Can Evolution Explain the Eye?

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The world is filled with magnificent biological designs and interrelated interdependent systems. I’ve been told that natural selection acting on random mutations has enough power to produce everything in biology. I’ve put these claims to the test several times

Well, I got a new challenge from a God-denier, who made the claim that evolution can even account for eyes. They provided a link to a “scientific” paper thinking they could bluster their way through a conversation without being skeptical. But I don’t fall to bluster so easily. Let’s analyze the claim to see if the scientists, who made the claim are asserting based on evidence or assumptions

Here’s how this works: I will post the quotes from the article in red and then just below the quote, I’ll post my analysis in the default black font preceded by a dash. I have bolded key words throughout, so the bold does not appear in the original work. Throughout, you’ll notice that instead of actual evidence, the authors of the article rely on assumptions. And those who are particularly intrepid and can work through this analysis to the end will be gifted with a unique surprise at the end

“Sight is an evolutionary gift

– Odd choice of words from a scientific journal. Notice how evolution is reified as a magnificent gift-giver. Sounds more like paganism than science

“Life probably first appeared ~3.7 billion years ago”

– Probably?!?!? Indeed

“more likely

– Aren’t we supposed to be talking about evidence rather than making assumptions?

“The opsin in rhodopsin probably evolved

Probably?!?!? Notice the use of the magic word: “evolved”. Do you care to go into the details? It seems like they missed a step in the explanation and tried to sweep the actual explanation under the “it evolved” rug. Pathetic!

“The passage of such molecules from microbial opsins to metazoan opsins probably came from a common ancestor as these are related, albeit distantly”

– Probably?!?!? Probably is used TWELVE times in the article. It sounds like a collection of assumptions rather than the actual evidence that we were told to expect

“Once an opsin (or the predecessor of the opsins) covalently bonded with retinal, perhaps in a cell with a cilium or two, the slow crawl to an eye began”

– Perhaps?!?! It’s a fine yarn, but the science-sounding veneer is wearing thin

Perhaps after 35 000 generations, an organism discovered that developing a concave cup instead of a spot produced a more successful and competitive organ for sight”

– I really thought this was going to be a peer-reviewed scientific paper, but it’s just probably after probably followed by reification fallacy. How exactly did the unguided, sightless process of evolution look ahead to discover anything? They don’t know

“As Nilsson and Pelger suggested, from an eyespot to an eyecup to a fully formed camera-style eye could take as few as 364 000 generations, and the production of such an eye in perhaps as short a period as half a million years”

– This is called hedging. Suggested. Could. Perhaps. It’s not even distantly evidence, just speculation

“If one assumes that the eye must provide spatial information to be defined as an eye, then the curvature of a cup would create the first eye, as primitive spatial information would be provided

– Notice how they just assumed that a critical component of the eye just popped into existence. It was needed, so nature provided. No explanation, just that it would be magically provided

“A cornea, lens, extraocular muscles (EOMs), and ocular adnexa were added as necessary

– In a cosmos with no design, no purpose, just blind pitiless indifference, what is necessary? How does the naturalist suddenly assume purpose and necessity? Even worse, the explanation is never given, just “it was necessary – so evolution provided” as if there’s design inevitabilities just waiting out in the ether to be added to biological organisms. It’s a ridiculous assumption by evolutionists

“Multiple such ommatidia would likely have been produced by gene duplication”

– That’s not science. It’s just an assumption wrapped in a façade of scientism

“The morphology of the compound eye would itself evolve

– Why do they continue to use the magic word: evolve, rather than explaining what happened? Maybe they don’t know so they just say “it evolved”

“Although little is known about its genetics”

– That’s actually optimistic. What exactly do you know AT ALL about its genetics?

“How this organism interprets the image it receives remains a mystery

– Indeed! Mysteries abound within this “scientific” paper

“These organelles are believed to have originated through ancient symbiosis with a red alga23 or perhaps other protists”

– Believed?!?!? Perhaps?!?!? Yawn. I was hoping to find some evidence in this scientific paper, but they keep giving me their beliefs. In addition to that, symbiosis is a paradox for evolutionists. Symbiosis is an unimaginable coincidence built on another unimaginable coincidence, but since symbiosis is observed, the evolutionist just says: “LooK wHaT nAtuRe diD!”

“convergent evolution”

This is a term that simply means: “We Darwinists don’t know how/why the same structures emerged in disparate species, but here they are, so nature must have done it twice”. It has no explanatory power…just a sciency-sounding term

“This ancient arthropod probably lived between 600 and 550 mya before the Cambrian explosion”

– Again, we’ll note that we’re dealing with assumptions and not science. The giant pink elephant in the room with which these authors fail to deal, is how did the extremely complicated eyes of the trilobite emerge via natural processes. They have no explanations just the assumption that nature was able to produce these complex eyes. Do you doubt my analysis of this sentence? Check out the very next sentence in the peer-reviewed scientific paper

“This would suggest that eyes were forming well before the Cambrian period but no record of such pre-Cambrian trilobites, or other animals with eyes, exists, at least to date”

– THERE IS NO RECORD (NO EVIDENCE) OF THE EVOLUTION OF THE EYE…just more assumptions. The key to those who claim that there’s a mountain of evidence for evolution is the hope that no one will actually read their peer-reviewed papers. They didn’t count on ApoloJedi skeptically analyzing their claims of evidence…only to expose that this “mountain” is a bottomless crater covered by assumptions

“As discussed earlier, the compound eye began, possibly in a worm-like creature, preceding the trilobites or contemporary to them”

– This sentence is further proof that anonymous internet God-denying keyboard warriors  have never read these peer-reviewed scientific papers. They Google search ‘the evolution of the eye’ and post the 1st link in the list. Little do they know that I’m not intimidated by their bluster. I’m literally taking these papers line by line and exposing the sheer blatant assumptions and complete lack of evidence. Because there is no evidence of the evolution of the compound eye of the trilobite, they have to say “the compound eye began”. It just began according to their assumption. No explanation. No evidence. It just began. When did the compound eye begin, evolutionists? “Possibly preceding trilobites or contemporary. We’re not sure” because THERE’S NO EVIDENCE

“There are at least six different models of compound eyes and it would appear that the most likely explanation is that the apposition-style eye came first and radiated into the other forms although this explanation is not completely satisfactory

– No doubt. There’s at least 6 options, but none of them are satisfactory.

“The octopus evolved later and exhibits a more derived eye that includes a lens, a horizontally oval pupil, and a highly sophisticated system of EOMs”

– Hey evolutionists, how did the compound eye of the octopus come about…the steps…the processes? “It evolved”. Ohhhhhh, that’s not a very compelling explanation for us skeptics of evolution.

“The agnathans are the closest extant relative to the first cephalochordates alive today, so we must rely upon them to help us understand the development of eyes in the early vertebrate lineage”

– Notice the assumption of common decent and since there is no evidence of a step-by-step progression from agnathans to humans, the Darwinists “MUST RELY” on these assumptions in their artwork to show the fabled evolution of the vertebrate eye. Highly suspicious

“The Devonian was an important period”

– To the accidental aggregation of stardust in an amoral purposeless blind pitiless indifferent cosmos, how do you justify what is “important”?

“Some spiders developed excellent eyesight and clever adaptations to squeeze the optics and neurologic equipment into very small spaces”

– Sounds very much like purposeful design rather than natural selection throwing together random mutations into “clever equipment” with efficiency and effectiveness.

