In my previous post about this book, I discussed how the author, Cornelius Hunter, makes the strong case that reliance on naturalism alone in science causes a blind spot. If you restrict your science to only naturalistic processes, you will never be able to know whether or not what you are studying can possibly be the result of a naturalistic process. Instead, you will keep trying to force a naturalistic explanation onto systems and processes that might not be naturalistic in origin.
After establishing this fact, he discusses how it plays out in the biological concept of evolution. Since science is committed to only naturalistic processes, questions such as the origin of life and the origin of the various species must be the result of some natural process, regardless of whether or not the data indicate this. As a result, scientists are continually trying to force the data to indicate evolution, whether or not evolution is a good explanation of the data
Cornelius G. Hunter has a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology and is an Adjunct Professor at Biola University. He spends most of his time doing research, specifically in the area of molecular biophysics. His first two books (Darwin’s God and Darwin’s Proof) did not impress me. Don’t get me wrong – I essentially agree with the views presented in them. Darwin’s God said that evolution is not the same as atheism and, in fact, Darwin was actually trying to “glorify” God by removing Him from the sordid details of nature. As pointed out in that book, Darwin clearly didn’t believe in the God of the Bible, but he clearly did believe in God and sought to make this God more powerful by essentially saying that He created the natural laws that ended up allowing organisms to create themselves.
In his second book, Darwin’s Proof, he shows that common features in organisms don’t imply common ancestry, and he gives plenty of scientific evidence to show that the general principles of macroevolution (one kind of organism evolving into another kind) are clearly wrong. While both books present many truisms, neither added much to what is already known about Darwin or the misuse to which scientists have put his views.
Science’s Blind Spot is Hunter’s latest book, and it is superior to both of his previous ones. In this book, Hunter attempts to explore the benefits of naturalism in science as well as its limitations. Clearly Hunter has spent a lot of time thinking about this, and his insights are both interesting and refreshing.
As The Irrational Atheist shows, it doesn’t take much to destroy the arguments of the New Atheists. The arguments of Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. are simply no match for a computer game designer armed with a few facts. Indeed, Dawkins couldn’t even hold his own against a former political speechwriter.
Well, it turns out that it doesn’t even take a computer game designer or former political speechwriter to make Dawkins look like an idiot. Even a radio talk show host can do it. Hugh Hewitt is an attorney who has a radio talk show that I have never heard. However, someone sent me the transcript of his discussion with Dawkins, and after reading it, I had to admit feeling sorry for poor old Richard. Of course, it’s not his fault. His position is so weak that such embarrassments are inevitable.
Baptist 1: Do you know about the latest rage in Evangelical theology? It’s called “Open Theism.”
Baptist 2: No, I don’t know anything about it.
Baptist 1: That’s okay. We’re not sure God knows about it, either.
This joke was told to me by a man I respect and admire who is currently at SCBI annual meeting.
I am a nuclear chemist. I chose to be a nuclear chemist because studying the nucleus fascinates me. It’s amazing enough to study something we can never hope to actually see, but the fact that the nucleus is shrouded by clouds of electrons makes the job all the more fun.
Because I am a nuclear chemist, there are certain things I don’t want to believe. For example, I don’t want to believe quantum mechanics is wrong just because it is incompatible with general relativity. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want general relativity to be wrong, either. Black holes, white holes, and wormholes are just far to fun to ever want to give up! Nevertheless, if I have to choose one of those two theories to be wrong (because they are incompatible), I will to choose general relativity, because quantum mechanics works so incredibly well when it is applied to small things like the nucleus.
For a long time, there was something else I didn’t want to believe. I didn’t want to believe that the half-lives of radioactive isotopes could change. It seemed so clear to me at the time: radioactive half-lives depend on the energetics of the nucleus, and the energy levels in the nucleus are (roughly speaking) about 100,000 times that of the electrons in an atom. Thus, if nature exposes a radioactive atom to stress, the electrons should be the ones that deal with the stress, not the nucleus. The nucleus is under the electron cloud, and it deals in energies that are so much greater than electron energies, that the electrons effectively “shield” the nucleus from being affected by most of the stress that nature can throw at it.
Over the years, however, the data have drug me (kicking and screaming the entire way) to the point where I have to admit that radioactive half-lives can change, and in some cases, they can change quite substantially.
