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Creationism and the Ulster Museum

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William Crawley | 19:48 UK time, Friday, 28 May 2010

ulstermuseum2.jpgOn Sunday's programme, we'll debate the Northern Ireland culture minister's suggestion that the newly refurbished Ulster Museum (pictured) should include exhibits that recognise "alternative" accounts of the origins of the universe. Nelson McCausland's letter to the trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) does not explicitly mention "creationism", but he has not challenged that reading of his proposal.

Wallace Thompson, chair of the Caleb Foundation, a fundamentalist Christian campaign group, will be my guest on Sunday, alongside Professor Peter Bowler, a leading historian of science now based in Cambridge. The Caleb Foundation say they wrote to Nelson McCausland and to the NMNI chief executive Tim Cooke some weeks ago to express their concerns about the Ulster Museum's Nature Zone exhibits. They regard Nelson McCausland's controversial intervention as a direct and positive response to their initial communication with the minister.

In a press statement, Caleb say, 'We fully accept that the theory of evolution is the view of the majority of scientists, but it is important to note that evolution is a theory and not a fact. A visit to the Ulster Museum would not give that impression. Indeed, the very clear assertion is made across the entire "Nature Zone", that evolution is a fact. This, presumably quite deliberate, error is further compounded by the complete absence of even the merest mention of any other theory of origins such as the Biblical account of creation, for which there is strong scientific evidence.' (Read their statement in full here.)

A 2009 survey by the public theology think tank Theos suggested that 25 per cent of the population of Northern Ireland believe the universe is less than ten thousand years old.

Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins, and other science campaigners, have argued that a modern museum's science exhibits cannot be determined "democratically". An "alternative theory" (whether it is creationism or astrology) may enjoy some measure of popularity with the public, but that popularity cannot be taken as grounds for including the theory in a scientifically-respectable exhibition.

Those, then, are the two contrasting positions we will be debating on Sunday. The argument starts at 8.30 a.m. Set your alarm clock; you won't want to miss it.

Read a BBC briefing on the central claims of creationism, intelligent design, and evolution.

Read "Rescuing Darwin: God and evolution in Britain today", a report by the religious think tank Theos. (Summary notes here.)

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    but it is important to note that evolution is a theory and not a fact.

    Hmmm.

    This sounds familiar. Reminscent of the state of Georgia which placed warning stickers on Ken Miller's biology books. Eventually, after the education board was taken to court, hey were painstakingly ordered to remove the staickers.

    The thing which bothers me is that if McCausland somehow pushes this through, is there anyway to mount a legal challenge ? Are there enough people in the province that care about the education of our children that are willing to fight this ?

    Glenn Branch from the NCSE has suggested that we urgently neeed a local organisation, something along the lines of "Northern Ireland citizens for science". This should be open to all, regardless of religious (or lack of) beliefs.

    Another major cause for concern is the attitude of the presbyterian church in Ireland to all of this. The PCinI is the largest Protestant denomination in the province, and it appears to have been more or less infiltrated by YECism. I reckon most denominations are now pretty much YEC. They're also using it as a form of evangelism. Monty White (then the CEO of AiG UK) spoke at Belfast City Mission(the church's outreach arm) a couple of years ago. The Rev. Stafford Carson's (fortmer PC in I President) church in Portadown has links to a local YEC organisation. I also noticed the Rev. David Bruce refused to condemn YECism or the situation at the Ulster Museum on Tues. evening's UTV live. Alarmingly he sat on the fence. All of this is despite what I've been told by church house i.e. that so long as a Christian believes that God created the heavens and the Earth, how and when he did it is for the Christian to decide. This is certainly not the view of YEC organisations such as AiG and CMI

    I think the situation for the Ulster Museum and the provinces reputation as a whole is very serious if anything comes of these proposals or if Caleb and Nelson McCausland get their way. How are groups such as the Belfast Geological Society, or the Irish Astronomical Sociaty viewing this ? Will the Armagh Planetarium now be required to teach Russell Humphreys' white hole cosmology, or John Hartnet's new physics as alternateive views ? If they win here, what about the new Giant's Causeway visitors' centre ? No doubt Mr Storey and his pals will turn their attention there next if this is pushed through.

    This situation needs to be seriously challenged. Unfortunately the challenge is not going to come from the world of politics or religion.

  • Comment number 2.

    "evolution is a theory and not a fact" The theory of gravity will also not be a fact then, may try jumping out the window to test that.

  • Comment number 3.

    "evolution is a theory and not a fact" The theory of gravity will also not be a fact then, may try jumping out the window to test that

    Ken Miller actaully liked the stickers and reckoned you could apply it to almost any science subject. Here he is talking about the stickers placed on his book:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxaM0P8Fyu4

    though I doubt this link will pass this forum's pedantic moderation process.

    It's a shame NI doesn't have a Ken Miller

  • Comment number 4.

    #2 - rochcarlie -

    ...except that the effect of gravity can be tested, as you have argued.

    Can the same be said of (macro-) evolution? Can you apply "evolution"?

    (Note that I wrote "macroevolution". There is no dispute with creationists about microevolution, or variation within species - all the Galapagos stuff - so no need to base any argument on that).

    The grand scheme of macroevolution is a theory, plain and simple. It's a particular interpretation and extrapolation of empirical data based on a particular naturalistic view of reality. It is not a fact, by any definition of the word, and cannot be compared to testable "theories" in the present.

    So just accept it, and get over it.

  • Comment number 5.

    Many persons believe the Earth was created by God @ 6,000 years ago - just like it says in the Bible. Others have demonstrated that the world is millions of years old.
    Personally, I see the Bible as non-factual and not even original. It's more like a parable of what really happened so many millions of years ago. The Bible did not pop out of nowhere into the inspired head of some ancient sage. The Bible is based on the first known story of creation – the Sumerian Enuma Elish. The Enuma Elish itself is more than 6,000 years old. The Enuma Elish begins:
    “When on high the heaven had not been named,
    Firm ground below had not been called by name,
    When primordial Apsu, their begetter,
    And Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,
    Their waters mingled as a single body,
    No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,
    None of the gods had been brought into being,
    And none bore a name, and no destinies determined--
    Then it was that the gods were formed in the midst of heaven.
    Lahmu and Lahamu were brought forth, by name they were called…”
    The Enuma Elish (with minor variations survived through Sumer, Akkadia, Babylon...It's believed that the Hebrews picked up the Biblical story during the Babylonian captivity.)
    Having said these I am an evolutionist as well as a creationist.
    I believe that evolution was moving along on earth – more like plodding upwards from bacteria to the great apes. But then a master race came to earth. This master race needed, among other things, human labor. So it seriously interfered with humanity’s natural evolution by “creating” mixed-breed creatures; these mixed-breed creatures eventually evolved into Homo sapiens. This is why I believe scientists will never find the missing link because there isn’t one; there was just interference from this master race, the mixing of the DNA.
    I point out this may explain the reference to “giants” in the Bible, also it may explain why there are so many Gods in the Bible, and explain why all these Biblical Gods seem so terribly human (e.g. jealous, territorial, etc).
    Lastly it may explain why some of us earnestly expect the Gods (or at least God) to return, because the “divine” planet is on a very long elliptical orbit that takes (coincidentally) about 6,000 years to complete.
    In any case, my bottom-line is that museums should house verifiable facts, like the gigantic stag that is more than 80,000 years old.

  • Comment number 6.

    The grand scheme of macroevolution is a theory, plain and simple. It's a particular interpretation and extrapolation of empirical data based on a particular naturalistic view of reality. It is not a fact, by any definition of the word, and cannot be compared to testable "theories" in the present.

    Scientists have been testing evolutionary science for the last 200 years. So far, nothing has been found that suggests it is neither a fact or a theory. This is why it is taught in all schools,colleges, and universities, not only in NI but throuh out the civilised word, as both a fact and theory. This is why if you apply for any job within science you are asked specifically for evolutionary science qualifications, whether it be in teaching, medicine, the oil industry, cell biology, or whatever. Applying creation science to any scientific disciplne just doesn't work.

    That is why it s theory and a fact at the Ulster museum.

    Tell me Logica, what is your science background ? Have you ever actually sat through a science class ? Or are you simply repeating what you've read on some yEC website or other ?


  • Comment number 7.

    This is why I believe scientists will never find the missing link because there isn’t one; there was just interference from this master race, the mixing of the DNA

    Bluesberry: What on Earth are you blethering about ? The mind boggles.

  • Comment number 8.

    McCausland's use of the word "theory" is incorrect. Evolution (and macroevolution, LSV) is an established fact. Common ancestry is an established fact. Natural selection is an established process that drives adaptation within evolution. Our understanding of this is what is meant by "evolutionary theory".
    If our museums are to pander to the ignorant prejudice of a knuckle-dragging cadre of people who are determined NOT to think outside their pathetic paradigm, then they are not going to be fit for purpose. We need to take a stand against the sort of idiotic populism espoused by the minister. Placating the lowest common denominator is not an option.

    I do feel that creationism makes people stupid and incompetent, and is a useful indicator that someone is unable to think critically. Perhaps McCausland had a head start.

  • Comment number 9.

    Is there not a place into which they'll not try to shoehorn their religion. Perhaps we could simply do away with compelling scientific evidence altogether and replace it with the fairies at the bottom of my garden. Which reminds me, I'll have to get their supper ready - or else!

  • Comment number 10.

    Peter

    For the good of your sanity, step back now. A conversation with LSV on this topic will quickly end up in something very like one of these.

  • Comment number 11.

    I do feel that creationism makes people stupid and incompetent, and is a useful indicator that someone is unable to think critically. Perhaps McCausland had a head start.

    That so many of the population believe this nonsense Helio, surely says something about Northern Ireland's education system.

    It would suggest that the system of academic selection at the age of 11 has failed miserably.

  • Comment number 12.

    We need to take a stand against the sort of idiotic populism espoused by the minister.

    and how would you suggest that those of us who care about science education in the province does that Helio ? How do you tackle the problem that a theological college (so close to the museum) is, for some odd reason producing YEC ministers by the bucketload. These ministers in turn preach YECism to their congregations and, with church attendance in the province being so much higher than everywhere else, therein lies the problem.

    So, when the snakeoil salesmen of YECism from across the water, or the US arrive in the province they've a ready made audience of gullible Christians waiting to lap up the nonsense. Which is why Ken Ham attracted a crowd of almost 2,000 people in Belfast a few years ago.

    It shouldn't be like this. Northern Ireland has some of the most interesting geology to be found anywhere in the world, the Giant's Causeway aside. Yet, when BBC Radio Ulster goes out on the streat interviewing the public, they literally haven't a clue. Something is serioulsly wrong.

    Even our top University has a YEC society (along with at least one of it's lecturers) on it's premises, the secretary of which has been elected to a major post within the Students Union, apparently.

  • Comment number 13.

    Don't forget, to be completely fair, to bring a balanced view into our museums and science classes, -every- idea about the origin of the universe must be considered, otherwise it's not fair, it's just certain fundamentalist groups pushing their agenda.

    To quote a famous letter:
    I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

  • Comment number 14.

    #6 - Peter -

    "This is why if you apply for any job within science you are asked specifically for evolutionary science qualifications, whether it be in teaching, medicine, the oil industry, cell biology, or whatever. ... Tell me Logica, what is your science background ? Have you ever actually sat through a science class ? Or are you simply repeating what you've read on some yEC website or other ?"

