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Creation/Evolution, science

Interpretation: the real debate

interpretations-of-design

 

The scientific method is an amazing tool scientists and even the common man can use to investigate a new question about how something works.  When it comes to the creation/evolution debate, I believe many on the evolution side of the debate forget one of the crucial steps of the scientific method: analysis.  Some label that step: interpretation.  There is a difference between observations and interpretations.

 

For example…

 

An observation would be: the temperature directly above the candle was significantly hotter than on the side of the flame.

 

An interpretation would be: the heat rose upwards from the candle.

 

An observation is done through one or more of the five senses.  An interpretation is our own personal analysis of the observation.  So, how does this apply to the creation/evolution debate?

 

Let’s do another example…

 

An observation would be:  we see multiple genetic similarities between specimen A and specimen B.

 

An interpretation would be:  the two specimens share a common ancestor.

 

I’ve seen the difference between observation and interpretation come up many times when it comes to the creation/evolution debate.  The interpretation or analysis step is crucial to the scientific method, but it is the one step where personal bias can come into play… especially when interpreting data that we can no longer directly observe or replicate.  The interpretation will then be left up to how we understand the world to work.  If you understand the world to have always worked the way it does today, then I’m sure you would interpret the data consistent with what you observe today.  If you have reason to think that the world may have worked differently in the past than it does today, then you are likely to interpret that data differently.

 

Let’s give an example…

 

If you believe that “the present is the key to the past” (uniformitarianism), then you are likely to interpret most geologic activity as gradual and/or constant.

If you believe that in the past there were three events that would have accelerated normal processes (6-day creation, fall, worldwide flood: catastrophism), then you are likely to interpret geologic activity from the past differently and on a different timescale.

 

This is why creationists and evolutionists butt heads so hard.  Evolutionists cannot understand how creationists “ignore” the evidence, but creationists see it the other way around.  The truth is it has never been about ignoring any evidence.  The evidence is in the observation step of the scientific method.  Our debate is in the interpretation step.  What bias or presuppositions do you use to interpret data from the ancient past?

So which set of biases are more valid?  If we could answer this question, we could settle the whole debate!  Unfortunately, this is an unanswerable question in this world.  So, how do we proceed in the debate?  Do we just call each other liars and accuse the others of being stupid for not seeing it our way?  Will that work?  Of course not.  We need to be able to defend WHY we interpret the evidence the way we do.  We need to ask open-ended questions of each other that cause the other party to think in a different way than they have before.

 

Another example for the evolution defenders…

 

Perhaps instead of “99.9% of scientists agree, anyone who disagrees with that is an idiot!”

Let’s try “It seems to me that the overwhelming percentage of scientists agree with evolution, what is your reasoning for disagreeing?”

 

Or for the creation defenders…

 

Instead of “there’s no evidence for evolution!”

Let’s try “what mechanism or process do you suggest can increase the genetics of a single-celled creature to evolve all the way up to a human being?”

 

The second question in both discussions makes the other person examine their beliefs, and hopefully learn how to defend their position more rationally.  By profession I am a counselor, and I know that if I just tell my client where they went wrong and how to fix it – that doesn’t work.  My job is to ask open-ended questions that make them examine themselves and come to their own conclusions about what they need to do differently.

In conclusion, young-earth creationists do not ignore evidence.  We have the same evidence as you.  The same rocks, the same trees, the same fossils.  Those are the evidences left behind from the past.  We interpret them differently than you because we believe we have reason to.  If you can show us the error in our interpretations, then we might have a dialogue started.  If you just want to accuse us of being “science deniers” or “liars”, you might as well move on because that will accomplish nothing but wasting both of our times.  The point is that all human beings are biased and science is done by human beings.  That doesn’t mean they are wrong just cause of that, that just means they are not perfect.

“Let God be true, and every human being a liar.” – Romans 3:4.

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

122 thoughts on “Interpretation: the real debate

  1. Actually, I believe both Catastrophism- all those mass extinction events- and Uniformitarianism- slow evolution over millions of years, by the same process of natural selection. And, conversely, where conditions are particularly benign, as in the Cambrian Explosion, there is a sudden burst of growth.

    Posted by Clare Flourish | July 9, 2014, 5:11 pm
    • Yes, I do actually realize this. I do simplify the argument because it is normally the case that the past is judged by present processes. You do understand what catastrophism can potentially do. So, would you agree that IF a global flood occurred that it COULD potentially have very rapid, geologic conclusions that we might interpret differently (uniformly) if we don’t believe a flood occurred?

      Posted by Tim | July 9, 2014, 5:15 pm
      • I don’t believe a flood could produce strata as they have been observed. James Hutton in the 18th century started out trying to argue flood geology, but was forced by the evidence to change his theories.

        Posted by Clare Flourish | July 9, 2014, 5:18 pm
        • We’ve actually observed strata formed very quickly in the early 80’s following the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The eruption formed a canyon 100 feet deep complete with various strata in under one week. Therefore, we already know that catastrophic events can speed up conventional models (and you agree) – you just disagree that the flood happened. If it happened mud and rock would have been carried across continents. We can track these movements. In fact, they already know that these formations are formed through water – just disagree on the timescale.

          Posted by Tim | July 9, 2014, 5:24 pm
          • How quickly?

            From memory, the land was submerged for 153 days. Middle Cambrian marine sediments are 29000 feet thick in some parts of Nova Scotia. These are marine sediments: igneous rocks look and feel very different.

            Posted by Clare Flourish | July 9, 2014, 5:33 pm
            • Unfortunately, I am certainly no expert on flood geology. I need more work in this area for certain. I attended a 90-min. presentation by Dr. Andrew Snelling on flood geology and have a couple of his DVDs – and I have to say I was floored at the level of detail he provided. He was able to track a creature’s footprints as it outran the rising flood waters! But it’s certainly not my area of expertise. Maybe someday. If you’re interested in this, there’s a lot of information available for free: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhrqXj4O1xFIwomqxL7qWS1vKLMCPEI5g.

              Posted by Tim | July 9, 2014, 5:43 pm
          • “We’ve actually observed strata formed very quickly in the early 80′s following the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The eruption formed a canyon 100 feet deep complete with various strata in under one week.”

            Do you honestly think that any geologist was surprised by this? Some strata form quickly, others form slowly. And that is why the layers of materials at Mt. St. Helens look NOTHING like those of the Grand Canyon, for example.

            If there was a surprise at Mt. St. Helens it was mostly due to the fact that the explosion basically blew sideways instead of straight up, and that had many interesting ramifications. (It also killed more people.) The scientists who probably felt the most surprise were the biologists who watched the ecosystems rebuild so rapidly.

            I flew into the crater during the mid-1990’s. It feels like a trip to the moon. Because there are no man-made objects there, it is very hard to get a feel for the size of everything. For example, I asked a geologist for a size estimate of the solidified “central vent” that had produced a “cone” inside of the missing top of the mountain. I had no way to judge it but I was surprised when he said “Oh,at this point its about six stories tall.” It’s hard for me to recall details but I think he said rim-to-rim above us was about a mile. If he had told me it was a half mile wide or 5 miles wide, I would have probably believed him. It wasn’t until another helicopter appeared over the rim and flew down near us did I have any visual perspective of the sizes of anything.

            Posted by Allen Joseph | July 13, 2014, 8:24 pm
  2. Evolutionary interpretations are not merely plucked out of the air ad hoc or in isolation. There is a consilience of evidence from different fields of science that has been interpreted in an ‘evolutionary’ or ‘old age’ framework and – guess what – evolutionary theory has never been falsified merely tweaked despite the protestations of science-undermining young Earth creationists.

    As I’ve pointed out before, you require not just any sort of catastrophism to make Genesis literal and complete Universe/Earth/Life history but precisely the RIGHT version of catastrophism that ‘falsifies’ mainstream science.

    “The truth is it has never been about ignoring any evidence”. So – if that is true – just WHY do YECs reject all the evidence for a very ancient Universe and slightly less ancient solar system – and simply dismiss it If the evidence pointed to a 6,000 year old Earth, YECs would be triumphantly declaring that their Bible-based beliefs were entirely confirmed by science and in addition ‘evolutionists’ would be perplexed (an rather old Earth was understood from the evidence even before Darwin came along).

