Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Creationists Can't Make The Case

Sometimes it seems that the US is far away from reality. NASA and many schools in that country teach evolutionary biology successfully with post doc work on going as we find many branches of science backing up Darwins original idea, with some modification as one would expect, yet people who are on the creationist side fail to understand the science, what's next.

A High Percentage of Evangelical Christians Simply... [Derived Headline]

A high percentage of evangelical Christians simply will not consider the possibility that God might have created the world and living things and used evolution as one of the means to do so. We seem to have moved into the realm of ideology.

Political philosopher Kenneth Minogue in "The Liberal Mind" says, "An ideology may ... be defined as a set of ideas whose primary coherence results not from their truth and consistency, as in science and philosophy, but from some external cause; most immediately, this external cause will be some mood, vision, or emotion ... The intellectual mark of ideology is the presence of dogma, beliefs which have been dug deep into the ground and surrounded by semantic barbed wire."

For many years, I accepted the creationist view, as it was always stressed as a vital support to evangelical Christianity. But I have gradually become troubled by the fact that in creation science the "right" answers seemed to be known even before the observations and experiments. In "Science Held Hostage," physics professor Howard J. Van Till (himself an evangelical Christian) pointed out that the role of creation science "is not to discover answers to open-ended questions, but to provide the appearance of scientific warrant for answers already established by other means."

The other warning signal for me was the ever repeated creationist claim that practically the entire scientific establishment was engaged in a virtual conspiracy to conceal and distort evidence in order to support the theory of evolution. The more I thought about that, the more preposterous it appeared.

I undertook to read what the evolutionists had to say. A few of them have tried to use science as a club against religion, such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins - an approach which, by the way, violates the parameters of science. But most of them dealt intelligently and persuasively with the material evidence.

Joan Roughgarden, Christian and the daughter of missionary parents, is an eminent scientist at Stanford University. In her new book, "Evolution and Christian Faith," she sets forth a challenge to those who consider intelligent design to be scientific:

"What would intelligent design proponents need to do to make their program scientifically credible? I would like to see four scientific points addressed. Intelligent design scientists need to publish an objective procedure to screen for complexity so that the five best-case candidates for irreducibly complex traits can be defined for analysis.

Then, they need to explicitly state and present direct evidence for specific hypotheses about when the traits first appeared and in what form. Next, they need to demonstrate that natural breeding acting on random mutations does not account for these best-case complexity candidates. Finally, should existing evolutionary theory prove inadequate, then intelligent design scientists need to show that no possible material modification of the theory can be made that would account for the candidate traits. If all four criteria are met, then I would say that the intelligent design program has succeeded scientifically. Until then, it's hot air."

Her comment refers to the creationist claim that some biological structures are so complicated that they could not have evolved since they wouldn't have been functional until all the parts were simultaneously in place. It is a claim refuted many times by mainstream scientists.

As to the charge that evolutionists have distorted and concealed evidence to support their case, the truth seems to be more nearly the opposite. In "Science Held Hostage," previously cited, professor Van Till, together with co-author geologists Davis A. Young and Clarence Menninga (all evangelical Christians) point out that it is the creationists who have played fast and loose with the facts. Three standard creationist claims for a recently created Earth are the level of dust that has accumulated on the moon, the amount of salt that has drained from the Earth into the oceans, and the rock layers of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

According to the creationists, if the earth and solar system were billions of years old as mainstream science claims, there would be much deeper dust on the moon and vastly more salt in the ocean. As to the Grand Canyon, the claim is that almost all of the exposed rock cliffs were laid down in the great flood of Noah.

Young and Menninga demonstrate exactly how some of the most famous creationist writers have manipulated and falsified the evidence in each of these. Example: the creationists deny that there are any erosion levels between layers of rock in the Grand Canyon as that would indicate a lengthy passage of time between their positioning, not the short time of the Genesis flood. In fact erosion levels are well documented. They are there for all to see.

If my fellow evangelicals will be patient, a truer case for biblical religion is coming.

(Grael Gannon, of Bismarck, is a teacher at Shiloh Christian School.) Creationists can't make a case

(c) 2007 Bismarck Tribune. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Source: Bismarck Tribune