Response from Timothy Wallace:
Thank you very much for your well-written and detailed further response to the “Five Misconceptions” essay. I particularly appreciate the more civil tone which you employed this time.
>>Due the lengthof your essay, I'm just going rebuke a few things at time, and we'll see how things go.<<
That is fine with me. (However, it seems to me that “rebut” would be a more appropriate word than “rebuke” for your purposes, based on your context.)
>>Let me clarify something first. Are you a creationist? It is my understanding that you are. If so, then you are attacking a science...<<
It has never been my purpose to “attack” science. What you perceive as an “attack” on “science” is perfectly reasonable criticism of a highly biased interpretation of carefully selected emprirical data, not science itself. There is a big difference between these two, without which science becomes simply a relativistic hodge-podge of equivocal opinions that prove nothing.
>>...you...propose a theory based entirely on religion, and not science.<<
It seems to have escaped your notice that everyone has a religious/philosophical vieweven an atheist (whether he will admit it or not). And being human, none of us is capable of divesting ourselves 100% of our religious/philosophical presuppositions as we examine and interpret the empirical data and evidence available to us, though good science demands that we allow our bias to have the least possible influence for the sake of objectivity.
The notion that the practice of “science” is a pristine, unbiased, and completely objective thing is thus an unrealisticalbeit prettypicture foisted on the general public by those who believe man's science is somehow infallible and beyond criticism.
>>How can you attack evolutionists for not being objective when you believe in a theory completely
Again, I assure you that my aim has never been to “attack” science or evolutionists, but to focus specific criticism on the highly-biased, hardly-scientific conjectures of evolutionist theory. Now, as for your accusation that I too am guilty of subjectively believing in a different theory, I wouldn't be honest if I denied that there were at least some subjectivity on my part also. But in order to justifiably accuse me of not controlling my presuppositions, you must demonstrate with some specificity (i.e., using my own words) how my subjectivity has led me to a less than reasonable interpretation of the data. The mere accusation by itself is tantamount to mud-slinging, and I make it my aim neither to engage innor to encouargethis practice.
>>That is why my initial response was so derisive.<<
So, you are to be excused for hurling derision and insults because you didn’t like your victim’s theory and believed that he was human enough to be guilty of the same subjectivity that is common to everyone?
>>Now I would like to apologize for such an insulting tone, but nevertheless, I still believe what I wrote.<<
In other words, “I’m sorry I insulted you, but I still meant it”? This is a remarkable brand of courtesy you have, Mr. Bradford.
>> >If religion has no valid...<
>>That is an excellent description of my view of religion.<<
Mine too. (My studies in science, epistomology, history, and philosphy have convinced me that there is a tremendous difference between “religion” [man's effort to define and appease his subjective perception of “god”] and historical, orthodox, biblical Christianity [simultaneously the most history-based, scientifically and philosophically tenable account of man, his origin, purpose, and destiny, and the provision to man by his Creator of that which man needs to know in order to understand the same, and take appropriate action to fulfill his intended purpose, should he desire to do so].)
>>We have a problem here. I don't want to suspend my disbelief...<<
That’s remarkable. You seem to insist that I share your belief in evolutionism, suspending my own disbelief (for the sake of objectivity), yet you refuse to practice the same objectivity in order to reasonably consider my position. Sounds rather one-sided to me...
>>I want something you can show me that I can understand...<<
What you understand depends on what you are willing to consider. You cannot consider yourself a fair and objective student of the evolution/creation issue without a deliberate act of your will, mind and emotions, determining to tentatively suppress any personal bias as you carefully consider the truth or falsity of the respective interpretations of empirical data.
>>Testaments of faith written a hundred years after the incident by the pupils of the supposed
authors who reportedly knew someone who claimed to be the son of god do not count ... The only knowledge you have of the Christian God has been passed down almost two thousand years, transcribed, translated, and probably edited an uncountable number of times. And that's assuming the initial author wasn't just an insane lunatic.<<
These statements betray what can only be a personal ignorance on your part concerning the facts of history and the doctrines of historical, orthodox, biblical Christianityparticularly pertaining to the Scriptures. What you say here amounts to the standard college-level justification for dismissing the Bible and all it says, based on absolutely no personal objective, in-depth research whatsoever.
