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Aug 23 2004
|Is belief in evolution a religious belief?|
The recently posted article by Stephen Pike on Intelligent Designs prompted me to write up this one key point that is important to the whole creationist/evolution theory debate, but which I have not seen discussed specifically anywhere. (I'll get to it at the end...first I have to give some background.)
The question itself, I certainly have seen discussed. Many public schools which teach the theory of evolution of species as part of their science courses are facing challenges from fundamentalist religious groups who wish to have the Judeo-Christian creation myths taught as an alternative. Their argument is based, at least in part, on the claim that the theory of evolution is itself a religious belief.
Now, to get into this I suppose we would have to first figure out what we mean by a religious belief. One could try to argue that evolution is not a religious belief since it is not simply the fact of its appearance in a book by Darwin, but a great deal of evidence that supports it. In other words, if it was just a belief with no support other than a book which says it is true, then I would see better the claims that it is on equal footing with the Bible and its claims. However, the fossil record, its agreements with the similarities in anatomy and genetics amongst living creatures today, the presence of vestigal forms such as the human appendix, and modern examples of evolution which we have clearly observed all place the theory of evolution well in the field of science. (Note: Although some fundamentalists will claim that nobody has seen evolution working, this is a rather ridiculous claim. You must have heard doctors talking about antibiotic resistant bacteria, right? Similarly, insects can become pesticide resistant. These are examples of evolution that we see happening around us now. In these situations, mutations occur in some of the members of the group that give them an advantage over others, and in a few generations you see this trait throughout the group. That's what the theory of evolution predicts will happen and that's what does happen!)
BUT, all of this seems to be complicated by the existence of groups like the Secular Humanists which present atheism as a form of religion. Not just Secular Humanists and Religious Humanists, but many other such groups exist out there which seem to be religious, but include the theory evolution in their statement of beliefs. (I don't think the SHL does, but I've seen other groups that do.)
This might be a cause for concern, since it is clear that Creationist groups could (and do) use this to argue that the theory of evolution is a religious belief and has no more right to be taught in public schools than their belief in 6 days of creation.
However (and this is the main point that I wanted to make since the beginning) this argument is misguided. It may be true that there are some religious groups (including Religious Humanists) who believe in the theory of evolution, but this alone does not make the idea a religious idea. In particular, science can agree with religions on some points without turning those aspects of science into religion. For example, Judaism does urge its followers to wash their hands before eating. The rule probably did not have its origin in a thorough understanding of the existence of bacteria that cause disease, although there may have been some early "scientific" observations underlying it. But, in any case, even though this can be claimed to be one of the religious beliefs of Judaism, it does not prevent it from also being science. It is science because we can explain the advantages of washing hands via germ theory and we can show through statistical studies that people who eat with dirty hands are more likely to get sick. Or, doing it in the other order (as one might argue happened in the case of evolution) if I started a new religion in which just one of many beliefs was that photosynthesis is a process by which plants turn air and water into sugar using solar energy, that would not prevent this well established scientific fact from being science simply because it was a religious belief for one group.
Jan 28 2005
"Charles Dawson, a British lawyer and amateur geologist announced in 1912 his discovery of pieces of a human skull and an apelike jaw in a gravel pit near the town of Piltdown, England . . . Dawson's announcement stopped the scorn cold. Experts instantly declared Piltdown Man (estimated to be 300,000 to one million years old), the evolutionary find of the century. Darwin's missing link had been identified. Or so it seemed for the next 40 or so years. Then, in the early fifties . . . scientists began to suspect misattribution. In 1953, that suspicion gave way to a full-blown scandal: Piltdown Man was a hoax . . . tests proved that its skull belonged to a 600-year-old woman, and its jaw to a 500-year-old orangutan from the East Indies." Our Times--the Illustrated History of the 20th Century (Turner Publishing, 1995, page 94).
