Saturday, October 7, 2017

Is Evolution Beyond Reasonable Doubt?

In a previous post I discussed the recent debate about evolution among Dutch Reformed theologians, particularly a book by Prof.Dr. Gijsbert van den Brink. Now there is a further article, "The Epistemic Status of Evolutionary Theory" (Theology and Science, 18 Sept. 2017) by Drs. van den Brink, Jeroen de Ridder, and Rene van Woudenberg, all professors at the Free University in Amsterdam.

The authors (hereafter BRW) aim to provide "a sober assessment of the epistemic status of evolutionary theory." They define a scientific theory as
"an explanation of some aspect of the world that is (or once was, or may become) well substantiated, based on a body of facts that have been (or once seemed to have been, or may become) confirmed through observation, experiment, or theoretical reasoning."
The epistemic status of a theory is a marker of its likely truthfulness, and depends on such factors as how well it fits the evidence, withstands criticism, and coheres.

BRW grant that science is fallible, and that most scientific theories once widely accepted have been conclusively shown to be false. Also, they acknowledge that theories are under-determined by the facts. That is, no matter how much data is available, it is always possible to come up with alternative theories that fit the data equally well.

They separate evolutionary theory into three different claims:
1. Historical evolution: the correctness of the geological timescale and the historical sequence of life (first bacteria, then fish, then reptiles, etc.).
2. Common Descent: all forms of life (including humans) evolved from a common ancestor, the first living cell.
3. Natural Selection (Darwinian Evolution): the development of life can be completely explained by natural selection acting upon random mutations.

Their final conclusion is that historical evolution is strongly beyond reasonable doubt, common descent somewhat less, but still weakly beyond reasonable doubt. The status of natural selection, however, is less certain since it is controversial whether natural selection operating on random mutations is the only force driving evolution. Here we should as yet withhold judgment. Competing creationist claims, on the other hand, are deemed to "have very little going for them and are plagued by theological problems."

Let's examine their reasoning in more detail.

Historical Evolution
The authors relate that in the early 1800's--before Darwin--almost all geologists came to reject a young earth and a global flood, even though many of them had started off trying to defend Genesis as accurate history. They were allegedly forced to change their minds by the geological data.

Not everyone agrees with this account of 19th century geology. For example, historian of geology Terry Mortenson, in his book "The Great Turning Point" (2004), contends that it was not so much the data, but unbiblical presuppositions, that drove that modern geology. Mortenson examines many "scriptural geologists" of that time who stuck to interpreting geological data within a biblical framework. Significantly, the references BRW appeal to are all pro-evolution, whereas Mortenson is a creationist.

The authors claim that those who contest historical evolution do so only on religious grounds, based, for example, on a literal reading of Genesis. They review two such proposals.

A. "Appearance of Age". Here they refer to the theory of Philip Gosse, published in 1857, that God created the earth as is, 6000 years ago, with the appearance of great age, including fossils.

Since this theory is empirically equivalent to that of historical evolution, BRW resort to a theological refutation. They argue that a morally perfect God would not intentionally scatter fossils through the earth's strata in order to mislead us. Accordingly, they dismiss this theory as "gratuitous" (i.e., clearly worthy of rejection).

This facile rejection ignores more recent, more sophisticated theories of mature creation, such as those considered by Vern Poythress (Redeeming Science, 2006, pp.116-130), or P.G. Nelson (Another Look at Mature Creation). Both reason that it is plausible for God to create the universe not just mature, so that it appears old, but coherently mature, so that various age estimates give consistent results (see my post On Mature Creation).

Various theological arguments can be made about how God could or should create. Hence we should be wary about unduly constraining the Creator. After all, how God could possibly create an object without it having some appearance of past history?

As to the charge of deception, God has misled no one, for the Bible reveals to us what He did. Rather, people deceive themselves by rejecting God’s Word, by assuming uniformity, and by assuming that mature creation is false. Moreover, regarding those who doubt God's Word, the Bible itself states, “God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth…” (2 Thes. 2:11). (See my post Would God Deceive Us?).

In fact, BRW's appeal to God's truthfulness works against them, since it entails that we should accept God at His Word, which contradicts evolutionary theory.

B. Flood Geology. BRW refer to Whitcomb & Morris' "The Genesis Flood" (1961), which explains fossils and geological formations primarily through a global flood. This view, too, is discarded in short order. BRW assert that flood geology cannot explain geological data, particularly the distribution of fossils, nearly as well as uniformity working over vast times.

