Saturday, 31 January 2009
Christ carrying His cross. El Greco (1580). Image from Wikipedia
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
We still have different views about Jesus. Some secular humanists doubt His historicity although we have strong evidence of His life in early extrabiblical literature as well. Others think that He is just a good teacher. For Muslims He is a sinless prophet called Isa whom God saved from the cross and took alive to heaven. Jehovah’s Witnesses say He is the archangel Michael.
Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven” (Matt. 16:17).
The Bible refutes all non-scriptural views of Jesus. The Gospel of John (1: 1-3) says that He is God who has been in existence from the beginning and through whom all things were created. Paul also calls Him Creator in Colossians 1:16-17:
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Jesus was also a good teacher and a sinless prophet. But He was much more. After the resurrection, the apostle Thomas finally understood who Jesus was. He acknowledged, "My Lord and my God!" (Gr. ο κυριος μου και ο θεος μου, John 20:28).
Many theologians believe that in Old Testament times Jesus appeared as the Angel of the Lord. But this does not mean that He is the archangel Michael, who is a created being.
Christianity is a paradox in many ways. The Creator of the entire universe was born in Bethlehem as a human being and suffered a horrible death for man’s sin on a cross in Jerusalem.
But He rose from His grave and lives forever.
Scripture references are from the New International Version (NIV).
Friday, 30 January 2009
The controversy over this man’s views has not abated. Image from Wikipedia.
With Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday approaching, there seems to be no end in sight for the praise heaped upon him in both science and popular publications.
Darwin’s supporters have not taken kindly to any criticism of the man’s ideas.
A decade ago, Phillip E. Johnson, now retired UC Berkeley law professor known for his criticism of Darwinism, recounted the experience of Jian Yuan Chan, a Chinese paleontologist, who said, “In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin.”
America and the West have not become any less tolerant of the criticism of Darwinism. The recent attempt by the pro-Darwin people to suppress any dissent of evolution in Texas schools provides a classical example of the lack of tolerance in science education. The Texas Board of Education voted 8-7 to discontinue the use of discussing the “strengths and weaknesses” of the theory of evolution.
Eugenie Scott, CEO of the National Center for Science Education, said the removal was “a huge step forward”. Scott’s Orwellianese was no surprise. She has characterised herself as an evolution evangelist.
For the uninitiated this title does not exactly weaken the religious underpinnings of Darwinism.
But evolutionists were not very pleased with some of the amendments that the Texas Board of Education approved. Students will be expected to analyse and evaluate key aspects of Darwinism, such as the validity of proposed transitional fossils and the existence of common descent.
If Evolutionists were convinced of the merits of Darwinian explanations, they would welcome the opportunity to discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
Obviously they aren’t.
Budziszewski, J. 2000. Just the facts, please. World Magazine. Republished on True. Origin. http://www.trueorigin.org/kansas8.asp
Coghlan, Andy. 2009. Creationism defeated in Texas. New Scientist
McKinley, James. C. 2009. Split Outcome in Texas Battle on Teaching of Evolution. New York Times A11. (24 January). http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/24/education/24texas.html?_r=1&ref=us
Friday, 23 January 2009
In November 2004 National Geographic coyly asked, “Was Darwin Wrong?” David Quammen, who wrote the cover story, was quick to point out that Darwin was definitely Not wrong.
The latest issue of New Scientist is no longer so coy. It says bluntly: Darwin was wrong.
So what was he wrong about?
The Tree of Life was one of Charles Darwin’s key concepts and one of the phenomena that Dr. Jonathan Wells criticised in Icons of Evolution. The only illustration in The Origin of Species was about this very tree. (It’s on page 91 in my paperback copy of Origins).
Now New Scientist is willing to say goodbye to the Darwinian tree of life and replace it with a bush and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) between species.
Some Darwinists might remember that I called into question the existence of the tree of life in April 2008 when I wrote about a little sea creature that upset this very concept. They were not exactly reluctant to claim that I misinterpreted Darwin.
Perhaps they will now acknowledge that I did not misinterpret Darwin but that he was simply wrong about one of the key concepts of his theory.
However, in spite of the sensational headline (which has already drawn some fire on Richard Dawkins' site), New Scientist is not about to say goodbye to Darwin.
