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.

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