But they ignore more recent theories by creationist geologists, such Andrew Snelling's Earth's Catastrophic Past: Geology, Creation & the Flood (2014), John K. Reed's "Rock Solid Answers" (2009) [see Reed's "Response to Old-Earth advocacy (2010)], and numerous articles in the Journal of Creation , Answers Research Journal, and elsewhere. Such literature discusses also numerous problems and anomalies with historical evolution. For example, the recent unexpected discoveries of preserved soft tissue parts of dinosaurs that alleged died 65 million years ago.

The geological evidence is by no means as clear-cut as BRW might like to believe, and can be interpreted in various ways.

Common Descent
How well established is the theory that all forms of life evolved from one initial cell? BRW consider three lines of evidence.

First, they claim that common descent is backed up by enormous numbers of fossils, including important transitional forms, with no fossil evidence contradicting common descent. Second, ages calculated from molecular clocks (based on genetic differences between species and presumed constant mutation rates) allegedly confirm fossil dates and sequences.Third, common descent is said to be best confirmed by genetic studies of the genomes of various species. In particular, modern genetics establishes our common inheritance with the apes beyond any reasonable doubt.

The alternative theory of special creation of species (or "theory of common function") is rejected on the basis (1) that there is no direct relation between genes and bodily function, and (2) that it cannot account for "pseudogenes" (defective stretches of DNA that seem to have lost their function as genes).

Here, too, BRW ignore any problems for common descent, such as, for example, the disturbing fact that most species appear in the fossil record abruptly, fully formed, with little change thereafter. Nor do BRW consider any creationist rebuttals of their arguments, such as can be found, for example, in Stephen Meyer's "Darwin's Doubt" (2014), and Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe & Casey Luskin's "Science and Human Origins" (2012), neither of which are mentioned.

In their discussion of evolution the authors bring up a number of useful distinctions and considerations.

However, they fall short in providing a "sober" assessment of evolutionary theory, since their analysis is rather biased and one-sided. All the evidence allegedly supports the evolution side; none contradicts it.  Serious attention is paid only to pro-evolution literature, whereas pertinent creationist responses are ignored. [For some further problems with evolution see my post Is Evolution Unfalsified?]

If one accepts as authoritative only those scientists who already believe that evolution is true, then it is hardly surprising to conclude that historical evolution and common descent are "beyond reasonable doubt." Presumably, doubters can simply be spurned as unreasonable, or ignorant.

BRW grant that belief that Genesis teaches literal history will effect the epistemic status of evolution. Yes, indeed, for in practice worldview presuppositions play a crucial role in assessing scientific theories, particularly in the historical sciences. A Christian worldview affirms the existence of supernatural beings, supernatural causes, and divine revelation, and demands that historical theories conform to Biblical truth. Naturalism, on the other hand, assumes purely natural causes, ignores divine revelation, and demands an evolutionary theory of origins.

According to BRW, a high view of the Bible does not require a literal reading of Genesis. Thus, they contend, acceptance of historical evolution concerns not the authority of the Bible, but only its interpretation. But, surely, a high view of Biblical authority compels us to read the Bible on its own terms, listening very carefully to what God tells us. Our hermeneutics must not be driven by evolutionary theory, as is clearly the case here.

In short, BRW's highly favourable assessment of evolutionary theory reflects an essentially naturalist worldview, not a Christian one.

We saw that BRW contend that creationist claims are "plagued by theological problems". Yet they avoid mention of the numerous profound theological problems that evolution poses for orthodox Christianity: Adam, original sin, death and suffering as a punishment for sin, an immaterial soul, the curse on nature, Christ's atonement, Biblical authority, hermeneutics,... (see my previous post). Further, if God is indeed morally perfect, per BRW, why would God create through evolution, with all the undeserved pain, suffering, and death it involves? And if God providentially guides evolution, why did He not ensure that all mutations were beneficial?

Are the authors perhaps not that committed to orthodox Christianity? Is it not just a slip that they refer to the evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky, who believed in neither a personal God nor an afterlife,.as a Christian?