Do you now wish to suggest to me that your analysis would also happen to be a “scientifically” executed one?
I have examined the religious/philosophical perspectives inherent in the views and words of such men as Erasmus and Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, William Smith, James Hutton, Robert Chambers, Alfred Wallace, Thomas Huxley, Ernst Haeckel, Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck, and the many others found behind the history, birth and popularization of modern evolutionism. A fair and objective study of this complex subject would demand this, and so I make it my purpose to know what I write about concerning the historical and scientific relevancies of evolutionism. It seems to me that the same could be expected of you, should you wish to make statements concerning a perspective other than your own.
>> > And suppose this recordunder the scrutiny of
>> > objective scientific process and “reasonable doubt” examination of the
>> > evidencenot only were incapable of disproof by the evidence, but
>> > furnished a remarkably integrated framework through which the evidence
>> > could be better assimilated than the “conventional” or “popular” framework.
>>That is no doubt the very end objective of science: to explain everything...<<
You seem to have completely missed (or ignored) my point herewhich I suppose is at least consistent of you, considering your previous comments (which I addressed immediately above): Contrary to popular belief, the Christian philosophy/system of thought not only doesn't oppose science, but in fact lends itself to better scientific scrutiny than does evolutionism. Perhaps you chose to overlook this point on account of incredulity (“he can't possibly have meant that”), but I reiterate it here to stress the challenge that faces you if you wish to truly and objectively discredit creationism on the basis of the empirical facts and the natural laws known to man.
>>This is the scientific method. You are free to give up in the name of God's omnipotent control over us anyway...<<
Thank you for allowing me such a generous freedom. However I see no need whatsoever to “give up” science in the name of anythingparticularly any attributes of God. On the contrary, in my experience, proper application of the scientific method, andwhere that isn't applicableobjective analysis of the exisiting evidence, only serve to support the historicity of the biblical record and the scientific implications contained therein. Otherwise I would gladly dispense with my confidence in both the Bible and the wonderful heavenly Father of whom it testifies.
>>...Science can't compete on a metaphysical level, because we can only go as far as we observe, while religion is free to move beyond the very realm of human comprehension.<<
You make an excellent point here. Religion does indeed often go beyond human comprehension, as we are told simply to accept various dogmas without any hope for a rational basis. Biblical Christianity doesn’t force this kind of thinking on men, the highly popularized caricature of the same notwithstanding.
>>I believe many of them vehemntly deny this because it is hypocritical. You're saying that the evidence doesn't support the theory, so give up on it...<<
It is by no means an act of hypocrisy to abandon a theory which contradicts the best established natural laws known to man, and which 150 years after its popularization remains hotly disputed at even its most rudimentary points by those found within the ranks of its own proponents. So yes, I am saying that the evidence doesn’t support the theory, and yes, I am saying it deserves to be abandoned...
>>...believe in this god and these stories about how it made everything. Can you seriously consider this a rational alternative? Religion and science cannot be mixed like this...<<
...I am not however suggesting that irrational theistic beliefs ought to be blindly substituted for irrational atheistic beliefs. Quite to the contrary, the rational alternative to evolutionism, when objectively considered, is contrary to neither the laws or knowledge of science, nor to the biblical record. It is an arbitrary (and erroenous) presumption that naturalism, atheism, amoralism, mechanism are all requisite attributes of science, when in fact this notion has only been foisted on students of science and the general public during the past century or so. A careful study of the history of science will adequately substantiate this for you (though you may have to look beyond the possibly biased resources provided in your present environment for the full picture, since much modern “science history” [being subservient to the prevailing philosophy] paints only a philosophical naturalist’s picture of even the recent past).
>>Religion exists to give a metaphysical meaning to life, not to explain the natural events... You are dealing with a subjective and objective view. One is taken on faith, the other on observation. How can you possibly combine the two like you are trying?<<
Religion yes, but biblical Christianity no. A religious/philosophical perspective that cannot be objectively substantiated in the natural world is grossly inadequate and should be discarded with the same dispatch as a similarly inadequate “scientific” theory.