    “Young-earth creationists do not ignore evidence”. So why are you ignoring the comment by Allen Miller at your previous blog dated 3 July (censored for length reasons but I quoted him to you) that “gene duplication can set the stage for more mutations in future generations and produce new species just like polyploidy has done in wheat species”. Last I heard you were insisting that gene duplication does not or cannot lead to an increase of information in a genome. When I asked whether you thought Allen was lying you failed to answer my question (the comment in question appeared right at the bottom of the screen). As I understand it we are talking here about something that has been directly observed in ‘real’ time. Not merely an ‘interpretation’.

    “If you can show us the error in our interpretations, then we might have a dialogue started. If you just want to accuse us of being “science deniers” or “liars”, you might as well move on because that will accomplish nothing but wasting both of our times.” You protest too much. I suggest that your interpretations are not based on evidence, and what has previously been learnt via the scientific method, alone – but instead you systematically superimpose inflexible biblical (or claimed ‘biblical’) teachings upon the evidence. That is not science but apologetics.

    Neutral observers might care to check pout whether I and others have done BOTH of these things in response to previous blogs by Tim and other YECs (well those who allow questioning comments anyway).

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | July 9, 2014, 7:47 pm
    • Sorry a typo. That SHOULD have read: “simply dismiss it as ‘historical science’ for which an eye witness account is essential”.

      Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | July 9, 2014, 7:59 pm
    • Ashley, you still don’t understand our basic positions, do you? I simply can’t believe that after all this time you’ve invested. It would seriously help you to grasp our basic positions if you are going to argue against them. You said: “WHY do YECs reject all the evidence for a very ancient Universe”. We don’t reject ANY evidence. We dispute the interpretations made by mainstream science. That’s what this entire post was about. You seemed to have missed that.

      “gene duplication can set the stage for more mutations in future generations and produce new species just like polyploidy has done in wheat species”. Reread that sentence a few times. What new mechanism does that statement produce to discuss? We’ve talked about gene duplication. We’ve talked about mutations. We’ve talked about polyplody. That is not a new discussion. He simply strung together all the individual topics we discussed a made it sound like it would do something new when combined into a big long sentence. I can see through that and see that no new mechanism was offered. Therefore, it’s not worth more discussion. Do you see that now?

      “That is not science but apologetics.” – same argument I would make about evolutionary defenders. You piece together evidence that must fit into your preconceived timeline, and if it doesn’t – it’s discarded.

      Posted by Tim | July 10, 2014, 3:29 pm
      • Tim wrote: ““That is not science but apologetics.” – same argument I would make about evolutionary defenders. You piece together evidence that must fit into your preconceived timeline, and if it doesn’t – it’s discarded.”

        That is a lie. You may believe it, but the propagandists you got it from know that they are lying.

        Do you have evidence to support your claim? Tell us your #1 very best example of scientists “discarding” evidence.

        [At least your arguments are predictable. They are all verbatim from the usual denialist science-illiterates.]

        Posted by Allen Joseph | July 14, 2014, 12:23 am
  3. I understand you what YECs do. Which is what I described. Your accusation that I don’t understand your ‘position’ is both false and irrelevant. Disputing the obvious interpretation of evidence for no scientific reason leads to the same outcome as simply rejecting or ignoring that evidence – error.

    Another pompous falsehood and childish accusation from a ‘superior’ YEC – who actually knows little about science as has been demonstrated.

    I am not prepared to answer rambling questions about gene duplication unless and until you clearly answer my lingering QUESTION in the other thread. Do you still claim that Allen was lying in the quoted sentence? Yes or No? (It sounds like ‘yes’ but you dissemble.)

    I have more worthwhile things to do than repeat myself. Also, it was not me who brought up the topic originally. And the sentence was not even written by me.

    And what is the point since you have clearly already decided to reject inconvenient science HOWEVER much it is based on observation – but observation you object to because it might falsify your narrow world view.

    YEC-ism will either destroy the church or else turn it into a club for liars and ignorant idiots only – who will be rightly ridiculed and viewed with contempt by the educated. Well that is my opinion after trying to converse with YEC bloggers and ideologues..

    Enjoy wallowing in your swamp of righteousness denial, paranoid Christianity,and outrageous lying – such as your last two sentences. Nobody will rescue you because you do not want to be rescued. The more you are given evidence the more you run away from it or pretend that you have a ‘superior’ interpretation..

    If you simply view this as ‘persecution’ and thus to be merely rejected, then you are beyond reason.

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | July 10, 2014, 8:51 pm
    • 1 Corinthians 3:19 – “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”. I find it incredible that you call the way I see my view as “superior” while trying to tell me you know for a fact what happened in this universe 13 billion years ago up through now. Wow! Think on that for a second.

      I also have no interest in calling anyone a liar or not. I truly believe Allen believes what he says. That doesn’t make him a liar, just if he is wrong it makes him misinformed.

      Posted by Tim | July 10, 2014, 9:02 pm
  4. “If you believe that “the present is the key to the past” (uniformitarianism), then you are likely to interpret most geologic activity as gradual and/or constant.”

    The gradualism of uniformitarianism versus catastrophism debate was a phenomenon of the early 1800’s. By mid-century modern geology was moving forward rapidly and emphasized that uniformitarianism involved BOTH gradual and rapid processes. That is why the Mt. St. Helens events were not at all surprising to geologists. Only Young Earth Creationist stuck about 200 years in the past thought it somehow a victory for their claims.

    Geologists have long known that strata created by floods and volcanic eruptions look NOTHING like the strata caused by slow processes.

    But the funniest thing about Young Earth Creationist complaints about uniformitarianism is the fact that they use it all the time in their young earth arguments! Whenever the “100 Evidence for a Young Earth” compilations appear on YEC websites, between 95 and 99 of those arguments all DEPEND upon uniformitarian “the present is the key to the past” reasoning!

    What amazes me the most is that so many Young Earth Creationists could think that the Grand Canyon is somehow evidence for a young earth and for Noah’s Flood. Floods don’t produce meandering rivers in graceful loops on a map. Floods don’t include igneous strata nor so many well defined layering of different materials with different ages. The Grand Canyon shows ZERO evidence for a “catastrophic” formation but tells a story of a river headed to its delta and millions of years of uplifts and erosions.

    A fun topic would be to count the YEC lies in a typical video about the Grand Canyon. Shall we start a list?

    Posted by Allen Joseph | July 13, 2014, 8:12 pm
  5. “When it comes to the creation/evolution debate, I believe many on the evolution side of the debate forget one of the crucial steps of the scientific method: analysis.”

    No. The science academy produces mountainous PILES of analysis every day in peer-review journals. (Young Earth Creationists do not. They only publish in journals they themselves produced. “Peer review” is not supposed to mean “everybody who agrees with me”.) Scientists affirm billions of years because many many years of evidence has been analyzed and there is zero evidence for a young earth. For a very long time those of particular religious beliefs [they are the only ones who insist upon ignoring the data and promote a young earth] have had their opportunity to falsify deep time theory. They have failed.

    “Some label that step: interpretation. There is a difference between observations and interpretations.”

    Yes there is. But when all of the data (the evidence which has been observed) tells the same story, billions of years is the only CONCLUSION that is possible from the data. YOU are forgetting the stage after the interpretation: when a hypothesis has survived falsification testing for so long and all of the observations point to CONSILIENCE, peer review leads to an established THEORY which appears in textbooks.

    Probably the most important of all Young Earth Creationist propaganda memes has been the “Same evidence. Different interpretations.” Ken Ham even made it the first exhibit visitors to the Creation Museum see. If he can convince visitors that that view sound rational, he’s won. Why? Because everybody is accustomed to “You have your opinion. I have mine. And we’ll agree to disagree.” It fits the “your idea is as good as mine” kind of philosophy which goes over well in a democracy. And it also leads to “Either you are right or I am right, so a person has a 50/50 chance of getting it right.”

