutation rate is ~ 1/1,000,000 per copy). DNA is special code but code nonetheless, so you are trying to dismiss comparison to programming by offering a purposeless explanation which has no experimental scientific evidence. Lenski’s E.coli is adaptation as no novel metabolism pathway was produced. Adaptation is consistent with creationism while macro-evolution requires both new function and new information.

        Rules by their very nature infer a ruler, rules that affect form and function, imply a designer. That is extrapolatory evidence which is routinely used in engineering and physics (e.g. the singularity). Is math naturalistic? Are sets, numbers and functions naturalistic?

        That is a broad definition of evolution which would mean that even the most ardent YEC is also a staunch evolutionist. Evolution means much more than that and is only ‘obvious’ from one explanation of the data which you assume to be correct. As for evidence of a creation event, what exactly would you call the big bang? William Craig explains why the first cause has the attributes of a theistic God [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqzqEFw5_1c ].

      • willbell123

         /  July 14, 2013

        Science without the supernatural has far fewer assumption because it does not assume another plane of existence (the metaphysical), never mind one that hosts a being that can literally create universes.

        Big Bang Theory is not incompatible with uniformitarianism because those constants are universal constants, they are uniform inside our universe, no one ever said that they existed outside our universe.

        Really? You have to ask how natural selection forms patterns when they don’t have a purpose? That is like asking about how sieves do what they do without a purpose, and we know they work.

        “Every cell has NOT mutated but everyone has mutated to some degree (mutation rate is ~ 1/1,000,000 per copy).”

        That is the most insane sophistry I have ever seen, it has mutated if it is at all different from it was, just because it isn’t 100% different doesn’t mean anything.

        This invalidates your coding analogy, not because the DNA isn’t comparable to code (it is), but because your analogy to the fragility to code is extremely flawed. As my explanation showed.

        You have shifted the goal posts here, I provide an example of a beneficial mutation to show you that beneficial mutations do in fact exist and now you’re asking for evidence of one that creates a new metabolic pathway.

        Rules do not require a rule maker – sometimes that is just how it turns out. There is no evidence that there needs to be a rule maker, we’d have to make a universe to know that. And in the mean time rules without the necessity of a rule maker is fewer assumptions.

        Why do you think there needs to be a first cause? Our universe began but its beginning is not subject to the laws of causality because those did not exist until our universe began.

      • Science presupposes metaphysical entities such as sets, language, numbers and functions. I have explained why physical laws were not constant and need not be. You are assuming that the laws were constant without evidence. You presuppose that natural patterns are without purpose and then think that your circular reasoning is correct. If all of our cells were mutants, we would most likely be dead after 3.6 billion years. What explanation have you offered to show code fragility? Sometimes that is just how it turns out is not a scientific explanation.

        And in the mean time rules without the necessity of a rule maker is fewer assumptions.

        That’s comedic but not necessarily true.

        Why do you think there needs to be a first cause? Our universe began but its beginning is not subject to the laws of causality because those did not exist until our universe began.

        Kalam Cosmological Argument: Everything that BEGINS to exist has a cause so the first cause at t = 0+ is the philosophical uncaused first cause. The cause by necessity would also exist outside of time i.e. t = 0-.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        I think we can agree language is different from supernatural being of infinite power. You have not explained at all how they are not constant. If the natural patterns have purpose then it is not at all evident.

        “If all of our cells were mutants, we would most likely be dead after 3.6 billion years.”
        Ah, a false premise at its finest, ‘I assert that all mutations are harmful therefore if we mutated over that length of time we’d be dead.’

        All our cells are mutants though, even with that ~1/1000000 mutation the DNA sequences we are made of has ~3 billion base pairs so every time a cell divides there are 3000 mutations. After your cells had divided once you were far different from the DNA of the sperm and egg that formed you. You were the one arguing the code was fragile, not I, and I believe I have shown that if it were as fragile as you presume every baby wouldn’t survive long enough to be born.

