Sunday, 8 June 2014

Richard Dawkins and Fairy Tales


 The amateur theologian and philosopher Richard Dawkins has been back pedalling after his comments against the practice of reading fairy tales to children have been widely criticised by some people who actually knew what they were talking about and had some evidence to support their views. He made the comments at a literary festival in Cheltenham. A link can be found here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27715735

Interestingly, there were some reflections on storytelling, willing suspension of disbelief, the meaning that fantastic tales can carry etc. in my last post about Godzilla, which was posted before these comments of Dawkins were reported. Anyway.....

I had to laugh when I heard that Dawkins said that children should not be read traditional fairy stories as, for example it was ‘extremely statistically improbable’ that a frog should turn into a prince. For this same Dawkins believes that hydrogen atoms turned into people, including princes, by random processes which utterly defy probability and cannot be demonstrated. 
Imagine the kind of bedtime stories that would be told if the old bigmouth had his way..... 
'Now listen carefully children. Once upon a time there was Nothing, then the Nothing exploded and made everything, including time and the laws of physics. Then the particles from the Big Bang clumped together and made stars, and the stars made heavy elements like iron, oxygen and tin. Then some of the stars blew up and showered bits of star dust everywhere, then some of the bits stuck together and made the earth (with its perfectly balanced moon). A load of water came to earth from somewhere and together with some volcano gas and sparks made the first amoebas, some of which turned into sponges, worms, jellyfish, snails, fish, frogs, reptiles, birds, apes and then finally you and I.  And there was no designer or god of any sort, it all just happened. Because it did.
This is not make believe, although I AM going to MAKE you BELIEVE it.
Good night children (depending on what we mean by 'good' in an evolutionary sense) and remember THERE IS NO GOD.'

He talks about 'improbable events' but famously refuses to debate with people such as Stephen Meyer who dare to challenge him on the mathematical probability of the processes which supposedly led molecules to man evolution, which is the Fairy Tale that Dawkins demands that all children are indoctrinated with from the earliest age. Meyer’s Book ‘Signature in the Cell’ used only mathematical arguments to show that the existence of the information on the DNA molecule is profoundly statically impossible without a designer. It is not a religious book, yet while both men were on US book tours, Dawkins refused invitations to debate Meyer’s arguments in public, writing him off as a ‘creationist’. Dawkins has elsewhere advised his followers not to enter rational debate with Christians or creationists but to abuse and insult them.

He says that instead of being taught traditional tales, which as one expert said can carry some moral and social values (e.g. Little Red Riding Hood teaches young girls to beware predatory male adult strangers) they should be taught ‘scientific rigour’.  However, as we saw over the Michael Reiss affair, in which Dawkins and others at the Royal Society forced an innocent man out of his job for merely suggesting that Darwin dissent in the classroom should be met with politely and a request for evidence. The Dawkins line is that children must be taught that Darwinian evolution is an unchallengeable dogma that may not be questioned. Even the fact of the existence of scientifically literate disagreement may not be acknowledged in the classroom.

Traditional Fairy Tales are introduced with the phrase ‘Once upon a time...’ which sets the scene for a willing and temporary suspension of incredulity. Dawkins' Fairy Tales are introduced with ‘This is supported by Mountains of Overwhelming Evidence-so don’t ask naughty questions, just believe!’
As I often say, people should read Darwin's 'Origin of Species' and see how often phrases such as 'may we not believe?...I have no difficulty in imagining...I can hardly doubt....' occur to make up for the lack of evidence. Indeed, one of the biggest Fairy Tales of all surround the idea that molecules to man evolution is somehow supported by rigorous scientific facts and repeatable observations. Dawkins is of course one of the greatest purveyors of this Mythos.

Dawkins’ back pedalling is interesting. Like a crafty politician he is always testing the limits to see how much of his agenda the public will tolerate. Just testing the water, although if he is able to drive the climate of opinion just a little further towards a totalitarian intolerance of Christianity.....? When it turns out he has gone slightly too far for the current climate of opinion, he uses the classic 'Oh I was misunderstood...taken out of context....only being ironic.....' strategy after being caught out and revealing his true heart of darkness. He doesn't REALLY want the children of believers taken into care. 'I only said teaching children about Jesus was tantamount to child abuse......' 
But on the other hand, His real target is  of course not traditional children's stories of dragons, witches, dwarves and ogres (although of course like all good atheists he hates the C S Lewis Narnia stories) but is the Christian religion, which he regards as a ‘pernicious’ Fairy Tale’. He wants the teaching of Christianity as truth to children banned. Outlawed. Criminalised. He is careful not to put it in quite so many words. 

Do not be deceived. Take a look at 20th century history to see what hard line atheists actually do when they get into power. One of the first things they always do is take complete control of the ideas to which children are exposed.

PS Dawkins doesn't want children to hear about princesses being rescued from dragons in enchanted castles in case it gives children ideas he finds unacceptable. So how does he feel about shoot-em-up computer games, World of Warcraft, Tour of Duty, Grand Theft Auto etc?

 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Radiation eating monsters versus Godzilla -film review


I saw the latest remake of the Japanese classic monster movie Godzilla last week and felt like writing a few comments about evolutionistic aspects of the film. Before continuing I should say I thought it a first class monster movie, and that I understand how we willingly suspend disbelief when storytelling is going on. However, the film was presented as modern-day realistic, and people clearly get at least some of their ideas about life from art, whether novels, songs, theatre or film. I am sure most of the audience felt they were getting a good adventure thriller, and so we were, but we also got a good dose of evolutionary reinforcement as well, largely subliminal.

