Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Has Bush been ineffective?...

Per a tip from Hugh Hewitt, check out the article from the Washington Times that outlines an interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, al Qaeda's "purported operations chief." He relates that the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the Sears Tower in Chicago, were the next targets in line after 9/11.
"We were looking for symbols of economic might," he told his captors.
Despite the fanatic methods used by these terrorists, they do have an agenda.
"We talked about hitting California as it was America's richest state, and [al Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden had talked about economic targets." He is reported to have said that bin Laden, who like Mohammed had studied engineering, vetoed simultaneous coast-to-coast attacks, arguing that "it would be too difficult to synchronize." Mohammed then decided to conduct two waves of attacks, hitting the East Coast first and following up with a second series of attacks. "Osama had said the second wave should focus on the West Coast," he reportedly said. But the terrorists seem to have been surprised by the strength of the American reaction to the September 11 attacks. "Afterwards, we never got time to catch our breath, we were immediately on the run," Mohammed is quoted as saying. Al Qaeda's communications network was severely disrupted, he said. Operatives could no longer use satellite phones and had to rely on couriers, although they continued to use Internet chat rooms. "Before September 11, we could dispatch operatives with the expectation of follow-up contact, but after October 7 [when U.S. bombing started in Afghanistan], that changed 180 degrees. There was no longer a war room ... and operatives had more autonomy."
They grossly underestimated the response from Bush and the United States.

Heads YOU win, Tails I lose...

Frank Beckwith illustrates the point I've been making (one, two, three, four) regarding the inconsistency any adherent to methodological naturalism has whenever they attempt to use any form of abstract thought in their arguments. In P. Z. Myers: Closet IDer? Say it Isn't So!, he says order to say that ID advocates lack intellectual virtue, Myers's judgment would have to include a premise that relies on some notion of what it means for a person qua person to be intellectually virtuous. But he would, in effect, be relying on premises his materialism cannot give an account.
Well said.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Go figure...

Why you probably won't ever see my blog under

Be careful what you read...

C. S. Lewis said,
A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere - "Bibles laid open, millions of surpises," as Herbert says, "fine nets and stratagems." God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.
So you might think I'm now going to link you to another Evangelical blog? Think again. Ed from Dispatches has contributed to the formation of The Panda's Thumb, a blog that is "dedicated to explaining the theory of evolution, critiquing the claims of the anti-evolution movement, and defending the integrity of science and science education in America and around the world." It's certainly easy to be content with reading critiques of evolutionary thought, but to truly understand the worldview with which a naturalist operates you must access their material directly. This site seems to be a good aggregate of the type of thinking that goes on in the minds of those that adhere to the evolutionary paradigm. Consider this intro to, We don't need no steenking Philosophical Naturalism,
Oh dear, it's happening again. We scientists are usually rather mellow, undemanding folk. Give us a cyclotron or an electron microscope and we will happily stay out of peoples way (pausing only to invent Plasma TV screens, or some such frippery). But what really gets our goat is when people decide to tell us what science is. It's bad enough when philosophers or sociologists do it, but now lawyers want to get in on the act. Yes, lawyers (see Is Beckwith Right? Does MN entail PN?) have decided that since science uses Methodological Naturalism, it automatically means we are all dedicated to Philosophical Naturalism. Well, that gets an entire heard of caprine organisms! Well, we scientists have bad news for you lawyer buckos, we don't do isms. We test things. And sometimes we test things that everyone widely accepts as "supernatural" that our lawyer friends would have us believe that dread Methodological/Philosophical whatever-it-is-ism will not allow us to test.
Wasn't it C. S. Lewis who said that everyone holds to a philosophy of how the world works (i.e., a worldview), it's just that some people hold to bad philosophies. Maybe it was Peter Kreeft who said it? Anyway, whether one claims to not do an ism is entirely distinct from whether one is consistent with the implications of the assumptions behind his methodology. Consider my earlier post on Methodological Naturalism. Keep an eye on the Panda's Thumb for the latest musings from evolutionists. It's well documented, up to date and, like it's namesake, well designed.

Monday, March 29, 2004

On Chimps and Equality...

