Posted tagged ‘naturalism’

The War on Humans

February 21, 2014

Killer whales suing Sea World for slavery. Laws against the humiliation of plants. University professors, politicians, and environmental extremist groups like Sierra Club advocating for human population control. What’s going on?! I know all this sounds really weird (or I hope it does!), but certain self-appointed important people think YOU (they would never think this of themselves) have no more value than the pile of goo you evolved from. Therefore, YOU (not them) have no more value than a blade of grass, so in order to “save the planet,” it’s okay to manage and control you like so many lawn trimmings.

Foolish thinking like this has its roots in naturalism, the false idea that the material universe is all that exists, and there is no God. Naturalism is supported by the false ideas of evolutionism and billions of years, which can deceive people into thinking that, over the eons of slow and gradual change, humans certainly aren’t any more special than anything else. Unless of course, you are one of “them.” The latest politically correct way to hate your neighbor is about THEM getting rid of YOU. I hope you’re not one of THEM.

Pray that unbelievers and confused Christians would get back to trusting His word, remembering that humans are special, created in His image, and commanded by God to wisely manage His creation (Genesis 1:26-28). Also, here are a couple of resources you can share. First is the new film and e-book by Wesley J. Smith titled War on Humans. You can watch the film below.

Second, show a skeptic the following graph. I used actual data from 222 countries, and sorted them by per-capita GDP. I found the top countries have a per capita GDP almost double that of the bottom half. That means they also have more funds available to properly steward God’s creation. But here’s the shocker for the human-haters. The population density of the top countries is over 5 times greater than the bottom countries.

average gdp vs population density

The biblical mandate to wisely “be fruitful and multiply” plays out in the real world with more people and more funds available for stewardship. The human-hater model, which equates stewardship with massive population reduction of other humans (not themselves), will result in less prosperous countries, and therefore a reduced ability to steward.

Ultimately, environmental issues are not really about human population. They are about human sin. If we reduced human population by 90%, which University of Texas professor Eric Pianka suggests, there would still be plenty of people left to make enough nuclear bombs to commit mass murder, but also environmental havoc, on a global scale.

God wants us to know His creation and use it. And biblical dominion doesn’t mean domination. Not even close. Nor does it mean keep our human hands off of as much of it as possible. Let’s stop rebelling against His commands in Genesis 1:26-28, repeated in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Let’s just trust him instead, humbly repent when we fail, and try a little harder to love our neighbors.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ham, and Nye

February 15, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

What do chocolate chip cookies have to do with the recent Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye debate? Well, you’ll see shortly! First though, one conversation the debate stirred up among believers and unbelievers alike relates to differences between what Mr. Ham referred to as observational science and historical science. This is an important distinction, which I think becomes clearer if we refer to the two as scientific research and natural history research. Dr. Mortimer Adler described natural history research in the 1960’s. His ideas have been developed further by Dr. John K. Reed and others, and their efforts help us better understand the limitations of scientific research. More importantly, they help us see the real battle is not “science vs. religion” as some falsely claim, but Christianity vs. naturalism. Naturalism is basically the idea that nature is all there is, and there is no God who created everything.

Papers like this one describing natural history research are helpful, but complex. While thinking about an easier way to explain the differences, I realized cooking might serve as a useful explanatory tool. In what follows, I will use chocolate chip cookie recipes as an analogy to help discern between scientific research, natural history research, and futurology claims.

Scientific research: Like a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, scientific research involves developing a testable, repeatable method that others can follow AND produce similar results. A good recipe produces good cookies for everyone who follows the directions.

Example: The cadmium reduction method is a common procedure used to measure the concentration of NO3 (nitrate) in water. Nitrate is an important nutrient, but can be a pollutant when concentrations are high. If I collected a water sample from a river for nitrate analysis, I should be able to send it to any laboratory in the nation and receive similar results.

Natural History Research: This is like the scientific method in reverse. You have the cookie (the result), but you don’t have the recipe (the method). So, you decide to try and use the cookie to figure out what the recipe is. At present, a Google search for “chocolate chip cookie recipe” yields 49,600 results! Which recipe is the one used to make the batch of cookies shown above? How will you know? Well, you probably won’t know for sure, but through chemical analysis run on your cookie, plus other research including reading historical documents like cook books, you can eliminate a lot of the possible recipes.

Example: Historical documents and eyewitness accounts show Novarupta volcano’s lava dome formed in 1912, about 100 years ago. I had a sample age-dated using the Argon-Argon method, and it showed the lava dome was up to 5.5 million years old! Both methods (historical records, Ar-Ar dating) have the same material evidence, but the massive time differences result because extremely different procedures were used to interpret the data. It is also obvious that, for this example anyways, one interpretive framework, or “recipe” (historical records), is clearly better than the other. They’re not equally valid.

