Background and Introduction:
In recent months I have been sticking my nose into places where I see the need for a view contrary to that presented by the articles of interest: in particular those having an evident atheistic and neo-Darwinist bent, and those I feel have a detrimental impact on American life and culture. My forays are usually met with hostility, insult and ridicule … especially from readers and commenters in the Huffington Post.
Recently I ‘ve come across a new site http://ncse.com/blog and I’ve stuck my nose in there as well. The NCSE site advertises itself as a science and education advocacy site. The NCSE site is actually a political advocacy site (fair enough) whose goal is to un-constitutionally intrude government directly into the 1’st amendment as I will argue in this piece.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
You can follow the dialogue on the NCSE site; my moniker is AYearningForPublius.
I single out a fellow who goes by the moniker Mackin, and will use the metaphor of a Psychoanalysis Examination with me as the patient.
I will use DrMackin when using Mackin’s words directly from his response to me.
I will use DrCouldHaveSaid when I insert what I believe may be consistent with Mackin’s thinking and world view based on what he (and other like minded people on the site, who I will try to name by moniker, have said). But I could be wrong.
Welcome to the session … but first let me capture my remarks that triggered the Psychoanalysis Session, lest it be placed under house arrest and disappear from http://www.ncse.com/blog.
First of all I thank you for your apology, very much appreciated in such a
Again you refer me to TalkOrigins, and thanks for that link. I was not aware it existed. Lots of work went into it by the editor(s) and I’m sure it has had a great effect on it’s intended audience.
Skipping to your last paragraph “Toss away all prior assumptions and go where the evidence leads you. Not emotions.”
I have done exactly that, beginning in about 1981 at the age of 36. You see I became a Christian during that time and had a lot of catching up to do on two fronts;
First of all I was coming out of a long period of atheism, and by default evolutionary thought. I don’t recall that I was steeped in evolutionary theory during those years, but back then as now, evolution as a world view was pervasive and unavoidable, and I suspect (memory fades) that it was for me a convenient crutch to support my atheism.
So, there I was confronted with a clash of the two world views of “Darwin did it” and “God did it.” This conflict was traumatic, and I had two choices 1) abandon my new found faith and revert to my previous life, or 2) press ahead with my new life (Born again?) and start digging for answers. At that time, the most readily available resource was the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), just across town. I chose to dig in and search for the answers.
During this period I suppose I was a ripe candidate for TalkOrigins, but found, and still find, a wealth of information from ICR (and Discovery Institute).
It wasn’t quick, and it wasn’t easy, but after much time and much study and prayer, creation became more and more a settled issue in my life.
The second front was my faith, and in particular who was this man called Jesus?
And why should I trust the Bible, a book in which I was the worlds leading authority, but had not even opened it (you should be able to figure that one out).
So I set off on and intense study of Biblical apologetics, and again after much time and much study and prayer, The truth of the Bible became more and more a settled issue in my life. And no, I didn’t treat it as a scientific book.
I Have browsed through TalkOrigin, and in future posts, if you are still listening, would like to comment on a few of them.
Debates such as ours have been going on for years and centuries, and have been debated,
diced and sliced by folks much smarter and wiser than I (and perhaps you). So I thought I would use this time and opportunity to share just one man’s journey through all of this.
Lastly, in this exchange, I’ve run across yet another site http://www.trueorigin.org/
and in particular an interesting debate at http://www.trueorigin.org/spet…
you might like to read; lengthy but informative.
And now to the session.
DrMackin: Don, I’m not sure you understand just how much your arguments are about emotional appeals.
Me: Excuse me Dr. I hate to interrupt you when we have just barely started on this session, but I just must say a few things that may help you to more clearly understand me.
Of course I understand my emotions and how they effected me – both then and even now many years later. I was there! Let me repeat, I was there … at the front lines in a very real personal battle, and in a very personal sense … a crisis if you will. To pretend there wasn’t emotion involved, or should not have been involved, would be a serious misunderstanding.
Emotions are a significant part of who I am, and always have been. And I suppose they are a part of most everyone else as well. Emotion does inform my life in a variety of ways, and in a variety of circumstances as well, including; decision making, my view on science, politics, culture. And the forming and framing of arguments often times involves emotion and decisions..
Emotions such as love, hate, curiosity, awe, anger, envy (hopefully not that often), appreciation of things of beauty … and others. Gosh, if emotions didn’t inform my decisions, and sometimes my arguments I should think I would be much like a robot. And of course, emotion is not the sole basis of life, nor is raw logic; each is there and each is important.
Just wanted to help you in understanding me so this session might be more productive. You are the doctor, and I realize that you understand the brain and the mind – the atoms and molecules – and how thy work, a lot better than I do.
But remember … I was there ….
DrCouldHaveSaid: Yea well … moving on.
DrMackin: First of all is this assumption:
“First of all I was coming out of a long period of atheism, and by default evolutionary thought. I don’t recall that I was steeped in evolutionary theory during those years, but back then as now, evolution as a world view was pervasive and unavoidable, and I suspect (memory fades) that it was for me a convenient crutch to support my atheism.”
Evolution is not a world view. Evolution does not dictate what is right or wrong. Evolution is simply the reality of the world, and you can yearn for a better purpose in life without a super-being creating you with one.
