Searching for Truth in “The Truth Project” — Lesson 5: Science — What Is True?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the “pernicious lie”:  Del Tackett’s presentation of the scientific evidence against evolution.  Sadly, one will not find in Lesson 5 the correct answer to Tackett’s question concerning science, “What is true?”  Lesson 5 of The Truth Project (TTP) might not descend to the same level as Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort’s “crocoduck” argument, but it gets pretty darn close.  Like the dynamic duo of Cameron & Comfort, Tackett not ignores only the enormous wealth of evidence for evolution but also misrepresents what evolutionary theory teaches.  Clearly, Tackett hasn’t done his homework and, as a result of his ignorance of the objective facts, ends up feeding lies to the very people whom he wishes to discover and embrace the truth.  If I were a critically-thinking Christian, I would demand he conduct his research with more fidelity. 

As I watched the two-part lesson, I noticed a number of things: 

(1) “Evolution,” Tackett claims, is “one of the greatest lies ever foisted upon man.”  What Tackett doesn’t tell his audience is that TTP uses material promoted by the Discovery Institute extensively.  It is, essentially, a mere mouthpiece for the Seattle-based Intelligent Design (ID) “think tank.”  Much to my chagrin, Tackett finds himself in bed with a body of “scientists” of whom some profess belief in evolutionary theory (albeit directly guided by the hand of God) and common descent.  For example, Michael Behe, whom Tackett treats like a rock star, recently wrote an article mentioning his belief in the descent of humans and apes from a common ancestor, which I have always said I think is correct.  Either Tackett hasn’t really read either of Behe’s books, or he chooses not to reveal that fact to his audience for fear that it would ruin the integrity of his argument.  The former would be sloppy research; the latter would be pure and simple deception. 

(2) Tackett quotes selectively from atheistic scientists, such as Richard Dawkins, to persuade his audience that belief in evolution in any form (with the possible exception of so-called “micro-evolution” within species) is a necessary and logical component of a godless paradigm. He also quotes exclusively from literature written by proponents of Intelligent Design in order to back his claims.  Nary a quotation from Christian scientists who have embraced evolution, such as Francis Collins, Kenneth R. Miller, Denis O. Lamoureux, or Stephen Matheson.  Not a peep either from Christian theologians who accept theistic evolution/evolutionary creationism, such as Bruce Waltke, Scot McKnight, or Mark A. Noll.  As I mentioned in my critique of Lesson 4, if Tackett were to mention the mere existence of those listed above, Tackett’s argument would explode like just another supernova.

(3) Tackett misuses terms such as hypothesis, theory, fact, and law extensively in order to discredit the fact of evolution and dismiss it as a “just a theory.”  Thus, it is no surprise to watch Tackett warn his audience how frequent those terms are misused and misunderstood and, at the same time, butcher the very meanings of those terms he purports to understand.

By this point in TTP, I’m no longer surprised at the “sleight of hand” Tackett uses to make his personal “biblical worldview,” as narrow as it actually is, appear to be the broad umbrella within Evangelical Christianity that he wishes it to be.

Common Ground and Not-So-Common Ground

To be fair, I find some common ground with Tackett at the beginning of his presentation.  Whereas the mere contemplation of the cosmos stirs Carl Sagan’s heart because of his chemical connection to the stuff of stars, “another reason” stirs our hearts.  When we look at our marvelous universe, both Tackett and I are compelled to contemplate the nature of the Creator of the cosmos in addition to the nature of the cosmos itself.  We both believe that “the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above [lit. firmament] proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1 ESV), and that the Creator’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20 ESV).

Unfortunately, beyond this is where the ground upon which I stand lacks commonality with Tackett’s.  Whereas my recognition of an “intelligent designer” is a byproduct of my theistic paradigm and is, admittedly, a subjective conclusion (much like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”), Tackett actually has faith that the results of an objective pursuit of scientific truth should be persuasively sufficient to result in one’s adoption of the theistic philosophy of ID.  Tackett looks to science to validate what Scripture taught millennia before we even had the power to look beyond what the naked eye could see.  In doing so, however, he inadvertently makes the Bible and the doctrine of creation “subservient to scientific discussion” and places them “at the beck and call of the latest empirical evidence and interpretation” (Conrad Hyers, The Meaning of Creation, p. 88).  What would happen, Mr. Tackett, if it were ever proven that “irreducible complexity” was actually “reducibly complex”?  Remember my supernova analogy? 

Irreducible Complexity

Speaking of “irreducible complexity,” Tackett resurrects ID’s poster argument from the grave, despite the fact that a voluminous amount of research over the last 15 years has demolished the ID movement’s extravagant claims first popularized in Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.  As if Behe’s 14-year-old book had just hit Borders (gotta love that new book smell!), Tackett quotes Darwin, who wrote that his new theory would absolutely break down if it could be demonstrated that a complex system could not have evolved via a slow, gradual process.  Taking up Darwin’s humble challenge, Tackett proffers the complexity of the human blood clotting system as evidence of intelligent design.  Actually, after extensive research, we’ve found its not that complicated after all: each successive “cascade” of the blood clotting system is built upon nearly identical proteins, the existence of which resulted from gene duplication.  In what appears on the surface to be a watertight argument, Tackett smirks and asks, “How long did it take before we got the clotting system right?”  By this question, he implies that if we human beings didn’t have a complex, operable blood clotting system from the get-go, our species would have literally bled ourselves into extinction.  What Tackett does not mention is that our primordial ancestors didn’t require a complex blood clotting system since their circulatory systems didn’t require the high-pressure system that we do.  I doubt it ever occurred to Tackett that that blood clotting systems (and their more complex iterations) developed first, allowing for the later (or parallel) development of higher-pressure circulatory systems.

The next irreducible complexity argument Tackett trots out is Behe’s “biological mousetrap,” the bacterial flagellum.  It is, according to proponents of ID, one of many examples of an intelligently designed, irreducible complex machine.  Take away one piece of the mousetrap, so the argument goes, it is useless.  Evolutionary biologists are quick to point out that the various structures of the flagellum likely performed different functions before coming together in its current form and purpose, while other structures derived from convenient gene duplication upon which mutation could work its magic without harm to the organism.  However, ID theorists are just as quick to argue that, while evolutionary biologists may be correct regarding some structures of the flagellum, there is “no explanation via Darwinian mechanism” for the entire structure, and that evolutionary theory requires the “borrowing [of] parts from nothing.”  I wonder what will be made of that statement another 15 years from now.

The Insufficiency of the Fossil Record

Tackett asks whether Darwin’s theory “stacks up against reality.”  Tackett’s answer is that it does not.  He claims that Darwin “has a problem with the fossil record,” which, allegedly, possesses a total lack of evidence for so-called “macro-evolution.”  The first nail in evolution’s coffin is Discovery Institute fellow Jonathon Wells’ Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth—Why Most of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong, which highlights ten evolutionary “hoaxes” and “myths.”  Seriously, if this is all Wells has to go on in order to discredit evolution, he is going to have to write a lot more, and it would have to be factual as well.

Tackett also ridicules Stephen Jay Gould’s fossil-record-explaining theory of “punctuated equilibrium.”  Again, it isn’t surprising to hear Tackett not only misstate Gould’s theory but also twist it beyond recognition, making it fit his anti-evolutionary purposes.
   
It is to evolution critic David Berlinski that Tackett appeals next.  In an interview clip with Berlinski, he highlights the so-called “problem” of whale evolution.  We have two fossil forms on either end of the alleged spectrum, Berlinksi notes, but where are the other 49,998 versions in between the two fossil forms which complete the 50,000+ molecular changes (determined by “back of the hand” calculations!) to account for the Point A to Point B evolutionary journey?  “There ought to be some evidence!” Tackett cries!  And so there is.

There are other “fossils” of which Tackett is either completely unaware or, because of the strength of the DNA evidence, chooses not to bring up out of fear.  Can you say, “Human chromosome 2”?  Good!  I knew you could.

Randomness in Creation = God’s Lack of Sovereignty

Tackett also dredges up the tired argument that evolution’s allegedly “random” nature somehow forces evolution proponents to deny God’s sovereignty over creation, making evolutionists deists at best, and atheists at worst.  Sadly, evolution critics blunder when describing evolution as a “random” process.  The mechanisms of evolution, as random as they might seem because of our limited perception and knowledge, are still subject to the laws of nature that govern the universe; cause and effect are still at work within the evolutionary process.  Even Tackett should recognize that even the results of a “random” roll of the dice are known by an omniscient God (cf. Proverbs 16:33).  (For readers who are familiar with quantum mechanics and Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle,” please do not view my statement above as a challenge to those concepts.  My invocation of Proverbs 16:33 is more of an affirmation of God’s sovereignty, not His measure of direct control.)

In another example of Tackett’s penchant for false dichotomies, he claims that abiogenesis (which he mislabels “spontaneous generation”) requires that such an occurrence come about by godless forces.  But why should something that occurs via natural means be considered something that was never intended by God to happen?  Why should the natural laws God designed be insufficient to create life from non-life?  One individual in my small group stated that she thought a God who used evolution to create was a failure, for He had to try and try again in order to “get it right.”  What a narrow view of nature and the amazing process by which it diversified!  Personally, I find a God who would create natural laws to produce everything without the need for His direct intervention to be much more amazing than a God who resorts to pulling a cud-chewing rabbit out of his hat just to make science comport with His own Scriptures.  In the end, it is Intelligent Design, not evolution, that actually limits God’s power and creativity. 

I Guess I’m an Atheist Now

In addition to ignoring the objective results of scientific endeavor, Tackett fears the alleged philosophical results of methodological naturalism, namely atheism.  “The result,” Tackett claims, “is the propagation of a worldview that ‘scientifically’ excludes the Creator, thus ‘freeing’ mankind from accountability to a higher authority.”  Tackett claims further that “evolution effectively rules out the existence of God.”  Gee, if I had known beforehand that accepting the evidence for evolution would automatically make me a functional atheist, I probably wouldn’t have fallen for the “pernicious truth” in the first place and instead found solace in cognitive dissonance.  Of course, Tackett wouldn’t recognize evolutionary theory if it bit him with 6-inch T. rex teeth, as he states time and time again (as evidenced throughout TTP) that the theory of evolution is intimately related to questions dealing with the origin of the universe and the origin of life.  The pernicious truth is that evolutionary theory does not speak to those events; rather, evolutionary theory speaks to how the diverse forms of life on earth, both extant and extinct, came to be; likewise, evolutionary theory speaks neither to the existence of a Creator nor to the non-existence of a Creator.  As Tackett rightly says, it only does so when “science has moved into philosophical mode” and attempts to encroach upon a domain in which it has valid claim.  Mr. Tackett, do you not recognize that you engage in the very same behavior of which you accuse Richard Dawkins?  Your own philosophy has “moved into scientific mode” and is encroaching upon a domain in which it has no valid claim.  Why does evolution shut out any scientific evidence against it? you ask.  Don’t let the philosophical side of science affect the scientific evidence,” you warn.  Hello!  Science shouldn’t have a philosophical side, Mr. Tackett!  As much as you want there to be, there shouldn’t.

