Ken Ham vs. the Aims of Universities

Ken Ham, the infamous charlatan, has posted a blog post in which he offers the selective protestation at “intolerance” typical of young-earth creationists, in response to a blog post of mine. Hopefully no one will be fooled by his pretending that he thinks all ideas deserve a hearing or equal time. Ham is not eager to see fringe nonsense like Jesus-mythicism getting equal time in universities. Nor does he think that those institutions which adopt an anti-evolutionist stance should let actual scientists combat his organization’s misinformation. His selective appeal to one’s sense of fair play will backfire if readers are paying attention. Fair play is only fair when it is applied to all fairly, and that is clearly not Ham’s interest.

But the irony is even stronger. Ham claims about me that “Of course, part of his intolerance is that he doesn’t even want students, faculty or staff to hear the things Dr. Mortenson will present because they may expose the utter bankruptcy of the anti-biblical position held by McGrath.” That’s laughable. The last time Mortenson came to campus, it became clear to the audience that, even though he was making claims about what words in the Biblical text mean, he does not know enough of the Biblical languages to recognize them. Someone I know who took one semester of Greek more than a decade ago could do so. And so this is not merely a case of being rusty. It is a case of Ken Ham’s people claiming to know things that they don’t, setting themselves up as authorities when they have only ignorance and ideologically-driven skewing of the facts to offer.

Universities are not “supposed to be a place for the free exchange of ideas” in the sense that we ensure equal time for Holocaust-deniers and flat-earthers. They are places for free exchange of ideas that are committed to honest treatment of evidence. If young-earth creationists could accept those terms, they would be welcome. But to accept those terms would mean abandoning their young-earth creationist stance, which is at odds with all the relevant evidence, whether geological, genetic, paleontological, astronomical, or Biblical.

Let me state it clearly to Terry Mortenson, Ken Ham, and anyone else in Answers in Genesis: Protesting against your twisting of the Bible and your refusal to accept the Bible as it is and to accept that it says what it says is not “anti-biblical.” It is the precise opposite. As a scholar and a Christian I am convinced that the Bible ultimately needs no defense. But those who might be duped by your lies, because they do not know either the Bible or science well enough to see through the misinformation and misconstruals you consistently offer, do need to be defended. Standing against false teachers and defending the weak and gullible from wicked influences is hardly “anti-biblical.”

Promoting knowledge, promoting understanding, promoting intelligent discussion between different views when the evidence is inconclusive – those are part of the mission of a university. So too is indicating when views are incompatible with the evidence, and when arguments are deceptive and attempt to mislead. But as has been clear throughout, I have never said, either previously or in the present case, that even charlatans like those at Answers in Genesis should be prevented from coming to campus. I suggested that those concerned with truth, with upholding the Christian faith and upholding the mission of the university, ought not to have extended the invitation in the first place. There is no obligation for anyone to invite people to come and misrepresent the truth. If the invitation remains in place, I will respect that, although I will be greatly disappointed to learn that I have colleagues who consider it appropriate to invite someone whose organization pretends to uphold the ideals of a university when it is in their interest to do so, and the rest of the time denigrates the people who do actual scientific and Biblical research at universities, including the Christians.

You are welcome to comment below, since I uphold the ethos of a university, and welcome discussion that seeks to get at the truth. If you visit Ken Ham’s blog, you will see that comments are not allowed. And if you comment on his Facebook page and express a view that he does not like, your comment will disappear. So please do not be taken in by his claim to want open discussion of ideas. That is just yet another dishonest tactic he uses selectively, to try to get his pseudoscientific and pseudobiblical ideas into places where they clearly do not deserve to be promoted.

Of course, if Ham would open a booth that let a mainstream biologist and a mainstream biblical scholar present their views at his Creation Museum, his appeal to open discussion of ideas would sound like much less of a joke…

  • Mat B

    James,

    What do you think is the best scientific evidence for a young earth? Are you even aware of any? (For example, dinosaur soft tissue is pretty good evidence that the earth is young. To claim that this lasted millions of years goes against everything we know about science. It’s not proof, but it’s evidence). Instead of engaging the issues, your approach seems to be to assume that you are right, then ridicule and mock people who disagree with you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dan.ortiz.54 Dan Ortiz

      As far as I know, the soft tissue argument ignores the fact that the soft tissue found was fosilized .

      • Mat B

        Well that goes to show how much you know I guess. You should attend Terry’s lecture. You would learn a lot, despite James’ attempt to smear AIG and their speaker’s reputation.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          That reply was obviously inappropriate on your part. Mortenson has no expertise relevant to the dating of soft tissue in fossils. You have not shown what your relevant expertise is if any. You are repeating claims you have heard from people who themselves lack the expertise to adjudicate the matter. And so that is they key question. Why do you choose to embrace the claims of non-experts rather than the many godly Christian individuals who actually work in the relevant scientific areas?

          • Mat B

            I didn’t claim that Dr. Terry Mortensen would talk about soft tissue. I have no idea if he will. All I said is that Dan Ortiz would learn something if he attended.

            You accused me of repeating claims that I heard from people who lack expertise on the matter. First of all, how do you know where I learnt this? You do not!

            I already mentioned an article in the Bone journal in a previous comment, and referenced a 18 mya salamander with soft tissue also. This is in the secular scientific papers. It’s a fact. It doesn’t matter who tells me about it, or whether or not they have a PhD. It’s still a fact. Instead of attacking the person, why not address the scientific issue?

            Oh wait…I know why. Even Dr Mary Schweitzer (an evolutionist) has said that this flies in the face of everything we know about how things decay (assuming millions of years of course).

            Instead of implying that I stop thinking for myself and simply accept evolution, why don’t you deal with the actual scientific evidence I presented?

            And there are many Christian scientists who believe in a young earth, and have relevant scientific backgrounds. Do you seriously need me to list a few? Or do you concede that you are wrong?

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              Do you accept all views which a small number of academics hold and which fly in the face of the consensus? Or is it only when it suits you?

              The soft tissue find has indeed challenged scientific assumptions – about how long soft tissue structures can survive, and whether they can survive the fossilization process. You seem not to have read anything on the subject from a credible source. Here is one place you might start: http://discovermagazine.com/2006/apr/dinosaur-dna

              • Mat B

                “Do you accept all views which a small number of academics hold and which fly in the face of the consensus? Or is it only when it suits you?

                I hold my views based on evidence and facts, not majority opinion. If we all accepted the consensus view, science would have a difficult time progressing. That is why it’s important to look and evaluate the scientific evidence for yourself, and not simply accept it on authority. Forgive my skepticism.

                Thanks for the reference. Here’s an ecxerpt:
                “By all the rules of paleontology, such traces of life should have long since drained from the bones. It’s a matter of faith among scientists that soft tissue can survive at most for a few tens of thousands of years, not the 65 million since T. rex walked what’s now the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. But Schweitzer tends to ignore such dogma”

                The evidence screams for a young earth. Old earthers are forced to assume that soft tissue can somehow survive for millions and millions of years – DESPITE the scientific evidence.

                Did you really think that your reference was suppose to support an old earth??

                Why do you never talk about the evidence? EVERYTHING you say appeals to the majority, while personally attacking dissenting views. You sir, are very unscientific in your thinking. Science has NOTHING to do with consensus. Consensus is a science stopper.

                • Murray Hogg

                  Ironically, Mat’s entire line of argument here depends upon us accepting the consensus view regarding soft tissue –a view described in the very citation Mat provides as “a matter of faith” and “dogma” –and so enshrining that consensus opinion as inviolable regardless of the evidence.

                  We are, it seems, just back to James’s point about selectivity: we’re supposed to uncritically accept as “a matter of faith” the “dogma” that “soft tissue can survive at most for a few tens of thousands of years” because…well, why, exactly? Because it gives Mat the answer he wants?

                  If anybody is guilty here of allowing consensus to be a science stopper, I regard it as quite clear that that person would be Mat.

                  • Mat B

                    Murray, you are misunderstanding this.
                    The conensus view regarding soft tissue is that it can’t survive more than thousands of years. Nowhere near milions of years. Both Biblical Creationists and Evolutionists agree. Why? Because we can test how fast they deteriorate. Even in ideal laboratory conditions, it still wouldn’t last millions of years. I’m not asking you to accept this BECAUSE the consensus believes this. The evidence backs it up, and both sides agree on this!

