Thursday, August 28, 2008

Darwin Overdose

My generation overdosed on Darwin. And, though many who overdose make it back to the land of the living, some aren't quite the same. Drugs have their consequences, and so do many other additions we overdose on.

To quote Mark Batterson, "Much of the angst created (pardon the pun) by the Darwinian overdose is the subconscious result of being taught that we are accidents descended from apes or amoeba. If you really believe this, it's an epistemological parasite that eventually sucks the meaning out of life.

How sad.

For more from me (though on entirely differennt topics) go to

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Absence

Sorry it's been so long since I've written. Apologetics is actually a thrilling past time for me. However, I pastor a large and growing church and cannot always attend to this blog. Rest assured I will write when I can!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Check your brain at the (School) door

Expelled: Kicking Intelligence Out of Our Schools

This new film is causing quite a stir as it looks at the anti intelligent design (another name for, “Life by random stupidity”) school and the lunacy of protecting at all costs the scientific status quo…

It stars Ferris Bueler’s teacher from, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off—”Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”

That ring a bell?

Well, this guy (Ben Stein) was that teacher, but he is also a writer, public speaker, gutsy debater, and political activist. Recently, he became deeply involved in a film project that challenges the neo-Darwinian scientific community and exposes their hostility to intelligent design and all those who believe in it. The producers of Renewing Your Mind caught up with Mr. Stein during a preview of his new film entitled Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The movie opens nationwide April 18.

Now, before I say another word about this movie, let me first make a prediction. And I’ll hold myself to the Old Testament standard for prophets on this one (death by stoning if you get even one prophecy wrong). That’s how confident I am. So go ahead and gather your rocks, but you won’t be using them on me. No, the critics are too busy wasting all there ammo on the movie. Saying things like:

Where are the facts? Ben Stein is a horrible, boring, manipulative little man! <— Not sure where this fits in a critic of the movie. The movie is slammed for it’s supposedly poor production, it’s shrouded attempt at forcing religion on us all (help me, please, the nuns are trying to hurt me!), it’s lack of facts, it’s peer pressure approach, the target audience, etc. Almost sounds like…

Well, the Darwinist’s typical approach.

Now I remember where I’ve seen that. In short, there seems to be an almost panicky attempt to discredit this film with bullying and condescension and rolling out the all out blogging blitz!

I think Shakespeare might have described this bizarre behavior best in his play, Hamlet, act III, when the queen said, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

Just makes me want to see this film all the more.

You won’t want to miss this one!

Check out these other sites for more…

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Only a fool...

Sure there is no God?

CIMG0554This is a continuation of yesterday’s post. I have a few more amazing moments from the Georgia Aquarium to share with you all.

Perhaps the greatest Homer Simpson moment (DOOP!) was seeing all the incredible efforts human beings have to go through in order to keep the fish in one of the relatively small exhibits alive. Here is a sampling:

  1. There is a waterfall (or water dump) that occurs (it’s on a timer) every 2 minutes in order to simulate the waves and currents common to thriving reef areas.
  2. Another affect is that the cascading water stirs up the other water and pumps in oxygen at a pace that never stops. If it stops or goes off timing just a bit, fish will begin to die.
  3. Above the small exhibit are huge florissant lights and blue lights and lights I never heard of that simulate sunlight so that the proper amount of algae and plankton can thrive.
  4. There are heaters
  5. There are coolers
  6. The temperature needs to stay no higher than about 83 or so and no lower than 77, or, fish die.

There’s a lot more. Our guide went into great detail and unfortunately, I didn’t write it down. Suffice it to say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a closer look at the picture above.

Ah huh.

Looks like the lab from that show, “Bill Nie the Science Guy.”

Compare that to God’s lab.

  1. Sunlight
  2. Coral
  3. Waves and current from the ocean
  4. All natural
  5. Perfectly balanced
  6. Man can only hurt, not help the real environment.
  7. Oh, and God’s aquarium for similar reef presentations is slightly bigger. It’s called the Great Barrier Reef!

Mind numbing.

So everyone of us who looks at creation and comes up with any conclusion other than God is without excuse.

God is that obvious.

18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.[i] 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. Romans 1:18–27 (NLT)

What a weekend! Here are some more pictures from the Aquarium. Enjoy!

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The strangest creatures of all!



Friday, March 7, 2008

A Dying Theory

I interrupt my previously scheduled blog on truth for this important (but almost tiresome) announcement...

The following article is posted here to show what is really going on behind the scenes with "evolution."

Read it and weep -- or, rejoice, whatever your position dictates.

Mazur: Altenberg! The Woodstock of Evolution?

Altenberg! The Woodstock of Evolution?

