Fraud In Science? Are Some Young Earth Proponents Being Disingenuous?

"It contains a misleading impression, not a lie. It was being economical with the truth." Robert Armstrong


Pandora's Cluster-NASA

Today TWW hits the road to meet with a former member of Sovereign Grace Ministries. This discussion, along with others, will result in some posts in the near future. We would ask our readers to pray for those children, individuals and families who were deeply wounded by their experiences in this organization. Please read their various stories which you can link to at the top of our home page. As things heat up in 2013, a working knowledge of these heart-wrenching stories will help you to keep up with the developing lawsuit. We predict that this story may be the biggest religious story, both nationally and internationally, in next year.

We will be gone for the entire day and will be not be able to interact on the blog in any significant way until this evening.

As our regular readers know, Dee likes to explore the creationism wars. The following post was written by John Jarvis who previously wrote a TWW post on creationism, A Tip of the Hat to a Young Earth Scientist and the Biologos President link. John is a TWW reader and describes himself as :

Old John J, now retired, received at Ph.D. in experimental physics from Duke in 1967 and made computer science his career."

This post explores the claims, by some, that there is widespread fraud in the science world. Then, Dr Jarvis turns his attention to the Young Earth community and explores the possibility of fraud there, as well. The discussion becomes technical when he reviews radiometric dating. But, the information provided is essential for even a rudimentary understanding of the debate. Besides, we are convinced that the TWW community is amongst the most well read in the Christian blogosphere. The time spent in understanding this information will be well worth the effort.

TWW is grateful that "Old John J" would grace our pages with a post, once again. Thank you!


Exposure of fraud by, and in, the scientific community

Answers in Genesis uses scientific fraud as an argument supporting their young earth creation (YEC) claims. Try entering the word "fraud" in their site search! Of course fraud is possible in science as there is great pressure on researchers to publish. Career advancement and research supporting grants depend on getting research results published. In this post fraud in the hard sciences (physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology) is the focus.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences “Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications” indicates 2047 biomedical and life sciences papers indexed by PubMed had been retracted. Approximately 2/3 of the retractions were due to misconduct: fraud, plagiarism,,duplicate publication. The full article is behind a paywall but the abstract  link can be read.

PubMed is an indexing service provided by the NIH containing approximately 22,000,000 citations. Thus the retraction rate is about 1 out of every 10700 indexed articles. Science comments on this study in the Oct 5, 2011 issue indicating they had the most retractions, 70 in the past 40 years. An online version of the Science article link study that also includes a link to the PNAS article abstract. Retractions can be instigated by either the journal or the article authors.

A spectacular example of fraud in the hard sciences is the Jan Hendrik Schon affair link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendrik_Schoen , more thoroughly documented in the book Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World, Eugenie Samuel Reich, Macmillan 2009, ISBN 978-0-230-62384-2.

Reproducibility is the key

Very briefly, spectacular breakthroughs claimed in the field of semiconductor sciences were ultimately shown to be fraudulent. Lack of reproducibility of published results was a major part of uncovering this fraud. The Wikipedia article indicates that this affair lead to retraction of 8 articles published in SCIENCE and many others in first rank journals, revocation of a major award and also revocation of his doctorate. The sanctions received by Schon amount to a professional death sentence.

Fraud in science is costly to both the guilty individual and the discipline as a whole.  Lack of reproducibility is a major part of the
self policing done by science. Reproducing results occurs naturally and proportionally to the importance of the claimed result and is inherent in the hard sciences. However, unnecessary replication forced by charges of fraud is expensive and often time consuming as it entails repeating much of the original research in a lab not involved in the published research. The difficulty of establishing fraud in “soft” sciences based on “finds” is the theme of Paul Maier's novel A Skeleton in God's Closet. (editor's note: TWW reviewed this great book here.)

Could there be a similar propensity to mislead in the Young Earth community?

The second example of fraud comes from the Answers in Genesis  (AIG) website, specifically the article Does Radiometric Dating Prove the Earth Is Old? link (DRDP)  that purports to show that radiometric dating does not support the conventionally claimed age of the Earth as approximately 4.5 billion years.

Radiometric dating is firmly established as a reliable method of determining the age of many different kinds of minerals and clearly can
be considered a part of the hard sciences. An excellent introductory discussion of the technique including refutation of many of the
criticisms brought by YEC supporters is Radiometric Dating, A Christian Perspective link The ASA, American Scientific Affiliation, is an organization of professional scientists who are Christians.

The basic assumptions made to use this method are uniformity of the properties of each isotope (nuclei that have the same number of protons and same number of neutrons) and the long term constancy of these properties. That here is half life for a quantity of a particular radioactive isotope is a consequence of the basic assumptions and is measured. An alternate statement of these assumptions is that each atom of a particular radioactive isotope has the same probability of decaying in a specified interval of time. This latter statement is sufficient to allow the derivation of the decay equation used to calculate the age of a sample from a knowledge of the quantities of parent and daughter nuclides found in a rock sample. These assumptions can be considered as consequences of quantum mechanics. Obviously, great experimental care has to be employed because of the complexity and variety of materials that can be dated. A significant real world complication is the presence of daughter isotopes that are
not due to the decay of the parent.

