“Questioning Darwin” – Perpetuating Stereotypes and Misinformation

HBO's Questioning Darwin Documentary HBO’s documentary Questioning Darwin   questions Christian belief instead of Darwin
From Questioning Darwin, an HBO Documentary

The IMDB storyline synopsis of HBO’s recent1  documentary  ends with the statement, “the film takes a balanced look at this 150-year-old debate.”  It appears the film wants to take a balanced look, and they certainly had the opportunity, but if they were trying to achieve a balanced look, they failed miserably.  Either the writers are so steeped in anti-Christian evolutionist doctrine that they couldn’t see their own bias, or they willfully withheld important data that is relevant to the discussion. Or perhaps it’s a bit of both.

If they were seriously trying to present objections of those who “Question Darwin” why have they chosen to only present the case from the point of view of Bible believing Christians (of which I, of course, am one)? Such objections stem primarily from the fact that evolution is in direct contradiction to Biblical teaching. But that is not the only source of objections.  Why did they not also present the case of scientists who do not believe in evolution from a scientific point of view? Surely the existence of scientific objections to Darwin is not a newsflash to the writers of a documentary on Darwin. There is an entire site highlighting the hundreds of scientists who have signed their names to the statement:

” We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

The site is Dissentfromdarwin.org and you can look up all the scientists who dissent yourself.  Instead, the picture that is painted is that only fundamental, Bible believing Christians who,  as the narrator tells us,  “… believe their Bible is the Word of God, the ‘literal truth’ …”2,  don’t believe in Darwinian evolution. That only Christians object to Darwin is clearly not the case and so that is a  misrepresentation.  The fact that they have omitted any reference to any scientific objections to Darwin points to what this documentary is really about: questioning Christians who question Darwin.

Without speaking to those responsible for this production, one  can only speculate as to their motives. But based on what they choose to include (statements from Christians without any investigation as to whether they might be true)  and what they chose to omit (objections from scientists who disagree with Darwin’s theory), and the amount of time they spent explaining how Darwin arrived at his theory vs. the amount of time spent showing Christians who “question Darwin,” the motives seems clear: to present Christians as slightly irrational, slightly backwards, science rejecting people whose opinions should not be taken to seriously in this matter. Unfortunately,  too often Christians provide ample fodder for this distorted view.

A pastor3  is shown saying,  “If in the bible I were to find a passage that says 2 + 2 = 5, I wouldn’t question what I’m reading in the Bible, I would believe it, accept it as true, and then do my best to work it out and understand it.”  Brother, I understand what you’re saying.  It is incumbent on the reader of the Bible to investigate further to work out apparent contradictions so as to resolve the contradiction and understand what the Biblical writer was saying. (Of course that clarification was not in the documentary.)

For instance, Jesus while standing in the magnificent temple that took 46 years to build  is quoted as saying, “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2.19) This was clearly misunderstood by his audience, the Jews. (As it would be by anyone in that context who didn’t know Jesus.) Thankfully John, the writer of the gospel explains what he meant – that he was referring to his body.  So Jesus was in essence saying if you kill me, I will physically raise this body and make it live again in 3 days, which is proof of my claims. A prediction and a promise he made good on that first Easter Sunday by his resurrection from the dead.

So I understand the pastor to be underscoring the importance of working out apparent contradictions – though he chose, in my estimation, a poor example to illustrate the point. Arithmetic statements by nature and design leave little room for interpretation; and as such don’t illustrate the broad (though clear) range of meaning that verbal statements may convey, particularly when set in various contexts. So while his point is valid, it was used by this production to stereotype Christians as following blindly without a rational basis. As I state in What is Rational Faith Part 2, Christian Faith does not require a blind leap of faith.

From there, the depiction of Christians gets worse, with a Professor  accusing Christians of lying to children because they teach as truth what’s taught in the Bible; things that contradict evolution such as creation and a young earth. His exact  statement was:

“If the only way you can get your beliefs to persists is to lie to children – which is what creationists do about the age of the earth and things of that nature, if that’s the only way this thing can persist, it’s now worth it, it should disappear.”4

Clearly,  instead of looking at scientists today who “Question Darwin” and how they view Darwin’s theory against today’s evidence, the writers chose to channel the accusations of the new atheists, who accuse Christians of child abuse for teaching them religion.5   Instead of looking at the scientific questions, they chose to look at how Christians interpret the Bible, apparently appalled that Christians can take Genesis “literally”6, and even more appalled that such an approach can be persuasive, noting:

“Creationism – the fastest growing branch of Christianity – not just here in the United States but worldwide.”

