Tag: Evolution

Is Anything Wrong?

earth-and-lightening

We live in a generation rife with contradictions in its understanding of moral values. On the one hand, we are witnessing the confused blurring of lines between good and evil, and a desecrating of boundaries that were intended to keep us from harm. On the other, there is widespread dogmatism and an indignant moral outrage at the real or imagined offenses of others.

The prophetic voice of the church is desperately needed in this mix of confusion and contradiction. Questions about the very concept of moral absolutes have never been more important. Do moral absolutes—unchanging moral values that are independent of humankind and are discovered rather than constructed by us—even exist? What is the reference point for the content of our moral values? And how are they to be grounded?

God and Morality

You may have heard Christian voices making this argument, but you might be surprised to learn that an impressive array of atheist academics concur that if God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist, because there is no way of ultimately grounding them.

The theist goes on to note that belief in the existence of objective moral values is one of the most deeply ingrained, intuitive beliefs of the human race. As such, it gives us good reason to believe in God:

If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

Objective moral values do exist.

Therefore God exists.

The atheist insists that there is no God, and therefore has to force the issue on morality:

If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.

God does not exist.

Therefore objective moral values do not exist. 

This final conclusion is at odds with what appears to be a self-evident moral sense, and thus has warranted further explanation from the atheist camp. The narrative offered goes something like this: human beings—and in fact our whole universe—are the product of matter, time and chance, together with the processes of evolution, which are geared towards the survival of the fittest. We have what appears to be a very deeply ingrained sense of an objective right and wrong, as though it has been hard-wired into our systems.

In a sense it has been hard-wired: it is an illusion (atheists argue) brought about by our genes, because it enhances our chance of survival. So there is no issue or contradiction within atheism with regards to our sense of moral absolutes—the sense of these absolutes is an evolutionary illusion.

There are significant problems with this line of reasoning, and I will raise two. Firstly, the broader systemic problem. The atheist tells us that selfish genes, fighting for survival through the processes of evolution, have brought about what we refer to as human beings. The entirety of the human framework, controlled by our genes, is geared towards the aims of that evolutionary process, namely survival, and not (ultimately) towards understandings of truth and reality.1It, therefore, becomes possible to argue that however much we may think and feel that there is an objective morality, and however much it appears to us to be self-evidently the case that there are some things that are genuinely evil and others that are good, this is just an illusion brought about by genes that ultimately have no regard for truth but only for that which is convenient in the aim of survival.

If this is in fact the case, the atheist has a much bigger problem than the explaining of morality at hand. Our very reasoning (our minds) can no longer be trusted, because we can only assume that our minds, controlled by our genes, are not geared towards truth but towards whatever might aid our survival. In fact, the atheist philosopher John Gray concedes exactly that when he writes, “The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.”2 It is a staggering claim.

Our colleague John Lennox responds to Gray with a serious rebuttal:

But what about Gray’s own mind…one must suppose, according to Gray, that his writing this sentence [“The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth”] serves evolutionary success. Well, it certainly would appear to serve the success of evolutionary theory, if it were true. But then Gray has undermined the very concept of truth, and so has removed all reason for us to take him seriously. Logical incoherence reigns once more.3

Again, there is a significant systemic problem in the atheist explanation of morality being just an illusion of our genes. All rationality becomes undependable in that framework.

Leaving aside this issue, secondly, we hit another, more immediate problem. The claim that morality is an evolutionary construct geared towards the survival of the fittest doesn’t seem to be borne out intuitively by the kinds of things that morality seems to demand of us, in contrast to the kinds of things that would seem to ensure the survival of the fittest. Greg Koukl writes: “Consider two cavemen in neighboring villages. One kills the other in cold blood. We’re being asked to believe he feels guilt, because he realizes such an act ultimately undermines his own survival status…. In the rest of the animal kingdom, killing the opposition seems to secure just the opposite.”4

It’s a little tongue in cheek, but the point remains. It is not necessarily clear how caring for the weak, the vulnerable, the sick, the dying or the elderly helps the survival of the selfish gene. One might expect self-sacrifice in such a system to be considered morally good only if weaker persons sacrifice themselves for stronger individuals. And yet it is a person like Mother Teresa who captures the public imagination in setting for us an incredible standard of moral living. We applaud the courage and the character of those who lay their lives down for the weakest among us. There is a significant gap between what we actually find honorable, valiant, good, kind, righteous, and pure, and what we’re being told is the impetus for that belief.

This kind of forced reasoning—the idea that there is no God, and therefore the need to fudge the lines on objective morality—has raised some important questions and a backlash from within the atheist camp itself. Peter Cave, the humanist philosopher, writes, “Whatever skeptical arguments may be brought against our belief that killing the innocent is wrong, we are more certain that the killing is morally wrong, than that the argument is sound.”5 It is a telling insight.

