Monday, October 13, 2008

Mantid Wastefulness and the Divine Nature in Creation (Creatures that Defy Creationism)




"She's on your foot! She's on your foot! Don't move or you'll squish her," I yelled to my oldest son yesterday. A praying mantis was climbing up onto his shoe, and, fearful that he might dislodge and squish the enormous insect, I told him to remain still. The mantis climbed down, and we watched her for the next five minutes. It was about six in the evening on October 12th, and the sun was orange with its rays extended horizontally through warm evening air.

The mantis was exposed. She sat in the mowed grass and would have been an easy meal for many a chordate. Her location inspired me to attempt to feed her. My kids and I caught a grasshopper and tossed it into the immediate field of the mantis' vision. The mantis saw the movement. She began to sway like a twig in the breeze. The grasshopper froze. I took a narrow twig and prodded the grasshopper into movement, and she moved just enough to remain in the mantis' sights. The mantis coupled her praying arms together, held close to her abdomen. Suddenly the grasshopper was held in her death grasp; she had caught her next meal.

It was a somewhat gruesome sight. The mantis began to eat the grasshopper immediately, tearing off and out large portions of the still squirming, still moving, still living prey. The grasshopper resisted for the next two minutes as the mantis grasped her in an unforgiving clench—ripping off pieces, each tear a step closer to the grasshopper's death. On two occasions the mantis looked away from her prey and stopped eating to investigate a nearby movement. I told the kids to remain still because a distracted mantis will readily drop a half-eaten, though quite alive, prey if she spies another food opportunity.

When I kept a mantis captive for a few weeks in the Fall of 2005, I was rather disturbed by its wastefulness. If more prey options were in sight, it wouldn't finish eating one insect at a time. Instead, it would capture a cricket, take a few bites, drop it, and capture another cricket to repeat the process. This would continue until there were up to a dozen crickets squirming on the bottom of her terrarium. With large portions of their midsections gone, the crickets would hang on to life for anywhere from a few hours to a day. Some would get up and walk; others would slowly move their legs or merely display life through the metabolic moving of their abdomen.

Ferocious and wasteful creatures these mantids are. As we were hunched over the mantis, I rehearsed how the mantis was incongruent with the Young-Earth Creationist model of a deathless world before the Fall. In the Young- Earth Creationist (YEC) pre-Fall world, there was no death; hence, the mechanisms of predation and defense would be superfluous. The mantis defies YEC incorporation. She displays superior predation adaptations through her developed, flesh-tearing jaws; abilities to mimic a swaying branch to avoid detection of her predatory advances; strong, large front legs for catch and grasping prey. Additionally, she is equipped with leaf-like wings and twig-like legs that prevent her from becoming someone else's meal. What functions would these adaptations play in a deathless world?

Paul tells the Romans that God's "everlasting power and divine nature" are manifest in God's creation. As a non-theist, I experience a sense of humility, awe, and grandeur when I fellowship with the mantis. However, I scarcely see the manifestation of a benevolent deity in her death grasp and wanton wastefulness, nor do I see a creature consistent with the predictions of Young-Earth Creationism. What benefit would large death claws have for the vegetarian mantis? I see the workings of natural selection and millions of years of specific refinements in the mantis. I do not see God. Paul was wrong.

42 comments:

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

I enjoyed reading this well-written story, especially the first two paragraphs before it got disturbing. Please continue to write! I especially enjoy descriptions of nature, sunsets, etc. I still believe you will be a published author someday.

Do your kids enjoy nature and observing insects as much as you do? Sounds like you would be a fun dad with all the exploration of the natural world. My kids were not alike. Dave loved observing insects; Denise stomped on ants and is terrified of spiders. My favorite memory of the natural world as a small child was watching polliwogs turn into frogs at the swamp. I still love swamps. I suppose they are called wetlands now. Something is lost in the translation. A swamp is sweaty and sweet with sounds.

Some thoughts:

Maybe a mantis would not be so wasteful in a real world situation. Maybe God would feed it one insect at a time, instead of giving it the wasteful choices captivity provides. How could you watch the crickets suffer? I like crickets. I don’t like wood roaches or some other bugs, but when I have to kill one, I make sure it is dead and not squirming around in bug agony. Although, maybe God has designed bug anatomy and nervous systems to not feel pain the way we do.

The Millennial Kingdom will be similar to the pre-Fall world. The praying mantis will be a vegetarian once again, as will we:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

I will post a link to an article on the Praying Mantis from a Creationist standpoint at my blog. I found it interesting and convincing. Your views cause me to read Creation Science articles to get another point of view. I never had the interest to understand these topics until you came along. So I am getting quite the education. Which is the pseudo-science? The YEC opinion calls Darwinism the pseudo-science. Didn’t you at one time find YEC credible? What changed your mind? Are you sure it isn't peer pressure? Are you presently keeping up with the latest from YEC and ID? Like other science, corrections are made with the latest information.

Another thought: I wonder if the Fall happened in the fall. Maybe fall is the result of the Fall?! Before the Fall, it was perpetual Springtime, just as you would desire it to be.....and maybe will be again. The future is awesome....be there!

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

Mantids are wasteful in “real-world” settings. A non-captive mantis will just as easily drop its unfinished meal and move on to the next as a captive mantis. The mantis does not discriminate between captivity and non-captivity. The variable that induces the wastefulness is prey-movement perception; hence, when the mantis sees another potential prey, she goes for it. I have observed wild mantids behaving this way—dropping perfectly good and uneaten prey for another opportunity.

Many insect and arachnid predators are wasteful in this way. My tarantula will abandon her meal if distracted by another insect. The discriminative variable is not captivity but abundance of options.

The pre-Fall world is an impossibility. There are too many morphological and physiological adaptations in the natural world that inherently reflect the economy of life and death that characterizes the biosphere. These adaptations can be divided into two categories: adaptations for predation and adaptations to avoid predation. We can simplify these into offensive adaptations (for predation) and defensive adaptations (to avoid predation).

The praying mantis displays well-developed, complicated offensive and defensive adaptations. The offensive adaptations include large clasping forearms, jaws for tearing flesh and crushing exoskeletons, and mimicry of foliage to avoid detection while sitting in ambush. The defense adaptations include well-developed camouflage (e.g., wings that resemble leaves with veins and legs that resemble twigs), 270 degree range of vision, an ability to leap like a grasshopper, and the ability to take flight. Explain how these adaptations would be of use in a deathless world. Would a praying mantis need camouflage to avoid detection when there are no threats? Would it need praying forearms when it only eats plants?

The existence of death and competition over valuable resources is sufficient to explain the offensive and defensive adaptations of animals and plants. Natural selection fine tunes populations of organisms for better offensive and defensive strategies and morphologies. A deathless world fails to explain such basic concepts. Let me list more organisms that defy the deathlessness paradigm of the Eden mythology:

Web-weaving spiders: what use would a spider web be without a need to capture and eat insects
Blue whales: why the adaptations to capture and eat plankton and krill if they originally ate plants? How could they eat plants?
Red-tailed hawk: why the talons and coloration (white from underneath to avoid detection from below)?
Humans: why the somewhat vestigial canines and the inability to thrive on a high-fiber, vegetable-only diet?

