Friday, October 20, 2017

Response to Virginia, Part 1

Today I am responding to this article.  This is a companion article to the following video, which is the first of (possibly many) parts:

This article will focus mainly on the specific questions posed by the author.  Please do take some time to read the original article.  There's also a second, follow-up response that's been written here which I will also address in due time.

Let us begin.

The basic premise of the article, and subsequent exchanges, is as follows:
I would ask you to list one contradiction in Jason Lisle's argument? What evidence proves him wrong?

 I shall do my best.
 How do you know that there was no no six day creation, Adam, Eve, fall, or flood?
 There's plenty of evidence to the contrary for each, however, let's give just a few simple examples, in the interest of brevity.

The six-day creation of Genesis 1 is refuted, first and foremost, by Genesis 2.  Genesis one tells us that god created water, then plants, then animals, then humans.  Genesis 2 tells us god created humans, then created plants, then created water, then put man among them.

I'm only putting this here to demonstrate that the bible contradicts itself in these matters.  Also, Ken Ham blocked me on twitter for asking this, and I have as yet to receive an adequate response from anyone.

We have many ways to determine that the earth was not created in a span of about two days (since the rest of creation was not related to creating earth, but rather the things upon it).  There are various dating methods, we have tree ring records stretching back further, we have a genetic record, and so on.  The stars are further from us than their light could reach in the six to ten millennia since those alleged five days.

We can be certain there was no Adam and Eve for similar reasons we can be sure there was no flood.  If the flood were worldwide, then Noah's family has the same problems for genetics as Adam and Eve. If Adam and Eve were the first humans, then it means that Cain took his wives from the neighboring tribes which god didn't create.  Alternately, it could mean that Cain's wives were Nephilim, but then that would mean that the entire bloodline since is no more divine than those neighboring tribes, including Moses, Noah, Mary, Jesus, and so on.

I could have brought up other things, like human ancestral fossils that are older than Adam and Eve, or the stories that Adam and Eve are copied from.  I could have brought up that there are cave paintings dated to be several times older.  However, as we will see, the bible is a much stronger motivator for their belief.  At every turn, Virginia and her family dismiss any science they don't like.  Dismissing the bible might prove a bit more difficult, for it would mean you would have to call the bible incorrect to call my evidence incorrect.  I would much rather tell you about evolution, cosmology, astrology, physics, chemistry, and so on; but you don't want to hear about evolution just yet.  You want to hear about what your bible has to say, so I'll present you with the same kind of arguments people presented to me when I believed in it.
It is true that Dr. Lisle says that we look at the same evidence. In what way does this distort reality?
You have to accept all of the verifiable evidence. You can't simply dismiss some because it disagrees with the bible.  Let us take here an example.

The bible claims, in Genesis 9:13, that god created the rainbows as a promise he would never flood the earth again.

Science has shown, however, that light is complicated.  Light bends when it travels through different media.  This is called 'refraction' and 'diffraction.'  Things like water cause the light waves to separate. When this happens in the air, where the water is a vapor, we get the rainbow that everyone is familiar with.

I love having an excuse to use my photography.

Rainbows have been around since before the flood.  The flood was not why rainbows were 'created.'  Rainbows are not a covenant.  Rainbows happen whether there was a flood or not.  I can create a rainbow with a prism, or with a spray of water. These are two contradictory things.

The evidence points to the fact that rainbows simply happen as a result of nature.  The bible says that god created the first rainbow as a covenant after the flood that killed all but one small family.  If you don't understand the science behind this, that's fine.  Jason Lisle does understand the science behind this, but he would rather lie to you than try to educate you.  I do not want to lie to you, so I must explain it to you as best I can, in the way you will best understand.  Saying that god created it, rather than saying that it's because light bends, is one way of distorting the evidence.

To be fair, the people who wrote the bible thought that light came from our eyes, and thus would not have known that light actually comes from sources like the sun, or a candle (and it's why genesis calls the moon a light). The idea that light comes from the eye is called the Emission Theory, and was originally framed as the story of the goddess Aphrodite crafting the eye, and then lighting the fire behind it.