That fact is only surprising (and disconcerting) to those who have bought into Darwinism lock, stock and barrel.  While the program does an admirable job of correctly articulating Christian views – since they directly quote Christians, and even shows scenes from Ken Ham’s Creation Museum – still  it is quite apparent that they mean to question those views. With their disdain for the views of those who doubt Darwin apparent, their refusal to show scientists who doubt Darwin gives the show a strong appearance of suppressing the evidence.  This point is underscored by the fact that they had comments from former college professor Dr. Jobe Martin, who has published evidences against evolution in titles such as Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution (I-III), but you don’t see any of his evidences; he provides history and commentary on Darwinism and its effects. Yet as philosopher of science and Intelligent Design advocate Dr. Stephen Meyer put it,

“For every evidence based argument for one of Darwin’s two key propositions, there is an evidence based counter argument.”7

You won’t see any of the counter arguments to Darwin in this documentary however.  In fact to the contrary,  Darwin is presented as a hard working, state of the art (even if it is 19th century art) scientist who worked tirelessly to gather evidence for his theory.  We are told of all the specimens he examined and the correspondences he had with other scientists.  Darwin no doubt considered himself an objective researcher. (We’re supposed to believe that too.)  We’re led to believe that his conclusions were valid based on all the research he did, however the documentary never bothers to mention or even question if the research that he conducted supported the conclusions he jumped to. The evidence suggests his research did not support his conclusions.

The documentary makes clear however that he suffered  greatly at the loss of his favored daughter Annie, and couldn’t understand why there should be evil in the world.  Outspoken creationist, Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis  graciously offers that if his theology professors had told him the source of evil was sin – not God, it may have changed his perspective.  What is more likely the case, (since as the documentary tells us, Darwin once intended to be a clergyman)  is that  Darwin knew what the Bible said about the cause of evil, but didn’t care. It appears Darwin  was determined to reject God in spite of the Bible’s explanation of evil in the world.

The documentary further wants you to believe Darwin let science direct his thinking, not his (anti-God) theology; and that he reluctantly came to the conclusion that evolution is true. We are supposed to believe that he was objective about it all because he is quoted as saying: Continue Reading

Is Faith Rational?

The Declaration of IndependenceThe Declaration of Independence – a permanent testimony to the establishment of the United States of America Rejecting the Bible because it’s an “ancient” document and we didn’t witness any of it is as foolish as rejecting the Declaration of Independence because it’s ancient and we didn’t witness the signing.


Is faith rational? If one took this question at face value,  the answer is quite simple: yes, faith is rational. How do we know that?  We merely need to understand the terms and see if “faith” fits within the bounds of “rational.”  That’s a simple academic exercise handled in the sidebar below. Of greater interest is what people usually mean when asking the question. What’s commonly being asked is either:

1.  How can faith be rational, when faith means believing in something with no evidence?

Or:

2. Is Faith/belief in God/belief in miracles  compatible with science?

 

Starting with the second  question – Faith in God and belief in miracles are compatible with science because faith and science are complimentary; not contradictory. There are questions that science is not equipped to handle. In such cases it doesn’t mean the item the question isn’t real; it simply means that science is incapable of answering the question.  One such item, as author, scientist and theologian Alistair McGrath points out is this:

 “What is the meaning of life?” This is clearly an important question. But can science answer it?[1]

The answer clearly is no, science can’t answer it. And why not? Famous evolutionary biologist and historian of science Stephen Jay Gould suggests it’s because science and religion deal with different spheres of knowledge – “magisteria” as he called them – and they do not overlap. Science and religion are thus Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA)[2] – so the one can not comment on the other. This formulation is close. Science can not see or measure the spiritual world, so it can not comment on it; but God, who is spirit (John 4.24) sees both the spiritual and material world, and thus can comment on both as an eye witness. Thus regarding the creation of the world, what you have in Genesis 1 is an eye witness account of the creation of the heavens and the earth in 6 days, and recorded as evidence – a testimony for all time.