>>As I have said before, I do not expect to have any effect on your viewpoint, nor do I expect that you will have any on mine. However, just the possibility of understanding your rationalization for your beliefs would be extremely interesting to me. I simply cannot comprehend your view at this point, but I would like to try.<<
Here we come to the crux of the matter: I can honestly say to you that I have examinedand continue to examinethe claims made on behalf of the evolutionist perspective. I do this with as much objectivity as I am able, not condemning anything out-of-hand, but preferring to study the various claims personally to the best of my ability, and/or research the published support and/or criticisms from qualified practitioners and/or respected authorities in the appropriate disciplines.
Also, having myself once been an atheist (then an agnostic), evolutionist, and naturalist, I can honestly say that I do not subscribe to the bias of my choice because of ignorance concerning the opposing point of view.
Can you honestly say the same things about your examination of the creationist perspective?
More importantly, while you may not comprehend my viewpoint, your expressed willingness to do so is commendable, and is really all that is necessary, providing you are truly willing to work at it. On the other hand, if your position is such that you have already made up your mind that no evidenceno matter how significantwill persuade you to reconsider your position, then we are both wasting precious time with this dialogue. The choice is yours. But it would not be prudent of me to continue much further in our correspondence (much as I would truly like to) if we are not mutally committed to objectivity and fairness in reason, rationality, and judgement.
>>I would like to know of any source of knowledge besides observation. I personally cannot think of a single one.<<
If observation were the only source of knowledge then I would venture to say that you do not know that genes exist, because you have not observed them firsthand; that you do not know the identity your real mother or fatheror (for that matter) anything concerning that which took place preceding the emergence of your own self-awareness, since you observed nothing before that time.
See? The vast majority of what you consider to be “knowledge” is based on your confidence (a.k.a. trust, or faith) in the ability of others to accurately observe and record knowledge, which you have subsequently accepted.
>>Now, as for the absolute truth of this creator: it is entirely irrelevant until it's something observable and useful.<<
Now, it certainly cannot be said to be reasonable to accept the greater part of one’s knowledge based on that which has not been personally observed, and then reject out-of-hand the mere notion of a Creator based on that which has not been personally observed, adding insult to injury by arbitrarily demanding some preconceived subjective “usefulness” of the very Person whose existence one is willing to deny based on the alleged absence of personal observation.
>>You can think of science through your perspective, but it is still a religious view and not a
requirement for science.<<
As I have said, everyone has a religious view, through which everything (including science) is interpreted. And you are correct in saying that science doesn’t require a religious view, but that is not to say that men are capable of divesting themselves of their presuppositions as they approach matters of science.
>>Until God explains things to me personally or publishes a paper...<<
That you do not take seriously even the notion that there is a God is obvious here. You arbitrarily award yourself the right to demand that your Maker communicate with you on your terms only, denying even the plain evidence He has placed before you by your very existence and the incredible complexity and design of the universe in which you find yourselfevidence which, if properly understood, and not denied in the name of naturalistic pseudo-science (i.e., evolutionism), would lead you to seek further communication (on His terms) from Him, which He would then provide.
The words of Christ speak to this: “Seek and you shall find ... If any man is willing to do His will, he will know whether the teaching is of God, or whether I speak from myself ... To him who has shall more be given, but to him who doesn't have, even what he has shall be taken away”
>>Genetic variation within a gene pool is introduced via genetic mutation... You seem to imply
that is something besides evolution.<<
Indeed, I do not imply it, I declare it! There is a significant and unequivocal difference between the variable potential that exists within a gene pool (=genetic variation [e.g., brown, black, blonde hair, brown, blue, green eyes, etc., etc.]) and random, mutational changes (=errors [e.g., cancer, birth defects, sickle cell anemia, etc.]) caused by external effects. While evolutionists love to call genetic variation “micro-evolution” it does not qualify as evolution as defined in the context of “macro-evolution” (which is often erroneously extrapolated from the presumption that genetic variation is “micro-evolution”).
This matter was addressed in some detail in my essay, to which I would refer you for the balance of my position.
