Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hostile Honesty and Dishonest Apologetics

A hostile witness can be a wonderful learning tool. Back when I was in the throes of confusion, toggling between evolution and young-earth creationism, one of the issues that I had a hard time settling was who to trust. If my theology was correct, and humanity was sinful, at enmity with God, and bent on raising its fist to God, I weened, “How can I trust the ‘data’ the ‘raw facts’ that mainstream evolutionary science produces? How do I know that the information is not being perverted and the real truth concealed to justify rejection of God’s authority?” With such thoughts I would often settle my doubts about young-earth creationism by calling into question the integrity of secular science.

However, when I encountered University of Chicago and Harvard educated, PhD Kurt Wise who argued his dissertation under Stephen J Gould, I found a young-earth creationist that was qualified in his field (paleobiology) and honest with the data. Unlike other creationist brainwashing machines (Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, Kent Hovind, et. al.), Wise admitted when the field data was in favor of mainstream evolutionary science and where it challenged young-earth creationism. And, humbly, Wise admitted a lot of evidence in favor of evolutionary models. In The God Delusion, Dawkins, I was later to learn, even gives honorable mention to Wise for his honesty with the data, calling him an “honest creationist.”

Todd Charles Wood is another young-earth creationist that I respect for his qualifications (PhD in biochemistry) and honesty. Like Wise, he does not attempt to hide data or twist it to favor his young-earth models. He rather honestly concedes that the evidence overwhelmingly favors mainstream evolutionary models, and he honestly concedes that his reasons for maintaining belief in young-earth creationism rest solely with his reading of the early chapters of Genesis. Honest indeed—he does not feign the data to favor his faith in fatuous fables such as the Fall and the Flood.

Earlier this year Wood wrote a series of posts on his blog critiquing Reasons to Believe (RTB) – another creationist ministry. Unlike Wood and Wise, RTB along with Hugh Ross and Fuz Rana are old-earth or progressive creationists. Progressive creationists reject biological evolution, but they accept the standard geological natural history of the Earth. They maintain that each new species that arises on earth is a distinct special creation by God (including the some thirty now extinct species of elephants – not a very efficient God). I attended one of Fuz Rana’s seminars in early 2005 with my ex-wife where he promoted his book Adam and the RTB model of human origins. In the RTB model, modern humans or homo sapiens sapiens are the only hominids created in the image of God. The first homo sapiens sapiens were Adam and Eve, and all other hominids were soulless animals without an eternal, immaterial spirit. The sickening dualism aside, their model is hinged on the discontinuity between homo sapiens sapiens and earlier hominids and primates. Hence, they attempt to discredit the chimp genome project which uncovers an over 98% genetic commonality (even among pseudo-genes and “junk DNA”) between chimpanzees and modern humans.

Wood wrote these following eight articles to illustrate the inconsistencies and non-responsiveness to the current, relevant data that RTB exhibits in order to maintain their model. Wood proceeds with a great deal of respect. For example, where RTB and Rana seem to intentionally ignore relevant information that would utterly falsify their model, Wood gives them the benefit of the doubt (though he admits it is not always easy). Wood himself cannot explain the > 98% genetic similarity between humans and chimpanzees within his young-earth creationist model, but he at least is willing to honestly concede that the data is what it is. If anyone would like to have an expose in the dishonest antics often taken up by Christian apologists, I recommend these articles. They are also a terrific introduction into the current data on human evolution and our shared primate ancestry.

RTB and the Chimp Genome Part 1

RTB and the Chimp Genome Part 2

RTB and the Chimp Genome Part 3

RTB and the Chimp Genome Part 4

RTB and the Chimp Genome Part 5

RTB and the Chimp Genome Part 6

RTB and the Chimp Genome Part 7

RTB and the Chimp Genome Part 8

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