The cited AIG web page, DRDP, draws heavily on the Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth  (RATE) project supported by the Institute for Creation Research and the Creation Research Society. This project is the centerpiece of the YEC arguments challenging the 4.5 billion year estimate of the Earth's age. DRDP quotes age determinations using 4 different radiometric methods for two US sites made on samples collected by the RATE project. An un-cited age from the literature is also given for each location and is labeled the “accepted” value. The claim made is that the differences between the various ages for each location are so large that no value can be attached to them. They are “discordant”. No explanation, discussion or definition of exactly what discordance is or what would constitute good agreement is given.

For the Beartooth Mountain, Wyoming samples 7 ages are given in addition to the “accepted” age value of 2790 million years. The most obvious comparison to make is between the average of the RATE determined ages, 2378 million years, to the accepted value yielding a difference of 412 million years or about 17% lower. The simplest way to evaluate this difference is by comparison to the standard deviation for the measurements, an accepted way of characterizing the scatter or range of values in a sample. For the RATE data the standard deviation is 470 million years. The difference between the RATE and accepted age estimates is less than 1 standard deviation of the RATE ages. This is actually good agreement.

The other set of RATE data is from the Bass Rapids Sill formation in the Grand Canyon and the presumably referenced conference paper, DRDP reference 8, is available from AIG: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v5/n1/radioisotopes-in-diabase-sill-at-bassrapids  (RDSB). Ten ages are given, each appearing to be an average of several values, using 4 different radioisotope series computed with an isocron dating method, a technique used to correct for the presence of nonradiogenic daughter isotopes. The average age of the 10 values is 1166 million years and the ages have a standard deviation of 181 million years. Compare the RATE data mean to the accepted age of 1075 million years. The difference is 91 million years, about half of the Bass Rapids samples standard deviation, with the RATE data about 8% higher than the accepted value.

Again, this is good agreement given the standard deviation of the RATE age determinations. The age determinations for the two geological sites appear, to this non geologist, competently done and sufficiently close to other age determinations for the same sites that the given ages are not a basis for a charge of fraud. A curious omission from RDSB are the radioisotope half-life values used in computing the ages from the measured quantities. For my checking I've used the half-life values from Wiens.

RDSB, echoed by DRDP, actually present radiometric age data that support the consensus scientific age of the Earth. The standard deviations (often referred to as sigma) are in the 10% range, not the factor of almost a million that would bring radiometric ages into agreement with YEC claims. The two AIG web pages then present “conclusions” arguing without any recourse to additional experimental data that the radiometric dating methods are flawed and contain unrecognized, by the science community, flaws. Unlike the age determinations where much data and comprehensive charts are given there is absolutely no quantitative information stated to justify these conclusions. This, in my opinion, is the fraud in YEC age of the Earth claims. The lack of relevance between of the age determinations presented to the conclusions put forth is the biggest reason why such a paper (RDSB) cannot be a scientific paper.

Another favorite contention of YEC is the Noachian Flood as cause of major geological features of the Earth such as the Grand Canyon. There is delicious irony in RDSB showing an ancient age for the Grand Canyon rocks. YEC claims are not even internally consistent let alone consistent with either their own or accepted science.The ASA provides extensive analysis and discussion of the RATE project starting at the overview page link.

For YEC supporters to sustain their claim of a young Earth (6000-10000) years there are just two options. The first is to invalidate by accepted scientific methods a sufficient number of published age determinations that the experimental methods used are called into question. The second is to show from fundamental physics that the dating methods are theoretically flawed. To be considered valid any such claims would have to be accepted by the scientific community, that is published in recognized journals. But what we have in the two articles, DRDP and RDSB, is data that is a general confirmation of the science based ages followed by claims that have no basis in either the data presented or the physical processes claimed.

The PubMed retraction study and the Schoen affair mentioned in the first example of fraud demonstrate effective self policing by the science community of its standards for accuracy, correctness and intellectual honesty. What, if any, are the accuracy, correctness and intellectual honesty standards for YEC science claims and is there any enforcement of them?

Exodus 20:16 is the ninth of the Ten Commandments. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to explain why purposeful fraud in the YEC presentation of their version of science is not bearing false witness.

Lydia's Corner: Leviticus 24:1-25:46 Mark 10:13-31 Psalm 44:9-26 Proverbs 10:20-21

Comments

Fraud In Science? Are Some Young Earth Proponents Being Disingenuous? — 465 Comments

  1. Carol,
    Dee believes passionately in her version of the evolutionary paradigm. It’s only natural that she’d want to defend it, just as it’s only natural that you’d want to defend your interpretation of Scripture.

    But when you accuse her of attacking you personally and that her comments were uncalled for, I have trouble seeing it.

    Dee is one of most open minded and gracious blog owners I’ve ever had the good fortune to be acquainted with. For what it’s worth, I too am skeptical of the evolutionary paradigm, but I don’t part company with the other folks here over what should be a secondary issue with regard to faith.

  2. @ Carol  on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:01 PM to Pam.

    “I disagree with the statement that “It’s not so much that scientists set out deliberately aiming to reject special creation…” On the contrary, it is the plainly stated mission of many scientists and organizations.”  Carol

    Carol, 

        Hello, 

     “the plainly stated mission of many scientists and organizations?”