    Instead of playing the old patronising "inquisition two-step" (something that even many churches have learnt to grow out of) why not actually provide irrefutable evidence that proves that this theory of yours is indeed "fact" (i.e. evidence that categorically rules out any other possible logical explanation. The process of falsification is something I assume you understand, as I did when I studied the philosophy of science)?

    Or does conformity to the secular establishment trump independence of thought - i.e. free-thinking?

    How the so-called "enlightenment" has come full circle! I think this is the "loop" grokesx should be worrying about!

    (By the way... in case you didn't know, ad hominem comments, assumptions, attacks and insults do NOT count as scientific argument and evidence, and are not part of the scientific method. I just thought I would point that out!)

  • Comment number 15.

    Lets hope the Museum stands strong and that Caleb follows up on their threats to invoke Section 75. We need our Dover moment to "Build up that wall".

  • Comment number 16.

    logica_sine_vanitate...

    For evidence, first read 'Origin of Species' by Charles Darwin, then progress onto the untold thousands of journal articles currently published regarding current biological thinkings.

    As nothing can ever be conclusively proven to be 'true' (aside from dubious definitions of the word 'true') then people must base their ideas upon repeatable, falsifiable and peer-reviewed data.

    Once you have properly read the evidence for evolution and compared it to any other concept you might have, decide which one is more plausible. This is what we base science on. Not the majority view. Any scientist is free to refute and disprove any theory. They just have to show evidence to back it up.

    It is not the requirement of a currently held theory to prove itself to you, it has already done that, over and over again. You must provide evidence that proves it wrong.

  • Comment number 17.

    ON the positive side - education means that intelligent and critically thinking /aware people are not attracted to the ministry as they see beyond the narrow confines of religion as we know it. The down side is that the people who are attracted to the ministry are of the evangelical brigade.....hence the rise of 'YECs'.

    What lies behind fundamentalism/evangelism is fear - and that fear means they speak up for what they believe in - even if what they believe is pure rubbish. It gives them the motivation and drive to push these things through. Whereas the more liberal minded, tolerant people of society are not motivated by fear and hence we stay in our armchairs and write on blogs and don't actually speak up!! Thing is not to get motivated by fear of what the evangelicals will do to the museum/education etc but be motivated by love of truth or what is true, science etc....comes from a different place and is more likely to succeed than fear based motivations. Allow love of what is true to motivate and establish Northern Ireland Citizens for Science or whatever group feels appropriate. I would like to think there are enough people in NI who care but how many of them are prepared to stick their necks out and speak up or take action?? Anyone here going to take up the mantle?

  • Comment number 18.

    Peter: *That so many of the population believe this nonsense Helio, surely says something about Northern Ireland's education system. *

    Does it not say more about its religion - which is transmitted via parents/families and churches rather than the mainstream education system? It is more likely that people who favour creationism have had it drummed into them from day one in the home/church in some form or other rather then just coming to it through education and critically thinking oh yes this must be it. I know there are 'intelligent' people (degrees in science based subjects, professional qualifications and jobs etc) who support creationism (a bit of an oxymoron granted) - perhaps demonstrating that intelligence isn't the be all and end all - something else is more important. Preaching a religion based on fear, judgment, hell, damnation - that is then also demonstrated in the behaviour/attitude of parents to their children, who grow up in that fear and continue the cycle.

  • Comment number 19.

    There's a lot of ignorance in this thread. I'm curious Peter (though this post is addressed to many others), you seem very keen to interrogate LSV about his scientific credentials, but what are your theological ones?

    'I reckon' is hardly a scientific statement. At best it is a hypothesis, and an untested one at that. I would be interested in seeing a surveying of how many congregations believe what, but I doubt that anyone here has seen on one of beliefs regarding Creation, so let's not go making untested claims.

    Also on the subject of surveys, at least one claim has been made about the level of education/critical reasoning/intelligence of people attracted to the ministry. I wonder if anyone has actually done any surveys on this subject or spoken to many ministry students. Does anyone have any actual facts to back up derogative statements such as Eunice's, or is this simply a case of fear leading to bigotry? Isn't this the very opposite of truth or love, never mind the two together? As a student (and now probationer) for the ordained ministry in PCI, I've met many ministry students and they come from a wide cross-section of life. Teachers, engineers, policemen, civil servants, missionaries, students, pharmacists, builders and more. Some are at university for the first time, some have an Oxbridge education. Some are voracious readers, great intellects and capable critical thinkers. Others have big hearts and great pastoral skills. A handful even have both. Please don't go creating blanket ignorant stereotypes, especially if you're going to go and talk about fear, truth and love.

    Belfast City Mission is not PCI's outreach arm. There are very close links between the two, but the church as a whole is involved with outreach and there are many dedicated organisations and bodies within PCI, falling under the auspices of the Board of Mission Ireland and Board of Mission Overseas. I'm not sure how you think having someone speak about YEC counts as evangelism.

    Stafford is the Moderator, not the President - Presbyterians don't have presidents or anyone with that kind of authority. The moderator is a chairman and figurehead and holds his position for a grand total of one year. Many moderators with many different views of many different subjects have been elected at various different times and I doubt that their stance on Creation specifically has ever been a reason to elect them.

    I don't see what is alarming about David Bruce sitting on the fence with regards to Creation. It is not a central issue or doctrine of first importance, beyond the simple statement that he affirmed. In this regard, Presbyterians have a degree of liberty in what they believe - I would have thought that affirming freedom of conscience on a non-essential issue, rather than imposing dogma is something you would have applauded?

    Neither does Union Theological College have an official position on the matter. Lecturers are free to teach what they understand to be faithful to the Bible. For instance the Professor of Systematic Theology would teach God-guided evolution, while a Hebrew lecturer might teach YEC. I doubt there are many students who enter with a non-YEC view only to leave with believing in it or vice-versa. Out of the ministerial students at least, they tend to have their mind made up on it before they start, though few would regard it as a significant issue in comparison to the gospel.

    I'm not sure what the problem is with Queen's having a YEC society or a lecturer involved. Why shouldn't students and lecturers form societies according to their beliefs? Societies don't affect the teaching that the university does and neither does the Student's Union, to my knowledge.

    Some statements about evolution, YEC and critical thinking are also way off the mark. Believing in YEC, as has been pointed out, is not necessarily a scientific belief - in many cases it is a theological belief first and foremost, based on an understanding of scripture rather than an examination of the scientific evidence. It is an epistemological system in which divine revelation overrides scientific discovery and therefore not an indication of inability to understand science or think critically - the science itself is irrelevant rather than being misunderstood. Given the number of very successful and highly regarded scientists, mathematicians, etc. who ascribe to YEC, it is nonsense to say that one cannot think critically and be a YEC. You might be able to say that there is some cognitive dissonance there, but that's about it.

  • Comment number 20.

    The whole situation is laughable and invoking section 75 does'nt work because the subject does not adversely affect any of the four categories mentioned in the act. I wish someone would quash the idea that there are credible theories waiting to compete with evolution which the public are being prevented from hearing. These people are in the same category as holocaust deniers and should be treated as such. I would pay to see somebody like Helio enlighten the minister using that devastating combination of humour and erudition that he displays on this blog.

  • Comment number 21.

    But our education system should be able to prepare children so that they can question this nonsense when it's thrown at them. The education system should be far more convincing than any YEC speaker. In this respect it's failed, in my opinion Eunice.


  • Comment number 22.

    Peter,

    When Oxford professors are teaching YEC, don't you think the myth that this is all about education has been disproved? It isn't that people are ignorant, incapable of critical thinking or otherwise intellectually deficient; it's a different worldview where divine revelation is prized above scientific evidence.

  • Comment number 23.

    Jonathan, theology be damned. Creationism has been soundly disproven, so we are left trying to explain the tiny (yes, tiny) rump of people in scientific fields who believe this rubbish. There are a number of possibilities: Ignorance; Dishonesty; Stupidity; Inability to think outside religious indoctrination.

    None of these are virtues.

    The last is arguably the worst. If my doctor was a creationist, I would change doctors.

    Also, do not be so disingenuous as to say this does not matter. You theogirls tear strips off each other over far lesser matters. You KNOW that you are trying to give these crackpots space and protection, which suggests you either do not appreciate the issues, or you're a YEC yourself. That is why Bruce waffled.

    I hope Peter Bowler opens up a can on SunSeq. Sorry I won't be listening live.

  • Comment number 24.

    Peter: yes that is important - problem is the 'damage' has already been done before the education system gets to them and intelligent argument is not sufficient to over rule /quash the fear - that needs love.

    Jonathan: I made a sweeping generalisation I accept. However, fundamentalism is not based on love or Truth but fear. Truth is all fundamentalists are sons of God like everyone else with love as their essence. Problem is they don't know that and out of fear and in separation to those truths there is an emptiness and in that emptiness evil can manifest. By evil I mean anything that promotes separation from one's soul, from love - not just an evil act etc. Fundamentalism is evil as it promotes separation from one's soul/love. eg by claiming we are all sinners, by claiming God is a judge, by claiming hell exists and that people can be damned - all of these are evil. So I can know that the essence of everyone is love including fundamentalists, but I also know that out of separation from that love and in emptiness evil can be manifest - it is the evil expression that I speak out against not the person per se. The perpetuation of nonsense that has absolutely no bearing or connection with a God of pure love and instead of bringing people closer to God drives them further away in-truth....this is evil - not just in my opinion but based on energetic truth.

  • Comment number 25.

    Jonathan: it's a different worldview where divine revelation is prized above scientific evidence.

    Divine revelation can reveal Truths before science proves them to be so. However, the major error here Jonathan is that fundamentalism is not based on true divine revelation but on fear. The divine is love and loves all equally irrespective of their beliefs, their sexual orientation, their religion, or any label or descriptor you care to use - love does not judge nor condemn in any way it just loves. If this was the basis of fundamentalism then fine (then it wouldn't be fundamentalism) - but it is not - hence whilst the point you make is correct re divine revelation - the content of what you consider to be divine revelation is seriously flawed.

  • Comment number 26.

    I hope Peter Bowler opens up a can on SunSeq. Sorry I won't be listening live

    Me too Helio. He should be a bit more savy about the YECs now, since he was cornered by them a couple of years ago. Have you Sky+ by the way ? You can manually record the programme using this facility (Radio Ulster is on Sky Digital channel 0118). Failing that I'm sure you will be able to listen again via the BBC iPlayer

    yes that is important - problem is the 'damage' has already been done before the education system gets to them and intelligent argument is not sufficient to over rule /quash the fear - that needs love

    Indeed Eunice.

    I had a good geology teacher in the guise of Herbie Black (who ran the Belfast geological society for many years) so I was appalled when I first came across YECism. I remember the many field trips Herbie took us on, and the numerous visits to quarries in and around Belfast. The fossil hunting at Port Muck was fun, and learning the natuaral history of the Mournes and Scrabo Hill was fascinating. This first rate education has rendered me immune to YEC crap.

    So how do schools teach geology now ? Is it an add on to geography ? Our school was one of the few that actually did a seperate O Level/A Level (GCSE) in the subject and it wasn't a grammer school. Is geology largely ignored ? I don't think it would take that much to educate children in the basic principles of geology, and why geologists don't practice flood geology.

    Sadly, both our universities have scrapped their geology degrees. The Ulster Museum situation is partly the result of those actions, in my opinion.

  • Comment number 27.

    When Oxford professors are teaching YEC

    Jonathan:Which Oxford science professors are teaching YECism in their science classes ? I know of none.

