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Feedback from February 1998
© 2005-2007 T. Wallace. All Rights Reserved.


From: Justin Bradford

(Note: This is a continuation from a dialog which began in November 1997)

Forgive my delay, but I believe this is a worthwhile exchange and deserves more of my time. So here is my response.

(>>Quoted<< segments are Tim Wallace)

>>There is a big difference between these two, without which science becomes simply a relativistic hodge-podge of equivocal opinions that prove nothing. ... though good science demands that we allow our bias to have the least possible influence for the sake of objectivity.<<

Exactly, which is why an attempt at a scientific explanation based solely upon a book of unknown and questionable origin is beyond all possibility. Criticize the bias in evolutionary theory if you like, but don't propose that a theory based upon a religion is superior.

>>It seems to have escaped your notice that everyone has a religious/philosophical view—even 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<<

Not at all. I'm an agnostic simply because I cannot prove nor disprove the existence of a god. I'm interested in understanding things based upon principles that can be demonstrated. Religious/philosophical views do not affect that in any way.

>>The notion that the practice of “science” is a pristine, unbiased, and completely objective thing is thus an unrealistic—albeit pretty—picture foisted on the general public by those who believe man's science is somehow infallible and beyond criticism.<<

No; humans are biased, nonpristine, subjective things. True science is infallible and beyond criticism.

>>The mere accusation by itself is tantamount to mud-slinging, and I neither engage in—nor encouarge—this practice.<<

The unbased dismissal of science as nothing more than an alternative religion, when you should be criticizing the bias of specific individuals, is mud-slinging.

>>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?<<

You do not have a scientific theory. You have a religious belief. Once again, people are subjective, science is not.

>>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.<<

I'm sorry you misunderstood my statement. I still believe your assertions are incorrect, as well as insulting to science, but I should not have attacked you personally because of that.

>>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].)<<

A scientific and philosophical account of man through a history-based understanding of God and his purpose is impossible. Simply, it is not science. You cannot combine the two in any way and preserve objectivity.

>>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...<<

Once again, you are wrong. An understanding of evolution requires no suspension of disbelief. There is objective evidence to support the theory. There are only gospels to support yours. Evolution might be wrong, but it requires proof to change the accepted theory. I do not believe in evolution; I can see numerous objective discoveries which are explained by this theory. I can see no such things resulting from religion, or a history-based study of the life of Jesus and his intent for man.

>>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.<<

No, of course not, but I have not seen any objective evidence to support creationism, while I have seen things to support evolution. A belief that evolution is infallible is no better than the same belief in creationism. I believe that evolution is the best available explanation at present.

>>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.<<

I have read the Bible and numerous writings concerning it, in addition to many other religious and philosophical works. I have never seen anything objective or scientific in any of them. This doesn't mean they're wrong, but it does mean they are subjective and an inadequate base for further modern scientific inquiry. In addition, I would contend that your arguments against the established base of evidence upon which evolutionary theory is based is a standard religious indoctrination-level justification for dismissing science and all it explains, based on absolutely no personal objective, in-depth research whatsoever.

>>You seem to have completely missed (or ignored) my point here—which I suppose is at least consistent of you, considering your previous comments<<

That resembles mud-slinging. Now the only question that remains is whether you encourage it as well?

>>(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 in your readings you missed the repeated conflicts between established religious doctrine and scientific fact throughout history (Galileo and Copernicus come to mind). However, that was the result of a political church attempting to protect it's own theories (which were not based on objective evidence). However, these theories were based upon the Bible initially, so Biblical Christianity has been in conflict with religion. Perhaps you have a new interpretation which is not, but either way, I cannot see how an objective view could be based upon subjective evidence.

>>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.<<

There is no possible way to empirically discredit creationism, as it is not an objective view.

>>On the contrary, in my experience, proper application of the scientific method, and—where that isn’t applicable—objective analysis of the exisiting evidence, only serve to support the historicity of the biblical record and the scientific implications contained therein.<<

Flood stories pre-date the Bible, and the existence of Jesus Christ is entirely possible. However, regardless of whether this did happen, it in no way supports religious views objectively.

>>It is by no means an act of hypocrisy to abandon a theory which contradicts the best established natural laws known to man<<

Such as? Thermodynamics? If you believe so, you are wrong. They are not in conflict.

>>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...<<

We aren't dealing with something very simple here. There are still many ambiguous elements, but there is not any evidence which suggests the theory is completely off base, and no grounds for abandoning it entirely yet. Most theories evolve (Newtonian physics to Einsteinian physics) and it is likely evolution will do the same. All of the conflicts which have arisen are easily accounted with revisions in evolutionary theory.

>>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.<<

The objective historical elements of the Bible should be rationally resolved with any theory, of course. However, Genesis is not objective as there is no evidence to suggest that it is historical.

>>It is the 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.<<

No, but objectivity is, and religion is not.