Joe @ EO has a post titled, Human Dignity and the 3% Difference, in which he describes the way in which secularists are starting to consider the rights of animals over that of certain humans (e.g., a human infant). Joe first quotes Peter Singer:
Once we ask why it should be that all humans—including infants, mental defectives, psychopaths, Hitler, Stalin, and the rest—have some kind of dignity or worth that no elephant, pig, or chimpanzee can ever achieve, we see that this question is as difficult to answer as our original request for some relevant fact that justifies the inequality of humans and other animals. In fact, these two questions are really one: talk of intrinsic dignity or moral worth only takes the problem back one step, because any satisfactory defence of the claim that all and only humans have intrinsic dignity would need to refer to some relevant capacities or characteristics that all and only humans possess. Philosophers frequently introduce ideas of dignity, respect, and worth at the point at which other reasons appear to be lacking, but this is hardly good enough. Fine phrases are the last resource of those who have run out of arguments.
And then Joe states,
After all, the genetic differences between humans and gorillas are miniscule. We have 97% of the same chromosomes as gorillas and 98% of the same genetic material as chimpanzees (in fact, chimps are -- genetically speaking -- more like us than they are like gorillas). It would hardly be fair to exclude primates from equality with humans on the basis of a 3% difference. And as Singer points out, “some humans who quite clearly are below the level of awareness, self-consciousness, intelligence, and sentience, of many non-humans.” Without a significant basis in either genetics or characteristics, what grounds do secularists have for not including these animals under the “equal protection” clause of the Constitution?
Joe has illustrated the problem well, for if our sentient nature were simply the result of blind chance, then other creatures with similar genetic structure (e.g., the chimpanzee) just might possibly be on their way to entering the realm of sentience as well. What to do? Herein lies another instance in which the implications of methodological naturalism infiltrate into the world of metaphysics. To resist it we must first point out Singer's logical inconsistency. He speaks of an inequality between humans and other animals as if it were a given... as if it ought to be another way. Just where did this ought come from? Secondly, we must clarify the inherent differences between humans and the animal world: Spirit worship - whether one believes in the supernatural or not. Artisitc expression for the sake of expression. Contemplation. Concern for the afterlife. Just to get started... Update: If you haven't already noticed, I've been quoting a lot from J. Budziszewski's book, What We Can't Not Know. I highly recommend this book. Joe explains in his post that, as Christians, we understand the implications of believing that humans are created in the image of God... the imago Dei... but he rightly wonders what argument a secularist would have against the views of a Peter Singer. Budziszewski acknowledges the dire straits we now find ourselves in with regards to the imago Dei,
Denial of the imago Dei is something new, and much more dangerous than a simple return to paganism. As Frances Schaeffer once remarked, the worst that could be said of the pagans was that they had not yet heard that man is made in the image of God. Although they naturally recognized the dignity of man and the justice that is due to him, their understanding of this intuition was deficient. By contrast, our thinkers have heard that man is made in the image of God, but deny it. (emphasis in original)
Yet all hope is not lost, as Budziszewski states later with regards to a feminist who, on the one hand, advocates treating the unborn child as an aggressor, while on the other, acknowledges that a mother's role is to nurture her child,
...Would one get anywhere by pointing out to her that she wants to have her cake and eat it too? The chances are small; professional advocates of moral wrong are deeply vested in not seeing things like that. But could one get anywhere by going over her head and pointing it out to young minds she may wish to seduce? That is much more promising.


Al Mohler over at has a post on a Time magazine article about stay-at-home-Moms. He quotes from the Time article:
"While boomer women sought career opportunities that were unavailable to their mostly stay-at-home moms, Gen Xers were the latchkey kids and the children of divorce. Also, their careers have bumped along in a roller-coaster, boom-bust economy that may have shaken their faith in finding reliable satisfaction at work."
He then states:
That may certainly be part of the answer, but something deeper seems also to be at work. Many of these mothers want to devote themselves to the raising of their children. They do not want to miss the irreplaceable joys of motherhood. Work and professional satisfaction may have been their primary concern at some point, but the arrival of children refocuses priorities and raises the largest questions about meaning in life. The reality is that few women can meet the parallel demands of work and home without significant stress and frustration. Inevitably, something has to give--and evidence mounts that it is the children who are most affected.

