Grant Rants

I get feedback: A science lesson for creationists.

- September 20th, 2012

Greetings web denizens, heathens, zealots and the rest of you!

Can someone tell me why, oh why in the name of Odin’s unseeing eye, do creationists fail to get the point? I don’t get it. I can’t even pretend to be nice about this anymore. Near as I can figure, creationists may well actually be time travelers from the ancient past. Far fetched? Maybe, but the only other conclusion is that they are willfully ignorant and attempting to spread their deliberate lack of science knowledge over the face of the Earth. Like the Red Weed from War of the Worlds.

Why I am getting all insane in the membrane about creationists today? It’s because of a reaction to my recent Grant Rant column where I talked about the issue of religious accommodation in schools and a parent’s attempt to sue a school board to remove his children from classes where homosexuality might be a subject. (I spoke to the parent in question after the column ran and I will post more here on the blog shortly. Interesting guy.)

In particular is commenter “Apetrowksi” (so far as I know this is, in fact, regional councilor Andy Petrowski. I do stand to be corrected if it is someone just using his name.) I noted in the Rant that the list of religious objections to school lessons is a long one, and named a few subjects including evolution. To this, Mr. Petrowski said:

Schools have no business indoctrinating our young with the prevailing government’s moral compass anymore than they do promulgating their opinions like the THEORY of evolution as FACT. You can’t have it both ways, Grant. If you insist on the former (ie. pushing morality) than you have to tolerate a range of scientific explanations including CREATIONISM. Me thinks thou dost protest too much? Maybe in your world reality equals “porcelain sensibilities”? In my world, your attack on the TRUTH is insulting. Then again, no one ever said a reporter had to acknowledge truth to sell papers or on-line adds.

Oh were to start? Let’s begin with the most egregious error made here – one creationists have made so often, repeating it like a mantra, that you wonder if any of them have cracked open a science text book ever. I speak of the use of the word “theory”, which in this context means “guess”. Petrowski constrasts this with “fact.” His implication, as many creationists have done before him, is that a theory is a just a guess and a fact is, well, a fact.

So lets start with a question: Mr. Petrowksi, do you hold the same view of theory of gravity? You are most welcome to leap from a roof and flap your arms and see how well that “guess” pans out. Naturally, he won’t (and shouldn’t) do that. Because the theory of gravity doesn’t pose any theological problems. Neither does the theory of plate tectonics, string theory, the theory of relativity, or (unless one believes illness is caused by demon possession) the germ theory of disease. Evolution flies directly in the face of a belief that the world was created by a god in seven days a few thousand years ago, and all living things were just manifested exactly as they are now. That is a problem for some.

So, for you mysterious strangers from the past, let me welcome you to our wondrous future with a bit of Science 101: in science a theory is not another word for “guess.” It’s a specifically defined thing. A theory is an explanatory framework for a particular phenomenon so well supported by the evidence it is given provisional acceptance as the truth. (Provisional because science spends most of its time trying to prove theories wrong. It’s a rather cut throat business. Those theories that survive have been battered about the metaphorical head and neck more than a punch drunk fighter.)

So is evolution a theory or a fact? Both. Petrowski’s mistake is to assume that fact is superior to theory in science. This is not the case.  The theory EXPLAINS the facts. Or to put it another way, the theory explains how the fact of evolution happens. The late, great, biologist Stephen J. Gould put it best in a brilliant essay titled “Evolution as theory and fact”:

In the American vernacular, “theory” often means “imperfect fact”—part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus creationists can (and do) argue: evolution is “only” a theory, and intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is less than a fact, and scientists can’t even make up their minds about the theory, then what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): “Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science—that is, not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was.”

Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein’s theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.

Moreover, “fact” does not mean “absolute certainty.” The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science, “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.” I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

Evolutionists have been clear about this distinction between fact and theory from the very beginning, if only because we have always acknowledged how far we are from completely understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred. Darwin continually emphasized the difference between his two great and separate accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing a theory—natural selection—to explain the mechanism of evolution. He wrote in The Descent of Man: “I had two distinct objects in view; firstly, to show that species had not been separately created, and secondly, that natural selection had been the chief agent of change. . . . Hence if I have erred in . . . having exaggerated its [natural selection's] power . . . I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations.”

It is also worth noting that a theory has to do specific things, beside just explain the facts. It has to explain something so completely it can predict what scientists should find next. This is how theories are tested. It makes a specific prediction and if that prediction doesn’t pan out, then you have to seriously question the theory itself. Like any scientific theory still standing, evolution by natural selection has survived these tests. The most impressive recently came when the human and chimpanzee genomes were decoded. The theory of evolution says humans and chimps descend from a common ancestor. Yet, we have one less chromosome pair than our closet genetic cousins. Which doesn’t make sense. We cannot just loose a whole pair of chromosomes if we are descended from the same ancestor. So the theory made a prediction: when the human and chimp genomes was decoded we’d find the missing pair fused to another pair. It was the only explanation that fit the theory’s framework. If that missing pair wasn’t found in the genome, the entire theory was wrong. QED.

The genome was decoded and the missing pair was found fused to another, just as the theory predicted.

(By the way, you might sometimes here someone say ” well its not the law of evolution is it? Like the law of gravity.” As though laws and theories are on some kind of ladder of truth, with a law existing on a higher rung. This is not so. Law’s are part of the theory, one of the facts that is part of theory’s explanatory framework.)

So if in science a theory is a specific thing that does not, in anyway, mean “guess” why do creationists like Petrowski say “it’s JUST a theory?” There are two reasons as far as I can tell. First, by using the word theory incorrectly they wish to imply there is something weak about a scientific theory. It’s a way of saying “it’s just an opinion”, and if a theory is just an opinion then it is no more or less valid than any other opinion.

The second reason is because creationists have for decades tried to claim their idea of the world magically being made in seven days, a man literally formed from dust, a woman from his rib and the world is not billions of years old, but only a few thousand, is actually science. In the same way gravitation or planetary orbits is science.