It is interesting that Abraham Kuyper, back in 1899, already complained about dogmatic, unwarranted claims by evolutionists that evolution had been proven beyond reasonable doubt:
.".. we nevertheless hear the adherents of evolution in all strains assure and declare "that every unbiased and unprejudiced scientist who possesses sound judgment and sufficient biological understanding" must agree with them; that they can and must "assert their general theory with complete certainty;"  that it is impossible to conceive "how stronger and more valid proof for the theory of evolution" could be furnished…;" (Evolutie)
Kuyper was highly critical of evolution, and viewed it as a great danger to the Christian church. The Free University, which he founded in 1880, was supposed to develop an alternative science, based on Biblical principles.

What has become of Kuyper's vision?


age2age said...

I only brushed past your blog recently and have found your theo-logic reasoning refreshing. You literally must be the only other person in the world that is not afraid to quote 2 Thes 2:11 and hold it out as a warning to this rebellious generation. I am absolutely enthralled with this God we serve and the unusual, even upside-down manner (humanly speaking) in which he thinks and acts. First he hides himself and refuses to grant an open sign to this generation that he even exists (though to the pure and believing, he does work his local miracles - outwardly and inwardly). Then, second, he either allows or deliberately causes the global Flood to sort a large portion of the geologic column in such a way that, if one wanted to, they could construct an almost-reasonable-sounding theory about the evolution and advancement of life on earth without his involvement. Perfect! Everything he does is good! What a great plan! That wholly allows the small, the pitiful, the contrite, the humble, the true seeker to find Him in faith (that thing he most loves), all the while bolstering the unbelieving and vile in their wayward endeavors. Both groups have found their respective loves and have satiated their appetites - one for the Lord, the other for this present world. After the wheat and tares co-exist for a space of time, all that is left is to put the sickle to the stalk and harvest the earth. Then the real sorting begins! Thank you for the thoughts.

JohnV said...

Dr. Byl:
Please note:
In a criminal court any reasonable doubt may result in a "not guilty" ruling; while in science the doubts on one side must outweigh the doubts on the other side in order to move from "more reasonable" to "less reasonable" to "accept". That is, a reasonable doubt does not negate a judgment of acceptance like it would in a criminal court.

These terms, "beyond reasonable doubt" as used here compared to how it is understood in court are not the same terms. Be careful to note this.

Despite alluding to the values of "true or false", the paper never hopes to attain to a value of "true". The best it an achieve is "beyond reasonable doubt", which is nothing more than one theory being "more reasonable" to accept than to reject.

Science should have every reason to be more rigorous and demanding than a court of law, not being subject to the same expediencies. It should take much more strictness with fact and truth in whether or not is "accepts" theory. Instead it has taken a lower road.

Just some preliminary observations.

JohnV said...

Dr. Byl:
I have read the paper, and I have a question.

There is a disclaimer at the end that this is the opinion of the authors. There is a list of contributors or advisors, but this does not necessarily mean that they all subscribe the views presented. So I am wondering about the extent of this collaborated work: how much support does it have?

More precisely, can this paper be said to be a definitive statement for those who believe that the Genesis account cannot be an historical account based on the "epistemic status" of evolutionary theory?


john byl said...

Hi John

Thanks for your comments. At the end of their paper the authors thank various people for helpful discussions about earlier versions of their paper. Then they note that their publication "was made possible through the support of a grant from Templeton World Charity Foundation, but that opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Templeton World Charity Foundation."

We should thus conclude that the views expressed in the paper are those of the authors, and not necessarily of anyone else.

The authors do not claim to be making any definitive statements. They aim to help the debate about evolution by showing that evolutionary theory consists of various parts, which have different epistemic standing.

I suspect, however, that most theistic evolutionists will concur with their assessment that evolutionary history and common descent are "beyond reasonable doubt", even though it might be granted that random mutations plus natural selection might possibly not be an adequate mechanism.

JohnV said...

Dr. Byl:

Yes, that is what I suspect too. But I find that this type of thing, based on consensus of opinion more than fact, is usually an agreement in principle only.

For example, the proposed story of Adam by Dr. Van den Brink, which you summarized for us in your last post, is a detail that is missing from this paper. It is a proposed interpretation of Genesis as regards Adam, and may not be agreed upon by either of the other two authors, much less those who are listed as having helped in the research and publication. All they really agree about is that the literal Adam of Genesis is out; what is true about Adam may be any number of different scenarios, if anything at all. Their unanimity is in the denial of a literal Genesis account.