But atheism is the least of our worries, Tackett argues.  Moral evil will abound as well if we Christians fall for the pernicious truth.  Darwinism is, after all, one of the “primary theories that has been used to persuade people there is no God.”  That may be true for some, but it is not true for everyone.  It certainly wasn’t true for Darwin, whose agnosticism had more to do with his inability to form a personally satisfying theodicy after the death of his daughter Annie than his scientific research did.  As a counterpoint to Tackett’s logic, I could highlight the use of the Bible to justify slavery by many Southern clergy in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Since biblical authority implies the existence of God, then one could just as easily argue that theism is one of the “primary theories that has been used to enslave African-Americans.”  Just as Christianity has been used to justify all sorts of moral horrors throughout the last two millennia, so has Darwinism suffered by the hands of those whose concern was more about power than the truth.
 
Not only does evolution destroy the need for God, it destroys the need for a Savior.  Tackett quotes with delight G. Richard Bozarth, who, in a 1978 article in American Atheist, wrote, “Evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary.  Destroy Adam and Eve and original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of God . . . and if Jesus was not the redeemer who dies for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.”  Evolution means nothing of the sort.  As an evolutionary creationist, I still believe that humanity possesses a sinful nature and that we are still in need of a Savior.  Tell me again, Mr. Tackett, the part about where I become an atheist?

Conclusion

As I conclude my critique of this particular lesson, I will admit that Tackett said one other thing with which I agree:  “General revelation is a valid source of truth.”  He also offers wise advice in that “we must be careful as Christians that we don’t see what we want to see.”  Amen, Mr. Tackett.  It’s a shame, however, that you refuse examine the body of evidence yourself that you might recognize the true nature of the very revelation you claim to study.  Like you said, you really need to be more careful.

[NOTE:  This post has been modified to correct any inaccuracies regarding the views of Richard Dawkins.  For a “history” of my error, see the comments below.]

52 Comments

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52 Responses to Searching for Truth in “The Truth Project” — Lesson 5: Science — What Is True?

  1. Your post was well written, but of course that means it was also infuriating.

    …which he mislabels “spontaneous generation”…

    Intentionally mislabeled, no doubt. He seeks to identify abiogenesis with a supposition completely discredited hundreds of years ago. Pernicious lies indeed.

  2. AMW

    Sadly, atheists like brilliant evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins blunder when describing evolution loosely as a “blind” and “random” process.

    I have to take issue with you here. From The Blind Watchmaker, page 49:

    This belief, that Darwinian evolution is 'random', is not merely false. It is the exact opposite of the truth. Chance is a minor ingredient in the Darwinian recipe, but the most important ingredient is cumulative selection which is quintessentially nonrandom.

    Dawkins does refer to evolution as a "blind" process, but by that he just means that natural selection works on the current generation, it does not spare organisms whose genes might be beneficial in some future generation.

    [Tackett] states time and time again (as evidenced throughout TTP) that the theory of evolution is intimately related to questions dealing with the origin of the universe and the origin of life.

    Here we may level a somewhat similar criticism at Dawkins. The tagline to The Blind Watchmaker is "Why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design." I had no idea the theory had that much explanatory power!

    (In all seriousness and in defense of Dawkins, he probably didn't choose the tagline for the book. But one would still think he could exercise some creative control over it.)

  3. Dennis Venema

    Hi Mike,

    thanks for this.

    BTW, my kids love the picture.

  4. @AMW,

    Thanks for the context of Dawkins' words. I'm considering changing the text to read: "Sadly, evolution critics blunder when describing evolution as a 'random' process."

    Does that breach blogging protocol, to fix an obvious error? Of course, the record of my error will remain in the comments section, which I don't intend to delete.

    @Steve & Cliff,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    @Steve,

    I do believe his mislabeling of abiogenesis was intentional. If not, it underscores his lack of qualifications when discussing the creation/evolution debate.

  5. Dennis,

    You're welcome.

    On another note, I wish I could take credit for the picture, but I can't. 😉

  6. Hi there!
    I have to take issue with a few things, hope you don't mind.

    What Tackett does not mention is that our primordial ancestors didn’t require a complex blood clotting system since their circulatory systems didn’t require the high-pressure system that we do.

    How does that solve the problem? Seems like that makes TWO problems to figger for the adherent of Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (TENS).

    Evolutionary biologists are quick to point out that the various structures of the flagellum likely performed different functions

    Have you ever stopped to think about how "talk is cheap" applies to this kind of 'rebuttal' from the TENS side? How is "this likely performed diff functions" not a just-so story? Why should we believe what the TENS ppl say? How DID it happen? Precisely?

    Tackett asks whether Darwin’s theory “stacks up against reality.” Tackett’s answer is that it does not.

    Has you ever stopped to think about the massive edifice of assumption that has created a "storyline" of fossils out of thin air? Read Henry Gee's "In Search of Deep Time" in which he explores this question – not as an authority, but b/c the argument is good.
    In short, I'd like to see some evidence that any one fossil in our possession was definitely the descendant of any other.
    For that matter, I'd like some evidence that any one fossil definitely had any offspring at all.
    And if you can't evidence that, why would any reasonable person buy into the storyline?
    And, for whale evolution, you point to a wikipedia article? Oooh, I wanna play!

    The mechanisms of evolution, as random as they might seem because of our limited perception and knowledge, are still subject to the laws of nature that govern the universe;

    What laws, precisely? How have scientists known they are laws?

    Even Tackett should recognize that even the results of a “random” roll of the dice are known by an omniscient God (cf. Proverbs 16:33).

    This is a pitiful failure to expose an internal inconsistency in Tackett's position. HE is not an evolutionist, my friend. Remember?

    Why should the natural laws God designed be insufficient to create life from non-life?

    1) B/c He told us how it went down – in Genesis. That's one good reason.
    2) But let's say I concede #1 – just give me some evidence that life just suddenly banged into existence from non-life and let's talk. Evidence. Please.

    In the end, it is Intelligent Design, not evolution, that actually limits God’s power and creativity.

    This is just stupidity. Explaining how God did something doesn't "limit" His power or creativity. Neither of them do. But TENS leaves no room for God to TELL US HOW HE DID IT, b/c He already did tell us and you don't accept it. That's not His fault.

    if I had known beforehand that accepting the evidence for evolution would automatically make me a functional atheist

    In what way does it NOT make you a functional atheist with respect to THIS QUESTION?

    Science shouldn’t have a philosophical side, Mr. Tackett! As much as you want there to be, there shouldn’t.

    Are you even listening to yourself at this point, sir? How can you define science…scientifically? Show me the experiments that created "science". What volume of which elements were used? At what pressures? What molarity? What temperatures? What did science smell like? Is it toxic? If not, how did you test it?
    Then make sure to refrain from any metaphysical or philosophical speech when you interpret the experiments. Thanks!

  7. As a counterpoint to Tackett’s logic, I could highlight the use of the Bible to justify slavery

    If you don't think there's an obvious argument for a logical progression of thought from Darwin to racism and racial superiority, as opposed to a MISuse of the Bible to support a system of slavery in which slaves have virtually no rights and can be abused at will, you're very ignorant, and that's sad.

    As an evolutionary creationist, I still believe that humanity possesses a sinful nature and that we are still in need of a Savior.

    Oh, OK. So, when was the first sin? Any idea? How developed was the animal that did sin?
    Tell you what – let's examine how some Bible psgs SHOULD have been written.
    Matthew 19: 3Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?"
    4And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created the human race out of lower animals from the beginning CAUSED THEM TO DEVELOP INTO MALE AND FEMALE, 5and said, 'FOR THE REASON THAT GOD MADE HUMANS TO EVOLVE TO SUBSIST IN TWO GENDERS RATHER THAN JUST ONE, OR FIVE OR SOMETHING, A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'?

    Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one metaphorical man, sin metaphorically entered into the world, and only spiritual death through sin (since physical death is the way all life had evolved since the first time that life coalesced out of rocks), and so spiritual death spread to all men, because all sinned (once they had evolved enough to arrive at moral awareness, of course)— 13 for from the time of evolution of moral awareness until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless spiritual death metaphorically reigned from Adam until Moses (of course, what really happened was that once humans had evolved enough, they brought some instincts over from their animal origins even though they totally shoulda known better), even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of the metaphorical Adam (even though they had no idea that Adam was a metaphor, since he never really existed – 'Adam' is a historical construct created by Old Testament Jews who needed a way to explain the origin of sin. Or something), who is a type of Him who was to come (and I mean "come" in real, physical truth, honest. Not like the way "Adam" "came", see?).
    15 But the free gift is not like the metaphorical transgression. For if by the metaphorical transgression of the one the many spiritually died, much more did the metaphorical grace of God and the metaphorical gift by the grace of the one metaphorical Man, Jesus Christ, metaphorically abound to the metaphorical many.

    Here's hoping you can see the errors you've propounded here. I can think of a LOT better ways to spend your time than dissecting the very well-meaning Truth Project. Maybe reflect on how utterly ridiculous Richard Dawkins' last three books have been? Hitchens? Sam Harris?

    Peace,
    Rhology

  8. AMW

    I'm considering changing the text to read: "Sadly, evolution critics blunder when describing evolution as a 'random' process."

    If you leave a note in the post itself indicating that there has been a change, I think it's Kosher.

  9. In reviewing your post and blog in general I see references to the Truth Project, RC Sproul, Darwin, Behe, and within the text Dr. Del Tackett. In addition to the materials that you have read, I would recommend John MacArthur's Battle for the Beginning, which I believe does an excellent job in addressing this subject.

    I further recommend the series by David T. Moore, a pastor in California who also addressed the subject.

    Many blessings to you in all your work.

  10. Mike,
    I appreciate your boldness. I am just heading out the door to the TTP group I am involved with, and I feel like reading your blog helps me "put my armor on." This week, we are doing Sociology. I am really hoping I can get something out of it (other than my hackles up.) Thank you for laying out your responses so clearly and thoroughly. I have been referring people to your blog!

  11. Also, I like your comments about the "pernicious truth." That made me smile:)

  12. Glad to be of service, Laura. This weekend, I'll be working on the lesson about "historical revisionism."

  13. AMW

    Rhology,

    You've laid out quite a few statements; more than I have time or inclination to discuss. But I did want to address the following:

    In short, I'd like to see some evidence that any one fossil in our possession was definitely the descendant of any other.
    For that matter, I'd like some evidence that any one fossil definitely had any offspring at all.
    And if you can't evidence that, why would any reasonable person buy into the storyline?

    No fossil gives evidence of having had descendants of its own. But I'm pretty sure we can all agree that every fossil was a descendant. That is, all organisms (abiogenesis aside)have had parents, even though not all organisms have had children.

    Thus, it means that a fossil is evidence of a breeding population. Specifically, a breeding population that had physical characteristics very similar to the fossil itself. And that's all we need to assume to find evidence of evolution in the fossil record.

