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The science behind Creationism - part 2

Earth from spaceMartin Kentish follows up his 2013 article titled “Investigating the science behind Creationism”, with the following thoughts:

Back in 2013, I wrote a short article considering a biblical view of creation based on a literal reading of Genesis. The 64 pages and the nature of the feedback comments suggested that it was an emotive issue to many. This article is I hope, a considered response to the comments.
 
On the evolution/creation debate it's good to start at the beginning:  what you believe (by faith) as your starting point will give you the framework through which you will interpret any 'evidence'.
 
Atheists (I will call them naturalists from now on) believe (by faith) that despite all the evidence, life just started when the right conditions came together, and over long periods of time that first life evolved into you and me. So by accepting these two assumptions, all 'evidence' is then interpreted through this lens. Only natural processes are allowed in this belief, no intelligence or supernatural agent (especially God) is allowed. Of course, if you believe your starting point is true, then so you will believe your interpretation of the evidence is also true.
 
On the other side of the debate is the Genesis account which is a historical narrative of everything's beginnings. By accepting this account (by faith), it then provides a different framework to interpret all evidence.
 
In the middle there are theistic evolutionists which essentially accept that God started it off and used evolution to bring about what see today.
 
So when we examine biology, geology, the cosmos, life, culture, religion, art, politics, economics and science we interpret what we see through a particular lens. This is our worldview. This is really where the clash lies. It is not, as some would like to promote, a clash of science versus religion, but a clash of worldviews.
 
The most important question to ask is which of these worldviews is objectively true?
 
Most people are unaware they have a worldview, in the same way you may forget you are wearing glasses and are seeing the world through the lens of your chosen spectacles.
 
Naturalists have a worldview. Christians have a worldview. Muslims have a worldview. In fact, every 'ism' (such as naturalism, capitalism, materialism, communism, feminism etc) is based on some worldview. All make truth claims. Christianity makes truth claims that contradict truth claims made by naturalists. For example, God created (theism) or he didn't (naturalism) is essentially the basis of the creation/evolution truth claims. 
 
People can be entirely consistent with their worldview, yet the worldview be false. People can be inconsistent with their worldview, yet the worldview itself be true. Is an angry, anxious, name-calling and judgemental Christian acting consistently with theirs? Is an altruistic naturalist acting consistently with their belief? Is a Muslim executing someone by beheading acting consistently with theirs?
 
So does the particular worldview match up to the reality we can observe in the present, test and analyse today? Can we consistently live with the chosen worldview?
 
It is worth noting that some of the worst atrocities in the world were committed by those who were acting consistently with their worldview. Hitler for example, acted in a way that was consistent with his Darwinian worldview (Origin of the Species was one of his most influential books).
 
Understanding truth claims is a philosophical endeavour. Richard Dawkins is a good scientist for example, but a very poor philosopher.
 
Sadly, most people are indoctrinated with the evolutionary worldview from childhood. Also, (particularly evangelical) Christians, can be dissuaded from engaging their intellect for fear of it being seen as 'puffing oneself up'.  Many Christians have accommodated the evolutionary worldview, then reinterpreted Genesis to fit within in it (e.g. the six days of creation aren't days at all, but long periods of time to fit within the millions-of-years naturalistic worldview).
 
My journey from atheism, via theistic evolution to biblical creation has forced me to try to understand the worldview through which I am interpreting whatever evidence I am being presented with as truth. It has also forced me to study philosophy far more than I ever set out to do. In doing so, it has allowed me to look at the same 'fact' from different perspectives and ask which is at the very least, more reasonable? More importantly, to ask the question which is true? It has allowed me to question (and falsify) the assumptions behind many scientific 'facts', like the dating methods used to prove things are millions of years old.
 
Darwinism is an example of naturalism. Its founding assumptions like spontaneous creation of life is assumed to be true, yet contradicted by what we can observe and test today. Mutations (DNA copying errors), whether they break, add or duplicate genes do not add anything new required by evolution. They in fact, usually make things worse in terms of illness, infertility or death. Even though there may be a functional advantage (e.g. bacterial resistance), nothing new has been added on to the genome of that organism. Whilst adaptation explains the variety within a particular kind of animal, like dogs, cats or birds, what we observe today and in the fossil record that they all remain true to their kind. When Dawkins is asked for an example of when mutation and selection has created new information, he flounders.
 