CAUTION: This review may contain plot spoilers and you might prefer to see the film first.

The dramatically staged introduction included clips from the original Japanese black and white film ‘Gojira’ (fish lizard, nothing to do with any kind of ‘god’) and footage from the 1950s Pacific nuclear weapons tests. There was also a brief, almost subliminal, shot of the frontispiece of Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’, including the subtitle ‘..or, the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.’ That bit of the title usually gets left out, not least due to that other world changing book with the word ‘Struggle’ (*) in the title. Anyway, introductions matter and we were being told that he story had something to do with evolution and radiation.

Some expert geologists/palaeontologists are helicoptered to a mine in the Philippines where a huge chasm has opened up, swallowing 40 workers and much machinery. Deep inside it (‘below the Cambrian’ as we were told) a truly gigantic fossil skeleton is found. They stand inside it’s rib cage which seems to go on for several hundred feet. There is also a huge cocoon like structure. We then learn that another similar structure has been discovered from which something appears to have hatched. We then see a gigantic trail of smashed trees and a vast furrow leading from the mine to the sea.

The next thing is that a nuclear plant in Japan collapses under what appears to have been an earthquake. The whole town is evacuated and kept sealed off. 15 years later we discover through a grief-deranged scientist whose wife died in the disaster that the radioactivity has disappeared and  a secret project is going on, studying and hopefully containing a huge weird cocoon like the one we saw in the Philippines mine. It hatches, from it emerges a gigantic winged and taloned monster that causes great destruction before flying away on huge leathery wings.

The injured researcher at last gets some answers. The pre-Cambrian MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Object) has been awakened at the Philippines earthquake, hatched out, burrowed under the nuclear station to which it was attracted by radiation, and has been consuming the radiation. Yes, it ‘comes from a distant period in the earth’s past when radiation levels were much higher than today’ as the scientist played by Ken Watanabe tells us (or was it his assistant? Please excuse minor inaccuracies, I don't have a transcript). It eats radiation, that's why it was attracted to the nuclear plant. Now it has metamorphosed (we never got to see the earlier form it took, presumably sticking with this story line it was a mega caterpillar) and now having hatched into its adult form has gone looking for some more radiation to eat.

A Russian nuclear submarine goes missing, and is tracked to a remote island jungle where the MUTO is eating it, tearing off great lumps of metal and chewing and swallowing them. The overall reality of the plot and acting and the excellent special effects actually tend to make this evident impossibility reasonably credible. The grey beast has an oddly shaped flat pointy almost metallic head ( a bit like the Shadows in Babylon 5) and bizarre talons (slightly reminiscent of the mysterious monster in the rather nasty ‘monster destroys New York’ film ‘Cloverfield’).

Anyway, it turns out that there was another cocoon, which the secret researchers ‘vivisected’ and then stored in a nuclear waste facility. They go there to discover it has hatched out (what, after being 'vivisected'?), another even larger MUTO, and, horror of horrors, its a female. It has heard the other one’s call and heads to it. Lots of violence, buildings smashed, brave soldiers getting wasted trying to stop it, and airplanes falling out of the sky as MUTO emits EMP (electromagnetic pulses) which disable all electronic devices. ‘This will take us back to the stone age’ we are told by one researcher.

A plan is conceived to move a big H bomb to an offshore site, attract the monsters to it, then blow it up. Because of the EMP grounding planes and disabling electronics, a clockwork H bomb in a Minuteman missile is used. However the male MUTO grabs the bomb. The MUTOs mate (we are thankfully spared the sight) and a cluster of football sized eggs is laid around the missile, each with a vile monster embryo wriggling inside it. Certainly quite amazing to go from fertilised ovum to chicken sized hatchling in a couple of hours.

Godzilla turns up, bigger than an aircraft carrier, and fights the MUTOs, eventually killing both in dramatic fashion. He then gives a victory roar and swims off into the sunset, fulfilling scientist Watanabe’s hopes about Gojira ‘restoring the balance’. The monster is hailed as a ‘Saviour’ (and he does indeed appear to rise from the dead after sacrificing himself to save San Francisco, although not sadly its iconic bridge, destroyed in so many films of this kind.). 

Where do I start?

Godzilla is taller than a skyscraper, big enough to cause a tsunami. How would his blood circulate that kind of distance from heart to extremities. is he air breathing (apparently), if so how does he live unseen at 10,000 feet? What would he eat? And how could something so big, or rather a breeding population of them, survive undetected from the pre-Cambrian? OK, it’s only a monster movie, we can let that kind of stuff go.

regarding the MUTOs, the assumption that a living thing of any kind, let alone a very large one, could survive in a cocoon from the pre-Cambrian is really in the ‘The cow jumped over the moon’ category of, shall we say, very highly improbable. More to the point, the idea that such a creature (**) could ‘eat radiation’ is even more bizarre. The grammar doesn’t even make sense. You could in theory eat uranium, but first you’d have to extract it from the ore in which it occurs, a long and complicated task (as we know from discussions about Iran’s centrifuges).
 