    The theory of evolution says that the physical characteristics of breeding populations change over time. While each offspring inherits the vast majority of its genes from its parents, small changes in their genotypes accumulate over time. Every so often, one or more members of a breeding population will die under conditions that are amenable to fossilization. When that happens, the resulting fossils are a window on what the breeding population's physical characteristics were at a point in time.

    If the theory of evolution is correct, we should see very distinct patterns in these fossils. For instance, morphological characteristics of modern chordates indicate that amphibians are the descendants of fish, reptiles the descendants of amphibians, and mammals and birds the descendants of reptiles. So we should find fossil evidence of fish in strata that are older than the oldest strata in which amphibians are found. And those strata should be older than the strata in which the oldest reptiles are found. And those strata should be older than the oldest strata in which mammals and birds are found. Incredibly enough, that's what we find in the fossil record.

    That is one way in which the fossil record supports the theory of evolution. It requires no assumptions of fertility with regard to any fossil. In fact, it doesn't even require direct ancestry among any of them.

    Regards,

    AMW

  14. hi AMW,

    Nice that SOMEone has finally decided to interact with my critique!

    But I'm pretty sure we can all agree that every fossil was a descendant.

    Actually, no, I'm not prepared to grant that at all. What if they were created ex nihilo?
    I mean, if we're going to throw out the Bible, might as well go whole hog. You don't know what happened, and appealing to the small amount of what you've observed in the present to explain the past and call it certain is a classic fallacy of appeal to inductive 'conclusions', which can never be conclusions at all but rather a few observations or a few hundred out of the quintillions of relevant events that have occurred in the history of the world.
    Even if I did grant that, this doesn't blunt the force of the objection. You want to create this storyline out of these fossils, and you appeal to an ancestor about which you know nothing and say "we KNOW that this fossilised organism was a little different, probably, than its ancestor", even though that's just an assumption. And then you say that this organism probably had offspring, but you don't know that either, and you don't know what they were like. You don't have a time machine. You know next to nothing, and I'm just a bit tired of seeing people pass off ignorant assumptions as fact.

    it means that a fossil is evidence of a breeding population.

    That is an assumption you make. Prove it, about any given fossil you like.

    Specifically, a breeding population that had physical characteristics very similar to the fossil itself.

    Another assumption. Prove it, about any given fossil you like.

    And that's all we need to assume to find evidence of evolution in the fossil record.

    Haha, you mean that's all you need to assume evolution. Wow. I can make all sorts of OTHER assumptions and bend the fossil "record" to fit my own schema. Why should anyone be impressed by all these assumptions, when you're supposed to be providing mountains of evidence?

    reptiles the descendants of amphibians, and mammals and birds the descendants of reptiles.

    Actually, you don't know any of that. Like I've shown, this is a massive edifice of assumptions.
    Further, you can't even figure that out with any finality, and you don't even know that birds were descendants of reptiles. Now ppl are questioning whether it wasn't the other way 'round. And you want me to give up the Word of God for this? Really? Why?

    And those strata should be older than the oldest strata in which mammals and birds are found. Incredibly enough, that's what we find in the fossil record.

    You mean you can ASSUME that one stratum is older than another, by appealing to OTHER disputed methodologies. Can't ANYone play with assumptions like that? (But not everyone is widely accepted in academia, and not everyone has to fight against an establishment who's covering their rear ends.)

    In short, where's the evidence? I knew you assumed all that already; I was asking for proof.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  15. AMW

    Rhology,

    I think most people are ignoring your critique because of your tone.

    In any event, if I'm reading your comment correctly, you are denying or skeptical of the following claims:

    1. Organisms have parents, and have always had parents (abiogenesis aside).
    2. The existence of parents is, by definition, the existence of a breeding population.
    3. Offspring are very close copies of their parents, and have always been very close copies of their parents.

    Is that correct? If so, what makes you skeptical of these claims? We observe all three in the world around us, and numbers 1 and 3 above comport quite easily with Genesis 1, while number 2 is a simple tautology.

    As for assuming evolution, my comment was precisely the opposite. I begin with assumptions that are (to most people) quite reasonable, and that do not, on their own, imply evolution. They provide a means of testing evolutionary theory, because if the theory doesn't comport with these simple, reasonable assumptions, it's a good bet that the theory is nonsense.

    You say that a lot of other assumptions could be made to make the fossil record fit with your schema. Would you mind laying those assumptions out?

    As for asking you to give up the Word of God, I am making no such request. I am saying that a certain interpretation of the Word of God does not comport with what we know about the natural world.

    Regards,

    AMW

  16. AMW

    Also, you're incorrect in your description of the story you link to. You said it demonstrates that people are questioning whether it wasn't birds who proceeded reptiles. In fact, the story says that the fossils in question were reptiles (with feathers!) that preceeded birds. The controversy is whether birds are the descendants of dinosaurs or some other type of reptile.

  17. Alan (Rhology),

    Nice that SOMEone has finally decided to interact with my critique!

    Firstly, Alan, I'm a military diplomat in the Middle East, which makes me an extremely busy individual. And because I travel often, I can't always respond to posts immediately. My apologies if the alacrity with which I respond doesn't live up to expectations.

    Secondly, AMW is quite correct when he criticizes the tone with which you present your arguments and disagreements. I might listen more to your point of view if it weren't so caustic. (Your blog post "Theistic evolution really is dumb" being a case in point.) I was quite surprised to find that you're a former overseas missionary and love foreign cultures. I would think that experience would open your eyes to different ways of thinking, but it's obvious to me by your line of questioning that your cultural experiences are irrelevant to understanding Scripture. You really should take the time to better understand the cultures which produced the Bible rather than treat it as some book that fell out of the sky. If you did, you might better appreciate from where I'm coming.

    I know you'll be disappointed when I tell you that I'm not going to respond to most of your challenges. It's primarily because your questions don't comport with a proper understanding of evolutionary theory. If I were to borrow an analogy to describe your line of questioning, it would be this: "What's the smell of the color nine? Tell me! Tell me!"

    For example, in regard to the fossil record, you ask for proofs of things that, given a proper understanding of geology and fossil formation, are impossible to provide. And by my inability to answer an impossible challenge, you see it as validation of your own theory, i.e., ex nihilo of every fossilized species in the geologic column.

    It's obvious to me that you really don't know what you're talking about, so I doubt any answer will satisfy you or convince you otherwise.

    In what way does it NOT make you a functional atheist with respect to THIS QUESTION?

    Why don't you tell me how accepting biological evolution makes me a functional atheist and then I can tell you why you're obviously wrong.

    I can think of a LOT better ways to spend your time than dissecting the very well-meaning Truth Project. Maybe reflect on how utterly ridiculous Richard Dawkins' last three books have been? Hitchens? Sam Harris?

    So, because something is "well-meaning" means it's correct?

    As for Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, I really can't reflect on how utterly ridiculous their latest books are. I haven't read them yet. I typically comment only on books that I've read, and I usually try to understand their arguments and be able to articulate them as well as they can before I tear them to shreds. That's a discipline that you really should learn, Alan, before you go off spouting about things you really know nothing about, nor even desire to understand.

    BTW, you're rewriting of Romans 5:12 is pretty darn close to what I believe. Well done, if not just a little overdone toward the end. 😉

  18. Hi AMW,

    I think most people are ignoring your critique because of your tone.

    May I ask if you believe that speaking to ppl w/o a proper level of respect is morally objectionable?
    If so, on what basis?
    If your answer includes sthg like "the Bible says so", how do you know that that part of the Bible is correct whereas other parts are not?

    Is that correct? If so, what makes you skeptical of these claims?

    1) *I'm* not skeptical of them, but I'm not skeptical of them b/c God has said that He makes things like birth cycles, agricultural cycles, etc, stable over time.
    2) However, if evolution is true and the Bible false, I don't know what good reason someone could produce that would PROVE these things are right. I mean, you can ASSUME ANYthing. I want proof, since you claim you have it.

    We observe all three in the world around us

    Yes, but you can't observe whether that has always been the case. For not even close to 1% of history. Shoot, not even 1% of recorded history. (That's the problem of induction, BTW.)

    I begin with assumptions that are (to most people) quite reasonable

    OK, but I don't grant them, for reasons I've explained. Now, please prove evolution occurred.

    because if the theory doesn't comport with these simple, reasonable assumptions, it's a good bet that the theory is nonsense.

    Agreed!

    You say that a lot of other assumptions could be made to make the fossil record fit with your schema. Would you mind laying those assumptions out?

    Sure. My favorite at this time is that God created the world with an appearance of age, kinda like He created man, woman, plants, fish, birds, other animals, etc with the appearance of age. I'm sure there are some other good ones, but that's the one I prefer to defend.
    This, BTW, is a very simple argument, and is thus to be preferred a la Occam's Razor (which atheists and evolutionists like to cite). Just in case you like Occam's Razor. 🙂

    As for asking you to give up the Word of God, I am making no such request.

    Mr. Beidler most certainly is, so let's not play these games, OK?

    I am saying that a certain interpretation of the Word of God does not comport with what we know about the natural world.

    Oh, then I would very much like to hear your interpretation of Genesis 1-2. Anyone can 'interpret' anything any way they like. The question is whether the interp is correct and consistent with the text. Whether it has fatal errors within it, fails to be consistent with the text, etc.

    the story says that the fossils in question were reptiles (with feathers!) that preceeded birds.

    Whereas the prevailing hypothesis for ~20 yrs has been the other way 'round. Yes, exactly.

    Nice talking to you!

    Peace,
    Rhology

  19. Mr. Beidler,

    Yes, I most certainly understand your lack of lots of spare time. Don't worry about it. I myself plan to be overseas, doing mission work,

    in the near future and can't imagine blogging much if at all after making the move.
    I was referring mostly to the other commenters who had time to give you misplaced accolades w/o interacting with my critique.

    AMW is quite correct when he criticizes the tone with which you present your arguments and disagreements.

    Then I'd like to ask you the same question I asked him/her about the moral objectionability of addressing someone in a disrespectful tone.

    (Your blog post "Theistic evolution really is dumb" being a case in point.)

    Sorry you didn't like it, but I'm glad you read it. I'm more sorry you chose not to interact with most of my critique.

    I was quite surprised to find that you're a former overseas missionary and love foreign cultures.

    Well, I'm the kind of former (and future, God willing) missionary who takes the Word of God seriously and holds in contempt those who think they know better than God.

    I would think that experience would open your eyes to different ways of thinking,

    You know what they say – open your mind too much and your brains fall out. My mind is quite open enough to examine other points of view, and then reject them based on where they're wrong. If they're wrong. And the liberal "I accept the parts of the Bible I like and which my REAL authorities – modern scientists – don't contradict with their nearly-infallible studies" position is particularly bad – you attack the integrity of God's revelation to the church from within the church.

    your cultural experiences are irrelevant to understanding Scripture.

    Actually, my cultural experiences are what have driven me to love the Bible that much more and to hold in high priority its truth and finality. (I mean, since you're asking about me, rather than interacting with my critique.)