Trouble is, despite what Petrowski said, creationism is not, never has been, never will be, a scientific theory. There is no scientific evidence to support it, no research, no peer reviewed papers, nothing. It’s theology. However, when it comes to facts and data, science is the single best tool we have for understanding the universe and while most religious people have moved with the times, consigning stories like those found in the Book of Genesis to metaphor rather than literal fact, there are those pesky time travelers from the past who cannot let go.

So they try to do two things at once – claim creation theology is actually a scientific theory while simultaneously attempting to undermine what a scientific theory is by misusing the term theory. If evolution is just a guess, and creationism is just a guess (they don’t believe it to be a guess, but they aren’t being totally honest either. Richard Dawkins likes to call it “Lying for Jesus”) then they belong on equal footing. And if evolution and creationism are on equal footing, why then they should both be taught in a high school science class. That creationism is religion, not science, is no never mind here. It’s a game of semantics to attempt conversion by stealth.

Even single time creationism (or its modern day cousin, “intelligent design”, which is just creationism in drag.) is tested against the facts – in the lab and in the courts – it’s exposed for the farce that it is. The recent trial in Dover, Penn. The famous Scopes Monkey Trial. And so on. In each one, when the proponents of creation “science” are put the test, grilled under sharp questioning and exposed to the evidence that science produces, it tumbles like a house of a cards.

More than all this, of course, is the ridiculous notion that teaching evolution in science class is really the government imposing some kind of morality upon students. Poppycock. Is teaching students the gravitational constant, or the vectors of planetary orbits, or how bacteria cause illness “imposing morality?” Not at all. Teaching the fact that human beings arose like all other life on Earth through an explicable process – natural selection – is no more a statement of morality than learning how a star goes supernova. It’s a fact of the universe. It’s the story of who we are.

If any kind of conclusion that can be drawn from science beyond the mere facts it would be, as the astronomer Neil Degrasse Tyson put it: “We are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool. That makes me smile. And I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than then universe. We part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

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38 comments

  1. Tom Kennedy says:

    If praying to a mysterious “being” makes you feel good-do it! Apparently “He/She” was not listening when the passengers of the “Titanic” was sinking-none prayed ?My wife had a NASA like surgery done last year on her aortic valve-she could not have open heart surgery-so they did the TAVI procedure-installing a man made valve through the arteries using a video screen for reference. Just like NASA is doing on MARS with the space rover ! If not, she would be dead to-day. I prayed for a good surgical team- not a concept that has a poor record of listening.Religion is fine for a standard of living with our fellow homo sapiens. Look back in history and you will see how many myths terrorized people as attributing to a “Deity” settled them down. If praying is the answer then next time your spouse, parent,child or friend needs space age treatment, save the money, let us have a prayer circle. For me, I will take my chances with science.

  2. Alex Jiranek says:

    All of which, again, makes me ask why ‘impartial’ scientists push global warming as some sort of threat. Afterall, even if man-made global warming is happening at that worst rates claimed, we humans are merely doing what we evolved to do, no? But no, suddenly all you tall foreheads start waxing poetically about how ‘humans’ are destroying mother earth. Which of course begs the question why did we evolve to a point to which we can destroy that which created us, namely the earth? Oops, we can’t go there, that implies something other than pure random chance and we can’t have that. But of course if everything is pure random chance then what the hell is the point of it all anyways (in particular, what do we need with morality or compassion? Survival of the fittest is the bed rock of evolution, so why do we mess with it?). I think what most ‘creationists’ have a problem with is how so many ‘scientists’ become as zealous (even more so) than many ‘religeous’ people about their ideology, particularly when so much ‘science’ these days is used as a political hammer to bash rational opinion and opposition to not fully thought out programs.

    • grant.lafleche says:

      There is a strange kind of argument going on in your post Alex, one that isn’t entirely clear but I will try to address them.

      First, your statement that “survival of the fittest is the bed rock of evolution”, is an error. That phrase was popularized by 19th century social darwnists but has little do with the science. As Darwin explained it, and as we still understand it, evolution is not about survival of the fittest but survival of the best adapted. Those species best adapted to their particular environment are the ones most likely to survive.

      Your idea that humans evolved to the point where we can destroy our habitats somehow implies the existence of a god is something that doesn’t really make sense. Firstly, our genetic advantage has been the ability to manipulate objects and a brain capable of abstract thought and problem solving. This has worked out very well for us to the point where we have overcome many of our natural limitations, risen to be the most influential animal on the planet, which we have drastically over populated. That we have now created tools that can seriously damage the ecosystem is not a sign of a divine being, but rather what Darwin called “the lowly stamp of our origins.” Our technical abilities have outstripped out capability to foresee their impact in many cases and we create as many problems for ourselves as we solve. This is exactly what you would expect from an imperfect creature that evolved like all other life on the planet.

      As for the rest, we know we do not need religion, or a god, to act morally or understand ethics. We see basic moral group behavior in our closest genetic relatives – the great apes. Like them we evolved as social creatures that cannot survive alone. The maintenance of group cohesion is critical to our survival, which is why we formed social groups, tribes and bands long before we invented something like the nation state. Our moral sense is as innate in us as breathing. It is, of course, imperfect. But it is not mysterious nor magical.

      Or to think about this another way, consider what Plato said: Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?.” If it is the latter than all morality is really are the whims of a non-human creature that we choose to follow or not. But it is no more objective than anything you or I would cook up. Moreover, it implies that we are simply too stupid make moral decisions on our own. So ask yourself if your impulse is always to act immorally if not for some religious belief in a god. If that is so, that says more about you than anyone else.

      If, however, you agree with the former, then morality has nothing to do with a god. That god just recognizes the moral content of some action over another and endorses it. Which makes the moral “ordesr” of a god simply not relevant.

