My New Years Resolution for 2018

I have a New Years Resolution for 2018, inspired by a recent blog comment.

Yesterday, a reader of this blog indicated that he was not interested in reading Evolution 2.0. Then he posted six very long blog comments that contained 20, maybe 40 questions.

I responded: “Most of your questions are answered in Evolution 2.0.

“Read it. Invest the money and the time. If you won’t, I won’t engage with you.

“Ten years ago I engaged with all comers, regardless. I did respond to any halfway civil person with any halfway reasonable question.

“I replied to tens of thousands of emails – literally any reasonable person who replied to me from an email list of 275,000 people.

“And then, for the last 5+ years, to people on this blog. I have answered nearly every imaginable question from every kind of person you can imagine, from teenagers to molecular biologists, from flaming atheists to Hasidic Jews.

“I have also invested eight years writing a book and organizing a prize, which are endorsed by some of the most eminent evolutionary scientists in the world from Oxford, Harvard, MIT, UCLA, King’s College, including editors of three peer-reviewed biology journals.

“I don’t have time to re-state here what I have already said here and elsewhere. If you desire my time and attention, if you wish to learn, and if your questions are sincere, you will be willing to invest the money and the time to read what I have written. 

“You can also find the answers to most of your questions on this site in the articles and comments.

“Your questions must demonstrate familiarity. Do your homework. Skin in the game. 

“I am extremely busy; I am a highly sought after person, being one of the highest paid business consultants in the country. I have made notable contributions to four professions: process control engineering (wrote an Ethernet book), online advertising, business strategy, and evolutionary biology. Including the largest Origin of Life prize in history.

“Numerous investors have committed millions of dollars to the Evolution 2.0 Prize. The science and logic behind the prize have been carefully refined since 2005. Almost all of that history is on this blog for all to see, which has over 10,000 comments.

“The opportunity cost to write Evolution 2.0 was great. I could have made far more money doing something else. This is not about book royalties. It’s about informed conversation. Any serious person anywhere in the world who wants to know something can lay their hands on a book and read it.

“From this point forward I will generously engage only those who generously engage with my work and demonstrate their knowledge through informed conversation. I have earned the right to say that.

“Put some skin in the game. Evolution 2.0 is well worth your time. Read the book from cover to cover (including the appendices) and then come back with your questions. I will similarly engage with people who have read books from the following list:

Dance to the Tune of Life: Biological Relativity by Denis Noble

COSMOSAPIENS by John Hands

Evolution: A View from the 21st Century by James Shapiro

Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life by Hubert Yockey

Purpose and Desire by J. Scott Turner

Acquiring Genomes by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan

Symbiogenesis: A New Theory of Evolution by Boris Kozo-Polyanski, Lynn Margulis and Victor Fet

The Music of Life by Denis Noble

Recordings and proceedings from the 2016 Royal Society Evolution Meeting

“…All authored by eminent scientists from top institutions who have published volumes of peer reviewed work.”

That is my New Years Resolution for 2018 and it applies to everyone.

Perry Marshall

P.S.: Somebody’s going to complain, “Awwww, you just want to sell books.”

Answer: I want people to read books. Mine or others, either way. Source one from your local library if you are tight on funds. Or buy it. I don’t care. But you have to pick up the book and read it.

It’s time to elevate the conversation.

34 Responses

  1. John Lyster says:

    Glad to be of assistance there Perry, lol

  2. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry, your new year’s resolution convinced me that I should read your book. I could not get it through any local library, so I broke down and bought my own copy of it on Amazon. It took me nearly two months to read through it, cover to cover, while taking many pages of notes. As you can imagine, reading your book was not my full-time job. Anyway, thanks for encouraging me to read it. I submitted a review of it last night. It’s probably too long, but just in case you are interested, here is a link to it.
    https://www.amazon.com/review/R1ORDKTTHCDO1U/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

  3. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    You are welcome. You did help me understand various approaches better for sure. Thanks. Believe it or not, I had more ideas for increasing thoroughness than for decreasing it. The real challenge I faced was not to elaborate more but to condense my notes down to a reasonable length.

    I had nothing to say about chapter 17, for example. Frankly, in a sense, no one can tell the whole story. You and I are no exception to this rule. Nevertheless, in my review, I could have agreed with you that creationists have had relatively little to say about modern advances in biology, the “blades” of what you call the Swiss Army Knife. It would have been nice to comment on the following paragraph from that chapter to illustrate the importance of distinguishing science from history:

    “Meyer and his pro-Darwin opponents are making identical, equal, and yet opposite mistakes. Both move evolutionary steps out of the realm of scientific discovery and into ineffable mystery, so round and round it goes. Thus the deadlock between Darwin and Design. Both sides have missed the biggest story in the history of science.” (p. 150)

    In my notes, the rest of this comment is all I had on chapter 17:

    “The decisions organisms make as they apply the Swiss Army Knife create genetic information.” (p. 150)

    One may quibble over definitions and the question of whether decisions really can create information, but a much more important point should not be missed. Whatever can be demonstrated in a modern lab really has no bearing on what actually happened in the past except to provide ideas for guesses, which may or may not be correct, depending crucially on the validity of the assumptions involved.

    • Tom,

      We’ll have to agree to disagree on the last paragraph but that is nothing new. Along the lines of what you say, I believe creationists will get a lot more traction with secular people by focusing more on the teleological behavior of organisms. I think teleology is the real issue of contention between secular and sacred, more so than the details of the history. Religious people see the world as purposeful, secular see it as purposeless, and what you and I can both certainly agree on is that every aspect of living things, every system at every level, including even small genetic adaptations like astronaut DNA changing after a trip to space, are all demonstrably purposeful.

  4. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    Yes. Whenever further discussion seems hopeless or there is no time for it, agreeing to disagree is always an option. No problem. That last paragraph in my comment seems entirely reasonable to me. I hope your reason for disagreeing with it, whatever it is, makes just as much sense to you.

    Can you point me to any examples or documentation to support your belief that the teleological behavior of organisms is “the real issue of contention between secular and sacred”? In my own experience, the center of contention has much more to do with what God did or did not do and the timing of events, all clearly issues related to history, but of course, to the extent that any intelligent agent was involved, questions of purpose can also arise as side issues.

    I found two pages in your book referenced in the index under “purpose, and Neo-Darwinist perspective.” You said (p. 24) that according to Neo-Darwinists, “There was no design; there was only the appearance of design. There was no purpose; there was only the illusion of purpose.” By the way, under the list of purpose subtopics, your index has a note that says, “(see also teleology),” but no entry for teleology appears in my edition.

    One problem with putting more focus on teleology is highlighted in your observation quoted above. If a purpose is claimed, can it necessarily be objectively identified? Could a skeptic always argue that a claimed purpose is really only an illusion? If I argue that one of my muscles cramped up because it has a mind of its own and purposed in its heart to get my attention, you could tell me that it was only an illusion, right? I think a skeptic could tell you that a claimed purpose for observed evolution of a strain of bacteria was really just an illusion too, and you would have no objective way to prove him wrong.