        You still have not proven the necessity of a cause, whatever the universe exists in (if we can describe it with such dimension-based words to simplify matters) it does not have to follow our laws of time and causality.

  3. @Dr. Laats, the article by Leonard Blair is not a defense of Hefferman but a summary of her views and elicited reactions. Coyne is wrong to claim she is a “Biblical creationist.” He is also incorrect to state:

    The data do show, however, that between 60% and 70% of Americans believe in angels, so that’s not a stereotype.

    Rather, some data presumed to be indicative of the entire US population would indicate that some 60-70% believe in angels [however that be defined].

    He is wrong again when he said:

    The Origin is full of facts—did she actually read it?

    Science does not deal with facts. While I understand his use of the word, he would not like it when John Public uses the word evolution to simply mean change.

    And wrong again:

    It’s absolutely unbelievable that someone so educated and intelligent can ignore that evidence.

    She is aware of the evidence but chooses to believe in another interpretation of the evidence just as he chooses to believe another.

    Then he creates and smears a straw-man and creates and smears another straw-man based on the first one:

    From this Heffernan concludes that you shouldn’t trust anything that science comes up with! That’s a typical creationist ploy: if science was wrong before, as with continental drift, then we can’t trust its conclusions at all.

    Hefferman is not against all of science (first straw-man) and neither are creationists (second straw-man).

    Create and smear another ‘straw-man’:

    Well, maybe she could figure out what she knows if she’d acquaint herself with the facts, which show to all rational people that the world and its inhabitants were not created within a few days.

    State what he himself cannot sustain scientifically:

    It’s the adherence to false stories, of course, that is the basis of all religious mischief that’s been inflicted on the world.

    Reply
  4. “A fact (derived from the Latin factum,) is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be proven to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts. Scientific facts are verified by repeatable experiments. Fact is sometimes used synonymously with truth, as distinct from opinions, falsehoods, or matters of taste. ”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact

    The majority of mainstream science is about establishing facts and truths.

    Reply
    • Wikipedia does not science make.

      Anyhow, mainstream science is about provisional “facts and truths” which are falsehoods to a purist view of “facts and truths.” Given that Wiki definition however, macro-evolution is not a “fact” or “truth” as it requires too much time for experimental confirmation.

      Reply
      • willbell123

         /  July 14, 2013

        Except we have witnessed macroevolution before, it has been confirmed to happen.

        Just because he chose wikipedia doesn’t mean it is automatically fair to dismiss it, I’m sure if you look up the word ‘fact’ in whatever source you deem fair it would say the same.

      • Where has anyone personally witnessed macro-evolution i.e. an increase in an organism’s information content with the co-production of novel functionality from said new information which benefits the organism’s survival with natural reproduction of said novelty (in information and function) in its progeny as per it present environment?

      • Like willbell sez, take your pick:
        Webster
        1: a thing done: as
        a obsolete : feat
        b : crime
        c archaic : action
        2 archaic : performance, doing
        3: the quality of being actual : actuality
        4 a : something that has actual existence
        b : an actual occurrence
        5: a piece of information presented as having objective reality

        Online Dictionary:

        fact

        noun
        1.something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.
        2. something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
        3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
        4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.
        5. Law. . Often, facts. an actual or alleged event or circumstance, as distinguished from its legal effect or consequence. Compare question of fact, question of law.

        Etc.

        Your tactics are reminiscent of the Discovery Institute – you don’t like how something is defined, so you simply redefine it. You say that evolution is not a theory – of course not – evolution simply means change, and thus evolution is a fact. The theory of evolution is indeed a theory and thus the theory has to be consistent with all of the facts. The TOE has to account for changes seen from generation to generation and changes over many generations and is a robust theory. On the other hand, there is no evidence that supports the conjecture of intelligent design/creation.

      • willbell123

         /  July 14, 2013

        Like Douglas said, that is redefining, macroevolution according to actual scientists, you know, the people who defined these terms to begin with is as follows:

        “macroevolution is used to refer to any evolutionary change at or above the level of species.”

