Friday, October 31, 2008

Exposing ExpelledExposed: Part VII, Conclusion. Following Jesus and Following Darwin? Is This Possible?

My fellow Christians, we can say "thank you" to the National Center for Science Education. If it wasn't for the NCSE's website, expelledexposed, we would never have known that we can be committed evolutionists and people of faith at the same time. Expelledexposed's section entitled "Science and Religion" tell us so. Some do claim to be disciples of Christ and evolutionists at the same time: "Evolution shows us how God works." As the website points out, the Catholic Church, mainstream Protestantism and Jewish theology accommodated Evolution a long time ago. Some of these accomodationists resent Ben Stein challenging Darwinian orthodoxy in Expelled. In fact, some of these accomodationists think of anyone who challenges Evolution as "noisy creationists."

But wait. Expelledexposed also instructs us that not all beliefs are compatible with Evolution. What are the implications of this statement?

According to the NCSE and its allies, Evolution is not theory but fact; it is the true scientific explanation for the origin of life on this planet, including the human race. Any rival explanation is false, a myth, certainly not scientific. Therefore, the NCSE and its allies anoint themselves as the arbiters of truth. They decide what religious beliefs may be expressed in the laboratory and the classroom. Those who consider themselves religious do not have to decide for themselves what role their beliefs play in scientific research and instruction. All they have to do is agree that Evolution is the only true explanation for life's origins and never publicly deviate from that position. Any religious belief that questions Evolution is deemed a false truth claim, therefore, according to the NCSE, certain religious beliefs are false, a superstition, a lie. Those religious groups that hold beliefs that are incompatible with Evolution and so viewed by the NCSE as being false, are left off of expelledexposed's list of acceptable religious expression. What groups? Certainly those Christians who claim that the Bible is God's inerrant Word, Creationists, Evangelicals. Like me.

But if the NCSE has the authority to proclaim which views are compatible with the truth, then no one should have any problem with me stating that Christian belief and acceptance of Evolution are incompatible.

Evolution presupposes a universe devoid of a creator. This is a fact recognized by H. James Bix in his Introduction to Darwin's "Descent of Man":

"Darwin's dangerous fact of evolution has changed forever how we view our own species within natural history...The myth of creation as espoused by religious creationists and biblical fundamentalists has been replaced by the fact of evolution." (Charles Darwin, "The Descent of Man", Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 1998, Introduction,p. xix)

Ernst Mayr is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, Harvard University. He has received numerous prizes for his work in Evolution and the philosophy of Science. This quote is from his book "One Long Argument:Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought":

"Darwin was unable to build on this foundation but rather started from the fundamental question that Lyell bequeathed to him, namely, how do new species originate? Although Lyell appealed to "intermediate" causes as the source of the new species, THE PROCESS WAS NEVERTHELESS A FORM OF SPECIAL CREATION. [Capitalization mine] 'Species may have been created in succession at such times and at such places as to enable them to multiply and endure for an appointed period and occupy an appointed space on the globe' (Lyell 1835, 3:99-100). For Lyell, each creation was a carefully planned event. The reason why Lyell, like Henslow, Sedgwick, and all the others of Darwin's scientific friends and correspondents in the middle of the 1830s, accepted the unalterable constancy of species was ultimately a philosophical one. The constancy of species--that is the inability of a species, once created, to change--was the one piece of the old dogma of a created world that remained inviolate after the concepts of the recency and constancy of the physical world had been abandoned.

"No genuine and testable theory of evolution could develop until the possibility was recognized that species have the capacity to change, to become transformed into new species, and multiply into several species. FOR DARWIN TO ACCEPT THIS POSSIBILITY REQUIRED A FUNDAMENTAL BREAK WITH LYELL'S THINKING..." [Capitalization mine] (Mayr, One Long Arguement, Harvard University Press, 1991, p. 17-18)

In other words, for Darwin to formulate his theories, he had to reject the belief in the work of a creator in the creation of species. Can any one who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ explain to me how the truth of man's origins could not be discovered without the rejection of an Intelligent Designer and how then one could reconcile these theories to the belief that the Bible is God's word to man?

