Grey Thoughts
One weeks Holiday
I am away for a week on holidays....Scuba diving, white water rafting, fishing and hunting await.
The Cambrian Explosion
Creation Safaris has a long post on the latest efforts by evolutionists to explain the cambrian explosion. Some evolutionists pretend the cambrian explosion isn't a problem, but anyone with intellectual integrity admits it must be dealt with.
Marshall’s elaborate fairy tale shows that the materialists cannot extricate themselves from miracles. Creationists readily admit that God works miracles, and that the creation was miraculous. Evolutionists despise miracles, but find them very handy. They shield their miracles in “presto!” words, saying such-and-such a complex animal or organ (even eyes!) just emerged, arose or developed. If you watched carefully, you saw that was exactly what Marshall did. Though earlier he criticized other explanations for failing to provide an account for the origin of the genetic information required, he just pushed it offstage, and when needed, had a stage hand ready to sneak it in the hat, so that he could claim the rabbit was there all along. His “Abracadabra!” was the term morphogenetic rule, some kind of unspecified, miracle-working process that builds complex bodies out of nothing. With that sleight of mind, he distracted the audience’s attention from the fact he had cheated when we weren’t looking. Rules imply a Rulemaker, and necessity is the mother of invention only when there are intelligent designers around.
His math is bad, too. Marshall thinks that a simpler “combinatorial” genetic system in the invisible ancestors is sufficient to produce eyes and circulatory systems and all the rest when the landscape “roughens”. Any kid can try this with a Lego set. Scatter them at random all over a trampoline, start bouncing, and see what happens. The number of useless combinations vastly exceeds anything ordered and functional. 5 million years – 10 million – 20 million – 65 million is pitifully insufficient to hope for anything interesting, and the parts themselves are not sentient beings to care whether they live or die. No amount of time is going to produce robots and tanks and monsters out of bouncing Lego pieces; but turn a kid loose applying his intelligent design, and you will get all these things prestissimo, along with a complete ecology in which they interact that he will be glad to explain to you.
It's long and a bit sciency, but well worth it. Read the whole thing.
Creation vs Intelligent Design (ID)
There is a fair bit of talk about a recent Christianity Today article on ID being opposed by creation scientists. Answers in Genesis' (AIG) response to ID is available on their website. David Heddle, my favorite Old Earther, has also commented on the article.

Of course, it seems when talking about his beliefs, David seems to resort to rhetoric more and more. For instance
The creationists argue that ID has forgotten its first love, a hyper-literal interpretation of Genesis, and has become, because of its meteoric rise, too full of itself. As such, it is doing more harm than good.
Hyper-literal? Actually, taking genesis as literal is the best exegetial (sp?) approach due to it's historical-narrative style and structure. It is the old-agers like David that need to justify their departure from this clear exegesis. Conveniently, all departures from taking genesis as literal due to it's historical narrative style fit with the non-christian culture's current ideas about how old the earth is. Simply using rhetorical phrases such as 'hyper-literalism' is a fairly poor way to approach the topic as well as being significantly misleading

I think David also misreads the point Ken Ham made
"I don't think the ID movement would be where it is even now if it was not for the general creation movement," says Ken Ham, president of AiG. "They're riding on the coattails of the creation movement."
This David seems to interpret as
Ham argues first that ID is the son of creationism
This misses the point entirely. It's a simple fact that the vast majority of ID supporters are religious (which is not to say that ID is religiously based), and much of the ground work for pushing people away from the idea that the origin of the species had to be by the unguided processes of natural selection on mutation over time was done by creation scientists.

My biggest problem however is with David's "Answer"
The answer: Christians who are scientists should do science the same way as their atheistic colleagues. They should then turn to the churches, and to the youth groups, and to seminars, and to debates, and to the high-school and college clubs, and to unbelievers—and discuss how the amazing discoveries of science point to a creator God whose name is Jesus Christ.
Atheistic scientists do their 'science' on the assumption that doesn't exist. As such, it is logically, well, stupid to believe that we should approach science in that way. For instance, 2 of the major assumptions of the Big Bang Theory, homogeneity and isotropy, are built on the presupposition that God doesn't exist and so couldn't have created the universe. As an example Hubble, on finding that we seemed to be at or almost at the center of the universe found such a conclusion unacceptable because of his atheistic presuppositions. Heck, the whole idea of a big bang itself is based on the idea that as the universe is expanding, then at some point in the past it must have been really really tiny and something must have caused it to expand....ignoring the possibility that it was created at some point before the extrapolation into the past made it infinitesimally small.

This is why AIG and creation scientists argue against naturalism (as does ID founder Philip Johnson)

I'm not saying that we should try to assign God as causative agents for every unknown, but instead to entertain the possibility that God did cause some events, most specifically the ones mentioned in the bible as historical narrative.

Ultimately, I appreciate ID for it's usefulness in showing the inability of atheistic science is bankrupt. As such, it is a good middle point for accepting that a super natural god exists. Once there, it is a far less logically conclusion to accept God could have miraculously created the universe less than 10,000 years ago. As CS Lewis said
If we admit God, must we admit miracles? Indeed, indeed, you have no security against it. That is the bargain. Theology says to you in effect, ‘Admit God and with Him the risk of a few miracles, and I in return will ratify your faith in uniformity as regards the overwhelming majority of events.”

