A Significantly Better Way to Address the Possibility of Global Warming

An illustration of carbon dioxide molecules (left) becoming ethylene molecules (right) by passing through an electrified grid in water. (Credit: Meenesh Singh, one of the study’s authors.)

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am very skeptical of the idea that global warming (aka climate change) is a serious problem. There are many scientific reasons for this, most notably the fact that we still have no real understanding of how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affects global temperature. However, we do know that the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is increasing, and we also know that human activity is causing that increase. As a result, it is reasonable to try to do something about that, as long as we don’t kill people or a disproportionate number of animals in the process. The problem, of course, is that most of the proposed solutions for reducing humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions do both (see here, here, here, and here).

Rather than trying to replace efficient and inexpensive sources of energy with our current unreliable, expensive, and deadly “green” sources, we should work on developing technologies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions in a way that doesn’t affect energy price and availability. One example of this better approach can be found in a recently-published study that reports on a new method which can be used to convert carbon dioxide into ethylene, a chemical that is used in a wide range of industrial processes.

The most common method currently in use for producing ethylene is called “steam cracking,” and it is a high-temperature process that is estimated to produce 260 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. However, the process described in the study can be done at much lower temperatures. It involves passing an electric current through a chemical reaction vessel that contains carbon dioxide and a water-based solution. Hydrogen atoms from the water end up combining with carbon atoms from the carbon dioxide to produce ethylene. While such methods have been explored in the past, this method is significantly more efficient. In addition, if the electric current powering the cell is produced by solar or other renewable energy sources, the process actually uses up carbon dioxide. In other words, this process turns an activity that adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere into an activity that pulls carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

But wait a minute. If this process requires renewable energy sources to pull carbon dioxide out of the air, aren’t we just falling back on the old “green” technologies that cause so many problems in the first place? Not really. Two of the biggest problems with current “green” technologies are that they make energy more expensive and often cannot keep up with our energy demands. This process actually reduces cost significantly, because it doesn’t require so much heat. Thus, the higher expense of “green” technologies is offset by the lower cost of the process as a whole. Also, we don’t need to be making ethylene constantly. We can make lots of it when the “green” sources are producing energy, and we can wait when they aren’t. As a result, we are not harmed by their limitations.

In addition, scaling up this technology to make it useful for industrial purposes will probably lead to ideas of how similar processes can be used in other industrial applications. In my view, this kind of technology should be the focus of any proposed solutions for reducing humanity’s carbon footprint.

Number of Families Homeschooling Drops, Probably For The First Time

Graph from the study being discussed.

When the pandemic shut down the schools, many parents were horrified to see what their children were being taught on a daily basis. Others saw that “zoom school” just wasn’t a good way to educate children. As a result, many parents started homeschooling. Along with others, I read the news reports (like this one) covering this phenomenon.

Unfortunately, I have a rather cynical view of my fellow parents. I think that a lot of people who have children would be better off with pets, because they don’t really want to spend the time, effort, and energy necessary to properly raise their children. Thus, while I was happy to see more parents choosing the most effective model of education, I was skeptical that it would last.

Well, homeschooling researcher Dr. Brian Ray has released an analysis that at least partially confirms my cynical view. Using data from the United States Department of Education, the United States Census Bureau, an Education Next survey, and all state-level departments with relevant publicly available data, Dr. Ray estimated the number of students being homeschooled in 2020, 2021, and 2022 and then compared those numbers to previous estimates. The results are shown in the graph above.

Notice that homeschooling grew quite a bit from 2020 to 2021, which is consistent with the news reports. However, in 2022, the numbers dropped, which is consistent with my cynical view of my fellow parents. Nevertheless, I am actually surprised at how little the numbers dropped. Look at the growth in homeschooling from 2016 to 2019. In that three-year period, it grew by about 9%. Compare that to the growth from 2019 to 2022, which includes the year of decline. That growth is 25%! So even after a lot of people left homeschooling, the growth has still been unusually high.