Religious Atheism

We have, as a result, a growing field of “religious atheism” as it’s been dubbed by some: atheists who have wanted to hold on to an objective morality but deny the need for its grounding in God. Sam Harris has been the most prominent voice in this field at the popular level. In 2010, he published the book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values and in it he says that we do not need God, as the world of science can give us the grounding and the context in which we encounter moral truth. Harris writes, “We simply must stand somewhere. I am arguing that, in the moral sphere, it is safe to begin with the premise that it is good to avoid behaving in such a way as to produce the worst possible misery for everyone.”6

With that statement taken as a given, he goes on, throughout the book, to bring various definitions of what the opposite of that misery (what he calls “human well-being”) would look like, and to suggest ways in which neuroscience might, in the future, provide us with ways of measuring that well-being. If science achieves such a feat, Harris argues, we would be able to say (with objectivity) whether one culture or another—or one set of ideas or another—enhanced or diminished human wellbeing and was therefore “true” or “false” with regard to moral values. In other words, we would encounter moral truth grounded in science, as opposed to God.

Can you see the problem? Harris starts by assuming that moral truths exist, and even outlining that they can be boiled down to the idea of well-being. He hasn’t used science to get him there. It is not science that underpins the foundations of Harris’s theory. These are just his starting assertions, his intuitions. It is only after positing those two assumptions that he then goes on to bring a kind of pseudoscience in to measure his own construction of morality. (I am calling it a “pseudoscience” because, by his own admission, the field of neuroscience is not yet capable of doing what Harris says would need to be done, even within his own construct). This kind of logical leap is representative of the field and it fails to achieve its objective. Moral absolutes remain impossible to ground in a godless universe.

To be clear, it is important to note that we are not arguing that you need a belief in God in order to lead a moral life. It is quite obviously the case that there are many people who do not believe in God but who lead exemplary lives, just as there are, unfortunately, many who profess to believe in God whose lives leave questions unanswered. Similarly, we are not arguing that a belief in God is necessary in order to recognize objective moral values or to know and to formulate a system of ethics. In fact, if the Christian worldview is to be taken, it provides us with reasons for believing that by very nature of being human each of us would have something of the moral law imprinted on us regardless of the status of our relationship with God. The Bible tells us that we are made in “the image of God”—hence we are moral beings—and given consciences that speak to the moral law within (see Romans 2:14-15). Whether we acknowledge its source or don’t acknowledge God, that God-given faculty is not incapacitated. The question at hand is a more foundational one: the question of whether we can coherently ground absolute moral values in a world without God.

I think the vast majority of people in this universe believe it to be the case that torturing babies is not just frowned upon as a societal norm, or a personal preference, but that it is in reality objectively wrong. Or again, that rape and genocide are not just matters of preference or cultural norms but are objectively wrong.That even if, for example, Hitler had won the Second World War, and had succeeded in exterminating all of the Jews, conquering the whole world, and indoctrinating everyone to believe in his ideology, that the Holocaust would still be wrong. You cannot coherently ground that view without reference to God—but this is where it becomes essential to clarify which God we are talking about.

The Person at the Center of the Story

It would be a mistake to think that you can posit any God you like and still account for our understanding of the moral law. Everything hinges on the character of the creator at the center of the story. In the Islamic worldview, you have a God whose nature is not essentially good and who defines morality by his commands. Many philosophers grappling with the theistic answer to the question of an absolute morality have unknowingly assumed an Islamic perspective and raised some important and significant challenges to it.

If good is defined simply by whatever God commands, then morality is arbitrary—God could command us to kill everyone who disagrees with us, and we would have to consider that, by definition, to be good. If we push back and say, “God commands things because they are good,” then there must be some objective standard outside of God by which He measures good and evil, and, if there is such a thing, then we don’t need God in the first place—why not go to the standard directly ourselves?

The Christian reality is profoundly different. God Himself is the plumb line. “HOLY HOLY HOLY is the Lord God Almighty”7 is the wonderful, ringing affirmation of Scripture. The Bible presents to us the God who “is light” and in whom there is “no darkness at all.”8 The God who “does not change like shifting shadows.” The God who keeps his promises. The God who is faithful. The God who does not lie. The God who is truth. The God who hates injustice. The God who judges justly. The God who is righteous. The God who cares for the weak, the destitute, the widow, and the fatherless. The God who is kind. The God who is gentle. The God who is love.

The moral law is not grounded in the commands of God but rather in the character of God. This is why the command of God in Scripture is not simply to “be holy according to my commands.” No; the reality is far more profound: “Be holy as I am holy.”9 It is a unique command. No other God either makes or sustains the claim to absolute holiness.

