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


From: George Haley

“...and today there is more evidence than ever before suggesting the historicity of the Genesis record.”

I am extremely curious as to how you arrive at this claim. To begin with, Genesis is not compatible with itself, as Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 present contradictory creation myths. In Genesis 1 the order of creation is presented as the Earth covered with water, light, the sky, dry land, all types of plants, the stars, moon and sun (and please be especially careful to provide evidence that the existance of plants predates that of the sun), winged creatures, swimming creatures, and all forms of land animals. God then creates man and woman. However, this differs from the order of creation presented in Genesis 2; in those verses, God creates man, then plants, then animals, then woman. So uh...mind explaining that one?

“However, if His Word is reliable (and I have no doubt that it is), then the historicity and truthfulness of His Word - including the Genesis record - will never be proven false by any genuine science.”

Hmmm. Not only is the age of the Earth incompatible with any biblical account, as corroborated by independant observations from geology, astronomy, biology, measurements of tree rings and ice core samples, (not to mention the amount of dust on the moon) Genesis 2 contradicts Genesis 1. Also, as Genesis 1 has the plants of the Earth created before the sun, this is quite incompatible with rational science. Now, if you would like to fall back on the old Literal CHristian trick of “God changed the rules,” fine, but be aware that such shoddy tricks have no role in true science.


Response from Timothy Wallace:

>>To begin with, Genesis is not compatible with itself, as Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 present contradictory creation myths.<<

I will not presume that you understand (and so will simply point out here) that we are plainly at wide variance on this claim—particularly with regard to the “myth” label which you wish to attach to the Genesis record.

>>In Genesis 1 the order of creation is presented as... ...However, this differs from the order of creation presented in Genesis 2... So uh...mind explaining that one?<<

Not at all. It is, after all, an excellent question concerning an often misunderstood topic.

To my knowledge, the only “scholars” who treat Genesis 1 and 2 as separate and contradictory “myth” accounts (as you have described them) are those who subscribe to the liberal redaction criticism philosophy. As such, already they are ostensibly unbelieving skeptics who have no desire to see such an apparent “contradiction” resolved, but rather—like yourself—they succeed in achieving exactly what they set out to do, far more for their own intellectual satisfaction and “freedom” from conscience than out of any regard for the straightforward, traditional, orthodox, and historical views of both Hebrew and Christian scholars.

There are indeed two individual accounts presented in Genesis 1 and 2. However, when understood in their respective contexts, rather than being contradictory, they are actually complementary. The first narrative runs from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4 (or 4a), and consists of the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. The second narrative runs from Genesis 2:4b (or 5) to Genesis 5:1a, and consists of the account of Adam’s history.

[Be aware that chapter and verse numbers were not attached to the Scriptures in their original form, but were added rather recently in history, mainly as a reference aid. This is not the only place where chapter and verse divisions do not necessarily coincide with the actual divisions between individual portions.]

The first account is clearly presented in such a form as to be unmistakably understood as the sequence of events in the creation week (indicated by numbered days, beginning and ending with morning and evening, light and darkness, and the events which took place each day).

The second account relates the details from the lifetime of Adam that God chose to preserve in documented form. This account does not seek to address the entire specific “order of creation” as you seem eager to claim, but simply relates the events which surround the creation and vocation of the first man, which serve as fundamental elements in the history of God’s creation and man’s relationship to Him. Any attempt to force this second narrative into an “order of creation” role not only contradicts the already very clearly presented details in the first account, but also completely ignores the context of both accounts.

>>Not only is the age of the Earth incompatible with any biblical account, as corroborated by independant observations from geology, astronomy, biology, measurements of tree rings and ice core samples, (not to mention the amount of dust on the moon)...<<

I invite you to cite the unequivocal empirical data from any or all the disciplines of geology, astronomy, biology, and from the phenomena of tree rings, ice core samples, and moon dust, which all consistently corroborate the allegedly unbiblical age of the earth, so that we may discuss it in detail. To make the above claim is otherwise empty rhetoric, and I earnestly suggest to you that a more than superficial study of the empirical data connected with these disciplines and phenomena lends far less support to your claim than you seem to think it does.

>>...Genesis 2 contradicts Genesis 1.<<

I have dealt with this claim already.

>>Also, as Genesis 1 has the plants of the Earth created before the sun, this is quite incompatible with rational science.<<

Only if by “rational science” you mean naturalistic, mechanistic, and—yes—atheistic science. You will not find a single classical definition of science that demands a foundation or interpretive framework of naturalistic philosophy. The rise and domination of naturalistic philosophy over the scientific disciplines has only taken place within the past century and a half, and it’s modern popularity is by no means ipso facto an indication of philosophical superiority or, for that matter, truth.

The first plants of the earth seem very much indeed to have been created before the sun, as you have observed. However, they were not created before there was light. I find it strangely ironic that so many folks are eager to believe our solar system isn’t the only one inhabited by life, yet unwilling to consider that plants could survive with light from any source other than the sun. To dismiss one possibility from the realm of “rational science” is to dismiss them both.

>>Now, if you would like to fall back on the old Literal CHristian trick of “God changed the rules,” fine, but be aware that such shoddy tricks have no role in true science.<<

I am pleased to say I am not familiar with the “Christian trick” to which you allude, and I assure you that I have neither the desire, nor the need, to resort to such a tactic—but thank you for the offer.

Kind Regards,
TW

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From John Gunn:

[Note: This is a continuation of a dialogue from the previous month’s (June’s) feedback.]

