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William Crawley | 11:13 UK time, Monday, 13 August 2012

talktalk.jpgI don't often post an open thread, but some of you tell me it's a good idea because it lets you get stuff off your chest without throwing the direction of other threads. It also permits you to make suggestions about subjects we might give some more substantial space to on Will & Testament. Let's see. Expatiate at will (sorry about the pun). Keep it legal. The house rules still apply.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

     
    I guess that's the Olympic Games over, then.


    >8-D

  • Comment number 2.

    Is the Giant's Causeway 6,000 years old?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18728703

  • Comment number 3.

    "It's a fact that in the late 17th and early 18th century, there was a series of debates about how the Causeway was formed, and it's a fact that today there are still debates about the formation of the Causeway.

    "The exhibit is about that debate, as opposed to how the Causeway was formed.

    "We have a respectful position which allows people to have debate."


    Sounds a reasonable position to me.
  • Comment number 4.

    3. logica_sine_vanitate:

    Do *you* believe that the Giant's Causeway is 6,000 years old?

  • Comment number 5.

    The material that makes up the earth may be dated as being as old as anything up to 5 billion years old and it may be even older. It is also more than likely that the particles which make up the material may have always existed in one form or another. Given this, it would be wrong to say that the 'Giants Causeway' was 'created' 6,000 years ago. However, it may not be wrong to say that the rock formation may have came about millions of years ago but was used by God, along with other various rock formations, to make up the Earth which He organised relatively more recently. If this is the case, it would satisfy both the evolutionists and the creationists.

  • Comment number 6.

    PeterKlaver

    The blog went on holiday shortly after I responded to comments you made and I never was able to get any answers from you. I have included them again below.

    What 'old books' are you talking about? My idea came from my understanding of Antoine Lasvoisier's Law of Conservation of Mass which implies that mass cannot be created or destroyed. It is true that he was around in the 18th century and he died about 15 years before Darwin was born. Is everything pre-Darwinian invalid now?

    I was reading in Wikipedia about the age of man. It says, "It is also possible that Homo sapiens evolved multiregionally as separate but interbreeding populations stemming from the worldwide migration of Homo erectus out of Africa nearly 2.5 million years ago." Would you go along with this?

    Just one other thing, science (anthropology to be precise - one of the fields you stated in 223) reckons that man only started to farm about 9,000 years ago. Would you go along with this?

    Hope you can respond.

  • Comment number 7.

    @ newdwr54 (#4) -

    Do *you* believe that the Giant's Causeway is 6,000 years old?


    I am agnostic about the age of the Giant's Causeway for exactly the same reason that many people are agnostic about the existence of God, namely, the lack of direct observational evidence.

    If I were an agnostic concerning God, would I seek to stifle debate about his existence?

    No.

    So why would I do the same concerning the age of the Giant's Causeway?

    Therefore I strongly support the reasoning of the National Trust as expressed in the quote I referred to in post #3.
  • Comment number 8.

    "Central to everything is how the Causeway was formed and the National Trust position is that we believe and accept the mainstream scientific idea that the Causeway was formed by volcanic eruption 60 million years ago.”

    Then I hope the creationist exhibit is not in the How It Was Formed section, but rather in the Legend section, or in a Debate section. Like this:

    ‘Legend tells of Irish warrior…Finn MacCool,..etc.’

    ‘According to religious texts of Judaism and Christianity, the earth’s creation occurred 6000 years ago, subsequently forming such natural wonders as the Giant’s Causeway.’

    ‘Mormons believe that planet Earth and its natural formations, such as the Causeway, were created 6000 to 10000 years ago using aged material transferred from another planet.’

  • Comment number 9.

    7. logica_sine_vanitate wrote:

    "I am agnostic about the age of the Giant's Causeway for exactly the same reason that many people are agnostic about the existence of God, namely, the lack of direct observational evidence."

    Personally I would qualify the results of radiometric dating as direct observational evidence. I don't think we'll be able to use this technique on God though.

  • Comment number 10.

    marieinaustin

    Do the Mormons have a view on what you stated at *8 or have I been nominated as a spokesperson for that religion? Im only investigating Mormonism at the moment.

    I believe in science and I also know that God exists therefore rather than take a dogmatic view about the formation of the Earth, I am trying to see a way in which science and religion can be aligned. Maybe they both are right to a degree.

  • Comment number 11.

    @ newdwr54 (#9) -

    Personally I would qualify the results of radiometric dating as direct observational evidence. I don't think we'll be able to use this technique on God though.


    I guess it would indeed qualify as "direct observational evidence" if it were reliable.
  • Comment number 12.

    10. puretruthseeker,

    “Do the Mormons have a view on what you stated at 8 or have I been nominated as a spokesperson for that religion?”

    I don’t know much about it. Yes, I did nominate you as spokesperson. :)

    “Im only investigating Mormonism at the moment.”

    Okay. Thanks for the reminder.


    Some YECs may use catastrophism to explain a short Earth history. Again, I would keep this in the Debate section/exhibit of the centre.., or else change the centre’s name to Giant’s Causeway Debate visitors centre.

  • Comment number 13.

    11. logica_sine_vanitate wrote:

    "I guess [radiometric dating] would indeed qualify as "direct observational evidence" if it were reliable."

    Since there are at least five different 'atomic clocks' in common use for rocks, all of which show good agreement with one another, we may have grounds to be fairly positive about the reliability of the method.

  • Comment number 14.

    10. puretruthseeker wrote:

    "I believe in science and I also know that God exists..."

    Hold your horses PTS. Saying that you *know* that God exists is a fairly bold statement. I can believe that you have a *conviction* that God exists (your specific version of God, that is); but I can't believe that you *know* that He exists.

    You may be conflating knowledge with conviction?

  • Comment number 15.

    newdwr54 @ 14

    It's not only a bold statement, it's a true statement. It's not merely a conviction.

    A knowledge of God comes by obedience to God's commandments and through direct revelation. The obedience must come first and be based on faith. Faith is obedience to a principle which is true. Anything less is a belief based on that which is not true and which cannot produce evidence. Therefore, if we adhere to a concept which is not quite true then we cannot come to know whether God is real because He cannot confirm His reality as He does not confirm untruth. I won't go into the direct revelation for now because if you do not accept what I have just said you will hardly accept what I have to say further. Anyway, you don't have to accept that I know God exists. Instead you can mock me if you feel you know better. It won't be the first time here.

  • Comment number 16.

    15. puretruthseeker:

    If I may borrow from Carl Sagan for a moment:

    Let's say that I *know* there is a dragon in my garage. Do you believe me? (You'd be a fool to, in my opinion.). But let's say I insist. You will ask for proof, will you not?

    Now if there really *is* a dragon in my garage, then I will have no trouble in passing that knowledge on to you. I will simply bring you to my garage and show you the dragon.

    No need for esoteric preparations, or pre-existing 'faith', or any of that sort of stuff. I just show you the dragon, and now you *know* he's there. I have passed my knowledge on to you.

    But in your case, with your God, no such knowledge is communicable. All you can do is bring me to your garage and show me an empty room, and tell me that the reason I don't see your 'God' is because I don't have enough faith. It's an 'Emperor's new clothes' situation.

    What you have is *belief* in God, not *knowledge* of God.

  • Comment number 17.

    newdwr54

    If one can only come to know that God exists by faith then there is no other way for a person to know God exists unless they have faith.

    Years ago my son had a book with pictures which were fractal designs, I think they were called. He would show me a picture and ask me if I saw a horse or something within the pattern of the picture. Whatever it was about my sight, I never could see the objects he could so freely see.

    You and I have a range of senses, albeit, operating at various levels. With these senses we observe and draw conclusions from what we see, hear, feel, etc. If I lack a certain sense, such as eyesight, then I have difficulty in understanding what you so easily can understand. It's the same with faith.