Now, of course, there are at least two caveats here. First, it is very difficult to estimate the number of children being homeschooled. However, given the fact that Dr. Ray has been doing it for decades, I think he is probably the most reliable source on the matter. The second caveat is that 2022 might not be the last year in which the numbers drop. We will have to wait and see.

Nevertheless, given what we know now, it seems that many more parents have discovered the fact that homeschooling is the best solution for their children. More importantly, they have stuck with it (at least so far). This gives me more hope for the next generation.

An Excellent Debate on Climate Change

The Soho forum recently held an Oxford-style debate on climate change between two experts on the matter. The resolution being debated was:

Climate science compels us to make large and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Arguing for the affirmative was Dr. Andrew Dessler, professor of geoscience at Texas A&M and director of the Texas Center for Climate Studies. Arguing for the negative was Dr. Steven Koonin, a professor of civil and urban engineering at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, who served as undersecretary for science at the Department of Energy during the Obama administration. You can watch it here:

You can watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

The debate was excellent, with both debaters showing why they are considered experts on the issue. However, Dr. Koonin was the clear winner, because the debate audience was asked to respond to the resolution both before and after the debate. Before the debate, 24.69% of those in attendance agreed with the resolution, while 48.77% disagreed. The rest were undecided. Thus, the audience was probably better educated on the issue than most of the public (and most politicians), since a plurality had the more scientifically-defensible reaction to the resolution. However, by the end, the “yes” votes had decreased by 5.56%, while the no votes increased by 24.69%.

Now, of course, you have to be the judge of why Dr. Koonin won the debate. For me, it was because his statements were backed up by data. I hope there are more debates like, because the better educated the public is on the science related to climate change, the more likely it will be for the world to enact sane measures to address it.

Study Concludes Homeschooling Does Not Increase the Risk of Child Abuse

In the May-June 2020 issue of Harvard Magazine, professor Elizabeth Bartholet wrote an article proposing a “presumptive ban” on home education. One of the main justifications Dr. Bartholet gave for this ban was her fear that homeschooling promoted abuse. After all, homeschooled students are “isolated,” while children in school are seen by adults who are required by law to report signs of abuse so that they might be investigated. Since homeschoolers don’t have this extra layer of protection, abuse must be more common in homeschool settings. Several rebuttals followed, some from Harvard graduates. However, the fact remains that there has not been much research into the relationship between homeschooling and abuse.

Homeschooling researcher Dr. Brian Ray and his colleague Dr. M. Danish Shakeel have tried to fill this gap. They recently published a study in the Journal of School Choice in which they attempted to determine whether or not a child’s educational experience, which they called the child’s “school sector,” is correlated with abuse. They conclude:

We find no clear association between a child’s school sector and his or her experiences of abuse and neglect while growing up. Instead, demographic variables such as family structure, years in foster care, large family size, and household poverty bear a strong relationship with child abuse and neglect.

In other words, whether a student goes to a school or is homeschooled does not affect whether or not the child is a victim of abuse. While I applaud Drs. Ray and Shakeel for investigating this matter, I am not confident that this study puts the question to rest. It’s not that the study is poorly done; it is an excellent study based on the data they have. I just think they need a lot more data to make a really solid conclusion.

To do the study, they developed a survey designed to assess whether or not a person had been abused in the past. There was a lot of thought put into that survey. It was reviewed by a panel of 12 people from various walks of life and was then tested on a small group of individuals. Thus, I find no fault with their survey. They then used an experienced survey organization (the Barna Group) to administer their survey on what the Barna Group considered a nationally-representative sample of people. This produced answers from 527 people with more than six years of education in public school, 293 with the same amount of experience in private school, and 150 with the same amount of homeschooling. An additional 202 people had less than six years of experience in either type of school. In order to improve their homeschool sample size, they recruited another 81 people with more than six years of homeschooling experience to take the survey.

When they then compared the abuse experiences of those who went to school versus those who did not, they actually found a very, very weak correlation. The homeschooled students were slightly more likely to have experienced abuse than those who went to a school. However, as is the case with any study that involves people, there are many confounding factors. We know that abuse is more common among certain demographics, so what appears to be a weak correlation between homeschooling and abuse might actually be the result of demographics rather than the type of schooling used.

As a result, they used statistical modeling to control for the confounding demographic factors. When they did that, the correlation between abuse and any kind of schooling “vanished.” Of course, the problem is that statistical modeling for confounding factors, while absolutely necessary, is fraught with peril. In general, the more statistical modeling you do, the more participants you need in the study. Their total sample size was 1,253. To my mind, that’s not enough to do statistical modeling to compare groups. Now don’t get me wrong – there is nothing mathematically wrong with doing that. It’s just that the modeling is so difficult that I don’t think any conclusions can be considered robust with such a small number of subjects.

Nevertheless, if you believe that their modeling can produce firm conclusions, there is a second interesting result. When they tried to determine where abuse occurred, they found that among the homeschooled group, the vast majority of the abuse occurred when the students were either in the community or in some sort of “school” experience such as a homeschool co-op or at a school where they were taking just one or two classes:

The incidences of abuse and neglect for homeschool children are statistically significant only at community or some type of school, and the occurrence rates there are double or more than at family where the rate is not significant.

This, of course, goes directly counter to Dr. Bartholet’s view. The majority of abuse among homeschoolers occurs when the students are not “isolated” at home. While I am not sure this conclusion is robust, it does make sense. Yes, when students go into the community or some school setting, they are exposed to people who can report signs of abuse. However, they may also be exposed to abusers. Based on my experience, there are more abusers in schools and the community than those who notice and are willing to report signs of abuse. Thus, the more students are exposed to the community, the more likely they are to be abused.

Once again, I am not sure any of the conclusions of this study are certain, but nevertheless, it represents an excellent start to what I hope will be many more studies on the issue.

Science and Imagination

Last semester, I taught a course for Memoria College. Students read works from the great scientists of the past, and we discussed them. It was an excellent course, and I hope to teach it again this spring. After the class was over, they asked me to write an article about why reading scientific works from the past is so important. Here is what I wrote for them:

Science and Imagination

Another Failed Global Warming Prediction

A portion of the Great Barrier Reef (click for credit)

Climate change alarmists (aka global warming alarmists) are constantly making dire predictions, and over time, those predictions end up being falsified*. This doesn’t stop them from making even more dire predictions, however, since the media rarely point out how wrong they have been in the past. Usually, those dire predictions are found in the popular media, but since climate science has been infected with craziness, such nonsense even makes it into the the scientific literature.

Consider, for example, this 2012 study, which was published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. The authors claim that their study shows coral in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) had been declining for the past 27 years, and then they state:

Without significant changes to the rates of disturbance and coral growth, coral cover in the central and southern regions of the GBR is likely to decline to 5–10% by 2022. The future of the GBR therefore depends on decisive action. Although world governments continue to debate the need to cap greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the local and regional pressures is one way to strengthen the natural resilience of ecosystems.

So governments must act decisively to cut greenhouse gas emissions, or the GBR is going to dwindle to a fraction of its original glory. Well no decisive action was taken, and it’s now 2022, so we might as well see how close to accurate the prediction is.

Probably the most reliable source on the state of the GBR is the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Every year, it does an extensive survey of the GBR and publishes its results. The study splits the GBR into three specific regions (Northern, Central, and Southern). I showed the results from last year’s survey about a year ago. Here are the results of this year’s survey:

Notice that for the northern and central regions of the GBR, coral cover is at an all-time high, and more than THREE TIMES the value predicted in the prestigious scientific journal. While coral cover in the Southern region isn’t at an all-time high, it is still more than three times the amount that was predicted.

Obviously, then, we can add this to the ever-growing list of falsified predictions made by those who care more about scaremongering than good science.

*NOTE: By “falsified,” I do not mean “altered in order to mislead,” which is the first definition. I am using it in the scientific sense, which means “shown to be false.” Scientific theories must make predictions. If those predictions are verified, the theory gains credibility. If they are falsified, the theory loses credibility.
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Many Scientists Believe Scientific Theories Religiously

Many scientists believe the Big Bang Model religiously, not scientifically.
Those who understand the formation of our universe using the Big Bang model are forced to believe that the vast majority of the universe is made up of material about which scientists know absolutely nothing. As shown in the picture, to believe in the Big Bang model today, you must believe that all the matter involved in all the experiments done by all the scientists in history makes up only about 5% of the universe. 72% of the universe is composed of dark energy, a form of energy that was completely unknown until the 1990s and is so far undetectable and not understood at all. The other 23% is made of dark matter, which is matter that we cannot see because of the limitations of our experimental capabilities. Scientists have been trying to detect dark matter for decades, but so far, nothing has been found.

Why must those who are guided by the Big Bang believe that the vast majority of the universe has gone undetected? The Big Bang model predicted that over time, the expansion of the universe should be slowing down, since all matter is gravitationally attracting all other matter. However, data that started being collected in the 1990s indicate that in the past, the expansion of the universe was slower, which implies that the universe’s expansion is actually speeding up. The current amount of dark energy that is supposed to exist is what’s necessary to retrofit the Big Bang model to allow for this increase in expansion rate.

Belief in dark matter, on the other hand, is used to explain around certain observations that are surprising based on currently-accepted physics. For example, the way most galaxies rotate is not what is expected based on Newton’s Universal theory of Gravitation, but assuming a specific distribution of unseen matter, we can “fix” the galaxies so they rotate as expected. In addition, there are ways to indirectly determine the mass of galaxies, and those indirectly-determined masses usually don’t agree with the masses indicated by the matter that we can see in them. Thus, there must be unseen matter there.

On a personal level, I think dark energy exists only in the minds of those who are committed to the Big Bang Model. I see no serious evidence for its existence. Dark matter, on the other hand, has at least some serious evidence behind it. After all, either the physics we currently say we “know” is wrong, dark matter really exists, or something else that hasn’t been theorized exists to explain the discrepancies. Of course, as anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, I am just as likely to believe that the physics we currently “know” is wrong. As a result, I have always been intrigued by an alternate model of gravity called Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND). Its proponents claim that it can not only account for all the effects currently attributed to dark matter, but it has also made predictions which have later been confirmed by new data.

Well, one of its proponents recently wrote an article for The Institute for Art and Ideas. The title is simple and says it all: “Dark Matter Doesn’t Exist.” He goes through experimental evidences that support MOND, and he notes the failures of multiple searches for dark matter. While I am inclined to think that MOND is more likely to be true than dark matter, I am not convinced that it is the way to go. However, I did find this statement in his article very interesting:

We need to scientifically understand why the dark-matter based model, being the most falsified physical theory in the history of humankind, continues to be religiously believed to be true by the vast majority of the modern, highly-educated scientists. This is a problem for the sociological and philosophical sciences and suggests a breakdown of the scientific method.

While I am not sure that the dark matter hypothesis is “the most falsified physical theory in the history of humankind,” I wholeheartedly agree with him on the rest of his point. However, I would broaden his statement to include many other scientific theories, like evolution as a creation myth, the dogmatic belief that the earth is billions of years old, and the Big Bang model. One of the problems that exists in science today is that too many scientists believe these theories with a religious fervor. As a result, they tend to reject all the evidence that questions them. This, of course, holds back science.

While I don’t know if MOND is the correct answer to the question of why certain astrophysical observations are not consistent with currently-accepted physics, I can say that this particular MOND proponent has hit the nail on the head when it comes to a very big problem in today’s scientific enterprise!

Religious Students Earn Better Grades

A bit more than a week ago, I spoke at an education event focused on those who were considering homeschooling. One of the talks I gave focused on why you should educate your children from a Christian worldview. Afterward, a woman came up to me and asked if I had seen the studies that show that being religious improves a student’s academic performance. I told her I had not, and later on, she graciously sent me some examples. I was amazed that I had not seen this research before, because it conclusively demonstrates that more religious adolescents are simply better students than those who are less religious.

For example, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth performed in 1997 collected a “…nationally representative sample of 8,984 men and women born during the years 1980 through 1984.” It collected “…extensive information on respondents’ labor market behavior and educational experiences.” Analysis of those data indicated that the more frequently a student attended religious services, the better his or her GPA:

While these data are a bit old, a review article published just last year surveyed 42 studies that have been published from 1990 to 2020. They all show that the more religious a student is, the better his or her academic achievement.

Now, of course, correlation doesn’t mean causation, so it is possible that religion doesn’t directly affect academic achievement. However, the first conclusion drawn by the review article is:

First, research has advanced from correlational studies to methodologically rigorous designs suggesting religion can play a causal role in academic success.

One of the more interesting of those “methodologically rigorous” studies compared children in the same family. It found that even within a given family, the more religious siblings had higher grade point averages than the less religious siblings. It also found (in agreement with other studies not focused on siblings) that the more religious siblings completed more years of education than the less religious ones. Thus, even with the same parents and family structure, religious adolescents are better students.

Why does being religious produce better grades? One study suggests that going to religious services broadens the students’ social network, giving them better access to adults other than their parents, peers who also share similar views, and extracurricular activities that are education focused. Others suggest that religion encourages students to be cooperative and conscientious, and such traits are positively correlated with academic achievement.

While those reasons might help explain the well-known fact that religious students have higher academic achievement, I think I can offer at least a couple of other suggestions. As a Christian, I have been taught that God gave me certain gifts, and it is my duty to Him to develop those gifts as much as possible. Most of my motivation for doing well in college and getting my Ph.D. was because I knew God had given me gifts in science and teaching, and it would be an affront to Him had I not concentrated on honing those gifts to the best of my ability. While not everyone has God-given gifts in academic subjects, it is clear that a good education (especially through high school) helps you develop any gift better.

However, there is another reason. It was given by the father of the Scientific Method, Roger Bacon, nearly 800 years ago. He wrote:

For the grace of faith illuminates greatly, as also do divine inspirations, not only in things spiritual, but in things corporeal and in the sciences of philosophy
(The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon, Robert Belle Burke (trans.), Russel & Russell, Inc. 1962, p. 585)

Faith illuminates all areas of life, including academics.

So, in addition to the reasons I gave in my talk about why you should educate from a Christian worldview, I must add this:

A Christian Worldview Produces Greater Academic Success.

How Well Do You Know The Bible?

May 1940 British troops line up on the beach at Dunkirk to await evacuation. (click for credit)

NOTE: According to a historian I respect a great deal, the beginning of this article (in brackets and italics) is not correct. Apparently, the first mention of the message “But if not” seems to be from sources that occur in the 1990s. Thus, the phrase “But if not” as it relates to Dunkirk is almost certainly an urban legend that fooled me. I am keeping the post up, because I do think the last four paragraphs are important. However, I have also added this to the Christian Myths category so that people might find out that this oft-repeated story is not verifiable.

[You are a high-ranking officer in an army that is at war. You receive a three-word message from a large contingent of your soldiers who you know are about to face the enemy:

But if not

Would that mean anything to you? Fortunately, it meant something to British commanders in World War II. In 1940, more than 350,000 Allied soldiers were trapped at Dunkirk, and the German forces were on their way. The soldiers stood no chance of defeating the enemy, and an officer wanted to communicate the situation to his superiors in London. However, he didn’t want to give away any vital information. As a result, he sent those three words. They spoke volumes…to anyone who knows the Bible well.

They are the first words of Daniel 3:18, which contains the response Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego gave to King Nebuchadnezzar when the King threatened to throw them in the furnace if they didn’t worship the golden image that he had constructed in Babylon:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:16-18, KJV)

Those three words became a rallying cry that caused a rag-tag group of fishermen, pleasure boaters, merchant mariners, and yacht racers to sail to the shores of Dunkirk and evacuate the trapped soldiers. In the end, they saved more than 338,000 of the soldiers in what is commonly known as The Miracle of Dunkirk. A 2017 film tells the story, albeit without the three words that inspired the entire event.

Now think about that for a moment. The officer who sent the message knew the Bible well enough to recall the passage, and he expected the commanders in London to know the Bible well enough to recognize the passage and realize what it meant. Fortunately, they did.] Do you think they would today? Almost certainly not, because most Christians today don’t really know the Bible.

I recall sitting at a lunch with a well-known politician, a group of Christian homeschooled seniors, and their parents. One senior was telling the politician that he wasn’t concerned about attending a secular university, because he knew the Lord would protect him. The politician smiled and said, “The paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, huh?” All the seniors and all their parents looked at the politician with blank stares. There was an uncomfortable silence, and I had to tell them what he meant. It’s a quote from 1 Samuel 17:37, in which David tells Saul that he is not afraid of Goliath: “The Lord who saved me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, He will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” (NASB)

I am sure the parents of these seniors spent a lot of time discussing the Bible in their homeschools. They probably even read books on having a “Biblical Worldview.” Nevertheless, none of them recognized what I would consider to be a very important passage from the Old Testament. Why? I can’t give you a definitive answer, but I can at least say this: Far too many Christian homeschools study books about having a “Biblical Worldview” but don’t spend enough time studying the Bible itself. In my opinion, there is only one way to have a Biblical Worldview, and that is to know the Bible so well that you can quote large sections of it from memory and recognize phrases like “But if not” and “the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear.”

After all, having a Biblical worldview means evaluating everything you encounter through the lens of the Bible. If you don’t know what the Bible says, you won’t be able to use it as a lens! So if you want a Biblical worldview, don’t read books that tell you how to have one. Don’t attend talks that tell you what it is. Spend that time studying the Bible so well that you know it backward and forward. That’s the first step in developing a Biblical worldview.

William Lane Craig on Adam

William Lane Craig’s latest book.
In September of last year, a reader asked me to review William Lane Craig’s In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration. Well, I finally got around to reading it, and I have to say up front that I was disappointed. Not with his conclusion; I predicted that ahead of time. I was disappointed with Dr. Craig’s intellectual inconsistency. I expected more of a philosopher with his credentials and track record.

But I am getting ahead of myself. In the first part of the book, Dr. Craig spends a lot of time comparing the Genesis account to creation myths of the Ancient Near East (ANE). He claims that there are many parallels between the ANE myths and the Genesis account. To demonstrate this “fact,” he discusses a lot of those myths. The problem is, they sound nothing at all like the creation account of Genesis. Consider the following:

In the Sumerian myth Enki and Ninmah 24-37 we read that Enki enjoins the mother goddess Namma to knead clay so that the birth-goddesses could nip off pieces with which she could fashion human beings. How is the story of God’s forming man from the dust of the earth in Gen 2 functionally distinct from such a story simply in virtue of the fact that Yahweh is the sole diety? (Chapter 3)

I don’t know about you, but I find quite a bit of functional distinction. For example, Yahweh had actually made the dust. There is no indication that anyone in the Sumerian myth made the clay. This is a huge distinction. Yahweh is the Creator of everything in the Genesis account. In the ANE myths that Dr. Craig discusses, there is no sense of the gods (or a single god) being the creator of everything. Also, people have experience using clay to make things. The Sumerian myth makes it sound like the gods are doing typical human activities, but they just have some magic added in. That’s not the way the Genesis account reads at all. Nevertheless, based on what I would call very questionable “similarities” Dr. Craig decides that the Genesis account has all the trappings of a myth. However, since it does have historical overtones, he says that the Genesis account belongs in a category called “Mytho-History.”