False worldviews have a habit of dehumanising people and followers are often led down an empty, dark path. We see this starkly in society. If there is no God as naturalists believe, and secular culture promotes, anything goes. Who then becomes the arbiter of what is right and wrong?  For naturalists, there is no objective truth or morality. Yet whatever faith, or no faith, a person has, somehow we all do have an inbuilt sense of right and wrong which is what we would expect if were created in the image of God.
 
Dogs, cats and humans share similar characteristics. They all have eyes, a brain, ears, femurs, backbones etc. To a naturalist, this is evidence of common descent. To a Biblical creationist, this is evidence of a common designer. So it is easy to be convinced of the truth of your worldview because of how you have interpreted whatever evidence is in front of you. Essentially, the worldview comes first and people often stick rigidly to the worldview.  Many have an a priori commitment to their worldview and won’t shift from it.
 
So believing evolution (beyond adaptation which no one argues with) despite the evidence against it, usually indicates there is an a priori commitment to a particular worldview. Most people take a particular worldview and dig their heels in, defending it ferociously and at times ungraciously.  This behaviour is common; it is far easier to label someone a 'fundamentalist' with regards to biblical creation than it is to understand that worldview. I often wonder why people can get so angry at things they don’t believe in, which then leads to a whole smorgasbord of emotional reactions and avoid the rational debate altogether.
 
Discovering truth is a journey. You can travel to or away from the truth, or simply stay where you are. The more you embrace something which is false, the more you shed which is true. The more you embrace of the truth, the more you shed what is false. So, which is objectively true, good-to-you evolution or the Genesis account?
 
This particular journey of understanding the creation/evolution debate has helped realise the importance of worldviews in any area of life. In fact, worldview analysis is an essential tool for any Christian wishing to step outside of the Sunday morning service comfiness and influence the outside world. Failure to do so will simply allow Christianity to be shoved into a private cupboard labelled 'Values' (opened on Sundays) and restrict Christians from being the powerful redemptive force in the world we are called to be. 
 
An additional benefit of understanding worldviews is also to help understand the likely success of any particular policy or strategy we see in daily life. If for example, people are merely more advanced pot plants, nothing more, then simple manipulating some environment factor should yield some euphoric state. Yet it doesn't. Time and time again we see the failure of these policies and strategies. We see this in housing, policing, even Norwich's traffic planning!
 
If 'safety is a priority', something we see and hear so often, then the product of this principal is curiously enough something which leads to a dehumanised environment where people are ill equipped to deal with risk and avoid taking any personal responsibility for their decisions whether these are practical or moral.
 
For those interested in this topic, read Nancy Pearcey's 'Total Truth' or any of Charles Colson's books. For those interested in the philosophy of science, read Alan Francis Chalmers book on the topic 'So what is this thing called science' or Alvin Platinga's 'Where the Conflict Really Lies'. All are enlightening, all are quite a challenge, but I would recommend anywhere to get their teeth into them before getting too hot under the collar and embark on the schoolyard tactics that so often prevent any mature debate on this issue.
 
Whilst many Christians abandon their faith in response to the 'overwhelming evidence' for evolution, I can safely say this pursuit has only strengthened mine.

To read Martin's original article, click here.
 
 


MartinKentish 600CFMartin Kentish is a Norwich-based marketing analyst and entrepreneur.  He is the Founder of Free Range People, a company that has successfully developed feedback systems for organisations such as McDonalds, Tesco, John Lewis and the Royal Navy.  He is a member of St Thomas Church, Norwich.
 

The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Norwich and Norfolk, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate between website users. 
 
We welcome your polite thoughts and comments, posted below, upon the ideas expressed here. 


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Feedback:
Timothy V Reevess (Guest) 14/10/2016 22:15
Young Earth Creationism, at least on this side of Atlantic, cannot claim to be representative of evangelical Christians. Much better to my mind, for example, are the professional scientists of the Faraday institute and Christians in Science. See here:

http://www.cis.org.uk/groups/norwich/
https://www.faraday.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/

A book to be recommended is Professor Denis Alexander’s book: “Creation or Evolution: Do we have to choose?”