Bix quotes Darwin himself on Darwin's own rejection of Christianity:

"Considering how fiercely I have been attacked by the orthodox it seems ludicrous that I once intended to be a clergyman...I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. This belief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete...The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career..." (Darwin, p. xxii)

Lets finish the above quote by Bix:

Furthermore, anthropology teaches us that religious beliefs and practices themselves have evolved since the dawn of Homo sapiens sapiens (sic). Even ethics, morals and values are now seen within the scientific framework of human evolution." (Darwin, Introduction, p. xix)

Darwin himself maintained that man's intellectual and moral qualities had to evolve, to advance to a certain stage before he could even believe in God:

"No being could experience so complex an emotion until advanced in his intellect and moral faculties to at least a moderately high level. Nevertheless, we see some distant approach to this state of mind in the deep love of a dog for his master, associated with complete submission, some fear, and perhaps other feelings...Professor Braubach goes so far to maintain that a dog looks on his master as a god." (Darwin, p.99)

Can one believe in the God of the Old and New Testaments and believe that it took many generations of Evolution to even come to a belief in a supernatural deity? Genesis clearly shows Man as capable of fellowship with God from the very beginning. Even after the Fall, when sin is introduced into Man's makeup, God and Man still engaged in mutual communication. How can one reconcile Evolutions view of Man with the Genesis account of Abel knowing what worship is acceptable before God? According to Darwin, Man can't even conceive of a God until many generations of Evolution had occurred. Genesis tells us that Enoch walked in such close fellowship with God that God took him before death. Noah's walk with God was just as close.

If one tries to reconcile belief in Christ and belief in Evolution's truth claims, what is to be done with Paul's statements in Romans that sin and death entered the world through Adam. Evolution teaches that death has always been present through the survival of the fittest. Death reigned overall even before man could conceive of sin. If both Evolution and Christianity are true, then just when exactly was sin introduced? What about Paul's statement that Jesus is the new Adam? If Adam never existed, if the Genesis account of Creation is a myth, what are we to do with these statements? Is what Paul wrote to be discarded? If Evolution is true, why believe a symbolic truth if it contradicts the historical record? If ancient philosophy could have accommodated evolution of some type, then why did God wait till 1859 to reveal the real origin of Man? Why would His followers need to believe a myth, a symbolic truth for so long?

Why would Jesus teach that marriage binds one man and one woman and cite as His authority the Creation account in Genesis? Why would the Messiah who came to free us from religious legalism bind us with this command if the example of Adam and Eve is just a myth? Why would Jesus speak of the days of Noah as if they were a true account of history if the days of Noah never were?

And what of Christ's message itself? Is Christ's message a unique revelation from the Triune God? Charles Darwin didn't think so:

"The moral sense perhaps affords the best and highest distinction between man and the lower animals; but I need say nothing on this head, as I have so lately endeavored to show that the social instincts---the prime principle of man's moral constitution---with the aid of active intellectual powers and the effects of habit, naturally lead to the golden rule, 'As ye would that man should do to you, do ye then likewise'; and this lies at the foundation of morality." (Darwin, p. 131)

Is Christ's message the result of many generations of Evolution? How can we reconcile the Biblical message that sin can only be overcome through the death of Christ on the Cross with Darwin's assertion that morality is evolving overtime? Will Man evolve to the point that he no longer sins? If so, why did God sacrifice His only Son?

(For a more detailed treatment of these issues, please read the 3 part review of Francis Collins' "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence For Belief." It appeared on 9/26/08, on this blog, immediately preceding this series.)

Expelledexposed would have us believe that modern science began with the divorce of the Christian world view from science. God as creator is not a provable hypothesis, it tells us, so a scientist can only explain the universe in terms of what is observable to the human senses. Yet it was the Christian worldview that birthed the modern Scientific Revolution. Francis Schaeffer in "How Shall We Then Live: The Rise And Decline Of Western Thought And Culture" puts it this way:

"The rise of modern science did not conflict with what the Bible teaches; indeed, at a crucial point the Scientific Revolution rested upon what the Bible teaches. Both Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) and J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) have stressed that modern science was born out of the Christian world view. Whitehead was a widely respected mathematician and philosopher, and Oppenheimer, after he became director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 1947, wrote on a wide range of subjects related to science, in addition to writing on his own field on the structure of the atom and atomic energy. As far as I know, neither of the two men were Christians or claimed to be Christians, yet both were straightforward in acknowledging that modern science was born out of the Christian world view.