  • Comment number 28.

    The statement about Oxford professors, or highly qualified scientists, believing or teaching YEC is erronous at best and misleading at worst. Within the relevant fields, ie biology, geology, theoretical physics, etc, subscription to the mainstream theory of the origin of the universe and evolution is as close to 100% as to make the difference negligable.

    The 'controversy' only exists so long as narrow-minded people who refuse to adapt their faith-based dogma continue to mislead and misinform the general public about just how much consensus there is on the subject within the community that researches it. When the fundamentalist organisation The Discovery Institute collected a list of scientists who subscribed to Intelligent Design (the latest attempt to 'prove' Creationism) they obtained 400 names in around 2 years. In responce, Project Steve collected the names of over 4000 scientists -in only the relevant fields- who agreed with evolution... and were called Steve... in just 2 months!

    The facts are never mandated by the masses, democracy, what the 'man on the street' thinks, or what the majority says so, it's based on evidence and sound hypothesis. That most people belive in a 7 day creation doesn't make it right, it just shows how uneducated the general public is and why they cannot be allowed to decide educational policy.

  • Comment number 29.

    Evolution does not have to be right for alternative theories to be wrong.

    An exhibit listing creation myths could be most informative, because the evidence that they are false is completely overwhelming. They are hypothesis that can ad have been tested, and there is conclusive evidence that they are untrue.

    The evolution hypothesis has, of course, been subjected to this test and has passed sufficiently to be given the status of "theory", which in science of course means an explanation supported by evidence and hence regarded as fact.

  • Comment number 30.

    Divine revelation is wholly invalid.

  • Comment number 31.

    #11 - Peter, Don't let the comment about 25% of people believing it fool you. It was only 15 people out of 60. Far too small a group to get any real idea how popular the idea is. And if it was done from the Theos website then its probably more likely to attract people with more extreme religious views I'd imagine.

  • Comment number 32.

    Helio,

    You pretty much ignored what I said. For many people, YEC is about theology, not science. Saying that it has been scientifically disproven is irrelevant. It's not that people are bad at science or stupid; it's that that trust a certain interpretation of the Bible over current scientific thinking. It's a matter of epistemology. If anyone is indoctrinated, it would seem to be you given your very narrow-minded approach to the issue and inability to see things from anyone else's point of view.

    What exactly is a theogirl and what lesser matters have I torn strips off someone over? Has the level of debate here really descended to personal attacks and absurd stereotyping? Personally I can't get too worked up over the YEC/OEC/ID/evolution/creationism issue. It's far from being central to my theology and I can sympathise with all the different viewpoints. I certainly protect those who believe in YEC in the sense that I think it is an interpretation of scripture that can be argued for and doesn't make someone an idiot or liar.

    Eunice,

    For someone who speaks so much about relativism, subjectivism and new-age mysticism, you're very quick to be dogmatic and hostile when it comes to fundamentalism. Are some fundamentalists fearful? Yes. Are the key tenants of fundamentalism deponent on fear? No, there is plenty of good theology behind them. In fact, it is the historic orthodoxy, unlike this 'energetic truth' you talk about. I find it hard to take your words seriously when you say that love doesn't condemn, then spend your time condemning fundamentalists whom you seem to know little about.

    If you think that science proves anything then I'm afraid that you must understand very little about it. Science is quite good at falsifying theories, but not so good at proving them. The best science can ever do is help us create models of the world that provide the same output for a given input. It is always open to be improved upon (or overturned entirely). It's a fundamentally different beast to divine revelation which is flawless. Please don't reply with another post saying that the Bible is wrong, and energetic love is the real truth; we've heard you say that dozens of times and simply restating a case over and over doesn't advance the discussion at all.

  • Comment number 33.

    Are the key tenants of fundamentalism deponent on fear? No, there is plenty of good theology behind them. In fact, it is the historic orthodoxy

    Dinosaurs roaming around the Garden of Eden, alongside Adam and Eve, just like in the Flintstones is neither good theology, or orthodox theology Jonathan. Complete and utter nonsense. That the Presbyterian church in Ireland allows this sort of thing to be preached from it's pulpits is appalling.

    Science is quite good at falsifying theories, but not so good at proving them

    Which theories on (1) the age of the Earth, (2) the age of the Universe (3) uniformitarianism in geology (4) biological evolution (i.e. common descent) have not been "proven" then ? Which "theories should be left out of science classes ? Which "theories" are being debated within science ?

  • Comment number 34.

    I think it is an interpretation of scripture that can be argued for and doesn't make someone an idiot or liar.

    But in order to argue for that interpretation Jonathan you must:

    (1) Missrepresent and distort science to such an extent that it it is tantamount both lying and fraud.

    (2) It is deceiving Christians who are ignorant about why science disagrees fundamentally with a literal interpretation of the Gensesis account of "creation"

    This is not a difference of opinion or a different worldview. The facts in science speak for themselves. Telling Christians that there's scientific evidence for dinosaurs roaming around the Garden of Eden, alongside Adam and Eve, just like in the Flintstones, not only makes a mockery out of Christianity, it makes people stupid as well. That this nonsense is being preached to children by virtually all local evangelical denominations (including the Presbyterian Church in Ireland) is completely and utterly shameful.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm late to this thread, but I'm glad I read through it anyway. As grokesx said, a debate about evolution with LSV is akin to going into an infinite loop. But a slight novelty is that some of those giving him a hard time are themselves christians. How explicitly will LSV be willing to voice a position like

    "You, as a fellow christian, are wrong on the science, theology and philosophy of it all. You have foolishly let yourself be conned into the trap set by those evil atheist, secularist godless scientists! I know what is right!"

    to PeterJhenderson (Peter of the opening post in this thread)?

  • Comment number 36.

    When Oxford professors are teaching YEC

    You still haven't rtold me which Oxford professors are preaching, sorry, teaching YECism in their science classes Jonathan. Who are they and what are their disciplines ? Does Oxford university know about this ?

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm late to this thread, but I'm glad I read through it anyway. As grokesx said, a debate about evolution with LSV is akin to going into an infinite loop. But a slight novelty is that some of those giving him a hard time are themselves christians. How explicitly will LSV be willing to voice a position like

    "You, as a fellow christian, are wrong on the science, theology and philosophy of it all. You have foolishly let yourself be conned into the trap set by those evil atheist, secularist godless scientists! I know what is right!"

    to PeterJhenderson (Peter of the opening post in this thread)?


    Sorry Peter, I haven't a clue what you're on about. I certainly don't view Atheists in this way.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi Peter,

    I know you don't. What I was trying to say is that when atheists speak up for a scientific field like evolution that LSV immediately goes on a broad brushed reasoning spree like 'You are all just too locked into your atheist views that won't tolerate god playing any role' etc. But now we have a case of you, a christian, speaking up in favour of evolution. So I wonder what he'll say to that. He can't use the god aversion argument against you. So I wonder if he'll say you've been conned by us evil atheists (as he would see us, not you), into believing evolution etc.

  • Comment number 39.

    a christian, speaking up in favour of evolution

    I'm a christian speaking up in favour of science.

    into believing evolution

    I have never "believed" in evolution Peter. I merely accept the facts.

  • Comment number 40.

    Peter (not Klaver),

    I didn't say anything about dinosaurs roaming around the Garden of Eden (YECs have different positions on that). Six day creationism has fairly decent historical backing, especially since evolution and the bang bang are relatively on the scene. Saying it isn't good theology isn't an argument; it's simply a claim that has no backing until you provide evidence.

    Regarding theories, I'm not saying I disagree with any of them or think that they shouldn't be taught. I'm just saying that science is a very different discipline to theology and scientific knowledge is totally different to divine revelation. Science is about falsifiability, rather than proving positively. That's simply the nature of the beast, rather than a criticism of it.

    I'm not sure if you've actually been reading my posts since you keep insisting that believing in YEC requires you to misrepresent or distort science. As I have pointed out, for many people it is a theological belief and when a theological belief backed up by an interpretation of scripture clashes with a scientific belief backed up by empirical observations, YECs will value the theology over the science. By talking about scientific arguments you're attacking a strawman position that I have never tried to defend. Please read my posts rather than presuming my arguments.

    Regarding Oxford professors, I wasn't talking about people teaching it in their classes, but rather advancing the belief outside of classes. My point wasn't about it being an acceptable theory within the academy, but rather that lack of education/intelligence isn't the cause of YEC. Plenty of intelligent, educated people, with great ability to think critically believe in it. One example would be John Lennox, professor of mathematics. OFf hand I can't remember if he actually believes in six day creation or not, but he is certainly skeptical of macroevolution, having debated Dawkins on it, and is a proponent of Intelligent design at the very least. When I was in Oxford, there was a history professor who to my recollection would have been a creationist of some flavour and I recall a letter to Physics World a view years ago from 6 or 7 of the faculty objecting to the pasting Creationists and Christians in general had received in a previous issue. Anyway my point was that lack of education is not the reason for Creationism; for many it is a result of trusting theology over science when the two conflict.

  • Comment number 41.

    I believe Thomas Paine summed it up succinctly when he stated,
    "The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not anything can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing"
    The Age of Reason

  • Comment number 42.

    Jonathan, science HAS falsified creationism (and the arguments of intelligent design).

    Next!

  • Comment number 43.

    Jonathan Boyd, post 40,

    "I'm not sure if you've actually been reading my posts since you keep insisting that believing in YEC requires you to misrepresent or distort science. As I have pointed out, for many people it is a theological belief and when a theological belief backed up by an interpretation of scripture clashes with a scientific belief backed up by empirical observations, YECs will value the theology over the science."

    That is only half true at best. Many YEC christians make it their purpose in life to claim that the scientific evidence supports their reading of the creation stories (both of them, even while they contradict each other) in the bible. See e.g. the larger creationist organisations like Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research, etc. For them it's not a matter of separating science and theology at all. For that flavour of christians it is a matter of their theology being the catalyst for dishonesty.

    Talking of Answers in Genesis, you said re YECism

    "Plenty of intelligent, educated people, with great ability to think critically believe in it."

    Queue the AiG list of 186 dentists and IT specialists etc. with PhDs and professors titles to their name. Yawn.

  • Comment number 44.

    I was in two minds about listening to the programme this morning. Earlier in the week the world's unhealthiest drink was in the news (a 2000 plus calorie ice cream concoction with a fat content equivalent to 68 rashers of bacon) and I thought Wallace Thompson would be worse for my heart than that!

    Although he was "appalled" by what he saw in the Ulster Museum, I found myself in stitches when he said: "I personally believe that the Earth is no more than 6000 years old." Roll on the flat-earthers!

  • Comment number 45.

    I listened to the first part of Sunday Sequence this morning. My FSM, what clowns the creationist camp houses. First we get the red herring of 'many people believe this', which is so irrelevant for a museum that displays exhibits of a scientific nature. Science is not a democracy. There may have been very few people who agreed with Copernicus in his days, yet he was right and the overwhelming majority was simply wrong. People are entitled to their own views, but not their own facts (LSV, please take note).
    William didn't steer the discussion in that direction, but he did bring up the fact that many people believe in astrology too. Should that then be displayed in the museum as well? In his desperation to shore up his 'equal attention' or 'fairness' line, the creationist being interviewed actually replied something like 'Maybe there should be scope for that too.'

    Whaaaah!

  • Comment number 46.