    Faith is not belief. I can believe in any thing I chose to believe in, such as a flat earth, the flying spaghetti monster or evolution. However, I cannot have faith in those things because they are not true. Only true principals produce faith and only true faith produces real true knowledge on an individual basis. Seeing faith is something that only an individual can possess and the result of faith cannot be shared, then I can't, 'show you the dragon in my garage'. However, I can tell you how you can come to know what I know but I fear you may be unreceptive to what I have to say.

  • Comment number 18.

    17. puretruthseeker wrote:

    "If one can only come to know that God exists by faith then there is no other way for a person to know God exists unless they have faith."

    That's circular reasoning. If no one can come to *know* that there is a dragon in my garage unless they first *believe* there to be one, then what they have isn't *knowledge*, it's *belief*.

    Regarding our senses: if you're blind, and therefore can't see the dragon in my garage, there are still numerous ways in which its existence can be made *known* to you. You can touch it, hear it and smell it, for instance. Or you can bring sighted people who you trust in to confirm with their eyes that what you are hearing and touching is in fact a dragon.

    In other words you can gain knowledge of the dragon through various forms of repeatable observational experimentation, whether or not you can physically see it. In this way you can safely say that you *know* the dragon exists. But imagine if you couldn't hear it (because it's noiseless); or that you couldn't smell it (it's odourless); or that you couldn't touch it (it's incorporeal); or that others couldn't see it (it's invisible).

    As Carl Sagan asked, 'What's the difference between a noiseless, odourless, incorporeal, invisible dragon and no dragon at all?' The only difference between an otherwise unverifiable dragon and no dragon at all is *belief* that the dragon exists. For in this case we simply cannot have *knowledge* that it exists, however fondly we may imagine otherwise. That, I think, is where we are with God and gods.

    "....I can tell you how you can come to know what I know but I fear you may be unreceptive to what I have to say".

    You mean how I may come to *believe* what you *believe*. You have not demonstrated that your conviction is anything other than subjectively sufficient for you. You have admitted that it cannot be objectively verified, i.e. by experimentation or observation. Therefore, it is *belief*; it cannot reasonably be termed as *knowledge*.

    As the French philosopher Jules Lequier put it: "People who believe they have the truth should know they believe it, rather than believe they know it".

  • Comment number 19.

    @ newdwr54 (# 13) -

    Since there are at least five different 'atomic clocks' in common use for rocks, all of which show good agreement with one another, we may have grounds to be fairly positive about the reliability of the method.


    The problem with radiometric dating is that the initial conditions have to be assumed. There is no observational evidence on which to base this assumption, as well as the assumption that the elements of the rock have not been altered by processes other than radiometric decay and also the rate of decay has to be assumed. None of this falls within the remit of "direct observation".

    Rock which we know has formed very recently, as a result of volcanic lava flows has been tested by radioisotope dating and been found to be of great age. An example: the Mount St Helens lava dome is apparently 0.3 million years old! Such rock was, at the time of testing, less than 10 years old.

    This experiment has been criticised by recourse to a circular argument (as well as various ad hominem attacks), that states that radiometric dating doesn't work for very young samples (along with the circular assumption that the independent laboratory's equipment was contaminated with argon - therefore admitting that the method is unreliable!). So therefore we have to first assume the sample is at least millions of years old in order to submit it for testing! But how can such an assumption be made prior to testing??!

    I am well aware that the criticism of the above experiment includes more than just the two circular arguments I mentioned. So why don't the critics just test these samples? (Perhaps they have. If so, I'd like to see the evidence. But how could they, based on their prior assumption that the samples are untestable?). It seems to me that radiometric dating is used as a method of confirming a prior assumption, but it can never be allowed to challenge that assumption. That is not science, I'm afraid.
  • Comment number 20.

    @ newdwr54 (# 16) -

    If I may borrow from Carl Sagan for a moment:

    Let's say that I *know* there is a dragon in my garage. Do you believe me? (You'd be a fool to, in my opinion.). But let's say I insist. You will ask for proof, will you not?

    Now if there really *is* a dragon in my garage, then I will have no trouble in passing that knowledge on to you. I will simply bring you to my garage and show you the dragon.


    OK, so I take it that if we cannot directly observe every aspect of the putative process of evolution, then we should not accept it as true?

    If you are going to promote strong empiricism, then you should follow it through to its logical conclusion.

    And if not, why not?
  • Comment number 21.

    newdwr54

    You just want to argue without attempting to understand what I am trying to say to you.

    For a start you explain how I can have it verified that there is a 'dragon in my garage' by using other senses. But what if there is a rainbow in my garage? Can I touch, hear or smell it? You then say that I can rely on others to testify that there is something, 'in my garage'. Without the sense of sight, however, this is the only way I could come to know that such a phenomenon existed in my garage. I would not know it personally, much like I have come to understand gravity, electricity, etc. Now, because I can't see it, touch it, smell it and so on, doesn't allow me to claim it is not there.

    Without the sense of faith (not belief - they are different) you cannot know God exists. God reveals Himself to His children through their faith. If you, as a child of God, do not have faith you cannot come to know God exists. I know God exists and because you don't, doesn't make it so.

  • Comment number 22.

    19. logica_sine_vanitate wrote:

    "The problem with radiometric dating is that the initial conditions have to be assumed."

    No such assumption is necessary. All that's required is knowledge of the rate of decay of the various isotopes. These rates have already been established by observation. All that's required then is to establish the current ratio between the parent and daughter isotopes, and from this a straight line can be plotted (isochron plot) to establish the initial ratio of the sample, and hence its age.

    An initial assessment of the likely age of a sample can be made from its location within the geological column (taking into account observed rates of erosion), or by extrapolating from observed rates of tectonic separation, etc.

    For instance, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is observed to be separating the ocean floor at a rate of about 20mm/yr. So the crustal rock 50km either side of the ridge should be ~ 2.5m years old; whereas rock 500km either side of the ridge should be ~ 25m years old. That is what is found by radiometric dating of these rocks.

    Exactly the same phenomenon is observed with 'hot-spot' volcanoes, where deep hotspots in the mantle remain fixed as the tectonic plate passes above it, creating a ridge of dormant volcanoes.

    When this ridge is dated, it is found that i) the furthest dormant volcano away from the currently active volcano is the oldest; ii) the location of the dormant volcano closest to the currently active volcano is consistent with the current observed direction of plate travel; iii) The various ages of all the rocks across the ridge, from oldest to youngest, is consistent with the observed speed of plate travel.

    You may consider this all to be a huge coincidence?

    Incidentally, in the Mt St Helen's case you mention, it is my understanding that the 'creation scientists' sent the samples to a laboratory that clearly advertised that its equipment was unable to accurately date samples younger than 2 million years old. They did not trouble to inform the lab that the samples they sent were known to be far younger than 2 million years. Yet when they got back the results they shamelessly used these to falsely claim that radiometric dating is invalid.

    That is not science, I'm afraid. Neither is it 'Christian', in my view.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'd like to believe Fionn mac Cumhaill built the Causeway.

  • Comment number 24.

    20. logica_sine_vanitate wrote:

    "OK, so I take it that if we cannot directly observe every aspect of the putative process of evolution, then we should not accept it as true?"

    We can directly observe the evidence of evolution, be it genetics, the fossil record, the spatial distribution of species around the globe, random genetic mutation, natural selection, etc. This is the equivalent of hearing the dragon, smelling it, finding its footprints (or worse). It is objective, observable and repeatable evidence that the dragon exists.

    We can make predictions based on it. If we put flour down on the floor in the garage we should find dragon footprints before very long. Even if this particular dragon is invisible, the footprints will show that at least it is corporeal.

    Returning to evolution: if we dig in certain strata, then we can predict with high confidence the sort of fossils we will find before we dig a single trench. If we find a rabbit in the Precambrian, as someone once said, then evolution is proved wrong at a single stroke. That's the challenge you face when you have a testable hypothesis.