Every single organism displays similar offensive and/or defensive adaptations. There is no escaping this observation. Vegetarianism is impossible as a universal biotic norm.

I have recounted this before, so I will not belabor the points, but I started out as a Bible-reading Christian and a believer in evolution. My parents nurtured my interest in the natural world from a very young age. I was privileged with a large library of materials about the natural world which I read and read again from early elementary and on. By the time I committed myself to the Bible in eight grade, I accepted the Bible as inerrant and I did not doubt the age of the Earth or the fact of evolution.

In my freshman year of high-school I met a YEC in Wisconsin. He convinced me that the tenets of mainstream science’s interpretations of natural history were incompatible with a literal reading of Genesis. I soon became a YEC though I had many doubts. To assuage these doubts I accumulated a library of YEC materials. It took me several months of reprogramming before I was able to accept the YEC interpretation of sedimentary rock formation and the faunal succession evident in the fossil record.

As a YEC I struggled greatly with the presence of offensive and defensive adaptations in the animal world. I recall discussing some of these doubts with Dan G. (www.torahtimes.org) at this time. Though he proposed some of the more creative suggestions for how to reconcile these adaptations with a deathless pre-Fall world, the ad hoc nature of these suggestions made them difficult to maintain for long.

In addition to this tension, I also struggled with the silly nature of YEC explanations for the fossil record. YEC’s could not explain the consistency of the fossil record. Why, for example, if differential escape and ecological zonation were the reasons for the organization of the fossil record (an organization unpredictable from hydrodynamics), were there *absolutely no* out of place fossils? Why, for example, is not a single modern fish found in Devonic sediments? Or, why are there no whales found among the whale-like reptiles who in every confirmed manner occupied identical niches and ecologies to modern whales? YEC fails to deliver. It is pseudo-science as it maintains axioms that are untouched by science. That is, its axioms are infallible because they are based on the Bible (actually a reading of the Bible); hence, it can never be a science but always a religion.

Peer pressure had no influence on my developments toward evolution. If anything, peer pressure kept me a YEC longer. There were no “evolutionists” in my life over the last few years. I was the only one in my life. I was convinced by the overwhelming explanatory power of evolution to account for all of the observations I make about the natural world. YEC offers no explanatory power. Rather, it offers liabilities—observations that do not fit the model but must be rationalized away ad hoc after ad hoc to make them fit in some awkward way the structure of the belief system. Evolution does not require such ridiculous measures. It is my default until information crosses my path that is incongruous. I doubt such information will ever surface.

I will not be in the Millennial Kingdom, and nor will you. The God of the millennial reign is a monstrous despot who imposes ethnocratic segregation and crime. I dislike this God.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

We all know fickle, opportunistic, selfish people with similar traits to the PREYing mantis.....leaving the walking wounded in their wake.

Mantis means prophet (I learned from the AIG article). We all know false prophets with similar traits to the PREYing mantis as well.

Bill Gothard’s 3-volume Character Sketch series utilizes illustrations from the animal kingdom to make analogies to character traits. Since being in his program, I am able to connect analogous dots quite easily. I could picture you in a similar role to his someday as a teacher/speaker/author.

I’ve got my Defenders’ Study Bible, Walt Brown’s Creation book, and other resources at hand. After I study up on the subject, I will try to respond to your questions about the natural world and Creationism. I may not convince you of anything, but I am learning a great deal myself. Thank you for this learning opportunity.

One thought that comes to mind is this: Don’t Creationists believe in micro-evolution? This would explain the changes in species from the time of the Fall. All of the natural world would have to be re-designed and re-equipped to cope with the changes. If we can believe in the miracle of God speaking Creation into existence, we can believe in more miracles. God is God. Nothing is too hard for Him. Even Darwinism requires the miraculous and incredulity to explain life from non-life, something from nothing, design without a designer.

A question for you is this:

Why do we not see any evidence of evolving species? Where is an example of any creature in a transition stage? We see extinction but no transition.

Your encounter with macro-evolution books from a very young age illustrates why Yeshua chose disciples whose heads were not already filled with falsities (simple fishermen, etc.) and explains the parable about new wineskins. You must first delete Darwinism from your database to process without prejudice Creationist teaching. You have not done this. You tried to put both operating systems into the same brain. This did not compute. Garbage in, garbage out.

Pardon the computer analogy...I am presently shopping for a new one.

Your last paragraph was painful for me to read. Satan is the monstrous despot, not the benevolent God of the Bible. God is good. When you make comments like this, I tend to think it is not Peter talking, but “Diablo.” Diablo wants to take you where he is going. But I will continue to fight for you in this tug of war. Wish I could get some help.

Would you mind if I put some of this Evolution/Creation debate on torahtimes forum? Maybe others would join in the discussion. I am especially interested in hearing what Dan would have to say.

PeterS said...

Why do we not see any evidence of evolving species?


What would an evolving species look like? What attributes would one expect of a species currently in the process of evolving? YEC models of transitional species are fabrications or straw men if you will. The YEC transitional form typically merges characteristics of a temporally distant mother species with a temporally distant daughter species. For example, a YEC caricature transitional link might look like an animal that is half dinosaur and half bird in the most awkward of ways.

A few important points to posit:
-- all species are currently evolving
-- a transitional species is fully functional and is optimized for its environment

YEC simpletons create caricatured “missing links” that reflect ignorance of these above principles. Let me illustrate this further. Whales evolved from ungulates. Ungulates are hoofed animals which today include bovines. A popular Dr. Dino mockery of whale evolution is a “missing link” illustration of an animal with a whale’s tale and a cow’s front legs and head. Dr. Dino flashes this picture in front of empty-headed audiences to make them laugh and disavow such ludicrousness. Yes, such a “missing link” or transitional form is ludicrous, but the laugh is on Dr. Dino for showing how ignorant or dishonest he is.

Early ungulates included several carnivores. These hoofed carnivores were not bovine though bovines are modern-day ungulates. Cetaceans (whales) had their origin in a population of carnivorous ungulates living near a shallow sea. The earliest cetaceans were semi-aquatic with fully-functional legs and adaptations for aquatic locomotion. If seen today, they would be thought a fully-functional taxon and not a transitional form. Later cetaceans evidence more adaptations for aquatic life and structurally functional, though mostly vestigial, limbs. These later cetaceans may have used their small limbs for reproduction by holding on to a mate during intercourse, but the increasing disuse of these limbs resulted today in the general absence of hind limbs in post-natal cetaceans (btw, cetacean fetuses have hind limbs—an evidence of evolutionary history).

As indicated, a transitional form is fully functional. Its morphology is logical and adaptive for its environment. Often vestigial adaptations remain. Such adaptations include, for example, the size of human male gonads and the amount of semen spilled by male humans during intercourse. Why such wastefulness? Why is so much semen spilled with millions of sperm dying while one possibly fortunate sperm might find the egg? Humans were not always so monogamous. Quite recently human females would have been receptive to multiple mates when fertile. As a result, gamete competition occurred between her suitors. A male with a larger gonad and with more semen was more likely to fertilize her egg. Hence, humans have one of the larger male gonad to body-size ratio. Compare the human male gonad to body ratio to that of the monogamous gibbon or the patriarchal gorilla.

