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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Introducing Dr. John Baumgardner and Rapid Subduction of Tectonic Plates

For those of you who wondered at the lack of posting, I have been preparing for the wedding of one of my children.   Priorities!!!

Many times in the past I have stated that one of the mechanisms used to bring about the Noahic Flood was rapid tectonic plate subduction.   This post introduces Dr. Baumgardner and also note the two new links, the Global Flood and Creation Revolution, both found on the 2012 links list to the left of the articles.   A tip of the hat to Creation Revolution for pointing to the interview directly below.  Creation.com:


Probing the earth’s deep places

Interview with plate tectonics1 expert Dr John Baumgardner

John Baumgardner

John Baumgardner (B.S, M.S., Ph.D (UCLA)) is a geophysicist employed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. His work involves detailed computer modeling of the structure and processes of the earth's interior, as well as a variety of other fluid dynamics phenomena.
[Creation magazine]: Dr Baumgardner, some say that because of continental drift (the idea that the continents have broken apart and moved thousands of miles) one has to believe in ‘millions of years’.
[John Baumgardner:] Well, I believe there is now overwhelming evidence in favour of continental break-up and large-scale plate tectonic activity. The acceptance of these concepts is an amazing example of a scientific revolution, which occurred roughly between 1960 and 1970. However, this revolution did not go far enough, because the earth science community neglected and suppressed the evidence for catastrophism—large-scale, rapid change—throughout the geological record. So the timescale the uniformitarian scientists today are using is dramatically too long. The strong weight of evidence is that there was a massive catastrophe, corresponding to the Genesis Flood, which involved large and rapid continental movements. My conclusion is that the only mechanism capable of producing that scale of catastrophe and not wrecking the planet in the process had to be internal to the earth.

I am persuaded it involved rapid subduction (sinking) of the pre-Flood ocean floor, pulling the ‘plates’ apart at the beginning of the Flood, and was probably associated with the breaking up of the ‘fountains of the great deep’ described in Scripture.
[CM]: A 1993 New Scientist article spoke highly of your 3-D supercomputer model of plate tectonics.2
[JB]: There are to my knowledge three other computer codes for modeling the earth’s mantle and so on, in the world. These other three use a mathematical method not so well suited for the modern parallel supercomputers. The one I developed uses the finite element technique and performs very well on the new, very large supercomputers. So, many of my colleagues are recognizing it as the most capable code in the world.


Runaway subduction


Last year NASA funded this effort as one of the nine grand challenge projects for the next three years in their High Performance Computing and Communication initiative, and are supporting two post-doctoral researchers to collaborate with me to improve it, and apply it to study the earth.
This code is comparable to what are called general circulation models for the atmosphere and oceans, which are some of the largest codes in the world in terms of how much machine power they consume. It’s got lots of physics in it to model the details of the mechanical behaviour of the silicate rock inside the earth. My present focus is to make the representation of the tectonic plates even more realistic. So the code is in an ongoing state of development, but it’s come a long way in the last 15 years.


After wikipedia.org
Earth internal structure
[CM]: We understand you’ve shown that as these floating blocks of rock push down into the material below, things get hotter, so the ‘slipperyness’ increases and there’s a runaway effect. The faster they sink the hotter they get, so the faster they can sink.
[JB]: Yes—rock that represents the ocean floor is colder, and therefore denser than the rock below it and so can sink into the earth’s interior. And the properties of the rock inside the earth, especially at the high temperatures that exist there, make it possible for the colder rock from the earth’s surface to peel away and sink in a runaway manner down through the mantle—very rapidly.
[CM]: So this ‘happens’ on your computer model all by itself, from the laws of science—over a short time-scale, not millions of years?
[JB]: That’s correct. Exactly how long is something I’m working to refine. But it seems that once this sinking of the pre-Flood ocean floor (in a conveyor-belt-like fashion down into the earth, pulling things apart behind it) starts, it is not a slow process spanning millions of years—it’s almost certain that it runs to completion and ‘recycles’ all of the existing floor in a few weeks or months.



[CM]: You’re part of a team of top creation scientists3 which is developing a model of catastrophic plate tectonics based on this mechanism, which believes the continents broke up (from a single landmass) during, not after the Flood as some have proposed.
[JB]: Yes. There is compelling evidence from the fossil-bearing sediments on the continents that the breakup occurred during the time these sediments were being deposited. We are convinced that this ‘continental sprint’ as it’s been called, was during the time of the Flood, and part of the mechanism for it.
[CM]: How did you become a Christian?
[JB]:Primarily through a verse by verse Bible study in the Gospel of John, in a college Sunday School class when I was 26 years old. It focused on the question of who is this Jesus Christ, and is he authentic or not? I had little church background prior to that point, but a lot of scientific training. I was well schooled in evolution, and it took several months before I started to realize the problems with this idea. Later, I was exposed to the evidence for a young earth and realized that the case for it was indeed solid.
[CM]: Why is six-day, recent creation important?
[JB]: I believe it’s a pivotal issue in regard to the reliability of God’s Word. It ultimately bears on the authenticity of Jesus, because Jesus put his stamp of authority on the writings of Moses, which taken at face value, indicate that the original earth was a perfect world, one which included man and woman, one in which there was no death. There were no carnivorous animals—all the animals and man were given the green plants to eat. To make sense of the history of the world as the Bible lays it out, does not allow for millions of years, but does require that there be a catastrophe which destroyed all the air-breathing land life except for that preserved in Noah’s Ark. So I believe there is no negotiation possible on this question.
[CM]: So did your current interest in plate tectonics, and continental drift, arise out of your Christian faith?
[JB]: Entirely. I recognized that this was probably one of the most burning Bible apologetics issues in my century, and as far as I could see there was no one working on it. I sensed the call of God actually. While giving lectures on creation/evolution at university, I realized one of the biggest deficiencies in the creationist position was this lack of an alternative geological model, in particular one accounting for large- scale tectonics. I was 34 when I went back to get a Ph.D. in a field that I previously had not had a single course in. I believe Christians with scientific talent need to be encouraged—just like they’re encouraged to become missionaries—to go and get the credentials and the training they need, and work at a professional level in these fields. God has opened incredible doors for me and others.
[CM]: We published a careful exposé of the claims made by a Ron Wyatt, and more recently by one Jonathan Gray, concerning an alleged ‘Ark site’—an almond-shaped formation in Eastern Turkey. In trying to attack our article, they often quote statements from you supporting this possibly being the Ark site. This was before your research at the site caused you to definitely conclude this could not be the Ark. They say you now oppose their claims for fear of losing your job.
[JB]: Ron’s claims here are just as bogus as his claims about that site. Far from hiding my creationism, I’m well known for it (especially through letters in the local newspaper) in this scientific community, which has more Ph.D.s per capita than any other place in the U.S. My employer and my colleagues know exactly where I stand.
[CM]: You gave a poster presentation on this ‘runaway rapid continental drift’ mechanism at the American Geophysical Union meeting in 1994, so at least some of the 6,000 scientists there would have seen it. What was the feedback?
[JB]: Many people were interested in the numerical techniques I used for such a calculation, because it’s a significant computational challenge. Almost no one seemed to appreciate the implications of it. Actually, this concept of ‘runaway subduction’ [rapid sinking of the ‘plates’ as described earlier] has been in the literature for over 30 years. It was picked up in the geophysical community in the early 1970s, but for some reason the interest disappeared. People in my field are not ignorant of this possibility, it’s just not seriously explored.
[CM]: Why do you think that is?
[JB]: Well, there’s no real motivation to pursue it. Some toyed with the idea that such runaway effects might have been involved in recent volcanism in the south- western US But in their framework, they’re not really looking for worldwide effects.
[CM]: So their framework of thinking is really like blinkers, preventing a full consideration of all the relevant evidence?
[JB]: That’s correct, exactly. The same kind of uniformitarian ‘glasses’ prevent them from giving much attention to the evidence for catastrophism in the sedimentary record. Such basic philosophical biases profoundly affect the way science approaches problems and weighs the evidence. So it’s not simply ‘facts speaking for themselves’—the framework one starts from can and does profoundly affect the conclusions that are drawn.
[CM]: Dr Baumgardner, thank you very much.

