Friday, February 7, 2014

Worldview Analysis

Another follow-up from the debate on 2/4/14 between Bill Nye, The Science Guy and Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis.

Mr. Ham clearly taught during his presentation time that everyone has the same evidence. Nye clearly did not understand the depth of that argument, because he continually spouted his mantra that science has evidence and biblical creationists have a 3000 year old book.

Hopefully, I can help define the argument a little more clearly for Nye and his pre-Christian friends. As was said by Mr. Ham, everyone has the same evidence. There's not a secret stash of evolutionary evidence and there's not a secret stash of creation evidence upon which we put on a scale to measure which side would win. Instead, everyone has the same evidence, and everyone has to interpret the evidence according to their worldview.

Here are three examples of how people can see the same evidence and come to completely different conclusions based on their presuppositions:

1. Scientists A and B want to know the declining rate of distance that a frog can jump as legs are removed. So they get a healthy frog and say, "jump, frog, jump!" With all four legs he is able to jump 40 cm. They cut off 1 leg and say, "jump, frog, jump!" The frog jumps 30 cm with three legs and they note the change in their notebooks. They cut off another leg and say, "jump, frog, jump!" With two legs, the frog is able to jump 20 cm. Another leg is removed and they say, "jump, frog, jump!" With herculean effort, the frog jumps 10 cm. They cut off his last leg and say, "jump, frog, jump!" Scientist A writes in his conclusion, "There is a consistent decrease of distance that a frog can jump as legs are removed. Curiously, the frog goes deaf when all legs are cut off." Scientist B writes in his conclusion, "There is a consistent decrease in distance that a frog can jump as legs are removed. As expected, the frog is unable to move with no legs."

2. Jerry tells Paul that he saw Paul's wife waving goodbye to a handsome man leaving Paul's house this morning after Paul was already as work. Jerry says, "I think she's having an affair." Paul says, "I think she has been faithful, and I trust her." Same evidence. Different conclusion.

3. Scientist A and B are analyzing the complexity of DNA. Scientists A says, "Look at the complexity of the information within DNA molecules. There must have been an unimaginably great amount of time for natural processes to aggregate all of this information from countless copying mistakes." Scientist B say, "Look at the complexity of the information within DNA molecules. As a computer scientist, I know that information and programs only come from intelligence, so the programmer of DNA must be unimaginably intelligent!"

From the examples, you can see that everyone had the same information, but chose different conclusions because of their worldview. So, when debating someone about the veracity of origins stories (whether biblical creation or naturalistic evolution), a worldview analysis is in order.

Which worldview more clearly makes sense of reality and has the fewest contradictions. From my understanding of the naturalistic worldview, they believe that 13.7 billion years ago an unexplained singularity expanded into all of the known matter in the cosmos. Over time, matter coalesced into greater and greater objects until eventually they began to ignite into fusion-powered stars. As time passed planets coalesced around the star, Solar, and the third rock distant from this star generated a simple life form. With energy and radiation from Solar, the life form changed due to random mutations in the life form's genetic material. Through many generations of natural selection acting on the random mutations great diversity of life spread out and formed until mankind appeared. Homo Sapiens Sapiens is currently the pinnacle of organized complexity in the universe.

From this origins story, many questions arise regarding how to explain the existence of:

  1. Laws of logic. In a constantly changing, random, material cosmos, how would unchanging, universal, immaterial laws of logic have come about?
  2. Reason. Since mankind's existence is a result of random processes, why would we trust the way that chemical reactions in a person's brain uses reason? Reason seems not to have a proper foundation in this worldview. 
  3. Information. Information is known to come only from intelligence. How could a constantly changing cosmos account for information which requires a medium, syntax, code, code generator, and code recipient.
  4. Evil. Since everyone recognizes that there is evil, there must be a standard by which we can compare actions. The standard of good/evil does not have a basis in organized chemicals (our brains) which came about by processes that included randomness. While not everyone agrees on where the line is drawn, we all understand how things OUGHT to be. If things ought to be a certain way, then when things are not that way, it can be defined as evil. If the universe simply exists as the naturalistic worldview would presuppose, then there would be no recognition of evil/bad/ought. Things would just be amoral. 
Each of these things is better explained by believing the biblical account of creation.
  1. Logic is a representation of how the Creator God thinks. We are made in his image, so that we can comprehend and use the universal laws of logic.
  2. Reason/wisdom is part of the gift that God imparted to Adam. Proverbs 9:10 and Psalms 111:10 says "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Knowing the Creator of all matter/knowledge has imparted to us the ability to know some things and make decisions...reason.
  3. Information requires intelligence. Compared to DNA, the programming/code inside the most complicated computer, is infantile. But no one would argue that the programming/code in the computer came about naturally. It was the product of thousands of hours by intelligent programmers.
  4. Evil is manifest when people irrationally make choices without/against the guidance of Almighty God. 
So, a worldview analysis would appear to conclude that when one presupposes that the God of the Bible is the Creator and we are responsible to Him, then reality makes sense of the evidence around us.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nye is a Better Debater