>>I would ask you to explain this, as the perception you describe seems far from reality: I harbor no personal resentment—and particularly no hatred—towards science or scientists, and so your statement surprises me very much. Could you perhaps cite the specific passages which have given you an impression of resentment and hatred on my part towards science and scientists?<<

Well, maybe hatred isn’t quite the right word. Contempt and derision is probably better. On your web page you describe me as “vocally and energetically deny[ing] the truth” and as a “hard-core propagandist remain[ing] tenaciously in denial”, which you describe as “neither scientific nor honest”. You describe the claim that thermodynamics applies equally to living and non-living systems as “nothing but poor treatment of the subject matter, [which] can logically be attributed only to either indefensible ignorance or a willful misrepresentation of the facts”. How were you expecting me to react to that? It is very clear in the language you use that anyone with a scientific background will be perceived as the enemy.

>>Again, I am puzzled as to how you have arrived at this conclusion. I carefully define science and the scientific method multiple times in my pages, and since I do not personally perceive science to be “some sort of faceless bureaucracy,” and have not deliberately endeavored to describe science as such, I can only wonder how you can make the above assertion. And again, it might be of help if you were to cite the specific passages which have given you this impression.<<

You say,

“A major reason why evolutionist arguments can sound so persuasive is because they often combine assertive dogma with intimidating, dismissive ridicule towards anyone who dares to disagree with them. Evolutionists wrongly believe that their views are validated by persuasive presentations invoking scientific terminology and allusions to a presumed monopoly of scientific knowledge and understanding on their part.”
Who are you refering to as holding this “presumed monopoly”? Do you consider “evolutionists” to be some sort of group other than just individual scientists? If a scientist is just someone who understands science, then I guess that is a monopoly. Did you mean something else?

In response to Mark Isaak, you say,

“Isaak says, “...the theory of evolution still has essentially unanimous agreement from the people who work on it.” There is also “unanimous agreement” among that remnant of stalwart believers in a flat earth. It is not agreement with one’s colleagues that matters here, but agreement with true facts, true knowledge, and (therefore) true science.”
Who else, besides the people who work on it, determine what science says? Are you comparing us to the flat-earth society? Do you consider agreement among experts to be a bad thing? You clearly imply that the opinion of the scientific community is based on something other than science.

>>...Is this meant to say that you are now devoid of prejudices? Or simply that your prejudices no longer blind you?<<

Everyone has prejudices. I simply try to be aware of what they are and deal with them.

...In addition to the comments cited above, you state on your web site,

“The situation isn’t helped by poor science education generally. Even advanced college biology students often understand little more than the dogma of evolutionary theory, and few have the time (or the guts) to question its scientific validity.”
So when I tell my students that evolution is perfectly consistent with everything that is currently known about biochemistry, is this correct or or is it a “common pseudo-scientific evolutionist error” which “ignore[s] or dismiss[es] the applicability of the second law to biological processes”? If you would not make that sort of accusation to my face, then you shouldn’t imply it on your web site either. My reason for asking those questions in such a blunt way was to show you that it’s logically impossible to make that sort of claim without insulting real people like me, and it wasn’t clear to me if you even realized that.

Now let’s address the second law...

[You wrote:]

A few months ago, an individual’s feedback led me to initiate a rather protracted and detailed discussion among an on-line network of creationists (many of whom are practitioners of science, not unlike yourself). The results of the discussion included the following:
1) The problem (i.e., misunderstanding) that seems most prevalent involves people (including professionals like yourself) who are very familiar with classical thermodynamics—particularly the Second Law of Thermodynamics (henceforth 2LOT)—and its application, yet who may know much less about (or tend to ignore) that which has been published concerning the Generalized Second Law (henceforth G2L) and its relevance in areas unconnected with experimental or applied chemistry.

This certainly is an important misunderstanding. Nowhere in your essays do you make clear the distinction between the 2LOT and the G2L. In fact, you actually write “the first and second laws of thermodynamics (hereafter, simply ‘the first law’ and ‘the second law’)” which clearly implies that you mean the 2LOT when you say “the second law”. You also add that “this writer knows of no ‘creationist position’ concerning thermodynamics other than the classic understanding”. How is one supposed to know that your conclusions are based on the G2L and not on the 2LOT?

2) The 2LOT, as found in classical thermodynamics, indeed does not by its very definition prohibit abiogenesis (the beginning of evolution) or macro-evolution itself.

I’m very glad to see that you understand this. I think a great deal of misunderstanding could be avoided if you simply stated this at the beginning of your web page.

For the mathematical calculations can be made by which the necessary energy and entropy relationships can be shown to change, allowing for ANYTHING to happen—even if only on paper. While this fact may appear as a ray of hope to evolutionists, its real value is significantly reduced by the fact that such calculations indeed ARE found only on paper, and, being strictly a means of calculating or predicating hypothetical levels of entropy at the hypothetical start and end states of a hypothetical process. They have nothing to do with the mechanics of any such process, and therefore need not, do not, and CAN not define the hypothetical process (nor the mechanics thereof), however well they may suggest the entropy states of said hypothetical process.

Thermodynamics does not describe the mechanics of a process, not does it claim to. It’s power is in the fact that it is true _regardless_ of the mechanics of the process. Mathematical calculations of the hypothetical entropies of hypothetical start and end states of hypothetical processes work remarkably well at determining equilibrium constants for chemical reactions, phase equilibria and transitions, solubilities, acidities, battery voltages, and a whole bunch of other stuff. This doesn’t diminish its “real value”, this _is_ its real value. It most certainly does not allow “anything” to happen. Whatever this has to do with evolution is different issue. Remember, it’s (other) creationists who claim there is a problem.