But radiation isn’t in any possible sense a foodstuff-it is destructive, just like a bullet from a gun. Whether gamma rays, ultraviolet rays, or charged particles, it is a purely destructive process. But, aha, this is where a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ comes in, for in evolutionary mythology (remember the homage to Darwin’s Origin of Species in the film’s introduction) mutations (the bad monsters are called MUTOs) are the primary, if not only, agent of change in progressive process whereby newer, fitter, more diverse organism arise. As Darwin wrote, ‘Until the favourable variations chance to arise, natural selection has nothing to work with’. And radiation certainly causes variations, although not favourable ones as many cancer sufferers know to their cost.

In evolutionary storytelling, mutations are good, therefore radiation is good. Only in real life we know that ain’t so. So who is willingly suspending disbelief, and to what end? 

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings trilogy although I am quite clear in my mind that there are no deathless elves, hairy footed hobbits or rings of power. I’m not complaining about seeing fantastic things in a fantasy film. But, although it might carry moral messages we could discuss, LOTR is clearly presented as fantasy. The 2014 remake of Godzilla is presented as somewhat realistic present day science fiction. I think it probable that people will to some extent have their ideas about the inevitability of evolution by natural selection acting on random mutations reinforced by some of the semi-subliminal messages in the film. I am not saying that the producer and director sat down and deliberately planned to make Darwinist propaganda, I’m sure they were more concerned with art, fame and money, but the message is there all the same. It is ubiquitous, and it is never questioned. The most effective propaganda is the propaganda of which you are completely unaware.

Nevertheless I thought Godzilla a pretty good state of the art sci-fi monster movie remake. I conclude by noting how many apocalyptic/end of civilisation films are being made these days. Something in the air? As Joni Mitchel sang in 'Woodstock'
 
'maybe its just the time of year, or maybe its the time of Man...'
 
 
 
(*) Mein Kampf (my struggle) by Adolf Hitler

(**) The term 'creature' means something created. Technically its incorrect for an evolutionist to use the term, or term s like 'designed', but they often do anyway.

 

 

 

 

 
 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter reflections on intelligent design, science and how we deceive ourselves.


On Easter Sunday I find myself reflecting on the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the event that started the Christian faith. The Christian message of God being born as a man, dying for our sins, and coming back to life before ascending to Heaven to rule until the final judgment is, and offering a free pardon and adoption into God's family with eternal joy for true believers is, if true, evidently the most important thing that has ever happened or will ever happen in the history of the Universe. If Jesus is who he said he was, it would be insane not to follow him. And as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, it all hinges on whether or not Jesus was in fact raised from the dead with a new glorified body. 

Deciding whether all this is true or proving beyond doubt that it is not would seem an absolute imperative. So it is surprising that people often merely shrug off or ignore the resurrection, or perhaps even more strangely, say that it may have happened but not doing anything about it.

So is it true? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? And if not, then what? If the resurrection did not happen, we require an alternative explanation for the origin of the Christian church.

Several things are quite literally not in doubt. For a start, the Christian church exists. Like other movements, e.g. Islam, Marxism, Nazism, it had to have had a reason to start existing.
Christianity began in Jerusalem around 50 AD and then spread worldwide, and despite persecution, misrepresentation, corruption and internal conflicts due to treachery, has survived. The men who started the church and spread it worldwide despite persecution insisted that they had seen the risen Christ. The very earliest Christian documents and the testimony of secular/pagan historians puts the testimony of the church founders to the risen Jesus beyond doubt. So we require an explanation for this belief.

The world has offered several alternative explanations for the disciples’ story that they had seen the risen Christ.

1)      Jesus didn’t die, he passed out and came round later in the tomb. He escaped and went into hiding, managing to persuade the disciples that he had risen again.

2)      They had stolen and hidden his body and were deliberately lying.

3)      They had hallucinated.

4)      The whole story was invented by the Romans (e.g. Emperor Constantine) as a means of rule.

I have heard several further alternative explanations that are just too daft to be worth discussing, but the above 4 are the ones I find come up most often. Do they bear rational examination?

Before going any further, I note that I just introduced the term ‘rational’. This term is often claimed by materialists as their own. Not so. Being rational means using reason. To investigate a matter rationally means to assemble and evaluate the relevant evidence, consider alternative possibilities, applying logic, trying to rule mistakes out and establish the truth of a matter. The assertion that being rational means ruling out supernatural explanations is ‘the philosophical assumption of materialism’. I will return to this logical error later, but meanwhile let’s apply a process of reason to the resurrection of Jesus.

1)      Did Jesus swoon and come round later? No. The Romans were good at killing people. Jesus was speared through the heart and blood and water gushed out-this was probably pulmonary oedema fluid from extreme heart failure. There is no prospect of him having survived crucifixion. Even if he had, he would probably have succumbed in the cold tomb later. Even if he had survived, he would have been a broken man and could not possibly have persuaded the disciples that he had risen with a new glorified body. Mega fail. I can hardly believe that people still come out with this tripe.

2)      Did the disciples steal the body and then lie about it? This is the story the Jews put out. Seems unlikely, especially given the demoralised state of the disciples and the Roman guard on the tomb. But even if it were so, we are then left with a group of men who were, in the name of truth, willing to stand up and lie-and die rather than admit they were lying. People will die for a lie they believe in, like Muslim suicide bombers, but who will die for what they know is a lie? The apostles all died under persecution, none of them got rich. This story is unbelievable.