  3. JayandSilentBob says:

    Grant, I’ll make this short but is it all possible that a large percentage of the population simply does not possess the intellectual capacity to comprehend anything beyond the religion they have been spoon fed their entire lives? I honestly believe this may be part of the problem. It’s like trying to teach a dog to speak English. As much as you try to reason with him he just will never get it. :-) In any case I haven’t always agreed with your opinions in the past but you nailed it on this one. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog. Thanks.

    • grant.lafleche says:

      J&S;

      Thanks for the comments. Always good to see you active on the website.

      I don’t think it’s beyond the brain power of most people to understand something like evolution. I mean, I am well educated, but I am not Carl Sagan or something. In fact, the idea is so simple that when Darwin first put it out there some of the reaction from scientists literally was “wow. Why didn’t I think of that.” On the Origin of Species was sold at newspaper stands at train stations and sold out the first day it when out to market.

      However, your question does point to something important. Why, in 2012, do so many cling to a myth and actively reject scientific evidence? I think the answer, in part, is a failure of the public education system. In Ontario, evolution is really only taught in a single Grade 11 course for students headed to biology in university. This was done by the Liberals some time ago to avoid controversy, but in seriously impacts students. Talk to university biology professors. They find far far too many students are showing up without even a basic working knowledge of the concept. This is something that needs not only to be taught more often, starting in earlier grades, but it needs to be taught better.

  4. Paolo Miele says:

    Grant, glad to see you continue on with the discussion and giving us a debriefing.

    Just so we can better understand you and your views, as a reporter can you tell us, should all faiths have the same opp as the Publicly funded Eden High school (DSBN) offers to Christians and if a person who believes in Festivous for example, can this group of believers get the same kind of school?

    • grant.lafleche says:

      In short, yes. Faith based education – and I include the Catholic board in this – should not be funded by the state. Sectarian schools ought to be privately funded. Most, in fact, prefer to be privately funded because they then don’t have to worry about the provincial curriculum.

      The public education system needs to be just that – public – and not cater to some theology or another. Religion, particularly Christianity in our context in the west, should be taught as part of history and literature and art. But no faith should be advocated or taught as truth. Leave that for the home or the church.

      • Paolo Miele says:

        Thanks Grant for your reply. What are the odds that you can do a follow up on Religion in schools, why not go to Eden and see what they do. What would 3 full time religious clergy be doing at Eden a (DSBN) school all day long. I think there is way more going on at Eden then we think.

  5. Carleen says:

    Yikes. Way to generalize.

    I’m a ‘creationist’ but still believe in science and evolution. Why do people have to pick sides? There are many possibilities in both science and theology that do not necessarily need to be discovered, or argued ’til blue in the face.

    It is what it is. We don’t have to pretend to know everything, and just like science doesn’t have the answers to everything, neither do creationists.

    • grant.lafleche says:

      Here is the difference: science KNOWS it doesn’t know everything. If it did, it would stop. Science is forever open to new data, refining and improving our picture of the universe. Any theory can be overturned with strong enough evidence.

      Creationism on other hand is not flexible at all. It declares the existence of a god without evidence, purports, again without evidence, that this creature created the universe and in most cases always is very concerned with who we marry and what we eat. While creationists like to sound big minded, I have found most of the time, this is a canard. I have never met a creationist who is willing to admit that perhaps, the god they believe in, simply doesn’t exist.

  6. Darren says:

    To avoid providing a long-winded opinion piece of my own (and not to imply that Grant’s was… I thought it was brilliant actually)… I think Neil Peart sums it up…

    Not belieiving in religion (or a “god”) does not make you any less capable of being a compassionate and caring human being. “I will choose free will”

    Faithless

    ‘ve got my own moral compass to steer by
    A guiding star beats a spirit in the sky
    And all the preaching voices
    Empty vessels dream so loud
    As they move among the crowd
    Fools and thieves are well disguised
    In the temple and market place
    In the temple and market place

    Like a stone in the river
    Against the floods of spring
    I will quietly resistI will quietly resist
    Like the willows in the wind
    Or the cliffs along the oceanI will quietly resist
    I will quietly resist

    I don’t have faith in faith
    I don’t believe in belief
    You can call me faithless
    You can call me faithless

    I still cling to hope
    And I believe in love
    And that’s faith enough for me
    And that’s faith enough for me

    I got my own spirit level for balance
    To tell if my choice is leaning up or down
    And all the shouting voices
    Try to throw me off my course
    Some by sermon, some by force
    Fools and thieves are dangerous
    In the temple and market place
    In the temple and market place

    Like a forest bows to winter
    Beneath the deep white silence
    I will quietly resist

    I don’t have faith in faith
    I don’t believe in belief
    You can call me faithless
    You can call me faithless

    I still cling to hope
    And I believe in love
    And that’s faith enough for me
    And that’s faith enough for me

    Like a flower in the desert
    That only blooms at nightI will quietly resist
    I don’t have faith in faith
    I don’t believe in belief

    You can call me faithless
    You can call me faithless
    But I still cling to hope
    And I believe in love

    And that’s faith enough for me
    And that’s faith enough for me

    And that’s faith enough for me

  7. Rick says:

    Grant, while I do believe evolution takes place, I also believe that God started life and made the universe. I had the opportunity to hear a scientist talk about the theory of evolution. He pointed out that there are many, many holes where scientists can do no more than “guess” what took place. For instance, how did the first cell come into existence? How was the universe created? Science still does not have an answer to those questions.

    As well, there are times when scientists come up with a theory to fill a hole but the chances of that theory actually happening is pegged at one in a zillion. The scientist that I heard speak said that scientist do this because they can NEVER accept that God had any thing to do with life. This often means “grabbing at straws”.

    However, many evolutionists never admit that holes exist in the theory of evolution. They never admit that science still cannot explain some things.

    As well, you mention that creationists say God created everything in 6 days. However, most creationists do not believe that this was actually 6 earth days. What is a day in heaven?

    But even more interesting, according to the bible, God created the land first, then animals and then humans. And science has confirmed that creation took place in that order.

    While I do believe in evolution, I believe that God created the universe, created animals and created humans separately and that both animals and humans have experienced evolution.