    We agree that God created for his own purposes, and his creatures can do things for their own purposes, but I think there is a much more serious problem with your suggestion. Can you think of any way to focus more on the teleological behavior of organisms as a strategy for gaining a lot more traction with secular people without embracing their approach to learning the history of our origins? As it is, our approach is to believe Genesis, not to study clues in nature and see what we can figure out. Does our authority on origins have anything to say about the teleological behavior of organisms —or about evolution? Is there any way to focus on teleology without granting a major concession on the issue of common descent? If we concede on that, but our teleology angle fails to convince, where does this leave us? Compromised? With nothing left to stand for? Or what? If you prefer this strategy, I wish you great success. Time will tell how well it works.

    Personally, regardless of what might seem to be the most effective strategy, I think our real purpose should be to shine light on the truth as we believe it has been revealed to us (2Cor. 4). Figuratively speaking, we may plant or water, but it is God who makes things grow (1 Cor. 3:1-9).

    • Obviously God is the ultimate issue. However the immediate issue becomes the evidence we use to decide.

      As you yourself exemplify, one has to take a virtual history position to retain your particular interpretation of Genesis. Most scientists do not take a strictly conservative literal interpretation of Genesis seriously, precisely because they will never accept the virtual history proposition.

      But that still leaves the teleology issue firmly on the table.

      If you have even a cursory familiarity with the literature, you know teleology has ALWAYS been the hot button issue in empirical science. From the dogmatic insistence that natural selection is the only directional force in evolution to the way atheist descriptions of selfish genes drip with teleological language. If you read “Selfish Gene” or “Blind Watchmaker” you will know exactly what I’m talking about. “Purpose and Desire” by Turner addresses it from the pro-teleology side.

      Many times I have said to skeptics, “What’s the difference between you saying biology only APPEARS to be purposeful and a YEC saying the universe only APPEARS to be old?”

      They never have an answer. Dawkins coined the term “designoid” to designate things that appear designed but are not, but the word never caught on. Why? Because there are no other examples in daily experience.

      When new words describe something experiential and important and real, they don’t have trouble catching on. When words are invented for purely ideological reasons, they struggle to gain acceptance.

      The way you prove the materialist wrong is by pointing out his own use of teleological language and descriptions, even while he pretends to deny that purpose exists. J. B. S. Haldane famously quipped, “Teleology is like a mistress to the biologist; he dare not be seen with her in public but cannot live without her.”

      I can say with 14 years of experience that one of the worst strategies is the virtual history approach.

      I’ve never seen it convince anyone.

      On the other hand I got this blog comment from Hashem Barzan:

      Hello Mr. Marshall, I have admired your work for about a couple years now as I discovered it by chance on YouTube along with the work Dr. Roberts Marks II. In turn, this bridged me to look at kolmogrov complexity, algorithmic information theory, Shannon theory, the works of Gregory Chaitin etc. in a different light. It actually made me a little hopeful & happy as for certain reasons I was spiraling into a form of dark, negative nihilism. Your lectures on information theory & evolution made me reevaluate those toxic notions that were building inside of my head. I can say I’m coming out of a dark despair thanks to you & those on the same page as you.

      Tom, I understand that you’re not willing to “compromise” so if you want to continue to try your approach, be my guest. This blog has plenty of people you can practice on.

      Meanwhile it is abundantly obvious that we live in a profoundly purposeful and ordered universe. Everyone including the atheists knows that deep down.

  5. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    We agree that “the immediate issue becomes the evidence we use to decide.” When it comes to a study of origins, you seem to prefer the evidence of currently available and necessarily incomplete physical clues, interpreted by modern experts, usually under the no-miracle presupposition, while people like me prefer to rely mostly on the evidence of revelation in Genesis, interpreted as straightforward history expressed in language that even a child can understand.

    You said, “I can say with 14 years of experience that one of the worst strategies is the virtual history approach,” but what do you mean by “the virtual history approach” or strategy? In all of those years, how many creationists besides me have even talked about it? I believe the “virtual history” term was invented by Gerald E. Aardsma, who explained it for the first time in the March/April 1999 issue of his Biblical Chronologist newsletter (vol. 5, no. 2). The entire issue is devoted to this topic (pp. 1-18). His goal was to reconcile these two statements (p. 2):
    “Grand Fact 1 Adam was the first human ever to have existed.
    “Grand Fact 2 Human remains and artifacts exist which greatly predate Adam.
    Instead of discarding one of these statements or the other, he wanted to find a way “to synthesize the two into a single, comprehensive whole” (p. 2), and virtual history was the key concept that he used to do this. The concept itself, however, is really as old as the hills, regardless of the terminology used by others. I hope the following lengthy quotation from Aardsma’s summary (p. 18) is considered fair use.

    “1. If one believes in creation-type miracles, one automatically believes in the existence of virtual histories, whether one knows it or not. Virtual histories are logical imperatives of creation-type miracles.
    “2. Thus, if one believes the world came into existence through supernatural Creation, as the Bible teaches, then they believe the whole cosmos has a virtual history.
    “3. To say the whole cosmos has a virtual history is to say the whole cosmos gives the appearance of having existed prior to Creation in proleptic time.
    “4. Therefore, belief in Biblical Creation logically carries with it a prediction that secular chronology and secular ‘history’ will appear to extend back beyond the Biblical date of Creation (5176±26 B.C. according to modern analysis) into proleptic time.
    “5. Unification of sacred and secular chronologies is achieved by simply identifying modern secular chronology prior to the Biblical date of Creation with this predicted chronology of virtual history in proleptic time.”

    Unless you had in mind a different concept of virtual history, I think your testimony based on “14 years of experience” is that “one of the worst strategies” is the approach that calls for belief that “the world came into existence through supernatural Creation, as the Bible teaches.” If this is a bad translation of what you told me, please clarify. If it is a good translation, you ought to understand why I am not going to reject this approach or strategy, no matter how bad or ineffective it may appear to be.

    In your last paragraph, you said, “… it is abundantly obvious that we live in a profoundly purposeful and ordered universe. Everyone including the atheists knows that deep down.” The “deep down” knowledge that you have in mind might be called a confident feeling or assurance not backed by any formal, objective proof. In this sense, I agree with your statement, and teleology might even be “a hot button issue in empirical science,” but you have not yet convinced me that “teleology is the real issue of contention between secular and sacred, more so than the details of the history.”

    Your claim seems especially doubtful when the topic is origins. If we start “focusing more on the teleological behavior of organisms,” it will be far too easy for skeptics to dismiss our interpretation as a mere illusion, even though they may have to admit, to be honest, that they feel what we all feel. Meanwhile, as it is, creationists and evolutionists have written extensively about “the details of the history” — who did what or what happened naturally in the distant past. These questions cannot be answered by means of any empirical science that calls for observation and experiments until someone invents a time machine that can take scientists back to those past worlds. In the meantime, it is all about history.