Amnesty International and Abortion
It seems Amnesty (AI) is moving towards support for abortion as a right. This is one way to lose a lot of support, including mine.
Slippery Slope - Right to Die
I was talking about this to a friend the other week. If we have a right to die (i.e. kill ourselves), then logically there is no reason to criminalise gladitorial events. Forbes jumps the gun by a few years, but the logic is all there.
So to what end does this all lead? Should we encourage fights to the death? Perhaps. Allowing willing participants to risk life and limb should be accepted if it is the informed decision of all participants. There's a legal principle called volenti non fit injuria—"to a willing person, no injury is done." It holds true for athletes as well. If a person wants to risk death in the pursuit of fame, they should be allowed to do so.
Welcome to the new world.
Evolutionists,Elitism and Idealism
You know someone has to be elitist if David Heddle gets on his case, and compares PZ Meyers favorably to him. Enter Allen MacNeill. It seems Allen is running a course at Cornell Uni on "Evolution and Design: Is There Purpose in Nature?". Suffice to say, I doubt it will be an even handed or balanced approach. From David's post
I can’t resist: when my students ask me if I believe in “God”, or (even better) if I believe that “God exists” (or doesn’t), I ask them “Does the United States exist?” Almost always someone takes the bait and says “yes”, and then I ask “Where?” Sometimes they describe the geographical boundaries of the USA, but usually at least one realizes what I’m driving at and says “Yes, it exists as an idea in our heads.” And I commend them, and point out that the United States, like God (or, more properly, the “idea” of God) exists exactly where all ideas exist: in (and only in) the human mind.
Poor Allen is appealing to Idealism. Too bad he doesn't understand it or it's implications....David mentions how evasive Allen gets when someone who understands idealism asks him a pointed question...
Dr MacNeill, would you please answer the following question: Say, a few years ago a guy named John went to a remote area in Australia and came across a fancy stone half-buried in the ground. Having seen it, he believed that it existed, and, if I understand your thesis, this means the stone in question indeed existed to the extent it existed in his mind. Yesterday John died. There is nobody any longer who ever believed in the existence of that stone, so, according to your thesis, it does not exist as it does not anymore exist in anybody’s mind. I am confused - does that stone exist or not? Say, it does not. If tomorrow some girl by the name of Mary travels to the remote area in question and discovers the stone still in the same place, it will suddenly come into existence, right? So, it existed between the time John saw it and the time of his death, then it did not exist for a while, and then it again came into existence when Mary saw it? Do I misrepresent your thesis? Thanks for clarification and apology if I distorted your thesis.

There is much, much more on the thread although, at least for the moment, Perakh seems (with a follow-up question) to have scared MacNeill away. It’s not as fun when the big boys get out of school.
One of the issues that needs to be dealt with in Idealism is the continuity of objects (like the stone in the above example). There aren't many answers to this question, as generally Berkeley (who is a famous proponent of idealism) felt continuity required a mind always observing all things (i.e. an omnipresent mind)...other issues with Idealism are with the laws of nature being consistent (which requires an omnipotent/very intelligent mind)...You can see where this is going. If you accept idealism, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that some sort of 'God' MUST exist. I guess MacNeill would rather avoid that conclusion...

Consistent evolutionists...they are hard to find.
Crucifixion Clashes
A sydney Anglican dean has made a statement saying that Islam and Christianity cannot both be right
Either both are wrong or one is right and the other is wrong, But both of them cannot be right.
He uses the Muslim idea that Jesus did not die on the cross as an example of where Christianity and Islam has a contradictory idea. Such a simple and clear statement of logic obviously could not go un-answered by our logically challenged. Aussie News and Views has the Muslim response.
A debate over such comments is exactly what excites the secular Society, in particular the atheists who view religions as competing enterprises
Yep. Mr Trad, the poor Mufti spokeman has it exactly wrong. The secular humanists want us to ignore logic long enough for everyone to agree that all religions are equally valid. Then, in a shout of triump they will point out that this means all religions must be based on fantasy, not reality, as the only way they can all be equally valid is if they are all equally wrong.
Easter Explanations
I hope everyone has had a great easter holidays. The following is part of a talk I gave to my church on easter sunday. It is giving three stories, one for each of the common alternate 'explanations' that is commonly put forward to try and explain the 3 widely accepted facts (Accepted by most christian and non-christian scholars) that Jesus died on the cross, The tomb was empty, and the disciples lives were transformed because they believed they saw the risen Jesus.

1) Swoon: Jesus didn’t die on cross
The Roman soldiers take down Jesus, who having survived being beaten, scourged, having nails driven through his hands and ankles, cruxifixion and a spear thrust to his side, is unconscious. Jesus is taken to the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea, wrapped in a burial wrapping and covered with over 30 kilos of spices, including over his face. The cold air of the tomb revives Jesus and he pushes off the suffocating spices escaping the burial wrapping. Then, not having had anything to eat or drink in over 3 days and in spite of his nail pierced hands and feet and his ruined back muscles, he pushes the 2 tonne stone up hill away from the tombs entrance. He quickly overpowers the highly trained Roman guards and despite his crippled feet, makes his way 10km down the road to the village of Emmaus. After a brief meal he then returns another 10km to Jerusalem, still on his crippled feet and slips quietly and unnoticed into the locked room the disciples were hiding in. When he finally announces himself the disciples are so awestruck in his frail, near death type appearance that they are convinced he has risen from the dead and so become bold and brave, defending the belief of a risen Jesus even to the point of death.

2) The Disciples Stole the Body
When Jesus is arrested and sentenced to death, his disciples are terrified and they flee in all directions, finding whatever hiding place they can find to keep them from the authorities. Later that day, Jesus dies on the cross and is taken the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea where he is wrapped in a burial wrapping and covered with over 30 kilos of spices. Then, at some point on Saturday night, the disciples, having gotten over their terror and regrouping, go to the tomb and overpower the heavily armed and highly trained Roman guards. They then push the 2 tonne stone away from the entrance of the tomb and steal the body of Jesus. A short time later, the disciples resolve to proclaim that Jesus rose from the dead and in spite of the extremely low value of a woman's testimony, they decide that Mary Magdelene and Mary the mother of Jesus should play the part of the first witnesses of the resurrection. The disciples also manage to convince Saul of Tarsus, the fanatical persecutor of Christianity to convert to Christianity and over the next 50 years they all endure constant persecution, poverty, imprisonment, torture and eventual execution because of their continued evangelism, yet even though they knew their profession of a risen Jesus is patently false, not a single one of these disciples recants on their resurrection claim.