“Shubin and his team discovered the fossil of Tiktaalik, which probably represents the transitional form from an aquatic animal to a terrestrial one”

– Probably?!?!? The contrary analysis of Tiktaalik exposes the evolutionary assumptions as impotent

“external eyelids appeared

– They just appeared! The explanation missed a step or 10,000

“Although our knowledge of dinosaurian vision is limited, we can make some assumptions based on the last common ancestor, indirectly related creatures and extant progeny including direct descendants”

– At least they admitted to making assumptions in this part, but they do fail to admit their assumptions about the ancestors and descendants of dinosaurs. There are no fossils of dinosaur ancestors. The evidence for dinosaur ancestors is completely missing

“We can conclude much of this from the avian lineage as birds are living dinosaurs”

– Not recognizing their own assumptions that birds are the direct descendent of dinosaurs, they try to make their assumptions count as direct evidence. It’s just an assumption, and their conclusions is based on the assumption – not evidence

“It is not known for certain”

– Clearly, but that doesn’t stop the authors from crafting a story filled with assumptions

“The Old World monkeys were separated from the New World monkeys and evolved a third visual pigment”

– There’s that magic “evolved” word again. No details. Just “nature-dun-it” I’ve been told that evolution simply means ‘change’. If indeed evolution just means change, can we substitute ‘changed’ in for ‘evolved’? Here’s what it would look like: “The Old World monkeys were separated from the New World monkeys and CHANGED a third visual pigment”. Maybe not. ‘Evolved’ doesn’t just mean changed. There’s way more magic built into the usage of the term

“This third visual pigment is not the same one as found in fish, reptiles, or birds, and likely represents an error in duplication of the LWL visual pigment”

Likely. More assumptions. Evolutionists assume that an accumulation of errors (mutations) produced all of life. It’s all they have to work with. But it strains the very limited of common sense to assert that you can gain function from an accumulation of brokenness

“they illustrate visual photopigment evolution in progress

– Isn’t evolution ALWAYS supposed to be in progress? I guess they have to assert this because observations of fossils show that “abrupt appearance” and “stasis” are the norm. No progress

In their conclusion (for those intrepid readers, here’s your gift from the scientists who authored their paper!):

“We know from computer models, and deductive reasoning, that eyes can evolve quickly”

No evidence? Just assumptions and intelligently designed (biased) algorithms that assert an evolution of the eye. This can’t be repeated enough: if there were evidence, they would have produced it in this article. But they didn’t. In their concluding paragraph they admit that the evolution of the eye is speculated based on a computer model. And it’s not just that they claimed eyes evolved – but that they evolved QUICKLY. The Grand Theory of Evolution has been taught that it takes lots of time to change creatures from one to another. It’s likely these authors are not familiar with the waiting time problem…although they should be.

As Christians we know that evolution cannot explain the emergence of the eye because it is contrary to what God has revealed in the Bible. But the analysis of the claims of the evolutionists has a purpose beyond just saying (from the Christian worldview) that evolution is in conflict with God’s Word, so evolution isn’t true. This purpose is to see if their claims (from their perspective) is legitimate. Do they indeed have evidence to support their claims? After reading through this article, you can see that their claims are impotent and the definitive answer is NO. There’s no need to be bullied when an evolutionist claims: “There’s a mountain of overwhelming evidence for evolution.” As I’ve done in this series of articles, I say “SHOW ME!” And when we peek behind the curtain, it’s one assumption built on another.

We can trust What God has revealed in his Word about the past, so we can trust Him about the future too

The Altruism Exchange – Part 3

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In part 1 and part 2 of the rebuttal to the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad’s objections to my original article: “Can Evolution Explain Altruism” we saw that he objected from the margins and never really addressed the meat of the article. He has shown himself to be verbose and persistent…and friendly. Let’s see if Part 3 of his objection will produce some positive criticism. As before, the tall friendly one will be referred to as TFAD, TFAD’s comments will be in red.

My original post included the line “So, scientists have recognized that it is counter-intuitive to assume that altruism fits within the evolutionary explanations”. And it’s not just scientists. There’s an inherent understanding that a mechanism (evolution) that’s taught as “survival of the fittest”, “red in tooth and claw”, and “culls the weak” has basic problems also explaining sacrificial giving to help the weak survive, empathy, and protecting the weak (even of other species) at the expense of one’s own reproductive success. But TFAD declares:

“This is wrong, as well as completely missing the point. No expert on the subject says that altruism is on the whole incompatible with evolution as a mechanism for human development or advancement. Nay, a cursory Google Scholar search for “evolutionary origins human altruism” brings up over 80’000 results which actually tie human altruism to evolution”

There are so many things with TFAD’s objection to dissect. Best start at the top:

  • For him to declare someone to be wrong, he would have to have absolute knowledge, but an epistemology which assumes naturalism has no such foundation for the preconditions of intelligibility. This is not just me lazily saying “I’m right and you’re wrong!” He has recognized the deficiency in his own worldview
  • AND, I am NOT wrong. People that TFAD would recognize as experts (no creationist links below) DO recognize the inherent contradiction of the mechanisms of evolution with altruism. While researchers think they may have answers, the point remains – Altruism is in conflict with evolutionary thought.
  • “No expert” – While TFAD did not specifically define expert, it would not take long to infer what he means by expert. Are experts only those who have PhDs? What about PhDs who are Christians? What about PhDs who have different ideological assumptions than you? What about PhDs who are employed by companies that you consider biased? If a person does not have a PhD can they object or point out inconsistencies in a claim/idea? Since TFAD does not have a PhD (or recognized expertise beyond height/friendliness) why is his objection to my exposure of evolutionary deficiency worth considering? This is not to say that education is bad or that there are not people who are highly trained in specific fields. There are. And I am questioning the assumptions, processes, and conclusions of some of those experts because their reasoning (as I have shown) is questionable. People mustn’t be silenced because they do not have fancy letters after their name. No one would consider me an expert in biology, which exposes the inadequacy of the explanations of evolutionists for altruism, since a non-expert (me) has easily shown the flaws in their thinking
  • TFAD found more than 80,000 results when searching for “evolutionary origins human altruism”, and he interpreted this as “See, evolution explains altruism”. This is what is called prejudicial conjecture. Rather than reading the 80,000 results or even a few of them, he just assumed (with his bias) that all of them are the answer. If we were to use the methodology of TFAD to try to answer the question “Is inflation good for the economy?” Google returns about 269,000,000 results. And following his progression of thought, I could claim “no, it is not! See, there are 269,000,000 articles telling me why.” I’m sure you all see the flaw TFAD’s argument, and it hath a name: prejudicial conjecture.

TFAD proceeds next down the well-worn “rabbit trail” of criticizing presuppositional apologetics again for a few paragraphs. It’s not really part of the discussion, but it gives TFAD warm fuzzies to be critical of philosophies with which he disagrees. But back to the real substance of the ongoing debate

I wrote “Essentially, he told me that science DOES have answers, and I’m ignorant of those answers because I’ve never read them” and TFAD countered:

“Not quite. I never said he was ignorant of the answers because he’s never read them. What I will say is that lousy epistomology (sp) utilising intellectually treasonous theology prevents people with theological blinders on from accepting the fact they could ever be wrong about something, particularly when that something challenges their deeply-held religious convictions. So ApoloJedi is not ignorant because he hasn’t read the answers – he’s ignorant (to use his word) because his chain of logic prevents him from ever being corrected on any topic he sees as contradictory to his theology.”

TFAD again has fallen into the trap of misunderstanding the entire purpose of the original blog post. I used the definitions of the evolutionists. I used the papers and books of the evolutionists. I used the links and assumptions of the evolutionists…all as an internal critique of their explanations of things (altruism) clearly seen. What remains unseen are their assumptions that natural selection acting on random mutations in the struggle for survival can produce behavior that is sacrificial to the reproductive fitness of the giver. TFAD says that I am opposed to “ever being corrected on any topic he sees as contradictory to his theology”. Should TFAD desire to take this path of argumentation, he needs to establish an epistemology with transcendent justification whereby his philosophical foundation is sufficient to correct others. As already shown and as he has already admitted, his philosophical foundation is unable to do so. Even if he does not want to go so deep as to engage in metaphysical foundations (as he really hates presuppositional apologetics), he could at the very least demonstrate (from his own perspective) the necessary evidence that evolutionary mechanisms can produce altruistic behavior in creatures where their direct ancestor did not behave altruistically. This glaring deficiency is what precipitated the original blog post in the 1st place, and TFAD would rather distract and pick at nits than demonstrate actual evidence that would put the whole issue to bed.

Fehr/Fischbacher

When, in my original post, I said “They (Fehr/Fischbacher) clearly recognize the counter-intuitive nature of the claim that evolution can sufficiently account for altruism”, TFAD almost shouted:

“No they don’t! ApoloJedi can quote an abstract, but not read it properly – it said “current gene-based theories” cannot explain, but it did not say evolution on the whole can’t account for it…All they said was that according to current gene-only evolutionary models, no theory sufficiently explains human altruism – hence why they believe the need for a co-evolutionary model that incorporates both genes and culture”

Gene-based theory IS the theory of evolution. Remember bullet points 2, 3, and 4 from the original post

There was nothing about culture, which TFAD now suddenly adds to the mix. TFAD never defines culture, but we can infer that he’s jumped down the Lamarkian rabbit hole of thinking that acquired characteristics can be passed on genetically. Lamarkism, the idea that a weightlifter will produce offspring with higher percentages of muscle or someone who pierces their ears will have offspring with pierced ears, is now generally dismissed, but there are rare exceptions. The theory of evolution is taught that beneficial heritable genetic traits persist while natural selection “weeds out” phenotypes that are unfit.