    Helio,

    You're continuing to attack a strawman. For the last time, I'm talking about the many Creationists who hold to it as a theological position rather than a scientific one. If you are incapable of understanding and/or engaging with that, then there's really no point in responding to you. There is more to life than science.

    PK,

    What is it about what I said that is only half-true at best. For someone who talks so much about the importance of science, logic and reasoning, I would have thought it a relatively simple to task to understand that saying many Creationists are theological rather than scientific Creationists is not a claim that no Creationist holds to their position scientifically. To respond by pointing out that there are many Creationists who do try to justify their position scientifically is irrelevant and in no way makes any of what I said half-true at best.

    This is equivalent to me saying that many livestock on a farm are sheep and you accusing me of lying on the basis that there are also cows on farms. It's a appalling failure of logic when you're chastising Christians for their supposed lack of intellect, education and critical thinking. Shame on you.

    Also, in what way is a yawn a valid point. If you're claiming that lack of education is the reason that people believe in Creationism then it shown that people with good education believe in it, then you have a case to answer. You're as full as deceit as the accuse the Christians of being.

  • Comment number 47.

    I love it when the YEC's break cover. I know of no better way for people who have been indoctrinated by parents, school and church to critically examine the evidence and come to their own conclusions. An earth 6000 years old, talking snakes, arks and floods, the twists and turns of logic required to explain this exposes by extension the rest of the crumbling edifice. At least the fundamentalists realise that there is no room to compromise on this;
    "The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science." (Answers in genesis)
    It was a series of lectures by Kent Hovind many years ago that opened my eyes to the intellectual deceit employed, I would trust that most people especially children who have not yet invested their lives in "the study of nothing" firmly place this nonsense in the myths and fables section of any museum.

  • Comment number 48.

    I didn't say anything about dinosaurs roaming around the Garden of Eden

    But YECs do Jonathan. It is one of the requirements for YECism, as portrayed by Ken Ham in his creation museum. This is what McCausland and his pals at the Caleb foundation want taught to children at the Ulster Museum.

    YECs have different positions on that

    No they don't at least not to my knowledge.

    Six day creationism has fairly decent historical backing

    It was once the prevailing view amoung scientists (several hundred years ago) and particularly geologists, who tried to fit the flood into what they observed in the real world. They failed miserably and that's why it was quickly abandoned in favour of uniformitarianism. Several hundred years ago scientists (and theologians) had an escuse for a belief in such nonsense. They merely repeated the science of the day. Modern YECism is largely a result of Morris and Whitcombe's the Genesis Flood and has it's roots in Seventh Day adventism.

    especially since evolution and the bang bang are relatively on the scene

    Neither are on the same scene as YECism. Evolutionary science has evidence YECism does not.

    Saying it isn't good theology isn't an argument; it's simply a claim that has no backing until you provide evidence.

    Telling Christians that dinos roamed around the Garden of Eden alongside adam and Eve, just like in the Flintstones, is not only bad science, it's bad theology as well. It's found absolutely no where in the bible.

    Regarding theories, I'm not saying I disagree with any of them or think that they shouldn't be taught. I'm just saying that science is a very different discipline to theology and scientific knowledge is totally different to divine revelation. Science is about falsifiability, rather than proving positively. That's simply the nature of the beast, rather than a criticism of it.

    I don't think you actually know what falsification is.

    I'm not sure if you've actually been reading my posts since you keep insisting that believing in YEC requires you to misrepresent or distort science. As I have pointed out, for many people it is a theological belief and when a theological belief backed up by an interpretation of scripture clashes with a scientific belief backed up by empirical observations, YECs will value the theology over the science. By talking about scientific arguments you're attacking a strawman position that I have never tried to defend. Please read my posts rather than presuming my arguments.

    and in their quest to do this they've missrepresented and distorted science so much that it's tantamount to lying and fraud.

    Regarding Oxford professors, I wasn't talking about people teaching it in their classes, but rather advancing the belief outside of classes. My point wasn't about it being an acceptable theory within the academy, but rather that lack of education/intelligence isn't the cause of YEC. Plenty of intelligent, educated people, with great ability to think critically believe in it. One example would be John Lennox, professor of mathematics. OFf hand I can't remember if he actually believes in six day creation or not, but he is certainly skeptical of macroevolution, having debated Dawkins on it, and is a proponent of Intelligent design at the very least. When I was in Oxford, there was a history professor who to my recollection would have been a creationist of some flavour

    Well,listening to Richard Dawins during the week on BBC Radio Ulster, he stated that he'd spoken to Hohn Lennox and he was pretty sure he wasn't a YEC. According to Dawkins he also accepted common descent.

    So really there aren't science professors at Oxford University teaching YECism in science classes ? Why did you state this in the first place ?

    and I recall a letter to Physics World a view years ago from 6 or 7 of the faculty objecting to the pasting Creationists and Christians in general had received in a previous issue.

    So what ?

    Anyway my point was that lack of education is not the reason for Creationism; for many it is a result of trusting theology over science when the two conflict.

    and in order to do so they must distort and missrepresent science.

    Remember Jonathan, project Steve (scientists with the name Steve account for ionly 2% of all scientists) has over 1,300 signatures. It kind of puts things into perspective when YECs claim there are hundreds of real scientists who believe in 6 day creation.

  • Comment number 49.

    I listened to the first part of Sunday Sequence this morning

    Yep, listened myself Peter.

    Not a Will Crawley classic like the Ham interview a few years back) unfortunately.

    To be honest, I thought the whole thing was a bit dull.

    I think emphasis should have been put on the fact that ther museum really is an educational establishment accessed by thousands of school children every year.

    Still, Peter Bowler made a good point that it could be brought into the history of geology. On that I would definitely agree.

  • Comment number 50.

    Shameful

  • Comment number 51.

    #35 - PK -

    How explicitly will LSV be willing to voice a position like

    "You, as a fellow christian, are wrong on the science, theology and philosophy of it all. You have foolishly let yourself be conned into the trap set by those evil atheist, secularist godless scientists! I know what is right!"

    to PeterJhenderson (Peter of the opening post in this thread)?
    ------------------------------------------

    What a touchy response, especially considering that all I said was that macroevolution was a theory and not fact!!

    Touching a raw nerve, or what?!

    Instead of putting words into my mouth, why not actually address the issue of the distinction between "theory" and "fact"?

    And, by the way, I am not claiming to be a YEC. I am simply pointing out the inadequacy of the dogmatic claims of the naturalistic (or should I say, metaphysical naturalistic) view of reality.

    A humble agnosticism is more what is needed, not the bigotry on either side of the debate. And that "agnosticism" should be reflected in any public presentation of the speculation regarding the origins of life (and "speculation" is all that it can ever be, according to the scientific method).


    #42 - Helio -

    "...science HAS falsified creationism (and the arguments of intelligent design)."

    And the evidence is? (philosophically unbiased evidence please)
    By the way... when I'm talking about "creationism" I mean the argument for the existence of an intelligent creator, as opposed to the idea of life self-assembling without the need for the input of intelligence. I am not asking for evidence to support all the minutiae of the biblical account. So don't let's get distracted with all the "who was Cain's wife" stuff.

    Where is the empirical evidence that categorically proves that life must have self-assembled? I'd like to see it, and assess whether it really does constitute proper scientific proof - coherent and irrefutable arguments free of any attempt to force empirical data into a preconceived and prearranged philosophical straitjacket!

    I wait with bated breath...

  • Comment number 52.

    Shameful

    What's shameful Lucy ?

  • Comment number 53.

    Jonathan Boyd,

    I should apologize for my statement about YECs viewing science and theology as separate as being only half true. I was very wrong there. It is only true to the extent that many YECs care to make that distinction. As practically all of them think along lines such as quoted from AiG by Paul James in post 47, your post is certainly not half true. It's almost entirely untrue. And given your slightly ridiculous response to my post, it seems my generosity towards you was completely wasted.

    Pretty much the same with your statement

    "Plenty of intelligent, educated people, with great ability to think critically believe in it."

    Percentage wise that is just more cobblers (or cabbage, to stick to the local favourite of the blog here). Listen to some of the things christian PeterJHenderson (posting as 'Peter' )has to say. His grasp in the area of YECism is so much better than yours that you could learn a good deal from him.

  • Comment number 54.

    logica_sine_vanitate

    What's wrong with evolution being a theory? All the best and most well explained scientific concepts - atomic structure, disease, gravity, they're -all- theories. A scientific theory is a strong, well explained thing.

    ID/Creationist/whatever name it has this week -isn't- a theory, it's not even a hypothesis, it's an idea. To be considered a theory it has to have evidence and experimental data to back it up.

    Show me, or at least admit, that there's one (1), that's ONE, peer reviewed scientific paper showing a plausible explanation for creationism and I'd be happy to read it.

    If you ignore this post (as IDists tend to so, when confronted with lines of inquiry they can't answer) then all other readers will know that ID has no scientific basis and as such has no place in museums, schools or in any rational debate on origins.

  • Comment number 55.

    Peter - I read this blog with utter dismay. It is sort of like checking into Taliban country in English! Usually after listening to a broadcast by Crawley I picture him leaving the studio and heading somewhere to bang his head against a brick wall. Honestly hearing some of the speakers featured on the radio it seems as if they are dialing in from the year 321 Common Era.

    Do the people of N.I. not realize that if they were born in North Korea that they would be worshiping the Fearless Leader and would suffer death for apostasy if failing to submit?

    I remain astonished at the number of people brainwashed into worshiping the gods of ancient goatherds. This will only end once it becomes illegal to infect the minds of defenseless children with such stilly stuff.

    No museum should ever receive funding to present irrational beliefs as facts. The Flintstones is not a true story. I did support the financial grant given to St. Martin in the Fields for obvious reasons.

  • Comment number 56.

    One example would be John Lennox, professor of mathematics. OFf hand I can't remember if he actually believes in six day creation or not, but he is certainly skeptical of macroevolution, having debated Dawkins on it, and is a proponent of Intelligent design at the very least.

    Well,listening to Richard Dawins during the week on BBC Radio Ulster, he stated that he'd spoken to John Lennox and he was pretty sure he wasn't a YEC. According to Dawkins he also accepted common descent.

    I met John Lennox once, and talked about some of this, and I'm pretty sure he's not a YEC. I think he's maybe sympathetic to Intelligent Design, but I'm fairly sure that's as close as he gets to YEC, and that he's an evolutionist. I'm not sure that he's ever come down heavily on any 'side' in the debate.

  • Comment number 57.

    #54 - Natman -

    "If you ignore this post (as IDists tend to so, when confronted with lines of inquiry they can't answer) then all other readers will know that ID has no scientific basis and as such has no place in museums, schools or in any rational debate on origins."

    Well, as a matter of fact, I have referred to the views of a qualified scientist in an earlier thread on this blog - a certain molecular biologist, as a matter of fact. But since his conclusions were not to the liking of "the naturalistic inquisition" his views were dismissed as invalid (without evidential support, of course). You can't win, I'm afraid, when faced with this tendency to "beg the question" (assume one's conclusions in one's premise, as is the wont of the naturalists).

    If you know anything about this subject, you know that there are scientists who accept ID, but the very fact that they do so apparently "disqualifies" them as serious scientists in the eyes of some hack pseudo-philosophers. In fact, the name of one of them has even been mentioned on this thread! He has put forward plenty of evidence about intricate fine-tuning in the universe, which requires a cause of intelligence, and makes a mockery of the naturalistic self-assembling theory.