It is these scientists that Christians should be going to, not the antiscience of either a certain theme park manager in Kentucky and least of all to his one-time business partner John Mackay:

http://viewsnewsandpews.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/jeepers-creepers-ii-john-mackay-affair.html

But it gets worse: The foregoing, in their epistemic technique and worldview, are not far removed from the Christian fundamentalist extremes of geocentrism and flat Earth. See here:

http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/problems-in-young-earth-creationism_15.html
http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/hovind-defends-science-against-flat.html


The YEC “worldview” that Martin Kentish refers to entails liberal use of the Omphalos hypothesis which violates the epistemic integrity of God’s creation. A case in point is a recent attempt to solve Christian fundamentalism’s perennial star light problem. See here:

http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/mangling-science-continuing-our-diet-of.html

To the uninformed YEC science is cobbled together by a few off-beat scholars often under pressure from their Christian fundamentalist sect. This may look impressive to the uniformed like Martin Kentish, but under rigorous analysis it crumbles to the touch.

Kathrin Hills (Guest) 17/10/2016 20:30
I would recommend the book written by my late husband Dr Brian Hills,
Genesis a 21st Century Scientific Perspective Reconciling Genesis & science.
In this book the author shows that Genesis is not a creation myth but the word of God that is consistent with a 21st century science and yet goes beyond the scientific aspects by showing how it has profound spiritual significance for all mankind.
It explores the evolution-versus-creation aspects.
It explores the role of biological evolution,
Examines fossil records
Presents evidence for an ancient earth
Discusses the evidence of a catastrophic Genesis flood
Shows how archeological and linguistic data of ancient history agree with the Genesis
account.
This book is well researched by a highly qualified research scientist who has a strong Christian faith.


Tim Reeves 18/10/2016 18:55
Just to make it clear:

In the preface of his book "Creation or Evolution, Do we have to choose?" Denis Alexander's first words are:

"I have written this book mainly for people who believe, as I do, that the Bible is the inspired Word of God from cover to cover"
Keith Morris 19/10/2016 12:56
Response from article author Martin Kentish

First to all I would like to offer a response on a lighter note, and will explain the significance in a moment.
Joe Marcone wrote
"In the end you’re just an ignorant bigoted brainwashed religious inspired anti-science loon who is impeding the progress of humankind."
Perhaps that is why I had a headache the other morning as I've been unwittingly holding back humankind!
I mention this because as I need to confess for most of my life as an atheist that's the kind of language I would be tempted to use. It is the kind of language used too often when anybody questions evolution, irrespective of whether they believe Genesis or not.
Here's a quote from Denis Noble CBE (not a creationist by the way)
".... all the central assumptions of the Modern Synthesis (often also called Neo-Darwinism) have been disproved. Moreover, they have been disproved in ways that raise the tantalizing prospect of a totally new synthesis..."
Let that sink in. An eminent scientist willing to say that the central assumptions of Neo-Darwinsim have been disproved, and there is the prospect of something new to take its place. Sounds exciting to me and surely a great example of how science moves on? Denis Noble received a lot of abuse in saying this.
Sadly, evolution has been raised to a quasi-religious status so anybody who questions it is in for a bumpy ride. It really doesn't matter whether you are a Christian, an atheist, Denis Noble or Martin Kentish, whether you believe in Genesis as a historical narrative or life on Earth was started by aliens. The common message propagated is "Believe what you like, but shut up and don't question any aspect of evolution!"
Everyone has a framework through which they interpret any aspect of reality (their worldview). You make assumptions, formulate a hypothesis, test it out on observable evidence and draw conclusions. Make different assumptions, formulate a different hypothesis, test it out on the same or different evidence and you may draw different conclusions. In my journey from atheism and my belief in naturalism, to believing Genesis as a literal narrative, it has to the best of my abilities been fueled by a desire to discover the truth. Along the way I have had to critically assess the evolutionary truth claims.
And question it is something I have done over the last 9 years. I am far too curious not to. It has been that pursuit of truth that has to led me to study the philosophy of science far more that I thought I would need to. That has led me to understand worldviews, and that neatly leads me back to why I wrote that article.
Were you wonderfully created in the image of an amazing designer (Genesis), or you are just the product of pond scum and DNA copying errors over long periods of time (Neo-Darwinism)?. Both positions start with faith, both make truth claims about origins and both provide a framework to help understand the evidence around us.
Sadly, this debate can so often descend into something that is more suitable to the school playing field along with its name calling, bullying and fighting. Whilst this is going on, I am doing my best to be a better human being, studying sources right across the scientific, philosophical and theological spectrum as my time allows. I am as interested in sources that question my beliefs as I am those that agree with it.

