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Design – Intelligent or Blind? (Creation/Evolution Part 17)

29 Sep 2010 1 comment

EVOLUTION

Well, 2009 was celebrated as Darwin’s 200th birthday, so I suppose we really should finish off this series on Creation and Evolution sometime soon.  For those just joining, or for those who have wondered if I’m alive yet, this series started over on my first blog and looks to finish up here with the last two points.

To review, remind ourselves, and catch up, we are analyzing an article that was published in Scientific American that contained 15 alleged proofs that evolution is a fact and creation is a myth.  The bottomline is that, to date, an honest evaluation of each of these alleged arguments runs afoul of the actual data, of the scientific method, and frequently of logic itself.  Without a pre-existing bias for evolution, one would not be convinced by the evidence.

I encourage all of my readers (if there be any yet…it’s hard to tell because noone is leaving comments anymore) to perhaps go back through the series (starting here) to remind yourselves of where we’ve been.

Now, on with the show, Scientific American’s point 14 out of 15:

14. Living things have fantastically intricate features–at the anatomical, cellular and molecular levels–that could not function if they were any less complex or sophisticated. The only prudent conclusion is that they are the products of intelligent design, not evolution.

This "argument from design" is the backbone of most recent attacks on evolution, but it is also one of the oldest. In 1802 theologian William Paley wrote that if one finds a pocket watch in a field, the most reasonable conclusion is that someone dropped it, not that natural forces created it there. By analogy, Paley argued, the complex structures of living things must be the handiwork of direct, divine invention. Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species as an answer to Paley: he explained how natural forces of selection, acting on inherited features, could gradually shape the evolution of ornate organic structures.

Generations of creationists have tried to counter Darwin by citing the example of the eye as a structure that could not have evolved. The eye’s ability to provide vision depends on the perfect arrangement of its parts, these critics say. Natural selection could thus never favor the transitional forms needed during the eye’s evolution–what good is half an eye? Anticipating this criticism, Darwin suggested that even "incomplete" eyes might confer benefits (such as helping creatures orient toward light) and thereby survive for further evolutionary refinement. Biology has vindicated Darwin: researchers have identified primitive eyes and light-sensing organs throughout the animal kingdom and have even tracked the evolutionary history of eyes through comparative genetics. (It now appears that in various families of organisms, eyes have evolved independently.)

Today’s intelligent-design advocates are more sophisticated than their predecessors, but their arguments and goals are not fundamentally different. They criticize evolution by trying to demonstrate that it could not account for life as we know it and then insist that the only tenable alternative is that life was designed by an unidentified intelligence.

Thus in a mere three paragraphs, Mr. Rennie tries to dismiss whole books, and indeed, whole centuries of writings generated in support of the intelligent design argument, a line of argumentation that can be traced back into antiquity, not the mere 200 years he cites.  While this does not impact the truth or falsehood of either side of the debate, it again demonstrates the carelessness with which Mr. Rennie is handling the opposing argument.  His disdain is palpable and proves he is not the objective rational scientist he seeks to portray.  And note the admission that Darwin wrote, at least in part, specifically to answer theistic argument from design.  This actually points out an a priori bias against creationism, which is hardly a way to start an objective investigation in which the very question to be answered is whether or not creation is an adequate model for origins.

As mentioned, the argument goes back even further in time, because it is really a reframing of the teleological argument put forth in the 5th century by Augustine (and others even earlier).  Thus, we find the first paragraph to be incomplete in its evaluation of history, although he is correct that intelligent design is “the backbone of most recent attacks on evolution.”  That being the case, one would think he would give more time and care with his refutation.