By Suzan Mazur

It's not Yasgur's Farm, but what happens at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Altenberg, Austria this July promises to be far more transforming for the world than Woodstock. What it amounts to is a gathering of 16 biologists and philosophers of rock star stature – let's call them "the Altenberg 16" – who recognize that the theory of evolution which most practicing biologists accept and which is taught in classrooms today, is inadequate in explaining our existence. It's pre the discovery of DNA, lacks a theory for body form and does not accomodate "other" new phenomena. So the theory Charles Darwin gave us, which was dusted off and repackaged 70 years ago, seems about to be reborn as the "Extended Evolutionary Synthesis".

Papers are in. MIT will publish the findings in 2009 – the 150th anniversary of Darwin's publication of the Origin of Species. And despite the fact that organizers are downplaying the Altenberg meeting as a discussion about whether there should be a new theory, it already appears a done deal. Some kind of shift away from the population genetic-centered view of evolution is afoot.

Indeed, history may one day view today's "Altenberg 16" as 19th century England's "X Club" of 9 – Thomas Huxley, Herbert Spencer, John Tyndall, et al. – who so shaped the science of their day.

Here then are the Altenberg 16:

John Beatty, University of British Columbia

Sergey Gavrilets, University of Tennessee

David Sloan Wilson, Binghamton University

Greg Wray, Duke University

Michael Purugganan, New York University

Eva Jablonka, Tel-Aviv University

John Odling-Smee, Oxford University

David Jablonski, University of Chicago

Massimo Pigliucci, SUNY Stony Brook

Stuart Newman, New York Medical College

Gerd Muller, University of Vienna

Gunter Wagner, Yale University

Marc Kirschner, Harvard University

Werner Callebaut, Hasselt University

Eors Szathmary, Collegium Budapest

Alan Love, University of Minnesota

A central issue in making a new theory of evolution is how large a role natural selection , which has come to mean the weeding out of traits that don't favor survival, gets to play.

Natural selection was only part of Darwin's Origin of Species thinking. Yet through the years most biologists outside of evolutionary biology have mistakenly believed that evolution is natural selection.

A wave of scientists now questions natural selection's relevance, though few will publicly admit it. And with such a fundamental struggle underway, the hurling of slurs such as "looney Marxist hangover", "philosopher" (a scientist who can't get grants anymore), "crackpot", is hardly surprising.

When I asked esteemed Harvard evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin in a phone conversation what role natural selection plays in evolution, he said, "Natural selection occurs."

Richard Lewontin

Lewontin thinks it's important to view the living world holistically. He says natural selection is not the only biological force operating on the composition of populations. And whatever the mechanism of passage of information from parent to offspring contributing to your formation, what natural selection addresses is "do you survive?"

In an aside, Lewontin noted natural selection's tie-in to capitalism, saying, "Well, that's where Darwin got the idea from, that's for sure. . . He read the stock market every day. . .How do you think he made a living?"

Stanley Salthe, a natural philosopher at Binghamton University with a Ph.D. in zoology -- who says he can't get published in the main stream media with his views – largely agrees with Lewontin.

Stanley Salthe

But Salthe goes further. He told me the following:

"Oh sure natural selection's been demonstrated. . . the interesting point, however, is that it has rarely if ever been demonstrated to have anything to do with evolution in the sense of long-term changes in populations. . . . Summing up we can see that the import of the Darwinian theory of evolution is just unexplainable caprice from top to bottom. What evolves is just what happened to happen."

Several months ago, Salthe hosted an intense email debate among leading evolutionary thinkers which I was later let in on. It followed the appearance of an article by Rutgers University philosopher Jerry Fodor in the London Review of Books called "Why Pigs Don't Have Wings".

In the piece, Fodor -- who told me he left MIT because he wanted to be closer to opera in New York -- essentially argues that biologists increasingly see the central story of Darwin as wrong in a way that can't be repaired.

Jerry Fodor

When I called Fodor to discuss his article, he joked that he was now in the Witness Protection Program because he'd been so besieged following the LRB piece. But we met for coffee anyway, on Darwin's birthday, as frothy snowflakes floated to ground around Lincoln Center. After a cappuccino or two, Fodor summed things up saying we've got to build a new theory and "all I'm wanting to argue is that whatever the story turns out to be, it's not going to be the selectionist story".

Fodor also told me that "you can't put this stuff in the press because it's an attack on the theory of natural selection" and besides "99.99% of the population have no idea what the theory of natural selection is".

Fodor noted in the LRB article that evolutionary investigators are looking to the "endogenous variables" for answers, which leaves plenty of room for interpretation. On that point there is considerable agreement.

But Richard Lewontin told me he resents evolutionary biology being "invaded by people like Jerry Fodor and others" as well as by some from within the field who don't really know the "mechanical details down to the last".

Evolutionary biologist and philosopher Massimo Pigliucci is also critical of Fodor for not seeing "the big picture". Pigliucci is a principal architect of the "Altenberg 16" meeting as well as a participant. That rare combination -- a consummate scientist with a sense of humor!

I met him one afternoon across the street from the New York Public Library during a break from his research. He had a birthday gift in one arm. Pigliucci says he enjoys life.