When Christians make the claim that there is such a thing as an objective moral standard, we are saying that there is a God whose character provides that standard and whose commands flow entirely in keeping with that character. I think David saw this when he was writing in the Psalms, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”10 The moral law is a glimpse into the glory of God himself.

What About the Personal Questions?

There is, of course, much more that could be written as we consider the conceptual questions raised by moral absolutes. What about the personal questions?

A couple of years ago, I found it interesting that while doing a mission at a university in the UK that had few professing Christians on campus, the vast majority of students filling out our surveys said that they struggled with guilt. The truth is that we can think about moral values as abstract concepts for hours, and it has no impact, but it takes one second’s worth of a bad decision to make a lifetime’s worth of regret.

We have gotten so good at convincing ourselves that we are relatively good that we never seem to stop and think: “Well, what about the bad parts then? Does anything happen to them? Do they need to be accounted for?” One of the most famous letters written to a newspaper was by G.K. Chesterton. The Timeshad run an article entitled “What’s wrong with the world?” to which Chesterton had written the following reply:

Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours, G.K. Chesterton.

This is no glib reply. In two little words, Chesterton points us to the profound reality that we are, each and every one of us, broken, and in desperate need of forgiveness. Isaiah writes these solemn words: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”11 We all stand on the same ground before the cross. We all carry guilt. We are in need of forgiveness. And we long for justice.

The atheist tells us that there will be no judgment, no day of reckoning, and that the only justice we can hope for is whatever can be meted out by our law courts in this life. You are left with cases like Jimmy Savile: a legend in his own lifetime, enjoying public praise and adoration, huge wealth, being awarded an OBE and being knighted, and then dying a hero. There is nowhere to go with the horror of the broken lives that we are only now discovering have been left behind in his wake. No justice.

Richard Dawkins writes in his book River out of Eden, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”12

It is hard to believe that he could be serious. The world is still reeling from the shock of the images of decapitated heads of children and adults paraded like trophies. Are we really to believe that this was ultimately neither good nor bad? I couldn’t disagree more with Dawkins.

Immanuel Kant famously wrote in Critique of Practical Reason, “Two things fill the mind with ever increasing wonder and awe…the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” He was right to be awed by it.

There is the persistence of a plumb line—a standard that is independent of us that simply will not go away—and we all know we have transgressed it. No explanation outside of the Judeo-Christian worldview will account for the existence of that standard, the guilt that is very real, the need for forgiveness, and the longing for justice.

Look again at the Cross: the justice of God, the judgment of God, the mercy of God, the love of God, the holiness of God, and the forgiveness of God are all in the person of Christ. God himself embodies the good, overcomes evil, and makes a way for us.

The existence of objective moral values not only gives us a compelling reason to believe in God but points us to some of our most profound needs and draws us to the God who deals with our guilt, offers us forgiveness, and ensures justice.

Courtesy of http://rzim.org/just-thinking/is-anything-wrong

Tanya Walker is a member of the RZIM Zacharias Trust speaking team in the UK.

________________________

1 Although, of course, connecting with truth and reality aids our survival in many instances, this is not necessarily always the case. The considerations of truth and reality remain distinct from the considerations of survival.

2 John Gray, Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: London, 2007), 26.

3 John Lennox, Gunning For God: Why the New Atheists Are Missing the Target (Lion Hudson: Oxford, 2011), 108.

4 See Greg Koukl, “Did Morals Evolve?” online at http://www.bethinking.org/morality/did-morals-evolve.

5 Peter Cave, Humanism (Oneworld Publications: Oxford, 2009), 146.

Atheists ‘Picket’ San Diego Creation Museum Celebration

SANTEE, Calif. – About a dozen atheists holding disparaging signs towards creationism and Christianity demonstrated during the opening of the Human Anatomy Exhibit by the Creation and Earth History Museum in San Diego County Saturday.

  • Creation MuseumThe full day of events planned at the museum by its owners, the Life and Light Foundation, included celebrating National Museum Day. About 1,500 people attended the celebration, many of them parents wanting to show their children the new exhibit and addition of the museum’s Dinosaur Garden.

    In the early afternoon, atheists from various parts of Southern California assembled in front of the museum located about a 20-minute drive from San Diego. Signs included one asking, “Why Hasn’t Evolution Eliminated Creationists?” Another sign held by an atheist stated, “Thou Shall Not Lie – Creationism is NOT Science.”

    Orange County atheist group leader Bruce Gleason, who organized the field trip for his “Backyard Skeptics” to the museum event, told The Christian Post that teaching creationism harms the country.

    “We think that creationism is actually dumbing down our kids and the United States,” Gleason said. “It’s dumbing down most every home school child in the South that is taught that God created the world instead of inspiring them to think more creatively.”

    As sign holders began walking back and forth on the sidewalk in picket-like fashion in front of the museum, several Christians began engaging the atheists in one-on-one debates.