The Piltdown Man fraud wasn't an isolated incident. The famed "Nebraska Man" was built from one tooth, which was later found to be the tooth of an extinct pig. "Java Man" was found in the early 20th Century, and was nothing more than a piece of skull, a fragment of a thigh bone and three molar teeth. The rest came from the deeply fertile imaginations of plaster of Paris workers. "Heidelberg Man" came from a jawbone, a large chin section and a few teeth. Most scientists reject the jawbone because it's similar to that of modem man. Still, many evolutionists believe that he's 250,000 years old. No doubt they pinpointed his birthday with good old carbon dating. Now there's reliable proof. Not according to Time magazine (June 11, 1990). They published an article in the science section that was subtitled, "Geologists show that carbon dating can be way off." Don't look to "Neanderthal Man" for any evidence of evolution. Recent genetic DNA research indicates the chromosomes do not match those of humans. They do match those of bipedal primates (apes).
What does Science Say?
Here are some wise words from a few respected men of science: "Evolution is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless." (Professor Louis Bounoure, Director of Research, National Center of Scientific Research). "Evolution is unproved and unprovable." (Sir Arthur Keith--he wrote the foreword to the 100th edition of, Origin of the Species). "Scientists who go about teaching that evolution is a fact of life are great con-men, and the story they are telling may be the greatest hoax ever." (Dr. T. N. Tahmisian, Atomic Energy Commission, USA).
How to Make $250,000
If you really think that there is scientific evidence backing evolution, Dr. Kent Hovind (an authority on the theory) has a long-standing offer. He will give $250,000 "to anyone who can offer any scientific proof for evolution." See if you can find some. Bet you can't. You can find Dr. Hovind's offer at: http://www.drdino.com/cse.asp?pg=250k
Faith the Facts
You can't prove evolution. It is something you have to accept by "faith." You have believed what you have heard. You have seen and had faith in evolutionary drawings of reversed osteoporosis. Charles Darwin (the founding father of the faith) said: "I was a young man with unformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything; and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion out of them!" They still do. Their language is language of faith. They use words like "believe, assume, surmise, suspect, speculate, perhaps, probably, possibly . . ." Evolution can only be accepted on blind faith . . . because it cannot be proven.
On the other hand, you can prove God's existence. A building is proof that there was a builder. A painting is absolute proof that there was a painter. You don't need to see him to believe he exists. His painting is all the evidence you need. It wouldn't be there if he didn't exist. Creation proves absolutely that there is a Creator. There wouldn't be a creation if there wasn't a Creator. A child can understand that.
You can also prove that the Bible is God's supernatural revelation to man. All you have to do is study the irrefutable evidence of Bible prophecy (see Matthew 24, Luke 21, 2 Timothy 3, Ezekiel 38-40, Joel 2, etc). Go to www.lost-ark.com to see incredible scientific and medical facts in the Bible, proving that it is supernatural in origin. "But . . ." you say, "What about all the mistakes in the Bible?" There aren't any. It's all God-inspired. I've been reading it every day for more than two decades, and I haven't found even one so-called "mistake."
Who Then Made God?
God (like space) has neither beginning nor end. He created time and subjected man to it and because we are subject to time, logic demands that everything must have a beginning and an end. However, God dwells outside of time, in "eternity." Again, you can prove this by studying Bible prophecy, and seeing how God knows the beginning of time from the end.
Human Suffering Proves There's no God
Human suffering actually does the opposite. It certifies that the Bible is true. Scripture says that if a nation obeys God, it will have long life, health and prosperity. When a nation is given to lawlessness--violence sexual immorality, etc., God removes His blessings so that it will seek Him. Abraham Lincoln knew and proclaimed this. Check out Deuteronomy chapter 28 and you will see why the U.S. has so much cancer and so many natural disasters.
If Evolution is True, the Bible is False
Dogs don't have kittens, cows don't have lambs, and pigs don't produce rabbits. Birds produce birds. Fish produce fish. Each species brings forth after its own kind. That's no theory. That's a fact. Why then should we believe that man originates from another species? If evolution is true, then it is proof that the Bible is false, because the Scriptures say that each animal brings forth after its own kind. The whole of creation stands in contradiction to the theory-tale of evolution.