3) The disciples Hallucinate Jesus back into circulation
Jesus is arrested and sentenced to death, his disciples are terrified and flee in all directions, finding whatever hiding place they can find to keep them from the authorities. Later that day, Jesus dies on the cross and is taken the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea where he is wrapped in a burial wrapping and covered with over 30 kilos of spices. Sunday morning, Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Salome and other women go to the tomb and when they get there share an hallucination of the empty tomb and an angel telling them that Jesus has risen in spite of the fact that hallucinations are always individual occurrences and only certain personality types get them. A little later, after a visit from the women, the disciples also share a hallucination of the risen Jesus. Another hallucination of the risen Jesus is also received by, James and Thomas the skeptics and 500 people at once and another by Saul of Tarsus. These hallucinations, normally uninspiring events, transforms the lives of the disciples and Saul and they boldly preach a risen Jesus to the citizens of Jerusalem. The Jews, seeing the explosive growth of the Christian church based on this preaching, decide against going to Jesus’ nearby tomb and bringing out his bones to show the preaching is based on a lie; they instead claim that the disciples stole the body of Jesus.

All these make it obvious that attempts to explain away some of the facts fall short of fitting all the facts. This is why the resurrection of Jesus is still the most reasonable of possible explanations.

As J.N.D. Anderson who read Law at Harvard, Cambridge and Princeton said, "It can be asserted with confidence that men and women disbelieve the Easter story not because of the evidence, but in spite of it."
Bad Abortion News
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has given two queensland doctors the right to prescribe RU-486 in what I can only describe as the fastest drug approval in history. I have to wonder where the big trials of the drug were. Although this is a limited right to prescribe, it can only be considered the start of a bigger movement to allow unlimited rights to the drug.

Hawaii has passed a law that is trying to make it the one stop abortion provider for anyone and everyone. They have enshrined into law the 'right' to abortion and have changed the law so that there is no residency or 90 day stay requirement to get an abortion.

Two steps forward, one step back.
The Evolutionist who Cried Wolf
And by wolf I mean feathers...
Last month, we reported on announcements of a dinosaur fossil with imaginary feathers (02/08/2006); at least, all the news stories mentioned feathers and some had pictures of them, but the original paper said nothing about feathers. Now, National Geographic has done it again: “Giant Turkey-Like Dinosaur Found in Utah,” the title reads, with a picture of a blue-feathered dinosaur complete with fantail. Were feathers found? “Only fragments of the animal were discovered—a fearsomely clawed hand and foot,” the article states, but then quickly adds, “But the dinosaur probably stood seven feet (two meters) tall and ran as fast as an ostrich” (emphasis added in all quotes). Presumably, if it could keep up with an ostrich, it must have worn the same racing plumage.
They quote a researcher saying, “We don’t know if Hagryphus would have had a feather fan on the back of its tail [characteristic of turkeys], but its close cousins did, so it’s possible.” The close cousins are oviraptors, which the article states, “had simple feathers, winglike arms, powerful legs, long claws, and powerful, toothless beaks for shearing through food.” Yet these “simple feathers,” we have seen, were integumentary structures surrounding some bones that others have concluded were flayed skin, and contained no vanes and barbs characteristic of bird feathers. The choice of words, images and comparisons to ostriches and turkeys blurs the distinction between dinosaurs and birds, but without actual fossil feathers to confirm the connection.
What a joke....Imagination, not experimentation seems to be how evolutionists do science. Clearly this is a bird-brained idea that needs to be plucked out of existence.
The Age of Things
Two of my favorite bloggers, Joe Carter and David Heddle, have been writing about the young earth/old earth debate recently. Joe has written on the problems with taking the genealogies in genesis as being a chronology and David has written on problems with the account of the fall introducing death. Now, whilst I greatly respect both guys and think they are very intelligent, I think history has shown has time and time again that intelligent people can believe really dumb things. Take Richard Dawkins for instance.

Now, I want to deal with each in turn, as well as some of the comments made in each post. John Safarti from Answers In Genesis already deals with Joe's question, and is well worth reading if you have the time. But onto my somewhat less academic response.

From Joe's post
The answer can be found in a dusty old theological journal from the late 1800s. Dr. William Henry Green, a Professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, published in Bibliotheca Sacra what should have become the definitive answer on the subject:
A bit of rhetoric to introduce the topic...Obviously however, Dr Green's journal was not considered a definitive answer on the subject. Perhaps his answer was not as convincing as Joe would have liked?

Joe continues by summarising Green's main points.
1. Comparison to other Biblical genealogies -- Abridgement and omission is found in numerous genealogical lists throughout the Bible. Unless there is outside evidence presented to show that Genesis 5 and 11 are intended to be continuous, there is no reason to assume that it is different that other genealogies.

2. Making unwarranted assumptions -- The author of Genesis provides the age of each patriarch at the birth of his son. Why would this information be included if the purpose was not to produce a chronology? While we may think this is a fair presumption to make, Green points out that the author never uses these numbers for that purpose. Not only does the writer not suggest their summation, but no other inspired writer of the Bible does so either. “There is no computation anywhere in Scripture of the time that elapsed from the creation or from the deluge, as there is from the descent into Egypt to the Exodus (Exod. 12:40), or from the Exodus to the building of the temple (1 Kings 6:1). And if the numbers in these genealogies are for the sake of constructing a chronology, why are numbers introduced which have no possible relation to such a purpose?”