The charge that the 2LOT becomes a “victim,” being “replaced by the creationist’s own version, which typically adds something,” seems to be based in part on some confusion (perhaps on the part of both creationists AND evolutionists) concerning the 2LOT, the G2L, and the differing entropies involved in thermodynamic processes and information theory.

3) The ramifications of the 2LOT are extrapolated and applied to processes not driven by energy- or thermodynamic-entropy via the G2L.

This is exactly what is meant by “adding something” to the 2LOT. Applying it to “processes not driven by energy” by extrapolation is taking it out of the context where it is defined, and therefore not in any way supported by the evidence in favor of the 2LOT. On your web page, you say,

“The fact is, contrary to the simplistic claim parroted by evolutionists like Isaak, any increase in organized complexity (i.e., decrease in entropy) invariably requires two additional factors besides an open system and an available energy supply. These are:

1.a “program” (information) to direct the growth in organized complexity
2.a mechanism for storing and converting the incoming energy.”

This looks to me like you are in fact adding two extra conditions to the 2LOT, without clearly stating that you are talking about a different law, the G2L. How exactly do you “convert the incoming energy” in a process not driven by energy? Is the entropy you refer to thermodynamic entropy or not? Above all, where is the evidence that these “additional factors” correspond to physical law and not just wishful thinking?

>>“Contrary to what seems to be a popular claim among evolutionists (including yourself), this is not a case of the 2LOT being “replaced by the creationist’s own version” of the same law.<<

That is exactly what it is. Your are taking the 2LOT out of the context where it is defined, and simply assuming that what you call the G2L is equally valid. Like I said in my first message, you are more than welcome to propose your own law. Just don’t pretend that the evidence in favor of the 2LOT applies to it. It either is the same law or it isn’t, you can’t have it both ways.

...You state that “The evolutionist rationale is simply that life on earth is an “exception” because we live in an open system”. This is simply false, and is not a “rationale”. You repeat similar statements in several places:

“However, here on earth, many evolutionists insist, we have an “exception,” because we live in an open system”

“the evolutionist scenario declares [...] a direct contradiction (i.e., theorized violation) of the second law”

“the popular evolutionist claim that evolution is “exempt” from the 2nd law on the grounds of an imaginary “open system clause.”

“A negative change (decrease) in entropy is invariably an isolated and temporary event”

If you look at your own references though,

“No matter how carefully we examine the energetics of living systems we find no evidence of defeat of thermodynamic principles.”
[Harold Blum, Time’s Arrow and Evolution (1962), p. 119.]

“There is thus no justification for the view, often glibly repeated, that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is only statistically true, in the sense that microscopic violations repeatedly occur, but never violations of any serious magnitude. On the contrary, no evidence has ever been presented that the Second Law breaks down under any circumstances.”
[A.B. Pippard, Elements of Chemical Thermodynamics for Advanced Students of Physics (1966), p. 100.]

“...there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated [closed] systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems ...
[Dr. John Ross, Harvard scientist (evolutionist), Chemical and Engineering News, July 27, 1980, p. 40]

...it is clearly stated that there are no exceptions and that none are claimed... Yes, the second law does apply to open systems, but what the second law says is still defined in terms of a closed system. The second law does _NOT_ say “Entropy still tends to increase, but temporary exceptions are allowed if you have an open system”. It says “Take your open system, include anything it exchanges energy with in order to make a combined closed system, and then calculate the total entropy of that”. The 2LOT applies to open systems only in the sense that they must be included as part of a closed system. If one does the calculation for the earth, one can easily show that the presence of life barely makes a dent in the entropy gain of the sun radiating out into space. Embarassed at how easily their argument falls apart, some creationists have deliberately tried to confuse this issue, and you seem to have inadvertently picked up some of their tactics.

The statistical nature of the 2LOT is actually quite subtle, as is pointed out by Lewis and Randall. Just look at the sentence immediately following the passage quoted on your web page. Their point is not at all what it would appear from just that first sentence. (That is the only quote I looked up, just because I happened to have a copy nearby.)

>>It would indeed bother me to learn that I were misleading others in the name of Christ. Should it become evident to me that this has happened, I would take every necessary measure to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. It has in fact happened that the questionable (or outright erroneous) nature of certain details in my essays have been brought to my attention, and these have been corrected or removed, as necessary.<<

I’m very glad to hear that. I will accept that you are not being intentionally dishonest, but your presentation does follow almost exactly the same strategy as those who are. I look forward to reading the revised version.


Response from Timothy Wallace:

>>Well, maybe hatred isn’t quite the right word. Contempt and derision is probably better...<<

No indeed, hatred is not the right word. And when I use terms like “deny the truth,” “hard-core propagandist,” “tenaciously in denial,” “neither scientific nor honest,” “poor treatment of the subject matter,” “indefensible ignorance,” and “willful misrepresentation of the facts,” it is not for the purpose of expressing contempt or derision, but to provide an accurate description of the specific practices and characteristics of a specific group of people. If it happens that these practices and characteristics are contemptible and/or worthy of derision (as it apparently occurs to you), then so be it. I do not employ such terms flippantly or for effect, but to communicate with accuracy.

>>On your web page you describe me...<<

May I suggest that perhaps you flatter yourself in assuming that my web page describes you personally? Be that as it may, you seem to indicate that: 1) you count yourself among the staunchest believers, proponents, and defenders of the evolutionist faith; and that 2) you take your faith, as well as any criticisms of that faith (and the various means by which it is popularized and defended), very personally. Such personalization of beliefs, their criticism, and their defense seems much less indicative of a scientific approach to a matter, for it strongly implies a (subjective) philosophical/religious predisposition.