All species are evolving. Evolution is driven by differential reproductive rates in a population. Genes that promote ongoing reproductive success are replicated and eventually find majority representation in a population. If you are looking for the awkward transitional, you will not find her. Every step up the phylogenic tree is populated by fully functioning transitions.

Cack Man said...

A rather compelling story came from Japan some years back. I'm not sure of the details, but if you google "nylonase" you can certainly learn more...

The jist of the story was that some researchers discovered bacteria colonies in nylon waste. This didn't seem possible, because nylon cannot be broken down amino acids... so what were the bacteria feeding on?

Upon study in laboratory settings, scientists found that the bacteria had indeed developed an amino acid capable of breaking down nylon. The scientists named it nylonase.

Now, consider this: nylon is a man-made substance invented in the 1930's. So, necessarily the gene for nylonase evolved, and evolved rather quickly.

Evolution by natural selection has had 150 years since its creation to be falsified... yet it is today more a certainty than it ever was before...

...Unless you live in the intellectual wasteland of the United States. Considering that so much of our knowledge of biology and medicine works because evolution is true, we can ill afford to be ignorant of evolution. Considering that America's present and future economies will rely on Americans being science savvy, not science stupid, we can ill afford to be ignorant of evolution.

PeterS said...

>>Darwinism requires the miraculous and incredulity to explain life from non-life, something from nothing, design without a designer

Evolution does not require belief in the miraculous. The assertion that it does suggests that the one making the statement does not understand evolution. What is not understood may look miraculous to the outsider. The hunter-gatherer might find an automobile miraculous, but we know that it is not. Evolution operates on consistent principles. These principles allow us to make predictions, placing it in the realm of empiricism and testability. Creationism will forever remain a ghost in the machine.

>>Don’t Creationists believe in micro-evolution? This would explain the changes in species from the time of the Fall.

Microevolution was the mechanism by which I, at one time, explained away a lot of the death adaptations and specializations in nature. It does not work. Microevolution is the doorway leading to molecules-to-man evolution. There are too many specializations in the animal kingdom requiring massive evolution (in a very short time period) to have morphed from vegetarian to carnivorous niches. In this sense YEC’s believe in evolution more than “evolutionists.” YEC’s posit rapid evolutionary speciation in a very very short time (after the Fall and after the Flood).

>>You must first delete Darwinism from your database to process without prejudice Creationist teaching. You have not done this. You tried to put both operating systems into the same brain. This did not compute. Garbage in, garbage out.

Why must I do this? I am perfectly happy with evolution. It is more logically and intellectually satisfying than the Genesis myth could ever be. When both worldviews (creation and evolution) coincide in one’s mind, the logical and more explicative one will hopefully win out. You are now forcing yourself to self educate on these matters. Hopefully the dupe will die and the truth will win. The truth is freeing. If Genesis creation is the lie, then YHWH is the father of lies.

I was reading some of Walter Brown recently. What a bunch of garbage! I can’t believe that anyone accepts his crap. He does not understand basic biological concepts as evidenced by his pseudo-example of a lizard evolving into a road runner or his denial that evolution can produce altruism. He also recapitulates old news about human evolution, and in so doing he is about seventy-five years behind the current research. He is a simpleton.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

You said,

If Genesis creation is the lie, then YHWH is the father of lies.

Talk about topsy-turvy (see my latest post at my blog)....you've got Satan in the role of God and God (YHWH) in the role of Satan.

Yeshua quoted Genesis as truth (Mark 10). That settles it for me.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

Thing is, I do not believe in a devil or a YHWH. I am using polar metaphor, that's all.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

If I told you that it was sufficient for me that God said the Quran is from Him (Surah 2:1-4), would you accept my answer. Would you allow anyone to rest on such circular reasoning? Why is it okay for you to base your belief on your belief? If this is okay for you, then is it also okay for the Muslim? Is it okay, or even more exmplary then, to base belief on objectivity and the independetly verifiable? The Bible is not inerrant or inspired...nor is the Quran, and I particularly dislike belief systems based on such circular reasoning.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

"Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD (YHWH) in vain...." (Exodus 20)

Speaking of metaphor, why is it that you and other Darwinists and atheists are free to utilize metaphor and anthropomorphisms to express concepts, yet the Bible is scoffed at as ludicrous when these linguistic tools are utilized? The Bible is read woodenly and hyper-literally by many, failing to grasp the gist of the message. And there is one message throughout Scripture..... Redemption in Yeshua.

How is it that about 50 authors separated in time by perhaps 1500 years weaved a similar, non-contradictory theme throughout 66 books?

Why do we find God's "numeric fingerprint" 3 times in Genesis 1:1?

The Bible itself is a miracle.

(I am currently reading A Scientific Approach to Biblical Mysteries by former Darwinist and Nuclear Scientist Robert Faid.)

The Quran errs when it denies the Deity of Yeshua.....thereby proving itself counterfeit by contradicting the Bible. Yet even the Quran acknowledges Creation, and Muslims oppose Darwinism.

Circular reasoning is a feature of "logic" as well.

Tandi said...

Some quotes about Circular Reasoning and Darwinism:

"Of one thing, however, I am certain, and that is that `natural selection' affords no explanation of mimicry or of any other form of evolution. It means nothing more than `the survivors survive.' Why do certain individuals survive? Because they are the fittest. How do we know they are the fittest? Because they survive."—*E.W. MacBride, Nature, May 11, 1929, p. 713.

"The phrase, `survival of the fittest,' is something of a tautology . . There is no harm in stating the same truth in two different ways."—*J.B.S. Haldane, "Darwinism Under Revision," in Rationalist Annual (1935), p. 24.

"Darwin proposed no criterion of fitness other than that of survival itself . . It follows that `the survival of the fittest' is not a testable theory, but a tautology. Which one survives? The fittest. Who are they? Those that survive."—*T. Bethell, "Darwin's Mistake," Harper's Magazine, February 1976, p. 72.

PeterS said...

Natural selection is not a tautology. Yes, the fittest are the survivors and the survivors are the fittest. The outside variable, though, is not individual survival but genetic replication. Hence, the “fittest” is she who replicates with the most success.

The YEC arguments that natural selection is circular are smoke screens. Modern-day YEC’s incorporate natural selection into their particular biology called baraminology. For a modern-day, informed YEC to argue that natural selection is circular is irresponsible. I do not think you will find this argument used much by modern YEC apologists.

PeterS said...

"Darwin proposed..."

Who cares what Darwin proposed? Are these authors so bent on reading and criticizing a book from a century ago that they fail to consider modern applications and betterments of the theory? I guess that they are so stuck on dead people (Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc.) that they can't get over the dead people of science. Move on.

PeterS said...

What is the numeric fingerprint of Genesis 1:1?

Tandi said...