The only paragraph in the above that even approaches a defense or rebuttal is the middle one in which the eye is briefly cited.  Unfortunately for Darwin and his defenders, what we have is a gross oversimplification of the case:  the incredible complexity of even the simplest light sensitive spot, let alone that of the eye, is glossed over.  How complex are the molecular events of sight really?  Well, I’m glad you asked:

When light first strikes the retina a photon interacts with a molecule called 11-cis-retinal, which rearranges within picoseconds to trans-retinal. (A picosecond [10-12 sec] is about the time it takes light to travel the breadth of a single human hair.) The change in the shape of the retinal molecule forces a change in the shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which the retinal is tightly bound. The protein’s metamorphosis alters its behavior. Now called metarhodopsin II, the protein sticks to another protein, called transducin. Before bumping into metarhodopsin II, transducin had tightly bound a small molecule called GDP. But when transducin interacts with metarhodopsin II, the GDP falls off, and a molecule called GTP binds to transducin. (GTP is closely related to, but different from, GDP.) GTP-transducin-metarhodopsin II now binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When attached to metarhodopsin II and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the chemical ability to “cut” a molecule called cGMP (a chemical relative of both GDP and GTP). Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the phosphodiesterase lowers its concentration, just as a pulled plug lowers the water level in a bathtub. [1]

Thus, the evolutionist must assume that because a set of cells can be shown to be light sensitive, that therefore a system of even greater complexity, the eye, is inevitable although “directed” by chance and natural selection.  Right.  Consider also, not only must all the cellular structure and biochemistry of vision be put into place, but the connections to something that will interpret the received light into information that will impact in a positive way the survival of the individual possessing this ability is simultaneously required.  In other words, it is not enough to have cells that detect a reduction of photon intensity around one’s body.  This must be translated into “there is a predator overhead,” and then into “I’d better get my buns in gear and get out of here!”

We have been quoting a Dr. Sarfati during this entire series from a rebuttal he wrote specifically against this article [2].  He points out the following regarding the second half of Mr. Rennie’s assertions in this second paragraph:

Rennie contradicts himself here. If the evolutionary history of eyes has been tracked though comparative genetics how is it that eyes have supposedly evolved independently? Actually, evolutionists recognize that eyes must have arisen independently at least 30 times because there is no evolutionary pattern to explain the origin of eyes from a common ancestor. What this really means is that since eyes cannot be related by common ancestor, then since they are here, and only materialistic explanations are allowed, hey presto, there’s proof that they evolved independently!

Basically, our protagonist has resorted to bravado and bald contradictory assertion with one flawed attempt at pointing to something he thinks makes his point.  In fact, his example does nothing for him and still supports intelligent design with greater force than it does evolution.