    But science doesn’t work that way! Yes, while an area of inquiry is being developed there can be lots of unorganized data and lots of mysteries and lots of hunches and hypotheses. But science is valuable because that “interpretation” stage doesn’t stop there. The great thing about evidence is that when you have tons of it, it starts to point in some directions and not others. And the peer-review process hones in on the “good” interpretations and rejects the “bad”. Unlike a disagreement on whether Mozart or Bach was the greatest musical genius, by the time a scientific hypothesis has gone through years of analysis, peer-review, and falsification testing, it ends up in a science textbook as a scientific theory, an explanation of those mountains of data. Other interpretations do NOT appear in the textbook because they provide inferior explanations (or even no explanation at all.) YECs console themselves by pretending “It’s all just a matter of interpretation”. But if that was true, science would be of very little practical value. The flat-earther could always say, “But I have my own explanations for the data and it is very clear that the earth looks flat! You have your evidence and we have ours.” [If you visit a flat-earth website sometime, it should sound very familiar to you. And for a mixture of flat-earthism and YEC-ism and good ol’ fundamentalism, check out the history of Zion, Illinois.]

    Posted by Allen Joseph | July 13, 2014, 8:50 pm
  6. >”The truth is it has never been about ignoring any evidence.”

    With Young Earth Creationism, it has ALWAYS been about ignoring the evidence. In fact, that admission is always right out in the open! Just read for yourself the Answers in Genesis statement of faith. Do the same with ICR. You can even look at the same document for many fundamentalist seminaries. They ALL state that is OFFICIAL POLICY to ignore the evidence from science at any point where the BIBLE INTERPRETATION of the YEC disagrees with the evidence.

    That debunks your claim right there, Tim.

    They make clear that their analysis is not about where the scientific evidence leads. It is an analysis of the scriptures —-and then SECONDARILY cherry-picking SOME of the evidence (and ignoring everything else) which seems to be capable of being “force-fit” into THEIR Bible interpretation. (They speak as if their Bible interpretation is the only interpretation that matters, as all other Christians who disagree with them are “compromising Christians.” So when you speak of how “It is about difference in interpretation”, I will agree. But it is with the Biblical evidence where the interpretations are debated.)

    But let’s take a look at a typical example. There are many piles of evidence for an old earth from many different fields of science. One can use the physics of dating (of some 50+ different methods in radiometrics alone) and each depending upon different processes. One can use entirely separate sets of arguments and evidence from biology. Same for paleontology. Same for geology. So not only are there vast treasuries of data all pointing to the same conclusion, a very old earth, and even agreeing upon the age! The arguments and reasoning take separate routes but they all get to the same place. Consilience is a wonderful thing. It is similar to checking your work in math class. If you get the same answer by several different methods and in all directions, you are all the more confident.

    Now, what do young earthers do? They ignore all of those many scientists from their many different fields, with each field providing its own gigabytes of data and they cherry pick ONE SINGLE FACTOR where they think they can identify a mystery. (Not even a contradiction, mind you. Just a mystery.) Dr. Mary Schweitzer found materials in fossil remains which indicated a never before detected means of preservation. There are some good hypotheses about how iron preserved the materials but much research remains to be done. But what do the YECs say? Consider:

    1) They don’t say: “Let’s examine this to see what’s going on. What processes could have preserved the materials?” They say, “This is impossible!” Yet, this is not the first time scientists have been SHOCKED by something surviving much longer than thought possible. It has happened many times! Scientists used to think that “rot” was inevitable. Then, as the years went by, they kept pushing back the imagined boundaries of time in terms of how long organic material could be preserved. They found ancient animals and plants in certain kinds of peat bogs. Usually there was limited preservation, but sometimes the right factors came together and scientists realized that specimens were being found which were older and older. The journals kept pushing back the “limits” of peat bog preservation. Then it was realized that, while rare, some fresh water carcasses in just the right conditions could fall to a depth where surprisingly cold waters slowed degradation—-and if other factors managed to deprive them of dissolved oxygen, organic remains could break the records again and again! Same with various kinds of mud slides and permafrost tundras. Jump ahead by years and scientists began finding DNA fragments in some remains, if conditions were “perfect enough”. Again, journal articles recorded new records for “oldest sample found.” Dr. Schweitzer’s published article was yet another of those “pushing back the record” for the oldest organic materials in that category of remains. And a big push-back it was!

    2) Of course, “creation science” doesn’t cooperate in the research by heading to their labs and seeing if they can identify new preservation processes. Instead, they claim, “Stop! We have nothing but our religious views to lead us to reject all of that science, but we are going to pretend that the materials are NOT as old as all the other dating methods indicate. We will IGNORE all of the mountains of evidence indicating Dr. Schweitzer’s materials are millions of years old. We will resort to one of our favorite logical fallacies: The Argument from Personal Incredulity. That is, we don’t understand HOW something so old could survive, so we are going to PRETEND that there is a law of physics which states that there is some BARRIER which makes it IMPOSSIBLE for a 65 million years old specimen to survive in this condition. (The fact that there is no law, doesn’t matter to them. It is like their fake division between “observational science” and “historical science”. It’s not in the textbook but they don’t care. Make it up as you go along. I’m glad they don’t run the Olympics. If someone runs the marathon too fast, they would say, “Such a record is impossible. Therefore, we hereby declare all of the clocks and all of the videos recording the event to be untrustworthy. After all, this ruse was coordinated by a worldwide evil conspiracy that hates God.”)

    Now I’m glad YECs weren’t complaining when the “bog men” were found in peat moss. They would have said, “It is impossible for bodies to survive for centuries without rotting! So you scientists should stop investigating. Those bodies can’t be old.” Same with the older and older remains found in cold, oxygen-deprived waters, mud slides, permafrost and other processes, several of which still are not completely understood.

    3) But what do YECs decide about Dr. Schweitzer’s ONE SINGLE SPECIMEN involving ONE type of analysis? Instead of calling it a preservation process which we do not yet fully understand, they pretend that that is the same thing as saying, “It is evidence for a young earth!” How did they get that grandiose conclusion from just ONE item of evidence in Dr. Schweitzer’s lab? They IGNORED the HUNDREDS of other processes which point to an old earth and the literally MILLIONS of data which don’t fit into their religious framework. Welcome to the bizarre “logic” of the world of “creation science.”**

    ===> And because it is a case of ignoring TONS of evidence in favor of ONE “experiment” (one item of evidence) on the other side, we know it is not a mere “interpretation problem.” It is an integrity problem among the leaders of the “creation science” movement.

    All young earth and anti-evolution arguments operate in this same manner: Ignore mountains of evidence on one side and then pretend (and even fallaciously manufacture) one or two items of evidence on the other side outweigh them!

    Of course, the “mysteries” which often undergird those young earth arguments aren’t even mysteries anymore. Radioactive Polonium halos in granite are a good example. When I was part of the “creation science” movement years ago, the academic journals were still working out what was happening with that phenomena. But it got solved decades ago. But once a “young earth” argument is in the propaganda machine, it never leaves. [Indeed, that’s one of the reasons I left the machine!] Real scientists understand how uranium decay produces the phenomena which YECs are so concerned about. But even if they didn’t, it would be just one obscure mystery which does NOTHING to trump mountains of data for an old earth.

    >”The evidence is in the observation step of the scientific method. Our debate is in the interpretation step.”

    No. The debate is in the INTEGRITY step. Lack of honesty is the greatest problem in the “creation science” movement. That and IGNORING enormous quantities of data and failing to falsify the prevailing theories in the peer-reviewed journals. (Cue protests of “worldwide conspiracy against us” and “We don’t have the research funding the evilutionists have.” whines.)

    Denialists WANT to pretend that they don’t ignore evidence. But their statements of faith say otherwise. And their writings confirm it. God gave us vast fields of evidence so that would know about billions of years of earth history. God is not a deceiver. You can trust his revelation. Fallible men, however, are not so trustworthy. That is why even the Bible talks about the merits of consilience: “There is safety in many counselors.” Because Young Earth Creationist aren’t basing their conclusions on the evidence, they disagree with one another on all sorts of concepts. But science textbooks provide students with enormous quantities of useful scientific explanations and the arguments and evidence which supports them. (By the time an “interpretation” gets into the textbook, it has survived the gauntlet of peer-review and the support of consilience.)

    There is impressive agreement within the academy because the evidence is NOT as subjective as you wish. It is NOT mere “interpretation”. God’s answers are clear. The evidence points to an old earth. No evidence point to a young earth.