    • grant.lafleche says:

      Actually anyone with even a slight working knowledge of science will be the first to tell you science doesn’t know everything, including about evolution. There are all kinds of great scientific debates and investigations about how evolution happened.

      Your mistake, however, is to assume that god is a scientific idea. That is if there is some particular thing about evolution that science doesn’t know yet, that god can be used as an explanatory agent. It cannot. First, there is no evidence that any god exists – which god do you want us to accept here? Jesus? Thor? Zeus? Show me how you have more evidence for once but not the other. God is not a scientific explanation for anything without evidence. When we do not know something, we just don’t know. You cannot cover our ignorance with whatever fairy story you find most comforting.

      It is also worth noting that just because we do not know a particular thing that doesn’t mean the theory is wrong or has been falsified. This is the create creationist canard. Creationists attempt to claim that if science cannot explain every last detail about life on earth, evolutionary theory is broken. This is not so. What’s more every time creationists try to apply this “god of the gaps” thinking, science figures out the fiddly bit in question and your god gets pushed further to the margins.

      Finally, you quite obviously do not accept evolution by natural selection. Because your statement: “While I do believe in evolution, I believe that God created the universe, created animals and created humans separately and that both animals and humans have experienced evolution.” shows you don’t.

      Evolution tells us that from a single, or perhaps a very few, simple life forms, all other life developed by the slow, undirected, often bizarre process of natural selection. This means ALL animals, including humans. We are not separate from other life. We are part of it. We are in the universe and of it. The moment you say “humans were create separately” you are rejecting scientific evidence in favour of theology. You shouldn’t pretend otherwise.

      • Rick says:

        Grant, it is obvious that you do not believe in God. Therefore you do not believe in the Bible. However, many parts of the bible have been scientifically proven. While I don’t have time to point out each one, watching the video “Startling Proofs” is a good start. I believe the video also shows how unlikely it is that the Universe was created by accident. It can be seen on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXGGPiUdgzA

        You ask “which god you want us to accept here? Jesus? Thor? Zeus? Show me how you have more evidence for one but not the other”

        The bible was written by at least 40 different authors (scientifically proven) over a period of more that 1500 years (again scientifically proven). Each book in the bible talks about the same God. Multiple authors describe seeing or hearing God, witnessing great miracles, witnessing prophets predict the future with great accuracy, seeing Jesus perform miracles, seeing Jesus after he had been crucified, etc. Again and again, the same theme is present in the bible, despite the fact that it was written by different people over a time period of 1500 years.

        Have you ever read the whole bible Grant. Have you studied it? Have you looked at the scientific evidence behind the bible?

        Think about this. Despite the fact that following Jesus was outlawed (and punishable by death in some places) after Jesus was crucified, Christianity grew at an increasing rate. People risked death to follow Jesus and more and more people followed Jesus until eventually it was no longer outlawed. Today, their are Christians on every part of the Globe.

        Who follows Zeus today? No one. Why? Because there is no evidence that Zeus exists.

        That cannot be said about Jesus. Do you deny that Jesus was born. Do you deny he performed miracles. Do you deny he was crucified. Do you deny that 40 people over 1500 years wrote about their interaction with God and Jesus. Do you deny that Christianity spread despite being outlawed and punishable be death. Jesus didn’t exist as a statue or some light in the sky. He walked on this earth, performed miracles and taught the people.

        • grant.lafleche says:

          Rick;

          Oh I am very familiar with the bible. Read it more than once, don’t you worry.

          Your essential problem, you know beside repeating the talking points of Ken Ham and Kent Hovind (which if you want to use the phrase “scientifically” you are best not to rip quotes from them, like your “written by 40 authors blah blah blah.”), is that you don’t know what evidence is.

          Firstly, even if one grants your very liberal view of biblical scholarship and the contents of the Bible, none of that proves the existence of anything. All it shows is that it’s a collection of books written over a period of time. Second, they are not “eye witness accounts”. Nor are they history. They are theology. The Gospels are believed to be, in evangelical circles, eye witness accounts. but we know this is not the case. They were written between 30 and 100 years after the alleged death of Jesus (for whose existence is the no direct evidence beyond the Gospels themselves, none of which are contemporaneous with when we was supposed to have lived.) We also know from textual evidence that Mark came first and was the prior source for the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The gospel of John is the youngest, penned at least a century after the alleged death of Jesus. So not only are they not “eye witness” accounts, not only were they not written at the time the events they described are supposed to happen, not only are they riddle with historical errors, we have no idea who the authors are. The identities of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are a total mystery. The very contents of the New Testament were decided by a committee of theologians and politicians in a kind of religious summit ordered by the Roman emperor!

          And all the books talk about the same god? Ask a Jewish person if that is so.

          In other words, Rick, there is zero “scientific evidence” to support your claim.

          Also, using the apparent popularity of a particularity religion is not evidence it’s supernatural claims are true. The whys and hows of the rise and spread of Christianity are well studied and documented and not always pretty. But your argument is truly bizarre. You are saying that because Christianity grew and is popular today is evidence your theology is fact. What then do we say about the more than thousand years of Greek religion prior to that? It was VERY widespread. Was it true until Zeus and the Olympians retired or something? What about Buddhism and Hinduism? Billions of followers today. By your argument, the claims of those faiths are also fact. We have very clear evidence of the rise and history of Scientology and Mormonism. Both are growing very, very fast globally. By your argument, the claims of these religions are also true.

          The FACT is, scientifically speaking, there is no evidence for any god or gods. None. There is no more evidence for yours than any other, and attempting to hijack science or make dubious claims about what constitutes evidence doesn’t get you very far at all.

          • Rick says:

            Grant, once again you are in error. The old testament was not written 30 to 100 years after the death of Jesus. Genesis, for instance, was written around 1400 BC.

            As well Jewish people accept the old testament. Its the new testament they don’t accept. So as far as the old testament is concerned, it is the same God. Once again you are trying to deceive.