A little over one millennium ago, in the year 1012, Ibn Al-Haytham wrote the book of optics, first proving that this Emission Theory was incorrect.
This is Ibn Al-Haytham.
He was a very smart man.
We do look at the same evidence as evolutionists and creationists. We both look at the Grand Canyon for example.

These are the falls at Havasu in the Grand Canyon,
formerly known as the  Bridal Veil Falls.
This photo is about 117 years old.
This will be important.

We as creationists realize that it is a result of catastrophic events around the time of the global flood, I know you deny that reality but you cannot dismiss evidence simply because you disagree.
By Gonzo fan2007 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Okay, then I shall request that you are as open-minded as you'd like your opponent to be.  Here's what the falls look like today.  They've changed quite a bit in 117 years. In fact, in this time we've been able to see how it changes, and what various conditions caused it.  We can measure how much the rocks have eroded, and so on.
At least some evolutionists believe...
 Does not matter.  Stick to the evidence.  Beliefs are not true just because people have them, just like Aphrodite lighting the fire in the eye for men to see.  A great many people believed that, for a great many thousands of years.
...that the Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado river flowing through the Grand Canyon over millions of years.
This is what the evidence shows.  We find that the canyon appears to erode at the rates we find, and it appears to do so in consistent, predictable ways.  If the flood were primarily responsible for the changes in the canyon, then we shouldn't expect things like the flood of 1910 to have the kinds of effects it did.  Remember that black-and-white photo up there?  It was taken 10 years or so before that flood.
I know that other evolutionists may have a different theory but I am using this as one example.
See, there's another problem.  You're discussing geology as though it relates to evolution.  It doesn't, but I'm trying to answer your questions as honestly as I can without sidetracking us too much.  Also, 'evolutionist' isn't a thing. "Evolution" is not a religion.  Evolution describes why we have dalmatians and poodles, rather than just wolves.  It describes why we can breed corn for specific traits, like growing taller, or having bigger ears.  It describes why people with red hair tend to have children with red hair, and why people without it tend not to.  It describes why the flu can overcome our body's defenses, and how our bodies can fight the flu in the first place.

The flood story of the bible, or of the Epic of Gilgamesh, or of many other religions, really doesn't have much to do with it.  However, let's stick to the canyon for a moment since we're here already.
We both look at the same evidence yet arrive at two very different conclusions. What evidence is Dr. Lisle ignoring?
 I'm gonna gloss over this point momentarily.  I do not have Jason's arguments in your original post, so I cannot respond to them directly.
You said that " He appears not to have internalized the essence of science – an approach to inquiry that depends on testing explanations against data, not fitting data to predetermined conclusions." What evidence points to evolution?
Awww, no more grand canyon?  One last point on the flood, though. Genesis 8:6 and 8:13 say that the water dries up, which means that in Gen 8:8 and 8:11, the water is receding into the air, not to the ground. Clearly, we can see that the bible does not even support a flood narrative in which the waters can cause the grand canyon to form.  Just wanted to put that there.
Evolution is not proven by data...
Wrong. Again, if evolution were wrong, then we could not diagnose genetic or hereditary diseases, because they couldn't possibly happen.  If evolution were wrong, then sperm and ova would not be necessary for sexual reproduction (as we humans do).  Every piece of testable, repeatable evidence we can find points to the fact that evolution works.  Whether it's a virus injecting it's DNA into a host, or the color of a cat's hair, evolution describes the process by which it happens.

The bible, on the other hand, tells us that breeding cows in front of sticks will change the color of their hair. Genesis 30:39 says that spotted sticks are necessary to have spotted cows.  This is just as silly as saying that chocolate milk only comes from brown cows.  It simply isn't true.  You can even try this experiment if you have some cows, or you can ask your local dairy farmer, if you don't believe me.  None of them keeps spotted sticks for ensuring they get a Geurnsey or a Holstein instead of a Brown Swiss or a Dutch Belted.

