Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham on Evolution vs. Creation


Regarding the recent debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis (AiG), I have a few thoughts:

Ken Ham is not a scientist. Science is a process involving logical methods and accountability designed to eliminate human bias and error so that we can increase our confidence in theories that describe the observable universe. Science is the best tool we have available to filter out bias. Ken Ham freely admits that he starts with conclusions drawn from his interpretations of the Christian Bible and that nothing could possibly change his mind. To start with conclusions, refuse to question those conclusions, and attempt to find evidence that justifies those conclusions is not science; it is the epitome of biased thinking.

nye-vs-ham

To be fair, there is also a “scientific establishment” which induces pressure upon scientists to hold certain institutional biases. I think Bill Nye is a bit naive to say that “just one piece of evidence could change the world!” and “the scientific establishment embraces discoveries that change understanding of natural law.” Once an idea has taken hold, it is difficult to alter it because scientists, whether atheist or religious have certain personal biases. Nevertheless, if the scientific process is allowed to continue unimpeded eventually things will be sorted out and the “truth” will prevail. As Arthur Schopenhauer said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Nevertheless, Ken Ham’s position is completely unscientific because he has ruled out from the beginning of investigation the possibility of having any evidence alter his conclusions. Naturally, everything he observes confirms his preconceived ideas because he filters out all contradictory data. His position is based in fear. The consequences of his worldview being broken are terrifying. Any genuine search for truth cannot begin with fear. It has to begin with freedom to question and accept what ever conclusion to which the data points.

Ken Ham repeatedly tries to create a distinction between scientific study of past events and scientific study of present events. Bill Nye appropriately points out that the scientific method is used all the time in crime scene investigation to draw conclusions about past events. We can look at a bullet hole in a wall and draw conclusions about the velocity and trajectory of the bullet (in the past). Ken tries to impart doubt in the capability of science to make inferences about past events by pointing out “we weren’t there to witness it.” But scientists routinely make observations and discoveries regarding past events that turn out to be accurate and offer useful predictions for future events. Ken Ham’s argument is self-defeating: if science cannot be used to tell us anything about the past, why are Young Earth Creationists attempting to derive scientific justification for beliefs about past events?

There is overwhelming evidence the earth is far older than 6,000 years. Radiometric dating is one important tool used to draw conclusions about the age of the earth. Any tool can be misused and there are a number of known ways that radiometric techniques can give incorrect dates. Geologists are aware of these potential problems and employ multiple methodologies that overcome these problems in order to hone in on the ages of rocks. Young Earth Creationists often hold up examples of faulty use of radiometric techniques as proof that all radiometric dating is useless. This is dishonest. Young Earth Creationists like Ken Ham are fond of saying that radiometric dating is based on “assumptions” which implies that these assumptions were pulled out of thin air with no scientific justification. One “assumption” is that radioactive decay rates have been more or less constant during the period in question. The constancy of constants has been the subject of a great many studies which give us a very high degree of confidence that the decay rates have been constant. I have gotten deep into debates over this subject with Young Earth Creationists before and it always comes back to the statement, “well we just weren’t there so we just don’t know for sure,” which is a self-defeating cop-out that rules out the ability for science to tell us anything whatsoever about the past.

Bill Nye was asked, how does consciousness come from matter? He responded appropriately, “we don’t know!” No one really even knows how to define exactly what consciousness is. If we can’t agree on what it is, we will have a very hard time working out the technical means by which it works. Furthermore, inherent in the question is a duality: matter and consciousness. Perhaps this is a flawed question if mind and matter arise together as one. Ken Ham’s response was that, “God breathed into Adam the breath of life.” This is a very poetic representation which, taken poetically and non-literally, I cannot disagree with. It tells us that the life and spirit of man is inextricably linked with and derived from the universal mind, Elohim, The Gods, the I Am, or as we translate it, God. It gives us something to think about; however, it does not address the specific question of “how?” Scientific knowledge of how God does something does not necessarily mean God is not the one doing it. You make your heart beat thousands of times a day without knowing how you do it. Scientific knowledge of how you make your heart beat does not mean you are no longer the one doing the pulsing.

When I was Young, I was a Young Earth Creationist. I was outraged that the evolutionists were conspiring with Satan to steal away God’s greatest miracle, the instantaneous materialization of the universe a mere 6,000 years ago. Then I began debating evolutionists on a forum and encountered evidence and arguments that shook my whole paradigm. Since I had been taught that either the Bible was true or Evolution was true, just opening my mind to the possibility of an old earth shattered my entire belief system. I questioned everything. This was incredibly painful and depressing. But looking back, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The honest search for truth begins with true freedom to question and the opportunity to go wherever the data leads.

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21 Responses to Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham on Evolution vs. Creation

  1. Michael Snow says:

    Love your banner photo! (I used to work for the Nat’l Park Service.)
    Thought you might appreciate these timely words from Augustine:
    ‘Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learned from experience and the light of reason?’
    http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/in-the-beginning/

  2. Historicus says:

    Good article. Thanks for posting. As I read through it, I thought of some questions and further clarifications of the debater’s positions.

    “Ken Ham freely admits that he starts with conclusions drawn from his interpretations of the Christian Bible”
    Ken Ham is honest about his presuppositions. Everyone has presuppositions, which are axioms that cannot be proven. They are a means by which one interprets data. Mr. Ham tried very hard to convey this idea to the audience, but Mr. Nye was never quite able to grasp the idea that he has his own presuppositions/axioms/worldview through which he interprets evidence. This is an important point to establish before continuing to analyze any data.

    As Mr. Ham pointed out, there is not a secret stash of creation evidence nor a secret stash of evolutionary evidence that during debates must be put on scales to measure the “winner.” All evidence is interpreted through a person’s presuppositions. As safe guess would be to say that one of Bill Nye’s presuppositions is naturalism, which is the belief that nature is all there is and nothing immaterial can be introduced as part of reality since it cannot be proven scientifically.

    “Ken Ham repeatedly tries to create a distinction between scientific study of past events and scientific study of present events.”
    It seems to me that there is an appropriate distinction between historical and observational science. One cannot, with the same degree of certainty, confirm past historical events as you can confirm the boiling point of water at sea level. For example, can one prove with mathematical certainty who assassinated Genghis Khan or if he was assassinated? That might be unfair since it was 800 years ago. How about JFK? Can someone confirm with mathematical certainty that Lee Oswald killed the president? With scientific research, one can gather evidence about the past, but it would be irrational to believe that historical science has the same co-efficient of validity as physics or chemistry.

    Having said that, there is benefit in analyzing history with scientific processes to determine if one’s worldview can accommodate findings from the past.

    Radiometric dating is indeed a very slippery fish. Everyone acknowleges that there are assumptions that go into determining dates. But since there are assumptions, and since radiometric dating has proven not to be correct on a number of occasions, one would have to have more faith in the results than one would have to have in observational science. Those who have great faith in the radiometric dating have their own problems with the process, but most people are unaware of this, since these problems are not taught. Carbon dating, in particular, generates problems for the evolutionary model since dinosaur bones contain carbon 14. The crux of the problem for evolutionists is that all carbon 14 should have decayed into its daughter element in much less than the perceptible limits of carbon 14 testing, which is 90,000 years. But since dinosaur bones contain carbon 14, how could they have died out 65 million years ago? In fact, the news is even worse than that for evolutionsts as according to p.282 of Marvin Lubenow’s book, Bones of Contention, “no fossil material anywhere could be found that had as little as .001% of the modern value!”