Your fascinating, detailed examples of microbe variations and viral mutations does little to substantiate evolutionism, since bacterial variations leading to resistance have not been unequivocally established as mutational, as opposed to due to the inherent genetic potential already present within an organism's gene pool, and you start and end with the same organism in every case. Variation within organism kinds is a fact of life, but it proves nothing concerning the alleged evolution of one organism into another.
>>And then there are computer simulations...<<
Computers and software are both made only by the design of the intelligent agent of man for the purpose intended by man. It is thus ludicrous to suggest that theyor anything they doqualify as evidence that something came into being without the aid and purpose of an intelligent agent.
>>Have you ever heard of genetic algorythmns (GA)?...<<
I'll have to study this argument in greater detail before I can respond to it fairly.
>>As for the fruit flies, try observing them for a few thousand years. Then maybe you'll see some substantial evolution. It's a time frame problem.<<
Now that's a reasonable suggestion ... not! Saying it's a “time frame problem” is simply excusing evolutionism from yet another failure to manifest itself in the observable evidence.
>>How do you explain genetic correlation?...<<
How do you explain the fact that directions for assembling Fords, Chevys, Dodges, and Toyotas all call for many of the same types of components, made of the same kinds of materials, in the same quantities, same or similar colors, with the end in mind that many of the complex system components serve in simlar capacities, yet each is made only in its respective plant, and never in that of a competitor? The answer to both questions (yours and mine) is that designers were involved in both processes, who employed knowledge in designing different complex assemblies, yet with many very similarly functioning components.
>>Or how about mitochondria? ... This is also the basis of the Eve hypothesis. We probably are all descendents of the same woman...<<
Are you now arguing from the evolutionist perspective or the creationist perspective??
>>There are numerous examples of order from complex systems.<<
The existence of order and complexity or “order from complex systems” (it isn't completely clear what you mean by this) is not the issue, but rather the claim made by evolutionists that complexity can arise from chaos.
>>...Let's the brain as an example. It is capable of storing information in its complex system. It is apparently random...<<
On what basis do you assign to the brain the attribute of being “apparently random”?
>>Now how exactly is the interaction of the organic compounds floating about in water any different than the interaction of neurons or even atoms of matter throughout the universe. It might even be statistically more likely for man to evolve ... nor can either really be calculated.<<
You must ignore a significant body of statistical and practical data produced by both evolutionists and non-evolutionists in order to make a statement like this. It sounds good on paper, but holds no water vis-a-vis objective statistical analysis.
>>Something cause organized behaviour to be exhibited in complex systems.<<
Agreed, although I prefer the more reasonable “SomeONE caused...”
>>That could be because ... (ie.organization... might actually be) ...This seems contradictory to our
understanding of thermodynamics...<<
That which one would like to think “could be” and “might actually be”but which truly does indeed contradict the laws of thermodynamics, is most certainly a matter of faith and/or wishful thinking, and not the result of a scientific analysis.
>>...There can be any number of explanations for the cause of this organization, possibly thermodynamics...<<
>>...But that is really irrelevant to this discussion, since either way, it looks very likely that whatever the controling force, evolution was the pathway.<<
And on what basis to you make this statement? Because from the evolutionist viewpoint “evolution is true”? Then where is the science-based evidence in support of such a notion?
>>Evolution has most definitely been demonstrated, and complex systems result in organization all of the time, so the development of highly ordered and organized life forms really isn't that unlikely.<<
These are awfully bold statements to tack on to the end of a message which offers no substantiation whatsoever. I would challenge you to justify such claims, knowing that they otherwise qualify as nothing but dogmatic propogandathe same kind of stuff that prompted me to write my original essay in the first place.
>>You seem to be blurring topics in an effort to create ambiguities and uncertainities where there are none.<<
This has not been my intention at all, and if you will point out the specific places where it seems I have done this, I will make every effort to better articulate my position and clarify any ambiguities or uncertainties that it may seem I have sought to create, for which I offer in advance my respectful and humble apologies.
[Note: Mr. Bradford took up his criticism three months later, in February 1998.]