Moving on -> Many of you are familiar with the term “gaslighting“. TFAD attempts to gaslight the audience by questioning the reader’s understanding of reality. In the original post, I pointed out the redefinition of altruism made by Fehr/Fischbacher when in their definition of a new mysterious force they have defined as “Strong Reciprocity”, they talk about being rewarded for altruistic behavior “Reward? If there is a reward, it’s not altruism. Right from the beginning, they change the definition of altruism from something that is unselfish to appeal to the inherent selfishness”. But TFAD gaslights the reader by saying

“At no point do either of these definitons (sp) nor the SEP definition consider altruism as “doing something beneficial for no thought of reward””

When the very definition of altruism IS “Behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species”. When Fehr/Fischbacher introduce “reward”, they are not longer talking about altruism. But TFAD continues to say that selfish rewards and expecting “fair outcomes” are part of altruism, when we know in reality that altruism has nothing to do with selfishness or expecting fair outcomes. TFAD again tries to distract when he says

“I really don’t care about Merrian-Webster’s definition – I’d much rather use Stanford’s version because it is more academcially (sp) rigorous”

This reminds me of the objection from evolutionists that they have successfully refuted Michael Behe’s example of irreducible complexity in the standard mousetrap. In an analogy, Behe described the necessary components of the standard mousetrap (Model SM) as needing a base, spring, hammer, catch, and trigger all arranged in a very specific ingenious way that these pieces interact to kill mice. The analogy is that a blind/purposeless/atomic process (evolution) cannot produce the standard mousetrap (SM) that we see today, because it requires multiple interacting parts to be assembled in place with all proper tolerances, dimensions, materials, and initial conditions lest it not be preserved for lack of functionality. The evolutionists have said that there are mousetraps (not model SM, but model FF) that do not require the 5 interacting pieces. But that’s not Behe’s claim. Evolutionists have to account for what is seen, which is Model SM. Sure an intelligent objector can theorize Model FF that is designed to catch mice a different way, but Model SM (which is analogously seen today in complex interacting biological systems) is irreducibly complex. So, what TFAD has subtly done is propose a different definition of altruism (like Model FF) in an attempt to distract from evolution’s inability to explain real altruism (Model SM). And just like the evolutionist’s failed attempt to explain away irreducible complexity, TFAD’s attempt similarly fails.

In a last ditch effort to object to my questioning of evolution’s claimed abilities, TFAD distances himself from the very sources that he recommended. He posted a link from Google Scholar that he recommended I should analyze before questioning whether evolution could explain altruism, and Fehr/Fischbacher were 1st in the list.

“And you know why? Because Fehr & Fischbacher are economists with specialisations in human behaviour – not geneticists.”

Now that I’ve pressed back on his claims that evolution can explain altruism, it’s likely that he would not call Fehr/Fischbacher “experts” since they are just economists, even though he recommended them in the 1st place

While TFAD has been less than complimentary about creationist’s understanding of the theory of evolution, we now have to point out the TFAD does not understand the finer points of evolution

“Convergent evolution ain’t no mere assertion – it’s a demonstrable fact. Let’s think about it – if two separate primate species have overlapping characteristics and genetics, where do you think it’s pointing to?”

I had pointed out that the best that modern experiments can do when comparing common traits between widely disparate species would be to speculate that that it was the result of convergent evolution. Now convergent evolution is the description of the observation that two (or more) species that are not evolutionarily closely related have similar structures. An example would be wings. Birds, insects and bats have wings, but they are not closely related according to evolutionists, so evolutionists describe this marvel as convergent evolution. So, when TFAD says it’s demonstrable fact, it’s true that evolutionists have named an inexplicable observation as convergent evolution, but it doesn’t EXPLAIN anything. They could just have easily called it sorcery because those 2 terms have the same level of explanatory power – ZERO. TFAD thinks convergent evolution means “overlapping characteristics”, but as shown, it’s not overlapping traits from evolutionarily closely-related species. And it’s not a mechanism or a process. It’s just the assigned label of a mystery that’s devoid of explanation

Dawkins

Next TFAD takes aim at my analysis of Richard Dawkin’s book, The Selfish Gene. TFAD states:

“I’m curious as to why ApoloJedi chose The Selfish Gene instead of something like much more recent”

The Selfish Gene by RD is, according to the Royal Society, the most influential science book of all time. It has 4 editions, it’s written by the most well-known living evolutionist, and it’s sold over one million copies. The Guardian ranks it as the 10th best non-fiction book of all time. Why would I NOT choose to use one of the most popular science books written by one of the most popular science writers of all time in my article? If I had not, TFAD would have questioned why I DIDN’T use this popular and influential book. As noted in Part 1 of the Altruism Exchange, TFAD will have no end to the number of resources and books that I could have used. “Why not this one? Why not that one? Why not THOSE or THESE?!?!?” Ad infinitum

“Go tell Richard Dawkins that. He’ll be pleased a Creationist has been reading his books. But Dawkins is an expert in biology, not human psychology.”

Again with the “you’re not an expert” accusation. If nothing else, TFAD has shown that he’s the expert on who is NOT an expert. Well, maybe TFAD should go tell Richard Dawkins that despite all of the hours spent researching, writing, and publishing a book that attempts (and fails) to elucidate evolution’s ability to account for evolution, that he’s not an expert. Dawkins’ own words from the opening of his book tell us that he intended to write an account that explains clear examples of altruism via evolutionary mechanisms

Openstax Biology 2e

In his objection to the portion of my post that cited Openstax (the College Biology book), TFAD missed the whole point. In their chapter titled “Altruistic Behavior”, they gave examples and definitions of strong reciprocity and (like me) criticized the notion of a selfish gene being able to explain altruism. With the end of their examples, they proclaimed “Most of the behaviors described above do not seem to satisfy this definition (of altruism).” So they spent all that time trying to compose examples of why altruism is explained by evolution and then admitted, “but those aren’t TRULY altruistic”. And I agree. They were unable to give an accounting of observed altruism via evolutionary mechanisms. TFAD focuses instead on pulling the reader back to his preferred definition of altruism and opining that evolution is true.

TFAD: “Heritable traits that enhance one’s odds of survival – that sounds a heckuva lot like evolution to me”

Yes – heritable traits. But TFAD said that just after he quoted Openstax as saying “These instinctual behaviors may then be applied, in special circumstances, to other species, as long as it doesn’t lower the animal’s fitness.” But remember the definition of altruism? “behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species.” Astute readers will again see the raw contradiction…as I have been contending all along.

In the original article I said “In their first paragraph they invoke a sciency-sounding phrase, kin selection, as if merely naming an observation actually explains it…Kin selection like convergent evolution like strong reciprocity are terms that hide the explanation under the guise of science. People hear “kin selection” and assume, “well, it’s got a fancy name, so someone must have demonstrated that evolution is the only explanation for it.”” TFAD replies

“Got bad news for you, good sir – kin selection is an observed and documented scientific fact…Kin selection, strong reciprocity and convergent evolution are ALL documented phenomena in the scientific literature. Ignore it at your intellectual peril”

I never said kin selection wasn’t observed. I said kin selection doesn’t EXPLAIN altruism…or anything else. Like convergent evolution, kin selection is simply a label. It’s not an explanation. TFAD thinks that because the WhiteLabCoats have placed a label on something, that it has explanatory power, but AS I SAID in the original post, the label gives it no explanatory power.

TFAD put a lot of effort into his objections, and I appreciate the sharpening of thought and communication. But as shown, his objections never quite hit the core of the argument. His strong faith commitment to the theory of evolution prevented him from seeing the contradictions based on my internal critique of evolutionism, and his bias left my original contention completely intact that the theory of evolution cannot explain altruism.

Can Evolution Account for Reason?

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There are many online claims about the power of evolution to create new biological traits. Some evolutionists have speculated that evolution can account for altruism, but I exposed the deficiency in the “explanations” here. And while evolutionists claim that “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution”, they have swept under the rug evolution’s inability to explain biological software.

This week, I asked a God-denier to explain how “reasoning” could be explained via natural causes. This God-denier posted a link which was supposed to provide evidence and confirmation that evolution can explain the origins of reasoning. Being the intrepid ApoloJedi that I am, I read through the contents of the article and have analyzed it to see if it could make good on its claims. Of note, I regard this article to be poorly formatted and absent of any explanatory power, so I expect there will be a future blog post entitled “Can Evolution Explain Reason – Part 2?” when a subsequent God-denier doubtlessly posts another wild assertion that naturalistic causes can explain the origins of reasoning.