Traction on the Slippery Slope...

In mid-March Joe @ EO posted Slippery Slopes and Androsexuals: The Inadequacies of Social Conservative Arguments in which he asked,
Follow the path of almost any social conservative’s arguments about culture and they will inevitably come to a slippery slope. For better or worse, the slippery slope argument has become a common appeal that we rely when we attempt to argue our point. We assume that their effectivness is dependent on others agreeing that an unacceptable conclusion awaits at the bottom of the slope. But what happens when the argument is effective but the outcome is not deemed objectionable?
In a chapter titled, The Public Relations of Moral Right, from What We Can't Not Know, J. Budziszewski says,
...the classical approach to cultural engagement resembles the accommodationist approach because it appeals to people in terms of what they already believe. ...classical persuaders appeal not to whatever people already believe, but to the scattered points of truth in what they believe. ...the task is to connect the dots. ...classical persuaders are real persuaders, not pseudo-persuaders; their aim is to change minds, not just behavior. ...One begins with what people know or intuit already, and one builds on it. ...all we can do is show him that his assumptions are in conflict with each other, as inevitably they will be. The idea is that the moment he realizes the conflict among his assumptions, he is in crisis; he must either try to hold onto his worldview, knowing that it is incoherent, or embrace another one which will inevitably have the same problem. ...reality poses a constant problem for fallen man. He wants to acknowledge some of the truth which presses in on him, but taken together it points too strongly to other truth which he resists with all his might. In the end, he must deny so many obvious things that the work is just too much.
We all have the capability to choose what we believe. That someone may choose to believe a wrong to be a right, in spite of reason and logic, will haunt humanity until the new creation.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Evolutionary Just-so Stories (part 3 of n)...

Mass Extinction! Mass Extinction! Mass Extinction! That's what you usually hear about in any discussion of life's history on Earth. Take the K-T Event. That's the one that took out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. We're told that anywhere from 50 - 70% of all species were wiped out across the globe in a short period. This was brought about, more than likely, by the meeting between the Earth and a 10km wide asteroid (or comet). Ouch. Now I can understand the sensational aspect of describing such an event, but how come no one ever screams: Mass Speciation! Mass Speciation! Mass Speciation! Take that K-T Event (again). We're told that the aftermath of that catastrophe was that it gave mammals a chance to spread across, and dominate, the globe. Supposedly a small, shrew-like animal survived the impact and evolved into the diversity we see today. We're typically told that the wasted landscape was "fertile" ground for evolution to work. But there's a problem with that scenario in that the sedimentary data indicates a period of about 10,000 years following the K-T Event in which no fossils exist and then, BOOM!, the appearance of a multitude of new, large species of animals. This explosion of species is a Mass Speciation event and is completely unexplainable with neo-Darwinian models. Reasons to Believe has broadcast reports regarding these discoveries just this past month and also back in 2002. UPDATE: Per Ed's comment, I am attempting to clarify just where the data source for this claim by Hugh Ross is found. The only link I have found so far refers to a 10,000 year period between the Triassic - Jurassic periods and not the K-T boundary. Although the rapid speciation of new and different dinosaurs between the Triassic and Jurassic periods is another anamoly for the evolutionary paradigm, I would still like to clarify just which 10,000 year period is being researched. Note also that the determination of the 10,000 year period was not due to radiometric dating but to analysis of sedimentary layering. UPDATE 2: Here is an excerpt from the Science magazine abstract with regards to the Triassic - Jurassic boundary:
Analysis of tetrapod footprints and skeletal material from more than 70 localities in eastern North America shows that large theropod dinosaurs appeared less than 10,000 years after the Triassic-Jurassic boundary...
Comments on radiometric dating are off-course regarding this post.

Hugh Hewitt on Gay Marriage...