Full disclosure: I subscribe to Ken Ham’s quarterly magazine subscription, Answers, and I fully support the ministry of his organization, Answers in Genesis.

Last night, Ken Ham engaged in a debate with Bill Nye the Science Guy. The topic for the debate was “Is Biblical Creation a viable scientific explanation in today’s world.” After watching the debate, it is apparent that Mr. Ham is a better teacher than he is a debater. And it’s a shame, because he had all of the facts on his side. Mr. Nye could only offer snide conjecture, lots of straw man fallacies, and several examples of false information. But Nye was charismatic, funny, and believable.

I’ve composed a few talking points based on Nye’s snide debate points where I think Mr. Ham could have refuted Nye’s arguments and shown himself to be in more confident control of the debate.

  1. At one point, Mr. Nye mocked the idea of the size of the ark by saying that large wooden vessels in the past torque and twist so badly that they leak and sink. Mr. Ham should have responded that the ark had no masts or engines. It wasn’t going anywhere; it only needed to float, not sail. The twisting would have been exacerbated by the SIX masts and huge sails that Nye mentioned were on the huge wooden vessel in the 1800s. None of those were needed on the ark since it only had to float.
  2. Mr. Ham had only a limited time to answer the questions of radiometric dating, and he did fairly well for those of us that understand the assumptions inherent in the radiometric dating. I think the sentence he should have said is, “If we find that rocks of known age (Mt. St. Helens) are dated with radiometric dating with incorrect dates (2.8 million years), why should we trust the dates provided by radiometric dating on rocks that were not observed being formed?”
  3. Nye said several times that he thinks Ham is saying that physical laws changed over the last 4000 years. This is a typical straw man argument. Ham has said nothing of the sort. It is Nye, who says that physical laws have changed over time since:
    1. Physics has to be altered to accommodate the Big Bang. The Big Bang as proposed is counter to known physical laws.
    2. Biology has to be altered to accommodate Nye’s belief in abiogenesis. Life comes from rocks, Bill? This is counter to known biological laws.
    3. Chemistry has to be altered to accommodate the creation of elements (with an atomic weight higher than 26) in stars. To speculate that the heavier elements were formed in supernova pushes the evidence beyond the testable boundaries of science. 
    4. Stellar evolution has to be redefined since the birth of a new star requires the death of an old star (chicken/egg problem).
  4. Ham clearly stated that Biblical kinds are loosely synonymous with the scientific classification of family rather than species. Nye put another straw man argument that since there are currently about 16,000,000 species then approximately 11 new species would have needed to emerge each day since the flood ended. Almost all of those 16,000,000 species are bacteria, bugs, and fish. None of these would have been specifically protected within the ark, so their biological development could have continued from creation 6000 years ago. The real problem is for evolution since they cannot answer (with evidence) where the new information came from to generate new/unique traits in organisms over time. Creation follows the evidence that information can only come from intelligence.
  5. Nye spouted that there are no fossils of kangaroos in the proposed path from Asia to Australia, but he must not understand how fossils are formed. Fossils form in very specific conditions…flood conditions. An organism has to be buried quickly to avoid the concentric ring of scavengers. We would not expect fossils of kangaroos from Asia to Australia since the flood was already over. Nye’s contention is simply ridiculous. How many American Bison fossils do you expect to find in the American southwest? There were millions of these creatures roaming North America and were nearly wiped out without the formation of any fossils. Evolutionists have a huge problem with the existence of fossils since dead things do not lay on the surface for millions of years as they are slowly buried. Fossils are a direct expectation/prediction from the Biblical history. Christians expect billions of dead things to be buried in sedimentary rock layers.
  6. Atheists still unable to answer the questions of the origin of logic/mathematics/natural laws/matter/information. Nye refused to answer this question, and Ham should have held his feet to the fire. Atheists cannot account for immaterial ideas (logic/mind/beauty) in the constantly changing material-only universe.
