Politics and Presuppositions

January 13, 2017

With one week left before the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th president there has been much talk over his cabinet and staff appointees, like there always is with each administration. The senate and house are allowed to “grill” as I saw one headline this past week, each of the  people that Trump has chosen and determine if they will approve some of the people to serve.

In the midst of all the leaks and “fake news” that has been talked about, the presidential appointees have been given more discussion this year than perhaps I remember. Each president has the right to put in place his/her own people and usually does. They want like minded people that will support and offer a hand in completing the agenda that they believe will work best over the next four years. This sharing of a similar philosophy allows them to work more efficiently together.  Examples of these political philosophies could be raising or lowering taxes, regulations, job competition, and so on. These are the political presuppositions that each of these people have found to be trustworthy and rules to live and govern by.  If you need a definition of presupposition you can check this previous post.

Would it be smart for a president to  have someone on his cabinet or as an advisor that would offer a dissenting view or opinion that would offer advice to them?  I say yes, making the best decision would include having all the information available to make an informed decision. Sadly many will not do this. We only like to hear compliments or praises from those who agree with us.  Keep in mind we do not have to follow or take their advice, but at least give them an ear and listen with an open mind.  Ever read a post you disagreed with but were not approved to post a different opinion? Ever notice how the talk show host will mute the person on the phone when things start to get messy or out of control.

I have found this to be the case when having conversations with people over spiritual discussions or when using apologetics with people of other worldviews.  Each person comes to the discussion with certain presuppositions that they are not willing to let go of.  These may include things like; a naturalistic or supernatural belief, a belief in miracles, or a Reformed theology vs. a Wesleyan.

One thing I have found helpful before spending large amounts of time with someone is to ask if they will be open-minded and willing to consider certain basic ideas in the discussion you want to have.  If you are willing to talk with those understandings it will be less frustrating for both of you and you can remind the person again that they agreed to hear your case with an open mind.  Maybe this will help them, or you, understand the topic more completely and you may win them over to your side politically or in your religious worldview.


Evolution on Trial: Ape-Men Take the Stand

April 7, 2012

Taking the Stand next in the case on Evolution is the Ape-Men discoveries that many evolutionist cite give proof of the common decent between man and apes.

A lot has been made about the close relation between man and primates.  It has long been said that of all the animals, humans are  more closely related to the primates more than any other genus family and species.  Evolutionist point to studies done where primates can be taught to communicate and other simple reward based tasks.

Ernst Mayr an evolutionist cites the homology between apes and humans as proof of common descent.  Homology is the study of similar structures between  certain species.  “For example,” as Chris Sherrod explains in his book on the flaws of evolution  “if we compare a bat’s wing, a bird’s wing, a man’s arm, and a porpoise’s fin, we  can see very similar  patterns in how the bones are arranged” 1

Sherrod continues to point out that the homological similarities come from different types of cells and DNA and they develop in a different pattern during embryological development.   Additional, it is just as easy to say that they come from a common designer as it is to say they come from a common ancestor.   Evolutionist must explain the incredible similarities between the hands and feet from random mutations, that all end up the same.

Molecular geneticist, David Berlinski notes, “Chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorilla reason; they form plans; the have preferences; they are cunning; they have passions and desires; and they suffer.  This is the same of cats, I might add.  In as much of this we see ourselves.  But beyond that what we have in common with apes, we have nothing in common, and while the similarities are interesting, the differences are profound.” 2

Difficulties between the primates and man are what ultimately caused Darwin’s partner or collaborator, Alfred Wallace to doubt his own theory about evolution.  He saw the extreme advancements of the human race leaps and bounds ahead of all the primates.  Besides obvious differences between physical appearances, there are other issues to address including; the human brain, the organs of speech and articulation, the human hand, the external human form, with its upright posture and bipedal gait.  It is only human beings that can rotate their thumb and ring finger  in what is called ulnar opposition in order to achieve a grip, a grasp, and a degree of torque denied of any of the great apes.  Sure science has its guesses, but they are not backed by facts.  Do we understand why among the animals humans alone have acquired language?   A refined delicate moral system? Or art, architecture, music, dance, or mathematics?

There is much more to mention about the homology, but we will move on and perhaps address more homology in later posts.  The next section of my blog I want to spend some time examining the hominoids that have been discovered by  paleontologists.  A hominoid is a claimed extinct man like ape that led up to the modern humans.  Many of the hominoids have been given names due to the location and details of the discoveries.  These hominoids can be broken down into 3 categories;  fakes, mistakes, and unknowns.  I will not go into great detail about each one, but you are welcome to “dig up” more information in books and articles.