Photo by Russell Humphreys
Earth

 

Seafloor ‘zebra-stripes’ don’t mean slow and gradual.

The mid-ocean ‘ridges’ are undersea mountain chains with volcanoes at the boundary between two ‘plates’ of the earth’s outer shell. It is believed that here, molten magma from below can well up as the plates move apart, making new oceanic crust—a process called ‘seafloor spreading’. As the new crust cools down, it ‘freezes’ within it the direction of the earth’s magnetic field at that time.

When instruments measuring magnetism are towed (on the ocean surface) across these ridges, they detect bands of alternating magnetic direction, like a ‘zebra-stripe’ pattern, with each side of the ridge mirroring the other. This is interpreted to mean that as new seafloor had gradually formed on each side of the ridge, the earth’s magnetism had slowly reversed many times, over millions of years. However, DR Baumgardner says this pattern does not mean the spreading was slow. He says,
 
‘From an estimate of the viscosity of the outer core, where the currents associated with the earth’s magnetism exist, there is no reason why the magnetic field can’t reverse rapidly. Moreover, there is field evidence that it has reversed rapidly, within weeks.4

In addition, drilling the sea floor has shown that, regardless of the overall direction of the magnetism detected from the surface, the magnetic direction within a drill core frequently varies widely.5 This is less consistent with slow spreading than with a rapid welling up of new magma during a period of rapid reversals; the magma in contact with the surface will reflect the direction at that time, but by the time the deeper magma cools a few weeks later, the direction has switched again—and so on for deeper levels.

Further reading

References and Notes

  1. 1. Plate tectonics: The concept that the earth’s outer shell consists of separate, huge ‘plates’ on which the continents ride, capable of movement relative to one another. Return to text.
  2. 2. ‘How a supercontinent went to pieces’, New Scientist, January 16, 1993, p. 19. Return to text.
  3. 3. In alphabetical order: Drs Steve Austin, John Baumgardner, Russell Humphreys, Andrew Snelling , Larry Vardiman, Kurt Wise—sometimes affectionately known as the ‘Gang of Six’. Note that the chapter on continental drift in CSF’s The Answers Book (one of the co-authors of which is a member of this team) is being modified, in the light of many new findings, for future editions. Return to text.
  4. 4. R.S. Coe, M. Prevot and P. Camps, ‘New evidence for extraordinarily rapid change of the geomagnetic field during a reversal’, Nature 374:687–692, April 20, 1995. The finding (by highly respected experts in paleo-magnetism) of ‘astonishing’ rates of reversal, has now been duplicated more than once. Return to text.
  5. 5. J.M. Hall and P.T. Robinson, ‘Deep crustal drilling in the North Atlantic Ocean’, Science 204:573–586, 1980. Return to text.
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Dr, Baumgardner posted a site that describes in both technical and laymen's terms the basis for the paper he presented at the 2003 International Conference on Creationism

In the early days of approaching Rapid Plate Subduction as one of the mechanisms that drove the Noahic Flood, there was debate about the subject among Creation Scientists.   The article below will bring you up to date on the competing viewpoints at that time and future posts will follow on the subject.   Answers in Genesis: 


We publish here six articles that address catastrophic plate tectonics as a framework for Biblical Earth history. The topic of ‘continental drift’ is one of the most-asked questions on Genesis and the Creation/evolution issue. ‘Have the continents really moved apart? How could this relate to the Bible’s account of history? Could it have had something to do with the Flood?’1

In 1994,2 six creationist scientists answered ‘Yes’ to these questions. They agreed that the continents really have moved apart during the Flood of Noah. And they moved quickly over months, not slowly over millions of years. The details of their answer were presented in papers at the International Conference on Creationism, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.3–5 This catastrophic-plate-tectonics model is regarded by many as the most highly developed creationist model of the global Flood.

However, a number of creationist geologists are sceptical of the assumptions of plate tectonics and have published papers and monographs expressing their concerns.6 In view of the significance of geology to a Biblical understanding of Earth history, we believe it is important that these differences be explored in a forum.

This forum, therefore, focuses on the three papers presented at the 1994 International Conference on Creationism. The participants are John Baumgardner and Michael Oard, who represent the ‘for’ and ‘against’ position respectively. Both have published extensively on Biblical geology. Each has drawn on the advice of others with the aim of making their contribution representative of the different views. Those who assisted are acknowledged at the end of the last contribution of each author.

The forum proceeded in three stages. First, each author prepared a paper setting out his case, either ‘for’ or ‘against’. The first submissions were exchanged and then each author prepared a response. The second submissions were exchanged and each author then prepared his third and final submission.

We publish all the articles in this issue of TJ. Although the ‘for’ position is presented first, it is important to realise that the ‘for’ and ‘against’ positions for each of the first, second and third submissions were prepared simultaneously.

Over the years, creationists have developed a number of models of the worldwide Flood. Secular geologists also have developed different models for how they think geological history took place. Forty years ago, hardly any geologists believed in continental drift. Now, almost all geologists do. Geology is important because all models of Earth history depend upon it.

The fact that creationist scientists have different views on this topic should be seen as positive. After all, the Earth is immense and our data are very limited in space and time. Christians should not be surprised if some questions are still open. The important thing is that the issues are being worked through. This is science at its best—exploring different options with an open mind. That is why we always stress that Christians should never put their faith in one particular scientific model, whether it is geological, biological or astronomical. Models change as ideas change and as people come and go. Rather, we put our faith in the infallible Word of God, the Bible, which does not change because it is true.

We hope you enjoy the forum and that it helps you appreciate something of the mammoth job of reconstructing a geological history of the Earth. That task is difficult, even when we have the broad parameters clearly specified in the Bible—parameters such as the Flood’s magnitude, its duration and its extent.

Forum contents:


‘For’ ‘Against’
First contribution Catastrophic plate tectonics: the geophysical context of the Genesis Flood
by John R. Baumgardner
Is catastrophic plate tectonics part of Earth history?
by Michael J. Oard
Rebuttal Dealing carefully with the data
by John R. Baumgardner
Does the catastrophic plate tectonics model assume too much uniformitarianism?
by Michael J. Oard
Conclusion A constructive quest for truth
by John R. Baumgardner
Dealing carefully with the data
by Michael J. Oard

References

  1. Batten, D. (Ed.), Ham, K., Sarfati, J. and Wieland, C., Chapter 11, What about continental drift? The Answers Book, Answers in Genesis, Brisbane, Australia, p. 147, 1999. Return to text.
  2. Although significant papers on catastrophic plate tectonics were presented in 1994, the idea was first presented by John Baumgardner at the 1986 International Conference on Creationism, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He added details to the concept at the 1990 ICC. Return to text.
  3. Austin, S.A., Baumgardner, J.R., Humphreys, D.R., Snelling, A.A., Vardiman, L. and Wise, K.P., Catastrophic plate tectonics: a global Flood model of Earth history; in: Walsh, R.E. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 609–621, 1994. Return to text.
  4. Baumgardner, J.R., Computer modelling of the large-scale tectonics associated with the Genesis Flood; in: Walsh, RE (Ed.), Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Technical Symposium Sessions, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 49–62, 1994. Return to text.
  5. Baumgardner, J.R., Runaway subduction as the driving mechanism for the Genesis Flood; in: Walsh, RE (Ed.), Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 63–75, 1994. Return to text.
  6. For example, Reed, J.K. (Ed.), Plate Tectonics: A Different View, Creation Research Society Monograph 10, St Joseph, pp. 11–23, 2000. Many other such references are cited in the forum. Return to text.
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Young Earth Creation Scientists are doing important work in many fields, often while also employed in secular scientific pursuits, as is Dr. Baumgardner.   Hopefully this post gives you an opportunity to see firsthand how peer review, discussion, testing, computer modeling and all modern elements of science are part and parcel to the Creation Science movement.   It is unfortunate that these men must break away from secular science, but the religion of Naturalism has had something of a Dark Ages effect upon science.   In almost every situation, a failure to bend the knee to Naturalism makes scientists who will not adhere to that religious belief persona non grata in secular circles.  We call this so-called science "Scientism."