    Russell Marechale, a resident in neighboring Lakeside, brought some middle-school-age children from his church to attend the event. Later, he said he felt compelled to engage a few of the atheists in conversation.

    “I just felt like I had to respond to the one sign about humanism and morality,” Marchale said. “I asked them, ‘where does morality comes from?’ I just wanted to help them realize that deciding what’s right and what’s good doesn’t come from us, it comes from above.”

    In the middle of a busy day, museum manager Jayson Payne appeared to take the atheists’ demonstration in stride. He said he welcomes everyone from the community, no matter what their beliefs.

    When asked by CP about the atheists assembled in front of the museum, Payne said, “We just want to love them. In Acts 9, there’s the story of Saul. God changed his life, took the scales off his eyes. We just need to love on them so they can see the love of Christ. We hope they come to the reality of a Creator and hope their hearts will be softened by this event and future events.”

    Contact: alex.murashko@christianpost.com

Texas Bill Would Protect College Professors Who Question Evolution

A new Texas bill would make it illegal for colleges to fire or refuse jobs to professors based on their research on intelligent design or other theories on the origin of life that question evolution.

The measure from Republican state Rep. Bill Zedler would prohibit public institutions of higher education from discriminating against or penalizing faculty members or students, in regard to employment or academic support, based on their “conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.”

The bill, HB 2454, was received by the Higher Education Committee earlier this week.

Researchers who study intelligent design deserve the same academic freedom as those who support evolution, said a spokesman for Discovery Institute, an intelligent design think tank based in Seattle, Wash.

“Without academic freedom to follow the evidence where it leads, science cannot progress,” Casey Luskin, program officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs at Discovery Institute, told The Christian Post.

Luskin said there is a “widespread pattern of discrimination” against intelligent design proponents, pointing to several cases in Texas.

In 2007, Baylor University shut down an evolutionary informatics lab by professor Robert Marks after administrators learned he was doing pro-ID research. The lab was forced to move from the university server to a third-party server. The incident was documented in Ben Stein’s “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.”

Another incident at Baylor a few years ago involved the Michael Polanyi Center, considered to be the first intelligent design think tank at a major research university. Headed by leading ID-theorist William Dembski, a senior fellow of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, the center was also shut down due to intolerance of the pro-ID viewpoint.

The cases of discrimination aren’t just limited to college teachers, according to Luskin. Students could be counted as committing academic suicide for not subscribing to a neo-Darwinian evolution viewpoint.

Michael Dini, a biology professor at Texas Tech University, states on his website that he does not write letters of recommendation for students applying to medical or graduate school if they did not accept neo-Darwinian evolution.

Dini explains the reason for this criteria: “The central, unifying principle of biology is the theory of evolution, which includes both micro- and macroevolution, and which extends to ALL species.”

“Someone who ignores the most important theory in biology cannot expect to properly practice in a field that is now so heavily based on biology,” he writes.

The professor adds that the criteria for a letter of recommendation are not meant to discriminate against anyone’s personal beliefs but are to “help insure that a student who wishes my recommendation uses scientific thinking to answer scientific questions.”

Luskin disagreed with Dini’s policy.

“His policy is patently discriminatory because it refuses to treat students on an equal basis if they scientifically disagree with Darwinian macroevolution,” stated Luskin.

The intelligent design proponent said scientists fight antibiotic resistance by observing that there are limits to Darwinian evolution.

“We use drug cocktails to combat antibiotic or antiviral drug resistance because there are limits to the amount of evolution that can take place in a bacteria or virus,” he said.

“One can be a good physician and disagree with Darwinian macroevolution.”

HB 2454 requires a two-thirds vote to pass in the House.

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/news/texas-bill-would-protect-college-professors-who-question-evolution-49494/

The Martin Gaskell Case: Not an Isolated Incident

In his January Diary, John Derbyshire comes down on the side of the University of Kentucky for refusing to hire Martin Gaskell, a superbly qualified astronomer, for the sole reason that he expressed sympathy for intelligent design. The case of Professor Gaskell, who sued UK for religious discrimination, needs to be understood in the context of widespread anti-Christian discrimination in academic science. I thought readers might be interested in some background on the story and many others like it to which Brother John did not draw our attention.

The University of Kentucky chose to pay a $125,000 settlement to Gaskell, now at the University of Texas, after Gaskell’s attorneys released records of e-mail traffic among the faculty hiring committee. Seeking a scientist to head UK’s observatory, professors complained that Gaskell was “potentially Evangelical,” while a lone astrophysicist on the committee protested that Gaskell stood to be rejected “despite his qualifications that stand far above those of any other applicant.”