First the fakes, there have been a number of discoveries that have initially gotten praise by those who support evolution and have turned out to be fakes. One most famous was Piltdown Man, found in 1912 where someone had filed down an orangutan jaw and stained it and attached to a human skull.

Secondly, there have been a number of hominoid discoveries that when originally discovered were touted as support for evolution, but in more recent times and under a deeper look, paleontologists have backed off from their original views and labeled them as something else.  Nebraska Man, found in 1922  was used in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial and was a strange-looking tooth.  It turns out it was only an extinct pigs tooth.  Lucy, who was only about 3 feet tall was thought to be a pygmy, was actually an orangutan.

The last group of hominoids are a bit of a mystery and there is not a lot of evidence to point in any direction anyway.  Many of the hominoid fossils are only skulls, incomplete fragments of bones, and really not much to make educated guesses on.  While some are strange, with the knowledge of bone crippling diseases that we are aware of today it is more likely that these few hominoids are human remains that have suffered from bone diseases like Ricketts or arthritis.  Other human remains dated around the same time period show us that humans were already walking upright at this current time period.  Ones like Java Man, Peking Man which was actually 14 monkey skulls that appear to crushed at the base, Neanderthal Man found in Germany in 1856 who had a sloping down forehead and a was found to actually be human that cared for family, wore clothes, and looks very similar to the aborigines living in Australia today.

As always questions, comments, snide remarks are welcome.

End Notes:

1. Sherrod, Chris, Faith, Facts, and Reason Study #5 The Flaws of Evolution, pg. 84

2. –  Berlinski, David, The Devils Delusion, Chapter 8


Evolution on Trial: Mutations Take the Stand

April 3, 2012

The next witness we will look at in the case of Evolution is mutations.  I am not talking about bringing any of the X-Men to the stand either.  In the Theory of Evolution mutations and natural selection are two of the main pillars that hold up the case for evolution.  We will look at natural selection in a separate post in the future.

According to Britannica:

Mutation – Alteration in the genetic material of a cell that is transmitted to the cell’s offspring. Mutations may be spontaneous or induced by outside factors (mutagens). They take place in the genes, occurring when one base is substituted for another in the sequence of bases that determines the genetic code, or when one or more bases are inserted or deleted from a gene. Many mutations are harmless, often masked by the presence of a dominant normal gene. Some have serious consequences; for example, a particular mutation inherited from both parents results in sickle-cell anemia. Only mutations that occur in the sex cells (eggs or sperm) can be transmitted to the individual’s offspring. Alterations caused by these mutations are usually harmful. In the rare instances in which a mutation produces a beneficial change, the percentage of organisms with this gene will tend to increase until the mutated gene becomes the norm in the population. In this way, beneficial mutations serve as the raw material of evolution. 1

The last two sentences in the paragraph above dealing with beneficial mutations “being the raw material in Evolution” when the “mutated gene becomes the norm in the population” is what I will take issue with.  This is where the credibility of mutations, losses it power to influence Evolution.

First, lets look at some facts about mutations.

1. Mutations are rare in the first place because an enzyme acts as a sort of proofreader during DNA replication to check for mistakes.  When a genetic mistake is found, the tendency is to correct it.

2. Mutations distort, destroy, or damage the current DNA structure and do not improve or add to it.  As John Morris, faculty of the ICR (Institute for Creation Research) describes “It‘s instructive to try to imagine what must happen to turn a cell into an invertebrate, or a worm into a fish, or a fish into an amphibian, etc. List the structural changes needed. A cell doesn‘t have the genes needed to produce even a simple nodal chord, nor does a fish have the genes to produce legs. This extra genetic information must be added from some external source, but science knows of no such source. Mutations do produce novel changes, but never has a mutation been known to add coded information to an already complex DNA system. On the contrary, it usually and easily causes a deterioration of the information present in the DNA. For random mutations to add the information for a leg where there is none is asking a lot, in fact, asking too much.” 2

The final question is are mutations beneficial?  There seems to be a handful of examples floating around as proof that they are.  Perhaps you may have heard of some of the following examples;  two copies of the mutant sickle-cell anemia gene cause illness, one copy confers resistance to malaria,  the Pima, a Native American tribe that have to be on a special diet to avoid being morbidly over-weight, artificial breeding of crops and livestock that produce greater yields and drought resistance crops. 3   These hypothetical examples of beneficial mutations were all discovered in a lab and through human experiments.  All of these examples did not produce a new animal genus from another, in other words they fall into the label of adaptions rather than macro-evolution.