But while he thinks Fodor is "dead wrong" about natural selection becoming irrelevant to the theory of evolution, he does recognize the value philosophers, in general, bring to science. Several of the Altenberg 16 participants are, in fact, philosophers – including, of course, Pigliucci.

Pigliucci says philosophers have two roles to play in science. One is to keep scientists – who are focused on the details – honest by looking from a distance and asking the big questions: "Well, is the paradigm that you're working with, in fact, working? Is it useful? Could it be better?"

The second is as public intellectuals. He thinks some of the best responses he's seen against Intelligent Design and Creationism, for instance, have been by philosophers. Pigliucci's philosophy web site Rationally Speaking carries the words of the Enlightenment's Marquis de Condorcet describing a public intellectual as one who devotes "him or herself to the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them".

So what are those other engines of evolution that threaten to decommission natural selection – those "endogenous variables" -- of which Jerry Fodor speaks in his now infamous "Why Pigs Don't Have Wings" article?

Pigliucci cites epigenetic inheritance as one of the mechanisms that Darwin knew nothing about. He says there is mounting empirical evidence to "suspect" there's a whole additional layer chemically on top of the genes that is inherited but is not DNA. Darwin, of course, did not even know of the existence of DNA.

Lewontin asks whether it's "suspect" or "know"?

Nevertheless, these kinds of phenomena are part of what's loosely being called self-organization , in short a spontaneous organization of systems. Snowflakes, a drop of water, a hurricane are all such spontaneously organized examples. These systems grow more complex in form as a result of a process of attraction and repulsion.

So, coming up with a "sound" theory for form is one of the big challenges for the Altenberg 16.

Developmental biologist Stuart Kauffman is clearly one who thinks we must expand evolutionary theory. Kauffman, now head of the Biocomplexity and Informatics Institute at the University of Calgary, is known for his decades-long investigations into self-organization. He's been described by one evolutionary biologist as a "very creative man, try reading one of his books" who said in the next breath that "if he [Kauffman] really put an effort into understanding evolutionary biology -- the basic theoretical framework that we have -- I think he could have come a lot further".

Meanwhile, Kauffman's had a breathtaking career, beginning as a medical doctor, honored as a MacArthur fellow (genius) and has worked with Nobel prize winner Murray Gell-Mann at the Santa Fe Institute where he first studied self-organization. Looking at simple forms like the snowflake, he noted that its "delicate sixfold symmetry tells us that order can arise without the benefit of natural selection". Kauffman says natural selection is about competition for resources and snowflakes are not alive -- they don't need it.

Stuart Kauffman

But he reminded me in our phone conversation that Darwin doesn't explain how life begins, "Darwin starts with life. He doesn't get you to life."

Thus the scramble at Altenberg for a new theory of evolution.

But Kauffman also describes genes as "utterly dead". However, he says there are some genes that turn the rest of the genes and one another on and off. Certain chemical reactions happen. Enzymes are produced, etc. And that while we only have 25,000 to 30,000 genes, there are many combinations of activity.

Here's what he told me over the phone:

"Well there's 25,000 genes, so each could be on or off. So there's 2 x 2 x 2 x 25,000 times. Well that's 2 to the 25,000th. Right? Which is something like 10 to the 7,000th. Okay? There's only 10 to the 80th particles in the whole universe. Are you stunned?"

It's getting pretty staggering I told him. But there was more to come as he took me into his rugged landscapes theory – hopping out of one lake into a mountain pass and flowing down a creek into another lake and then wiggling the mountains and changing where the lakes are – all to demonstrate that the cell and the organism are a very complicated set of processes activating and inhibiting one another. "It's really much broader than genes," he said.

Kauffman presents some of this in his new book Reinventing the Sacred .

And natural selection is back in the equation.

In his book Investigations (2000), Kauffman wrote that "self-organization mingles with natural selection in barely understood ways to yield the magnificence of our teeming biosphere". He said he's still there, but now thinks natural selection exists throughout the universe.

Stuart Pivar, has been investigating self-organization in living forms but thinks natural selection is irrelevant – and has paid the price for this on the blogosphere. Pivar's an extremely engaging man, trained as a chemist and engineer – a bit of a wizard who loves old art. He was a long-time friend of Andy Warhol and a buddy of the late paleontologist Steve Gould, who continues to serve as an inspiration for Pivar's work.

Stuart Pivar

Steve Gould's Natural History magazine editor Richard Milner, by the way, describes Gould as "a popular articulator of Darwinian evolution to a new generation, while privately, his creative and rebellious mind sought to move beyond it."

Steve Gould

Milner , himself, is a Darwinian scholar and author of the Encyclopedia of Evolution and Darwin's Universe (forthcoming 2009). He says Gould was intrigued with theories of how natural selection may act on levels beyond the individual (social groups, species), or at different phases of the life cycle (evolution-development), and how other embryological and evolutionary phenomena (heterochrony, neoteny) may influence or impact evolution. And he notes that "Gould took issue with those who used natural selection carelessly as a mantra, as in the evidence-free "just-so stories" concocted out of thin air by mentally lazy adaptationists".

