Monday, November 30, 2009

The Faith - Chapter 1

I bought my mom and dad two of Ken Miller's books, Finding Darwin's God and Only A Theory. My mom read both of them and enjoyed Finding Darwin's God. A few days ago she said I owed her two books since she read the two I bought. She gave me the first one, Charles Colson's The Faith. I am going to read it and go over it here in my blog.

Any quotes from the book will be used in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws of America.

Chapter 1 is titled "Everywhere, Always, By All"

"What we witnessed at Nickel Mines and in the times of the Roman plagues is true Christianity - sacrificial love, concern for all people, forgiveness and reconciliation, evil overcome by good. These two examples, drawn from thousands I might have selected, represent signs from the Kingdom of God announced by Jesus and lived by his followers to this day."

Well that sounds all fluffy and nice. Upon further inspection though it just doesn't stand up. First off what the victims of Nickel Mine did was amazing but not unprecedented or limited to Christianity only. In my comments over the prologue, I showed a quick search of Google can find hundreds and thousands of cases of victims doing the same all over the world. Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the sole property or domain of Christianity. Forgiveness is taught by most religions, several whose origin is well before Christianity.

Second the story of the Christians in ancient Rome, was something Colson just made up. He had no evidence to back up anything he wrote. Colson does not have a degree in history, he is a lawyer. So his story at best is a wild fantasy of his own imagination. He then claims it is one of the most compelling stories he could come up with from thousands of stories. I really would hate to see how bad of an argument these other stories make.

His unsubstantiated claim of thousands of stories is just that unsubstantiated. It reminds of Paul of Tarsus claiming that over 500 people witnessed a risen Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:6). He gives no names or anyway to back up the claim but he throws it out there like it is convincing. Just naming a large number without giving us any way to look it up is not proof. I can claim that 500 people witnessed me flying like superman, but that does nothing to persuade you. You would want to see it yourself and talk to every individual, in other words more evidence than just the word of the one making the extraordinary claim.

Colson admits that not all Christians have lived up to forgiveness and love but he blames this on the fallen nature of humans. He also claims that "the Christian Church and the truth it defends are the most powerful life- and culture-changing forces in human history" and that the truth "has been tested and proven true over two thousand years." He does not define truth here. He just simply asserts that Christianity has some truth that has been proven over and over again. He never actually says what this truth is. I believe he is planning on stating the "truth" over the course of the book, so I am not going to harp on it too much here. It would just be nice that if you make a claim one can look it up and see if you are telling the truth, instead of just mentioning some nebulous word without defining it.

The next part of the Chapter is about Colson and his bigotry. He is visiting St. Paul's cathedral in London and is shocked to hear the gospel being preached there. The Church of England is just the Catholic Church without the Pope so it can't possibly be Christian or preach the gospel, that is never stated directly here but the fact he is shocked that the "Gospel" is being preached in a church is evidence enough.

The next part is more made up stories by Colson. He calls it a time-travelers view of Christianity. In it he picks 5 random times and places to 'observe' Christianity. Starting with 37 AD in Jerusalem, where "these new Christians are hard to distinguish from a branch of Judaism. They simply identify the Jewish teaching about the Messiah, the Son of Man, with Jesus of Nazareth. These Christians are mostly drawn from the ranks of tradesmen and laborers. They have large families, and their faith is marked by celebrations and by helping one another face life's material challenges." A comment like that should have some sort of foot note on where he researched and learned about what life was like in the 1st century, but there is none. Instead Chuck just pulled this all out of his ass. This doesn't even follow with what the Bible says about the life of the early Christians. Apparently there were many false prophets (Acts 8:9-25), the believers were quite communistic and shared all their property together (Acts 4:32-37), and they often separated themselves from the Jews in meaningful ways (Acts 10:9-23). I really have nothing nice to say about Colson for this deliberate and meaningful misrepresentation of Christianity that is so easily refuted by the Bible he claims to be talking about.

Next, he chose 325 AD and the First Council of Nicaea. He does get a few things right here. He says that the people are no longer only Jewish but from all over the Mediterranean, that they have some writings together called the "New Testament" (they had the writings, they were not canon but were treated as such, and they were not called the "New Testament"), and that most of the church leaders were celibate.

It is off to the Irish monks of the 7th Century, no specific date given here but this would be the period known as Celtic Christianity. He claims that the monks would pray with their arms outstretched to resemble a cross. The only thing I can really find on this is St. Dominic's nine ways of prayer which would have been in the 13th century not the 7th. It could have started well before what I found though. Colson also speaks of how the Irish monks sailed to Scotland where "they will call the Scottish clans to exchange their nature worship and bloody practices for the joys of heaven." Scotland is surrounded in mythology from that particular period, much like Ireland. I will quote Wikipedia on Scotland's early Christianity:

"The story of early Christianity in Scotland is as obscure as it is in Ireland. The earliest missionaries are traditionally Saint Ninian and Saint Columba. Ninian himself is now regarded as largely a construct of the Northumbrian church, after the Bernician takeover of Whithorn and conquest of southern Galloway. The name itself is a scribal corruption of Uinniau ('n's and 'u's look almost identical in early insular calligraphy), a saint of probable British extraction who is also known by the Gaelic equivalent of his name, Finnian. St Columba, the most important saint of medieval Scots, was certainly Uinniau's disciple. However, the earliest evidence of Christianity in northern Britain predates the respective floruit of either missionary. We can be sure that at least all of northern Britain, except the Scandinavian far north and west was Christian by the tenth century. The most important factors for the conversion of Scotland were the Roman province of Britannia to the south, and later the so-called Gaelic or Celtic Christianity, an interlinked system of monasteries and aristocratic networks which combined to spread both Christianity and the Gaelic language amongst the Picts."

Chuck then takes us to "one of the great English missionary societies of the 1840's." Colson claims these societies funded mission trips to the Far East, Oceania and Africa, which is true. Colson puts forth the idea of the Protestant work ethic helped push the Industrial revolution. This idea was put forth originally by Max Weber. The idea has many critics.

Finally, we go to 1980 Lagos, Nigeria to talk very little about the pentecostal churches that have sprung up there. I think there is a good reason not to talk about them, these are the churches that are killing or excommunicating small children as witches. Yet we are supposed to see these churches as forces of good in the world. Colson even praises the Nigerian churches for "bringing the faith back to the West." If that is "the Faith" then Chuck can keep his sick, disgusting, homophobic, misogynistic, evil, killing church because I want nothing to do with it.

His next section blames aggressive atheism or "anti-theism" for all the problems of the church. Naming Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Chris Hedge in his rebuke. To the point of claiming that Dawkins is only doing it for the money ("Richard Dawkins, responsible for half of those sales, can attest to how lucrative attacking God has become.") Colson then follows that up with one of the most ludicrous statements I have ever read:

"These critics say we are trying to 'impose' our views on American life - that we want to create a 'theocracy,' or a government run by the Church. But this is absurd; theocracy is contrary to the most basic Christian teaching about free will and human freedom. Christianity gave the very idea of separation of Church and state to the West. And Christianity advances not by power or by conquest, but by love."

There are just so many things wrong with that statement, I could spend days covering it alone. The biggest thing is that it is all a lie, there is no truth in it at all.

Colson continues on in this vein, blaming postmodernism saying it claims that there is no such thing as truth. He also claims tolerance for others is diluting the truth. He also makes an appeal to authority by quoting President Eisenhower. He even goes to make some persecution claims from being called names (although "Poor, uneducated, and easily led." is a quite accurate description in my opinion).

To the end the chapter Colson claims that anti-theism and Islam are the greatest threats to Christianity, America (not trying to make the US a theocracy) and the World. He also claims that Christians just need to get back to their roots and everything will be fine. The rest of the book is supposed to be about Christianity's roots.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dark Heresy - Night 5

The chase is on, everyone jumps aboard the ship in Port Suffering heading back to Scintilla. Kaltos is there to greet them in Scintilla and informs them that someone matching Skae's description, minus the mutations, was seen in Hive Tarsus, the second largest city on Scintilla, apparently recruiting soldiers. He was gone before anyone could confront him. They know his destination is Sentinel, from the reports submitted by Aristarchus. Everyone is loaded onto a ship and head off for Sentinel. The trip to Sentinel is longer than to Iocanthos, even though they are skipping the major warp pathways and going directly. Kaltos also sends his Biomancy advisor, Raltos (random rolled name), with them. This is partially because Shawn shows interest in becoming a Biomancer.

Once aboard the ship, Raltos takes off his helmet, and comments that he is glad to take that off finally.

When they arrive on Sentinel, it is quiet. After getting out of the spaceport they notice the bodies. Some are riddled with bullet holes, while others are just torn apart. No one is alive. James succeeds at a tracking roll and notices tracks going off into the desert. It is evening and thus the best time to be making this trek. They walk through the night and with Dawn coming the tracks still go on. Everyone decides to push on. An hour later a toughness test is made to see how everyone is still doing. Everyone passes.