Me: Excuse me again Dr. but may I say something here?
DrCouldHaveSaid: Of course Donald, you go right ahead.
Me: Well as far as I can tell, Evolution is a world view.
DrCouldHaveSaid: Yea … well …
Me: No seriously, it really is, and let me explain my view if I may.
First of all is your definition of science as:
naturalism “the idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to Supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world; (occas.) the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world.”
One of the more vivid examples of this type of world view I’ve seen in recent years is an article from a August 2013 Special Collector’s Edition of Scientific American (Volume 22, Number 2), and the article ‘Origin of the Universe’. Now please understand Doctor, that many of us get our ideas of science from these popular magazines … we don’t have time to get our PhDs.
DrCouldHaveSaid: Now wait a minute here, we’re talking about evolution … not the origin of the universe.
Me: Let me continue, I have the magazine at home and probably should have brought it had I known ….
There is a really vivid and cool graphic split into two parts across several pages; the first is titled Before the Big Bang, and of course at the center of the picture is … you guessed it … the Big Bang.
Feeding into the Big Bang from the left, as time before the BB, it shows three or maybe four possibilities; I guess you might call them hypotheses.
- No Previous Era.
- Quantum Emergence.
- Cyclic Universe (this one is not highlighted as the others.)
The graphic depicts the resultant universe(s) as we know it(them), continuing with four possible futures; but that’s not relevant to what I’m getting at.
You see Dr. there seems to be a big hole in this otherwise nice graphic. What if there is indeed a designer to the left of this Big Bang? What if?
The “what if” question … a key component of intellectual endeavor and discovery. Why is this possibility excluded with no further discussion? What if it were not excluded? After all, I believe (sorry for using that word so loosely) that folks like Newton and Galileo would have included that possibility in such a graphic, and thus their world view.
So, I can only conclude that naturalism creates (sorry) a different world view than the one many of us, including scientists (such as Newton) subscribe to.
And if naturalism is to be believed, and strictly adhered to, then something like neo-Darwinism is the only avenue left for discussion and inquiry … thus evolution is part and parcel of a world view.
In an article trying to explain Why Intelligent Design Isn’t Good Science at a site called Naturalism.org at: http://www.naturalism.org/science.htm#whyintelligent
There is a statement that says “Intelligent design fails as science not because science a priori rules out the supernatural (methodologically it doesn’t need to do this, and in fact wastes no time on the matter), but because the intelligent design hypothesis has no merit as a scientific explanation.”
Doctor, when I read this statement at face value, it confirms the graphic I described earlier. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but that statement and the graphic, both tell me that intelligent design has been rejected a priori, what’s going on here?
Also from that same naturalism.org blog comes:
“Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”
This is simply not true!
The fact that your organization is attempting to censor this discourse in the schools, and elsewhere, says, that in your learned judgment, you are not neutral, and your brand of science is not neutral on the matter of whether God exists. You have taken a very strong political stand on this issue, and if you are successful, great damage will be inflicted on generations to come, and great damage will be inflicted on the rights guaranteed to all American citizens by the First Amendment.
I will be discussing more on this topic Doctor, in my concluding remarks to this Psychological examination.
DrCouldHaveSaid: It’s all poppycock. An attempt to avoid a question with the non-answer “God did it”.
Me: Hmm … I don’t think I heard a real response there, but in any case lets continue with my analysis
Hey Doc … guess what? I actually used logic here, and not much emotion, maybe you and I are making some progress here.
DrCouldHaveSaid (actually posted by robnieboer): I, for one, refuse to read the garbage dressed up in pseudo-scientific terminology that passes for creation “science”. Creation “science” is all about a single statement: God did it. End of story. All the rest of the claptrap is attempts to poke holes in real science to support “God did it.
Me: Sorry to get you all riled up Doc, but aren’t I the one that’s here to get cured of emotionalism.
DrCouldHaveSaid: Yea, well, in any case …
DrMackin: Next there’s this:
“So, there I was confronted with a clash of the two world views of “Darwin did it” and ‘God did it.”’”
There is no such thing as “Darwin did it” when it comes to evolutionary science. This is an attempt to conflate science with an appeal to authority, a fallacious argument.
Me: Again Doc … sorry to get you so worked up. Actually I was just using a bit of short hand. You know; “God did it” … “Darwin did it”. You OK with that?
DrMackin: The only thing Darwin did was posit an idea based on his own experiences in the Galapagos, which could possibly explain how life became so diverse. What most people not interested in science fail to understand is that the scientific community does not regard Darwin as anything more than a smart man, like Albert Einstein. In fact, like Einstein, scientists have come to find that Darwin, while correct in general (i.e. life has changed over time through adaption), was actually wrong in many ways.
There are many, many other scientists who have made lasting impacts on the theory of evolution… Darwin just started the chain of dominoes. Scientists would have come to the same results with or without Darwin. Darwin even had a “rival” by the name of Alfred Russel Wallace who conceived of the idea of evolution before Darwin published any works.
Me: Yes, I understand, as well as critics such as Louis Agassiz of Harvard, a contemporary of Darwin. The story of Louis Agassiz is covered in Stephen Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt in Chapter 1.