    You can't do that sort of thing with God or gods. They don't leave footprints, and you can never predict where they're likely to turn up.

  • Comment number 25.

    21. puretruthseeker wrote:

    "You just want to argue without attempting to understand what I am trying to say to you."

    I wasn't aware we were arguing.

    In the unlikely event that there is a rainbow in your garage you can confirm this by looking at it. If you can't see it, or have no other way of verifying its presence, then there's a fair chance that there isn't a rainbow in your garage, whether or not you believe there to be one.

    You can confirm gravity at any time by observation and repeatable experimentation. Likewise electricity. You can't do that with God or gods.

    Therefore, in the absence of *any* objective standard by which to confirm your conviction that your God exists, you cannot rationally claim to *know* that He does.

  • Comment number 26.

    newdwr -

    The "dragon's footprints" are all over nature. The biggest "footprint" being the high complexity of living systems.

    And if you feel tempted to say that this can be explained by a different theory, then so can your evolution evidence. So that is no argument.

    Gotta shoot out now, but hope to respond to your other points later.

  • Comment number 27.

    For anyone who's interested, here's my brief report of Ken Ham's talk a Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle last monday evening:

    http://www.forums.bcseweb.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3065

    I was surprised none of my W & T blogger friends managed to make it along.

    Would have loved to have had a chat with Mr Ham afterwards but he seemed to have had to rush off and didn't hang around.

  • Comment number 28.

    Incidentally, in the Mt St Helen's case you mention, it is my understanding that the 'creation scientists' sent the samples to a laboratory that clearly advertised that its equipment was unable to accurately date samples younger than 2 million years old. They did not trouble to inform the lab that the samples they sent were known to be far younger than 2 million years. Yet when they got back the results they shamelessly used these to falsely claim that radiometric dating is invalid.

    That is not science, I'm afraid. Neither is it 'Christian', in my view.


    Quite correct.

    Either Steve Austin was being dishonest, or very, very stupid.
  • Comment number 29.

    The biggest "footprint" being the high complexity of living systems
    .


    Yawn.

    As P.Z. Myers quite correctly says, the cell is complicated. Biology is complicated. So what ?
  • Comment number 30.

    @ Peter (# 29) -

    Yawn.

    As P.Z. Myers quite correctly says, the cell is complicated. Biology is complicated. So what ?


    Sorry, mate, but I'm not taking the bait.

    If you want a sensible discussion, just say.

    I think most people are becoming tired of the "New Atheist" snide one liners. Some of us prefer mature debate.
  • Comment number 31.

    newdwr54

    Off course we are arguing. An argument is: "A reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong."

    You say, "In the unlikely event that there is a rainbow in your garage (and a dragon is not unlikely?) you can confirm this by looking at it. If you can't see it, or have no other way of verifying its presence, then there's a fair chance that there isn't a rainbow in your garage, whether or not you believe there to be one."

    So, if there is a rainbow in my garage and I can't verify it because I cannot sense it, can I claim that there isn't a rainbow in my garage? That's what you do regarding God. You do not have the sense of faith and thus you can't sense God but those who do have faith sense God in a way more reliable than sight, touch, smell, etc. God exists. I know.

  • Comment number 32.

    I think most people are becoming tired of the "New Atheist" snide one liners. Some of us prefer mature debate

    It's got nothing with "new Atheist" anything LSV. It has everything to do with science.


    Irreducible complexity has been debunked over and over again, not least at the Dover trial. Here's myers demolishing the claim:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba2h9tqNYAo

    and here's Ken Miller refuting this claim using a mousetrap:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieKDLtrBXs0

    and Miller isn't a new Atheist.

    So you see LSV, this is an old claim and nothing new. There simply is no debate over this, mature or otherwise.
  • Comment number 33.

     
    #23

    mscracker,

    Me too! This may be of interest.


    :o)

  • Comment number 34.

    @ Peter (# 32) -

    There simply is no debate over this, mature or otherwise.


    If so, then please present the evidence for abiogenesis.

    And by that I mean not only the evidence that life could have originated in that way, but that it did actually originate in that way.

    Don't bluff now. Just show your cards.

    Not a lot to ask.
  • Comment number 35.

    33. Scotch Git,

    Wow! That Rocks!

  • Comment number 36.

    "A bishop attempted to prevent a priest's Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check - which detailed allegations of child sex abuse - being dealt with properly, it has been alleged."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-19256337

    This is a very serious allegation.

  • Comment number 37.

    If so, then please present the evidence for abiogenesis.


    Evolution has got absolutely nothing with abiogenesis. They are two entirely different subjects.

    Your claim was about the complexity of living systems.
  • Comment number 38.

    present the evidence for abiogenesis


    Some interesting evidence is prented here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-bWvO3elLA

    Feel free to coment, though the chemistry is fairly complex.
  • Comment number 39.

    @ Peter (# 37) -

    Evolution has got absolutely nothing with abiogenesis. They are two entirely different subjects.

    Your claim was about the complexity of living systems.


    You're right in saying that evolution has got absolutely nothing to do with abiogenesis, because natural selection cannot work at the prebiotic stage.

    But my point was about complexity and not evolution (natural selection), and this has everything to do with abiogenesis, because the debate is about the origin of complex systems. A certain extremely high level of complexity and intricacy is required before natural selection can take place.

    The informational content of this basic level of complexity cannot be generated by the information content of the laws of physics and chemistry alone. Therefore an external source of information is required - i.e. an external intelligence.

    So for anyone to say that "there is no debate" about this issue is just not morally acceptable. Stifling debate is anti-science, and is apparently - and ironically - anti-humanistic:

    "All children should be free to grow up in a world where they are allowed to question, doubt, think freely and reach their own conclusions about what they believe." - Ariane Sherine, from the British Humanist Association website.

    In other words, humanism encourages debate and the asking of searching questions. Presumably therefore we are encouraged to question Darwinism and philosophical naturalism. If not, then humanism is hypocrisy and an Orwellian form of bigotry masquerading as "freedom of thought".
  • Comment number 40.

    puretruthseeker, posts 5, 6, 10,

    It may be very well intended to seek accommodation between religious and scientific ideas, but just because it is nice that does not make the idea you propose correct.

    A good time ago, somebody might have stood up and tried to mediate between Galileo and the vatican, seeking compromise between the ideas the two parties held. While it may have saved face for some and have avoided threats and life long house arrest for others, would you say that that compromise would have been the correct idea? I would say that the uncompromising persistence of the one idea and the abandonment of the other idea was the correct course. If one idea is correct and the other false, then the best course is for those who hold to the false idea to accept the better new idea that has developed.

    In the case of the age of the earth, I don't see your suggestion going anywhere. As just one example, take the continents of Africa and South America drifting apart. The shapes of South America's East coast and Africa's West coast are rather similar. The types of rocks found along the two coasts are similar. And as far as those rocks are slightly magnetic, the orientation of the magnetism is the same for both continental coasts. From this, and from the fact that we see them drifting apart, you may agree that it seems very likely that the two were attached at some point in the past? (not trying to trip you up here btw, I suspect most people would go along with this).

    We see the continents drifting apart very slowly today, less than an inch a year. For the thousands of kms of ocean to have appeared in 6000 years or less, continents would need to move by on the order of a kilometer per year. They actually drift today by about an inch per year, so tens of thousands times slower. Since continental drift all over the world takes place at such low pace and we have no good reason to just assume it ever went tens of thousands of times faster just a couple of millennia ago (there are many reasons why that idea seems very wrong), the best extrapolation you can make would tell you that the earth is orders of magnitude older than 6000 years.

    So seeking a common position may be nice, but if you are interested in correct ideas, than the only course open is to accept that the YEC position is completely wrong. The idea of matter being old but being assembled into the earth very recently simply doesn't agree with what we see around us.

  • Comment number 41.

    And on the questions from that old, locked-up thread....