In passing, God as an eye witness to the creation is something science can not disprove. They can disagree with his testimony,  (which they do) and disbelieve he even exists (which they do), but they can not prove he does not exist. Neither can they provide an eye witness to their version of creation – the big bang.  They say believing God’s testimony can only be done by faith. Okay, so what is it when you believe George Washington was the first president? No one alive today was there to see it. All we have are testimonies. Is that not then, also faith?  Yet no one asks scientists to prove George Washington was the first president, or prove that he existed. They take both to be true on the word of historians. Biblical testimony is no different. So why is faith in God’s written testimony any less rational than believing written testimonies that George Washington was the first president?

If doubters of the Biblical account still want “proof” one can say creationists have higher quality “proof” than scientists – since in addition to scientific evidence,  creationists have an eye witness account by a perfect witness while science merely has a of highly disputed theory – the big bang[3] which is backed by highly disputed evidence. Indeed the more we learn, the more the big bang is discredited.  The universe is both too young for the theory to be true (for more on that see  Saturn’s Rings are Young!)  and recent discoveries like the Higgs Boson (the so called “god particle”)  contradict the Big Bang theory. (For more on that see Testimony of the Higgs Boson.)

So faith expressed as belief that God exists is rational; it is consistent with how we use “faith” in other spheres, and it is consistent with science. But some people don’t agree with that assessment for reasons that take us back to the first question:

“How can faith be rational?” (implied: when science can’t see the evidence to prove it). This is perpetuated by a chorus of acolytes echoing the refrain:

“Faith is believing something for which you have no good, objective, rational reason to think is actually true.”[4]

What’s always amusing about these statements is the claim there is no evidence. Because the first thing they typically do is list the evidences then explain why they refuse to believe it. First off they want to eliminate the Bible as evidence because it’s well – the bible – a holy book.  They never seem to realize they are committing the fallacy of a false analogy when they compare the Bible to a book of mythology or even other holy books. Unlike mythology and other “holy” books the Bible is full of verified history, fulfilled prophecy (we’ll note one below), known, verified historical people, and geographical locations that exist to this day that you can visit. That makes it a reliable source of information. In fact regarding reliability of  the key section of the Bible that records the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – the New Testament – author and apologist Josh McDowell states:

“There is more evidence for the historical reliability of the new testament than any 10 pieces of classic literature combined.”[5]


Objective scholars regard the Bible as a reliable historical record, it’s people with an atheistic agenda who object to using the testimony of the Bible. But let’s look at a few of these objections. Typical of those stating faith is not rational, is the blogger above[6] who states faith is believing something which you have no good reason to believe is true. He has 3 main objections:
Continue Reading

Atheists – Willfully Ignorant in their Looking Glass World


The white hare, Alice, the dodo, Tweedledee & Tweedledum examining the Oraculum as depicted in the Oraculum
Only in the  looking glass world of Wonderland do atheistic explanations make sense


“I know what you’re thinking about,” said Tweedledum; “but it isn’t so, nohow.”
“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “If it was so, it might be; and if it were so,  it would be;  but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”1
— Tweedledum & Tweedledee

 

In the Looking Glass world of Alice in Wonderland, Tweedledee’s “logic” makes perfect sense.  In the real world –  it’s nonsense – or to be more precise – suffers from both a formal and a non-formal logical fallacy.2  Yet it makes perfect sense to Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

In the same manner, the logic of atheists makes perfect sense to them in their looking glass world where they protect themselves from the truth; they can’t see anything wrong with it – yet it is clear to others it is as fallacious as the flawed  logic of Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

When difficult questions are put to atheists about the nature of reality for which the atheistic worldview has no answer, atheists (and evolutionists alike) throw out fine sounding arguments. And like the Looking Glass characters,  their answers have the form of validity, but upon close examination it is apparent their arguments are as fallacious as the logic used by the Tweedles. Let me give a couple of examples.

Consider the question – Why is there something rather than nothing? For the Christian, there’s an easy answer: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1.1).  For philosophers, it is a very deep philosophical question. In fact Martin Rees, cosmologist, astrophysicist and astronomer royal calls it the “preeminent mystery.”3   Such a formulation does not affirm the Christian worldview, but neither is it overtly antagonistic.  But for particle physicist, skeptic (of the supernatural)  and atheist Victor Stenger that question is:

 “…often the last resort of the theist who seeks to argue for the existence of God from science and finds all his other arguments fail.4


Stengel is clearly antagonistic toward Christianity and is trying to deflect the illuminating power of this question. In his article Why is there Something Rather than Nothing Stenger winds up comparing “nothingness” to an unstable, simple system. What he does not seem to realize is that is an invalid comparison because a system – however simple –  is something; while nothingness is – well  nothingness. Or as famous former atheist turned theist Anthony Flew put it:

Continue Reading

Evolution – A Faith Commitment

Trilobite fossil from Chengjiang, ChinaThough they’ll never admit it, most evolutionists adhere to evolution as followers in any other religion adhere to their faith.