See what I mean?

Let's just take a doctrine which depends on a literal reading of the Genesis account, the doctrine of the intrinsic image of God in man in his original nature: that he was created good and upright and holy, God breathing into him the breath of life. If we go by Van den Brink's account of Adam, this simply isn't true anymore: by nature man originated in alienation to God; original man was no more in relation to God than man is now. None of them are saying this; they are only denying that Genesis may be taken literally.

Just a few thoughts,

RubeRad said...

"...more recent, more sophisticated theories of mature creation, such as those considered by Vern Poythress (Redeeming Science, 2006, pp.116-130)"

I'd just like to note that, regardless of his very even-handed treatment, Poythress does not support the Mature Creation view. From pp 146-7,

"The mature creation view remains a theoretically possible position. But it derives almost all its attractiveness from the prior conviction that the days are 24 hours in length. If indeed the Bible clearly teaches 24-hour days, God is directly telling us that we ought not to be deceived by apparent age in the universe any more than we should be deceived by apparent age in Adam and Eve when they were first created. But in fact, careful attention to Genesis 1–2 shows that God does not indicate the length of the days by some instrumental standard; instead, some features of Genesis 1–2, like the unending seventh day of God’s rest, actually caution us not to make quick inferences. Thus, God nowhere tells us that, if we look backward in time, we are looking at an “ideal time” or unreal past projection. Without this premise, the mature creation view ceases to be attractive. On the basis of the general faithfulness of God, and on the basis of his invitation to explore the world he has created, we have good reason to believe that the apparent ages found in astronomy are also real ages. That is, they are real from the point of view of the technical, calculational concerns of astronomy and modern science."

john byl said...

Yes, it is true that Poythress himself ultimately does not opt for mature creation, but only because he does not believe in literal creation days. Someone who is in fact convinced that the creation days are literal days could adopt Poythress's version of mature creation. My point is that BRW's easy dismissal of mature creation is unwarranted, since they have not considered more sophisticated theories, such as those of Poythress and Nelson.

RubeRad said...

I get it, just didn't want Poythress to be enlisted to the Mature Creation cause unilaterally.

JohnV said...

Dr. Byl:
Even if BRW do not consider mature creation (Poythress, for example) as "more sophisiticated", or rule it out because sophistication does not rescue the idea from error, yet they must at least accept it as "scientific theory" by their own definition of that term.

Remember, majority vote does not toss out a theory any more than scientific proof that it is false tosses it out: it is still a scientific theory in their definition of terms.

I think you are right on when you say that "BRW's easy dismissal of mature creation is unwarranted."


Steve Drake said...

From Poythress via RubeRad's post:
"...we have good reason to believe that the apparent ages found in astronomy are also real ages. That is, they are real from the point of view of the technical, calculational concerns of astronomy and modern science."

Forgive me for fleshing out some thoughts to myself, but perhaps others would like to reply and this discussion become fruitful.

This is the real rub with our old-earth, old-cosmos brothers and sisters, isn't it? They have not been convinced by arguments to the contrary that the secular astronomers and geologists conclusions of the age-data are incorrect.

We claim they are committing theological heresy. They claim we are committing scientific heresy.

Is the question then, 'To what do I owe more allegiance?' 'Is the biblical data that I get from Christ's revelation of Himself and His creative work heavier and more substantial than the conclusions of the data from the secular astronomers and geologists?'

'Is it merely a matter of trust?' 'Who do I trust more to get it right?' Or is it more than that?

'Can more than 2000 years of Church history and consensus concerning the age of the earth and cosmos finally be solved in light of 21st century scientific conclusions?' 'Are we filled with hubris to think so?'

Is another Church council required? Both views (millions and billions of years vs. thousands of years) cannot both be correct. In this the 500th year anniversary of the start of the Reformation, do we need another one; one that will settle this issue for the sake of God's glory and His Truth?

age2age said...

If it helps, think of the history of the universe as belonging to God and the history of the earth to us. The water Jesus turned to wine had a very real history, though you not be able to trace it locally. That would be because He who worked the miracle - Jesus - owned its history. Of course, that fact did not bother the guests because they certainly detected its history by its wonderfully aged taste, just like we very much enjoy the spectacular history of the universe! It may be that God owns the history of the universe. We are welcome to measure it, analyze it, theorize about it, maybe even travel to stars someday in it, but it would not be part of us and our ~6000 years of earth history. Remember, the earth first, the universe second. That is the creation order. What is ours, we can trace back approx 6000 years. What is His may in fact be untraceable.