    Mass conservation has indeed been invalidated. Not because of the date the theory stems from, but because it has been shown wrong. Nuclear energy for example relies on the principle that mass is converted into energy, as do nuclear explosions, and the light that comes from the sun.

    I think farming started a little earlier than you say, but not by too much, 9000 yeas would be the right ball park. But what does that have to do with the age of the earth?

    I'd have to look closer into to multi-region hypothesis a bit closer than I have time for this afternoon. Maybe later, though I would join in the YEC blundering over radiometric dating first, once I have some more time. :)

  • Comment number 42.

    PeterKlaver

    Thank you for getting back to me.

    Im heading out soon and will respond to your post 40 later. However, would you agree with wikipedia that homo sapiens emerged out of Africa 2.5 million years ago? I asked you this at 6 above.

  • Comment number 43.

    On the question of continental drift/plate tectonics I would like to say something about marsupials.

    The oldest marsupial fossils are around 80 million years old and are found in North America, not Australia. How did marsupials get to Australia? They moved south, passing through what is now Antartica. Marsupial fossils have been found in Artartica that are between 35-40 million years old.

    If the koala was perfectly designed would it's pouch not open upwards like the kangaroo's instead of downwards? Interestingly, female marsupials have two vaginas and a double uterus.

  • Comment number 44.

    PeterKlaver

    I admit you have the advantage over me regarding scientific laws and you can use their current status in your attempt to make my propositions seem ill-informed. However, you don't appear to tell the whole story at times.

    It's true that the Law of Conservation of Mass held since the end of the 18th century as did the First Law of Thermodynamics, a bit later, which states, "energy is neither created nor destroyed". In 1907 (I think), Albert Einstein announced his discovery of the equation E = mc2 and, as a consequence, the two laws above were merged into the Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy which states, "the total amount of mass and energy in the universe is constant". Generally, it can be added that mass and energy can interconvert. I accept that in the production of some forms of energy small particles of mass can be converted to energy and it may be the other way round as well - I'm not sure. Nevertheless, that does not undermine my idea. If some mass has changed form and converted to energy, it's not the mass I was referring to. Instead it's the mass that is extant. It is the mass that never went through a conversion process. It is the mass that currently makes up the Earth. It is the mass that has always existed in one form or another. It is the mass that may have existed in it's current form for many billions of years longer than we first thought. It is the mass with which God used to build this earth.


    Your idea that the west African coast bears some resemblance to the eastern coast of Southern America proves nothing. The land mass may have been together when the Earths material was first gathered but moved by God to create a world fit for his purposes and that would have involved separating land masses. Wasn't it Jesus who said if His disciples had a little faith they "could move mountains". With the power that God has, bringing the material together in the first place, then separating land would not present itself as a problem. Again, the material that makes up the world can be older than we have thought but in it's current shape, form and position in the universe, it could be relatively recent.

    The reason the idea of matter being old but being assembled into the earth very recently simply doesn't agree with what we see around us, is because some don't want to see it, afraid that they may have to make serious adjustments to their current, nay, lifelong beliefs.

    Btw, I never appealed to 'niceness' to support my idea.

    I would like your view on the question I asked at 6 and 42. Hoping you can oblige.

  • Comment number 45.

    The informational content of this basic level of complexity cannot be generated by the information content of the laws of physics and chemistry alone. Therefore an external source of information is required - i.e. an external intelligence


    This is nonsense and was thoroughly debunked at the Dover trial.

    Myers in his talk demonstrates how complexity in nature can arise through perfectly natural means.

    Your argument is simply a "God of the gaps" and nothing more.
  • Comment number 46.

    @ Peter (# 45) -

    This is nonsense and was thoroughly debunked at the Dover trial.

    Myers in his talk demonstrates how complexity in nature can arise through perfectly natural means.

    Your argument is simply a "God of the gaps" and nothing more.


    No, not nonsense, and my point has not been debunked at all. By the way... I don't base my views about reality on the verdicts of the American legal system (otherwise I would have to believe that it is right to compensate people for spilling their coffee, and other such frivolous cases!). Since when does science depend on such a method of verification? Ridiculous.

    Perhaps you would like to show me where the information content of the genetic code is to be found within the laws of physics and chemistry alone. To suggest that it is, is as stupid as saying that the information that I am writing now is arising out of the information content of the pixels on my screen, or if I wrote it down on paper, that the information arises out of the information content of the molecules of which the paper and ink are comprised.

    Furthermore, even if "complexity" (however you define that - and such things as crystals don't count, by the way) CAN arise by "perfectly natural means", you have failed to provide any proof that it actually DID. That sounds like you are trying to promote "naturalism of the gaps" and nothing more.

    The intricate complexity of living systems is such that only an external intelligence can order matter in such a way as to form it. To suggest that matter alone can self-assemble such systems is so nonsensical an idea that I can only assume that certain people believe it for entirely ideological (and, of course, personal) - and certainly not scientific - reasons.
  • Comment number 47.

    Good to see reason prevail in the case of Tony Nicklinson yesterday, but the wider picture is as bleak now as it has ever been for Christianity in this country. The Christian religion is almost dead. In its place is a more or less useless heresy, a 'Christianity without the cross', which is ripe for live burial by Islam. First our once great nation looks set to go well and truly to the dogs, then it will simply pass into the hands of foreigners, and no one will have the least right to complain. We decided to butcher successive generations while they were in the womb, and very soon, within the lifetimes of a huge number of people who are alive today, there will be unimaginably ghastly consequences, unless we see our apostasy for the cowardly treason that it is.

  • Comment number 48.

    Theophane ,
    I have worries about my country too, but do the math.Which populations are growing more? That's who will be the majority in coming years.Here in the States, it will likely be folks of faith as they tend to have larger families.Especially the Amish, Orthodox Jews,Muslims,Mormons & Catholics-including Hispanic Catholics.The Amish population is increasing tremendously & spreading to new areas like Wyoming.

  • Comment number 49.

    mscracker, 48;

    Britain once had a British population. There wasn't anything wrong with that in my view. India had an Indian population, Nigeria had a Nigerian population, Vietnam had a Vietnamese population. There should always be room for some foreign people to make their homes here, but our contemptuous attitude to unborn children and family life means that foreigners may soon actually *have* to take control of this country, because the British were too feckless and selfish to raise a viable number of descendants who would be capable of looking after it themselves.

  • Comment number 50.

    @49. Theophane,
    Well, things change,Goodness knows, our country was once populated solely by Indian tribes with their own cultures.That sure changed. The clan system in Scotland is gone-at least in the historical sense, but some in my family might not admit it.
    I really like the idea of each area having it's own unique culture, foods, language, etc, & think it makes the world richer for it, but what do you do if folks aren't increasing demographically & others are?

  • Comment number 51.

    @49.Theophane,
    You know, in your first post you're talking about Christianity being almost dead in the UK, but haven't there been many Polish immigrants lately? Are they not practising Christians? Many Nigerians are, at least here in the States.Our previous pastor at church was from Nigeria.We also have many Vietnamese Catholics here.
    I think there has been increased hostility to Christianity or to faith in general recently, but history usually shows persecution strengthens faith.If a faith is dieing on the vine perhaps it's well to look at why. I woudn't assume it's from persecution but maybe from complacency.

  • Comment number 52.

    @33. Scotch Git,
    Thanks!
    I'm currently watching Michael Palin's "Sahara" DVDs. Lots of desert & rock formations.You might enjoy them, too. I've only made a little progress watching it each evening.Too much work outside til dark.Maybe when the days get shorter.