The article in question has been cited 10 times and accessed over 1000 times and much of it is hidden behind a paywall (remaining unanalyzed). There are 30 notes organized in a list. In the analysis I quote the pertinent piece from the note above in Italics and my comment below each is in Bold. Without further delay, here’s the analysis

Abstract:
I conjecture that reasoning evolved primarily because it helped social hominins more readily and fully align their intentions
Conjecture indeed

The Primary Naturalist Assumptions include purposelessness and amorality
  1. “first article”
    Hidden (hidden like evidence for evolution) behind a pay wall
  2. “purpose of reasoning”
    Purpose/teleology is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  3. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  4. “argumentative posturing”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  5. “moral emotions…loyalty, gratitude, sympathy”
    Morality is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  6. “Imagine…reasons”
    Imagine indeed AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  7. “likely”
    Not evidence AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  8. “those with a preference for going right will often capitulate by joining the majority”
    This very clearly shows the absence of reason AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  9. “The odds of surviving might be enhanced, for example, by keeping mum about a fruit tree discovered while scouting”
    While evolutionists crone about how empathy drive social advancements, this note is literally contrary to that assumption AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
    Also, in conflict with Note 14
  10. “team agency” & “team reasoning” & “gestational reasoning” & “group’s collective intent”
    Purpose/teleology is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  11. “giving of reasons counts as a kind of reasoning”
    Circular. Tautology. Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  12. “My claim here is that the faculty of reason played—and continues to play—a critical role”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  13. “By calling manipulative reasoning…”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  14. “collaborative reasoning” & “When reasoning together”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
    Also, in conflict with Note 9
  15. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  16. “may have been made possible by the prior emergence of basic reasoning aptitudes. The claim is conjectural, but worth further exploration”
    Conjecture indeed AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  17. “it is not incorrect to speak of intention alignment as the primary utility or purpose of reasoning”
    Pragmatism is insufficient AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  18. “I take it up presently”
    It IS an important question AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  19. ” ‘mind writing’ involves intentional or deliberate alteration”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  20. “The ethical implications of IAM are significant, and well worth exploring”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  21. Another article behind a paywall, but the abstract does not explain the origins of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  22. “if we could be sure that a bee’s nervous system supported something properly described as a mind”
    Humans did not evolve from bees AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  23. “complex social practice built atop basic reason-giving propensities”
    Difficulties with the naturalistic origins brought up AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  24. Another article behind a paywall, but the abstract does not explain the origins of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  25. “my aim here is not to decide the question, but make a preliminary case that IAM belongs in the discussion”
    An introduction to a hypothesis AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  26. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  27. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  28. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  29. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  30. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources

As you can clearly see, this linked article has given us no explanation for the naturalistic origin of reasoning via evolutionary forces. We did see some internal contradictions, and it was strong on assertions, but ended up be short on both evidence and justification

Disclaimer: Because God has revealed in his eternal Word that He has is the Source of reasoning, we know that the answer to the question “Can Evolution Explain Reason?” is most assuredly no. But as has been the case with other posts in this series, I have taken the claims of the naturalists and analyzed them within their own worldview, to see if their claims are valid. And just like the other posts, their claims are shown to be severely lacking.

I’m an Anaturalist

How many of us have heard the claim from naturalists: “Science says that all of reality can be accounted for by natural explanations” ?

Besides the fact that their claim is the fallacy of reification, I’m skeptical. Actually, I’m more than skeptical; I’m an anaturalist

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

An anaturalist doesn’t make any positive claims; we simply lack a believe that natural forces can account for purpose, space, time, matter, logic, math, beauty, truth, induction, information, magnetism, nuclear forces, reason, stars, planets, comets, water, life, DNA code, biological sex, biological reproduction, consciousness, minds, morality, justice, hope, love, altruism or the scientific method.

Less broadly, anaturalism is a rejection of the belief that “nature-done-it”. Those who have faith that nature can generate, produce, cause-to-emerge, and substantiate foundational elements of reality can do that if they want, but let’s be honest…don’t call it science. It’s the religion of naturalism and lacks evidence

An anaturalist simply recognizes the utter lack of evidence that nature produced everything. It’s been said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“, so if you’ve got an extraordinary demonstration that nature can produce:

…then feel free to present it. Until then, anaturalism is the only rational position. For those naturalists and God-deniers who claim that “nature has no need of the Christian God to explain all of reality”, then the burden of proof lies not on the anaturalist to disprove the power of nature but on the naturalist to provide a rationale for naturalism.

Even worse for the naturalist and God-denier, there is strong empirical support for anaturalism

Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 23

Tranquility through Testing

To finish his book Dr. Ross proposes a way that he thinks will bring resolution to the choice between the “creation-day controversy”. Whether you’ve been following the chapter reviews up to this point or not, you might be able to guess what Dr. Ross proposes as the solution:

Interpretations of Evidence!

Those who have been following along know that he would NOT choose the highest authority – God’s Word.

Given that various creation perspectives are readily testable, a pathway exists for peaceful resolution of creation-day controversies. With so much scientific data  and many different biblical creation accounts open for investigation, little basis remains for conflicts or disputes over creation doctrines.

Ross seems deaf to the effects of interpretations when discussing evidence, and I want to return to the last chapter’s review. Ross claimed that he won a debate with biblical astronomer, Danny Faulker because when both he and Ross presented their evidence to the panel of 13 old earthers, the old earthers determined that Ross was correct. I wonder what would happen if Dr. Ross presented his evidence for special creation of each kind of creature over periods of time to a panel of Christians from BioLogos against the evidence presented from a Biologos evolutionist. Is there any doubt that this panel would expel Ross for his heresy against biological evolution? Interpretations of evidence are used to confirm one’s worldview biases and Ross does not recognize the inherent bias that old earthism has had on him since he was very young. Dr. Jason Lisle has tried valiantly to point out the role that biases have played in Dr. Ross’s eisegesis of scripture, but those habits have been ingrained deeply in Ross’s thinking and business model.

Below is the chart that Dr. Ross includes in his book as a way to resolve the “Creation-day controversy”. He explains that if both the young and old earth predictions get analyzed as more data is discovered and interpreted, that the old earth model will win out. From the biblical creationist perspective, the data from the expected predictions have lined up perfectly to confirm the young earth model. So, while I recognize my young earth bias, I want to point out how since Dr. Ross has written his book, the predictions he makes about the big bang completely unravel

Evidences for the big bang will increase and become more compelling. Astronomers will establish the big bang model as the uniquely explanation for the origin and structure of the universe.

Over the last few years, evidence for the big bang has NOT increased or become more compelling. It has been in massive need of resuscitation and repair

The other areas of the chart have not fared well for old earthism either

If you’ve learned anything from the review, I hope it is that God’s Word is the authority for the life of the Christian. There’s no need to compromise with the hollow and deceptive philosophies of the world as a way to interpret scripture.

As biblical creationists, we can praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. We do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 22

Councils Attempt to Bring Calm

Throughout Christian history, there have been ideas and theories which the church has to address as unorthodox. Dr. Ross addresses a few of them in the first few pages of chapter 22.

Circumcision. The first century church had to deal with the sign of the old covenant with regards to the gentile Christians. Should gentile Christians be forced to observe the sign of the old covenant? To help answer this question, the Council at Jerusalem convened to make sure there was a resolution that honored the Lord. Later Paul addresses this in his epistles to the churches. The conclusion – “Therefore, the promise comes by faith so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.”

Dr. Ross feels that the issue of the age of the earth is synonymous with the issue of circumcision:

The first-century church dealt with a problem roughly analogous to the dispute over the length of the Genesis creation days

While we can agree that Christians do have disagreement over the issue of the length of the creation days, this disagreement is not an issue of salvation. It is an issue of biblical interpretation and as has already been shown Dr. Ross has elevated the modern academic paradigm (which he calls the book of nature) as authoritative over the revealed and eternal word of God. Dr. Ross has exhibited the characteristics of a Christian, so I have no reason to doubt his regeneration. But his teaching regarding death, suffering, thorns, corruption, destruction being part of God’s “very good” creation because of his adherence to the Modern Academic Paradigm is harmful to biblical interpretation in this and future generations. 

