There Goes The Sun

Why The Solar Eclipse Matters

Way back in 2004, Jay Richards and Guillermo Gonzalez published The Privileged Planet: How Our Place In The Cosmos Is Designed For Discovery, a captivating book not only about the incredible design that is required in our universe to allow for the existence life itself, but also about how some of the same factors that allow for life are required for us to discover how unique our existence is. The book and accompanying DVD (linked below) are still among the best resources available about the anthropic principle — the idea that the more we learn about the universe, the more it seems to be designed with human beings in mind.

One of the most fascinating topics discussed in The Privileged Planet was the phenomenon of the Solar Eclipse. As it turns out, there is an uncanny coincidence about the relative size and distance of our Moon and Sun that make observing a solar eclipse from the Earth unique for any planet ever discovered. The fact that the Sun is 400 times bigger than the Moon, but also 400 times farther away, means that the Moon covers the Sun perfectly, and that “coincidence” has allowed astronomers and physicists to discover and verify some very significant facts about the nature of our universe — among them the first verification of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

What I’m trying to say is that a solar eclipse is a big deal and, if you live in the United States, we’re about to experience the most significant such event in the past century. As a bonus, Jay Richards has begun to chronicle the event with a series of blog posts at The Stream. The first one is up here:

Jay Richards: Don’t Miss The Solar Eclipse!

I encourage readers to follow Jay’s commentary over the days leading up to the Eclipse on August 21st. I will be linking here, and on Facebook and Twitter, to each of Jay’s posts.

Enjoy!

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The Tyranny of Scientific “Consensus”

We’ve just seen the culmination of a “week of action” that started with “The March For Science” on Sunday, April 22, 2017 and continued through April 29th. It was brought to us by the steely-eyed, unbiased defenders of reason and “settled science” at 600 locations worldwide. It was meant to sing the praises of scientific consensus. According to The March organizers, their mission was all about:

“A call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.”

Which makes it a little confusing. I mean, how did the references to “political leaders,” and “policy makers” make it into the mission statement of a pure “call for science”? And get this: The March began with a fiery call to action by Bill Nye, a mechanical engineer and stand-up comedian who has proven over and over again to have trouble even pretending to be a scientist. It ended with another march that proclaimed its purpose with perfect clarity on its website:

On the 100th day of Trump’s presidency more than 300,000 people in Washington DC and across the country joined together in a powerful demonstration of unity for jobs, justice, and climate action.

In summary, we have a non-scientist posing as the spokesman for a weeklong movement to undermine the public policies of a politician by demanding “jobs, justice, and climate action.”

Maybe it’s just me, but this doesn’t seem all that “scientific.” In fact, it almost sounds like the whole thing has very little to do with science, and a lot to do with Leftist politics. If you happened to be one of the few who listened to the rhetoric of The March’s speakers, you would find that is pretty much all they talked about.

The truth is that this “movement” is meant mainly to empower the wielders of professional hatchets who are armed to destroy the careers and reputations of anyone who dares question the approved “scientific” narrative. These are people who disguise their political agenda not behind science, but behind a secularized worship of science called scientism.

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Mind Boggling Silence

There are two basic views (and some sub-categories of each) about how to understand the relationship between the brain and the mind. The first, physicalismsays that the mind is nothing more than an extension of the brain. The second, dualism, says that the mind and brain are different things altogether.

Physicalism insists that there is no difference between the mind and the brain — that the “mind” is simply a way to refer to the results of chemical processes that go on in the neural network controlled by the gray matter between your ears.

“According to strict physicalism, a human being is merely a physical entity. The only things that exist are physical substances, properties and events … The physical substance called the brain has physical properties such as a certain weight, volume, size, electrical activity, chemical composition and so forth … when someone has an occasion of pain or an occurrence of a thought, physicalists hold that these are merely particular physical events — events where certain C-fibers are firing or certain electrical and chemical events are happening in the brain and central nervous system.”*

Since thoughts and feelings are nothing but physical events that result from electrical impulses between neural cells, we can actually connect electrodes to the brain, stimulate it in different ways, and observe which area of the brain “lights up.” We can manipulate that area of the brain with surgery or chemicals and thereby alter behavior, or at least understand what made you act the way you did when you felt sad, or angry, or happy, or attracted to a mate.

Once we know where our different behaviors and inclinations reside, we are well on our way to solving all the mysteries of the origin and operation of imagination, concepts, thoughts, instincts, and morality. Since these are nothing but different kinds of chemical reactions, and “free will” is really nothing but an illusion about the responses the chemicals in your brain have to various inputs from physical events that preceded the actions you take, neuroscientists like will soon be able to explain and control each of them.