  • Comment number 53.

    mscracker, no. 50;

    "I really like the idea of each area having it's own unique culture, foods, language, etc, & think it makes the world richer for it, but *what do you do if folks aren't increasing demographically & others are?*" [my asterisks]

    The first thing you do is very simply what has been done in Ireland and Poland; you enshrine, in legislation, the basic human rights of unborn children. You recognise that this is what unborn children themselves would *demand*, unconditionally, if only they had a voice of their own, and you reject the demented bleating of sundry hysterical feminists, communists and Guardian-botherers for what it is - callous, evil, demented bleating.

    no. 51;

    "You know, in your first post you're talking about Christianity being almost dead in the UK, but haven't there been many Polish immigrants lately? Are they not practising Christians? Many Nigerians are, at least here in the States. Our previous pastor at church was from Nigeria. We also have many Vietnamese Catholics here.
    I think there has been increased hostility to Christianity or to faith in general recently, but history usually shows persecution strengthens faith. If a faith is dying on the vine perhaps it's well to look at why. I woudn't assume it's from persecution but maybe from complacency."

    OK, so to be more accurate, the issue here is the unmistakably moribund condition of the *British* Christian tradition. You're right about Poles; in many places, Christianity is practically sustained by them, along with people from a range of other countries. But they are not British people, and theirs is not the British Christian tradition. Again, i *fully* agree with you about "complacency", but i believe at least some people might be shaken out of this most wretched, debilitating, feeble-minded perspective, if they can wake up to the direct link between apostasy and what Blessed John Paul II referred to as "demographic suicide". Furthermore, i think it's worth being clear that in Britain we do have a slightly different set of cultural norms to those which you have in the USA, which has established itself culturally as the great 'melting pot' of different peoples and civilisations. If British culture is merely to degenerate into a cheap imitation of US culture, we really would lose all entitlement to self-respect as a nation.

  • Comment number 54.

    53.Theophane ,
    You know I'm pro-life & oppose abortion & look forward to the day when unborn children receive legal protection as human beings.But to increase population folks need to want to have children & larger families.You only have to look at the huge sales of contraceptives & numbers of surgical sterilizations to see that's not so much the case these days, excepting in the groups I mentioned previously.They welcome children & large families are seen as a blessing. Plus,& I think it's key, their communities support families, both culturally & practically.
    Way back in time, Britain was a sort of melting pot, too, if not so suddenly as we've been.
    I appreciate British culture-Irish, too.My son brought me back a tin of Diamond Jubilee tea from Fortnum & Mason's which I treasure.He loves the UK & we have family there.

  • Comment number 55.

    Well, OK mscracker, but i have to ask - how do you think it is that Poles, for example, have a surplus of *people*, enabling them to come and live here, but without sensibly affecting the demographic profile of Poland? It's because Poles have remained faithful Christians, accepting their obligations to their families and to God, while Britons have not. In the 17th century it was a Polish army, led by King Jan Sobieski, which raised the siege of Vienna, and turned the tide of Ottoman expansion into Europe. A *very* similar responsibility appears to be falling to them once more - and this again is where the evil of *complacency* among so many west European so-called "Christians" is a crucial factor.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ Theophane

    # 49 -

    ...the British were too feckless and selfish to raise a viable number of descendants who would be capable of looking after it themselves.


    # 55 -

    It's because Poles have remained faithful Christians, accepting their obligations to their families and to God, while Britons have not.


    All I can say to you, Theophane, is: speak for yourself.

    You talk about "the British" and "Britons", but which "British" and "Britons" are you talking about? What is the basis of this grotesque - and racist - generalisation? Do you actually know every single British person? What qualifies you to sit in judgment as you are doing?

    You certainly do not speak for me, and I personally take exception to your insulting and specious comments, which are, frankly, beneath contempt.

    As it happens, I loathe the practice of abortion, but you are one of the worst adverts for the pro-life position that I have ever encountered. You mix this issue with your judgmentalism and Jesuitical rants, that it is very hard not to take a contrary position - just for the sake of one's own sanity.

    #53 -

    ...the issue here is the unmistakably moribund condition of the *British* Christian tradition.


    Which "British Christian tradition" are you talking about?

    And with what evidence do you make your accusation?
  • Comment number 57.

    Don't you worry your pretty little head LSV. You have no greater claim to be British than i have. And as a Briton, i will say what i like about the British.

  • Comment number 58.

    Theophane -

    ... i will say what i like about the British.


    So you grant yourself the authority to say what you like about me and my family, even though you have never met us, given that we are included in the category of "British"?

    What complete arrogance.

    Is this the way of the Catholic Church - to sit in judgment on complete strangers and make pronouncements without any evidence? No wonder people are sick of this kind of "religion". It has, of course, nothing to do with God and everything to do with "the accuser".
  • Comment number 59.

    A story giving grounds for genuine hope from yesterday:

    'Churches in Polish-Russian appeal for friendly ties'

    "The heads of the Russian Orthodox and Polish Roman Catholic churches have jointly urged their nations to end their mutual bitterness and distrust.

    The appeal for Polish-Russian reconciliation was signed at Warsaw's Royal Castle, by Russia's Patriarch Kirill and Archbishop Jozef Michalik.

    They called for "forgiveness of wrongs, injustice and every evil committed against each other".

    Russia and Poland have been divided by politics and religion for centuries.

    The joint text said "we are certain that this [forgiveness] is the first and the most important step toward rebuilding mutual trust, which is a necessary element of a lasting community and full reconciliation between people."

    The two leaders also vowed to defend "the right to religion being present in public life", the AFP news agency reported.

    "We are witnesses to the promotion of abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriages and consumerism," the text said. "Traditional values are being rejected and religious symbols being removed from public spaces.""

    In the article, Auntie Beelzebub desperately tries to pretend that the witless antics of a trio of self-publicising schoolgirls, rightly sent to prison for a religious hate crime (and ask yourself how differently the media would have reported a similar stunt in a Mosque before you start moaning about this), has the remotest bearing on this, but no matter. Please God, may this be a step towards the reconciliation of the western and eastern Christian traditions, by which, in Blessed John Paul II's phrase, 'the Church may breathe with both lungs'.

  • Comment number 60.

  • Comment number 61.

    Theophane 47

    "Good to see reason prevail in the case of Tony Nicklinson"

    What "reason" is there in forcing a man to suffer unbearably who has no prospect of recovery?

    In a recent edition of the World Tonight it was reported that 95 per cent of the population of the Netherlands support the legal status of euthanasia. Euthanasia accounts for around 2 per cent of all deaths in the Netherlands. The president of the Dutch Medical Association made the point that euthanasia is currently being practised in the UK and admitted that he himself carried out euthanasia before it became legal in the Netherlands.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lv5vf (starts 28th minute)

    One darkly humorous case from 1944 was referred to in the Judgement. Back then if you committed suicide you committed self murder. If you failed in your attempt you could be tried for attempting to murder yourself. In this case 2 people made a suicide pact. One died and one didn't. The one who didn't die was tried for the murder of the other and found guilty. He was sentenced to death: but he appealed! He lost his appeal and was hanged.

  • Comment number 62.

    Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill calls Putin "a miracle from god" during election campaign.
    Three women protest by singing "virgin Mary put Putin away" in Kirills church.
    Kirill condemns Pussy Riot's actions as "blasphemous", saying that the "Devil has laughed at all of us ... We have no future if we allow mockery in front of great shrines, some see such mockery as a sort of bravery, an expression of political protest, an acceptable action or a harmless joke.
    Putin jails women for two years.

  • Comment number 63.

    paul james -

    Putin jails women for two years.


    And how would such protestors against the government have fared under the old atheist regime?

    Let me guess...
  • Comment number 64.

     
    "Please God, may this be a step towards the reconciliation of the western and eastern Christian traditions, by which, in Blessed John Paul II's phrase, 'the Church may breathe with both lungs'."


    Who gets to decide when Easter falls?

  • Comment number 65.

    @ newlach (# 61) -

    What "reason" is there in forcing a man to suffer unbearably who has no prospect of recovery?