    There are plenty of arguments on this debate (publicly available). But if I mention any name, or any paper, or any book, the naturalists will simply say "that's not valid", based on their prior commitment to their own philosophy (I've seen enough of that to know that that is exactly what will happen). There will then follow ad hominem attacks, which attempt to divert the debate away from the evidence.

    If you had read my earlier post properly, you will see that I was talking about falsification. The claim was that "creationism" (in broad terms, ID) has been falsified. I asked for compelling evidence that this was the case. I notice that such evidence has not been forthcoming.
    Other readers are intelligent enough to draw their own conclusions about that.

  • Comment number 58.

    Jonathan said * For someone who speaks so much about relativism, subjectivism and new-age mysticism, you're very quick to be dogmatic and hostile when it comes to fundamentalism. Are some fundamentalists fearful? Yes. Are the key tenants of fundamentalism deponent on fear? No, there is plenty of good theology behind them. In fact, it is the historic orthodoxy, unlike this 'energetic truth' you talk about. I find it hard to take your words seriously when you say that love doesn't condemn, then spend your time condemning fundamentalists whom you seem to know little about.
    If you think that science proves anything then I'm afraid that you must understand very little about it. Science is quite good at falsifying theories, but not so good at proving them. The best science can ever do is help us create models of the world that provide the same output for a given input. It is always open to be improved upon (or overturned entirely). It's a fundamentally different beast to divine revelation which is flawless. Please don't reply with another post saying that the Bible is wrong, and energetic love is the real truth; we've heard you say that dozens of times and simply restating a case over and over doesn't advance the discussion at all.*

    Jonathan I was attempting to explain how fundamentalism arises and is perpetuated. I was also endeavouring to explain how the things that are taught/preached in fundamentalism are evil - based on the understanding of evil as anything that separates one from the soul/love (not the common interpretation of evil) and that it is very very harmful. It is knowing the harm that it does that makes me angry - and so I wasn't coming from love when I wrote the earlier posts but from anger (and that is for me to work on - I acknowledge). As I mentioned I do not condemn the people - but my love of humanity encourages me to say what I know to be true - that one day more people will realise the truth of who they are and man's inhumanity to man may cease. Admittedly that is a long way off and it starts with each of us. Yes I make mistakes and react to things like everyone else but I also endeavour to recognise that and rectify it and as much as possible to come from love. Knowing it and living it are not the same for most of us - but it is the journey we are all on - whether we know it or not! So sorry to disappoint you but I won't stop talking about love and energetic truth - just because people don't know about it or have not heard of it does not mean it is not true. It is not unusual when someone introduces something new (although its principles are very old in this case) or different for it to be ridiculed and dismissed by people who are not familiar with it - I have done the same myself. However, putting the teachings into practice can demonstrate their truth to the person involved and history/time will show whether what I am saying is correct or not to those who do not wish to live them. So I will keep saying it and more in different ways - and maybe one day you and everyone else will get it and live lives full of love and joy :-) (and only occasional anger!). By the way I have not used the words 'relativism', 'subjectivism' or 'new age mysticism' in any of my posts.

    My point was not about whether science proves things or not and was a loose expression. I was agreeing with you that divine revelation occurs . I also agree that there is much wisdom and truth in the bible but that it is not literally true and it contains that which is not true also. There are plenty of theologians who do not agree with a fundamentalist interpretation of the bible and my point was that the content of what fundamentalists consider to be divine revelation is not actually divine revelation and does not come from love. We are interpretative beings and my point still stands that fundamentalism is driven by fear. This was demonstrated very well in this mornings talk - you could hear and feel the fear of the person speaking for creationism. For him, if evolution were to be true it destroys the foundation of his whole belief system - the bible would be thrown out and God could no longer be - as far as he was interpreting it. This of course is not true but he needs it all to be literally true or else none of it is and he does not know what to believe. I was angry before but behind that is sadness - it is so sad that people are living lives so full of fear - fear of being condemned or sent to hell as per fundamentalist teachings - when God is boundless love that never condemns and definitely does not send to hell. So now I know why I was angry - I was brought up in a Presbyterian church that was not fundamentalist but which did preach these standard Christian teachings - and it is the consequences of these teachings in my own life that brought up my anger towards fundamentalism - and also sadness because it need not have been that way. And it need not be that way for others. (Thanks Will and Testament for the opportunity to process my stuff!! haha). I would like people to know that God is a God of pure love for all people at all times irrespective of their beliefs or behaviours - so that they don't have to go through crap, suffering and hell on earth as a consequence of their own choices and in separation to God - but instead can join with God, live with God day in and day out and live a life of joy.

    RE evolution - I was a bona fide evolution accepting person and still do but with questions and not complete acceptance. I am not a creationist as per this mornings talk either. I feel there is still much more to discover about ourselves and how we got to be here and whilst evolution may have some answers I don't think it has all of them at the moment. I 'll put a few mad questions/comments out there and see what comes back....

    If we evolved completely from animals and are much higher than them - why do we kill members of our own species when perhaps apart from a few exceptions (no doubt someone will correct me) most animals do not kill members of their own species. Is this true evolution?

    If we evolved completely from animals and should have all their natural instinctive abilities and more - why was it only the animals and birds that 'recognised' danger in some form when the tsunami occurred and went to high ground? Why do humans not have the same and better abilities to do likewise if we evolved from animals - it was a life saving ability, survival of the fittest - don't pick that up and your dead- so why do we not have it?

    with love,
    E



  • Comment number 59.

    #23 - Helio -

    "If my doctor was a creationist, I would change doctors."

    Intriguing comment.

    What - in practice - is the difference between your doctor believing that your body was "apparently" designed and "actually" designed?

    I fail to see what difference it would make. A throat is a throat, a leg is a leg and a liver is a liver wherever it came from.

    Or perhaps you have this delusional idea that people who believe in God can't study material nature (a view based on the false dichotomy of Greek philosophy with its conflict between matter and spirit - a thoroughly non-Christian view, by the way)?

  • Comment number 60.

    ps Jonathan - I also made a contradiction that I would like to straighten out. I said that *education means that intelligent and critically thinking /aware people are not attracted to the ministry as they see beyond the narrow confines of religion as we know it.* Later on I also said * I know there are 'intelligent' people (degrees in science based subjects, professional qualifications and jobs etc) who support creationism (a bit of an oxymoron granted) - perhaps demonstrating that intelligence isn't the be all and end all - something else is more important.*

    Intelligent people can and do believe in fundamentalism/creationism and I was wrong to suggest otherwise. Point is - something else is more important. it's not about intelligence. Intelligent people can do stupid or not very intelligent things and my own life is testimony to that!
    Intelligent people can smoke, can drink alcohol, can take drugs - can do all sorts of things that are harming to themselves and others. They can know these things harm and still do them eg doctors who smoke and drink. So its not about intelligence. Its not about the mind. There is a bigger picture to all of these behaviours and to fundamentalism. It is the separation from love - which for fundamentalism is a result of the fear contained in their teachings and is embodied and perpetuates the process. SO - intelligent argument/discussion will not win the day when it comes to fundamentalism and unfortunately the fear is so deep that for many of them nothing can change their view. BUt if anything was to change their view it would be love, not intelligent argument/discussion.

  • Comment number 61.

    I acknowledge of course that animals kill other animals for food - but not more than they need. Whereas humans kill for all sorts of senseless reasons....eg someone believes something different to me. Is this evolution?

  • Comment number 62.

    logica_sine_vanitate,

    You have missed the point completely.

    For any concept to be taken seriously, it needs peer-reviewed experimental data and a plausible and falsifiable hypothesis. Having a single, solitary scientist who has not published a journal article since he subscribed to Intelligent Design does not count.

    As for the 'fine tuning' of the universe. Such an anthromorphic argument is about what I expect from delusional dogmatists. The universe is NOT fine tuned. We are adapted to exist in it. If the phyiscal constants were slightly different, or if the Earth wasn't in x position or such and such, we would not be here. However, you cannot say that some life would not have evolved to cope with that circumstance or that the universe would have followed a different path.

    To assume that the universe exists in a specific format, just to allow our existance is highly hubristic, extremely egocentric and ignores the vast scope of a vast universe that was not created just for our species.

    I have also pointed out that evolution has decades of experimental data, refined to adapt to new evidence and is solid and does not need to prove itself. It already has been.

    It is not the requirement of science to disprove ID to show that evolution is valid, it is the purpose of cDesignists to show that their ideas deserve equal merit by providing their own data.

    They have not. ID is not science.

  • Comment number 63.

    Going back to the source.....Nelson McCausland wrote to the Museum that he wants "..to ensure that museums are reflective of the views, beliefs and cultural traditions that make up society in Northern Ireland."

    Does that include the views, beliefs and cultural traditions of Humanists? Will he insist on exhibits to explain the Humanist outlook? I certainly hope so!

    The creationists can rely on schools and the media to keep pushing the traditional religious mythologies. And now they want the museums as well. Humanism has none of those privileges and has to resort to all sorts of desperate measures just to get a mention. But somebody has to do it - or else the weight of tradition, indoctrination and professional propaganda would win the day for the god-botherers hands down. So, yes, please, Mr McCausland, speak up for the Humanists!

  • Comment number 64.

    I remain astonished at the number of people brainwashed into worshiping the gods of ancient goatherds. This will only end once it becomes illegal to infect the minds of defenseless children with such stilly stuff.

    Lucy: This is not a debate about whether or not God exists. There are plenty of Christians (including evangelicals) who accept evolutionary science.

    No museum should ever receive funding to present irrational beliefs as facts. The Flintstones is not a true story.

    Indeed it isn't.

    However, you need to learn something about the history of science and how we've come to believe what we believe about the Earth and life. At one time all geologists believed the Earth was young and that the fossil record could be explained by Noah's flood. But the more they looked the more they realised it just didn't fit with what they observed. They very quicky abandoned the idea infavour of uniformitarianism.

    In the 19th century there was also a raging debate about the age of the Earth. They new the Earth was old, just by looking at it but how ols was unclear. Lyell was extremely skeptical abgout evolution and refused to accept the theory until near the end of his life. Darwin was worried about Kelvin's calculations (Kelvin was an evangelical Christian and a Staunch Presbyterian). Kelvin came up with a figure of between 20 and 30 million years (based on the rate of cooling of the Earth's primordial heat), not nearly enough time to explain what Darwin and Wallace observed. Kelvin was wrong of course, because he didn't know that much of the Earth's internal heat is maintained by radiogenic heating. It was only with the discovery of radioactivity, and subsequently radiometric dating that the ancient age of the earth becama apparent. Add this to Edwin Hubble's work on distances to astronomical objects along with redshift, scientists slowly came to realise that both the Earth and Universe were billions (not thousands) of years old. This didn't happen in science overnight Lucy.

    So this is where YECism could find a place within the museum. Bishop Ussher's calculations of the age of the Earth using biblical genealogies is certainly part of the history of our understanding of the age of the Earth.

    However, the Caleb Foundations so called alternative views on the origins of the Universe are not science. As such, they have no place in the science section in any museum, irrespective if 25% of the population believe in them or not.

  • Comment number 65.

    I suppose that Wallace "Flintstone" Thompson would want every item in the museum dated from around 4004 BCE. Perhaps he would add a little note to each item telling us the "old" date - a sign of God's power to make things look really old to disbelieving scientists? Thompson is quite a bit of the mark - 4,600,000,000 minus 6000 equal a lot.

  • Comment number 66.

