Thursday, January 11, 2018

"They Are Digging in the Wrong Place"

Bodie Hodge has a post on the AiG website that is nothing short of astounding.  AiG is, once again, moving the goalposts.  And who is Bodie Hodge?  He is, according to the site: "A speaker, writer, and researcher for Answers in Genesis, Bodie Hodge has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale."  Hodge writes:
Each year there are many headlines, books, technical articles, and videos about another supposed missing link—a supposed link between a land mammal and whale, a dinosaur and bird, an ape and human, and so forth. Usually, these are quite easy to refute by anatomical features.

For example, alleged missing links turn out to be anything but—for example, either ape, human, or a fake (e.g., Piltdown man) or dinosaur, bird, or a fake (e.g., Archaeoraptor).

Nevertheless, these alleged missing links rarely make creationists cringe. I think it frustrates some of the evolutionists because they think they have found some sort of knock-out evidence that they interpret as support for evolution. But creationists rarely bat an eye.

Well, I’m going to let you in on a secret as to why creationists rarely take notice of these alleged missing links. It is because the evolutionists are digging in the wrong place—just like the bad guys in Indiana Jones. When you don’t have the correct information, you can miss the mark significantly.
So evolutionists are just like "the bad guys" in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Did you catch that?  A casual trip through the fossil record indicates that there are, in fact, many, many transitional forms present.  We now have very detailed sequences from Devonian crossopterygians to early tetrapods, from land mammals to whales, from maniraptoran dinosaurs to birds and, of course, from late Miocene/early Pliocene apes to humans.

But this isn't even the central focus of his post. First, he lists the conventional geological stratigraphy.  He bungles this early on.  He writes: "In a general sense, evolutionists look for alleged dinosaur-to-bird missing links in the Cretaceous and Paleocene (bolded)."  Wrong.  The dinosaur-to-bird sequence dates to the late Jurassic.  Furthermore, the presence of feathers on non-avian dinosaurs suggests that feathers evolved even before the late Jurassic.  By the early Cretaceous, birds were numerous.  The transition had long since ended by the Palaeocene.  Had he done any study of the transition from dinosaurs to birds, he would have known this.

He then writes:
But here is the problem. The rock layers from Cambrian to Miocene—at least mapped in the mountains of Ararat (Genesis 8:4)—were from the Flood.2 Miocene and Eocene rock is intricately part of the makeup of the mountains of Ararat, as is Cretaceous and Triassic (many times inverted, lying above the Miocene and Eocene). Since that time, the upper strata are post-Flood strata—such as Ice Age layers and recent volcanic flows. I understand creationists debate about tertiary sediment (Paleocene through Miocene) and encourage you study this further.
He gives absolutely no justification for this viewpoint. No evidence is presented indicating why pre-Pliocene sediments are flood and Pliocene sediments on up are not.  There is no event to mark this transition, no sedimentary layer that is distinctive.

Nothing. He simply says that it is so, therefore it is. It gets worse:
So when evolutionists say they found a transitional form between an ape and a human in Pliocene rock, creationists hardly flinch. Evolutionists are looking at the rock strata and the age of the earth incorrectly because humans were around long before that rock was ever laid down! Furthermore, humans existed when the Cambrian rock was laid down during the Flood. To go one more step, mankind had dominated the earth for over 1,600 years before the Cambrian rock was laid down!

When someone says that they found a transitional form between a dinosaur and a bird in the Paleocene, again, creationists hardly think twice. Both specimens died the same year in the same Flood and are not related. This is why finding feathers in the rock layers “before the dinosaurs” is not a problem for creationists.4 Nor is it a problem when we find theropod dinosaurs (which supposedly evolved into birds in the evolutionary story) that had eaten birds in lower Cretaceous rock.5

Birds were made on Day Five, which is a day before the dinosaurs; land animals, like dinosaurs, were made on Day Six. Having both buried in Flood sediment isn’t a big deal.
So many questions...