3)      Did the disciples hallucinate that Jesus was risen? This is essentially what the heretic bishop John Shelby Spong proposes in his book ‘Resurrection: Myth or Reality?’ It’s a very weird book and never comes near to proving its case. Spong goes further than the weasel words of bishop Jenkins of Durham who gave the notorious quote about ‘a conjuring trick with bones’, Spong asserts that Jesus would have been buried in a common grave and his bones turned to dust. I don’t want to say much more about Spong here beyond saying that he has made a set of statements of personal belief which are generally agreed to contradict every element of historic and biblical Christian faith. Hallucinations do occur, but there is no record of an enduring mass movement having begun or been sustained by hallucinations. This really makes no sense. The likeliest explanation of Spong asserting that the Christian religion was started by hallucinating disciples is that he insists on a naturalistic explanation and made one up to suit his preferences. He is one of the false teachers that the New Testament warns us about, e.g. in 2 Peter 2: 1-3.

4)      ‘It was all made up’. Well they would say that wouldn’t they. Because if it wasn’t ‘all made up’ then it would have to be true, in which case the only rational response we can make is to fall at Jesus’ feet and worship and obey him.

 

OK, so where does this tie in with evolution and intelligent design hypothesis? Simple. The exact same line of reasoning is taken in dismissing the Resurrection as in dismissing evidence against molecules to man evolution,.-the evidence points to a conclusion we don’t like, so we’ll fix the rules  of debate so that any evidence pointing to the conclusion we don’t like will be stifled, ignored, misrepresented and forbidden. Supernatural explanations are ruled out even if they fit the facts best. We will apply the assumption of materialism and call it science.
 

The philosophical assumption of materialism rules out miracles and is also typically used to rule out rational discussion of the intelligent design (ID) hypothesis. ID proponents look at the known facts of biology and rationally evaluate the evidence for Darwinian gradualism (natural selection acting on naturally occurring variations) and ALSO discuss the observable characteristics of things that we know have been designed.
 
The ID proponent essentially uses a process of reason to attempt to falsify Darwinism, and succeeds. He also studies the observable process of design, and finds that living things and their systems (e.g. photosynthesis, protein synthesis, Krebs cycle, the immune system etc) demonstrate features that point strongly to design. The ID proponent therefore adduces to the most reasonable explanation, which is design. However (and this is one of the key lessons of the notorious Dover mis-trial, which also violated the US constitution by pronouncing on a matter of religious belief) this is ruled out by the Darwinist since it amounts to saying ‘God did it’ which is philosophically ruled out. Design implies a designer, who may be God, and the secularist revolutionaries who have seized control of most of our government, media and education systems are radically opposed to the idea of God, at least the idea of a demanding, Sovereign Creator Lawgiver God. Their agenda is not God's agenda, he stands in the way of their earthly humanist Utopias. This is why there is no intelligent discourse about ID in the media and discussion of it is actually outlawed in our schools and colleges.

Its the same for the facts about the Christian faith, including the fulfilled prophecies that validate Jesus, the absolutely foundational importance of biblical Christianity to our liberty and prosperity, the growing power of the State to control thought, and the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. They don't want you to know about these things. However, the truth is still what it is and will be what it will be. 
There is still time to make diligent enquiry into Jesus. I would if I were you. There is too much at stake to just drift along with the spirit of the age, a spirit that has been created and applied by people who do not necessarily have your best interests in mind. 

 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Noah Film and the Flood


I haven’t see the Noah movie yet although I intend to. Answers in Genesis (AiG) sent some researchers to have a look and they produced this review http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/noah-movie/detailed-review. 

Assuming (as I do) that the review is accurate, the film (written and produced by atheists) is not merely a highly inaccurate re-telling of the biblical Noah Flood story, but takes extreme liberties with the character of Noah, misrepresents the nature of God and angels, and adds numerous completely fantastic extra-biblical features.
The film departs so far from the Genesis story that viewers should have no difficulty recognising that the two accounts have nothing in common other than a lot of water and the names of some of the characters. Perhaps this is a good thing, a subtle lie may be easier swallowed that a truly gross one. But then again....we humans have proved capable of swallowing some pretty gigantic lies, especially when they make us feel good about ourselves. The AiG review suggests that the film is something of an eco-parable, probably with an anti climate change agenda, and of course supports big bang to humans evolution.

AiG discourages people from seeing the film (while not calling for a boycott) but acknowledges that it may bring up opportunities to talk about God, Genesis, the Noah Flood, Jesus and the coming Judgment. This is not an easy thing for Christians to talk about, and atheists are already talking up the idea of God as a moral monster for destroying all but a handful of the earth’s inhabitants. We read in Genesis chapter 6 verse 5 onwards that as man spread through the earth,
'God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually...And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and was grieved in His heart’.
This is perhaps the most distressing thing that has ever been written.

The bible teaches that God did have a plan to redeem men and women, or some at least, and that it was a necessity in His divine plan of salvation to terminate the wicked culture that had emerged though men’s rebellion against him, men having ‘...filled the earth with violence...all flesh having corrupted its way’ (subsequent verses in chapter 6). The Flood was a regrettably necessary part of that plan.