Why is Scientism so bad for society?  Because of the millions of man hours and billions of dollars spent looking for some kind of evidence for evolution while that time could be spent helping cure diseases and providing new technology and help for the Third World population as well as mankind in general.  Secular Scientism is more interested in finding water on Mars than finding ways to provide electricity and food and water to help people help themselves.





Friday, September 21, 2012

Why Science Works? It was a belief in God that began modern science!

Talking real history and real science. (Hat tip to David Coppedge)

All quoted excerpts of summaries of great Creation scientists of the early days when science split off from superstition are from:
  

One of the world's most wicked lies is the one perpetrated on youth by Darwinists.   I will demonstrate that this evil lie is indeed a lie!  The Scientific Method is Methodological Investigation.    The evil lie is that is that it is rather Methodological Naturalism.   What if we declared that it was Methodological Creationism?   Imagine the cries of despair and anger?   How dare we insert religion into science?   Well, that is what the Naturalists have done.   Will you let them hoodwink YOU?

  Stevie live

What is Naturalism?  The Definition from Free Online Dictionary:

nat·u·ral·ism  (nchr--lzm, nchr-)

n.
1. Factual or realistic representation, especially:
a. The practice of describing precisely the actual circumstances of human life in literature.
b. The practice of reproducing subjects as precisely as possible in the visual arts.
2.
a. A movement or school advocating such precise representation.
b. The principles and methods of such a movement or of its adherents.
3. Philosophy The system of thought holding that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.
4. Theology The doctrine that all religious truths are derived from nature and natural causes and not from revelation.
5. Conduct or thought prompted by natural desires or instincts.

Notice that the philosophy of Naturalism rules the theology of Naturalism?   See that it has no place being forced upon science?  Is it any wonder that men who want to follow their "natural desires or instincts" no matter how wicked or perverse tend to be Darwinists? Naturalism is simply Paganism with a veneer of respectability.  To quote from my own post (presented in my modern format) of Saturday, February 04, 2006

"There is a faction of scientists who exclude the supernatural from their possibilities not on the basis of science, but philosophy. Let's hear from some of them:

"Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually- fulfilled atheist." - Richard Dawkins, Darwinian apologist.

"I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption ... For myself, as no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneous liberation from a certain political and economic system, and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom." - Aldous Huxley, philosopher, author, lecturer -(REPORT, June 1966. "Confession of Professed Atheist."}

"We [scientists] have … a prior commitment to materialism [and] we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations… Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” -Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review, January 9, 1997, p. 31.

"The Christian church, in its attitude toward science, shows the mind of a more or less enlightened man of the Thirteenth Century. It no longer believes that the earth is flat, but it is still convinced that prayer can cure after medicine fails." - H. L. Mencken

“[I suppose the reason] we all jumped at the Origin [of Species] was because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores.” - Julian Huxley, British biologist...:

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(H.L. Mencken was an idiot for believing that ANYONE but a few landlocked uneducated serfs thought the Earth was flat.   Not in the 13th Century, not in the 1st Century, not in the days of Noah and in fact probably never.   No one who had any familiarity with sailing ships and no group of Christians thought so either).  Yet another common Darwinist lie.


"...atheistic evolutionist, William Provine, said: “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods (worth having) exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent..."   From the article at the end of this blogpost.

The great early scientists would have rejected such nonsense out of hand.   It was a pagan concept to believe that nature is all there is and it is certainly a pagan belief that life makes itself  e.g. Vitalism.    Darwinists have brought superstition through the front door of science and then closed it to the logical foundation upon which science was built in the first place, that a Logical God created a world that could be studied and used logically!

The history and science that get taught in the average American school these days is full of untruth, half-truths and absolute lies.   No surprise as the schools get more secular, the average SAT score keeps going down even with admittedly dumbed-down standard questions.   One of the really warped ideas is that the Renaissance led humanity out of the Dark Ages.  Hardly!   The Renaissance was a movement primarily among the elites, concerning the elites and having no real effect on the masses.   Just as the majority of the Ivy League Elitists who tend to enter politics today, the majority of elitists in the early part of the emergence of science and literacy and the chance for prosperity and success for the middle class and lower class really were not involved and probably didn't care.

It was the Reformation, led by men like Martin Luther, that freed the vast majority of mankind from the rule of a quasi-Church that was the marriage of tyranny and ignorance for the purpose of enslaving the majority of mankind so that the leaders could continue to live rich and leisurely lives.  It was the Reformation that broke the yoke of the elitists off of the serfs and merchants and it was the education of the common man that helped this to happen.  Nuremberg's printing press began printing Bibles in defiance of the law.   Yes, it was illegal throughout most of Europe for a commoner to even possess a Bible! 

Why?  Uninformed people don't know that they can be anything more than they are, that they could actually understand things the priests and rulers told them were beyond their ken.   Ignorance is always one of the great weapons of tyranny and propaganda and brainwashing help spread and maintain ignorance.  But the Bible and men dedicated to educate mankind and discover truths about the wonders of God's creation brought about the end of the Dark Ages and started modern science.  Here are a few heroes of both faith and discovery: 

Robert Grossteste

The man who was (to the best of our knowledge)  the first to conceive of the forerunner of the Scientific Method was Robert Grossteste.   The Bishop of Lincoln, who came up with the "resolution and composition" idea (observation and application of observations) and was actually either Headmaster or Chancellor of Oxford University for several years.  He was an early proponent of hypothesis followed by experimentation and/or observation.  He was also part of the movement of the Reformation from within the Church itself.

"When studying any historical biography, we have to understand the tenor of the times.  The conditions in medieval Europe, totally dominated by the Catholic church, often corrupted by its own power, were often far from Christlike.  We would hasten to distance ourselves from the abuses that were all too pervasive: bloody Crusades, immoral popes, dogma and human tradition exalted above Scripture.  As mentioned in the Introduction, however, many of the abuses were done by the rulers, not the monks, pastors, and common people, except to the extent they believed and obeyed false doctrines.  Those nearest to the teachings of Jesus were the monks and pastors who knew the ancient languages, copied the Scriptures and had dedicated their lives to the gospel as they understood it (this can be illustrated by the fact that Jon Hus, Martin Luther and other later reformers often came from the ranks of monks).  Corrupted as church doctrine had become with works and extra-biblical traditions, there still remained a Christian outlook on the world of nature, though compromised at times by Greek philosophy (particularly of Aristotle).  It was the Christian worldview, in contrast to the mythologies of pagan empires, that was to be the seedbed of the scientific revolution.  (See our section on worldviews in the Introduction).

Robert Grosseteste was a seminal figure in the history of science; some have even characterized him as an early practitioner of the scientific method.  Although a theologian and bishop by profession, he took great interest in the natural world.  What drove this interest?  That is the question we want to explore.  Certainly most of his attention was devoted to the pastorate and the training of pastors, of which the Grosseteste website says, “During his eighteen years as a bishop, Grosseteste became known as a brilliant, but highly demanding, church leader.  He insisted that all his clergy be literate and receive some training in theology.” His insistence on high moral and intellectual standards even led him, on several occasions, to rebuke the church leadership.  He did not hesitate to lecture the pope on practices he felt were intolerable and unscriptural, such as corruption and political favoritism.  The InfoPlease online encyclopedia says, “Some historians see in Grosseteste’s protests against Rome an influence upon Wyclif and a foreshadowing of the Reformation.”  In particular, out of outrage for the corruption with which papal appointees were collecting church revenues, he resisted Pope Innocent IV to his face..." 