>>Can you honestly say the same things about your examination of the creationist perspective?<<

Yes, and I know that the truly historical elements of the Bible are not in conflict with evolution, while those that are have no historical basis.

>>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 father—or (for that matter) anything concerning that which took place preceding the emergence of your own self-awareness, since you observed nothing before that time.<<

All of these are demonstrable. If I have doubt of their validity, I am capable of proving that these are true. Can you say the same of Genesis?

>>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.<<

Any knowledge which I doubt and I can confirm. Many scientists have made "discoveries" which could not be duplicated, and were thus dismissed (by the scientific community at large, at least). Furthermore, many scientists have made discoveries which were dismissed inappropriately due to subjectivity, but were later accepted when found that the results could be duplicated (prions for example).

>>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.<<

God cannot be disproven, so I will not attempt to do so. However in an effort to obtain information which can be used for further science or application, we must maintain objectivity. Knowing how genes are inherited is useful in a practical sense, while knowing God is not (although, perhaps useful in the sense that one leads a more meaningful life, or doesn't burn in fiery hell for an eternity).

>>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 yourself—evidence 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.<<

I am making the point that regardless of God's existence or will, it is not helpful in understanding things objectively, and thus not useful practically in application. God's love is entirely useless when trying to devise high-temperature superconductors, for instance.

>>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"<<

A lovely example of why creationism is useless. What exactly is subjective, nonhistorical quote supposed to prove?

>>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) caused by external effects.<<

Here you express your ignorance of genetics. A mutational change is not necessarily an error. It can often cause beneficial changes to an organism. For instance, a mutational change causes the slight modification of a protein in ribosomes (which build proteins in cells) and thus makes it unsusceptible to a specific variety of anitbiotics. Mutation creates genetic diversity, and the ability of those changes to allow an organism to survive and/or thrive in an environment is what leads to change. Over a long period of time this leads to a wide variety of organisms, speciation and eventually biodiversity. All organisms on this planet are very similar cellularly and the variety in complexity is the result of advantages the complexity offered in specific environments.

>>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 they—or anything they do—qualify as evidence that something came into being without the aid and purpose of an intelligent agent.<<

I suggest you read some things concerning chaotic systems. Highly complex (apparently random) states result from simple starting conditions, and from this complex system, highly ordered properties exhibit themselves.

>> >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.<<

In a nutshell, a genetic code describes some action or ability and when placed in various environments the algorythmn changes so that this action or ability is more efficient. This has been demonstrated in things as simple as solving mazes and as complex as finding efficient methods of locomotion (a GA describes some simple way to move, and the GA is selected by its ability to move more quickly).

>>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.<<

And Genesis is more reasonable? Evolution is a slow process. It occurs through small incremental changes which coalesce into large differences. The only way this can be shown is with computer modeling, due to the time frame. However, the models do not imply any intelligent addition to the system, as the model is basic, but complex, and order results from it.

>>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.<<

The "intelligence" in these systems in the result of complexity. Order results from complex, chaotic system. The computer model represents this complex system, which would and has developed on its own with enough time.

>> >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??<<

Evolutionist. This is an example from molecular genetics. We are all very similar, and evolution is very clearly demonstrated through the comparison of these gradual changes in genes. The "Eve Hypothesis" is the result of extreme similarity between all human mitochondrial DNA. The branching between races implies a common source of mitochondrial DNA for all humans. Basically, it says that we are all the descendants of a small group of woman, and our subsequent evolution is clear when viewing the patterns of branching resulting from mutations in this mitochondrial DNA. It mutates less frequently than normal cellular DNA, and is thus better for seeing the relatively short-term changes in humans. This is similar to how normal DNA shows the branching between species, indicating that all life probably came from only a few initial cells.

>> >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.<<

Chaos is inherent in complex systems and from this order arises. It is not a claim; it is demonstrable. Chaotic systems have inherent order. Examples include snowflakes, organic compounds from primordial soup, society, consciousness, etc.

>> >...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"?<<

From our ability to observe the reactions occuring in the brain, most of its action is "apparently random". My argument is that it is not, but simply it is too complex for us to currently follow. Information storage is likely a quantum effect deep within molecules interacting within a neuron within the neural network that is the brain. We can't predict what it will do given a specific stimulation, currently, and that is what I would call "apparently random". This is a perfect example of order from complexity. My thoughts are ordered, yet the system that generated them is extremely complex, and far beyond our ability to understand at the moment.

>> >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.<<

How so? We are in no position to estimate the likeliness of the interactions leading to our existence. Perhaps it is unlikely that is should have occurred, but as long as there is the possibility, it cannot be denied on the statistical improbability. In the proper conditions, life might be a very common occurence.