All the usual questions will come up. If God knew this level of human wickedness would happen, why go ahead with the creation? Shouldn't He have practiced better safeguarding? What about innocent children? How much warning and opportunity to change did people get? Who is He to judge us? etc. I’m afraid you will have to address those questions to the Almighty; perhaps you will have better success than Job (see Book of Job chapter 38 onwards).

Jesus referred to the Noah Flood as history, and as a warning of future universal judgment. See Matthew’s Gospel chapter 24 verses 36-40

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.  For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark...and the Flood destroyed them all.’

There are also 2 references in Peter's letters to the historicity of the Noah Flood, and the fact that in the last days people would deny the Flood and mock believers. See 1 Peter 3:20 and 2 Peter 2:5 and 3:3-9, which like Jesus' reference cited above, link the past judgment to future judgment. Both judgments are seen by scripture as deserved, inevitable and universal, but also with a possibility of being saved by turning to God.
I don’t have time right now to go into all the evidence for the Flood, beyond a few bullet points

-there is plenty enough water to cover the whole earth if you raise the ocean trenches, lower the highest mountains and allow for the ice caps to melt (or rather to have not yet formed). This is perfectly feasible given a creation in which there were no ocean trenches, ice caps or high mountains prior to the Flood. The ocean trenches and high mountains could have been created by speeded up tectonic plate activity at God’s command. This is hinted at in the Genesis account where we read that as well as rain, God ‘broke up the fountains of the great deep’ (Genesis chapter 7 verse 11).
-many ancient cultures have legends about a great flood that covered the earth and in which a few people were saved through a boat.
-billions of fossils are found all over the earth in sedimentary rock which could only have been formed through massive movements of liquid mud.
-billions of tons of fossil fuel (oil, shale, gas, coal) exist in thick layers beneath the earth. The most feasible explanation for all this buried biomass is a global flood. Burial must have been rapid to have ensured anaerobic breakdown of the biomass to fossil fuel.

These matters are dealt with in more depth in various creationist sources.

It is appalling that God would destroy the earth in this way. But if He did, then our response should rather than to judge our maker as a moral monster, we should ask why He would have done this. Jesus linked the past judgment by water to a coming judgment by fire. Will we judge God? Or will HE judge us? Wicked people are apt to deceive themselves about their own righteousness, but as Isaiah wrote 'Hail will sweep away the refuge of lies'.

It is what it is. If you can read this, there’s time to repent and get right with God though faith in and obedience to Jesus, whom God sent to be our Ark.

 

 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

More routine anti Christian propaganda from Jeremy Paxman

 
 

Watching last night’s University Challenge on BBC iPlayer, I could not fail to notice yet another subversion of the programme to anti Christian propaganda. And a rather nasty little one.
About 10 minutes into the Southampton versus Manchester semi final, the well known Dawkinist Jeremy Paxman introduced a round on ‘Science, philosophy and religion’. The three questions related to 3 of the ‘Four horsemen of the New Atheists’, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Shame there aren’t 4 questions in a round as Sam Harris, the fourth member of this group of aggressive anti-theist philosophers had to be left out. The questions were easy, I got them all and so did the team. The last one about Dawkins was gratuitously offensive, asking who had identified himself as a ‘tooth fairy agnostic’ thus comparing the historically well attested Christian faith which provided the intellectual and moral base for western civilisation with a story told to small children.

In the same programme there was a positive question about Darwin. There is nothing subtle about this.
On three separate episodes of University Challenge I have personally watched (and I don't always watch it), Paxman has introduced aggressively and offensively anti intelligent design set of questions. His body language and tone of voice as he used terms like ‘pseudoscience’, made sneering jokes about a satirical video about 'Intelligent Falling' (gravity) and presented a totally false view of the infamous Dover trial made his position very clear. He is using the programme as an activist. This is wrong.  
Another time I saw him on The One Show, a BBC daily chat programme, raging against ‘this ridiculous nonsense’ of intelligent design. Viewers will have to take Paxman’s word for the fact that the intelligent design hypothesis is ‘ridiculous nonsense’ because despite public interest the subject is never, ever, ever covered on BBC TV or radio except in the context of one sided misrepresentation and abuse, despite the publicly funded BBC's legal obligation to provide fair and balanced coverage.

I have no problem with University Challenge taking the broadest possible liberal view of science, religion, the arts etc as long as they stick to facts and recognise where there is legitimate uncertainty and difference of opinion. But under Paxman, coverage of intelligent design and Christian faith in general is pure one sided bias, reflecting his own known opinions. As has been noted here before, questions on University Challenge are often  transparently used to promote a secularist agenda and normalise the ‘Science versus religion, science wins’ position of the aggressive secularists. This question round should have been introduced as being about the New Atheists or anti-theistic philosophers ad their books, not ‘Science, religion and philosophy’.

More routine anti Christian propaganda from the BBC. I have stopped writing to complain about this flagrant bias which occurs across a wide range of programmes-news, drama, quiz shows, documentaries- and breaks the BBC charter. As I have mentioned before, you just get a standard condescending letter denying your experience and telling you that the BBC is right and you are wrong. People who would like balanced coverage of Darwin dissent have to endure this propaganda and censorship and have no remedy.