Check Hugh Hewitt's article in the Weekly Standard titled, Without the Consent of the Governed. He does a fine job of describing the Judicial Tyranny that the Left keeps telling us isn't there.
Never in the 228 years since the Declaration has any legislative body at the federal or state level passed any law with the intent of establishing the proposition that two people of the same sex could marry. Not once. The principle of equality between religions was consented to in the First Amendment; between races, in the 14th Amendment; between genders, in the 19th Amendment. Each of these principles had long and difficult passages to majoritarian and statutory status. Courts could not and did not impose them because courts cannot will majorities into being--they can only articulate the implications of previously established legislative actions.
It's amazing to listen to the arguments put forth by the Left on this issue. By the way they talk you'd think that we've been ushered in to a new age of Enlightenment... oh wait, I guess the Age of Reason has been painfully breaking us free from the superstitious myths of the past. You would think so with the way we're told how the gay marriage issue is comparable to that of slavery or racial equality. And that brings us to a post at World Magazine's blog titled, A Moral Wrong is not a Civil Right, in which various black pastors take issue with idea that the push for gay marriage is a civil rights issue. Here's what one pastor said, “I am black... I was born black. And I can get up and declare that I’m not black, but it won’t make one bit of difference. make this a civil rights issue is trying to say that this is something they cannot control, and that’s not true.”

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Two new links...

I've written about my disagreement with some of the tenets of PoMo Christianity on several occasions. I still consider it to essentially be a passing fad that is associated with a bankrupt and terminally ill secular philosophy. Yet there are Christian brothers and sisters within this movement and, as such, I have linked to two of their sites for your reference and education. Dave runs Welcome to the Planet and sips a strong brew of coffee (I think). From what I gather, the Emergent Village is sort of the base of operations for the Emergent movement (oops, they like to be called a friendship). Part of their mission statement:
Many thoughtful Christians agree: modernity is passing and a new postmodern world is emerging. This transition calls for innovative Christian leaders from all streams of the Christian faith around the world to collaborate in the development of new ways of being Christians … new ways of doing theology* and living biblically, new understandings of mission, new kinds of faith communities, new approaches to worship and service, new integrations and conversations and convergences and dreams.
I'm still searching for what that asterisk means.

Be careful what you wish for...

Professor Bainbridge has a post titled, The Pledge Case, regarding the court case that Michael Newdow, the atheist who does not wish his daughter to recite the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance, is fighting. Bainbridge wonders if Newdow has "given any thought to how his daughter would feel if she goes down in history as the kid who took down the Pledge of Allegiance?"

Christian Carnival...

Check the latest Christian Carnival postings at WalloWorld. Bill does an awesome job of linking in quotes from C. S. Lewis to his description of each blogger's post.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Judicial Tyranny...

That's a term that has been thrown around a lot lately. From the Home School Legal Defense Association comes an article titled, Can Judicial Tyranny be Stopped?. In it, Michael P. Farris, Esq, comments on the concept of a "living" constitution and the process of determining (or creating) intent:
But some may ask, "Isn't the Constitution a living document?" That is what we learned in our public school social studies courses. But the phrase "living Constitution" has been grossly misused to the point that it no longer has any validity. The Constitution is "living" in the sense that the original principles should apply to new facts. For example, the Fourth Amendment protects our "papers" from unreasonable searches and seizures. What about computer records that are still on the computer and not yet on paper? Are they protected? Of course. This is simply the application of an old principle—our written information is protected—to a new set of facts. Whenever we have the application of old principles to new facts, that is a proper understanding of the living Constitution. Also, whenever we amend the Constitution by the formal amendment process, that too is proper and quite consistent with all of the Founders' theories of self-government. The Constitution is alive in the sense that it may be changed by this formal process requiring the assent of two-thirds of each house of Congress and three-fourths of the state legislatures. What is generally meant by "living Constitution" today, however, is the discovery of entirely new legal principles. Reproductive freedom. Homosexual rights. These are examples of entirely new principles of freedom that cannot be legitimately tied to any phrase in the written Constitution. Thus, to make absolutely new rights out of whole cloth is a clear act of judicial tyranny. Unelected judges are not just legislating, they are assuming the super-legislative authority of two-thirds of each house of Congress and three-fourths of the state legislatures when they effectively amend the Constitution by inventing new rights.