    [Prediction: Tim will try to find one or two obscure arguments for a young earth—though they will fail. But the readers who want to remain YEC-ist will assume two items is enough to trump millions on the other side.]
    _____________________
    ** I always put “creation science” in quotation marks because it is not science. I certainly affirm that God created everything, including everything which science investigates. But because I know what science is, I can agree with the science academy and the courts in declaring it religion, not science.

    Posted by Allen Joseph | July 13, 2014, 10:37 pm
  7. See here (my comments under the blogs) for how YECs Charlie Wolcott and Tas Walker IGNORE evidence or try to MISLEAD others (re human chromosome 2 and re which radioactive isotopes are found in nature and why/how):
    http://worldviewwarriors.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/issues-with-old-earth-creation.html
    http://worldviewwarriors.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/issues-with-old-earth-creation-theistic.html

    In my experience, even when YECs are shown that their assertions and denials about the opposition, or the opposition’s valid accusations (that’s including accusations by other Christians) are mistaken they just look the other way … and carry on making them.

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | July 13, 2014, 10:47 pm
  8. Tim wrote:
    “An observation would be: we see multiple genetic similarities between specimen A and specimen B.
    An interpretation would be: the two specimens share a common ancestor.”

    By the way, Tim didn’t claim that that was the actual observation upon which The Theory of Evolution is built. Yet, oddly enough, it is the obviously understated example one so often sees in anti-evolution literature. Of course, no evolutionary biologist would ever make such a trite, flimsy claim in describing The Theory of Evolution.. So for the sake of helping readers who are not aware of the SPECTACULAR volumes of evidence which support the theory, this would be a more realistic “observation” to use as an example:

    “An observation would be: We see millions of phylogenetic similarities between all of the earth’s organisms from A1,A2,A3,…through to Z99999999 so that those quantitative and qualitative comparisons naturally form nested hierarchies to produce phylogenetic trees.”

    Yes. I’m not exaggerating. That is the observation. (And it also helps explain why COMMON DESIGN looks nothing like COMMON DESCENT….but that’s another topic.)

    That amazing observation has only ONE INTERPRETATION: living things today descended from ancient ancestors by evolutionary processes.

    And that is why The Theory of Evolution is in science textbooks. The evidence is overwhelming and so incredibly abundant. Moreover, no matter which category of evidence and argument you start from, the path takes you to just one destination, one conclusion, one interpretation. The only arguments against it are religious, not scientific. That is why the academy is so confident and that is why more and more industries DEPEND on the facts of evolution. (There is no debate about the existence of evolution. That is the evidence. The Theory of Evolution is the EXPLANATION of that evidence.)

    And this additional consilience is even more amazing: When DNA mapping became available just a few years ago and scientists could do NEW genetic trees based on the MOLECULAR DATA in every organism, it produced nearly identical nested hierarchies and trees. (This was yet another test of The Theory of Evolution. If the new trees didn’t match the old ones, The Theory of Evolution would have crumbled to dust. But yet again The Theory of Evolution passed every test with incredible harmony.)

    NOTE: As spectacular as that is, those are only TWO of a long series of arguments/compilations-of-evidence which support The Theory of Evolution. The claim that The Theory of Evolution is probably the best attested theory in all of science is no exaggeration.

    Some readers are probably wondering why they never hear about any of this from Young Earth Creationists. Indeed, I encourage you to ask an evolution denier to explain even a small part of the above. They will do anything to avoid it. You will never hear Ken Ham talk about nested hierarchies! Of course, first he would need to learn what evolution is and read about it in a textbook. But like most YECs, he prefers straw man versions of ToE.

    As I behold the sheer quantity and quality of evidence we observe everyday throughout the earth’s biosphere, I’m impressed by the grandeur and magnificence of what I consider one of God’s most incredible demonstrations of his power and wisdom. Clearly God wanted us to know where we came from and the actual processes behind the profound, six YOM account of Genesis 1. I am so thankful that the God of the Bible is far more impressive than the puny, limited deity of “special creation” and the man-made traditions of Young Earth Creationism. Our Creator is such much more amazing than that. My view of God has been amplified by billions. Amen!

    Posted by Allen Joseph | July 14, 2014, 12:06 am
  9. Readers: If you are not familiar with the very basic and fundamental description of The Theory of Evolution in my previous post, you are not at all qualified to critique the theory. Of course, if you deny The Theory of Evolution, why not be honest and say that NO MATTER WHAT the scientific evidence indicates, you will continue to condemn it because it conflicts with your religious position?

    (That was true of me when I was a Young Earth Creationist. Ex-YECs are extremely common, especially once they’ve become trained scientists. Most of the world’s Christians have no conflict with The Theory of Evolution. So the theory has nothing to do with atheism. Indeed, atheists are just a small percentage of the Americans who affirm the science.)

    Posted by Allen Joseph | July 14, 2014, 12:12 am
  10. Tim,
    We’ve been replying and answering your posts so I’d like you to answer my questions—-especially so that you can explain your view of “Same evidence. Different interpretation”:

    1) If a worldwide flood of the depth of Mt. Everest [I assume that is your view?] covered the earth in a violent deluge only some four thousand years ago, what happened to the evidence?

    We know what floodplains look like. We know what catastrophic floods like. The great flood you describe [My idea of Noah’s Flood comes from the BHS text of Genesis and is quite different.] should have left even more evidence! Where did it go? I’ve known a number of Young Earth Creationists who told me that it was part of God’s “Noahic Covenant” that he would forget the rebellion which brought the deluge and he sealed his covenant with a rainbow—and that he also cleaned up nearly all of the damage from the flood so that “Your sins I will remember no more. Is that your view also? If not, how do you explain the lack of flood evidence? [I’m sure you know that the Christians who considered themselves “flood geologists” in the early 1800’s thought they would survey the earth in order to identify the flood evidence—but they were greatly distressed to conclude that they couldn’t find it. What do you think?]
    \
    Snelling says the vast majority of the fossil record is from the outbreak of the flood—yet instead of violent mixing of broken materials from surging waters and animals running for their lives, the fossils give evidence of scenes of animal incubation, intact eggs in hidden nests, routine migration, prey-predator situations, and the intact tunnels and burrows in 2a below.

    2) Andrew Snelling avoids this issue so perhaps you can help: If the fossil record and the strata which geologists placed over vast spans of time all happened during the single year-plus of the flood instead, how do you explain:

    a) The 15,000 alternating sandstone-shale layers of the Haymond Formation—-each layer having its own independent networks of animal burrows and tunnels?

    Common sense would assign them to AT LEAST 15,000 periods of sufficient duration to build up all of thick soil and those networks. This certainly doesn’t fit mega-flood conditions. It also blows apart the idea of a 6,000 year old earth.

    b) Thick coral formations, which grow only a fraction of an inch per year and yet are under the earth’s surface to great depths. Even if one fantasizes “super-coral” which could live-and-die and leave a tiny bit of additional “strata thickness” behind at, let’s say…..1000 times faster than they do today, how do you squeeze those thick layers into just a few years?

    c) For that matter, how about the thick strata under the Creation Museum, which required MILLIONS of sea creature life cycles. (Do you see why geologists laughed about a YEC museum on that geologic spot?)

    d) Another good example: The White Cliffs of Dover. Those tiny little specks of white in the chalk are minute animal skeletons. They take a long time to build up to those thicknesses. Were the Cliffs built during the single year of the flood also?

    If you have individual answers, that’s fine. But a single solution to all of the above would also do. (That would be fine. I think the most Snelling will say is that the flood stirred up detritus from the bottom of the ocean and made it available to the diatoms for super-fast metabolism. He thinks the extra nutrition allowed them to grow faster. But a million times faster????) [[B.S. meter alert.]]

    3) If the world geologists are all wrong about billions of years, and wrongly use index fossils to identify strata (because all such organisms died in the single year of the flood as Snelling et al claim), and if “flood geologists” understand the earth’s history properly and wouldn’t be fooled by the idea of oil and coal forming from biota deposition over many millions of years, why don’t oil exploration companies hire “creation scientists” geologists instead? After all, if they understand the ACTUAL history of the earth’s crust and the “evolutionist geologists” [not my term] completely botch the earth’s history, wouldn’t the “flood geologists” do a better job of finding oil?