You are your brain and your brain is a computer made of meat.

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Naturalism’s Pre-Scientific Mindset

Back Before Modern Science Weighed In

Wintery Knight — the ghost name for the writer of a fantastic blog on defending Christianity and engaging that defense in the public square — has written a succinct, useable outline for how to organize a devastating critique of atheistic naturalism. Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with it. It is very accessible …

The Importance of Having A Narrative When Confronting The Assumption of Naturalism

The Fantasy of Ungrounded Physics

As a follow-up to my last post about Darwinism’s bad week, I also ran across this story … an interview with South African Physicist George Ellis about the philosophical inanity that is regularly spouted by the New Atheist priesthood. Keep in mind that Ellis is not some easily dismissed Christian minister or Intelligent Design proponent (though I obviously have no problem with either of those). The article is from Scientific American and Ellis has co-authored books with the likes of Stephen Hawking.

From the piece:

Horgan (SA Interviewer): Lawrence Krauss, in A Universe from Nothing, claims that physics has basically solved the mystery of why there is something rather than nothing. Do you agree?

Ellis: Certainly not. He is presenting untested speculative theories of how things came into existence out of a pre-existing complex of entities, including variational principles, quantum field theory, specific symmetry groups, a bubbling vacuum, all the components of the standard model of particle physics, and so on. He does not explain in what way these entities could have pre-existed the coming into being of the universe, why they should have existed at all, or why they should have had the form they did.  And he gives no experimental or observational process whereby we could test these vivid speculations of the supposed universe-generation mechanism. How indeed can you test what existed before the universe existed? You can’t.

Thus what he is presenting is not tested science. It’s a philosophical speculation, which he apparently believes is so compelling he does not have to give any specification of evidence that would confirm it is true.

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An Embarrassing Week For The Priests of Darwinian Scientism

It’s been a bad few days for the Priests of the Church of Darwin.

First, consider the pivotal example of resistance to malaria that Michael Behe used in his book, The Edge of Evolution, to show that genetic cell mutations could not account for significant, species-protecting evolutionary improvements in a species and therefore undermined the supposed power of natural selection to create more “fit” variations in an organism’s genome. At the time, the likes of Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, Kenneth Miller, Sean Carroll, and PZ Meyers — the high priest’s of scientism and Darwinian evolution — mocked Behe’s stupidity, his ignorance of how evolution works and the statistics they claimed he was misunderstanding.

Well, this week a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, confirm that Behe was, in fact, correct. Who wants to hold their breath waiting for an apology from these priests? My guess is that they will either pretend the study doesn’t matter, or create alternate “just-so stories” for how they were right all along and the neo-Darwinian myth still stands on solid ground.

Second, Fuz Rana reports that the hominid species, australopithecus sediba, which has been sold as a “key transitional species” in the evolution of modern humans, has been found (by actual fossil evidence) to be a fiction. Considering the historical precedent of the priests of Evolution to create and perpetuate mythology, this comes as just the latest in a list of “surprises” that actually only surprise the priesthood — who then go on to explain them away or pretend they’re still true and publish pictures of them in the text books our children use in school.

Finally, the journal Nature reports that research using well-preserved Cambrian fossils of sea creatures show that their neural architecture is no substantially different from the ancestors that exist today (velvet worms). They haven’t changed after more than a billion years of “evolution.” In other words, when comparing the Darwinian model of gradual, new-species-producing change with the theistic model of the sudden appearance of species, followed by stasis (no change), and extinction … guess which one matches the actual evidence?  (Thanks to Wintery Knight for this one)

If you’re interested in keeping up with stories like this, check out Reasons To Believe’s DAILY update: Today’s New Reason To Believe (TNRTB). But, in the meantime, please notice that in each of these stories, the actual evidence undermines the pronouncements of the priests of Darwinian scientism and supports the model proposed by intelligent design proponents. The priests of Darwin make up stories that prove to be false, then taunt theists for operating on “blind faith.”

Ironic don’t you think?

Is The Creation Model Viable? — A Debate Between Ken Ham and Bill Nye

Tonight the Creation Museum and debatelive.org hosted a debate between Ken Ham, founder of Answers In Genesis, and  Bill Nye, The Science Guy. Those who know me also know that I don’t have much patience with either one of these men for reasons I have detailed in the past here (on Ken Ham) and here (on Bill Nye).

The topic of the debate was, “Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in Today’s Modern Scientific Era?”