            There is scientific validity to the bible. Certain aspects have been proven. The Bible was written by 40 authors over a time period of about 1500 years. The Dead Sea scrolls have been carbon dated by scientists. You simply choose to ignore this evidence as if you are afraid of something.

            How hypocritical. You complain about people who ignore science but then you ignore scientific proofs about the bible. Its easy to write a blog disproving God when all you do is state one side of the argument.

            • grant.lafleche says:

              Um perhaps you need to re-read what I wrote. I said the GOSPELS are not contemporaneous Jesus. Yes of course the OT is much older. But it is ONLY within the context of Christian theology that the OT is connected to Jesus. Jewish people do not accept this in any way, shape or form. This is a fact. Judaism does not accept Jesus as being the same god as Christians believe in.

              You can quote Ken Ham all you want, but it doesn’t make anything about the Bible scientifically verified. (Did you know the OT gets the value of Pi wrong? Weird is the creator of the universe wrote the thing.) The most important four books from the Christian point of view, the Gospels are not eye witness accounts, not contemporaneous to Jesus, and you don’t even know who wrote them. Two of them are based on the earliest and the last is more than 100 years after Jesus is supposed to have died! Those are all facts, my friend. You cannot avoid them.

              Yes, the Dead Sea Scrolls have been carbon dated. They only tell us when the materials used to make them were kicking around. It does not prove than anything in them is factually accurate. I don’t know why you have such a hard time with this.

              The facts are very simple. There is no evidence for any god, none. It’s a matter of faith. Which is fine. but don’t confuse your faith claims with scientific evidence.

              • Rick says:

                Grant, you don’t know the bible very well do you?

                As for the Gospels, the newest one was written in 85 AD. The remainder were written between 55-70 AD.

                Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are believed to be the authors of the first 4 books.

                The old testament referrers to Jesus numerous time:

                Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

                Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

                Psalm 22:16-18: “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

                Isaiah 50:6 accurately describes the beating that Jesus endured.

                Zechariah 12:10 predicts the “piercing” of the Messiah, which occurred after Jesus died on the cross.

                The “seventy sevens” prophecy in Daniel chapter 9 predicted the precise date that Jesus, the Messiah, would be “cut off.”

                Your comment about the Bible getting Pi wrong is ridiculous. That comes from 1 Kings 7:23 where they give a measurement of 30 cubits and the correct answer is 31.4 cubits. I guess your knowledge of history is limited because back then, rounding was common.

                You also keep saying I am quoting Ken Ham, but I have no idea who Ken Ham is. Much of what I am saying comes from my years of studying the bible and applying common sense and reasoning.

                There is much scientific evidence that supports certain parts of the bible. For instance, many predictions in the bible came true and carbon testing verifies that the predictions were made before the event took place. But you simply dismiss this evidence.

                The bible was written by over 40 authors over a period of more than 1500 years. How could so many people over such a long period of time all experience God, and write similar themes if it wasn’t true? You simply answer by saying “written by 40 authors blah blah blah.”

                Grant, you can never accept God since you put your faith in science, even though science does not have all the answers.

                Does it make you mad when doctors are unable to explain how a sick person is healed and claim its a miracle?

                Does it upset you at a funeral when people say he’s in heaven now?

                Does it make you feel awkward when people go through a hard time in their life, pray to God and things get better?

                If you want to put your faith in science and ignore all evidence of the bible go right ahead. I doubt however that science will comfort you when the troubles of life bring you down.

                • grant.lafleche says:

                  Wow, Rick. Not up on much modern scholarship huh?

                  In brief, the earliest Gospel, which is Mark’s (and we have NO idea who Mark was) appears to have penned his book some 20 to 30 years or so after the alleged execution of Jesus (round 30 CE or so if it happened at all). Most biblical scholars believe Mark was pulling most of his source material from a document called “Q”, (although there is no direct evidence that Q is real.)

                  Luke and Matthew (and we have NO idea who they were) used Mark as their source material.

                  John, (NO idea who he is) the oddball of the four, writes around 100 CE or so, and is drastically different than the other three.

                  You can spout prophecy all you want. Believe it all you want. Then go talk to a Jew and see if they think your interpretation of their book is on the money or not.

                  And I’m sorry, “rounding was common then,?” Weird that the Greeks and Egyptians got Pi right down to several decimal places, but the book created by the author of the universe gets it wrong, eh? Bottom line, there is no science in the Bible. It’s only in evangelical circles that you see people twisting themselves (and history and science) to make it fit.

                  Finally, I don’t “accept” any god because there is no evidence to support its existence. QED.

                  I do not put “faith” in science the way you do with religion. Faith of that nature, that is belief without evidence, is of little use from my point of view. It is a virtue in the New Testament (see the scolding of Thomas, who is rebuked for demanding evidence and told that he should believe without seeing. This to me is a very backward view.) Science is a tool, a very effective tool that is our best means to understand the universe.

                  Why in the name of Thor would it bother me that people at funeral’s etc mention god or say god makes them feel better or that someone is in heaven? (Personally, I prefer Valhalla if I am given a choice of after life.) That is their business, not mine. It has nothing to do with me. Believe what you want. I only draw a line in the sand when religionists try to impose their faith on the rest of society, hijack laws and force mythology into science classes in a backdoor attempt to convert children.

                  I handle my troubles fine without faith, thank you very much. I have family, friends, and my own strength of character and will. I operate, to borrow from Neil Degrasse Tyson, on the principle that one tries to learn more about the world today than I one knew yesterday, and try to ease the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you. I don’t need a supernatural crutch.

                  • Rick says:

                    ” I only draw a line in the sand when religionists try to impose their faith on the rest of society, hijack laws and force mythology into science classes in a backdoor attempt to convert children.”

                    Huh, when I went to school every child got a bible and the Lord’s prayer was said every morning. That was pretty common practice for the last 200 years or so until atheists imposed their beliefs on the rest of society and attempted to stamp out all religion from schools. I’m glad I went to school when saying a prayer was still allowed. So much for the rights of those who believe in Christ. But then again the bible states that in the end times, the world will turn away from Christ and those who do believe will be persecuted.