This is no isolated incident. An enormous, largely hidden transformation has taken place in what we mean when we speak of “science.” For centuries, the free and unfettered scientific enterprise was fueled by a desire to know the mind of God. “The success of the West,” writes historian Rodney Stark in his important book The Victory of Reason, “including the rise of science, rested entirely on religious foundations, and the people who brought it about were devout Christians.” Now, increasingly, voicing such a desire is likely to get you excluded from the guild of professional scientists.

For years, I’ve tracked the stories that come out regularly about scientists of impeccable credentials whose religion-friendly beliefs proved injurious to their career. In some fields, notably biology and cosmology, Christians who voice doubts about Darwinian theory pay a particularly high price.

Last month, a top-level computer specialist on the NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn, David Coppedge, got fired after he sued JPL for religious discrimination. Coppedge had occasionally chatted with interested colleagues about the scientific case for intelligent design, which made good sense since JPL’s officially defined mission includes the exploration of questions relating to the origin and development of life on Earth and elsewhere. For this, his supervisor severely chastised him for “pushing religion” and humiliated and demoted him.

At Iowa State University, astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez was refused tenure, despite a spectacular research publication record, because of a book he co-authored arguing that life is no cosmic accident.

At the Smithsonian Institution, supervisors harshly penalized evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg for editing a pro–intelligent design essay in a peer-reviewed technical-biology journal. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel examined the 2005 case, finding that Smithsonian colleagues investigated his religious beliefs and created a “hostile work environment” aimed at “forcing [him] out.”

Similar incidents have occurred at the University of Idaho, George Mason University, and Baylor University.

There is, in fact, an underground of Darwin-doubting scientists, fearful for their livelihoods, who believe that evidence from cell biology, cosmology, and paleontology tells an increasingly complicated and contradictory story about life’s evolution.

In every such instance I’m aware of, the suppressed scientist is a Christian, whether Protestant or Catholic. Meanwhile, among members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, 95 percent of biologists identify as atheists or agnostics. The fact of their religious (or irreligious) beliefs doesn’t invalidate their scientific opinions. Nor should the religious belief of Christians cast their otherwise sterling scientific training and acumen into doubt. However, in academia, it is understood to do just that.

It’s bad enough when private universities clamp down on the free exchange of ideas. But government-run institutions have often seemed to be the worst offenders of all, something the First Amendment cannot permit. The public is poorly served by a system of scientific research and funding that seems locked into reaching predetermined conclusions.

Science has become a business like many others, unfortunately, and a largely nationalized one at that. Workers must toe a company line. With the government’s $7 billion National Science Foundation and $31 billion National Institutes of Health heavily supporting research, localized pressures easily take on the form of a universal compulsion to conform.

The search for truth should be unimpeded by such orthodoxies, whether religious or anti-religious. The scientists who initiated the scientific revolution itself, all Christians, knew that better than scientists, or John Derbyshire, do today.

David Klinghoffer is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute.

Courtesy of http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/258892/martin-gaskell-case-not-isolated-incident-david-klinghoffer

Christian Biochemist: First ‘Synthetic Cell’ Strengthens Case for Design

A biochemistry expert at the science-faith think tank Reasons to Believe is among those hailing the recent creation of the first-ever “synthetic cell,” though not for the same reasons as most.

  • bacterial cell with a synthetic genome
    These are images of M. mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 and WT M. mycoides.
“From an apologetics standpoint, this is exciting work that I’m happy to see pursued and would like to see even more effort devoted toward this because it’s giving us a very powerful case for [Intelligent] Design,” said Dr. Fazle Rana on Friday, referring to the idea that holds certain aspects of nature are so complex that they could not have come about by evolution alone but instead point to an intelligent designer.

“In fact, I even would go so far as to say that this is even a brand new class of arguments for Design,” he added during RTB’s flagship podcast.

On Thursday, a group of scientists announced that it had successfully replaced all of the natural DNA inside a cell with laboratory-synthesized DNA, creating the first-ever “synthetic cell.”

The team, led by Craig Venter of the J. Craig Venter Institute, presented its findings in an article published on the website of the journal Science, run by the non-profit American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

In the study, the scientists explained how they synthesized the genome of the bacterium Mycoplasm mycoides with four bottles of chemicals and transplanted it into another type of bacteria, Mycoplasm capricolum, which is closely related to M. mycoides.

“This is the first synthetic cell that’s been made,” said Venter, calling the cell synthetic because it was completely derived from a synthetic chromosome created on a chemical synthesizer with information in a computer.

“This becomes a very powerful tool for trying to design what we want biology to do,” Venter added. “We have a wide range of applications [in mind].”

In his comments Friday, Rana similarly noted that the applications are “limitless” as is “the potential for good.”

But the Christian biochemist seemed more excited about the new set of arguments that have been made available to Design proponents through advances such Venter’s.

“This is a third approach that says, ‘We think that life is the work of a designer because we know from empirical experience now that to make life requires ingenuity, careful planning, careful manipulation of chemicals in the lab under exacting conditions in order to generate lifeforms,'” Rana said.