Gould also famously rejected the reductionism of Richard Dawkins' "selfish gene" theory, Milner says further, and was well aware that there seemed to be a disconnect between the models of genes, DNA, and the development of individual plants or animals.

Says Milner:

"Steve was one of the first evolutionary biologists, with Richard Lewontin, to publish the view that biology offered no plausible mechanism – a missing "theory of form," if you will – for how these genomic "blueprints" are followed in constructing phenotypes of living organisms."

I visited Stuart Pivar at his place just off New York's Central Park recently. It has the feel of a 19th century castle with interesting stuffed animals, rocks and other exotica, mixed in with important paintings and bronzes. Unlike most scientists I spoke with for this story, Pivar is not dependent on government grants to carry out his work.

Click for big version

Pivar says his theory is this. Body form is derived from the structure in the egg-cell membrane. And he handsomely illustrates in his book, The Engines of Evolution , how various species arise from the same basic structure, the Multi-torus, so-named by its discoverers -- mathematicians, biologists Jockusch and Dress in 2003.

Pivar told me this structure was confirmed recently by Eric Davidson's identification of the sea urchin embryo as a dynamic torus, resembling a slow-moving elongated smoke ring -- as in amoeboid motion.

If there's a lineage to his work, Pivar says it's rooted in Goethe, who observed that all life has a certain look to it – therefore it must be based on a form he called the "urform" – although Goethe never found the urform. Pivar's also been influenced by the 19th century scientist Wilhelm His, who made models using tubes of wax and pressed them to demonstrate how mechanical manipulation could generate the shape of the stomach, etc.

"The great D'Arcy Thompson was an inspiration as well," he said, citing Thompson's book On Growth and Form in which he described how every form in nature could be duplicated in the lab. Pivar said it's unfortunate Thompson never put the whole thing together to make a model, but that he has done just that.

He says he's shown that if you take a tubular form and you twist it this way or that way you can generate the shape of anything in nature. He notes this is equivalent to the organization of chemistry by the periodic table. This twisting action is how tigers get stripes, butterflies wing patterns, as well as how the human embryo forms.

In Engines, he has published what he describes as "the blueprints" – the construction blueprints for the human body, fruit fly, lobster, jellyfish -- the scheme by which all nature forms.

Stanley Salthe says he considers the theory of self-organization itself "up & coming" and thinks Pivar's idea is "reasonable".

Richard Lewontin, told me the following:

"I don't know what his [Pivar's] theory is but there's no question that the development of an egg is not dependent solely on the genes and nucleus, but on the structure of the egg as laid down to some extent. There are proteins that are there. There are non-genetic factors and I wouldn't be surprised if the actual structure of the cell membrane had some influence on the successive divisions that occur."

However, Lewontin added that "it's one thing to say some effect than it is to say I have a theory that it's allthere."

Pivar insists "It's all there."

Massimo Pigliucci does not consider Pivar's test with "wiggly water tubes" empirical evidence.

Pivar disagrees saying he presents a convincing model based on geometry and the animated drawings in his book but laments that he can't get serious science circles to review Engines. He attributes this reluctance to scientists being discouraged about taking a chance on ideas originating outside their peer group plus their dependence on government grants – which are tied-in to support for natural selection.

Pivar's also a keen observer of some of the conflicts of interest tainting science. He accuses the National Academy of Sciences of excluding other approaches to evolution but natural selection in their recent book Science, Education and Creationism.

Richard Lewontin resigned from NAS over the issue of one branch of NAS accepting government funds for secret weapons programs.

Pivar is also critical of church and state influences in science education, like the Astrobiology Primer funded by NASA, whose editor is a priest.

Fodor goes further, he says, "Astrobiology doesn't exist. What are the laws?"

Finally Pivar thinks non-profits advising schools on science education, like the National Center for Science Education, should not have religions represented on their board of directors. Pivar is obliquely referring to NCSE's board member from the. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints-funded Brigham Young University .

Curiously, when I called Kevin Padian, president of NCSE's board of directors and a witness at the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover trial on Intelligent Design, to ask him about the evolution debate among scientists – he said, "On some things there is not a debate." He then hung up.

Massimo Pigliucci finds it objectionable that "the study of forgiveness" is supported by the John Templeton Foundation, which funds the understanding of religion from a Christian view of God. Pigliucci says the rationale of scientists who take this money is that it's hard to get grants, that they have to put their children through school, etc. "Well, yes -- but there has to be a limit," he thinks.

As for educating the public about evolution, paleontologist Niles Edredge, a co-author with Steve Gould of the punctuated equilibrium theory – which Eldredge reminded me was based on one of his early papers – says that increasingly scientists are being encouraged to include public outreach when asking for government grants.