    You really should take the time to better understand the cultures which produced the Bible

    Sir, with all due respect, you know nothing about me, and you have made no logical connection between my better understanding the "cultures that produced the Bible" and my critique. Interestingly, this does reveal quite a bit about your position. You think the Bible is more or less only a manmade document. I think the only rational and coherent worldview possible is to take the Bible as the true and infallible revelation of an infinite and Almighty God. That's a big difference between us, and it enables me to understand how inconsistent you are in for some reason subjecting SOME of your sensibilities and morés to the Bible. Just not the parts that it might be embarrassing to have to defend before unbelievers, apparently.

    I know you'll be disappointed when I tell you that I'm not going to respond to most of your challenges.

    Yes, but not surprised. I've spoken to many liberals.

  20. And by my inability to answer an impossible challenge, you see it as validation of your own theory, i.e., ex nihilo of every fossilized species in the geologic column.

    Again with all due respect, you don't know what my position is, since I haven't told you. Do you consider it polite or proper debate etiquette to assume the other guy's position?
    And yes, I do happen to think my challenge is impossible to answer, b/c I've pointed out the many assumptions that you could never hope to justify. Much better and much more rational that you ask the One Who was there and Who made it all happen, and go with what He said.

    It's obvious to me that you really don't know what you're talking about

    Where's the Tone Police when you really need them?

    Why don't you tell me how accepting biological evolution makes me a functional atheist

    With respect to THIS QUESTION? Where did God act? And how do you know?

    So, because something is "well-meaning" means it's correct?

    No, and I have trouble seeing why you think that question is relevant.

    As for Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, I really can't reflect on how utterly ridiculous their latest books are.

    Right, b/c you're apparently much more concerned about the evil and horrid effects that Focus on the Family projects will have on society…

    BTW, you're rewriting of Romans 5:12 is pretty darn close to what I believe.

    That, sir, is a shame. May the Lord be pleased to bring you to repentance.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  21. AMW

    Rhology,

    I do consider disrespectful dialogue to be objectionable, and morally so. I don't intend to discuss this point further, as it's really not the central issue. If you want more commenters to engage you, a more moderate tone will likely be helpful toward that end.

    On to the fossil record. If you don't reject the three assumptions I listed, then I suppose you reject a fourth assumption that I neglected to lay out. That is:

    4. Every fossil was, at one time, a living organism.

    I could be wrong that you reject this assumption, but your advocacy of appearance of age would certainly be consistent with rejecting it.

    Please let me know, one way or the other. That will give me a firmer sense of where you stand, and how I might go about addressing your objections.

    Regarding the appearance of age, I take exception to the hypothesis on the following grounds:

    First, if you were wrong, how would you be able to figure out that you were wrong? Any evidence against a young earth can be explained away as apparent age. It strikes me that any hypothesis that allows one to ignore contrary evidence is a flimsy one.

    Second, just how much apparent age are we expected to accept before the hypothesis becomes untenable? If God decided to create man and woman ex nihilo, some apparent age would be necessary. Ditto plants and animals. But making the ratio of radioactive isotopes in rock strata and meteorites, and the decay rates of those isotopes support an estimate of billions of years? Making the distance to the stars divided by the speed of light support an estimate of billions of years as well? Planting fossil "remains" of animals that never lived in a pattern that suggests change over time? Doesn't this start to strain your credulity?

    Finally, I presume that you are interested in a position on origins that is defensible on Biblical grounds. But I see no Biblical evidence for the more extreme examples that I gave above (isotopes, distance to stars, fossils, etc.)

    As for Genesis 1 and 2, I take them to be separate origins stories compiled by an inspired author/redactor to disclose theological truths about God and his relationship to the world and to man. Genesis 1 gives an account of creation that essentially rids the cosmos of the competing gods of the surrounding cultures. I'm less clear on Genesis 2, but I would say it depicts a second account in which God puts man not only at the head of creation but also in special relationship vis-a-vis his creator.

  22. Hi AMW,

    My point about the tone is to find out what your authority is. How do you know what is good and bad, right and wrong? How do you know it is morally wrong to treat ppl with disrespect? Does your answer involve the Bible in any way?

    4. Every fossil was, at one time, a living organism.

    You have correctly indicated that this is an assumption. I simply see no reason to grant it.
    And since you cannot provide evidence for any of your 4 assumptions, why does not the edifice constructed on them – evolution – crumble to the ground?
    BTW, I have barely indicated my own position. Mostly I am running reductios based off of what you have told me, and thus I hope to show you how much blind faith you have invested in this question.

    First, if you were wrong, how would you be able to figure out that you were wrong

    If I were in your shoes, I couldn't.
    However, I don't regard science as even a particularly good way to discover truth. It might be OK as far as pragmatic things, but for truth, I look to what God has said, since He is unimpeded by lack of scope of vision, lack of ability to see future and past and the entire present, is omniscient, doesn't lie, etc. You, as an errantist, unfortunately don't have access to that kind of treasure trove, but you could if you'd repent.

    Any evidence against a young earth can be explained away as apparent age.

    Yup, and it would be just as reasonable and logical as the explanation of evolution. (I'd argue far more, but I'll just stick with that for now.) And if you don't have any recourse, where does that leave you?

    It strikes me that any hypothesis that allows one to ignore contrary evidence is a flimsy one.

    1) Evolution does that ALL THE TIME and it doesn't seem to bother you.
    2) What possible contrary evidence could you bring against the appearance hypothesis?

    Second, just how much apparent age are we expected to accept before the hypothesis becomes untenable?

    I don't see why there'd have to be a limit.

    But making the ratio of radioactive isotopes in rock strata and meteorites, and the decay rates of those isotopes support an estimate of billions of years?

    Is your only response to this to ask these rhetorical questions, couching it in argumenta ad incredulum? And THIS is the evolutionary answer? Just slack-jawed "Um, really?"s?

    Making the distance to the stars divided by the speed of light support an estimate of billions of years as well?

    And if the stars AND light beams between them and Earth were created at the same time…?

  23. Planting fossil "remains" of animals that never lived in a pattern that suggests change over time? Doesn't this start to strain your credulity?

    Why would it? Give me a good reason rather than just expressing naked skepticism. I know you have your bias; I want to see you substantiate it. That's the whole reason I'm here.

    But I see no Biblical evidence for the more extreme examples that I gave above (isotopes, distance to stars, fossils, etc.)

    Why would there need to be specific evidence for those things? I'm granting you (w/o argument) that your judgments of age are correct, just for the sake of argument, and then I know that the Bible says that the Earth was created with an appearance of age 6-10K years ago, probably. What other conclusion would one draw?

    I take them to be separate origins stories compiled by an inspired author/redactor

    I'm curious how your definition of "inspired" means "made serious mistakes". Could you please clarify?

    disclose theological truths about God

    How does this not confuse biblical literary genres? You want theology? Read Isaiah, Paul, Job. Genesis is not didactic literature, so any theology one might draw is mostly inferred.
    Why isn't it "disclose a historical account"? The only reason I can see is b/c you come TO the text with your modernistic evolutionary bias and try to slap it on top, then you look for an excuse.
    I'd commend this post to your reading.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  24. AMW

    Rhology,

    The four assumptions that I've laid out are all based on the following two steps. First, take basic, observable facts in the world around us. Second, extrapolate those facts to the past. Your only real response seems to be that it's not legitimate (or logical) to take the second step of extrapolation. You are basically arguing that if we do not witness something, we are radically ignorant of it.

    And yet I find it inconceivable that you apply this same manner of reasoning to any topic outside a very narrow set of issues, the scientific consensuses of which are at odds with your beliefs. Your profile says that you're married, but I don't know if you have kids or not. Nevertheless, consider the following hypothetical scenario involving your son (real or imagined).

    Junior is 3 years old. You've told him several times that he is not to take cookies from the cookie jar without your permission. At last count, there were a dozen (chocolate chip) cookies in the jar, since which point you have not given him permission. You come across the jar: there are only 9 cookies in it.

    You ask your wife if she ate any, and she says that she did not. You know that you haven't eaten any. Junior has no siblings, and no friends in the house. A chair has been dragged from the kitchen table to the counter. Junior's teddy bear, which he often takes with him, is on the counter, which he is too short to reach. A trail of crumbs leads to Junior's bedroom. He has chocolate smears on his fingers, lips and clothing.

    You ask Junior if he took and ate the cookies in question. He denies it, and claims that Johnny, who lives down the street did it. You lay out the incriminating evidence against Junior. He doesn't flinch. He claims that Johnny entered the house, dragged the chair to the counter, got the cookies, stole Teddy out of Junior's hands and planted him on the counter, strong-armed Junior back to his room, leaving a trail of crumbs behind him, ate the cookies, then smeared the chocolate that was on his (Johnny's) fingers on Junior and his clothing, after which Johnny fled through the window.

    You point out that the window is locked from the inside. Junior responds that he locked it after Johnny left, to keep him from coming back to make more trouble. You point out that the doors are also locked from the inside. Junior suggests that Johnny might be good at picking locks, or perhaps mom let him in, but he wiped her memory, or maybe the power of the Devil allowed him to walk through solid matter.

    You tell Junior that he has given you a pretty incredible story, and the evidence right in front of your nose still points most convincingly at him. He counters that you weren't there; he was. He insists that you can't possibly prove that he's lying. You ask why Johnny would do something like what he has been accused of. You ask where Johnny would have learned to pick a lock, or gotten his hands on a memory-erasing device. You ask why the Devil would spend his time framing a three-year-old. You ask him if he doesn't think his story is far-fetched.

    Junior looks you square in the eye, and responds, "Is your only response to this to ask these rhetorical questions, couching it in argumenta ad incredulum? And THIS is your answer? Just slack-jawed 'Um, really's'?"

    If your argumentation has not been a parade of special pleading, I don't see how you could indict your (hypothetical) son.

    I'll address Genesis 1 – 2 in a later comment.

    Regards,

    AMW

  25. Hi AMW,

    I'm sorry to say, I think that so far you're not entirely following what I'm trying to say, and that's possibly b/c I'm not explaining myself well.
    When I said I'm running reductios, what I mean is that the naturalistic worldview has a dire and unresolved epistemological weakness – the problem of induction. Related to that is the problem of sense perception. You don't know that your specific observations, of which you can make a few hundred on a given topic per year out of quintillions of actual events, reliably lead you to understand the universal, the way the world is. You ASSUME it. Similarly, you ASSUME that your senses accurately observe the outside world, then you ASSUME that the senses properly report that data to your brain, then you ASSUME that the data arrives correctly, then you ASSUME that your brain properly interprets the data, then you ASSUME that you then act properly on that data. But why assume it? B/c the alternative is distasteful – solipsism – but not b/c you have an argument or evidence that your assumptions are true. You HOPE they are, and hey, you ASSUME they are, but you can give no reason for me to think they actually are true.
    Further, you have no reason to think that the natural processes you think you observe around you are in operation everywhere. You have no reason to think they have always, or at least since a very long time ago, been in operation. You ASSUME these things are true, but you can't even start to prove it.
    This is the massive problem with any naturalistic worldview. That's what I've been riffing off of in my comments to you.