    Snelling says that all such once-living material (fossils, oil, and coal) came from the enormous death count of Noah’s flood, so why don’t “flood geologists” like Snelling make a huge fortune in oil exploration and then donate the profits to the Great Commission? It would seem kind of callous and irresponsible if they didn’t. [By the way, for the real story of what happens when oil exploration companies hire geologists who happen to also be Young Earth Creationists, Google “Glenn Morton” and “Morton’s Demon”. He used to publish a lot of articles in “creation science” journals.]

    Posted by Allen Joseph | July 14, 2014, 1:29 am
  11. Mount Everest was a mere hill 4,500 years ago. So say most YEC fantasists anyway (based on how they read one translation of Psalm 104 v 8): https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+104%3A8&version=NASB

    This time it’s not very very rapid erosion the YECs require but very very rapid uplift.

    On coral:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-rotation-summer-solstice/

    However this must simply be me ‘bringing nothing to the table’, hurling insults and fallacies, and simply ‘boosting’ my ego – if the sermon of YEC blogger Charlie Wolcott this evening is to be believed:
    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=4582953863643137208&postID=6659582233666016049

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | July 14, 2014, 1:43 am
  12. I think Kurt Wise, paleogeologist and young earth creationist, sums up the YEC position well:
    “”If all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate.”

    It’s got nothing to do with “different interpretations”. It’s entirely down to unquestionably accepting the bible as being absolutely true as the basis for further investigation.

    Posted by riandouglas | August 8, 2014, 9:45 pm
    • If some evidence came to light that your mother was not your mother – but you have a deep relationship with her, reliable paperwork that says she is, and several genetic similarities, would you simply abandon your belief in light of this new evidence OR attempt to see if their are any holes in this new evidence first. Perhaps the folks who found this evidence did not take all details into account… and that creates a plot hole. Now I certainly wouldn’t abandon my relationship with my mother based on circumstantial evidence full of plot holes.

      Posted by Tim | August 9, 2014, 2:07 am
      • if some evidence came to light that your mother was not your mother – but you have a deep relationship with her, reliable paperwork that says she is, and several genetic similarities, would you simply abandon your belief in light of this new evidence OR attempt to see if their are any holes in this new evidence first.

        I would assess the totality of the evidence and try find the best explanation. Perhaps she’s actually my birth mother’s sister, or something.

        I wouldn’t just assume, as you and Wise do, that she was my birth mother regardless of the evidence.

        Now I certainly wouldn’t abandon my relationship with my mother based on circumstantial evidence full of plot holes.

        Yet that is exactly what you’ve done in accepting the bible as being literally and completely true without assessing the actual evidence. By taking it as axiomatic you’ve shut down any real way in which you can know reality.

        At least Wise is honest about this.

        Posted by riandouglas | August 9, 2014, 11:21 pm
        • There is no way to know what is true in your worldview. You covered that one for me.

          Posted by Tim | August 9, 2014, 11:35 pm
          • Then you misunderstand Tim. There are certainly ways to know whether something is probably true, or corresponds closely to reality.

            Your own certainty if knowledge is a false security blanket, since it means you have no way of actually knowing whether it’s true or not – you have removed any chance of that by making it unfalsifiable.

            Posted by riandouglas | August 9, 2014, 11:38 pm
      • Tim, what is it that makes you so confident in the truth of Christianity and a literal interpretation of the bible that you quite literally cannot imagine anything which would undermine it (nor, seemingly, anything that could support it)?

        Posted by riandouglas | August 9, 2014, 11:26 pm
        • I told you – it’s like my relationship with my wife. It is THAT real. Jesus is not just some historical figure written about in a book. I’ve had lengthy conversations with him. He has revealed himself in ways that you can’t even fathom! With that coupled with the reliability of the scriptures throughout the ages – there is no possible way I could deny it even if I wanted to. I would be fooling myself. (that’s the short answer at least)

          Posted by Tim | August 9, 2014, 11:37 pm
          • I told you – it’s like my relationship with my wife. It is THAT real.

            Except it isn’t since your wife can be demonstrated – you can justify the existence of your wife and your relationship with her quite easily.

            I’ve had lengthy conversations with him.

            How do you know you weren’t just having a conversation with yourself?

            He has revealed himself in ways that you can’t even fathom!

            I bet they can be quite easily “fathomed”.

            With that coupled with the reliability of the scriptures throughout the ages – there is no possible way I could deny it even if I wanted to. I would be fooling myself. (that’s the short answer at least)

            But Tim, you take the reliability of scripture as being axiomatic. You assume that conclusion from the outset. You have no way of justifying that claim from within your circular reasoning.

            With no evidence that could possibly undermine your belief, there is no evidence which can support it.

            Posted by riandouglas | August 9, 2014, 11:42 pm
          • Tim, you understand that those exact same sorts of claims can be made (and are made) by adherents of religions which are not Christianity.

            What reason could you give someone to believe your claims over theirs, when you’re making much the same claims for much the same reasons as they are.

            Posted by riandouglas | August 9, 2014, 11:50 pm
            • I am not giving the same reasons. Not at all. A six-day, 6000 year ago creation is the only explanation that is consisten with the evidence in the world. Plus the God of the BIble is the only God to exist outside of time, space, and matter – and thus the only God capable of creating those three necessary components which he does in Genesis 1:1.

              Posted by Tim | August 10, 2014, 2:42 am
              • You should spend some time debating with Muslim creationists and see how far these sorts of claims get you. I’m sure they’ll claim exactly what you do here, and appeal to the same sorts of evidence in support.

                The only chance you would have of convincing one another is if you both begun to accept an intersubjective investigation for the facts of reality. Unfortunately for both of you, neither of your claims would survive such an investigation.

                Posted by riandouglas | August 10, 2014, 6:47 pm
                • Muslim beliefs are simple to show inconsistent since they claim that Jesus was a prophet while at the same time saying that no prophet can lie – well Jesus said he is the only way to heaven.

                  Posted by Tim | August 10, 2014, 11:12 pm
                  • You really should spend a bit more time looking at other religions.

                    For example, Muslims claim that Jesus’ message was corrupted.

                    Posted by riandouglas | August 10, 2014, 11:58 pm
                  • Christian beliefs are easy to show inconsistent since they claim Jesus was God and that God cannot lie and knows the future – Jesus said that the second coming would occur during the generation who was alive at the time.

                    See how much fun this can be 🙂

                    Posted by riandouglas | August 10, 2014, 11:59 pm
                    • No he did not. He said it would appear in this age, and by that he meant the age of his resurrection.

                      Posted by Tim | August 11, 2014, 2:51 am
                    • So we should ignore the plain meaning of the text in this case because…reasons?

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 11, 2014, 3:03 am
                    • To understand the “plain meaning” you need to know the language and translation issues involved here.

                      Posted by Tim | August 12, 2014, 2:22 pm
                    • ” For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
                      Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

                      Which part of that means the present age, and not the people who were alive when this was purportedly said?

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 11, 2014, 3:05 am
                    • Here is the answer: http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp56.htm

                      Jesus was talking about how he was about to take some of his disciples up on a mountain and reveal his true glory to them. The transfiguration.

                      Posted by Tim | August 12, 2014, 2:25 pm
                    • To understand the “plain meaning” you need to know the language and translation issues involved here.

                      In the Gospel of Matthew 16:27, Jesus is saying the sone of man shall come in glory, with angels, and reward people.
                      The Gospel of Matthew uses the word ”hōde”, which means “here, this place”.
                      It uses the term ”histēmi” which means stand, to stand, or standing.
                      So it is referring to the people present during the speech, saying at least some of them will still be alive, and it says that at that time people will be rewarded. This didn’t happen during the transfiguration, so it must be referring to something else – something else for which there is no evidence.
                      It also does’t make sense to make a statement like “some of you will still be alive when this happens” if you’re referring to an event which is going to happen next week.

                      This sort of failure is even more evidence in Luke, where Jesus speaks of all sorts of calamities occurring before the return of the son of man, and that the present generation would not pass away before this had occurred.
                      The generation being spoken of has long since passed away, and Jesus still hasn’t returned (though there’s been no shortage of calamities.

                      So Jesus as presented in GMatthew and GLuke is a failed prophet. What was the OT punishment for a failed prophet?

                      Why are you so willing to twist “God’s word” here?