    As you are well aware, Creation and federal tax dollars don’t mix. Individuals who subscribe to creation as described in the Hebrew book of Geneses generally receive no federal funding.  Individuals who subscribe to creation as described in the Hebrew book of Geneses receive relatively little or no support from their fellow colleagues in the scientific community. It is common knowledge that many scientists give evolution the nod, i.e. lip service, yet when in private, believing something else entirely. They have stated that it is the price of admission in today’s scientific circles, the price one pays to do research. This is well documented.

    Sorry to see your willingness to leave the discussion. The TWW kitchen can get quite hot at times, yet the”food” is normally quite good, and certainly worth the wait!

    Happy Holidays,

    IronClad

  3. JeffS

    About a year ago, I learned that creationism, as it is used by some Christians and secularists, means only young earth creationism. Folks, like Carol, would contend that only young earth creationsim is correct and only that perspective should be, and must be, taught in classrooms. I know make it a point to say that I am a believer in an Old Earth and believe that God created the whole shabang.

    This belief makes the subject so much easier. So, since I know the earth to be old, I have no trouble with that being taught in science. The only problem I would have in a public science curriculum is if it taught there was no God as a basic assumption. But, if a person wanted to start their own school, and teach that , then all is OK.

     

  4. An unspoken assumption in this latest thread is that Genesis 1 and 2 are talking about science. Trying to make the initial chapters of Genesis into science has been the cause of endless discussion and extreme polarization of views between certain theologians and the science community. A paper interpreting early Genesis in the context of Israel’s surrounding cultures suggests that combating polytheism and idolatry was the actual intent. The article is “Dinosaur Religion:  On Interpreting and Misinterpreting the Creation Texts”, CONRAD HYERS, From: JASA 36 (September 1984): 142-148. link: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1984/JASA9-84Hyers.html

    The article abstract: “Resolution of science/religion conflicts is often thwarted by polarization into extreme viewpoints, such as “scientific creationism” and “scientific naturalism.” Not only do the extremes attempt to dismiss each other; ironically, they often have much in common. They both place religious and scientific statements on the same level; they both try to draw religious and anti-religious conclusions from scientific data and theory; they both interpret religious texts, such as the creation accounts, in terms of scientific fact and model–either to defend the scientific truth of the Bible or to reject the Bible as primitive science. If one carefully distinguishes between the special literature and language of the Bible and that of modern science, resolution of apparent conflicts is possible”

  5. Carol

    You were the one who said that scientists were unbelievers. I called you on it. You bet it is personal. You insult the many scientists who are people of faith. However, you show a penchant for following Ken Ham’s rules of engagement. You made ad hominem attacks on scientists. I challenged you, saying  that you are judging them, actually questioning their salvation. Then, you criy “No fair” you pick up your ball and go home, whining about how people are mean to you. I’ve watched Ken Ham do this time and time again. In fact, I am getting ready to send out a tweet in which he whines again. You need to learn to fight fair. 

     

  6. Dee, Carol –

    Hey this was a good conversation .. ok, everyone back to the table, have a shot of eggnog with some tequila floating on top (flaming of course), and let’s get back to the business of solving the universe’s problems.

  7. Dee, I never really took into at least a spontaneous position of creation myself until it occured to me how plants need oxygen to thrive and was somewhat of an naturalist for the longest. Spontaneous creation whether one is a YEC in their position or not seems to be possible though it may not sound scientific.

  8. Muff

    You have earned yourself a dinner at Q Shack on me if you ever visit Raleigh! I will also show you the traditional squaw outfit that my Navajo friends made for me as a parting gift!

  9. Ironclad

    Carol mentioned iron sharpening iron. What she really meant was for us to get sharpened while she stays the same. Same old, same old,,, 

  10. Old John J

    You need to give yourself a pat on the back. Your discussion has netted over 400 comments! That means you have struck a nerve and that is what we like to do at TWW.

     

  11. Casey

    Whenever people bring up subjects, such as spontaneous creation, I recommend that they go to blogs such as Reason to Believe, Answers in Creation or Biologos to see how they handle such topics. Many years ago, when I had my crisis of faith, I decided to find and read all kinds of thoughts and opinions. I was amazed at the number of things people wrote about which caused me to create The Fred Priniciple. 

    This principle states that smarter people then I have contemplated these issues. So, it behooved me to find the explanations.And you better believe that I found them. When a former pastor said that ” no death before the Fall” proves YEC, I smiled and said that many Christian have dealt quite nicely with that issue and it might be of benefit to find out what they have to say on the issue.

  12. I have to confess feeling sorry for Carol.She entered the conversation in good faith, endured a fair bit of personal criticism while being accused of dishing it out herself, when she wasn’t.

    Because of the obsession with the Puritans, Calvinists, YEC-ers and anyone else of a reformed nature, I decided to read the Puritans by Carlo Bates. You can imagine how much I laughed when I read the following

    ‘A discussion full of cleverness and the adroit handling of words, yet which left Philip in the confusion of being made to realize that what to him were vital truths were to those about him merely so many hypotheses upon which to found argument’

    That could become the mission statement of TWW, don’t you think?

    Regards
    Gavin

  13. Dee, what I was driving at is old earth, new earth, however you want to look at it, the intervention of God in our world is not science, neither is it mathematics. It IS true that God created the world, but it is not a matter for the classroom.