    “There is overwhelming evidence the earth is far older than 6,000 years.”
    What is the most overwhelming bit of evidence that the earth is far older than 6000 years? Has all historical information been included in determining the level of certainty of this evidence or is it simply extrapolation from current measurements?

    “When I was Young, I was a Young Earth Creationist…I encountered evidence and arguments that shook my whole paradigm”
    I am intrigued as to what evidence changed your stance from being YEC to instead accommodating deep time. Can you share?

    • simcah says:

      Hi Matt, thanks for your comment! I’ve really enjoyed reading and responding to it. Please feel free to keep up the debate. 🙂

      Yes, I agree with you that we all have presuppositions that color our views of the world and guide our daily decisions; however, they should not skew conclusions arrived at through honest scientific inquiry. Suppose you polled two scientists as to whether Option A was correct or Option B was correct. If you were given no other information about these two scientists except that Scientist Jack was open to either alternative and Scientist Jill could not accept Option B without great personal cost and nothing could change her mind. Which scientist is more likely to conduct an honest investigation and come to accurate conclusions?

      I’m an engineer, so let me relate this to engineering… Suppose you drew up plans for a balcony on your house and you sent the plans to an engineer for approval. Suppose he reviewed your plans, did his own design calculations, determined the structure was not safe, and refused to stamp them. Now suppose you sent the plans to another engineer who merely stamped the plans and did not do any design calculations or tests for himself because he had complete faith in your abilities to design structures. Which engineer should you trust? Which engineer is behaving ethically? Suppose you go ahead and build the balcony and it collapses and there is a lawsuit against the engineer who stamped the plans. He attempts to justify stamping the plans by going back and finding any evidence to support his position and casting doubt on any evidence against it. When pressed, he digs in further and declares that nothing can change his mind that the balcony was safe… even the fact that it collapsed. This is Ken Ham’s position. Changing his mind would come at tremendous personal cost. He admits nothing can change his mind. His research is not to get closer to truth. He believes he already has the truth. His research is solely to justify and defend his entrenched position.

      “With scientific research, one can gather evidence about the past, but it would be irrational to believe that historical science has the same co-efficient of validity as physics or chemistry.” Every claim has to be looked at individually and the confidence in conclusions do not necessarily inversely correlate with the time passed. The problem with adding the adjective, “historical” onto science is that it is general, undefined, and misleading. It is a rhetorical technique to add doubt without saying anything specific. Yes, in certain investigations like the assassinations you mentioned, the farther back in the past we go, the more difficult it is to obtain evidence – people die, records get lost or destroyed, memories fade, etc… But such issues are not present in the investigations of say… distant supernovae. All science relies on observation to gather data, so applying the adjective, “observational” is misleading as well.

      “Having said that, there is benefit in analyzing history with scientific processes to determine if one’s worldview can accommodate findings from the past.” And if one’s worldview cannot accommodate findings from the past, do the findings get ignored or does one’s worldview change? We know that Ken Ham’s worldview cannot change so the alternative must be true.

      “Radiometric dating is indeed a very slippery fish. Everyone acknowleges that there are assumptions that go into determining dates.” What assumption(s) involved in radiometric dating do you have the biggest problem with?

      “Carbon dating, in particular, generates problems for the evolutionary model since dinosaur bones contain carbon 14…according to p.282 of Marvin Lubenow’s book, Bones of Contention, “no fossil material anywhere could be found that had as little as .001% of the modern value!” Carbon 14 is only useful in dating organic material so I’m not sure why one would attempt to use it to date fossils in which the organic material has been replaced with mineral deposits. It is my understanding that a certain amount of C14 contamination is inevitable, so no sample will ever show 0 pMC. Testing companies are aware of this and calibrate their tests to subtract out a background level of pMC. Furthermore, if some dinosaur was discovered to still be living today it would not disprove the theory of evolution because there’s nothing that says an organism has to change over time. If the organism fits its niche perfectly and its niche doesn’t change, it may continue without much change for millions of years. If there is good evidence that some species of dinosaurs survived the extinction event, that could be accommodated by the theory.

      “What is the most overwhelming bit of evidence that the earth is far older than 6000 years? Has all historical information been included in determining the level of certainty of this evidence or is it simply extrapolation from current measurements?” I think analysis of supernovae are most compelling for an old universe. While they do not speak to the age of the earth directly, the stars were created on day 4 according to Genesis 1. We can analyze distances a variety of ways and we can analyze the speed of light very accurately. The theory that the speed of light has decayed or that decay rates have decayed has been confirmed to be false a number of ways. Analysis of supernovae have helped confirm that decay rates and the speed of light is the same today as it was at the time the star went supernova. The only way the creationist model can explain the light reaching us from distances much farther than 6,000 light years away is to say that God created the light in transit. This seems to me to be a huge philosophical and theological problem. This is also akin to saying that God buried all those fossils in the ground to give the appearance of age. This to me implies a trickster God who created an elaborate hoax to deceive us. If that is the case, we cannot determine any truth from observation and even the gospel story is suspect because ultimately it is based on “what our eyes have seen, our ears have heard and our hands have touched…” (1 John 1:1)

      “I am intrigued as to what evidence changed your stance from being YEC to instead accommodating deep time. Can you share?” I can, but I have to go now! I’ll respond tomorrow!

      -Brandon

      • Historicus says:

        Brandon, thanks for keeping the debate light-hearted. I’ll apologize in advance if some of my responses seem long.

        “Yes, I agree with you that we all have presuppositions that color our views of the world and guide our daily decisions; however, they should not skew conclusions arrived at through honest scientific inquiry. ”
        Remember, that scientific inquiry has to be interpreted based on presuppositions. So, both men in the debate have done honest scientific inquiry. Both have projected their interpretations on the evidence, but only one of them was honest about their application of presuppositional foundations.

        Do you think Bill Nye, educator of evolution, would have anything to lose were evolution to be proven incorrect? Is Ham the only one who has a worldview at stake?

        “I’m an engineer”
        And from what I’ve seen on your blog, you are a very good engineer. I love what you’ve done with your truck!

        You also engineered an analogy of engineers, who approved plans to build a balcony. To correctly capture the essence of the debate, I’ve re-engineered your analogy. Two men are asked their views of whether or not it’s okay to throw away perfectly good food once they have eaten their fill. The first man responds that not only does everyone believe it’s okay to throw away their food when they are full, it should be required. He continues, “Those who continue to eat once they are full will get fat, so for the kid’s sake, for the future of the country, please throw away good food, once you are full.” The other man says that he will not throw away perfectly good food, even though science has confirmed that people who eat beyond their saity tend to gain weight. The reporter responds, “Well, what would make you change your mind?” The second man replies that nothing can make him change his mind. “But science has proven it, why won’t you change your mind?” Finally, the second man replies, “Because, I’ve been to Africa and I’ve held scarving children in my arms. While the food I eat here cannot find its way to Africa, I have a strong conviction against wasting the benficence that I have here.”

        Even with the same evidence, they come to different conclusions, because the two men have different presuppositions.

        “The problem with adding the adjective, “historical” onto science is that it is general, undefined, and misleading.”
        It is a category error to try to scientifically prove historical events. Science is the study of things that are repeatable and testable (among many other definitions.) Actually, it would be better said that science is practiced by performing and repeating experiments to test theories. While it is possible to make educated deductions about the past using scientific principles, it is not rational to expect to recreate history in the lab.

        “We know that Ken Ham’s worldview cannot change so the alternative must be true.”
        You might want to rethink this claim. If I were to say that 186-116 = 70 and nothing can change my view. By applying your statement to my logic, then what does it mean that “the alternative must be true.”