3. It doesn’t match parallel texts -- If we assume that the author of Genesis was also the author of Exodus, then we can reasonably conclude that genealogies that are similarly constructed would be intended to have a similar design. Exod. 6:16-26, for example, records the genealogy extending from Levi to Moses and Aaron and includes the length of each man's life in the principal line of descent, viz., Levi (v. 16), Kohath (v. 18), Amram (v. 20). Green notes that the correspondence between this list and the ones in Genesis is “certainly remarkable”: “the numbers given in this genealogy exhibit the longevity of the patriarchs named, but cannot be so concatenated as to sum up the entire period; thus suggesting the inference that the numbers in the other genealogies, with which we are now concerned, were given with a like design, and not with the view of enabling the reader to construct the chronology.”

4. Different texts used different numbers -- The texts of the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures) and of the Samaritan Pentateuch vary systematically from the Hebrew in both the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. For example, according to the chronologies based on these texts, the interval between the Flood and the birth of Abraham was 292 (Hebrew), 942 (Samaritan), or 1172 years (Septuagint). Ussher favored the Hebrew version yet doesn’t seem to grasp that the changes in the latter version were made in order to be more symmetrical; the redactors appear not to consider that that the ages are intended to produce a chronology.

5. The structure appears to define the purpose -- The structure of the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11, argues Green, seem to indicate intentional arrangement: Each genealogy includes ten names, Noah being the tenth from Adam, and Terah the tenth from Noah. And each ends with a father having three sons, as is likewise the case with the Cainite genealogy (4:17-22). This structure is similar to Matthew 1, which breaks out into three periods of fourteen generations. “It is much more likely,” says Green, “that this definite number of names fitting into a regular scheme has been selected as sufficiently representing the periods to which they belong, than that all these striking numerical coincidences should have happened to occur in these successive instances.”

These points cast considerable doubt on the supposition that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 were ever intended to be a direct chronology, much less one from which the age of the earth could be deduced. Based on this evidence alone, there is no reason to assume that our planet has only been around for 6,000 years.

What is truly bizarre is the logic in the first 3 points. Which seems to be saying...1) Other geneaologies have missing people so the genesis one can't be a chronology. 2) the genesis genealogies are different in having information that would be useful in costructing a chronology, but no one bothers to add the dates up so genesis can't be a chronology... 3) Other geneaologies which do have some ages are done differently and can't be used to 'sum up the entire period' so the genesis genealogy, although done different, can't be a chronology.

Bizarre....Joe's normal sense of logic seems to have eluded his grasp here. Not only do Green's points in (2) and (3) refute (1), they themselves are non sequitors.

Point 4 is similarly pointless. Different translations do not impact whether it is a chronology. It may mean a few of the numbers are off, but is it still a chronology.

Point 5 is the most interesting point. The stylistic features are worth noting, but it seems to be more of a stretch to claim this means that it isn't a complete chronology. For instance, each genealogy including ten names might be more meaningful if the groupings were split on some important person, as opposed to Terah. The comment about each ending with 'a father having three sons' shows just how much of a stretch this point really is. It is like those 9-11 lists that try and get all the facts that relate to 9-11. Just as those lists don't really mean anything, there is no reason to think that a father having 3 sons is necessarily a designed part of the geneaologies nor even if it is that it is relevant to whether they are chronologies or not. (For instance, it may be the case that the Author wanted a chronology, but to make it stylistically consistent, only listed 3 of the sons).

Whilst these points are all worth thinking about, I don't think they help much in addressing the old earth/young earth question. Clearly, using the information we know about these geneaologies to get an approximate date is a lot more useful than trying to argue from silence for other dates. Finally, even if Green's point is true, this hardly amounts to anything troubling to the young earth position.

In the comments Joe (and David) also makes the point that in treating genesis genealogies as chronology, you get some strange results, such as noah and abraham being contemporaries. (Check out a visual representation of Ussher's chronology). But why is this a problem? Simply because we don't think of them as contemporaries normally...but this is because we are used to thinking in 80 years of life, not 950....

In the comments David also makes a point I have responded to him before...
As for the views of the experts, the writings of the early church fathers show almost none (with the possible exception of Ambrose) held to a 24-hour view. Mostly for two reasons:

1) Some believed the sun, coming on day four, brought "time" along with it--that is there was no such thing as time before there was a way to reckon it, so at least the for the first three days it is meaningless to speak of duration.

2) To reconcile that Adam did not die within 24 hours after he sinned, but God said he would surely die, they decided that this was a case of a day being 1000 years to God (2 Pet. 3:8 ). Thus some viewed creation as spanning 6000 years.

Augustine, on the other hand, viewed creation as instantaneous-- mathematically speaking the most extreme possible departure from the 144 hour view.

I dealt with this in this post.
the ‘Holy Fathers’ interpreted Genesis (and other Scriptures) both literally and symbolically. That is, they believed the text was literal history, but that it also had a mystical meaning related to the spiritual life of the individual believer or the whole church. It is for this reason that superficial readers of these ancient writings can find passages, which appear to support their non-literal, old-earth views. Among the details of Genesis 1–11 that the ‘Holy Fathers’ (even the most mystical ones) clearly took literally are these: length of days (24-hours), order of Creation events (e. g. earth and plants before the Sun), instantaneous creation of living things with maturity (e. g. Adam being created as an adult not an infant, plants with fruit on the branches, etc.), and continues on saying They were not dogmatic about the precise age of the earth since the Greek text of the OT (Septuagint (LXX)—preferred by Orthodox theologians) and Hebrew (Masoretic) text disagreed (which didn‘t bother the ‘Fathers’),6 but they placed it approximately at 5500 BC . However, it is important to note, the ‘Holy Fathers’ were equally explicit that in the literal history of Genesis (as elsewhere in the Bible) the anthropomorphic language describing God was not literal (pp. 87, 198, 247, 277, 404). So David's misunderstanding of the early church fathers beliefs is understandable based on an incomplete investigation into the fathers ideas of scripture.