God's numeric "fingerprint" is 37................do you want to hear more? Fascinating genius mathematician from Russia, former agnostic, Harvard scholar, spent 12-18 hours a day for many, many years exploring the vast numeric structure of the Bible in the 19th century (40,000 pages of notes). Maybe you have heard of him but he never became widely known.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

I know about theomatics. It is rightfully rejected by scholars and researches across the liberal-conservative spectrum. It doesn't prove anything miraculous about the Bible.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

You are welcome to post the URL to this discussion at the Torah-Times forum. You are also welcome to paraphrase what has been said for others to comment on. However, any replies I would prefer to have placed directly on this blog and not pasted from others on the forum. That is, anyone can post replies at my blog, but do not paste the replies from others to my blog. Thank you!

Cack Man said...

Tandi:

Parts of this commentary have been like reading a bad Abbott and Costello routine. Pete points out that a Christian can see the circular reasoning in a Muslim's argument, but can't identify circular reasoning in their own arguments. And how do you respond? With circular reasoning:

You say that "The Quran errs when it denies the Deity of Yeshua.....thereby proving itself counterfeit by contradicting the Bible."

The point is, this counts no more as proof than saying:

"The Koran is the inerrant word of God because the Koran says so."

or

"The Book of Mormon is the inerrant word of God because the Book of Mormon says so."

These are all examples of circular reasoning, Tandi. AKA Petitio principii or begging the question. It is a logical fallacy. A conclusion must be justified by its premises; but you are assuming the conclusion is already proved when you state the premise.

The so-called circular reasoning that you attribute to evolution is not circular reasoning at all. "Which one survives? The fittest. Who are they? Those that survive." Bethell calls this a "tautology", and that is the correct terminology.

But the fly in the syllogistic ointment is this: tautologies are not the same as circular reasoning, nor even are they logical fallacies. A tautology is merely a statement whose individual elements hold the same truth value. 2+2=4 is a tautology, because 2+2 is the same thing as 4. Every definition in the dictionary (including the definition for evolution) is a tautology, because every definition is an equivalent substitution for the word it defines.

"Survival of the fittest" is not a circular argument, but a tautology, because it is offered as a definition of evolution by natural selection.

Except that it is a naive and inaccurate definition. You and the other creationists would know this if you'd bother to pick up a book on the subject that was published after 1953 (something which this Bethell moron apparently didn't bother to do either). And the fact that you insist on calling evolution by natural selection "Darwinism" reinforces how you and the other creationists would rather argue against straw men than acquaint yourselves with the facts.

The fact is that the statement "the Bible is the word of God" is not a tautology, because the negation of a tautology is a contradiction. "2+2 does not equal 4" is a contradiction.

You would agree that "the Koran is not the word of god" is not a contradiction; you would agree that "the book of mormon is not the word of god" is also not a contradiction.

Well, any sane and rational person would assert that "the bible is not the word of god" is also not a contradiction, because there is no natural proof to show otherwise. In fact, the only proof you've got is to beg the question; which I've already said is a fallacious argument.

I can demonstrate to you that 2+2=4.

I can demonstrate to you that "aardvark" is the English word used to refer to a species of sub-Saharan ungulate mammals.

And I can demonstrate to you that random mutations in an organism's genetic code produce new physical traits which are either favorable, neutral, or unfavorable in that organism's environment, and that the favorable traits furnish the genes that made them with a better opportunity to propagate themselves. (This is an up-to-date definition of evolution).

Indeed, I did demonstrate this when I mentioned the nylon-eating bacteria (above); but you conveniently ignored this. And if a person blinds herself to evidence, and if she is impervious to sound reasoning, then that person is (by definition) a psychotic.

Evolution happens. Deal with it!!!

~Eric

P.S. -- in my previous comment, I called nylonase an amino acid. It is, in fact, an enzyme. But, since enzymes are made of proteins, and proteins are made of amino acids, I was at least in the right ballpark.

Tandi said...

Eric,

Since I have invited others to post here, I hope you will refrain from name-calling (Peter as well). I am used to it and can deal with it (most of the time) but it really makes you look bad and hurts your argument when you use labels such as "psychotic" to describe your opposition (or simpleton, ignorant, stupid, etc.) Also the word "logic" is overused and highly over-rated. Trusting in yourself and your logic, which every person would have to admit has failed him or her more than once in life, is not wise. Every philosophy, scientific theory, and theology (including atheism) has at its root some form of circular reasoning. It is just a matter of recognizing it and asking why, why, why enough times to expose the source of one's presuppositions.

It may be circular but it is not faulty reasoning to believe in the Bible unless you can point out an irreconcilable error in it. And you cannot do so without relying on possibly faulty theories, histories, etc. The only true science is mathematics....one reason I am fascinated by this Ivan Panin research. More on that later.

I was not ignoring your nylonase post. I just have not had time to answer it. I did do some research on it...and as you might expect, there are Creationist answers to it.

I hope we can have worthwhile discussions without insulting one another. You can be quite humorous and clever, Eric, but if you want me to stick around, and others like me or different than both of us, please try to keep the humor and commentary at the family-friendly level (Peter as well. There was one paragraph above that was very borderline). Also, insults against the LORD God, Whom I believe in, are not appreciated.

Of course, this is not my blog...and I do appreciate Peter's willingness to allow uncensored discussion....rare in the blogosphere.....but those who visit a blog also have the option of not returning if the offense level runs too high. I stopped visiting your blog when you went full throttle militant atheistic. You can believe whatever you want to believe, as can I, but a less offensive, friendly debate will be more worthwhile in my opinion and invite wider participation.

Now...back to my studies. Both of you have given me tons of homework!! I hope someone else shows up to answer some of the many points brought up.

Cack Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cack Man said...

[Previous comment deleted due to bad editing on my part :-/]

Tandi:

Loss of contact with reality is psychosis. That's a definition; not an insult. I'm sorry if you're insulted by the comment, but that doesn't change the way I feel about religious beliefs: that they are utterly madcap. And if that's my position, then I can hardly be expected to state it without stepping on a few toes. Anyway, I don't feel I dished out anything more than I myself could take, were our roles reversed.

And if I can take it, so should god. There is no reason to accord more respect, nor even an equal respect, to god than to anyone else. If he really existed, and he really was all-powerful and benevolent, then nothing I say about him would diminish that. On the other hand, if he's hurt or angered by my words, then he's not all-powerful and benevolent, in which case, who needs him?

The idea that mathematics is the only real science is preposterous. By making such a comment, I take it you think that mathematics, as a science, is complete and consistent. By complete and consistent, we mean that mathematics can express all truths that pertain to it (completeness) without contradicting itself (consistency).

You are wrong to think this. Kurt Godel showed years ago that no formal system can be both complete and consistent. But this hardly means that formal systems should be abandoned, as perhaps you would have us do with logic. Indeed, logic is the modus operandi of mathematics. Let's face it, some systems are better than others, and logic is better than most.

You wrote: "It may be circular but it is not faulty reasoning to believe in the Bible unless you can point out an irreconcilable error in it."