        “What assumption(s) involved in radiometric dating do you have the biggest problem with?” We should be skeptical of all assumptions in a scientific theory when radiometric dating is being taught as absolute dating. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_dating

        Radiometric dating is taught as though it is never wrong, when it is frequently out of alignment with evolutionary timelines.

        “Furthermore, if some dinosaur was discovered to still be living today it would not disprove the theory of evolution”
        That is not how evolution is taught. Evolution is taught that changes in the environment require organisms to adapt or die. It is taught with unquestioning devotion that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, and mammals/birds filled their niche.

        “because there’s nothing that says an organism has to change over time.”
        Actually, stasis is unexpected for evolution, but evolution is an unfalsifiable theory, so it accommodates the numerous examples of stasis as if nothing were wrong with the theory. The theory of evolution itself evolves to absorb attempts at falsification. Bill Nye claimed that just 1 out of place fossil would invalidate the theory of evolution. The fact is that many out of place fossils have been found (Ken Ham pointed 1 out during the debate), but they are ignored or censored. Dr. Carl Werner wrote an entire book on fossils of each phylum of organism found in dinosaur-era layers and that are still around today.

        It’s interesting that you chose supernovae as the most compelling evidence that the universe is old. According to long-age predictions of supernovae remnants (SNR), there are 7000 missing SNR in our galaxy alone. 5000 of these missing SNR are the type 3, which are said to be the oldest, and when we look into the heavens type 3’s are completely missing. http://creation.com/exploding-stars-point-to-a-young-universe

        With regards to distant starlight reaching earth within the biblically-limited amount of time, there are several models that have been proposed by astronomers. The most popular is the white hole cosmology, which has been proposed by Russell Humphreys.
        http://creation.com/type-1a-supernovae

        There are others that fit the data as well. They are technical and are probably beyond the scope of blog debates. But for those interested in seeing the research, here are a couple of links:
        http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v6/n1/distant-starlight
        http://creation.com/starlight-and-time-a-further-breakthrough

      • simcah says:

        Matt, thanks for your response. I’ve been busy the last couple of days, but will write a detailed response as soon as I have time. 🙂

      • simcah says:

        Matt, I finally got a few minutes to respond to some of your comments.

        Would you be willing to concede that in general a person who has stated that no evidence can change his mind is more biased than a person who can enumerate things that could change his mind?

        “Do you think Bill Nye, educator of evolution, would have anything to lose were evolution to be proven incorrect? Is Ham the only one who has a worldview at stake?” As I stated in my blog, I am aware that there are institutional biases at work in mainstream scientists like Bill Nye and I think Bill is naive to think the establishment would change easily. But it would change. Such institutional biases are capable of being overcome and they are overcome regularly if there is good evidence to overcome them. Take the debate over Psi: There is a great deal of peer-reviewed published data on all kinds of Psi phenomena that challenge the status quo view of the brain and consciousness. This information is not yet mainstream, and many scientists with their classical physics and materialist biases have thrown fits about this data being published in prestigious journals. Nevertheless the peer reviewed system has found no reason these studies should not be published and they continue to add to the base of knowledge out there. It is the mainstream perceptions that lag behind the evidence. There are also many meta-analyses that combine these studies and present overwhelming evidence for Psi phenomena. In time, this will revolutionize the way we think about thinking and the brain. Although this evidence is not popular with either mainstream scientific materialists or the religious, it persists and is steadily changing the paradigm. This is not the case with creation science. There are no peer-reviewed studies published in journals for other scientists to review and reproduce because the peer-review process finds flaws in creation science.

        Although scientists can be influenced by their own biases, the scientific method in general is unbiased and over time has proven to be very effective at discovering objective truth about the world. The creation-science method is inherently biased because it starts with a conclusion and works backwards to prove it. This is apologetics, not science.

        “And from what I’ve seen on your blog, you are a very good engineer. I love what you’ve done with your truck!” Thanks!

        “I’ve re-engineered your analogy. Two men are asked their views of whether or not it’s okay to throw away perfectly good food once they have eaten their fill.” I don’t see how this is an appropriate analogy. In my analogy, there is the objective fact that the balcony was not sound and collapsed. In your analogy, there is no objective fact to be discovered, but rather a moral or ethical decision.

        “It is a category error to try to scientifically prove historical events.” Well science never technically “proves” anything. It develops theories and models which are continually honed to describe objective reality. Proof is always illusive due to the nature of the universe and the way we are embedded within it. Once again, if you are saying science cannot be useful to advance our knowledge of the past, then what is the point of trying to use science to support a particular view of history?

        “Actually, it would be better said that science is practiced by performing and repeating experiments to test theories.” Sure. Suppose I conduct repeatable tests that give me the yield strength of steel. I can make predictions and designs based on this data because given all other factors hold the same, I expect the yield strength of steel to be the same tomorrow is it was today when I tested. This is why well designed skyscrapers do not randomly collapse. Since my repeatable tests can make accurate predictions about the future, I can reasonably conclude that they can tell me about the past as well. I can reasonably conclude the properties were the same yesterday, and a thousand years ago. If someone can demonstrate a repeatable test that develops a theory of why the yield strength of steel might have been different in the past and make a prediction about where it will go in the future, then I would have a good reason to believe the yield strength has changed. But right now I have none. Likewise with radioactive decay rates, the speed of light, and various other constants.

        “You might want to rethink this claim. If I were to say that 186-116 = 70 and nothing can change my view. By applying your statement to my logic, then what does it mean that “the alternative must be true.”” You are talking about a mathematical definition, not a theory, and my statement was in regards to evidence that conflicts with a worldview. If you do not allow any evidence to change your worldview, then none can. Any evidence that would require you to change your worldview cannot be accepted.

        I don’t have time at the moment to review your links, but regarding radiometric dating, real scientists often date rock samples with more than one isotope. If multiple dating methods agree on a date for a sample, and many samples are reviewed and also agree, then there is a high statistical probability that the date arrived at is legitimate. If dating methods were flawed, it would be highly improbable that multiple methods would arrive at the same date. Regarding the age of the earth we have a vast number of dating techniques and studies that have arrived at closely similar dates (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html). The more methods you can compile that agree with one another, the less likely the data is in agreement by random chance and the more confident we can be that the date is close to the objective real date.

        “Radiometric dating is taught as though it is never wrong, when it is frequently out of alignment with evolutionary timelines.” There are means by which particular tests can be foiled. But as I said, one way scientists check to make sure the dating method is not foiled is by using multiple techniques. Also, several techniques have a built in check against contamination or error called “isochron dating”. Every time I ever looked into a creationists claim that radiometric dating was invalid, it turned out to be a dishonest misuse of the technique involved and ignored data that was well supported by multiple techniques and isochron dating.

        I’m out of time and I’ll have to address the rest of your comment later. Thanks again for posting! Have a good’un!
        -Brandon

      • simcah says:

        Okay, had a chance to look at some of the links you posted:

        “Dr. Carl Werner wrote an entire book on fossils of each phylum of organism found in dinosaur-era layers and that are still around today.” Why did he publish a book and build a website instead of publishing in a peer-reviewed journal? If he has any peer-reviewed studies of these out of place fossils, can you send me a link to them? The peer-review process is an important part of the scientific process. If creationists publish books, they will influence their target audience: other creationists. If creationists can get some of their studies published in peer-reviewed journals then they might actually influence the scientific community.