DrMackin: And they did not base their ideas on divine revelation or a selectively edited book written with no credibility. They based it off of observations of nature, and then had other scientists throughout the past century and a half add onto it, refining it and helping explain what one man could not do alone.
Evolution is not about “Darwin did it”.
Me: Again Doc … calm down, just shorthand.
DrCouldHaveSaid: So then you said:
“This conflict was traumatic, and I had two choices 1) abandon my new found faith and revert to my previous life, or 2) press ahead with my new life (Born again?) and start digging for answers.”
Me: Yea, that’s about right, probably what I said.
DrMackin: Faith in and of itself is not based on logic. It is based on emotions, specifically hope and a desire or yearning for something.
Me: Well Doc, were maybe getting close to agreement on something. Your atheistic faith as expressed by Stephen Hawking when he said “ … tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged” can’t be proven and is actually pretty bizarre, maybe mathematically sound, but ultimately only that. Likewise old emotional me, when it comes to “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” can’t be proven either, but caries a whole lot more credibility among us ignorant goat herders than egg-head pontificators talking about fluctuations that produce Tom Brady (he’s that skilled football player by the way).
And hell yea, I have hopes and desires and yearnings for something — good things and fulfillment for myself, my country and those I love; don’t you?
DrCouldHaveSaid: So then you said:
“At that time, the most readily available resource was the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), just across town. I chose to dig in and search for the answers.”
1) I’m sorry that you thought that was the only resource available.
Me: Correction Doctor, I said it was the most readily available, but please continue.
2) You didn’t dig hard enough. You stopped halfway after you found an idea that called out to you emotionally instead of logically.
“It wasn’t quick, and it wasn’t easy, but after much time and much study
and prayer, creation became more and more a settled issue in my life.”
DrMackin: One part of logic is to never settle, to always ask questions. Even today, scientists are working to find flaws with the theory of evolution… they just realistically can’t and every attempt to discredit the theory has led to the strengthening of it because it corrected errors that no one had accounted for because no one knew they existed beforehand.
“And no, I didn’t treat it as a scientific book.”
And that is the problem.
Me: No Doctor … I don’t think that is the problem. The real problem and the reason I’m here on your couch in the NCSE Psychiatric Clinic is the idea I have in my head that contrary to the assertion as Dawkins said “Even if there were no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory, we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories.” Or as Lawrence Krauss said “The illusion of purpose and design is perhaps the most pervasive illusion about nature that science has to confront on a daily basis. Everywhere we look, it appears that the world was designed so that we could flourish.” Or as Francis Crick stated “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
Crick said elsewhere “constantly keep in mind that what they (biologists) see, was not designed, but rather evolved.”
So you see Doctor, any contrary notions such as design are to be totally excluded from investigation in science or in the classroom … and I have a problem with that.
I don’t buy into those quotes from the illustrious scientists quoted above, and here’s why:
My experience in life, and especially my experience in my work life REQUIRES me to believe in design. I was a software developer for close to 40 years, with most of it centered on modifications to large scale complex systems and systems of systems. Once in awhile I had the privilege of designing something from scratch, but this was by far the exception. Most of the time I was standing on the shoulders of those giants who preceded me.
This distinction between design and modification is very important to understand. You see, to be successful at modifying, fixing or extending these complex systems, it is necessary to understand, as much as possible, the design of the system. Only when some degree of understanding of the design is achieved, is it possible to successful change or add to the system capability.
These systems not only had the appearance of design, they had design … they were designed. And to proceed under any other assumption is pure folly.
Had I bought into Crick’s atheistic philosophy (because that’s what it is), then I would have been an utter and complete failure and my long and mostly successful career would have ended in its infancy.
The same is true in just about every other area of our day-to-day life. The auto mechanic must have some notion of the design of the engine he is working on, and the more knowledge of that design, the more effective he becomes and the more wealth he is able to produce.
The doctor operating on my heart, my brain, my worn out knee, my weakening eyesight must have some knowledge of the design of these organs in my body.
The pilot flying the airliner I am taking to San Diego, or the F-15 fighter pilot must have extensive knowledge of the design of his aircraft, and its subsystems, else he crashes all of us into the ground, or is shot down by an enemy that does understand design.
My father, a very good TV repairman in his day, studied the designs of the TVs he was fixing, often using the design blueprints specific to the brand and model he was working on.
The watch maker must have intimate knowledge of the designs required to craft a fine time keeping machine.
The power plant operator or the maintenance crew of a refinery or oil rig must, of necessity understand much of the design of these very complicated systems.
The sailor aboard a modern aircraft carrier must be well trained in the designs of those systems he is responsible for operating and maintaining. And he must be trained in the design of the various damage control systems, devices and schemes, especially when at general quarters fighting a savage battle. You might try enlisting and serving 3 or 4 tours on one of those things to get an appreciation of design in the real world. Short of that, watch some episodes of “Victory at Sea” and imagine yourself in such circumstances.
Then just yesterday I had the exciting experience of watching another amazing machine, and it’s design, working right within my own body for close now to 70 years – my heart.
For 45 minutes I laid on my side and watched the operation of my heart on a video monitor while the skilled technician performed an Echocardiography examination of my heart.
I watched and listened as the various muscles, valves, veins and arteries pulsed and squeezed in harmony as they went about the work of circulating blood throughout my body. An amazing experience. I could even see the blood flowing.