  7. Nye repeated that Christians need only find one out-of-place fossil to bring down the entire story of evolution, but he rebutted himself with the comment on a young buried forest in the midst of old rock. The theory of evolution is so flexible that it cannot be falsified (therefore it has no explanatory power). There are many known out-of-place artifacts that refute evolutionary expectations. The appearance of dinosaurs in human artwork (Ica stones, stegosaurus at Angkor Wat, Bishop Bell’s brass behemoths, cave paintings of dinosaurs, dinosaur figurines, dinosaur jewelry…) It is an assumption that organisms are buried in an exact order. The geologic column is not consistent. Ham should have pointed out that Christians do not expect nautilus and rodents to be buried together not because they did not live at the same time; they did not live in the same place. Nautilus were sea creatures…rodents live on the land. Therefore, they were buried in different places. The same goes for humans and coelacanth fish. They have never been shown to be buried together, but they are living at the same time. If you're interested in further research on this topic, look here.
  8. Nye claimed that ice core drillings from Antarctica had hundreds of thousands of winter/summer cycle markers. These markers do not denote winter/summer cycles. This is a false assumption. Ham had to rush through his rebuttal of this falsehood from Nye, but the short story is that 1942 era planes crash-landed on and were buried by ice in Greenland. When an enterprising collector went to dig them out, he found that in 50 years over 250 feet of snow accumulated on top of the squadron. Hundreds of layers were recorded by the collectors as he worked to remove the planes. How could hundreds of layers be present after only 50 years? The answer is clear that these are not winter/summer cycle layers. Nye is misinformed.
  9. In the question/answer portion of the debate, Nye was asked how he was able to account for the contradiction of evolution in reference to the 2nd law of thermodynamics. He went into a completely unrelated answer regarding technology and the importance of the sun. When he finally did get back on track his one assertion was that evolution added complexity from the sun’s energy. The sun adds energy, but this is a huge mistake since the energy from the sun is destructive…just like all other energy without an energy converter. Try this experiment: Add the energy of fire, microwaves, bullets, lava, radiation, sunshine, or whatever to a frog to see if it evolves. Adding energy to something without a perfectly designed energy converter (chlorophyll, differential, gears, cylinders, solar panel…) then that something is doomed for destruction not evolution.
  10. When asked where matter or consciousness comes from, Nye’s only reply was “It’s a huge mystery.” Thanks for clearing that up, Bill. 
  11. What would change your mind? My presupposition is God and His word are true. There is no evidence that contradicts God’s Word. The reverse is actually true since all branches of science are finding more and more that the Bible is confirmed. That question is like asking, “Would your mind be changed if someone showed you a square circle?” Everyone has the same evidence as Ham pointed out several times. People interpret evidence according to their worldview, so worldview analysis is important. Which worldview can account for reality and has no contradictions. Atheism is filled with contradictions and cannot account for immaterial items such as information, consciousness, origin of matter, or the laws of logic/mathematics. 
  12. Nye brought up the fossil, Tiktaalik as evidence of evolutionary predictions being shown to be true. The problem is that the evolutionary niche that Tiktaalik was supposed to explain was preempted by another fossil uncovered in soil that was much older (according to evolutionary dating). But the Tiktaalik looks nice in the artist’s rendering like almost every other “evidence” for evolution.
  13. Nye continually spewed the straw man argument that Christians do not embrace technology. This is ridiculous. Nye conflates evolution with science/technology, which is related to the bait and switch that Ham talked about earlier.

There are many others, but these are the notes that I took during the debate. Ham taught very well even if was exposed a bit as a debater. All of the evidence was on Ham’s side and he explained his point very well during his 30 minute portion, and Nye continually disregarded points that Ham had made without refuting them. It’s unfortunate that Nye was charismatic and seemed to “control” the debate. We can continue to pray for him and those who might have been led astray by Nye’s arguments.