        I have a number of issues with the linked article you provided (http://creation.com/exploding-stars-point-to-a-young-universe). It cites one single article by creationist Keith Davies for all data. It provides one single line excerpt from scientists Clark and Caswell which was most likely taken out of context considering a reading of their actual study was an explanation of why estimates of SNR were previously erroneously high and their findings contradict the assumptions Davies made to arrive at his estimates. http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?bibcode=1976MNRAS.174..267C&db_key=AST&page_ind=0&plate_select=NO&data_type=GIF&type=SCREEN_GIF&classic=YES

        If you want to read the other side of the argument, check this page out about 1/3 of the way down. It breaks down Davies argument in detail and unlike the creationist article, it offers many links to peer-reviewed sources. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/supernova/

        Humphrey’s white hole cosmology is untenable and even many creationists have come out against it. Here is an article by Christians explaining the many flaws in his usage of general relativity: http://www.trueorigin.org/rh_fackmcin1.pdf
        http://www.trueorigin.org/ca_rh_03.asp

        And this article http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v6/n1/distant-starlight overlooks evidence that the speed of light is the same far away as it is close. Scientists have measured the size of SNRs and then observed the light as it progressed outward at exactly the speed of light giving confirmation that the speed of light is the same in distant regions of space as it is close by. Furthermore if the speed of light were different in far away galaxies, this would alter all the equations that have c as a factor, so the distant galaxies would have different governing physical laws and would not appear be following the same laws of physics. But strangely enough no matter where we look, we see galaxies following the same laws of physics which have c as a fundamental constant.

  3. Historicus says:

    No worries. I completely understand as this process is very time consuming. It is your blog, after all. 🙂

  4. hansston says:

    I was looking for WordPress.com comments on the debate and read your take. I have been showing films and having discussions in our small church here in Sparta IL about evolution and creation. I know that most Intelligent Design Christians do not want to defend a young earth while still harboring a fundamentalist belief in the Bible. I read Stephen Meyers book “Signature in the Cell”; here is my review: http://spartachurch.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/stephen-meyers-signature-in-the-cell/ As time went on I showed Privileged Planet and read the book. Here is that review: http://spartachurch.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/the-privileged-planet-2/ The point I am making is that The Privileged Planet did such a good job of describing the vantage point of earth in terms of understanding the universe from the Big Bang into the future with the use of millions and millions of years that I was taken aback. I did what I am doing now looking for some other WordPress writers to give some expression to what I am thinking about. One blog, and shame on me for not tagging it, asked the question: how old was Adam on his first day on earth? He then took the same logic to the earth and the universe. For me, the explanation sorted things out for me. Maybe it can help you also as you wrestle with these deep scientific realities in the light of scripture.

    • simcah says:

      Hannston, thanks for your comment. Are you saying that your view is that Adam was created instantaneously with the appearance of age (belly button and all), so why couldn’t the rest of the universe be created instantaneously in an aged state?

      There is no way to falsify this claim just like there is no way to prove we aren’t living inside a matrix or computer program with memories implanted in us. Everything we see could be mere seconds old. But this seems to me to be a useless question and implies that we cannot rely on our senses to tell us anything about reality and this leads to solipsism. If you believe that God created everything with the appearance age, then God created an elaborate hoax to deceive us and that seems contrary to the view of God as embodying absolute truth.

      • hansston says:

        The “elaborate hoax” is actually a beautiful setting in a universe (described in Privileged Planet) where not only is this planet specifically designed for life it is also specifically designed for discovery. Really not looking for a fight, just thought the thought shared might help you with your wrestlings with faith as it did me. Thanks! Kevin

  5. Historicus says:

    “Would you be willing to concede that in general a person who has stated that no evidence can change his mind is more biased than a person who can enumerate things that could change his mind?”

    Ken Ham presented the very evidence that Bill Nye said would change his mind, but Nye blew it off because if his bias.

    Peer Review. In all your years debating as a YEC’er, did you ever encounter this argument thrown in your face? It’s quite old and useless. But do you remember what you said to counter it?

    “In my analogy, there is the objective fact…In your analogy, there is no objective fact” Perhaps, you missed it. re-read it. The objective fact is that overeating causes people to gain weight. Both men, with the same observable fact chose different conclusions based on their worldview. This is exact situation from the debate. Both Ken and I have tried to show the importance of this idea, but it has been ignored. Everyone on both sides of the debate has the same evidence. People interpret the evidence based on their worldview/pre-suppositions.

    So, we could go back and forth about the evidence, or we could analyze the pre-suppositions by which we are interpreting the data.

    My pre-suppositions are that there is a creator God, who is beyond space/time/matter (since he made all of them.) He revealed Himself through the writings recorded in the Bible and through his only Son, Jesus. Mankind has been created in His image and was meant for a relationship with Him.

    What are your pre-suppositions/axioms by which you interpret data?

    • simcah says:

      Matt, thanks for your response. 🙂

      You did not really answer my question, so I’ll ask again: Would you be willing to concede that, in general, a person who has stated that no evidence can change his mind is more biased than a person who can enumerate things that could change his mind?

      “Ken Ham presented the very evidence that Bill Nye said would change his mind, but Nye blew it off because if his bias.” I think you’re referring to when Ken presented the wood that was C14 dated at roughly 37,000 years in basalt that dated roughly 45 million years? (http://static.icr.org/i/pdf/technical/Conflicting-Ages-of-Tertiary-Basalt-and-Fossilized-Wood.pdf) It did appear that this caught Bill Nye off guard, but this is the problem with a short debate on subjects that require large papers or books to fully explore. When data is encountered that is inconsistent with other known data, it is responsible to ask questions like Bill Nye did instead of jumping to conclusions. If Bill Nye had seen this and said, “well okay, you got me. I change my mind and concede defeat,” could you really respect such a limp response? Suppose I claimed that I could bench 200 lbs, and I demonstrated that to you by benching 200 lbs right in front of you. It is not contrary to other data, or observations of other men who can bench 200 lbs, so it is easy to accept that at face value. However, if I claimed I could lift 200 lbs with my mind alone and I demonstrated that to you, you might have a few questions because this would seem to be in contradiction to other data that is available. It doesn’t mean that you assume it is impossible for me to do it; it just means that it is responsible to ask questions and explore more mundane explanations before jumping to a conclusion about my psychokinetic capabilities.

      My first question is why did the wood date near the top of the scale for C14 dating and not to less than 4000 years if the wood is postdiluvian as he presupposes?

      My next question is: how deep was this wood buried? Volcanic basalt can be porous and if it was not deeply buried it is probable that the wood could have been somewhat contaminated in situ from bacteria or weathering or water containing recent C14 from the atmosphere. In fact the wood was not very deep at all. The bottom of the basalt flow was 25 meters deep and Dr. Snelling says, the petrified wood samples “probably came from near the tops of the tree stumps at the top of the basalt flow” and Dr. Snelling admits, “The basalt in the drill core does, in fact, come from the zone of weathering…where percolating oxidizing ground water readily alters minerals and rock chemistry by dissolving and removing various elements.” So if he knew that the samples were likely to be contaminated and therefore give incorrect dates, why did he send them off to be C14 dated? Because he wanted to get incorrect results so that he could attempt to invalidate the science of geochronology which dates the earth older than his worldview will allow him to accept.

      Here is another person’s perspective on Dr. Snelling’s paper: http://questioninganswersingenesis.blogspot.com/2014/02/45-thousand-year-old-fossil-wood.html

      Anyone can write a book or paper and post it to a website. But to present research in such a way that another scientist can reproduce the same results or logically follow you through your steps and arrive at the same conclusions is another matter. That is why the peer-review process is important. I’m not saying that scientists do not have biases and that these biases do not slow down the advancement of scientific knowledge, but I think the general trend over time is that we do continue to advance knowledge and overcome biases.