                    Again, I’m not asking you to accept this because it gives me the answer I want. Note what happened here. Maybe this will clarify.

                    1. Based on laboratory experiments, soft tissue will deteriorate quickly and could not last millions of years (Creationists and Evolutionists agree).
                    2. Soft tissue is found, in multiple species from different strata, which are supposed to be many millions of years old.
                    3. Creationists accept the evidence as is. It fits well with a young earth. On the other hand, Evolutionists must try and explain away the evidence, and invoke unknown processes of amazing preservation never observed to mankind, or even tenable in a laboratory setting.

                    So, based on the facts, soft tissue is very good evidence that the fossil record is young.

                    No arguments from authority needed, and no ad hominem attacks either. Just science! :)

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      You seem not to be grasping the point. No one had run a million-year test and demonstrated that soft tissue could not survive that long. they had assumed it could not, and the evidence proved them wrong. And unlike young-earth creationists when the evidence proves them wrong, they have revised their view. How is this supposed to do anything other than illustrate the unscientific approach adopted by young-earth creationists?

                    • Mat B

                      James, have you ever heard of circular reasoning?

                      You have to first assume that the earth is old (which is the point in contention) before you can claim that soft tissue can last millions of years. This is basic logic 101.

                      Here is a list of your logical fallacies thus far:
                      1. Appeal to majority (or consensus)
                      2. Personal attacks (attacking the credentials of a person instead of the argument being made)
                      3. Circular reasoning (Assuming the earth is old in order to claim that soft tissue can last millions of years – contrary to scientific evidence).

                      Would you like to add any more? :P

                      May I suggest that you also attend Dr. Terry Mortenson’s lecture. You may also learn a few thing.

                      Dr. Jason Lisle (Phd in Astronomy. He is a scientist/researcher at ICR) also has a book out on logical fallacies and evolution. I recommend it for you. They are very common in evolutionary thinking.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      What is the scientific evidence that soft tissue cannot survive for millions of years? Please provide evidence for your assertion.

                      I attended Mortenson’s talk the last time he was on campus. He couldn’t even recognize which of the Biblical languages he was hearing, never mind understand them. And yet he insisted he knew what Biblical words mean. A liar and deceiver.

                      The age of the earth is not an assumption. It is a conclusion based on evidence. Let me give one of the many pieces as an example. How do you account for chalk beds like the famous white cliffs of Dover if the earth is as young as you think it is? Why would God create, kill, and squash such a multitude of microorganisms just to make the earth appear older than it is, and then blame people for believing the Creator’s handiwork could be trusted? That is a bizarre view of God and an unbiblical one, and not just a problem from the scientific perspective.

                    • Mat B

                      James, these aren’t my personal assertions. It is science. It’s out there. Evolutionists and Biblical Creationists agree with it. Why do you deny it?? Regardless, I’ve done your homework for you. Watch this clip.

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynXwAo9V_pY

                      To quote the evolutionist Mary Schweitzer “Alot of our science doesn’t allot for this. All of the chemistry, and all of the molecular breakdown experiments that we’ve done don’t allow for this”.

                      So you want to add a fourth logical fallacy now? LOL.

                      Straw man attack -”Why would God create, kill, and squash such a multitude of microorganisms just to make the earth appear older than it is, and then blame people for believing the Creator’s handiwork could be trusted?”

                      Really? This is the young earth position?? You know what, I now understand why you rejected the young earth position. It’s because you never understood it. Unless of course, you have a source to prove that this is the young earth view? :P

                      Here is a list of your logical fallacies thus far:
                      1. Appeal to majority (or consensus)
                      2. Personal attacks (attacking the credentials of a person instead of the argument being made)
                      3. Circular reasoning (Assuming the earth is old in order to claim that soft tissue can last millions of years – contrary to scientific evidence).

                      4. Straw man – misrepresenting the young earth view.

                      Cheers

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Can you kindly not simply offer a quotation, since young-earth creationists are notorious for taking quotations out of context, but provide a citation to the place the quote is from? Thank you.

                      Will you address the evidence of chalk beds or not?

                    • Mat B

                      James. Are you TRYING not to learn about this? I provided a clip in my comment. Did you watch it or not?

                      I have never looked into chalk beds, so I don’t know. If you want the Biblical Creationist answer, you can search for chalk beds at creation.com. This is nothing new, and they have addressed it several times.

                      Are you beginning to understand why it was such a shock for Evolutionists to find this soft tissue? Or do you still not get it?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Please do not change the subject. Surprising results occur all the time in science, otherwise science would be finished. Such discoveries lead scientists to revise their views, if appropriate. Surprising results lead young-earth creationists to try to find ways of maintaining their beliefs despite the new evidence.

                      I have asked you for scientific evidence published in appropriate venues that can be discussed, not off-the-cuff remarks with typos. I have asked you how to account for huge chalk beds, and your response suggests that you are happy to defer to charlatans to answer on your behalf. So I ask again, why defer to known charlatans when there are great Christian men and women doing genuine and even cutting-edge scientific work that does not involve denigrating the entire global community of scientists as either incompetent or part of a vast conspiracy?

                    • Mat B

                      The quote I provided is in the interview clip I also provided. I typed it out just for you, and I apologize for the typos. If that is your only rebuttal, I guess I won that round :)

                      So why don’t you change your view on the age of the earth in light of the soft tissue in fossils? Instead, you are trying to find ways (unsuccessfully) to maintain your belief in an old earth – despite the evidence!

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      You seem to think this is a game with rounds to be won or lost. Science is done in the lab and in publications that pass peer review, not blog comments. You seem not to grasp that the soft tissue issue is about either the preservation of tissue in the fossilization process, or the age of the fossils, and not about the age of the earth, which is a matter of geology. Now why will you not provide the evidence I asked you for, nor offer an interpretation of the chalk beds I referred to? The Gish Gallop tactic of throwing claim after claim at someone until they become exhausted, and then declaring victory, only makes you look childish. If you want a serious discussion, then you need to actually listen, discuss specific evidence, cite your sources, and do all the other things that are a necessary part of such interactions. If you are interested in playing games, this is not a site where you will find many people interested.

                    • plectrophenax

                      It’s interesting that Schweitzer compares dinosaur bone with birds’ bones – she compared the medullary bone of T. Rex with that of emu and ostrich, and found them to be similar. Of course, this backs up the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs, or if you like, that birds are dinosaurs. I don’t think the creationists will be shouting about this from the roof-tops!

                    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Pieret/100000023960330 John Pieret

                      “So why don’t you change your view on the age of the earth in light of the soft tissue in fossils?”

                      That’s pretty simple. It is (at most) an anomaly … something we cannot explain at the present time (though we have, as James has pointed out, some pretty good possibilities to explain it). Against that we have massive amounts of evidence about the age of the Earth/universe. Radiometric dating, the speed of light and distance to stars and the farthest galaxies, the geologic column (that cannot be explained by a yearlong flood), the evidence for plate tectonics slowly shuffling the continents, the fossil record of long slow changes in life (that cannot be answered by such ad hoc explanations as geologic sorting or by some life forms climbing faster than others – why did trilobites sort below clams or how did grasses out race velociraptors to mountain tops?) and many more besides. Only someone who is immune to evidence, because they have a preordained answer, can ignore all that. Compare that to how science works. You claimed that consensus is a science stopper but your very own example, the T rex soft “tissue” stopped no scientist from considering it and looking for evidence for or against it. On the other hand, you demand that others forget about all other evidence in the face of this one bit of “evidence.” It is your attitude that is a science stopper.

                    • Mat B

                      Hint: The quote I gave you is in the very clip I sent you. Full 6 minutes of context too. Just for you :P If you would have watched it (or read up on this at all), you would know and understand why it was such a shock for Evolutionists to find this soft tissue (But makes perfect sense within a Biblical Creation framework!).

                    • Londron

                      “1. Appeal to majority (or consensus)”

                      Evidence always has to be interpreted. That’s how it goes.

                      If 99% of educated people agree X evidence means Y then that is a consensus.

                      You’re not talking about the 1% of educated people that disagreed. You’re talking about a person that lies for a living. He is not educated on the subject, therefore, doesn’t get a vote.