Niles Eldredge

Eldredge told me about the new journal that he and his son Gregory, a high school teacher in New York, are publishing through Springer called: Outreach and Education in Evolution. It debuts in March and will feature peer-reviewed articles about evolution.

I also spoke with evolutionary biologist Michael Lynch at his lab at Indiana University to get his perspective on the evolution debate.

Michael Lynch

Lynch is the author of the recent book The Origins of Genome Architecture. He says it's hard enough just to be a molecular biologist or a cell biologist and that reaching out to communicate to other fields is a "daunting task". He doesn't know why there's a push for an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis and says, "Everyone's bantering around these terms complexity, evolvability, robustness, and arguing that we need a new theory to explain these; I don't see it."

Lynch thinks the big challenge is to connect evolution at the genome level with cell development and the larger phenotypic level.

I asked Richard Lewontin whether it was premature to put together a new synthesis. He said he wouldn't use the world "premature" and added, "Why would we want to do that? To say it's premature suggests that one of these days we will have to. I don't know what we'll have to do in the future."

He continued:

"The so-called evolutionary synthesis – these are all very vague terms. . . . That's what I tried to say about Steve Gould is that scientists are always looking to find some theory or idea that they can push as something that nobody else ever thought of because that's the way they get their prestige. . . .they have an idea which will overturn our whole view of evolution because otherwise they're just workers in the factory, so to speak. And the factory was designed by Charles Darwin."

Clearly a new theory of evolution will impact all our lives. But how? Perhaps a global public broadcast of the "Altenberg 16" proceedings is the answer to that question.

My prediction?

Most will keep on riding the dead horse of Darwinian evolution even long after it skeletonizes and fossilizes .

Friday, February 29, 2008

Believe it or not -- Part 2

We left off with a pretty 'blanket statement' that atheists absolutely hate (there's enough relativism in that sentence to choke a horse!).

Here's what I said a lot of them and liberal thinking (sorry, 'progressives') think these days;

"Truth is Relative"

But before I even get to this, let me rope off a rabbit trial some of you might likely be headed down already. The thought that I am calling all liberals bad.

Liberal is not bad.

I consider myself a liberal thinker, but not a liberal when it comes to an 'anything goes mentality.' By liberal, I mean 'free thinking,' by liberal, the group I am referring to most often means, as I said, 'anything goes.' I'm talking about a careful, considerate approach to life (<-- insert sarcasm here) that can often be boiled down to, 'if it feels good, do it!' But these kinds of philosophers seldom extrapolate that line of thinking out to its natural, disastrous ends.

For example, a pedophile has a certain definition of what falls into the category of "if it feels good, do it," that I am absolutely positive most small children would not agree to.

Rabbit Trail Alert! Sorry to have to do this--especially to the average, savvy reader, but there are, unfortunately some out there that read for little sound bites they can twist and bend for their counterargument so it becomes necessary at times to use a piece of chalk and draw a picture for them. No, I'm not calling progressives and atheists pedophiles. I am merely exposing a serious flaw when some of their reasoning is played out all the way.

Got it? Good.

So, free thinking = good

anything goes = bad

Now, believe it or not, if you want the no boundaries lifestyle bad enough, it's eventually going to lead to the absurd notion that truth is relative every time.


Because all you have to do when you want to do something that isn't convenient or...hmm, what's that word I'm looking for, um...Oh! 'legal,' is to claim that the restriction (law, boundary) in question is true for YOU, but not for ME.

The argument is really nothing more than a way to live without boundaries. It's not built on truth or facts of any kind. How could it be? This philosophy says there are no absolutes. But a closer look reveals that the subscribers of this bankrupt way of thinking seldom live by it themselves.

In the area of absolutes, let's just deal with their least favorite, "moral absolutes." Why is this by far their least favorite? Because it interferes the most with their ,'anything goes' philosophy. They are far less likely to push the 'no absolutes' argument in areas of verifiable science, because, as I said, it's verifiable. In other words, all you have to do is open your eyes to see that there are scientific truths and absolutes. This is why, when the statement "there are no absolutes" is made, it is almost always in reference to moral absolutes.

It's a strange thing, really. I mean, I can't see the forces behind 'gravity,' but I can observe its undeniable effects and, therefore accept it as an absolute truth. However, it's existence does not hinge on whether or not I accept it. Therefore, we ought to accept certain undeniable moral truths based on their 'undeniable affects' even though morality is not something I can pick up and observe. The disastrous affects of denying absolute moral truth can most certainly be verifiably observed.

But that really would be a rabbit trail, so let me stick to the issue at hand--moral absolutes.

Here's what I want to do.

I'd like to hear from a few of my favorite atheist on this. Feel free to comment below on this whole idea of moral relativism.