        Speciation has been observed on multiple occasions, just now that we know that creationists have resorted to shifting the goal posts.

      • Douglas E, I have not re-defined anything. Something that is an actual occurrence or info about an objective reality depends on faulty minds for perception and analysis. The fact (by itself) can be explained but unless we are God, we would not ever know if said explanation of supposed factual events is accurate. Thus when science uses the word “fact” it means provisional and not absolute. Also, please don’t associate me with the DI.

        willbell123, macro-evolution purports to explain all biodiversity. However, your straw-man issue of arbitrary change is not in dispute. It is the level of possible change given initial conditions and supposed mechanisms at certain times with certain environmental pressures. Speciation is thus evolution on a micro level. It is and will never be evolution on a macro level. Thus the burden is on you to show where speciation (and other mechanisms) have produced information AND functional increase in an organism which aided survival and was successfully passed on to its ancestors. And this is just the first step. Until then, you are the one playing with goal posts.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        It is late here so I’m just going to refer you to a website for now, although I’d assume you’ve already seen this very comprehensive list of evidence for evolution: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/
        May I recommend especially their section on endogenous retroviruses.

      • Thanks, but unless those endogenous retroviruses produced information AND functional increase in an organism which aided survival and was successfully passed on to its ancestors, I’m not buying.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        I believe that evidence of the common descent of humans and other animals that we see because of Endogenous Retroviruses should be an acceptable substitute because if we know that humans share a common ancestor with other species then certainly that is enough to infer macroevolution.

      • Common ancestry is enough to infer macro-evolution but not to call it a theory. For that, one needs to show “information AND functional increase in an organism which aided survival and was successfully passed on to its ancestors” and that’s simply the first step.

      • What do you mean? If you can prove common ancestry beyond a doubt then you have proved that all organisms had a common ancestor and that common ancestor had to change into all the organisms we see in the world today – the only way it could have done that is through macroevolution.

      • Good grief. First off, one cannot prove common ancestry. One can interpret the evidence as indicative of common ancestry. Second, an inference is not a theory, it is a guess or hypothesis. If macro-evolution is a theory, it needs to show the mechanism. Thus, to show common ancestry as a valid interpretation, you have to first provide experimental evidence for information AND functional increase in an organism which aided survival and was successfully passed on to its descendants [not ancestors as I previously typed]. This experiment then has to be replicated many times without major incident by multiple independent scientists and published in different peer-reviewed journals. Even after it is accepted it is still only a theory, not a fact (since all the data and knowledge of the process is not available) as it is liable to change with more data. While accepted, it is not immune to constant questioning, experimentation and re-interpretation.

        Side note: What atheist evolutionists are doing is prostituting science to propagate pagan self-deification (giving yourself purpose in a supposedly purposeless cosmos). So let’s stick with the science which does offer evidence for both evolutionary and creationist interpretations (to varying degrees) but does NOT offer confirmation for either.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        (Notice: you did not even consider the example I provided)

        I can provide evidence that shows that common ancestry is evident beyond a reasonable doubt even if I cannot prove it.

        That is a ridiculously high standard by which to judge something that relies entirely upon time scales that are longer than any of us will be alive. And I’m sure if you did find exactly what you said you are looking for then you would shift the goal posts.

        You do not understand the definition of scientific theory which is saddening given that it is fairly simple.

        How is this self-deification? I never claimed I was a god did I? I never claimed there was purpose to my existence. The trouble with your requirement is that there is no science that offers evidence for creationism.

      • I did consider your example and said that it could be evidence for an evolutionary interpretation but is also consistent with a creationist framework. I am not moving any goal posts but calling for the natural scientific standard to be upheld by those claiming to have scientific validation for their ‘theories.’ If you call evolution a hypothesis, there would be no issue. I am confident that I understand the scientific method better than you given your litany of logical fallacies. I am not speaking about you per se but in general about atheists using a science cloaked evolution for self-deification. I do not have to offer alternatives since the alternatives are not considered ‘theories.’ So now you have committed yet another fallacy: shifting the burden of proof.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        I just noticed that your comments on self-deification are actually consistent with bulverism, just thought I would bring that to your attention.