You can see that mutations sound exciting but, when you take a closer look at mutations there is really a lot of talk and clearly not enough action behind the idea of mutations.  One such objection to this is that the mutations take place so slowly that it i often hard to see and observe in our human lifetime or over the last several hundred years of scientific study.  This objection will lead us to the next to the witness, the fossils, and a closer look at the fossil record.  As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.

End Notes:

1. – http://www.britannica.com/bps/search?query=mutations

2. – Morris, John D. , “Can the Small Changes  We See Add Up to the Big Changes Evolution Needs?”, Article 2002

3.  – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutation


The Evolution of Evolution

March 21, 2012

I want to spend a few posts examining the claims of evolution and breaking it down piece by piece, but before I do that I want to give you a basic understanding of what evolution is and how it has changed over the years.  Evolution is one the most popular alternative answers to the question of where did we come from, outside of a theistic of creation answer.  A 2010 gallop poll has shown that 40% of Americans believe in creation, 38% believe that a supernatural being created the world through the process of evolution, and 16% believe in a naturalist evolution without the help of the supernatural. 1

Evolution Belief ChartThe word evolution can mean different things depending on who is using the word.  Evolution simply means a change over time.  People often speak of the evolution of a certain model of car or how computer technology has evolved.  Most people think about the evolution in biology when they hear or use the term.  When you discuss evolution it is important to understand the distinction between two different types of evolutionary.  Micro-Evoluion where minor changes within a species (family group) occur, but do not give rise to new gene material.  I call this type of evolution adaptions.  We see this everyday within varieties of plants and animals such as dogs, frogs, garden vegetables, and trees for example.  Macro-evolution is  larger scale change from species (family group) to another species (family group) that is more complex and higher through mutation and natural selection.  No one has ever witnessed this type of evolution before and this is the type of evolution that is claimed through Darwin’s theory.  From this point forward, when you see the word Evolution, it will refer to Macro-Evolution.

Evolution is a purely physical/naturalistic explanation to the origin of life on earth and of all matter in the known universe.  Charles Darwin has been known as the Father of evolution, but he wasn’t the first to contemplate a purely physical origin, during the fourth and fifth centuries some Greek philosophers like Thales, Leucippus, and Democritus had detailed explanations of how the universe came together through random forces rather than by design. 2  Darwin also had a partner, Alfred Wallace, who worked with Darwin on the theory of evolution, but Wallace began to doubt it was adequate to explain obvious features of the human race.  You don’t hear much of Wallace and His disagreement with Darwin now.

About 30 years ago the theory of Evolution begin to be looked at more closely by public and private school systems  because of the rise of Christian apologists in the mid-century that began to challenge the views of Evolution.  Parents and school boards had Evolution taken out of school textbooks or demanded that other textbooks that taught other ideas like Intelligent Design as equally as Evolution to be used.  This seem to waken those who supported Evolution like Dawkins, Hawking, Dennett, and Harris, to push back even harder with newer evidences and proofs with the new advancements that science was making recently.  Many of these newer evidences are published in scientific journals, books, web blogs and are used by many highschool and university teacher to continually bombard students through indoctrination.  Most of the scientific claims today that are labeled “support for Evolution” are speculative at best, leaving the majority of the proof on assumptions and premises.  They are lean on supporting facts and rely on your presuppositions and how you interpret the data.  I can back up that last thought with the evidence that despite all this “new” evidence for Evolution the debate still wages on.  The case had not been closed in the slightest.  Open-minded intelligent theists are not abandoning their beliefs in support of evolution.  You can reference this in the Gallop chart.

The New Atheists have been on the offense as of late to attempt to snuff out any religious beliefs by Christians. Their words towards religious beliefs have been harsh.  Richard Dawkins has even had a college circuit speaking tour where has offered a debaptizing ceremony for those who wish to renounce their faith in God. 3  The boldness at which these new claims are being made by those who support Evolution is very high.  It reminds me of the axiom, that “the bigger and more important the lie, often the greater the enthusiasm of which it must be sold with.”  Not to worry though, because there are a new group of well-educated Christians in both the field of science and philosophy that have risen to the challenge by the New Atheists.

