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Author Archives: Rag

The creation paradigm (1)

The term “paradigm” shall be used to indicate what Imré Lakatos called “research programmes.”

For Lakatos, what we think of as a ‘theory’ may actually be a succession of slightly different theories and experimental techniques developed over time, that share some common idea, or what Lakatos called their ‘hard core’. Lakatos called such changing collections ‘Research Programmes’. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imre_Lakatos].

The creation paradigm is presented here as the common idea of theories and histories around the concept of special creation. The core propositions of the creation paradigm are described.

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History and law

The main problem with evolution is not that it has the wrong history but that for evolution history is everything.  That’s everything including the laws of nature, philosophy, religion, God, literally everything.  The one law of evolution is that everything evolves.  There is no being, only becoming; there is nothing fixed, only change.

But surely they accept the laws of physics, don’t they?  Not really.  Rupert Sheldrake’s “The Presence of the Past” attempts to show that nature has “habits” rather than any fixed laws.  Like evolutionary species, the laws of physics are temporary and evolve, too.

So arguing about chronology and history is right up the evolutionary alley.  It doesn’t shift the debate to what evolutionists cannot accept: anything that does not change — laws or created/natural kinds.

Also, if the argument is about chronology and history, it is always possible to argue that God was involved and this is consistent with basic theology.  So the debate goes around in circles because chronology cannot be a basic doctrine of Christianity.

But law is a basic doctrine of Christianity.  If there is no law, there is no gospel: law and gospel go together.  And these are not just spiritual laws, but laws that include physical reality because resurrection is physical, too.

So the debate should be shifted to be about the existence of what does not change — laws, kinds, and the nature of God.

September 2014

Science and extraordinary events

Auditors have discovered a million dollars missing in the accounts of the venerable First Bank. What is the explanation?

(1) There has been no impropriety; small rounding errors of a few pennies have occurred many times over many years, which happened to add up to a million dollars.

(2) There was an embezzlement of a million dollars.

This is the situation science faces. A large difference might be explained by a long series of small changes, but at what point does the long series of small changes become harder to believe than one extraordinary event?

Science follows the principle that what is easiest to believe should be believed. Hume and others have argued that it would take an extraordinary amount of evidence to establish that an extraordinary event occurred. One result is that a large number of ordinary events have been taken to be more believable than one extraordinary event.

Evolution requires a very long and particular series of events to occur in which small changes lead to larger and larger changes that ultimately result in the biological diversity observed today. This has the advantage of not requiring the belief in any extraordinary event. But the sheer number and variety of particular changes over an extremely long time that would have to take place are harder to believe than any one extraordinary event.

It is reasonable to expect science to minimize the number and extent of extraordinary events but if extraordinary events are thereby eliminated, the result is something harder to believe than an extraordinary event. That goes against the principle that science should believe what is easiest to believe.

July 2014

Stages of a science

Based on the most developed sciences, physics and chemistry, I suggest each science eventually goes through the following five stages:

Stage 1. The Nascent Stage is characterized by monistic ideas such as ‘everything is a form of water’ (e.g., Thales).

Stage 2. The Classical Stage is characterized by unaided observation and commonplace ideas such as things are a combination of water, air, earth, and fire (the Bible* and Aristotle).  *I think this reflects the language used in the Bible, not the level of truth implicit in it.

Stage 3. The Pre-Modern Stage is characterized by unsystematic experiments and mystical ideas (e.g., alchemy).

Stage 4. The Modern Stage is characterized additionally by systematic experiments and inductive generalizations (e.g., Galileo, Newton).

Stage 5. The Post-Modern Stage is characterized additionally by thought experiments and grand syntheses (e.g., relativity, quantum mechanics).

I would place biology, geology, and cosmology in Stage 3. For example, as alchemists dreamed of transmuting base metals into gold, so Darwinists dream of transmuting lower species into humans. Stage 4 biology is just beginning.

Let me add that earlier stages are not necessarily wrong, only limited. Later stages show the limitations of previous stages.

November 2014

What is creation science?

In their book “What is Creation Science?” Henry Morris and Gary Parker contrast the evolution and creation world views/models and state: “The second world view–creation–maintains that the universe is not self-contained, but that it must have been created by processes which are not continuing as natural processes in the present.”

They go on to say: “Scientific creationism” can be discussed quite independently of “religious creationism”…

So as I understand it, religion (specifically the Bible) may motivate scientific creationism but is not part of the discipline.  All arguments within creation science should be ones that could in principle convince any reasonable person.  In short they should be based on evidence and follow logical methods of argument.

The problem with this is, how can we say anything about “processes which are not continuing as natural processes in the present” without getting into religion?  Can we infer something about these creation processes from observing the present world?  We may be able to infer that design exists in creation (as Dembski argues) but that does not get us very far.

Perhaps the only way to approach this is via counterfactuals.  Recall that counterfactuals are subjunctive conditionals so they concern what would have or might have occurred.  We need to think about the kind of design problems solved by the designs we observe, taking into consideration that the designs may be obscured by natural processes over time.  As we know more about these design scenarios, we may be able to predict designs before we observe them.