    I don't have that problem, since my fundamental basis of knowing things is not observation at all. Nor is it human reason or thought. I can know anything b/c God has spoken and He has assured me that my cognitive faculties are generally reliable though certainly not infallible, since I am made in the image of God. He has promised that in general He holds the universe together, and cycles of seedtime and harvest will remain, the Earth will remain in orbit around the sun, life on Earth will continue and my responsibility is to live for Jesus and proclaim the Good News of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name to everyone, until the Eschaton. I have the unflinching and unchanging promise of the omnipotent Creator God. You have nothing, since you have chosen to distrust Him. But you can always turn back.

    Notice that to overturn my argument, you're going to need to give me some argument that your senses and cognitive faculties are in fact reliable AND how you can know that with certainty. Don't assume it, prove it. You're then going to need to solve the problem of induction and let me know how you can know that your pitifully small numerator of things you think you've observed and experienced add up to some meaningful amount given the vastly huge denominator of total events in the universe, and how that ratio informs you with any degree of certainty as to the truth of the universal law you think your observations inform you of. It's a big job, so let's not waste time with "Junior"; you need to start doing some heavy epistemological lifting. You mentioned special pleading, yet that is all you have.

    Notice, finally, that even if you were able to give some reason to think you're right, besides your bare assumptions, you still haven't gotten anywhere with respect to the actual question of your overlaying your story over the fossil "record". Even if the fossils were all once organisms, and even if they had parents, that doesn't tell you anything about the parents since you don't know who the parents were or what they were like, what traits they had, what genetic code they had. You don't know anything, but you want to pretend like YOU'RE the guys with the truth on your side?

    Peace,
    Rhology

  26. I can know anything b/c God has spoken and He has assured me that my cognitive faculties are generally reliable though certainly not infallible, since I am made in the image of God.

    Of course, Alan, you realize you've just painted yourself with the same brush with which you've painted AMW. You assumethat your interpretation of the Bible and your understanding of its nature and extent of its inspiration is correct. Prove it.

  27. Mike,

    *shrug*
    I've studied the issues and tested my interpretations against those who disagree, and their alternatives are never any good.
    Further, I've looked extensively at all contrary positions. I know my position is correct b/c of the impossibility and failure of all the alternatives.
    It's simply up to you to show where I'm incorrect. Go for it. I've presented a positive case; show me where it's wrong.

  28. I know my position is correct b/c of the impossibility and failure of all the alternatives … show me where it's wrong.

    Sorry, Alan. You've just presented me with an impossible task. Since you know you're right, there is no way by which I can prove you're wrong, no matter what evidence I have in my arsenal. I'd be wasting my time and yours.

    God bless.

  29. And if I said the same thing about your cognitive faculties, that you know you're right, there is no way by which I can prove you're wrong, no matter what evidence I have in my arsenal, where does that get us?

    You don't appear to have even understood the challenge before you, or the way your position does the exact same thing. Let's add a bit of lack of self-awareness about your self-righteousness to the list…

  30. AMW

    Rhology,

    It seems to me that you're assuming (at least) the following:

    1. God directly oversaw the authorship of the Bible in such a way as to keep it free from any error of fact.

    2. Copyists of Biblical texts were able to use sensory input to correctly read the previous texts, and to proof-read their copies to ensure fidelity.

    3. The Church (as of the Reformation, at least) correctly included every text that was inerrantly inspired of God in the canon, and discarded every text that was not inerrantly inspired from the canon, based on their sensory perception of the texts, their reason and logic surrounding the texts, and their sensory perception of any signs/messages from God.

    4. Those who have translated the canon from the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic could reliably use sensory perception and reason to read and understand those languages, faithfully translate them into English, and proof-read them against the source texts. (If you can read any or all of these languages, you are also assuming that your sensory perception is reliable in doing so.)

    5. Those whose job it is to mass-produce copies of these translations can reliably use sensory perception and reason to do so reliably.

    6. Your sensory perception and reason are sufficient to read the text, understand its meaning, and apply that meaning to the world around you.

    7. You know every alternative interpretation of the text; not just those that have been put forth by men, but also those that might possibly be put forth in the future. And your sensory perception and reason are sufficient to analyze and reject them.

    We can't escape the use of our senses and reason. You make use of them no less than Mike and I do to make sense of the world. You even use them (no less than Mike and I do) to justify their use as reliable. So if there is a problem of induction, it does not apply only to an evolutionary or naturalistic worldview. It applies equally to a special creation or super-naturalistic worldview. You're in the same boat we're in.

    Regards,

    AMW

  31. Jon Orcutt

    Mike,
    I'm a YECist. When I went through TTP I was disappointed and frustrated on two accounts. #1.)It did not promote YECism. Was anybody from ICR or AIG even mentioned? I don't remember any. It appears that the writers scripted it so as not to offend either YECists or OECists.
    It is apparent that TTP is decidedly ID and OEC.

    #2.) I wondered how long it would be before a theistic evolutionist or an atheist with an understanding of philosophy would not just dismantle TTP but obliterate it, philosophically. KABOOM! You nailed it.

    I freely admit that I am a close-minded, circular-reasoning, Bible-believing, YECist knuckle-head. I don my Scripture glasses before I look through my telescope and microscope.

    I wince when I see an OECist wanting to have his cake (respect from the scientific community for holding to a standard cosmology, though divinely created, directed and finely-tuned by God) and to eat it, too (respect from the theological community for having at least a tangential attachment to the Biblical account).

    I have worked through Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins recently. Sam Harris rips OECist natural theology like a knife through hot butter. As I was watching TTP, I thought to myself, "Anybody with a nickel's worth of philosophy will make mulch of this series." I'm not a prophet, but you do have at least a nickel's worth of philosophical expertise. I am a YECist NOT because of the scientific data but because of the way I read Gen. 1-11.

    I was thinking about writing a critique of the philosophical,
    theological and scientific problems with TTP from a YeCist stance. I don't have to now. Do not construe this statement as an endorsement. You and I come at the matter from very different and conflicting perspectives. Fellow YECists are a bit perplexed when I recommend Dawkins' The God Delusion as an explanation for why I have problems with the ID movement, OECism and natural theology.

    Thanks for saving me a boatload of time. I owe you one!

    Regards,
    Jon Orcutt

  32. Hi AMW,

    1. God directly oversaw the authorship of the Bible in such a way as to keep it free from any error of fact.

    Almost. More correctly, God wrote the Bible. Also, men wrote the Bible. It was a mysteriously joint effort, but when God says sthg, He doesn't mess up.

    2. Copyists of Biblical texts were able to use sensory input to correctly read the previous texts, and to proof-read their copies to ensure fidelity.

    Yes, b/c as I explained, God created man in His image and made His senses and cognitive faculties generally reliable.
    Now, if naturalism is true, I have seen no reason and you have given no reason to think that ANY cognitive faculties or senses are reliable, so one would have great reason to doubt EVERYthing, not just the Bible. But I'm not a naturalist, so my critique doesn't fall on me. You need to show why it doesn't fall on your position.

    3. The Church (as of the Reformation, at least) correctly included every text that was inerrantly inspired of God in the canon

    Yes, b/c God, having written the Bible, had quite a vested interest in making sure that His people had His communication.

    7. You know every alternative interpretation of the text

    I don't have to know every alternative interp. I only need to know the correct one with sufficiency. I'm not claiming I know every correct interp of every text, but I know sufficiently correct interps of a sufficient amount of texts to understand the message of God communicated thru the Bible.

    We can't escape the use of our senses and reason.

    If naturalism is true, there is no reason to think that this thought of yours isn't an illusion, wishful thinking. Instead of ASSUMING, I'd like you to start providing evidence.

    So if there is a problem of induction, it does not apply only to an evolutionary or naturalistic worldview. It applies equally to a special creation or super-naturalistic worldview.

    I agree that the POI applies to me, but I don't rely on induction for my ultimate truths. I rely on DEDUCTIVE, DIDACTIC revelation from Almighty, omniscient God. It's totally different. Now, you need to start defending your position. My guess is you can't, given the way you've been responding here. (You could start by actually telling me what your position is. May I ask what you believe about all this? Just a brief outline/label is fine.)

    Peace,
    Rhology

  33. AMW

    Rhology,

    You say that, "Instead of ASSUMING, I'd like you to start providing evidence." Yet you seem to accept the assumptions I imputed to you without any attempt at justifying them with evidence.

    More importantly, however, I notice that you left out a response to assumptions 4 – 6, all of which make note of the fact that in order to support your position you must assume the sufficiency of sensory perception and reason to tell you something reliable about reality.

    Hence, when you claim that you "rely on DEDUCTIVE, DIDACTIC revelation from Almighty, omniscient God," you are relying on sensory perception and reason. Moreover, you are doing so prior to accepting the revelation of which you speak.

    As for what my position is, I'm no philosopher, so a) I'm not sure what tidy label it might fit under and b) I'm open to changing it if I find it to be in error. A brief outline would go something like this:

    1. There is a reality, and it is objective. That is, the world around me does not depend on my opinion of it. If I make claim X about reality, and another person makes a contradictory claim Y about reality, then either X, Y, or both are incorrect. It is not possible for both X and Y to be correct.

    2. Man has the ability (whether supernaturally imposed on him, naturally developed in him, or some combination of the two) to perceive data with his senses and draw inferences from those data via reason.

    3. Statements 1 and 2 above are essential for any kind of sensible human existence. I concede they are assumptions, but in rejecting them we would throw ourselves into utter confusion and would have no choice but to consider ourselves radically ignorant. Conversely, if we accept those assumptions, we are capable of achieving incredible feats that are highly advantageous to our physical, intellectual, and spiritual comfort. In other words, even if 1 and 2 above are incorrect, they are useful. Their alternative is madness.

    4. Sensory perception and inference are reliable, but not foolproof. We are capable of misperceiving, and of making faulty inferences. This implies an inherent uncertainty in our perception of reality. No matter how elementary the topic at hand, it is always possible (though not always likely) that we are wrong about it.

    5. On the other hand, we are also capable of perceiving rightly, and of making accurate inferences. It may be that we will never rightly understand reality truly and completely, but by perception and inference we can come closer to a true, complete understanding of reality.

    6. We are most likely to be wrong about topics regarding which we have little (or imperfect) data, or topics that require multiple, interdependent inferences. We are more likely to be right about topics regarding which we have substantial (and/or high quality) data, or topics that require simple inferences. If we have multiple, independent data sets from which simple inferences can be drawn, and they all point in the same direction, then we are at the apex of likelihood of being correct.

    7. Accordingly, the only way to overcome the imperfections of our perception and reason is with more perception and reason.

    I hope this suffices as a description of my position. Is it naturalism? I have no idea. I don't claim that matter (or "nature") is all that exists. What I do claim is that perception and reason precede a conclusion on the existence of God, the reliability of the scriptures, etc. God may have existed before perception and reason. But we are powerless to know him or know about him apart from them.

    All the best,

    AMW

  34. Hi AMW,

    Yet you seem to accept the assumptions I imputed to you without any attempt at justifying them with evidence.