Tim Reeves 19/10/2016 18:08
I don’t necessarily follow the conventional evolutionary story myself but I agree with very little of Martin's response above.

NUMBER ONE:
As the sources I’ve already quoted above indicate Martin’s espoused anti-evolutionism cannot claim to be representative of evangelicalism.

NUMBER TWO:
A straw man distortion of evolution is proposed Viz:

*quote* Were you wonderfully created in the image of an amazing designer (Genesis), or you are just the product of pond scum and DNA copying errors over long periods of time *unquote*

Significantly many atheists think of evolution in such terms so I suspect that Martin owes something of that view to his past. Contrary to such views a working version of conventional evolution would require considerable up front information resources and would be a highly sophisticated computation itself. See here:
http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/the-mathematics-of-spongeam.html
http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/dembski-im-not-denying-evolutionary.html

NUMBER THREE:
Paired down to its minimal form evolution actually admits the possibility of intelligent involvement. See for example the words of an evangelical atheist I have discussed here:
http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/evolutionary-theory-not-fact-says.html

NUMBER FOUR:
There are world views and world views some being very perverse. Is Martin trying to tell us that they are all of equal merit as they can all, in their own very proprietary and eccentric ways bend themselves to fit the accepted “facts”? No! This would put David Ike on a level with other theories. But re. Young Earth Creationism: As I have already said elsewhere its world view entails the use of the Omphalos hypothesis which violates the epistemic integrity of God’s world. See here:
http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/mangling-science-continuing-our-diet-of.html
http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/beyond-our-ken-on-mature-creation-part.html

NUMBER FIVE:
The bullying and insults are on both sides of the debate. In particular Christian fundamentalism has no impunity about describing fellow Christians who disagree with them in the most spirituality insulting terms as they try to secure charges of compromise, heresy and even blasphemy. In particular see below for a reference to Andrew Holland who has visited this thread and gets a mention in this article of mine:
http://viewsnewsandpews.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/the-escape-to-arcadia.html


FINAL NOTE:
After my conversion to Christianity YEC was pushed rather vigorously in my direction as a necessary part of the package. I read for example the “Genesis Flood”. However as I got deeper into subject I realised so much of it was flawed. In particular it has at its roots a flawed Western dualist world view:
http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/nature-vs-god-2nd-law-of-thermodynamics.html

I’m by no means an avid defender of evolutionary theory, but whilst it is being attacked without sufficient competence and intellectual integrity I’m bound to defend it.


Martin Kentish (Guest) 20/10/2016 18:54
Thanks Tim, it's great to have such a considered response and I will enjoy reading those articles (some of them again).

As per the original article some years ago, it has been a personal endeavour to discover the truth. The dualism you speak of is prevalent in much of the debate, and I try to avoid repeating such mistakes in my own considerations of the topics brought up.

I am not an anti-evolutionist at all. It's fairly obvious that adaptation is real, repeatable and observable. However, evolution itself seems so poorly defined and so flexibly used it is difficult to know when someone speaks of evolution, what they are in fact referring to. What I do not believe in is naturalism rather than an intelligence agent with regards to origins.

Also what I do not support is that mutation and selection is adequate in the hypothesis to account for all that we can now see. I don't think we disagree in that respect.


Number 1
I do not speak of evangelical churches as a whole, just some of those that I have involved with in the past.

Number 2
I agree with you - and look forward to reading those resources.