JohnV said...

You said:
"We claim they are committing theological heresy. They claim we are committing scientific heresy."

I think it is pretty clear that they are committing scientific errors. True science cannot stand on specious definitions. Logical errors are still logical errors even though they try to define them away.

That is an insight I hadn't thought of. Thanks.


Steve Drake said...

Age2Age and JohnV,
Thanks for your follow-on comments.

Since you are anonymous by choice, or just using a handle when you blog with no real intent to hide your identity, I am a bit hesitant to know how to respond to your comments. Since you are new, welcome, but again, not having much to go on from any comments here on this blog, or not seeing your comments on other blogs related to this matter, I will at this time refrain from replying. I do appreciate your comment however.

Yes, I believe with you that they are committing scientific errors, but our old-earth brethren don't think so. Poythress's comment, to me, reflects that thinking. They 'don't' think the science is in error, and don't change their minds when recent creationist scientists point those errors out to them. In contrast, they claim we are the ones making the scientific errors and preventing people from believing Scripture and grasping the gospel.

I guess, brother, I am always anguished when I speak to a day-age admirer or a Framework brother or sister, that they don't see the errors in their logic, and although they are a committed, genuine Believer in all other respects, they fall down, are faulty, on the Beginning.

JohnV said...

For me there are two things more important than convincing the theistic evolutionists:

First: it is good enough for me to read "Epistemic Status" and know that they are not certain about evolution, that they give a less than certain rating; Yet they are more certain of it than of the confessions we confess as church. We confess the doctrines of Holy Scripture; they say they are the products of our perspectives. That's enough for me to not believe them: they do not know what I believe, so they are only preaching to the choir (those who also believe their confessions are just perspectives.)

Secondly, I'm concerned about my immediate church family, that they be not deceived. It is important to have a say in the public square to make sure that such ideas do not gain a foothold in the churches, as if they have any authority.

I should add here that I thank Dr. Byl for graciously providing that very opportunity to have a say in the public discussions.

Finally, if I have the opportunity I will discuss this, as I have with Peter Wallace. The idea of wrapping any new idea around the Bible, and doing so while holding a teaching office in the church, I believe, is using the office and its influence, something an officer has no right to do.

As you can see, there's not much time left for actually discussing evolutionary theory, or the various half-way ideas that you mentioned.


Steve Drake said...

Thanks John,
I think however that this is of such importance to the Church and our orthodox beliefs, and to historic Christianity in the whole, that we must continue to resist the encroachment that old-earth ideas bring against our total system of truth. As you know, many key doctrines are affected.

It is the "say in public squares to make sure that such ideas do not gain a foothold in the churches as if they have any authority" that I am concerned with. This say is having a monumental effect in our churches. I encounter BioLogos adherents, Hugh Ross adherents, Framework Hypothesis adherents in my church and in my circles on a regular basis. Our denominations are filled with men and women who have selected the scientific conclusions over the Word of God. Why is that? What is it that the plain reading of Scripture will not convince them?

And yes, thanks to men like Dr. Byl who faithfully represents the historic Christian position of a recent and mature Creation and has steadfastly refused to bow to the deep time idol.

JohnV said...

Of course, Steve, I didn't mean to diminish the struggles others are going through. Thankfully, in my church evolutionary theory does make any headway. But I once was in a church in which it did, so I know what it is like.

I think that one of the best ways to address it would be to know ourselves what may and may not be called "evidence". Notice that in "Epistemic Status" they cited geologic evidences of a destruction of life before the great flood. But are they actually evidences? Are they not citing their own conclusions, rather?

Or, in theology, many like to cite the differences in theology between the various churches to assert a subjectivity of all doctrines. But that is an error in logic. When you and I differ on a point of theology we both respect each other's beliefs as standing of God's Word, that both of us are weak and imperfect; but we do not disparage the witness of the Holy Spirit. My claim to believe the truth of God does not entail that God's truth is limited by my understanding of it. Nor does it mean that I do not know any truth from God.

"Not so", say the many around us. "This is proof that no one knows the truth. It is arrogant to claim that you know the truth and that everyone else is wrong." But I'm not saying I am right; and I am not saying everyone else is wrong. I am saying God is right, and I believe Him, God helping me.