Dr. Ross next gives a short recap of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) of 1982 as they discussed the creation-day controversy. They listened to presentations from a biblical creationist and an old earther. When it was complete, the ICBI presented a statement that included the following affirmations

  • We affirm that any preunderstandings which the interpreter brings to Scripture should be in harmony with scriptural teaching and subject to correction by it.
  • We deny that Scripture should be required to fit alien preunderstandings, inconsistent with itself, such as naturalism, evolutionism, scientism, secular humanism, and relativism.
  • We affirm that since God is the author of all truth, all truths, biblical and extra biblical, are consistent and coherent, and that the Bible speaks truth when it touches on matters pertaining to nature, history, or anything else. We further affirm that in some cases extra biblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction of faulty interpretations.
  • We deny that extra biblical views ever disprove the teaching of Scripture or hold priority over it.
  • We affirm the harmony of special with general revelation and therefore biblical teaching with the facts of nature.
  • We deny that any genuine scientific facts are inconsistent with the true meaning of any passage of Scripture. We affirm that Genesis 1-11 is factual, as is the rest of the book. We deny that the teachings of Genesis 1-11 are mythical and that scientific hypotheses about earth history or the origin of human it may be invoked to overthrow what Scripture teaches about creation.

The statement from the ICBI has some merit and is generally acceptable. But as shown in the italics above, there are at least 2 phrases that could be misconstrued to accommodate any number of outside authorities over scripture.

The first “We further affirm that in some cases extra biblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction of faulty interpretations.

What cases? Who gets to determine which cases are acceptable? Which interpretations of the extra biblical data?

You can see how there is a massive gap left for those who would like to bring their interpretation into biblical orthodoxy, and since old earthism has until the most recent of times not been included in orthodox thinking, Dr. Ross would very much like for his naturalistic interpretations to be included in orthodox teachings of Christianity. For today’s generation that has been saturated with the naturalistic assumption of billions of years, they might think the church has thought this since the beginning, but it is a very recent addition to modern thinking. Until Hugh Ross wrote his books, virtually all of the church most certainly did not think the universe was billions of years old. As confirmation, the Hebrew year from the date of creation is 5780. So, those who wrote the original text of scripture are in agreement with the biblical creation model that the world is about 6000 old.

The second, “the facts of nature” is a phrase that I have covered throughout this review that is based on a false assumption. It leaves open the question – What is a fact outside of interpretation? Whose interpretation of the “fact” is considered the right one?

Dr. Ross finishes this chapter with the claim that his debate in 2009 with biblical astronomer, Danny Faulker was a win for old earthism. He claimed that 13 astronomers (who are all confirmed old earthers) agreed that the earth is old. It would be the same as if an Armenian and a Calvinist had a debate on which view of soteriology is correct. If the judging panel was 13 Calvinists, they would all determine that the winner was the Calvinist. If the same debate were to have been done in front of 13 biblical creation astronomers, Hugh Ross’s views would have been demonstrated to be impotent in just the same way.

As biblical creationists, we can praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. We do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 21

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A Clear “Day” Interpretation

Dr. Ross sent me his book almost a year ago and I finished reading it and annotating it within a few months. So, as I have gone back and read through the chapter again for the book review, I am not really finding anything new. From beginning to end, I have found that Dr. Ross although he claims that the Bible is his highest authority, he sees the modern academic paradigm as the highest interpretive authority and conforms his reading of the Bible to accommodate it. 

In his personal testimony, we see evidence of this

I did not converse with a Christian about spiritual matters until I was 27. Studies in science consumed all my time and eventually convinced me, at age 15 that a transcendent God must exist. At the time, I doubted that a God who created a hundred billion trillion stars would care much about frail humans on an insignificant planet…In my first reading of Genesis 1, I saw indications that the creation days were long periods of time

If you teach people that the universe is billions of years old, by the time they are almost 30 years old (as Ross admits that he was) and have been indoctrinated by this mantra, they will try to fit everything they see into that worldview…including the Bible. 

These are the parts of the text that Dr. Ross felt there was plasticity which would allow him to redefine the scriptures to accommodate the modern academic paradigm

The timing of Eve’s creation

He does not explain specifically here why he thinks this allows for creation days to be very long periods, but we can infer from a paragraph on the previous page why he thinks this is plausible. “Eve was created on the same day as Adam (the sixth) but not until after Adam took care of several large tasks.

This sounds like the easily refuted argument that he used from chapter 7, when he claimed that Adam had four careers so the text could not possibly have been talking about a single day. His personal incredulity and injection of outside influence completely discounts Ross’s wild claim

The lack of an evening and morning for the seventh day

Clearly, Dr. Ross sees the importance of the evening/morning pattern when God revealed his creative works for 85% of the creation week. What’s not clear is why Dr. Ross takes the single example of missing morning/evening pattern and creates a rule for it. Dr. Ross’s shallow reading of the text ignores the deeper context and exegesis of Exodus 20 when the days are clearly defined with unmistakable 24 hour boundaries.

The Genesis 2:4 usage of the word “day” in reference to the entire creation week

So, at best, Ross can only say that the Hebrew word for day (yom) can have the colloquial understanding of a week of time…not the billions and billions and billions of years necessary to accommodate the modern academic paradigm. Biblical creationists agree that there is flexibility in the Hebrew word ‘yom’, but exegetically, it must fit the context, and in the context of Genesis 1, we can easily conclude from the text that it is signifying days as we know them today (24 hours).

I was especially intrigued by God’s creation hiatus following the six prolific creation periods.

We should all be intrigued by God’s creation hiatus, but it would be wildly bizarre to assume there were suddenly billions of years injected into the text from that thought

Finally, here was an explanation for the fossil record enigma

There are three things to keep in mind when interpreting scripture: context, context and context. When we view the scripture in context there was unquestionably a global flood that adequately (and more correctly) explains the fossil record…so the enigma is for the old earthist, who must redefine a world-consuming flood to mean a minor middle eastern rain storm and then create epicycles to explain both the text and modern observations

Dr. Ross continues at the bottom of pg242 and top of pg243 with the strange explanation for what it means to love the LORD with all of your mind

Loving God with “all your mind” means looking beyond the most simplistic interpretation of a given text, especially if that interpretation leads to complications and convolutions of other texts…Yet, ironically, a 24-hour creation day interpretation of Genesis 1 (and 2) complicates and convolutes at least aspects of God’s creation story – the sequence of events, the meaning of Adam’s work and words, and the speed of biological development.

Speaking of irony-> Just above Dr. Ross admitted that after almost 30 years of indoctrination in the modern academic paradigm, on his 1st reading of Genesis, his simplistic interpretation was that God created over billions of years…just as he’d been taught his whole life. So, clearly he’s only against OTHER people’s simplistic interpretation of Genesis 1. 

Regarding his claim that the biblical creationist’s interpretation of Genesis 1 complicates and convolutes the aspects of the creation story, Dr. Ross AGAIN upholds the modern academic paradigm and demands that the Bible’s reading be conformed to those assumptions. 

And as was shown in Chapter 4 and chapter 5 reviews when Dr. Ross attempted to claim that ALL of church history believed in old earthism, he was WRONG. Old earthism is a modern concoction that attempts to dissolve the modern academic paradigm into biblical interpretation, but as we see, they are like oil and water with no ability to mix.

On p244 Ross asks the question 

How Did Adam Do So Much?…Similarly, for Adam to have named all of Eden’s animals within a few hours would seem to shrink not just the size but also the bounty of Eden…species

While I already covered Ross’s misunderstanding of scripture in my review of chapter 7, it doesn’t hurt to quickly address his repeated conflation of species and kinds. Kinds ≠ Species. The biblical kind is defined in Genesis 1 simply denoted a creature’s ability to reproduce at the time of creation. Since there have been many mutations, many creatures that were formerly able to reproduce lost the ability to reproduce. This does not mean they were not originally created as the same kind. But what this means is that Kind is more synonymous with the modern scientific distinction of family

This means that Adam did not have to name millions of species as is claimed by Ross. Adam could have take care of his divinely-appointed job of naming the animals much more quickly by naming animals in groups

At the bottom of p244 Dr. Ross says

Young-earth creationists see as the futility of attempting to integrate Genesis with the scientific paradigm arises from a subtle error in applying a basic interpretive principle “Begin by establishing [not assuming] the point of view.” The result is a scientifically implausible order of creation events”

A few of things with this quote. Dr. Ross projects his own shortcomings in interpretation onto biblical creationists. Firstly, He conflates science with the modern academic paradigm as he has done throughout his book. Young earth creationists have no interest in trying to integrate Genesis with the modern academic paradigm. The observations of today are completely in accord with what we read in scripture. It is the old earthers like Ross, who have undertaken the mission of trying to integrate the modern academic paradigm with scripture. Secondly, the error is on the side of old earthers, who inject their assumptions from the modern academic paradigm into their biblical interpretation. Biblical creationists rather start with the basic interpretive principle that what God revealed in his word is true, so what we observe today is in accord with what He revealed in the Bible. Regarding his quote about the implausible order of creation events, you can see that Ross rejects the order of creation events that God revealed in scripture in order to accommodate naturalist assumptions.