  • If humans were around before the rocks were laid down, how is it that we find no humans at the base of the geological/flood column?  In fact, why aren't human remains found throughout the column, if they predate the Cambrian?
  • How is it that all of the fossil species that are supposed to be in flood deposits are perfectly sorted, even to the point of brachipods being sorted by crinulation number and trilobites being sorted  by number of compound eye segments?  What about the detailed fossil sequences mentioned above? 
  • if humans had ship-building capacity during the time of Noah and existed in towns and settlements, why is there no evidence of this at the bottom of the geological column?
  • If humans did, in fact, predate the Cambrian, why do we find a detailed, clear sequence from prehuman hominoids through human precursors to archaic and them modern humans beginning in the Pliocene?  
  • If the sediments from the Miocene back to the Precambrian reflect flood deposits, why do we find the largest land mammals, dinosaurs three quarters of the way up the column, when they should have sunk to the bottom?  
  • If the sediments from the Miocene back to the Precambrian reflect flood deposits, why do we find features throughout the geological record that could only have happened on the surface, such as rain drops, footprints, hatched dinosaur eggs, cave systems, sand dunes, burned forests, swamps, etc. 
So why aren't any of these things problems for the creationists?
Biblical creationists presuppose the Bible’s truth and subsequently the true history of the earth—including Noah’s Flood. Evolutionists have presuppositions too, albeit, false ones, but presuppositions nonetheless. This is why when evolutionists look at Flood rock they unwittingly believe that the rock was actually laid down slowly and gradually over long ages. I suggest they have been indoctrinated to believe such stories as gradual rock accumulation over millions of years which has never been observed or repeated. Thus, the concept of millions of years is not in the realm of science but interpretation.
The reason that "evolutionists" do this is because every bit of the palaeontological and geological evidence points to a long depositional history with evolutionary diversity.  It is not a matter of indoctrination.  It is a matter of going where the evidence leads.  One might reasonably argue that if you put on young earth creationist blinders, you do not see the vast stretches of time and the changes that the earth has gone through in its long history, but, instead, a flat earth. 

It is common to find nonsense on the AiG site, but this rises to a new level of inanity. This post is terribly written, incorrect, pompous and insulting.  The writer provides no evidence for the position he takes, insults the hard work of scientists who have spent decades piecing together the geological and fossil records, and betrays complete ignorance of basic geology and palaentology.  It is hard to be charitable to Mr. Hodge, who plainly knows nothing of which he writes and, as a result, produces pure drivel. 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

New Ancestral Native American Population Discovered: The YEC Interpretation

On the heels of the discovery of the new ancestral Native American DNA, several young earth creationists have claimed that the discovery supports the global flood model and a young earth.

Uh huh.

From the Baptist Press:
After scientists extracted the DNA, they dated it to approximately 11,500 years ago, according to common evolutionary dating methods, and discovered commonalties between the harvested genome and the DNA of modern Native Americans. Researchers also found the ancient infant girl had ancestors in East Asia some 35,000 years ago according to evolutionary dating methods.

The finding marks the second oldest human genome ever discovered in North America, The New York Times reported.

Nathaniel Jeanson, a Harvard-trained research biologist with Answers in Genesis (AiG), told Baptist Press the dating of the Alaska DNA seems to be inaccurate. But other details of the find, he noted, corroborate the account in Genesis 11 of mass human migration following attempted construction of the Tower of Babel.

The Nature study, Jeanson said, is “more evidence for people in the Americas from Asia -- East Asia, Central Asia" and "is consistent with Scripture.”
It is also consistent with every single model of population movement into the New World since the 1970s. It may be the oldest DNA found in the New World, but it still supports all of the previous models.  And, on what basis is the dating wrong?  Jeanson is willing to take everything else at face value, including the idea that this represents the first peopling of the New World.

How would he know this if the dates are wrong?  Again, from the article:
Kurt Wise, a Southern Baptist and Harvard-trained paleontologist, told BP in written comments the 11,500 "radiocarbon years" cited by Nature "amount to many fewer true (chronological) years (probably closer to 4,000-4,100 years)."

"If one considers the ages" given by Nature “in relative terms, the new findings are consistent with a dispersion of humans from Babel,” said Wise, professor of natural history at Truett McConnell University, “people making it to western-most Europe, southern-most Africa, and eastern-most Asia first, then coming through the Bering Strait from western Asia into what is now Alaska ... and spreading from there into northern, central, and southern South America.