No, a fallacy is a fallacy, I don't have to point out a single irreconcilable error in its propositions. For example, if I were to say that Michael Moore films are stupid because Michael Moore is a fat slob, you don't even have to examine the truth values of each statement to know that the argument itself is invalid. Indeed, each statement could be true, Michael Moore films could be stupid, and Michael Moore himself could be a fat slob, but one doesn't follow from the other. Arguments ad hominem like that are logical fallacies, as are arguments that beg the question (circular reasoning).

But even if I did have to point out an irreconcilable error in the propositions of the bible, I wouldn't have to look too far. How many times is god portrayed as a jealous god? What a petty human foible this benevolent deity has. I can't covet my neighbor's ass (a victimless crime), but god can covet my neighbor's gods, and condone the genocide of their worshipers.

As for the comment about militant atheism, I guarantee you that, as long as I crusade against religious beliefs, I will not kill or injure a single person. If religion could have made the same claim, I probably wouldn't bother denouncing it.

~Eric

Tandi said...

Eric,

I am convinced that this militant atheism that is so popular in our culture today comes down to people not wanting restrictions placed on their sexuality. That is the main issue in my view. If God had just said, “Thou shalt do whatever you feel like doing sexually” our culture would not have such a problem with God and the Bible. But since He gave commandments “for our good always” (Deut. 6:24) ) that lead to happy and healthy living, secure, productive children, beneficial societies, it really is not LOGICAL (since you love the word) to object to the way of happiness.

Granted, the religions of the world have added to and subtracted from God’s laws, resulting in misery for man. prejudice, wars, etc....but this is due to man’s foibles, not God’s wisdom. And as Berlinski points out starting on page 21, human misery due to atheistic regimes and those who have swallowed the Darwinian dogma is staggering in the 20th century.

Read the Bible for yourself, Eric. Statements you have made here and at your blog demonstrate to me that you are woefully ignorant of the Bible. Yes, I did read your latest about Religulous. It is not surprising to me that the theatre was packed. Not so for Expelled...which comes out on DVD tomorrow. Hope you will watch it.

Sorry to use the word ignorant, but as you say...if the word fits....

Shalom,

Tandi the Psychotic

Tandi said...

BTW, there is a new book out that is climbing the charts quickly. It is called Shocked by the Bible. You might want to start with this overview and discover a bit about what you don’t know. One reviewer says this:

"The book is very detailed and documents the specific locations when citing fact. It also cross-references and uses logic to conclude that many people are simply missing the point. The book doesn't go on to tell you what to believe. The book simply puts you in the right direction and gives you the freedom to reach the bottom line on your own."

Check it out at Amazon or at shockedbythebible.com

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

For me atheism has a lot to do with behavior. I eat pork, work on Saturday, and approve of biblically forbidden behaviors. By nature, though, I am a typical first born who loves structure to the point that I will seek out rules and make rules in many contexts. As a theist, I loved legalities. I loved to observe the Sabbath, for example, with punctilious precision. However, my love for biblical precision and legalism deprived me of other joys.


My biblical observances became a piety of rote to lull. When I cast away the mountains of rabbinic law, it was freeing. When I a cast aside biblical law, it was just as freeing. I quote my 2006 poem as follows:
___
Others have a wall erected
Through ordinances that set a limit
Zealously a well protected
To keep away the thirsty admit.

This thirsty soul bore the weight
Sought from this well the guarded giving
And rather found a fleeting bait
All this to his own misgiving.
___

The "well protected" however, turned out to be the freeing waters of knowledge and science. In embracing that which I had for nearly fifteen years been fighting, I realized that I was closer to the existential than ever before. Biblical ordinances and observances kept me from this tree of knowledge. I have eaten, and I see that the snake was right and god never said anything.

Cack Man said...

Tandi:

This may surprise you, but I've been reading the bible more lately than I ever have before. However, I approach it as I do any literary text, so perhaps certain details escape me. I could no more easily name the tribes of Israel than I could name the Greek city-states who participated in the Trojan War. I don't think I'm "woefully" ignorant... just "somewhat" ignorant about the bible.

I'm at work right now, with no bible (nor even the Iliad) ready to hand. I recall one story in Genesis (I believe) in which two angels visit Lot. The men of Sodom came to Lot's door and asked him if they could... well, apparently, sodomize the angels. Lot takes umbrage at the suggestion and offers his two daughters to the men instead.

Do I have the jist of that story so far, Tandi? Did I miss something in my ignorance? Or did Lot really think it would be morally better for the Sodomites to rape his daughters rather than rape God's angels (who, if they really were angels, I would expect could defend themselves)?

In light of that story, if sexual repression were a motivating factor in people's religious beliefs, you'd think these "militant" atheists would be banging down the door of the nearest church, begging to sign up.

I don't deny that sexual liberation might be a motivating factor for some atheists. I can only speak for myself, and I am quite conservative sexually.

And what's so militant about militant atheists? Are we militant because we dare speak our opinions? Because we dare ask you to defend beliefs that seem crazy to us? If I told you I had an invisible friend who has invited me into paradise, wouldn't you call me psychotic? Wouldn't you ask me to prove this belief?

In regards to Berlinski, yes he did list a great number of deaths that were somehow linked to atheistic beliefs which were somehow linked to belief in evolution. He didn't bother to cite any sources for these claims, nor did he clearly explain the causal connection. And even if Hitler, Stalin, and Mao didn't believe that there was a God watching their abominable actions... that doesn't prove God exists.

But I am willing to concede the point that humans will fight, religion or no religion. It just seems to me if we can get over religion, that'll be one less thing to fight about. And, it seems to me, that this is an even more compelling argument for "militant" atheists than your argument about sexual promiscuity. This begets the question: if we are "militant" atheists, why do we love peace so much.

One final note, Tandi: I read Berlinski, I read the Bible; have you ever read Dawkins? Have you ever read Dennett?

Regards,
Eric the Ignoramus

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

I never understood some of the cryptic elements of your poem....the "well protected" for example. I suppose I infused my own meaning to some of your words.

Just as the Bible is hard to fathom at times, so are you. I could spend countless satisfying hours trying to understand both the Bible and you....and I do. I would not dare to presume at my current level of understanding that I understand the Bible.....or you.....completely. So I keep searching for the real meaning behind the cryptic clues.

By the way...the snake was wrong....and God said plenty! You will discover this for yourself eventually. Then you will lead the atheists out of their satanic delusion. At least, that is my hope and prayer.

Tandi said...

Hello Eric,

I am glad to hear that you are reading the Bible. Which version? I hope you will read the KJV. Since you are reading it as literature, you might as well read the version that is recognized as among the finest specimens of English literature. Besides that, it preserves words that other versions omit. Always check Luke 4:4 to see if you have a reliable Bible. It should read thus:

It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Many versions leave out the part about “every word of God” leaving the reader to wonder what man shall live by, perhaps pork chops?

Yeshua was quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, which leads to the inference there that man is to live by the Ten Commandments (which proceeded from the mouth of God). The core moral premise of the Bible is the Ten Commandments. The rest is commentary.