I hope that Paxman will find the grace of repentance, if not then it will go hard with him because he has had many opportunities in this life and has used his exalted position at the BBC to attack the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our only hope of salvation. God is very patient and forgiving but in the end, is not mocked. Christopher Hitchens has already gone to his appointed place , see Luke's Gospel chapter 16. He cannot send a message back to warn his friends to repent, they have already been given fair warning. 

As St Paul wrote to the Corinthians; ‘Where is the wise man and the debater? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the wise?...the wisdom of this age is coming to nothing...if anyone thinks he is wise, let him become a fool for Christ’s sake.’ Paxman and the BBC governors won’t look so clever when they stand before their Creator, Lord and Judge on that Day. The European Court of Human Rights has no jurisdiction before the throne of God.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

New thinking on the light and time problem for young earth creationists

I have just read an interesting and thoughtful article by Danny Faulkner on Answers in Genesis about the problem for recent creationists posed by the apparent very large size of the universe and the issues for a biblical date of creation posed by light from distant stars and galaxies. Read it here.

The problem of the age of the earth tends to be the first objection raised in discussions about creation versus evolution. I have lost count of the times the age of the earth has been raised as a 'knock down' killer response when I have raised fundamental scientific objections to the Darwinian evolution hypothesis. These objections include the impossibility of  abiogenesis, origin of information, observed fixity of species within genomic limits, deleterious nature of mutations, sudden appearance, extinctions and stasis in the fossil record, and many other issues that I raise on this blog from time to time. Rather than answer these problems, I find that evolutionists often tend to make straight for the presumed cast iron evidence for a very old cosmos and assume that they have killed my arguments.

As an aside, they have been hoodwinked into believing that a very old earth automatically guarantees that molecules to man evolution will occur. That is absolutely a non sequitur-if the mechanism fails (and it does) then adding time doesn't help. A very old earth is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for bacteria to turn into people via worms, reptiles and apes. Anyway, back to the article.

As a biblical Christian, I respond that I trust the Bible (for a range of reasons I don't have time to go into on this post) and so believe that the genealogies and histories are true, and that Jesus and the Apostles were correct when they referred to Adam, Enoch, Noah etc. as literal historical people. Therefore (because I accept the Bible as a primary resource) I believe the Earth is about 6,000 years old. The opponent then basically says. 'Ha! Got you! you're an ignorant moron who believes in fairy stories and denies science, so I don't have to answer any of the science problems you raised about evolution.' This is very convenient for them, as they can't satisfactorily answer any of the above mentioned science problems I raise.

I freely admit that I do not know enough mathematics, physics and astronomy to seriously address the science issues around distant starlight and how this might be consistent with a 6,000 year old creation. And neither do most of the people who so boldly assert that 'the scientists have proved it'. These people also believe a lot of other stuff they have been spoon fed since the age of 4 and never question. They are so very trusting of their masters. Some of these people also believe that Islam is a religion of peace and that Britain can borrow her way out of debt, despite the profound and readily accessible evidence to the contrary. I digress, although everything is connected.

However, as with all scientific evaluation of difficult questions, there are confounding factors and different angles on the apparent evidence for a very old cosmos and Earth. The most overarching and fundamental of these factors is the presence (even if only theoretical) of a Supreme Being who possesses and uses wisdom and power of a totally different order of magnitude than we can even imagine. As I posted yesterday, this factor tends to be automatically discounted, yet it is at the heart of the discussion. So why discount the only alternative to materialism? Not a very fair minded or reasonable thing for a disinterested seeker of truth, but very much what one would expect from a philosophically determined materialist.

Another thing I take into account when questioning billions of years is that I know very well that I have been systematically deceived over the biology of molecules to man evolution. The stuff I was taught at A level science-peppered moths, Galapagos finches, sickle cell disease, Miller-Urey experiment, embryology recapitulates phylogeny etc. (and all this is still being taught in schools today, by government diktat and prevented BY LAW from being questioned) is all a load of guff. I reserve the right to assume that the people who have deceived themselves and others over, for example, beneficial mutations as the central creative mechanism of evolution, may have been similarly lacking in objectivity and/or integrity over age of the cosmos issues.

What Faulkner essentially says in his essay is really very similar to what we read in the Book of Job in the Old Testament. After Job has said his piece, God responds, beginning with the question 'Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth? Tell me how I made the stars, since you're so clever!'

At this stage I can hear the sniggers 'Oh yeah, so you're falling back on the 'goddidit' defence! Typical!' Well if you like, I am. However, what if God DID do it? Because that after all is the central argument of the biblical creationist, and indeed of all anywhere near orthodox Christians. Have you  heard of the Nicene creed, or indeed read the historic accounts of the life of Jesus we call the four Gospels? If you extract the miraculous, you are left with nothing much at all, apart from some astounding moral teaching. Moral teaching which we can take or leave as we please if there is no Creator God to Whom we are accountable.

If the Christian religion has any validity whatsoever then Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin according to centuries' old prophecies (proving a God who exists outside of time and knows the end from the beginning), turned water into wine (His first miracle, see John's Gospel chapter 2) healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, raised the dead and after His crucifixion, ascended to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. That's us by the way. As some anti Christian commentators have noted (although theistic evolutionists tend to shy away from this) if we are in for a penny, may as well be in for a pound. Either God performs mighty miracles or He does not, and if not, then why bother following Jesus at all? And if God can raise the dead, which science says is impossible, then why not create all things in 6 days?