At no time during this examination did I ever have the thought that what I was experiencing was ‘the illusion of purpose and design’, or what I was seeing ‘was not designed, but rather evolved.’ Such thoughts would have been absurd.
And the successful author must have a keen sense of the grammatical designs that readers will buy.
I had a boss awhile back, retired major general Kenneth J. Houghton — ‘a Marine Corps legend’ Kenny had a phrase that caught on with me; something along the lines of “that should be obvious, even to a sea-going corporal.” an idea that Francis Crick, without a doubt, a brilliant scientist and discoverer of the DNA helix, perhaps could have given an ear to such wisdom with no degradation of his brilliance as a scientist.
Most of us folks working in areas such as I have described don’t even consciously think along these lines of is it a design or not … we just plunge in and seek out the design, and then do our work. You might want to take a long sabbatical and try one of these trades or skills that require you to delve deeply into design, and then come back and talk about design.
The real problem is that you want to keep the idea of design hidden from my school age children and grandchildren, and from political authorities at all levels, and impose totally, an atheistic world view contrary to the notion that things in nature that appear to be designed, may in fact be designed.
Let me tell you a story I’ve learned just recently, a story about a scientist, and a story about DNA, and a story of recent successes in unraveling a great deal of knowledge about DNA.
DrCouldHaveSaid: (actually Duane K. Roelofs said it) Now see here, you ignorant believer in fairy tales, I am one whose mind hasn’t been addled by Postmodernist, Deconstructionist nonsense. Creationism is not the objective truth. It is only a grossly mistaken, purely subjective, unfounded sacred guess about origins.
Me: There’s that emotionalism coming out again Doc, but let me continue with my story, because it is a story about science and a large scale investigation – an investigation based on the pursuit of truth.
The scientist was Richard Sternberg, at one time the editor of the biology journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a Smithsonian Institute journal.
Dr. Sternberg made the mistake of allowing a peer reviewed paper into the journal that argued that the theory of intelligent design could help explain the origin of biological information. The paper was authored by Stephen Meyer, the year was 2004.
You can read about the subsequent demotion and smear campaign against Sternberg in Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt (chapter 11).
But let’s skip ahead in time and pick up with Dr. Sternberg in a new role – that of a researcher in the ENCODE project (short for Encyclopedia of DNA Elements).
Quite a number of ENCODE research papers were recently published, and one of the key findings was that large portions of genome that had previously been thought of as junk DNA, because they didn’t code for protein (whatever the heck that means), actually had function. The finding was that at least 80% of the genome was indeed functional, and not junk. Now mind you, Doc, this junk DNA was thought for a long time to be major evidence for evolution, since it was thought that this junk was just a collection of debris from millions of years of failed evolutionary trials.
And, science being what it is, I would expect that 80% number to increase as the years pass.
As Stephen Meyer points out on page 402 of Darwin’s Doubt,
“During the early part of the decade, before ENCODE made the headlines, this scientist published many articles challenging the idea of junk DNA based on genomics research that he was conducting at the National Institute of Health …”
Continuing Meyer points out:
“ … the evolutionary biologist that was punished for his openness to intelligent design while serving at the Smithsonian Institute … [and] his doubts about neo-Darwinism and his growing interest in intelligent design led him to consider the possibility that the majority of the genome could really be functional. His research subsequently confirmed what was for him, an idea inspired in part by intelligent design.”
So Doctor, here is a positive and significant modern example of one who opened the door I speak of in my own paper Atheism, and who ventured out of the cave and helped discover some amazing and wonderful knowledge about life.
Newton and Galileo also come to mind.
DrMackin: As I outlined in my “Anti-Bible” post, the Bible is full of stuff that does not make sense. Put simply, the god of the Bible creates everything, knows everything, and loves everyone but creates imperfect humans, places them in paradise with an “evil” tree, creates a snake to tempt them into eating from the tree, then punishes them and all of their descendants for eternity for doing so unless they dedicate their entire lives to worshiping him? How the heck is this supposed to make sense?
Me: Let be bring up once more in this context, the idea of naturalism “the idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world; (occas.) the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world.”
Subscribing strongly to this world view seems to present a few significant problems: it will naturally color and throw up a strong bias making it difficult to accept that there is any truth to be found outside of science. There is truth to be found outside of science, and there is truth to be found in the Bible; moral truths, truths about relationships and others. But a naturalistic bias will make it difficult to even begin a search for such truths.
Please Doctor, hear me out. I myself am comfortable with intelligent design and creationism, but also understand that I am not affiliated with this philosophy other than as an interested layman. Also, please give the proponents the courtesy and the benefit of professional doubt that they are not invoking holy scriptures of any sort as the basis of intelligent design. Meyer doesn’t, and neither did Dr. Sternberg in his ENCODE research. Here is a key part of the basis for intelligent design:
“Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. … “
DrMackin: And then what are you told in church? The devil (which god would have had to create) is out to get you and get you sent to hell? Why hasn’t God, being as powerful, knowing, and loving as he supposedly is, turned the Devil back into an Angel yet? Is he not interested in saving billions of lives?