"...Whitehead said that Christianity is the mother of science because of 'the medieval insistence on the rationality of God.' Whitehead also spoke of confidence 'in the intelligible rationality of a personal being.' He also says...that because of the rationality of God, the early scientists had an 'inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner, exemplifying general principles. Without this belief, the incredible labors of scientists would be without hope.' In other words, because the early scientists believed that the world was created by a reasonable God, they were not surprised to discover that the people could find out something true about nature and the universe on the basis of reason." (Schaeffer, p. 132-133)

"Living within the concept of that the world was created by a reasonable God, scientists could move with confidence, expecting to be able to find out about the world by observation and experimentation. That was their epistemological base--the philosophical foundation with which they were sure they could know." (Schaeffer, p. 134)

"The Greeks, the Muslims, and the Chinese eventually lost interest in science. As we said before, the Chinese had an early and profound knowledge of the world. Joseph Needham...in his book The Grand Titration (1969), explains why this never developed into a full-fledged science: 'There was no confidence that the code of Nature's laws could ever be unveiled and read, because there was no assurance that a divine being, even more rational than ourselves, had ever formulated such a code capable of being read.'...

"What was the view of these modern scientists on a Christian base? They held to the concept of the uniformity of natural causes in an open system, or, as it may be expressed, the uniformity of natural causes in a limited time span. God has made a cause-and-effect universe; therefore we can find out something about the causes from the effects. But (and the but is very important) it is an open universe because God and man are outside the uniformity of natural causes. In other words, all that exists is not one big cosmic machine which includes everything. Of course, if a person steps in front of a moving auto, the cause-and effect-universe functions upon him; but God and people are not a part of a total cosmic machine. Things go on in a cause-and-effect sequence, but at a point in time the direction may be changed by God or by people. Consequently, there is a place for God, but there is also a place for man.

"This carries with it something profound--that the machine, whether the cosmic machine or the machines which people make, is neither a master nor a threat--because the machine does not include everything. There is something which is 'outside' of the cosmic machine, and there is a place for man to be man." (Schaeffer, p. 142-143)

Evolution places man, including his highest thoughts, inside the "cosmic machine." Soon we will be told by scientists that we are NOTHING but the product of genetic activity, including our very beings, including what we believe about God.

Expelledexposed, and its parent, the NCSE, has no problem with anyone expressing their belief in God, just so long as they do not ask questions concerning the validity of Evolution's assumptions and conclusions. The very rational for the existence of the NCSE is to limit religious expression that questions evolution in the classroom, laboratory, or in the movie theaters, as Expelled has done. The Executive Director of the NCSE, Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, stated the hope in a podcast that so many evolutionist bloggers would link to expelledexposed that when someone typed in Expelled in a url., they would see many entries for expelledexposed. This is just another tactic to keep people from being exposed to objections to Darwinian orthodoxy. Other tactics, as we have seen throughout this series, includes the slandering of those who question evolutionary assumptions, as the NCSE has done to Richard Sternberg, Guillermo Gonzalez, and Pamela Winnick. Another tactic has been to lie about evolution's influence on some of the philosophies and political regiemes that made the twentieth century the bloodiest century in history. A third tactic has been to scare people into remaining silent about their objections to Evolution, making people fear that to voice these objections would cause them to be ridiculed as members of fringe groups. This tactic can be seen in the comment by bob xxxx that my rejection of evolution would cause me to be laughed at by educated people.

In fact, I notice that those who have chosen to comment on articles in this series never challenge the actual arguements contained in these articles or the evidence backing them up. They want to debate the merits of ID, but they don't want to debate the issues surrounding the dishonesty displayed on expelledexposed. Perhaps they can't. Perhaps the evidence contained in these articles, available to the public so that someone like me can access it, cannot be challenged in an honest debate.

It is my hope that this series can be seen when one types expelledexposed in a url. Not just so it can be seen, but so expelledexposed's message may not drown out what the NCSE doesn't want you to know. If those who work at the NCSE were so confident about their own message, then they would feel no need to engage in the character assassination and intellectual dishonesty concerning objections to evolution that is on full display on their webpage, expelledexposed. The stakes are higher than the reputation of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein, or those he interviewed. The real issue is whether or not a self anointed group will go unchallenged in its attempt to dictate what is the truth concerning the origin of life and which religious views are valid and which religious views are untrue.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is now available in DVD. By it at your local bookstore or order it online here.

For the Discovery Institute's webpage on ID , click here.

2 comments:

P. Terrell, TX said...

John - Thank you for this painstakingly documented series of articles. I know you have spent many hours putting all this information together and writing about it so carefully. I see very few comments on the articles so far but hope they'll get more notice in the future. I appreciate it immensely and will recommend this resource to others.

Mr. Guthrie said...

Thank you for your comments. Although these articles are not the usual fare for this blog, I felt that someone on the blogoshphere had to answer expelledexposed. I also thank you for recommending these articles. I hope you feel free to comment on any post featured on this blog. I do enjoy feedback on what appears on this site.