On pg247-248 Ross unsuccessfully attempts to push the inconsistencies of his biblical interpretations with the observations onto biblical creationists. 

A few purported conflicts between the Bible [old earth interpretations] and the fossil record have arisen…

The conflicts arise only for the old earther since the catastrophic worldwide flood is the only sufficient explanation for the observations. For the old earther, it is assumed that fossils were buried in the order that the soil-of-the-time was exposed as the top soil and that there were epochs when certain creatures did not exist. Dr Ross believes this imperative, but there are out-of-place (for the old earther) fossils that are discordant with those assumptions

Genesis 1 gives the order of God’s creative works, but in both Dr. Ross’s posted timeline, which he posted years ago and on p249 we can see that Dr. Ross tries very hard to inject the modern academic paradigm into scripture

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There are several problems with his chart, but I want to point out a particularly grievous problem in rows 9 and 10. Ross tells us that God’s last creative work was Adam and Eve, but just prior in row 9, Ross tells us that the Australian aboriginals emerged prior to Adam and Eve. This is both a terrible assumption and racist. Now, I do not believe Ross is a racist, but his views of the modern academic paradigm as an authority over scripture has resulted in a view that has racist implications.

As biblical creationists, we can praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. We do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.

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What is Presuppositional Apologetics?

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This week I saw in my Twitter feed this claim from an atheist

Presuppositional Apologetics is conversational violence

Some of the subsequent discussion helped me to see that most people, like this skeptic, do not understand what the term means. Many people think it means one of the following

  • I’m right, you’re wrong, that’s the end of it
  • I have blind faith in the deity of my family/culture/choice so I’m right
  • I don’t have any evidence, so I just assume God

This leads many skeptics to wrongly think they have defeated a presuppositional argument with the following fallacies

  • “You have faith in your sky-daddy, but I have evidence”
  • “Your blind faith is simply a result of you being born into a Christian family in America. If you were born in India, you’d be a Hindu”
  • “You have no evidence, so you have to resort to word games”
  • “Presup (presuppositional apologetics) is conversational violence”
  • “I assume FSM/Sasqatch/Allah is the true god, so that has as much validity as your biblegod.”
  • “That’s just word salad. It doesn’t mean anything.”

Definitions – The Place to Start

Those are misconceptions that I’d like to try to clear up in this blog post. Let’s start as basic as we can. What is a presupposition? The Google dictionary says it is

a thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action.

Presuppostion

A synonym for presuppositions is worldview. A worldview is the way a person sees reality and how they justify it. One’s worldview typically provides answers to these fundamental questions.

  • Where did I come from? What is the origin of the universe/earth/life?
  • Where are we headed? What does the future hold?
  • What is my purpose?
  • How should I behave? What is moral? Is justice/forgiveness possible?
  • How do I know things (epistemology)? What is truth?

We’ll answer these below in analyzing worldview.

What is apologetics?

reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine

Christians start with the presupposition that there is no higher authority than the One, who knows everything & is eternally faithful, and his revelation in creation, in the Bible, and through the incarnation cannot fail to be wrong. Therefore presuppositional apologetics is

The defense of the truth of Christianity, by analyzing the assumptions of those who would challenge it from a precarious foundation that cannot sufficiently justify the tools (logic, induction, morality) necessary to make a rational objection

Presuppositional apologetics is distinct from other main types of apologetics like

While these methods of apologetics have value to Christians to edify and build up the church, they are not as effective as tools for persuading the skeptic for the 4 reasons shown below. To be clear, there is overwhelming evidence and philosophical corroboration for the truth of God’s revelation, but since God is the Source of truth, no evidence or philosophical authority can refute or be the substantiation for God. God and his revelation are the ultimate authority.

Someone, like me, who thinks presuppositional apologetics gets to the heart of the issue quickly, will not present classical or evidential arguments to a skeptic because

  1. Everyone interprets evidence according to their worldview. So, it is a futile effort to throw evidence back and forth because in an argument since everyone has access to the same evidence. All evidence proves God
  2. We have all been infected by the curse of sin. Even a person’s reasoning is corrupt
  3. God is the ultimate authority. There is no higher authority by which to confirm/refute what He has chosen to reveal.
  4. The skeptic is not the judge of what’s true or false. God is the judge, and presenting evidence to the skeptic makes him/her the judge of whether they think the evidence is sufficient to convince them. This puts the sinner in the judge’s box and God in the place of the defendant.

Everyone has presuppositions. The Christian presuppositions are shown above. The skeptic presupposes that “the cosmos is all there is, ever was or ever will be.” The skeptic is bound by particles

Worldview Test – Presuppositional Scrutiny

So, rather than comparing one’s interpretations of evidences (as an evidential apologist would do), it is more incisive to compare presuppositions/worldviews. A worldview should be both internally consistent and externally consistent. When I say internally consistent, I mean that it should not contain contradictions in trying to provide rational answers to the worldview questions. For example, if someone claims that the flying spaghetti monster is the creator of all things, but then realizes that Sicilians invented spaghetti in about the 12th century, there is an internal contradiction. They cannot both be true because the FSM is made of matter and is supposed to be the source of matter. Internal contradiction. Being externally consistent would mean that the worldview has to account for all of the reality.

Secondly, when looking to test presuppositions, one should look for arbitrariness. Is a claim within a worldview arbitrary? For example, secular humanists claim that morals should be defined by empathy (To be clear, empathy is a good thing and should be considered. Christians can justify empathy by referring to Matt 22:39 2nd greatest commandment.) But considering their worldview, which says that humans are simply accidental aggregations of stardust in a blind pitiless indifferent cosmos, why did they arbitrarily choose empathy as a standard for morality? It is arbitrary, because they could have chosen setting morality to the strongest or smartest or prettiest or cleanest or tallest or fastest…Arbitrary.

When doing presuppositional analysis, test each claim for consistency and arbitrariness.

Testing the Presuppositions of Naturalism

  • Where did I come from? – The cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. The belief is that at the big bang all matter sprang forth and over billions of years dust coalesced to produce stars, galaxies, planets, life, and humans. It is inconsistent to claim that particles can produce consciousness, justice, logic, math, beauty…
  • Where are we headed? – Ultimately, there is just death and collapse of the cosmos through entropy. If human life is simply the brief interruption of non-consciousness in a universe bound for frozen emptiness, there is no hope. It is inconsistent for the naturalist to assume hope or justice.
  • What is my purpose? – Richard Dawkins says “There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no good no evil just blind pitiless indifference.” There is no purpose in the cosmos. There are internal contradictions here because people act with purpose. People strive to achieve purpose, but since the cosmos cannot provide purpose, it is a quixotic quest to conjure up purpose.
  • How should I behave? What is moral? – Everyone recognizes morality, but in a cosmos made only of particles, it is arbitrary and inconsistent to claim that some behaviors are good and others bad. At end, the naturalist can claim only to prefer one set of behaviors to another since there are no binding morals.
  • How can I know what is true? – For the naturalist, all “knowledge” is provisional. At any moment the current learned paradigm can be replaced by new findings, so there is no path to certainty. A person’s senses and reasoning can only be validated by a person’s senses and reasoning, which is viciously circular. There is also no valid reason to trust one’s senses and reasoning to provide truth since according to naturalism, senses and reasoning were produced by accidental natural forces for survival. It is an internal contradiction then to expect survival tools to provide truth. This does NOT mean that naturalists cannot know things. They do know things, but they cannot justify that knowledge. Because of their epistemic assumptions, their attempt to justify knowledge  will eventually be impaled on one of the prongs of the Münchhausen trilemma.