>> >Something cause organized behaviour to be exhibited in complex systems.< Agreed, although I prefer the more reasonable "SomeONE caused..."<<

Ah, now that is objective. If it is something that causes it, then science will eventually discover what it is. Fundamentally, it is probably all the result of strings imparting quantum behavior. It is absurd to assume that a being must have caused everything. What caused the being? For all I know, God may be the collective consciousness of the Universe, but regardless, it isn't knowable, and not useful scientifically. The question is not whether there is a God, but how did things happen in the realm we can understand and utilize.

>> >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.<<

No, once again you misconstrue or ignore scientific evidence to the contrary. The idea of order from complexity seems contradictory to the laws of thermodynamics, but it does occur. Therefore, it must not be.

>> >...There can be any number of explanations for the cause of this organization, possibly thermodynamics...< Exactly how?<<

Perhaps an ordered state is lower energy than a complex system, which is not disordered by any means. What we consider to be highly ordered may be less ordered than the complex system it originates. However, it happens, so there must be an explanation. Where we differ is that I believe we can eventually find a scientific explanation, while you insist that God causes this.

>> >...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?<<

There is evidence to support evolution in an observable timescale. There is evidence to indicate all life on this planet developed from a single origin. There are mechanisms to explain how this occured. There are currently no other objective and scientific theories which account for this evidence. What do you mean what evidence?

>> >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 propaganda—the same kind of stuff that prompted me to write my original essay in the first place.<<

I have qualified these statements, as have many others. There is evidence to support these statements. You are unwilling to acknowledge this evidence.

>> 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.<<

You take all of the evidence available and distort it, whether out of ignorance or intent, I do not know. You do this on every topic. You claim adaptation in organisms is due to elements existing within a gene pool, but the diversity of the gene pool is the result of mutational change. You claim thermodynamics prevents the order we represent, but the presence of the sun as well as the complexity from which we arose account for that.

Now rather than simply defend evolution, I must ask how you can possibly consider the historical study of the bible as an objective alternative? A literal interpretation of the bible's events is easily contradicted by simple scientific observation, and a metaphorical interpretation is obviously not objective. How can that be the basis of an objective study?

Justin Bradford

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Response from Timothy Wallace:

Hello Justin,

Glad to hear from you again. And again, my response...

>>Exactly, which is why an attempt at a scientific explanation based solely upon a book of unknown and questionable origin is beyond all possibility. Criticize the bias in evolutionary theory if you like, but don't propose that a theory based upon a religion is superior.<<

I must assume that you refer to the Bible. Now I must ask:

1) What steps have you taken to determine that the origin of this book is both of unknown and questionable origin?

2) Which portion of my essay (please cite the text) which finds its basis in this book?

>>Not at all. I'm an agnostic simply because I cannot prove nor disprove the existence of a god. I'm interested in understanding things based upon principles that can be demonstrated. Religious/philosophical views do not affect that in any way.<<

How do you know that you cannot prove or disprove the existence of a god? What measures have you taken to determine this? What criteria qualify as proof (or even evidence) in one direction or the other?

>>No; humans are biased, nonpristine, subjective things. True science is infallible and beyond criticism.<<

Those are some pretty big words! You treat science as if it were an entity all its own - even something of a perfect "god" - yet science is the product of human endeavor, is it not? How do you so boldly arrive at a science that is "infallible and beyond criticism" when it comes from the hands and minds of "biased, nonpristine, subjective" humans?

>>The unbased dismissal of science as nothing more than an alternative religion, when you should be criticizing the bias of specific individuals, is mud-slinging.<<

I can only assume that with these words you mean to accuse me of "dismissing science as nothing more than an alternative religion." You'll have to cite that portion of my text which you interpret as such before I'll be willing to address such an accusation. I have neither a need nor a desire to "dismiss" genuine science; it is a valuable and noble aspect of human activity, and I have said as much already in previous posts.

>>You do not have a scientific theory...<<

I don't? How (and by what right and criteria) do you dismiss scientific creationism as a scientific theory?

...And you DO? How (and by what right and criteria) do you qualify evolutionism as a scientific theory?

>>...You have a religious belief.<<

And you DON'T? It is a matter of human nature that EVERYONE has his religious beliefs - even an atheist. You say yourself that people are biased and subjective (see above). So how have you come to be convinced that your own bias and your own subjectivity (let alone your RELIGIOUS bias and subjectivity) in no way affect your perception of the empirical data of science?

The Origins Issue is outside of Science. It is Not Science versus Faith, but faith in man versus faith in God. IF one wants to believe in evolution, one is free to do so, but it is misleading others to represent one's Faith as Science and discount all other faiths.

In any case, Science cannot give us true knowledge. Science knowledge is always tentative, never arriving at the truth, always superceded by newer experiences. The only way to know real Truth is from someone who is perfect and knows everything perfectly, and that is God.

The entire issue (as you have perhaps unwittingly demonstrated) is Religious and Not Science versus Religion. Evolution is an attempt to explain the origin of the universe without resorting to God.