                      “2. Personal attacks (attacking the credentials of a person instead of the argument being made)”

                      Concluding that a person is uneducated on the subject based on the misinformation he spreads is not a personal attack, it is an observation.

                      “3. Circular reasoning (Assuming the earth is old in order to claim that soft tissue can last millions of years – contrary to scientific evidence).”

                      I can pick a lot of this apart but I’m just gone ask. Contrary to what scientific evidence?

                      “This is basic logic 101.”

                      You trust conmen. You have no right to claim anyone is illogical.

                      In the scientific sense you are the equivalent of a baby that needs hand holding or he falls flat on his face.

                      The above is a conclusion based on the nonsense you spout.

                    • Mat B

                      Right…..except for the fact that I never said (or implied) that something I said was true BECAUSE someone believed in it. Only James McGrath did that.

                    • rmwilliamsjr

                      re:
                      You have to first assume that the earth is old

                      -=-=-=-

                      if you look at the history of geology, the initial work was done by creationists trying to find evidence of the noahic flood. what they found was overwhelming evidence that the earth was far older that 10k and that no such universal flood had occurred. science is not assuming the earth is very old, science has numerous lines of evidence demonstrating that the earth is very old beyond reasonable doubt.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/rbhoppe Richard B. Hoppe

                      Mat B wrote “You have to first assume that the earth is old (which is the point in contention) before you can claim that soft tissue can last millions of years. This is basic logic 101.”

                      False. You have to accept the multiple lines of independent evidence from physics, geology, and geophysics that show the earth is old. There’s no “assumption,” but rather the recognition that there is 250 years worth of evidence showing the earth is old.

                    • Murray Hogg

                      I quite understand the argument, Mat –it’s not really that hard to get that soft tissue is supposed to degrade relatively quickly and so finding soft tissue in dinosaur bones creates a problem.

                      But I’m not arguing that your conclusion is wrong, I’m arguing that you’re selective in your approach to consensus.

                      More, based on the citation you yourself provided, you’re appealing to a consensus which is questioned by the very people who hold it and so describe it as “a matter of faith” and a “dogma.”

                      Just arbitrarily slapping the label “fact” upon a consensus view doesn’t negate either point –that you’re appealing to a consensus view, and that the consensus view in question has been declared “a matter of faith” by those who hold it.

                      So we’re just back to selectivity: despite the clear misgivings of the scientific community we’re supposed to accept your interpretation of the evidence without question? Whatever happened to “look and evaluate the scientific evidence for yourself”? Clearly good advice when it give us the “right” answer, but not otherwise, eh?

                      Ultimately, it’s not your science which bothers me –I leave that to the scientists. What troubles me is your philosophy of science and the utterly cavalier manner in which you throw around claims about what we should, and should not, accept and how they boil down, in the final instance, to a pretty simple equation: accept whatever gives the desired answer, and reject everything else.

                    • Mat B

                      To quote the evolutionist Mary Schweitzer “Alot of our science doesn’t allot for this. All of the chemistry, and all of the molecular breakdown experiments that we’ve done don’t allow for this”.

                      (from my comment with the link)

                      I’m not saying that soft tissue can’t last that long BECAUSE everyone believes it. But it is considered ‘common knowledge’, as it is patently obvious that it could not last 65 million years. If you know of experiments that indicate otherwise, let me know. I won’t hold my breath! :P

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      The “quotation” has typos in it both times you reproduce it. Where did she write so carelessly? Can you please provide a citation to the original source of the quotation?

                    • Murray Hogg

                      Mat B. I didn’t question whether it’s the consensus view, nor did I accuse you of appeal to authority, I merely made the point that you’re selective when it comes to appeal to consensus.

                      And whilst I can’t offer experiments which show that soft tissue can last millions of years, nor can you provide experiments which show otherwise. Selective appeal to experimental evidence.

                      I can, of course, offer material evidence –the very dinosaur bones containing soft tissue. Remember those? Or doesn’t evidence quite matter so much when it conflicts with your preconceived position? Selective appeal to material evidence.

                      Moreover, I can offer the reservations of scientists who, when faced with soft tissue in dinosaur bones, find it problematic enough that they label their assurance that such things cannot happen “a matter of faith” and a “dogma.” I’d love to see what you’d make of it if scientists labelled the idea that those same bones are millions of years old “a matter of faith” and a “dogma” –but as it suits you to overstate the scientific certainty, you happily do so. More selectivity.

                      So are you getting the picture yet? I’m not accusing you of appeal to authority. I’m not saying the consensus is wrong. I’m not denying the problem of finding soft tissue in dinosaur bones. I’m not even questioning your conclusions.

                      I’m accusing you of SELECTIVITY. I’m questioning not your science, but your philosophy of science. I’m questioning your demonstrable tendency to label as “fact” anything which suits your argument, and dismiss anything which doesn’t.

                    • Mat B

                      Wow. Ok. Let’s back up and try again.

                      Experiments in chemistry and molecular breakdown indicate that soft tissue can’t last millions of years. No experiment has provided evidence that it CAN last millions of years. That is why evolutionists were so surprised when they found it, yet it makes perfect sense within the Biblical Creation framework. Therefore, this is good evidence for a young earth.

                      Did you even watch the clip I posted?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      OK, let me see if I can get through using the language Mat B is likely to be more comfortable with:

                      Were you there?

                    • Murray Hogg

                      Never mind the video you posted. Did you even read the comments I made?

                      I stated SPECIFICALLY that I’m not questioning your conclusions.

                      I’m saying your being selective in your approach.

                      You appeal to consensus when it suits you, and reject such appeal as “a logical fallacy” when it doesn’t.

                      If that’s too hard for you, I don’t know that I can make it any simpler.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/rbhoppe Richard B. Hoppe

                      Mat B wrote:

                      “Again, I’m not asking you to accept this because it gives me the answer I want. Note what happened here. Maybe this will clarify.

                      “1. Based on laboratory experiments, soft tissue will deteriorate quickly and could not last millions of years (Creationists and Evolutionists agree).”

                      Actually, we’ve known for decades that there are circumstances in which soft tissue can be preserved for millions of years. In amber, for example. And the “agreement,” if it exists, and those experiments, if they exist (a reference or two would be welcome), applies to the original soft tissue of the dead organism. Fossilization replaces that original soft tissue with something else. Usually that something else is a mineral. But sometimes it’s an organic replacement–analogous to replacing a paper form with a plastic form. That was the case in the salamander tissue. The muscle tissue that was recovered and tested was not the original salamander muscle tissue, it was a chemically altered version, and that chemically altered substance is what lasted so long. The original paper actually identifies a couple of respects in which the samples tested differed chemically from the original.

                      Mat went on:
                      “2. Soft tissue is found, in multiple species from different strata, which are supposed to be many millions of years old.”

                      Where “supposed to be many millions of years old” is based on powerfully corroborated findings in physics, geology, and geophysics acquired by thousands of scientists over the last 250 years or so.

                      Mat went on:
                      “3. Creationists accept the evidence as is. It fits well with a young earth. On the other hand, Evolutionists must try and explain away the evidence, and invoke unknown processes of amazing preservation never observed to mankind, or even tenable in a laboratory setting.”

                      And creationists ignore the evidence that doesn’t fit well with a young earth. Evolutionists say, “Well, here’s an anomalous finding. I wonder how it happened. Here are some testable hypotheses that we can check out.” They don’t say, as creationists do, “Well, here’s an anomalous finding. Let’s abandon 250 years of hard-earned knowledge of physics, geology, and geophysics.”

                • rmwilliamsjr

                  re:

                  Science has NOTHING to do with consensus. Consensus is a science stopper.

                  -=-=-=-
                  what a fascinating statement.

                  as i look at 2 issues where brave individuals stood up against the scientific consensus and eventually prevailed. prions and ulcers as bacterial infections. something is evident. it IS all about the scientific consensus. the consensus is not a scientific stopper, because the consensus IS responsive to reality. biology changed and even awarded nobels to these guys who stood up and proclaimed that reality was different than the accepted wisdom. and they changed the consensus.

                  but theology doesn’t work at all that way. there is simply no consensus, there is no reality that can be a final arbitrator, there is no court of final appeal. religion changes not by changing consensus but by splitting into ever smaller groups which enforce their own consensus.

                  science is the same the world over.
                  religion is radically different just across the street.