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 12, 2014, 3:28 pm
                    • The apostles were certainly rewarded for getting to be a part of the transfiguration. The “generation” of the new covenant has not passed away. I see you didn’t do a word study on that one. That was the real issue.

                      Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 2:37 am
                    • The word used is “genea”, which would not apply to the generation of the new covenant. It’s stretching things a little to far to claim it means what you do.

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 2:40 am
                    • Perhaps it is applicable since God works outside of our concept of time.

                      Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 2:45 am
      • I believe a closer analogy to your position, is evidence coming to light that your mother is not your mother, as in your scenario. You’ve always been told she was your mother, but the new evidence indicates, genetically, that you are both unrelated. You would reject the genetic evidence because you’re not willing to entertain the possibility that this woman who raised you might not be your mother, even though you lack any reasons other than a “feeling” that this is the case. You reject the genetic evidence out of hand because it doesn’t fit with what you wish to be true.

        Posted by riandouglas | August 10, 2014, 12:23 am
        • I believe I quoted more reasons than “just a feeling”.

          Posted by Tim | August 10, 2014, 2:45 am
          • You have admitted that your position is unjustifiable, and falsely accuse me of the same.
            You have admitted that you are certain of your position, even while acknowledging that you cannot claim that due to it being unjustifiable and unfalsifiable.
            You have admitted that you would never ever abandon this belief, regardless of the evidence and arguments presented.

            You fail to follow through on the implications of these claims. You’ve literally painted yourself into a corner. You claim certainty but can give no reasons to justify this claim. You claim unfalsifiability, but don’t realise that this makes your claims unverifiable. Your position might be emotionally satifying and comforting, but it is intellectually self defeating.

            That’s why I said you have “just a feeling” – because in the end your beliefs rest upon your feeling of certainty (and certainty is a feeling), rather than on an intellectual assessment of the evidence in as fair and unbiased a manner as is possible.

            Posted by riandouglas | August 10, 2014, 6:57 pm
        • Not meaning the change the subject but I got some input from a friend who wanted to respond to your previous claims about hyper-evolution. BTW he is an old-earth creationist who is friendly to YEC ideas. Here’s what he said regarding hyper-evolution:

          “humans have about 140 genes that affect height. In a population most people will have a mix of the “tall” and “short” versions of these genes, and (with adequate nutrition) will be of average height.

          However, if there’s suddenly selection for tall people (meaning that short people die before having as many kids), then the population as a whole will gradually get taller over time. But eventually you’ll hit a limit once the population has all the tall genes. If all the short genes have been eliminated, you can’t then take this population and evolve it back to shortness again, unless you re-introduce short people with short genes. Same reason you can’t breed a saint benard down to a chihuaua, or breed grapes the size of grapefruits.

          So by shuffling genes in this way you can traverse a wide range of variation fairly quickly. But it makes no sense to extrapolate this to evolution as a whole because you quickly reach the limits. To get past these limits you need mutation. Mutation is very common. Every human baby has 60-100 new mutations not seen in their parents. But mutations that are both useful and don’t break something are pretty rare.”

          Posted by Tim | August 10, 2014, 3:05 am
          • I thank your friend for his reply.

            However, that goes no way towards addressing the genetic differences between house cats and lions that I’ve been asking for. I also asked whether civet cats were a part of the cat kind, if not, then why not and if so how do you explain the far greater genetic difference between civets and lions?

            You’ve painted yourself into a corner Tim. On the one hand you argue that evolution today is doing nothing but decreasing fitness, following Sanfords poorly supported claims. On the other hand you are claiming that evolution could in a very short period of time, result in genetic differences of tens of millions of years going by todays rates.

            You’re arguing against yourself.

            Posted by riandouglas | August 10, 2014, 6:50 pm
            • Nope. If I argue for genetic entropy then I am saying all the species today have decended from those on the ark and are lesser creatures. In other words degenerates of the original ark kinds. No contradiction.

              Posted by Tim | August 10, 2014, 11:13 pm
      • “If some evidence came to light that your mother was not your mother – but you have a deep relationship with her, reliable paperwork that says she is, and several genetic similarities…..”
        Have you ever read about that very story? The woman’s DNA didn’t match that of her daughter. Everyone was shocked. They tested another of her children and that child didn’t match either. There was a court case involved and the judge finally ordered an officer of the court to witness the birth and then test the newborn infant. To everyone’s amazement, that child didn’t match.
        They realized that the woman had a liver biopsy years before and the lab still had the frozen tissue sample. It didn’t match her either. And it was this mystery that demonstrated chimeras with some humans!
        Later they discovered more chimeras among humans because now they had reasons to look for them. Some people who have mottled skin colors are chimeras. Human chimeras are basically their own fraternal twin. So different parts of their body have different DNA.

        Posted by Allen Miller | October 7, 2014, 12:25 am
  13. Tim, what do you think of this statement of Todd Wood, who is a YEC biologist:
    “Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.

    It is my own faith choice to reject evolution, because I believe the Bible reveals true information about the history of the earth that is fundamentally incompatible with evolution. I am motivated to understand God’s creation from what I believe to be a biblical, creationist perspective. Evolution itself is not flawed or without evidence. Please don’t be duped into thinking that somehow evolution itself is a failure. Please don’t idolize your own ability to reason. Faith is enough. If God said it, that should settle it.”

    Posted by riandouglas | August 10, 2014, 7:04 pm
    • I don’t agree. I believe when he says evolution he is talking about micro or natural selection here.

      Posted by Tim | August 10, 2014, 11:16 pm
      • You could contact him via his blog and enquire whether you are correct that he was not really talking about evolution … But I very much suspect that you will not.

        Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 11, 2014, 12:12 am
      • Tim, on the very blog post Wood indicates that he is speaking about the theory of evolution as it is understoof by scientists. Not micro evolution or some other snippet.
        He also provides a link to further explain what he means by “evolution” and makes it clear that he does not mean “micro” evolution.
        His own words:
        “In the case of “evidence for evolution,” I meant evolution in the standard, conventional sense. There are observations of allele frequency changes in populations (Darwin’s finches, for example), evidence of speciation (as explained in Darwin’s geography chapters in Origin and elsewhere), and there is evidence for universal common ancestry (genetic code, protein homology, core metabolism, etc.). For some of that evidence, I’m content to accept the evolutionary interpretation. For other evidence (particularly of universal common ancestry), I think there is another explanation.”

        So, why do you disagree with Todd Wood, even though he has far greater knowledge of evolutionary biology than you?

        Posted by riandouglas | August 11, 2014, 3:57 am
  14. Tim, both Wood and Wise are at least honest about their commitments – neither of them claims that evidence is important, and that they’re YEC’s due to a faith commitment.

    You’re trying to claim otherwise, but it keeps coming back to your faith commitment.

    Posted by riandouglas | August 11, 2014, 12:06 am
    • Actually I’m claiming both.

      Posted by Tim | August 11, 2014, 2:52 am
      • So which is it – is the evidence important or not?

        Still wondering why you don’t accept Wood’s assessment, given that he’s far more knowledgeable than you are?

        Posted by riandouglas | August 11, 2014, 3:06 am
        • Because I don’t accept any man’s word on the subject. Jesus said that as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be in the days of the second coming. If Noah’s story is metaphor, then the second coming is metaphor. The Noah story was literal history to Jesus – that’s good enough for me.

          Posted by Tim | August 12, 2014, 2:26 pm
          • Because I don’t accept any man’s word on the subject.

            That’s not true. You have relied upon Sanford and other peoples words on the subject. You seem to conveniently ignore people who don’t agree with you.
            Why do you suppose that might be?

            Jesus said that as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be in the days of the second coming. If Noah’s story is metaphor, then the second coming is metaphor.

            And how is that a problem Tim? Especially as the evidence renders Noah’s flood a local event at best.

            The Noah story was literal history to Jesus – that’s good enough for me.

            That’s wrong – the Noah story was presented as being literal history to the Jesus character in the gospel accounts, none of which were written by Jesus (ie. they’re man’s word).
            I believe Paul might also take the account to have been a literal event (he certainly takes the Adam & Eve story to have been literal), but Paul isn’t Jesus either.