    Science is about drawing conclusions from observations in the natural order. Creationism is non-scientific by that definition.

    Or to say it differently, “science” and “truth” are not the same thing.

    2+2=4 is true but it is not science.
    Creationism is true, but it is not science.

    We should not teach anything in the classroom that denies or supports the miraculous interventions of God- that is not what children are there to learn.

  14. Gavin

    I disagree with you.I guess I can show you what she said. I have seen these arguments before. 

     

    I’m not accusing all, or even the majority of individuals in the science community of conscious or deliberate falsehood.

    Then:

    And yet many Christians remain gripped with overwhelming awe and deference for scientists

    We disagree whether unbelieving man’s collective efforts and conclusions could somehow trump God’s Word

    Rather, I’m trying to express a Biblical truth (to follow) and how it relates to the science establishment in general, i.e. the politics and motivation behind professional acceptance, peer respect, rewards, fame, publicity, positions of honor etc., and how scientists are naively perceived by the general population as having supreme authority and insight into the origins of the universe and man.

    Thus my statement regarding the “collusion” in the science establishment, a group of people who mostly reject Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created.

    I love and trust the LORD. He says He created the world and everything in it in six days. I believe Him. (Subtle)

     Why do believers embrace and revere the word of unbelieving scientists, as if they are God – and reinterpret the word of a holy God, as if He were human?

    why should we try so hard to conform the Bible to scientists’ theories that were originally posited to explain things without God?

    Here is what I said

    You were the one who said that scientists were unbelievers. I called you on it. You bet it is personal. You insult the many scientists who are people of faith.

     You made ad hominem attacks on scientists. I challenged you, saying  that you are judging them, actually questioning their salvation.

    Then, you criy “No fair” you pick up your ball and go home, whining about how people are mean to you. 

  15. “‘A discussion full of cleverness and the adroit handling of words, yet which left Philip in the confusion of being made to realize that what to him were vital truths were to those about him merely so many hypotheses upon which to found argument’”

    Gavin, Vital truths do not lead to burning women at the stake for trying to alieve pain in childbirth. Vital truths do not lead to wiping out INdians because they refuse to sell their land. Vital truths do not lead to a church state government and oppressive religion. I could go on,the but “vital truth” argument fromm a Puritan perspective is not really all that credible.

  16. Anyone

    Setting up my own blog, only a single page dealing with a definition of atheism vs being an agnostic, if anyone has a few minutes I’d like to get a general feel for what you think…whether it is content, writing style, look & feel, whatever you’d like to comment on.

    Thanks in advance.

    http://chashiva.wordpress.com/what-is-atheism/

  17. From my limited knowledge of NC wildlife I think the best way to catch a black crappie is to use a jig and lure, particularly as evening falls and they come closer to the river bank after the heat of the day.

    Thank you for letting me know that such is your distaste for all things Puritan, that you dislike even fiction that mocks the Puritans.

    I rest my case m’lud.

    Well I never.

    Regards
    Gavin

  18. Gavin

    Some day I hope to show you around my former home town of Salem. I actually have fond memories of the Puritans-they provided a bunch of stuff that needed to go into museums and i played in those museums when I was growing up.

    One of the most memorable evenings of my life took place in a restaurant in Moscow. The lines were horrendous but I was near the front with my parents. A slighlty inebriated manager of British Airways asked to join us. For the rest of the night, he regaled us with spot on imitations of Monty Python. I laughed so hard I couldn’t eat. Even the people at tables around us were laughing. Occassionally he would jump up and act out scenes. 

    I may not fully get the humor but I have been entertained.

  19. Dee,
    Since you have a blog, please go and learn what it means to speak graciously with others you disagree with about highly controversial subjects, while maintaining self-control and brotherly kindness.

    People are sinners. Scientists are people. Ergo, scientists are sinners too, and capable of the follies, self-interest and unbelief common to mankind.

    If you need to take that personally, and react in a harsh and mocking way, and then gloat about it…well I guess that’s what defines your attitude toward others you disagree with, and that’s too bad.

    2 Peter 1:5-8
    But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
    For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  20. Dee
    It once was said that I looked a bit like John Clees but more recently my American friends say Sean Connery. I tell them they need to see an optician.
    I have a lot of friends in Charlotte NC and some day I’d like to visit Salem and Jonathan Edwards stomping ground.
    Regards
    Gavin

  21. Gavin,

    John Cleese vs Sean Connery … hmm someone needs some new spectacles 🙂

    thanks btw, i commented back

  22. Carol,

    It’s not the scientists that we have faith in, it’s the process that’s been built which shows itself to be trustworthy and self-correcting. So sin really doesn’t enter into it.

  23. Carol on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 12:58 PM:

    Carol, you continue to diss people in the mmost foul way and seem not to recognize that you are doing it. Perhaps you should take some time to learn how to interact with people who disagree with you.

    There is no grand collusion in the scientific community. Anyone who discovers an error within that community publishes it and receives praise for doing so. And generally, when an error is discovered, the person who originated it will publish a retraction or a correction, or even a study showing how that error came to be. It is a very competitive world.

    Dee is as fair a host on the web as you will ever find. TWW is far and away the most open, fair and even-handed blog site, head and shoulders above second place. They are a model for the blogging community. If you don not like how you are treated here, please reexamine your own behavior, for that is where the fault lies.