"...Notice how Genesis gave him the inspiration to pursue a mathematical analysis of light.  Robert Grosseteste is a prime example of how a Biblical worldview stimulated science.  In more than one case, an actual Bible verse was the stimulus.  This counters the criticism of naturalistic scientists that presume scientific research comes to a halt when the answer is “God did it.”  On the contrary, the question How did God do it? often spurred great thinkers to uncover the laws that they believed the great Lawgiver had designed. Grosseteste is memorable not only for his own scientific pursuits, but also for the fact that he was mentor to Roger Bacon, who caught the spark and envisioned even greater possibilities for the experimental method. "

Roger Bacon 

Roger Bacon is said to have produced a more modern iteration of the Scientific Method, building on Grossteste's  Method of Verification that resembles that final formulation we associate with Sir Francis Bacon.  

"Roger Bacon was a man ahead of his time.  In the so-called “Dark Ages,” he foresaw a world of flying machines, powered ships, telescopes and other inventions that would result from experimental science.  His faith in science was born out of his faith in God.  

Bacon studied at Oxford under the eminent Bishop of Lyons, Robert Grosseteste, who advocated the study of nature as evidence of the Creator.  Bacon performed systematic experiments on lenses and mirrors.  When he caught the excitement of what experimental science could do, he became an ardent promoter of the experimental method as a way to understand the world, improve the human condition, and avoid the errors of superstition and magic.  To Bacon, experimental science was superior to deduction from authority, having better accord with experience.  Bacon also saw the value of science as an apologetic, to draw people to faith in Christ. 

On this theme, Roger Bacon wrote to Pope Clement IV in 1266, suggesting it would be good for the church to gather the work of scholars into a great encyclopedia of the sciences.  The pope misunderstood his request and asked to see this encyclopedia, believing it already existed.  Fearing to disobey the pope, Bacon hurriedly performed a monumental achievement - writing a three-volume encyclopedia of the known science of his day (which even included a description of how to make a telescope).  He worked feverishly on this project in secret, since his superiors at the monastery did not approve of it.  Bacon wanted to demonstrate to the Pope that science was the friend of faith and should be a worthy part of the University curriculum...

"...Roger Bacon is rightly honored as being one of the fathers of the scientific method, fully 300 years before it became popular (largely through the philosophical writings of another but unrelated Bacon, Sir Francis, also a Bible believer).  While others in the thirteenth century were content with superstition, habit and acceptance of authority, Bacon saw the value of glorifying God through study of the world.  He believed science would draw people to faith in God.  It is interesting to note that it was the Christian thinkers in the Universities and in the monasteries who connected the dots between the Bible and science.  Bacon made errors, and had some superstitions of his own about alchemy and astrology (as did most people in his day), but he saw how experimental science could lead people away from the errors of superstition and magic by demonstrating how the world really works.

In order to think along these lines, clearly Roger Bacon had to have a Christian world view that nature was rational and obeyed natural laws.  While other cultures achieved successes in engineering or medicine through pragmatism, luck or necessity, Bacon’s point was philosophical (philo=love, soph=wisdom); he valued knowledge not just for its practical benefits, but for its own intrinsic value both as a means of avoiding error and for understanding the mind of God.  This was the foundation that led to a sustainable scientific enterprise.  His prophecies were to be vindicated hundreds of years later as experimental science was taken up vigorously by more great Christians - Kepler, Boyle, Newton and others - and the world would never be the same.

A crater on the moon is named in Roger Bacon’s honor..."

Sir Francis Bacon

This gentleman would be aghast and appalled with what Naturalists have done to science, dragging it back to the point of view prevalent during the days before real science began.  

If modern science was ethical and true, the metaphysical stance of the scientist would not be considered and his experiments, observations, publications, assertions and discoveries would be reviewed and considered logically without bringing religion into the discussion.   EVERYBODY has a religion.   Modern science suffers and is thereby harmful to mankind by refusing to allow non-Naturalists to join in normal peer review or normal organizations or have an opportunity to obtain tenure in Universities and probably even teach in them at all!   This is a shameful chapter in the history of science as a book written 150 years ago, much of it from ignorance, from lies, taken from the work of others and ignorant of much about which it addressed has been allowed to be an albatross around the neck of scientific discovery.  

If Richard Dawkins was placed in a room and forced to provide a logical and coherent worldview consistent with the evidence in order to leave that room,  we would never see him again.

"Is Christian philosophy good for science?  In this series we showcase many examples, but the case could hardly be made stronger than to point to Mr. Scientific Method himself, Sir Francis Bacon.

Although not a practicing scientist, Bacon is considered by many historians to be the “founder of modern science.”  His philosophy and writings were largely responsible for igniting the scientific revolution in the 17th century.  Numerous intellectuals like Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton seized on the “new philosophy” of Bacon that emphasized empiricism and induction.  Casting aside dependence on authorities like Aristotle, the new science exploded on the scene, yielding a wealth of discoveries and inventions that has continued unabated to this day.  But this “new philosophy” was really nothing new; it was a return to the principles of the Bible.  The “founder of modern science” was a Bible-believing Christian, and Christian doctrine was the foundation of his thinking..."

It is certain that the Scientific Method was Methodological Investigation.   It was the foundational thought by which the Maxwells and Newtons and Boyles considered and studied and discerned the world around them and provided new discoveries and even invented entire scientific disciplines.   Pretty much any major branch of science was started by a Creationist scientist.

"...The essence of Baconian philosophy is induction: instead of deducing the nature of Nature from authorities like Aristotle and Galen, scientists should build from the ground up.  Gather facts.  Measure things.  Collect and organize observational evidence, then build a hypothesis to explain them.  Test all hypotheses against the facts.  Bacon was convinced this method would provide a more certain path to truth than trust in fallible human reason, and would issue in a golden age of discovery.  The scientific method we learn in school is largely Baconian: gather observations, make a hypothesis to explain them, test the hypothesis, and reject all causes inconsistent with the observations.  Hypotheses that pass empirical tests can advance to theories and laws.

Philosophy of science has changed and matured quite a bit since Bacon, and philosophers continue to debate what constitutes science vs pseudoscience.  The Baconian ideal seems a little simplistic and impractical; we now recognize the need for scientific theories to make predictions, and the requirement for falsifiability in hypotheses.  No matter; the value of Bacon’s method was seen in its fruits: major new discoveries in chemistry, physics, biology and astronomy; the founding of new branches of science; the overturning of long-held false beliefs, and new institutions like the Royal Society.  One of the ironies of history was that the other Bacon in our series (Roger Bacon), had promoted the same value of experimental science three and a half centuries earlier.  It would make a good research project to look for any connections or influences of Roger on Sir Francis, other than that they were both Englishmen..."

One fraudulent doctrine taught by the high priests of Darwinism is that the early Christian scientists and philosophers were closet skeptics who wore a cloak of religion while having no personal belief in God.   This lie is easily dismissed by studying the volume of works and letters of these men discussing God and philosophy.   Sir Isaac Newton wrote more about God than he did about science.   Francis Bacon made it clear where he stood:

"...Francis Bacon was no closet skeptic; for him, the Bible was the key to liberating man from the fallible opinions of human authorities, and Genesis gave the impetus to take seriously our God-given role as stewards of creation.  That included doing science.  He viewed atheism as plebeian: “A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism,” he quipped, “but depth of philosophy bringeth a man’s mind about to religion.” (To an Elizabethan, religion was synonymous with Christianity.)  Similarly, he said “Philosophy, when superficially studied, excites doubt; when thoroughly explored, it dispels it.”  In a statement congruent with the modern Intelligent Design Movement, he declared, “I had rather believe all the fables in the legends and the Talmud and the Alcoran [Koran], than that this universal frame is without a mind.”  For Francis Bacon, science was an act of worship as well as a shield against falsehood.  He said, “There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error: first, the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures, which express His power...”