>>...How were you expecting me to react to that?<<

Your personal reaction obviously involved no concern or expectation on my part until you chose to write and express your reaction. My aim in general has not been to produce a “reaction” from anyone, but to describe the practices and patterns exhibited in the writings of such proponents of evolutionism as are found at the “talk.origin archive.” And again, that you count yourself in their ilk and take personally any criticisms leveled at them seems to be your own personal matter.

>>It is very clear in the language you use that anyone with a scientific background will be perceived as the enemy.<<

No, it is only very clear in what I state that anyone with a dogmatically evolutionistic bias will be challenged to examine his/her practices in promulgating that bias under the guise of scientific objectivity. You are equating “science” and “evolution” they are neither equivalent, synonymous, nor (as far as empirical data are concerned) necessarily related.

>>Who are you refering to as holding this “presumed monopoly”?<<

The subject of the sentence is not obscure: evolutionists.

>>Do you consider “evolutionists” to be some sort of group other than just individual scientists?<<

Gee, I don’t know—do you consider “creationists” to be some sort of group other than just individual believers? Do you consider “atheists” or “druids” to be some sort of group other than just individuals? The aim of your question escapes me, unless it is your obscure way of implying that “evolutionists” (whether individually or as a group) don’t think they have the vast majority of “science” on their “side” (vis-a-vis the creationist perspective).

>>If a scientist is just someone who understands science, then I guess that is a monopoly.<<

No, it is not. Simply understanding something has nothing to do with my statement, which was simply that vocal proponents of evolutionism tend to make allusions to a presumed monopoly of scientific knowledge and understanding on their part: it is intimated in no uncertain terms that they have an abundance of scientific knowledge and understanding, while anyone who disagrees with them is woefully lacking in precisely the same things, out of their league, etc.

>>In response to Mark Isaak, you say...

“Isaak says, ‘...the theory of evolution still has essentially unanimous agreement from the people who work on it.’” There is also “unanimous agreement” among that remnant of stalwart believers in a flat earth. It is not agreement with one’s colleagues that matters here, but agreement with true facts, true knowledge, and (therefore) true science.”

...Who else, besides the people who work on it, determine what science says?<<

Here again you are equating “science” and “evolution” they are neither equivalent, synonymous, nor (as far as empirical data are concerned) necessarily related.

>>Are you comparing us to the flat-earth society?<<

Yes. The point is that (in response to Isaak’s statement) OF COURSE evolutionists agree with each other, but this fact is proof of absolutely nothing. Flat-earthers agree with each other too, and again, the fact proves nothing. The same thing goes for Elvis-spotters, UFO victims, etc., etc. When like-minded people agree with each other, it is as natural as can be, but it is meaningless as far as determining what is fact and what is fancy.

>>Do you consider agreement among experts to be a bad thing?<<

Of course not. It is to be expected. On the other hand, when one group of experts declare that their (agreed-upon) interpretation of the empirical data is the only reasonable option, then what began as mere “agreement among” one group of “experts” has changed into “dogma among” one group of “experts.” There is nothing particularly scientific about “experts” who agree on a presupposition (e.g., “evolution is a fact”) and then unanimously demand that all data be interpreted by the rest of us in light of said presupposition. The presupposition itself remains untested and beyond verification or falsification in their minds, particularly as long as they can find ways to interpret enough data to “fit” the presupposition, and compel others to do the same.

>>You clearly imply that the opinion of the scientific community is based on something other than science.<<

No, I clearly state that the opinions of evolutionists are largely based on something other than science. This third time, you have equated “science” and “evolution” for the third time, they are neither equivalent, synonymous, nor (as far as empirical data are concerned) necessarily related.

>>Everyone has prejudices. I simply try to be aware of what they are and deal with them.<<

That being the case, may I kindly suggest that you develop an awareness of—and deal with—the prejudice that compels you to repeatedly equate “science” and “evolution,” and “scientists” with “evolutionists”?

>>So when I tell my students that evolution is perfectly consistent with everything that is currently known about biochemistry, is this correct...?<<

1) If by “perfectly consistent” you mean to suggest that even a portion of the empirical data produced in the applied science of biochemistry easily, invariably and unequivocally supports evolutionism, then _NO_. (And I would invite you to demonstrate otherwise.)

2) If by “perfectly consistent” you mean to say that evolution theory is so elastic that it can be made to fit any data that is known through the applied science of biochemistry, then I suppose a “yes” would be allowable, though you would be misleading your students, for many of them would think your meaning to be the former, not the latter, yet the latter meaning is the only basis upon which you can hope to make such an assertion.

You state that you have a PhD in chemical physics. It is my understanding that this is an applied science involving less theory than practical application. Biochemistry I understand to be much the same. Please allow me to pose two questions here:

1) Other than the specifically theoretical aspects involved in the university study of these disciplines, can you cite anything about either of them that requires understanding of or belief in evolutionism as a prerequisite for understanding or applying the discipline to the real-world?

2) Can you cite any empirical data that has emerged from either of these fields of study, which unequivocally supports evolutionism (i.e., cannot be equally or better interpreted within the creationist framework)?

At this point I am also interested to know whether you have personally read Behe, Denton or Spetner. I don’t know about Spetner, but neither Behe nor Denton claim to be creationists, yet they offer substantial challenges to evolutionism, drawn straight from the empirical data of biochemistry—their field of expertise. I find it extremely hard to accept that anyone who has read them could (with a clear conscience) tell a classroom full of students that, “evolution is perfectly consistent with everything that is currently known about biochemistry.”