After another hour of walking, a cave is found. The tracks go into the cave. Inside the cave, everyone can hear a whispering sound. Raltos is reminded of the legends of a xeno race known as the whisperers. A listen check is made a few more minutes into the cave, those that make it can hear gunfire. Next they come across a body of a human with weird bite marks all over it. It does have good armor and a photo-visor that allows for night vision. Alicia picks them up and puts both on.

Further into the cave, more gunfire can be heard, and they come across two more bodies. This time giant cockroach like animals are tearing and eating at the corpses. A whispering sound is coming from them. They stop eating and charge the PCs. After dispatching the whisperers, Shawn and AJ (who had to leave early and was now being played by me) equipped the new armor and helmets. Only Cheryl and James did not equip new armor. Cheryl because her chest piece already protected better and she couldn't replace the arms without replacing the chest piece. James really gives no reason for not equipping armor. With the way he is playing, I honestly don't expect his character to survive this entire story line.

The gunfire is getting louder as they venture further in the cave. Finally they reach an opening where they find 5 men garbed in the same armor as the corpses, one human corpse, several whisperer corpses, and 4 whisperers. The living men and whisperers are fighting each other. One of them men notices the PCs and aims his gun to fire on them. The players wipe out all but one of the men and all the whisperers. The last man runs towards a turn up ahead in the cave, only to have his head split open by a giant tentacle coming from around the corner.

Raltos leads the charge around the corner. Standing there in the cave is Abbot Skae in his horrible daemonic visage. Without warning, Raltos lobs a flash grenade at Skae, everyone wearing visors have to make an agility test. All the PCs succeed. Skae is blinded and stunned for 3 rounds. The fight lasts 3 rounds. First Raltos hit Skae hard in the head, followed by Alicia with a critical blow to the head with her chain axe. It only takes a few free shots after that to finish him off.

Behind Skae is an altar. On top of the altar sits a small needle like device attached to a half circle. It fits perfectly on the sphere James has and begins to spin. Raltos is amazed at the device. They start to leave. Skae is barely together but somehow manages to say, "This isn't over yet, the Dancer is coming and I will be there to see you all die at his hands." Skae stands up and tries to open a portal, similar to the one he escaped Iocanthos with, but it closes and fear crosses Skae's face. A daemonic voice is heard in everyone's head saying, "Skae you have failed me for the final time." At that hundreds and thousands of whisperers come out of every hole in the cave. They swarm over Skae devouring him leaving nothing but bones behind. The PCs aptly begin to run out of the cave. A couple of agility tests are needed but everyone makes it out fine. The whisperers do not chase out of the cave or even into the sun light.

Everyone heads back to Scintilla, this time taking the long and much safer way back. Shawn decides to do some research on St. Drusus and Drusus' dealings on Iocanthos. He finds out a lot of stuff he already knew. There are some dates missing and the actual source of the Dancer is not listed but he does discover the daemon's true name is Tsyiak. He also learns of how Drusus used Xeno technology to capture Tsyiak's soul in what the Eldar call a soulstone. Shawn learned about what soulstones were used for but little else. - "When the Eldar die, their souls are in danger of being devoured by the Chaos god Slaanesh. To prevent this, the Eldar created special Spirit Stones, which capture and contain their souls at the moment of death."

Kaltos was again waiting for them at Scintilla. He asked for the sphere and needle (the map) so that it could be studied. James, for some reason which he never explained, refused to hand it over. Kaltos nearly killed James right there. A compromise was reached where James would stay present for the studies being done on the map. The studies take about a month. They also discover a way to harness warp energy to activate the map instead of Aristarchus' or Cheryl's blood.

On one of the first days back, after defeating Skae, Cheryl goes out by herself shopping. She barely notices a flash of light in a tower, but has time to duck as a bullet barely misses her and strikes a person next to her. There is no doubt someone was aiming for her. When Kaltos finds out, he has some local law enforcement investigate the assassination attempt. He also lets none of the PCs go out without bodyguards.

That ended night 5.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Charles Colson - The Faith - Prologue

I bought my mom and dad two of Ken Miller's books, Finding Darwin's God and Only A Theory. My mom read both of them and enjoyed Finding Darwin's God. A few days ago she said I owed her two books since she read the two I bought. She gave me the first one, Charles Colson's The Faith. I am going to read it and go over it here in my blog.

Any quotes from the book will be used in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws of America.

The Prologue starts out with the story of the Amish school shooting in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. So right from the start I can see where this is all going, loads of emotion and little reason or evidence or substance. He goes into detail over the whole situation which you can read all about on the Wikipedia page. At the end he points out that the Amish showed real Christian love by forgiving the dead shooter and donating the money for the survivors to the shooter's widow and their kids. He doesn't make the claim here that only Christians are capable of doing something like this but alludes at it. A quick Google search of the subject will show that this is a very human thing to do, some just do it sooner than others.

He next makes up a story about two Christians living in Roman occupation during the plagues of the early 2nd century. He sets it in 116 AD and talks about a possible small pox plague. The only plague I can find any information on during the second century was the Antonine plague taking place between 165 to 180 AD. It was possibly a small pox plague. Colson tells his story saying that the rulers would leave town to escape and that the only people left would be the Christians to take care of the sick because that is what they were called to do by Jesus.

Two things about his little story. First the Antonine plague killed 2 Roman Emperors one of them being Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. The plague was named after Antoninus. So to say that the "wealthy fled" is shown to be false when 2 Emperors die to the plague.

Second the ones most affected by the plague were the soldiers. Marcus Aurelius was unable to push back the Germanic and Gaelic tribes because of his lack of soldiers. This is part of the reason that he personally joined the front lines. One particular offensive, against the Marcomanni, was postponed because of a lack of troops.

So I have to question what Colson is describing. He also makes the claim that "paganism didn't teach that human life was sacred." There is no citation for where this comes from, and I cannot find anything that backs this statement up. What I did find was this quote from the UNRV website:

"Indeed, it was not so much the paterfamilias who was owner of the house, it was his deified ancestors and local spirits who were the real proprietors and guardians of the land. The family demons could bring woe to those who offended them, and surely there was no greater insult than to lay a hand upon the paterfamilias whose chief duty was to propitiate them. Outsiders were also thought to invite divine wrath if they attempted to evict or harm a man within the presence of his household familiars. These religious taboos rendered domestic life and private property sacred centuries before civil law was accepted as a substitute."

This gives me the impression that everything was held in great esteem and life was protected by their ancestors and Gods. Colson's comment is just a straw man meant to demonize anything or anyone who are not Christian.

He goes on to claim that carrying for others was an "unprecedented teaching of Christianity". This is just not true. An early version of the Golden Rule was written about in Egypt during the Middle Kingdom (2040 - 1650 BCE). Well before Christianity and in the lands where the roots of Christianity formed. This is anything but "unprecedented".

Near the end of the prologue, Colson pulls out the No True Scotsman fallacy and claims that "love and forgiveness" are the hallmarks of real Christianity. This of course ignores passages such as 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' or Jesus claiming to bring a sword and turn sons against parents. I suspect that this fallacy will play out a lot through the book.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

tUPoC Chapter 1 Section 5

This is a book by Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers In Genesis (AiG). Here is a short background on him posted on Amazon's page for this book.

"Dr Jason Lisle is a research scientist and speaker with Answers in Genesis Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master's degree and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Dr Lisle is currently planetarium director at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, and written a number of books and journal articles, as well as the programs currently being used in the planetarium."

I was able to see his talk on this same subject while visiting the Creation Museum in Kentucky run by AiG. I know PZ has covered the first chapter but I wanted to take a shot at, especially after hearing Lisle's speech. Chapter 1 of his book is available online here. I will be using part of this book in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws within the United States of America.

Worldviews - the heart and soul of Lisle's argument and consequently AiG's argument

"Most people today have not given much thought to their own worldview. In fact, many people do not even realize they have a worldview. Such people tend to think that all knowledge is acquired by unbiased observation of the evidence around us. This view is called “empiricism” and is itself a kind of worldview. We cannot help but have some beliefs about how the world works, how we attain knowledge, and how we should live. Even if we believe that we have no such beliefs — this is itself a belief. So there’s no escaping it. A worldview is inevitable. A rational worldview is not."

Because I never trust a liar even when they tell me what day it is, empiricism is a theory of knowledge which asserts that knowledge arises from sense experience. So observing the world and trying to understand it by observation is a worldview.

So what is a worldview? Lisle actually defines it: "Worldview: a network of our most basic beliefs about reality in light of which all observations are interpreted." These are also called presuppositions. In the sake of argument, I will grant Lisle that everyone has a worldview and that some knowledge is derived from this worldview. I will also grant him that not all worldviews are rational. His semantic game with belief is just that semantics. He is trying to set up a 'see all scientists believe in it that makes it a religion therefor creationism should be taught in school also'. I plan to show why this won't stand.

"Our worldview is a bit like mental glasses. It affects the way we view things. In the same way that a person wearing red glasses sees red everywhere, a person wearing “evolution” glasses sees evolution everywhere. The world is not really red everywhere, nor is there evolution everywhere, but glasses do affect our perception of the world and the conclusions we draw. We will find in this book that the Bible is a bit like corrective lenses. Without “biblical glasses,” the world appears fuzzy and unclear. But when our thinking is based on the Bible, the world snaps into focus: it makes sense."