Building a Positive Case for Christian Presuppositions

  • Where did I come from? – Genesis 1 explains the origins of the universe and humanity
  • Where are we headed? – Because of sin and because of what God revealed about the punishment of sin, those who do not repent of their sin and humbly submit to the authority of Jesus will face condemnation. But those who repent will be resurrected to abundant life
  • What is truth? – Truth is what conforms to the mind of God
  • How should I behave? – According to God’s morals. Because humans have been created in God’s image, we should reflect his character. When we fail to accurately represent God, there is punishment. But God, who is rich in mercy, has made a way to find forgiveness and abundant life through turning away from sin and trusting Jesus, who died and defeated death on our behalf.
  • How can we know the truth? Because God (who knows everything and is eternally faithful) has revealed some things so that we can know them for certain, knowledge is possible. He has revealed Himself in creation, in the Bible, and by the incarnation. These revelations are interdependent and self-authenticating.
    • Jesus is the Creator of all things as attested in the Bible
    • The Bible claims to be the Word of Almighty God. The prophetic claims in the Bible have come true. The Bible claims that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” and “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are in Christ” and “God is the foundation of wisdom and knowledge”. One does not have to believe the Bible to know things, but because people can know things, we know God’s revelation is true. The Bible is the justification for knowledge.
    • God is revealed in creation. Romans 1:18-20
  • How can I know what is true? – Christians do not know everything, but we know One, who does know everything. Because the One, who knows everything and is eternally faithful, has revealed some things in his word, we can be certain that those things are true.

The skeptic may not LIKE the Christian presuppositions, but since they provide both internal and external cohesiveness (and Christianity claims exclusivity), it is the only justified source for knowledge, reason, and logic.

Addressing the Claim of Biblical Contradictions

The skeptic many times says, “But the Bible is full of contradictions!” Let’s see if this is true.

As we have already pointed out, the skeptic has no grounds to complain about contradictions because naturalism cannot coherently justify laws of logic the misuse of which produces contradictions. What is a contradiction? Dictionary.com defines it as “assertion of the contrary or opposite, a statement or proposition that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous, direct opposition between things compared; inconsistency.

Most skeptics think that the following is a logical contradiction in the Bible

Who was Jesus’ paternal grandfather?” But as shown in the link, it is not a contradiction for several reasons.

The skeptic should familiarize himself or herself with the nature of contradictions, and before accusing the Bible of being filled with them, be familiar with the reasons why there are no contradictions in the Bible.

The skeptic can look here for a primer on mistakes they make when claiming contradictions in the Bible

The skeptic can look here for a list of resolutions for common claims of biblical contradictions

The skeptic could purchase the book, Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason by Dr. Jason Lisle, who addresses the 400 most common claims of biblical contradictions.

Is Presup Conversational Violence?

In the conversation that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the claim was made that presuppositional apologetics is conversational violence. I responded to him with the questions “Why is conversational violence wrong from the atheist perspective? Doesn’t violence help drive conversational evolution, so that only the fittest arguments persist to the next generation?”

Conversational violence would be expected from the naturalist point of view to be a pressure for selection to weed out bad arguments

He responded

You may be onto something here…An evidential apologist is like the soldier, they ostensibly address legitimate topics like providing evidence for their SN claims. A presup has figured out they can’t play on this field so they instead try to frustrate and weaponize fear (shut mouths like Sye, cause confusion with obscure philosophical conundrums…)

It’s not a terrible analogy, but the conclusion is wrong. Let’s continue the analogy. If truth is the ground being fought over and the bullets are arguments, the presup is doing the opposite of creating conversational violence. Presuppositional analysis is a way to disarm the naturalist because all of his “bullets” require the great Designer. The Christian presuppositional apologist is showing the skeptic that by using his “bullets” to form rational arguments, he is confirming that there are unchanging, abstract, absolute standards like laws of logic, truth, morality and induction which only the unchanging transcendent, absolute Eternal Monarch can justify. Naturalism completely fails to provide sufficient justification for the assumptions needed to create arguments.

Presup disarms the skeptic and causes them to be skeptical of their own claims. A Presuppositional apologist should be ready to share the gospel of repentance and submission to the King when the skeptic’s worldview collapses. Preach the word. Read your Bible and believe your Bible so that the Word pours forth in every conversation. Let the Holy Spirit use the preaching of the Word to convict of sin and of the need for forgiveness through Jesus.

Romans 10:17 “Consequently faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.”

For additional resources and greater depth, see

Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 20

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The Significance of Man

It was encouraging to read through the beginning of chapter 20 where Dr. Ross identifies the specific points of agreement for biblical creationists and his brand of old earthism, which he calls “day-age creationism.”

  • Both views emphasize the divinely ordained significance of the human race.

  • Both assert that humanity is the only spiritual species on Earth.

  • Both proclaim humanity’s eternal destiny.

  • Both deny the naturalistic view of humans as the random result of blind processes.

  • Both declare that all humans arise from a single couple (Adam and Eve) whom God specially created just thousands of years ago.

Sadly, the agreements with biblical creationists is sparse from here on out as Dr. Ross continues the pattern of bringing outside ideas into his biblical interpretation. The rest of chapter 20 is a summary of a book (Who was Adam?) that Dr. Ross wrote with his cohort, Fazale Rana. So, this review will now expand to review THAT book as well. Let’s see what these two have to say about the federal head of humanity
Dr. Ross points out the special creation that is mankind and I heartily agree. Humans are unique in the universe because we have been created in the image of God, and for us Jesus came to pay the penalty of sin.

Expressions of worship are the key markers of humanity’s spiritual quality. The universality of worship is evidenced in the ubiquity of altars, temples, and other religious relics.

I agree! Everyone worships something -> Either the Creator or something lesser/unworthy/perverted
In the section titled “A Biblical Calendar” Dr. Ross says

Although biblical genealogies provide little or no help in establishing creation dates for the cosmos and Earth, they do provide a rough date for the advent of humanity…Even in the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies, where the years between the birth dates of the father and the son are given, the chronology is not as tight as it might appear at first glance. Luke 3, for example, inserts at least one generation, namely Cainan, between Shelah and Arphaxad.

I have already dealt with Dr. Ross’s assumptions of “missing generations” when I reviewed chapter 2, but if he insists on continuing to misread scripture, I insist on correcting him. Dr. Ross while giving lip-service to the birth dates of the sons, seems not to understand the significance since he tries to convince the reader that Hebrew words for father and son could denote grandfather/grandson relationship rather than exclusively father/son. But since the age of the progenitor and the number of years between generations are given in the text of Genesis, then the specific relationship is not required to determine the timeline. Dr. Ross’s entire line of thinking is SOUNDLY refuted in this expert video by Dr. Kurt Wise. If you’re interested only in the topic of the trustworthiness of the chronogenealogies, start the video about 22 minutes.
What matters here is why he would try to argue with Jesus, when in Mark 10:6 it is recorded that Jesus said “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.” Dr. Ross says above that the genealogies in Genesis 5 & 11 “provide little or no help in establishing dates for the cosmos and Earth”, but Jesus clearly says that Adam was created at the beginning of creation. If by “beginning of creation” Dr. Ross means “the end of creation” then there is agreement, but if “the beginning of creation” is to have meaning at all, then Dr. Ross’s beliefs about age are discordant with those of Jesus.
The inset on pg237 includes some built-in naturalistic assumptions in place of Biblical interpretation.

Using the relatively accurate dates available for both Abram (Abraham) and Peleg to calibrate the genealogies may help guide some of the guesswork. Biblical and other historical records establish that Abraham lives about 4,000 years ago. Genesis 10:25 says that in Peleg’s time “the earth was divided.” Radiocarbon dating places the breaking of the Bering land bridge (an event that ended human migration from Eurasia to North and South America until the advent of ships) at 11,000 years ago. If life spans recorded in Genesis 5 and 11 are approximately proportional to the actual passage of time, then the dates for Abraham and Peleg would place the flood of Noah’s day roughly 30,000 to 50,000 years ago and the creation of Adam and Eve a few tens of thousands of years earlier.