You can breed two Dutch Belted cows together all you want in front of spotted sticks. The vast majority of the babies they have will have the belted pattern, not a spotted one.
it is a theory that has not been proven.
Incorrect.  A 'scientific theory' is a very specific thing, and it means something very different to what people usually use it to mean. A theory is the best explanation for something we have, which has yet to be disproved.  If we do find something it doesn't fit, then we figure out the best explanation and it gets appended or amended to the theory.
Everyone has a worldview, a set of your presuppositions, through which we interpret the evidence.
This is correct.  The scientific method helps us eliminate those by removing the need to presuppose anything.  We don't have to presuppose, for example, that the world was flooded just so YHWH could create a rainbow.
This is why we come to two different conclusions when we look at the same evidence.
This is correct.
A creationist comes to the evidence with the worldview of a young earth designed by God ...
 That's correct.  Biblical creationists believe the earth was formed, about six to ten millennia ago, by one of the gods listed in the old testament.  There are other forms of creationism, like those held by the Greeks/Romans in which Chaos (the god) was one of entities that created the void.  The people who believe in the Norse pantheon (Odin is the chief god) hold that Yggdrasil is the world tree, upon which all the universes hang.  There are many beliefs regarding various forms of creationism.  A biblical creationists presupposes that those other ones are false.
and an evolutionist comes to the evidence with a worldview of an old earth
It's not a worldview.  It is what the evidence presents. 
that came about through random chance.
 No, this is wrong.  It's not 'random.'  It's not 'chance.'  I could explain to you in great detail why it isn't either of those things, but I'm trying to write a blog post, not a dissertation.  Perhaps in the next one.
We both have predetermined thoughts of what the evidence should say.
Incorrect.  Let's take the rainbow example again, since it's one of the simplest examples, and one you can try yourself.  Ibn Al-Haytham did not presuppose that emission theory was wrong.  Some of the greatest minds of history, like Euclid (the father of classical mathematics) and Ptolemy. Ptolemy even described how light bends and reflects, but also still believed the light came from the back of our eyes.

Even Ibn Al-Haytham didn't get it all correct, because he had no way of knowing that light wasn't simply rays.  He thought the lens of our eyes was where we collected the image, although we know now that it's the retina (the back of our eyes).  This is why we can use lenses like we find in a pair of glasses to focus the light.  The people 1,000 years ago had no way of knowing that light isn't simply a ray, and yet they still managed to discover all of this while believing it was not correct. This is how science works.  Even the simplest notions you hold must be put to the side while investigating reality.
No one comes to the evidence unbiased.
Again, this is correct.  Science requires you to completely remove your biases. You must ask yourself why you believe that rainbows are created by god, and not by the bending of light.
You challenged Dr. Lisle to put his faith on the line and to test his beliefs. I ask you to do the same.
Okay.  I expect you to do the same.  You are very nearly an adult now.  Pretend for a moment your god doesn't exist.  Pretend that no god exists.  Now, read the part in Genesis 30 again.  The bible says you should get spotted animals if you breed them in front of spotted sticks.  You can test this. If your god is real, this should happen as it is described there.  The problem is, if it doesn't happen, it means that story is very likely wrong, as it doesn't describe the data you collect. 

You can find other experiments in the bible.  For example, the bible says in Jeremiah 10:13 that god creates the clouds, thunder, rain, lightning, and wind.  Science shows us that, for the most part, this is a result of the water cycle, where water evaporates and turns into clouds, which in turn become rain, which feeds the rivers and such that evaporate back into clouds and so on. Lightning is caused when clouds cause electricity to build up from friction, like a giant capacitor.  Thunder happens as a result of air pressure changing rapidly (just like any sound - it's all how air pressure changes the position of your eardrum).

This is what the evidence provides.
Consider how in an random chance evolutionary worldview you can account for uniformity of nature.
Again, it isn't 'random chance.'  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  This is classical Newtonian physics. Everything from the most basic physics to the most complex chemistry is described by this (quantum stuff is more complicated and described by different interactions, but the basic premise exists).  It's not random, it's not chance.  It may seem too complicated for us to understand, but I bet you also can't explain to me how your phone or computer uses those same laws to show you this response.  It works, you know the electricity works somehow, and it makes a picture on your screen. Just because it is complicated doesn't mean a god had to make it.