                    • grant.lafleche says:

                      Huh. So I take it from that statement you believe the end of the world is nigh because we are in the “end times”? Well, good luck with that.

                      Also facts matter, son. First, prayers were taken out of public schools NOT by an atheist lobby but by politicians at Queen’s Park (almost all of them believers) who realized correctly that a public school system is not a Christian school system and it has to be meet the needs of all students, and that the secular nature of public institutions has to be maintained both to protect those institutions and religious organizations alike. This is a well understood principle of modern democracy since the 18th century and it is only in evangelical circles that it is not understood.

                      Moreover, there has been no deleterious effect of not saying Christian prayers in school under orders from teachers. It is also worth noting, and you COMPLETELY ignore this, students can pray in school all they want. Prayers are just not led by teachers, which is as it should be. QED.

                      And really, you think because teachers don’t make kids pray to your god in public school, Christians are being “persecuted”? Do you feel as though you are the victim of a hate crime, Rick?

  8. Grant, tell us just one instance when we know for certain that a life-form changed by the addition of new material to its DNA. You can’t include something involving fossils where someone tries to link one fossil to another one and then says there was a change in the organism. To say the first one changed is only one interpretation of what might have happened. It certainly does not prove it did happen. Why is it that when things go awry in our bodies we ‘get sick?’ Why is that when someone is born different the ‘normal,’ we say they have a handicap? Our bodies never suddenly get better than normal. People are never born better than normal. Think about the trillions and trillions of DNA changes that would have had to happen for a one celled organism to gradually change into all the life forms we know today. Somewhere in recorded history there should be an example of actual DNA change. We all know of examples of adaptations, but that is not the kind of evolution necessary for new life forms to appear. Yet in Dawkins writings he frequently talks about adaptations as though they prove evolution. That is only one of the truth-stretchers he uses to ‘prove’ his view. His other is to mock the creationists who questions evolution because evolution is based on untold numbers of lucky changes. Dawkins says that no luck is involved, but he then goes on to say all these changes have happened by random chance. That sounds like luck to me. Creationists who know what they are talking about do not question anything you might know about fossils and change. The creationist simply has a different explanation for the same observations.

    • grant.lafleche says:

      I’m sorry to say you are just simply unfamiliar with the subject and I would strongly recommend you put down the creationist tracks and read some actual science. It is always amazing to me that creationist repeat the same long debunked arguments over and over. Like the old saying goes, a lunatic is person who keeps doing the same thing and expects a different a result.

      Firstly, the great creationist canard is that evolution requires “new” information to be somehow injected into the genetic code for it to happen. Never realizing that the randomization of DNA in the reproductive process and mutations creation “new” information all the time.

      You are presenting a very old, and long debunked creationist canard that is only taken seriously by creationists and IDers.. Point mutations, gene duplication (sometimes entire genome duplication within an organism) are all mutations that change the function of an feature of an organism and, ultimately, actually “increase” the size of the genome. Most of the time these changes are harmful and can be lethal. Those that allow a creature to adapt better and survive, stick around via reproduction. This is biology 101 and only an issue in creationist circles. In fact the entire discussion of “new information” barely makes sense in biology, at least the way you frame it. I’ve yet to hear a creationist who can even define what they mean by “information” when it comes to genetics. You aren’t doing any better. Your essential problem is you don’t have a firm understanding of biology and genetics and are making a theological argument..

      Why do we get sick? because bacteria, viruses and genetic defects make us sick. This has nothing to do with the veracity of evolution by natural selection. Sorry, that is just a nonsensical nonstarter.

      Your argument is also very strange when you expect that one person would suddenly “become better than normal.” Some people are born without appendix, others with stronger immune systems, better vision than others, more acute hearing etc. What you don’t seem to understand is that individuals don’t evolve into a new species. Populations do. Adaptions have to accumulate through a population over time for the emergence of a new species to happen. Humans continue to evolve, but our population is so large, nearly 7 billion now, that novel traits get swallowed up by the shear volume of the genetics on offer. Conversely, we can see new species emerge in the lab with small populations of rapidly reproducing bacteria, for example.

      Dawkins is exactly correct. He does not say that evolution doesn’t involve “luck” he says its a non random process, which is true. Mutation is random. But an adaption that allows a species to better survive is not. That animal and its off spring will survive while it’s fellows without that adaption won’t. That is non random. Over time, as those adaptions accumulate, a new species emerges.

      • grant.lafleche says:

        Further, I find it ironic that you accept that adaptions happen, but you don’t accept evolution. Normally, in creationist circles, this is because you don’t believe the world to be more than a few thousand years old, rather than the billions it actual is. Because you deny the basic evidence of geology on religious grounds, you reject evolution because you believe there isn’t time for it happen., Which you are free to do. But don’t confuse your theological beliefs with science.

        PS. Remember when you asked for somewhere in “recorded history” we’d see DNA change. We have. See my discussion above about the human and chimp genome.

      • As the saying goes… The journey begins with a single step. The evolution you describe must begin with one person, or one animal or one plant. Then, through reproduction, that mutation must be repeated. Gradually, the mutation would become common in the population.

        If you read Dawkins, ‘The God Delusion’ you will know that he repeatedly mocks the creationists who question evolution as being the result of luck. That fills the first 50 pages of the book. Besides it is a random process. The mutation is random.

        • grant.lafleche says:

          Yes, Rick that is the point. It starts, perhaps, with a single individual and a novel adaption. But, and this is the point you completely miss, if that trait is not advanced through reproduction, then so what? The issue with human evolution now is our population is so massive and so mobile that spreading a novel adaption, say not being born with an appendix is literally a drop in a vast ocean of genetic material. Whereas in a smaller population, that sort of development is much easier.

          You’ve made a several more mistakes. Mutation is random. Natural selection is non-random. And while I enjoyed the God Delusion very much, the God Delusion is not a science text book. Dawkins had written many excellent books on the science of evolution. I suggest you try and read one of those.