The "Big Bang" Disproves the Bible
Try and think of any explosion that has produced order. Does a terrorist bomb create harmony? Big bangs cause chaos. How could a big bang produce a rose, apple trees, fish, sunsets, the seasons, humming birds, polar bears--thousands of birds and animals, each with its own eyes, nose and mouth?
Here's an interesting experiment: Empty your garage of every piece of metal, wood, paint rubber and plastic. Make sure there is nothing there. Then wait for ten years and see if a Mercedes evolves. I'm serious. Try it. If it doesn't appear, leave it for 20 years. If that doesn't work, try it for 100 years. Then try leaving it for 10,000 years. Hard to believe? Then here's what will produce the necessary blind faith to make the evolutionary process believable: Leave it for 250 million years. Cerebellum liposuction.
Evolution of the Sexes
Notice that almost all forms of complex life have both male and female--horses, cats, dogs, humans, moths, monkeys, fish, elephants, etc. The male needs the female to reproduce, and female needs the male to reproduce. One cannot carry on life without the other. Which then came first according to the evolutionary theory? If the males came before the females, how did the males of each species appear without the females? If you believe that perhaps, maybe, probably, possibly, male and female evolved over a long period of time, what then made evolution change its initial plan and require the necessity of male and female?
There is another little problem for evolutionists. Did the first fish that crawled onto dry land millions of years ago have lungs or gills? If he had gills, he would have gasped and died the moment he crawled onto dry land. If he had lungs, why did he evolve them while he was in the ocean? Also, he had to find a female (to carry on the species) who had also crawled onto the land, and she would have had to have evolved lungs also.
Would you remotely consider the possibility that the Bible is right when it says that God created male and female? Why do you prefer to choose to believe a ridiculous theory than believe the truth with so much evidence around you? Is it because the Bible has moral dictates you disagree with?
One Last Problem
If the Bible is God's Word, you have a big problem. It maintains that God has set aside a Day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. The standard with which He will judge you is the Ten Commandments. Let's see if you have broken any of them: 1. Is God first in your life? Do you love Him with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength? 2. Have you made a god in your own image--to suit yourself? 3. Have you ever used God's holy name on vain (substituting it for a four-lettered filth word to express disgust)? 4. Have you kept the Sabbath holy? 5. Have you always honored your parents implicitly? 6. Have you hated anyone? Then the Bible says you are a murderer. 7. Have you had sex before marriage? Then you are a fornicator and cannot enter Heaven. Have you lusted after another person? The Bible warns, "Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart." 8. Have you ever stolen something (irrespective of its value)? Then you are a thief. 9. If you have told a lie (including "white" lies), then you are a liar, and cannot enter the Kingdom of God. 10. Have you ever desired something that belonged to someone else? Then you have broken the Tenth Commandment. On Judgment Day you will be found guilty, and end up in Hell forever . . . something God doesn't want to happen.
Each of us stand guilty of breaking God's Law, but because Jesus paid our fine on the Cross 2,000 years ago, God will forgive us on the grounds of His suffering death--"God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Don't let evolutionists make a monkey out of you. You are of great value to God. Through the Cross, He revealed His great love for us. Then He raised Him from the dead, and defeated death. If you repent, and trust in the Savior, God will grant you everlasting life. Pray something like this now: "Dear God, I have broken Your Law. Please forgive me. I put my trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I will read the Bible daily and obey what I read. In Jesus' Name. Amen." Read John 14:21.
Jan 31 2005
|reply to previous post|
I commented on the "every building has a builder and every painting has a painter" comment in another thread. (FYI, I listed "caves used by bats and bears as homes" as buildlings without builders and the "painted desert" in AZ as a painting without a painter. But, my favorite answer is the Mandelbrot Set because it clearly exists without anyones intent and yet is quite beautiful.)