The AiG article mentions that God created the stars to shine light on the Earth and mark times and seasons. To be fit for purpose, that light would have had to reach Earth by day 6 when Adam was created. Faulkner effectively suggests that the light was miraculously 'pulled', perhaps by some sort of inflation or 'stretching out' of space. There are several references to the Creator 'stretching out the heavens' in Isaiah. He freely admits that this would not be susceptible to any kind of scientific measurement or validation. It could not be. Back to Job, who was forced to admit that when confronted with the reality of God he was compelled to despise himself and repent in dust and ashes.

To simplify things, consider the rather large amount of plain water that Jesus miraculously and near-instantaneously turned into good, mature wine (John 2). If we could send wine experts Jancis Robinson and Oz Clarke back in a time machine and ask them to taste it, they would (like the steward in John 2:10) pronounce it rather good and ask for another glass. If you told them it was only 15 minutes old they would laugh you to scorn. If you pressed the point, and let's imagine they had a wine scientist with a portable laboratory along for the ride, they would have pointed out half a dozen science facts (not least the season of the year and the biology of fermentation) why the wine just had to be at least 6 months, probably 2 years, old. But they would be mistaken, sincerely mistaken but nevertheless wrong because they had left the possibility of a miracle out of their calculations.

If Oz and Jancis, smiling to each other knowingly about fairy tales, were then taken aside by an eye witness who told them what had really happened, they might well be incredulous, and understandably so. But if the witness persisted in their story, open minded people might ask some more questions, for example about the integrity of the witness and the character and person of the man who had allegedly performed this miracle, Jesus. On the other hand, they might prefer to stick to their philosophical position that miracles never, ever happen, and so come to the only other possible conclusion-that there was trickery and deceit at work here.

Miracles are sovereign acts of God, not repeatable acts of nature. They are therefore not susceptible to the ordinary scientific rules of testing, prediction and falsification. This sounds like special pleading, OK so perhaps it does. That is why we need to take a broad, rounded view of the reasons why Jesus of Nazareth is a faithful witness who ought to be trusted. That's too big a tangent to go off on in this post, there is a lot elsewhere. Lee Strobel's book 'The Case for Christ' isn't a bad start..

So, in the end it rests on the reliability of Scripture and faith in God and Jesus. Biblical creationists need to face this, admit that we don't have a testable scientific hypothesis to account for the apparent great age of the cosmos as suggested by light from distant stars. We must admit that we trust the Bible because we trust Jesus, for which trust we are certain that we have adequate cause. However, there are a whole bunch of things in biology for which the materialists have absolutely no explanation, and with less excuse given their insistence on the supremacy of the scientific method. Using the issue of time as a distraction tactic from issues like the irreducible complexity of (for example) Krebs cycle which COULD NOT POSSIBLY have evolved by 'numerous successive gradual adaptations' since nothing works until it all works is lazy and a big fail.

Genesis 1:1

'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.'



Sunday, 23 February 2014

Water on Earth-where did it come from?


So where did the water on Earth come from?

I listened to a brief item early morning on Radio 4 last week with an interviewer and scientists talking about water in space. The context was the recent flooding in England and the water cycle, and the question came up about the total amount of water on earth.  The interviewer asked the scientist (sorry I wasn’t able to listen again and forget the name) how water came to be in the first place. It’s a question worth asking.

He said there were ‘... 2, maybe 3, theories’ about where the water came from. The first was that ‘when the earth and moon were formed by a planet the size of Mars smashing into a collection of rocks’ the water was present in the rocks and leaked out or something to form the sea. The second was that the water arrived in comets. (That would be an awful lot of comets, given how very few are seen-ever- let alone how few crash into the earth. Do any? And what about collateral impact damage from crashing comets? But we always have the appeal to 'deep evolutionary time' to sort out issues like that-ED.) The third, which he seemed rather vague about, was that the water had come out of volcanic magma. Or maybe the water came from asteroids. Whatever.
 
The interviewer appeared to share my feelings about the level of explanatory power of this stuff. She said ‘So we don’t have a clue then?’ He was unable to find a response to this and the item ended. It seemed to me that the scientist had merely reeled off a list of known celestial objects and said 'Any of them could have done it...although we have no evidence at all.'

There was no consideration of the possibility that the planet had been created by a superior being in something like its present form with water and other necessities to support organic life. This possibility was not mentioned, even to dismiss it. This demonstrates a pretty good example of  ‘the philosophical assumption of materialism’ by means of which any discussion about origins begins by axiomatically excluding the possibility of divine action. This assumption is understood to be too basic to need stating. 

n  I thought I’d do a little bit of research, and Googled on ‘origin of water’. Wikipedia came up first and began by saying
The origin of water on Earth, or the reason that there is clearly more water on the Earth than on the other planets of the Solar System, has not been clarified. There are several acknowledged theories as to how the world's oceans were formed over the last 4.6 billion years.’
 
I’m not going to quote from the article in detail or argue against its assumptions, but it certainly contains conflicting and contradictory ideas and illustrates the lack of evidence and indeed calls for citations. Evidence. Lack. Of.