            • http://www.facebook.com/rbhoppe Richard B. Hoppe

              Mat B wrote “I already mentioned an article in the Bone journal in a previous comment, and referenced a 18 mya salamander with soft tissue also.”

              I took the trouble to hunt up that salamander claim. The original paper is here.

              Note that the “soft tissue” is not unchanged–it is not original to the fossilized salamander. In fact, it was chemically altered by diagenetic processes over time, and while the samples preserve the form of the original muscle tissue, they do not preserve the original chemical composition. While they are not lithified, they are not original tissue. To claim, either directly or by implication, that what was found was original soft tissue is to misrepresent the findings.

              • Mat B

                Richard, you can try get out of it, but here is the bottom line, from the mouth of an evolutionist:

                “By all the rules of paleontology, such traces of life should have long since drained from the bones. It’s a matter of faith among scientists that soft tissue can survive at most for a few tens of thousands of years, not the 65 million since T. rex walked what’s now the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. But Schweitzer tends to ignore such dogma”

                For the salamander:
                From The Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Dr Maria McNamara stated that the muscle specimen in this particular fossil showed “very little degradation since it was originally fossilised … making it the highest quality soft tissue preservation ever documented in the fossil record.”

                So you try and confuse things by talking about exactly what chemicals were found or what state exactly they were in. Here are the facts:
                1. Soft tissue was found.
                2. Scientific tests indicate that it should not last more than at most tens of thousands of years.
                3. Evolutionists are forced to appeal to some “mysterious” process that can magically preserve it. But it’s not science.

                • http://www.facebook.com/rbhoppe Richard B. Hoppe

                  Mat B wrote

                  “For the salamander:

                  From The Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Dr Maria McNamara stated that the muscle specimen in this particular fossil showed “very little degradation since it was originally fossilised … making it the highest quality soft tissue preservation ever documented in the fossil record.”

                  Unfortunately, that is not a quotation from the Proceedings paper, which, I repeat, open access. That sentence does not appear in the published paper.

                  Note also the phrase “since is was originally fossilised.” Fossilization is a process in which the original tissues are replaced by some other substance. In most cases, that substance is a mineral. In a few cases, it is some other organic compound that is more durable than the original tissue. That’s the case in the McNamara, et al., paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

                  Mat B went on

                  “So you try and confuse things by talking about exactly what chemicals were found or what state exactly they were in.”

                  The chemicals that were found, which replaced the originals, is evidence of the fossilization process that enabled the form of the original tissue to be preserved. It’s also evidence that bears on how the preservation lasted so long.

                  Mat went on:

                  “Here are the facts:

                  1. Soft tissue was found.”

                  Soft fossilized tissue, not the original soft tissue of the salamander. From the Abstract: “Here, we report fossilized musculature from an approximately 18 Myr old salamander …”. (Italics added)

                  “2. Scientific tests indicate that it should not last more than at most tens of thousands of years.”

                  In fact, nothing in the cited paper says this; I don’t see anything in it about “scientific tests” of the persistence of organically fossilized material. I do see several references to various forms of fossilization and preservation of soft tissues, though.

                  “3. Evolutionists are forced to appeal to some “mysterious” process that can magically preserve it. But it’s not science.”

                  I see no appeal to magic in the paper. What I do see there and in other literature is a question: How are the organic fossils preserved for long periods? There are some hints in the altered chemistry of the material, but it’s not clear yer. That’s what science does: formulate questions and then do the research necessary to answer the questions. On this topic, we have a question, and some hints of what the answer(s) might be, but more research is necessary.

                  Note also that in arguing for a young earth, Mat B must discard substantial chunks of physics (including some of its foundational theories like quantum mechanics), geophysics, geochemistry, astrophysics, some bits of chemistry, most of molecular biology, and phylogenetics, among other scientific disciplines. Funny how all those tens of thousands of scientists, ranging from evangelical Christians to atheists, all managed to miss what fundamentalist Christians who happen to have degrees in one or another science claim they see

                • arcseconds

                  Richard Hoppe has already dealt with the specific claims here.

                  I’m kind of interested in a more general one.

                  You appear to think that if any piece of evidence is tabled that is at all surprising to the current understanding that the earth is old, that understanding has to be rejected completely, and fixing it up by (in this case) rethinking our understanding of soft tissue preservation is cheating.

                  Is this really how you think science works?

                  If so, why wasn’t young earth abandoned when radioactivity was discovered? Or when continental drift was proposed?

                  It seems to me what happened there was that the theory was modified to fit the new data. But apparently that’s unscientific?

                • Mary

                  but here is the bottom line, from the mouth of an evolutionist:

                  “By all the rules of paleontology, such traces of life should have long since drained from the bones. It’s a matter of faith among scientists that soft tissue can survive at most for a few tens of thousands of years, not the 65 million since T. rex walked what’s now the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. But Schweitzer tends to ignore such dogma”

                  Um, sorry Mat, you are confusing sources. That quote is not from the researcher or any other scientist. It is from a JOURNALIST writing for Discover magazine, which you used as a link in another post. If you READ the entire article it makes it very clear that this researcher DOES NOT appreciate her research being hijacked by the creationist camp to mean something that she never said. She is a Christian, but she does not buy into the creationist idealogy at all.

                  Here are the quotes from the researcher herself from the article:

                  Unlike many creationists, she finds the notion of a world evolving over billions of years theologically exhilarating: “That makes God a lot bigger than thinking of Him as a magician that pulled everything out in one fell swoop.”

                  These religious attacks [ from creationists who think she should support their views] wound her far more than the scientific ones. “It rips my guts out,” she says. “These people are claiming to represent the Christ that I love. They’re not doing a very good job. It’s no wonder that a lot of my colleagues are atheists.” She told one zealot, “You know, if the only picture of Christ I had was your attitude towards me, I’d run.”

                  Ironically, the insides of Cretaceous-era dinosaur bones have only deepened Schweitzer’s faith. “My God has gotten so much bigger since I’ve been a scientist,” she says. “He doesn’t stay in my boxes.”

                  Here are some opinions from other scientists interviewed in the article:

                  If soft tissue can last 65 million years, Horner says, “there may be a lot of things out there that we’ve missed because of our assumption of how preservation works.”

                  On the flip side, Jeffrey Bada, an organic geochemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, cannot imagine soft tissue surviving millions of years. He says the cellular material Schweitzer found must be contamination from outside sources.

                  Others question Schweitzer’s thoroughness. “The pictures were stunning, but the paper fell quite short,” says Hendrik Poinar, a molecular evolutionary geneticist at McMaster University in Ontario. Schweitzer has not proved that the elastic tissue she found actually consists of molecules from the original dinosaur. Poinar ticks off a list of tests Schweitzer could have conducted, including searching for the building blocks of proteins and then sequencing them to determine their origin.

                  Please note that she herself agreed with this criticism of her work:

                  Schweitzer agrees. “I am a slam-dunk scientist,” she says. “I would have much rather held the paper back until we had reams and reams of data.” But without publishing a journal article, she says, she could never have hoped for funding.

                  Funny how you quote only those things that agree with your pre-concieved notions. And by the way, Discover magazine is a “pop” science journal. It is obvious the way they framed the issue that they wanted to hook in creationist readers and imply that the research said something that it didn’t. If you even bothered to read the second page you would have seen that quite clearly. Or maybe you didn’t care and just lied about it like Ken Hams and his foolish brigade.

                  The bottom line is that as of right now the research is inconclusive and should not be treated as “proof” of anything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidfromRedemptionRocks David Evarts

    Mat – The finding of potential dinosaur soft tissue is still, at best, inconclusive. If it’s found to indeed be soft tissue from the dinosaur, rather than contamination, that wouldn’t really support a YE view, unless we were to find that all dinosaur and other ancient fossils contained soft tissue and thus were potentially young.

    • Mat B

      David, like I said, it is evidence, but not proof. Since we weren’t there to observe it, we must make logical inferences. However, your claim that it is only potential dinosaur soft tissue if false. What evidence do you have that there is none found??? I have read the reports. I suggest you look up the article on the bone journal and do some research. While you’re at it, look up other instances. There are several (supposedly 18 mya salamander). This isn’t “potential”, it’s actual. The question is, how long can this last? If some survived a few thousand years, that would be impressive (fits well with the Biblical Creation view), despite your odd and unsubstantiated claim that all dinosaurs and other ancient fossils should have soft tissue if a young earth were true (Do you not know anything about this?? What do you base this claim on??).

