When Darwin was around, evolution was science. Darwin made observations, formed a hypothesis, made predictions, and then compared those predictions to the data. In his book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, he showed the data that compared favorably to his predictions, and he argued why the data that did not compare favorably to his predictions should not be taken too seriously. Overall, it was an excellent work of science.
The problem is that as time has gone on, more and more data have been shown to be squarely against the predictions of the evolutionary hypothesis. For example, Darwin himself said that if his view was correct, there should be all sorts of vestigial organs (organs that serve no useful purpose) in nature. He reasoned that as variations occurred in organisms, some useful organs would eventually stop becoming useful – their functions would be “overwritten” by new biological structures that made the creature more fit to survive. However, the now useless organs would not necessarily go away. It would take a long time for natural selection to get rid of them, so at any given time, vestigial organs should be around in a variety of creatures. In fact, Darwin compared vestigial organs to the silent letters in a word. Silent letters don’t necessarily serve a function in the word, but they can give you a hint about the word’s origin. In the same way, he reasoned, vestigial organs don’t serve a useful purpose in an organism, but they can give hints to the organism’s origin1.
Recently, my favorite atheist (P.Z. Myers) went to the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum with about 300 fellow atheists. It was an event organized by the Secular Student Alliance. He wanted to go there to make fun of the exhibits and provide fodder for his blog.
The Creation Museum, of course, was happy to have them. They helped the SSA arrange the whole thing and had a tent outside for them, etc. In fact, the SSA’s organizer for the event, Lyz Lydell, said:
Now, I was absolutely blown away by how accommodating and friendly the Creation Museum staff were. They knew we were coming; they knew exactly who we were. And there had been a little bit of tension about the purpose of our visit before we went. But after we got there, the staff were just phenomenally polite and kind and helpful, and the security guards were very polite and helpful to us. We were expecting more tension, so to have everything so polite and so smooth was absolutely great.1
Imagine my surprise, then, when I read P.Z. Myer’s accounts of the visit.
Alkali metals (like sodium) really like to give up their last electron. That way, they have a very stable electron configuration. Well…one way these metals can give up their electron is to react with water:
2Na + 2H2O –> 2NaOH + H2
In NaOH, the sodium is in its ionic form, Na+. Thus, it has lost its last electron and is now quite stable. Note that hydrogen gas is a product. Well, hydrogen is an explosive gas, and this reaction produces a lot of heat. So when sodium and water react…
Note that this was done in a drainage pond with the owner’s full permission. There were no fish in the water, and the byproduct, NaOH, is actually good for the soil in this area, as the soil is acidic. Thus, this is an environmentally friendly shenanigan.
It turns out that of all alkali metals, sodium is the SECOND LEAST reactive. Lithium is the least reactive. The other alkali metals, in order of reactivity, are potassium, rubidium, cesium, and francium.
If you haven’t seen it, there is a video on Godtube, Youtube, and probably any other tube out there. It is of some preacher named Louie Giglio. He claims to have spoken to a “molecular biologist” from a “local university” who told him about the protein called laminin. This supposed molecular biologist told him that laminin is a cell adhesion molecule that “holds the body together.” Then, he shows his audience a “scientific illustration” of what laminin looks like. Here is basically what he shows the audience:
He goes on to say that this is confirmation of Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” So…because the “scientific illustration” of laminin looks like a cross, God is using science to remind us that Christ holds all things together. Just in case the “scientific illustration” doesn’t convince you, he shows you an electron microscope image of laminin. He shows this:
Now I have to admit that someone who knows little about protein chemistry could easily be taken in by such tripe. Thus, even though this video upsets me, I am not upset with the people who send me this video. Neither am I upset with Louie Giglio for talking about this in his sermon without really understanding it. Preachers talk about things they don’t understand all the time, including the Bible. Thus, it doesn’t surprise me that a preacher would talk about protein chemistry even though he doesn’t understand it. What bothers me is that Louie Giglio claims he got this information from a molecular biologist.
John Holzmann is a man I respect and admire. I have never met him, but he seems to me the picture of a true Renaissance Man. He has a degree in philosophy from Michigan State University and a Masters of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. He and his wife started a homeschool curriculum company (Sonlight Curriculum) that is wildly popular and promotes what I like to call a “neo-classical” approach to education. In this approach, a large fraction of learning comes not from textbooks, but from real literature that relates to the topic at hand. When you study Native Americans, for example, you don’t read a textbook about Native Americans, you read literature written by Native Americans or by people who interacted with Native Americans. It is an approach that can be a bit time consuming for the parent, but it produces well-educated students who are voracious readers.
Obviously, anyone who has enough knowledge of literature to be part of a two-person team who could produce such a complete curriculum must be incredibly knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects. In addition, I have had drawn-out E-MAIL conversations with him regarding the age of the earth (a subject on which we disagree), and not only is he thoroughly familiar with the main scientific issues related to the subject, he can discuss them in a meaningful and respectful way. Thus, when John Holzmann commented on my blog, I sat up and took notice.