“So, these remains,” Wise said, "are most probably of a population of people spreading out from Babel” -- a reality he termed “rather exciting!”
How does one take the dates ”in relative terms?”  That is why they call it absolute dating.  Relative dating is when something is older than something else based on its position in the geological column.   Additionally, the reason that we can identify it as a population that is ancestral to later Native Americans (some of them, anyway) is because of the genetic similarities to very-eastern Siberian and north Chinese populations that existed some 30 to 40 thousand years ago in those areas and who's descendants migrated over the Bering Strait.

If the flood really had happened sometime between 2400 and 2500 B.C., there would be no such genetic diversity.  Everyone would have very similar DNA and it would be traceable to some area around northeastern Turkey/southern Armenia/Black Sea.  Yet those people are very distinct, genetically from east Asians and Europeans. 

In short, this DNA strand constitutes no evidence, whatsoever, for a migration of people after the Noachian Flood.   

Friday, January 05, 2018

New Ancestral Native American Population Discovered

Science Alerts is running a story about genetic research done to reveal ancestral populations.  Peter Dockrill writes:
Sunrise girl-child ("Xach'itee'aanenh T'eede Gaay") lived some 11,500 years ago in what is now called Alaska, and her ancient DNA reveals not only the origins of Native American society, but reminds the world of a whole population of people forgotten by history millennia ago.

"We didn't know this population existed," says anthropologist Ben Potter from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

"It would be difficult to overstate the importance of this newly revealed people to our understanding of how ancient populations came to inhabit the Americas."
When I was in graduate school, the common understanding was that Meadowcroft Rockshelter was occupied as early as 23ky. Although this date was disputed, on the basis of presumed groundwater contamination, a paper by Paul Goldberg and Trina Arpin, from 1999, seems to confirm the early date. Meadowcroft is in Pennsylvania and likely was within 50 miles of the maximum edge of the Cordilleran Ice sheet.

Still, this is a neat find.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Ken Ham's Comments on SES National Conference on Christian Apologetics Called "Unhelpful"

Ken Ham attacking other Christians?  Gee, who knew?  An article that is running in the Christian Post recounts an exchange between Ham and Southern Evangelical Seminary president emeritus Richard Howe.  The irony is that they are both young-earth creationists.  Michael Gryboski writes:
Ham was part of a dialogue event at the SES National Conference on Christian Apologetics in October, titled "God's Word or Man's Word: From Where Must Apologetics Begin?" He insisted that unwavering belief in God's Word must be the beginning of any apologetics discussion and criticized SES Professor Emeritus Richard Howe for arguing that a defense of the faith can begin with a discussion of natural law.

Ham said in his assessment of the event that Howe "seemed rather weak in his convictions and not very knowledgeable of the biblical and scientific arguments in favor of young-earth creation. And he is very opposed to the way that I, and AiG in general, defend Genesis."

SES President Richard Land, calling the young-earth creationist's comments "unfair and unhelpful," asserted in a statement, "One will be hard pressed to find a more conservative and steadfast seminary dedicated to teaching and defending the foundational doctrines of the historic Christian faith. SES is one of the last bastions of a robust view of biblical inerrancy."
At issue, apparently, is the way in which the Bible is used to determine truth. The suppositional, or classical model supporters argue that one must “marshall” evidence for a position on whether or not the Bible is true. The presuppositional model supporters argue that the Bible is de facto true and that this perspective precedes any understanding or reasoning about the nature of reality. Ham takes the latter position.  Gryboski further writes:
“Compromise positions on Genesis are permeating our seminaries and other Christian institutions. Academics have come up with all sorts of fanciful ways to twist the Scriptures to try to fit in millions of years,” wrote Ham.

Land clarified that all SES trustees, faculty, and staff, which include both young-earth and old-earth creationists, believe the Bible is infallible and inerrant. The issue of the age of the earth — which was not the focus of the conference dialogue — is a matter of interpretation, he noted.

Despite Ham's letter, Land said SES is “committed to furthering this dialogue,” so much so that they have extended an invitation to Ham to participate in a formal debate at next year's conference.
There is a large, unspoken philosophical problem with the presuppositional model in what Ken Ham writes, and it is this: adopting the presuppositional model ‘presupposes’ that you not only have the correct translation of the Bible but that you have correctly interpreted every single passage, down to the last word. A cursory check of the literature, past and present strongly suggests that such a task is beyond that of mortal man. The fact that there were varied interpretations of the the creation account even in the first couple of centuries after the time of Christ drives this home.  1 Corinthians 13:12 admonishes us thus:
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (KJV)
Howe refers to this in his statement:
“We should all remember that our understanding of God's Word never carries the same authority as God's Word itself does. Believers should always approach God's Word with humility and never equate their understanding of God's Word as being as comprehensive or as infallible as God's Word itself is," he stated. "[W]e believe that the question of the age of the earth is a question of what the Bible is saying not what the Bible is.”
And herein lies the heart of Ham's arrogance: in his mind, He has done these things.