These are just two assumed evidences that are not evidences.

Or take the light travel problem: a star that is a million light years away neans that it is at least a million years old. But this is not evidence. It is again citing their own conclusions as evidence, and nothing more.

We know from the Word of God that the stars were only days older than Adam. I have no reason, and scientists have given me no reason, to doubt God's word. So it has to be possible that a star a million light years away is not therefore a million years old. Scientists throw this conclusion out. Why? Do they have proof? No, they don't. What they have is a conclusion that deliberately leaves God out of it, without first proving that God is out of it. This is not science.

Can we give an answer to the problem? I don't think we can; all we can do is speculate. The crux of the matter is that it is every bit matter of faith in what they believe as they claim it is for me to believe in what the Bible says. It is not scientific discipline that barges into areas in which science cannot claim any authority.

We need to be alert for these little things. I think that's a good start. Of course, it doesn't overcome obstinacy, but if it helps others then maybe the Spirit will use it for the whole church.


age2age said...

There a created hierarchy. In Psalms we learn that man was created a little lower than the angels, yet the gulf in splendor and power and intellect between humans and angels seems to far exceed the phrase “a little lower than”. In the same way, God created a human-animal hierarchy. Apparently, the genome shows chimpanzees to be made a little lower than man (a 1 to 5% difference), yet the great dissimilarities are self-evident. So in reality all that the discovery of the genome has done is to reinforce the Bible and God’s created hierarchy. The evolution mechanism is not necessary to explain human-chimp differences and similarities.

God tests hearts. Evolutionists would do well to study Ecclesiastes 3:17-21. After first declaring that it is man that will be brought into judgment, the teacher then notes the grave mistake that man makes when he assumes too much similarity between himself and animals. This leads to the erroneous conclusion that even the departed spirits of humans and animals must also face the same unremarkable fate – namely, that neither will give account to God. This is a great delusion that is currently sweeping across our culture. Another is that since humans and chimps/bonobos exhibit similar genomes, they must share a common descent. Human reasoning and philosophy will invariably get the beginning wrong and the ending wrong. Atheists see the same human-animal fate in the end; evolutionists see a common human-animal ancestor at the beginning. Both are failing the tests God has embedded in nature.

JohnV said...

I find it a little bit difficult to deal with the following quote from Epistemic Status"

"The primary attitude that scientists have vis-à-vis theories is best captured in terms of acceptance, rather than full-blown belief—scientists are typically well aware that science is a fallible enterprise, and that new evidence may overturn accepted views.

The problem is that evolution requires a full-blown belief. If they allow God to create even the smallest of things then the possibility is there, and must be considered, for an act of divine creation elsewhere in the process. But it is all predicated on a nature-only basis. God is ruled out of the picture, and not because they have shown beyond reasonable doubt that God does not exist.

Evolution is predicated on a belief; the facts are considered only under this belief. And anything less than this is not deemed to be evolution by evolutionists. It is a full-blown belief before the facts, from the very start.

So this quote indicates a highly questionable expertise in their analysis or knowledge of evolution.

just a few thoughts,

age2age said...

JohnV, I think your thoughts are spot-on. Thanks. Regarding the paper, there is really nothing remarkable that it contains. Any science content is easily overthrown with some quick references to Scripture, a moment of prayer for wisdom, and a little literary engineering to construct simple counter-argument.

The overwhelming feeling I came away with was that here are three individuals - scholars, if you will - who have bitten the forbidden fruit, now bringing it to me hoping I will bite as well. But, like you, any drawing power in their argument for me is null.

Thanks again.

Steve Drake said...

Why have you not put your name to your 'Young Universe Cosmology' paper, that can be accessed by clicking on your moniker above and being then directed to on Blogger? You present an idea of how our universe could have formed but don't want to put your name to it? Is it even your own work, or are you just posting the work of someone else? Clicking on your profile reveals nothing about you. This is by design I'm sure, but shows no intention to be transparent. I'm wondering why?

age2age said...

Steve, I left my name off the write-up so as not to distract from the content. The cosmology model is not new and has been around for awhile but is not easily understood. I have had professionals look at it and received both positive and negative feedback. Dr. Byl graciously read it and commented that he is not convinced that it even works for a young cosmos or even correctly approaches the Genesis Creation story (most creationists recoil at a small start to the universe, for instance). I value his opinion. I made it public recently only to relieve myself of an obligation - that is, in the unlikely event that it really *did* explain the created cosmos, I would not be remiss for not at least making it available.