According to alarmists like Al Gore, one of the biggest threats of “global warming” is the rise it will cause in sea level. After all, they say, as the earth gets warmer, more of its ice will melt, and the seas will rise. If this happens to any great extent, sea levels could rise several feet. In fact, NASA’s chief Chicken Little, James Hansen, has claimed that “global warming” could cause the sea levels to rise as much as 20 feet!.1 As “proof” that “global warming” is already causing sea level rises, these alarmists note that sea levels have risen by about 20 centimeters in the past 100 years. 2
Now of course 20 centimeters (about eight inches) is a FAR CRY from 20 feet, but global warming alarmists assure us that the rise we have seen so far is definitely the result of global warming, and as global warming accelerates, sea level rise will accelerate as well. Of course, as is usually the case with global warming alarmists, what they say is squarely contradicted by the data.
As I stated in my previous post, there are a lot of great things in Vox Day’s The Irrational Atheist. However, I have to say that he is in rare form as he rakes Sam Harris over the coals in the chapter entitled, “The End of Sam Harris.” This, of course, is a takeoff on the title of Harris’s first book, The End of Faith. I slogged through both that book and his Letter to a Christian Nation, which was supposed to be a response to the feedback he received from his first book. I found both books to be incoherent, but I simply could not eviscerate Harris the way Vox Day has. It is nothing short of magnificent.
As I have said previously, it is hard for me to fathom anyone who has scientific training and does not believe in God. The natural world, in my opinion, screams out His existence to anyone who examines it even in a cursory way. Indeed, it was science that brought me not only to a belief in God, but also to faith in Christianity. Thus, when I encounter someone who actually knows something about the natural world and does not believe in God, I am fascinated.
The only blog I read regularly, for example, is PZ Myers’s blog. He clearly knows a lot about the natural world, and yet he remains an atheist. In the same way, I have read every one of Richard Dawkins’s books. Both Myers and Dawkins are interesting writers – Myers being more of a sledgehammer and Dawkins being more of a jeweler’s hammer – and I think they are both a grand testament to how well people can compartmentalize their thinking. They are both adept at keeping their knowledge of the natural world quite apart from their logic and reasoning. If they were ever to put the three together, they could not remain atheists. Since they resolutely keep their scientific knowledge separate from their logic and reasoning, I have always referred to such atheists as “irrational.”
Enter Vox Day** . I read what seemed to be a ridiculously fawning review of his book The Irrational Atheist and, as a result, I almost didn’t buy it. After all, I seriously doubted that any book about the obvious absurdity of the atheist position could be as good as the reviewer claimed. However, before rejecting his book because the review I read seemed too good to be true, I decided to see what my favorite atheist (PZ Myers) had to say about the book. Now Myers regularly writes long, scathing reviews of books that he thinks he can refute. Thus, I assumed there would be a long review of Day’s book. Instead, all I could find was a short entry saying that he couldn’t even finish the book. Well…any book that is too terrifying for PZ Myers to finish is definitely worth a look!
In my previous entry, I mentioned two options for the person who believes in an ancient earth and still wants to interpret the days of Genesis as 24-hour days. The first is that God created with the appearance of age. However, that goes against God’s nature, because God would have to lie to create the earth with the appearance of age.
The other option is both more interesting and does not conflict with God’s character. That option is to believe the days in Genesis are not given in earth’s frame of reference. Instead, they are given in a completely different frame of reference. This idea, proposed by MIT professor Gerald Schroeder, is probably not correct, but it is incredibly interesting.
As I have written previously, there is some evidence that indicates the earth is old. Both the absence of most short-lived radioisotopes on earth as well as the ratios of certain isotopes in certain kinds of rock point to a very old earth. In addition, while some aspects of geology are best understood in a young-earth framework, others are best understood in an old-earth framework. Hopefully, I will eventually write about these old-earth evidences, as they are important to know and understand. However, for right now, just assume they exist.
Let’s suppose, then, that a person is convinced by the old-earth evidences. He or she thinks the data that indicate the earth is billions of years old outweigh the data that indicate the earth is on the order of ten thousand years old. Even though I disagree with such an assessment, it is a valid position to take. Now, even though it is not necessary to do so, suppose a person who believes the earth is billions of years old also wants to interpret the days of Genesis as 24-hour days. Is it possible to believe both of these premises? Actually, it is. In fact, there are two options such a person has:
1. Believe that God created the earth with an appearance of age.
2. Believe that the 24-hour days in Genesis are not earth days, but are days in another reference frame, such as the rest frame of the universe.
The second option is rather esoteric, but it is definitely feasible scientifically. I hope to write about that next. In this entry, however, I want to address the first question: Could God have created earth with an appearance of age? My answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT.