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  Topic: Philo 4483: Christian Faith and Science, Honest questions from Dembski's students< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Posts: 501
Joined: Oct. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 16 2010,04:32   

Quote (bjray @ Mar. 16 2010,01:12)
Why is there such an irrational disgust for scientific data or theories that might combat evolutionary theory?
Answer: What "scientific data or theories that might combat evolutionary theory"? As far as I know, there ain't no such animal. To be sure, there are various conjectures and assertions and suchlike which Creationists have presented as "combat(ting) evolutionary theory", but if you filter out everything which is based on misinterpretations and/or outright falsehoods, the residue simply doesn't contain anything which genuinely does "combat evolutionary theory". If you disagree with me here, I invite you to present something which you believe both (a) is not based on misinterpretations or falsehoods, and (b) genuinely "combat(s) evolutionary theory".
You apparently are under the impression that ID genuinely does "combat evolutionary theory", but as far as I can tell, ID can be accurately (albeit cruelly) summarized in seven words: Somehow, somewhere, somewhen, somebody intelligent did something. Do you think that terminally vague sentence can possibly pass muster as a 'theory'? I don't. If you disagree with me about the accuracy of my seven-word summary of ID, perhaps you could explain where it goes wrong? I am not optimistic that you'll be able to do so, based on the responses I got a while back when I asked this question in a different forum, but perhaps you can succeed where others have failed, eh?
Most mainstream scientists that I have read so far would all agree to something of this effect: Creationists are irrational and fail to objectively look at scientific evidence. Help me understand how this might be true and if evolution proponents can live up to the same scrutiny?
I need to present a little background before I get to my answer. The "foundational principles" of the Institute for Creation Research include this paragraph:
The Bible, consisting of the thirty-nine canonical books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven canonical books of the New Testament, is the divinely-inspired revelation of the Creator to man. Its unique, plenary, verbal inspiration guarantees that these writings, as originally and miraculously given, are infallible and completely authoritative on all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific and historical as well as moral and theological.

And the Statement of Faith for Answers in Genesis says, in part:
The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science.

So Creationists believe that the Word of God is true, end of discussion. Fine -- but there are many Christians who believe that God used evolution to create Earth's various species. These guys can be called 'theistic evolutionists', and for some reason, I kinda suspect that most (if not all) of them would affirm that the Word of God is true... so what's going on here? How come one set of Word-of-God-is-true believers accepts evolution, while a different set of word-of-God-is-true believers rejects evolution? Surely the Word of God is the same for both sets of believers, isn't it? The solution to this riddle: These two sets of believers differ in how they interpret the Word of God. The evolution-rejecters interpret the Word of God in such a way that they believe evolution conflicts with the Word of God; evolution-accepters, on t'other hand, interpret the Word of God in such a way that they believe evolution is not in conflict with the Word of God.
So when Creationists make noise about how evolution contradicts God's Word, one of two things must be true: Either they're bearing false witness (because of all those other believers who do accept evolution), or else what they're really saying is that evolution contradicts the particular interpretation of God's Word which they happen to accept.
All of which is well and good... but how do you know which interpretation of God's Word is true? Me, I think that the best way to do this is to compare that interpretation to the Work of God -- to the universe which He created. For instance, 2 Chron 4:2 says "Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about." Okay; let's see how hypothetical believer John Doe interprets that passage...

"It describes a circular pool ('round in compass') of molten metal, right? Since its shape is a circle, its diameter ('from brim to brim') is ten cubits, and its circumference ('compass it round about') is thirty cubits. The number pi is what you get when you divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter; do that with this circle, and you get (30 / 10 =) 3. Therefore, the value of pi is exactly 3 -- none of this unGodly 3.14159... nonsense need apply, thank you very much, and anybody who thinks pi is 3.14159... is just wrong, end of discussion."
Hmmm... but when I actually measure the circumference and diameter of a circle, I always get that bigger number, John.
"So what? The Word of God says that pi is exactly three! Are you telling me that the Word of God is wrong? Are you calling God Himself a liar!?"
No, John, I'm not saying anything about God. I'm saying that when you measure the diameter and circumference of a circle, and you divide the circumference by the diameter, you don't end up with a result of exactly three. You must have made a mistake somewhere.
"So you are saying that God is a liar! It's there in black and white -- pi is exactly equal to three!"

Do you think John Doe is rational, bjray? I don't. I think he's decided that his personal interpretation of the Bible takes precedence over empirical, objectively determinable fact, and I think that's crazy. I think that when it comes to the value of pi, this Doe guy is seriously irrational. Do you disagree?
Just as I think John Doe here is a bit of a nutbar when it comes to the value of pi, so do I think Creationists are seriously irrational when it comes to evolution. The problem is that you can interpret any piece of text, Biblical or not, in any bleedin' way you feel like... but science is constrained by Reality. See any problems there?
Why do you automatically suspect that what his students have to say might be inherently false and what you (or others) have to say is truth?
I can't speak for anybody else, but I think that any evolution-denying statement from a Creationist is false for pretty much the same reason I think the Sun will rise in the East tomorrow morning. Every time I've been awake whilst the Sun came up, the Sun has always risen in the East; every time I've investigated an evolution-denying statement from a Creationist, that evolution-denying statement has always been either (a) incoherent, (b) false on its own terms, ( c ) falsely presented as a problem for evolution when, in fact, it's nothing of the kind, or (d) some combination of (a), (b), and ( c ).

  444 replies since Feb. 22 2010,14:06 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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