Saturday, 26 July 2008

Mark Twain on the Objectivity of Science

The belief in millions of years of earth history is based on "a trifling investment of fact".

Joel Kontinen

Scientists are supposed to be objective. Sometimes, however, their conclusions are questionable. Mark Twain put it this way in Life on the Mississippi, “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.” Here is the context:

In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

A geological theory known as uniformitarism postulates that slow processes have formed huge formations such as the Grand Canyon over millions of years. Uniformitarism in geology was popularised by James Hutton (1726-1797) and Charles Lyell (1797-1875), inspiring Charles Darwin to use a similar approach to biological evolution.

For a time, uniformitarism surpassed catastrofism as the ruling paradigm in geology, but in recent years catastrofism has regained some popularity. The eruption of Mount St. Helens in May 1980 laid down massive sediments and formed deep canyons in a few hours, indicating that catastrophes can do a lot in a little time.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), or Mark Twain as he preferred to be called, rightly criticised extrapolation in science. Darwinists often observe tiny changes in fruit flies or bacteria and then extrapolate their results ad infinitum. The result is the goo-to-you view in which long periods of time plus chance are thought to make an amoeba into an astrophysicist. As Mark Twain would say, this return is based on “such a trifling investment of fact.”


Twain, Mark. Life on the Mississippi.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Why Do Atheists Use Theological Arguments?

These thumbs are good for holding bamboo. Image from Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

A few days ago, a UK-based atheist, whom we might call Ben, took issue with some of my recent posts, including this and this. Ben’s thesis was built on two premises: (a) evolution is a fact, and (b) all who doubt evolution do so for religious reasons.

What makes Ben’s feedback interesting is that he uses theological arguments. Of course, we should not be too surprised since evolutionists from Darwin through Gould to Dawkins used, and are still using, theological arguments to defend evolution. Recently, New Scientist also joined in singing in this wonderful choir.

Ben stated, for instance, “The concept of intelligent design in general does not account for the many examples of astoundingly poor design we see in nature” and “human eyes have their wiring ‘in front’ of the light catching cells, leading to slightly poorer vision and the ‘blind spot’.”

Now, “astounding poor design” seems to be a highly speculative view. Although we live in a fallen world, most Pandas seem to be able to handle bamboo with their “poorly designed” thumb. Why would scientists so often try to emulate nature, if there weren’t anything to learn from gecko feet and other marvels of creation?

The human eye is actually far better than any camera. Richard Dawkins popularised the view that the human eyes is poorly designed but eye experts have repeatedly shown this to be false.

But the question remains: why do atheists use theological arguments in defence of evolution? They are breaking the very rules they have set. As Richard Lewontin put it, scientists often choose to make up “unsubstantiated just-so stories” because they “have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism… Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

“Poor design” is an argument that breaks this rule.

It seems that atheistic Darwinist are trying to both have their cake and eat it, without leaving anything for others.


Catchpoole, David and Jonathan Sarfati. 2006. Creation Ministries International. Excellent Eye
Better than any camera—the eye’s response to light.

Lewinton, Richard. 1997. Billions and billions of demons. The New York Review of Books, p. 31, (9 January 1997).

Monday, 21 July 2008

The Devil’s Delusion - A Profoundly Witty Book By David Berlinski

David Berlinski takes on militant atheists in his new book

Joel Kontinen

Militant atheists have left their bunkers and began a fierce assault on religion in their best-selling books. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens have certainly not been shy about their lack of belief.

Now David Berlinski takes on militant atheists in his new book The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions and finds the inherent weaknesses in their views. Berlinski, a secular Jew living in France, is a philosopher and mathematician. He has written a highly readable book that is both extremely witty and scientifically profound.

Berlinski, who has a Ph. D from Princeton University, shows that no one has ever provided proof of God's inexistence. Attempts to do so betray more about the militant atheists' beliefs and lack of knowledge than about anything else.