Regarding Augustine, he felt that the creation of the universe and life was instantaneous. But Augustine was not a hebrew scholar but was a member of the Alexandrian school which fancifully allegorized almost all Scripture, hardly a sound hermeneutic. (As a side note, Augustine was influenced by neo-platonic philosophy, just as many christian's today are influenced by scientific theory about the unobservable past)
Hopefully David will investigation this more fully before continuing to make the same claims.

Now on to David Heddle's post. David is arguing that the young earth position has major problems if they consistently interpret genesis.
My Christian brothers who are Young Earth Creationists (YEC) generally argue that there was no death before the fall. Interesting yet hypothetical questions about the result of an elephant stepping on an ant are often considered impertinent. Still we wonder: would the ant be impervious to any injury, or would it sustain catastrophic damage and yet survive? Or would God intervene to divert the ant before the pachydermial stomp?
Whilst it is generally stated as 'no death before the fall', the YEC is more precisely stated as 'no death of something with a nephesh spirit before the fall'. It is probable that ants (being insects) are not included.

But onto the main thrust of David's position
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Gen 2:16:17)

This is, in part, the basis for assuming that there was no death prior to the fall. But of course if it does refer to physical death, it would really argue, by its narrow focus, that animals already died, unless you think animal death was introduced after human death, which seems absurd.

YEC problem 1: The pain of death threat in Gen. 2:17 appears to apply only to humans.
Indeed. On looking at ONLY Gen 2:17 it indeed appears only to apply to humans. But exegesis is about more than just the single verse.
In Genesis 3:21 God slays animals (The first recorded animal death in the bible) as a result of the fall. You could also look at Gen 1:29-30 (All animals vegetarians), Hebrews 9:22 (Blood must be shed to pay for sin - And which blood was that before Jesus? Animals - Animal death was required to pay for sin), Romans 5:12-21, Romans 8:18-25 (The whole world suffers because of sin - Animals and all), I Corinthians 15:21,22,26, Acts 3:21 (ALL things to be restored), Revelation 21:4. All these versus provide a fuller context of the bibles teaching on death and make it more consistent to view all nephesh death as being the result of sin, not just human death.

The 'narrow' focus is more a result of the specific consequences for Adam and Eve. This is why Gen 2:17 mentions nothing about pain in child birth, hard toil or thorns.

Another problem is that the carrying out of the death sentence appears to be scheduled for the very day of the infraction. If this is physical death, how many ways can we explain the fact that Adam did not drop dead on the day he sinned? I can think of some:

1. God changed his mind.
2. Adam did not die, but the process of death began.
3. A day is a thousand years (1 Pet. 3:8) and Adam did die within 1000 years.
4. The death being referred to is not physical but spiritual death.

A few things come instantly to mind.
The first is that David is ignoring proper exegesis of the word 'Yom' when he states "The problem here, for YECs, is that if a day does not mean a literal day in Genesis 2, perhaps it doesn't mean a literal day in Genesis 1.". This is just not the case. The use of Yom in the above passage is contextually able to be interpreted as a long period. In Genesis 1 it is not. Simple. Done. QED.

David's second problem is therefore not a problem. But he does pose another question
That leads to an interesting question. Had they not sinned, would Adam and Eve have lived forever?
Well of course, and his complaints about the current population are somewhat irrelevant. If Adam and even didn't sin, we have no idea what would have been the state of things 6000 years later. In fact, it is impossible to know and arguing we would be overpopulated is a shallow rhetorical trick.

Also, if David's claim is that this verse talks of spiritual death, then he also has the same problem. Because Adam and Eve's spirit did not die that day (or any other day for that matter...our spirit is eternal) was merely seperated from God. It may be 'dead to sin' but this is not what the verse says dead (die).

Finally, David says
However, Gen. 3:22-23 is one of the most puzzling passages in all of scripture. It states there is a tree of life in the garden, and that God exiled Adam and Eve so that they would not eat of it and live forever. So that is a reasonable (fatal, perhaps)argument against my contention that unfallen Adam and Eve would have grown old and (peacefully and painlessly) died, only to move on to an even better paradise. However, it raises more questions than it answers. What are these trees, and why does it appear they (especially the tree of life) have magic properties?...

Why the phrase 'magic properties'? Did the mud that Jesus used to heal the blind man have magic properties? What about Jesus' cloak which healed the bleeding woman? Moses' staff seems to have had magic properties...even when he did something that was against God's will (Bring water from the stone the second time). Clearly, an object can have properties that seem magic and this doesn't argue against the 'Tree of life'
Missing Fish Link the New Icon
Jonathan Witt, quotes Icons of Evolution, has commented on the new 'missing link' Tiklaalik. Wells notes many of the similarities between this 'missing link' and Archaeoptryx. Some good quotes from his book that are relevant. Reminding us of how fossils are not a good basis for lineage..
Henry Gee, chief science writer for Nature... [wrote:] "No fossil is buried with its birth certificate" ... and "the intervals of time that separate fossils are so huge that we cannot say anything definite about their possible connection through ancestry and descent." It's hard enough, with written records, to trace a human lineage back a few hundred years. When we have only a fragmentary fossil record, and we're dealing with millions of years -- what Gee calls "Deep Time" -- the job is effectively impossible... Gee concludes: "To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story -- amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific."
And then of course, there is the ol Archaeoptryx claims which were announced with the same fan-fare when the fossils were first discovered...
Some biology textbooks continue to present Archaeopteryx as the classic example of a missing link. Mader's 1998 Biology calls it "a transitional link between reptiles and birds," and William Schraer and Herbert Stoltze's 1999 Biology: The Study of Life tells students that "many scientists believe it represents an evolutionary link between reptiles and birds."