It is fitting to end with a piece by a great Creation Scientist of Y3K, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, Chess Grandmaster, genius, scientist, author and one of the most respected and accomplished of scientists who do acknowledge the creation of the Universe by God.

Why does science work at all?

Telescope
 stockxpert
Many anti-Christians claim that Christianity and science have been enemies for centuries. This is the opposite of the truth. Informed historians of science, including non-Christians, have pointed out that modern science first flourished under a Christian worldview while it was stillborn in other cultures such as ancient Greece, China and Arabia.1

This should be no surprise when we ask why science works at all. There are certain essential features that make science possible, and they simply did not exist in non-Christian cultures.2
  1. There is such a thing as objective truth. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). But postmodernism, for example, denies objective truth. One example is, “What’s true for you is not true for me.” So maybe they should try jumping off a cliff to see if the Law of Gravity is true for them. Another postmodern claim is, “There is no truth”—so is that statement true?; or “We can’t know truth”—so how do they know that?
  2. The universe is real, because God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1). This sounds obvious, but many eastern philosophies believe that everything is an illusion (so is that belief an illusion as well?). There is no point in trying to investigate an illusion by experimenting on it.
  3. The universe is orderly, because God is a God of order, not of confusion—(1 Corinthians 14:33). But if there is no creator, or if Zeus and his gang were in charge, why should there be any order at all? If some Eastern religions were right that the universe is a great Thought, then it could change its mind any moment.
    A postmodern claim is, ‘We can’t know truth’—so how do they know that?
    It is impossible to prove from nature that it is orderly, because the proofs would have to presuppose this very order to try to prove it. Also, in this fallen world with natural disasters and thunderstorms and general chaos, it is not so obvious that it was made by an orderly Creator. This is a major message of the book of Ecclesiastes—if we try to live our lives only according to what is “under the sun”, the result is futility. Hence our chief end is to “Fear God and keep his commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
    A fundamental facet of science is deriving laws that provide for predictable outcomes. This is possible only because the universe is orderly.
  4. Since God is sovereign, He was free to create as He pleased. So the only way to find out how His creation works is to investigate and experiment, not rely on man-made philosophies as did the ancient Greeks.
    This is illustrated with Galileo Galilei (1564–1642). He showed by experiment that weights fall at the same speed (apart from air resistance), which refuted the Greek philosophy that heavy objects fall faster. He also showed by observation that the sun had spots, refuting the Greek notion that the heavenly bodies are “perfect”. (See also p. 49.)

    Many eastern philosophies believe that everything is an illusion (so is 
    that belief an illusion as well?).
    Another example is Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), who discovered that planets moved in ellipses around the sun. This refuted the Greek philosophies that insisted on circles because they are the most “perfect” shapes; this didn’t match the observations, so they added an increasingly cumbersome system of circles upon circles called epicycles.
    Images Wikipedia.org
    Scientists
    But when it comes to origins as opposed to today’s processes, God has revealed that He created about 6,000 years ago over six normal-length days, and judged the earth with a globe-covering flood about 4,500 years ago. It’s thus no accident that Kepler calculated a Creation date of 3992 BC, and Isaac Newton (1643–1727), probably the greatest scientist of all time, also strongly defended biblical chronology.
  5. Man can and should investigate the world, because God gave us dominion over His creation (Genesis 1:28); creation is not itself divine. So we don’t need to sacrifice to the forest god to cut down a tree, or appease the water spirits to measure its boiling point. Rather, as Kepler said, his scientific thoughts were “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”
    Many other founders of modern science also saw their scientific research as bringing glory to God. Newton said:
    “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. … This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called ‘Lord God’ Παντοκράτωρ [Pantokratōr cf. 2 Corinthians 6:18] or ‘Universal Ruler’. … The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect … ”.3
    “Opposite to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors.4
  6. Man can initiate thoughts and actions; they are not merely the results of deterministic laws of brain chemistry. This is a deduction from the biblical teaching that man has both a material and immaterial aspect (e.g. Genesis 35:18, 1 Kings 17:21–22, Matthew 10:28). This immaterial aspect of man means that he is more than matter, so his thoughts are likewise not bound by the makeup of his brain.

    The immaterial aspect of man means that he is more than matter, so his thoughts are likewise not bound by the makeup of his brain.
    But if materialism were true, then “thought” is just an epiphenomenon of the brain, and the results of the laws of chemistry. Thus, given their own presuppositions, materialists have not freely arrived at their conclusion that materialism is true, because their conclusion was predetermined by brain chemistry. But then, why should their brain chemistry be trusted over mine, since both obey the same infallible laws of chemistry? So in reality, if materialists were right, then they can’t even help what they believe (including their belief in materialism!). Yet they often call themselves “freethinkers”, overlooking the glaring irony. Genuine initiation of thought is an insuperable problem for materialism, as is consciousness itself.5
  7. Man can think rationally and logically, and that logic itself is objective. This is a deduction from the fact that he was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27), and from the fact that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the logos (John 1:1–3). This ability to think logically has been impaired but not eliminated by the Fall of man into sinful rebellion against his Creator. (The Fall means that sometimes the reasoning is flawed, and sometimes the reasoning is valid but from the wrong premises. So it is folly to elevate man’s reasoning above what God has revealed in Scripture.6) But if evolution were true, then there would be selection only for survival advantage, not necessarily for rationality.
  8. Results should be reported honestly, because God has forbidden false witness (Exodus 20:16). But if evolution were true, then why not lie? It is not that surprising that scientific fraud is an increasing problem.7
    Flasks
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    Note, it’s important to understand the point here—not that atheists can’t be moral but that they have no objective basis for this morality from within their own system. The fanatical atheistic evolutionist Dawkins admits that our “best impulses have no basis in nature,”8 and another atheistic evolutionist, William Provine, said: “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods (worth having) exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.”9
If evolution were true, then there would be selection only for survival advantage, not necessarily for rationality.
It is thus no accident that science has flowered since the Reformation, where the Bible’s authority was rediscovered. And it is no accident that the country with the strongest remnants of Bible-based Christian faith, the USA, leads the world by a mile in the output of useful science.

However, the Western world is largely living on the capital of its Christian heritage. But the push to indoctrinate students into evolution, and therefore atheism (at least for all practical purposes), undermines these Christian foundations of science (cf. Psalm 11:3). Thus evolutionary teaching will not improve science, but destroy it.

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being.”—Sir Isaac Newton

Related articles

Further reading

References and notes

  1. Stark, R., For the Glory of God: How monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunts and the end of slavery, Princeton University Press, 2003; see also review by Williams A., The biblical origins of science, Journal of Creation 18(2):49–52, 2004; . Return to text.
  2. I acknowledge Sean Wieland’s input into such a list. Return to text.
  3. Principia, Book III; cited in; Newton’s Philosophy of Nature: Selections from his writings, ed. Thayer, H.S., Hafner Library of Classics, New York, USA, p. 42, 1953. Return to text.
  4. A Short Scheme of the True Religion, manuscript quoted in Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton by Sir David Brewster, Edinburgh, p. 347, 1855. Return to text.
  5. Thompson, B. and Harrub, B., Consciousness: the king of evolutionary problems, CRSQ 41(2):113–130, 2004. Return to text.
  6. Sarfati, J., Loving God with all your mind: Logic and creation, Journal of Creation 12(2):142–151, 1998; . Return to text.
  7. Bergman, J., Why the epidemic of fraud exists in science today, Journal of Creation 18(3):104–109, 2004. Return to text.
  8. Evolution: The dissent of Darwin, Psychology Today, 30(1):62, January/February 1997. Return to text.
  9. Provine, W.B. (Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University, USA), Origins Research 16(1/2):9, 1994; Darwin Day at the University of Tennessee, Dr William Provine (abstract), . Return to text.