      “The objective fact is that overeating causes people to gain weight.” I agree that is an objective fact, but your original scenario posed a question of moral judgment about that fact: is it right or wrong to overeat? One man had his reasons for considering it right and the other considered it wrong. Similarly, we can settle the objective facts about the age of rocks with science, but science cannot tell us when it is right or wrong to throw rocks.

      “My pre-suppositions are that there is a creator God, who is beyond space/time/matter (since he made all of them.)” What is God? And if God is “beyond space/time/matter,” by what means does God interact with material?

      “What are your pre-suppositions/axioms by which you interpret data?” My presuppositions are: I exist. Truth exists. And I am inextricably intertwined with the Truth of this reality such that trying to grasp truth is like trying to see inside my head with my own eyes. Truth can never be fully arrived at through language. All understanding and all knoweldge is composed of mental maps and models that are composed of words and as such these can never fully describe reality, much like various map projections of the globe create distortions because the 2-D projection of a 3-D reality fails to fully accurately present the truth.
      https://simcah.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/cartographers-of-truth-we-are-all/
      I think the best way to seek truth is to ask questions, be open-minded, and avoid appeals to authority or appeals to emotion. We all have to make our own decisions about what we believe to be true. Some of us chose to rely on the traditions handed down to us as authoritative. Some of us take it upon ourselves to question traditions and see if maybe they are missing something. I think there are various models of God and none of them are fully correct. They all contain varying proportions of distortion and truth. I think the evidence for an old earth is pretty “rock-solid”, but if I could find good consistent evidence for a young earth that wasn’t full of holes, my mind could be changed. Because I have seen so many creationist arguments that were full of hole and because I was deceived by them for a few years, I think it is unlikely that I will see such contradictory evidence. But if you have some, send it my way! 🙂 I think the history of life on this planet is more vague. I think evolution does happen.. macro-evolution. I think it is still up for debate as to whether “dumb” macro-evolution is capable of producing all the life we currently see. I think it is possible, maybe even likely, that other intelligent beings have interfered with genetic codes. I think it is possible that our own consciousness can influence genetic codes. Conscious intention has been shown to affect quantum processes, so perhaps there is a yet to be discovered mechanism by which consciousness affects evolution. I am not a materialist in the classical nihilistic sense which assumes that life is a fluke and consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the brain. I am agreeing more and more with the non-dual perspective that mind and matter arise together as one. I believe physical death is not the end of us. And I guess that’s enough for now. 🙂

  6. Historicus says:

    Brandon, you are keeping the debate going with great fervor. I appreciate your candidness.

    “You did not really answer my question, so I’ll ask again: Would you be willing to concede that, in general, a person who has stated that no evidence can change his mind is more biased than a person who can enumerate things that could change his mind?”

    Please forgive me for avoiding the question. I didn’t like the way it appeared to shift the focus of the debate. But to answer your question; some waver to and fro based on the latest gossip/news/soon-to-be-outdated-science. Others have backbone. In general, yes a biased person sticks to their guns. But I didn’t really think the point of the debate was measuring the co-efficient of backbone.

    Would you concede that it is possible for an all-knowing all-powerful God to reveal some things so that they can be known for certain?

    More later…time for bed.

    • simcah says:

      I don’t think it is shifting the focus of the debate. One of the main points of my blog and others’ was that there is a difference between a person who looks at data in order to draw conclusions and one who starts with conclusions and filters out data to support those conclusions. The first is a scientist. The latter is an apologist. Historically speaking, those with a scientific bent have been more successful at adding to our knowledge of the cosmos than apologists for a particular interpretation of scriptures. And presently speaking, I would be weary of scientific claims made by a person who cannot question their own beliefs regarding those claims. You can call it backbone, but I think the creationist’s inability to freely question has more to do with fear. Fear of wrecking ones paradigm. Fear of allowing doubt to destroy the faith that has been so carefully worked up over the years. Fear of ostracism by one’s peers. Fear of hell. Fear of letting down one’s hero and Lord. Fear of leading astray the flock. Fear of nihilism. I know all these fears because I’ve gone through them. The period of doubt and nihilistic uncertainty that followed my acceptance of an old earth and evolution was one of the most painful and depressing periods of my life and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But fortunately I came out of that. I think nihilism is rooted in materialism and I think materialism is responsible for a great many societal ills we face today. I no longer see the acceptance of evolution or an old earth as requiring one to be a materialist.

      In other news, I just saw someone has proposed a new model of the universe without a Big Bang. Sounds interesting and if there’s any merit to it, I’d be open to changing my view on the Big Bang. 🙂 I don’t think it would allow for a 6,000 year old earth tho… It seems to be saying the universe is eternal. http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/the-big-what-new-model-eliminates-need-for-big-bang/

      Would I be willing to concede it is possible for an omniscient omnipotent god to reveal some knowledge for certain? I suppose so. But I think that as soon as someone tried to put that knowledge into words, the purity of that knowledge would be tainted with distortion and deception because I believe ultimate truth is ineffable.

  7. Historicus says:

    I really enjoyed reading your 2D to 3D knowledge analogy blog post. While I don’t agree with all of it, the post is a very clever and enjoyable proposition. Thanks for including it.

    “That is why the peer-review process is important.”
    Peer review, while a wonderful idea conceptually, is a false appeal to authority because in its current state, it has been proven scientifically to be impotent.
    http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=1439
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3326091/Peer-review-the-myth-of-the-noble-scientist.html
    http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21588069-scientific-research-has-changed-world-now-it-needs-change-itself-how-science-goes-wrong
    http://www.infotoday.com/it/apr03/peek.shtml
    http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/37798/title/Fake-Paper-Exposes-Failed-Peer-Review/

    “What is God? And if God is “beyond space/time/matter,” by what means does God interact with material?”

    As mentioned before, God is the eternal Creator. He has revealed Himself through his written word. We have translated copies of this revelation today in the form of the Bible. God has also revealed himself through prophets, prophecies, and most importantly through Jesus.
    Asking how God interacts with the material is like asking mythical inhabitants inside a computer to explain (using only components and internal knowledge within the computer) how some larger/unseen entity (probably with a pocket protector) can interact and control the computer. The words to describe the mechanisms of the transcendent would only exist outside the material plane.

    Thanks for sharing your pre-suppositions. This brings some questions to mind for me regarding how it describes reality.

    “My presuppositions are: I exist. Truth exists. And I am inextricably intertwined with the Truth”
    Did Truth exist before you were born?
    If so, after you began to exist, did this change the nature of Truth since you are inextricably intertwined with the Truth?
    What will happen to Truth when you cease to exist in the space/time continuum? Will you still be inextricably intertwined with Truth? How will it change the knowledge of Truth when you are no longer inextricably intertwined via the space/time continuum with Truth.

    “I think the best way to seek truth is to ask questions, be open-minded”
    Can one find Truth by being open-minded? At which point can one be certain to have found the Truth? If one never arrives at this point, can anything ever really be known for certain? If nothing can be known for certain, then does someone really know anything?

    “We all have to make our own decisions about what we believe to be true.”
    Does this mean that Truth is not absolute?
    If Truth is absolute, and your belief about Truth is contradictory to my belief about Truth in a mutually exclusive relationship, which Truth is correct?
    If you pre-suppose a Truth that is not absolute/universal/unchanging then upon what can you compare/contrast to determine truthfulness?