      • Londron

        Rapid burial in sand stone. Several maters deep.

        No O², no water. No oxidation.

        That’s what all these “soft tissue” specimens have in common so there you have it.

        Also, you might be informed but your logic is seriously flawed.

        “What evidence do you have that there is none found???”

        This sentence should disqualify you from any scientific debate. Asking for evidence of the lack of something. I mean, seriously?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Evans/100000619020207 David Evans

        If a few dinosaurs survived until recently, would that disprove the evolutionary timescale in general? I don’t think so. We know that species can survive for long periods without coming to the attention of science – the coelacanth, for instance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.ortiz.54 Dan Ortiz

    Re-posting….

  • Tim Gilleand

    James, I see you were already challenged on the cells found in dinosaur bones dilemma. I wanted to see what you also made of the faint sun paradox. See http://blog.drwile.com/?p=9425. What do you do when new evidence contradicts older evidence? Do you decide that we must solve it or go back to the drawing board? They both can’t be true. I think the evidence you use to dispel YECs is selective.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Presumably you are referring to this: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CE/CE311.html

      Simply digging around for statements by scientists or scientific findings which sound like they fit your preconceived notions is not how science works. I find it ironic that you think others are being selective, when, since young-earth creationists do not do actual scientific research, all the results and statements you quote are bound to be from individuals who do not draw the conclusions that you do. That is selectivity. If you think that selectivity is bad, then acquaint yourself with the evidence in its depth and breadth and follow it where it leads.

      • Mat B

        “young-earth creationists do not do actual scientific research”
        This is laughable, but let me give you one example. D. Russel Humphreys. Has he not done science? What about his successful prediction about Mercury’s magnetic field, based on a young earth? Is this somehow not science simply because it contradicts your beliefs?
        James, you want to accuse AIG of being dishonest. Do you seriously consider your statement to be honest??? I’m amazed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          It looks like he has indeed published some things that are irrelevant to the claims he makes about the age of the Earth, all of the latter having been shown to be problematic. You accept them because you want them to be true, not because there is not a great deal of counterevidence that has been offered.

          This is all too typical. Young-earth creationism has its few scientists just like Jesus-mythicism has its one historian and Holocaust denial its few. In each case, the viewpoint of the individual on this particular matter has not persuaded their peers, but somehow the mere fact of their qualifications and their having published serious work on other topics is leveraged as though it meant people ought to accept their idiosyncratic view on a topic about which they have published largely online or in self-published works.

          I used to quote the same sorts of things that you do when I was myself a young-earth creationist. Why not listen to what other Christians who work in these fields have to say? Or are you so arrogant to think that you could not have been deceived?

          • Mat B

            About Dr. Russel Hemphrey, you stated:

            “It looks like he has indeed published some things that are irrelevant to the claims he makes about the age of the Earth”

            Wow. One line in, and I find your first mistake. I don’t have time to educate you about all of this, but he made specific predictions BASED ON A YOUNG EARTH that turned out to be correct, while the Evolutionists’ prediction was wrong. Do a little research.

            Notice how you never address the scientific evidence? I keep bringing it up, but you resort to ad hominem attacks, and appeals to majority.

            Again, you assume that I don’t listen to scientists who believe in evolution. Why do you keep assuming these false things about me?? Why aren’t you addressing, for example, the dinosaur soft tissue (among others found), and how that fits in with your old earth beliefs? Of course that’s a rhetorical question. I know why you aren’t.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              Which article in a peer-reviewed scientific journal describes his making of predictions based on a young earth and having them confirmed? What was the response of other scientists in peer-reviewed journals? Please be specific, if you are not just repeating hearsay. I was told similar things when I was a young-earth creationist, and to my shame I repeated the claims, but upon investigation it turned out that what I had been told was incorrect. And so I hope you will understand my insistence that this conversation not be the shouting match you seem to be looking for, but a careful and detailed discussion of the actual evidence and legitimate research.

              Did you miss my response to your other comment in which I addressed your error about the soft tissue? See below.

              • Mat B

                A simple search at creation . c o m would do. Search for his name, and the words magnetic and you’ll get a few articles, including links to his original prediction.

                Note that your original accusation was that “young-earth creationists do not do actual scientific research”.

                It would have been more honest for you to say that you are unaware of their scientific research. Obviously, you disagree with them (with your appeals to consensus and ad hominem attacks), but what you can’t do is claim that they don’t do research. That statement is flat out wrong, and you will not be able to prove it.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  I went to creation.com. That is why I asked you for what I did. Please stop with the ranting and name calling and answer my question, providing what I asked you about. Just calm down so that we can have a rational discussion, please.

                  • Mat B

                    I’m sorry if you thought I wasn’t calm. I can assure you I am! I know it’s difficult to tell how people feel when you are reading comments, so I find it’s often best not to make assumptions about people! :)

                    I’m confused by your statement, so perhaps you could clarify. Were you not able to find his predictions? You can look up in secular papers, then see that his predictions turned out to be correct. Nothing is hidden. The creation . c o m website cites their sources at the bottom of the page (as most scientific research papers do).

                    I still stand by my statement:
                    “Note that your original accusation was that “young-earth creationists do not do actual scientific research”.

                    It would have been more honest for you to say that you are unaware of their scientific research. Obviously, you disagree with them (with your appeals to consensus and ad hominem attacks), but what you can’t do is claim that they don’t do research. That statement is flat out wrong, and you will not be able to prove it.”

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      It is our responsibility to be clear. Please indicate which specific article or articles in peer-reviewed journals you are referring to.

                      It is absolutely fair to ask me to revise my statement to “Young-earth creationists do not do actual scientific research which supports young-earth creationism.” There are indeed some who work on other topics. Some of them may claim that what they do in their scientific research supports the claims they make in other venues about the age of the Earth. But I have yet to encounter such claims which actually panned out, hence my asking you which specific articles you were referring to.

            • Mat B

              Well did you investigate this one?? Apparently not. Go to creation . c o m and search for russel hemphrey and magnetic. You will get a few good articles with links to his predictions he made in the 80′s, which were recently confirmed.

              Note that your original comment stated that “”young-earth creationists do not do actual scientific research”.

              Would it not have been more honest for you to say that you are unaware of their scientific research? Mind you, you would need your head buried in the sand not to be aware of it, but I digress.

      • http://www.facebook.com/art.cunningham.58 Art Cunningham

        Dr. McGrath:

        You wrote to Mat B: Please stop with the …name calling, yet your Ken Ham article begins: Ken Ham, the infamous charlatan…

        You mention that you were once a YEC & now are a Christian who does not hold to the young earth. Your challenge to Tim Gilleand was … acquaint yourself with the evidence in its depth and breadth and follow it where it leads.

        Are you willing to follow the evidence of the Bible & follow it where it leads? I was raised as an evolutionist, but having received the new birth, I began to follow the evidence in the Bible, and it points to a very young earth.

        I cannot speak about the evidence in science; but the evidence of the Bible, followed to where it leads, brings you to a belief in a young earth.

        Art Cunningham

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I will happily discuss that evidence with you. But ignoring the evidence from the created order seems inappropriate. The only reason that you do not believe, as ancient people consistently did, that the firmament is a solid dome over or sphere around the Earth, is because of data from the natural world. That is why I suspect that you do not take the reference in Genesis 1 to a dome (Hebrew raqia’ which comes from a root meaning to stretch out a solid substance by hammering, as in metalworking) literally.

          • Art Cunningham

            You will have to explain your paragraph to me. I see that the firmament is the word raqia’ & that the Lord called it heaven (םימשׁ
            shamayim) (1:8), but I am not sure what you are trying to say.

            & no answer on the name calling?

            AC

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              Terry Mortenson came to the campus before, and claimed to know what words in the Bible mean. Yet he could not even tell the difference between Greek and Hebrew. If that does not make him a charlatan, what would? Name calling is not the same thing as using appropriate labels where the shoe fits perfectly.