ID Conference at Biola...

On April 22-24, Biola University (southern California), will be hosting a conference titled, Intelligent Design & the Future of Science. Featured speakers will be: William Dembski, David Berlinski, Michael Ruse, William Provine, Henry Schaefer, Michael Behe, J.P. Moreland, and Stephen Meyer. Friday night, April 23rd, will be a feature event titled, Molecular Machines & the Death of Darwinism, with speakers Michael Behe and Fritz Schaefer along with panelists, Jonathan Wells, Paul Nelson, Bill Dembski, and Jed Macosko.

Soldiers' Angels...

Per a link from Hugh Hewitt, please visit Soldiers' Angels, a non-profit organization "dedictaed to ensuring that our military know they are loved and supported during and after their deployment into harms way." There are opportunities to send letters to a soldier, provide care packages for those on deployment as well as those who have been wounded.

A Woman's Role...

Check Heather's Compromise: How Young Women Make Their Way in a World of Wimps and Barbarians, by Terrence O. Moore. It is a follow-up article to his Wimps & Barbarians article a few months back. Moore states,
Many young women today look upon the world of dating with anxiety, hopelessness, disappointment—even dread. They express disappointment with young men's stubborn immaturity, with their own slim chances of finding love, and with the sad fact that whereas in the past, everyone expected women not to have sex before marriage, nowadays everyone, especially their boyfriends, expects that they will. And though they often don't say so directly, many young women are disappointed by their parents' advice or, more often, complete lack of it. Young women have, of course, adjusted to the world around them. In the vernacular, they aren't looking for Mr. Right but for Mr. Right Now. But looking for Mr. Right Now has taken an enormous toll on their lives and emotions. The decision to look, or settle, for Mr. Right Now might be described as Heather's Compromise. Heather, today's young woman, is tempted continually to compromise her ultimate happiness for the momentary attention of an undependable young male on his terms.
Moore identifies three categories with which a young woman of today may fall into: Party-girl, Perrenial Girlfriend, or Romantic. It's a good read for anyone who has a daughter and wishes to better prepare her for the world of wimps and barbarians that awaits her. Thanks to Rev. Mike.

On Obligation to God...

J. Budziszewksi, in What We Can't Not Know, reviews each of the commandments of the Decalogue in the context of how they summarize the natural law. Consider what he writes about the First Commandment:
The point of the First Commandment is that the one true God, and only the one true God, is to be worshipped as God. To hold that this biblical injunction belongs equally to the natural law is to hold that although not everyone believes the Bible as the word of God, everyone does know that there is one true God and that he owes Him sole worship. If this is true, then those who say they don't know of any such God are fooling themselves, and biblical revelation merely "blows their cover." The Commandment presupposes more than just the knowledge that God is real. It presupposes that we also understand that benefit incurs obligation... This in turn presupposes that we know the principle, "Give to each what is due to him," what we owe God being loyalty, worship, and obedience. To deny Him is the deepest form of treason - much more serious than the ordinary sort. The Commandment does not presuppose that God needs our devotion - only that we owe it to Him. If it is asked why He requires what He does not need, the answer is found in the nature He has imparted to us. As rational and moral beings, we are endowed with the capacity to recognize what is intrinsically worthy of our gratitude. To pay this kind of debt ennobles us rather than demeaning us; to withhold it is a distortion of rational nature which puts us lower than the beasts. (emphasis in original)
It is interesting to note how J. B. delineates the act of worship. In our 21st century Western mindset we typically find tha people consider worship to be validated not by the liturgy involved, nor by the mere fact that it is owed to God, but primarily by the level of emotion experienced by the individual or group. After particularly charged worship services people tend to relate to the experience of the event - thereby equating the integrity of the worship with the corresponding level of feeling. Now, any entrance into the presence of God will, to be sure, not be a boring event. The point I am making is that our rational understanding of who God is and why He is owed worship should guide how we structure our act of giving worship to Him.

Monday, March 22, 2004

On the Presence of God...