But it would be honest to admit that for years creation-believing scientists have been saying that an orchard is a more accurate description of the development of life than the tree of life.
Darwin, Charles. 1859 (1998). The Origin of Species. Ware: Wordsworth.
Lawton, Graham. 2009. Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life. New Scientist 2692 (24 January), 34-39. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.600-why-darwin-was-wrong-about-the-tree-of-life.html
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Moses by Jusepe de Ribero (1638). Image from Wikipedia.
It is no secret that just so stories thrive in Neo-Darwinian explanations of the past. Based more on imagination than data, they get their name from Nobelist Rudyard Kipling’s 1902 collection Just So Stories for Little Children.
Recently, I read Sigmund Freud’s book Moses and Monotheism (1939). The Father of Psychoanalysis was not averse to similar tales, either.
In Moses and Monotheism Freud’s attempts to build a “general theory of monotheism”. He tries to convince his readers that Moses was actually an Egyptian who succeeded in turning the Israelites from polytheism into following his monotheistic religion. Unfortunately, Moses was killed in the desert but according to Freud his fame lived on in the history of Israel.
Some details in Moses’ life that Freud mentions are plausible and obviously correct, such as his Egyptian-sounding name (Mose) and the brief period of monotheism in Egyptian history under Akhenaten or Amenhotep IV during the 18th dynasty.
But most of Freud’s ideas would not merit the use of the word theory in its scientific sense. Like so much else in Freudian thinking, his attempt to explain the birth of monotheism amounts to pure speculation.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) admits that he borrowed some concepts from Charles Darwin whom he obviously admired. In an earlier work called Totem and Taboo (1912) he formulated a scenario about the birth of religion.
In Moses and Monotheism Freud says, ”From Darwin I borrowed the hypothesis that all men originally lived in small hordes; each of the hordes stood under the rule of an older male, who governed by brute force, appropriated all the females, and belaboured or killed all the young males, including his own sons.” (p. 168).
His view relied on the evolutionary idea that religion gradually evolved from a simple beginning towards a more institutionalised form. This, however, is not supported by any evidence. The data is more supportive of the biblical view of monotheism degenerating into polytheism.
Fortunately, Freud was bold enough to admit that his view was only a hypothesis. It does not merit being called a theory since it basically is just another just so story.
Freud, Sigmund. 1939. Moses and Monotheism. Translated by Katherine Jones. New York: Vintage Books.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
Sir Julian Huxley made a rather premature declaration in 1959. Image from Wikipedia.
1959 was a special year for evolutionists. It marked the 100th anniversary of The Origin of Species. When the Darwin centennial was celebrated in Chicago, Sir Julian Huxley announced confidentially that creationism was essentially dead.
Sir Julian Huxley (1887-1975) was the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley who was known as Darwin’s bulldog.
When Huxley made this statement, doctors Henry Morris and John Whitcomb were already writing their book The Genesis Flood, which increased the popularity of creationism manifold. Published in 1961, the book is still having a profound effect around the globe.
Now, as the Darwinian world prepares to celebrate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, we have yet to hear any predictions about the demise of the last Darwin dissenters.
Whitcomb, John C. 2006. The History and Impact of the Book, "The Genesis Flood". Acts & Facts 35:5, I-iv. (May 2006) http://www.icr.org/article/2719/
This Victorian gentleman continues to be a source of fierce debate. Image from Wikipedia.
Bryan Appleyard asked some hard questions in The Sunday Times about the significance of Charles Darwin's thinking on our lives. He let both Darwin’s supporters and dissenters say what they think about the man.
“Darwinism is what you have once you have denied the existence of God” he quoted Dr. David Menton as saying. Later Appleyard explained:
Darwin divided and still divides the western world. It’s not just a division between scientists and fundamentalists. Science itself is divided. To say nothing of the rest of us, who may accept Darwin in theory but find it hard to look in a mirror and see the descendant of a piece of slime.
This drew the ire of some ultra-evolutionists.
P. Z. Myers responded to Appleyard’s article, using colourful expressions that do not ring very scientific. He seemed to be especially upset about Darwin’s connection to Ernst Haeckel and the German Nazi ideology.