Number 3
I agree on that too.

Number 4
Never claimed all worldviews deserve equal merit, but understanding their worldview, their assumptions, their hypothesis is a useful tool to establish if there is any merit in what they are saying.

Number 5
Agree too - not always one sided. Yet it does seem that the atheists are prone to using those tactics than others.

I do not try to attack anyone but do endeavour to treat everyone with dignity and respect. I am sure I fail at times. The competence and intellectual integrity which you suggest I lack, is only something I am endeavouring to acquire! I am after all, work in progress! Tim, if you are in Norfolk and can meet up I would be delighted to learn more.



Tim Reeves 20/10/2016 23:46
Hi Martin, Many thanks for the reply.

I'm glad to see that you aren't suggesting that all evangelicals follow your views, but perhaps you could have said that in the article?

Perhaps you could also have disowned statements by say the likes of Ken Ham et. al. to the effect that all those who aren't YEC are spiritually compromising. In fact it looked to me from your reference to, quote, "Many Christians have accommodated the evolutionary worldview, then reinterpreted Genesis to fit within in it" unquote, that you were going down that recriminating road yourself! Try making a statement like that to some of scientists of the Faraday institute or Christians in science and tell me what their reply is. I'd be interested.

Yes. evolution is a pretty fuzzy subject, even over exactly what it means. Here's another deconstruction of my favourite evangelical atheist on the topic:

http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/evolutionary-theory-vs-theory-of.html

Your phrase "repeatable and observable" sounds awfully like the old YEC canard about the difference between observable and historical science. See here:

http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/mangling-science-part-5-two-kinds-of.html

I don't think anyone with their heads screwed on properly and who is familiar with the subject (including well read atheists) would claim, quote "that mutation and selection is adequate in the hypothesis to account for all that we can now see" unquote. The very fuzziness of evolution gives huge scope for opt-outs.


Obtuse evolutionary questions apart, the real stickler is the thought that the Earth and cosmos are less than 10,000 years old. It's there that competence and intellectual integrity are really tested! The jury is out.

Tim Reeves 25/10/2016 19:18
Let me just take the inventory as it currently stands:

POINT ONE: Good, Martin’s not saying YEC and anti-evolutionism is representative of evangelicals, but he needs to make that clear.

POINT TWO: Martin says he isn’t peddling a straw man view of evolution as “materialist nothing buttery” (as the expression goes)? Well, let’s wait and see.

POINT THREE: Martin accepts that evolutionary theory could admit intelligent design. If so theistic evolutionists can rightly claim that they are “Intelligent design creationists”. (If those terms weren’t otherwise so blighted by fundamentalism) See John Polkinghorne for example:
http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/polkinghorne-creationist-and-id.html

POINT FOUR: Martin says he isn’t claiming world views are of equal merit. That means some world views join the data dots better than others. So, do we think that the YEC world view does a good job of explaining how it is we can see the Andromeda galaxy 2 million light years away with the naked eye? Or can YECs dismiss current physics on the interstellar speed of light as just down to a world view? (“Same data, different interpretation” as some YECs say)

POINT FIVE: Insults on both sides: In my experience all atheists can do is swear at people and indulge in trivial name calling. Fundamentalists can delve deep into a rich vocabulary of curses and spiritual insults which they really believe to be true and moreover may well accuse one (and one-another!) of being part of a devilish anti-God conspiracy. Which is worse? I know what I think. However, a disclaimer: There are some nice atheists about (Brian Cox and Jim Al-Khalili) and also some nice YECs (Paul Nelson and Sal Cordorva) with nasty people to be found on both sides. Personality type figures strongly here, with, for example, fundamentalism tending to select for those personalities whose faith majors in fear, paranoia, wrath, anger, authoritarianism, judgment, tribalism, conspiracy theorism, punishment, rule driven behaviour, and everlasting damnation. Just look at some of Donald Trump’s supporters.

Timothy V Reevess (Guest) 09/11/2016 11:33
Martin needs to go to this:

http://www.networknorwich.co.uk/Articles/484024/Network_Norwich_and_Norfolk/Resources/Events/Exploring_science_and_religion_course_in_Norwich.aspx

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