    Peter: I am astounded that 25% of the population believe this to be true.....a very sad reflection indeed. It's like teaching that poison is good for you - given the harm that it does. Northern Ireland seems to be forever stuck in the Dark Ages and unable to waken up from its own nightmare! However, on the bright side 75% don't believe in it!

  • Comment number 67.

    I realised a couple of months back that I've pretty much said all that I have to say on all the recurring issues. So I'm just popping in and out.

    I've made the point that Jonathan is making before. If you want to change a YEC's position, you need to challenge their theology. YEC is not a scientific hypothesis. You begin with the presupposition that a literal interpretation of Gen 1 is the only viable interpretation, and the presupposition that the Bible is inerrant. Then you search out empirical evidence that fits with your presupposition, and attempt to explain away the evidence that doesn't.
    Now as theology goes YEC is terrible. I don't like being so blunt about a belief that some of my best friendshold dear. Many hold doctorates in the physical sciences and have an impressive list of publications. But a highly intelligent person can advance a poor argument. And Nelson's antics demand some sort of response.

    More to the point, I don't hold fire on "cabbage" supplied by atheists . For an example see the "Science of God" thread for the long ill-informed strop that Peter Klaver advanced as an argument. I'm more than happy for anyone to read through that thread. In fact before you disagree with PK you should, just to see what you're dealing with. He contended that my view was motivated by faith, even after it was pointed out that some Christians disagreed with it, and that many atheists agreed with many parts of it. He responded to arguments that I didn't make, answered off the point when he bothered to answer, and kept responding that he was right because maybe someday Science might prove he was right. I'm all for debating these issues, but it's rather difficult to do so with a man who keeps failing the Turing Test.

    So I shouldn't be inconsistent. If I criticise poor arguments from atheists (who have taken a deep personal dislike to me for reasons that escape me. Most people have to meet me first!) I should be prepared to criticise poor arguments from Christians who are close friends. It's too easy to reserve criticism for one's opponents.

    I think that YEC is very poor theology because (1) A literal interpretation of Gen 1 is not very convincing. A "day" was sunset to sunset, not something that could be measured on a clock. And the sun does not appear until day 4. Added to other literary features (Days 1-3 are days of "separation", days 4-6 are days of "filling" etc)it seems to me that a literalistic interpretation of Gen 1's chronology is untenable. (2) There are passages that seem to imply that our universe is geo-centric. Now I think that it would be easier to argue for a geo-centric solar system than a 8000 year old earth. So why don't YECs believe in geo-centrism? Presumably the findings of empirical science have influenced their interpretations. So everyone seems to accept that science has at least *some* input into our theology. Why tomes of evidence on the age of our universe should be dismissed escapes me.

    Now if you really want to shift a YEC challenge the theology first - or at least ask them to consider the possibility that they have made a theological mistake. Then consider the scientific evidence.
    YEC is also part of a counter-culture. So pointing out that Evolution is compatible not only with Theism, but also design arguments, is also helpful.

    GV

  • Comment number 68.

    I am astounded that 25% of the population believe this to be true.....a very sad reflection indeed. It's like teaching that poison is good for you - given the harm that it does. Northern Ireland seems to be forever stuck in the Dark Ages and unable to waken up from its own nightmare! However, on the bright side 75% don't believe in it!

    It's far worse in the US:

    Asked"[w]hich of these statements comes closest to your views on the
    origin of biological life," 43% of respondents selected "God directly
    created biological life in its present form at one point in time," 24%
    selected "biological life developed over time from simple substances,
    but God guided this process," and 18% selected "biological life
    developed over time from simple substances but God did not guide this
    process." (The remaining 16% of respondents selected none of these
    choices, said that they did not know, or refused to answer the
    question.) Note that the wording of these choices is similar, but not
    identical to, the standard Gallup choices.



    No doubt the US's very own creation museum is having a profound effect on the way the public think

  • Comment number 69.

    I don't think that Evolution comes into conflict with Orthodox/Conservative Christian theology at all. I'm referring to CS Lewis "Mere Christianity" here. Conservative theologians like Lewis or Richard Swinburne, Alexander Pruss or GK Chesterton, really don't have any reason to combat evolutionary theory at all.

    They're happy to assume that Darwinism can account for all biological complexity. Whether or not the *level* of complexity we encounter on Earth, is highly probable given Evolution by Natural Selection (ENS) is a different matter. Of course the conditions that make ENS possible need to be accounted for. So a designer may be acting further up the causal chain.

    But if ENS makes the *level* of complexity we encounter on Earth slightly more probable, Darwinism has significant explanatory power. If Theism improves the probability of Natural Selection going down the "route" that led to highly complex biological life, then Theism may have explanatory power. The two need not conflict. The two taken together may give us the best explanation.

    There is also, conceivably, a "value" in the outcome of the evolution. Not only did it produce highly complex life forms but intelligent, altruistic observers. Now whether or not that outcome is objectively valuable is not a question that Science can answer. But it is a priori much less likely on atheism than theism.

    Put differently Theism and Evolution by Natural Selection may be a better explanation than Theism on it's own, or Natural Selection on it's own. I don't see the two as competing to explain biological complexity. They could be complementary.

    When Evolutionary Theory tries to explain too much, it seems rational to demur. It seems unlikely that Evolution by Natural Selection alone can account for the nature of human knowledge or morality or consciousness.

    The idea that the outcome was guaranteed because the dice were loaded is equivalent to Weakly Guided Evolution (WGE). The guidance in WGE could simply be (i) deterministic laws and set initial conditions. (There are interpretations of QM that are deterministic, and in any case determinism could re-emerge once QM is reconciled with GTR.) The idea is that God set up the universe in such a way that he knew that intelligent human life would result on some planet. Of course humans would never have the computational power to predict outcomes from the Universe’s initial state. But God would not suffer from our limitations. Richard Swinburne and Simon Conway Morris would take this view of our evolutionary history.

    Strongly Guided Evolution would basically be Keith Ward’s position. SGE implies that the observable outcomes of Evolution are so very improbable that God intervened directly in life's history. Roughly it's the idea that evolution needs a push, or a tug, every now and then. You could adopt Wigner's ideas on wave function collapse to see God as continuously interacting with the universe and the evolutionary process. Or God could directly intervene at key points in the Evolutionary Process to bring about desired results.

    To rule out WGE and SGE you would need to rule out omnipotence and omniscience. The point is that the "guidance" or "Providence" isn't the sort of thing that Science can rule in or out. If I only let Scientific evidence in through the door I'll object to these beliefs. But that's just a question begging exercise. It just makes the mistake of
    believing that because the Scientific method is *sufficient* to find the answer to some questions it the Scientific method is *necessary* to find the answer to every question! Or worse - believing that since physical science has been very successful in explaining physical events, all events must be physical events!

    This sort of Design Argument is an interpretation of a set of outcomes (complex life, conscious observers). Science can discover how we reached those outcomes. But logically the number of chaotic universes without observers dwarfs the number of ordred universes with observers. If an ordered universe with life and conscious observers is a valuable or interesting state of affairs then it should be given an explanation. Or if such a universe displays the kind of complexity and purpose that is strongly correlated with intelligent agents, then we can make an inference to a designer. As Dawkin's "God Delusion" and Jerry Coyne's blogging neatly demonstrates, if some scientists want to dispute Design Arguments they will need to get their hands dirty and deal with the philosophical arguments.

    GV

  • Comment number 70.

    However I think that there will be a conflict between Evolution and Evangelicalism in one area - human nature. I don’t believe that Theistic Evolution is compatible with Evangelical Views of Scripture.

    Specifically I don’t believe Theistic Evolution is compatible with passages that teach that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Evolution is a Statistical Explanation – it leaves us with probabilities not certainties. That could leave us saying that God could predict sentient beings given enough time, but not humans as we are. To my mind, that is not what Scripture teaches about humanity. Great care and attention is given to humans in God’s plan for his creation - we are fearfully and wonderfully made, etc.

    When you add the references to Adam and Eve in the New Testament, and the Scriptural teaching on the Soul, it would seem that Scripture would conflict with ENS on human origins. It seems to me that Evangelicals should believe that Adam and Eve existed and fell. This doesn't follow from ENS, to say the very least. (But then the Resurrection doesn't follow from any scientific theory, and I'm not giving up on that belief.) It's not that the two accounts are completely incompatible. There's room for compatibility on Common Ancestry, for example. But it does seem that great care and attention was given to the creation of humans. And that at our origin a choice was made. Two people fell, our ancestors were affected by their actions, the effects were felt by their descendents, human history took a different course than the one that God intended for it. I can't see how an evangelical can consistently deny that.

    We should be extremely wary of trying to map Genesis 1 onto any presently-believed scientific picture. Accounts that try to reconcile Gen 1-3 with evolution, in such a way that evolution is "read into" the text, seem unconvincing. You get stories about God taking two apes and giving them souls etc. This seems just as ridiculous as speculating about Adam's belly button.

    As far as Jerry Coyne's concerned all this makes me anti-science. I can live with his disapproval. But if you don't like the Evangelical brand of conservative Christianity, you can consult the chaps in #69. A slightly lower view of Scripture removes the need for any conflict with evolutionary theory.

    GV

  • Comment number 71.

    Graham, how strong would the evidence need to be for you to realise that the resurrection never happened?

  • Comment number 72.

    Lot of stuff there, people. Jonathan, you need to sort out your mental hygiene, because I don't think you understand this issue at all.

    I'm talking about the many Creationists who hold to it as a theological position rather than a scientific one. If you are incapable of understanding and/or engaging with that, then there's really no point in responding to you. There is more to life than science.

    So you are therefore agreeing that creationism is inappropriate for a science section of a museum. Fine. I am perfectly happy to engage with the fact that some people hold deeply unscientific and actually false views on the basis of that towering tottering pile of cabbage that you call "theology".

    There are not two forms of "truth" here - creationism is objectively false (LSV take note, I do not use the term "falsified" glibly). Therefore, if you are saying that it can be "theologically true" but nevertheless false, you are admitting (and about time too) that the theology itself is a mess of actually false premises. Good lad, well done.

    What I don't think you are entitled to do is then accuse *science* of false epistemology.

    But whatever. If you are agreeing that creationism is theological and not scientific, then that is progress, and at least we can therefore repudiate McCausland's ridiculous call for this muck to be splattered over our fine museum.

    If, on the other hand, you cling to the delusion that there is some scientific basis for creationism, then you are back on MY turf, baby, and what you call a "straw man" is anything but. You can't have it both ways, and you WON'T have it both ways.

  • Comment number 73.

    GV : *You begin with the presupposition that a literal interpretation of Gen 1 is the only viable interpretation, and the presupposition that the Bible is inerrant. *

    Both of these are false - so no need to go any further!

    *Put differently Theism and Evolution by Natural Selection may be a better explanation than Theism on it's own, or Natural Selection on it's own. I don't see the two as competing to explain biological complexity. They could be complementary.*

    I could be with you on that one GV.
    What if we existed in spirit form before physical form and that that is our true nature - and the process of evolution was utilised along the way to create a physical form that in-truth we were never meant to have - but was a result of the spirit creating independently from God? ! Mad I know but sure its all good fun making up new theories!

