Evolution On Trial: Fossils Take the Stand

April 4, 2012

Last Call for Fossils.  Fossils, where are you at?  Apparently the fossil record is in danger of not showing up for court and being held in contempt.  It’s about time.  Sorry for the bad humor….  The next witness to take the stand is the fossil record.  The fossil record is most likely the most over used evidence for Evolution today.   We will take a closer look at the fossil record and see why it does not make a good witness/evidence for evolution either.  I will address the fossil record in 2 parts, ape-men fossils, and the rest of the animal fossils, specifically transitional fossils.

First, lets examine the transitional fossils and define what a transitional fossil is.  A transition fossil is a has characteristics that are intermediate in nature to organisms that existed both prior to it and after it. 1  There is some debate as to what is a transitional fossil and what is not.  Supporters of Evolution say that every fossil is a transitional fossil in some capacity.  Several months ago someone tried to explain the fossil record to me as a blank line, that was continuous.   The gaps or parts missing where just not found in the fossil record.

As some one who is skeptical of evolution, I am looking for more in the fossil record that tightly connects fossils between different genus species, which is what the claims of Evolution make.  In other words, more of the evidence that macro-evolution is valid.  So at one point I would say that yes, there are transitional fossils that show a change from one type of prehistoric turtle to another turtle or one type of prehistoric horse to a more modern style horse.

In Darwin’s theory of Evolution he acknowledge himself that in order for his own theory to be proven it would have to be found true in the fossil record. 2  These types of fossils he was hoping to find have yet to be found.     You may have seen pictures of the famous tree of life drawings that Darwin and evolution supporters have used to explain.  The simplified drawing in my blog comes from a book by Chris Sherrod. 3  It is meant to serve as a simple example of the tree of life, other drawings are often more complicated.

I have repeatedly asked people to give me examples of transitional fossils between species and I get 2 responses typically.  First, there are none, because fossils are hard to come by and the transitional ones have been destroyed due to fossils becoming fuel for us greedy humans to use up as energy.  Secondly often bad examples start popping up.  I’ve been told to look at Wikipedia, I’ve been told look at videos on YouTube that people have created with a type of “flip book” effect, and I’ve been shown pictures of prehistoric animals that could pass for a modern-day type of animal.   Here is why I call these bad examples.  The list on Wikipedia is there, and it is long, BUT, most of the pictures of transitional fossils are drawings, artist interpretations, not even based on real fossils found.  There are a few small bones, that are from incomplete remains, but most are drawings.  The YouTube video that is highly pushed also falls under the same boat.  They are drawings.  The pictures of actual fossils found I can easily take a few seconds on each one and call it a member of one of the species that we have today.

Every once in a while someone will bring up the Archaeopteryx, which was discovered 2 years after Darwin wrote The Origin of Species.  You can see from the picture that it is a very interesting fossil for more than one reason.  It is complete and in good condition and appears to be a combination of a reptile and a bird.   Evolutionist said this was a true transitional fossil and crowned it as evidence.  But since it was found in 1861 a majority of scientists believe now that it is most likely a strange type of bird for the following reasons.

1. It was not really a good transitional fossil, because of the fully formed wings and fully formed tail it looks more like a creature that would stand as a different animal, not one in transition.   It’s wings, tail, and claws suggest it was a type of bird possible related to the liaoningornis, recently discovered.

2. The Archaeopteryx was dated to be in the Jurassic period in which birds had already been established in by thousands of pre-dated fossils.  It doesn’t fit the time sequence if birds had already evolved.  HE must have been a “late bloomer.”

3. Lastly, there has only been 1 fossil found of the Archaeopteryx.  It is in the Natural History Museum in Berlin, and not a standard re-occurring fossil that we find all over the place. 4

The Fossil Record does not look good for supporting Evolution.  Scientists know this and that is why they have come up with some alternate theories about the fossil record, trying to fit  a square (Evolution) into a round hole (The fossil record).  In 1972 Steven Jay Gould & Niles Eldredge  proposed a theory called “Punctuated Equilibrium.”  This is the idea that evolution happened in quick  “spurts”  rather than over a gradual slow process.   There are 2 problems with this theory;

1. There are no transitional fossils found that support this theory.  It would be absurd to think that the organisms would change over night.

2. P.E. goes against all current knowledge we have with DNA and adaption.  For an organism to change like that would  go against all DNA and genetic science that we know about. 5

Going back through the layers of rock there is an interesting discovery between the pre-Cambrian ad Cambrian time periods.  In the pre-Cambrian rock there are few fossils and most of the fossils are invertebrates, but at the dating of the Cambrian rock there seems to be a this enormous amount of fossils of many different kinds and types.  This time has been called the Cambrian explosion, because it appears that these fossils came out from nowhere.  Each side of the argument between creationists and Evolution supporters have their own ideas about why this is so.