    Yes, b/c my worldview accepts the existence of a God Who communicates deductive and objective communicaton to His creation, which is sufficiently knowable by that creation. He's told me these things.
    Now, if I accept YOUR worldview, how can I know these things?

    you left out a response to assumptions 4 – 6,

    Yes, b/c they were based on your misunderstanding of who has which problem.

    Hence, when you claim that you "rely on DEDUCTIVE, DIDACTIC revelation from Almighty, omniscient God," you are relying on sensory perception and reason.

    No, I'm not. I ACCESS it by sensory input and reason, but that's not the source. The pattern is extrinsic to me and my senses and cognition. What is the parallel for your worldview?

    you are doing so prior to accepting the revelation of which you speak.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. If I did THAT, I'd be in YOUR position, with no reason to doubt solipsism. No reason to think anything is true.

    1. There is a reality, and it is objective.

    How do you know that?

    2. Man has the ability (whether supernaturally imposed on him, naturally developed in him, or some combination of the two) to perceive data with his senses and draw inferences from those data via reason.

    How do you know that?

    3. Statements 1 and 2 above are essential for any kind of sensible human existence.

    And what if human experience is illusory, non-sensible? As you said, their alternative is madness. Why not madness?
    If you concede, as it seems you're doing, that you accept all of this on blind faith with no reason to do so and no motivation other than that the alternatives are unsavory, why should I accept your accounts of all this evolution stuff? Why should I go against what God has said to go over to your evolution side, when you can't even give me a good reason (other than "the alternative is unsavory") to believe your rationalistic worldview structure?

    4. Sensory perception and inference are reliable, but not foolproof.

    And how did you perceive this with your senses? How did you perceive that perception is reliable?
    As Vincent Cheung says:
    Since sensation is so important to your view, I would like to understand what you are talking about. What is a sensation? How did you learn the meaning of a sensation? How do you know when you are having a sensation? Do you sense the sensation to know that you have a sensation? If you sense a sensation, then how do you know that? Do you sense the sensation that senses the sensation? Then, do you sense the sensation that senses the sensation that senses the sensation? If this is not your view, then please explain. That is, if information comes from sensation, then how do you know when you are having a sensation?
    Do you ever not have a sensation? How do you know that? Is a lack of sensation itself a sensation? Then, do you sense that you are not having a sensation? Can you have a sensation and not be conscious of it? How do you know that? Have you ever sensed that you are not conscious of a particular sensation? If so, then are you not in fact conscious of it? Does this not return us to the original question, that is, can you have
    a sensation and not be conscious of it?

  35. 6. We are most likely to be wrong about topics regarding which we have little (or imperfect) data

    And since you admitted you had no data to support #3, what does that say for #s 3 and 6?

    God may have existed before perception and reason. But we are powerless to know him or know about him apart from them.

    How do you know that? Where's your data?
    And if you don't have any data, how did you sense that?
    If you didn't sense it, how do you know that you didn't sense it? Did you sense THAT?
    If you don't have any data OR sense perception related to that, per your #6, that we are most likely to be wrong about topics regarding which we have little (or imperfect) data, are you most likely to be wrong about this? How is this not an expression of blind faith on your part, a proclamation of your religion?

    Is it naturalism? I have no idea.

    It is. Rationalistic naturalism, and a total failure as a worldview. What's funniest and saddest to me is that you are the vociferous defender of Mike Beidler's post here, and you're basically an atheist, and yet Beidler is supposedly a servant of Jesus. It says something significant about the theistic evolutionist that it links arms so strongly with atheists and naturalists, who deny and don't care about the Lordship of Jesus, and reject those who DO accept and magnify and proclaim His Lordship. Says a lot indeed.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  36. AMW

    Rhology,

    I'll take up the philosophical questions in a latter comment, but I wanted to address the following statement:

    What's funniest and saddest to me is that you are the vociferous defender of Mike Beidler's post here, and you're basically an atheist, and yet Beidler is supposedly a servant of Jesus. It says something significant about the theistic evolutionist that it links arms so strongly with atheists and naturalists, who deny and don't care about the Lordship of Jesus, and reject those who DO accept and magnify and proclaim His Lordship. Says a lot indeed.

    I must admit, it came as quite a surprise to me that I am an atheist (basically or otherwise), given that I believe in God. I'm sure it would also come as a surprise to my kids, whom I've taught to believe in God, and in his son Jesus as their redeemer. My church in Kansas would be pretty surprised, too, given that I've been a member there for 3 years or so, attended weekly (vacations and sickness excepted) for four years, and tithed faithfully for the same period of time. Ditto the churches I attended in Virginia, Israel, New Mexico and Oregon. Moreover, if they knew about it, a certain missionary organization operating in Africa would probably wonder why an atheist had been making donations for nearly ten years to help them train local Christian young adults in tent-making evangelism. I'm no lexicographer, but I'd say you have a pretty expansive definition of atheism.

    All that to say, I hope you'll understand that when you're talking about these issues with Mike and me, you are addressing fellow believers. We don't reach all the same conclusions that you do, and the conclusions that we share with you, we probably don't come to in the same way, either. But I want you to understand that despite our differences, I appreciate your membership in the family of God, and I sincerely wish you the best in your missionary work.

    Some day I look forward to Jesus sitting the three of us down and explaining, in detail, where each of us went wrong. In the meantime, we'll all have to do the best we can with the resources that we have. Please understand that that's what I'm trying to do, with all earnest sincerity.

    All the best,

    AMW

  37. I'm sure it would also come as a surprise to my kids, whom I've taught to believe in God, and in his son Jesus as their redeemer. My church in Kansas would be pretty surprised, too, given that I've been a member there for 3 years or so, attended weekly (vacations and sickness excepted) for four years, and tithed faithfully for the same period of time.

    Your comment gave zero indication that you held any kind of belief in Jesus. Where was that when you were asked the big questions?
    I can't tell what role He has in your life given your previous comment. Is He just like your lifecoach? Your fairy godmother? What?

    I'd say you have a pretty expansive definition of atheism.

    The only thing I know about you is what you've said above, and what you wrote was 100% indistinguishable from atheism. Your outlook is atheistic, naturalistic, materialistic. It's exactly what I expect of liberals and errantists.
    But perhaps you'd like to take another swing at my questions and redo your last comment. I will not criticise you for retracting.

    you are addressing fellow believers

    I have every reason to doubt that you are a fellow believer, given what you've said before. But like I said, retractions are just fine.

    Jesus sitting the three of us down and explaining, in detail, where each of us went wrong.

    The sad thing is, He already did that, and you and Mike prefer to correct Him. Why make Him repeat Himself? Why doesn't that sort of thing reveal a heart that remains hardened in sin against your creator?

    Peace,
    Rhology

  38. AMW

    Rhology,

    Our conversation has had nothing to do with Jesus, at least not directly. It began as a discussion of the fossil record, then quickly became a discussion about assumptions vs. evidence and how one can know anything, with a little exegesis thrown in for flavor.

    As for what I've written being indistinguishable from atheism, you can find plenty of Christians who don't rely on presuppositional apologetics (as you seem to be doing) for their belief in God. I suspect you can find plenty of Jews, Muslims, Hindus and other flavors of theists who also don't presuppose God (or gods), but believe in him (or them) anyway.

    Regarding Jesus, he is the unblemished sacrifice who advocates for me before a righteous God. He is the teacher whose lessons I try to learn, and the example I try to follow, with very limited success. He is also all the things you'll find in the Nicene Creed: begotten of the Father, light of light, very God of very God, etc.

    You say that you have every reason to doubt that I'm a fellow believer, given what I've said before. Could you flesh that out a little bit? What have I said that suggested I'm an atheist?

    Once again, I'll address the philosophy (and hopefully Genesis) in a later comment. But please forgive me if my comments are only intermittent for a while. I have an evening class to prepare for, and I'll be on the road for a few days starting tomorrow.

    Regards,

    AMW

  39. Hi AMW,

    Our conversation has had nothing to do with Jesus, at least not directly.

    I think that's the key difference here. Was there ever a time in your life when you thought Jesus was Lord of EVERYTHING? You ask me about history, science, truth, I answer with Jesus. I ask you about those things, you start with YOU.

    As for what I've written being indistinguishable from atheism, you can find plenty of Christians who don't rely on presuppositional apologetics

    *shrug* I happen to favor presupp apologetics, it's true, but here we have a case of your starting with YOU when answering big questions, and not with Jesus. And here I offer you the chance to retract, and you're not taking it! Instead, you're arguing more that you were right to start with you and not with Jesus. Your heart is showing, I'm sad to see it.
    Please, for the sake of your own conscience, retract your self-centered commentary and start over again. Make Jesus Lord of EVERYTHING.

    But please forgive me if my comments are only intermittent for a while

    No problem. I'm in no rush. Lord knows there are more important things than blogging!

    Peace,
    Rhology

  40. Kevin

    Well, I started reading the comments with the intent of reading all the comments, but got lost in the 'watch your tone' back-and-forth. A few quick comments to both sides:

    @Rhology
    1) Can you prove that one fossil was a descendant of another? The answer is yes, and it is done through genetics. Genes get turned off through mutations, but they stay in the DNA, so you can tell where branches occurred in evolutionary chains. This is how we know that common descent is true.
    2) I am surprised that there are people who still subscribe to the 'appearance of age' argument. Please realize if you subscribe to this argument that you are making some very bold statements. Not just that God created the light from stars in transit, but that he must have also made it look like there were humans around 40,000 years ago (i.e. cave paintings in France, etc). Was God just being deceptive and making us think that there were really humans back then? Following the same argument, who is to say that God didn't just create me 5 seconds ago with the appearance of age and the perception of a memory of my 29 years of life? I will admit that I unfortunately believed the 'appearance of age' argument for a long time, until I realized that it forced me into a completely untenable position.

    @Mike
    1) It seems a fear of being caught in the 'God of the Gaps' philosophy has forced your hand to accepting some questionable beliefs. While I think the gaps are largely filled with many areas of evolution, I think there is merit for ID in the areas of cosmology, abiogenesis, some lines of the irreducible complexity argument, some aspects of the specified complexity argument.

    The independent claims of the scientific community should still be independently verified even if they have been right with other claims.

  41. Kevin,

    Really? You know of two fossils that are thought to be of the same lineal descent from which DNA can be drawn and tested to find out their exact similarities?
    I doubt you do. What you seem to be saying is that you can take DNA from organisms TODAY and beg the question by assuming that DNA variations definitely happened in the past, then point back to that assumption and say "See? DNA branch-offs indicate common descent!" Please let me know why I should accept that kind of circular reasoning.

    Please realize if you subscribe to this argument that you are making some very bold statements.

    Not if you care abouut what the Bible says, for one thing. But you might not.
    But I'm not concerned with "boldness" as one might measure it, but rather truth.
    See here and here for more "bold statements" on this from secular sources.

    that he must have also made it look like there were humans around 40,000 years ago (i.e. cave paintings in France, etc).

    Not at all; I'm inclined to think those were incorrectly dated. Happens all the time. Deep Time is Deep Time, after all.

    Was God just being deceptive and making us think that there were really humans back then?