>>If you would not make that sort of accusation to my face, then you shouldn’t imply it on your web site either.<<

I trust that by now it is clear that I am prepared to maintain my position both on my website as well as in a “face-to-face” (as it were) e-mail dialogue such as the present one.

>>...it’s logically impossible to make that sort of claim without insulting real people like me...<<

It is readily apparent that you are easily, and personally, insulted by challenges to your belief system. It is not my aim to insult others, nor is it a matter of logical possibility or impossibility. It is humanly natural to be offended when another tells you that your religious beliefs are not supported by empirical science (especially when you want to believe they are). Much more important than the apparent offense itself, however, is whether we are willing to objectively examine the “offending” assertion—and (therefore) the empirical data itself, making a legitimate effort to consider the alternative view(s) of the data.

>>This certainly is an important misunderstanding. Nowhere in your essays do you make clear the distinction between the 2LOT and the G2L...<<

In my last message, I wrote, “Where my pages touch on this topic, I aim to revise them to accurately reflect the above, as well as the balance of the material generated by the above-mentioned group discussion. Exactly how soon I will have the time to make the necessary changes depends on my schedule during the next few months.” Obviously the “next few months” could not have passed in the few days since that writing. In light of this, I see no need for your continuing to point out the obvious, when I have already plainly indicated that revisions are both warranted and planned in light of the material I shared with you in my previous message.

>>Thermodynamics does not describe the mechanics of a process...<<

Yes, of course. Your statement (which I have seen many times and in various forms) is certainly an accurate description of classical thermodynamics. It is certainly true that classical thermodynamics does not (and need not) describe or define a mechanism. It remains no less true, however, that the ability to calculate a hypothetical change in entropy in a hypothetical system does not ipso facto substantiate a belief that said hypothetical change has in fact taken place in said hypothetical system. Such a belief hardly qualifies as a scientific hypothesis as long as the essential mechanism for the hypothetical change remains unknown and the change itself has not been observed.

>>This is exactly what is meant by “adding something” to the 2LOT. Applying it to “processes not driven by energy” by extrapolation is taking it out of the context...<<

Again, this is where the distinction between 2LOT and G2L is critical (and it is my understanding that G2L is indeed an extrapolation from 2LOT). Again, it has come to my attention that this distinction needs to be clearly addressed in my essays. And again, I have every intention of doing something about it.

...You take issue with my criticism of the popular evolutionist tendency to use “open system” as an explanation for evolution’s alleged sustained and continuous reduction in entropy, citing multiple quotes from my essays. You then cite the same authorities whom I cite (who rightly maintain 2LOT’s immutability), concluding that, “it is clearly stated that there are no exceptions and that none are claimed.”

That “there are no exceptions” I would, of course, agree. That “none are claimed,” I would have to differ. Another look at Isaak’s essay should clear this up for you—and Isaak is most certainly not alone.

At this point I should also reiterate the fact that, while evolution may be said to “not violate” 2LOT in theory, any practical compliance with 2LOT on the part of evolution requires a mechanism which has not been postulated. The mechanism may be entirely unnecessary for the entropy calculations (on paper), but its perennial and conspicuous absence is a strong challenge to evolutionism as a scientific hypothesis. This is why the (evolutionist) authorities which I cited say what they say (viz., 2LOT does indeed suggest a problem for evolution, and simplistic allusions to open systems and exceptions are simply out of the question).

>>...If one does the calculation for the earth, one can easily show that the presence of life barely makes a dent in the entropy gain of the sun radiating out into space...<<

Do you aim to use this argument to say that, since life on earth “barely makes a dent in the entropy gain,” therefore life on earth is somehow (thanks to thermodynamics) a piece of cake? That because it “barely makes a dent,” there’s really no need for anyone to wonder how life on earth manages to make that sustained “dent” in thermodynamic entropy, or how it began doing so in the first place? That because life on earth happens to effect that sustained “dent” in thermodynamic entropy, the enormous BULGE in informational entropy has somehow been rendered insignificant and irrelevant?

If your answer to any of the questions posed in the above paragraph would be “yes,” I would suggest to you that—in spite of your knowledge of classical thermodynamics (which I still do not doubt)—your perspective on these matters conflicts with a number of leading evolutionist authorities, some of whose specific concerns are cited in my original essay. Instead of missing the point (or wasting their time) by entangling themselves in an open-system/closed-system justification pitch, they ponder aloud the problem of HOW: HOW does it work? HOW could it have started by itself? HOW did all this information come into being?... They recognize that thermodynamic feasibility simply isn’t enough, and they are hard-pressed to produce the ever-evasive, yet critical, answers.

You describe “some creationists” as “embarrassed at how easily their argument falls apart” and trying to “confuse this issue,” but I think perhaps it is more accurate to say that some evolutionists are embarrassed that they have NO argument, and so try to avoid the issue. At least honest enough to be excluded from this category are the likes of Yockey, Blum, Pippard, Angrist, Capra, Lewin, and Prigogine (among others, to be sure).

Kind Regards,
TW

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From Mike Drake:

In reading some of your comments, and those of others in the Creation “science” community, I find myself vacilating between teeth-grinding exasperation and utter dismay. How is it, I ask myself, that so many people come to think in such a peculiar way about scientific questions? It is much like arguing with a particularly recalcitrant (yet perhaps also very bright) child who has become adept at acute rationalization (this is the exasperating part), then watching as that child grows up, and lamenting the tremendous waste (this is the sad part).