I will look at the ape-men fossils in the next post, I don’t want to get to long-winded with this post.  If you have any questions, comments, rebuttals please feel free to leave them.

End Notes:

1. – http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutevolution/a/TransitionalFossilsEvolution.htm

2. – Darwin, Charles, “The Origin of Species” pg. 152

3. – Sherrod, Chris, “Faith, Fact, and Reason Study #5 The Flaws of Evolution” pg. 28

4. – Rhodes, Ron, “10 Things You Should Know About the Evolution and Creation Debate.” Chapter 4

5. – Rhodes, Ron, “10 Things You Should Know About the Evolution and Creation Debate.” Chapter 4

Classification of Knowledge

October 26, 2011

If you have had apologetic conversation with others that disagree with your Christian worldview you may have come across a someone who rejects your  Christian worldview solely on the premise that your knowledge is not empirical knowledge.  Empirical knowledge is knowledge that comes  through experience with the 5 senses or the scientific method.  Perhaps it is the strongest level of knowledge, but it is not the only type of knowledge.  In fact, it makes up a very small percentage of a persons total  knowledge in whole.  Before you disagree with my last sentence, think about all you know and how you came to “know it” especially in the realm of science and biology.  You most likely have read several books on the subject rather than done the empirical experiments and experienced it yourself.   Empirical knowledge is not absolute either, there is no way to be able to claim total absolute knowledge unless we had total transcendence in life.

What are the different classifications (types) of knowledge that we have at our disposal?  Below are some of the different classifications and some examples of knowledge.  I want to note that these are my classifications, ones that I have seen in use by people and in the general ways that most people use the terms today.  I am not attempting to give a breakdown of proper Epistemology.

Ideological – This relates to knowledge that is a priori (before experience) that usually comes as concepts or ideas from the human mind and is philosophical.  Reason is often the center of ideology.

Empirical –   This relates to knowledge that is a posteriori (after experience) through the 5 senses or the scientific method.  An example might be that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.

Experiential – This relates to knowledge gained through the 5 senses.  It does not have to be in a scientific method.  It can relate to an individual or a group of people.  i.e. personal experience or say human experience.  An example might be that it gets colder at night when the sun is not up.

Logical – This type of knowledge is often used with in  philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science.  It often looks at the arguments that are being made and looks for fallacies in what is inferred by statements to determine truth.  An example of logical knowledge would be that a woman is either pregnant or not pregnant, because she cannot be both at the same time.

Rational – This type of knowledge is a combination of Ideology and Empirical knowledge in that knowledge can be rationalized by past prior empirical knowledge or experience.   An example might be that if I had wings I might be able to fly like a bird.

Historical –  This type of knowledge is a combination of some of the types of knowledge listed above.  It can no longer  be proven through the scientific method or through repeat experience.  It may be based on physical evidence that we have knowledge of by writings, audio and video recordings, or other people’s experience.  An example might be that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States.

These types of knowledge above are often used in debates and discussions between different worldviews.   The Christian worldview is unique in that it can be a part of all these different types of areas of knowledge and does not fall apart unlike some of the other worldviews when you attempt to debate in one of these areas of knowledge above.  Over time I will cover the specifics of that statement.

Occasionally I have found that when a religious discussion gets to the point of not accepting knowledge outside of empirical knowledge it is because they do not want to deal with the other logical and rational explanations that are being brought forth in an argument.  This is a flawed approach to knowledge that is impossible to live out in life.   If you feel like this is being used on you to avoid responding to your statements, here is how you can show them that there statement is flawed.

When someone says that “Empirical knowledge is only knowledge that counts as knowledge” ask them for the empirical evidence that backs up their statement of belief about empirical knowledge.  There is none.  Therefore you don’t have to accept their statement of belief about empirical knowledge.  Ask, them, “If you don’t have any empirical evidence, then why should I believe you?”  They make a deadly flaw by stepping outside of empiricism trading on reason and philosophy while claiming only empiricism.

Many people put their guard up during a discussion, and will not be intellectually honest with you about what they accept as knowledge.  If you have built a relationship with the person, you can listen to them make statements that don’t agree with their own ideology about knowledge.  You should take advantage of the opportunity to ask them to explain themselves or to clarify what they just said against their own understanding related to knowledge.  For example, Your friend says that they believe that Green Bay is going to when the Super Bowl this year.  You can ask them what empirical knowledge that they have to assure then of that statement.

As always questions, comments, and discussions welcome.