        Scientific standards accept inference (aka circumstantial evidence) though, and you have ruled that out.

        I didn’t say anything about the scientific method I said scientific theory, the definition of theory in science is: “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world” (admittedly that is according to wikipedia but if you are so doubtful about the usefulness of wikipedia I’ll leave you to find a conflicting source).

        I did not claim I had not burden of proof – I’m just checking to confirm that you have no evidence for any alternative, which is to be expected given that no alternative has ever had the explanatory power of evolution to predict things about the natural world.

      • Nope, my comments are about actions not beliefs. Bulverism is about why someone has a belief. I am not ruling out inference but faulty non-experimentally sustainable interpretations of inferential data. That you cannot spot the difference is telling.

        You are correct so I apologize, you did state “scientific theory.” However, my point still stands that you commit too many logical fallacies for me to believe that you even understand the nature of science far less a “scientific theory.”

        I did not claim I had not burden of proof – I’m just checking to confirm that you have no evidence for any alternative, which is to be expected given that no alternative has ever had the explanatory power of evolution to predict things about the natural world.

        As I have repeatedly stated, some of the evidence for evolution is generally consistent with creationism. Also, one does not need to have an alternative to be able to point out flaws in a ‘theory.’ Science does not work that way. To require alternatives to deflect from a faulty system is intellectual sloth. All I care about is that science is not prostituted for the religion of evolutionary naturalism. I am not here to advocate that any of my irrelevant views/beliefs require scientific validation.

        Explanatory power is provisional to more data and interpretation. You can successfully predict some things on evolution but evolution does not explain abiogenesis, metaphysical concepts used in all of the sciences (sets, functions, numbers), the universality of metaphysical language, the origin of metaphysical mind/thought, universal human desire for purpose, universal lack of an indigenous atheist tribe, the origin of optimized biological form and function, information, complexity, sin, evil, death, the intellectual primacy of man, adaptive repair mechanisms, ….etc, all of which are explained to some extent by creationism.

        Have you personally examined any creationist predictions? Have you evaluated the creationist framework and showed that it simply cannot be reconciled with supposed evolutionary evidence as well? If you have, please link.

  5. PZ Myers in a non-sequitur:

    Yeah, she’s a raving climate change denialist and a creationist, but she loves her little smart phone.

    Climate = geology = philosophical science
    Creationist = worldview or interpretation
    Smart phone = engineering
    But philosophical science != engineering

    A new non-sequitur subset: the ‘engineering = science’ fallacy. Coming to a PhD near you!

    Reply
    • willbell123

       /  July 14, 2013

      You’re saying engineering isn’t science?

      Reply
    • Natural/philosophical science: knowledge for the sake of knowledge only (e.g. properties of bitumen)
      Engineering: application of the natural sciences to create or modify a product/technique that solves a human problem (e.g. using bitumen to construct more uniform roads solving transportation bottlenecks and creating more pollution and vehicular deaths)

      Essentially, engineering USES the natural sciences to produce something and might find new science in the process but it is not proper to equate climate change with smart phones.

      Reply
      • willbell123

         /  July 14, 2013

        But it is fair to say that engineering benefits from the knowledge provided by science, and so saying that without science you wouldn’t have smartphones is fair. Even if climate change specifically isn’t related.

      • Sure but that is not what Myers is saying. He is conflating knowledge (natural science) with application (smart phone) and using this to create the straw-man that creationism and climate change denial does not employ either science or engineering.

      • willbell123

         /  July 14, 2013

        But neither do use science, climate change denial is political and creationism is religious.

      • False dichotomy fallacy. Even if climate change denialism is political and creationism is religious, that does not mean that it is not scientific or does not employ science. It also does not mean that macro-evolution isn’t also political and/or religious.

      • Apologies, double false dichotomy fallacy.