  24. Carol wrote:

    People are sinners. Scientists are people. Ergo, scientists are sinners too, and capable of the follies, self-interest and unbelief common to mankind.

    Carol, the primary point of my original article which started this set of comments was to demonstrate that the hard sciences, (physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology), in particular are aware of our failings and tendencies independent of our religious beliefs and have set up processes to insure the accuracy of what is published. I contrasted the behavior of AIG in particular where there is apparently no peer review or standards of accuracy what so ever. Your refusal to consider the premises science is done under in spite of having them pointed out repeatedly calls, in my mind anyway, your intent in making these comments.

  25. Carol wrote:

    I realize that a vast number of highly educated and respected people scorn the creation account entirely. Let’s be frank, they usually scorn Jesus Christ and salvation too.
    When folks are motivated, they can come up with many reasons why not to believe the thing they don’t want to believe. And they can publish it, “prove” it, and award each other Nobel prizes. I’m not being sarcastic either. Man colludes with man (and woman) to “be all they can be” without God.

    This is the crux of this debate. You feel that scientists are in collusion to deny the Christian (or any) faith. Yes there are some. But in general no. They are out to try and figure out how the universe works. And from where I’ve sat for years as a student of STEM subjects and a Christian it is the Christians who drive out the scientist when they bring up things which don’t match the interpretations accepted for the last few 100 or 1000 years.

    Which is what seems to keep happening. Christians have always thrown science under the bus when it tells them their thoughts on the physical universe might be wrong. But are very happy to use the fruits of the same science in their daily lives. They just mostly seem to claim that it really doesn’t work. So I guess all these neat modern devices are all just miracles or luck?

    Again. Believe what you want about how God created the universe. But to claim science is in a grand conspiracy about the origins of the universe is nonsense to most of us who study the matter.

  26. Carol wrote:

    please go and learn what it means to speak graciously with others you disagree with about highly controversial subjects

    Telling many of us that we are in collusion to deny Christ isn’t exactly what I’d call gracious.

  27. Carol

    Last time I checked, Deb and I own this blog and we allow even your difficult comments. Most blogs delete them. So, continue to post comments. You are doing harm to your cause. The Hippocratic Oath says something on the lines of “First, do no harm”

    I may take Fendrel up on his advice and have a glass of caberbet as the afternoon wanes.

  28. Carol, your comments dishonour those many scientists who are also faithful Christians. People of good faith who love our Lord can disagree on the nature of origins and the interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis. For my part, I applaud Deb and Dee for calling on the carpet those who are using discredited and dubious methods to make their claims.

  29. “People are sinners. Scientists are people. Ergo, scientists are sinners too, and capable of the follies, self-interest and unbelief common to mankind. ”

    People are sinners. Theologians are people. Ergo, Theologians are sinners too, and capable of the follies, self-interest and unbelief common to mankind.

    Theologians make mistakes too- ask Galileo.

  30. Wow Dee! I’m bettin’ the squaw outfit is fantastic, and that the craftsmanship (craftswomanship?) is superb!

  31. @ Argo:
    Hey Argo…I agree with your basic picture of calvinist/reformed theology…when pain burned away all the ‘can’t know the mind of God’ smokescreen, it all looked very much as you say, & is at the heart of my current…unease…erm…not sureness…feeling of being unsafe…that I have with God. It can be dressed up nicely, but when the rubber hits the road (for me, I know not everyone experiences this) anything that puts the goodness of God under this much pressure blows your confidence out of the water. If you could nuke calvinist theology off the face of the planet I would be a happy woman (apols to those this offends).
    I have lurked at your blog & must do more. I did leave a comment once, but it never showed up.

  32. blockquote>From my limited knowledge of NC wildlife I think the best way to catch a black crappie is to use a jig and lure, particularly as evening falls and they come closer to the river bank after the heat of the day.
    ~ Gavin ~

    Gavin,
    Permit me to regale you with an anecdote of my youth & black crappies in the wilds of Wisconsin. Our preferred bait was crawlers (short for plain old annelid earthworms). After we’d caught several stringers full, we’d dress them, and my maternal grandmother would fry them for us in a black iron skillet that was cast in Pittsburg shortly after the Civil War. She’d gotten it from her mother…

    I ‘m glad to share and relate on a human level sans religion & theology, it’s sooo much better this way yes?

  33. @ dee on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 09:04 AM:

    “Carol mentioned iron sharpening iron. What she really meant was for us to get sharpened while she stays the same. Same old, same old,,, ”  

    Carol may be asking the age old question, “when should reason trump faith?”

  34. Muff

    They gave me a name (phonetically) Asonchee which apparently means “white woman who always laughts.” However, there is a caveat. If the accent is on the worng syllable it means ***hole. I accused them of playing games with me. But they said they knew I would appreciate the possibilities. Navajos have a great sense of humor. They always look serious even when laughing! They also gave me a turquoise necklace that I juts had restrung.

    Truly, it was a wonderful experience. I loved them very much. I still remember my first day. I was sitting on a handmade rug over the dirt floor,with the woodburning stove pipe going through the middle of the round roof of the wood hogan. Sheep skin was drying on the rafters. I remember thinking that one week previous I had been sitting on the Esplanade in Boston listening to the Pops. I felt like a travelled half a world away but I was in New Mexico. God has blessed me by allowing me to see this world in such intimate settings.