- Does it exist (moral absolutes)?
- Is it the same for everyone? Amsolute?
- Is it different for everyone? Relative?
- If moral absolutes do exist, what are they?
- If they do not exist, what are the standards we live by?
- If they do not exist, but there are undeniable standards by which we all live, why listen to them?
- And anything else you'd like to add on this topic

I really want to address the questions you all raise rather then chasing down every path this discussion potentially leads down. So, feel free to comment over the next few days and I will comment back.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Believe it or not Part 1

This weekend I asked the congregation how many used AOL?

Just by a show of hands, anyone here using America Online?

In three of the services there was no one! Not a single person raised their hand! This would be odd in a church of several hundred, but over 2,000!? Now, grant it, there were a dozen here and there (we have seven weekend services -- there's bound to be a few) but for the most part it was "American online" instead of, 'America.'

But I digress.

I was trying to see if anyone else ever saw those weekly "guess what really happened?" in Hollywood quizzes. Not much chance there was going to be a real familiarity there when so few even have AOL anymore, so I explained what it was.

It's a series of about 10 questions. Some are true and some are false. You have to guess which is which. And here's the rub, it's not that easy because the made up stuff isn't any more whacked out than what really happens in these people's lives!

For example, "Brittney Spears was taken to the psych ward...true or false?

That one is true

But then they might throw something like this in,

Brittney Spears caught wandering the streets mutterring Justin Timberlake's name over and over again...true or false?

Actually, that's kind of easy. It's true.

NO! I'm kidding. It's false. But I could easily see her doing this. It's not really far fetched given some of her recent behavior.

Which leads me to the point of this blog.

We seem to be morphing into an incredibly lazy and gullible culture when it comes to seeking truth. Heck, we can't even agree on what truth is anymore.

Many universities actually teach that truth is relative and that there is no absolute truth.

How dumb is this?

Is this higher learning?

I'll address this more in part 2

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Couldn't resist. The Door was left WIDE OPEN


The way you phrase your comment is a whole lot easier to stomach than the screaming liar approach.

So I will attempt to clarify why I keep coming back to chance. Just for you.

I am not banging the same gavel for any other reason than to say that IMO "natural selection" walks like a duck, quacks like a duck..."

but it most certainly isn't a duck, b/c a duck has a brain. I'm just saying that exchanging natural selection for chance does not solve the problem IMHO. It still feels an awful lot like a disorderly, chaotic, random, directionless nothing. IMO Maybe it helps to add IMO. I do have a tendency (like our mutual friend, Barefoot) to assume my opinion is the only one that matters. Not one of my strong suits. :(

In going back over the "exchanges" Barefoot and I have had (where I talk and he calls me a liar) <-- ok, ok, occasionally he types a paragraph without the theatrics. I admit, I have a tendency to stay on points that were not adequately answered rather than moving onto the next rabbit trail. And, in regard to the whole chance thing I've seen a lot of smoke and a few mirrors but no answer. And maybe that's b/c we all know there is none. You either choose 'natural selection' or you choose ID.

But I can't help but see a lot of assuming going on. Especially in not drawing a distinction between macro and micro evolution (stay with me, this IS relevant).

I have a tendency to over simplify things, by zooming out too far, but you all have failed to show where I am wrong in doing so.

For example, to me there seems to be an awful lot of blurring of the lines b/n macro and micro evolution. Darwinists, for example, love to point to "fun with bacteria." "Look what bacteria does when antibodies are introduced. They adapt. See...evolution!" <-- yes, Larry, this is just one example. One at a time please.

But this kind of stuff isn't even a little bit hard to explain without evolution. When bacteria survive a bout with antibodies--survive and even multiply, the surviving group may be resistant to that antibiotic. But they are resistant b/c the parent bacteria possessed the genetic capacity to resist, or a rare biochemical mutation somehow helped it survive. I say 'rare' b/c mutations are almost always harmful, not helpful. Since the sensitive bacteria die, the surviving bacteria multiply and now dominate.

Presto, Chango! Evolution.

I say, 'fair enough.'


You say, "game over" we finally got the preacher boy!

Hold on to your fiery pants a minute longer. B/c here's the rub.


Larry fails to see how critical this is. It has to do with why I keep mentioning chance. It has to do with why I keep bringing up probability and improbability, and it has to do with why I sometimes wonder why someone who claims to be debating with one half of his brain behind his back wouldn't employ the other half and get in the game.

And make no mistake about the relevance of this line of attack because, outside of the philosophical presuppositions I've been exposing, defining "type of evolution" is perhaps the greatest point of confusion in the creation/evolution controversy.

This is where Darwinian errors and false claims (i.e. ‘lies’) begin to multiply like bacteria if left unchecked by those who actually still believe that observation plays an important role in science. And here’s what observation tells us, the surviving bacteria always stay bacteria! They do not evolve into another type of organism. That would be macroevolution. And here it comes…ready?

Really, really, ready?

Natural selection has never been observed to create new types. And if Larry attempts to pull up a fictitious study from the underground gnomes of middle earth ‘proving' me wrong. It will be as much a fantasy as are the underground gnomes themselves. I understand evolutionists are ‘working on it.’ I just happen to believe they will keep right on working until the cows come home.