>>I'm sorry you misunderstood my statement. I still believe your assertions are incorrect, as well as insulting to science, but I should not have attacked you personally because of that.<<

Thanks for clarifying that. (And there's that deity - "Science" - again, whom I have apparently insulted?)

>>A scientific and philosophical account of man through a history-based understanding of God and his purpose is impossible.<<

In what class did you learn this profundity? The truth is not something that can be compartmentalized or locked up in the "history" cabinet, and thus kept entirely out of the "science" and "philosophy" cabinets. If there is ANY truth, it will prove true in EVERY field of knowledge and understanding which it touches.

>>You cannot combine the two in any way and preserve objectivity.<<

You'll have to explain that one.

>>Once again, you are wrong. An understanding of evolution requires no suspension of disbelief. There is objective evidence to support the theory...<<

Such as...?? I invite you (again) to take this discussion to a place of genuine meaning in terms of science by citing the "evidence" which you believe to be unequivocally in support of evolutionism.

>>There are only gospels to support yours.<<

My what? My theory? Well, if that's what you really believe (and I do mean "believe"), then you betray a shameful ignorance of the literature of creation science. No wonder you don't believe I have a "scientific" theory. You can't possibly expect me to believe that you have objectively examined this issue after you claim the only thing creation science has going for it are "gospels."

I think it is only fair to ask at this point what exactly it is that you have done to make sure that your belief in evolutionism is right, and that my belief in creationism is wrong?

>>Evolution might be wrong, but it requires proof to change the accepted theory...<<

I reiterate my request that you first offer unequivocal evidence that it is right. You have no business demanding that I prove a theory wrong unless and until you can produce some compelling, unequivocal evidence that you have something worth disproving.

>>I do not believe in evolution; I can see numerous objective discoveries which are explained by this theory...<<

You can repeat these claims as often as you like, but my response will be the same: Kindly iterate these discoveries, and kindly demonstrate how their evolutionistic explanations are unequivocal.

>>I can see no such things resulting from religion, or a history-based study of the life of Jesus and his intent for man.<<

Again you flaunt your ignorance. My essay doesn't rely on ANY "study of the life of Jesus" nor ANY direct reference to the Bible in particular nor religion in general. You seem to have read someone else's essay.

>>No, of course not, but I have not seen any objective evidence to support creationism...<<

Where have you looked?

>>I have seen things to support evolution...<<

(Again) They are...?

>>I believe that evolution is the best available explanation at present.<<

And this is based on what personal research? What evidence?

>>I have read the Bible and numerous writings concerning it, in addition to many other religious and philosophical works. I have never seen anything objective or scientific in any of them. This doesn't mean they're wrong, but it does mean they are subjective and an inadequate base for further modern scientific inquiry.<<

Your logical fallacies are showing:

You assume that because you've never seen anything objective or scientific in the Bible, therefore the Bible contains nothing objective or scientific. That's faulty logic, friend.

You assume that because you've never seen anything objective or scientific in the Bible, therefore it is subjective and inadequate for scientific inquiry. That's more faulty logic, friend.

You haven't exactly qualified yourself as one who should be expected to discern objective or scientific matters in the first place, so you can scarcely claim the right to determine - objectively - what qualifies as objective, subjective, scientific, or adequate for modern scientific inquiry.

>>In addition, I would contend that your arguments against the established base of evidence upon which evolutionary theory is based is a standard religious indoctrination-level justification for dismissing science and all it explains, based on absolutely no personal objective, in-depth research whatsoever.<<

Once again, I challenge you to demonstrate where and how I have sought to "dismiss science."

Once again, I challenge you to produce even a PORTION of the "established base of evidence" that you are convinced is unequivocal and compelling.

And on exactly what basis do you make the arrogant claim that I have done "absolutely no personal objective, in-depth research whatsoever"??

>>That resembles mud-slinging. Now the only question that remains is whether you encourage it as well?<<

Mud-slinging is: "you are more than brainwashed; you are delusional. Have fun in your little world of denial and ignorance ... polluting young minds with drivel like you have written...insane ramblings..."

A comment that you "missed" my point—again—doesn't exactly "resemble" quite the same thing, now, does it?

>>Perhaps in your readings you missed the repeated conflicts between established religious doctrine and scientific fact throughout history (Galileo and Copernicus come to mind). However, that was the result of a political church attempting to protect it's own theories (which were not based on objective evidence). However, these theories were based upon the Bible initially, so Biblical Christianity has been in conflict with religion. Perhaps you have a new interpretation which is not, but either way, I cannot see how an objective view could be based upon subjective evidence.<<

If you said all that in order to make an actual point, then you'll have to clarify it for me before I can respond. (Of course I am aware of historical conflicts, and of course I am aware that the Church was involved in conflicts, and of course I am aware that at various times various people have used the Bible to "support" their beliefs - even scientific beliefs... ...And? )

>>There is no possible way to empirically discredit creationism, as it is not an objective view.<<

Huh? Perhaps you can explain your logic...