“I think it shows conclusively in the most compelling way possible that life requires a mind,” he added.

As for fears that bioterrorists could get a hold of the new methodology and do something damaging with it, Rana said such a possibility “is a long way off.”

“To get this to work is so non-trivial. I can’t imagine somebody in their garage cooking up a dangerous organism,” he stated.

Others in the faith community, however, are not so confident.

While the announcement by Venter’s team raised the prospect of a number of benefits, such as the ability to accelerate vaccine development, it also raised potential societal and ethical concerns.

“Pretending to be God and parroting His power of creation is an enormous risk that can plunge men into a barbarity,” Bishop Domenico Mogavero told Italian newspaper La Stampa, adding that scientists “should never forget that there is only one creator: God.”

Monsignor Rino Fisichella, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, meanwhile told The Associated Press that recently revealed work was a “great scientific discovery.”

“If we ascertain that it is for the good of all, of the environment and man in it, we’ll keep the same judgment,” he said.

But Fisichella added, “If, on the other hand, the use of this discovery should turn against the dignity of and respect for human life, then our judgment would change.”

Presently, aside from working on ways to speed up vaccine production, researchers are planning to design algae that can capture carbon dioxide and make new hydrocarbons that could go into refineries. Making new chemicals or food ingredients and cleaning up water are other possible benefits, according to Venter.

In light of the latest advance, President Obama has called upon his recently-created Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to consider the implications of the advance and report back to him within six months.

Obama encouraged the commission to consult with a range of constituencies – including scientific and medical communities, faith communities, and business and nonprofit organizations – stating that it is “vital that we as a society consider, in a thoughtful manner, the significance of this kind of scientific development.”

“With the Commission’s collective expertise in the areas of science, policy, and ethical and religious values, I am confident that it will carry out this responsibility with the care and attention it deserves,” the president concluded in a letter Thursday to commission chair Amy Gutmann.

Obama had signed an Executive Order creating the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues late last November. The commission was created to advise the president on bioethical issues that may emerge from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology.

Courtesy of  http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100523/christian-biochemist-first-synthetic-cell-strengthens-case-for-design/index.html

‘Biased’ Biology Book Controversy Not Over

A Knoxville, Tenn., parent who recently lost a six-month battle to remove a “biased” biology textbook from schools has no plans of raising the white flag.

“I’m going right back into the well,” Kurt Zimmermann told The Christian Post Wednesday. “I’m not letting them off the hook that easy.”

Last week, the Knox County Board of Education voted 6-3 to keep the controversial book, Asking About Life, which describes creationism as “the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God in 7 days,” in the classrooms.

“People are very upset,” said Zimmermann, who has received dozens of calls from parents around the country.

In an effort to address some of the parents’ concerns, the board also passed a motion on May 5 to direct Superintendent Jim McIntyre to send a letter to the publisher “suggesting that they consider less provocative wording in future editions.” In the motion, the board further urges the superintendent to purchase the previously adopted honors biology textbook “as soon as fiscally possible.”

But Zimmermann isn’t satisfied.

He already sent a letter to the publisher and did not receive a response. Moreover, the board’s motion merely suggests and does not mandate the use of “less provocative” wording. And with the recent layoffs in Knoxville schools, they are not likely to buy a new book any time soon, he noted.

The board has simply “given it lip service” and hasn’t done anything concrete at all, Zimmermann charged.

The issue was brought before the board in April after Zimmermann appealed the findings of a review committee that recommended the continued use of the biology textbook in question. Though the committee said an explanation of the word “myth” and why it was used in that context would be helpful, it concluded that the book was “appropriate” for an honors level biology course.

Zimmermann made clear to the board last week that “this has never been about avoiding various points of view or shielding students from other opinions,” such as evolution. He, in fact, welcomes other points of view on the origin of life, he said.

Responding to accusations from teachers and the media in recent months that he had a hidden agenda, he stressed, “Nothing can be further from the truth than to insinuate that concerned parents acting at the request of students are attempting to stifle speech or are attempting to infiltrate educational institutions with religious dogma.”

The textbook was brought to his attention by his Sunday school students who weren’t happy with the language.

“Insulting an alternative point of view … is bigotry … and inexcusable when done with … impressionable youth and no balanced counter response,” he contended.

Zimmermann believes the school board played a “parliamentary game” by not considering the suggestions he made to resolve the issue – such as addenda or additional discussion material – because they were not listed in the original submission. The submission only contained a request to ban the book, which the board voted against.

The board also refused to discuss its policies because they were not included in the submission. Some of the policies with regard to religion state: “No religious belief or nonbelief shall be promoted by the school system or its employees, and none shall be belittled;” and “The Board affirms that it is essential that the teaching about religion – and not of a religion be conducted in a factual, objective and respectful manner.”