    Helio: do you feel you have a spirit and /or a soul ? The resurrection in my view explains what happens after death to the spirit/soul - not the body. The body is just a vehicle. The spirit leaves and joins the soul/God until its next incarnation. We are all on the return journey to God - even you Helio! So we get as many lifetimes as it takes to get there - such is the love of God. For we have free will and we have to choose to come to God, to be with God, to be as God - then the spirit is rendered naught and the person embodies the fullness of the soul - the love of God. Then they return even more quickly in order to help awaken the sleeping ones! So Helio the sooner you waken up the better! :-)

  • Comment number 74.

    @ Jonathan

    I'm interested in your scientific/theological distinction, which seems to go beyond the usual science and religion are compatible claims of the Templeton kind and the tortured cherry picking of the sophisticated theologians.

    You say:

    Believing in YEC, as has been pointed out, is not necessarily a scientific belief - in many cases it is a theological belief first and foremost, based on an understanding of scripture rather than an examination of the scientific evidence.

    But the whole point of all this - thrown in to sharp relief by the demands of some of the godded to have their concepts of reality represented in science classes and museums - is that young earth creationist beliefs cannot sit with any modern concept of science. The clue is kind of in the title.

    Many creationists, well aware of the implications of their belief, attempt to square it with science by supporting alternative theories in biology, geology, geophysics etc. This is an understandable and honest, if ultimately futile endeavour.

    The alternative, that you seem to favour, is one that essentially says well don't trouble your pretty little heads over all of this, if there is a conflict just go with what you want, none of it matters that much - a bit of cognitive dissonance here and there, who cares? Just don't think about it too much.

    Can you seriously think this a healthy way to approach public education, this fudgy, post modern, choose your own reality nonsense? You seem to think it is no barrier to critical thinking, but that's to willfully misunderstand the nature of critical thinking. Then again, you also seem to think that divine revelation makes some science irrelevant, so I'm not sure you can give a response that will mean anything to me.

  • Comment number 75.

    "If, on the other hand, you cling to the delusion that there is some scientific basis for creationism, then you are back on MY turf, baby..."

    That seems absolutely correct.

    GV

  • Comment number 76.

    H

    I could think of all sorts of scenarios - the memoirs of the Apostles confessing how they organised the fraud. Not likely to happen, but that would significantly challenge my faith.
    Something like evidence of the veneration of Jesus' tomb seems more realistic - and that would provide a challenge to my faith.

    Challenging the evidential argument for the resurrection would be easier. Say evidence showing that there was a widespread expectation that the Messiah would be crucified, or that the Jews expected a Messiah to be Resurrected before Judgment day.

    GV

  • Comment number 77.

    While always fascinating to see if there are any new twists in the convoluted "study of nothing" As always the debate comes to the same conclusion "the bible says it ,I believe it, QED goddidit." Discussion of Science on this basis is pointless, therefore read the bible, insist that everything in it is the divinely inspired, inerrant word of a very nasty god and don't let the christianists try to pick an a la carte version that lets them of the hook. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.

  • Comment number 78.

    I don’t believe that Theistic Evolution is compatible with Evangelical Views of Scripture.

    The problem is Graham, that YECism then makes Christianity completely incapatible with science. Having dinosaurs roaming around the garden of Eden alongside Adam and Eve turns the gospel into a laughing stock. There is no verse in the bible that depicts this scenario so how is it good theology ?

    It seems to me that YECism is completely different way of looking at Christianity. The requirements for salvation with regard to YECs is completely different to what I understand Christ's message to be, whether he made reference to Adam and Eve and Noah (including the flood) or not. As I have repeatedly stated, had I come across YECism prior to becoming a Christian I would have rejected Christianity and would now be an Agnostic (probably not an Atheist) of that I have no doubt. I often wonder how many people have rejected Christianity for this reason alone ?

    In recent years I've been inspired by Glenn Morton's testimony. Glenn Morton was a member of the ICR who very nearly became an Atheist because of what he saw when he went to work in the oil industry. This story alone highlights the problems YECism causes for even evangelical Christians:

    Why I left Young-earth Creationism
    by Glenn R. Morton



    For years I struggled to understand how the geologic data I worked with everyday could be fit into a Biblical perspective. Being a physics major in college I had no geology courses. Thus, as a young Christian, when I was presented with the view that Christians must believe in a young-earth and global flood, I went along willingly. I knew there were problems but I thought I was going to solve them. When I graduated from college with a physics degree, physicists were unemployable since NASA had just laid a bunch of them off. I did graduate work in philosophy and then decided to leave school to support my growing family. Even after a year, physicists were still unemployable. After six months of looking, I finally found work as a geophysicist working for a seismic company. Within a year, I was processing seismic data for Atlantic Richfield.

    This was where I first became exposed to the problems geology presented to the idea of a global flood. I would see extremely thick (30,000 feet) sedimentary layers. One could follow these beds from the surface down to those depths where they were covered by vast thicknesses of sediment. I would see buried mountains which had experienced thousands of feet of erosion, which required time. Yet the sediments in those mountains had to have been deposited by the flood, if it was true. I would see faults that were active early but not late and faults that were active late but not early. I would see karsts and sinkholes (limestone erosion) which occurred during the middle of the sedimentary column (supposedly during the middle of the flood) yet the flood waters would have been saturated in limestone and incapable of dissolving lime. It became clear that more time was needed than the global flood would allow


    But eventually, by 1994 I was through with young-earth creationISM. I took a poll of my ICR graduate friends who have worked in the oil industry. I asked them one question.

    "From your oil industry experience, did any fact that you were taught at ICR, which challenged current geological thinking, turn out in the long run to be true? ,"

    That is a very simple question. One man, Steve Robertson, who worked for Shell grew real silent on the phone, sighed and softly said 'No!' A very close friend that I had hired at Arco, after hearing the question, exclaimed, "Wait a minute. There has to be one!" But he could not name one. I can not name one. No one else could either. One man I could not reach, to ask that question, had a crisis of faith about two years after coming into the oil industry. I do not know what his spiritual state is now but he was in bad shape the last time I talked to him.


    Glenn Morton's experiences highlight why YECism should be ditched by the church Graham, evangelical or otherwise.

  • Comment number 79.

    Peter

    I think I agreed with you for different reasons in #67. I think, though, that part of the problem is that post1980s YEC has become very aggressive and cultural/political. I don't want to hound people out of Churches for having eccentric views. But I'd be hypocritical if I pretended that I was less than outraged at McCausland's antics.

    GV

  • Comment number 80.

    But it's probably true to say that a sort of pasty "theistic evolution" as LSV seems to advocate, calling it creationism with a small c, is also a wholly vacuous concept, and more of trying to create a comfy wee hidey-hole for the pixie, rather than trying to explain anything interesting.

  • Comment number 81.

    People who are in two minds about whether the Bible is a reliable source of information or merely a miscellany of ancient folk-tales should remember the story of Balaam and his donkey (Numbers 22):

    28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!" 30 So the donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?" And he said, "No." 31 Then the Lord opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. 32 And the Angel of the Lord said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. 33 The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live."

    Straight out of Tales from the Arabian Nights, surely! And to think that otherwise sane people believe such nonsense!

  • Comment number 82.

    Ah go on Ulster Museum - show some alternative creation stories. I dont know how creation started and i do believe the science theory seems the best explanation but i love to hear what others think.
    Love to see some sumerian texts about the anunakis, the 7th day and the 7th planet in from outside the solar system correlation and some nibiru stuff!
    We all love a good mystery espically one started even b4 the bible was written!

  • Comment number 83.

    Straight out of Tales from the Arabian Nights, surely

    Sounds more like something from Mr. Ed !

  • Comment number 84.

    A horse is a horse, of course, of course...I loved that programme!

    I've always thought of Balaam as having some sort of hallucination, but there you go.
    I'm not sure that H really got to grips with what I was saying about Theistic Evolution. There are numerous ways that God could use to direct evolution, and not all would be detectable by empirical science.

    To repeat, observations from biology can be used in a design argument in the following manner. Logically the number of chaotic universes without life or observers dwarfs the number of ordred universes with life and observers. If an ordered universe with life and conscious observers is a valuable or interesting state of affairs then it should be given an explanation. Or if such a universe displays the kind of complexity and purpose that is strongly correlated with intelligent agents, then we can make an inference to a designer.

    This won't help scientists one jot. But it is valuable to know that the universe can be given a purposive explanation.

    GV

  • Comment number 85.

    Peter

    I'm only suggesting a degree of incompatibility between Theistic Evolution and Evangelical Doctrine in *one* area. In human origins something that ENS would not predict, even in a weak sense, occurred.

    I don't find TE interpretations of Gen 1 very convincing (nor YEC interpetations. The texts are not detailed historical accounts, and a large proportion of those texts use poetic language.)

    I wouldn't try to reconcile the the historicity of the fall with Scientific theory any more than I would the existence of Satan, the Ascension, or the Transiguration.I don't think speculation helps.
    And if a person doesn't like the Evangelical version of conservative Christianity they still have to deal with the alternatives.

    GV

  • Comment number 86.

    #62 - Natman -

    Thank you for your reply, but unfortunately there is not one comment in it that qualifies as scientific evidence.

    You say: "For any concept to be taken seriously, it needs peer-reviewed experimental data and a plausible and falsifiable hypothesis. Having a single, solitary scientist who has not published a journal article since he subscribed to Intelligent Design does not count."

    Firstly, the concept of "peer review". I note that Peter in post #6 wrote: "...if you apply for any job within science you are asked specifically for evolutionary science qualifications, whether it be in teaching, medicine, the oil industry, cell biology, or whatever."

    If the establishment view is that the theory of macroevolution is "fact" (or an incontrovertible theory) rather than "theory" (i.e. speculation beyond the scope of the experimental scientific method), and therefore cannot be questioned, then it is hardly surprising that anyone who dares to question it will not be looked on favourably by his peers. However, the whole point of science is to follow the evidence, rather than following the crowd. I would have thought that it is entirely in keeping with the ethos of the "enlightenment" to have the courage to question any hypothesis - quite irrespective of the pressure from the contemporary establishment as well the philosophical implications of that line of thought. It is the duty of scientists to ensure that they are not swayed by subjective and philosophical considerations, which may skew the evidence. Therefore it is entirely proper for a scientist to regard the idea that complexity must have arisen from simplicity through a blind process of change, with considerable scepticism. There is absolutely nothing unscientific about that position of scepticism - and I challenge you to prove to me - with incontrovertible empirical evidence (note the word "empirical") - that such a view is unscientific.

    You say that the views of a "single, solitary scientist" don't count. Where is your scientific evidence to support that contention? Any empirical evidence forthcoming? No, of course not. It is simply your opinion, and nothing else. Thank God (if I may say that), Galileo didn't think that the views of an individual were irrelevant. In fact, given the history of science (and its dependence on individuals) I'm amazed that you have the audacity to hold such a view!

    "...delusional dogmatists..." Care to provide scientific evidence to support the validity of that insult? Especially considering (if you bothered to read what I wrote) that I was writing against bigotry! (To think that I even used the phrase "humble agnosticism"!)

    "...you cannot say that some life would not have evolved to cope with that circumstance or that the universe would have followed a different path." And neither can you say that it would have done! You have no proof that your assertion is true, and your view if based entirely on a leap of faith. It is not an argument based on solid empirical evidence, but is speculation based on your particular view of reality.

    "The universe is NOT fine tuned. We are adapted to exist in it." Nonsense. The ability to adapt to an environment requires that that environment is conducive to the sustenance of life. Certain demanding conditions have to be fulfilled before any adaptation can take place - conditions conducive for existence itself. The fact that we exist at all is therefore undeniable evidence that this universe is conducive to our existence - therefore it is fine-tuned for that purpose.