    • simcah says:

      Thanks for reading my Maps of Truth post. 🙂

      I agree that the peer review system is not perfect and there will probably arise a better means of evaluating scientific information in the internet age. In certain situations, crowd sourcing has proven to be more accurate than “experts”. At any rate, Peer-review does ensure that scientific work is held to higher standards than fiction writers and if anyone wants their work to be added to the pool of scientific knowledge and have their work looked at by their colleagues, peer-review is a first step. I’ll say this… I can look at a peer reviewed article myself and evaluate the claims there much more easily than I can some article or book that is not written for the purpose of peer review and that is valuable.

      “God is the eternal creator.” Alright, let’s take your first sentence there, and I’ll show you what I mean by: words can never fully describe truth.

      So you’ve defined: God = eternal creator. You’ve taken an image composed of one pixel and given it two. Our resolution of our mind’s image of God has increased 100%! But we need more pixels to really see something. So let’s break apart those two pixels and see if we can get more resolution. What does eternal mean? Existing for infinite time? Outside of time? Okay, a little more resolution now but still fuzzy. We can only understand things by contrasting them with their opposites. So existing means not not existing. There is something rather than nothing. And it’s been around forever and won’t ever quit being around. But if there is something, there must also be nothing because something without nothing is meaningless just as light without darkness is meaningless. Okay, so there is something and nothing and like the poles of a magnet they can’t be separated from one another without becoming meaningless. And this something/nothing has been around forever. Now to exist forever could also be stated as existing “outside of time” because time is just a dimension of space…and space by the way is an endless oscillation of something/nothing: subatomic particles and antiparticles materializing out of nothing and anhiliating one another. But anyway, how can we comprehend “outside of time”? We can’t. Every concept we have requires time, motion, change, etc.. Because everything we see and know is a wave or an oscillation. So if this something/nothing we call “God” exists eternally, then perhaps he is like the central point about which all oscillations occur. A point is something but it is also nothing..nothing but a concept. Infinite is also nothing but a concept.

      So you see I have spun another slightly higher resolution of God, but it ultimately still fails to capture the ineffable. My concept involving ideas of waves and oscillations and something/nothing implies something less personal and more automatic… So again it deceives.

      You also used the word “Creator”. This recaptures some of the personality of God but is also deceiving. When we think of a creator we are modeling a painter or engineer or craftsman… Someone who takes stuff, develops a plan, applies physical and creative energy to it in a technically skillful way in order to transform it into something of utilitarian or aesthetic value. A creator has a prior plan and desired outcomes, so already our definition seems to be involving time, yet you’ve said God is eternal, so we are distorting the truth somehow. Also God is supposed to be the source of all stuff unlike the creators we know who use existing stuff.

      I could go on…but my point is that no literal words can describe the ineffable God. As soon as we try to pin it down, deception enters. I think poetry or drama works better because poetry doesn’t pretend to be literal and it plays with words to evoke feeling. I think the best we can do with literal words is to play them off against each other until they defeat one another and when there are no more words left, then understanding comes in the silence and there you’ll find that God has been there with you in the silence all along. And all motion all words all vibration and oscillation is all a deviation from God as if God were a fly fisherman yanking his line back and forth and having a ball doing it. 🙂

      “He has revealed himself through his written word.” I think the Bible is one map that men have written as they encountered the ineffable truth. But I think the Bible fails in many ways to fully capture truth as any written work would.

      “God has also revealed himself through prophets, prophecies, and most importantly through Jesus.” I think God reveals himself in one way or another through each and all of us and through everything. A single grain of sand implies the rest of the universe and the universe implies the ineffable God. I think Jesus was a Hebrew man who really got it. He spent a great deal of time in prayer and meditation and he was very intelligent and he had a mystical experience at a young age and never came off it. As a byproduct of his intense spiritual practice and deep contemplation, he attained what in Yoga is called the Siddhis or “supernatural” capabilities. He tried to communicate as best he could through the language and culture he found himself in, but as is typical with mystics, he was misunderstood and placed on a pedestal by some and persecuted by the establishment. I don’t think there is any difference in potentiality between Jesus and you or me and I think Jesus tried to say that over and over but no one got it. He said, look, anyone can do the works that I’ve been doing and even greater works than these. We say that Jesus was God who laid down part of his divine nature to become man. Well that’s what we all are. We are manifestations of God forgetting himself or laying aside parts of who he is. We are one of God’s adventurous dreams.

      “The words to describe the mechanisms of the transcendent would only exist outside the material plane.” Then there wouldn’t be words and there wouldn’t be mechanisms. 🙂 What I’m trying to say is that it does us no good to try to think of God as out there and we are in here. Everything we see is the expression of God in one way or another. Everything that happens to you and everything you do is his doing and his action. As soon as you start trying to make a boundary on this universe and put god outside of it, you create illusion. All boundaries are illusion because everything is entirely connected. If there were two separate things, those things would have a relationship to one another and that relationship forms an all encompassing thing.

      “Did truth exist before you were born? If so, after you began to exist, did this change the nature of Truth since you are inextricably intertwined with the truth?” If truth is god and god is eternal then truth can’t change because change requires time. Since I am inextricably intertwined with truth, then I always was. My nature is like a wave on the ocean. I arise out of the ocean momentarily. My energy carries me along until I crash onto shore and dissolve back into the ocean. The distinction between the wave and the ocean is an arbitrary one that we create with our minds out of a pair of opposites: peak and trough. Just as I am a wave that can only be understood through its opposites: life and death. I am a little wave emanating from the Truth or God and while I’m currently being flung out into the present realm, I’ll eventually fall back to center and then be flung out another direction on some other sort of creative adventure. 🙂

      “Can one find truth by being open-minded.” Maybe but I think it helps to let your brain fall out a bit. 😛

      “At which point can one be certain to have found the Truth?” When there’s nothing left to say.

      “If one never arrives at this point, can anything ever really be known for certain?” Solipsism is ultimately the only certainty which agrees with my metaphysics that we are all emanations of The One Thing, God. Everything else is playing a game according to the rules we discover. (Or breaking them)

      “If nothing can be known for certain…” Nothing can be known for certain. I’m certain of it! And that is absolutely fantastic because everything you see and experience came from nothing. So nothing is really pretty awesome. It is pure infinite potentiality.

      “Is truth not absolute?” Truth is absolutely nothing. Anything that deviates from the nothing engages in deception. You’re pretending you’re not God and that’s what enables you to live this marvelous life! Every particle that pops into existence from the zero point energy field of empty space is pretending momentarily to not be god. As soon as it encounters it’s opposite, it’s fraud is uncovered and it returns to God. You’re alive and as soon as you encounter the opposite you’ll be unmasked and back with God! The only way to arrive at absolute truth is to conquer dualism by embracing dualism. When we try to pin down truth on one end, we can’t do it like trying to split a magnet to get just a North Pole. It just doesn’t work. Can we symbolically convey ideas in such a way as to be useful to ourselves and others? Yes. Let your yes be yes and your no no and anything beyond that is of the devil. 🙂 The more words the less the meaning. The more the laws the more lawless the people. The fewer words the closer to truth one comes. So religions with their dogmas ceaselessly haggle over words and interpretations thinking that they’ll get closer to truth that way… But only in the sense that “a fool who persists in his folly will become wise.” Jesus said you study the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, but those scriptures are talking about me! And by extension all of us as we are all one.