DrCouldHaveSaid: (actually it was P.Brain) If you turn your kids into idiots,they’ll turn their kids into idiots. And when they travel to another modern country,they’ll wonder why everyone thinks they’re an idiot.” Welcome to Europe, you believe in what?….That guy’s an idiot!”
Me: Sounds like you’re getting emotionally worked up again Doc, and lecturing rather than helping me with my own emotional hang-ups … settle down and let’s continue.
Oh, and do you mean those rational modern Europeans that produced Robespierre, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Eric Honecker et al?
DrMackin: Free will? Does not exist with an all-knowing, all-powerful god. If he knows everything and can do anything, then anything he wants to happen will happen and anything he does not want to happen will not happen. That’s simple logic.
You were probably never given a satisfactory answer to any questions or were encouraged not to ask questions… I could go on and on.
My point is that you did not base your argument on logic. You settled for something that appealed to you so you would not have to think anymore. You let your contentedness get ahead of your curiosity.
Me: I think we are moving away from a discussion of science into religion, which I guess is OK, because it does, in a way fit into the emotionalism that both of us exhibit when discussion our contrary views.
But I must make a remark or two about ‘free will’.
Contrary to what you say, the Bible teaches free will from Genesis to Revelation. This is evident in the story of the fall of man in the garden of Eden. Regardless of your view on this story, it is a story of the free will of the first two humans and what the Bible teaches was a wrong choice.
Another great example of free will taught in the Old Testament, and also a great teaching on moral truth is the story of David and Bathsheba. In the book of 2 Samuel, chapter 11 is told the story of how King David, exercising his free will, broke a number of the 10 Commandments in seducing Bathsheba and then arranging the death of her soldier husband in order to cover up the adultery and the subsequent child.
King David being a smart and logical guy concocted this whole episode based on emotion, lust and logic … but lurking near the surface was guilt and shame.
Being king, he could very easily have gotten away with it, and in a purely secular and human sense, perhaps he did. But then there’s the rest of the story.
Over in the Psalms we read of the shame and guilt of David as he wrestles with what he has done. We read words such as these:
Psalm 32 “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”
Psalm 38 “ Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart.
All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.”
And in those same Psalms we also read of a man who is truly sorry and repentant of the bad choices he has made.
Psalm 32: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
Psalm 38: “I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin.”
Note well here that the sins we commit, the bad decisions we make are often unredeemable in the context of those we have sinned against. I have one particular episode in my past that sticks out to me, but what I did is irretrievable, except in the context of a forgiving God.
So what we have seen in this story of David is his free will choices to ignore the ten commandments, and how that played out in the lives of himself and others.
DrCouldHaveSaid: it’s all poppycock. An attempt to avoid a question with the non-answer “God did it”.
Me: Perhaps so Doctor, but my point here was to illustrate the free will the Bible illustrates and teaches. Unfortunately, perhaps your idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world may prevent you from exploring these other sources of truth that aren’t touched by science of whatever definition.
Let me continue with an example from the New Testament.
The life and example of Jesus is another unfolding of free choice. The issue here again Doc, is not whether or not you believe the stories, but is free will being taught and demonstrated?
The story is of the temptation of Jesus by the devil. This story clearly places Jesus in a position where he has a free will choice to make, and since he is fully human, he is capable of making one choice or the other.
And to fill out the Biblical message of free will, we see in the book of Revelation, and speaking to the church in Laodicea: “So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
Here the Bible is asking a group of people at Laodicea to exercise their free will choice of answering, or not, the knocking at the door.
So we do indeed have the dilemma of coming to grips with an all-knowing, all-powerful god and yet we having free will, but it is not necessarily a contradiction.
On the other side of the coin, the naturalism and atheist side, we have Pope Jerry Coyne I. often making the scientific case that there is no such thing as free will. I’ll let you do the reading and research on what the Pope has to say.
Another that believed the Darwinian story and likewise knew there was no such thing as free will was Clarence Darrow of Scopes Monkey Trail fame.
Leopold and Loeb had committed a brutal murder of a small boy, simply because they wanted a challenge and some excitement.
Darrow: “Science and evolution teach us that man is an animal, a little higher than the other orders of animals; that he is governed by the same natural laws that govern the rest of the universe,” he wrote in the magazine Everyman in 1915. Darrow saw confirmation of these views in the field of dynamic psychiatry, which emphasized infantile sexuality and unconscious impulses and denied that human actions were freely chosen and rationally arranged. Individuals acted less on the basis of free will and more as a consequence of childhood experiences that found their expression in adult life. How, therefore, Darrow reasoned, could any individual be responsible for his or her actions if they were predetermined?”
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/criminal-minds.html#ixzz2ds0uHNw9
And more in his summation of the Leopold and Loeb trial …
“Nature is strong and she is pitiless. She works in her own mysterious way, and we are her victims. We have not much to do with it ourselves. Nature takes this job in hand, and we play our parts. In the words of old Omar Khayyam, we are only
‘Impotent pieces in the game He plays
Upon this checkerboard if nights and days,
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the closet lays..
What had this boy to do with it? He was not his own father; he was not his own mother; he was not his own grandparents. All of this was handed to him. He did not surround himself with governesses and wealth. He did not make himself and yet he is to be compelled to pay.