The operational science behind truth-why we know organisms are designed!


While we wait for Darwinists NOT to answer the Biogenesis Question just like they did not answer the Information Question,  I wanted you to see this view of the work of Intelligent Design science in the realm of textbooks.   Intelligent Design is real science, observing and testing in real time but, unlike Darwinists, unwilling as a group to identify a Creator/Designer.   

"The typical Darwinian response is an appeal to mutations, so this is where Dembski and Wells turn their attention next. They note several problems for the Darwinist: first, mutations are rare; second, most mutations are harmful; third, the kinds of changes that would be required for actually originating new biological structures are multifarious. This final point is particularly important, and given extensive space." Source below:

Nothing made everything? 

An ‘introduction’, in-depth

A review of The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems by William A. Dembski and Jonathan Wells

Foundation for Thought and Ethics, Dallas, TX, 2008

reviewed by Lael Weinberger
Design of Life

When first hearing the advertising for The Design of Life, I suspect many were skeptical about the value of yet another ‘introduction to intelligent design.’1 Are there not enough already? We have Phillip Johnson’s classic, Darwin on Trial, Dembski’s Intelligent Design, and Wells’ Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, to name a few that are all touted as great ‘introductions’ to the Darwin versus design debate. But The Design of Life was written for a somewhat different audience, as its textbook-style indicates. The Design of Life was designed as a follow up volume to Of Pandas and People,2 the successful textbook on design that has been around for almost two decades. While The Design of Life was in the works, Pandas was making headlines in its own way. In a small Pennsylvania town in 2004, a school board passed a resolution requiring teachers to tell students that Darwinism was ‘not a fact’. Teachers were instructed to inform students that they could learn about an alternative theory of origins, intelligent design (ID), by consulting a reference book in the school library, Of Pandas and People. The end result was a highly publicized court case that struck down the school’s pro-ID policy.3 The court did not go so far as to take the ID textbook, Of Pandas and People, off the school bookshelves. But the book in the midst of this controversy has not had an update since 1993, well before modern ID’s most important arguments were even put forward.

Filling the need for a fresh textbook presentation is where The Design of Life comes in. The Design of Life now fills an important position, as one of the most systematic (and up-to-date) presentations of the case for biological intelligent design.

Making the case, strategically

Photo from wikipedia.com
Dembski
Can evolution explain the human mind? Dembski and Wells introduce this subject with a discussion of William Sidis (1898–1944), considered to be one of the smartest people to have ever lived. Sidis is pictured here at his graduation from Harvard in 1914, when he was sixteen years old. 

The Design of Life opens with a chapter on human origins, focusing especially on the mind and evolution. The chapter begins with the fascinating story of William Sidis (1898–1944), ‘perhaps the smartest person who ever lived’ (p. 1). He was reading the New York Times when he was eighteen months old, taught himself Latin at age two, and graduated cum laude from Harvard at age sixteen. Dembski and Wells then transition to a discussion of the gap between man and the great apes. After a quick survey of the fossil record, they return to the issue of intellect with a critique of the evolutionary explanation for Homo sapiens’ big brain. If the evolution of the brain is not difficult enough for evolutionists, Dembski and Wells bring in the origins of morality and altruism, critiquing the explanations proposed by E.O. Wilson and the sociobiology school.

From the start, Dembski and Wells are tactically astute. They are hitting evolution where the evolutionists are often most uncomfortable, and where observers already have their strongest instinct against naturalism. So as they proceed with the book, their readers will already have some healthy scepticism regarding evolution.

ID systematics

The more systematic treatment of evolutionary theory begins with chapter two, ‘Genetics and Macroevolution’. This chapter is worth summarizing, as it gives a good sense of the overall tone of the book: generally familiar concepts get fresh presentations and newer research, in a systematic, textbook format.

The Design of Life now fills an important position, as one of the most systematic (and up-to-date) presentations of the case for biological intelligent design.

This chapter introduces the concept of natural selection, and points out that Darwin did not originate the idea of natural selection—Dembski and Wells mention Edward Blyth, a ‘proponent of design in biology’ (more precisely, a creationist when he formulated his theory of natural selection), as one notable researcher who beat Darwin to the idea (p. 27). What was original with Darwin was the ascription of creative powers to natural selection, in contrast to Blyth’s much more limited conception of natural selection as a ‘conservative’ ‘quality control’ force (p. 27). But since natural selection acts only on pre-existing structures, Darwin’s problem was that he needed ‘something within organisms to give rise to new traits’ before natural selection could begin to act on them (p. 29).

Darwin knew nothing of Mendel’s discoveries in genetics, but today this is the flashpoint of controversy. Dembski and Wells devote several pages to explaining the basic principles of genetics sufficiently for a lay reader, including an explanation of how natural selection operates at the genetic level. Observed examples of natural selection acting on species—such as the distribution pattern of varieties of the English sparrow in the United States—involve natural selection selecting ‘advantageous combinations of genes already present.’ But this leaves unanswered the key question for Darwinists: ‘does natural selection merely preserve existing genes or does it also help to create new ones (as it must if it is to bring about the novel genetic information required to originate new species)?’ (pp. 34–36).

Photo taken by Jessica Spykerman
Dembski and Wells argue that the giraffe poses a problem for Darwinism: the individual components of the giraffe’s ‘adaptational package’ do not serve any purpose until the whole system is in place. So how could natural selection have ‘selected’ for the giraffe’s ‘package’?

Dembski and Wells argue that the giraffe poses a problem for Darwinism: the individual components of the giraffe’s ‘adaptational package’ do not serve any purpose until the whole system is in place. So how could natural selection have ‘selected’ for the giraffe’s ‘package’?

The typical Darwinian response is an appeal to mutations, so this is where Dembski and Wells turn their attention next. They note several problems for the Darwinist: first, mutations are rare; second, most mutations are harmful; third, the kinds of changes that would be required for actually originating new biological structures are multifarious. This final point is particularly important, and given extensive space.

Another way of saying it is that a single mutation is often inherently incapable of producing the kind of change that would be beneficial; thus, natural selection would not select for the mutation; thus it is useless for explaining the origins of new biological information. Dembski and Wells cite the giraffe’s neck, the classic example4 of what they call an ‘adaptational package’: the giraffe has a long neck and long legs, neither of which would be useful without a powerful heart to get blood to the brain. Yet with this setup alone, the blood vessels in the giraffe’s brain would burst and kill the giraffe if it lowered its head to get a drink of water. The reason giraffes survive is a complex coordinated system of blood pressure controls.

The point of all this is to illustrate that the adaptational package does not serve any purpose until the whole system is in place. (This really is another form of ‘irreducible complexity’, although in practice, Dembski and Wells limit the use of that term to biochemical settings.) Thus, ‘to generate an adaptational package requires not piecemeal change but integrated, systematic change’ (p. 44). This requires information, and massive amounts of it all at once. Intelligence, Dembski and Wells remind us, is the only source that we know of ‘capable of generating information such as we see in biological systems’ (p. 44). They then round out the chapter by addressing evo-devo (evolutionary developmental biology), which some evolutionists have proposed as the key to the origin of new biological features.

Further chapters examine the fossil record; explain speciation to rebut the Darwinian claim that we have observed ‘evolution in action’; critique genetic phylogenies; and respond to arguments from homology. The chapter on irreducible complexity marks a subtle change in emphasis, from negative (arguments against Darwinism) to positive (arguments for design). Dembski and Wells review the original arguments for irreducible complexity that Michael Behe made over a decade ago and devote substantial space to answering the criticisms from Darwinists.

