iSoul In the beginning is reality.

Category Archives: Science

Science particularly as related to creation and the creation-evolution controversy

Laws of nature

While the early scientists expected God’s creation to be orderly and show God’s lawfulness, that is certainly not the case with conventional science today.  While we can say that’s because of the Enlightenment, there’s more to it than that.

There’s something called the ontological inversion.  Basically, at first science is very empirical: what is real is what is observed.  But as a body of accepted theory grows, there comes a point at which the theory is considered more real than observation.  One problem with this is that anomalous observations may be rejected or ignored. Philosophy first took an ontological inversion with Kant who made Newtonian physics a starting point for philosophical reflection.

Today the laws of nature are commonly considered as foundational reality in a secular or Spinozan way.  Nature is law and law is nature and if God exists, God is law.

It seems to me that this ontological inversion works very much against creationists.  They believe in recent creation not because they have a law that proves it (though they try to use laws to bolster their case) but because they have particular records and revelations in the Bible that shows it.  If all is law, it’s very difficult to get to a belief in early creation because laws don’t have inherent beginnings.  They just sit there, timelessly (in fact the essence of law is its trans-temporal nature).

I think the answer is a strong empiricism which never gets to the ontological inversion.  Reality is still what is observed (and revealed) despite discovering a body of regularities we call laws of nature.  In philosophy that is know as realism.

December 2012

Creation and evolution paradigms

The evolution paradigm begins by doubting ancient peoples and ancient history.  They’re all seen as primitive peoples with worthless myths.  Compared to modern societies and technologies, they don’t have anything to offer us.  We should dismiss them, ignore their writings, and start from scratch.  It’s no wonder we come up with evolutionary theories that place modern society at the top of the process and feed the modern ego.

The changes we observe must be extrapolated back in time.  There’s really no other option.  The past is just more of the present.  We get very excited about even small changes because we run with them as far as they will go.  With this paradigm we can imagine explanations of everything from astronomy to zoology.  Even ancient history can be studied but only within the evolution paradigm.

In contrast, the creation paradigm begins with taking ancient peoples and histories seriously.  Not that we naively accept them.  In fact we find much to question.  Many ancient writings have little concern about the truth.  They puff up a particular people or king.  There is clearly much exaggeration going on.  But there is one people who have a genuine interest in truth.  Their writings show the bad and the good about themselves.  One set of writings in particular they carefully copy to avoid mistakes or changes creeping in over time.  Can it be that this is the key to ancient history?

Yes, this book, the Bible, is the key to understanding ancient history.  Compared with it the writings of other peoples are mostly legends and myths.  We can even see much of the other writings as corruptions or exaggerations of people described in the Bible.  For example, the ancient Greek myths can be seen this way (see the Parthenon Code, for example).  Many cultures have stories of a great ancient Deluge.  The Bible shows us what really happened.

From the Bible we note several salient historical facts:  (1) the universe and the earth began a relatively short time ago, (2) all life forms began a relatively short time ago, (3) something happened at the beginning to make a paradisical world into a flawed world, (4) a catastrophic worldwide Deluge happened in very ancient times, and (5) an explosion of language differences happened in very ancient times.

These historic facts form the backbone of the creation paradigm.  A few inferences from these facts tie them to things we observe today:  (1) all life forms observed today are biologically related to the life forms at the beginning, (2) major geological features originated with the Deluge and its effects, and (3) all languages observed today are linguistically related to the language used by the earliest people.

The creation paradigm is based on ancient history but is open to scientific investigation today, which can provide details and explanations that fill out the paradigm.  However, such science is secondary to the historical facts of the creation paradigm.  This paradigm does not feed the ego, either ancient or modern.  It glorifies the Creator.

Which paradigm is superior?  The one that explains the present with reference to the past or the one that explains the past with reference to the present?  How do we explain a person?  Do we explain their past by reference to their present state or do we explain their present state by reference to their past?  The latter.  That is the only consistent approach to the past and present.