Because of my experience in observing both of them, I honestly had no interest in watching what I considered to be a waste of time. But, since many people I know and respect were interested in the event, I decided to force myself to sit through it. There was nothing surprising in the case either of them made but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the tone of their interaction. Good for them.

For what it’s worth, here is my take on a summary of the debate:

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6 Reasons Why Jerry Coyne’s Claims Are Not Persuasive

Recently, I’ve been challenged by a new acquaintance to discuss some of the details and implications of Darwinian Evolution. This is a friendly discussion and I commend my skeptical, truth-seeking friend for his willingness to tackle these issues in a serious, respectful manner. We also agreed to read a couple of books that supported our respective points of view. I recommended Jay Richards’, God and Evolution and Fazale Rana’s, Origins of Life. To his credit, he ordered both books the next day. In turn, I agreed to read a book he thinks is compelling in support of evolution, Jerry Coyne’s, Why Evolution Is True.

Coyne is a very convincing writer and makes a compelling case for his view. Ultimately, I don’t find it persuasive but that’s why we’re having the discussion! In an attempt to engage Coyne’s arguments, I am linking to a series of blog posts by Jonathan McLatchie, a fellow CrossExamined instructor and frequent contributor not only to the CrossExamined Blog, but to the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News and Views.

This link gives a summary of Jonathan’s multi-post review of Coyne’s book and links to each of the posts in the series: Jonathan McLatchie’s Review of: Evolution is True.

Jonathan has a undergraduate degree in Forensic Biology and a Master’s Degree in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He is currently serving as an intern with the Discovery Institute in Seattle. In other words, Jonathan is the kind of guy who can speak intelligently to this subject and I am happy to let him. As the discussion progresses, I will try to offer my own thoughts at a more practical, Marine-friendly level if I can.

Here are some quick takes on each post in the series with specific links to each one.

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None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

Recently, I posted a rebuttal to a recent video by Bill Nye, “The Science Guy” that generated more hits on my blog than any other single post I’ve ever put up. What followed (at least with one respectful commenter, tildeb) was an ongoing conversation about the differing views that Christian and secular folks have with regard to the role and implications of science and what we can infer from it about the real world. I have to say that though “tildeb” (I don’t know his name but this is a link to his blog) and I see the world through completely different lenses, the conversation that was generated was pretty informative. I don’t want to rehash it here (you can go to the comments section of the Bill Nye post if you’re interested), but I did think the following exchange (which occurred near the end of the conversation) is telling about how two people can look at the exact same data and draw completely different conclusions. I’ll let readers draw their own conclusions. Here’s the beginning of tildeb’s argument …

There really are compelling reasons why nearly 97% of university tenured biologists reject all forms of creationism; the assumption of supernatural causation is not borne out by information we adduce from this natural universe. In fact, the overwhelming mutually supporting evidence from independent lines of research all point in one direction: common ancestry by natural selection. 

The important aspect here is often ignored by those who cling to creationist beliefs: the evidence did not have to be this way, yet it is! Genetics could have pointed to a single founding couple. Yet it does not. Geology could have pointed to a single creation event. Yet it does not. Topography could have pointed to a global flood. Yet it does not. Radioactive dating could have shown a uniform age of sedimentation. Yet it does not. Physiology could have shown distinct and separate ancestry. Yet it does not. Astronomy could have shown our solar uniqueness. Yet it does not. Physics could have shown exemptions were possible from natural laws. Yet it does not. Chemistry could have shown us cellular rejuvenation through intercessory prayer. Yet it does not. Biodiversity could have shown us stable population dispersal. Yet it does not. Over and over again, opportunities to adduce creation events are plentiful. What’s strikingly absent from all this evidence is any indication for a creationist event.

There really are compelling reasons why nearly 97% of university tenured biologists reject all forms of creationism…

Correct. It’s called groupthink.

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Don’t Buy “The Science Guy”

I have nothing personal against Bill Nye, “The Science Guy”. I remember watching parts of his program when our kids were younger and I found them enjoyable and informative. However, if you have any interest whatsoever in knowing the truth about the world and/or speaking coherently, consistently, and intelligently about seeking the truth about that world, please watch this 2:32 minute video and think about what he is saying. It really is beyond me how someone who is sold as such a scientific sage and articulator of the the truth could deliver such a bumbling, nonsensical connection of incoherent platitudes … and then finish them off by admonishing the morons (defined as a parent who does not agree with Bill Nye, “The Science Guy”) to shut up and leave the education of their children to the real scientists — like him.

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