For God’s sake, are we crazy? In the face of history, of every line of philosophy, against the teaching of every religionist and seer and prophet the world has ever given us, we are still doing what our barbaric, ancestors did when they came out of the caves and the woods.
Your Honor, I am almost ashamed to talk about it. I can hardly imagine that we are in the twentieth century. And yet there are men who seriously say that for what Nature has done, for what life has done, for what training has done, you should hang these boys.”
“If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lectures, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.”
- Scopes Trial, Dayton, Tennessee (13 July 1925)
- Clarence Darrow – Wikiquote
I don’t know when it happened, but sometime after that trial the roles became reversed. But the logic of Darrow remains, only now applied to evolution vs. intelligent design.
Given the choices Doctor I, of my own free will, choose the side of free will. And I do understand that I along with many others will often make the wrong choices. But at least I will be forced to accept the responsibility for those bad choices, and where possible seek restitution and forgiveness.
And here is a point where my emotion and my logic intersect. The Biblical teachings of free will, and its proscription against certain harmful acts, provide me a framework within which to live out my life, and provides reasonable input with which to guide my logic in making decisions.
DrMackin: When it comes to science, I never think about how much something appeals to me on a personal level. I really do not care about that kind of stuff… I just want to know what is correct. I have a desire for raw, unadulterated knowledge, and that is the exact attitude that drives science.
Even if science were to come to the ridiculous conclusion that I am the product of billions of years of genetic changes and my oldest relative was a simple, single-celled organism who lived in a unfriendly ocean on a planet which lacked significant amounts of Oxygen in its atmosphere, I would accept it and move on with my life because it ultimately has no effect on my personal life…
Wait, that’s exactly what science says! And it still has absolutely no impact in my search for a girlfriend or on what I do in my time off… Well, other than replying to creationists on a science blog. 🙂
DrMackin quoting me again: “I Have browsed through TalkOrigin, and in future posts, if you are still listening, would like to comment on a few of them.”
DrMackin: Go right ahead. Please do make sure that you have read the works referenced too. It may answer any questions you have before you ask them, or offer proof to appease you.
DrMackin quoting me again: “Debates such as ours have been going on for years and centuries, and have been debated, diced and sliced by folks much smarter and wiser than I (and perhaps you).”
Yes, definitely smarter than me. I am, no doubt, low on the totem pole when it comes to overall knowledge.
But science is not built on one person knowing something or not. It’s a collaborative effort to come to better understand the unadulterated truth of the universe, and if I do not know something, I’m sure someone else does.
As for your site, I am immediately turned off by the use of “evolutionism“. The Theory of Evolution is not an -ism.. The Theory of Evolution is not a religion. The Theory of Evolution is the result of looking at the world around us for answers instead of looking at the words of ancient men for them.
Me: Sorry if I’ve offended you, but in searching my site (AYearningForPublius) I found no occurrence of this word. Did you mean TrueOrigin.org?
In any case, Evolutionism seems to be a fairly widely accepted word when I do a search on it. But I respect your concern and will try to refrain from using it myself.
The Theory of Evolution being the result of looking at the world around us for answers is a valid point, but it cannot be concluded that it is the only result of looking at the world around us for answers. The design inference you so strongly criticize in not based on the words of ancient men, but rather the common experience of men from all ages, ancient and modern, and strengthened by the tools and research of modern man in areas such as DNA.
DrMackin: Religion requires a belief in the supernatural… but one of the biggest criticisms of Evolution by religious people is its naturalism and omission of god.
The Theory of Evolution is about as religious as “Off” is a TV channel or “Not collecting stamps” is a hobby.
Me: Perhaps so, but when I turn Off my TV, I get no new information. Or, if I continuously tune to the Atheist channel I get only some information, and likewise when I exclusively tune to the ID channel I only get some information. But if I am open to tuning in either channel I get a fuller view of the information.
Likewise when I don’t collect stamps I don’t learn some historically fascinating facts that a friend of mine, who is a collector, learns about the Austro-Hungarian navy. So I guess you point is lost on me.
DrMackin: As I am not interested in writing a point-by-point rebuttal of what I think might be some Ray Comfort-level arguments (R.C. is a charlatan, FYI), I’d rather spare myself the headache and ignore that site. Apologies.
Me: Don’t know much about Comfort … watched the video, but that’s it.
But your view of the Bible as stated earlier seems to skip over or gloss over centuries of good Biblical, Jewish and Christian apologetics, and also the many significant and positive contributions of the Bible, Judaism and Christianity to world civilization..
Much scholarship has been done in establishing the reliability of the Bible and its accurate transmission from the earliest days to today. Scholarship in areas such as linguistics, archaeology, history, prophetic history, consistency of message and more.
Some modern day examples would be:
D. James Kennedy, Norm Geisler, Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Francis Schaeffer, R.C. Sproul and others.
As for the supposed evils of the Bible and the Christian church, might I point out a few things:
Slavery has been an evil inflicted on humanity since its inception, whenever and wherever you believe that happened. It was banished from the British Empire well before the American Civil War primarily through the efforts of a devout Christian named William Wilberforce, and was banished from America primarily through the efforts of devout Christian Abolitionists.
Claims continue to be made that religion (read: Christianity) has been the cause of more pain, suffering and death than any other cause in the history of mankind.