  6. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    That’s a fair question, but you ought to realize that unless God has revealed the answer to it, one can only guess or speculate. My guess is that the apparent age of the universe, like the apparent length of the virtual history associated with any miracle, was completely unintentional and of no concern to God. His intentions may have been entirely focused on the outcome of the miracle.

    I have a related question for you. How old does the universe look? Unless you changed your mind after you wrote p. 319 in your book, I suspect your answer is still about “12.999 billion years of fake historical evidence,” but this is not really the whole story. It is based on an age that modern atheists accept, right? If the question about the age of the universe had been asked in the days of Darwin, atheists might have assured everyone that the universe appears to be in a steady state that is essentially eternal. Even earlier, the answer might have been dramatically different.

    The answer to my question for you clearly depends heavily on what clues are taken into consideration. For centuries at least, people may have tended to rely on an age figure based on written documents, all of which fit comfortably in Aardsma’s proposed biblical chronology. Even in our time, not everyone disregards clues inconsistent with the 13.8 billion years that modern experts believe is the age of the universe. Consider the answers given by Hugh Ross and Jason Lisle in the part of this clip that runs from 1:26:37 to 1:28:29. You may also find Lisle’s opening presentation interesting. It runs from 26:12 to 50:50.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lvnst9ffwEE

    If you can spare the time, here is a considerably longer presentation by Lisle on the age of the universe.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEejUyEyhhg

    An interesting experiment might be to find someone who is naïve concerning the age of the universe, take this person out on a clear, moonless night, show him distant galaxies through a fine telescope, and then ask him how old the universe looks to him — without telling him how many light-years away any of the observed objects are supposed to be. The experiment ought to be repeated to get a sample large enough for a statistically interesting average answer and standard deviation.

    Considering an earlier issue you raised and the fact that tomorrow is Easter, we also ought to consider another variation on your question. How long did God intend for the period of healing of crucifixion wounds and injuries to look to Cleopas during and after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-43) or to Thomas when Jesus again presented his wounds for inspection (John 20:24-29)? Do you suppose Cleopas would have thought those wounds had been healing naturally for only three days at most?

    • I fully accept the healings of Jesus. Furthermore there is a very well known historical case to be made that this actually occurred. Thus celebrating Easter is something rational people can do. The scriptures say God raised him from the dead. Everyone understands that a resurrection is not a normal scientific process.

      The scriptures do not say, however, that God faked all but 6000 years of cosmic history. That idea is yours and Aardsma’s and whoever else advocates “virtual history.” It is not found in the scriptures, and the Bible never suggests that people should think such a thing. It is an artifact of your own forced and pained interpretations.

      If a star is 100 million light years away, how long ago did the light leave the star?

      How long ago does the illusion of virtual history that God allegedly fabricated, suggest that the light left the star?

      You are evading this question.

      If we accept your proposition that there is virtual history, then we have to accept what Aardsma says which is: “Grand Fact 2 Human remains and artifacts exist which greatly predate Adam.“

      One cannot be intellectually honest without facing the question of how old God intended these artifacts to look. One must address the fact that the microscopic details of these artifacts speak to a finely detailed history which you assert never happened.

      This makes God a liar.

      You try to sidestep this by saying that science cannot settle historical questions. Yet if you walk in a room, and a candle is half burned to the bottom, you could guess with reasonable accuracy when the candle was first lit. Unless God made a deceptive universe, then the same principle applies across wider time scales.

      Tom, you are a nice guy. And you are well meaning. But when it comes to this you are advocating pure foolishness. It’s a tragedy that anyone who calls themselves a Christian would expect non-Christians to believe such absurdities. Everything that appears to have happened before 6000 years ago is virtual history? Most people would think this must surely be some kind of a joke.

      You are being dishonest. And the real tragedy is that you are being dishonest to yourself.

  7. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    It is encouraging to know that we agree on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but was this ever in doubt? My question for you, which was relevant to our topic, was about Cleopas. You dodged it, so let me suggest an answer that seems reasonable to me, and you can tell me if you disagree.

    When Cleopas saw the wounds, knowing that Jesus had been crucified only three days earlier, he would not have assumed that Jesus had been healing naturally the whole time and so quickly that a long walk to Emmaus would no longer be physically challenging. He would have been amazed by the evidence of a totally miraculous resurrection from the dead.

    Anyone who inspected the wounds but was unaware of the recent crucifixion would have assumed that Jesus had not actually been fatally injured and that only natural healing had occurred at a normal rate. Such a person would estimate a date of the injuries weeks or months earlier than the actual time in history. Would it be fair to say that the existence of this virtual history made God a liar? If not, why not?

    You asked, “How long ago does the illusion of virtual history that God allegedly fabricated, suggest that the light left the star [that is 100 million light years away]?” Then you accused me of evading the question, but when did you ever ask me this question before?

    From my perspective, the question is nonsensical. Who alleges that God fabricated this “illusion of virtual history”? What God fabricated was the star. People fabricate virtual histories, and different people may fabricate different ones, and a given person may change his mind about the virtual history that he prefers to fabricate. Besides this, no virtual history suggests the time of an event. People either state or suggest a time when they fabricate their virtual history.

    If they get it wrong, they cannot honestly blame God for the mistake or call him a liar because they were fooled while interpreting clues after refusing to believe what he had revealed. If lots of people got their virtual history wrong in different ways, would you say that God told lots of lies, one lie for each one of the wrong histories? Did God once lie that the universe is eternal, but now he is telling a different lie? I need help understanding how you think this works.

    If you dare, you might ask yourself a related question. If God miraculously created all of the currently visible galaxies on a single day only about 7,200 years ago, how many light years away should the farthest one appear to be? Before you answer that it could be at most 7,200 light-years away, maybe you should consider the question from an audience member in the Ross-Lisle debate. “If a scientist were to measure Adam an hour after God spoke him into existence, how old would that scientist determine him to be?” Ross answered, “That scientist would determine that Adam was created an hour ago.” Would you agree with this answer? More to the point, can you imagine any miraculous creation of Adam on Day 6 that would result in a human body appearing to be less than one day old to an observer unaware of the miraculous creation but familiar with natural growth rates for humans?

    Can science be used to settle historical questions or not? Let’s use the definition of science that you put on page 274 in your book. Scientists always observe and run experiments in the present, right? They cannot climb into a time machine and watch Washington and his men cross the Delaware River or run any experiments on the water that was flowing in the river while they were crossing it. What kind of science can you do without either observation or experiments? I think we ought to agree that science cannot settle any historical question.

    However, scientists certainly can make guesses about historical events. I like your example of a candle, and right, you could guess when the candle was first lit, but you would not be able to test or prove your guess, and the accuracy of your guess would depend on the accuracy of your assumptions. Lisle explains this nicely in the part of his presentation that runs from 32:00 to 37:07 (first link in my comment this morning). He even uses a candle analogy too.

    I appreciate your opinion that I am a nice guy, but whether I deserve the compliment or not, it is irrelevant. You can accuse me of being dishonest, advocating pure foolishness, and expecting non-Christians to believe absurdities or some kind of joke, but with so much experience in debating skeptics under your belt, you ought to recognize these charges as mere appeals to ridicule, a type of informal fallacy. Let’s be reasonable. If any of them are true, you ought to be able to present a rational argument for review here. Just imagine your own reaction, if I had told you that you are a nice guy, but your ideas are a joke, and you are being dishonest with yourself.

    I understand that you are a busy man and have little time to convince me that the virtual history concept is absurd at any time scale, but whether you respond publically or not, I hope you will at least privately ponder the question of how Jesus could have miraculously fed the multitude with bread and fish without leaving behind evidence that someone might interpret under the no-miracle presupposition and guess about a history of past events that never actually took place. If you could do this, I might have to reconsider my acceptance of the virtual history concept. In the meantime, I see no good reason to disagree with Aardsma on this issue.

    Happy Easter. The Lord is risen!

    • You asked, “How long ago does the illusion of virtual history that God allegedly fabricated, suggest that the light left the star [that is 100 million light years away]?” Then you accused me of evading the question, but when did you ever ask me this question before?

      From my perspective, the question is nonsensical.

      That is why no productive conversation between us is possible, right there. You do not even understand what the problem is.

  8. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    At least I went on to explain why I claim your question is nonsensical, giving you an opportunity to disagree and explain why. Otherwise, what you quoted in bold font would have been just an emotional appeal to ridicule.

    It is true that I do not understand what your problem with virtual history is. I agree with Aardsma that “If one believes in creation-type miracles, one automatically believes in the existence of virtual histories, whether one knows it or not. Virtual histories are logical imperatives of creation-type miracles.” If you do not explain what the problem is or answer any of my questions or appeals intended to elicit an explanation, then I guess we are stuck. Dodging is easy and takes no time. My conscience is clear that I made a good faith effort to answer your questions honestly and thoroughly, but if I overlooked one you consider important, and you try again, I will do my best to respond.

    • We are stuck. You do not accept science as a valid tool for understanding history and thus no further productive discussion can be had. I’m sorry.

    • Tom,

      I owe you an apology. I’m sorry for saying virtual history is “foolishness” because that is militaristic language not DMZ language. We are trying to have a DMZ here.

      A better way to put it is that this requires one to assert that 99% of geological, archaeological and cosmological history, detailed, layered and fine-grained as it is, is an illusion.

      I am unwilling to do that. It makes God a liar.

      I understand that you are trying to preserve the Biblical narrative in the face of secularism and scientism but I do not believe that approach helps. In fact it only makes things worse.

      One of the rules of the DMZ is: “Get to the truth not the sale” or in other words “ignore no verifiable fact.” Bones of humans 100,000 years old and all kinds of other things are, so far as anyone can reasonably discern, verifiable facts.

      My refusal to not dismiss verifiable facts has led me to all sorts of discoveries ignored by others and facts are my friends. That is why I do not accept virtual history. And the types of miracles described in the Bible do not include museums full of artifacts from entire eras of time that allegedly never took place. You have chosen to take the virtual history route and that is your decision. I will leave it to others to dissuade you from that position.

  9. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    Apology accepted. No problem. Thanks for clarifying. However, you have not yet convinced me that virtual history somehow makes God a liar. If he revealed that creation happened only about 7,200 years ago, it might take a miracle for stars to appear to be too far away for their light to reach us in such a short time, but we believe in a miracle-working God, right? If we believe the first verse in the Bible, why should this problem be too hard for him to solve?

    We are under no obligation to explain how he did it. We simply believe that he did what the author of Genesis says he did. We may not have everything figured out, and we may not be able to explain why physical clues appear the way they do, including the human bones you mentioned, but I still recommend taking the Rom. 3:4 approach and refrain from even considering the possibility that it might be God, not the modern experts, who got the story wrong. Note that it is people who feel free to change their story as more is learned, not God. If we reject what he has revealed about our origin, we should realize that we really know nothing about it for sure and settle for the latest speculation based on a study of currently available physical clues.

    If a speculative story is based on an assumption that no miracle was involved when in fact God did plenty of creative work miraculously, as suggested in the Bible, then it is really nothing more than a work of fiction, however detailed, fine-grained, and sophisticated it may seem to be, and God is certainly not therefore guilty of lying. A charge of lying cannot stick without first establishing the truth, and what you call facts are really speculation based on assumptions considered reasonable but still possibly wrong. If you disagree, please explain where my reasoning went wrong.

    On a different matter, the question in the title of chapter 17 in your book (“Why Is Neither Side Telling You the Whole Story?”) may be now be out of date, as far as the creationist side is concerned. My general impression is that you pay little attention to the latest work of creationists. In your chapter, only one book (by Stephen Meyer) was reviewed for the possibility that the creationist side might be telling “whole story” (p. 150), hardly a full report of a thorough search, and yet your conclusion might still have been close to the mark.

    I have no reason to suspect that your book had anything to do with this, but after you published, beginning with the June 2017 issue of Acts & Facts, ICR has been running a series of articles by Randy J. Guliuzza called “Engineered Adaptability.” You might be interested in seeing what parts of the “whole story” might still be missing on the creationist side. I think this is the first article in the series:
    http://www.icr.org/article/engineered-adaptability-engineering
    A generic Swiss army knife graphic is featured in a corner of most pages in the series, but to see it you must have either the printed copy or a PDF of it, which you can download for free. Here is a link to the PDF for the whole issue:
    (June 2017, p. 16: “Engineering Principles Point to God’s Workmanship”) http://www.icr.org/i/pdf/af/af1706.pdf
    Here are links to other articles in the series, each one beginning on page 17 of their respective issue of Acts & Facts:
    (July 2017: “Engineering Principle Should Guide Biological Research”) http://www.icr.org/article/10072
    (August 2017: “Arriving at a Design-Based Framework for Adaptability”) http://www.icr.org/article/engineered-adaptability-arriving-at
    (September 2017: “Adaptability via Nature or Design? What Evolutionists Say”) https://www.icr.org/article/10189
    (October 2017: “Engineering Causality Is the Answer to Darwinian Externalism”) http://www.icr.org/article/10237
    (November 2017: “Engineering Causality Studies Unmask Evolutionary Externalism” http://www.icr.org/article/10290
    (January 2018: “Epigenetics—Engineered Phenotypic ‘Flexing’”) http://www.icr.org/article/engineered-adaptability-epigeneticsengineered
    (February 2018: “Sensor Triggers Affirm Intelligently Designed Internalism”) http://www.icr.org/article/engineered-adaptability-sensor-triggers
    (March 2018: “Creatures’ Adaptability Begins with Their Sensors”) http://www.icr.org/article/engineered-adaptability-creatures-adaptability
    (April 2018: “Active Environmental Tracking Explains Similar Features”) http://www.icr.org/article/environmental-tracking-explains-similar-features/

    Guliuzza may be planning a continuation of this series. It is already clear, however, that he does not interpret any of this evidence as support for belief in common descent or tree-of-life evolution. Here is a quote from his article in the April 2018 issue:

    “But as we have seen in this Engineered Adaptability article series, these patterns [of similarities among diverse creatures] are actually better interpreted as outcomes of creatures’ innate systems and not as the results of some mystical evolutionary process. Separate populations of similar and even diverse creatures are observed over and over again rapidly and independently producing the same traits to solve similar environmental challenges. This observation could prompt a testable hypothesis that these creatures share common programming that directs the production of specific traits suitable for certain conditions.”

    • There is nothing I can do to convince creationists of common descent. They want to believe in a series of miracles and since none of us were there we can only go by inference.

      I will not likely convince you that your interpretation makes God a liar, because you don’t even acknowledge the full extent of earth’s “apparent” history. When I asked you how old God intended the earth to look, you didn’t understand the question.

      I can only point out that the more miracles involved in ancient history, the less historical process there is for us to discover.

  10. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    Here are a couple more links from a different creationist source that may be of interest to you, considering topics covered in your book. I suspect there are many more like these.
    http://sciencerefutesevolution.blogspot.fi/2018/04/rna-editing-more-reasons-why-dna-doesnt.html
    http://sciencerefutesevolution.blogspot.fi/2017/07/monkeys-are-not-our-relatives.html

  11. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    From the creationist point of view, the surprise is not that you cannot convince us of common descent. It is that it was so easy for evolutionists to convince you of it. Well, maybe it was harder than I think. I am only guessing it was easy, based on the few weak arguments that you mentioned in your book.

    You say that we want to believe in a series of miracles, and this may be true, but it seems clearer to me to say that we want to believe what God revealed to us in the Bible. Even though creative acts are not specifically called miracles there, the very idea that God created the heavens and the earth in only six days in the beginning (according to Exodus, six days serving as a model for the ones in an ordinary work week) clearly implies miraculous activity to me. See Ps. 33:6-9.

    It certainly is true that none of us were there to witness the events of Creation Week, but we actually have more options than the one you mentioned. One can study currently available clues, interpret them under the no-miracle presupposition, and propose a tentative story of origins based on speculation and always subject to modification as more is learned. Alternatively, one can simply believe the origin story that God has revealed to us through Genesis, perhaps augmented by speculation based on clues that is consistent with what has already been revealed. This does not exhaust the list of options, but I suppose those are the ones we picked.

    On the question of lying, acceptance of the virtual history concept cannot make God a liar. God would be a liar just if he told someone something that he knew to be false. I don’t see how virtual history fits into any charge of lying. What did God ever say that is known to be false? What is the truth that he lied about? How do we know the truth in question? Where is the lie recorded? I think these are the important questions. Without incriminating answers to those questions, God should be found not guilty of lying, regardless of whether some individual accepts miracles and the virtual histories that they entail. Any answer to a question about God’s intention would have to be pure speculation unless he told us the answer, and I don’t know where he ever told us how old he intended a star or the earth to look. Let’s not make this any more complicated than necessary.

    On your last paragraph, as long as we simply believe the Bible, the number of miracles involved in ancient history is out of our hands. If we speculate that God performed miracles not clearly reported in the Bible, such as the creation of Mars, galaxies, and microscopic creatures, we are on our own. We must be careful not to get confused and elevate our speculation to the level of established fact, but should we also be worried that this kind of speculation might reduce the amount of historical process that there is for us to discover? As I see it, this should not be an issue at all, as long as we rely on testimony or revelation deemed credible. Our goal should be to know and understand true history. It does not matter to me whether we discover it ourselves or simply believe what God revealed, but let’s not reject revelation just to leave more for us to discover on our own some other way.

    • “this should not be an issue at all, as long as we rely on testimony or revelation deemed credible.”

      This is the problem. You don’t believe science to be credible when it clearly indicates that a star was there 100 million years ago because it’s 100 million light years away and we can see it now. You say it wasn’t there because you believe your peculiar interpretation of Genesis.

      So we are at a stalemate.

  12. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    After telling me what you think I believe, you concluded that we are at a stalemate without stating what you believe. We are not at a stalemate if you misunderstood what I believe, and once you do understand, you find that we really ought to agree after all, right?

    I think we need to have a clear definition of science in mind, like the one you stated in your book. It may also help to avoid speaking figuratively. Science is not a person and does not clearly indicate anything all by itself. It is an abstract concept, right? People (scientists) use the scientific method, make assumptions, form hypotheses, perform experiments, observe results, reach conclusions, and then they finally indicate what they concluded for the benefit of others, who should feel invited to check their work. We are also invited to believe their conclusions, not science itself, and the conclusions are always supposed to be tentative, not absolute. Otherwise, we would still consider the existence of phlogiston in combustible material to be a fact proved by scientists. It follows that our belief in a conclusion should also be tentative, and we also have an option not to believe it without rejecting science as a valid tool for investigation. After all, conclusions may need to be corrected as more is learned. Have I said anything so far that you consider controversial?

    When you claimed I don’t believe science is credible, you really meant that I do not believe what astronomers have concluded about the age of the universe based on their observations made in the present, right? If we were talking about a conclusion about nature and the laws of nature as they are currently observed, there is nothing we have been discussing here that is controversial, but age is not a property that can be directly measured scientifically at a given time.

    To calculate an age, we need to know two times, which we may call T0 (when aging began) and Tn (a later time of interest, perhaps right now). The age is just the difference between those two times. While Tn could be the present time and therefore observable, T0 is necessarily in the past (unless we are talking about something with no age or speculating about a future age). The past cannot be observed, can it? I think this takes the current age of the universe out of the realm of science. Where it belongs is in the realm of history. Age is generally a concept in the field history. If anything in this paragraph is controversial, please explain. We may not be at a stalemate after all.

    In the case of distant stars or galaxies, you may protest that we can indeed observe the past, because it took time for observed light to reach the observer, so what is actually observed is the appearance of the object at some point in that past. Does it follow that we therefore have both T0 and Tn (now?) for a given distant galaxy? To be honest, not really. To know T0, we would also need to know how long ago the observed light left its source. As for Tn, we have no way to know when, if ever, the object ceased to exist and stopped aging, right? Even if we could find T0, Tn would remain a subject of speculation.

    I suspect you feel confident that at least T0 can be known, because astronomers can find the distance in light-years, and this is all we need to know to calculate T0. Actually, there is also the issue of expansion of space itself complicating the calculation, but you are comfortable ignoring this, because it is assumed to be negligible for many objects that are supposed to be well over 7,200 light-years away. Nevertheless, you should understand that not even T0 is directly observed. Theory, measurements, and assumptions are necessary, and one of the assumptions is that no miraculous intervention was involved. If we are at a stalemate, it may be due to disagreement over acceptance of the no-miracle presupposition, but if you accept it, can you really claim belief in Gen. 1:1?

    In any case, we ought to agree that no scientist has ever observed both T0 and Tn for any given object where the difference easily exceeds 7,200 years. No scientific work is possible without observation, right? It seems to me that finding an age is not a proper job for the scientific method. I know that forensic science and archaeology may be considered exceptions to this rule, but does the study of origins fit into either one of these categories of exceptions? As far as I am concerned, methodological materialism makes sense in these cases but not when we are studying the history covered in Genesis 1.

    I certainly do not believe any observable object “wasn’t there” as you claimed in your comment, any more than a disciple would have believed that a piece of fish or bread in his basket of leftover food never existed. Virtual history is all about a story of what is thought to have happened to something in the past, not its existence, assuming it can be observed. Do you have a problem with this much?

    I don’t think anything I have said here should be controversial, but if you disagree, please explain. To simplify the whole matter, it should help to maintain a clear distinction between science and history and understand that history is not normally learned through observation of physical clues and repeatable experiments conducted on them in the present. Think of how we learn about the history of the Revolutionary War, for instance. I think it should work pretty much the same way when we turn our attention to our origins. To learn history, we mostly rely on documents, testimony, or revelation deemed credible, right?

    • We see two stars that are 10 million light years away. They are orbiting each other 4X per year so the light pulsates accordingly, brighter and darker every 3 months as seen from earth.

      Were they actually there 10 million years ago and we are now seeing them as calculations would indicate?

      Or are they an artifact of virtual history because everything we see was created 6000 years ago, with the appearance of 10 million years of age?

      Did the stars exist 10 million years ago or not?

      Yes or no, please.

  13. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    Even though you ignored my questions and appeals for consideration, I am answering each one of the three questions you asked me.

    Q1a: Since the distance stated in your introduction is actually a conclusion based on theory, measurements, assumptions, and calculations, any conclusion about the time in history associated with the observation of those stars could be based on the same considerations, or it could be based on what God has revealed. We should agree that the stars could not have been anywhere in the universe before the universe itself came into existence. According to Gen. 1:1, the heavens and the earth came into existence in the beginning (not in two beginnings billions of years apart). Personally, I believe that the observed motions actually took place in real history, but the exact time in history when they took place may be either unknown or simply a matter of conjecture. Those stars certainly have not been observed by humans for even a thousand years.

    You may protest that I believe what seems impossible. I admit that it would take a miracle for the circumstance to be true, and I cannot explain how the result could be achieved through purely natural processes as currently understood. After all, this has to be true of any miracle, by definition. I have nothing against people who try to figure it out anyway, but I reject their no-miracle presupposition in this context.

    Q1b: We are now seeing those stars and their motions for sure, and they are as real as they can be. This is true regardless of calculations or the time of the events of interest. At best, assuming no math errors, calculations indicate the solution to a math problem as set up, regardless of whether the theory and assumptions behind problem set-up are correct. Calculations alone can indicate or establish nothing external as fact. Is this controversial?

    Q2: No. It would be silly to think that “everything we see was created 6000 years ago.” What gave you this idea? My answer to this question is only one of countless counterexamples. I have no idea what “an artifact of virtual history” is. Virtual history produces no artifacts. It is an artifact itself resulting from human speculation based on an assumption that no miracle was involved in the observed aftermath of a real miracle of creation. The hypothetical “10 million years of age” is not an attribute that just appears. It is a conclusion based on much more than simple observation, as explained above.

    Q3: No. They did not, based on a study of biblical chronology. Since Q1a is closely related, please recall my answer to it.

    I still believe that we could move our discussion forward if you would consider and critique the logic in my previous post. I should add that I accept methodological materialism in the context of real science, the kind that has an impact on technology and the ability to make predictions based on an understanding of the laws of nature. I certainly do reject it in the context of a study of the history of our origins and still hope that we can agree on this much at least, considering that you believe in a miracle-working God.

    • Tom,

      Several things you say are very telling:

      “Calculations alone can indicate or establish nothing external as fact. Is this controversial?”

      “I cannot explain how the result could be achieved through purely natural processes as currently understood.”

      “age is not a property that can be directly measured scientifically at a given time.”

      “The past cannot be observed, can it? I think this takes the current age of the universe out of the realm of science. Where it belongs is in the realm of history. “

      A technically literate person knows not from theory but from experience that all of these statements are wrong.

      We can point a telescope at stars 10 light years, 10,000 light years, 10 million light years or 10 billion light years away. And we can witness literal history, time-delayed. We are not calculating the history, we are seeing it with our own eyes! The calculation is simply in how long ago it was and the calculations are precise and consistent. Because so far as we can tell the properties of light and physics are the same everywhere in the universe and have not changed with time.

      Furthermore there is no “dotted line” where observations older than 6000 years old have qualities any different than those under 6000 years old. So we have no empirical reason to doubt any of this. In fact all kinds of things in physics that make your telephones work are dependent on these assumptions.

      To draw a line between science and history and to say that they are two different domains – well, the only people I have ever met who say such things are Young Earth Creationists.

      If you could stand on a planet 2000 light years away with a powerful enough telescope you could witness the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. And all the rest of the miracles.

      You can relegate all history to the category of miracles (despite the fact that scripture does not say creation was a series of miracles; that is an assumption you insert) but all that does is deprive you from the pleasure and privilege of letting nature speak to you about the true history and majesty of the universe.

      Tom I believe you are really missing out on much of the beauty God has made – because of what I see as a legalistic and highly restricted interpretation of scripture. An interpretation that nature itself witnesses as being incorrect.

      The thing about this that bothers me is not that you choose to believe it, but that Creationsts call this “Creation science.”

      You yourself are admitting that we can have science or we can have YEC’s interpretation of history but we can’t have both. The term “creation science “ based on what you just said here is an oxymoron and a contradiction. At the end of the day it makes God a liar because it makes nature a liar. It makes something that is consistent and logical and beautiful into something vague and incomprehensible. It is the opposite of progress.

      I say it’s good old fashioned old wineskins and legalism.

      So there you have it. And this is why further discussion and further attempts by me to explain this to you are fruitless. We have fundamentally incompatible epistemology so ongoing discussion will not be productive.

      I’m glad you read Ev2.0 and I hope you gained from it and I need to no longer participate in this conversation.

  14. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry.

    Thanks for yet another opportunity to respond.

    You quoted four of my statements in bold that you claim are wrong, but I think that after misunderstandings have been explained, we ought to agree.

    My claim about calculations came in response to the part of your question that suggests, “[The two stars were actually there 10 million years ago] as calculations would indicate.” We ought to agree that calculations indicate no such thing. Suppose Andy has three fish and Billy gives him two more fish. One can calculate 3 + 2 = 5 and conclude that Andy should end up with five fish, but does the calculation truly establish this conclusion as a fact? No, the calculation indicates only that 3 + 2 = 5. The conclusion depends on the correctness of both the calculation and every assumption in the problem set-up. Andy might actually have started with ten fish. He, Billy, and the fish might all be purely imaginary. The same principle illustrated in this simple example applies regardless of how complex the calculation is, and the calculation you had in mind is no exception. If you disagree, please explain. If you agree after all, it would be nice to admit it.

    Whether the second quotation is debatable or not depends crucially on what I meant by “the result.” I suspect that you misunderstood me, thinking perhaps that I meant that the observable universe cannot be explained “through purely natural processes as currently understood.” If you refer back to the context, you should see that the result I actually had in mind was instead what I believe, that the observable universe is actually no older than about 7,200 years. With this clarification in mind, I think we should agree that not even a technically literate person can demonstrate that this is possible or that it could be explained “through purely natural processes as currently understood,” although I would admit that some have attempted to do this. I assume that you reject every one of those attempts as failures, if you even know about them. Jason Lisle’s theory about a geocentric anisotropic synchrony convention comes to mind.
    https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/starlight/anisotropic-synchrony-convention-distant-starlight-problem/

    On the third quote, taken from my April 13 comment, if you actually think about it, we should agree on this point too. We have instruments for directly measuring properties like weight, voltage, and temperature, but can you point me to any age-ometer, an instrument for directly measuring the age of a tree, rock, or star? Sure, you can count the rings in a core sample from a tree and reach a conclusion about its age that may seem quite direct, but this conclusion actually depends crucially on assumptions that have nothing to do with the correctness of the count. If you still disagree, you should understand that simply stating that I am wrong and “have fundamentally incompatible epistemology” gets us nowhere. If you are right, you should be able to provide a clear counterexample.

    Your objection to the fourth quote, also from my April 13 comment, hinges on your insistence on blurring the distinction between science and history. You may feel strongly that I am wrong about this, but if your best argument against my position is, “… the only people I have ever met who say such things are Young Earth Creationists,” you ought to realize that this as an informal fallacy. Can you find a dictionary definition of science that makes speculation, about what might have happened in the unobservable past based on physical clues, a proper example of scientific investigation?

    I already allowed two exceptions (forensics and archaeology) where methodological materialism is acceptable and uncontroversial. I certainly do not “relegate all history to the category of miracles,” but I do reject the no-miracle presupposition in the case of the history of our origins. We agree that the Bible does not state specifically that Creation was “a series of miracles,” but my belief in this is not merely an assumption. It is a reasonable conclusion based on a straightforward reading of the account of Creation in Genesis and the clear references to it in Exodus. The Bible certainly does not state specifically that Creation was the result of purely natural processes unfolding over billions of years either. This is an assumption you insert, right?

    The goal of a scientist is to observe nature as it now appears and to understand and describe the laws of nature so that predictions can be made. Technological progress often depends crucially on the success of this kind of study. The goal of a historian is to produce a story of what happened in the past. What technology depends on the correctness of any proposed history? I think we have good reason to maintain a clear distinction between science and history, but if you disagree, please explain what you see that I am missing here.

    My understanding of what the Bible teaches certainly does not deprive me of “the pleasure and privilege of letting nature speak to [me] about the true history and majesty of the universe,” even though I do not imagine that it “speaks” about history in any way that contradicts what God has revealed in the Bible. I believe I appreciate the beauty of what God created and later cursed at least as much as you do, and I look forward to a new heaven and a new earth that will not have to wait for billions of years of slow evolution before it serves the purposes for which God intends them. Do you?

    For the record, I am not and never have been “admitting that we can have science or we can have YEC’s interpretation of history but we can’t have both.” If the distinction between science and history is reasonably maintained, we certainly can have both science and a straightforward biblical interpretation of history. I reject the YEC label, because I believe that nothing in all of creation is older than the earth, which is about 7,200 years old, and it is certainly not at an early stage in a slow process of maturation and development, as the term “young” would imply.

    Your point about “creation science” is a straw man, as far as my comments here are concerned, but I agree that many creationists of like mind use the term and may thereby regrettably encourage the idea that science is a proper tool for investigating origins. However, I do not follow your claim that “creation science … makes God a liar because it makes nature a liar.” I certainly do not equate God with nature. Do you? God literally speaks, so in theory, I suppose this means that he could be a liar, but I actually believe that he never lies. On the other hand, nature speaks only in a figurative sense and is therefore quite incapable of lying, except perhaps in some figurative sense. If people study nature and invent false narratives about its history, this is no reason to conclude that either God or nature has lied. We ought to agree on this too, but if you disagree, please explain.

    You may lose your past patience, throw up your hands, and quite this discussion at any time, of course. So can I, but it seems premature to me to suppose that “fundamentally incompatible epistemology ” might be the real problem here. I am confident that we stand on far more common ground than you realize.

    • Your belief that measurements and calculations can tell us nothing about history means there is no more conversation to be had. I am talking about science and you are talking about miracles and that is your choice.

  15. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    If you were talking about science as defined on page 274 of your book, we might already be in complete agreement. As it is, we have both been talking about origins and the age of the universe. In other words, we have been talking about history—what happened in the past. This is the topic we both chose to discuss. Your book has plenty of discussion of history, especially appendix 2. If you outlaw all talk about the past in a discussion of evolution, what is left to talk about? On April 17, you picked out four things I said that you claimed were wrong. None of them mention miracles. I promptly explained why I think we should actually agree on all of them, once misunderstandings have been clarified. Now you say, “… there is no more conversation to be had” because I am talking about miracles? I don’t get it.

    You may be tired of this discussion and want to drop out gracefully, but your stated rationale makes no sense to me. I challenged you to find a dictionary definition of science that makes speculation, about what might have happened in the unobservable past based on physical clues, a proper example of scientific investigation. This has nothing to do with miracles and everything to do with science. Why did you chose to ignore the challenge instead of either finding the requested definition or agreeing with me that history and science are separate disciplines?

    By the same token, you could agree that calculations can tell us nothing about history or else explain why you disagree, in which case an illustrative example would be helpful. I gave you one to explain my point. Remember Andy and Billy? You could have used the same scenario to explain where my idea is flawed. You could have commented on Jason Lisle’s theory about a geocentric anisotropic synchrony convention, which has nothing to do with miracles either. You could have told me all about some “age-ometer” that escaped my attention, or else agreed that age is not a property that can be directly measured scientifically at a given time. While I do not deny that I have talked about miracles too, it seems to me that there is plenty of conversation to be had, even if you would rather not talk about miracles, provided you are willing to participate.