So, to consider your example of the story of Lot and his daughters, we see that God would never approve of Lot’s offer to send his daughters out to be raped by the perverts. This just shows the depravity of the culture of the times, that Lot would be so morally clueless .....just as today’s Christians condemn homosexuality and gay marriage, yet allow their teenage daughters to date boys unchaperoned, leading to promiscuity, date rape, etc.

The Bible does not try to hide the poor choices of weak, sinful humans, but uses them as teaching examples. Every story has a moral lesson to teach in light of God’s commandments. The reader is to interact with the story and give his opinion of the behaviors in light of what Scripture teaches as Biblical morality (Ten Commandments). How about the story of the concubine in Judges 19. Was Israel in a depraved state at this time in its history or what!?

The Bible is the story of God’s covenant people, their bondage, their deliverance, their victories, their foibles, their wickedness, their repentance, and God’s continuous call for them to return to Him...always for their own good! Jesus (Yeshua) came to show us God’s personality, in Person. He said if we’ve seen Him, we’ve seen the Father. So to say that YHWH was a wicked tyrant, while Jesus is kind and gentle, is to see two different gods instead of the same YHWH. Our concept of God has been warped with bad theologies. These bad theologies are then mocked by Dawkins, etc., with their shallow knowledge of the Bible.

I have no interest in reading Dawkins, Dennett, etc., but if you have any interest in reading through the Bible for yourself, I would be happy to send you the Bible Pathway guide that I use. Then we could all be on the same page and discuss the readings. November starts with the Gospel of John and goes through Revelation. Then we begin Genesis again on January 1. I have been reading through the Bible this way since the mid 80’s, learning something new every time through. I would recommend that those who criticize the Bible read it through at least twice before denouncing it. Or ten times, or twenty times. It is never boring...at least not to me in the KJV. I do not find the same intimacy with the LORD or gain such profound insights from reading the other versions, although I consult them as study helps. I do not claim that the KJV is without error. The Bible itself suggests that adding and subtracting from the Word of God would take place by sinister forces...and plagues are promised to those who do it intentionally (Revelation 22).

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,.

I don't think it fair that we have to read the Bible but you will not read Dawkins. How is that not unfair? You should be willing to do what we are willing to do. I read Berlinski; Eric is reading it now too.

I have read the Bible extensively (in multiple languages), and Eric, possibly to your surprise, is not biblically ignorant. He corrected me the other week in my reading of a Greek passage in the book of John. I am able to hold intelligent, academically-inclined conversations with Eric about biblical content, and he does not have to strain to understand what I am saying nor do I have to stoop to a lower level in listening to him. Hence, not only do we "know our stuff" we also know "your stuff." If asked to represent your position, we could argue it well.

It is you that is "woefully ignorant" of the other side. Maybe understanding the "other side" would make you realize that people who makes statements like the following are mentally deranged:
"...these evolution people are basically fools. Evolution - is an un Godly theory only with many holes in it and the men that promote such a theory are perverse." I am hence perverse and proud of my perverse knowledge that frees me from the bondage that compels people to assert such ignorance.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

I am not asking anyone to read anything that they do not want to read. You expressed interest in Berlinski when I suggested it to you. Your quicky-read while sick, with no commentary on the specifics of the book did not set a good example for me to follow. If you really want me to skim-read Dawkins and then make a comment that I found the book totally useless, I could possibly accommodate your request.

Also, my remarks about Bible ignorance were made as a result of statements made by Eric himself. I will give examples at another time. However, I am sorry I used that word.

Yes, the comments on the forum were unfortunate. Why do both sides have to resort to name-calling. This will get us nowhere. I do not agree with those comments, nor do I agree with insulting comments from you and Eric, Dawkins, etc. Every time I try to get some information on a response to a Creationist argument from a site like the Dawkins forum, or Amazon book review comments, etc., all I hear are insults, no facts brought to bear on the topic.

As a teacher, if an elementary school Christian student were to ask you why the diet of coyotes is 50% fruit when they seem to be designed to tear into flesh with gusto, what would you answer? Why is the AIG answer that it points to vestiges of vegetarianism before the Fall so appalling to you, when Evolution theory is always pointing to vestiges of limbs to bolster their arguments?

PeterS said...

the coyote diet is not appalling to me. by the way, a coyote may eat fruit for only a short part of the year as fruit is only available and ripe for about three months a year, if that.
And, if a coyote ate only fruit, it would die from insulin resistance and macronutrient deficiencies.

forums are not a a good source of information. frankly, i am about ready to give up on this medium cuz it is too frustrating.

PeterS said...

hey, I will propose one book for you, if you read it, I will read through the bible in one year. The book I propose is: Evolution: What the Fossils say and Why it Matters by Prothero. If you read this, cover-to-cover, I will read the Bible through in a year for my eighth time.

Tandi said...

Examples of statements Eric made on his blog that reflected lack of Bible knowledge.....

Moses went up the mountain and talked to a burning bush. Do you believe that... really?

[The mountain experience and the burning bush experience were two different events.]

Jesus is both God and the son of God, and he was killed and rose from the dead to save people from the sin of a man named Adam who lived ages before and ate of an apple that God told him not to eat of. Do you believe that... c'mon, really?

[This is a caricature of the Gospel message]

Ken Ham really believes that humans and dinosaurs coexisted.

[According to the Book of Job, they did.]

Robbing someone of their free will is immoral, a lesson that Yahweh, Allah, and Jesus seem impervious to.

[The Bible teaches free will and I strongly disagree with Calvinism.]

Like a cricket driven to suicide, the host of a religious belief is driven to deleterious behavior. In the best of circumstances, the host merely wastes time and energy talking to an invisible man, donating hard-earned money to the church, and trolling the internet. But in the worst case scenario, the parasite can drive the host to the ugliest of atrocities: bombing abortion clinics, crusades and jihad, suicide bombings, 9/11.

[Is this a balanced statement of religious belief? No mention of orphanages, hospitals, soup kitchens, the milk of human kindness, or other good works by religious people?

This is really what this New Atheism movement is all about....FEAR......generated by 911. If Islamic extremists could execute such a horrendous event, we must banish religion altogether before something worse happens. Yet these extremists were seen in sleazy bars, etc. before the dastardly deed. They were not God-fearers practicing holiness in their lifestyle by any means. Same with “Christian” atrocities. Yet statistically, atheism has led to even more carnage. I just read that the 20th century was the bloodiest in recorded history.

I will try to find confirmation of those statistics Berlinski cited in the book.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

If you are willing to read through the Bible with Bible Pathway the way I do, starting November 1, in the KJV, I would be willing to read the Evolution book you recommend from cover to cover. A year from now, it would be interesting to see how close we are to walking together in the same world view.

Let me know how many Bible Pathways to send. Will Eric, Sara, and Park join us? Would your mom like one? I normally distribute 10 each month on the “highways and byways” to “whosoever will.” Might as well send some to Chicagoland.