As for this idea that you cannot "prove" evolution, it strikes me as a bit ridiculous. Of course, it depends on the standards one has for proof. No other field (except perhaps for pure logic in the field of philosophy) has the ability of proof in the sense that mathematics does. So, we cannot be looking for a proof of that level. The theory of evolution lies within the scope of science, and so it would have to be scientific proof that we consider. There is a GREAT deal of scientific evidence for the theory of evolution. That the person offering this prize money for a proof of evolution does not accept it says more about him and his closedmindedness than about the evidence.
For one thing, it is easy to demonstrate through an experiment that there is such a thing as evolution. Take a population of creatures that reproduces and has some genetic diversity and put them in a situation where one of the traits has an advantage (for example, take a species of insect which cannot see ultraviolet light and put them in a place where one must see ultraviolet patterns on the plants to be able to detect the ones that have food...after a few generations you will find that they CAN see into the ultraviolet.)
Of course, this does not show that evolution is the explanation for the diversity of species on the planet. It merely shows that evolution is a natural phenomenon. Once one wants to see whether evolution can explain the origin of species on the planet, evidence of another form is required. But, it is still evidence that produces testable hypotheses and therefore still within the scope of science.
One obvious piece of evidence is the fossil record. When we dig down in the ground we find things that are older and older. It is easy to see this near the top where we can find things that involve humans and can be dated by comparisons to history, but if you dig down farther you get to levels that do not contain any evidence of humans. Similarly, some animals that we know of today cannot be found below some depth, and some animals that no longer exist can be found down deep. What does all of that mean?
The reason that it is evidence for evolution is more than just the fact that different things are found in different places, it is also the fact that this fossil record is in such amazingly good agreement with the theory of evolution's predictions for the origins of species.
Down VERY deep we find nothing other than fish and molluscs and other sea creatures. (No whales or sea reptiles though...and that's important.) Then at higher levels we find the first evidence of small land creatures. It is not until much higher (and therefore much later) that we see the huge dinosaurs and the beginings of mammals. Among the mammals we find is a land creature whose skeleton is very similar to that of a whale. And it is not until above that that we find the skeletons of whales. This is just one example, but the point is that there is a HUGE fossil record. Of course there are gaps, but there are no obvious contradictions. Things don't appear randomly in the record, they fall in exactly the places one would expect from the theory.
Moreover, we now have other ways of looking at the past that do not involve the fossil record...we can look at GENETICS and try to identify which creatures evolved from which others. The very high degree to which this data is in agreement with the evidence from the fossil record is still more evidence that the different species really did form through evolution over a long time.
Many of the challenges you pose seem easily addressed to me. ("Did the first fish that came on land have gills or lungs?" There are lots of creatures that live on land with gills. We saw on Nature just last night that a crab which lives in Cuba has gills but lives its whole life on land and so must keep them moist. And the "snakehead" fish which is terrorising lakes in the US these days can walk far across land with only gills. Also, it is easy for me to imagine several possible resolutions for the male/female problem you propose. Sure, just one of the two sexes could have moved to land, but they could still meet in the shallow water at mating season. Or, the whole population, male and female, could have started spending more and more time on shore, eventually producing offspring who did not need to go to the water at all. Or....)
However, I'm afraid I need to get to work now and do not have time to address them ALL. I promise, however, to address any TWO concerns that you have. Pick any two points from your message and pull them out and I would be happy to discuss them further.
Sorry, but time constraints prevent me from being more thorough.
Feb 1 2005
Hey, Alex! I'm enjoying reading your responses to the "new plagiarist" as Nick has discovered. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Kent Hovind (Dr. Dino) who offers the prize for anyone who can "prove" evolution. First of all, it'd be interesting for you to go to his website and look at his terms. He sets the test up in such a way that no one would ever be able to claim the prize, no matter how solid the evidence is. The way he words it, all he'd have to do to "disprove" the proof for evolution is say it's "possible" that things happened another way (for instance, God did it, or Little Green Men on Mars did it, etc.)