>>Flood stories pre-date the Bible...<<

Oh? Please explain.

>>...and the existence of Jesus Christ is entirely possible.<<

How kind of you.

>>However, regardless of whether this did happen, it in no way supports religious views objectively.<<

Again, you'll have to do better than that.

>>Such as? Thermodynamics? If you believe so, you are wrong. They [evolutionism and thermodynamics] are not in conflict.<<

Again, please explain.

>>We aren't dealing with something very simple here. There are still many ambiguous elements, but there is not any evidence which suggests the theory is completely off base...<<

No? Well then there should be no problem citing the evidence which suggests the theory is ON base, should there? Please do so.

>>...Most theories evolve (Newtonian physics to Einsteinian physics) and it is likely evolution will do the same...<<

Evolutionism has indeed already evolved considerably, or it never would have survived as long as it has.

>>All of the conflicts which have arisen are easily accounted with revisions in evolutionary theory.<<

Yes indeed, like billion-year "corrections" to previously "established" time scales, like circular reasoning as a survival mechanism for the tottering trio: evolutionist geology, evolutionist paleontology, and radiometric dating...

>>The objective historical elements of the Bible should be rationally resolved with any theory, of course. However, Genesis is not objective as there is no evidence to suggest that it is historical.<<

No? When is the last time you cracked open an archeology book? There has been a steady INCREASE over the years, and today there is more evidence than ever before suggesting the historicity of the Genesis record. Your claim is entirely unfounded and based on ignorance. (I will be happy to point you towards several URLs and/or publications documenting the historicity of the Genesis record upon request.)

>>No, but objectivity is [a requisite attribute of science], and religion is not [a requisite attribute of science].<<

Objectivity is certainly desirable, but (again) in your own words: "humans are biased, nonpristine, subjective things" ...so there's no guarantee of objectivity, no matter what your beliefs are.

And (again) we ALL have our religious beliefs, and (again) there's no guarantee that "biased, nonpristine, subjective" people can divest themselves 100% of those beliefs as they approach the empirical data produced by science.

>>Yes [I can honestly say that I have conducted my examination of the creationist perspective with as much objectivity as I am able...studying the various claims personally to the best of my ability, and/or researching the published support and/or criticisms from qualified practitioners and/or respected authorities in the appropriate disciplines, and I do not subscribe to the bias of my choice because of ignorance concerning the opposing point of view]...<<

The balance of your comments make this "honest" claim extremely difficult to swallow, as you have yet to go beyond generalities and ideological patter to address the particulars of a scientific discipline, apparently prefering to make sweeping generalizations and indefensible claims.

>>...and I know that the truly historical elements of the Bible are not in conflict with evolution, while those that are have no historical basis.<<

I see. And how have you come to "know" which elements of the Bible are "truly historical" and which ones are not?

>>All of these are demonstrable. If I have doubt of their validity, I am capable of proving that these are true. Can you say the same of Genesis?<<

You're ignoring my point again: You trust that these "facts" are "true" WITHOUT having firsthand experiential knowledge of them. I was responding to your pretense that observation were the only source of knowledge.

There is obviously plenty of evidence indicating to your satisfaction that the things I suggested are "true facts" without your having made the necessary observations to confirm them personally. You accept them as "knowledge" without having observed them, based on the evidence.

Likewise, the historical, literary, archeological, and other evidence supporting the historicity and scientific validity of the Genesis record has steadily GROWN over the years (and continues to do so), while evidence allegedly disputing that record has dwindled. Without directly observing the events cited in that record, one is faced today with an ever greater basis for accepting the record as reliable and true.

>>Any knowledge which I doubt and I can confirm.<<

Please demonstrate. You say, "I know that the truly historical elements of the Bible are not in conflict with evolution, while those that are have no historical basis." Kindly show how you propose to "confirm" this knowledge.

>>...Knowing how genes are inherited is useful in a practical sense, while knowing God is not...<<

Is this another statement of "knowledge" which you are able to confirm? Unless you can claim to have known God personally, your statement is (yet another) logical fallacy, for you use the absence of a specific personal relationship as a basis for dismissing such a relationship as useless.

>>I am making the point that regardless of God's existence or will, it is not helpful in understanding things objectively, and thus not useful practically in application. God's love is entirely useless when trying to devise high-temperature superconductors, for instance.<<

Again, you are arguing from ignorance, claiming that because you don't know personally of God's existence and will, therefore such knowledge is not useful.

[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"]

>>A lovely example of why creationism is useless. What exactly is subjective, nonhistorical quote supposed to prove?<<

This has nothing to do with creationism; it has to do with the Living God's promise that if you really want to know Him personally, He will know it and He will reveal Himself to you; that if you want to know what the truth about His will is, you must be willing to do it.

You can call this stuff "useless" all you want, but it is an empty assertion as long as you have made no personal effort to investigate it.