    1) Not if they're incorrectly dated.
    2) Even if they were correctly dated and God created them with the appearance of age, the deception is not His, but yours. He told you exactly how it all went down, in the Bible. Why appeal to your limited methodologies, limited access, limited instrumentation, limited process, limited knowledge, and total inability to go back in time, when you could just ask the One Who was there?

    Following the same argument, who is to say that God didn't just create me 5 seconds ago with the appearance of age and the perception of a memory of my 29 years of life?

    That's actually a much better question for a naturalist than it is for me.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  42. I found it interesting that the most effective voice (imo) against evolution was that of David Berlinski. Could the Truth Project really do no better than an atheistic Jew who links evolution to the Nazis and the Holocaust (is it any wonder he objects to Darwin)? who is a known contrarian who delights in bucking the majority? a mathematician and philosopher first, and biologist second? who claims that he knows many other mathematicians who have problems with evolution, but says little about the near unanimous consent of trained biologists? I'm supposed to be impressed?

    When, during the discussion following the screening of part one of Lesson 5, I identified myself as a believer who accepts evolution, I was asked by the elders of the sponsoring church to please not come back. This despite 25+ years of history and close friendship with most of those elders. So I guess I won't see the rest of the series.

    Mike, you are doing a great job here. I know I am commenting late on this thread, but I have been busy lately. And judging from the many posts here over the last several weeks, so have you. I have a lot of catching up to do!

  43. @Jon Orcutt:

    When I went through TTP I was disappointed and frustrated on two accounts. #1.)It did not promote YECism. Was anybody from ICR or AIG even mentioned? I don't remember any. It appears that the writers scripted it so as not to offend either YECists or OECists. It is apparent that TTP is decidedly ID and OEC.

    You're correct in that no YECers were quoted. On TTP's website, they state that they are attempting to stay out of the debate on the age of the universe and prefer to focus on ID arguments.

    I wondered how long it would be before a theistic evolutionist or an atheist with an understanding of philosophy would not just dismantle TTP but obliterate it, philosophically. KABOOM! You nailed it.

    Greatly appreciate the praise, Jon! In return, I must say that I appreciate both your tone …

    I freely admit that I am a close-minded, circular-reasoning, Bible-believing, YECist knuckle-head. I don my Scripture glasses before I look through my telescope and microscope.

    … and your honesty. 😀

    I gladly admit my own biases and I'm doubly joyous when other people admit their own.

    I wince when I see an OECist wanting to have his cake … and to eat it, too ….

    That's exactly why I didn't stay in the ID camp very long (or the partial preterist camp, for that matter).

    I have worked through Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins recently.

    I'm glad to see that you're not afraid to stick your foot in the water. After I finish a few other books, Dawkins' The God Delusion is next.

    I am a YECist NOT because of the scientific data but because of the way I read Gen. 1-11.

    I'm curious … Would you be willing to admit that the scientific data favors evolution, but that you choose to reject the conclusions wholesale as a result of your choice to accept a literal reading of Genesis 1-11 over and against scientific consensus? If so, you've just gone up a notch in my eyes. 😉

    I was thinking about writing a critique of the philosophical, theological and scientific problems with TTP from a YeCist stance.

    I would LOVE to read YOUR critiques! Be like Nike … just do it!

  44. Anonymous

    you obviously have too much time on your hands and you are too self consumed. get over yourself and accept that there is a greater man than yourself, His name is Jesus Christ, and he died for all so that we may live eternally with our Father in heaven. That concept is FAR more comprehendalbe than this gibber gabber you have posted on this quacky website. AND THE TRUTH PROJECT WAS WONDERFUL. IT MADE MY FAITH THAT MUCH STRONGER!!!

  45. Anonymous,

    you obviously have too much time on your hands

    If you look at the rate at which I blog, you'll find just the opposite. I actually wish I had more time to frustrate you.

    and you are too self consumed.

    That just comes naturally for a Naval Aviator.

    get over yourself

    As long as there's an unbroken mirror in the world, that won't be possible.

    and accept that there is a greater man than yourself, His name is Jesus Christ, and he died for all so that we may live eternally with our Father in heaven.

    Ah! Finally! Some common ground!

    That concept is FAR more comprehendalbe than this gibber gabber you have posted on this quacky website.

    "Comprehendalbe." You've listened to way too many of W's speeches.

    AND THE TRUTH PROJECT WAS WONDERFUL. IT MADE MY FAITH THAT MUCH STRONGER!!!

    And that much more based on untruths. Certainly, something of which you must be extremely proud.

    Thanks for playing.

  46. Nathaniel Nelson

    Hi Mr. Beidler,

    I recently discovered material I had meant to post as a comment on your blog a couple years ago but forgot. It’s also incomplete, but what I have finished, is here below:

    ~~~
    (1) “Evolution,” Tackett claims, is “one of the greatest lies ever foisted upon man.” What Tackett doesn’t tell his audience is that TTP uses material promoted by the Discovery Institute extensively. It is, essentially, a mere mouthpiece for the Seattle-based Intelligent Design (ID) “think tank.” Much to my chagrin, Tackett finds himself in bed with a body of “scientists” of whom some profess belief in evolutionary theory (albeit directly guided by the hand of God) and common descent. For example, Michael Behe, whom Tackett treats like a rock star, recently wrote an article mentioning his belief in the descent of humans and apes from a common ancestor, “which I have always said I think is correct.” Either Tackett hasn’t really read either of Behe’s books, or he chooses not to reveal that fact to his audience for fear that it would ruin the integrity of his argument. The former would be sloppy research; the latter would be pure and simple deception.
    ~~~

    Actually, this conclusion is not entirely true. Tackett understood that whatever Behe’s specific worldview beliefs are, Behe does not accept evolutionary theory as an explanation for the stark variety of species we see in our world today. Tackett knew quite well that Behe was not a Christian but only a proponent of Intelligent Design. Behe emphasizes this distinction. Also, I think you’ve misrepresented what Behe believes: Behe makes it quite clear that common decent has no bearing on the major claims of evolution at all, and that one can believe in common decent without accepting all of evolution’s answers. In his own words:

    “Evolution is a controversial topic, so it is necessary to address a few basic questions at the beginning of the book. Many people think that questioning Darwinian evolution must be equivalent to espousing creationism. As commonly understood, creationism involves belief in an earth formed only about ten thousand years ago, an interpretation of the Bible that is still very popular. For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it. I greatly respect the work of my colleagues who study the development and behavior of organisms within an evolutionary framework, and I think that evolutionary biologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the world. Although Darwin’s mechanism – natural selection working on variation – might explain many things, however, I do not believe it explains molecular life. I also do not think it surprising that the new science of the very small might change the way we view the less small.” (Darwin’s Black Box, pp 5-6.)

    “…it’s understandable that some people find the idea of common descent so astonishing that they look no further. Yet in a very strong sense the explanation of common descent is also trivial. Common descent tries to account only for the similarities between creatures. It says merely that certain shared features were there from the beginning – the ancestor had them…In contrast, Darwin’s hypothesized mechanism of evolution – the compound concept of random mutation paired with natural selection…tries to account for the differences between creatures. …What could cause such staggering transformations? …By far the most critical aspect of Darwin’s multifaceted theory is the role of random mutation. Almost all of what is novel and important in Darwinian thought is concentrated in this third concept.” (The Edge of Evolution, p 2.)

    There are a few other points I would like to address; I’ll do so in the following comments.

  47. Nathaniel Nelson

    ~~~
    (2) Tackett quotes selectively from atheistic scientists, such as Richard Dawkins, to persuade his audience that belief in evolution in any form (with the possible exception of so-called “micro-evolution” within species) is a necessary and logical component of a godless paradigm. He also quotes exclusively from literature written by proponents of Intelligent Design in order to back his claims. Nary a quotation from Christian scientists who have embraced evolution, such as Francis Collins, Kenneth R. Miller, Denis O. Lamoureux, or Stephen Matheson. Not a peep either from Christian theologians who accept theistic evolution/evolutionary creationism, such as Bruce Waltke, Scot McKnight, or Mark A. Noll. As I mentioned in my critique of Lesson 4, if Tackett were to mention the mere existence of those listed above, Tackett’s argument would explode like just another supernova.

    (3) Tackett misuses terms such as hypothesis, theory, fact, and law extensively in order to discredit the fact of evolution and dismiss it as a “just a theory.” Thus, it is no surprise to watch Tackett warn his audience how frequent those terms are misused and misunderstood and, at the same time, butcher the very meanings of those terms he purports to understand.
    ~~~

    Ooh, my friend, you tread in very deep water here. I fear this comment is a perfect example of the point Tackett makes when attempting to explain the terms “hypothesis” “theory” and “law”: that so many in the world consider evolution as something that is so scientifically established that no one in their right minds would dare contradict it. This is what Tackett is warning his audience against: he is saying do not believe it when people say evolution is an accepted fact on par with the Laws of Thermodynamics or Einstein’s theory of relativity. Tackett is trying to make the distinction that evolution is NOT universally accepted, and is not regarded as the same kind of “theory” that Einstein’s theories are, or whatever other theories or laws we’ve established about the universe.

    Now the second point that Tackett makes about the terminology comes very soon after his definition of the terms: that according to Darwin’s own criteria, it might be possible for Darwin’s theory to “absolutely break down”. Darwin says “if any complex organ could be found that is impossible to have evolved over gradual, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” What Tackett is saying is that no matter what scientists say, no matter how undeniable they present evolution as, a substantial counterexample would be enough to bring it all crashing down. This means that no matter what term you use, hypothesis, theory, fact, law, etc., it would have to be taken off its pedestal and seriously reconsidered if major evidence is presented against it.

    Remember history’s view on this: before Galileo, the scientific community was convinced that the Solar System was all there was to the universe. Even so, such spatial dimensions are hard to comprehend. When Galileo burst the bubble, the universe suddenly expanded to such astronomical sizes it was almost ludicrous. It was a prime example of the supernova analogy you make: the reining theory at the time exploded into billions of pieces, as the universe suddenly became far too large for comfort, and our own position and role was placed in an even meeker perspective. The same is going on with evolution today: what Tackett is NOT saying is that evolutionists haven’t bothered to gather sufficient evidence to make evolution a law. There’s plenty of evidence to do that. Tacket IS saying that this evidence needs to be reexamined because he believes it does not in fact support the theory/law/fact/idea/worldview of evolution. It really doesn’t matter what you call it: if enough of a problem arises in incoming data, then it needs to be reconsidered, no matter how far along on the scientific spectrum it has come.