October 2012

 

Definition of creation

“Creation ex nihilo” means creation from nothing, which signifies that creation means bringing into being out of non-existence.  Creation from nothing is beyond what humans can do no matter what degree of talent they possess.
.
But the usage of Hebrew (bara or asah) and English (create or make) include both creation from nothing and creation from something.  There must be two different kinds of creation acts.  Making a man out of dust is an act of creation, too.  This means the difference between humans creating things and God creating things in the second sense is a matter of degree.
.
Since creation in the second sense takes time for us, it makes sense that it would take time for God, too, though less time that it would take us. It takes us a long time to move a mountain; less so for God.
.
October 2012

Testimony-based science

We’ve heard of evidence-based medicine and science in which test data are the standard of comparison. But what about testimony-based science? This means testimony is the standard of comparison, as is done in courts of law.  A prosecutor cannot just put objects or data in front of a jury.  There must be a witness who introduces the evidence and testifies to where it came from and why it is significant.

Of course, both testimony and evidence/data are forms of evidence/attestation but modern science deprecates testimony as if data are independent of testimony.  An excessive depersonalization characterizes scientific works which obscures their testimonial connection.  There is also a low view of human ability and willingness to provide accurate information.  The older the testimony, the greater the unwillingness of modern science to consider its evidentiary value.  Hence the bias against the Bible.

Creationism requires testimony-based science.  It looks rediculous.to those who only consider data/evidence-based science.  Creationism makes sense only by considering both testimony and data.

September 2012

The limits of secular science

“Secularity” is often distinguised as “what is secular” compared with “secularism” which means the promotion or the expansion of secularity.  The problem is not what is secular but an expansive meaning to what is secular.

Historically, “secular” meant of an age or of this world (as opposed to the age or world to come) or civil or worldly (as opposed to spiritual or religious). One conclusion is that matters to do with the world before mankind existed should not be considered secular. Just like the age to come, that is a matter for religion. So “secular science” should not concern itself with matters of ultimate origins, nor of a “deep time” that is said to occur before humanity existed.

Since vast ages of time before the advent of man were accepted into science in the 19th century, science is no longer genuinely secular. It has crossed the line into the dimension beyond this age, the age of human life in this world.

Creation science also crosses this line in a different way, following the revelation of the creation week. Those who want a secular science will have to drop deep time or creation and only reference this world, the world of human life.

So a genuinely secular science would be a limited science that could not explain many things such as how humanity got here, how the earth got here, or how starlight got here. It would be a limited science.

It would still be possible for a secular science to be influenced by non-secular perspectives as long as it doesn’t stray beyond its borders. There would be a limited, but level field for science to take place.

August 2012

Explaining everything again

The key to explaining everything in a domain is to project the data onto an explanatory space that is intuitively clear.  So evolutionists project all life onto an axis defined by the extremes of law and chance.  If they are presented with evidence of design, they just analyze it onto law and chance and say that’s all there is to it.  Yes, this is science but poorly done.

What is a creationist axis of explanation?  If we look at Genesis 1, we find two forms of creation:  creation out of nothing (ex nihilo) and creation out of something (ex aliquot) as in the refinement of the earth and the forming of man out of dust.  In this context they are both supernatural.  After the creation week, living creatures reproduce by natural means as they were designed to do.  This is a natural analogue to God’s original creation out of nothing.  Creatures undergo development in their lifetime, which is a natural analogue to God’s creation by refinement.  After the Fall, changes in the environment took place and reproduction generated more variability, which led to new species as well as deformed creatures.

So the explanatory axis for all of this comes from the extremes of repetition and variation held together by design.  The repetition of reproduction maintains life on earth.  Variations of life that fill out the earth and the possibilities of harmonious variety were designed in from the beginning to unfold over time (the original meaning of the word ‘evolution’).  Functions that have only survival value are post-Fall — their possibility was allowed from the beginning but were only triggered after the Fall.

December 2011

Primary, secondary, and tertiary creation

People often fail to distinguish different types of creation.  Primary creation is creation from nothing.  It requires not only a supernatural ability but a transcendent being — one who is beyond creation.  Secondary creation is creation from something but that requires supernatural abilities such as super-strength or super-intelligence.  Tertiary creation is one that happens via natural processes over time.

For example, light was created from nothing.  Seas were created from a formless, watery earth.  Generations of creatures have come about from natural processes.

Many ancient Christians were influenced by Platonic thinking and interpreted Genesis as almost all primary creation.  That meant that every species was created from nothing — that is, a primary creation.  Later natural theology emphasized the magnificence of creation — something only a super-powerful and super-intelligent being could do — that is, a secondary creation.

In the late eighteenth century when the species concept was further refined, people started thinking that some species might have been “transformed” from other species — that is, tertiary creation.  The “naturalist” movement of the 19th century pushed this to include all species.  Darwin proposed a mechanism and the door was shut to alternatives.