But both sides in the current controversy over bird origins agree that modern birds are probably not descended from Archaeopteryx. And although the two factions disagree about the ancestry of Archaeopteryx, neither one has really solved the problem. Following the logic of Darwin's theory to sometimes silly extremes, cladists insist that the ancestors of Archaeopteryx were bird-like dinosaurs that do not appear in the fossil record until tens of millions of years later. Their critics look to animals that clearly lived earlier, but have not yet found one similar enough to Archaeopteryx to be a good candidate. As a result, both sides are still looking for the missing link.

Isn't it ironic that Archaeopteryx, which more than any other fossil persuaded people of Darwin's theory in the first place, has been dethroned largely by cladists, who more than any other biologists have taken Darwin's theory to its logical extreme? The world's most beautiful fossil, the specimen Ernst Mayr called "the almost perfect link between reptiles and birds," has been quietly shelved, and the search for missing links continues as though Archaeopteryx had never been found.

Somethings never change....Evolution continues to rely on a sliding scale of evidence. Every time one evidence collapses, they find something else to prop up their rickety old theory.
Missing Link A Little Fishy
I mentioned yesterday about a supposed transitional fossil. Well, today, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and Creation Evolution News (CEN) have their initial responses up. Like me, AIG mentions the Ceolocanth
There is the coelacanth fish, found in the same geological system (Devonian it is called) as this Tiktaalik discovery, that also has lobed fins. These lobed fins were once thought to enable the coelacanth to walk on the ocean floor (in fact it was, like “Tiklaalik,” once considered by evolutionists to be a type of transitional form). Later, it was determined that the coelacanth fins were used for better maneuvering through the water, and not for walking. The new creature uncovered in the Arctic might be something similar.

CEN notices a few interesting comments in the Nature articles themselves.
In the first paper by Daeschler, Shubin and Jenkins,1 they begin, “The relationship of limbed vertebrates (tetrapods) to lobe-finned fish (sarcopterygians) is well established, but the origin of major tetrapod features has remained obscure for lack of fossils that document the sequence of evolutionary changes.” That is a strange statement. It sounds something like, We know it’s true; we just lack evidence.
Heh...that sounds just like most of evolutionary theory....
Back again, with this new discover is yet another ad hoc claim of 'convergent evolution'.
However, “Some tetrapod-like features evolved independently in other sarcopterygian groups,” while other two other fossils seem to have features shared with basal tetrapods by convergent evolution (homoplasy).
This comes back to the original quote...they know it evolved, so it must of evolved convergently!!

This is not how you do science, this is how you tell stories. If you are more sciency, be sure to check out CEN's response, although it is long, it has a look at what the scientists really claim.
Evolutionists Lame Attempt To Explain Irreducible Complexity
A paper in science attempts to provide an example of an irreducibly complex (IC) system evolving in a direct challenge to one of the pillars of intelligent design. Michael Behe wastes no time in a response in which he calls this attempt the 'lamest possible'.

Read both and decide for yourself who has the stronger argument. Ultimately. I think Behe's 4 points are a damning indictment of the lack of logical scholarship in the Science paper.
Dotted Divider Line

« Review of David Heddle's Here, Eyeball This! | Main | Debating the Controversy That Doesn't Exist »
The Lamest Attempt Yet to Answer the Challenge Irreducible Complexity Poses for Darwinian Evolution
Michael Behe

The study by Bridgham et al (2006) published in the April 7 issue of Science is the lamest attempt yet — and perhaps the lamest attempt that’s even possible — to deflect the problem that irreducible complexity poses for Darwinism.

The bottom line of the study is this: the authors started with a protein which already had the ability to strongly interact with three kinds of steroid hormones (aldosterone, cortisol, and “DOC” [11-deoxycorticosterone]). After introducing several simple mutations the protein interacted much more weakly with all of those steroids. In other words, a pre-existing ability was decreased.

That’s it! The fact that this extremely modest and substantially irrelevant study is ballyhooed with press releases, a commentary in Science by Christoph Adami, and forthcoming stories in the mainstream media, demonstrates the great anxiety some folks feel about intelligent design.

In the study the authors wished to see if two related modern proteins called the glucocorticoid (GR) receptor and mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) could be derived from a common ancestral protein. Using clever analysis the authors made a protein that they thought represented the ancestral protein. That protein binds several, structurally-similar hormones, as does modern MR. They then introduced two amino acid changes into the protein which are found in modern GR. The two changes caused the ancestral protein to bind the different kinds of hormones anywhere from ten- to a thousand-fold more weakly. That protein bound aldosterone about three-fold more weakly than cortisol. The authors note that modern GR (in tetrapods) also binds aldosterone more weakly than cortisol. So perhaps, the thinking goes, an ancestral gene that could bind both hormones duplicated in the past, one copy accumulated those two mutations to become the modern GR, and the other copy became modern MR.

Here are number of comments in response:

1) This continues the venerable Darwinian tradition of making grandiose claims based on piddling results. There is nothing in the paper that an ID proponent would think was beyond random mutation and natural selection. In other words, it is a straw man.

2) The authors (including Christoph Adami in his commentary) are conveniently defining “irreducible complexity” way, way down. I certainly would not classify their system as IC. The IC systems I discussed in Darwin’s Black Box contain multiple, active protein factors. Their “system”, on the other hand, consists of just a single protein and its ligand. Although in nature the receptor and ligand are part of a larger system that does have a biological function, the piece of that larger system they pick out does not do anything by itself. In other words, the isolated components they work on are not irreducibly complex.

3) In the experiment just two amino acid residues were changed! No new components were added, no old components were taken away.

4) Nothing new was produced in the experiment; rather, the pre-existing ability of the protein to bind several molecules was simply weakened. The workers begin their experiments with a protein that can strongly bind several, structurally-very-similar steroids, and they end with a protein that at best binds some of the steroids ten-fold more weakly. (Figure 4C)

5) Such results are not different from the development of antibiotic resistance, where single amino acid changes can cause the binding of a toxin to a particular protein to decrease (for example, warfarin resistance in rats, and resistance to various AIDS drugs). Intelligent design proponents happily agree that such tiny changes can be accomplished by random mutation and natural selection.