Real Faith: Biblical Not Blind

October 6, 2011

Over a week ago I posted a blog titled Why I believe.  I quickly listed out the reasons that I believe in God and hold the worldview that I do.  The very first item I listed was faith.  I realize that you may think that faith is not objective, but I hope that you will see at the end that it is based on an object.  According to the Bible, faith is a requirement to have a relationship with God and for an eternal life in Heaven.   I have already explained why faith is necessary, but now I want to go back and spend more time on what real faith is and also try to clear up what many people consider of faith as blind faith.

You may have asked, “Why faith?”  Look at the following scripture.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” – Ephesians 2:8 [Emphasis added]  It is ‘through faith’ that we are saved ‘by God’s grace’.  The Bible is clear that God requires faith, that is His standard.

Chris Sherrod, a former student minister and friend of mine breaks down faith like this.

Faith has two elements.
1. The person doing the trusting
2. The object that the person is putting their trust in.

Using the “trust fall” example Sherrod explains; “Imagine you are standing on the end of a table and about to fall backwards into the arms of six strong adults waiting below you.  As the ‘faller’ you portray the first element of correct faith – the person doing the trusting.  Obviously for this exercise to work must have enough confidence in the people below you to take some action and actually fall backwards.  But correct faith involves one other element – there must be a trustworthy object that you are placing your faith in waiting there to catch you!  In other words your ‘subjective’ (or personal) faith must be placed in something that is objective. (i.e. outside of you) and trustworthy.”

Sherrod continues, “To understand the importance of the second element, imagine that we alter one feature of our exercise: the group standing below you is now six toddlers!  Would you consider this an important detail that has changed?  Obviously so! Your faith, no matter how genuine or strong, would matter little now because the object of your faith is no longer trustworthy.”

The sincerity of the person doing the trusting really have nothing to do with it.  If I believed that I could jump off my roof while holding an umbrella and float slowly to the ground, the only thing that matters is the object, the umbrella, that I am placing my faith in.  The same can be said of other worldviews.  If Mormonism and Islam are objectively false, it really doesn’t matter how sincere the person’s faith is, it is still objectively false.  Later after establishing the evidence for God I will begin to look at other theistic worldviews and the objects that they place their trust in and compare them to those of the Christian worldview.

There is a misunderstanding by many about the type of  faith that Christians have in God.  Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion seems to see it as a blind faith.   It is a not blind faith.    Blind faith meaning that for no reason or any evidence at all a Christian believes in God.  Similar to me thinking I can fly because it would be really cool and I like superman.  Biblical faith is based on the objective evidence that we do have.  What objective things can we look at?  The universe, human life, conscious thought, The Bible, Historical Jesus.  We will get into these one at a time and look at specific facts, and see where they lead.  The argument boils down to what is acceptable evidence and what is not according to who’s looking at it.

Every single person uses faith that is based on evidence or reason, even if they are not religious in their worldview.   The scientific atheists want to try to separate religious faith from that of scientific faith saying it is a different type of faith, but it is one and the same.  Here are a few examples.  You trust an airplane to fly you safely across the country without crashing, even though you don’t understand all the laws/rules of aviation.  You have faith because you have seen planes fly and more often than not make it safely to their destination.  You trust a pharmacist to put the right kind of medicine in a pill bottle and you take it without question, even though you don’t know everything about medicine and biology.  You have faith because they have proven themselves reliable in the past.  Even in the field of science.  Physicists have never been able to weigh a sub-atomic particle, like a neutrino, it is to small, yet based on all the fundamental laws of physics, mathematics, their reasoning, and deductive skills scientists do believe that a neutrino does have mass.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands – Psalm 19:1

As always, questions, comments, and discussions welcome.

Building a Firm Case for Christianity

October 4, 2011

Once you know what people believe  you will know where to start building a firm case for a Christian worldview.   If you missed the Conversational apologetics post I suggest you read it.  It will help you discover what people believe, or what worldview they have.  As a disciple of Christ we all know that it is our responsibility to share the Gospel of Jesus with those who ask us about our faith.   You may even have the desire to do so, and have been preparing for an opportunity to do so when the chance comes.  Where do you start?  Should you take a straight path to the cross?  Should you share Bible verses with them?  While it is never wrong to share the message of the cross with anyone, there may be a few other helpful points to consider as you began building your case for Christianity.

If you look at the illustration below, it shows you the progression that it takes to hold a Christian worldview.  You cannot hold a Christian worldview until you move from an atheist position.   Similarly, you cannot hold a Christian worldview, until  you know what type of theistic position you hold.  Do you believe in one God (monotheistic), more than one god (polytheistic), God is in everything (pantheistic), etc…  Likewise, you will have difficulty trying to convince someone that the Bible is the inspired word of God, if they don’t believe that a God or gods exist.  The same way someone will have difficulty with the claim that Jesus is God, if they don’t trust the Bible as a reliable source.