December 2011

Creation Chronicle Inferential Models

The confusion and disagreements about creation models shows the need to have accurate terminology. Accordingly, I suggest some standard terminology such as the following to distinguish types of Christian teaching on creation:

The Creation Chronicles (CC) are the actions and events explicitly recorded in the Bible regarding the beginning and earliest years of the created world, especially the chronicles of Genesis 1 to 11.  These are non-negotiable.  Only the most extreme opponents dispute these.

From these come the Creation Chronicle Inferences (CCI), which are the first inferences from the Creation Chronicles such as that the kinds of creatures are fixed in number.  These inferences are foundational principles for all creation models.  Some Christian opponents dispute these.

From the CC and the CCI, various Creation Chronicle Inferential Models (CCIM) are developed, which are the subject of research and debate.  There should be no dogmatism about these models.  Disagreements about these models should be expected.

November 2011

Hemidemisemi science

A quarter note in music is classically known as a quaver. A sixteenth note is half of a quaver, which is called a semiquaver. For a thirty-second note the prefix “demi” is used instead of a second “semi” to make a demisemiquaver. Similarly, a sixty-fourth note is a hemidemisemiquaver. As we shall see, these prefixes will come in handy.

“Science” is a term for what was called in centuries past “natural philosophy” or what Isaac Newton called “experimental philosophy.” Physics is the pre-eminent science and has always set the highest standard for anything else to be called “science.” It is primarily characterized by highly controlled experiments. The particular value of controlled experiments has been precisely described recently by the study of causality (see Judea Pearl’s book, Causality: models, reasoning, and inference. Cambridge, 2000.)

In order to trace out a causal chain it is best to have sufficient control over all variables and then vary one individual factor at a time while holding all other variables constant. Such highly controlled experiments are only available for hard science such as physics and chemistry. That plus inductive generalization is science. Anything else that claims to be science should be measured by such a standard.

By relaxing the standards somewhat one can engage in fairly controlled experiments in other subjects. Medical science uses limited experiments to validate results of treatments on patients. However, unlike electrons and molecules, patients are individuals that vary and whose particular history cannot be controlled so statistical approaches are required for more predictable results. But medical science does not have the precision of physics or chemistry. One may call medical science a “semi-science.”

There is great interest in making psychology and sociology into sciences. But greater limits on experiments prevent them from reaching the standards of medical science, much less physics or chemistry. One may call psychology or sociology a “demisemi-science.” It is a similar situation with fields such as astronomy and botany in which the main source of data is not experiment but field observation. There may be much observational data and empirical generalization but causality is elusive without experiments. They are demisemi-sciences, too.

There is great interest in making the study of the past into science but there are many reasons why the subject of history is not science and should remain with the humanities. For one thing, the role of documentation is much more important. The best sources of history are trustworthy documents based on direct experience and observation of past happenings. Understanding and evaluating such texts is primarily an activity that must consider wider aspects of life — religion, culture, philosophy, and the like. There is a limited place for science.

Some say that natural history is science because its sources are objects such as rocks rather than texts. But again the best sources are documents based on direct experience and observation. A written account of a volcano observed, for example, is much superior to trying to estimate the date from rocks of today. Interpretation is required which takes us away from the controlled world of science. One may call natural history a “hemidemisemi-science.”

So while many would try to wrap themselves with the prestige of science, there is nothing that has the rigor of physics and chemistry because they cannot control all variables. Other disciplines are half or a quarter or an eighth of a science. Our terminology should reflect this if we are trying to avoid exaggeration.

October 2011

Kinds of explanation

Different kinds of explanation may be distinguished by how they project phenomena onto ranges over pairs of opposites.  For example, an explanation may focus on natural laws but acknowledge measurement error or noise as well.  A combination of law and error/noise is one kind of explanation.  Other kinds of explanations combine created and fallen aspects, gradual and catastrophic events, macrocosmic and microcosmic aspects, wave and particle, etc.

Each kind of explanation has its uses and its limits.  Evolutionary explanations combine law and chance to derive whatever is being explained.  This would not be so bad as a limited projection of phenomena onto one of many opposites.  What’s objectionable is the grand claims that are made for no design, no purpose, etc. — these are based on excluding other explanations rather than replacing them.

The world is manifold and multiple kinds of explanation are appropriate.  We need to understand the uses and limits of each kind of explanation.

September 2011