      “In a mutually exclusive relationship, which Truth is correct?” Take 1+1=2. I think we can both agree that is a true statement. But it is meaningless unless there is something else it corresponds to. 1 sheep plus 1 sheep = 2 sheep. So far so good. But now we are back into words and although the definition of a sheep is useful, it is an arbitrary one that has no meaning unless there is also no sheep. So if you want to count sheep, you need an empty pen because if they’re just milling about all mixing and mingling you can’t count then very easily. So with something like a sheep it is easy to see it as separate from its environment because it has legs and walks, but it is still a part of its environment so the definition of it as distinct from its environment is still an arbitrary one for the purposes of our symbolic counting of sheep. But other than practical reasons, there’s no reason that one sheep must be distinct from another sheep or their environment just as an apple is part of the apple tree. So the truth of 1+1=2 is a concept we can agree upon because it is useful to us from our perspective. But who’s to say the perspective of sheep being separate from one another is always the right or best perspective? Perhaps if we humans had the perspective that we are all one at least some of the time, we wouldn’t have stocked up on enough nukes to wipe ourself out!

      Okay I’ve got to shut her down now… I typed all this on my iPhone so I apologize for any spelling errors.

      • simcah says:

        Just watched this little clip and it seemed relevant to our discussion:

        You might be interested to check out Penrose & Hammeroff’s orchestrated objective reduction hypothesis about quantum consciousness. It is really interesting.

        One thing mentioned in this clip was the Platonic concept of a realm of absolute truth that exists in symbols or mathematical expressions. But we live in the realm of forms or the cross-roads between the two realms. That is another way of saying what I was trying to say with my mathematical sheep analogy. 1+1=2 is a symbolic abstract truth. It is an absolute truth so long as it remains in this purely abstract form, but once you apply it to form (as in sheep) you’ve entered the realm of uncertainty or deception.

      • simcah says:

        And here is another video on sacred geometry which explores similar concepts and ties into the genesis creation account.

  8. Historicus says:

    “The more the laws the more lawless the people.” I agree 100%!!!!! Our government is getting completely out of control with all of the laws, taxes, and execute orders. But this is not the focus of your post, so I’ll try not to derail it. Also, amazing that you could type that huge entry on your iphone. Thanks for your patience with waiting for my response…life happens.

    “…then perhaps he is like the central point about which all oscillations occur” I can’t help but disagree with your augmented pixilation of the eternal God. Again, he is outside of time, but you ended up through a great deal of verbosity describing something that would exist within the confines of space/time. You’re right that we cannot completely comprehend the immaterial outside of space/time, and that is exactly why we are reliant on Him to reveal himself to us. There is nothing that we can do to begin a relationship with Him. As it says in I John 4:19, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” Also, Romans 1 talks about this as well.

    “When we think of a creator we are modeling a painter or engineer or craftsman” Have you heard the joke that goes something like this: An atheist tells God that God is not needed anymore since science can now create life in the lab. So God says, ‘Really? Show me.’ So the atheist says, ‘Well, just a minute, I need to collect all of the natural components…’ God replies, ‘Go get your own natural components…I made these.’ God actually created time/space/matter. There was no ‘before time’ or emptiness or substance into which He formed matter. He spoke these things into existence. This is different than human creativity. Human creativity must work within space/time using existing matter. As humans, we were made in the image of God, and so we have a desire to bring into order or beauty, things that were formerly disordered or homely.

    “I think Jesus was a Hebrew man who really got it.”
    But this is not what Jesus claimed. Jesus claimed to be God multiple times. John 8:58, John 10:30, Acts 20:28. So, you’re only left with three choices: Either Jesus was who He said He was, He was a liar, or He was a lunatic. He couldn’t have just been a good guy that “Really got it.” He declared that he was the Creator God. So He either knew He wasn’t, but lied about it, he thought He was, but He was crazy, or He really was the Creator God.

    I’m afraid you’ve got some contradictions in your pre-suppositions.
    “I always was.” This (along with other previous quotes from you) sounds like you and truth and nature and god are all one inextricably intertwined singularity. Since we know that there was a beginning (from Big Bangers to creationists to philosophers, who say there could not have been an infinite number of events in the past), the truth/nature/god/you could not have brought itself into existence. This is contradictory.
    We are using the same word: God, with two different definitions. From what you’ve written, I get the impression that the word, god, that you are using is more like the Force in Star Wars or Brahman from Hinduism. Impersonal.
    How does this view of truth/god/nature/Brandon account for evil? What I mean is why do we recognize that some things are evil/immoral if everything is part of the truth/god/nature? If we are all part of the Brahman, why would we be able to recognize something wrong within the world? In a Christian worldview, I can account for evil because when people choose to disobey the Creator God, it is evil. Yahweh made it clear that He made the universe and He made the rules by which we were to live…not to be a cosmic killjoy, but because He knew that being out of fellowship with Himself would bring us dissatisfaction.
    “Nothing can be known for certain.” This statement is self-contradictory.
    “Solipsism is ultimately the only certainty which agrees with my metaphysics that we are all emanations of The One Thing, God.” I’m not too familiar with this. Perhaps you can expound more on this.
    “Take 1+1=2. I think we can both agree that is a true statement.” My worldview can account for the truth of this statement and mathematical logic. I’m not sure that you’ve shown us that your worldview can account for the origins of mathematical laws. I’m not saying that you don’t understand the formula, I’m saying that without the God of the Bible as the starting point, it is impossible to account for the origins of logic/mathematics/morality.
    Without a personal all-knowing God, who revealed some things to us, we have no basis for knowledge. To make knowledge claims requires a basis for knowledge that only the Christian worldview can provide. All other knowledge claims come back to an infinite regression of proofs or contradictions. Here’s an example:
    A: What is something you know for certain and how do you know it?
    B: The sky is blue. I know this because I use my eyes.
    A: How can you trust your senses? Have your senses been 100% reliable (never fooled by illusion/mirage/drugs/alcohol/sickness/injury/desire)?
    B: Well, I suppose I take in the data from my senses and use my reason to see if it is consistent with what I know.
    A: So, you use your reason to test your senses. How do you know that your reason is valid?
    B: Because I know that certain things are true and I can compare them to what I take in with my senses.
    A: This is a circular argument, since you are using your senses and reason to validate your knowledge and your knowledge to validate your reason/senses. Does every person use their reasoning with the same degree of accuracy? In other words are there some people who cannot reason correctly?
    B: Like crazy people? Sure.
    A: How do you know that you’re not one of those people? An unreasonable person will try to use his reason to determine accuracy, but if his reason does not correspond to truth, then he cannot know that he is one of those people. Reason cannot be the basis for knowledge. It has to be that there is an absolute Truth, God, and some of that Truth has been revealed to us. Romans 1 tells us that “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.”
    You asked at one point for evidence that would sway you back to YEC, but as we’ve been talking about, evidence has to be interpreted. But the above paragraph is one of the best reasons to come back to a biblical worldview: Without the personal/loving God of the Bible, you’re left without a pre-condition for intelligibility.