A sophisticated presentation of complexity

Intelligence, Dembski and Wells remind us, is the only source that we know of ‘capable of generating information such as we see in biological systems’

Dembski and Wells make two important observations regarding irreducible complexity arguments that are often missed in popular discussion. First, they identify two distinct arguments that come under the term ‘irreducible complexity’: a logical argument and an empirical argument. The logical argument states that no direct Darwinian pathway5 can account for an irreducibly complex system. The empirical argument states that no indirect Darwinian pathway6 has been identified. Keeping these arguments straight highlights the extremely limited range of options that Darwinists have to work with if they want to answer the irreducible complexity argument.

Second, Dembski and Wells succinctly distinguish and explain the negative and positive sides of the irreducible complexity argument:
In making its logical and empirical points, the argument from irreducible complexity assumes a negative or critical role, identifying limitations of the Darwinian mechanism. By contrast, in making its explanatory point, the argument from irreducible complexity assumes a positive or constructive role, providing positive grounds for thinking that irreducibly complex biochemical systems are in fact designed.’ (p. 159).
This distinction is important because it answers the key philosophical objection that Darwinists have leveled against irreducible complexity, namely, that it is an ‘argument from ignorance—you don’t know how it could have evolved, so therefore, it must have been designed.’ But this objection would only be true if the negative side of irreducible complexity were all that we had to work with. Because irreducible complexity has a positive side, it is an argument from knowledge, not from ignorance.7
 
Next is a lengthy chapter on ‘specified complexity’. This is probably the most conceptually difficult chapter in the book, but it is explained thoroughly and well. The chapter is not simply a repeat of the many summaries that Dembski has already written of his mathematical ‘explanatory filter’ (explaining that ‘complex specified information’ is statistically explainable only by design).8 In fact, Dembski and Wells do not so much as mention the ‘explanatory filter’ by name, explaining it all in a way that felt fresh, if the basic ideas were not. (Actually, for those who—like myself—have read many variations on the theme of explaining Dembski’s explanatory filter, The Design of Life’s version would have been easier to follow with more explicit references to that filter.)

 machineani.gif
The bacterial flagellum is an example of what Michael Behe describes as an irreducibly complex system. In his book, Darwin's Black Box, he explains that such irreducibly complex systems could not have arisen by a gradual step-by-step Darwinian process.

The final chapter revisits the origin of life controversy. Oparin, Haldane and the Miller–Urey experiment9 all get coverage, but with more space allocated to discussion of new proposals, such as ‘RNA first’,10 the ‘iron-sulfur model’ and others. The chapter concludes with a return to the theme of information science and the necessity of an information source that is intelligent and ‘cannot be reduced to materialistic causes’ (p. 261).

The audience

The Design of Life will be particularly useful to two groups of readers. First, it will provide a good introduction for those who have some familiarity with science, but have had no real exposure to design arguments. Dembski and Wells’ presentation is sufficiently thorough and systematic that even someone fairly committed to Darwinism will have difficulty sidestepping.

Second, it will be helpful for those who have already been introduced to the Darwin-versus-design debate with popular level literature (such as Wells’ Politically Incorrect Guide) or older literature (such as Phillip Johnson’s classic, Darwin on Trial). The Design of Life will fill in a lot of the detail and sophistication that is lacking in the popular level literature, and will bring readers up to speed on the most important new arguments.

The Design of Life fits in as a bridge between these two fields, both facilitating the transfer of sophisticated argument to a popular audience and equipping budding academics

The demographic that probably won’t be reading The Design of Life is the general public, the readers of New York Times bestsellers. For the average man-on-the-street, this is probably not the best introduction. But there are plenty of good popular level books on this subject. If The Design of Life furthers the goal of convincing people who are at least somewhat more serious about science than the man on the street, if it helps design proponents make more sophisticated arguments, the book will have done its job. Beating a foe like Darwinism requires that the fight be waged on many fronts. We cannot afford to focus on either the ivory tower or on public opinion to the exclusion of the other. The Design of Life fits in as a bridge between these two fields, both facilitating the transfer of sophisticated argument to a popular audience and equipping budding academics.

A caveat about ID

The Design of Life is squarely within the Intelligent Design (ID) camp. This book embodies many of the valuable contributions that ID has made to the origins debate, most notably fresh presentations of important creationist arguments (such as the argument based on information). But this book also embraces the key philosophical and theological flaw in the ID movement: the unwillingness to identify the designer. The issue is rarely addressed in the book, but when it comes up, Dembski and Wells quickly make it clear that the designer need not look at all like any typical concept of God (certainly not the God of Scripture). They write, ‘ … an intelligence that brought life into existence need not be supernatural—it could be a teleological organizing principle that is built into nature and thus be perfectly natural’ (p. 262).

This, of course, is in line with ID’s ‘big tent’ strategy, trying to unite all possible opponents to Darwinism from whatever religious background. Strategically, this is supposed to bring together the most possible people to oppose Darwinism, and also emphasize the scientific (as opposed to ‘religious’) basis for design. That this is generally well intentioned I have no doubt. But when this allows for appeals to ‘teleological organizing principles’, the efficacy of this strategy is questionable—it hardly sounds ‘more respectable’ than the discredited vitalism or ‘life force’ that some early evolutionists appealed to,11 with almost pantheistic overtones.12 (Vitalism is refuted by the biblical teaching that God finished His work of creation after Day 6 (Gen. 2:3).)

It’s also worth noting that ID’s ‘big tent’ claim rings hollow at times. While the ID camp does credit young-earth creationists for opposing evolution and for pioneering the information argument (Prof. A.E. Wilder-Smith13), they too often pretend by omission that YECs make little contributions to the design argument today.14
 
Whether leaving the identity of the designer for later is good strategy or not, it is assuredly bad theology. Salvation rests not on the fact that we were designed, but on the intervention of the designer as the identifiable Saviour, Jesus Christ.15 And soteriology is just the tip of the iceberg. If Christianity is true, and the Bible is the very revelation of God, then we have a duty to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, to do all things to the glory of God. As Christians, we must recognize God’s sovereignty over biology as well as everything else. But the standard ID approach states that if design happened, the identity of the designer is a question that is yet to be determined. Unfortunately, this stands in opposition to any robust Christian scholarship. If, on the one hand, we believe God’s word to be the truth, and God to be the sovereign creator of all things, it does not appear consistent to say on the other hand that the designer’s identity is inconsequential (or, worse, is ‘up for grabs’) in the field of science.16 Avoiding the identity of the designer has another significant problem: it gets in the way of important scientific and philosophical theorizing.

Dembski and Wells suggest that we don’t have to know the designer’s identity to learn things about that designer—we don’t have to know who the designer is to recognize that the designer is ‘not less than a nano-engineer’, for instance (p. 254). What this standard ID position fails to recognize, however, is that this minimalist approach fails to meet another aspect of the Darwinian challenge.

And as long as the ID camp is unwilling to face the question of the identity of the designer, it never will be able to offer an alternate historical account of origins.

Darwinism is history as much as it is anything else. Since ID lacks a coherent history of the acts of a designer, it has two major vulnerabilities that misotheists (like Richard Dawkins) and theistic evolutionists (like Kenneth Miller, see pp. 19–23)17 exploit:
  1. Apparent ‘bad design’ in the world, as well as design features that are designed to hurt. But biblical creationists recognize that we live in a cursed world that resulted from the Fall of Adam, so we are not seeing the world as originally created.
  2. Extinctions and the fossil record: why would a designer be so incompetent that his creatures die out? But this death is not only the result of the Fall, but also the global Flood.18
And as long as the ID camp is unwilling to face the question of the identity of the designer, it never will be able to offer an alternate historical account of origins. Without the historical framework (which does depend on the identity of the designer), ID can challenge Darwinism on many fronts, but it does not have the stuff to replace Darwinism. In the words of an old political cliché, ‘You can’t beat something with nothing.’19
All of this to say, The Design of Life, like all ID materials, must be used with care. Biblical creationists cannot adopt the theological strategy of ID, but at the same time, we cannot afford to miss out on the important work done by the ID community. We must be strategic and make the most of the common interests we share with ID, without compromising our theological and philosophical position.