It's true that humans do make computers, but we don't make the laws of physics.  We can make computers work because the laws of physics are constant and uniform. If they were not, the hard drive would not keep its states and we couldn't save data on the platters (or I guess microSD drives now?).  Much like a house, we can build things very small and complex.  However, just because we can build the house doesn't mean we created the trees.  It simply means we used things that exist in new ways that are consistent with nature.
In order for science to take place we must assume the uniformity of nature.
Not exactly. We do not assume nature is uniform.  It simply appears to be.  We could even be wrong about that, but it hasn't happened yet.  If it happens in the future, then we'll have to record that observation and adjust the theory to account for it. We can't even assume it's uniform; it just so happens that every time we measure it, it is uniform.
If nature was not uniform how would we know that an experiment that we performed yesterday would have the same results today?
We would test for it.  For example, when you get out of bed every morning, you're doing this test!  Every day that you step out of bed, onto the floor, and your sheet falls on the floor, gravity stays consistent.  You may not think about it consciously, but you would be very aware if you suddenly fell out of your bed at twice the speed, or if you suddenly started floating out of bed! Even these basic notions must be put to the side.  We can't say with absolute certainty that gravity will continue working tomorrow, but it has worked consistently every time we've tested it so far.  Similarly, our predictions about it let us know if we've got it right, by how closely our predictions align with the results we get.

If I go to the top of a tall building every day, and drop an egg every day, I can make two observations.  I can observe how long it takes the egg to fall (timing it with a watch), and I can also see how long it takes for the sound to get back (again, timing it carefully).  I could use a high-speed camera and even get it to the nearest frame, perhaps .00001 second.  I would make an observation, perhaps it takes two seconds for the egg to fall, and somewhere around .1 second for the noise to return to me. I could then take this test several times, and I could start making predictions about how long it would take.  Then, every day, if my predictions are correct, I can start to form a theory.

Now comes the fun part.  Why does the egg take two seconds to fall every time? Why do I see the egg break before I hear it?  I now have a theory for what will happen when I drop the egg. Now I could start forming a theory about why it happens. Maybe I notice that, on days with strong wind, I can't hear the egg.  I wonder why that is, that I can hear the wind and not see it, but I can see the egg and not hear it.  From this, you could probably build a very solid theory.

Then you'd have to ask other people to do the same, because your results have to be repeatable and testable.
For all we know the principles of science could have changed overnight.
Sure.  Then again, if we presume for a moment your god is real, he sometimes does claim to have done that.  In Joshua 10:12, the sun stood still, allegedly.  Jesus walked on water in Matthew 14, so they claim. Even in Genesis, you're asked to believe that the laws of physics changed overnight, when god created something out of nothing (where did god come from, anyway?).  Moses allegedly parted the waters and turned a stick into a snake.

None of those things can happen today, for some reason.  You are the one claiming the rules have changed, not us.
Without God you cannot account for uniformity.
I believe that I did, actually, about 3-7 paragraphs ago.
How do you justify uniformity in your worldview?
Again, see above.
I would love to be able to have a conversation with you about this issue and Dr. Lisle will not delete this post. You posted on our page so we are able to keep it up. And if you know Dr. Lisle at all you will know that he is not afraid of someone posing a challenge to his beliefs he has nothing to hide from.
Please, direct him to our video, and this blog post.  Since he's not afraid of anything, let me link this here:

He stands by his beliefs as do I and I am happy to have a conversation where we challenge one another's views. 
I'm glad to hear that.  I realize you're young, but I've treated you just the same as I'd treat any adult. Shall we have a conversation?
Jason Lisle, you can do a lot better than I can with this. Do you have anything to add? ~Virginia, age 14
Tune in next time, when we respond to the next paragraph or two!