  48. Nathaniel Nelson

    ~~~
    In what appears on the surface to be a watertight argument, Tackett smirks and asks, “How long did it take before we got the clotting system right?” By this question, he implies that if we human beings didn’t have a complex, operable blood clotting system from the get-go, our species would have literally bled ourselves into extinction. What Tackett does not mention is that our primordial ancestors didn’t require a complex blood clotting system since their circulatory systems didn’t require the high-pressure system that we do. I doubt it ever occurred to Tackett that that blood clotting systems (and their more complex iterations) developed first, allowing for the later (or parallel) development of higher-pressure circulatory systems.
    ~~~

    But that’s his point: it never occurred to him because his argument is that it can’t develop in the first place. Why on Earth would it be beneficial to evolve a blood clotting system *before* circulatory systems that actually needed it? It wouldn’t be beneficial; there would be no reason for natural selection to favor those with a blood clotting system. But more than that, the absurdity of developing a blood-clotting system over time is what Tackett is trying to point out. Whether it happened before or after or in between developing a high-pressure circulatory system, the absurdity is that a blood-clotting system that takes time (counted in thousands or millions of years) to develop is simply an impossibility, because if all the parts aren’t there or don’t work, the whole thing doesn’t work. The only way to randomly mutate a blood-clotting system is to do it all at once, which is also an absurd impossibility. It’s an irreducibly complex system, because there is no partial working form; it’s all or nothing. Doesn’t matter when it’s supposed to have evolved.

    ~~~
    The next “irreducible complexity” argument Tackett trots out is Behe’s “biological mousetrap,” the bacterial flagellum. It is, according to proponents of ID, one of many examples of an intelligently designed, irreducible complex machine. Take away one piece of the mousetrap, so the argument goes, it is useless. Evolutionary biologists are quick to point out that the various structures of the flagellum likely performed different functions before coming together in its current form and purpose, while other structures derived from convenient gene duplication upon which mutation could work its magic without harm to the organism.
    ~~~

    Right, and where did those structures that played different functions come from? It doesn’t matter what they did or how, they’re still the same structures. So how did they come about? This isn’t answering the question, it’s just moving it a layer deeper.
    Funny how “convenient” and “magic” are words that seem to fit the process of creating incredible diversity. I still think it’s more plausible (and more supported by the evidence) to think that an Intelligent Designer had purpose and direction when he created the universe, instead of our cosmos being governed by random natural forces with no intention. It’s good to see that you agree; that you believe in Creator God as well as study how the universe works. I don’t understand why the Truth Project is so threatening to you if ultimately we believe in the same God. But that leads me to my next comment:

  49. Nathaniel Nelson

    ~~~
    Tackett also dredges up the tired argument that evolution’s allegedly “random” nature somehow forces evolution proponents to deny God’s sovereignty over creation, making evolutionists deists at best, and atheists at worst. Sadly, evolution critics blunder when describing evolution as a “random” process. The mechanisms of evolution, as random as they might seem because of our limited perception and knowledge, are still subject to the laws of nature that govern the universe; cause and effect are still at work within the evolutionary process. Even Tackett should recognize that even the results of a “random” roll of the dice are known by an omniscient God (cf. Proverbs 16:33). (For readers who are familiar with quantum mechanics and Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle,” please do not view my statement above as a challenge to those concepts. My invocation of Proverbs 16:33 is more of an affirmation of God’s sovereignty, not His measure of direct control.)
    ~~~

    Here you seem to be implying that the laws of nature and cause & effect are the things which impose order out of chaos; a pattern to otherwise random forces. If this is true, which I believe it isn’t, it begs the question “how in the world did evolution, which is governed by these natural laws, create these laws in the first place?” A process which is governed by certain principles cannot, by definition, create those principles. Either it was never governed by them in the first place, or the principles are transcendent and must be either their own excuse for being, or set in place by some higher intelligence.

    This is a necessary issue to address because, of course, evolution does not assume an all-powerful transcendent Creator. If you add God into the picture, it is much simpler to say God created the laws, set them in motion, then aided the process of evolution as His universe became more and more complex: ending up with creatures like ourselves able to reciprocally appreciate our Creator. But that is with God in the picture. If you take God out of the picture, which you must if you are examining evolution’s stability on its own, then you are suddenly left with no explanation for the natural laws that supposedly give order and direction to an otherwise random process.

    As you said before, and as should be obvious by looking at any secular college community today, not everyone who holds to evolution also holds to the idea of a Creator. In fact, a very large percentage of evolutionists are ardent opponents of any form of creationism, the popular attitude being one of cultural and individual progression beyond traditional oppressive worldviews. It seems then, that by your criteria the majority of evolutionists are either sadly deluded or simply ignorant of their position’s dependency on a Creator God. And I can guarantee that Tackett was trying to express just this discrepancy, and to guard his audience against the lie that evolution could take the place of God, which is what hundreds of thousands do believe. I appreciate and admire that you do not, but nevertheless hundreds of thousands do: many of them college professors and leading scientists, influencing the next generation to believe this too. Tackett is not saying that evolution is the defining characteristic of an anti-God worldview. He is saying that it is a very common one; one that is in fact growing more common by the year.

  50. Nathaniel Nelson

    ~~~
    In addition to ignoring the objective results of scientific endeavor, Tackett fears the alleged philosophical results of methodological naturalism, namely atheism. “The result,” Tackett claims, “is the propagation of a worldview that ‘scientifically’ excludes the Creator, thus ‘freeing’ mankind from accountability to a higher authority.” Tackett claims further that “evolution effectively rules out the existence of God.” Of course, Tackett wouldn’t recognize evolutionary theory if it bit him with 6-inch T. rex teeth, as he states time and time again (as evidenced throughout TTP) that the theory of evolution is intimately related to questions dealing with the origin of the universe and the origin of life. The pernicious truth is that evolutionary theory does not speak to those events; rather, evolutionary theory speaks to how the diverse forms of life on earth, both extant and extinct, came to be; likewise, evolutionary theory speaks neither to the existence of a Creator nor to the non-existence of a Creator….

    But atheism is the least of our worries, Tackett argues. Moral evil will abound as well if we Christians fall for the pernicious truth. Darwinism is, after all, one of the “primary theories that has been used to persuade people there is no God.” That may be true for some, but it is not true for everyone. It certainly wasn’t true for Darwin, whose agnosticism had more to do with his inability to form a personally satisfying theodicy after the death of his daughter Annie than his scientific research did…

    Not only does evolution destroy the need for God, it destroys the need for a Savior. Tackett quotes with delight G. Richard Bozarth, who, in a 1978 article in American Atheist, wrote, “Evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of God . . . and if Jesus was not the redeemer who dies for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.” Evolution means nothing of the sort. As an evolutionary creationist, I still believe that humanity possesses a sinful nature and that we are still in need of a Savior. Tell me again, Mr. Tackett, the part about where I become an atheist?
    ~~~

    There is no part where you become an atheist, but I suggest that your worldview is a little contradictory.

    Firstly, being an evolutionary creationist certainly doesn’t fit in Tackett’s category of a godless paradigm. But you can’t honestly think that most evolutionists are creationists as well. Tackett doesn’t address your worldview Mr. Biedler because he doesn’t need to. You already believe in Creator God. You already recognize man’s need for a Savior. You can therefore believe whatever you want about the workings of the universe, because you’ve got the basics right. But Tackett’s point is that many thousands don’t, and are in fact being driven away from belief in God because of the way evolution is taught as an all-encompassing worldview, undermining any need for traditional views of morality or God or anything else.

    It’s a little stilly to say that evolution doesn’t remove the need for God. If the universe can handle itself, then God doesn’t need to. If man can come from lower animals, if life can come from nonlife, if the world can come from dust, if the sun can be born of its own accord, if the universe itself can burst into being without the aid of a transcendent Creator, then there is absolutely no reason to believe in all the practical, difficult parts of Christianity such as sinful nature, the need for salvation, the authority of God in our lives. I understand that you yourself do not hold this view, and I believe you are right in realizing the world’s dependency on Christ. However, if you accept evolution’s explanation for the cosmos at its core, then there is no point in accepting or denying the rest of Christianity, because it all suddenly becomes subjective; a mental construct or a “personally satisfying theodicy”. It carries no real weight, and has no real value. The need for God is stripped away if the universe is self-sufficient, but the comfort of God remains, without all the nitty gritty moral laws and such that get in the way of cultural progress and self actualization.

    ~~~
    As Tackett rightly says, it only does so when “science has moved into philosophical mode” and attempts to encroach upon a domain in which it has valid claim. Mr. Tackett, do you not recognize that you engage in the very same behavior of which you accuse Richard Dawkins? Your own philosophy has “moved into scientific mode” and is encroaching upon a domain in which it has no valid claim. “Why does evolution shut out any
    scientific evidence against it?” you ask. “Don’t let the philosophical side of science affect the scientific evidence,” you warn. Hello! Science shouldn’t have a philosophical side, Mr. Tackett! As much as you want there to be, there shouldn’t.
    ~~~

    Actually, philosophy has valid claims in every area of life, because philosophy means the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. There used to be no distinction between philosophy and the other sciences; that was a healthier time in education. And while it is admirable to attempt to remove any philosophical claims from evolutionary theory, it is an impossible endeavor. When science says “there is no God” in the process of evolution, it’s a philosophical statement that removes God from the picture of how life works. And that’s what Tackett is warning his listeners against: most of the time, evolution provides an alternative understanding of the origin of life so that we don’t have to go back to primitive beliefs about a Creator God and a silly six-day creation. So much of academia in America is saturated with that feeling. It’s really sad, and I appreciate things like the Truth Project for clicking the “refresh” button and reminding us that we still have lots to learn; evolution is not a catch-all idea.

  51. Nathaniel Nelson

    ~~~
    It is to evolution critic David Berlinski that Tackett appeals next. In an interview clip with Berlinski, he highlights the so-called “problem” of whale evolution. We have two fossil forms on either end of the alleged spectrum, Berlinksi notes, but where are the other 49,998 versions in between the two fossil forms which complete the 50,000+ molecular changes (determined by “back of the hand” calculations!) to account for the Point A to Point B evolutionary journey? “There ought to be some evidence!” Tackett cries! And so there is.
    ~~~

    Oh dear… there are a lot of derogatory things I could say about using a youtube video about a few species of early whales as conclusive evidence in the fossil record. But I won’t say any of that, because then I’d be contradicting my own issue with people getting too personal. So instead, I would like to ask you for a website or a video or something that I can trace this youtube clip back to, because I would really like to respect this as conclusive evidence if it is, and really be able to argue against it if it’s not. Right now, I don’t feel like I’m prepared to do either, because the clip was only six minutes long and talked very briefly about each species and the connections between them; I felt like I didn’t have enough context to understand the points they were making, specifically regarding bone thickness, which to me looked awfully thin for an aquatic mammal.

    But there’s a basic principle about Tackett’s argument that I think you missed by choosing this particular video: Tackett is looking at the whole broad spectrum of the fossil record and noticing that it doesn’t present the clean, graduated story that evolution predicts. There are explosions of diversity, surrounded by periods of near stagnation. The very fact that there are explosions of diversity in certain strata is somewhat odd considering how natural selection works over time. Of course, because of things like the bottleneck effect, natural selection can either be highly pressurized or remain rather loose and aloof. So the reality of these fluctuations in evolution speed, creating the explosions of diversity, imply rather strongly that something happened around this time which served as an external factor-catalyst to speed up the evolutionary process. Delving into vaguely suggestive specifics is going off on a tangent unrelated to what Tackett is actually getting at.

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