      • willbell123

         /  July 14, 2013

        Climate Change Denial and Creationism if they can be called anything to do with science they’d be pseudoscience. The scientific consensus is against them, 97% in the case of climate change and 99.99% in the case of evolution.

      • Argumentum ad populum fallacy.

      • Apologies again, double argumentum ad populum fallacy.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        So you’re just discounting the fact that on both issues the vast majority of scientists think your opinion is extremely uninformed?

      • What scientists think and what they can defend experimentally are two different things. Beside that, a fallacy is still a fallacy and boy, you do like making fallacious assertions.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        I’d say you are a smart ass but then I’d be making an ad hominem.

        They think that because they can defend it by looking at the evidence that is abundantly clear around us.

      • Again, it is not about the evidence but the interpretation of the evidence.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        The thing is sometimes there are only a few possible interpretations – take Endogenous Retroviruses – they are literally thousands of ‘broken’ viruses scattered throughout our genome. And the same viruses are often found in the same location in the genome of other species. There are two possibilities to explain this given that we know the placement of the ERV’s genetic material is random. Either there was a common ancestor to all these species that share ERVs (or their remains I should say), or by random chance the viruses placed their genes in the same place and they happened to have all broken down. If we assume the second one, keeping that 3 billion base pairs number in mind, that is a HUGE logical impossibility. The only realistic interpretation is common ancestry.

      • The thing is sometimes there are only a few possible interpretations…

        Few known interpretations, more data may lead to possibly more interpretations and/or the discarding/upgrading of old ones.

        So what about the possibility that ERV were part of the initial designer’s plan for normal organism function? ERVs are concordant with a common designer and the Genesis account of a fall (change in initial function). And yes ERVs can also be interpreted as evidence for common descent. However, all we know about functional code is that they come from purposed minds which clearly point to a purposeful designer. Evolution is also a huge statistical impossibility yet you BELIEVE it to have occurred. That’s not being scientific is it?

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        Why exactly did god go around putting pieces of broken virus in our genome?

        How exactly is evolution a statistical impossibility? You say these things but you just leave them as if I am supposed to take them as obvious when they are most certainly not.

      • Why exactly did god go around putting pieces of broken virus in our genome?

        Do ERVs not have purpose? What exactly do YECs say about ERVs? You are the expert no?

        How exactly is evolution a statistical impossibility? You say these things but you just leave them as if I am supposed to take them as obvious when they are most certainly not.

        I gave three limitations to macro-evolution already. Then there is magical abiogenesis and cosmological evolution where nothing purposelessly exploded and created an ordered cosmos.

        For someone who has a site named “Design by Evolution,” you sure are not in the know about the common and simplistic views of anti-evolutionists. That quote by Dawkins on your site is also the fallacy of contradiction and is scientifically absurd.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        You are the one suggesting they have a purpose, I have already told you that they do not. I have not found one explanation provided by YECs that made any sense, that is why I am asking you since you are so certain they are just as easily interpreted as evidence of common design.

        ‘Cosmological Evolution’ and Abiogenesis have absolutely NOTHING to do with evolutionary biology, your arguments reek of Ken Ham which is not a good place to be. (I’m sure you are going to call that a fallacy too)

        The thing about asking you questions is that it is because if you are so intent on claiming ERVs are purposeful, you should be able to explain why you think so.

      • You are not omniscient to state factually that ERVs have absolutely no purpose. Now if you have not found any sensible explanation, why not write a post on why scientifically said YEC explanation(s) are invalid. Don’t require me to do your work.

        You are incorrect. Biological evolution presupposes them and offers absolutely no explanation (from biology) as to how they occurred. Yes, that’s the fallacy of association also know as argumentum ad Hitlerum (so you are consistently diversifying, good for you).

        We all know that ERVs have functionality and thus we can logically deduce with minimal mental effort that they also have purpose [which relates directly to their function(s) and/or mode of function(s)].