Conclusion

The Design of Life is a well-conceived and well-written textbook. And the textbook label should not be taken to mean that the book is any less interesting than it would have been in another format. True, books usually sell to general audiences when they are enjoyable to read, and textbooks generally sell to a captive audience of students who are required to read the books by their teachers. Often, as a result, textbooks can afford to be painstaking with detail and choppy in presentation. But Dembski and Wells cannot count on their book being assigned by many teachers at the moment. Contrary to the textbook stereotype, Dembski and Wells managed to use a textbook format for some very good and readable writing, synthesizing a great amount of information. Hopefully, it will get the attention it deserves.

Related Articles

Further reading

References

  1. Before its release, Dembski was calling it ‘The definitive book on intelligent design’ on his website. The Design of Life , 6 December 2007, . Return to text.
  2. Davis, P. and Kenyon, D.H., Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins, 2nd ed., Foundation for Thought and Ethics, Dallas, 1993. Return to text.
  3. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Sch. Dist., 400 F. Supp. 2d 707 (M.D. Pa. 2005). For a detailed critique of the court opinion itself, see DeWolf, D.K., West, J.G. and Luskin, C., Intelligent Design will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover, Montana Law Review 68:7, 2007. Return to text.
  4. The giraffe has been frequently discussed in creationist literature: see, e.g. Bergman, J., The giraffe’s neck: another icon of evolution falls, J. Creation 16(1)120–127, 2002; Jaroncyk, R. and Wieland, C., The giraffe’s neck: icon of evolution or icon of creation? creation.com/giraffe2, 5 January 2007. Return to text.
  5. That is, a pathway in which each step advances one functional goal, which can then be ‘selected’ by natural selection. Return to text.
  6. That is, a pathway in which each step advances one functional goal, which can then be ‘selected’ by natural selection, and is then later co-opted for an entirely different function, which can then itself be ‘selected’ by natural selection. Return to text.
  7. See further: Weinberger, L., Whose god? Identifying the god of the gaps, J. Creation 22(1)120–127, 2008. Return to text.
  8. The primary source on this argument is Dembski, The Design Inference, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998, reviewed by Truman, R., Divining design, J. Creation 13(2):34–39, 1999. For popular level expositions of the argument, see Dembski, Intelligent Design, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, pp. 153–83, 1999; Dembski, Signs of Intelligence, in Dembski, W.A. and Kushiner, J.M., (Eds.), Signs of Intelligence, Brazos Press, Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 171–92, 2001. Return to text.
  9. See Bergman, J., Why the Miller Urey research argues against abiogenesis, J. Creation 18(2):74–82, 2002. Return to text.
  10. See also Mills, G.C. and Kenyon, D.H., The RNA World: A Critique, Origins and Design 17(1):9–16, 1996; . Return to text.
  11. See, for examples, Serafini, A., The Epic History of Biology, Plenum, New York, pp. 142, 176, 236, 1993. The post-Darwinian vitalists thought that their theory saved evolution from materialism, fearing (as one historian has written) ‘that if there is no superadded life force in living beings, … nothing but matter is left.’ Barzun, J., Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage, Doubleday, Garden City, NY, p. 52, 1958. Return to text.
  12. Compare also Pièrre Teilhard de Chardin’s mystical description of ‘directed evolution’ (which, he believed, culminated in ‘something he termed the ‘Omega point’, which he identified with Jesus Christ’). Ruse, M., Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 85, 2001; reviewed by Weinberger, L., Preaching to his own choir, J. Creation 19(2):42–45, 2005. Teilhard, actually, probably would not mind having his work characterized as somewhat pantheist in its overtones—he was quite forthright about acknowledging his sympathies for elements of pantheism. See his essay, Pantheism and Christianity; in: Teilhard de Chardin, P., Christianity and Evolution, René Hague, trans., Harcourt, New York, pp. 56–75, 2002. See also Lane, D.H., The Phenomenon of Teilhard: Prophet for a New Age, Mercer University Press, Macon, GA, 1996. Return to text.
  13. Dembski, W., www.designinference.com/documents/2005.02.Reply_to_Henry_Morris.htm, 1 February 2005; and see the critical response by Sarfati, J., ID theorist blunders on Bible, creation.com/dembski, 7 February 2005. Return to text.
  14. For example, Sarfati, J., By Design: Evidence for nature’s Intelligent Designer—the God of the Bible, Creation Book Publishers, 2008. Return to text.
  15. Sarfati, ref. 14, ch. 16. Return to text.
  16. This problem with ID can also be stated in more philosophical terms: basically, ID has embraced the naïve Baconian approach to science, empirical research, and objectivity. See Weinberger, L., The problem with naturalism, the problem with empiricism, J. Creation 22(2):28–31, 2008. Return to text.
  17. Woodmorrappe, J., Miller’s meanderings: only the same bogus contentions, J. Creation 23(1):19–23, 2009. Return to text.
  18. Sarfati, ref. 14, chs. 12–13. Return to text.
  19. Although, as other writers have pointed out, just because nothing is offered ‘in place of theory X’ hardly means that theory X (Darwinism in this case) is correct. Return to text.
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The ID movement has succeeded in bringing real science into the question of origins by doing actual observations and experiments and carefully studying organisms and their designs, revealing that organisms are designed and remarkably so, far beyond the comprehension of mankind.   We are just learning how to copy these designs and taking baby steps trying to mimic the power of DNA as a model for information storage.

But scientific discoveries are just part of all the information that people consider (hopefully) when they construct a worldview.   I like to alert students to the repercussions that are involved with one's first determination about the question of God.
  1. God is smarter than mankind
  2. Mankind is smarter than God
  3. There is no God
If you think that God is smarter than mankind, then you can accept the Biblical version of the creation of all things as point by point modern science comes into agreement with you.   You will know where to find the meaning of life, morality and real wisdom.

If you think mankind is smarter than God, then you will keep being wrong and having to change everything again and again.    Your morality will be pick and choose and likely situational ethics and your own feelings will rule.  You will be able to be suckered into believing in the next Arsenate Bacteria or Bathybius orPakicetus.

If you think there is no God then you will be desperate to believe in Darwinist propaganda because the pain of having no reason for living and no standards of behavior and even no support for free will or the ability to count on your thoughts being real. 

Your answer will impact every single portion of your worldview going forward.    Are there other worldviews?  Agnostics are just Atheists who don't want to admit it.   I would assert that there is a fourth category - 4. God is to be detested.     This is the most hopeless of attitudes.   What actual joy does the Atheopath have?   All life is random and purposeless, it is Atheism on life support.   Atheopaths usually post comments as anonymous as well.   Odd, that?

 

 Yes, the Bible is primarily a book of history and instruction and prophecies and wisdom, but it is also full of stories to encourage and warn and definitely does speak occasionally on matters such as science.   What God says is far more reliable than what Stephen Hawking says.   At those times God speaks to science, it is authoritative/   Once you know that, it makes finding sense in the evidence much easier and the fairy tales can be cast aside. 

There are several publications of a technical nature that I admire, but I do believe the best is probably the Journal of Creation.   It contains articles for laymen, semi-technical articles and full-blown technical papers requiring basic skills in the discipline to comprehend.   I tend to gag at any math beyond quadratic equations but otherwise such journals have greatly expanded my knowledge of biology in particular and the wide spectrum of actual sciences in general.

Normally I do not include the "marketing" portion of articles I copy and attribute and opine about.   However the books and DVDs available at Creation.com are well-supported.   You will find no Piltdown Man here, most of the resources will also be found at Amazon.