Ham believes he has correctly interpreted the bible to the point where he now feels perfectly at home criticizing anyone who does not do so exactly the same way he does. Ancient and current commentaries be hanged. In his mind, they are simply wrong.

There is no humility in this position.  This arrogance allows him to that other Christians are not and thus, to preach heresy.  Just like the kerfuffle about the Great Home School convention, Peter Enns was, in Ham's mind, completely wrong and needed to be silenced.  This led the organizers to call his actions “unChristian and sinful.”

As Dan Wilkinson wrote, back in 2014, in response to Ham's assertion that people were leaving the church because of evolution:
No, Mr. Ham, no one’s leaving the church because evolution shows that “the Bible could not be trusted.”

Mr. Ham, they’re leaving the church because of people like you: people who fervently create walls, erect barriers, establish rigid rules for what one must believe in order to be a Christian. They’re leaving the church because your version of Christianity has nothing whatsoever to do with right practice, and everything to do with “right” belief. They’re leaving the church because by essentially demonizing everyone who doesn’t agree with you, you’ve made believing in Young Earth Creationism* more important than Jesus’ explicit explicit commandment to love God and neighbor.
With Ken Ham comes all kinds of mischief, controversy, ill-will and self-righteousness.  His actions are the very opposite of “Christ-like.”

Monday, January 01, 2018

A New Darwin Biography Gets Fisked

Jerry Coyne, a somewhat outspoken atheist and author of the book Why Evolution is True, has written a review of a new book on Darwin titled Charles Darwin, Victorian Mythmaker by A.N. Wilson.  Coyne is baffled:
Given that many of Wilson’s earlier biographies have been admired for their style and insight, and not criticized for pervasive errors, this new project is baffling. Where Darwin’s other biographers have seen a sensitive and kindly man, a scrupulous scientist who willingly credited his predecessors, Wilson finds a greedy “self-mythologizer” desperate to become famous, even if it required ignoring or plagiarizing his forerunners and fellow naturalists.
In every portrayal of Darwin I have ever read, he is constantly generous, respectful, and professional. Coyne suggests that the problem does not lie with Darwin but with Wilson, who evidently makes many errors in this book:
In the most embarrassing error, Wilson claims that the first 50 pages of an important Darwin notebook have been lost forever, asserting that Darwin destroyed them to hide his intellectual cribbing from his contemporary Edward Blyth. In reality, Darwin simply placed those pages in a folder for later use, and they can easily be found online. Whatever Wilson was doing during the five years he spent researching and writing this book, it bears little relation to what we call “scholarship.”
According to Coyne, the same problem that lies at the heart of the book is the same philosophical problem that affects every anti-evolutionist: Darwin simply had to be incorrect about his ideas.  He simply had to be:
Why the sustained animus against Darwin? I think Wilson’s issue is not really Darwin but his ideas. “Darwin was wrong,” is how he opens the book, referring to the theory of evolution. Wilson plainly dislikes evolutionary biology, but, lacking scientific credentials, is not in a position to provide a thorough scientific critique of the field. Instead, he seems to have written a biography — a task he is at least in principle qualified for, having written 20 books on history — as a platform to launch an assault on evolution. Darwin’s character is simply collateral damage.
This kind of book is frustrating on so many levels.  The author has no knowledge of the subject matter so he makes unsophisticated attacks, and he is philosophically opposed to the subject matter so he deems it “bad.”

I once likened this sort of thing to bugs and a bug zapper.  Evolution is such a tempting target that even people that are absolutely unqualified to address it simply can't stay away.  We have seen this with Nancy Pearcey, Eric Metaxas, and others.  It is unfortunate that the reading public find these people informative on the topic.  As someone (probably not Mark Twain) once said: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  Are these people absolutely lying?  Maybe not, but if they continue to repeat the same misinformation time and time again, even after they have been corrected, what difference does it make?