              • Art Cunningham

                Dr. McGrath:

                You claim to be a Christian. That means a person absolutely
                committed to the full authority of the Bible. As far as the evidence, what I mean is that a person who looks to see what the Bible teaches will come to a young earth position, apart from external teachings.

                Here are 4 are telling facts:

                1) We had a beginning

                2) It was a direct creation:

                3) The creation was in six days.

                4) The time records point to a short period of time, not millions or billions of years.

                When I say evidence in the Bible, I am not saying it proves
                anything, especially to one who has a drive to believe in evolution. I mean that an unbiased examination will lead to the position that the Bible teaches a young earth, despite what the interpretation of other evidences seems to indicate. Look at the 4 Biblical facts:

                We had a beginning: The history of man had a definite beginning with the creation

                It was a direct creation: God made man, not any lesser organism (no evolution). He could walk, speak, and from a very early time was writing and working with metals, making music, etc. God made him a highly developed being from the beginning.

                The creation was in six days. Inescapable if you approach the evidence without an evolutionary agenda. The days are regular days. That is why we have a seven day week with one day set aside for rest. Jesus spoke about these days as literal normal days. The 6 days is an airtight conclusion from Scripture.

                The time records point to a short period of time, not millions or billions of years. If you look at the genealogies from Adam to the flood, from the flood to Abraham, from Abraham to Joseph, from the captivity to the exodus through the wilderness and the time of judges, you come to the time of David, circa 1000 BC. Again, it
                is an airtight conclusion. You must, if unbiased, come to the conclusion that from Adam to David was a short period. If you believe in an inspired Bible (as the Word of God claims everywhere), the conclusion you must come to is that He wanted us to understand the earth is very young.

                Now you can disbelieve the Bible, or explain away the
                Biblical evidence, but as I have seen the evidence, you cannot be consistent and claim to be a Christian & yet disbelieve the young earth.

                I will leave off the argument that you used named calling. If you have any unbiased friends around you, show them what you have written, ask them if what you have done to Ken Ham is name calling, & believe them. Then it is not coming from a YCE – I guess such info carries little to no weight with you.

                Art Cunningham

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  The existence of a dome over the earth was considered equally clear, until evidence required it not be considered an accurate depiction of the “heavens.” And I suspect that your view of Biblical authority will encounter difficulties with Paul’s setting aside of the clear teaching of Genesis that no male can participate in the covenant with Abraham without circumcision. If he made that argument today, you would surely accuse him of departing from Biblical authority and the plain meaning of Scripture. My own view is that, if your view of Scripture would require you to deny that the authors of Scripture were Christians, then you need a different doctrine about Scripture.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  This post, written after Terry Mortenson’s last visit, also addresses the genealogies: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2007/08/the-plain-sense-of-the-bible.html

                • rmwilliamsjr

                  re:

                  The creation was in six days. Inescapable if you approach the evidence without an evolutionary agenda. The days are regular days. That is why we have a seven day week with one day set aside for rest. Jesus spoke about these days as literal normal days. The 6 days is an airtight conclusion from Scripture.

                  -=-=-=-
                  assume YEC is right. look at a recent creation in 6 days. what is the evidence that this is truthful?

                  how we measure time is something people are very conservative with. a year is a solar revolution, a month a lunar one, what is the basis for a 7 day week? the only ancient society with a 7 day week was sumer and it’s antecedents it evolved out of a religious political ceremony of 15 days, twice a month. even the word sabbath derives from this event. there is no racial memory of a 7 day creation week. the most logical length of a week is 5 or 10 days, the same origin of our number systems. several 5/10 weeks have existed.

                  rather than the 7 day creation week being a reflection of what happened, it makes more sense that the writers of Gen were projecting their current time system back into the distant past to structure the narrative, google framework. God did not tell them how He created, nor when, nor how long ago. They used a very specific cultural artifact (7 day week)to explain and organize the creation narrative, the facts are supportive of this theory, not of YEC interpretation.

                  you have grossly misinterpreted it in terms of modern science because Ellen G White had visions. Your system is wrong, there is no evidence in creation for a recent young earth. as many historians have pointed out, YEC is a recent modern interpretation of Gen that answers modern scientific and historical questions not even considered by the writers of the Scriptures.

                  there is lots of evidence that humanity is ancient, 200kya, that the racial memory of a recent creation does not exist, that the measurement of time of a 7 day week evolved only in the culture in which the Hebrews descended.

                  if YEC was right i would expect the chinese, japanese, mayas and the incas to have 7 day weeks, i would expect a recent adam and eve founders event in our genomes, none of this is true, therefore the interpretation of YEC is wrong.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Pieret/100000023960330 John Pieret

                  “You claim to be a Christian. That means a person absolutely
                  committed to the full authority of the Bible.”
                  So Catholics aren’t Christians? Interesting … in ways you probably don’t understand.

                  • Mary

                    Good point. I guess people who don’t believe in genocide and slavery aren’t Christians either.

  • abombt1

    James, I think Ken Ham has a crush on you.
    My university did have a place for nutters like Ham. It was out on the courtyard, where they would stand on a rock and yell at everyone. Very convincing.

  • gamgokt

    you re such a child. you want academic freedom for your false views yet can’t extend that same demand to others. you threaten to ban people because they disagree with you yet you want to be given space in someone else’s forum to disagree with them. you are a joke

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      No, I have only ever banned spammers and people who do not know how to engage in polite and respectful conversation. Thank you for providing an illustration of the sort of thing which, if posted over and over again relentlessly in an annoying torrent, will result in banning. You are part of a very small club!

    • Mary

      We are all tired of you gamgoki aka “David Tee” Your arguments add nothing new to the conversation and only waste space on this forum. You also waste Dr. McGrath’s time as well. The fact that he has put up with you for months speaks to his desire to include others in the conversation. In fact he may argue against another point of view but I see no evidence that he censors anybody from speaking their mind. Since you have been banned from other sites then the problem is you, gamgoki aka “David Tee” with the fake doctorate.

  • ashley haworth-roberts

    I agree that claims by Mr Ham and his ilk to support ‘open discussion of ideas’ and ‘critical thinking’, and calling for more tolerance than those opposing young Earth creationist history revision, are normally completely bogus.

    As for the science denial of his co-worker Terry Mortenson, this blog post from late 2010 was completely extraordinary:

    http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/terry-mortenson/2010/12/09/pentecostal-views-on-origins/

    He had a shopping list of things that, according to him, science has not really found. And then he followed that list with this claim:

    “Rather, evolutionary scientists using anti-biblical (naturalistic and uniformitarian) assumptions and imagination have interpreted some of the observations of the natural world (while ignoring other observations) to invent a story about the past that contradicts the time-tested, historically orthodox and exegetically sound interpretation of God’s inerrant Word. It is not a conflict between the “findings of science” and “traditional interpretations” of the Bible. It is rather the conflict between the atheistic and deistic interpretations of God’s creation by people who are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18–20) versus the sound interpretation of God’s Word by godly leaders and pastors in the church down through history”.

  • ashley haworth-roberts

    agree that claims by Mr Ham and his ilk to support ‘open discussion of ideas’ and ‘critical thinking’, and calling for more tolerance than those opposing young Earth creationist history revision, are normally completely bogus.

    As for the science denial of his co-worker Terry Mortenson, this blog post from late 2010 was completely extraordinary:

    http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/terry-mortenson/2010/12/09/pentecostal-views-on-origins/

    He had a shopping list of things that, according to him, science has not really found. And then he followed that list with this claim:

    “Rather, evolutionary scientists using anti-biblical (naturalistic and uniformitarian) assumptions and imagination have interpreted some of the observations of the natural world (while ignoring other observations) to invent a story about the past that contradicts the time-tested, historically orthodox and exegetically sound interpretation of God’s inerrant Word. It is not a conflict between the “findings of science” and “traditional interpretations” of the Bible. It is rather the conflict between the atheistic and deistic interpretations of God’s creation by people who are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18–20) versus the sound interpretation of God’s Word by godly leaders and pastors in the church down through history”.

    • Mary

      I just have to laugh over this guys statements: the people arguing for tolerance and who demand proof of scientific conclusions do not want to apply the same standards to themselves. What it always comes down to is the Bible is inerrant and how dare you question my views! Or rather how dare you question God?
      How can that possibly be called science?

      • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

        I think the idea is that science has to agree with the Word of God as the ultimate source of truth. If a scientific claim can’t agree with proper interpretation of the Bible than a Christian knows there is a faulty assumption on the part of the scientist. We’re not perfect, but God is. A Christian would have to agree, for example, that Dawkins who uses his beliefs about science to argue that God is a delusion has some faulty scientific assumptions. That would then recognize that as scientific study is done by men, it isn’t perfect as we believe that God and His Words are.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          But you are identifying the words of the Bible, which had human authors whose language, worldview, and even grammatical ability are reflected in what they wrote. To use that to then suggest that those who study the created order, which only God the Creator could make, are wrong, seems to me to be precisely backwards.

          • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

            Thank you for replying to me. I am certainly not claiming that all science should be thrown out the window. I am saying that it is pretty clear from Scripture, which is our clearest method of hearing from God, that God Himself declares that there will be those who claim Scripture is wrong and scripture will still be around long after them and even after the created order has passed away. Matt 24:35, Zech 1:5-6.

            It isn’t that it is wrong to study the created order, but that you will be wrong if your study starts out with setting the Scriptures aside. What foundation of truth will you have to study with (build upon) if you set aside Scripture? I propose that you will either have a foundation built by yourself or by other men or women. In both cases assumptions will be wrong and truth will sometimes be skewed.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              I disagree with your assumption that Scripture is the clearest method of hearing from God, and with your identification of Jesus’ words with Scripture. “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” does not mean “And any book in which those words come to be embedded will never pass away” – does it?

              Scripture uses the language of a particular time – with the effect that there are places where we cannot even determine precisely what it means. The words are shaped by particular human authors and their styles and vocabulary. Then human beings have to interpret those words across a distance of time and space. When it comes to questions about the created order, placing a text that has no additional information about the natural world than the Enuma Elish had above what we can study today makes no sense.

              The Scriptures talk about the created order testifying to God, and the Word of God as bringing creation into being and upholding it. If your view of the Bible which says that leads you to view the evidence from the natural world in the exact opposite way, then I would suggest that something must be wrong with your assumptions about and/or approach to the Bible.

              • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

                I would say the most basic tenant of the Christian faith is that we believe the Bible is God’s Word, and it is how we recognize what we believe. Paul wrote that all Scripture is “breathed out by God” I would say that it being God’s Words is a way of saying that. And yes, I believe that God’s words in the Bible are stronger than the foundations of the earth, in fact it is God’s Words that created those foundations.

                I agree with what you say about Scripture using a particular language of a time, and that we have trouble deciphering meaning of things that now seem ancient. I also agree that not everything was written from a scientific mind. That doesn’t give us license to toss aside the clear teaching of Scripture which is God’s teachings in favor of science built on the foundation of man’s teachings. That idea is warned about time and time again in the Old and New Testaments.

                I don’t believe that disagreeing with assumptions in mainstream science amounts to leading me away from natural evidence. I am looking at it from a different starting point which makes it all look quite beautiful.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  Given what, or rather who, the Bible says Christians’ foundation ought to be, how do you justify making the Bible itself the foundation in this way?

                  The same argument about the clear teaching of Scripture has been used time and again. By those who objected to Paul setting aside the requirement of circumcision to be part of Abraham’s household. By those who defended slavery. By those who defended geocentrism. When will it become clear to people that that phrase is consistently associated with stances that later generations of Christians a ashamed of and embarrassed by, and yet they do the same exact thing in their own time?

                  “The foundations of the Earth”? Oh, the irony…

                  • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

                    Thank you for a thought provoking argument (exploring scripture makes us grow, and I appreciate your point from 1 Corinthians 3). The foundation of our faith and who we are is certainly Jesus. And the foundation of what we believe is His work of salvation. The foundation of what we know has to be His Words. 2 Timothy 3:16 mentions Scripture being breathed out by God. Proper interpretation of Scripture gives us truth and a foundation for what we believe because it comes from Jesus.

                    The pharisees who slipped into the church were using rulebooks that weren’t in Scripture, they were ignoring Old Testament Scripture related to the New Covenant confirmed by Jesus who’s words were preached by the apostles. Geocentrism were views decided in outside Biblical teaching. The Creation account denied by many prominent scientists is well within it and supported by the apostles.

                    I understand the idea you propose, but disagree that those arguments can be usable to void all portions of Scripture.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Genesis is clear that even those not of Abraham’s line must be circumcised to become part of the covenant with him. Paul became convinced that God was doing something different in his time. You can’t view Paul as belonging in Scripture if your view is that one must always uphold the clear teaching of Scripture. It is Scripture itself that compels us to take a different view.

                      Who is proposing voiding all portions of Scripture? I am arguing that the young-earth creationists in fact void Scripture by making the assumptions of ancient people into axioms of faith, thereby distracting attention from the things Jesus himself actually taught and emphasized.

                    • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

                      I didn’t mean to say that you proposed voiding all Scripture. It was poorly communicated by me (I am fallible, sorry). I was trying to suggest that your usage of the argument that since others claimed to stand on the Bible and were wrong Young Earth Creationists are too was being used improperly and if done so you could use it for whatever Scripture you want in a similar fashion.

                      I disagree that there is a contradiction between Abraham’s Covenant and the New Covenant (I’m sure you do too) and you may be reading into my wording of “clear teaching”. When I use the word clear, I mean that I think the teaching of creation is clearly taught, not that everything in the Bible should be interpreted as an individual person most clearly understands the words presented before them. Instead I think Scripture is best interpreted with other scripture, with context, and with the Holy Spirit’s leading (often through study and communicating with the works of others).

                      I think Scripture is clear on Paul and Abraham’s covenant too, though maybe not according to that definition of clear.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Genesis 17 is unambiguous. Circumcision is the permanent sign of the covenant with Abraham, and applies to anyone who becomes part of his household. Paul did not merely depart from the clear teaching of this Scripture. He argued strenuously against it. If Paul were to have appeared today making that case, you would object to it just the same way you are objecting to those who say that Genesis 1 and other such texts need to be understood differently today than they were in the past. Keep in mind that when Paul made his arguments, his writings had not yet been accorded the status of Scripture.

                    • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

                      I disagree with this. Genesis 17 does not say all believers in God throughout history follow the rules of Abraham’s Covenant of circumcision, and are part of Abraham’s literal household. It does if you use all the assumptions of Pharisees, sure, but as they were called out as wrong by Jesus and Paul I don’t see a reason why I should use their assumptions and Not those of Jesus and Paul.

                      I would disagree with you about Paul’s arguments not being accorded the status of Scripture at that time. I think Paul and at least Peter, and since I have been quoting 2 Timothy 3:16 I would also say the leading of the Holy Spirit, would have been considering Paul’s word on the matter as completely authoritative at least very soon afterwards judging from Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:15-16.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      2 Peter is unlikely to have been written by Peter, as all but the most conservative scholars accept. But if one attributed it to Peter, then the term “writings” would have to have its broader sense. It is clear from Paul’s own writings that he doesn’t view his letters as Scripture. Are you seriously going to suggest that others viewed his letters in a way that he did not? But at any rate, if you leave their attaining of Scriptural status to “soon afterwards” then you are conceding my point, which was about how recipients of Paul’s letters would have had to evaluate their argument, without the benefit of being able to simply assume Paul was right in the way you feel that you can.

                      Read Romans and Galatians. Paul’s argument is that Gentiles can become children of Abraham and heirs to the promises, part of the covenant people, without circumcision. You are trying hard to avoid the plain meaning of the text – either that, or you are not familiar with the details of what he wrote.

                    • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

                      I would say they did view Paul’s word on the matter as authoritative very soon after according to Acts 15 even if they didn’t all agree that his words were equal to Scripture at that time.

                      I don’t think it is working too hard to recognize that being children of Abraham is a spiritual symbolism, unless you are suggesting that we are transformed physically into Abraham’s flesh and blood. Heirs of the promises doesn’t mean literal members of a household and needing to be circumcised as you claim the clear Scriptures state.