This is just Ken Ham's regular garbage and you can see him say the same thing countless times on any number of videos on YouTube.

The idea of seeing evolution everywhere because of one's worldview is completely wrong. If we only interpreted everything through a worldview then evolution would have never existed, the world would be flat, the sun would travel around the Earth and Gods throwing lightning would all still be widely held beliefs. You see something happened. Someone started to investigate things and found real facts. These facts went against what that person knew or against their worldview. Instead of trying to explain away these facts, they followed them to find out real truth.

Copernicus and Galileo both grew up knowing that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the sun, moon and all the stars orbited around the Earth. That was the worldview. Yet they both discovered facts that proved their worldview wrong. Instead of hiding these facts away, they looked into it more. What they both discovered was that the Earth orbited the sun. The solar system was not geocentric but heliocentric.

In the same way, Charles Darwin joined the crew of the Beagle as a naturalist to study the geology of South America. He collected many samples and started to notice things that did not fit with special creation or Lamarckian evolution. Things like animals on islands more closely resemble animals from the mainland they are closest too rather than animals on other similar islands. It seemed as if the island animals and plants descended from the mainland animals and plants. This amongst his many other discoveries caused Darwin to doubt special creation and helped him to develop the first Theory of Evolution by means of Natural Selection.

I could show even more examples through out the history of science all the way to modern day examples of Albert Einstein and Relativity. None of these men started off thinking that their worldview was 100% correct. Instead each of them found facts that went against their worldview and they adjusted what they thought according to the facts, not the other way around. What Lisle is implying is that everyone just changes the facts to fit their worldview. He is projecting, because that is exactly what he and all creationists and Intelligent Design advocates do. This is also just a giant straw man and he knows it to be so. I can say that because Lisle has a PhD in astrophysics from a reputable school. There is no way he could have gone through his degree without learning this. He is a charlatan and con artist in the name of religion. He joins a long line of charlatans for religion including his boss Ken Ham.

"Just as a person wearing red glasses perceives the world differently than a person wearing clear, prescription lenses, so evolutionists “see” the world differently than creationists. We have the same facts. But what we make of those facts is colored by our worldview. Thus, creationists and evolutionists interpret the same facts differently. This point cannot be overstated. Much of the frustration in arguments over origins stems from a failure to recognize that creationists and evolutionists must interpret the same data differently due to their different worldviews."

This is a lie. How did evolution start, Lisle? Did Darwin go out and say, "Hey I have this idea of evolution. Now I just need to find evidence to prove it." OF course he didn't. Everything I said earlier, which can easily be backed up by facts, shows that worldviews do not shape evidence, unless you let them. In the case of creationists, they insist on not only reinterpreting data, but cherry picking the data that fits their ideas best. Ignoring or trying to invalidate radiometric dating, physics all together and geological strata to name a few things. These things were not built upon presuppositions or worldviews but on cold hard facts that Lisle and his ilk choose to continually ignore.

"Many people do not want to accept the fact that all evidence must be interpreted in light of prior beliefs — a faith commitment of some kind. Many believe that evidence should be approached in a neutral and unbiased fashion — without any previous beliefs. However, this is impossible. For this view is itself a belief about how evidence should be interpreted."

This is utter bullshit. Then how are new ideas brought about? If we can only interpret things from the point of view of our worldview then how did these worldviews diverge? Historically it can be shown that there was no "evolution worldview", so where did it come from if "all evidence must be interpreted in light of prior beliefs"? He has no answer except to possible say that the Devil did it. Invoking some sort of supernatural occurrence, because according to his definition, someone cannot change their mind from looking at facts. Reread if you think I am misinterpreting him, he said "all evidence must be interpreted in light of prior beliefs" and "We have the same facts. But what we make of those facts is colored by our worldview." So Lisle explain how men who started with one worldview and changed to a different and new worldview. Explain why I started with a Biblical literalistic worldview but after studying the facts myself, changed my mind to what you call an evolutionist worldview. How does that happen if I only interpret evidence according to my worldview? He has no answer for this.

"Moreover, in order for our observations of evidence to be meaningful, we would have to already believe that our senses are basically reliable. It would do no good to observe some piece of evidence if we did not believe our observations are real and reliable."

Actually no we don't. Most people understand that our senses are not perfect or entirely reliable. We are fooled all the time by magicians, optical illusions, psychological phenomena like pareidolia, confirmation bias and many more that I can't begin to list them all here. (As a side note, confirmation bias is what Lisle is talking about when he says we interpret evidence by our worldview.) This is why science relies on peer review. A single person can draw conclusions based on their own observations, but to determine if those conclusions are correct it is not left to any one single person. Instead it is tested over and over again, to make sure that the conclusion holds. Even after holding for several years, it will continually be tested until it fails or is replaced by something that better fits the data and explains why the previous explanation held so well. Scientists do not make a name for themselves by upholding current Theories, instead they make a name by replacing old Theories with new and improved ones. The incentive is for scientists to overturn Theories.

"We cannot avoid wearing “mental glasses” — having a worldview — but it is crucial to wear the right glasses. In the same way that a person wearing red glasses might erroneously conclude that everything in the world is red, so a person with a wrong worldview will draw incorrect conclusions about the universe. But a correct worldview can prevent us from drawing the wrong conclusions and can improve our understanding of the world."

Look up the definition of hubris and will find a picture of Lisle with this statement next to it. He is not only claiming that his worldview is correct but because of that he will never draw a wrong conclusion about the universe because of it. Not once will you see any science make the claim they are 100% right 100% of the time. This is a level of arrogance that only the devoutly religious can claim.

"For example, when I observe a magician cut a person in half, I conclude that it’s a trick — no one was really cut in half, regardless of what I thought I saw. I draw this conclusion not because of the evidence, but because my worldview prevents me from drawing the wrong conclusion."

Wrong. You draw the conclusion because of evidence. You know it is illegal to kill someone. You know that when someone is cut in half they will die. You know that someone would have to have a mental problem or an accident to occur for them to advertise and cut a person in half before a crowd. You know you are there expecting to be fooled, only a few performing magicians claim or do not refute to have real powers (though none will submit to the JREF million dollar challenge).

Now if Lisle was going off of his worldview, then he could not know if it was a trick or not. Considering that his worldview allows for miracles and the Bible states that others will come doing miracles but not be of God (2 Thessolonians 2:9). So are miracles possible or not? Instead Lisle is using facts not his worldview to come to the conclusion it is a trick. This completely refutes his own example.

"For example, suppose that your neighbor tells you that she saw a UFO last night. Your worldview will immediately kick in and help you process and interpret this evidence. As your neighbor provides additional details, you will begin forming hypotheses based on your worldview. Perhaps she saw an alien spaceship. Perhaps it was a top secret government experimental aircraft. Maybe she had been drinking again last night. Or perhaps she merely saw the planet Venus. The conclusion you draw will be influenced not only by the evidence, but also by your general understanding of the universe. If you are convinced that extraterrestrial life does not exist, then clearly you will not draw the conclusion that your neighbor saw an alien spacecraft. Your worldview constrains and guides your interpretation of the evidence. This is true of every aspect of life. From UFOs or magic tricks to fossils and DNA, our worldview tells us what to make of the evidence."

Actually, I know of someone that claims to have seen a UFO. She thinks it was an alien ship. I have no basis to think she was lying, nor do I have anyway of refuting her claim. Personally, without any evidence but her own eye witness account, I don't think she saw an alien aircraft. I don't know what she saw. Why did I come to the conclusion that she didn't see an alien spacecraft? Evidence. I believe that there is alien life in the universe. There very well could be an alien race that is more advanced than we are. I have just seen no evidence of any contact by aliens to our planet. I am not saying that it could not happen, but that I find it very unlikely to have happened without any hard evidence. An eye witness is not always reliable, here we are getting back to our senses and their reliability. If more convergent evidence came out showing that we have been or are being visited by aliens then I will change my opinion.

"At this point, we have not yet made an argument that Christianity is the correct worldview — that it alone provides the correct way to interpret evidence in regard to origins (or any other issue). But by now it should at least be very clear that everyone interprets evidence in light of his or her worldview. And it is clear that creationists and evolutionists have different worldviews, and as a result, they interpret the same evidence differently. For this reason, evidence by itself will not cause a person to reconsider his worldview. Any scientific evidence can be interpreted in such a way as to fit into any given worldview."

Yet more projection. This is not how science works, this is how Lisle does "science". Lisle has yet to explain how a new worldview can come into being if all evidence is is interpreted based on one's worldview. The history of science shows it happening all the time. It is because science goes where the facts and evidence lead, it does not cherry pick and force facts into a predetermined view. This is even before going into falsifiability.

"A creationist looking at comets concludes that the solar system is young. An evolutionist looking at comets concludes that there must be an Oort cloud. A creationist examining the information in DNA concludes that there is a Creator. An evolutionist looking at the same information concludes that mutations or some unknown mechanism has generated such information. An evolutionist looking at the similarities in the genetic code of various organisms concludes that they must have a common ancestor. A creationist looking at those same similarities concludes that those organisms must have a common Creator."