          • Now you are starting to sound like Dawkins. Of course mutations are random and natural selection is based on those random mutations. The organism that does not have eyes does not think about the need for eyes. Evolution says that by some random fluke of nature a mutation occurred that gave that organism some type of light-sensing cells. The ability to sense light would be beneficial. By some futher fluke, when that organism reproduced, its off-spring acquired that same mutation. Future generations of the organism followed with millions of other random flukes of nature, where mutations gradually turned that light-sensing material into an eye. For evolution to be true, that must have happened, even though everything we know about nature says that order always heads toward disorder.

            But, you would also have us believe that it happened the trillions and trillions of times necessary to gradually give every living organism the form and functions we see today. Belief in God does take a certain level of blind faith, I will agree. But, belief in the evolution you describe puts my faith to shame.

            Thanks for the suggestion to read more Dawkins. I know enough PhDs who mock creation, but have never read a science book. Truth be told, the main point here is whether or not you choose to believe in a Supreme Being. If you choose to not believe, there has to be some version of an explanation of how we got here. Most non-believers know nothing about the science and depend on people like yourself to validate their position. Unfortunately, many who do believe in God, also have not taken the time to study the topic or risked their faith by reading Dawkins and others. Personally, I picked it up with some hesitation, but ended up not finding anything in the book I could not explain and I am far from an expert.

            • grant.lafleche says:

              I’m just going to go through you effort at “science” here because its pretty clear you don’t engage in much actual science, but rather like to read Ken Ham.

              “Now you are starting to sound like Dawkins. Of course mutations are random and natural selection is based on those random mutations. The organism that does not have eyes does not think about the need for eyes.”

              Rant comment: Well not unless it has a brain like ours. But so what? That a bear doesn’t think “wow how awesome are my peppers” is neither here nor there.

              “Evolution says that by some random fluke of nature a mutation occurred that gave that organism some type of light-sensing cells. The ability to sense light would be beneficial. By some futher fluke, when that organism reproduced, its off-spring acquired that same mutation. ”

              Rant comment: See you keep getting the science wrong. The initial mutation is random, yes. But the reproduction part is NON RANDOM. Off spring inherit the genes of its parents. That is how it works. This is a non random process. So its not a fluke that the adaptation is passed down. It is how reproduction is.

              “Future generations of the organism followed with millions of other random flukes of nature, where mutations gradually turned that light-sensing material into an eye. ”

              Rant comment: Again, not a fluke. Yes, it takes a very long time for adaptations to accumulate to see a novel feature in most organisms. (Not so for things like bacteria, which evolve under the microscope. It’s been done, recorded, repeated, seen in the lab. Funny how creationists just seem to miss the details of cutting edge science, eh?) So long as the lineage of that species continues on, other adaptations develop.

              “For evolution to be true, that must have happened, even though everything we know about nature says that order always heads toward disorder. ”

              Rant Comment: I was waiting for this. For those who don’t know, what George here is referencing is the law of thermodynamics, which creationists who don’t understand science think is the nail in the coffin for evolution. Pity they don’t actually understand the very thing they think they are quoting. Reading science helps.

              Part of the laws of thermodynamics tells us that in time, any closed system will collapse into entropy. This is because energy is lost over time and eventually it’s used up. No energy to maintain the system, it falls into disorder.

              Unfortunately for people like George, the part of that they miss is the bit about a “closed system”. That is a system that has no energy inputted. The Earth is NOT a closed system. The earth is bathed in energy every day, principally from our star. Sol. The Sun. You might have seen it in the sky, George.

              Because the Earth is constantly receiving new energy, all kinds of cool things happen….like evolution. Now, eventually the sun will go dark. A few billion years hence, earth will indeed fall into disorder, provided it isn’t burned to a crisp first when the Sun goes red giant.

              • Your “Rant Comment”s don’t encourage interaction, but I will reply to a couple of points.

                You include an explanation of reproduction, but omit one important point. If one organism has the fortune of acquiring a beneficial mutation, repetition of that mutation is not assured because the other parent would not have had the same mutation.

                Don’t worry, creationists know all about the bacteria experiments. Graham Bell, gives a full account in “Selection – The Mechanism of Evolution”…, one of the bibles of evolutionary science. Even he frequently talks about adaptations as though they are proof of evolution.

                Change over time happens… no question. However, new organisms only emerge when evolutionists take the fossil record and explain it with that prejudice in mind.

                • grant.lafleche says:

                  “You include an explanation of reproduction, but omit one important point. If one organism has the fortune of acquiring a beneficial mutation, repetition of that mutation is not assured because the other parent would not have had the same mutation.”

                  Rant Comment: Yes, exactly George. Which is why I tried to tell you that ONE individual with novel adaptation does lead to the evolution of a new species. If that adaptation is not spread through the population, nothing becomes of it. Populations evolve. Individuals do not.

                  “Don’t worry, creationists know all about the bacteria experiments. Graham Bell, gives a full account in “Selection – The Mechanism of Evolution”…, one of the bibles of evolutionary science. Even he frequently talks about adaptations as though they are proof of evolution.”

                  Rant comment: Adaption is part of the evolutionary process. Without them, we’d still be single celled bacteria. And there are no “bibles” in science. It is a poor analogy. There is no work in science that is regarded as an infallible source that cannot be questioned. ANY theory can be challenged and if disproven, knowledge moves on. On the other hand, you regard a bronze aged text as infallible (despite it’s obvious errors in history and science: getting the value of Pi wrong, saying bats are birds, inventing a census that never existed for narrative purposes, etc.)and you cannot accept that is otherwise. You make up your mind about the information a priori and work backward from a conclusion that you will never ever doubt.

                  Science goes the other way, even with a theory that has stood the test of time and ruthless experimentation and research like evolution. A single experiment can prove evolution, relativity or another theory wrong. And in the face of such evidence, science presses forward. When you are shown how you are wrong, you just double down on ignorance. Look at how you respond to actual knowledge about science. Instead of learning about it, you regard it as a threat to your faith.