    Because if such a law were enacted, it would not just affect Mr Nicklinson, but everybody. We are then in the complex situation of having to interpret the concept of consent - no mean feat when such "consent" is expressed by people who suffer from all manner of conditions including dementia and mental illness (possibly undiagnosed mental illness).

    It's common knowledge that many elderly people feel they are a burden to their relatives, and also there are relatives who may actively encourage that feeling. I know what I am talking about, because I am currently involved in caring for the elderly. I know people who are not terminally ill who have expressed the desire to die, and it is clear that this is merely an expression of frustration at the limitations they are suffering. These are people who have quite a good quality of life, in actual fact. It would, of course, be obscene to take the lives of these people on the basis of their expression of "consent".

    It is the thin of the wedge into a culture of death. I'm afraid the complex and fragile concept of consent is not up to operating in such an environment (especially since "consent" can be cruelly manipulated). Anyone who thinks it is, is just totally naive.
  • Comment number 66.

    LSV@63
    If by atheist regime you mean the former communist government of USSR, then no need to guess, how about 15 days.

  • Comment number 67.

    paul james, #62;

    Your post comes in four parts.

    The first...

    "Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill calls Putin "a miracle from god" during election campaign."

    ...is a distortion: Patriarch Kirill said only that the 'Putin era' was a miracle of God. Do you think prelates in this country are complete strangers to the political arena?

    The second...

    "Three women protest by singing "virgin Mary put Putin away" in Kirills church."

    ...is profoundly misleading, since the song included words of a far more offensive nature than these, which you could find on the internet, though they are really in no way of the slightest interest or use to man or beast.

    The third...

    "Kirill condemns Pussy Riot's actions as "blasphemous", saying that the "Devil has laughed at all of us ... We have no future if we allow mockery in front of great shrines, some see such mockery as a sort of bravery, an expression of political protest, an acceptable action or a harmless joke."

    ...is merely rather incomplete. As a commenter 'AK' put it on the BBC site yesterday evening:

    "Doing a PR stunt in a cathedral that was originally destroyed by communists and rebuilt on the donations from the whole country (to many as a symbol of defiance to repression they claim to protest) and then covering it as a Putin protest to attract more press and try to get away with it ... ridiculous
    Oh and that's coming from a politically neutral Russian atheist."

    The fourth...

    "Putin jails women for two years."

    ...is factually wrong. A Russian court reached a guilty verdict and handed down the sentence. President Putin had nothing to do with it.

  • Comment number 68.

    LSV, #65;

    Good to see Christianity articulated in such a reasoned, eloquent way in a forum like this one.

  • Comment number 69.

    paul james, #66;

    "If by atheist regime you mean the former communist government of USSR, then no need to guess, how about 15 days."

    The article you link to is from last year - nothing to do with the soviet union of more than 20 years ago. Under that system, realistically no one would even consider being as openly rebellious as these punks, since it could lead not only to the gulag or execution, but one's entire family would be marked out for punishment over a very long period of time.

  • Comment number 70.

    @ paul james (# 66) -

    LSV@63

    If by atheist regime you mean the former communist government of USSR, then no need to guess, how about 15 days.


    ... and we'll just quietly forget about the previous 70 years, especially that "enlightened" period under cuddly Uncle Joe.
  • Comment number 71.

    Yeah your'e right guys I'm only disappointed that the court didn't follow previous christian policy for women "dancing devilishly"

    Witches.........Burn Them!

  • Comment number 72.

    Paul

    How do you mean 'christian policy'?

  • Comment number 73.

    65 LSV

    "Because if such a law were enacted, it would not just affect Mr Nicklinson, but everybody."

    Holy Moses, we'd all have to get folk to top us!

  • Comment number 74.

    newlach -

    Holy Moses, we'd all have to get folk to top us!


    A tiresomely predictable example of the practice of ripping a comment out of its context. Why didn't you bother to read the rest of my post, where I explained what I meant?
  • Comment number 75.

    @72
    Dunno Johannes, then again WWCD?

    (what would Calvin do?)

  • Comment number 76.

    I see that after not looking at the blog for a few days, the discussion about radiometric dating has mostly dissipated. With LSV being put in his place (by people including a professing christian) over his false statements regarding assumptions, and even rolling out Steve Austin's well-know fabrication. No need for me to go over things already taken care of.

    Let me just put out one url here of an article by Roger Wiens, a professing christian (could we for once avoid that boring old non-sequitar about an atheist agenda coloring people's arguments please?) who is one of the most accomplished people in the area of radiometric dating. A somewhat lengthy read, but very well worth it.
    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html
    Newdwr54, in post 13 you mentioned more than 5 'atomic clocks'. Wiens actually lists 13, ranging over a very wide spectrum of half lives, offering all the options for cross validation a person could ask for. And beyond different radiometric dating methods, Wiens also mentions cross validation with other methods, like tree rings and ice cores. And guess what, they all give broadly the same results.

    Regarding Austin's attempted fabrication involving Geochron Labs, the situation is actually more shameful for YECs than mentioned here already. Apart from getting rough estimates of the ages of rocks in the ways newdwr54 mentioned, you sometimes don't need any estimate at all. Young igneous rocks can not be dated with radiometric dating, this has been know for a long time and it is well understood why that is so. So they are never used to date rocks. People at Geochron Labs looked at the rocks Austin had delivered to them and recognized them for what they were, young igneous rocks. So they advised him the result would not be reliable. Geochron Labs passed with flying colours. Without being given any information about the rocks, they knew what the situation was and gave Austin the correct answer, i.e. that dating would be unreliable. Austin conveniently ignored that of course. So to answer the choice offered by the other Peter in post 28: there may have been some stupidity on Austin's part, but most of it was definitely willful dishonesty. No wonder that other christians condemn Austin so strongly:
    http://www.oldearth.org/dacite.htm

  • Comment number 77.

    LSV, post 26,

    "And if you feel tempted to say that this can be explained by a different theory, then so can your evolution evidence. So that is no argument."

    On all your years on the blog here, you have not even once showed anything how god could supposedly explain any part of life coming about. You've been asked countless times how god would create life on any scale, ranging from single biomolecules to entire ecosystems. Every time you've come up 100% empty, as you clearly can't explain anything from a creationist perspective. So you're not in the best position to go on about how things can be explained by a different theory, since you don't appear to have one. At least not one that goes any further than 'Goddunnit. No clue whatsoever how. No mechanism, no explanation, no testable prediction, nothing.'
    You could of course easily show me wrong by elaborating a little about how anything from biomolecules to ecosystems was created through a divine hand. How did god create DNA and proteins? Or human liver cells? Or sheep's bladders?

    post 39 (and the part of post 46 about the information content of genes),

    "The informational content of this basic level of complexity cannot be generated by the………….."

    We've been over information theory many times too. Every time, the conclusion seemed to be that you don't know even the most basic things about information theory, and that you are just repeating Dembski's jargon. Do you know by now what the central quantities involved are, and in what units they come? Can you elaborate a little how the Specified Complexity or any other type of complexity of a string of DNA is quantified? Or how you can get a rough order of magnitude estimate of it? If you're going to argue that some complexity is far too great, it would be useful to have at least an order of magnitude idea of what we're talking about. How do people determine that?

  • Comment number 78.

    Peter, post 37,

    Such exchanges can be a bit hopeless, can't they? This cartoon captures it quite well I think:
    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2703#comic

  • Comment number 79.

    mscracker, post 52,

    If you like desert and rock formations, then you are (in Texas, like marieinaustin, right?) close to such a fantastic bonanza. I know you probably would have visited Arches National Park many time already. But on the odd chance that you haven't, it's fantastic and you should go and see it sometime. See e.g. some of last years holiday snaps here
    http://dutsm1023.stm.tudelft.nl/Colorado-Utah2011/ArchesNP3/index.html

    post 48,

    I would agree that birth rates are a very important factor, but another very important one is people changing/losing faith. The percentage of non-believers in the US for example has gone up a few percentage points over the last decades. That is certainly not because atheists out-breed believers, on the contrary. And in Europe, the Catholic share of the religion market is dwindling in some countries (notably Germany) because people are leaving and turning to other churches or non-denominational worship. Faith retention is as important a factor as birth numbers.