The next item to come up was from the Smithsonian mag and included the following paragraph

“Water is so vital to our survival, but strangely enough, we don’t know the first thing about it—literally the first. Where does water, a giver and taker of life on planet Earth, come from? When I was in junior high school, my science teacher taught us about the water cycle—evaporation from oceans and lakes, condensation forming clouds , rain refilling oceans and lakes—and it all made sense. Except for one thing: None of the details explained where the water came from to begin with. I asked, but my teacher looked as if I’d sought the sound of one hand clapping.” (my bold-ED)

The author went on to state standard Big Bang theory, which has been summarised by creationists as ‘Once upon a time there was nothing, then the nothing became unstable, exploded, and made everything.’ Crude though this might be, I still think it is fair to ask where the 'something' came from, and how the laws of physics which as we all know are VERY precisely fine tuned for life came to be, and how you get order from a explosion. Anyway, we were told that water was made in the stars which earlier made themselves from the stuff thrown out in the 'Big Bang’. And then the water the stars made somehow got dumped on Earth and stayed there. Why it didn't all boil off into space wasn't explained, although no doubt some Darwinian 'might have's could be produced.
This 'maybe...could have been...probably did...must have done....' account of water's origin seems to me rather less satisfactory, less probable and to depend on more unseen and untestable entities (Occam's Razor) that the Genesis account of creation. And again, we return to the (usually unstated but always present) philosophical assumption of materialism. This essentially runs that there must be a materialistic explanation, however improbable and even if we have conflicting evidence and absolutely no idea what it is, because it MUST NOT have been God. This assumption was evident in the radio conversation that started me on this piece. 

A few other Googled 'origin of water' items made similar broad assertions about the origin of water on Earth and admitted to general ignorance. One on UCL suggested a different theory that water atoms has been present attached to the various bits of space dust that accreted together to form the Earth. The item mentions that Professor Nora de Leeuw had taught the standard theories of origin of water on Earth for years but increasingly seen that they did not fit the evidence, so developed a new theory which apparently is supported by some computer models.

Of course as with all origins science, it is not possible to test this theory one way or the other. Computer models are just that, however well designed they inevitably depend on inputs and assumptions. They can never re-create the original conditions or repeat unique historical events. They certainly can't rule out the creation of a mature cosmos, solar system and Earth at a moment in history consistent with the biblical genealogies (around 4,000 BC).

On the latter point, I don't want to go off at length about the age of the Earth today beyond repeating that (A) due to the shortage of time machines, all dating methods are based on assumptions about the distant past that we can't validate by repeatable testing, and (B) a deity of the power and wisdom of the One described in the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures 'could have' (if I may borrow that favourite Darwinian term) spoken into being the cosmos, Earth, sea and all that is in them in 6 days. If this happened then the cosmos and Earth, like mature trees, a breathable atmosphere and the first adult human couple, would INEVITABLY have seemed older than 6 days  due to the necessity of being fit for immediate use. Same as the water into wine miracle.

Observing Mars and Venus, our nearest planetary neighbours, is instructive. They are roughly the same size as Earth and not very different in their orbits of the Sun. We now know that neither have liquid water (*) and for various other reasons neither can support life (although we can still enjoy sci-fi written about Mars and Venus in earlier years-especially C S Lewis' brilliant Ransom trilogy). Conditions on Earth are VERY special in many ways, not least in the presence of large amounts of liquid water. Water is only liquid (i.e. not steam or ice) in a very narrow temperature range, one of many 'Goldilocks factors' pointing to design. Our planet certainly looks as if it was designed to support carbon based life including humans. Why is this possibility never considered in media discussions about origins?
 
Just as the Earth looks designed, the various speculations about a non-designed origin also look designed. Designed by the opponents of biblical Christianity to nudge men and women into believing that science has quite properly and by a process of reason and evidence ruled God out of the picture. Not only is this both incorrect and a logical fallacy, but ignores the fact that God has revealed Himself to us not only in nature but also though Israel, the prophets and through Jesus, who rose from the dead.


Why do those who control our mainstream broadcast and print media and education systems struggle so hard to prevent this  possibility even being discussed? In any discussion of origins, the unstated assumption is that God is not to be even considered as a possibility. It is a recurring themes of this blog that the continual repetition of this kind of speculation deliberately builds up the impression that science has disproved God and particularly ruled out creation. Both assumptions are simply not true.


Jesus said ‘I am the water of life. He who drinks of this living water will never thirst again.’ see John’s Gospel 4:10 and 7:37. Water is often used in Scripture as a metaphor for life. Anyone who comes to Jesus in penitent faith will be allowed to drink water from the River of Life (Revelation 22:1.) That is an immeasurably  better prospect than casting around in ever decreasing circles trying to find some explanation other than the one which we have been given in God’s account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2.

(*) Whether Mars has buried frozen water now and/or liquid water in the past is another matter. I have posted about the 'search for water and therefore evidence suggesting possible life on Mars' hype several times in the past.

PS there is plenty enough water on the planet for a global flood. All you need to do is raise the deep ocean trenches and lower the major mountain ranges and you get the whole planet covered. Speeded up tectonic plate activity could have done this and would also account for past continental drift e.g. America drifting away from Africa etc. Terrifying but plausible given a VERY angry God judging a wicked humanity (Genesis chapters 6 and 7). Jesus and Peter both compared the suddenness (although warned about) and finality of the Noah Flood to that of the coming judgment.

 People laughed about the Flood before it happened. Not subsequently. 'As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the day of the son of Man' Matthew 24:37-44