Let’s look at the several levels of speculation with which Dr. Ross experiments with to see how they hold up:

  • Speculation 1 – “the earth was divided” means the land masses (Pangea) moved apart. If we look at Genesis 10, the context is describing the formation of the nations based on distinct families and languages. And what is discussed in Genesis 11? The tower of Babel where the single language of mankind is divided from a single language and the people are dispersed across the globe. So, rather than Dr. Ross’s speculation that it is the division of land masses, it fits the context better that the division is of the nations by language from a single people into distinct people groups.
  • Speculation 2 – “If the life spans recorded in Genesis…are approximately proportional to the actual passage of time” There is speculation here from Dr. Ross that the life spans recorded in Genesis are not really years or are in some way hyperbolic. This calls into question the very revelation of God. Why would he only speculate about the “actual” passage of time here and not in the other places of scripture?
  • Speculation 3 – “until the advent of ships” By his own admission, Noah built an enormous ship 20,000 – 40,000 speculated years prior to the speculated ending of the land bridge, but Ross doesn’t think mankind could make a boat during that ENTIRE time?!?!? There’s a serious contradiction in his speculation
  • Speculation 4 – “Carbon dating” I’ve had plenty to say about carbon dating in my review of Chapter 16. That was one of my favorite chapters to review as it exposed many of the cascading assumptions built into Dr. Ross’s rejection of the Bible’s account of a global flood in Genesis 6-9

In the section titled “Historical Calendar” Dr. Ross talks about cultural Big Bang events.
Anthropologists have found evidence for several cultural “big bang” events, each reflecting the difference spirit expression makes…Humanity’s arrival also launched the first clothing and jewelry industries. Dates for these cultural big bangs all cluster around 40,000 to 45,000 years ago.
It’s telling that on the previous page, he speculates that the flood of Noah’s day was 40,000 speculated years ago and now the cultural big bangs are aligned perfectly with the end of the worldwide flood & the dispersion of people after Babel…the dates are simply inflated to accommodate the imagined dates of the secularists.
From a biblical perspective, it makes much more sense that when Noah’s family exited the ark as the only humans on the planet recently flooded and a few hundred years later were dispersed throughout the planet that they took their learned cultures with them. The worldwide flood explains perfectly the dispersion of culture from a single point across the globe. This is especially obvious from the presence of ziggurat pyramids all over the world
To finish off the chapter, Dr. Ross jumps into genetics into an attempt to push the dates of Adam and Eve far enough back in time to accommodate his day-age old earthism.

By measuring DNA differences across several generations in different families, geneticists can measure the rates at which mtDNA and Y-DNA mutations occur. Such measures yield dates of 42,000 to 60,000 years ago for the most recent common male ancestor.

Of note, although Dr. Ross has claimed not to believe in the evolution of animals or humans, when we check his footnote (p359) for the source material on his claim above we see that he relies on naturalistic evolution of humans from a common ancestor with chimpanzees to get his numbers:

  • Population Growth of Human Y Chromosomes: A Study of Y Chromosome Microsatellites,” Molecular Biology and Evolution 16 (December 1999)
  • Inferring Human Population Sizes, Divergence Times and Rates of Gene Flow. In that article, the embedded assumption is prominent: “the assumed human-chimpanzee divergence of six million years to obtain the per year estimate of the neutral nucleotide substitution.”

But rather than relying on those false assumptions and then re-interpreting the Bible to match them as we have seen Ross do, we should start with the Bible as revealed history and conduct science based on the irrefutable revelation of God as Dr. Marvin Lubenow does on pg 227 of his work, Bones of Contention

MitochondrialEve_Lubenow
As we can clearly see, observations line up perfectly with what God revealed in his word, and this is the correct expectation for us as biblical creationists because God both created everything and revealed his interaction with history in his Word.
As biblical creationists, we can praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. We do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.
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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 19

SunsetEnochStomp

Narrow Time Windows

If you haven’t had a chance to see the first 18 chapters of this book review, let me encourage you to go back to the table of contents and browse your way through

This is a shorter chapter from Dr. Ross, and in it he makes the claim that naturalistic assumptions are necessary for the age of the universe, the age of galaxies, and the age of planets to support life. 

A universe and a galaxy must reach a particular age before they can support life. Only when a star and a moon are of a particular age is life possible near them. And only when a planet is of a particular age is life possible on it. For intelligent life, the time limitations are dramatically more constrained.

While Dr. Ross has said that he does not hold to biological evolution as taught by the likes of Richard Dawkins, his statements above endorse the naturalistic ideas of 

  • cosmic evolution 
  • chemical evolution
  • galactic evolution 
  • stellar evolution 
  • planetary evolution
  • lunar evolution 
  • terrestrial evolution 
  • environmental evolution 

As we read scripture, we see that none of these naturalistic ideas are compatible with God’s revelation. These evolutionary theories are simply naturalistic mechanisms proposed IN PLACE OF what God did with his supreme power. It’s not that God could not or has not used natural processes to produce results (He has!). The problem is that Dr. Ross has re-interpreted what God actually said He did in the creative process of Genesis 1 to mean something else.

Age Window of the Universe

For biochemical processes to operate, the universe can be neither too hot nor too cold. As the universe expands from the creation event, it cools, like any other system obeying the thermodynamic laws (the greater volume or surface area, the less heat energy there is to go around.)…These conditions must be just right for liquid water to form and remain in significant quantities in just-right locations. As a result, there are only a few billion years in history if the universe’s expansion when a suitable habitat for primitive life is even possible.

The built-in assumptions that the universe has to be a particular age keeps him from being able to view the Bible from the author’s intended message. We see him make these claims about the age of the universe, but he has no other universes or other billions of years of history with which to compare. How can he possibly calibrate his assumptions since there are no other universes when he’s bound by less than 100 years of experience?

I’m particularly critical of the statement above regarding Ross’s assumption of the formation of liquid water. In scripture we read that once God created water out of nothing, the rest of the universe was formed out of that water. But Dr. Ross assumes that water is just another one of the things that nature formed during its chemical/cosmic evolution. In the past, I’ve asked Dr. Ross about why he feels that the flood of Genesis 6-9 is a minor local flood, and he always (irrationally) points me to 2 Peter 2. Sadly, he joins the skeptics when his assumptions keep him recognizing the creative works and the worldwide judgment of those works in 2 Peter 3 “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.”

So, you can see that Dr. Ross’s claims that water formed naturalistically and that the flood was just a minor local event in the middle east are NOT permitted by scripture as a whole – but particularly by 2 Peter 3:5-6

In addition to the scriptural problems with water, Dr. Ross must somehow overcome the observational problems with his assumptions about water in relation to the moon. The moon could not have formed by any of the naturalistic proposals put forth AND contain H₂O. Yet, the moon contains frozen H₂O

On p230, Dr. Ross makes claims about the chemical evolution

The fusion of most life-essential heavy elements must await the gravitational collapse of gas clouds into giant stars…In fact, two generations of such stars must burn up in order to build a density of heavier elements sufficient to make life chemistry possible.

At best, these are guesses and at worst wild claims since no one has ever observed the process of a star from birth to death let alone TWO generations of stars from birth to death or the effects on elements of these generations. 

Because of the exothermic nature of the heavy elements in chemical formation, there is not a suitable resolution for the evolution of elements with a higher atomic weight than Iron (Fe) at 26.

Notice the superlatives and uncalibrated assumptions in the quote below:

Only in galaxies can the density of heavy elements become great enough to support life chemistry. But even in galaxies the appropriate density of life-essential elements is achieved only at one particular time. When the galaxy is too young, not enough heavy elements have been made in its stars for life chemistry to be possible. When the galaxy is too old, star and planet formation have ceased, and no stars and planets young enough for life chemistry will exist. Life is possible only in galaxies older than about 10 billion years and younger than about 20 billion years.

It’s like saying Adam was too young to speak and name all the animals on the day he was created because only humans older than 2 years old can speak in complete thoughts, and only humans older than ten would be creative enough and with a vocabulary large enough to name all the animals. Ross fills his book with unjustified assumptions at the expense of revelation from God. He continues this pattern into the next paragraph

For life on a planet to be possible, the planet must be warmed by a star that burns at a near-constant brightness and color. For intelligent life to be possible, the star’s flaring activity and X-ray radiation must be minimal…In the first 50 million years after a star as massive as the Sun begins to shine, it burns far too erratically to maintain temperatures suitable for life on an orbiting planet. For the next 500 million years, the X-ray emission is too intense. After that, the flaring activity continues to subside until it reaches a minimum, when the star is 4.6 billion years old.

As if he witnessed and documented this process from beginning to end. But the scriptures tell a different story. On the fourth day God made the sun, moon, planets, and stars. So, Ross’s book is not only in conflict with the Bible, but he has ignored the scientific impossibilities of his yarn about the naturalistic formation of the Sun. The sun would not have been bright enough to provide sufficient heat on the earth a billion years ago when life is thought (by the naturalists) to have emerged. It’s a paradox for old earthists that has no coherent resolution.

Ross’s closing thoughts for the chapter on p233 reveal again his commitment to the modern academic paradigm as his interpretive authority instead of scripture being in the highest place.

A timescale for the universe and Earth of only a few thousand years also contradicts nature, which shows how and why astronomical bodies must be at least a half billion years old to be ready for life.

Ross never concerns himself with conflicts with scripture since he feels free to re-interpret the Bible’s actual text based on the fashionable paradigm that is currently accepted and promoted by the secularists.

As biblical creationists, we can praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. We do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.

 

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