Historians have been writing about the role of Darwinism as an influence behind Hitler’s “Final Solution” for decades but Myers will not have any of this:
Darwin was an egalitarian who opposed slavery and wrote quite a bit about the humanity of the 'primitive' peoples he encountered.
Yet, In The Descent of Man this egalitarian Victorian gentleman wrote,
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time, the anthropomorphous apes. . . will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla. (vol. 1, p. 201, my emphasis).
While I have probably quoted the one of the calmest portions of Myers’ post, the rest of the text, especially the ad hominem parts, bears every sign of high blood pressure.
Myers claims, for instance, that since Adolf Hitler did not explicitly use the words “genocide” or “Darwin” in Mein Kampf, the Victorian gentleman could not have inspired the mass killings of Jews. Yet, Darwin did use the word “exterminate” and Hitler did believe that the Jews were less evolved that the “pure-bred” Aryans. Myers seems to be skating on thin ice with his views.
Referring to the scathing feedback he received, Appleyard writes in his blog:
Darwinism is one of the ruling ideas of our civilisation. This is why the slightest challenge to its ascendancy, even quotations from people who don't believe it, arouses such anger, such fear. It is a threat to a world view some people find consoling.
Indeed. The issue appears to be extremely emotional, especially for those whose very worldview depends on the premise that there is no God.
Appleyard, Bryan. 2009. For God’s sake, have Charles Darwin’s theories made any difference to our lives? The Sunday Times. 11 January. "http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article5488488.ece"
Appleyard, Bryan. 2009. Darwin for Idiots. http://www.bryanappleyard.com/blog/
Darwin, Charles, 1871. (republished 1981.) The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Myers, P. Z. 2009. For God’s sake, have Bryan Appleyard’s articles made any difference to our lives? http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/for_gods_sake_have_bryan_apple.php
Sunday, 11 January 2009
Some iguanas are greenish like this specimen on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria.
When Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos islands in 1835, he obviously missed a pink variety of Iguana that now appears to be on the verge of extinction. A research team that investigated their habitat in 2008 found only ten of them left. Scientists think that they number less than a hundred.
The pink iguana (rosada) was first found on the island of Isabela in 1986. They live on the slopes of a volcano and are not known to breed with other subspecies of iguanas.
Iguanas are relatively large lizards. The largest variety can grow to be over 6.5 feet or two meters long. They have rows of spines running down on their back and tail. They are shy herbivores or plant-eating creatures. Brightly colored green iguanas (Iguana iguana) are often kept as pets since they are rather peaceful creatures.
A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and reported by BBC news suggests that the existence of pink iguana will cause the evolutionary tree of the Galapagos iguanas to be re-written.
Evolutionary trees are often built on speculations. Some early evolutionists, such as Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), the German scientist who popularised Darwinism in continental Europe and is now known for his fabricated embryo drawings, used their imagination rather freely in drawing evolutionary trees. Haeckel for instance constructed a link between life and non-life, naming it Monera, and invented a link between man and apes called Pithecanthropus alalus.
The problem with these two additions to the tree of life was that there was absolutely no fossil evidence or other kind of evidence for them. While more recent family trees are not so suspect, they are often built on very little actual data so that a single find may cause scientists to re-write them, as in the recent case with pink iguanas.
This, in turn, might – and should - raise questions about the validity of Darwinian evolution itself.
Black, Richard. 2009. Pink iguana rewrites family tree. BBC News. (5 January). http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7811875.stm
Grigg, Russell. 1996. Ernst Haeckel. Evangelist for evolution and apostle of deceit. Creation 18:2, 33–36. http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v18/i2/haeckel.asp
Friday, 9 January 2009
Paul Anka recorded a song about Adam and Eve, seen here in the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum.
Secular humanists are not known for their love of tolerance. Their creed, spelled out in the Humanist Manifesto that has been updated a few times since its origin in 1933, rules out the supernatural and they definitely do not want to hear about God.
Most if not all humanists are firm believers in Darwinian evolution. They have a track record of resisting anything that smacks of religion. For instance, they seem to hate the word Christmas and have attempted to replace it with Newtonmas.
Some atheists want to remove all references to God from society. They especially dislike the words In God we trust. Recently, Michael Newdow and other atheists filed a suit in an attempt to remove the words "so help me God" from the U.S. presidential inauguration oath. In 2001 he tried to ban prayer from the ceremony but was unsuccessful.