As you talk and ask questions to others about what they believe you will discover what they believe and where they are in the progression above.   Then you will know where to start with helping them along the way towards a Biblical worldview.  A friend of mine, Chris Sherrod, who teaches apologetics and has been published in several books uses an illustration of a set of pillars to show how the different evidence builds upon more evidence to provide a solid case for Christianity.

Building a Case for Christianity

Over the next weeks and months we will begin to break down the 4 pillars above and examine the evidence that God has given us.
As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.

God’s Existence: Why is the evidence not overtly clear?

September 30, 2011

In a previous post, I listed out a short summary of the evidence/reasons that I believe in the existence of God and have a Christian worldview.   Towards the end of the post I admitted that none of the reasons were absolute “slam dunk” case ending evidences.  I cannot point to God in a denotative way.  For example, I could point out Amy who is my wife, or Bob who fixed my car, or Luis who made me a Taco for lunch.

Many atheists who reject the idea of God, do so because God cannot be 100% proven by a scientific method or by some other method of proof, be it philosophical,  historical, or etc…   Let me be clear about what I am saying here, God DOES reveal himself to us through science, history, through our philosophical mind, and other ways.  What I’m not saying at is the degree at which God does this is not 100% as the same way we might test something with the scientific method or know that Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States.

According to the Bible, God has progressively revealed himself to us in a variety of different  ways over the span of time.  You might picture a slowly moving curtain that is unavailing the prize behind curtain #1.  I will save a deeper discussion on God’s revelation for a future post, but will let it rest for now.  One of the ways that I have found the Christian worldview reliable is because it not only works within 1 method of proof, but that it works well with all the different methods, not least of all, science.  If God does exist, many atheists ask, “Why doesn’t he make the evidence clear?”  Atheists offer answers for us such as, “maybe He doesn’t exist.” or “he is not all-powerful enough to do so.”  As a Christian you may have asked that question for yourself as well, I have.  The following paragraphs are some of my thoughts on that question.

As I mentioned before, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Why Faith?  Why does God want us to have a trust in Him that is not totally grounded 100% by facts and evidence.  Some might say that is mean.  It is actually love, here’s what I mean.

Let’s follow the thought out for a little while.  If God exists and let’s say he did 100% show himself to us by some means.  Perhaps he used an airplane to write in the sky constantly, or for Star-trek fans, God beams himself down to earth and visits with us, performs miracles, that we can see with our own eyes, and record them on video tape and post to YouTube.  Better yet God shows us Heaven, but then says we can’t come in unless we believe in Him.  Sound silly?  If that did happen, anyone who didn’t believe in God would be well, stupid.  Like telling someone, you need to eat  in order to live.  For God to erase away any doubt, to not require faith in him, would do away with free will.  Without free will, we would be like mindless robots that just did what we were told to do.  We wouldn’t love God because we wanted to, we would love God because we had to.  You cannot force love, if you do, it’s called rape.  I will address the issue of free will and determinism later, but let’s get back to the point.  I believe the answer lies in the sovereign, perfectness of God.   It is exactly how God has planned it for us.  A perfect balance.

What is the balance?  I don’t think I want to put a number on it.  That answer might vary from person to person.  I know that the more I study both sides of the debate, the more I am convinced and for me the number is rising.  Where are you at in your opinion?  Is it 50%, 51%, 60% for you?  Perhaps lower or higher.

There is a great story in the Bible of Thomas (John 20:24-30) .  Thomas was given the nick name “Doubting” Thomas by someone.  The word doubt has a negative connotation, and I think we give Thomas an unjust shake at what He said.  Thomas missed the first appearance of Jesus to the disciples after His resurrection, and the others who saw Jesus went to tell Thomas about what they had seen.  Thomas made the statement “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”  Thomas’ doubts were soon wiped away when Jesus appeared to him.    All Thomas was seeking was some truth.   I have found the same to be true in my life, the more I look and examine the evidence, the stronger my faith becomes and the less my doubts and questions become.

Doubt for a while is good, it leads to truth-seeking, answers, but you cannot stay in doubt forever, soon you must move on.  I watched a debate not to long ago between 2 people over Morals and the existence of God.  One person had a set of thoughts in which they presented in turn and the second man, took a position of doubt, and really questioned everything that was said by the other person and other ad populum topics.  Even though there were points and positions argued, the man continued to doubt.  In the end, I really could not tell what the 2nd gentleman’s positions was, all I could take from his side was that he doubted.

Someone once asked the atheist, Bertrand Russell, one day if he died and stood before God and God asked him why didn’t he believe.  Russell responded that “He did not simply give me enough evidence.”   So how much is enough?  The obvious answer is, enough is enough.  I would just encourage everyone to keep searching and not give up.

As always  questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.  I will be posting a blog on Faith in next week or so, I believe it goes well as a follow-up to this posting.