  • Comment number 80.

    puretruthseeker, post 44,

    In your second paragraph you write (with my emphasis in asterixes)

    "If some mass has changed form and converted to energy, it's not the mass I was referring to. Instead it's the mass that is extant. *It is the mass that never went through a conversion process.* It is the mass that currently makes up the Earth. It is the mass that has always existed in one form or another. It is the mass that may have existed in it's current form for many billions of years longer than we first thought. It is the mass with which God used to build this earth. "

    The matter that makes up the earth has undergone transformation several times before it formed the earth. Matter that makes up planets comes from the formation and destruction cycles of stars. Stars continuously convert lighter elements into heavier ones while they shine, up to element #26 in the periodic table, iron (Fe). And stars that are big enough to end as supernova's create heavier elements in their final exploding moments, when loads of energy is available to create the nuclei of these energetically costlier elements. The mass that makes up the earth is therefore not mass that has always existed unchanged, as hydrogen and helium are the only elements that were around from shortly after the beginning of the universe. Our planet consists mostly of other elements that have transformed during star creation-destruction cycles. So you can say the idea of the earth being built form unchanging matter goodbye.

    And your rejection of the example of the continental drift of Africa and South America that I mentioned appears to be based on nothing but wishful thinking that is plucked out of thin air to fit your world view. Not one shred of objective evidence for the hypothesis that god had an interest to separate the continents (hint: a bible verse about people being able to move mountains is not objective evidence). The scientific old earth account that I presented on the other hand does have the various forms of objective evidence behind that I described in my earlier post.

    "The reason the idea of matter being old but being assembled into the earth very recently simply doesn't agree with what we see around us, is because some don't want to see it, afraid that they may have to make serious adjustments to their current, nay, lifelong beliefs."

    This is the same excuse LSV has rolled out countless times, that the scientific case presented here by some is colored to fit an atheist agenda. But it is as invalid when you make it as when he makes it. See the various believers mentioned in this thread in the context of the debate about the age of the earth. The other Peter is a professing christian, but he wouldn't be seen standing alongside you at all as far as your position on the age of the earth is concerned. Roger Wiens would reject your ideas as much or more as I do, and he is a devout believer. Or see that Old Age Ministries website for some really strong stuff by christians against YECs. Ken Miller's name also came up already. So the distinction is not between the world views of believers and non-believers, but between those who accept scientifically determined reality and those who put their fingers in their ears and go 'LALALALALALAL I CAN'T HEAR YOU' in order to cling to their fundie YEC dogma.



    On another note, I googled that line you quoted from the wiki page to find the url, to read a bit more about that multi-region hypothesis, but couldn't find it. Got a link?

  • Comment number 81.

    @ Peter Klaver (# 77) -

    No mechanism, no explanation, no testable prediction, nothing.' You could of course easily show me wrong by elaborating a little about how anything from biomolecules to ecosystems was created through a divine hand. How did god create DNA and proteins? Or human liver cells? Or sheep's bladders?


    I have explained so many times now how intelligence works, and how information is used to select useful processes and deselect destructive ones, that I really don't know what to say to someone who refuses to face the obvious.

    I could ask you to explain the precise mechanism by which you wrote your posts. Did you use an intelligence mechanism or a non-intelligence mechanism?

    But really, if you insist that the function of intelligence is not permissible as an explanation, then I assume you can explain fully the mechanism of non-intelligence - and also explain why we should always assume that (logic defying) explanation to be true?

    Judging by your track record, I am not expecting a proper response (which does not involve the usual philosophical special pleading).
  • Comment number 82.

    LSV,

    People typing text on an internet forum and the christian god creating life as we have it here on the planet are two so extremely different things that the explanation from analogy between them has about zero weight. Protest what you like, but you have never presented anything remotely resembling an explanation of life from a creationist perspective.

    It's as simple as that: you've got nothing valid and useful to show that helps to provide any insight.

  • Comment number 83.

    @75

    Dunno Johannes, then again WWCD?

    Would answering that question help you figure what you mean by 'christian policy for women "dancing devilishly"'?

  • Comment number 84.

    @ Peter Klaver (# 82) -

    People typing text on an internet forum and the christian god creating life as we have it here on the planet are two so extremely different things that the explanation from analogy between them has about zero weight.


    So...

    ... a complex information rich object is not in the same category as a complex information rich object.

    How interesting!

    As for my having nothing to say about mechanisms and prediction, you are again up to your old tricks: playing a game of bluff to hide the fact that you are desperately trying to pass off an impossible theory as truth.

    I have explained how the mechanism of intelligence works. It is a selective mechanism, which specifies those factors which are conducive to the construction of the system under formation and screens out those factors which are detrimental to that system. It involves the conveying of information to matter to give instructions according to a design plan. How more explicit is it possible to be? If you really do not know how the mechanism of intelligence works, then I really wonder about your motives at times. (As it happens, Prof. Dawkins has done my work for me, because his Weasel idea is a great explanation of intelligent design! And absolutely the opposite of natural selection, given that the mechanism is guided by a pre-established plan or target, which sieves information.)

    Of course, what I suspect you are really implying is that an explanation can only be scientific if every single part of the process (including the designer) can be empirically observed. That, of course, is not science, but philosophical naturalism. The scientific method allows us to infer the existence of non-empirical realities from what we can observe. SETI is a good example of this, which is premised entirely on the idea that there is a kind of information we can detect by which we can infer the existence of non-observed intelligent beings. Without that presupposition the entire concept collapses. The fact that we could conceivably observe alien intelligent beings at some point in the future is completely irrelevant, because the inference of their existence is made prior to such an observation.

    But, hey... suppose you're right. Let's see your "mechanism" then. Have any evidence that abiogenesis is most definitely true (other than the "faith" based scientistic: "science will work it out one day" - a concept which is actually contrary to scientific progress, given that science has steadily revealed how intricate and complex living systems actually are, and therefore the naturalistic explanation has progessively become more unlikely)?
  • Comment number 85.

    PeterKlaver

    Let me deal with this first and I will get back to your main response later.

    You asked for a link from Wikipedia regarding the age of the first man. I couldn't find it again but would you agree with the Smithsonian Museum that Homo Erectus existed about 2 million years ago, give or take a few thousand?

  • Comment number 86.

    PeterKlaver

    You are right I was wrong to include the part you asterix-ed.

    When you say, "The matter that makes up the earth has undergone transformation several times before it formed the earth", I can mainly agree with you without destroying my hypothesis. That process may have happened countless billions of years ago. However, after it went through that process it may have been mixed with other materials which now form the earth.

    Regarding the separation of land masses, I can't offer you the mind of God on the subject but am content to accept that it happened for a wise purpose which I am not prepared to speculate on. I realise we do not know everything there is to know (and I'm not talking just about separation of land mass) and rather than accept every scientific theory available, I am prepared to accept that there are more important issues in life and live according to what I really know brings happiness.

    I do not need to stand by any other christian in what I believe. I do not need 'the other Peter' or Roger Wiens for that matter to agree with me. Old Age Ministries and Ken Miller can believe what they like and you cannot undermine me by referring to me as a 'YEC fundie'. My view is not aligned with 'YECs', anyway. Instead, I believe that God organised existing materials to make this earth more than 6,000 years ago. Each 'day' of the creation period was more than 24 hours.

    I have a world view coloured by personal experience that God exists and thus I accept a creationist view for our existence. Because of this I have to understand information about our environment from a theistic perspective despite what scientists say (God is omniscient. Man's understanding is restricted and still quite basic). I presume your world view is coloured by man's understanding of nature in the absence of personal experience of God. I can understand where you are coming from but don't expect you to understand where I am coming from. That's ok.