>>Here you express your ignorance of genetics. A mutational change is not necessarily an error. It can often cause beneficial changes to an organism. For instance, a mutational change causes the slight modification of a protein in ribosomes (which build proteins in cells) and thus makes it unsusceptible to a specific variety of anitbiotics...<<

... but only at the expense of information loss (an ERROR), which weakens the mutant variety as a whole. The only reason it thrives is because it's all that's left after the normal organism has been killed off by the specific antibiotic. But don't just take my word for it:

Francisco Ayala, "The Mechanisms of Evolution," Scientific American, vo. 239 (Sept.1978), pp. 56-69: "A mutation can be considered an ERROR in the replication of DNA prior to its translation into protein." (emphasis added)

Theodosius Dobzhansky, "On the Methods of Evolutionary Biology," American Scientist, vol. 45 (Dec. 1957), pp. 381-392: "On the contrary, the mutants which arise are, with rare exceptions, DELETERIOUS to their carriers... Therefore the mutation process alone, not CORRECTED and guided [sic] by natural selection, would result in DEGENERATION and EXTINCTION." (emphasis added)

Christopher Wills, "Genetic Load," Scientific American, vol. 222 (Mar. 1970), pp. 98-107: "...Any increase in the mutational load is harmful, if not immediately, then certainly to future generations."

>>Mutation creates genetic diversity, and the ability of those changes to allow an organism to survive and/or thrive in an environment is what leads to change.<<

While genetic mutations can contribute to genetic diversity, they are NOT the main source of that diversity - it is contained within the genetic material itself, not caused by mutations. But don't just take my word for it:

Francisco Ayala, "The Mechanisms of Evolution," Scientific American, vo. 239 (Sept.1978), pp. 56-69: "It therefore seems clear that, contraray to Darwin's conception, MOST of the genetic variation in populations arises NOT FROM NEW MUTATIONS... Indeed RECOMBINATION ALONE is sufficient to enable a population to expose its hidden variation for many generations without the need for new genetic input." (emphasis added)

Motoo Kimura, "Population Genetics and Molecular Evolution," Johns Hopkins Medical Journal, vol. 138 (Jun. 1976), pp. 253-261: "...Examples showing that negative selection is at work to eliminate variants produced by mutation abound. ...Elimination of deviants to keep the status quo...is the most common type of natural selection..."

Ernst Mayr, Populations, Species and Evolution (Canbridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), pp. 8-9: "RECOMBINATION is by far the MOST IMPORTANT source of genetic variation, that is, of material for natural selection." (emphasis added)

>>Over a long period of time this leads to a wide variety of organisms, speciation...<<

This is mere conjecture. You are spouting extrapolated evolutionist theory here, not observed facts of genetic science.

>>I suggest you read some things concerning chaotic systems. Highly complex (apparently random) states result from simple starting conditions, and from this complex system, highly ordered properties exhibit themselves.<<

Will do. Meanwhile, please see the January 1998 Feedback page of my site for a discussion on GAs.

>>And Genesis is more reasonable?...<<

Genesis at least has plenty of corroborating evidence.

>>Evolution is a slow process....<<

That depends very much on which evolutionist is talking, now doesn't it? (Read any Stephen Jay Gould lately?)

>>The only way this can be shown is with computer modeling, due to the time frame. However, the models do not imply any intelligent addition to the system, as the model is basic, but complex, and order results from it.<<

Sorry, but there's no way a "computer model" will pass for a completely random process. Not gonna happen. If this is the "only way" to validate the notion of biological evolution, then it can't be done by an entirely natural, random, unguided process - and so it is not what it is claimed to be.

>>The computer model represents this complex system, which would and has developed on its own with enough time.<<

There ISN'T "enough time" - even in the currently suggested scenario. But don't just take my word for it:

Louis Lafont, review of "Chance and Caertainty: Evolution in the Light of Modern Biology" by Georges Salet, "Permanences," no. 94 (Nov. 1972): "In other words, for a given event, there is a probability-limit, below which one may be certain that this event will NEVER occur within a fixed time limit ... the geological eras in question would have to be milliards of times longer than even the most generous estimates make them...for the 'mutation-selection' mechanism to have produced even a single new organ."

Hubert Yockey, "Self-Organization of Life Scenarios and Information Theory," Journal of Theoretical Biology, vo. 91 (1981), pp. 13-31: "...The information content of amino acids sequences cannot increase until a genetic code with an adaptor function has appeared. Nothing which even vaguely resembles a code exists in the physico-chemical world. One must conclude that no valid scientific explanation of the origin of life exists at present."

Fritjof Capra, "The Web of Life" (New York: Anchor Books, 1996), p.228: "It has been estimated that those chance errors occur at a rate of about one per several hundred million cells in each generation. This frequency does not seem sufficient to explain the evolution of the great diversity of life forms, given the well-known fact that most mutations are harmiful and only very few result in variations."