Consider this. In just the span of 7o some years in the twentieth century, atheism has resulted in the deaths of more than 100 million, that’s 100,000,000+ in the officially atheistic countries of the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia and others. Some estimates put that number of atheist vs. Christian caused deaths as somewhere well north of a 7 to 1 ratio, and in a period of 70 years as opposed to 2000+ years of Christianity.
Things like hospitals, universities, charity, literacy for the masses, capitalism and free enterprise, civil liberties, modern science, the elevation of the common man, the elevation of women, the great art of the European renaissance, classical music, the civilization of many barbarian and primitive cultures:
All developed under a Judeo/Christian Biblical world view … some later than others, but nevertheless happened.
And I do have a few questions and/or observations on a few things talked about in TalkOrigins.
TalkOrigins talks about the evolution of the mammalian eye, and references the study by Nilsson, D.-E. and S. Pelger, but fails to reference a very good rebuttal, ‘Could the eye have evolved by natural selection in a geological blink?’ at http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/could-the-eye-have-evolved-by-natural-selection-in-a-geological-blink/
Just one snippet from the article:
”It is my contention that Nilsson and Pelger’s model of the evolution of the eye is in fact a striking example of Intelligent Design, rather than Darwinian evolution. Readers may be surprised to learn that Nilsson and Pelger deliberately selected each of the 1,829 steps in their model leading from a light-sensitive spot to a camera-type vertebrate eye, by choosing which features they wanted to vary at every step along the way. That makes their model intelligently designed.”
And, although not in anyone else’s peer reviewed papers other than my own, what about my extension of this eye evolution idea to all organs in the body? This can be read at: https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/intelligent-design-creation-the-evidence/
General Houghton’s sage observation again comes to mind : “that should be obvious, even to a sea-going corporal.”
Then there’s this about the the inability of creationists to get their views published by mainstream science …. Claim CA325:
Here’s a couple of examples and reasons why:
Read the series of articles by Casey Luskin On the Origin of the Controversy Over Biological Information: New Perspectives – at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/08/on_the_origin_o_3075521.html#sthash.dGqVAWXC.dpuf
Here you will see the deliberate and underhanded way in which the publication of proceedings of a symposium held at Cornell University was sabotaged, and a serious attempt at “book burning” was attempted (the attempt ultimately failed). This blatant attempt at censorship was orchestrated by the so-called objective scientific community.
Then there is the treatment of Stephen Meyer’s new book Darwin’s Doubt. “On Wednesday, June 19, the day after Stephen C. Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design was published and made available for purchase, UC Berkeley grad student Nick Matzke read the book and then posted a harsh 9400+ word review on the blog Panda’s Thumb.” – All in less than 24 hours. See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/06/rush_to_judgmen073791.html#sthash.R0IgbDwT.dpuf
Matzke is a member of the main stream neo-Darwinian science community, and somewhat of a hero there.
Then there are two recent controversies in universities where any discussion of design in nature has been shut down.
Read my remarks about Ball State University & Intelligent Design: My 7+ Disappointments at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/ball-state-university-intelligent-design-my-7-disappointments/
And this from Casey Luskin Evolutionary Anthropologist’s Advice: Reject Research Papers if Results Come from Discovery Institute Authors – See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/09/evolutionary_an076161.html#sthash.vOpu8kvd.dpuf
And this from Texas – Henry: Amarillo College sidesteps religious debate in education at Henry: Amarillo College sidesteps religious debate in education | Amarillo Globe-News
And I’ve already given you the story of Dr. Sternberg and the ENCODE project, and his prior censorship at the Smithsonian Institute.
Why is it that the censors and book burners always seem so happy and proud of their work, and puff their chests out so.
In the broader picture is it any surprise when you see relatively few publications from Intelligent Design researchers as compared to main-line evolutionary researchers? An organization such as Discovery Institute, although somewhat of a clearing house and umbrella organization, occupies just the second floor of a small two story building in downtown Seattle – I’ve been there..
Match those very limited resources against the massive funding and resources of the neo-Darwinians who have the luxury of government funded programs in Universities all over the world and you can begin to see why it is so difficult for a dissenting point of view to get any kind of traction.
Perhaps a poster boy for such massive funding would be Pope Jerry Coyne I. at the University of Chicago, who is one of the intellectual and scientific giants in the battle to keep science and education entirely atheistic.
The University of Chicago is a private university, and therefore you would think Pope Coyne is entitled to teach and write whatever he wishes (unlike Professor Hedin at Ball State). However, it is not to much of a stretch to believe that much of Coyne’s funding is somehow attached to federal and state grants. Therefore, the atheism he spouts is, at least to some degree, funded by tax dollars. Where is the constitutional outcry and attacks that we’ve heard against Professor Hedin, against Pope Coyne?
DrMackin: And let’s get one thing clear, here. If Christian creationism is science because people believe that the Bible is literal, then every other religion’s creation story is just as scientific because they believe in their holy book.
Me: But dear Doctor, we are talking here about the pursuit of truth … the truth of the universe as we know it, as we can know it, and as we can discover it. A pursuit which should include the search for the designs that may be there; and what we can learn and benefit from those designs; whether they be the appearance of design, the illusion of design or actual design. Why would you advocate otherwise?