Over the next few posts I will examine Evolution  and break down the processes and talking points that many supporters of Evolution use to champion their beliefs.  Evolution must account for three “Big Bangs;” the origin of matter, the origin or life, and the origin of our consciences.  We will also look at the processes like genetic drift, gene flow, mutation, non-random mating, as well as natural selection.  If you don’t understand those words, don’t worry I will explain them to you one at a time in future posts.  If you support evolution and have something you want me to look at please leave a comment here and I will add it to the list of topics of discussions with Evolution.  I will do my best to give you an accurate view of Evolution, I don’t want to try to make any red-herrings out of the other side of the argument.  As always your questions, comments, and discussions are welcomed.

Biography

1 – http://www.gallup.com/poll/21814/Evolution-Creationism-Intelligent-Design.aspx

2- Sherrod, Chris – Fact, Faith, and Reason Study #5 The Flaws of Evolution, pg. 27

3 – Marrow, Jonathan; McDowell, Sean – Is God Just A Human Invention?


Defining Terms: Irreducible Complexity

November 17, 2011

Before moving on to taking a closer look at Evolution I wanted to tie up some loose ends on a post I had over a few weeks ago I wanted to finish out some ideas of the Teleological Argument.  One of the main 2 components of Intelligent Design is the Idea of Irreducible Complexity or (IC) for short.

Irreducible Complexity – A single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.

A Mouse Trap is a great example of Irreducible Complexity.   I’m not talking about the more humane traps they have now, but the “old school” kind that consisted of a spring, a trigger, a hammer type bar, and a piece of cheese all mounted on a base.   You know what I’m talking about.  They provided endless amounts of laughter in movies where people stepped on them and got their fingers caught in them.  If you were to remove just one of the parts of the mouse trap it would not continue to function as a trap.  At the same time if you build a trap and leave off a part, it will also not work.  We can see from the design of the mouse trap that it has a specific design and it will only function properly when all the pieces are present and working together.

The mouse trap is relatively simple compared to other examples of (IC) that we can look at in life.  Below are some examples of Irreducible Complexity in biology.

The Eye – The eye is what caused Darwin to pause for a second in reviewing his own theory of evolution.  He could not see how the eye could have evolved given the fact that all 12 parts of the eye need to be present for sight.  If an eye were to start to evolve the individual parts would have to come about slowly over time and until each part was complete there would be no advantage until the whole eye was formed.  In other words there would be no need for an eye lid to grow if there was no eye, or there would be no lens if there was no pupal to connect it to.  Darwinian evolutionists have tried to compare other animal eyes that are less complex and show that they could have evolved from species to species, but have not made a solid case.

“The Simple Cell” and Bacteria Flagellum  – In my early days in biology we studied the “simple cell” and learned about the 8 basic parts that made up the cell.  Today, the simple cell has become not so simple.  There are 52 individual parts that make up the cell.   The cell functions like a super efficient delivery service company in the height of their Christmas season.  There are things moving around and through the cell all the time.   When a cell is missing one of the components the cell will cease to function.

Michael Behe, an Intelligent Design (ID) supporter has said “What we’ve discovered in a cell in the past half-century or so are quite literally molecular machines, machines of enormous complexity.  There are little machines in the cell that act as trucks and busses that take supplies from on side of the cell to the other.  And they use little signposts, and there are garage doors that open and shut to let the supplies into various compartments.”  Behe, continues to explain the parts of the ion powered rotary engines called flagella of certain bacteria.  They have similar parts of a motor like  O rings, Drive shafts, bushings, etc…  Absence of any of these parts would cause the bacteria not to function.  With a cell, it’s “All or Nothing.”

The Wing – How did the wing evolve?  Evolutionist say that it was to extend jumping or to slow falling.  – The complexity of the wing would have required thousands of positive mutations in order to change to the complex wing.  The instincts of the ground animal would also have to change to flying from walking or living in trees.

One of the criticisms of (IC) is because we don’t understand how things work or have come to function as a whole, doesn’t mean that we might not understand the science or biology in the future.  Science may in fact yield an explanation to one of the examples above, but that doesn’t mean that God does not exist.  It only means we have had a gap in the knowledge.  The new atheists have coined the phrase “God of the Gaps” for Christians who cannot explain something and just say that “God did it.”   As a Christian, I have no problem with giving credit to God for all explained and unexplained events.  God can surely created laws of science to build the universe within, but we must be careful to not try speak for God and explain things incorrectly.  We might end up eating our words after the passing of time.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcomed.