>>Evolutionist. This is an example from molecular genetics. We are all very similar, and evolution is very clearly demonstrated through the comparison of these gradual changes in genes. The "Eve Hypothesis" is the result of extreme similarity between all human mitochondrial DNA. The branching between races implies a common source of mitochondrial DNA for all humans. Basically, it says that we are all the descendants of a small group of woman...<<

Basically, it says that we are all descended from ONE woman (no conflict between empirical science and Genesis here!).

>>...and our subsequent evolution...<<

Now you're switching back to speculative conjecture again. The genetic data says nothing about evolution - it has to be assumed and piggy-backed onto the facts.

>>...DNA shows the branching between species, indicating that all life probably came from only a few initial cells.<<

Again, pure speculation. Those who advance the various "branching" theories have based their ideas on evolutionist presuppositions in the first place, so the whole concept is "proven" via circular reasoning. Besides this they don't all agree with each other (and the concept itself is far from unanimously accepted by the scientific community at large). If their theories were based solely on genetic data alone, there shouldn't be any error or speculation involved, but there IS diagreement among them, because each proponent is using a different biological attribute as a basis for his respective scenario.

>>Chaos is inherent in complex systems and from this order arises. It is not a claim; it is demonstrable. Chaotic systems have inherent order. Examples include snowflakes, organic compounds from primordial soup, society, consciousness, etc.<<

Concerning snowflakes, please re-read the thermodynamics section of my essay (or the one on thermodynamics). As for your claim in general that "chaos is inherent in complex systems and from this order arises," you'll have to do much more than say so to make a convincing argument. "Organic compounds from primordeal soup" is nothing more than a speculative scenario - a matter both unknown and unknowable. As for your allusion to Social Darwinism, I should remind you that this is where Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union had their roots (e.g., Hitler relied heavily on Darwinian termonology in "Mein Kampf" and Marx offered to dedicate "Das Kapital" to Darwin, but was declined), the ugly, inevitable consequences of unbridled practice of Social Darwinism being the outcome of these.

...and consciousness is a demonstrable example of "chaos inherent in complex systems" and "chaotic systems having inherent order"??? Do tell!

>>From our ability to observe the reactions occuring in the brain, most of its action is "apparently random". My argument is that it is not...<<

You haven't demonstrated or explained this so-called "apparent randomness" of brain activity - in fact you now jump ahead of yourself to argue that it "is not" random. Please explain.

>>...We can't predict what it will do... This is a perfect example of order from complexity.<<

Again, you are arguing from ignorance: "Because we don't know, can't predict, it must be random." Then you jump (again) from a logical fallacy to a completely unconnected conclusion - "order from complexity" ...you certainly sound convinced yourself, but you seem to have left logic (and me) far behind.

>>Perhaps it is unlikely that is should have occurred, but as long as there is the possibility, it cannot be denied on the statistical improbability. In the proper conditions, life might be a very common occurence.<<

You're reaching. This is no evidence; it's wishful thinking.

>>It is absurd to assume that a being must have caused everything.<<

ONLY if you start with the presupposition of atheism - and in which case you have fallen victim to another case of circular reasoning.

>>What caused the being?<<

Another atheist question. God, by definition, is the First Cause, and nothing exists beyond Him. To presume to have such comprehensive understanding and exhaustive knowledge as to so question the existence or character of God is an act of immeasurable pride and arrogance.

>>For all I know, God may be the collective consciousness of the Universe, but regardless, it isn't knowable...<<

It's not? How do you "know" that it isn't knowable? (Is this still more of that "knowledge" that you are able to "confirm" at will?)

>>The question is not whether there is a God, but how did things happen in the realm we can understand and utilize.<<

That depends on who is asking, and whether he is interested in the truth, or just wants to substantiate his beliefs with a collection of "God-free" data that helps him explain as much as possible without facing the thought that he is a created being and not just an autonomous, amoral, random "accident."

>>No, once again you misconstrue or ignore scientific evidence to the contrary. The idea of order from complexity seems contradictory to the laws of thermodynamics, but it does occur. Therefore, it must not be.<<

Another logical fallacy (I'm really getting tired of these!): You presume evolution to be true; you acknowledge that it contradicts thermodynamics; you award yourself the freedom to say the facts "must not be" facts, based solely on your initial presumption.

>>Perhaps an ordered state is lower energy than a complex system, which is not disordered by any means. What we consider to be highly ordered may be less ordered than the complex system it originates. However, it happens, so there must be an explanation...<<

Again you have said nothing. You're reaching for a "perhaps," a "may be," a "there must be an explanation..." But there isn't one.

>>There is evidence to support evolution in an observable timescale.<<

Please cite and describe this "evidence".

>>There is evidence to indicate all life on this planet developed from a single origin. There are mechanisms to explain how this occured.<<

Please cite and describe this "evidence" and (especially) these "mechanisms".