An "evolutionist" then goes looking for evidence that will either prove them right or wrong and if wrong redetermines what the evidence is pointing towards even if it goes against their personal bias or, as Lisle calls it, worldview. A creationist just sits back and says "God did it" and never looks again. The creationist will also cherry pick quotes and findings of scientists and claim it fits creationism.

"We all interpret the facts in light of our worldview. Any evidence that seems to challenge our worldview can always be explained by invoking a rescuing device. Many debates on origins are not very effective because the opposing parties do not understand the nature of worldviews, evidence, and rescuing devices. Creationists can be frustrated that evolutionists are not persuaded by the evidence; but evolutionists feel the same way about creationists. Such frustration stems from a failure to consider the real issue: people always interpret evidence in a way that is compatible with their worldview. Thus, evidence by itself will never settle the debate."

Except scientists don't use rescuing devices, instead they have hypotheses that they test over and over again until they fail. At that point they reevaluate the evidence and let the evidence point to what is happening. Then that is tested over and over again until it fails. The testing never stops. Creationists never test and never continue beyond "God did it".

Lisle has some closing remarks about the next chapter. As I refuse to buy the book, I am not going on here. I think I am just going to go over Charles Colsen's book "The Faith" as my mom is insistent that I read it. This is another clue that my parents know of my atheism and yet don't want to talk about it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dark Heresy - Night 4

So we last left our intrepid explorers waiting for church services to start. Nobody really does anything before hand. They all go up to the Cathedral and are greeted by Abbot Skae who shows them to their seats in the front row, a place of honor. James decides to stand by the door. Kos'ke enters with Esha Raine and they are seated across the aisle from the PCs. Right before the services begin, Aristarchus sneaks in and sits with the PCs.

Skae starts to talk about a miracle that is going to take place as part of the dedication services, but before he can go on the city alarm bells go off. James is immediately out the door and he sees the truck crash into the front gate jarring it open. A bunch of blue-faced Ashleen come pouring in killing and burning everything they see.

The other PCs, Kos'ke and his men join James in viewing the attack. The first few things noticed are:

A group of men with a large bomb heading directly for the church.

A group of men with molotov cocktails heading for the city's generators.

The dustdogs have been spooked, broke their pen and are now attacking everyone they see.

James runs down to get a shot off at the bomb. He hits the Ashleen carrying the bomb and the bomb is dropped. The impact of the fall causes the make-shift jury-rigged bomb to detonate. Killing all the group of Ashleen with it.

Shawn and AJ go to cut off the warriors attacking the generators. AJ kills one rather quickly, but catches the attention of some of the others. AJ gets heavily injured during the fight. Shawn finishes the Ashleen off. Cheryl rushes over to help AJ with her medical skills.

While Shawn and AJ are fighting at the generators. James, Alicia and Cheryl notice a group of Ashleen heading towards a woman trying to protect some children. The PCs rush over to her and the children's aid, intercepting the Ashleen before they reach the children. James, Alicia and Cheryl handle the group rather easily, when Shawn calls over the vox that AJ is injured. That is when Cheryl runs to his aid.

The leader of the Ashleen is spotted. He is armored and carrying a cleaver, plus he has several men with him. He is charging Kos'ke and his men, who have just finished rounding up the loose dustdogs.

With the help of Kos'ke and his men, Alicia, James and Shawn take out the leader of the Ashleen thus ending the attack on the town. James is injured during the fight but refuses treatment. Cheryl helped AJ to the make-shift hospital. She stays and helps the overworked Priest there.

After the fight there is a commotion in front of the Cathedral. Kos'ke gathers his men and heads up to the Cathedral rather briskly. James, Alicia and Shawn join him. At the doors, Esha Raine is standing on one side, Kos'ke and his men join her, there is an Ashleen in the middle uttering something indistinguishable and the Abbot, Brother Severus and Aristarchus are on the other side. There is an argument going on between the Abbot and Esha. Esha wants to call off the dedication as obviously something is plotting against them. The Abbot is insisting that the ceremonies will continue as planned.

Aristarchus walks over and shoots the Ashleen in the head. He then says to Esha, "This is the fate of a heretic. Do you wish to stand in the way of the Church and the miracle to come?"

Esha is completely put off by this and makes the comment that the Crow Father is sitting on their shoulder and whispering his lies to them. She will have nothing to do with the Cathedral. Esha, Kos'ke and his men then leave riding immediately out of town. The gathered towns folk are quite shocked and unsure of what to do. Immediately Abbot Skae speaks up and tells everyone that this will not hinder the ceremonies that the God-Emperor looks down on them and will turn this Cathedral into a lighthouse as brilliant as the sun to shine on Iocanthos.

At this time, the PCs have some time to themselves. Cheryl stays in the hospital helping out. James goes to meditate and speak to his new daemon friend. Shawn and Alicia talk to some people around town. No one really finds anything out.

James decides he needs to speak to talk to Aristarchus immediately because he fears Aristarchus' life is endanger. He finds Shawn and Alicia in town, then picks up Cheryl and AJ on his way to the Cathedral where Aristarchus and Abbot Skae are located. When the group arrives at the Cathedral, their path is barred by Brother Severus and few younger priests. James demands to speak with Aristarchus. Brother Severus tells them that no one is allowed in right now as Aristarchus and Abbot Skae are preparing for tonight's ceremony. James is about to force his way through them, when the doors open. Aristarchus is supporting an injured bloody Abbot Skae.

Skae says he was attacked by a shadowy figure and barely fought it off. Aristarchus confirms what Skae says and has no doubt that it was Esha Raine that attacked Skae. He sends the PCs to arrest her and bring her back to the Cathedral by order of the Holy Ordos Hereticus.

Brother Lamark, who was called up during the first situation, tells the PCs where Esha is camped. He wants to go with them but his duty is to protect the Cathedral and Abbot Skae.

Alicia drives the flatbed heading towards Esha's camp. On the way she stops the vehicle and asks James how he knows what he knows. James claims the God-Emperor is talking to him directly and cites when the Emperor first spoke to them when they arrived in the future. (Cheryl, the player not her character, just realized that the God-Emperor never speaks to anyone for any reason, because basically he can't. She figured out something big but hasn't quite put together why it is a big thing, yet.) The group has a long discussion where James explains his theory that they are all being controlled by Tzeentch. He goes as far to claim that the God-Emperor is not Sigmar. He never says that he thinks the God-Emperor is an agent of Tzeentch but he does so without words (to have made that claim with words would have got him attacked by Cheryl. She already does not trust him.) After the discussion they continue on to Esha's camp. Along the way a violent dust storm kicks up. The dust storm dies down right as they reach the camp.

Upon arriving, Esha, Kos'ke and his men greet them with weapons at the ready. The only one that almost does something stupid here is AJ, but the others keep him from drawing his weapon. They tell her they want to talk. She says, "Good then there are people who are not being controlled by the Crow Father and are willing to listen, come inside I have something to show you."

Before they can even start to go inside, the dust storm kicks up again even stronger than before. Lights start flashing in the storm and evil laughter can be heard. Two groups of Shale Crows descend from the sky, one group attacking the PCs, the other attacking Esha and Kos'ke. Alicia and AJ dispatch the Shale Crows attacking them rather quickly and as soon as they do, the storm dies down. Some of Kos'ke's men are hurt but Esha and Kos'ke are fine.

Esha gets everyone inside. She then asks them to retell everything that has happened to them. After they are finished she gets up and brings them an old book. She calls it a widow's book and tells them it will help them. Shawn is able to read the book. It talks of St. Drusus and his fight against the daemon known as the Crow Father or the Dancer at the Threshold. Their final fight took place where the Cathedral is now. They thank Esha and as they begin to leave she tells them one more thing, "The Dancer's weakness is what he does to victims." Everyone realized very quickly that meant his eyes, technically he is vulnerable to Blind effects.

They hurry back to Stern Hope, it is dusk and the place is eerily quiet. There are no guards at the gate. A quick scan of the area and nobody can be seen. Tables from the Inn have been thrown out into the street and obstruct their way. The PCs park the truck and get out. Once out and walking, they notice a few bodies, some are riddled with bullet holes or las blasts while others seem to have been torn apart, all have had their eyes removed. The only light is coming from the Cathedral, a sickly pale glow.

On the way to the Cathedral, they see movement in the Abbey. Brother Lamark is barely alive. He tells them it was the Abbot. The Abbot turned into something monsterous and attacked anyone that did not go to the Cathedral. Cheryl is able to bandage Lamark and save his life.