So, our evaluation of these evolutionary talking points is now almost complete.  We have the one last point to consider, and then we want to answer the questions, “Why is this discussion/debate even necessary?  Isn’t this just an internecine argument between biologists that really doesn’t impact anything other than biology textbooks but not practical life?”  Stay tuned for the exciting answers coming to this blog in the not too distant future (hopefully!).

~~~~~~~

[1] Behe, M. J., 1996. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, The Free Press, New York. pp. 46, 18–20.

[2] The article in question has since been removed from its website allegedly because of copyright issues with Scientific American.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the total shredding of the evolutionist position by its author.  Prior to its disappearance, I downloaded a copy to which I refer, and cite it only to indicate the origin of the material.  The validity of the argumentation contained therein is not influenced by the reasons for removal.

 

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Impressive Clarity

23 Sep 2010 1 comment

Why has the left directed so much time and effort into demonizing ordinary Americans? Because the Tea Party’s three primary planks — limited government, fiscal responsibility and Constitutional fealty — represent the greatest threat to liberalism since its flowering in the 1960s. A smaller, fiscally responsible government dedicated to a Constitution expressly designed to limit the power of the state is the death knell for those dedicated to the idea their worldview must be imposed on Americans by an ever-expanding state. The left’s worst nightmare is an America comprised of largely self-sufficient, clear-thinking individuals left to their own devices.

columnist Arnold Ahlert

Indeed!

Political Cartoon by Bob Gorrell

Why 9/11 Still Matters – The Insights Liberals Want You to Ignore

 

In 1923, the world was still reeling to recover from the horrors of the trench warfare of World War I as the seeds of ideological conflict were being sown in the fertile soils of this country. The Bolshevik Revolution had just gotten a foothold in Russia, so the future focal point of liberal socialism/communism was still in its infancy. Part of the liberal vanguard in this country consisted of the theologians whose slow but steady progress into the minds and hearts of the new preachers of the day eventually overcame the efforts of the likes of J. Gresham Machen and his cohorts at Princeton, much to the detriment of our present culture. In his book Christianity and Liberalism, (Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1923), this godly man made an astute observation that is most relevant for today (emphases added):

At this point is detected one of the most obvious lines of cleavage between Christianity and the liberal Church. The older evangelism, says the modern liberal preacher, sought to rescue individuals, while the newer evangelism seeks to transform the whole organism of society: the older evangelism was individual; the newer evangelism is social.

This formulation of the issue is not entirely correct, but it contains an element of truth. It is true that historic Christianity is in conflict at many points with the collectivism of the present day; it does emphasize, against the claims of society, the worth of the individual soul. It provides for the individual a refuge from all the fluctuating currents of human opinion, a secret place of meditation where a man can come alone into the presence of God. It does give a man courage to stand, if need be, against the world; it resolutely refuses to make of the individual a mere means to an end, a mere element in the composition of society. It rejects altogether any means of salvation which deals with men in a mass; it brings the individual face to face with his God. In that sense, it is true that Christianity is individualistic and not social.

But though Christianity is individualistic, it is not only individualistic. It provides fully for the social needs of man." (page 152-153)

Thus we have succinctly expressed a significant part of the foundation for liberal opposition to religion in general and Christianity in particular.  Dr. Machen then goes on to explain briefly how Christianity provides for the social needs of man, showing conclusively that Christianity addresses both the individual and the group. While not ignoring the group, it is this value placed upon the individual that separates true applied Christianity from the cultural ideologies of the day that, though claiming to meet the needs of the individual, do so through the individual’s association with the group to the exclusion of considerations of the individuals that comprise the group.

This is not God’s way. God expresses His concern, oversight, and omniscient care over His individual creatures in a multitude of ways throughout Scripture. Let me suggest one such.

Concerning the divisions of the porters: Of the Korahites was Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph. And the sons of Meshelemiah were, Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Elioenai the seventh. Moreover the sons of Obededom were, Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, and Sacar the fourth, and Nethaneel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth: for God blessed him. Also unto Shemaiah his son were sons born, that ruled throughout the house of their father: for they were mighty men of valour. The sons of Shemaiah; Othni, and Rephael, and Obed, Elzabad, whose brethren were strong men, Elihu, and Semachiah. All these of the sons of Obededom: they and their sons and their brethren, able men for strength for the service, were threescore and two
of Obededom." (1Chronicles 26:1-8)

Chances are you’ve never heard of any of these men before. Why, you ask, did I just bore you with this obviously obscure passage of Scripture? There are many such passages listing names in the Old Testament. Those are the ones you usually speed read, or skip over entirely. Yet, if all Scripture is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and written for our admonition (1 Corinthians 10:11), what is God trying to communicate with these lists of names? Let me suggest that at least one reason these are included is because He knows each one of these people as individuals. He knows them by name and, in His omniscience, He knows all about them (just as He knows all about you, dear reader): their strengths and weaknesses, their joys and fears. God truly cares for the individual, and so should we.