Zimmermann plans to reissue an appeal, this time including all the relevant policies and detailing all the recommendations and options the board can consider.

“We’re not going to exclude anything in the appeal,” he said. “We’re going to load that appeal so much that there’s no possible way they can reject it.”

Since the controversy, parents have also discovered other phrases in the biology textbook – such as “anti-evolutionists are fighters against science” – that they feel are biased.

“There’s a pattern here with the two authors (Allan J. Tobin and Jennie Dusheck) with what their intent was – to demean Christianity,” Zimmermann charged.

The Knoxville parents are hoping to at least get the board to recognize that the material in question is demeaning and to agree with the need to cover “both sides” on the origin of life.

Courtesy of Christian Post at http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100512/biased-biology-book-controversy-not-over/index.html

Evolution Is Religion–Not Science

by Henry Morris, Ph.D.

The writer has documented in two recent Impact articles1, 2 from admissions by evolutionists that the idea of particles-to-people evolution does not meet the criteria of a scientific theory. There are no evolutionary transitions that have ever been observed, either during human history or in the fossil record of the past; and the universal law of entropy seems to make it impossible on any significant scale.

Evolutionists claim that evolution is a scientific fact, but they almost always lose scientific debates with creationist scientists. Accordingly, most evolutionists now decline opportunities for scientific debates, preferring instead to make unilateral attacks on creationists.

Scientists should refuse formal debates because they do more harm than good, but scientists still need to counter the creationist message.3

The question is, just why do they need to counter the creationist message? Why are they so adamantly committed to anti-creationism?

The fact is that evolutionists believe in evolution because they want to. It is their desire at all costs to explain the origin of everything without a Creator. Evolutionism is thus intrinsically an atheistic religion. Some may prefer to call it humanism, and New Age evolutionists may place it in the context of some form of pantheism, but they all amount to the same thing. Whether atheism or humanism (or even pantheism), the purpose is to eliminate a personal God from any active role in the origin of the universe and all its components, including man.

The core of the humanistic philosophy is naturalism—the proposition that the natural world proceeds according to its own internal dynamics, without divine or supernatural control or guidance, and that we human beings are creations of that process. It is instructive to recall that the philosophers of the early humanistic movement debated as to which term more adequately described their position: humanism or naturalism. The two concepts are complementary and inseparable.4

Since both naturalism and humanism exclude God from science or any other active function in the creation or maintenance of life and the universe in general, it is very obvious that their position is nothing but atheism. And atheism, no less than theism, is a religion! Even doctrinaire-atheistic evolutionist Richard Dawkins admits that atheism cannot be proven to be true.

Of course we can’t prove that there isn’t a God.5

Therefore, they must believe it, and that makes it a religion. The atheistic nature of evolution is not only admitted, but insisted upon, by most of the leaders of evolutionary thought. Ernst Mayr, for example, says that:

Darwinism rejects all supernatural phenomena and causations.6

A professor in the Department of Biology at Kansas State University says:

Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such a hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.7

It is well known in the scientific world today that such influential evolutionists as Stephen Jay Gould and Edward Wilson of Harvard, Richard Dawkins of England, William Provine of Cornell, and numerous other evolutionary spokesmen are dogmatic atheists. Eminent scientific philosopher and ardent Darwinian atheist Michael Ruse has even acknowledged that evolution is their religion!

Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. . . . Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today. 8

Another way of saying “religion” is “worldview,” the whole of reality. The evolutionary worldview applies not only to the evolution of life, but even to that of the entire universe. In the realm of cosmic evolution, our naturalistic scientists depart even further from experimental science than life scientists do, manufacturing a variety of evolutionary cosmologies from esoteric mathematics and metaphysical speculation. Socialist Jeremy Rifkin has commented on this remarkable game.

Cosmologies are made up of small snippets of physical reality that have been remodeled by society into vast cosmic deceptions.9

They must believe in evolution, therefore, in spite of all the evidence, not because of it. And speaking of deceptions, note the following remarkable statement.

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, . . . in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated commitment to materialism. . . . we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.10

The author of this frank statement is Richard Lewontin of Harvard. Since evolution is not a laboratory science, there is no way to test its validity, so all sorts of justso stories are contrived to adorn the textbooks. But that doesn’t make them true! An evolutionist reviewing a recent book by another (but more critical) evolutionist, says:

We cannot identify ancestors or “missing links,” and we cannot devise testable theories to explain how particular episodes of evolution came about. Gee is adamant that all the popular stories about how the first amphibians conquered the dry land, how the birds developed wings and feathers for flying, how the dinosaurs went extinct, and how humans evolved from apes are just products of our imagination, driven by prejudices and preconceptions.11

A fascinatingly honest admission by a physicist indicates the passionate commitment of establishment scientists to naturalism. Speaking of the trust students naturally place in their highly educated college professors, he says:

And I use that trust to effectively brainwash them. . . . our teaching methods are primarily those of propaganda. We appeal—without demonstration—to evidence that supports our position. We only introduce arguments and evidence that supports the currently accepted theories and omit or gloss over any evidence to the contrary.12

Creationist students in scientific courses taught by evolutionist professors can testify to the frustrating reality of that statement. Evolution is, indeed, the pseudoscientific basis of religious atheism, as Ruse pointed out. Will Provine at Cornell University is another scientist who frankly acknowledges this.