The group head up to the Cathedral, opening the doors to reveal most of the town gathered, standing and staring at the altar. On the altar stands Aristarchus. He has ghostfire flowers at his feet and his tarot cards are floating around him. In a flash the cards gather into 9 single cards and fuse onto Aristarchus, 2 on each arm and leg, 4 on his chest and 1 on his forehead. Alicia makes the comment that they should take out the cards. The dome above Aristarchus is a black writhing mass, slowly moving towards Aristarchus almost reaching for him. A will power roll is required to even step inside the Cathedral. Everyone succeeds. Once inside they notice to people standing in the darkness behind Aristarchus, the light for the room is coming from the tarot cards. One shape is human and the other is not. As they get closer the non-human shape steps forward, it was Abbot Skae. It speaks to the PCs about how glad it is to see them and that they should now come and join him in devotion, while Brother Severus collects the blood of Aristarchus. The Skae-thing just used a daemonic power on them and all are required to make a will power roll to contest it. Alicia is the only one who failed. She drops her weapons and begins to walk forward towards the Skae-thing. Cheryl tries to take Alicia out of it to no avail. The fight starts after that.

Skae hits Alicia knocking her out of the mind control, but injuring her also. Severus is able to drop some of Aristarchus' blood onto a spherical device he is holding. James shoots the device out of Severus' hand. It goes rolling back into the shadows with James and Severus chasing it. Everyone else concentrate their attacks on Skae. James severely cripples Severus. This gets Skae's attention and Skae starts to attack James. James also attacks Skae at this point. Skae kills severus by stepping on him. James receives a message from the Watcher saying, "You are attacking the wrong thing. The arbitrator had the right idea." James quickly tells everyone to attack the cards on Aristarchus. The others attack the cards, while James continues to take on Skae directly.

During the fight, James is badly injured. Instead of getting away from Skae and letting someone else, like Cheryl who could directly fight Skae much better than James, James charges Skae and tries to shoulder tackle Skae. James bounces off of Skae and Skae would have killed James with his next blow, so James had to burn a fate point which caused a bright flash in Skae's eyes blinding him. Before he can regain his sight, the other PCs finish destroying the cards. Skae screams and runs away into the warp.

Aristarchus collapses from the altar. The congregation comes out of their hypnotism, no one in the gathered congregation died. If they had taken Skae down to 0 life, one of the cards on Aristarchus would have killed several people in the congregation to give life back to Skae. Aristarchus tells them what he can remember, everything being hazy since he received the cards from Skae. James shows the globe he got from Severus to Aristarchus. It looks like a map of the sector to Aristarchus and the planet glowing is called Sentinel or Drusus Shrine world. Aristarchus insists that they need to get back to Scintilla as soon as possible. He calls the church in Port Suffering and has a ship halted so that they can head off immediately. Aristarchus also sends a message ahead to Kaltos at Scintilla. The PCs and Aristarchus drive through the night and arrive at Port Suffering at dusk the next night. Aristarchus is taken by a Sister of Battle to the local hospital while the others are loaded onto a drop ship and back to Scintilla. That is where the night ended.

Friday, November 13, 2009

tUPoC - Chapter 1 Section 4

This is a book by Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers In Genesis (AiG). Here is a short background on him posted on Amazon's page for this book.

"Dr Jason Lisle is a research scientist and speaker with Answers in Genesis Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master's degree and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Dr Lisle is currently planetarium director at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, and written a number of books and journal articles, as well as the programs currently being used in the planetarium."

I was able to see his talk on this same subject while visiting the Creation Museum in Kentucky run by AiG. I know PZ has covered the first chapter but I wanted to take a shot at, especially after hearing Lisle's speech. Chapter 1 of his book is available online here. I will be using part of this book in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws within the United States of America.

Evidence and Rescuing Devices

"The scientific evidence certainly confirms biblical creation and appears to defy evolution. Many other evidences too numerous to list could also have been used as examples. It may seem that evolution stands refuted. It may seem that we have proved beyond doubt that scientific evidence proves biblical creation and disproves the notion of evolution. But this is not the case."

What evidence? The stuff you made up before that was easily refuted? If there is so much then show it, don't off handedly mention it and say take my word. From what I have read so far, Lisle's word is far from trustworthy.

"The above illustrations are very good arguments indeed. But they are not an ultimate proof. They do not actually prove biblical creation, nor do they utterly refute evolution or billions of years. The reason is that an evolutionist can always invoke what we might call a “rescuing device.” That is, an evolutionist can invent a story to explain away apparently contrary evidence. Let’s see how this works with the comets’ argument for a young solar system."

Notice the terminology here. An evolutionist can "invent" a story to explain away apparently contrary evidence. Sorry Lisle this is utter bullshit as we will see in your upcoming example. Scientists start with the evidence and determine what the evidence says from there. They do not start with their conclusion and just ignore contrary evidence, that is what creationists do. Lisle is just projecting here. If what Lisle said was right, there would be no evolution. We would all be talking about creation, because science started with creation and young earth that had the sun orbiting around it. The facts changed things. The idea of an old earth, which was backed up by more and more data, which moved the age of the earth further back until we reached the current age of the planet. This was not the work of an "evolutionist" as Lisle is claiming, instead it was the work of people like Lord Kelvin, a creationist, who spoke out against T.H. Huxley. So already this idea of coming from a predetermined position is on shaky ground.

"The evolutionist astronomer believes that the solar system is billions of years old, yet he sees comets within it. He can observe that comets disintegrate quite rapidly, and he computes that they can only last 100,000 years or so. How is he to resolve this dilemma? “Obviously,” says the secular astronomer, “there must be a source that generates new comets to replace the old ones as they disintegrate.” So secular astronomers have proposed that there is an “Oort cloud” (named after its inventor, Jan Oort). The Oort cloud is an enormous hypothetical sphere of icy masses surrounding our solar system. It is supposedly far beyond the most distant planets, beyond the range of our most powerful telescopes. Secular astronomers propose that occasionally, objects in the Oort cloud are dislodged from their distant orbit and thrown into the inner solar system to become brand new comets. Since these new comets continually replace the old ones, the solar system could be billions of years old after all."

Now we see what Lisle means by rescuing device. In science we call these predictions. In other words scientists realize that comets only last a 10,000 years or so, but the fact is that the universe is around 14 billion years old, based on convergance evidence from testing of separate sites and methods. Then there is a prediction, based on these two seemingly contradictory facts, that there is a place where comets are continually formed, the Oort cloud. Now here is where you are going to find a big difference between creation "science"'s "rescuing device" and science's predictions. Scientist are actively trying to identify the Oort cloud. They have determined some objects they believe to be inside it, but they are still actively seeking it. If they don't find any evidence of an Oort cloud then they will scrap it and look for another explanation for comets. This is a strength of science, being able to change when new evidence comes forth.

"Now keep in mind that no one has ever seen an Oort cloud. By construction, it is supposedly much too far away to detect the small objects within it. Currently, there is no observational evidence of any kind for an Oort cloud. So, as a creationist, I have no particular reason to think that there is such a thing. As far as I’m concerned, the Oort cloud exists only in the mind of evolutionists. It’s just a rescuing device that “saves” the evolutionist’s view from evidence that would otherwise seem to refute it."

Actually, objects have been observed in the area of where the Oort cloud should be. Oort cloud objects (OCOs) are showing up more and more as our telescopes increase in strength.

Argument from personal incredulity is still a logical fallacy. Just because you don't believe it doesn't mean it is not possible. Later, Lisle will show that no amount of evidence will change his mind, as he knows he is already right. So I ask which seems more sensible, taking what you know and developing ideas based off that and changing those ideas when new evidence arises or starting with your conclusion and cherry picking evidence that fits your conclusion to the point of ignoring and ridiculing any new evidence that doesn't support your conclusion? The first is what science does. The later is what AiG and every creation/intelligent design (ID)institution does. AiG is just more forward with stating that is what they do.

"Likewise, the evolutionist could also explain away the other arguments above by appealing to a rescuing device. Perhaps there is some kind of unknown mechanism that has contaminated the diamonds and other samples, creating new C-14 in them — in which case such things can be very old after all."

Or it could be like I posted, instrument contamination.

"Perhaps there is some as-yet-undiscovered mechanism that produces new information in DNA."

No need, duplication and mutation takes care of it just fine, like I showed previously.

"Perhaps nothing is truly irreducibly complex; it just seems that way due to our inability to imagine the stepwise process."

Actually you haven't shown anything to be irreducibly complex. No one has. Everything considered so far has shown to be not near as irreducible as creationists and IDers claim.

"The reason that mere evidences do not persuade people is that people can always invoke the unknown. This is why the above arguments do not really prove creation. Any evidence can be explained away by invoking a rescuing device."

True and creationists have the ultimate rescuing device, "God did it". How was every animal created? God did it. How did every animal on the planet reach the middle east to board Noah's ark? God did it. How did "information" get put into DNA? God did it. How do you verify this? Uhmmmm, prayer?

How do you verify there is an Oort cloud? Well through calculations, models, observations and building better telescopes that can identify smaller objects than what was possible before.

Notice the answer to the Oort cloud question is not an ending. Instead, we are still studying and trying to verify and learn more. Once a creationist says God did it, what is left to study? You have stopped, it is ended it is over nothing more to see here. That is the major difference between what Lisle calls "rescuing devices".

Now Lisle will try to justify rescuing devices because he knows he has the biggest end all rescuing device of all.