    "To assume that the universe exists in a specific format, just to allow our existance is highly hubristic, extremely egocentric and ignores the vast scope of a vast universe that was not created just for our species." I'm afraid I fail to see the scientific merit of this argument. I haven't made any comment at all about the possibility of the existence of life elsewhere in the universe. The fact that we exist is evidence of fine-tuning in the universe to allow for human life. If you think that we are required to believe in the idea that complexity arises naturally from chaos in order to be "humble", then I'm afraid you have drifted from the realm of science and into the realm of philosophy and morality. Such value laden comments have nothing to do with science. I would be quite happy to debate such issues, but don't be so unwise as to call this "science"!

    Finally you talk about data (I assume you mean empirical data) needing to be provided by those who believe that the complexity of life requires the input of intelligence (which is all ID is saying), rather than the belief that life has self-assembled. There is an ocean of empirical evidence that complexity requires the input of intelligence. In fact such is the prevalence of this evidence that if we failed to acknowledge it - even for one moment - our lives would collapse. But the reason why this evidence is not accepted by those who oppose ID, is not due to the paucity of the evidence, but due to the INTERPRETATION of that evidence. And that interpretation is based on prior assumptions, which are themselves evidence of a commitment to a particular world-view. It's a philosophical and not a scientific matter.

    Don't try and pull the wool over my eyes with a circular argument. It goes something like this: we assume that life evolved. Any data from nature we therefore interpret in this way. This means that there is no data left for any other interpretation. Case closed! And when difficulties arise - such as the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record - the answer is: "Well, we'll explain this one day, but it is unscientific to allow that difficulty to undermine our fundamental theory".

    What I am saying is that whatever evidence is presented - even "negative" evidence - to question your theory, you have a commitment a priori not to accept it. If one philosophy decides to hijack all the data, it is hardly surprising that adherents to that philosophy claim that there is no data left to support the opposing view!

    So if you want to talk about "delusional dogmatists", I think you are looking in the wrong place...

  • Comment number 87.

    LSV, post 51,

    I notice you didn't answer the question I put to you. When atheists are tearing up your anti-evolution posts you frequently respond by saying that we are blinded and constrained by our world view that doesn't allow any role for god(s). It's a bad excuse, but PeterJhenderson accepts the fact of evolution and is a professing christian, so against him you can't use it at all. What are you going say to him then? Has he let himself be conned by the evil godless crowd? Do you know how things really work and he has it wrong?

  • Comment number 88.

    Hello Eunice, post 58,

    "If we evolved completely from animals and should have all their natural instinctive abilities and more - why was it only the animals and birds that 'recognised' danger in some form when the tsunami occurred and went to high ground? Why do humans not have the same and better abilities to do likewise if we evolved from animals - it was a life saving ability, survival of the fittest - don't pick that up and your dead- so why do we not have it?"

    Please study the phylogenetic tree. Some species on one tree had useful adaptations that allowed them to flourish, others on other branches had others. If a species on a particular branch developed a strong trait after that branch had already diverged from the rest, then species on other branches aren't going to have those traits. You mention birds. Mankind didn't evolve from birds. So there is no reason way mankind should have all the good features they have.

  • Comment number 89.

    Graham of the gaps, post 67,

    Thanks for bringing up one of my favourite episodes on the blog. I agree with you on one thing: people should read it. Because I have no problem still sticking to my careful, easily defendable position. You on the other hand made the assertion that science could never uncover the secrets of conscience, so the burden of proof is on you. Bringing up crack pots in the process while trying to meet that burden, rolling out quantum mechanics and demonstrating an astounding lack of knowledge of it, etc. And of course your god of the gaps argument as the real clincher as to why science could never get to the bottom of consciousness. In your own by now classic summarised version of it, you said:

    "
    1) Either Theism is true or Physicalism is true.
    2) If Physicalism is true there are no non-physical facts
    3) But there are non-physical facts
    4) Therefore physicalism is false
    5) Therefore Theism is true
    "

    Do go on bringing up that episode. And maybe link to your 1100+ elaboration as to why the 5 steps I quoted from you above do not mean you were making a god of the gaps argument.

    In fact, if I offered you a small sum in return, could I ask you to make it a weekly recurring item please?:D

  • Comment number 90.

    Sometimes I want to give up, I really do, especially when people don't seem to grasp the basic fundamentals.

    Science is not about proving a negative. You cannot provide evidence to prove something does not exist, you can only provide evidence to show that another hypothesis has more merit and I'm not sorry to say, Intelligent Design as yet to provide any evidence to suggest it deserves equal merit with evolution. Science has no opinion on God, existance or otherwise, it is simply stating that a deity is not required for either the creation or continuance of life.

    The establishment view is that evolution is a theory, however a scientific theory is a robust thing, different only to a fact in that a theory can be adapted to take into account new evidence, wheras a fact is something that -is-. Question theories all you like, propose new hypothesis, please do! But you need facts and evidence and it all needs neutral third party approval that it's valid and not made up. Hense the peer reviews. Skeptism is good, but base it on some logical thinking.

    Galileo wasn't a single scientist. His ideas were wildly considered by a lot of educated people at the time, just not the Church. His ideas were also backed up by historical concepts, a wealth of scientific observations and ultimately the Churches opposition to his ideas were not theological but political. The analogy is flawed, ID has no such scientific credentials, even the 'scientists' on its books have produced nothing of scientific worth relating to this field.

    Delusion: A belief that is resistant to confrontation with actual facts
    Dogma: An authoritative principle, belief or statement of opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true regardless of evidence, or without evidence to support it.

    Delusional dogmatists is not an insult, it's a statement of fact. Refute either of those definitions with regards creationism and I'll gladly retract it.

    You have also not provided a proper argument that your idea that the universe is fine-tuned is anthromorphic. As we view it, yes, the universe seems fine tuned, how a specific set of conditioned brought forth us is amazing, yes. But if those conditions were different, something else would be here instead!

    It's a simple concept, one that constantly seems to either be forgotten by IDists, or deliberately ignored:

    ID HAS NOT PROVIDED ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE FOR ITSELF. AS SUCH IT CANNOT BE TAUGHT AS SCIENCE.

  • Comment number 91.

    PeterKlaver: thank you for your response. I was just speaking generally re the response of birds and animals at the time of the tsunami. Do our predecessors as per the phylogenetic tree have these instinctive or intuitive abilities and is it just us that seems to have lost them or were they gone before we evolved as per the understanding of evolution. I have not been near a phylogenetic tree since school - so to say my knowledge of it is rusty is a bit of an understatement!! So I appreciate the education :-)

    LSV: *You say that the views of a "single, solitary scientist" don't count. Where is your scientific evidence to support that contention? Any empirical evidence forthcoming? No, of course not. It is simply your opinion, and nothing else. Thank God (if I may say that), Galileo didn't think that the views of an individual were irrelevant. In fact, given the history of science (and its dependence on individuals)*

    Well said LSV!! It is not unusual for an individual to be a significant agent of change - be that in science or other fields of life. Many people who are now revered or respected in CHristian teaching were considered heretical at the time - including Jesus. Meister Eckhart is another. At least people who challenge the accepted norm are not literally crucified these days - just sidelined/ridiculed/dismissed/bullied/mocked/denied......and then as time passes and awareness increases whatever it is begins to be accepted and eventually becomes the accepted norm that everybody knew all the time and denied that anyone ever said otherwise! Indeed it could probably be said that all progress starts with an individual at some level.

  • Comment number 92.

    I don't find TE interpretations of Gen 1 very convincing

    but if you read Genesis 1 as poetry, or interpret it as a parable, then they are far more convincing than dinos roaming around the Garden of Eden along with Adam and Eve just like in the Flintstones. At least that's what I think Graham.

    In any case, no where in the bible does it actually state the age of the Earth. No where does it state that animals were subject to death before the fall. Human death can be interpreted as spiritual deat (since Adam and Eve didn't die immediately after they ate the forbidden fruit). The word ALL in many instances in the bible is clearly referring to the local reagion, not ALL of the world, 2 Chronicales vs 23 for example:

    And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart.

    so the flood can quite easily be interpreted as a local flood, not a global one and so on.

    But dinos roaming around the Garden of Eden ? It's found no where at all in the bible.

  • Comment number 93.

    Graham, if you're saying there are formulations of TE that allow your pixie to hide, that's peachy. What you cannot say is that what we see today positively *requires* your pixie to exist. How difficult is that to grasp? So what does the pixie bring to the party?

  • Comment number 94.

    On a further note, if empircal evidence is so important, LSV, then provide some to show how Intelligent Design or a 6-day creation is valid.

    Unlike the dogma of the Church, science has plenty.

  • Comment number 95.

    PK

    LOL!!!! You've no idea how fond I've become of you. I think your confidence in your arguments has a certain comic charm.
    "Careful and easily defendable?" Even if there's a one in a billion chance that I'll be proved right some day, you're wrong!!!????
    And like I said - more than happy for anyone to read that thread, and watch you repeatedly fail the Turing Test (-: You weren't responding to anything I was saying...

    But then in #87 you advanced a half-decent argument...
    It was like watching monkeys use tools for the first time!

    I could hear "Also sprach Zarathustra" playing in the background.

    Bumped into any black monoliths recently? (-:

    GV



  • Comment number 96.

    I'd like to discuss this more - but with the length of time it takes for pre-mod, what is the point?!!I'm not waiting until midnight to see what H or Peter said. And I *really* like their posts.

  • Comment number 97.

    I think one thing is worth mentioning - and I only put this up for discussion. Something H said recently set me a-thinkin'

    Why does common ancestry sounds so shocking to many Christians? We keep reminding everyone "remember that thou, oh man, art made of dust!" Ape would be an upgrade!
    Maybe people hear "humans are nothing but Apes" when scientists say we're primates. But if I say - "we're all mammals" no one hears "we're nothing but mammals!"
    I can tell someone in a sermon that they're related to a fox, or a lion. They won't mind. But if I say "you're related to an ape" they get offended. So what is the issue in their minds exactly? Does it go back to the Victorian reaction to "The Origin of the Species" and "The Descent of Man"? Or maybe it's the mental image - like saying "you're related to a rat!"
    Is this a case of what H calls "verbal thinking"?

    Just a chain of thought. I don't know if it was worth bringing up.

    GV

  • Comment number 98.

    Peter

    Don't do a PK on me - read what I wrote. I agree with you on YEC! We're having a violent agreement here. And I don't think that you're a heretic!
    And I share your concerns re: Creation Evangelism. If this is to be an issue at all, it's one for theology. It has no relevance to the secular world. It's just a distraction that gets in the way of evangelism.

    GV

  • Comment number 99.

    H

    What do you mean by "requires"?

    And he's not hiding if a set of observations raises the probability of his existence, when those observations are not "explained away" by any other hypothesis.

    If you mean "scientifically undetectable", yeah, maybe. (But maybe not.) What follows, exactly? I can't see why God would need to plant evidence for biologists if he'd left plenty of other evidence.

    See - I gave in and waited until midnight!

    GV

  • Comment number 100.

    Graham, "probability"??!? Don't disappear down Swinburne's silly rabbit hole on me :-)
    Leave that nonsense aside - what you need to show is that you have an evolutionary model that performs better with a pixie than without. Instead, you are identifying spots in the model where you think you could stash a pixie, and no-one would notice. That's even worse than a god of the gaps - it's a god of down the back of the sofa.

 

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