Evolutionary Thinking Exposed
A fantastic recount of a talk by Cornelius Hunter at Cornell University. Cornelius demonstrated clearly that evolution is a philosophical, as opposed to empirical idea. How did he demonstrate it? The audience demonstrated it for him...after he said they would. Brilliant. A small sample, read the rest
Like giving a theoretical lecture followed by an experimental demonstration, this two-event format allowed me both (i) to explain the non scientific philosophical background of evolution and (ii) to show a live demonstration of evolutionary thinking to prove my point.

In the history of modern western thought, evolutionary thinking arose as a consequence of several theological and philosophical traditions mandating purely naturalistic explanations in the historical sciences. One of these traditions was the perceived intellectual necessity of naturalism. Without naturalistic explanations, it has been argued since the nineteenth century, science is impossible. That's right, impossible.

Missing Link or Missing Brain
You decide.

Some important questions.

How do they know it is 'transitional'?
How is the Archaeoptryx 'Transitional' when fully formed birds are found in older strata?
How is this a blow to anything intelligent design (ID) has said?
How many creatures alive are more similar to this 'Ancient missing link? Is this just another coelocanth?
How can they say this fossil shows "the evolution of animals from living in water to living on land happened gradually, with fish first living in shallow water." How do they know it lived in shallow water?

I can't wait to see the pictures of the fossil.

Scientific American has a photo of the fossil. I'll put up another post once more solid info is out.
Quick Comments
There is a way of approaching the Golden Rule of ethics (do unto others etc) in which you get people to make decisions without knowing which side of the decision they will be on. Michael Barone at the Washington Times poses this question for media bias.
Let's say you were part of a group designing the news media from scratch. Someone says that it would be a good idea to have competing news media -- daily newspapers and weekly magazines, radio and television news programs. Sounds like a good start.
Someone else says that it would be a good idea to staff these news media with people who are literate and well-educated. Check. Then someone says let's have 90 percent of the people who work for these organizations be from one of the nation's two competitive political parties and 10 percent from the other.
Uh, you might find yourself saying, especially if you weren't sure that your party would get the 90 percent, maybe that's not such a good idea. But that's the news media we have today.
But of course, many view their own position as being 'centrist' and so are blinded to the true bias in the media.

The US democrats are doing a great job of showing their lack of spine...again. This time, not one of them has criticized their own moonbat Cynthia McKinney for her ranting about her assaulting a capital police officer. It should be a no brainer, but apparently ms McKinney feels she is above the law in more ways than one.

Aspartame has been cleared of any carcinogenic effect. So much for the eco-fearmongers.

An Australian judge is pushing back against the leftist victim mentality in ruling that a rapists upbringing is irrelevant to whether he should follow the law or not. Now if only the Northern Territory would follow suit.

Thomas Sowell has an awesome column on whether facts are obsolete.
People who urge us to rely on the United Nations, instead of acting "unilaterally," or who urge us to follow other countries in creating a government-run medical care system, often show not the slightest interest in getting facts about the actual track record of either the UN or government-run medical systems.
It is too tempting I guess for those with the loudest voices (like the main stream media, to not care about facts, but instead try to push their agenda in spite of the facts. Take this article on the decreasing chaos in Iraq. You would never know it by reading the media.

In an amusing turn around, a darwinian group was denied funding by in Canada because they were too dogmatic about evolution.
Info on Dover ID Case
It seems there was many behind the scene machinations by the Anti-ID groups.
One might assume the new board's first item of business would be to rescind the old board's evolution policy. Not so. During their first meeting on December 5th, former Dover Board member David Napierski proposed a resolution to rescind the old board’s evolution policy (prior to any court ruling). Acting as a private citizen, Napierski procured the opinion of an attorney, who said that a vote to rescind the evolution policy could stave off a courtroom defeat and significantly reduce or eliminate legal costs and fees. Yet the new board rejected Napierski’s proposal to rescind the old policy.

What's more, one of the new board members, Bryan Rehm, was both a Dover C.A.R.E.S. candidate and a plaintiff represented by the ACLU and AUSCS in Kitzmiller.

Why would the new board keep in place the evolution policy it once so ardently opposed?

Read the whole thing.
More Stupid Scientist Explanations for the Spiritual
This time it is Professor Doron Nof, who seems to have an ice fixation. He believes, with lots of faith, that Jesus walking on water was actually Jesus walking on ice. Of course, he doesn't explain how Jesus did this ice walking without falling over, especially when Jesus was pulling Peter out of the water. This is almost as comical as his ice theory about Moses crossing the red sea.

Remember, an excuse is something you believe in spite of the facts. Doron believes a lot of excuses.
Iraq WMD Reality Check
Or, how to handle an interviewers question. Frank Gaffney lays it out for ABC's Tony Jones in a fairly blunt way and Tony Jones has nothing to say, quickly moving the conversation on.
TONY JONES: Except for the fact as it turns out - I'm sorry to interrupt you there - except for the fact as it turns out, he didn't have any?

FRANK GAFFNEY: No, it doesn't turn out at all that he didn't have any. It turns out we haven't found what he had. But what we did find, what the Iraq Survey Group did find, is plans to use the in place dual-use manufacturing facilities once sanctions were lifted to put chemical and biological agents in aerosol cans and perfume sprayers to be shipped to the United States and Europe. That was the plan for terrorist activity that we have confirmed was in place under Saddam Hussein's regime. You haven't heard a great deal about it. Perhaps it has not been reported adequately enough to the Australian people or, for that matter, to the American people. But it's true. That's the kind of thing that prompts me to say I believe it was absolutely necessary to prevent Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies from being able to operate as they would have been, had we not liberated and country. By the way, I happen to think it's a great thing that we've liberated the country. I very much regret the loss of life that's continuing there. I think it's incumbent on all of us, and we're grateful for Australia's help on this, to prevent that further blood-letting . At the hands of a minority of people who clearly don't want the Iraqi people to enjoy freedom or security.
A great example of a clear and concise rebuttal of the moonbat left 'Bush Lied' lie.