As the creationists claim, belief in modern evolution makes atheists of people. One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism.13

Once again we emphasize that evolution is not science, evolutionists’ tirades notwithstanding. It is a philosophical worldview, nothing more. Another prominent evolutionist comments as follows:

(Evolution) must, they feel, explain everything. . . . A theory that explains everything might just as well be discarded since it has no real explanatory value. Of course, the other thing about evolution is that anything can be said because very little can be disproved. Experimental evidence is minimal.14

Even that statement is too generous. Actual experimental evidence demonstrating true evolution (that is, macroevolution) is not “minimal.” It is nonexistent!

The concept of evolution as a form of religion is not new. In my book, The Long War Against God,15 I documented the fact that some form of evolution has been the pseudo-rationale behind every anti-creationist religion since the very beginning of history. This includes all the ancient ethnic religions, as well as such modern world religions as Buddhism, Hinduism, and others, as well as the “liberal” movements in even the creationist religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam).

As far as the twentieth century is concerned, the leading evolutionist is generally considered to be Sir Julian Huxley, primary architect of modern neo-Darwinism. Huxley called evolution a “religion without revelation” and wrote a book with that title (2nd edition, 1957). In a later book, he said:

Evolution . . . is the most powerful and the most comprehensive idea that has ever arisen on earth.16

Later in the book he argued passionately that we must change “our pattern of religious thought from a God-centered to an evolution-centered pattern.“17 Then he went on to say that: “the God hypothesis . . . is becoming an intellectual and moral burden on our thought.” Therefore, he concluded that “we must construct something to take its place.”18

That something, of course, is the religion of evolutionary humanism, and that is what the leaders of evolutionary humanism are trying to do today.

In closing this summary of the scientific case against evolution (and, therefore, for creation), the reader is reminded again that all quotations in the article are from doctrinaire evolutionists. No Bible references are included, and no statements by creationists. The evolutionists themselves, to all intents and purposes, have shown that evolutionism is not science, but religious faith in atheism.

References

  1. Morris, Henry M., “The Scientific Case Against Evolution—Part I,” (Impact No. 330, December 2000), pp. i-iv.
  2. Morris, Henry M., “The Scientific Case Against Evolution—Part II,” (Impact No. 331, January 2001), pp. i-iv.
  3. Scott, Eugenie, “Fighting Talk,” New Scientist (vol. 166, April 22, 2000), p.47. Dr. Scott is director of the anti-creationist organization euphemistically named The National Center for Science Education.
  4. Ericson, Edward L., “Reclaiming the Higher Ground,” The Humanist (vol. 60, September/October 2000), p. 30.
  5. Dawkins, Richard, replying to a critique of his faith in the liberal journal, Science and Christian Belief (vol. 7, 1994), p. 47.
  6. Mayr, Ernst, “Darwin’s Influence on Modern Thought,” Scientific American (vol. 283, July 2000), p. 83.
  7. Todd, Scott C., “A View from Kansas on the Evolution Debates,” Nature (vol. 401. September 30, 1999), p. 423.
  8. Ruse, Michael, “Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians,” National Post (May 13, 2000), p. B-3.
  9. Rifkin, Jeremy, “Reinventing Nature,” The Humanist (vol. 58, March/April 1998), p. 24.
  10. Lewontin, Richard, Review of The Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan. In New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997.
  11. Bowler, Peter J., Review of In Search of Deep Time by Henry Gee (Free Press, 1999), American Scientist (vol. 88, March/April 2000), p. 169.
  12. Singham, Mark, “Teaching and Propaganda,” Physics Today (vol. 53, June 2000), p. 54.
  13. Provine, Will, “No Free Will,” in Catching Up with the Vision, Ed. by Margaret W. Rossiter (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), p. S123.
  14. Appleyard, Bryan, “You Asked for It,” New Scientist (vol. 166, April 22, 2000), p. 45.
  15. Morris, Henry M., The Long War Against God (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1989), 344 pp.
  16. Huxley, Julian, Essays of a Humanist (New York: Harper and ‘Row, 1964), p. 125.
  17. Ibid., p. 222.
  18. Ibid.

Courtesy of http://www.icr.org/article/455/