Rev. Mike linked to my post On Worship in which I covered R. C. Sproul’s sermon on how we have lost a sense of the presence of God in our attitude of worship. Unfortunately he made it appear that the key to sincere worship was our appearance (i.e., how we are dressed). He's corrected that but, to be sure, our appearance can certainly reflect how we show respect. However, the issue goes much, much deeper than that of mere clothing. My post had to do with how we seem to not reflect an attitude of respect, reverence, and awe for God. I think that this has a lot to do with a misunderstanding of just who God is. Consider the book of Hebrews, especially chapters 8 – 12, in which we have Jesus shown as our High Priest, replacing the old covenant with the new covenant.
Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We have such a high priest, one who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up. – Hebrews 8:1-2 (NET)
Note how the writer of Hebrews explains the holiness of the first sanctuary, the one that Christ has replaced, and then describes the true sanctuary.
Now the first covenant, in fact, had regulations for worship and its earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, which contained the lampstand, the table, and the presentation of the loaves; this is called the holy place. And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies. It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. And above the ark were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail. So with these things prepared like this, the priests enter continually into the outer tent as they perform their duties. But only the high priest enters once a year into the inner tent, and not without blood that he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit is making clear that the way into the holy place had not yet appeared as long as the old tabernacle was standing. This was a symbol for the time then present, when gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. They served only for matters of food and drink and various washings; they are external regulations imposed until the new order came. – Hebrews 9:1-10 (NET) For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands—the representation of the true sanctuary—but into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us. – Hebrews 9:24 (NET)
We have been given confidence to enter into the new covenant through Christ’s atonement…
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. – Hebrews 10:19-22 (NET)
Yet God is no less holy today than in Moses time. The writer of Hebrews reminds us of the reason to offer worship in devotion and awe.
So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe. For our God is indeed a devouring fire. – Hebrews 12:28-29 (NET)
The act of worship, as portrayed in the Bible, is an intensely Holy act. To view Jesus as ‘meek and mild’ is not only woefully incomplete, it is dangerously incorrect. Yes, He welcomed the little children into His arms, but simply read Revelation for another picture of Jesus’ identity:
Then I saw heaven opened and here came a white horse! The one riding it was called “Faithful” and “True,” and with justice he judges and goes to war. His eyes are like a fiery flame and there are many diadem crowns on his head. He has a name written that no one knows except himself. He is dressed in clothing dipped in blood, and he is called the Word of God. The armies that are in heaven, dressed in white, clean, fine linen, were following him on white horses. From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful. He has a name written on his clothing and on his thigh: “King of kings and Lord of lords.” – Revelation 19:11-16 (NET)
To approach God’s presence in worship with a casual, almost flippant, attitude is the epitome of self-centeredness. I make these accusations not because I think that I have reached a proper state of worship myself, but because I’m beginning to realize how horribly far I am from properly showing God the reverence and awe He deserves. It is truly not about us.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Evo (part 2)...