  9. simcah says:

    Matt,

    I appreciate your thoughtful responses and I’m enjoying the opportunity to articulate my thoughts as well. 🙂

    “…you ended up through a great deal of verbosity describing something that would exist within the confines of space/time.” That is why I continue to say that words cannot describe the ineffable infinite God, and you seem to agree with me on that. So why do you make an exception for the Bible? Words can paint pictures and build models and maps of God, but if one focuses too much on the words or grasps too tightly any particular model, the fluid living water of truth is squeezed out of it. It is the letter that kills but the spirit that gives life. I wrote a short blog on the living water of truth being imprisoned in Jello to try and describe this: https://simcah.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/religion-is-jello/

    “God actually created time/space/matter. … This is different than human creativity. Human creativity must work within space/time using existing matter.” That was exactly my point. We can call God the “creator”, and that evokes a feeling about what is going on, but it is not entirely accurate. It would be kind of like calling one a “speaker” who stands on a stage and gives a speech to a congregation of deaf people via sign language. The word “speaker” gives us a sense of what is going on, but no sound is used, so it is not entirely accurate. We can call God the “creator” but we can’t hold onto that word too tightly and we have to realize this is only an inexact metaphor that sort of gives us a feeling for what he does. We have to realize that if we apply every aspect of the human term “creator” to God, we would be deceiving ourselves.

    “‘I believe Jesus was a Hebrew man who really got it.’ But this is not what Jesus claimed. Jesus claimed to be God multiple times.” It is not recorded that Jesus ever came right out and said, “I am God.” But he did hint that he was one with God. ….I’m saying that “to really get it” is to have the mystical realization that you are one with God – that separation is an arbitrary artificial illusion. You cited John 8:58 where Jesus said, “before Abraham was born, I am,” and I just wrote a blog about that: https://simcah.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/one-thing/.
    When the Pharisees wanted to stone Jesus for “blasphemy, because you – a mere man – are claiming to be God,” Jesus didn’t deny it, but responded by saying that the scriptures say that you’re all Gods. (John 10:34) In other words, if the scriptures say that we’re all Gods and oneness with God is the truth and all separations are artificial, then what is wrong with me claiming to be God’s son? The scriptures state elsewhere that we are all God’s children, so what’s the big deal? It is the view of God as being somehow “other” like a king that is too high for the common man to access that leads to very authoritarian tyrannical fear-based religion. I think Jesus was trying to show us that God is not “other” and that he is not too high for us to access. It is Satan who accuses and makes one feel separated from God. In the Genesis account God made man in his likeness, but it was the serpent who made them feel as though they had to do something more in order to be like God. It is religion that always keeps man feeling like he has to jump through more hoops to approach God and it does this through dualism, the illusion of separation. Jesus came to show us that there is no separation, but the religious turned this into just one more hoop to jump through: “there is no separation… as long as you believe everything we tell you to believe about Jesus… and do what we tell you to do…”

    “We are using the same word: God, with two different definitions. From what you’ve written, I get the impression that the word, god, that you are using is more like the Force in Star Wars or Brahman from Hinduism. Impersonal.” This is just one model of God that presents some things accurately and others with distortion. God is very personal. But this is just a model too… because personal implies relationship and relationship implies two or more separate things. But relationship can also imply two things becoming one thing (as in marriage). So it all depends on how you look at it. We are like the proverbial blind men feeling an elephant for the first time: depending on what part of the elephant we can reach, we may get very different impressions of what this elephant is like. None are wrong unless we think that only the part we can presently touch correctly and fully represents the entire whole.

    “How does this view of truth/god/nature/Brandon account for evil? What I mean is why do we recognize that some things are evil/immoral if everything is part of the truth/god/nature?” The truth/god/nature/Brandon is the central point of nothingness/everything. Good and evil come as a pair like the peak and trough of a wave emanating from the central point. You can’t understand good without evil and you can’t understand evil without good. You can’t understand light without darkness. “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isa. 45:7) One way to look at evil is that it is dualism or separation and the way to overcome it is through love which is harmonious relationship culminating in oneness. Have you ever read a story where nothing bad happens and there is no struggle and everything is just happy and great on every page? Of course not! This would be the most boring book ever written… yet we think that is what our lives will be like forever and ever after we die. But we are still defining heaven with negatives: “no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain, no more death…” What would heaven mean without sorrow, tears, pain and death? It wouldn’t mean anything. Once we see that good and evil need each other to exist, then we are free of the illusion. The universe is full of fundamental geometric shapes, positives and negatives, and polarities. This universe is an expansion of dualities and as such it is manifestation of illusions or stories full of protagonists and antagonists. It is a great drama. And at the end of the play, the characters both good and evil remove their masks, congratulate one another, share a good laugh and a pint of ale, and return home.

    “If we are all part of the Brahman, why would we be able to recognize something wrong within the world?” This is the same as asking, if we are all part of God, why can we tell up from down? If God is outside of space and time, what does up and down mean to Him? It means nothing unless he enters space and time and that is what creation is all about. Do you believe that God has a master plan and that ultimately everything will resolve itself according to His plan? If you do, then from that perspective there is nothing wrong with the world. It is like looking at the ocean from space and seeing a perfectly smooth surface. It is only down here on the waves that wrongness and rightness become apparent as peaks and troughs. The appearance of good and evil has to do with your level of magnification.

    “In a Christian worldview, I can account for evil because when people choose to disobey the Creator God, it is evil.” Thus enters the irreconcilable problem of free-will vs. the sovereign authoritarian God. When we encounter such a conundrum it means there is a dimension of understanding we are lacking. Another way to phrase it is that harmonious relationship or loving oneness with God defeats evil.

    ““Nothing can be known for certain.” This statement is self-contradictory.” Right… that’s why I followed it up with a joke: “I’m absolutely certain of it!” Humor (or poetry) is sometimes better at arriving at truth than explicit dogmatic statements. In a dualistic understanding of the universe, words will always wrap around to contradict themselves eventually. So sometimes the best way to arrive at understanding is through juxtaposing contradictions and letting them destroy themselves like matter and anti-matter. This is the essence of Zen teaching.

    ““Solipsism is ultimately the only certainty which agrees with my metaphysics that we are all emanations of The One Thing, God.” I’m not too familiar with this. Perhaps you can expound more on this.” Solipsism is what you were demonstrating with your conversation between A and B about the color of the sky. Solipsism is the philosophy that the only truth that can be known for certain is, “I am.” It is the result of rationalism – one can endlessly question the presuppositions upon which all chains of logic are based. “I think therefore, I am.” Everything starts here. But to get beyond, “I am,” requires a leap of faith in certain presuppositions about one’s experiences that can never be proven. Since the only thing that can be known with 100% certainty is, “I am.” then this is the ultimate truth. Everything else is a very meaningful exciting adventurous illusion created by the “I am” in a state of “faith.” Faith is not “trying” to believe something as factually true. Faith is a state of harmony where this is no separation between what is desired and what is experienced. It is not longer being double-minded (dualistic). Faith is very literally the substance of things. It is faith that creates the geometric reality upon which all logic emanates. It is your faith and my faith and God’s faith (as we are all the “I am”) that generates this reality. I’m sure you’ve heard of the double-slit experiment. The double-slit experiment demonstrates that the observer and the observed are inextricably intertwined and cannot be separated. Consciousness is fundamental to the universe and we very literally create our own reality. We are co-creators with God. Whatever can be imagined can be created so everything that is created is ultimately an imagination of the mind.

    “Romans 1 tells us that “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.”” And the truth is obvious. It is so obvious that we obscure it by trying to understand it. We understand it intuitively as children, but then we lose it when we gain the self (the separation, the fall) and we have to grow through a great deal of intellectual gyrations until we return to the childlike state of faith where we no longer have to try to understand it because it is completely obvious! 🙂

    “Without the personal/loving God of the Bible, you’re left without a pre-condition for intelligibility.” Intelligibility means words and concepts and God is beyond words and concepts. So you only arrive at truth when you get beyond words and concepts and you become like a little child who just gets the obvious truth without trying.

    Thanks again for this discussion. 🙂

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