Ok, back to the point. Macro evolution is clearly NOT seen in bacterial studies, however, macro evolution is exactly what Darwinists claim from the data. They say these observable micro changes can be extrapolated to prove that unobservable macro evolution has occurred. In other words they often make no distinction between micro and macro, and thus use the evidence for micro to prove macro.

By failing to make this distinction, evolutionists can dupe the general public (as Larry often does by attempting to keep things on the highest shelf with flowery, albeit often incoherent babbling. No, your vocabulary is not outside my range of understanding. It's just outside my range of relevance. Most often it simply isn't necessary to making your point. In fact it hurts your arguments rather than helping).

Back to our previously scheduled programing...

Evolutionists are masters at defining evolution broad enough so that evidence in one situation might be counted as evidence in another. Unfortunately for them the general public is beginning to catch on to this tactic, thanks largely to Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson.

Johnson first exposed this Darwinian sleight of hand with his ground breaking book, Darwin on Trial (And you might want to try reading it b/f you default to name calling [i.e., ‘everyone knows Johnson is a dolt!’] tactics. In his book he points out that, “None of the ‘proofs’ [for natural selection] provides any persuasive reason for believing that natural selection can produce new species, new organs, or other major changes, or even minor changes that are permanent. Biologist Jonathan Wells agrees when he writes, “Biochemical mutations cannot explain the large scale changes in organisms that we see in the history of life.”

At the risk of going on and on, I’ll stop here and give you all some homework:

Why can’t natural selection do the job? Why do I refer to it as another name for chance? Here are five reasons. Chase them down and you will see that I am right.

  1. Genetic Limitations
  2. Cyclical change
  3. Irreducible complexity
  4. Nonviability of (adequate) transitional forms
  5. Molecular isolation

“Hey Rob! You didn’t include the fossil record in there. Why not? Because you’re afraid of the fossil record aren’t you? You can’t handle the fossil record!”

Take it easy, Nicholson. It’s not that I can’t handle it. It’s that it’s so pathetic even the author of your Bible (The Origin of Species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life) cringed every time he was reminded of it. Kind of a long title for a book, but then again, I can see why that second half is almost never shown in modern titles. Pretty big racist, wasn’t he?

Anyway, he said (about adequate transitional forms), and I quote, “why is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain, and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

My hats off to him for at least a couple of reasons.

  1. At least he’s honest and straight forward about the obvious flaws of the theory rather than trying to hide them, and,
  2. He calls his theory just that, a theory.

In his defense, he genuinely believed that, in time, further fossil discoveries would prove his theory, but the exact opposite has occurred. Time has proven him wrong. Contrary to what you may hear from the general media (you mean they lie?! Tell me it isn’t so!!!), the fossil record has turned out to be a complete embarrassment for Darwinists. As I said many posts or comments ago, if Darwinism were true than thousands, if not millions (I’ll be careful not to exaggerate with ‘trillions’ – Larry’s never heard of using that in arguments and often miscategorizes it as, big surprise, “lying”) of transitional fossils would have turned up by now. Instead, according to the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould (an evolutionist – I prefer using your own camp’s words against you. Notice I almost never use biblical support because...

1. You don’t respect it, and

2. I don’t even need it.

Your own people usually get around to hanging themselves if you just give them enough rope. Oops, I hope I didn’t just slip into the fallacy of too much rope-ism. Oh well, what’s done is done.) “most species do not exhibit directional change during their tenure on earth.” And, “…a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and fully formed.”

Well, Stephen, it’s a good thing you’re dead b/c you’ll surely be drummed out of the militant atheist club now. And, had you survived (via morphing into a sea turtle or something [they have a longer life span you know.] ) you almost certainly would have lost all the benefits that go along with membership such as;

  1. living without a purpose
  2. resigning yourself to believing you are nothing more than an evolved piece of highly sophisticated cellular plasma
  3. And believing there is no God yet living as though you are Him

Ok Gents (and I use that term…never mind), I must be going. I’m going to refrain from responding for a few days. I have some catching up to do with my real job. Besides, even if you refuse to acknowledge it, you need [and will undoubtedly take] the opportunity to rethink these things.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pretty Impressed with Himself

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 18:2

Larry loves to hear himself talk--no valid argument could ever be made denying that. But alas, the art of listening is dead in Bumsville. I can't get Larry to answer two or three simple questions and I've about exhausted my patience in wading through the temper tantrum responses while I wait. So, I'll give God some room to work here. If he can't get through to the guy's heart, no amount of reasoning will do the trick.