            Why do you accept man’s word (ie. the Gospel accounts and the Pauling Epistles) in these instances?
            How aren’t you being inconsistent and ad-hoc here?

            Posted by riandouglas | August 12, 2014, 3:32 pm
            • The Bible is God’s word passed down to us through men.

              Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 2:38 am
              • The Bible is God’s word passed down to us through men.

                Since you’ve seemingly thrown historical research under the bus as not representing knowledge (in your effort to avoid accepting scientific conclusions as knowledge), how can you begin to justify this claim?
                After all, you weren’t there to observe any of this.

                Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 8:42 pm
                • You’re right. It is my starting assumption. My point is that evolutionists do not admit their starting assumptions. We’re in the same boat more than you let on.

                  Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 9:10 pm
                  • You’re right. It is my starting assumption.

                    You’re contradicting yourself. Earlier in our discussion you said you had reasons for your belief. Now you’re saying you are just assuming it’s true prior to other considerations.

                    My point is that evolutionists do not admit their starting assumptions.

                    Which are what exactly?
                    I’ve already let you know what my starting assumptions are – raw sense experience. They’re undeniable and properly basic as far as I’m aware.
                    And nowhere in that small set of starting assumptions is “The bible is false”, “God does not exist”, “Evolution is true”, etc – all of those things are conclusions based upon reason.

                    We’re in the same boat more than you let on.

                    I think we’re in the same boat more than you let on, actually. You have claimed to know with certainty that Christianity is true, yet you cannot know that with certainty, as there’s always the chance you’re wrong.
                    Which I think is why your position is not tenable – it’s based upon the feeling of certainty rather than on fact.
                    Even if Christianity were true, assuming that to be the case at the outset would be unjustified.

                    Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 9:23 pm
                    • I don’t understand why you don’t get my position yet. I am fine continuing this conversation if you will at least understand where I come from. I’m not asking you to agree, just understand it. You don’t even understand it yet.

                      I begin by believing the Bible may be true. Then I test it and apply it as I previously mentioned. When those things are confirmed through the tests and applications, my starting assumption is confirmed – and thus a worldview is solidified.

                      Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 9:26 pm
                    • Using that methodology can only get you as far as “(a specific interpretation of) the bible has a high probability of being true” – it’s the jump from “highly probability” to “absolute certainty” which is unjustified.

                      And you’ve already admitted in a previous comment that your starting belief is unfalsifiable, so I don’t see how you could even get as far as “highly probable” – if no evidence can undermine/reduce the probability of your claim, then no evidence can confirm/increase the probability of your claim.

                      You’ve seemingly smuggled the certainty into your “calculation”, from the outset.

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 9:31 pm
                    • I realize you do not understand a relationship with the creator of the universe. I’m sorry you do not. Once you do, you will realize what I mean. And I pray you do. I said it before – it’s the exact same certainty I have in knowing my wife and her love for me. Not a single difference.

                      Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 9:37 pm
                    • Tim, even if I were to accept, for the sake of argument, that all of your claims are actually true in reality, you STILL could not be certain of that relationship (nor certain of your other relationships).
                      You’ve heard of a “Cartesian Demon”?

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 9:46 pm
                    • I see we are around in circles again to the we can’t know anything argument. Wonderful.

                      Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 9:56 pm
                    • I don’t think we’re going around in circles (though I’d agree that your beliefs are circular).

                      We can know some things with certainty, but they’re rather limited – raw sense experiences. It’s possible to be mistaken about everything else, as far as I’m aware.

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 10:01 pm
                    • I hope some day you can know what I know. Good luck my friend.

                      Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 10:03 pm
                    • Tim, you don’t know what you claim to know.

                      Though epistemology has moved on a little since Plato declared knowledge to be “justified true belief”, it’s still useful.
                      You’re lacking the “justification” part 🙂

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 10:17 pm
                    • I think it’s just that I’m lacking the justification part according to your criteria.

                      Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 10:21 pm
          • Why should we accept Tim’s word?

            Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 12, 2014, 7:31 pm
      • And if the evidence is important and supports your position, as you seem to be claiming, why do Wise and Wood, who actually agree with you, not affirm that position?

        Posted by riandouglas | August 11, 2014, 3:58 am
        • I actually admit that the evidence does make sense towards evolution **IF** you accept the starting assumptions. That is – what I believe they are saying as well.

          Posted by Tim | August 12, 2014, 2:28 pm
          • I actually admit that the evidence does make sense towards evolution **IF** you accept the starting assumptions.

            The only starting assumption necessary is not to accept the truth of the bible are given. There is no assumption of the falsity of the bible required.
            For your YEC position however, you need to assume from the outset, the truth of your conclusion. The bible is completely without error, so the Noah story is completely true, so the evidence must be assumed to be completely in line with this story, and so the bible is without error. It’s circular reason

            That is – what I believe they are saying as well.

            Then you don’t seem to understand what they’re saying – they’re both saying that through a faith choice, they do and would reject any and all evidence which seems to go against their YEC beliefs. They’re saying that the truth of the bible is axiomatic for them. This is something which you’ve denied, even while behaving as if it were the case.

            Posted by riandouglas | August 12, 2014, 3:36 pm
          • Gene duplication – which you DENY – is NOT a ‘starting assumption’. (Nor is it expressly denied in the Bible though of course from the Bible it appears improbable given that the Bible does not even suggest the possibility of speciation within the so-called kinds.)

            Again – why should we accept the word of Tim or any other YEC (since all of them go BEYOND scripture in order to defend scripture)?

            Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 12, 2014, 7:35 pm
          • Tim, what is the starting assumption you think is needed for evolution to make sense, and why is it invalid?

            You’ll need to explain how people of all faiths and none can accept this while you do not (keep in mind people like evangelical Christians like Francis Collins and Karl Gibberson and devout Catholics like Ken Miller accept it). Given this, the starting assumption can’t be “The bible is false” or “Christianity is false”, or even “there is no God” or “Materialism is true”.

            I would be very interested in hearing what you believe here.

            Posted by riandouglas | August 14, 2014, 4:12 pm
            • I am tiring of going around in circles with you. I’ve answered this before. I will once more, but just cause you don’t agree doesn’t mean you need to ask again….

              The basic assumption that the present is the key to the past. Read this for more on that: https://gracesalt.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/the-4-ages-of-earth/

              Posted by Tim | August 14, 2014, 4:14 pm
              • As I’ve stated previously, this is an assumption that can and has been tested – it’s not something that is taken as axiomatic (unlike your assertion that Genesis is literally historical).

                Secondly, you assume the same – don’t you expect the light to come on when you flick the switch, or the food to heat when you put it in the microwave?

                I think the reason you feel like we’re going around in circles is that you never quite explain WHY that’s not a valid assumption to make, WHY you think it must be taken as being axiomatic, and WHY you reject it in specific cases while accepting it in all other areas of your life.

                Posted by riandouglas | August 14, 2014, 4:20 pm
                • Creationists see a stark difference between science in the present where we can directly observe and replicate our findings vs. science that is based off of evidence left behind whose origin cannot be observed nor replicated.

                  That is why it is okay to assume uniformitarianism in the modern day, but why it may be fallacious to assume it for all of history. See my “4 Ages” article for why I believe applying it to all history fails.

                  Posted by Tim | August 14, 2014, 4:27 pm
                  • Creationists see a stark difference between science in the present where we can directly observe and replicate our findings vs. science that is based off of evidence left behind whose origin cannot be observed nor replicated.

                    For what reason?
                    And why does this not apply to the bible?
                    And how is this not ad-hoc?

                    That is why it is okay to assume uniformitarianism in the modern day, but why it may be fallacious to assume it for all of history.

                    It would be fallacious to take uniformity as an axiom rather than as a testable hypothesis. However, it is not taken as an axiom, but is rather tested (and has been tested extensively, in numerous ways, in various fields of enquiry)

                    Posted by riandouglas | August 14, 2014, 4:39 pm
                    • Test your uniform beliefs 5999 years ago and let me know how it works out. Oh… you can’t? You can only test them today you say? Ok… gotcha.

                      Posted by Tim | August 14, 2014, 4:42 pm
                    • Test your uniform beliefs 5999 years ago and let me know how it works out. Oh… you can’t? You can only test them today you say? Ok… gotcha.

                      Have you not read my previous comments Tim.