                  Ps. you clearly don’t know about the experiments I mentioned, because yo aren’t referencing anything current. You are basically jumping into bed and pulling the blankets over your head.

                  “Change over time happens… no question. However, new organisms only emerge when evolutionists take the fossil record and explain it with that prejudice in mind.”

                  No. Science moves on evidence. You move on blind faith. Massive difference. Pity you won’t take the time to read actual science, rather than creationist drivel from the likes of Ken Ham.

                  • You repeatedly mention Ken Ham and the truth is, I have never read anything he wrote. I have read other creationists and despite your comments about me not reading real science, I have read a great deal. I’m certain it is far more than most who say they believe in evolution.

                    I’m pleased to see that you have apparently read Ken Ham, so no one can argue you don’t know the creationist view.

                    You say I should not have said “atheistic evolutionists” and you probably are right. But you cannot disagree that those who accept your view on evolution are probably atheists, or agnostics, at minimum. As I recall, Darwin originally talked about the Creator when he started his writing about natural selection. After some pressure from his peers, he renounced his Christian faith. It seems that evolution and God don’t fit together, very well.

                    Hope this wasn’t a Rant Comment.

                    • grant.lafleche says:

                      The reason I doubt you have read much science is because you keep getting very basic science wrong. I mean really wrong. You get genetics wrong, you’ve made weird statements about why don’t people suddenly become better than normal and so on. You’ve demonstrated, and I don’t mean this as an insult but rather what you have shown, a very very poor understand of basic biology.

                      So either you haven’t read any science or you didn’t understand. You are flying blind on this issue, friend.

                      Darwin by the way, did not leave Christianity under peer pressure. Like the story of his death bed conversion, it’s a creationist lie. He was never a very religious man and his faith died for two reasons: 1) the death of his daughter undermined what belief he had in a beneficial god and 2) his lifetime of scientific work proved that god was not a necessary requirement to explain life much in the same way that LaPlace did not need god to explain physics.

                      Darwin only included the line about a primordial creator in the first edition of Origins (removed from later editions) to try and mollify the rage of the religionists who he knew would regard is work as blasphemy. The gambit did not work and he simply removed it from later editions of the book.

                      Facts matter George. You would do yourself a favour by putting down the creationists drivel and study some REAL science. I am happy to provide some titles for you to read.

                  • There is a lot I thought about replying to, but I will be brief.

                    “Rant Comment: Yes, exactly George. Which is why I tried to tell you that ONE individual with novel adaptation does lead to the evolution of a new species. If that adaptation is not spread through the population, nothing becomes of it. Populations evolve. Individuals do not.”

                    I’m certain some of your readers have been very impressed by your refuting of my position, but this comment of yours does puzzle me. I am curious as to how you can jump past the individual and say that “populations evolve.” When I read that in Dawkins I tried to find a suitable explanation. From everything I know, reproduction is an individual event in the case of cells and a paired event for others. Mutations only appear in individuals. If one individual happens to be hit by a beneficial mutation, it is only through the reproduction process that that indivdual can pass the mutation on to offspring. Then it is necessary for that mutation to be repeated in following generations before it builds up in number to become a trait of the population. So, yes, in the end the population would have evolved, but it is only because all the individuals in the preceeding generations had the same trait, started by the orginal mutation.

                    My major difficulty is still related to that original mutation. When are mutations ever beneficial? No matter how many years you might say have passed, how could there possibly have been the trillions and trillions of mutations necessary to have that one celled organism that formed in a primordial swamp turn into the diversity of life forms we see today?

                    In one cooment you alluded to evolution not being noticeable today because of our large population. There is some sense to that, but it there were beneficial mutations in individuals they would certainly make the news. You would be writing about them. If the pasing of those mutations was as easy as the evolutionists would have us believe, the offspring of those with mutations would pass them on.

                    People with harmful DNA mutations pass them on, why don’t we hear about the good ones? Is it because they don’t exist?

                    If my beliefs are based on ancient ideas, as you say, then your beliefs are based on ancient events that no longer happen. Large populations would slow down evolution, but examples should still be present.

                    • grant.lafleche says:

                      I cannot tell if you are just being stubborn willfully or you just don’t get it.

                      In order for a new SPECIES to emerge, adaptions have to become part of the population. An adaption in a single person won’t cause the emergence of a new species, it will just make that individual unique. QED. When biologists talk about species evolution, they don’t talk about individuals, because they are looking at the whole picture. For some reason you’re obsessed with the individual, the smallest part of the picture, the start of a long process.

                      Over millions of years, these individual adaptions accumulate. If you understand how genetics work you would know two things happen at once – genetic traits are passed through reproduction while each new individual conception offers up the possibility of another mutation. These changes build up over time until the population is now different enough from its ancestors to be a new species.

                      When are mutations beneficial? When they result in an adaption that allows a species to survive better. And it still happens, in the lab, observed in the field, observed in genetics. You just don’t understand genetics and at this stage I wish you would admit that.

                      But for an example of a helpful mutation, consider the VERY recent CCR5 mutation in the human genome. It literally confers upon those who have it HIV resistance and delays the onset of AIDS. That’s a pretty damn well beneficial mutation.

  9. Thanks for the Science Lesson for Athiestic Evolutionists. Since most have a shallow follow-the-crowd belief, they need all the reinforcement and confirmation they can get.

    • grant.lafleche says:

      There is no such thing as “atheistic evolution.” There is the theory of evolution by natural selection. Period. It has no reference to anything but the science. The question of a god is not part of the theory as, like all science, it explains a physical phenomena using evidence and experimentation. You only refer to it as “atheistic” because you regard it, and science generally it appears, as a threat to your faith. In essence you are trapping yourself in a time hundreds of years in the past. The medieval church would have loved you.

  10. Alana says:

    I could not read this article as the advertisements have taken over the entire right half on the web.

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