  35. Boy, have I missed some interesting comments over the past day or so!

    With respect to Carol, I have read the argument that Christians should not accept “unbelieving” theories elsewhere. An article in an evangelical magazine not so long ago claimed that evolution had first been touted by the ancient Greeks who were “men without hope”, thus apparently trying to discredit them. I’ve never heard this argument applied to Euclidean geometry though!

    Now I will say this in defence of Carol – one of the bases (as I understand it – OldJohnJ and Fendrel may be able to correct me!) of science is scientific naturalism. That is to say, science seeks to find a cause for something that can be explained in mechanistic or causative terms without invoking a supernatural reason for it. This does not rule out the possibility, eg that a global Flood or catastrophic event shaped much of modern rock formation (there are other problems with Flood geology but this isn’t one of them). Scientific naturalism is however NOT the same as philosophical naturalism – the latter is an a priori assumption that the supernatural or miraculous MUST be excluded or can NEVER happen. Scientific naturalism simply does not have a relationship to the miraculous, any more than colour influences the working of algebra.

    I welcome any comments.

  36. @ IronClad:

    Galileo was probably asked the same questions as he refused to deny what he had learned about the solar system . . . so here we are again with some Christians telling others that they may not be Christians if they don’t believe certain things about the Bible. It reminds me of the church leaders ranting about Galileo.

  37. Beaker,
    What?! So sorry about that. Please post again. I’m new at the blog thing. I probably hit the wrong button or something.

    Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it, and would appreciate your input.

    Yes, dismantling Calvinism is of an importance that cannot be understated. It destroys faith, truly. Rolling back Calvinist dogma is tedious, but not that difficult once you trace the “logic” to its metaphysical and moral conclusions. They are glaringly impossible once you strip away the equivocating and redefining of terms.

    What I have found most difficult is getting people to accept that they hold incompatible ideas once it has been made plain. For some reason these are doctrines that people equate with God Himself. It doesn’t matter how irrational…and they will often agree that the doctrines aren’t particularly consistent, and yet still “die on the hill”. That, to me, is the most discouraging.

    @ Beakerj:

  38. @ Bridget: 

    “Galileo, house arrest so becomes you!; wouldn’t want to upset the apple cart, now would we?”

  39. Good question. Of course, if you are me you can easily answer this. Sin nature has nothing to do with biological birth. It refers to the awareness of the moral law via mans innate ability to reason. Thus, children are not under judgment for example because they have not reached full rational self awareness. They are morally innocent, which is the criteria of salvation.

    Jesus’s Father was God. That’s why it was a virgin birth. There is nothing relevant about a biological sin nature.

    Fendrel…very astute!

    @ Fendrel:

  40. Argo wrote:

    What I have found most difficult is getting people to accept that they hold incompatible ideas once it has been made plain. For some reason these are doctrines that people equate with God Himself. It doesn’t matter how irrational…and they will often agree that the doctrines aren’t particularly consistent, and yet still “die on the hill”. That, to me, is the most discouraging.

    You then need to show them how the real reason they’re not letting go is because they have too much to lose by being proved wrong. They will disagree with you, though it’s true. Nobody likes a hit to their pride as big as ‘these things you’ve believed for years and years are false, problematic and of no help to the Kingdom.’

  41. Argo

    The Catholic’s solution to this problem is to claim that Jesus’ mother, Mary, was miraculously conceived. In that conception, the chain of sin was broken and she was born without sin. Since she was without sin, then she was able to give birth to Jesus and not pass on the sin. Unfortunately for the Catholics, there is absolutely no evidence in the Bible for the belief. It also leaves the question that if Mary could be born without sin from sinful parents, then why not Jesus directly? The Protestants take a different approach. They argue that sin is only passed through the fathers. Since Jesus did not have an earthly father, he did not inherit Adam’s sin.

    But that begs yet another question. If by having a sin nature that means we cannot help but sin, then how can we be responsible for our actions if they are sinful. In other words, if I can control my own impulse and not sin on a particular occasion, then why not on each successive occasion. What makes one instance different from the next…and of course if that isn’t the case and I cannot control my impulse to sin…then how is it moral to hold me accountable for my action.

    Kolya

    Yes, I believe that I agree with what you said, and I am glad that you pointed out that there are scientific problems with the idea of a global flood, and may I add, a virgin birth, a resurrection, pick your miracle.

  42. Fendrel,

    Exactly. You have revealed to yourself the very metaphysical contradiction which is at the core of Calvinist and neo-reformed theology, and why I completely reject it. That is good old timey capricious gnostic determinism, and why I reject the reformed interpretation of sin nature, the doctrines of election, original sin, and total depravity.

    As Jesus might have said, “You are not far from the metaphysical kingdom of God.” LOL!

    Please continue to reject these kinds of “Christian” teachings. Your questions hit at the core if what is wrong with the American church. And like I said before, appealing to suspension of disbelief is a miserable way to debate an atheist, or anyone for that matter.

  43. Argo: I always thought that Jesus developed in the womb exempt of both sperm and egg. Literally, just appeared out of nowhere and started growing.

    Could that theory be supported?