What Creationists are actually engaging in, perhaps unknowingly, is a disguised form of radical skepticism (selectively applied, to be sure): Science “could” be wrong on the matter of evolution; therefore, we ought to doubt it on this matter. But the conceptual machinery devised to “deconstruct” evolutionary theory in this way might just as well be appropriated for the same purpose in whatever scientific discipline strikes your fancy. And, naturally, it could just as well be turned loose on Creationist ideology, to similar effect—although I don’t imagine I’ll get any takers on this last!

Creationists have made it clear that their position is fixed by the one immutable reference point that is the Bible. But then, in effect, Creationists have imputed to themselves absolute epistemic authority; Creationists must claim infallibility for their view to hold. One might ask whether and/or why this is, and I would reply that, if Creationists are merely fallible, then all that they claim—that God exists, that the Bible is His word, that all observations must be reconciled with holy scripture—COULD be false. But they can’t (or won’t) admit that, because by their criteria, it ought then to be doubted. Thus, Creationists PRESUPPOSE that their knowledge of the Bible is correct (indeed, infallible) and that their literal interpretation of it is the only licit interpretation. GIVEN THESE “FACTS”, it follows (they suppose) that evolution is wrong.

But if we know anything about human psychology, it is that, given a set of antecedent, fixed beliefs, people are able to reconcile just about any a posteriori data with those beliefs. In this way, the Creationist reasons thus: Given that the biblical account of creation, on a literal reading, precludes the possibility of Darwin’s having been correct, Darwin could not have been correct! Therefore, whatever data comes in regarding matter of phylogeny, ontogeny, radiometric dating—whatever—I must reconcile this data with the Word.

I urge you, and any other intellectually honest person who might read this, to consult the history of science in the modern era; see if you can come up with one—ONE—case in which a religiously motivated, sectarian theoretical community brought forth startling new information proving that a leading secular scientific theory was wrong. The only religion-science clash that comes to my mind (that has been resolved to ALL parties concerned—Creationists included) is that of Galileo. (I’ve heard some Creationist writers claim that a conceptually rigidified 17th century scientific community persecuted poor Galileo. Right: Anyone who finds a documented, scientific refutation ca. 17th century of Galileo’s theory—one that does NOT mention God—print it out at 12-point font, and I’ll eat it!) The bottom line: religion has a perfect zero record when it comes to disputes with the secular scientific community on matters of empirical fact.

I also urge other readers to examine the positive “scientific” hypotheses of the Creationist community—not just those arguments they proffer which, at least they suppose, countervene evolution. (Note the false dichotomy implicit in Creationist thinking: Arguments X, Y, and Z show Darwin was wrong; therefore, Creation Science is the only viable theory.) Just some of their claims: 36,000 species pairs on Noah’s little ark; complex kinds appearing out of nowhere—instantaneously; a 10,000 year old Earth and a Cosmos billions of light years across—also instantaneously, out of nowhere. (As to the last 10K Earth/Cosmos claim [about the only positive Creationist claim that I know of which is in principle falsifiable]: Ask any cosmologist at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, UCLA, USC, U of Tokyo, whether it is even remotely PLAUSIBLE that the earth is 10K year old.)

Finally, I urge readers to consult the now well-known amicus curiae brief at the following URL:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/edwards-v-aguillard/amicus1.html

Besides illustrating the considerable scientific consensus regarding the status of Creation “Science” as a science (viz., that it is not), there is also a very good, very readable explication of scientific methodology. Note how the scientific attitude differs from that found in the various “statements of belief” pledged to by members of the various Creationist “Science” organizations (and they all have a pledge, as far as I know).

I realize of course that the virtue of open-mindedness and of intellectual fairness are taken by many to mandate a fair hearing for Creation “Science” in our schools. But if Creation “Science” is taught as a science, then so must be Jewish Creation “Science”, Moslem Creation “Science”, Hindu Creation “Science”, Bantu Creation “Science”, Scientologist Creation “Science”, and so forth. Thankfully, it is clear that none of the above constitutes science, else our children would have to take seven hours of “science” instruction every day—and teaching science is hard enough as it is.

Yours,

Mike Drake


Response from Timothy Wallace:

Dear Mr. Drake,

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts in response to my “Five Misconceptions” essay. Although your message was devoid of any comments relating directly to the essay, you made some interesting statements, to which I offer the following in response:

>>...I find myself vacilating between teeth-grinding exasperation and utter dismay...<<

This is indicative of the powerful emotions folks often attach to the issue of origins—and not without good reason: Each side has its fundamental religious underpinnings, and any challenge to one’s religious beliefs is likely to stir up some emotion.

>>...It is much like arguing with a particularly recalcitrant (yet perhaps also very bright) child...lamenting the tremendous waste...<<

Your ad hominem condescension here seems fairly indicative of both your level of objectivity and your “depth” of familiarity with the subject.

>>What Creationists are actually engaging in, perhaps unknowingly, is a disguised form of radical skepticism (selectively applied, to be sure): Science “could” be wrong on the matter of evolution; therefore, we ought to doubt it on this matter.<<

Those who challenge evolution are by no means all creationists (e.g., Denton, Behe, Johnson, Berlinski & others), and they do so not just because “science ‘could’ be wrong,” but because the facts of empirical science do not unequivocally support evolution.

>>But the conceptual machinery devised to “deconstruct” evolutionary theory in this way might just as well be appropriated for the same purpose in whatever scientific discipline strikes your fancy.<<

To so equate “evolutionary theory” with the genuine disciplines of science is to further betray what should be an embarrassing lack of familiarity with the details of this issue. The disciplines of science involve implementation of the scientific process in gathering and observing, repeated experiments, and measurement. They may be executed (and the results interpreted) within the evolutionary paradigm, but evolution itself is not a scientific discipline; it is only a framework of interpretation to which the data is popularly believed to conform.