Futurology claims: This is like having an untested chocolate chip cookie recipe. You think it will make good cookies, but you’re not sure yet, especially since your recipe is quite a bit different from some other recipes. Some are more skeptical of your recipe than others.

Example: Confusion over what future climate will look like. Will it be warmer, cooler, or the same? The data show warming in the 80’s and early 90’s, but no warming for 17 years and 5 months now. Nevertheless, media and many scientists continue to paint a grim futuristic story involving catastrophic global warming resulting from carbon dioxide emissions linked to human activity.

The debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye was an origins debate. It was not a “Science vs. Bible” debate as some may claim. It was about how the way we view things influences our perception of reality. It was a battle between Christianity and naturalism. So, the next time you hear someone describe Christian and conservative people as “anti-science,” understand that it has nothing to do with scientific things. Christians, as Mr. Ham mentioned during the debate, are not anti-chemistry, anti-physics, anti-technology, etc! That’s irrational, but then so is unbelief, so Christians shouldn’t be surprised when unbelievers say irrational things. God has to change their heart and mind. Only then will they see more clearly.

The “anti-science” mantra is a straw man argument by dogmatic, and often bigoted individuals who want their naturalistic story of the past, present and future told, to the exclusion of other stories. Especially the story found in Scripture. Pray that God will turn the hearts of unbelievers to Him, and that they would trust His story of Creation, Fall, Redemption through Christ alone, and Restoration, which is the greatest story of all! Pray also for Christians who are confused by naturalism, and erroneously seek to find a “middle ground” between Christianity and naturalism in places where it doesn’t exist.

179 Logical Fallacies and the Ham vs. Nye debate

February 2, 2014

A Twitter Battle

And all I did was Tweet “#Design of a biochemical circuit” in response to a paper on design in yeast cells. Okay, so I also included two anti-creationism hysteria groups, TFN and NCSE, in the Tweet, but, even for followers of irrational groups like these, I was a bit surprised at the sheer number of logical fallacies that followed for the next month and a half.

My original Tweet was back in October, 2013. The first to respond was one of the paper’s co-authors, Volkan Sevim, who Tweeted “This is not the kind of #Design you have in mind.” So, right at the start, the “Twitter battle” began with the ambiguity logical fallacy.  Something expected of politicians, not scientists, Volkan pretended that design in a biochemical circuit could mean something other than “to devise for a specific function or end.”

After Volkan’s tweet, atheists and secular humanists picked up on the thread. People with Twitter handles like “Debunking Stupidity,” “Logical Lass,” “God Free World,” etc., started to engage. And not with weapons of logic, but with a maelstrom of logical fallacies. The following is a ranking of the types of logical fallacies used. And 179 is a conservative estimate of the actual number of logical errors released from ASH’s quiver (ASH = Atheist Secular Humanist):

  1. Ambiguity (67). Equating science with history, rather than clearly distinguishing scientific research from natural history research.
  2. Strawman (59). Primarily “Creationists are against science,” and/or “science deniers.”
  3. Ad hominem (25). Cursing, but also threats of murder, including mass murder of Christians.
  4. Genetic (12). Even though someone has a PhD in science, their research “doesn’t count” if they are a biblical creationist.
  5. Appeal to authority (6). Several appeals to “scientific consensus,” even though that’s not how science is done.
  6. Circular reasoning (2).
  7. Law of non-contradiction (2).
  8. Bandwagon (1).
  9. Black or white (1).
  10. Tu quoque (1).
  11. Moving the goalposts (1). One commenter said that if the earth is young, why haven’t we found dinosaur DNA? When I showed him we have, he conveniently “moved the goalposts.”
  12. Loaded question (1).
  13. False cause (1).

I really shouldn’t have been surprised by atheists and humanists attempting to “prove” themselves using foolish statements, because that is exactly what Scripture says will happen in Psalm 14:1, Romans 1:18-26, I Corinthians 2:14, and many other places.

The Ham vs. Nye Origins Debate

So what does this have to do with the upcoming origins debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye?  Well, my recent “Twitter battle” provides a glimpse into how Bill Nye, a secular humanist, will debate. Many media outlets have reported on the debate already, and Mr. Nye has portrayed himself as the debate’s “reasonable man.” But rather than using reason, Mr. Nye will attempt to “prove” his version of history with a gusher of logical fallacies. He will try to claim that Christians are against science, confusing scientific research with natural history research. He will fail (or be willfully ignorant of) to see the obvious fact that everyone has access to the same scientific data, so this can’t possibly be a debate about science vs. anti-science. It is a debate about origins, which means it is a debate about how to interpret history. Nye thinks he is battling against anti-science zealots. What I hope Mr. Ham makes crystal clear for viewers though, is the fact that Mr. Nye is debating a straw man, not Mr. Ham.