If the pursuit of such designs leads to or informs and confirms a faith belief, so be it. Always remember:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
DrMackin: I think it’s all poppycock. An attempt to avoid a question with the non-answer “God did it”.
DrCouldHaveSaid: And what’s with this Pope Jerry Coyne I. stuff?
Me: Oh yea, him.
If you remember your history, there was an Italian fellow named Galileo way back in the 1600 timeframe. Galileo came up with an idea in astronomy that ran counter to the scientific thinking at the time, and he also ran afoul of Catholic political protocol as well.
He was tried by the Inquisition, found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Well Pope Jerry Coyne I. is a major force in a similar Inquisition against an idea that runs counter to dominant scientific thinking of today, and is rigorously attempting to put any notion of design under house arrest.
The house arrest of Galileo was only for the duration of his own life, whereas the house arrest Pope Coyne I. speaks of is much – much – much longer than that.
The distinct impression I get about Professor Coyne, mostly from reading his blog, is that he has abandoned his career as an evolutionary biologist, and has instead become a professional atheist. That’s fine, but one thing I find disturbing is the question of, how much time and resources does Coyne expend in his atheistic quest, while drawing a salary that is somewhat or even heavily funded by government grants. And I have the same question of other professional atheists in the academic community.
DrCouldHaveSaid: (again) it’s all poppycock. An attempt to avoid a question with the non-answer “God did it”.
Me: I find the view of naturalism
to be highly irrational, illogical, unbelievable and unsupported by the overall sway of the evidence.
A snippet from the end of a magnificent little allegorical tale by A.E. Wilder-Smith, He Who Thinks Has To Believe summarizes nicely my position as well.
“Good,” said the Neanderthaler, “may I then speak more clearly?” They [modern man] nodded. “In reality,” he said, “you are asking us to believe that the paper on which the text of a book is written has developed not only the language in which the book is written, but also all of its concepts, ideas and thoughts. According to you, the paper wrote the entire book. Even its binding and chapter headings are due to the paper alone. However, we, the Neanderthalers, are not prepared to believe that the paper wrote the book, including its language, ideas, vocabulary, and chapter headings, of its own accord. We regard such a postulate as schizophrenic – if I may speak so plainly,” he said, “far removed from reality, i.e. schizophrenic. …”
Me: Summation and Conclusion
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
President Thomas Jefferson wrote of a “wall of separation” in a letter to a church, and this has become a clarion call to rally behind a paraphrase of that statement in a letter and indeed a working paraphrase of the 1’st Amendment to the Constitution.
The paraphrase has become “separation of church and state” and has come to mean that there is an impenetrable wall that church is never to breach in the public market place. Implementation of this paraphrase in practice is that government has been set free to infringe on faith in any way it sees fit, in direct contradiction of the plain words of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
In very recent years we’ve arrived at the place where the federal government will require federal funding for the birth control needs of a college student, at a level which would satisfy the needs of a full time prostitute, and this at a Catholic university Georgetown. This runs counter to many faith traditions (churches) in this country. At the same time, that same federal government will intrude into schools, universities and churches to impose such ideas and life styles as homosexuality, same-sex marriage and atheism in the form of mandated teaching of neo-Darwinist evolution exclusively. These ideas and life styles run directly counter to many Biblical and church teachings, as well as the private beliefs of many Americans. Government does not belong there!
Another paraphrase of the 1’st Amendment, a more accurate and historically correct paraphrase would be
“ Separation of church from state.”
Separation of church from state accurately conveys the founders firm belief that the states and individual citizens be protected in Constitutional language from the abuses of a too powerful and tyrannical central government. It further conveys the idea that the church, and faith be allowed to inform the government.
This idea of “separation of church from state”, and the idea of the church informing the state, I think, is best illustrated by a German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer came of age as a pastor and theologian during the rise and reign of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany. He resisted the Nazis from the beginning, and ultimately gave his life in the fight against the Nazis. Here are his guidelines in the question of how the church should act towards the state. And note that he gave this direction from the very beginning of the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis::
- Help the state be the state. Question the state regarding its actions and their legitimacy to help the state be as God ordained.
- Aid the victims of state action. The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society—even if they do not belong to the Christian community.
- When the existence of the church is threatened and the state ceases to exist as defined by God, it is not enough to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spike in the wheel itself.
And this gets me to the reason why I oppose what your organization, this NCSE Psychiatric Clinic, and what it attempts to do regarding science education. I view your efforts as aiding the government in undermining the 1’st Amendment and the freedoms it guarantees to all Americans. I oppose your efforts because they present a view of the universe, this planet and life on this planet, especially human life, in a totally atheistic manner, with no room given an alternate, and more rational, view. And you seek to codify this into federal and state law in contradiction to what our founders demanded in the Bill of Rights before they would consider ratifying the Constitution.
Governments throughout the ages have consistently sought to increase their power and scope, most often at the expense of the common man. Ours is no different, and is only constrained by a Constitution and Bill of Rights that limits the power of the government, and places ultimate power in the hands of We the People.
Efforts such as yours only accelerate the loss of freedoms, and I would implore you to consider the consequences. There is design evident in our world, in our own creations, and in the world of nature. Allow the free exploration of these ideas alongside your own. Please.