>>And, naturally, it could just as well be turned loose on Creationist ideology, to similar effect—although I don’t imagine I’ll get any takers on this last!<<

What is stopping _you_? Why should you need to ask for “takers” when it is the effectiveness of your own conviction that you are proclaiming?

>>Creationists have made it clear that their position is fixed by the one immutable reference point that is the Bible. But then, in effect, Creationists have imputed to themselves absolute epistemic authority...<<

While there may be some unfortunate exceptions, it is not correct that creationists at large impute to themselves “absolute epistemic authority,” and anyone even casually familiar with the creation _science_ literature would know this. Their convictions concerning the paradigm to which they subscribe is fundamentally comparable to those of the evolutionists, to wit (and to “borrow” your argument):

Evolutionists have made it clear that their position is fixed by the one immutable reference point that is humanistic, naturalistic scientism. But then, in effect, evolutionists have imputed to themselves absolute epistemic authority...

See, your arguments apply equally to both sides, yet you are careful to describe only one, pretending to illuminate the bias of your “victims” while simultaneously betraying your own.

>>Creationists must claim infallibility for their view to hold.<<

This is yet another false statement, and another one which could just as easily be turned around and applied to evolutionists. Such assertions say absolutely nothing about the details of empirical science and how the data correlate with the two opposing frameworks of interpretation. The most you can hope to accomplish with such claims is to avoid addressing that data by hiding behind a smokescreen of ill-founded presuppositions and heavily biased, but largely irrelevant, generalizations.

Further, while many creationists do indeed adhere to the infallibilty of the Scriptures, they do not “claim infallibility” for themselves. Instead, they recognize that they are personally no less fallible than anyone else, and as such, they simply study and interpret the empirical data vis-a-vis their paradigm in much the same way as evolutionists do. (Part of this process, by its very nature, calls for examining the claims of the opposing camp and offering documented, reasonable rebuttals to those claims, wherever applicable.)

>>One might ask whether and/or why this is, and I would reply that, if Creationists are merely fallible, then all that they claim—that God exists, that the Bible is His word, that all observations must be reconciled with holy scripture—COULD be false. But they can’t (or won’t) admit that, because by their criteria, it ought then to be doubted.<<

It is erroneous to claim (as you have—twice, so far) that the creationist m.o. demands that whatever “COULD be false” ipso facto “ought to be doubted.” It is frankly on the arrogant side to be projecting such a contrived rationale upon those with whom one happens to disagree.

>>Thus, Creationists PRESUPPOSE ... it follows (they suppose) that evolution is wrong.<<

It seems to have escaped your notice that evolutionists also begin with their own presuppositions (everyone does), and that they consequently suppose that evolution is correct.

>>But if we know anything about human psychology, it is that, given a set of antecedent, fixed beliefs, people are able to reconcile just about any a posteriori data with those beliefs.<<

Again, your statement can be (and has been) applied just as effectively to those who believe in evolution as those who believe in creation. Rather than making a valid case either for evolution or against creation, you seem to be spending an awful lot of words revealing your personal bias by trying to focus attention on the bias of those on only one side of the issue.

>>In this way, the Creationist reasons thus: ...Darwin could not have been correct! Therefore, whatever data comes in ... I must reconcile this data with the Word.<<

Likewise, the evolutionist reasons thus: Given that the Darwinism precludes the possibility of the Bible’s having been correct, the Bible could not have been correct! Therefore, whatever data comes in regarding matter of phylogeny, ontogeny, radiometric dating—whatever—I must reconcile this data with Darwinism.

>>...see if you can come up with one—ONE—case in which a religiously motivated, sectarian theoretical community brought forth startling new information proving that a leading secular scientific theory was wrong...<<

Whatever you mean by “sectarian theoretical community,” you would do well to note that the majority of those scientists who established what has become modern science were Bible-believing creationists. [I’ll gladly furnish you with a list upon request.] They were not members of a “sectarian theoretical community,” but they were certainly “religiously motivated”—by which I mean they were practicing Christians, who found their calling to be the study of their Creator’s handiwork, to “think God’s thoughts after Him,” as some have worded it.

As for your use of the term “leading secular scientific theory,” you should be reminded that until roughly the past century and a half, there was hardly such a thing as “secular science,” for those founders of modern science (and generally their peers) did not see their relationship with their Creator and their study of His Creation as matters in need of such rigid separation. The call for this separation arose more recently, and only among men who preferred to place their confidence in man, awarding him the “absolute epistemic authority” which you would pretend is strictly the claim of their God-fearing counterparts.

Nevertheless, remember that Redi (1688), Spallanzani (1780), Pasteur (1860), and Virchow (1858) disproved what you may appreciate as a “leading secular theory” (spontaneous generation, a.k.a. abiogenesis), and their work served to establish what is now known as the Law of Biogenesis (though it is often disregarded by ever-hopeful evolutionary theorists).

Recall, too, that Christopher Columbus and Fredinand Magellan were both devout Christians, whose navigational eneavours laid to rest [what modernists tout as] the “leading secular theory” (often dogmatically—and erroneously—attributed to Christians themselves) that the earth was flat.

[Actually, flat earth belief was never very widespread, as shown by the historian Jeffrey Burton Russell in his book “Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus & Modern Historians” (ISBN 027595904X). The idea that Columbus had to disprove that the earth was flat is a myth started by Washington Irving. See also “Flat Earth Myth Revisited”.]