                      As for Genesis 1, the argument of the faulty teachings of the Pharisees who were called wrong in these very teachings is not the same as the Young Earth argument. Genesis 1 is affirmed by Scripture. It is never called wrong by the apostles. Paul affirmed that Adam was real. Affirming truth of Scripture versus some assumptions derived by a world of thinkers who largely reject God (which the Bible warns about) is not the same as twisting Genesis 17 to mean whatever a sect of early Christianity desired.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Are you saying that Gentile Christians do not participate in the covenant God made with Abraham? Paul clearly disagrees with you.

                      You are making the assumptions that the author of Genesis 1 shared with the wider world of that time – that the creator deity split water and made a bolt/arch/dome to hold up the waters above – into the point of the passage. But how can it be when those are assumptions Israelites and Babylonians shared? Why does the author of Genesis not take the attitude that you do to the thinking about the material world that dominated in Mesopotamia? Why does that author embrace that thinking which stems from polytheists? Why does that author not say different things about the natural world than the Enuma Elish does?

                    • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

                      I am saying that I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that claims that physical circumcision is meant for people of all generations, despite how many times you claim it says it.

                      Why would gleams of truth from pagan myths (although many of these claims aren’t telling the whole story as they come from gospel deniers) be any different from gleams of truth from a pagan view of science. Young Earthers and Old Earthers agree on a multitude of issues.

                      I would like to thank you for answering my comments as much as you have been. I did not expect that when I posted and appreciate the discussion as it is helping to teach me a lot. I hope that you are successful to winning many over to Christ even if you disagree with me on science.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I gather from your comment that you would like to end the conversation. Thank you for taking the time to interact, and I am glad you found the time spent talking here helpful!

                  • Mary

                    I agree. It seems to me that faith has to do with having a relationship with God, not a book. The theology of the bible changes and evolves (if you will forgive the pun) over time. In fact it seems that most of the bible talks about continuing revelations (meaning changes in doctrine).

                    A book is not God. All it can do is challenge us to search for God within our hearts. As you pointed out about slavery, there are things in the bible that are clearly not of God. The purist teachings are what are Jesus’ commandments to love God and love each other as ourselves. In fact Jesus said THESE ARE THE ONLY COMMANDMENTS. Jesus did not believe in dogma, that is why he argued with the priests. So what do we do, WE DO EXACTLY WHAT HE SAID NOT TO DO, which is to make the scriptures more important than God.

                • rmwilliamsjr

                  re:

                  I would say the most basic tenant of the Christian faith is that we believe the Bible is God’s Word, and it is how we recognize what we believe.

                  -=-=-=-

                  there isn’t even a single canon listing the same books as being in the Bible. how can you make it a basic tenet unless you assume(for example) that the protestant canon is right and the roman catholic wrong therefore RC are by your definition not Christian? (ignore the other canons altogether)

                  they can’t even agree on the table of contents. how are you going to agree on the verb (the Bible X the Word of God) is X: contains, is, speaks about, reveals, discloses, etc etc.

                  • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

                    Considering how many churches use the same books of the Bible internationally I think you are probably being too broad in your wording of the claim that there isn’t a single canon listing the same books for that to be a convincing argument. I can go to nearly every town in the USA and find a church that uses the same canon as mine, and every country as well (though in some nations the church has to hide itself very well).

        • rmwilliamsjr

          re:

          If a scientific claim can’t agree with proper interpretation of the Bible than a Christian knows there is a faulty assumption on the part of the scientist.

          -=-=-=-
          if the 2 books of God appear to be in conflict then the right way is to think either the science is wrong or your interpretation is wrong or your analysis of the conflict is wrong. your interpretation of the Bible is as much a work of sinful fallible people as is science, perhaps even more so since most interpretations involve very few people, very similar in understanding, while most sciences involves thousands of very divergent folks.

          • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

            I agree with much of what you say except when you talk about my interpretation of the Bible. I don’t think you know me well enough to be informed about my interpretation of the Scripture. You don’t know how much of my view is the work of sinful fallible men and how much is the work of the Holy Spirit who is inerrant and absolutely without sin. If that’s how my view is dismissed by you I certainly understand, but I don’t think it works as an argument to dismiss the Biblical teaching that is assumed.

            • rmwilliamsjr

              re:

              You don’t know how much of my view is the work of sinful fallible men and how much is the work of the Holy Spirit who is inerrant and absolutely without sin.

              -=-=-=-=-

              1.there exists a multiplicity of people making this same claim that they are lead by the Spirit.
              2. they teach very different things about the Scriptures.
              3. they can not get along and demonstrate any kind of mutual love as Jesus stated his disciplines would do.

              given this, why should i believe any of them? why should i believe you are right?

              if the case was that there exists a huge group of Christians who believed the same, that case could be made, but with the existence of 30,000 competing conflicting denominations the case that the Holy Spirit is inerrant and guides people into some kind of transcendence truth seems empty of fulfillment.

              the best you can hope for is some small fraction of what you believe is right is actually right. same situation we are all in.

              the best we can hope for is that there exists a subgroup of these denominations that is a little bit less wrong than the average, and try to find it.

              • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

                I think you are way of the topic of the discussion now. This is similar to Ad Hominem. Your claim is basically that I am claiming individual authority of scripture and along with many others exclusive access to the Holy Spirit. That would be incorrect.

                It is your argument which assumes to know how much of my belief is rooted in the Holy Spirit, which makes it flawed from the start. The results of that kind of thinking would be to ultimately claim we can’t have any knowledge because we could all be wrong about everything.

                All it accomplishes is to ignore the main point, which was the authority of the Word of God. I reject the notion that God’s Word doesn’t have authority because you claim we can’t know who is right. That argument dismisses the Holy Spirit and really doesn’t address the argument I made.

                • rmwilliamsjr

                  re:

                  It is your argument which assumes to know how much of my belief is rooted in the Holy Spirit, which makes it flawed from the start.

                  -=-=-=-
                  i make no such claim to know anything about your beliefs except that you claim to have some guidance from the Holy Spirit. my argument is that this is far from a unique position, lots of people make this claim.
                  so look at their collective beliefs for some type of coherent unifying principle that you could attribute to this claim of HS guidance. it does not exist. at best you could propose that there exists some subgrouping of these competing denominations and find a common thread attributable to HS guidance within those subgroupings.

                  authority of Scripture follows the same path.
                  lots of people claim they recognize the authority of Scripture, yet there is no unifying principle detectably in such claims, they all teach widely varying principles claimed to be derived from the same Scripture.

                  again the extraordinary divisiveness of those claiming to be Christians can only undermine any claims to a privileged epistemology like the authority of Scripture or lead by the Holy Spirit.

                  • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

                    I am hardly claiming privileged epistemology, which is why I disagree with the validity of your argument on this topic. I believe there are millions before will be after me who hold similar beliefs. I am just defending them. We all know there are those who disagree. Saying that there are isn’t an argument against the point that God’s Scripture has authority. It is really just a diversion to suggest that maybe nobody knows the truth.

                  • Mary

                    “lots of people claim they recognize the authority of Scripture, yet there is no unifying principle detectably in such claims, they all teach widely varying principles claimed to be derived from the same Scripture”

                    Very true. And the reason why is because the bible is not a coherant whole. You have different authors writing over thousands of years saying different things. While there may be agreement on some points, most of the time there isn’t.

                    What can be said is that there appears to be a progression of theological development from starting from the Jewish texts and moving into the NT, but it is a mistake to say that the OT and the NT agree with each other. In fact there isn’t even theological agreement between the NT authors.

                    • http://twitter.com/ScottDupe Scott Duperree

                      There isn’t a unifying belief about anything, there is an orthodoxy of Scripture though. There may be minor disagreements, and though I would call the argue over Genesis 1 a substantial one, it isn’t as big as the discussion of means to Salvation (Jesus) which is largely agreed upon in an orthodox view.

        • Mary

          The point I made is that there is no proof that the bible is the Word of God. Creationists go around claiming (falsely) that there is no proof for evolution and yet insist that everyone else accept an assertion that cannot be proved, that the bible is the inerrant Word of God.

  • ashley haworth-roberts

    What has happened to my comment where I flagged this incredible science denying Terry Mortenson blog post? I accidentally posted it twice – but now I cannot see either version.

    http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/terry-mortenson/2010/12/09/pentecostal-views-on-origins/

  • ashley haworth-roberts

    Sorry – NOW I CAN see my detailed comment.


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