Part 2: do you believe in evidence?


The second part of my analysis of the statement on creation/evolution published by Ponahui Christian School picks up where part one left off: it might get better.
Indeed, it seemed like it might with a promising title. The title of the second part of the statement “[c]ommonly accepted science we believe in.” It is better because at least they accept some science, but inserting the world ‘believe’ in reference to science is cringe worthy. Science is not based on beliefs, science is based on evidence. Accept would have been better but it would hardly change their intent. The second part of the statement is as follows:

We believe in all the experimentally verifiable laws of science. We also teach that the laws of physics and chemistry are purposely designed by the Creator to support life. If the known physical constants of the universe are slightly different, or the angle in a water molecule was slightly different, or the chemical laws of equilibria, etc, are any different then life would be impossible. (Imagine a universe without gravity for example.) Even something as simple as burning wood in a controlled campfire requires several laws of physics and chemistry to be just right, and several conditions on planet Earth to be just right also. This paradox is a puzzle to evolutionists who base everything on chance, but not to the creationist who believe that even something as simple as controlled fire, and something more complex such as life, is God’s design. The unproven and unprovable theory of the existence of millions of universes is based solely on trying to explain this paradox. If there are millions of universes is has to be just right somewhere! (We don’t subscribe to this.)
This means that we believe in the overwhelming majority of science in the NZ curriculum and teach it accordingly, and we feel privileged to be part of the NZ education system. Our students have consistently scored above the national average in all external science exams, including biology.
In the area of biology we believe in natural selection, genetic drift, speciation, and adaptive radiation. We believe that God has designed these processes to enable living things to change slightly, within their kind, to enhance population health in new or changing environments. These processes are all re-arrangements, frequency shifts, and net losses of genetic information which is already present.

Following on from using ‘believe’ in the title, the word is inserted here again, although in reference to “experimentally verifiable laws of science.” If something is an experimentally verifiable law belief is entirely redundant. A scientific law is a phenomenon of nature that has been proven to invariably occur whenever certain conditions exist or are met. Therefore, it is ironic, that people who believe in the unverifiable nature of the supernatural require something to be verified experimentally. Also, there are very few laws in science yet they suggest that “[they] believe in the overwhelming majority of science in NZ curriculum” which cannot be true if they only ‘believe’ in laws. Science is built upon laws, theories, principles and hypotheses and the NZ science curriculum is built on all of these, not just laws.

It is true that the physical constants on Earth are just right for the way the world is now. However, while we can speculate that life as we know it would not exist if the earth and universe were not exactly as it is now, we cannot be sure that life in any other form would not. Things would be different, but that is what they would be. I would most likely not exist and neither would you. The suggestion of a paradox is quite difficult to understand. I see no paradox. The conditions on Earth are just right for the life that exists on it is in no way paradoxical, it just is. The claim that the multiverse concept was proposed is an attempt to account for the ‘paradox’ is patently incorrect. These ideas arose independently of evolutionary biology given that it comes from the field of theoretical physics and have been around for a long time. Recent empirical observations of the universe appear to support the concept of a multiverse. See here for a paper on a concept called Eternal Inflation. Warning! It is not straight forward. Also note that authors do not talk about resolving any paradox. Further note that I am not a physicist and cannot verify the work I am simply putting trust in those who do know about physics in the same way that I, and most other people, trust bridge builders and car manufacturers.

I have purposely left the final paragraph about biology because I think it is best addressed along with the next few sections that cover biology and evolution in more ‘detail’. What I will do is congratulate Ponatahi for their “consistently. . . above the national average in all external science exams, including biology.” However, I will add that it seems odd that their students achieve above results in biology exams based on a curriculum that explicitly covers evolution. It is fishy and reeks of dishonesty somewhere down the line. I have no evidence so I am just speculating.

6 comments:

Pico said...

I find it strange that Christians believe that the laws of physics were specifically fine tuned for life and yet at the same time believe that we are alone in the universe. If the universe is so "fine tuned" for life, why aren't we seeing aliens on every planet. I hear Jupiter isn't that great for camp fires.

Their last paragraph just baffles me. First it sounds like they completely agree with the evolutionary theory: "In the area of biology we believe in natural selection, genetic drift, speciation, and adaptive radiation."
In the next sentence they completely nullify that: "We believe that God has designed these processes to enable living things to change *slightly*, *within their kind*, to enhance population health in new or changing environments."
Ok, so it's clear that they only want to pretend to understand science. Living things don't change *slightly*, they change drastically over large periods of time. Like hippopotamus-whale drastically. And what is the ambiguous "kind" that they talk of? It's a different species yet the same kind?!?!
And how do they propose that species only change slightly. Does each gene know how much it has changed over the last thousand years and then magically conclude: "Hey that's enough change for now, we better turn around. God won't be happy if we change into a different kind"
And last but not least "to enhance population health".
Who's health is God looking after when bacteria evolve to become more resistant to antibiotics.
Seems it's a very cruel and inefficient God that they are trying to advocate.

That's my 2c as a non-biologist.
Let me know what I got wrong :)

Jarrod said...

Absolutely bang on the money regarding their agreement with evolutionary theory. natural selection, genetic drift, speciation, and adaptive radiation are fundamental tenets of evolutionary theory. Then as you say they make up some arbitrary classification 'kind' which is meaningless in the context. Hilariously there is a definition for 'kind' provided further into the statement:The Biblical term “kind” is roughly equivalent to what biologists today call genera. I will do another post on this soon (read: later) but it is total bollocks. They call dogs a kind. However, even true dogs (excluding foxes which they would undoubtedly call dogs) consist of about nine extant genera and there are many more extinct genera.

Paul said...

Wow - they think kind = genus! Their limits on speciation should be quite easy to debunk then. I assume one of each genus was on board the Ark then...

Easy to debunk as that might be, it's not quite as easy as their statement above that "[t]hese processes are all re-arrangements, frequency shifts, and net losses of genetic information which is already present" which is truly one of the silliest things I've heard, considering we can effectively observe de novo mutations occur in everything from bacteria to humans.

Jarrod said...

Indeed you are correct Paul. According to them one of each genus was on the Ark. This is what they say "The number of genera today, plus extinct genera adds up to around 8000 at a generous count, which means that around 16,000 individuals were needed on the ark." Easy. I can't argue with that logic.

Jarrod said...

Just a brief look at PanTHERIA and see that in that database of extant and recently extinct mammals there are over 1000 genera. I suspect that their generous count of 8000 might be a slight underestimate. Jus' sayin.

Paul said...

Neither can I, it all sounds plausible.

I mean if I were going to try to quibble, I guess I would start by figuring 8000 genera could only possibly include vertebrates, leaving me wondering where all the plants and insects come from if they weren't on board. And all the freshwater fishes that aren't in marine genera. And also how 8 people fed individualised diets to 16,000 animals every day for a year. And where all the food was stored, including fresh meat for the carnivores. And where they got enough freshwater from to quench 16,000 animals. And how they got the temperature right for both polar bears and tree frogs at the same time. And where the genetic diversity to speciate and propensity to reproduce to current numbers comes from. And how the geographic distributions of species is meant to make sense.

But I'd probably be mistaken.

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