This is a commitment to read the brief BP commentary each day, as well as reading approximately 3 Bible chapters daily. It takes about 20 minutes a day....unless you drift off into pondering as I do. You are welcome to supplement the readings with other versions, Hebrew, etc., as long as you primarily read the KJV each day. I like to use an inexpensive, hardcover pew Bible each year that I can underline and mark up and write in the margins (National boldtext). I have quite a collection of marked up Bibles, and it is interesting to look through them and see what stood out to me from year to year. I like the pew Bibles because they are sturdy, easy on the eyes (this version), and free of distracting notes and references so that I can concentrate on the text. The BP commentary provides cross references.

Cack Man said...

Hi Tandi:

Κατά Λουκάν 4:4 -- "γεγραπται οτι ουκ επ αρτω μονω ζησεται ο ανθρωπος" (since Luke originally wrote in Greek). This omits the bit about "...but by every word of God..." (Or the KJV adds that bit). My NIV (used in Catholic masses) translates accordingly. With or without the "but by every word of God", we can understand that Iesous is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, so it seems like niggling over minutiae to argue for one version over the other. But if you prefer the KJV, that's fine by me: all translations are interpretations.

Do you speak another language? I speak Spanish fairly well and I find that understanding Spanish is different than translating; they are two different disciplines. Here's a fairly simple example. There is a very pretty song by Juan Luis Guerra called "Ojalá que llueva café". While I know exactly what this means, there are some challenges rendering it into English. "Ojalá" does not have an English counterpart, and "llueva" is in the subjunctive mood, which is all but extinct in English. The most literal translation I can come up with, given these constraints, is "God willing that it should rain coffee." But the colloquial quality of the original is lost in the literal translation. You could render it colloquially into English with "I wish it would rain coffee", but then the literalness of the translation is lost.

I mention this because Bible translations must also contain interpretative challenges; so, when one avers that the Bible is the literal word of God - even if that were true - it could only apply to the Hebrew OT and Greek NT. While my Spanish is pretty good, my Greek is exteremely rusty, and my Hebrew is non-existent. KJV, NIV, or even the Reina-Valera versión en español, they are all interpretations.

Speaking of the temptation in the desert, my points about Moses and the burning bush, and Muhammad in his cave, did not concern what the Bible (or Koran) said, but what people believe in. Whether it's Jesus, Joseph Smith, Moses, Muhammad, Buddha, or whoever, in each case a man goes out alone into the wilderness and comes back saying that he talked to God or an angel, was tempted by the devil, that he achieved enlightenment or found some important relic. Jason, of Argonauts fame, found the Golden Fleece, nobody prays for his intercession. Why do we believe what these people say about their experiences? They went away where there were no witnesses! If I were alone, fasting in the desert for forty days, and came back saying the devil tempted me to do this or that, you'd be justified in saying that I was suffering from sunstroke.

So, when we finish with the Bible, who wants to read the Mahabharata with me?

Changing the topic, I am uncomfortable with the term "militant atheist". As far as I know, it was actually Richard Dawkins himself who coined the phrase, and I think he was just trying to be humorous. But if I don't accept "on faith" the words of Jesus (or Muhammad, or Joseph Smith, etc.) it would be hypocritical to accept blindly everything that Dawkins says. Militant atheist is an unfortunate term. Allow me to explain the current atheistic zeitgeist, as it is not about sex.

I had a friend with the unlucky circumstance of being raised Roman Catholic in Bible-belt Alabama, USA. He told me that, as he was growing up, his evangelical neighbors would sometimes pop by, or invite his family over to their houses, whereupon they would very politely remind him and his family that Roman Catholics are going to burn in the lake of fire for the rest of eternity. So much for Matthew 7:1.

The point is, the atheists of years-gone-by had generally kept their unbelief to themselves because the social climate would have demonized and discredited them. The atheists of today are "coming out of the closet" to change that social climate. Surely, you wouldn't appreciate a Muslim preaching and proselytizing and telling you that you're going to hell any more than my friend appreciated his neighbors' vituperation. So, "militant" atheists simply choose not to be cowed by what we have so long perceived as the aggressive behaviors of religious groups.

I apologize if you found anything on my blog insulting, Tandi. I'm sure Pete would tell you I'm a kitten in real life. I simply enjoy writing for bombast and shock value. Perhaps I am unconsciously trying to mimic Nietzsche, one of my favorite writers (in translation, of course). Funny thing about Nietzsche, as a philologist, he probably knew the Bible better than Peter, you, and me combined.

Finally, the coyote learned to eat fruit as an adaptive measure for survival because he could never catch the roadrunner. Duh!

Peace,
Eric

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

We are on for Nov 1st. I think it will just be me reading, but I will invite Sara and Eric. I must that, though, that the preference for the KJV is ill founded.

I like the KJV for the beauty of its English, but I prefer the Hebrew OT over any English translation. I can understand most of what I read in Hebrew, but, for your sake, I will default to the KJV throughout this read. Also, notice that textual redaction tend to be that of addition, not subtraction.

I am of the textual school that gives more importance to a text or a reading based on its antiquity. Hence, if five hundred manuscripts have one reading from the 5th century, but one, really ancient text from 120 CE has another reading, I will start my review of the text with a bias toward the ancient reading. It is noteworthy that texts tend to gain words over time through scribal insertion. For example, a marginal note from a scribe can mistakenly find its way into the text as a verse. There are multiple examples in the KJV base text of passages that are absent in older manuscripts. Consider, for example, John 7:59-8:8, Mark 16:8ff, and I John 5:7-8. All of these text were added the Bible. The earliest manuscripts of Acts contain nearly 10% less material than the KJV base text. The reason for the additional words is scribal insertion.

Luke 4:4 is a great text to consider. It was common for ancients to make allusions to widely-known texts without quoting them exhaustively. This is a very common Jewish convention. If Jesus were to have said, "Man does not live by bread alone..." the remainder of the verse would have been understood. It is likely that some well-meaning scribe or school of scribes began to complete the verse for Luke 4:4. It is unlikely that the KJV reading is original unless it is a more difficult reading like "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every chop on the pork." If the reading was more difficult, it might be favored for other reasons.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

Great! Thank you. I put in a request for the book from interlibrary loan today...and came home with an armload of other books for my education. I noticed my small local library had Berlinski on the new book shelf. They also had Dawkins and Hitchins, whom I choose NOT to read. I listened to Prothero on a podcast last night. I think I can handle him okay.

I wish I had more time to respond to all the points you both are making. Eric is sounding less menacing to me.....a kitten??...is this true??

By the way, I posted a link at my blog to the 20th century carnage statistics that Berlinski cites. (Interesting Webpages). I do not know how to post a clickable link here. Maybe computer savvy Eric can teach us.

More later in response to Eric.....just got my new Macbook. Spiffy.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

Believe me, Eric is a kitten.

I have one more stipulation to the agreement. Suffer me the satisfaction of composing learning assessment questions for the book that you are reading. These questions will test your knowledge of what you are reading and force you to interact with the information. I will ask the questions in such a way as to allow you any type of rebuttal you wish to the information presented. This will be your homework.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

Yes, you can test my knowledge of the Evolution book, Mr. Sander. All I ask is that you treat me as a fifth grader....nothing too much of a stretch over my head. This will give me a chance to defend my Biblical faith, learn the Creationist apologetics, and understand a bit of what my grandchildren are facing in public school. This book you recommend is a textbook...not sure if at high school or college level. I hope I can comprehend it. Science was never my forte.