  44. Argo, I am an atheist, I reject the entire concept of sin as anything more than a control mechanism, a way to make people feel shame and accept that they have a need, for which the church has a remedy. Like any good salesman, first you must create the need, then offer the solution.

    The vast number of people from various religions who have bought into that speaks to nothing more than our insecurity and need to be part of a group, to fit in, if you will.

  45. Beaker,

    It was horrible when we left or SGM church. We lost friends, trust, and I was in a spiritual wasteland for months. I know exactly how you feel.

    To my English friends in particular: I am first cousins with John Locke. You can guess why I’m such a fan of reason-guided faith. LOL

  46. Argo,,
    reason guided faith, surely that’s got to be right up their with military intelligence and parting is such sweet sorrow as one of the world’s greatest oxymoron’s 🙂

  47. Fendrel,
    Of course you feel that way. But your assumptions about Christianity are false. But that isn’t entirely your fault, is what I am saying.

    But your metaphysical assumptions are no more consistent than anyone else’s, and I think you possess a level of off-putting presumption that masks your obvious intelligence.

    You cannot claim enlightenment through atheism. It IS a philosophical faith, whether or not you want to accept it. Science cannot disprove God, only metaphysical reason, and that’s a debate you reject, by definition. So…we are stuck disagreeing. Oh we’ll.

    Atheism is no more reasonable a world view in the least. In fact, you have more in common with the very religious determinism you eschew than with Judeo-Christian ideology (when it is not merged with platonic secular philosophy).

    I think you need to ask more questions of everything, rather than demagoging your atheism. But that’s my opinion.

  48. Argo,

    So do you believe that, in the absence of empirical evidence, the suspension of belief is not a more rational course of action then committing oneself to a proposition which has little or nothing to support it, especially in light of the fact that such a proposition will have a profound effect on your worldview and how you chose to live out your life?

  49. Fendrel,
    I deny your insistence on empirical evidence as being relevant. If one believes in God as Creator, there is empirical evidence all around. Miracles are seen as miracles, truth is known by reason applied to the most rational of metaphysics.

    If you are an atheist, there is zero empirical evidence, and there never will be. Miracles are explained by natural law; where they don’t exist, it is still assumed to be a function of nature. Reason is irrelevant; natural law determines. Your very belief system makes you incapable of truly knowing or doing anything, so what difference does it make how the rest of your life is effected. Effects are an illusion. You said so yourself. You don’t even own your own thoughts, so how is being an atheist more reasonable? By definition, your thinking or believing anything is beyond your control. You have no grounds to assume any truth at all. Your every thought is pointless.

  50. Until you reject your denial of metaphysics, reason, and self-awareness, like I said, we’ll have to disagree. There can be no debate because you reject your own ability to even have a volitional perspective.

  51. Fendrel, thank you for your note. However there is a difference between the assertion of a global Flood and the Virgin Birth and Resurrection. The latter two are explicitly acknowledged to be of supernatural provenance, ie nobody would claim that these fall in with the natural laws of science (as applied to humans in this life). The global Flood as espoused by some believers is claimed to be supported by conventional scientific evidence. Hence there are greater problems with it. If on the other hand one were to regard it as a miracle, then paradoxically that would be less of an issue – theoretically God could have flooded the earth to a depth of seven miles above its current sea level, then allowed the waters to recede without the catastrophic effects on the planet which I understand that such a depth of water would normally have. However the problem is that the Scriptures themselves do not explicitly indicate a miraculous occurrence of the same category (I stand open to correction) as the birth or resurrection of Jesus. In the Old Testament God appears to use Nature itself to produce events in line with his timing – thus Genesis 6-9 simply records that torrential rain fell and “the fountains of the deep” opened (whether that latter phrase is poetry I leave for Hebrew scholars to judge). By definition nothing can be impossible for God, but it seems that it would be much easier to wipe out a civilisation clustered in Mesopotamia (a fairly low-lying area) with flood water than to flood the entire planet, at least from the point of view of allowing Noah and his descendants to survive. An interesting discussion of Flood geology can be found in Alan Hayward’s book “Creation and Evolution”, in particular the problems put forward by some folk to meet the difficulties. I understand that the Hebrew does not rule out the possibility of a local (albeit catastrophic) flood, and I think this view is also taken by Hugh Ross (again I stand open to correction).

    It is interesting however that many cultures, including those in South America, have flood stories.

  52. Kolya,

    yes, and God could have created the universe exactly as it literally states in Genesis and then put it into a state which makes it look like it does today…a miracle! If you go down that path you lose all ability to distinguish miracle from natural…how would you ever know

    If God uses “natural means” to accomplish something, then it could have occurred without his help. If he uses nature in a way that can’t happen naturally, then He isn’t using natural methods…can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    If God, for example, in response to my prayers for a sunny day, causes a wind to blow so that the clouds don’t intrude on my picnic, you have absolutely zero proof that God is involved…it could just as easily have happened without his “influence”.

    On the other hand if God places a cylinder environment around my picnic area with 70 mile per hour winds whirling around the outside, rain, hail and 20 degree temperatures, but inside my little picnic area it is 85, sunny, not too humid with a light breeze…well then he isn’t using “natural methods” is he, because nature behaves that way.

    If you say the flood was a “miracle” that is no different than saying it was magic..do we really want to believe in magic now?