Al Gore told a German audience in December of 2008 that the polar ice cap will disappear in FIVE YEARS.1 A Washington Post story from April of this year says
The data on this winter’s ice buildup came on the day that international ministers gathered in Washington to address issues facing Earth’s polar regions, which have been disproportionately affected by global warming. 2
It goes on to quote Norway’s foreign minister that “The ice is melting…We should all be worried.”
Well, Al Gore, the Washington Post, and Norway’s foreign minister should all be breathing a sigh of relief. As all climatologists agree, the poles should be most affected by global warming, and guess what’s happening at the South Pole? The ice just keeps growing!
My favorite atheist, P.Z. Myers, gets very upset over many, many things. A while ago, he got really flustered over the fact that Obama appointed Francis S. Collins to head the National Institutes of Health. You see, Collins is a vocal Christian. Myers can’t stand it when a scientist of faith is (a) significantly more knowledgeable and accomplished than he is and (b) is promoted to a very high-profile position. It destroys his whole “If you believe in religion you are an idiot” argument. Here is what he said when Obama’s appointment of Francis S. Collins became official:
We can also trust him to drape Jesus over every major announcement, use the office as a platform for promoting religiosity, and otherwise taint the whole business with embarrassingly inane nonsense…just as he did with the human genome press conference. Isn’t it about time our government promoted secular values that work over these antique and ineffective superstitions that just make their proponents look goofy? 1
This is a common theme throughout the “new atheist” movement – Christians believe in superstition. Well, like most things the new atheists say, such nonsense is demonstrated wrong by the data.
My grandparents lived in the wonderful little town of Ipswich, Massachusetts. My family would visit them nearly every summer, and I loved it. It was right near the beach, and the seafood was amazing! I remember the first time I saw this kind of device there:
(Photo licensed through www.clipart.com)
I asked my parents what it was, and they told me it was a lobster trap. I was skeptical. After all, it was just a wooden cage with some netting, and the netting had a big hole in it. I asked my parents how it could trap anything. After all, if something could crawl in the hole, it could crawl right back out again, right? My parents told me that lobsters were too stupid to do that. They would crawl in the hole to get the bait inside, but they would not know enough to back out of the hole, and since they couldn’t turn around in the small enclosure, they would end up being trapped. I remained skeptical, but I asked lots of people in that small New England town, and they all gave me the same story my parents gave me. After all, it was “well known.”
Of course, science has a way of telling us that lots of “well known” things are 100% incorrect!
In Darwin’s Racists, authors Sharon Sebastian and Raymond G. Bohlin try to make the case that Darwin’s ideas promote racism. They tie Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and Planned Parenthood to Darwinism. In Ben Stein’s documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, he tries to tie Darwinism to the holocaust. Answers in Genesis says, “Although racism did not begin with Darwinism, Darwin did more than any person to popularize it.” On the other hand, in Darwin’s Sacred Cause, Adrian Desmond and James Moore argue that Darwin’s main motivation for his scientific investigations was his hatred for slavery. According to these two authors, Darwin wanted to prove that all men have a common ancestor to show that all men should be treated equally.
So who is right? Was Darwin a racist? Did his theory promote racism? Was Darwin an abolitionist who attempted to show that all men are part of the same, happy family? The short answer is that Darwin was a racist, but neither he nor his theory promoted racism. In the same way, neither he nor his theory fought against racism. The long answer, of course, is much more interesting.
Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows two things about me. First, I am a young-earth creationist. Second, I am skeptical of most young-earth creationist theology. For example, as I have written before, while I believe that the days in Genesis 1 are 24-hour days, I do not think they must be interpreted that way. Indeed, a good number of early church fathers didn’t interpret them that way. They didn’t think the days in Genesis 1 had anything to do with time. Instead, they thought the days were simply a means by which Creation could be ordered. Since many in the early church were willing to think that the days in Genesis 1 were not 24-hour days, why do many modern young-earth creationists insist that they must be 24-hour days? Is there something that today’s young-earth creationists know that Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria, Augustine, and Hilary of Poitiers didn’t know?
Unfortunately, the shoddy theology of most young-earth creationists doesn’t stop with the insistence that the days in Genesis must be 24-hour days. Another unfortunate claim most make is that there was no animal death before the Fall. Like the insistence that the days in Genesis 1 are 24-hour days, this claim is based on an incredibly inept view of Scripture.