                      To explain again.

                      The hypothesis that radioactive decay rates were more rapid for a period in the past would leave different empirical evidence TODAY than if the radioactive decay rate were basically constant.
                      Things like the ratios of various products of decay, or the amount of energy present in the crust as heat, etc, would differ between the 2 different hypothetical situations.
                      When we look at the actual empirical evidence we have TODAY, we see that this evidence (the totality of evidence, not specific instances) more closely conforms the the predictions of a basically constant rate of decay.

                      This observation of the evidence TODAY lends confirmation to the hypothesis that the radioactive decay rate has been basically constant for billions of years, and undermines the hypothesis that the radioactive decay rate was more rapid in the past.

                      And so, by looking at the evidence TODAY, we are able to infer which hypothesis concerning the PAST is more likely. Each successive confirmation of the basically static rate of radioactive decay increases the probability of that hypothesis being “true”, and reduces the probability of the rapid decay in the past hypothesis.

                      Where exactly does this reasoning “fail”?

                      Posted by riandouglas | August 14, 2014, 4:56 pm
                    • If the radioactive decay rate was more rapid for a moment in the past, what evidence would that leave today? I know one reason is you believe it would have burned the crust of the earth away. That’s a fairly good belief given what we know of radioactive decay today. But we know nothing of radioactive decay 4300 years ago. We just simply don’t know what mechanisms or processes were at play during that or any other time period other than today. Yes, it seems logical to judge the past based on how we see it work today – but we just can’t know. And so, no the way we see it work today does not negate how it may have worked in the past.

                      Posted by Tim | August 14, 2014, 5:02 pm
              • Tim, what I’m trying to get it with my questioning is how ad-hoc your belief in “creationist catastrophism” is.

                Unless you can provide compelling reasons WHY this is not the case (without circularly referencing Genesis while taking it as axiomatic), then your rejection of scientific conclusions, and your assumption of the discontinuity of the history of reality have no foundation.

                Posted by riandouglas | August 14, 2014, 4:23 pm
  15. Tim wants to have his cake and eat it.
    “I believe it because it’s biblical.”
    “I believe it because it’s biblical and because the evidence supports it and everyone else is wrong about the evidence.”

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 11, 2014, 10:58 pm
    • The evidence confirms my starting belief in the Bible.

      Posted by Tim | August 12, 2014, 2:30 pm
      • Radioactive decay rates changing, but the earth’s crust not being motlen rock?
        Hyper-evolution occurring but there being no real burden of deleterious mutations?
        Absurdly rapidly retreating glaciers?
        Tectonic plates moving at walking pace?
        The speed of light changing depending on whether it’s coming towards us or not?

        These are the sorts of things YECism commits you to Tim. None of them is consistent with reality, yet somehow you’re deluded enough to think that the evidence confirms the bible.

        The only reason you could think that is if you took the truth of the bible to be axiomatic prior to an assessment of the evidence, which leads you to circular reasoning and the absurdities listed above.

        Posted by riandouglas | August 12, 2014, 3:42 pm
        • It’s the exact same thing as finding soft tissue in dinosaur bones. The best answer is we just don’t know how soft tissue preservation is possible – but it must be because evolution and an old-earth is true. It’s the same thing. Do we know why the radioactive decay rates being rapid did not make the crust molten? Nope – but it must not have because YEC is true. Same thing.

          Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 2:41 am
          • Do we know why the radioactive decay rates being rapid did not make the crust molten?

            Tim, we have a very good understanding of radioactive decay, and know of now real mechanism which could/would account for the increase, nor find any real reason to suspect such an increase occurred in the past. We have a good understanding of the energies involved in this decay, as well as how those energies would diffuse through the environment. We can also assume that the rates were more rapid in the past, and try to falsify that claim (in the same way that we can assume that the rates were basically constant, and try to falsify that).

            If the radioactive decay rates were different in the past, then the evidence would indeed be different (the crust being molten being just one indication – the ratios of various isotopes would also be different and would allow us to chart the changes in the decay rates).

            We don’t find any of that evidence in the world around us – none!

            What YEC’s like yourself should be doing is making hypothesis and trying to falsify them. I do not see this happening. What YEC research does look like are exercises in confirming a conclusion.

            So, perhaps you can change that. When did the decay rates change, was it a rapid or a gradual change, how many times has it changed (did it decrease and then increase again)? Use whatever resources you like, but note that you need to formulate your hypothesis such that it can be falsified. You need to make definite predictions. Then we can look at reality and see if those predictions hold, or not.

            Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 5:15 pm
            • Why do I need to do that? If I agreed with you here I would be contradicting my own position. My position is that any origins position is unscientific. Origins is philosophy since it is outside of observation. Why would I assume that science is the only way to true knowledge?

              Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 7:26 pm
              • Why do I need to do that?

                Because doing so and finding what your hypothesis predicts would provide validation of your hypothesis.

                My position is that any origins position is unscientific.

                So you’re now saying all of your YEC claims are unscientific?
                You’ve also just undercut your claims of biblical historicity, which you have said underlies your belief that the bible is without error, as historical research is also an historical/origins investigation.

                Origins is philosophy since it is outside of observation.

                Tim, this is ridiculous. It is not outside of observation at all. We can form an hypothesis about what evidence we should find today if an event did or did not happen in the past, and then look for that evidence.

                Why would I assume that science is the only way to true knowledge?

                You don’t have to assume that science provides reliable knowledge about reality (no one here has claimed it is the one true way, btw).
                You can look at the computer you’re typing on to confirm that, or the medicines you take.

                Are you really saying that any historical claim is dubious, or are you, as I suspect, only making this claim for things you don’t agree with (ie. special pleading)?

                Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 8:08 pm
                • I am not saying that all YEC and all evolution positions are unscientific but that at some point we step outside of observation and begin relying on either are own extrapolations or assumptions – neither of which can be provable in a scientific sense. Can the results make logical sense? Yes. Can they be proven? No.

                  Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 9:02 pm
                  • neither of which can be provable in a scientific sense.

                    I suspect you don’t understand what that means.

                    Can they be proven? No.

                    And I think this is why.

                    What do you mean by “proven” here?

                    Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 9:12 pm
                    • I understand that science doesn’t “prove” anything, but you sure seem to be convinced that evolution is proven.

                      Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 9:19 pm
              • Tim, you’ve referred to supposed scientific evidence for a young earth, the flood of Noah, etc.

                Aren’t you being just a little bit disingenuous in presenting that material when you don’t accept it as representing knowledge?

                Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 8:09 pm
              • Sorry for posting a third response to your comment Tim, but I’m absolutely flabbergasted at your response.

                I’ll assume for the sake of argument that you’re right, and that any “origins” position is unscientific, due to them being philosophical in nature.
                How do you then justify any claim concerning an origin claim?
                Is there a methodology or methodologies?
                How do we avoid, as best we can, introducing biases and errors into our reasoning?
                On what basis can any origin claim be called “knowledge”?

                Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 8:40 pm
                • Well, I would support going to a source of absolute truth – the Bible.
                  Beyond that – ALL philosophies are biased, even ones with hints of science to them (if outside of direct observation)… due to the interpretation stage (the point of this blog post).

                  Posted by Tim | August 13, 2014, 9:06 pm
          • As I have attempted to make clear previously, it is not remotely the same thing. You are comparing an observation of some soft tissue with some fantasies dreamed up by the people you unquestioningly support.

            Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 13, 2014, 8:20 pm
  16. You unquestioning accept a young universe and creation not evolution. Thus you ‘support’ them do you not (I don’t mean financially) even if you may query certain things on their websites.

    Posted by Ashley Haworth-roberts | August 13, 2014, 9:24 pm
  17. Joe, if you want to claim that evolution is incomplete, that there are unknowns, etc, then go right ahead – I would agree with you.

    However, this doesn’t render YEC any more plausible. YEC fails on it’s own. It’s just icing on the cake that we also have a very successful explanatory framework in modern evolutionary theory 🙂

    Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 11:45 pm
  18. And Tim, in the same way, showing YEC to be plausible requires more than pointing out the incompleteness of evolutionary biology (or even the falsity of same) – you need to actually show YEC to be a viable alternative, rather than assuming it wins by default.

    Posted by riandouglas | August 13, 2014, 11:47 pm

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