 

In what was intended to be the first article I posted on this site –
What is Rational Faith, Part 1
1 – I
mentioned that those who believe in the godless theory of Evolution (which includes most atheists and materialistic scientists)  – adhere to it as one adheres to and follows a religious faith. In other words it has taken on the significance of religion in their lives. Most evolutionists would deny this, as would atheists who think that because they define their atheism as a lack of faith/belief in God, they therefore think themselves immune to the common banalities (as they might describe it) of being a follower of a faith. Yet when you look at the impact of evolution on their lives, and how it changes their thoughts and behaviors, one can only conclude that for those who thoroughly understand the theory, it has taken the place of God in their lives2. Now you’ll note I’ve qualified the statement by the phrase “those who thoroughly understand the theory.”  I do so to distinguish the true adherents from those who follow it without thinking because it’s the “in” thing to do; it’s the majority belief, and they don’t want to be out of the main stream or worse – appear ignorant, or as John C. Lennox puts it, they

“…don’t wish to appear scientifically illiterate…”3

Those who know little about evolution apart from the fact that it supposedly tells us where we came from and it’s what scientists believe, should read articles like Reclaiming The Intellectual and Moral High Ground – which will inform them both on claims made regarding evolution – and why they’re incorrect. If they  still believe in evolution, then they appear to have a faith commitment as do other adherents to the Evolutionary faith.

So now that we understand about whom I’m speaking the question becomes how can I defend such a claim? Simply – by the fact that those believe in evolution exhibit the same signs and behaviors as those who follow any other religious faith. As the saying goes, if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, a quacks like a duck – it’s probably a duck.  There are a number of such tell tale signs, let me just give you a few off the top of my head: Continue Reading

A Resurrection Day Response

 The Holy Bible

I was asked by multiple atheists – what if some other religious book were true? Here is the response.

In the song “Nada One” Heart’s Nancy Wilson sings about an ephemeral,  nocturnal  love who has glowing, night creature eyes that frequents her dreams. This mysterious love seems to appear only in dreams where no one can see him. For even when wandering through streets, she describes this scene:

“Nobody seein’ where I’ve been
Nobody feels what I’ve done
Nada One”

With such descriptions, one questions the reality of his existence. Indeed she herself seems to harbor a doubt or two since she must  reminder herself “you are as real as I feel.” The one thing that’s not mysterious in this song,  is what she means by “nada one.”  Clearly “nada one” is a play on the  sound of the phrase “not a one,”  yet still, one must  wonder – since it is always  capitalized –  if she’s using it as a proper noun – speaking or referring to a being named “Nada One.” The Wilson sisters were purposefully ambiguous for artistic purposes. But as we’ll see God is purposefully clear and unambiguous to eliminate doubt and nurture faith.

I was reminded of this song as I awaited responses to a question I had posed.  Let me step back  and explain.  I saw the below tweet that informed people that last Thursday was “National Ask an Atheist Day.”

 

This seemed like  a perfect opportunity to re-query the unbelieving regarding a  question I had asked in a  Continue Reading

A question of authority

What will it take for you to believe?
Charlton Heston as moses - "You are not worthy to recieve these commandments"
Charlton Heston as Moses – “You are not worthy to receive these commandments”

Twitter is of course home to many ongoing debates, one of which is the ongoing debate between atheists and theists; creationists and materialists – those who adhere to the standard non-supernatural theories of origins for the universe and  life. One such debate was brought to my attention with the following tweet:

 


 

Sandra does an admirable job of defending the creationist position. I was going to add some evidences – items such as the following in response to the objection “fossils are laid out in the rock layers, they are arranged in an evolutionary order…”

To the contrary:

“Many fossils and artifacts have been found ‘out of place’. That is, they are in strata that the evolutionist says represent a period of time when, for example, that organism did not live, or human artifacts could not have been made.”1

This directly contradicts the contention that all fossils are “arranged in evolutionary order”. In fact the situation is worse than that when one considers Continue Reading