There was a time when pop singers would allude to biblical events and few if any would protest. For instance, in 1960 Canadian-American pop star Paul Anka recorded a song called Puppy Love. The b side of the single record had a biblical title: Adam and Eve.
The words might have made Michael Newdow sue the record company for putting religious allusions on an otherwise secular song. Some of Anka’s words would seem to be very disturbing to the humanists:
In the garden of Eden
a long time ago
there was a story
I'm sure you all know.
But more was to come:
I'm sure you remember
and I know you believe
the story of Adam and Eve.
But even that was not enough. The next verse clearly contradicts the Darwinian version of life beginning in a warm little pond:
In the garden of Eden
where life began
yes the very beginning
of woman and man.
Those were the days, my friend. It seems that the secular humanists were hibernating. And Paul Anka was not the only one to use biblical allusions in popular songs. Humanists would also have to censure Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan.
Literature would provide more disturbing news for Darwinists. They would have to dispose of John Bunyon, John Milton, the Russian classics and many, many more including G. K. Chesterton , C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Narnia and the Lord of the Rings would definitely have to go.
Richard Darwins has used the G-word more than once in his writings. Perhaps the humanists might consider banning him, also.
And the foundation for the seven-day week is in Genesis. Both the French Revolution and its Russian counterpart attempted to change the length of our week because of its biblical allusions but both were unsuccessful.
Darwinists are fond of quoting Theodosius Dobzhansky who once said, “Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.” However, it seems that Christianity is so deeply imbedded in western culture that like Don Quixote secular humanists are fighting against windmills in their attempts to remove all and every allusion to it.
Edwords, Fred. 1984. Humanism in Perspective. American Humanist Association. Leaflet reprint from The Humanist, Jan/Feb 1984.
Lyricsmode. Adam And Eve lyrics by Paul Anka. http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/p/paul_anka/adam_and_eve.html
Friday, 2 January 2009
Scientific American suggests that Darwin has a lot to say about the price of fish.
The Thou Shalt Not Doubt Darwin issue of Scientific American (January 2009) provides intriguing insights into evolution. Its editorial, “A Theory for Everyman” praises the work of Charles Darwin.
The editors lament that Darwin has not reached the superstar status of Albert Einstein, although, as they state, quoting Evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.”
But you can always blame Darwin skeptics for the poor treatment the man has received: “Darwin’s failure to achieve icon status is the legacy of creationists and neocreationists and of the distortion of his ideas by the eugenics movement a century ago.”
Thanks, Scientific American. I appreciate your admission. However, far from being a distortion, the eugenics movement was a natural corollary of Darwinism. Darwin himself believed that some human “races” were less evolved than others. He states this clearly in his book The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871).
Scientific American also postulates that Darwin’s theory explains the price of fish. They have obviously forgotten that he did not discover natural selection, a concept that might have something to say about scaly creatures. Edward Blyth (1810-1873), a well-known zoologist and chemist, wrote about it decades before Darwin.
But according to the evolutionist view, only Darwin has the perspicacity to predict the price of fish. So if you’re not sure how much a freshly caught cod costs, just take a look into The Origins of Species.
The Editors of Scientific American. 2009. A Theory for Everyman. Scientific American 300:1, 18. (January 2009). (The Internet version is entitled Why Everyone Should Learn the Theory of Evolution. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=why-everyone-should-learn-evolution&sc=WR_20081216.)
Thursday, 1 January 2009
The Earth as seen from a lunar orbit. Image courtesy of NASA.
Forty years ago Apollo 8 astronauts sent their Christmas message to Earth in a direct television broadcast. From a lunar orbit, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders read the first ten verses of the book of Genesis:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
On December 24, 1968 it was not yet politically incorrect to read Genesis aloud in public. We did not hear of Darwinists protesting vehemently, like they did when Answers in Genesis opened their Creation Museum in 2007.
To end their message, Commander Frank Borman wished a merry Christmas and said, ”and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth”.
It was probably no accident that the astronauts chose to read from Genesis. Doctor Wernher von Braun, the Father of the Apollo program, was a Christian who believed that God had created the universe with His Word.
The Apollo 8 Christmas Eve Broadcast. http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/apollo8_xmas.html