The book makes for delightful reading. Much of his ammunition is targeted at Darwinian evolution which seems to be the sine qua non of modern atheism. Doctor Berlinski quotes a number of evolutionists. For instance, Robert Carroll says, “most of the fossil record does not support a strictly gradualistic account” of evolution. Berlinski adds, “A ‘strictly gradualistic’ account is precisely what Darwin’s theory demands: It is the heart and soul of the theory.” (page 189)

Later, Berlinski goes to say, “Although Darwin’s theory is very often compared favorably to the great theories of mathematical physics on the grounds that evolution is as well established as gravity, very few physicists have been heard observing that gravity is as well established as evolution. They know better and are not stupid.” (page 191)

The Devel’s Delusion shows that the atheists’ basic premises are all but logical. While I might not agree with his view of biblical inerancy – I take the Bible to be the Word of Truth – I would not hesitate to recommend this book for all who are interested in one of the greatest issues of our day.


Berlinski, David. 2008. The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions. New York: Crown Forum.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Evolution and the Decadence of the West

Many philosophers doubt Darwinian evolution.

Joel Kontinen

Many Darwinists assume that critics of evolution are mostly motivated by religion. They also suppose that creationism and intelligent design are American phenomena that have only recently set foot in Europe.

However, reality is much more complicated. William Thomson (1824-1907), who is better known as Lord Kelvin and for his many inventions, was an Irish-born mathematician and engineer who fiercely resisted the theory of evolution popularised by Charles Darwin.

Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) was a German historian and philosopher who is known for his book Der Untergang des Abendlandes (1919). Recently, I found its English translation The Decline of the West in a small flea market in Manhattan. Spengler discusses western cultural trends in the book. He had some interesting thoughts about evolution.

Spengler was not very impressed with Darwinian evolution. He suggested that paleontology refuted Darwinism. The fossil record did not contain the transitional forms Darwin desperately needed. “Instead of this [i.e. transitional forms] we find perfectly stable and unaltered forms persevering through long ages, forms that have not developed themselves on the fitness principle, but appear suddenly and at once in their definitive shape; that do not thereafter evolve towards better adaptation, but become rarer and finally disappear, while quite different forms crop up again.” (quote from page 231; italics in original)

Almost a hundred years later, there is nothing really new under the sun: no one has found credible transitional forms and even many of the examples that in Spengler’s days were thought to provide evidence for evolution have lost their credibility.

Even some more recent finds, such as Lucy or Australopithecus afarensis and Tiktaalik roseae, are highly questionable.

Evolution was popularised at a time when people had a very optimistic view of the future. Great Britain had an empire on which “the sun never set” and many revolutionary inventions promised a wonderful future for mankind.

But then the unsinkable Titanic sank and two bullets fired in Sarajevo ushered in World War I. Pessimism set in.

Although the title of Spengler’s book refers more to decline than decadence, the Spanish translation of the book, La decadencia de occidente, also includes the word “decadence” (decadencia). The association is not as far-fetched as one might suppose. Darwinism became an ideology that inspired Karl Marx (1818- 1883) to write about a socialist utopia and probably also Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) to declare the death of God. When man was no longer thought to be responsible to God, Australian imperial lords were free to hunt down aboriginals for scientific purposes and German scientists could experiment with people whom they regarded as less evolved than the “pure-bred” Aryans.

Spengler was not the only philosopher to doubt Darwinian evolution. In our time, Antony Flew and David Berlinski take an extremely skeptical view of Darwin’s idea. And they are not the only ones.

Alvin Plantinga, for instance, also rejects orthodox Darwinism, believing that God was necessary in the creation process.


Spengler, Oswald. 1962. The Decline of the West. Edited by Helmut Werner, translated by Charles Francis Atkinson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Diamonds Refute the Old Dogma of Millions of Years

Diamonds speak of a young earth. Image from Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Diamonds recently found in eastern Finland caused Aamulehti, a major Finnish daily, to associate them with millions of years. According to the paper, the extremely old (2.5 billion year) bedrock might well contain an abundance of diamonds, bringing about a veritable diamond boom.