Tandi said...

Eric,

Concerning nylonase, the nylon-eating bacteria, here are some links discussing the topic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nylon-eating_bacteria_and_creationism

From Answers in Genesis:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v17/i3/bacteria.asp

From a blog discussion:

http://idintheuk.blogspot.com/2006/04/nylonase.html

William Dembski's weblog:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolution/why-scientists-should-not-dismiss-intelligent-design/

This subject matter is beyond my comprehension, but for those interested in researching all sides of the controversy, I am providing these links.

Concerning your comments:

"Evolution by natural selection has had 150 years since its creation to be falsified... yet it is today more a certainty than it ever was before...

...Unless you live in the intellectual wasteland of the United States. Considering that so much of our knowledge of biology and medicine works because evolution is true, we can ill afford to be ignorant of evolution. Considering that America's present and future economies will rely on Americans being science savvy, not science stupid, we can ill afford to be ignorant of evolution."

I just listened to a podcast that addressed these very points. It is entitled Seeing Spots: Dr. Cornelius Hunter and Science's Blind Spot (available at Intelligent Design the Future free podcast). Here is the info:

On this episode of ID The Future, Casey Luskin speaks with biophysicist and author Cornelius Hunter about naturalism, the dogma of evolution, and his new book Science’s Blind Spot. According to Hunter, naturalism predominates in modern science and is assumed to be capable of explaining every phenomenon in the universe. Hunter traces the historical development of this mindset, and investigates the usefulness and limitations of naturalistic science. He also analyzes the interface between naturalism and Darwinian evolution.

About Dr. Cornelius G. Hunter
Dr. Hunter is an engineer and biophysicist. He received his doctorate in biophysics and computational biology from the University of Illinois. Hunter has authored three books related to science, theology, and philosophy: his most recent book, Science’s Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism; Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil; and Darwin’s Proof: The Triumph of Religion over Science. All three of his books can be purchased through Amazon.com.

Cack Man said...

Tandi:

I commented a little about the nylonase but, once again, I posted the comment under the wrong post. I'm sure I'll have more to say, though, once I've read them more thoroughly.

Concerning Dr. Hunter's credentials. There was a great line from the movie Good Will Hunting in which the main character, a dropout, criticizes Harvard students. Paraphrased, he said that they pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition to get the same education he gets for a few dollars in overdue fees at the library.

I feel that, whether we read a book or listen to a lecture in a classroom setting, ultimately we are the ones who teach ourselves. But we must at least learn to think critically so as not to teach ourselves junk. I'm always harping about logic because logic is the stuff of critical thinking.

So, when we say that Dr. Hunter has a doctorate in this, or a PhD in that... that's nice, but the logical fallacy here is called "appeal to authority". It's an obvious fallacy because I can appeal to other authorities who say the opposite of what Hunter says: Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Kenneth Miller, Steven Jay Gould, PZ Myers, etc., etc., all have doctorates as well.

What a person says is not right or wrong because of who that person is. It's right or wrong because of the strength of the person's argument.

So, I stand by what I said, unabashed by Hunter's doctorate. The practical aspects of evolution are important for medicine, conservation, agriculture, and other fields.

Heck, you love horses... surely you know that certain breeds of horses were bred for some desirable trait or other. It's not a huge "leap of faith" to go from such artificial selection to natural selection. The only difference is that (in the wild), instead of a human selecting the traits that he/she likes best, the traits with survival value are passed on to the horse's offspring; if a trait decreases survival value, the horse simply doesn't get the chance to pass it on.

Evolution is a simple and elegant solution to the question of the origins of diversity. And, since it doesn't call on any supernatural forces, it appeals to the critical thinker.

One last thought. I mentioned Ken Miller above. Ken is a staunch defender of evolution and critic of ID (he even testified in the Dover trial). Ken is also devoutly religious. "Theistic evolutionists" like Ken simply believe that God is the author of design by designing evolution... that evolution is the means by which God wrought life on earth. My guess is that he would explain the Genesis story as a parable, which demonstrates the fallen and sinful nature of mankind.

If someone must believe in God, this seems a most appealing way to do it. A God of faith and reason.

~Eric

Tandi said...

Eric,

Does logic/critical thinking allow for belief in the supernatural? No? Then I must reject it as an ultimate authority because it would prevent belief in God! This would amount to idolatry, having another god before the true God.

I am committed to the God who gave us the Ten Commandments. If the Scriptures have been tampered with in some places, that is a problem but not an unresolvable problem.

What is an unresolvable problem is refusing to consider belief in God due to commitment to logic/critical thinking. This idol sits in many hearts due to this Aggressive Atheism movement (do you like this term any better?)

I am not recommending Hunter because he has a Ph.D., but that should count for something in credibility...granted not a lot. I am sure I would disagree with him and other ID’ers because most of them do not share my faith or believe in YEC. However, anyone, even you : ) might have something worthwhile to say and consider. I would judge the message, not the messenger.

If you would listen to the podcast, you would hear a balanced view. He does not claim that belief in evolution is totally bad for science. He discusses the ability to do real science without such a belief system, something you and Peter seem to be in denial of. There is another podcast discussing this called Does Evolution Have Any Practical Benefits for Science? which quotes ID critic Jerry Coyne, Professor of Biology. Surprising analysis! These free podcasts are available at itunes (Intelligent Design The Future).

I am reading a book by a Theistic Evolutionist at present. It is called, The Language of God, by Francis Collins, head of the human genome project.

At first I wondered why Peter could not hold such a position, faith in God and Evolution. Collins, a former atheist, became a believer after admiring the faith of dying Christian patients and reading C. S. Lewis (he is a doctor and genome expert.) But Peter knows too much about the Bible to hold this position. These kinds of believers will eventually realize that they do not hold a Biblical faith. They are compromising, with one foot in the world and one foot in the Kingdom of God. This does not result in true, saving faith. But for those ignorant of Scripture, it is a start...if they continue in the Word and find out that God clearly says He created everything in six days. You might be able to allegorize Genesis 1 and 2, but what do you do with Exodus 20 and Deut. 5 and the very words of Yeshua?

You cannot drive with one foot on the gas and the other foot on the brake. (Although some people drive this way.) You cannot straddle the chasm that must be crossed, reaching out to touch the Kingdom at times, then pulling back to the World system. There were two "rivers" to cross in the wilderness Journey....the Red Sea AND the Jordan. There is a message in it....few there be that find it.

Faith is reasonable. It is just that it goes beyond reason. Reason is too limiting.

Those who are believers to begin with and default to "Science" because they do not wish to commit "intellectual suicide" choose instead to commit "spiritual suicide." Yet the Book of Hosea and other portions of Scripture give hope to those who have lost their way.

There must be a way to harmonize true faith and true science. One day, Peter will discover it...and teach the rest of us.

Sometimes I think I believe in Peter as much as I believe in God. Kinda scary.

Thank you for the HTML 101. I could not find simple, brief instructions like you have provided.

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- Thomas