The Ideology of Group

In contrast to this, the observations of Dr. Fred C. Schwarz in his book, You Can Trust the Communists (To Be Communists), regarding the historic fruit of the Marxist/Leninist ideology that is the basis of what we call liberalism today are stark (emphases added):

The record of Communism is one of recurrent fratricide and genocide. Their contempt for individual human life has known no bounds. Whether the life to be sacrificed was that of friend or foe appears to have been immaterial. The Communist Party of Russia devoured its own creators. Stalin put to death a majority of the original Bolsheviks. The Communists destroyed not only landlords and Capitalists, but peasants and workers, Kalmucks and Balts with equal ferocity. In spite of knowing this, the allegiance of many educated, apparently cultured American Communists has not been shattered. Many people are amazed that they do not turn from Communism in loathing and repulsion when confronted with its unutterable barbarism, brutality, and intellectual prostitution.

To the dedicated Communist, however, these are but the temporary necessary sacrifices which the glorious future demands. To wipe out the residual Capitalist debris is not murder but social science. Since any individual man is a mere historic accident, an undergraduate beast, it is stupid to regard him as of infinite value. It is the species and the class that are important. The Capitalist class has been rejected of history and must be destroyed.

Here is a fundamental reason why Christianity remains diametrically opposed to so much of the leftist policies that are being foisted upon Americans today by the liberals who have been allowed to permeate our country and culture. Here is a foundational reason liberals attack Christianity in the culture anytime they think they can get away with it. It is the value of the individual that, as a basic principle of biblical Christianity, forms the bedrock of our very government. The founding fathers constructed a government that has granted the maximum amount of freedom for individuals while acknowledging the need for associations of individuals into groups and seeking to provide appropriate boundaries for both while maximizing the potential for the prosperity of both. It was a monumental task that, amazingly enough, has succeeded to date. Our country has been one of the most prosperous nations on the face of the planet since history began.

And returning to Dr. Machen:

Only – and here emerges the enormous difference of opinion – the Christian man believes that there can be no applied Christianity unless there be ‘a Christianity to apply.’ That is where the Christian man differs from the modern liberal. The liberal believes that applied Christianity is all there is of Christianity, Christianity being merely a way of life; the Christian man believes that applied Christianity is the result of an initial act of God." (page 155)

The Ideology of God

The Judeo-Christian ethic places not just a high value on the individual, but also on individual responsibility, and asserts that principle throughout the Bible. Responsibility goes hand in hand with privilege. Privilege in God’s sight does not lead to coddling. Each individual is responsible for his own choices, and will be held accountable for them by a holy God. Here we see a two-fold basis for the opposition of the liberal to biblical Christianity. Not only do they not like the emphasis on individual responsibility, let alone the individual himself, but individual accountability to a transcendent Being is not to be tolerated. The herd is much more impersonal, and gives him so many others to blame for his actions.

But this herd mentality causes a dependency on the group that is unhealthy and irresponsible, so that when disaster strikes, paralysis ensues, multiplying the death and destruction. Since noone is responsible, everybody assumes somebody else is responsible, and nothing gets done. The clearest example in recent history is the stark contrast between the school buses under water in New Orleans compared to those bussing people out of Texas during the Katrina debacle.

Machen makes another interesting observation regarding the social institutions established in biblical Christianity:

The most important of such institutions, according to Christian teaching, is the family. And that institution is being pushed more and more into the background. It is being pushed into the background by undue encroachments of the community and of the state. Modern life is tending more and more toward the contraction of the sphere of parental control and parental influence." (page 154)

These ideas of the individual and the family group are connected, because it is in the family that the individual receives the best nurture as an individual that will fit him for the social. Dysfunctional families produce dysfunctional individuals which significantly diminish the society in which they participate. This is why God tells His people, "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." (Deuternomy 6:6-7)

Thus, an ideology that would diminish the individual and promote the group must attack the family, and that is one of the battlefields of the culture wars today. It really does not take a village to raise a child, just the complementary input of a mother and a father, but liberals really don’t believe that, and don’t want you to do so either.

Why 9/11 Has Had Such a Visceral Impactfireball

This Judeo-Christian ideology/anthropology of the individual provides us some insight into why 9/11 has had such a diverse impact on the psyche of this country. I would submit that it revolves around which side of the individual versus the group concept you embrace. The Islamofascists see themselves as a group, and their victims as the opposing group. Compassion for individuals is completely foreign to their mindset. Leftists in this respect are the same. They see the victims as a group (especially a group they can exploit, but that is another post) and thus we can hear outrageously hateful and hurtful tripe comparing the people who were in the Twin Towers to "little Eichmanns" simply because they worked there.