While Finland would gladly welcome a new source of revenue, diamonds do not have anything to do with millions of years. Diamonds disclose a very different message.

In 2005, creation scientists completed a comprehensive research project known as RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth). The research results were astounding.

For instance, doctor John Baumgarder found carbon-14 in diamonds. C-14 or radiocarbon as it is also called is produced as cosmic rays bombard the earth’s upper atmosphere, producing neutrons that combine with nitrogen-14 atoms to form carbon-14.

The carbon atoms drift down, combining with oxygen to form carbon dioxide molecules (CO2). Plants and animals absorb some of this carbon dioxide. Once the organism dies, its C-14 content begins to diminish.

C-14 or radiocarbon is carbon’s unstable isotope that has a half life of 5 730 years. Diamonds estimated to be billions of years should not have any carbon-14. However, all the diamonds in the RATE study had clearly observable amounts of C-14.

Baumgardner’s research indicates that the examined diamonds cannot be older than 55 700 years.

Some skeptics have suggested that the carbon-14 in diamonds might be caused by the background radiation in the detector. This cannot be true since the AMS (accelerator mass spectrometry) method that was used to examine the diamonds does not measure background radiation but counts atoms.

Diamonds might thus well be a creationist's best friend.


DeYoung, Don. 2005. Thousands… Not Billions. Green Forest, AR: Master Books.

Ekholm, Virpi. 2008. Suurten kaivosten ehtyminen toi timanttibuumin Suomeen. Aamulehti 11 July, A5.

Sarfati, Jonathan. 2006. Diamonds: a creationist’s best friend. Radiocarbon in diamonds: enemy of billions of years. Creation 28:4, 26-27. You can read the article here.

Vardiman, Larry. 2008. Diamonds May Be a Creationist’s Best Friend. Acts & Facts 37:8, 6. (June 2008)

Should Christians Celebrate Evolution?

Should Christians celebrate the birthday of this gentleman? A British biologist thinks they should. Image from Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

The Third Way is a Christian magazine published in Great Britain. As its name implies, it attempts to take a theological approach somewhere between conservatism and liberalism. Recently, the magazine published an article by Denis Alexander, a biologist who advised Christians to celebrate evolution.

Doctor Alexander is a supporter of theistic evolution or the view that God used evolution as His method of Creation. He dislikes the creationists' attempt to persuade other Christians to resist evolution. He feels that they are conducting a crusade against Darwinists. Alexander points out that for instance Benjamin Warfield, James Orr and many other late 19th century and early 20th century Christian leaders accepted evolution. He suggests that opposing Darwinism is a recent phenomenon.

Alexander’s facts seem to be somewhat deficient. In reality, some well-known scientists such as Lord Kelvin and many clergymen already resisted Darwinism in the 1850s.

Alexander’s article Viva la evolution quotes famous atheists. According to Daniel Dennett, “Evolution is not a process that was designed to produce us”. Evolution thus destroys the basic reason and purpose for our existence. Richard Dawkins says, ”Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

Doctor Alexander nevertheless says that we should not let atheists hijack the theory of evolution. He thinks that it simply explains how diversity in nature came into being. He claims that evolution is not in conflict with the biblical doctrine of creation since the Bible merely explains why everything exists.

Basically, evolution is an attempt to make God superfluous. It is thus not surprising than atheists are fond of it. What is more surprising is that supporters of theistic evolution do not seem to understand the basic ideology that evolution is based on.

Alexander regards the opening chapters of Genesis as a profound theological essay. In his view, although the account of the creation of Adam and Eve is figurative language, we would not understand the rest of the Bible without it.

Alexander’s interpretation is diametrically opposed to the view of Jesus and the New Testament writers. Jesus taught that for instance Adam, Abel and Noah were real people and that the global flood of Noah’s day was a historical event.