September 2014

Creation and separation

The word “creation” in theological and philosophical circles means (1) “creation from nothing”, that is, the transcendent and self-existing God producing other entities without starting from something pre-existing.  However, that is not the only meaning of “creation” in the Bible or common usage.  The other meaning is (2) making something from something, particularly, making something more differentiated from something less differentiated.  Think of a sculptor creating a statue from a marble block.

This ambiguity over the word “creation” leads to a lot of criticism of creationists for not being satisfied with the first definition.  We don’t need to coin a new word but we do need to emphasize that we are talking creation in both senses of the word as described in Genesis 1.

One could define evolutionists (particularly the “evolutionary creationists”) as those who accept the first definition but reject the second definition since they think God never directly changes the created world.  So our task is to convince people that God does directly separate creation — and will do so again in the last judgment.

This entails that the original creation from nothing was somewhat undifferentiated and that full creation is a two-step process of creation from nothing followed by direct creation/separation by God.

November 2014

A science of biological kinds

There is an analogy between chemical kinds — elements — and biological kinds.  Both show that things have differences in kind, not just degree.  The development of the periodic table was not controversial but biological kinds are strongly opposed by mainstream science.  What happened?

John S. Wilkins wrote his dissertation and book on “Species: A History of the Idea”.  While he is an evolutionist, he is as knowledgeable as anyone on the history here.  His blog post “What makes special creationism special?” outlines the history – see http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/2007/12/25/what-makes-special-creationism/

Basically, the focus turned to natural history and origins instead of natural science.  For chemical science the question “Which came first, hydrogen or oxygen?” is irrelevant.  Same for “What is the origin of water?”  The history of chemical elements or compounds is separate from the science of chemistry.  It should be the same for biology.  The natural history of organisms should be separate from the science of biological kinds.

The science of biological kinds does not depend on Genesis either, though it provides motivation.  Once biological kinds are established, the age of the earth is easier to determine.

September 2014

Hegemonic scholastic Darwinism

Science historian John Schuler speaks of “hegemonic scholastic Aristotelianism” during the Middle Ages – lets unpack this a bit:

hegemonic – it dominated society and excluded opposition

scholastic – it resided in the schools, the universities that arose in the Middle Ages

Aristotelianism – it is related to Aristotle’s writings

Hegemonic scholastic Aristotelianism declined with the growth in modernizing movements – the Renaissance, the Reformation, modern science – and alternatives arose – mechanistic thought, scientistic philosophy – until the 19th century when universities increasingly became science-based, government-funded institutions as science became professionalized and grew in prestige.  Latin gave way to the vernacular as education was increasingly democratized.

There is something about universities that inclines them toward a common mindset.  Who will criticize you if you teach the conventional wisdom?  Universities are bastions of academic conformity which today means Darwinism, evolutionism, naturalism, and increasingly atheism.

So in the late-modern/post-modern era we have hegemonic scholastic Darwinism:

hegemonic – it dominates society and excludes opposition

scholastic – it resides in the schools, the universities in particular

Darwinism – it is somehow related to Darwin’s writings

This brings to mind the French saying, translated as “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

June 2014

Being and becoming

Naturalism is a philosophy that looks to science to fill in the details.  It is based on putting becoming before being, contrary to the classical and Christian assertion that being precedes becoming.  We have to know what or who something is before we can understand how it got that way, or what we’re even talking about.  But evolutionists reverse that and say that knowing how something came to be tells us what it is.

So evolutionists do not begin with a taxonomy except to criticize its shortcomings.  Taxonomy for evolution means populations over time, not something with being that is trans-temporal.  Louis Agassiz saw this immediately and completely rejected evolution in the 19th century.

Many who are not evolutionists are following their lead in emphasizing how life and the universe as it is today came to be rather than focusing on what life and the universe are from beginning to end.  We are trying to understand creation as becoming rather than as being as created by God.

How God created life and the universe are less important than that God created them and that what they are is what God created them to be.  We should emphasize questions of what and who rather than how and when.  If we do this, we will find ourselves in a philosophical debate more than a scientific debate.  I know that makes some people uncomfortable but that is where we should be.

January 2015

General correspondence principle

Niels Bohr is credited with first asserting a correspondence principle with respect to quantum mechanics, though the general idea surely predates him. As Wikipedia puts it: “In physics, the correspondence principle states that the behavior of systems described by the theory of quantum mechanics (or by the old quantum theory) reproduces classical physics in the limit of large quantum numbers.”

Heinz Post defined a General Correspondence Principle in 1971: “Roughly speaking, this is the requirement that any acceptable new theory L should account for the success of its predecessor S by ‘degenerating’ into that theory under those conditions under which S has been well confirmed by tests. ” (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bohr-correspondence/#GenCorPri)

The article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy goes on to say, “The generalized correspondence principle here is seen both as a constraint on the development of new theories and as an account of how successor theories are related to their predecessors.”

Darwinism does not follow this principle: it completely denies its predecessor, special creation, even though it uses some of the same terminology such as “species.”

The simplest application of this principle is that every science should account for the common sense world we inhabit in everyday life.  It is notable that Darwinism begins by denying the common sense observation of design in the world.  Darwinists cannot explain how people can see design and so must engage in a campaign to change common sense or change what people say in public.

July 2014