>>There are currently no other objective and scientific theories which account for this evidence.<<

Yes there is. The data fits the creation model as well as - nay, better than - the evolution model. This is why I invite you to talk about the data, and not just the general theoretical nonsense. You've tried genetics; how about the fossil record, geology in general, radiometric dating, or pick one yourself. If you have studied the creation model as thoroughly and objectively as you claim to have done, perhaps you'd prefer to cite a few cases in which the data simply contradicts that model. That would be really saying something.

>>What do you mean what evidence?<<

Exactly what I said. You can say "evidence" all day, but you have yet to cite anything compelling or unequivocal.

>>I have qualified these statements, as have many others. There is evidence to support these statements. You are unwilling to acknowledge this evidence.<<

There you go again. I will happily acknowledge your evidence if you will just start describing the evidence itself in detail, instead of promising that it's "out there" somewhere.

>>You take all of the evidence available and distort it, whether out of ignorance or intent, I do not know. You do this on every topic...<<

These are bold accusations, which you have not substantiated. I suggest you begin citing, explaining and correcting my "distortions" - or withdraw your (otherwise bogus) claim.

>>You claim adaptation in organisms is due to elements existing within a gene pool, but the diversity of the gene pool is the result of mutational change...<<

You have asserted this fallacy more than once. I have shown both above and in my original essay that evolutionist authorities don't seem to share your dogmatic beliefs, and I have offered detailed explanations as to why. Your persistence in parroting your belief as if doing so negates what I have presented is a poor reflection on your alleged objectivity and a betrayal of an apparently limited knowledge of the subject. If you won't go to the trouble to cite corroborating documentation and/or offer a more detailed explanation as to why your assertion is a true and thorough refutation of my position, then kindly refrain from further repetitions, for they alone are not convincing.

>>You claim thermodynamics prevents the order we represent, but the presence of the sun as well as the complexity from which we arose account for that.<<

Please document this claim - or withdraw it. (And again, please see my paragraph immediately above.)

>>Now rather than simply defend evolution...<<

So soon you've abandoned a defense??? If the evidence is so abundant and obvious, you should have no trouble citing item after item of unequivocal, compelling evidence to which I should have no answer or alternative creationist explanation. Why do you decline so soon to deal with the facts??

>>...I must ask how you can possibly consider the historical study of the bible as an objective alternative?<<

Alternative to what?

>>A literal interpretation of the bible's events is easily contradicted by simple scientific observation...<<

Please begin.

>>...and a metaphorical interpretation is obviously not objective. How can that be the basis of an objective study?<<

I don't advocate a "metaphorical interpretation" - you'll have to ask someone who does, if you want an answer to your question.

I must caution you: I have no problem maintaining a friendly dialog based on honesty, logic, reason, and a genuine willingness to examine one another's viewpoints as objectively as possible. However, I will not long entertain endless strings of arguments based on logical fallacies, unfounded accusations, and sweeping generalizations. Telling me how wrong I am is meaningless unless you are willing to demonstrate the validity of your claim without resorting to circular reasoning and faulty logic. Bold, baseless, one-sentence dismissals are inadequate, inappropriate, and arrogant.

If you would truly like to continue this dialog, I suggest that you dispense with these smokescreens and start dealing directly with the evidence you seem to think is so abundant. My "Five Misconceptions" essay deals accurately with the empirical facts of science in the areas which it discusses. The "Thermodynamics" essay takes that topic even further. It is a waste of my time for you to repeat the same fallacies which I have already addressed in those essays. You could make further dialog worthwhile by introducing some relevant data that either proves me wrong, proves evolutionism right, or both. Otherwise, you'll do us both a favor by concentrating on your schoolwork.

Kind Regards,
TW

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From Richard P. Poletti:

I think I would find you more credible if you did thinngs a little differently.

I think stealing the masthead from Talk.Origins Archive masthead seriously discredits you. No matter what else you do, pretending to be something you are not, or fooling the unsuspecting sharly reduces the believability of EVERYTHING you say.

Richard Poletti


Response from Timothy Wallace:

Your point is well taken.

Please understand that the intention was by no means to “pretend to be something” or to “fool the unsuspecting.”  Rather, the Talk.Origins masthead was deliberately mimicked [and the name “True.Origin” employed] to emphasize the site’s focus on rebutting Talk.Origins FAQs.

Yours is the first response either expressing such a negative impression and suggesting deceptive tactics.  (Others have recognized and acknowledged the humorous intent.)  Nevertheless, your criticism deserves respect, as it likely represents the perceptions of more than just yourself, so I intend to poll a few other feedback respondents.

It is not my desire to continue using the present masthead if it is indeed appearing pretentious or deceptive.  Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts in connection with this.

Kind Regards,
TW

[Note:  Several opinions were sought, from both supportive and antagonistic sources, and none verbalized agreement that the present masthead appears deliberately deceptive.  For the time being, it was decided that the present masthead would remain as it is, with all due respect to the viewpoint of Mr. Poletti.]


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