The year 2009 is a very special year for evolutionists. It will be the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species and 200 years since his birth. Alexander thinks that Christians should also take part in the celebrations.

Some of them are already doing so – in their own way. For instance, Creation Ministries International is preparing a documentary on Charles Darwin and his travels. The film shows that Darwin was wrong.

There is no such thing as the gospel according to evolution. Neo-Darwinian evolution is a great story in which there is no room for sin and salvation. Regardless of what theistic evolutionists believe, the almighty God has no place in this story. As the Bible says, He created everything by His Word. He did not need such a wasteful and cruel method as evolution.


Alexander, Denis. 2008. Viva la evolution. Third Way.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

New Bird Study: The Tree of Life Has to be Rewritten

Who is my new relative?

Joel Kontinen

The Tree of Life is a concept Charles Darwin used in his On The Origin of Species (1859) to explain the relationships of all forms of life. Since then, the concept has evolved considerably but has not been discarded. Even a recent study of birds is known as the Early Bird Assembling the Tree-of-Life Research Project.

The five-year bird genome project, conducted by the Field Museum, has extracted DNA samples from all major groups of birds still living today. The study was published in Science on June 27, 2008, with a layman’s version in ScienceDaily.

The results of the study were astounding. According to ScienceDaily, “the scientific names of dozens of birds will have to be changed, and biology textbooks and birdwatchers' field guides will have to be revised.” Contrary to what was supposed, falcons, for instance, are not closely related to hawks or eagles. Sushma Reddy, a postdoctoral fellow at the Field Museum and one of the three lead authors of the study, said, “appearances can be deceiving. Birds that look or act similar are not necessarily related. .. much of bird classification and conventional wisdom on the evolutionary relationships of birds is wrong.”

The Darwinian tree of life was to a large extent based on the premise that species that look alike have to be closely related. Some previous observations have already questioned this view, since as Carl Wieland for instance has pointed out, the now extinct Tasmanian wolf (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was a marsupial but looked like the wolf that is a placential and The Flying Phalanger (Petaurus) living in Australia and New Guinea is a marsupial that looks like the flying squirrel. The Darwinian explanation for this phenomenon is convergent evolution, that is, different species are thought to have evolved the same traits independently. However, this does not seem to be based on facts but the obvious purpose of this view is to preserve the theory of evolution from extinction.

The new avian study suggests that when it comes to birds, the tree of life is on the verge of extinction. It has to be dramatically re-drawn just to keep it alive.

Recently, birds have often been in the news, and old evolutionary views have been discarded.


Huge Genome-scale Phylogenetic Study Of Birds Rewrites Evolutionary Tree-of-life. ScienceDaily 27 June 2008

Wieland, Carl. 2004. Dynamic Life: Changes in Living Things. (DVD). Answers in Genesis.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

When is a Species Not a Species?

In addition to fossils, you can also see evidence of the Genesis kinds at the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum.

Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists often either wilfully or out of ignorance misrepresent the creationist position. For instance, some still claim that creationists believe in the fixity of species. This misconception stems from confusing the Genesis kinds with the biological concept of species.

Creationists use the term baramin, from the Hebrew words bara (created) and min (kind). Thus, for instance the dog kind (wolf, coyote, dingo, dog) is one biblical kind.

Noah did not thus have to take more than two animals of the dog kind into the ark instead of a large pack of wolves, dogs and coyotes.

Answers in Genesis opened its Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio in May 2007. Evolutionists tried to prevent its opening and even tried to disrupt the opening ceremonies. In spite of this, over 400,000 people have already visited the museum.

Recently, a small zoo was opened on the museum premises. Some of the more exotic animals at the zoo are members of the horse kind. They include a zonkey (zebra + donkey) and a zorse (zebra+ horse).

These cute creatures confirm the biblical concept of kind.