(HT: Tim Blair)
Psycho Greeny Scientists
A scientist has proclaimed that we would be better off if a nasty painful ebola virus killed off 90% of the humans on the planet. And what did his audience do? Applaud.

Yep. We should definitely not try and shackle scientists with moral limits as they are all obviously such ethical and moral creatures. We can trust them to have our best interests at heart.

Okay. Enough with the sarcasm. The good scientist also proclaims that we are no more special than bacteria. So my real question is why is he really concerned about whether over population is going to cause problems or not? In fact, why doesn't he just off himself now as his continued existence causes the death of millions of bacteria? It would also reduce the human population too.

*sigh* Intelligent people can believe really stupid things.

Update: A partial transcript of the talk has been released and Telic Thoughts think it shows that the scientist in question did not express happiness at the thought that we would have 90% of the population wiped out by ebola. Personally, I am not yet convinced, as the transcript is missing the text that is really at the heart of the issue. Why not release a full transcript or at least the full portion that covers the remarks in question?
Old Earth Theory Becoming Decrepit
Old Agers continue to grasp at straws in trying to explain how big old looking stars and galaxies are at the edges of the universe. You see, if big bang is correct, then anything we observe from the edge of the universe should look really young as we are observing light (or x-rays etc) that apparently started travelling 14 billion years ago near the beginning of the universe.

Suffice to say, having old stars and galaxies at the edge of the universe is a clear prediction of Russell Humphrey's white hole cosmology that involves gravitational time dilation keeping the earth only 7 thousand years old whilst allowing distant galaxies to age billions of years.
Accountability and the Sexual Revolution
Dr Laura Schlessinger talks about many of the calls she gets from women saying
I also get calls from women who complain that their guy has had sex with them, shacked up with them, made babies with them, and then moved onto other conquests. The whole blame, in their minds, is on the men! Unbelievable! When I bring to their attention that for every step of the way (unmarried sex, all birth control has risk, living together without marriage, no spiritual center to their relationships) they were complicit, they get angry with me. It seems that women have been trained to have "no rules" but still blame men when things don't go as their fantasies would lead them.
This is just another example of our victim mentality culture where everyone expects everyone else to abide by the 'rules' whilst we ourselves are able to live by our own rules. Just like socialism, where people only have 'rights' not responsibilities, we are creating a society of selfishness, which can only go one way.

The bigger question in all this is about human nature. Are we Good? Evil? Somewhere in between? And then you need to ask why are we what we are and how we can deal with it. If you get that question right, and then base your society on that, then clearly society will promote long term happiness and contentment. If you get it wrong, then society will spiral into depression and anxiety. It isn't hard to see which way society is tending at the moment. Perhaps we should rethink our focus on just rights, and look again to our responsibilities.

Update: A related bit of humor is found in this list of product warning labels
Non-Universal Ethics Notice:

Due to the possibility that a common notion of ethics are not
universally shared by all sentient beings, and that therefore the
manufacturer may have entirely different concept of "fairness",
"equity", "honesty", and "integrity" than the consumer, the consumer
should not expect the product purchased to conform in any way to the
advertised properties of the product.
If there are no universal ethical obligations, then why are we trained to expect others to act (as in Dr Laura's callers) according to some standards?
Natural Selection and Light Bulbs
How many Natural Selectionists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Well actually, we won't even TRY to change the bulb. We will simply stop using the room that has the burned out bulb, and start using only rooms with FUNCTIONING bulbs. That way, over time, ....

Islam Update
More terror arrests in Melbourne. Three men have been arrested and a terror plot foiled.

Iran is trying to flex their muscles at the moment, launching missiles and torpedoes in an attempt to show they are not to be messed with. Additionally, they are threatening terrorist reprisals if the US attacks it's nuclear sites. Terrorist activities? I guess that quote about being part of an Axis of Evil is accurate.

Front Page magazine explains why the peaceful majority is irrelevant in Islam.
used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War Two. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.

"Very few people were true Nazis" he said,"but, many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories."
And the same for the Soviets, the Japanese. History should teach us that although most Muslims are peace loving, unless they do something to stop their own religious fanatics, they are irrelevant.

Dennis Prager, also referring to Nazi's and Soviets, explains why the Islamic Threat is much worse.
Just as previous generations had to fight Nazism, communism and fascism, our generation has to confront militant Islam.

And whereas there were unique aspects to those evils, there are two unique aspects to the evil emanating from the Islamic world that render this latest threat to humanity particularly difficult to overcome.
He is referring to the vast number of Muslim's and that they don't mind dying, which makes Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) a less useful pacifier.

Investors Business Daily wonders how people can view Islam as a religion of peace.
In the wake of the cartoon jihad and mosque-on-mosque violence in Iraq, most Americans now think Islam has more violent believers than any other faith. Yet many still view it as a "peaceful religion."

Psychologists might call this cognitive dissonance — a state of mind where rational people essentially lie to themselves. But in this case, it's understandable. In our politically correct culture, criticizing any religion, even one that plots our destruction, is still taboo. And no one wants to suggest the terrorists are driven by their holy text.
Some verses are listed to back up the holy text comment. Just remember that interpretation in Islam is done by having later pronouncements supplant earlier ones, so some of those verses may not be current.

Gates of Vienna has an article on Muslim terrorists bombing voting booths in Thailand. Just remember this when the moonbat left blames all the violence in Iraq on US presence. It seems they don't need the US as an excuse in many cases.

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