    If there were sufficient water either in the atmosphere or beneath the surface the pressure from that vapor would have raised temperatures to literally boil every living thing on the planet, simple physics.

    Sorry time for bed…this answer may have been a bit fragmented and difficult to follow, sorry getting tired. I’ll do better tomorrow.

    🙂

  53. Fendrel,

    Facinating. You are arriving at very similar conclusions as I have. God either does it, or nature does it. The idea of God using nature or even perpetually “directing” it is a metaphysical redundancy, and thus cannot be of God.

    If God creates a thing then metaphysical and moral reason demand that that thing must then exist to do what it does apart from God according to itself. This is the only way creation can exist. This is exactly why I reject determinism and all of its constructs (original sin, TD, election, predestination, etc.).

    We may fundamentally disagree on the existence of God, but your questions are exceedingly refreshing. You don’t know how few people of faith even dare to go there.

  54. Hi Fendrel. Those are good points, but I wasn’t necessarily arguing that the Flood was a miracle. I had already acknowledged the scientific difficulties with the earth being covered with enough water to cover Mt Everest. As you say, the “canopy theory” as I believe it is called would under the laws of science produced conditions inimical to terrestrial life.

    And you are right of course in that if you pray for a nice day for your picnic and it turns out as such, there is no proof that God did it. That is not to say he did not hear your prayer, but I do not think God interferes arbitrarily in the normal working of his universe, even though Heb 1 tells us he sustains it by his power. Even with miracles, I do not believe they are arbitrary – there is a difference between miracle and magic (I think this subject is covered in Lewis’s “Miracles”). The Christian basis for science is that God has made an orderly universe which can thus be investigated to discover its workings, which of course with an arbitrary universe where the rules were constantly changing would be impossible.

  55. Kolya,

    The issue as you pointed out with an arbitrary universe would be then understanding or better yet, making predictions would be impossible. But even if you allow for a single “miracle”, you have that problem.

    I’d curious how you differentiate a miracle from magic.
    a quick dictionary definition seems to fit either

    The power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

  56. Hi Fendrel. Can I get back to you on that? I would like to dig out a couple of things in the midst of seasonal frenzy!

  57. After a quick browse of a couple of unrelated sources, I think one could say this for a start. As far as the physical world goes, there may be little or nothing to differentiate the miracle from magic. In the early chapters of Exodus when Pharaoh demanded a sign from Moses, Moses and Aaron were able to produce miraculous signs. But the Egyptian magicians were also able to do this at first. Eventually however as the plagues grew more severe the magicians were unable to replicate these and bluntly told Pharaoh it was God at work.

    The difference seems to be mainly one of intent. A miracle is done for the benefit (possibly salvation, in the long term) of others. At the risk of making a sweeping generalisation, one could say that magic draws attention to itself. By contrast Jesus often warned those whom he had cured not to tell others about what had happened, possibly because of the consequences, as one gets the impression many came to him for various reasons. A prime example of this would be Herod in Luke’s Gospel, who was glad when Pilate sent Jesus to him because he wanted to see Jesus do some miraculous work. In other words he wasn’t interested in a miracle for the good of himself or others, but merely wanted to be entertained or astounded (if anyone thinks I’m twisting the story here, please say so!).

    I also thought of the story of Elisha, Naaman and Gehazi. Elisha was happy to cure Naaman but sent him away without payment. Gehazi wasn’t happy about this and tried to use the occasion as an opportunity for gain.

    Just some thoughts to be going on with!

  58. Arce wrote:

    Carol, you continue to diss people in the mmost foul way and seem not to recognize that you are doing it. Perhaps you should take some time to learn how to interact with people who disagree with you.

    There is no grand collusion in the scientific community.

    And beware of Grand Unified Conspiracy Theories. They have a way of growing until they devour the entire world of the Conspiracy Theorist. Until the Entire Cosmos (except for the Conspiracy Theorist) is part of The Conspiracy.

    “If your Conspiracy Theory doesn’t fit the facts, Invent a Bigger Conspiracy.”
    — Kooks Magazine

    Others have mentioned the Nathaniel Hawthorne story “Young Goodman Brown”. THAT is a type example of Conspiracy Theory growing to devour Goodman Brown’s world. Another type example is the Bob Dylan song “Talking John Birch Society Blues”.

    “THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS! WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN!”
    — C.S.Lewis

  59. And Christians seem especially prone to Grand Unified Conspiracy Theories, mostly on the order of SATAN!!!! pulling the strings on EVERYTHING outside the four walls of their church. I got caught in the fringe of the blast radius in the Satanic Panic of the Eighties (thank you Mike Warnke).

    Christians and Conspiracy Theories:
    http://pjmiller.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/christians-conspiracy-theories-a-call-to-repentance-1/
    http://pjmiller.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/christians-conspiracy-theories-a-call-to-repentance-2/

  60. Dee & Deb,
    Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to guest post on your blog. I feel there were very good discussions in the comments even if it was quite the most comments during the year.

    I still think a careful examination of the finances of the Ham empire are in order although such an effort it beyond my abilities.

    If I ever feel I have another topic on the divide between faith and science I’ll be sure to let you look it over.
    John

  61. John

    You can write a post whenever you wish since you wrote the most “popular” post of 2012! We have talked about the money thing bewteen us and hope to find some time to look into it.