    Here is a recent article about design that may hold your interest more than our old discussion. You wanted me to be more interested in teleology (your March 21, 2018, comment). Even though the term is not used there, can you imagine any design that does not encourage interest in teleology?
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/04/yes-intelligent-design-is-detectable-by-science/

    • “you could agree that calculations can tell us nothing about history or else explain why you disagree,”

      I have. Repeatedly. Over and over. And over. Not going to continue to try.

  16. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    Over and over? Our whole discussion is still up and searchable. The only comment I found where you gave me any explanation about how calculations might tell us something about history was the one back on April 17, where you wrote, “We are not calculating the history, … The calculation is simply in how long ago it was and the calculations are precise and consistent.” What you said about the calculation there is not in dispute. Of course the calculation was used to suggest how long ago it was. Who has argued that the calculations were imprecise or inconsistent? You have not yet addressed my point, explained in my reply the same day, third paragraph, where I said, “The conclusion depends on the correctness of both the calculation and every assumption in the problem set-up.”

    My April 17 comment merely elaborated the same point I had made three days earlier, where I explained, “At best, assuming no math errors, calculations indicate the solution to a math problem as set up, regardless of whether the theory and assumptions behind problem set-up are correct. Calculations alone can indicate or establish nothing external as fact. Is this controversial?” None of your comments have even addressed this point about the role of theory and assumptions and the fact that the calculation by itself tells us nothing about history. Even if you lump theory and assumptions together with calculation, you still end up with only speculation about history. How can you possibly falsify a conclusion about history reached this way? I think the best one could hope for would be alternative speculation widely considered more credible.

    • Multiple times, I asked you:

      If light reaches you from a star 100 million light years away, when did the light leave the star?

      I do math and I get an answer. You don’t accept that answer and you say calciulations can tell us nothing about history.

      It’s that simple. We’re done.

      • Tom, to put a finer point on it, I do not think you will really understand the depth of this question, or the assumptions behind things like the speed of light, unless you have a career where what you do for a living depends on the speed of light. I already address the speed of light question quite adequately in Evolution 2.0 and furthering this conversation is unwise use of my time. You will need to find someone else to talk to if you want to question the use of math and scientific constants and observations for interpreting history.

  17. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    Thanks for trying to explain the confusion. You thought that asking me a question about when light left a star should explain why calculations alone tell us something about history, regardless of whether the theory and assumptions behind the math problem set-up are valid. That makes no sense to me and leaves me with no good reason for anyone to disagree with my point, which still seems entirely uncontroversial to me.

    If you search our comments here, you can see that you asked me your question on March 31, followed immediately by a related question about virtual history, and then you accused me of evading the second question, even though you produced no evidence of evasion when I challenged you to defend your charge (in my response the same day). After I addressed both of your questions the same day, you never repeated them in the same form.

    Instead of moving the conversation forward by addressing my response, you simply rephrased your original two questions in a more elaborate form on April 13 (“… Did the stars exist 10 million years ago or not? …”). The next day, I answered your rephrased questions and said, among other things, “At best, assuming no math errors, calculations indicate the solution to a math problem as set up, regardless of whether the theory and assumptions behind problem set-up are correct. Calculations alone can indicate or establish nothing external as fact.” If you have any reason to disagree with this claim, I am still waiting for you to explain it.

    Yesterday, you said, “I do math and get an answer,” but in this case, it appears that you do no math at all. You have read that something is so many light years away and use the number provided to conclude that the light must have left the object that many years ago. What do you need to calculate? The theory, assumptions, and calculation are all involved in the distance estimate that you received from others.

    Your question mentions a star “100 million light years away,” but I dare say you would be hard pressed to specify any star supposed to be just that far away. I also wonder about your April 13 example of two stars orbiting each other “10 million light years away.” You may want to consider finding examples that you can document with a reference if challenged.

    On your finer point, if you are talking about the speed of light as it impacts your career, you are no longer talking about light or any other form of electromagnetic radiation that is supposed to have traveled for millions or billions of years. You are talking instead about an accepted fact that probably no one finds controversial. In every case, someone can witness both the start of the travel and its end. In the case of astronomical objects outside of our Solar System, light is actually witnessed just at the time of its arrival here, presumably providing an image of just the departure. We have no way to witness such light at both ends of its travel, let alone directly measure the time spend in transit.

    You say that you “already address the speed of light question quite adequately in Evolution 2.0,” and you do address it on pages 317-18, but you left out an important point. If stars were in fact created miraculously, then the no-miracle presupposition is invalid, but you silently accept it anyway, as far as your speed of light argument is concerned. You may not want to talk about miracles now, but this should explain why I personally do not accept as quite adequate your page or two on the topic of the speed of light.

    I accept your advice to look for someone else who can defend “the use of math and scientific constants and observations for interpreting history” or for writing an alternative to Genesis as a trustworthy account of our origin, but I hope other blog visitors will realize that our discussion here was left hanging, not because I ignored your repeated attempts to explain, but because you considered finishing this “unwise use” of your time. Thanks for indulging me here at least for a time.

  18. Tom Godfrey says:

    Perry,

    The latest issue of the Creation Research Society Quarterly (Vol. 54, No. 1) features a full-length article by Royal Truman that is a review of your book, Evolution 2.0 (pp. 57-68). This is rather unusual coverage for a new book in the quarterly. In the first paragraph of his opening editorial (p. 4), the editor (Danny Faulkner, an astronomer) explained his decision to include “such a long review” of your book anyway. If you read Truman’s review, I think you will find that it is fair and honest, but if you disagree, I, for one, would be interested in your complaints about it.

    In the review I posted on Amazon, I said, “Unfortunately, [Marshall] rejected strict creationism prematurely and with insufficient attention to points made by scientists who disagree with him. His near lack of interest in their work is rather obvious in a review of his index (pp. 361-72) and bibliography (pp. 346-60).” Truman included a similar criticism, saying, “… I fear[Marshall’s] conclusions, theological and scientific, are seriously premature. Based on various peculiar statements, his grasp of some of the scientific areas he has been reading about appears to be weak. [Two specific examples follow …] The discerning reader will realize quickly that there is a complete absence of any evidence that Marshall has had any recent, serious interaction with YEC or ID advocates who have more than a high school science education. We are assured that there were hundreds of online debates (usually led by genetic novices), but we read nowhere about valid points made or of any of the reasonable and expert answers that are freely available” (p. 65).

    Truman concluded his review by saying, “The author is strongly urged to reexamine his deep time evolutionary assumptions” (p. 67). This seems to me to be excellent advice.

    By the way, the same issue has a nice article on Intelligent Design (ID). Its author, Jonathan Bartlett, takes a position that I think is consistent with yours, as explained in your long footnote about ID beginning on page xxii of your book, but inconsistent with the one described at the beginning of your chapter 10 (p. 73).

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