"Is a rescuing device unacceptable? Should we criticize the evolutionary astronomers for inventing a mere conjecture to rescue their opinion of vast ages rather than simply accepting the evidence at face value? My response may surprise you. The answer is: no — a rescuing device is not necessarily wrong. The fact is, we all have rescuing devices. We all have a way of thinking about the world — a worldview. Our worldview contains our most strongly held convictions about how the world works: how it came to be, the nature of reality, the nature of truth, and how we should live. No matter what worldview we have, there will always be some evidence that does not seem to fit it — at least on the surface. And therefore, everyone (whether creationist or evolutionist) must occasionally invoke a rescuing device in order to maintain rationality in his or her worldview."

Now we are starting to get to the heart of his real argument, worldviews or presuppositions.

"So I would not necessarily criticize the secular astronomers for inventing an Oort cloud (even though I don’t believe in one). After all, I don’t know for certain that there is not an Oort cloud either. The fact that we have no evidence for an Oort cloud does not prove that it does not exist. Absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence, so we cannot instantly dismiss evolutionary conjectures as necessarily impossible or irrational."

I am not criticizing them for putting forth the hypothesis of an Oort cloud, I just said I think it is a figment of evolutionists imagination. That is not derogatory at all, except when atheists say the same about God. Hypocrisy is so easy to find among Christian fundamentalists.

He is right absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Instead we can lower the probability of something being true or real. Like for say a deity. The fact we have found no evidence of any deity does not mean one does not exist. The fact still remains that people claim to talk to a deity or deities and know what the deity/deities want. These people can't even agree when they are talking about the same deity much less other opposing deities. In fact they often contradict each other on the nature of the same deity. So they cannot all be right. They can all be wrong. In fact it is better percentage-wise to assume they are all wrong, especially without any corroborating evidence to any of their claims.

"Nonetheless, a conjecture must not be arbitrary. If I simply asserted that “the core of Jupiter is made of green cheese” simply because no one has proven otherwise, this would be an unacceptable position. In logical reasoning, no one is allowed to be arbitrary — to just assume something without a good reason. After all, if we’re just going to assume something with no reason, then we could equally well assume the exact opposite. Rational debate would be impossible if people simply assumed whatever they wanted and felt no need to provide a reason for their position. Therefore, people must have a reason for their rescuing device if it is to be considered rational."

Of course if the core belief is not rational, then I can reject any rescuing device your present no matter if it is reasonable through your core belief. This would be a false premise.

"As an example, consider the “distant starlight problem.” This is the argument that the universe must be billions of years old since it apparently takes a very long time for light from the most distant galaxies to reach earth. How would a creationist respond to this claim? As of the writing of this book, there is not a definitive, verified solution to distant starlight. Therefore, creationists must invoke a rescuing device to explain distant starlight. Several good models have been proposed that can potentially solve this difficulty. But since none of them have been conclusively proved, they remain conjectures — rescuing devices — at this point in time."

Has anything ever been conclusively proven by creationists? I am asking seriously.

What kind of studies are being done by creationists on distant star light? I would like to see this.

"Is this arbitrary? No, the creationist has a reason to believe that there is an answer to distant starlight. As a creationist, I am convinced that the Bible really is what it claims to be: the Word of God. As such, the Bible accurately describes the creation of the universe. My Christian worldview requires that God really did create in six days, just as He said He did. Therefore, I have a good reason to think that there really is a rational solution to distant starlight (possibly one of the existing models, or perhaps one that is as yet undiscovered). My reason for my rescuing device is that my worldview insists on one, and I have good reasons to know that my worldview is true."

Remember that false premise thing I mentioned earlier. I reject your premise that the Bible is entirely accurate. In fact I know of several Christians that do the same. So not only is this a false premise but a false dichotomy too. The Christian worldview does not require what you say, no it is a fundamentalist "literal" reading of the bible worldview that claims this. Of course if you point this out to them then they will fall back on the no true Scotsman fallacy, claiming that those people are not real Christians.

"So a rational person will appeal to his worldview as the reason for his rescuing devices. But then, of course, he must have good reasons for his worldview. Evolutionists (and other believers in vast ages) are perfectly justified in believing in an Oort cloud if, and only if, they appeal to their worldview. But appealing to one’s worldview is only rational if one’s worldview is rational. The debate over origins therefore must ultimately boil down to a debate over competing worldviews. As such, we must give some thought to the nature of worldviews and how to judge competing ones."

So now he finally gets to false premise. The next section is on worldviews and this is the bulk of his argument. Honestly I don't know of any scientist that claims there is an Oort cloud because of their "worldview". Instead it is because of facts and evidence, but we will get to all that when I cover the next and final section of Chapter 1.

I am not buying the book to cover more chapters, I will see if they have it in the local library though. Plus my mom gave me a Charles Colson book to read, claiming I owe her since she read the two Ken Miller books I gave her. So I may cover that instead.

Monday, November 9, 2009

tUPoC - Chapter 1 - Section 3

This is a book by Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers In Genesis (AiG). Here is a short background on him posted on Amazon's page for this book.

"Dr Jason Lisle is a research scientist and speaker with Answers in Genesis Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master's degree and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Dr Lisle is currently planetarium director at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, and written a number of books and journal articles, as well as the programs currently being used in the planetarium."

I was able to see his talk on this same subject while visiting the Creation Museum in Kentucky run by AiG. I know PZ has covered the first chapter but I wanted to take a shot at, especially after hearing Lisle's speech. Chapter 1 of his book is available online here. I will be using part of this book in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws within the United States of America.

This Section Lisle calls Age Indicators. This is his why radiometric dating and light from distance stars is wrong, hint Goddidit.

"One additional point of conflict between creationists and evolutionists concerns the time scale of origins. Did life take billions of years to come about, or was it created in a short amount of time in the recent past? A number of evidences challenge the secular claim that the earth is billions of years old. Many could be listed, and in fact have been listed, on the Answers in Genesis website and in other resources.5 Here we will examine just a couple to get the flavor."

"5.; see Don DeYoung, Thousands not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2005)."

That is right his other resources are Answers in Genesis' web page, which was also the first resource he listed. You could say he is pointing to the book, which AiG sells. Donald DeYoung doesn't work for AiG, instead he is faculty at the Institute for Creation Research and on the board of directors for the Creation Research Society. Take that as you will.

"Many people have heard of carbon dating. However, most laymen are under the mistaken impression that carbon dating is used to show that the earth is millions or billions of years old. This is not the case. Carbon dating always gives ages much less than this, even on things that are allegedly millions or billions of years old. The reason is that the C-14 isotope is short-lived. Here’s how it works."

Well before we go into Lisle's idea of how carbon dating works, let's look at the real thing. First off, Carbon dating is never used to date anything over around 70,000 years old. It can't do it. It is works well for things in the age range of 58,000 to 62,000 years. These things must also get their carbon source from the air. Anything that receives carbon from a different source or reservoir will have an apparent age different than its actual age. This is how a shellfish that lives in a lake with limestone will test as an old age. Basically the limestone dissolves into the lake releasing the carbon with it. Then the shellfish ingests this carbon from the limestone. When tested the shellfish will give an apparent age closer to that of the limestone instead of the shellfish. Water is the main source of reservoir carbon. There are tests for this and the cause is known, plus radiocarbon dating is not the only form of dating. This should be apparent since carbon dating can't date things into the 100 thousands much less the billions.

"Most carbon is a stable variety called C-12, but a small fraction of carbon is C-14, which is unstable. Unstable means that C-14 is constantly decaying — it is continually and spontaneously changing into nitrogen. This happens slowly, one atom at a time. The rate is such that in 5,736 years, half of the C-14 will have decayed into nitrogen. After another 5,736 years, half of the remaining amount will have decayed, leaving only one-fourth of the original, and so on. So by making certain assumptions and then measuring the amount of C-14 in an ancient sample, scientists are able to make an estimate of the age."

So far he is correct, but I would like his clarification on certain assumptions. The only main assumption is that the production of C-14 in the upper atmosphere has held at a constant rate. Except that is not even held as an assumption anymore. In 1958 Hessel de Vries determined that C-14 varied up to 1% at times in the past atmosphere. Due to Hessel's work, calibration curves are used to more accurately account for the changes in C-14 over time and place. Using dendrochronology to verify tree tests, the carbon dating at its worse was off by 700 years. This would be an error percentage of around 1.4% at the worst.

"Since C-14 decays fairly rapidly (at least compared to the secular alleged age of the earth), it would decay to an undetectable amount after 100,000 years. In fact, if the entire mass of the earth were C-14, after one million years not even one atom would be left! So it may come as a shock for those who believe in an old earth to learn that C-14 has been found in allegedly very ancient substances, such as coal and diamonds — coal supposedly formed millions of years ago, in the evolutionary view. And the diamonds in which C-14 has been found are supposed to be over a billion years old in the secular view! The presence of detectable C-14 indicates that the true age of these things is only a few thousand years. Carbon dating certainly challenges the billions-of-years view."