    Sorry I meant to include this at 85.
    http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-erectus

  • Comment number 87.

    The faith healing methods employed by convicted sex criminal Todd Bentley are novel. I am not surprised that no one from the organisations inviting him to Northern Ireland was available to appear on the programme. Although, to be honest, the prospect of some Christians having his boot driven into their faces is no reason to ban him from entering the UK. If god works in mysterious ways why can't it be through the toe of Bentley's boot?

  • Comment number 88.

    "An 11-year-old Christian girl has been arrested after being accused of desecrating pages of the Koran.

    She was detained for blasphemy after an angry mob demanded her arrest and threatened to burn down Christian homes outside of the capital, Islamabad, Pakistani media say."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19311098

    The good news is that no Pakistan court has ever sentenced anyone to death for blasphemy. The Guardian is reporting that a Christian couple was sentenced to 25 years behind bars in 2010 for "touching the Qur'an with unwashed hands".

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    The toned down version:

    @ newlach (# 87) -

    Although, to be honest, the prospect of some Christians having his boot driven into their faces is no reason to ban him from entering the UK.


    I assume this is an attempt at satire (feeble though it is), given the comment that follows.

    If it is not, then are you saying that you are happy for the laws of the UK to not protect Christians from this kind of treatment?
  • Comment number 91.

    Wikipedia has a list of allegations against Kirill the First:

    -Worked for the KGB
    -accused of profiteering and abuse of the privilege of duty-free importation of cigarettes granted to the Church in the mid-1990s and dubbed "Tobacco Metropolitan"
    -Kirill’s personal wealth was estimated to be $1.5 billion by sociologist Nikolai Mitrokhin in 2004, and at $4 billion by The Moscow News in 2006
    -Sued a former minister for 676,000 dollars for dust in his apartment following renovations
    -Sued by Russian consumer groups for commercial operations in cathedral. Church representatives stated in court that goods dispensed for money in the cathedral were actually religious items handed out as free gifts in exchange for voluntary “recommended donations.”
    -Denied wearing a 20,000 pound swiss watch with photographs of the offending item being airbrushed from his website.

    No wonder Theo praises god for a unification with this lot.

  • Comment number 92.

    79. PeterKlaver ,
    Absolutely beautiful photos.I loved the lizard. Thank you very much!
    And no, I don't live in Texas but in the Deep South.Folks actually have to go out & buy rocks for landscaping here because stones are almost non-existant.
    In the US, the families with more children tend to be people of faith.I don't know about the situation in Europe so much.If you google about the Amish & Mennonite communities in America you might find articles about the huge increase in population.The Hasidic & orthodox Jews, while smaller in number overall, are increasing with each generation.Large numbers of Hispanics have immigrated here-legally & non.If the trend continues, they'll eventually be the largest ethnic group in the USA.Most are Catholic & some certainly change their religion but they change primarily to other Christian denominations, or sometimes to Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc.
    It's just demographics, not trying to prove the better faith or lack thereof wins in the end.It's just looking at the present trends.And trends can change eventually due to economics, etc.

  • Comment number 93.

    LSV, post 84,

    "So...... a complex information rich object is not in the same category as a complex information rich object. How interesting!"

    I didn't say they weren't in the same category. But different objects in the category of complex information rich object may be very different from each other. In your case of text on an internet forum and life on this planet they are so different that an argument from analogy between them carries about zero weight.

    "I have explained how the mechanism of intelligence works"
    and
    "It involves the conveying of information to matter to give instructions according to a design plan."

    WHAAHAHAHA!! You've got nothing and you would have know that everybody who read your post was going to think so when you posted that. Your lines there are nothing more than the stupid old 'Goddunnit' recast into fancier words. Let's be generous and apply what you've said to an example you like to go about, DNA. What you've said is a matter of

    'BAM! God who holds lots of information-> matter suddenly formed into DNA!', with zero steps in between. You've got nothing and you know it.

    No wonder that you try to steer the conversation towards a tangent by asking about abiogenesis again. Point is, me and several other science-minded posters here have produced plenty of examples of evidence for abiogenesis. No need to look back to old threads even, the other Peter linked to a YouTube movie a few posts back that would have multiplied your knowledge of abiogenesis many, many times if you had looked at what he presented to you on a silver plate (thanks for that link btw, Peter)

    So let's not get distracted by tangents. The essential bit here is that you can't explain anything about life from a creationist perspective. Even if abiogenesis had only a tenth of the evidence to back it up that it does, it would still outperform creationism, which concedes by default without putting up any contest at all.

  • Comment number 94.

    puretruthseeker, post 86,

    "Regarding the separation of land masses, I can't offer you the mind of God on the subject but am content to accept that it happened for a wise purpose which I am not prepared to speculate on."

    That would seem to end the discussion on continental drift, I think you may agree?

    "I couldn't find it again but would you agree with the Smithsonian Museum that Homo Erectus existed about 2 million years ago, give or take a few thousand?"

    Yes as far as I know, homo erectus *orginated* a little less than 2 million years. Then went on to live on for a long time of course, so they didn't live just around somewhat under 2 million years ago, but they first appeared then, yes.

  • Comment number 95.

    mscracker, post 92,

    The third day in Arches was the best, but if you liked the pics, there are more geology shots at

    http://dutsm1023.stm.tudelft.nl/Colorado-Utah2011/

    You can get an idea of the scale of Black Canyon from the picture here

    http://dutsm1023.stm.tudelft.nl/Colorado-Utah2011/BlackCanyon/pages/6.html

    You can see some white specs just above the edge of the vertical cliff. Those are people, standing at another view point than where we were standing.

    And in case you're into geology underground too, I can recommend Carlsbad Caverns in new Mexico:

    http://dutsm1023.stm.tudelft.nl/CarlsbadCaverns2012/

  • Comment number 96.

    Todd Akin: "It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19319240

    “During the interview for KTVI-TV, Mr Akin was asked about his no-exceptions view on abortion…”

    They should’ve asked him on what planet he received his sex ed.

    “On blogs and Twitter, users have also poured scorn on his biological view, and expressed concern that he is a member of the House Committee on Science.”

    When does a creation museum open in Washington? He should just go eat at Chick-fil-A and not be in congress.

    I have a personal issue with Chick-fil-A. A brilliant civil engineer who sits 10 feet away from me happens to be a 65-year-old Lutheran who blabbers on about Chick-fil-A as if he gets a sacramental blessing when he goes there which is no kidding two or three times a week, but due more to his lobotomy than the food. I really need to check the New American Revised translation to see if Chick-fil-A is in there.

    Dan Cathy can say whatever he wants, and I am for boycotts as a response, but I agree with all the people who said it would be more effective if the gay community takes over Chick-fil-A, as customers and employees. There really should be a Chick-fil-Gay day.

  • Comment number 97.

    95. PeterKlaver,
    Many thanks! I feel like I need to find someone now to take care of my chickens for a few days so I can take a road trip out West, too.
    I went to Carlsbad Caverns on a family vacation as a child.It's amazing.
    There's much less vegetation in the desert but what remains stands out so clearly that you really appreciate it's beauty & form.
    Thank you again for sharing the lovely photos.Hope you had a wonderful visit to the States.

  • Comment number 98.

    @55.Theophane,
    I'm not expert on Poland but would guess if they indeed have increasing population it could be attributed to their faith & culture.But that can change.Quebec once had one of the largest average number of children per family & now-or last time I checked- it was close to the bottom.

  • Comment number 99.

    96. No Chick-fil-Gay day. That would be financially supporting the anti-gay movement, and the idiotage of America.

  • Comment number 100.

    marieinaustin, post 99,

    Not if it is up to a certain Chick-fil-a branch in New Hampshire:

    http://www.care2.com/causes/chick-fil-a-in-new-hampshire-sponsoring-gay-pride-fest.html

 

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