  6. Will, you will not convince a person who is a rationalist and a realist that any scientific discovery entitles us to any sort of truth-claim. However, I would advise all those rationalist, realist ontologists out there to take a pharmacologic dose of Simon Blackburn before they start to bloviate about scientific theories. You post-modern, poor Platonists hold an over-arching theory of truth to which you are not entitled, any more than naïve eliminativists are entitled to theirs.
    Scientific method is systematic empiricism, nothing more. It does not aspire to an over-arching theory of truth. It just provides a means to explain the information of our senses consistently, and as completely as possible given the frame of reference. You want to be a creationist? Knock yourself out – but realize that you’ve already made that decision on non-scientific (not entirely empirical) grounds and kindly proceed to STFU about science. It has nothing to say about your premises, and you cannot import your premises into the process of scientific empiricism without screwing it up.
    As for evolution, is it possible that it was all pre-programmed by some non-physical intellect or that a similar sort of critter plopped down a giraffe here and a ‘possum there by means that we can’t explain physically? Sure – but those are necessarily metaphysical claims, about which science is mute. Whatever implication or incompleteness you see in scientific explanations finally does nothing to justify your metaphysics, it just provides for some interesting storytelling (for everyone, including you). So if you feel compelled to tell those stories on top of the metaphysical justifications which you offer in support of your philosophy/theology, go ahead, but do so on your own time and in your own space, without screwing up the scientific process with premises which don’t apply to it. May I suggest Sunday school or the philosophy department at Notre Dame as appropriate venues.

    Reply
    • @keithnoback, where have I offered theological explanations for anything?

      Reply
      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        ChazIng, it is not that you’ve been using theology, it is that you’ve based your opinion on theology (you believe in god and a (more or less) literal interpretation of Genesis) and are using a theological lens to disregard everything you don’t agree with and play up the smallest nagging doubts.

        I feel that Keith is right here – perhaps I should stop because really if you are just going to continue using a stupidly high standard of evidence then what am I to do.

        Also may I ask what scientific evidence you have for your beliefs? This discussion so far has been very focused on my beliefs but I’d love to see what evidence you have of creation that is not merely ontological but rather relies on real world evidence.

      • Will – I would agree that you should take Keith’s advice.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        @Douglas, I realize that now, I’ve just never been good at backing out of arguments where the other side is so obviously wrong – it is probably a character flaw of mine.

      • Hardly, I use scientific fundamentalism to assess even what I believe. I afford you the benefit of the doubt by holding you to the supposed scientific rigour you claim as natural for evolutionists. And you have just performed the fallacy of bulverism. Well, at least you are diversifying.

        I take it as a compliment that you would describe what I advocate as a “stupidly high standard of evidence.” However, after you have accused me of basing my opinions on theology (incorrect, they’re based on engineering), I am disappointed that you don’t hold evolution to the same “stupidly high standard of evidence” given that a popular claim is that the evidence is overwhelming.

        My beliefs are irrelevant, I only care about the data. However, repeatable testable experimental data consistently show micro-evolution or creationism and I have mentioned Lenski’s experiment already. YEC sites have discussed many of these experiments so AIG’s News to Note may be beneficial to that end.

      • willbell123

         /  July 15, 2013

        That is not bulverism, I was not explaining why you were wrong, I was explaining that you are hopelessly biased.

        ‘Benefit of the doubt’ – I don’t think that means what you think it means.

        They are based on theology – you didn’t become a creationist because of engineering you became a creationist because of religion.

        The problem is that from the outset you have ignored the possibility of even using circumstantial evidence, a necessary part of science.

        Your beliefs are completely relevant – this entire thing started because you claimed science was not based on facts. Then you started attacking evolution/climate change/big bang theory.

      • They are based on theology – you didn’t become a creationist because of engineering you became a creationist because of religion.

        Straw-man and bulverism strike two!

        I am not a scientific creationist, I am a scientific fundamentalist skeptic who finds macro-evolution’s current mechanisms wanting.

        Your beliefs are completely relevant – this entire thing started because you claimed science was not based on facts.

        Science is not based on facts but provisional ‘facts’. No scientist in their right mind can say otherwise.

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