The group that discovered C-14 in diamonds was from the Institute for Creation Research. The ICR called the group Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth or RATE for short. RATE found the C-14 and declared themselves winners without further investigation of what could possibly cause the C-14. Real scientists then took over the study as it was interesting. After investigating RATE's claims, this paper was written and peer reviewed. Also Kirk Bertsche wrote a paper on what was wrong with RATE's study. The short answer is contamination. Here is an excerpt from Bertsche:

"Diamond is difficult to combust. The RATE samples apparently required modifications to the normal procedure [1], presumably higher combustion temperatures and longer combustion times, likely increasing the sample chemistry contamination. The samples were reportedly pitted and may have been subjected to previous analyses and to unknown contamination. Nevertheless, RATE’s five deep-mine diamond samples had radiocarbon levels only slightly above background (0.01 to 0.07 pMC after background subtraction), while the seven alluvial samples ranged from 0.03 to 0.31 pMC after background subtraction.
Subsequently, the RATE team inserted diamond directly into an ion source, eliminating the sample chemistry, and measured much lower radiocarbon values, “between 0.008 and 0.022 pMC, with a mean value of 0.014 pMC,” apparently with no background subtraction [6]. This much lower value for unprocessed diamond provides strong evidence that their processed diamond samples had been contaminated, most likely by the modified sample chemistry.
Taylor and Southon have also measured unprocessed diamond, finding a similar range of 0.005 to 0.03 pMC without background subtraction. They interpret this result as their instrument background, primarily due to ion source memory. Their ion source current varied, unintentionally, over about a factor of two, perhaps due to crystal face orientation or to conductivity differences between samples. “The oldest 14C age equivalents were measured on natural diamonds which exhibited the highest current yields” [4]. This important observation provides evidence about the source of the radiocarbon.
If the radiocarbon were intrinsic to the sample, there would be no change in the radiocarbon ratio with sample current. The 14C, 13C, and 12C would change in unison. However, if the radiocarbon were coming from ion source memory or elsewhere in the accelerator, it should give a count rate independent of ion source current. Normalizing the radiocarbon count rate to the ion source current, which is predominantly 12C, would result in higher radiocarbon content for lower source currents, as observed. This data provides clear evidence that at least a significant fraction of the radiocarbon detected by Taylor and Southon in diamond measurements did not come from the diamonds themselves and thus could not be “intrinsic radiocarbon.”
The lower values for unprocessed diamond and the current-dependent behavior find no explanation in Baumgardner’s “intrinsic radiocarbon” model. But these results fit well with the Taylor and Southon evidence that instrument background (specifically ion source memory) is material-dependent, with diamond exhibiting significantly less ion source memory than graphite. The radiocarbon detected in natural, unprocessed diamond measurements seems to be nothing more than instrument background."

Back to Lisle:

"In fact, C-14 is found in virtually everything that has carbon in it, even deep down in rock layers that evolutionists believe to be hundreds of millions of years old. Yet, if those rock layers really were so old, they should not have even one atom of C-14 in them. These results are perfectly consistent with biblical creation. According to Genesis, the entire earth is not much more than several thousand years old, so it’s hardly surprising to find C-14 in just about everything. This is exactly what the creationist would expect. But carbon-14 is a serious challenge to the evolutionary system with its billions of years."

C-14 is constantly being replenished in the Earth's atmosphere, from the collision of neutrons with Nitrogen 14 atoms. The Earth's atmosphere is not the only place this can happen. Any source of neutrons like uranium can potentially create C-14. This is one of the many reasons rocks are not dated by C-14. C-14 is used to date organic remains that gain their carbon from the atmosphere.

A good article on Radiometric dating can be found on the Science in Christian Perspective page entitled "Radiometric Dating: A Christian Perspective". This is not a YEC article but of reasons why you don't have to accept YEC or OEC and be a Christian.

"Such evidences for youth can even be found in outer space. Comets are certainly consistent with the relative youth of the solar system but they pose a problem for the secular view. Comets are made of ice and dirt, and they orbit in elliptical paths that occasionally bring them close to the sun. When a comet passes close to the sun, solar radiation heats the comet, causing its icy material to vaporize and disperse into space. This lost material is swept back by solar radiation and solar wind; this is what forms the comet’s tail.

Since comets are constantly losing material, they cannot exist forever. It has been estimated that a typical comet can last for a maximum of about 100,000 years before completely running out of material. This is not a problem for the biblical time scale, but it certainly runs against secular thinking. If the solar system were really billions of years old, as evolutionists believe, then why do we still have comets?"

Lisle will cover this more in the next section which he calls "Rescuing Devices". He knows what the Oort Cloud is and he talks about it in the next section. This is still ignoring evidence contrary to a young Earth like distant star light. I am going to leave this for now as this will all be covered in the next section.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Ultimate Proof of Creation - Chapter 1 - Section 2

This is a book by Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers In Genesis (AiG). Here is a short background on him posted on Amazon's page for this book.

"Dr Jason Lisle is a research scientist and speaker with Answers in Genesis Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master's degree and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Dr Lisle is currently planetarium director at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, and written a number of books and journal articles, as well as the programs currently being used in the planetarium."

I was able to see his talk on this same subject while visiting the Creation Museum in Kentucky run by AiG. I know PZ has covered the first chapter but I wanted to take a shot at, especially after hearing Lisle's speech. Chapter 1 of his book is available online here. I will be using part of this book in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws within the United States of America.

Section 2 is all about Irreducible Complexity.

"Another argument that is often waged against evolution concerns the incredible complexity found in living things. Darwin could not possibly have anticipated the astonishing intricacy of even the “simplest” single-celled organism. Every living cell of every organism contains a host of complex biochemical machines, each cooperating with the others to enable the survival of the entire cell. The parts of the cell are interdependent; if any one of them malfunctions, it can lead to the death of the entire cell. In multi-cellular organisms, the cells themselves are specialized, each performing a different task to contribute to the survival of the whole organism. Hearts, kidneys, and lungs all work together — without one the others could not survive."

Because no one believes that cells evolved. Instead that cells have always been the same throughout history (/sarcasm).

We can just look at one of his examples. Hearts there are several animals that have no heart, instead they use locomotion to move the blood cells around in their body. Likewise, there are animals, like some worms, that don't have a heart but have some muscles around one part of a blood vessel that squeeze the blood vessel making blood flow through the body. In other words, a precursor to a heart. We can see the evolution of the heart just in comparative anatomy of animals today. This is what Charles Darwin did with the eye in explaining how it could have evolved.

"Interdependent parts challenge the idea of particles-to-people evolution. Evolution is supposed to happen in a gradual, stepwise fashion.One by one, mutations are supposed to gradually change one kind of organism into another. So we must ask the question: which evolved first — hearts, kidneys, or lungs? Each is useless without the other two. A stepwise evolutionary process for any interdependent system would seem to be impossible at the outset."

Really, this is all you got? I just pointed out there are animals without hearts. Only a few fish have lungs, and several animals don't use blood for the dispersal of oxygen anyway. I can show examples of animals without one or two of these organs, so his statement that each is useless without the other two is just blatantly false.

"Even within a single living cell, how could the various parts have come about in a gradual fashion? Each part cannot survive without the others. Such a system is said to be “irreducibly complex” because its complexity cannot be reduced without destroying functionality. Any irreducibly complex system cannot have come about by an evolutionary process, since every piece requires all the other pieces at the same time."

What parts? Name some. Of course you won't do that will you? That would mean someone could come along and prove your statement to be false. Instead using amorphous terms you can never been pinned down on exactly what you mean and thus can never be proven wrong. Unlike what you did with the heart, lung and kidney example.

"Many machines made by human beings are also irreducibly complex. A car does not work unless all of its essential parts are functioning. Since many of the parts of a car are irreducibly complex, it would be logical to conclude that a car is not made by an evolutionary process. It is skillfully planned and made by people who have designed every part to function with all the others. Likewise, living beings have been designed by a Master Planner who has skillfully prepared every part to
function together with all the other parts."

Actually we know a car is made because, it can't reproduce on its own, we can go and see it being made in a factory and the manufacturer usually puts a stamp on it saying it was made, by whom it was made and where it was made. None of it has to do with irreducible complexity.

The other thing about the car example is that there is coworker of mine that has a Harley Davidson poster in his office. The poster is the evolution of the Harley Davidson. It starts with motorized bicycles and goes all the way to present day motorcycles. You can see the gradual changes in design that over a long time accumulated into something that looks nothing like the original. Changing these parts that Lisle is calling irreducibly complex, which are necessary now, but not in the past on some of the first bikes. So even his example is not of irreducible complexity.

That is all Lisle has on irreducible complexity and it is quite weak. His argument is basically one giant argument from personal incredulity, I don't see how it can happen so it must not have happened. This is a logical fallacy, which Lisle spends an entire chapter of this book on logical fallacies and how to identify them. I find it telling that he then also uses so many fallacies himself. It reminds of a passage of the bible:

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." - Matthew 7:3-5

Dr. Ken Miller's page on irreducible complexity of the Flagellum as described by William Dembski. A very good read and deconstruction of irreducible complexity.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Music Finally!