Pray that God will use this debate to turn the hearts of unbelievers like Bill Nye to Jesus Christ. It is easier to argue using logical fallacies when hiding behind a Twitter handle, YouTube video, etc., but much more difficult to do in a live debate.  Pray also for Christians who are confused by naturalism, or who attempt to unwisely mingle Christianity with naturalism, committing the “middle ground” fallacy.

A Profound Theological Statement

December 30, 2013

In his new book, Rocks Aren’t Clocks, PhD geologist John K. Reed writes:

“Today’s geology assumes the truth of secular naturalism as a matter of course. That emphasizes the need to examine the philosophical and theological issues. For example, people ask if the Bible is a reliable historical source. That’s not a question of science, but it is a question that has profound implications for geology. If we answer in the negative, we have made a profound theological statement; if we answer in the affirmative, then prehistory is precluded and the atheistic geological history that most of us learned in school is false.”

So here is one man who says that we are making a profound theological statement when we ask if the Bible is a reliable historical source.  But then other Christians answer the question in a more agnostic, “I don’t know” fashion.  And still other Christians agree with the atheists, thinking that answering in the affirmative is “embarrassing.”  But, do the agnostic or “embarrassed” believers, as well as the unbelievers realize what a profound theological statement they are making? And do they realize, as Dr. Reed points out, that the earth age question is not primarily a question of science, but of history?

Should any Christian be agnostic or embarrassed about whether the Bible is a reliable historical source? Well, no. Think about the detailed genealogical records in Scripture. Those are in the Bible to remind us of God’s unbroken covenant of grace with mankind throughout history.  Beginning with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, God’s covenant of grace unfolds through history, going from Adam to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to David, and finally to Christ.

Also, looking at Scriptures like Romans 1:20, or Matthew 19:4, or Mark 10:6, there is no good reason to interpret those any other way except that mankind was present from Day 6 on.  Personally, I don’t know exactly how old the earth is, but it is reasonable to conclude from Scripture that it is around 6,000 years old, and mankind has been there since the beginning.

If you are a Christian who is currently “agnostic” or “embarrassed” about the earth age question, I encourage you to read Rocks Aren’t Clocks. You will quickly understand that there isn’t a science vs. Scripture battle, but there is most definitely a battle between the worldviews of Christianity and naturalism. The battle is over how to interpret history, not whether Christians are debating the existence of gravity, DNA, etc. If, on the other hand, you are an unbeliever who thinks Christianity is foolishness, then I pray that God will change your heart, because all the evidence in the world won’t save you. Jesus saves.

Homeschool Biology or Public School Biology?

October 3, 2013
While liberals promote anti-creationism hysteria, a generation of public school students could be handicapped with outdated science textbooks.

While liberals promote anti-creationism hysteria, a generation of public school students could be handicapped with outdated science textbooks.

In November, the Texas State Board of Education will vote on, among other things, whether to adopt new biology textbooks. Meanwhile, liberal media and political groups are having dinosaur costume parties, instead of working hard to correct the obvious lack of modern science in textbooks up for adoption.

Irrational liberals are fond of using the logical fallacy “conservatives are ant-science” strawman. But a quick look at the liberal activist group called the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reveals a vastly different story. Sounding more like a villain of science than a hero, NCSE leader Eugenie Scott actually discourages teaching of 21st Century science to highschoolers, using the pathetic excuse that it is “too difficult“! Another NCSE leader, Josh Rosenau, told me he just doesn’t think the topic of epigenetics should be “mandatory,” as if we need to legislate common sense! In the 21st Century, the study of genetics and epigenetics go hand-in-hand. Genes are made of DNA, and epigenetic factors switch genes on and off at certain times and places during growth and development. Epigenetic changes can also be inherited, allowing offspring to adapt to changing environments without changing their DNA.

And it’s this “change without a DNA change” part of epigenetics, among other things, that has some folks in a panic. But why? Descent with modification is a scientific fact, and if you want to call that “evolution”, fine, although I prefer “adaptation.” But the problem is that some people then confuse the scientific forms of descent with modification with the historic/religious version, better known as “evolutionism”, a component of naturalism. And it’s the threat to naturalistic beliefs, not the threat to science, that has some folks in a panic over 21st Century science findings.

Like millions of other families around the world, my family homeschools. And like a lot of other homeschool families, God has given us the faith to believe the self-evident truth that a creation requires a Creator. We are happy to discuss dinosuar history, the Flood, Genesis, Jesus’ virgin birth, etc. with others. But these are historical truths, not testable, repeatable science. There is a difference between a historic thing and a scientific thing.

Unfortunately, it seems that liberal ideologues are more interested in attempting to protect their sacred cow of naturalism than they are about advancing learning for the next generation of students. Advancing learning for all kids should be something liberals and conservatives should agree on. Apparently, for liberals who realize modern science runs counter to their beliefs about history, disagreement is mandatory. Oh well, all the more reason to homeschool!