Creation cosmology is still wide open and needs some fresh ideas. Reread the end of Dr. Byl's "Is Mature Creation Deceptive" and take a moment to think through his proposal. I think there may be some promise there. If it worked, that one has the potential to be an approach that all could likely agree on.

Steve Drake said...

You obviously come from a science background and either work in a scientific field or teach in a higher institution of learning, I gather. Whether this institution or academic facility is Christian or non-Christian and whether this is the determinative factor in your anonymity, I get that. If you don't work in a scientific field or teach in a higher level academic setting, then I don't get it.

If you are proposing something novel, and away from the historic Christian position on the days of Genesis and/or a recent mature creation, then you ought consider why you think you might know better than those that have come before you. I'm not saying this is your position, only that this should be a caution.

Since you won't reveal yourself, it is hard to deduce any pertinent background information on your affiliations, connective groups, alignments, or denominational or non-denominational leanings, and thus hard to dialog with you on these issues of Biblical origins and the intersection of science and Christian theology.

I am not a scientist, however, as a layman, I am well educated in the scientific conclusions of today's secular scientific elite, and although not a seminarian, well versed in the doctrines, creeds, positions, and history of the Christian system of truth.

"You left your name off the write-up so as not to detract from the content", because you have published or written elsewhere on this topic under your real name?

Do I know you brother, in some other context?

I read your write-up, and came to the same conclusion as Dr. Byl that I didn't see any correlation to the historic account in Genesis 1. Dr. Byl's comments being far superior to mine, should caution you to rethink it.

I'm not trying to be harsh, I just find it difficult to understand the lack of transparency.

God's blessings to you,
Steve Drake

Marnix Klooster said...

The BRW article writes the following about "historical evolution", the view that the earth has seen many life forms in sequence over millions of years: "Therefore, as far as we know, there are no scientists who challenge these data purely on scientific grounds. The only people who do contest them, do so on _religious_ grounds" (emphasis theirs).

However, is this actually true? As far as I've read 'creationist' literature, there are many people who are _motivated_ in their research by their plain reading and understanding of the Bible, but then their _grounds_ to challenge many aspects of "historical evolution" are purely scientific.

For example, alternative ages for dinosaur bones based on the observation of "fragments [...] of what look like amino acids [whose] chemical profile [...] looked very similar to that obtained from the red blood cells of an emu" (

(By the way, in the other direction, there are many scientists who reject theories from "creationists" not on scientific but on _religious_ grounds, i.e., because they come from people who believe the Bible is trustworthy: "You're just saying that because you believe that Bible stuff, so we don't take your theories seriously.")

So my question is: Which examples are there of "scientists who challenge [the data underlying historical evolution] purely on scientific grounds"?

john byl said...

Hi Marnix

Thanks for your interesting comment and question.

The BRW article, under “historical evolution” is primarily concerned with fossil dating, rather than with evolution itself.

1. Most scientists grant that there are “anomalies”: data that doesn’t readily fit into the chronology of mainstream science (e.g., dinosaur blood cells found in fossils). However, this would generally not cause them to reject mainstream dating in general.

2. Most scientists grant that dating methods are based on assumptions, such as uniformity, that cannot be conclusively proven. Scientists such as George Ellis and Herbert Dingle grant that a mature creation 6000 years ago is beyond scientific disproof.

3. Some scientists posit that our universe is a computer simulation created by an advanced civilization. If so, the simulation could have been started any time, with an apparent past.

4. Some cosmologists are worried about the “Boltzmann brain paradox”. In some cosmological models
Boltzmann brains --spontaneous thermal fluctuations (this could include the whole solar system, or more) with memories (or observations) of a past that never existed—are more likely than humans that came to be via natural evolution.

Much more common, however, are scientific challenges on other aspects of evolution, such as forming the first cell, common descent, getting mind from matter, etc.

Wes Brice said...

Scripture does not imply 6 24 hour days??
Have you never read Exodus 20:8-11?
I would encourage you to adopt the historic reformed faith concerning Scripture as is taught in WCF - Chap. 1 Paragraph 9
9. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.