Second of all, I find it humorous that any creationist would look to Hovind as if he were some kind of creationist "messiah." Many creationist organizations (such as Answers in Genesis with Ken Ham) have disavowed many of the ludicrous claims he makes (such as that what we call dinosaurs are actually dragons and that humans killed them all off!) Another thing to know about Hovind is that his diploma, which he parades every chance he gets, actually came from a diploma mill. So, again, if fundamentalists want to support a creationist, I think they can do a lot better than Hovind.
Third of all, Hovind was recently brought up on charges of IRS fraud and evasion, so there's no guarantee that he even has the money he offers as a prize! I got this information from an e-newsletter from Michael Shermer's Skeptic magazine (E-newsletter #15, April 19, 2004):
Creationist is Target of IRS
For those of you who know Kent Hovind, one of the last of a dying breed of Young Earth Creationists (Earth < 10,000 years old, dinos had their own deck on Noah's Ark, the Grand Canyon was carved in two weeks during the Flood, etc.), and the single most loquacious speaker I have ever seen (he could do the voice over for those medical commericals where they rattle off the hundred different possible side effects in the final six seconds of the commercial), the following story will be of some interest. We may live in a Christian nation, but no one is exempt from the IRS (well, almost no one--Scientology has had a pretty good go of it against them). By the way, I'm scheduled to debate Hovind at the University of California, Irvine, on Thursday evening, April 29.
IRS raids business, home of creationist
By Brett Norman
Internal Revenue Service agents are investigating a Pensacola man who
operates a creationist theme park and museum off Old Palafox Road and who they say is evading taxes on more than $1 million in income.
This week, federal IRS agents raided the home and businesses of Kent Hovind, 51, in the first block of Cummings Road, confiscating all computer and paper records of financial activity since January 1997.
The creation-science evangelist argues against evolution around the world. He also sells literature and videos supporting his views and charges admission to his Pensacola theme park and museum through a number of entities.
But in a sworn statement made to obtain the search warrant served Wednesday, IRS agent Scott Schneider said none of Hovind's enterprises has a business license in Escambia County or has tax-exempt status as a nonprofit enterprise.
"Since 1997, Hovind has engaged in financial transactions indicating sources of income and has made deposits to bank accounts well in excess of $1 million per year during some of these years, which would require the filing of federal income taxes," wrote Schneider.
The statement is based on financial records plucked from Hovind's garbage from July 2002 through March 2004, statements from a former employee, Internet research and public records.
Hovind, who has not been charged, suspects he is being targeted because of his religious beliefs. He adamantly denies wrongdoing.
He questioned the timing of the search--one day before federal income tax
returns were due.
"They've got to flex their muscle this time of year," he said. "I guess they
chose me. It will be somebody else next year."
He referred questions about business practices to Glen Stoll, director of
Remedies at Law, a frim based in Edmonds, Wash., that represents him.
"This is based on misperceptions," Stoll said. "They don't understand how the church is created and registered, how it operates under church law, which is entirely separate from secular authorities."
Friday afternoon, Stoll sent a letter to Schneider, demanding the return of
the property. Attached to the letter was documentation that Hovind's operations--including Dino Adventure Land, Faith Baptist Church, Creation Science Evangelism and CSE Enterprises--operate under an umbrella organization recognized by the State of Washington.
Alycyn Culbertson, special agent and spokeswoman for the IRS, said Friday she had not received the letter and could not respond to it. She denied that the timing of the search was relevant.
"I assure you that we don't go to inordinate lengths to make sure something happens around April 15," she said. "But if the investigation is at that point around that time, we don't hold it up either."
Hovind has a May 18 court date to face three misdemeanor charges arising from his refusal to obtain a permit to construct a metal building on his property. Hovind said the building meets or exceeds building codes, and he objects to the permitting process as an undue expense on the church.
Anyway, Alex, I thought you'd like to know this if you don't already!