jumpers But the majority of Americans, whether they are Christians or not, still have the Judeo-Christian value system in their practical daily living, and do not see those who lost their lives as a collective to be pitied or used, but a set of individuals to be known and mourned and avenged. Each body that hurtled through the air to avoid a fiery death, or that was crushed in the tons of rubble, was a unique human being created in the image of God and had an intrinsic value all their own.

And that is why we must remember 9/11. That is why we should see those horrific images on a regular basis. Until the ideology of hate that engendered that and so many other barbarisms in the world is ground into the dust bin of history, we must not forget these individuals, nor those fighting to protect us all from further such atrocities. Until those individuals who embrace this ideology of hate are reformed by truth or exterminated by force, they will not relent, and neither can we.

We must not forget. God won’t, and neither should we.

Mallard_Fillmore20060911

A Point to Ponder

Prescient of the present administration???

“Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.”

Frank Leahy, (1908 – 1973)  American college football coach

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should…

Much has been written regarding the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, and truthfully, I have nothing original to add to the conversation.  However, Thomas Sowell’s recent essay entitled The Mosque Controversy provides probably the best concise, must-read summary of the absurdity of the proposal.  That liberals don’t get it is not surprising.  That they try to frame the discussion in the realm of “rights” is also not surprising since it totally misses the point of objection.  I am reproducing this excellent rebuttal below verbatim with some emphases added for your reading pleasure.  The selection of cartoons that follow capture several of Dr. Sowell’s arguments visually and then some.

The proposed mosque near where the World Trade Center was attacked and destroyed, along with thousands of American lives, would be a 15-story middle finger to America.

It takes a high IQ to evade the obvious, so it is not surprising that the intelligentsia are out in force, decrying those who criticize this calculated insult.

What may surprise some people is that the American taxpayer is currently financing a trip to the Middle East by the imam who is pushing this project, so that he can raise the money to build it. The State Department is subsidizing his travel.

The big talking point is that this is an issue about "religious freedom" and that Muslims have a "right" to build a mosque where they choose. But those who oppose this project are not claiming that there is no legal right to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center.

If anybody did, it would be a matter for the courts to decide — and they would undoubtedly say that it is not illegal to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center attack.

The intelligentsia and others who are wrapping themselves in the Constitution are fighting a phony war against a straw man. Why create a false issue, except to evade the real issue?

Our betters are telling us that we need to be more "tolerant" and more "sensitive" to the feelings of Muslims. But if we are supposed to be sensitive to Muslims, why are Muslims not supposed to be sensitive to the feelings of millions of Americans, for whom 9/11 was the biggest national trauma since Pearl Harbor?

It would not be illegal for Japanese Americans to build a massive shinto shrine next to Pearl Harbor. But, in all these years, they have never sought to do it.

When Catholic authorities in Poland were planning to build an institution for nuns, years ago, and someone pointed out that it would be near the site of a concentration camp that carried out genocide, the Pope intervened to stop it.

He didn’t say that the Catholic Church had a legal right to build there, as it undoubtedly did. Instead, he respected the painful feelings of other people. And he certainly did not denounce those who called attention to the concentration camp.

There is no question that Muslims have a right to build a mosque where they chose to. The real question is why they chose that particular location, in a country that covers more than 3 million square miles.

If we all did everything that we have a legal right to do, we could not even survive as individuals, much less as a society. So the question is whether those who are planning a Ground Zero mosque want to be part of American society or just to see how much they can get away with in American society?

Can anyone in his right mind believe that this was intended to show solidarity with Americans, rather than solidarity with those who attacked America? Does anyone imagine that the Middle East nations, including Iran, from whom financial contributions will be solicited, want to promote reconciliation between Americans and Muslims?

That the President of the United States has joined the chorus of those calling the Ground Zero mosque a religious freedom issue tells us a lot about the moral dry rot that is undermining this country from within.

In this, as in other things, Barack Obama is not so much the cause of our decline but the culmination of it. He had many predecessors and many contemporaries who represent the same mindset and the same malaise.

There are people for whom moral preening has become a way of life. They are out in force denouncing critics of the Ground Zero mosque.

There are others for whom a citizen of the world affectation puts them one-up on those of us who are grateful to be Americans, and to enjoy a freedom that is all too rare in other countries around the world, even at this late date in human history.

They think the United States is somehow on trial, and needs to prove itself to others by bending over backwards. But bending over backwards does not win friends. It loses respect, including self-respect.

Amen, yea, verily!

flying leap-mosque

freedom of religion-mosque

 

salt-wound mosque

Muslim_Rights20100823-mosque