>>Anyone who finds a documented, scientific refutation ca. 17th century of Galileo’s theory—one that does NOT mention God—print it out at 12-point font, and I’ll eat it!...<<

Both Copernicus and Galileo are reputed to have been Bible-believers, so your bold “challange” seems like a carefully calculated—but empty—“safe swipe” at a straw man. I should mention here that the debate between geocentricity and heliocentricity was by no means put to rest by either man, nor by any who have followed them. Scientific experimentation has not unequivocally proven one view to be correct and the other incorrect: The empirical observations easily fit either model. Only the theoretical Riemanian mathematics employed by Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity could bolster the heliocentric model with sufficient apparent “support” to maintain its position of popular dominance in the face of the empirical implications from Sagnac, Michelson, and Gale, and their scientific experimentation. Thus, whether it is correct or not, heliocentrism rules today, not by empirical scientific proof, but—as with evolution—popular vote, and the mention—or failure to mention—God has little or nothing to do with the matter.

>>The bottom line: religion has a perfect zero record when it comes to disputes with the secular scientific community on matters of empirical fact.<<

More correctly, the bottom line is that you seem to have failed to take your own advice, and earnestly “consult the history of science” from which you pretend to glean your haughty, but baseless, assertion.

>>I also urge other readers to examine the positive “scientific” hypotheses of the Creationist community—not just those arguments they proffer which, at least they suppose, countervene evolution.<<

Thus far, it hardly appears that you have performed much more than an exceedingly superficial “examination” of the creationary view of the empirical data. Why, then, should you be telling others to do more than you have proven yourself willing to do?

>>Note the false dichotomy implicit in Creationist thinking: Arguments X, Y, and Z show Darwin was wrong; therefore, Creation Science is the only viable theory.<<

Does this mean that, other than creation and evolution, you are aware of a third school of thought? If so, perhaps you would be kind enough to share it with the rest of us. Otherwise, you—again—have no argument.

>>Just some of their claims: 36,000 species pairs on Noah’s little ark...<<

You might like to demonstrate some credibility on your part by documenting the source of your figure, and indicationg just how “little” you understand the ark to have been. You might be surprised by what you could learn through a little objective research.

>>...complex kinds appearing out of nowhere—instantaneously...<<

Yes, that’s exactly what the Scriptures say God did. What you mean to indicate by citing this isn’t exactly clear, for it is just as self-evident in the creationary paradigm that God created the first of every kind of creature by His Word, as it is in the evolutionary paradigm that every kind of creature came from ultimately nothing. To state an axiom from one of two opposing viewpoints without offering any substantial rebuttal or conflicting empirical data is an exercise in futility.

>>...a 10,000 year old Earth and a Cosmos billions of light years across...<<

For your information, the size of the universe is hardly known to man, the theoretical pretensions of modern cosmologists notwithstanding:

“Cosmology is unique in science in that it is a very large intellectual edifice based on a very few facts.” —Arp, H.C., et al., ...Nature, vol. 346, p. 812.

>>...As to the last 10K Earth/Cosmos claim [about the only positive Creationist claim that I know of which is in principle falsifiable]: Ask any cosmologist at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, UCLA, USC, U of Tokyo, whether it is even remotely PLAUSIBLE that the earth is 10K year old.<<

A list of prestigious universities hardly qualifies as a falsification of anything. As I have already pointed out, cosmology is hardly an exact science, and scarcely qualifies as an applied science. In any case, it would only be expected of evolutionary cosmologists that their presuppositions, as well as their conclusions, should concur with the multiple-billion-year ages demanded by their paradigm of choice. What, then, could your suggestion (“ask...”) accomplish but to verify the circular reasoning of both yourself and those who happen to share your opinion?

>>Finally, I urge readers to consult the now well-known amicus curiae brief...illustrating the considerable scientific consensus regarding the status of Creation “Science” as a science (viz., that it is not)...<<

And what else would one expect from folks who believe that evolution and science are virtually one and the same, and who prefer pouring derision on creation as non-science over a civil dialogue about the empirical data and the respective interpretations of two conflicting paradigms. Not surprisingly, neither you, nor they, seem prepared to discuss the empirical data in any detail, prefering to bypass that—and the scientific method—for a shortcut self-styled claim to “absolute epistemic authority.”

>>Note how the scientific attitude differs from that found in the various “statements of belief” pledged to by members of the various Creationist “Science” organizations (and they all have a pledge, as far as I know).<<

It can only be concluded from the above that you turn a blind eye to the obvious counterpart statements by such organizations as the NCSE, the NAS, and the Humanist Manifestos. Statements of belief are found in good numbers on both sides of this issue. Again, you have no argument, just a biased observation of the facts.

>>...if Creation “Science” is taught as a science, then so must be Jewish Creation “Science”, Moslem Creation “Science”...<<

It has apparently escaped your notice that all three of the above rely on the same creation account in the Torah. Splitting them into three “competing” paradigms is superfluous and self-serving.

>>...Hindu Creation “Science”, Bantu Creation “Science”, Scientologist Creation “Science”, and so forth.<<

I invite you to cite and document an apparently historical creation account from any of these, referencing a text or two which purport to apply the data of empirical science to said account. Otherwise, again, you have no argument, but are erecting a straw man on a foundation of your own ignorance.

Again, I thank you for your comments, and I invite you to write again if you like, perhaps addressing more of the empirical data of science, and less of the dogmatic rhetoric so popular among evolutionists.

Kind Regards,
TW


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