Of course, he takes great pains to reiterate what C.S. Lewis made abundantly clear quite some time ago: The term “myth” does not mean the story is false. Myths can be used to teach deep truths. It just means that the setting and many of the details aren’t meant to be taken literally. In Matthew 13:3-9, for example, Jesus tells the story of a sower who is planting seeds. He doesn’t intend for you to believe this sower actually existed. Instead, he wants you to hear the truth in his story. In the same way, the Genesis creation account is mythical but teaches a very important truth.

Now, even though Dr. Craig thinks the Genesis account is mythical, he says we have to take its historical overtones seriously, especially when we read the New Testament. In the book of Romans, Paul writes of Adam as a real, historical person. So based on the New Testament (not the Genesis account), Dr. Craig says that Adam must have actually existed. However, since the Genesis account is mytho-history, we can’t assume that he was created exactly as is discussed in the myth or that Eve was actually made from his rib. The details of the account are mostly mythological; his existence is the important historical element.

With this conclusion, Dr. Craig decides to go searching for Adam using the historical and scientific tools we have at our disposal. Not surprisingly, he slavishly follows the scientific consensus, up to a crucial point. Thus, as far as Dr. Craig is concerned, the earth is billions of years old, biological evolution happened essentially as the High Priests of Science have proclaimed, and the standard tales told by anthropologists are true. Based on all this, Dr. Craig concludes:

Adam, then, may be plausibly identified as a member of Homo heidelbergensis living perhaps >750 kya. He could even have lived in the Near East in the biblical site of the Garden of Eden – though vastly earlier than usually thought, of course. (Chapter 12) [Note: kya means thousand years ago]

Of course, the basic concept here is neither new nor surprising. Lots of Christians have decided to accept the scientific consensus and say that God used evolution to produce the human race. However, most who accept this view think that Adam and Eve are mythological beings; they didn’t actually exist in history. Dr. Craig comes to a different conclusion. How? By being utterly inconsistent.

He accepts the scientific consensus on the age of the earth, biological evolution, anthropology, etc., etc. However, he then throws scientific consensus out of the window by writing:

Such an identification is fully consistent, both temporally and geographically, with the data of population genetics, which does not rule out the existence of two heterozygous, sole genetic progenitors of the human race earlier than 500 kya. (Chapter 13)

What does he use to back up this idea? A reference to the journal BIO-Complexity, which is well outside the scientific consensus! Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against that journal. In fact, I think an incredibly important genetic study can be found in it.

Here’s the problem: The scientific consensus says that there is simply no way evolution could produce the genetics of the human race from just two people. At minimum, it needed to start with a group of 2,250 people. However, since Dr. Craig wants to believe that Adam existed in history and is the father of the human race, he must believe that the scientific consensus is invalid on this point. As a result, he looks outside the scientific consensus to find science that backs up his view.

Now to be sure, he tries to justify this view by reporting that a few consensus-driven scientists (like S. Joshua Swamidass) say that if you push Adam’s existence far enough back in history (more than 500,000 years), then science cannot rule out the possibility that he and Eve could be the genetic origin of all humanity. However, the vast majority of geneticists would disagree with that. Thus, it is still an idea that is well outside the scientific consensus. Indeed, S. Joshua Swamidass himself doesn’t agree with it.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I have no problem with going against the scientific consensus. Indeed, nearly every important scientific advance that has happened was the result of doing just that. What I am saying is that if Dr. Craig has the courage to question the scientific consensus when it comes to the genetics of the human race, perhaps he could find the courage to question the scientific consensus when it comes to other issues, such as the age of the earth and biological evolution. If he does that, he might find a much more satisfying way to believe in a historical Adam.