Defining Terms: Strawman Argument

November 9, 2011

In my last post I used the phrase “Straw Man argument.” I wanted to explain what the term meant and give a few examples of it in apologetic discussions.  The term Straw Man fallacy can also be used interchangeability.

Straw Man Argument – Straw man arguments involve misrepresenting the view-point of someone else to make it easier to knock down.  This can be done by defining a term incorrectly, not presenting all the facts or view points that might be controversial, it can even been from out-right purposeful lying.

Apologist Chris Sherrod uses the example of a statement often made by Darwinian Evolutionists.  “You creations don’t accept the fact that evolution can be observed.”  Here the mistake is referring to the type of evolution that is described.  Macro Evolution vs. Micro Evolution.  Christians do see and support micro evolution, it is also called adaption.  What has never been observed is macro evolution where living organisms change species.

Just this afternoon I went to hear a man, who called himself an atheist, speak on the subject of America not being a Christian nation at it’s foundation.  During the question section of his time he began to talk about the Biblical view of slavery and how Christians have changed their view of slavery over time.  He made several comments hinting that God approved of slavery or that enslaving other slaves from other nations was commanded by God.    He told the group that there were verses in the Bible where God instructed them that it was okay to have slaves and even referenced the apostle Paul saying that Paul instructed the Slaves to obey their masters.   I saw the straw man argument that was being build up before my eyes.   At the proper time I spoke up and called the argument for what it was.  I told the man that he was misrepresenting the Biblical idea of slavery and that no where did God command the Hebrews to take slaves and make them their own.  When he said I was wrong, I asked him to produce the verse, and he could not.   I shared a few differences between Old Testament Slavery and the typical African slavery that many people think about today.  I didn’t want to take up his time with the students, so I quickly wrapped it up and we agreed to talk over email in the future.

I didn’t have to mention that  Biblical slavery was voluntary by the person so that they could work off a debt owed that they could not pay.   These slaves were treated as well as the friends and family in the home.  They were given rights just as a free person was.  After 7 years the slave had to be set free, no matter if the debt was paid off.  One last thought that I wished I would have mentioned was that just because the Bible talks about something like slavery or divorce for example, it doesn’t mean that God approved of that action or practice.  Much of the Bible is descriptive and not prescriptive.  It describes the people and their actions.  People who are imperfect sinners, just like me, who make wrong choices.  I don’t know if he was unaware of the differences and the straw man argument that he was building, but  I felt compelled to speak up and not let the truth be misrepresented.  If any of the students from the Parkview SSA club are reading this,  I wanted to let you know that I actually started this post 2 days ago and did not start it today because of the discussion we had.  I had a bit of writers block until today.

The best way to defend against the straw man fallacy is to know your stuff.  To know what you believe and why so that you can stop the straw man from being easily pushed over in an argument.  This takes time and effort on your part, but if you are going to allow God to use you in helping people understand the true Biblical worldview, it is a must.  One of the ways that I try to help maintain as much knowledge that I can is through taking notes.  Research shows that if you take notes within 24 hours of learning you can remember 90% of what you learned.  I use a computer program to keep all my notes together in one location where I can categorize then by subject and easily find them when I need them.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions welcome.


Defining Terms: ad hominem

October 31, 2011

Another Fallacy used by people in arguments, debates, and discussions is called ad hominem.

ad hominem – In Latin means “to the people.”  As a debate tactic it is an attempt to draw the discussion away from the facts and evidence of the debate and focus them on the person(s) in the debate or to another person who holds similar views.

Most of the time when a person uses an ad hominem tactic it is because they have run out of facts and evidence to discuss and they turn to they people who are making the arguments.  The best way to stop someone who is using an ad hominem tactic is to call it out and tell them that it is not based on the facts or evidence.

Here are several examples of ad hominem  statements.  See if you can locate how they are drawing the attention away from the facts and putting it on the person.

1. Why should I be a Christian like all those TV preachers who have had affairs and cheated on their wives?

2. Those Christians are so narrow-minded and fundamental, they won’t accept the facts.

3. He is closed-minded and will only accept empirical evidence from science to prove his claim.

4. You are not a biologist or physicist and you do not have the understanding to be able to argue about matters of science.

5.  The Green Bay Packers are not going to win the Superbowl this year because their quarterback’s mom is ugly.

As always questions, comments, and discussions welcome.