"Aren't You Lucky" - Whitest Kids You Know
"Bad Religion" - Bad Religion
"Best God in Show" - NOFX
"Blasphemy (The Victimless Crime)" - NOFX
"Creation Science 101" - Roy Zimmerman
"Do What You Want" - Bad Religion
"Filler" - Minor Threat
"Fuck Armageddon... This is Hell" - Bad Religion
"Generator" - Bad Religion
"God" - John Lennon
"God's Kingdom" - Guttermouth
"Hell" - Squirrel Nut Zippers
"Hell Yeah" - Bloodhound Gang
"Jerry Falwell's God" - Roy Zimmerman
"Up There" - Satan the Dark Prince

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Ultimate Proof of Creation - Chapter 1 - Section 1

This is a book by Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers In Genesis (AiG). Here is a short background on him posted on Amazon's page for this book.

"Dr Jason Lisle is a research scientist and speaker with Answers in Genesis Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master's degree and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Dr Lisle is currently planetarium director at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, and written a number of books and journal articles, as well as the programs currently being used in the planetarium."

I was able to see his talk on this same subject while visiting the Creation Museum in Kentucky run by AiG. I know PZ has covered the first chapter but I wanted to take a shot at, especially after hearing Lisle's speech. Chapter 1 of his book is available online here. I will be using part of this book in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws within the United States of America.

Now into the Chapter.

It starts off claiming that creationists and evolutionists use the same evidence but come to different conclusions based on their presuppositions or worldview. This is the standard canard for AiG. They forget to mention all the facts that creationists ignore when looking at the evidence. I will get to that later when he is actually talking about the evidence. This is also a straw man argument by Lisle. Creationists do insist that the Bible trumps the facts and that you should make the facts fit what the Bible says, but this is not how science works. If it was then we would all still believe in special creation, geocentric universe, a young earth, humors, leeching to get rid of "bad blood", etc. Instead science, all science, looks at the facts and follow them to the conclusions wherever they may lead. This is basic stuff, and Lisle, having a PhD from Colorado, knows this. Which leads me to believe that he is a liar for Jesus.

"One of the most compelling, commonly used scientific arguments for creation involves the field of information science. In this technological age, we are inundated with all sorts of information every day, but few people stop to consider what information really is, and where it comes from."

Well, I have a degree in Management Information Science so this should be good. Except for the first sentence, I am in total agreement.

"Scientifically, we can define information as a coded message containing an expected action and intended purpose."

Anyone can guess where he is going with this. I want to point out that he is already affirming the consequent in his definition. By calling it coded, he can say it needs a coder, much like Ray Comfort's 'creation requires a creator' bullshit.

Wikipedia has a good article on Information. Here is just a bit of it but will become important as we go here.

"Information is a term with many meanings depending on context, but is as a rule closely related to such concepts as meaning, knowledge, instruction, communication, representation, and mental stimulus. Simply stated, information is a message received and understood. In terms of data, it can be defined as a collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn. There are many other aspects of information since it is the knowledge acquired through study or experience or instruction. But overall, information is the result of processing, manipulating and organizing data in a way that adds to the knowledge of the person receiving it.

Information is the state of a system of interest. Message is the information materialized.

Information is a quality of a message from a sender to one or more receivers. Information is always about something (size of a parameter, occurrence of an event, value, ethics, etc)."

This is what Lisle will use, information as a message. Here is Lisle on DNA.

"DNA also contains information. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a long molecule found within living cells and resembles a twisted ladder. The rungs of the ladder form a pattern of base pair triplets that represent amino acid sequences — the building blocks of proteins. DNA contains the “instructions” to build the organism. So different organisms have different DNA patterns. DNA qualifies under the definition of information: it contains an encoded message (the base pair triplets represent amino acids) and has an expected action (the formation of proteins)and an intended purpose (life)."

At first glance this seems right, but he has changed the definition of information. In this sense information is "a type of pattern that that influences the formation or transformation of another pattern" (from Wikipedia). For this definition there is no need for a sender or receiver, in essence it is a chemical reaction or like the cogs of clock. When one moves the other has to because of the interlocking relationship. This is similar to how chemical reactions work, in which DNA is a chemical (two polymers with sugar and phosphate bonds to be specific). There is a lot of work going on in understanding DNA and I don't want to get bogged down in technicalities here, so I differ to Wikipedia (DNA) again.

"Whenever we find any sort of information, certain rules or “theorems”
apply. Here are two such theorems:

1. There is no known law of nature, no known process, and no
known sequence of events that can cause information to originate
by itself in matter.

2. When its progress along the chain of transmission events is
traced backward, every piece of information leads to a mental
source, the mind of the sender."

Lisle's wonderful source for these theorems (which I never heard either of these in college) is Werner Gitt (I wish I was making that name up). They are both from Gitt's book In the Beginning Was Information. It is a creationist book. Gitt is a yec and amazingly works for AiG, just like Lisle.

Both of these theorems are garbage. Scientists have observed the duplication or doubling of strands of DNA, followed by mutation affecting a single one of those strands changing it into something entirely different than what was there originally. This would be the adding of "information." As for actually originating "information" this would be covered under abiogenesis. In which some remarkable studies are going on. Recently a new article was published on a very likely way in which RNA (a precursor for DNA) could have formed on a very young Earth. This would be a complete natural origin for "information".

Theorem number two is just weird. Every source of information? Well I guess it again depends on what you mean by information. Where is the source of the "information" that tells an oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms to bond together to form water? This is yet another straw man.

"In one sense, these theorems are hardly profound; we take for granted that when we read a book it has an author. No one reading this book would conclude that it was generated by a sequence of typos that gradually accumulated over time. Now certainly this book might be a copy of a copy of a copy, but you take it for granted that a mind is ultimately responsible for the information therein (regardless of whether you agree with the information!). The theorems of information science confirm this."

Argument from personal incredulity or argument from common sense, yet another logical fallacy. First it is a false analogy. Books do not reproduce on their own. Humans guide the process of recreating books, often at great extent. Yet they still get transmission errors. I guess in Lisle's world God is actually guiding every chemical reaction that is involved in reproduction, no wonder he has no time to answer prayers.

Lisle has also set up Gitt's theorems like they are the widely accepted in the field of Information Science, this is far from the truth. From Wikipedia on Gitt and Tom Schneider's works:

"Tom Schneider of the Molecular Information Theory Group at the National Institutes of Health, an expert on the application of evolution to biology similarly criticizes his use of unproved 'theorems', use of circular reasoning, self-contradiction, 'Gitt has gotten Shannon backwards' and that Gitt falls into a 'standard misunderstanding that information is not entropy, information is not uncertainty'"

To trot out Gitt's work like it is highly respected and contains actual theorems (theorem - a statement that can be demonstrated to be true by accepted mathematical operations and arguments) is deluded at best and dishonest at worst. Thus going back to my original opinion that Lisle is intentionally lying for Jesus.

"Likewise, these theorems tell us that life cannot have come about as the evolutionists claim. The information in DNA cannot have come about by mutations and natural selection because the laws of information science tell us that all information comes from a mind. But the information in DNA makes sense in light of biblical creation. It was by the mind of God that the initial information was placed in the DNA of the original organisms on earth. That information has been copied many times, and some of it has been lost. But the information in our DNA ultimately comes from God, not by a random chance process. The laws of information science confirm creation."

This is only true if these "theorems" are true, which Gitt nor Lisle have done anything to prove them. Thus this argument relies on a faulty premise and fails before it even starts.

Also by the definition of information as a message (information is a message received and understood), the second part of that definition requires the receiver to be able to understand the message. In other words the receiver has to have a mind also. Otherwise it would be akin to a person writing detailed messages and then throwing them into a furnace to be destroyed without anyone ever reading them. So by Lisle's definitions each cell of our or any living body must have a mind.

"Sometimes evolutionists will object to this and will point out that mutations occasionally have survival value; they “improve” the organism under certain circumstances. This is true, but it is not relevant to the argument. Mutations have
never been observed to add brand-new information, and thus they cannot be the driving mechanism of evolution. Sometimes mutations will cause a section of DNA to get duplicated, but does this really increase the information? Not at all. By analogy, a copying error in a book may cause a paragraph to get duplicated. But surely it adds no new information. After all, could you learn anything from the duplicated paragraph that you couldn’t learn from the original? Creative information cannot spontaneously increase by chance. It is always the result of intelligence. The theorems of information science tell us this, and our experiences confirm it."

Now Lisle, you are just being obtuse. Ever thought about combining these two processes?

1. We take a sentence:
The dog hates cats.

2. We duplicate it:
The dog hates cats. The dog hates cats.

3. We add a beneficial mutation to the addition:
The dog hates cats. The dog hates cars.

UH-OH! We now have new information about the dog, through the two processes you just said couldn't create new information. You might want to rethink things.

That is it for Information Science section of Chapter 1, next section the thoroughly debunked idea of Irreducible Complexity.

I also want to add, I love the pictures. Notice he pulls a Jack Chick, not as prominent as Chick does though, in that he makes the evolutionist look uglier than the Christian.