Anyway, he definitely personifies Proverbs 18:2. That's the bad news. And he'll never know it either because he mocks God's Word too much to ever really give it an honest go. It's that darn listening thing again

And there's the rub. I genuinely wish the best for him and the best would be for him to bend the knee to God through Jesus Christ His Son and quit trying to be God. The job's not up for grabs. He's interviewing with himself. And I guess I've got a soft spot for atheists because of the handful of previous ones at Southbrook Church. They were just as stubborn until their lives hit the skids. Enough banging your head at the bottom of the barrel and eventually just about anyone will look up.

Barefoot's just not there yet. And the sad thing is, he's running in the wrong direction.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but in the end it leads to death.
Proverbs 14:12

One day I know that he will stand before God and give anything for even one more minute on earth--anything to have a second chance. Of course, at that time, he'll realize his chances were many.

And I tried to get him to see how silly it is to believe all the incredible wonder and intricacy and diversity of life is impossible without God but I underestimated what Paul said in Romans 1:17-32, "

"The righteous will live by faith."


18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

Each time I read this I cringe for those who spend the their lives mocking God. The Lord is patient but they interpret this as Him being unable to do anything, unwilling to, or simply nonexistent.

That's when I remember that in addition to a couple thousand regular attenders there will be several hundred more this weekend who have finally come to the end of their humanistic rope. I need to be ready to share the love of Christ with them.

Oh, I'll check in with Larry from time to time--especially at first to see if I keep my perfect record in predicting exactly what he's going to say next. Which, BTW, at this point should be a song and dance about frightening me off with half his cerebrum tied up while the other half circled around back for a rear attack.


I'll pray for you, Larry...

You'll laugh...

But I'll keep right on praying.

Give Chance a Chance!

10,000,000 perfect hands of bridge

Is this even possible? Sounds pretty impressive, I'll give him that.

Maybe we ought to just give chance a chance? I mean, chance is not the enemy is it?

Can't we all just get along?

Really, can't all the incredible specified complexity of life actually be explained by chance? Or 'natural selection' (another name for chance)? I love that one, by the way. It's like when Amway people stopped saying Amway and started saying they were talking about an "International marketing opportunity."

Um, you mean, "Amway"?

Well, yeah.


Anyway, the answer is the same one I gave you for time...NO.

It's true, that Atheists (no surprise) and Theists (a little surprise) alike have calculated the probability that life could arise by chance from non-living chemicals. Both groups have done the math, it's just that one (hint: the one my friend, Larry is in) can't quite bring themselves to the inevitable conclusion.

For example, Michael Behe has said (if you don't know who he is than you probably shouldn't be in this battle of wits in the first place) that the probability of getting one protein molecule (which has about 100 amino acids) by chance would be the same as a blindfolded man finding one marked grain of sand in the Sahara Desert 3 times in a row.

Oh, and one protein molecule is not life. Just thought I'd throw that in.

To get life you would need to get about 200 of those protein molecules together!

Again, that probability is virtually zero.

But I believe it actually IS zero.

Why? Because "chance" is not a cause any more than natural selection is a "cause."

Chance is a word we use to describe mathematical possibilities. It has no power. It has no mind. Chance is nothing. It's what rocks dream about.

Let me end this rather simple discussion with something that is often brought up in relation to 'chance.' -- the flipping of a coin.

If someone flips a coin, what is the 'chance' it will come up heads? Fifty percent we say. Well, yes, but what causes it to come up heads?

Is it 'chance?'

No, the primary cause is an intelligent being who decided to flip the coin and apply so much force in doing so. Secondary causes such as the wind and gravity also impact the result. Heck, if we knew all those variables it might even be possible to calculate how the toss would turn out beforehand. But since we do not know those variables--now watch this--we use the word, "chance" to cover our ignorance.

In writing this response to Barefoot I am in essence calling his bluff. Unlike most, I believe we should not simply allow atheists to cover their ignorance with the word, "chance" or its only slightly more impressive cousin, "natural selection."

And all this is hardly even worth discussing from my point of view because it is, in essence, getting in the car for a ride before the engine has been invented.

Seriously, because we have been discussing probability and relative probability of life occurring and evolving into what we see today without solving the number one problem atheists and macro evolutionists face--HOW DO WE GET LIFE FROM NON LIVING CHEMICALS?!

It's the slam dunk, touchdown, game over problem for them and they know it. No fallacy argument here--just the plain simple truth. No one has ever done it and I believe (apart from God) they never will. That's why I was simply floored that there were actually commenters on Barefoot's blog talking about the latest quack who says he's "days away" from the most incredible breakthrough in the history of mankind!

They've been throwing this out there a few times a year for forever. Please, don't give me, Bozo the South Korean, human cloning clown, give me life from nothing or shut up about it. Support from the mystery scientist in the mystery back room with the mystery breakthrough that never happens, is gibberish!

Readers: Don't you see the magnitude of this problem for the macro daddy-mac evolutionist? If they don't have an explanation for the first life, then what's the point of speaking about new life forms or probability of life in Captain Kirk's parallel universe? The process of macro evolution, if it's possible at all, can't even begin unless there's preexisting life.

Game over.