This post is a continuation of the previous post and addresses H. Allen Orr's review of Bill Dembski's book, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence. Orr also touches on Behe’s claim that irreducible complexity cannot be reached via Darwinian evolution.
The importance of irreducibly complex structures is that they cannot, Behe assured us, be built by Darwinism. Darwinism demands that each step in the long walk to the present structure be functional. But that can't be: since all parts are required for function natural selection couldn't possibly have added them one at a time. Irreducible complexity is therefore a reliable marker of intelligent design. This argument sold a lot of books and got tremendous media airplay. Unfortunately it was all wrong. Behe's claim was refuted—and in at least two ways. Both showed how irreducibly complex systems could be reached via gradual, Darwinian paths. Dembski calls the first path "scaffolding." At each step, a part gets added that improves a structure's function. At some point, however, a substructure might appear that no longer needs the remaining parts. These useless parts could then fall away. The key point is that the substructure we're left with might be irreducibly complex. Remove any part now and all hell breaks loose. The second path was one that I championed. Dembski calls it "incremental indispensability." Here's the argument: An irreducibly complex system can be built gradually by adding parts that, while initially just advantageous, become—because of later changes—essential. The logic is very simple. Some part (A) initially does some job (and not very well, perhaps). Another part (B) later gets added because it helps A. This new part isn't essential, it merely improves things. But later on, A (or something else) may change in such a way that B now becomes indispensable. This process continues as further parts get folded into the system. And at the end of the day, many parts may all be required. …The scaffolding and incremental indispensability arguments are not, Dembski says, causally specific. This means they have not, in any particular biological example, been fleshed out in sufficiently gory detail that Dembski can judge their validity. You might think scaffolding, say, can account for the bacterial flagellum but no one has told Dembski just which protein came first and which second...
Orr’s two refutations of Behe’s irreducible complexity is really just one argument wearing different clothes. Note as he explains the “scaffolding” argument the critical leap that he, and virtually every evolutionist, makes: “At each step, a part gets added that improves a structure's function.” Did you catch that? A part gets added that improves a structure’s function. He wants to start working with a functional system from the get-go. Remember our long-distance, unachievable target? In Orr’s scenario we’re already there! So, at most, all he’s done is show how a pre-existing structure might be modified to work more efficiently. The other version of the argument follows a similar vein but instead of remaining parts drifting away and thereby leaving the substructure irreducibly complex, in this version existing parts alter to such a degree that newly added optional parts become essential. As Orr states: “Some part (A) initially does some job (and not very well, perhaps). Another part (B) later gets added because it helps A. This new part isn't essential, it merely improves things. But later on, A (or something else) may change in such a way that B now becomes indispensable.” Again we have the hurdle of initial function completely ignored. Some part (A) initially does some job. Orr still doesn’t understand, or just doesn't want to admit, that some parts don’t do some jobs unless they are first put together to do so. Granting Orr the benefit of the doubt we still are left with only a pre-existing structure that has been modified to do its initial job better. The essence of the real problem with Orr’s argument, though, is that it relies on fanciful ambiguity. “At some point,” “might appear,” “might be,” “some part… does some job,” “may change.” But hey, what does it matter if it’s ambiguous? After all, parts are just… parts. And every evolutionist knows that these parts are constantly being modified in a world of imaginary intermediate functional systems that gradually evolve into the irreducibly complex systems we see today. Or do they? Truth be told, all Orr has done in his so-called refutation of irreducible complexity is re-state the Darwinian process of survival of the fittest. He has yet to describe how a truly irreducibly complex system (i.e., his some part (A)) begins. Orr is aware that his imaginative so-called refutations lack any causal specificity but he responds by accusing the ID movement of hypocrisy due to the fact that their model also provides no examples of causal specificity. Hence, both the neo-Darwinian and ID explanations remain viable, for at best all Orr has done is show that both explanations are logically coherent, thereby inspiring further study into both realms. Note, however, that mere logical coherence does not indicate degree of probability. Consider the calculations done by Hubert Yockey on the probability of forming one protein, 110 amino acids in length, by chance. His calculations yielded a probability = 2.3 x 10^-75. What does that mean in terms of time? If you had 10^44 amino acids, all floating around in a primordial soup, and they had one chance per second to bond, it would still take 10^23 years to get a 95% chance of forming one functional protein (110 amino acids in length). It is entirely possible to have a sequence that is logically coherent yet probabilistically impossible. Dembski acknowledges this aspect in his book Intelligent Design in which he posits a probability boundary of 10^-150 with which to use in determining design. In other words, is there some point at which the probability of an event occurring by chance becomes so small as to essentially negate the chance occurrence of the event? Philosophers may debate whether we can make this claim, and mathematicians may debate exactly where this probability boundary should be set, but the concept itself is one that is commonly understood. Consider the movie Contact in which a radio signal from space was attributed to an intelligent agent because it contained a listing of the prime numbers from 2 to 101. What was the impetus for concluding that such a signal was from an intelligent source? The answer is simple. A radio signal with the prime numbers from 2 to 101 occurring by chance, while logically coherent, was considered to be so improbable as to negate mere chance as the driver. It seems that Orr would like to have his cake and eat it too. Zero chance and logical coherence are tricky things. If Orr has merely shown that irreducible complexity is logically accessible by Darwinian methodology, then he must allow for further inquiry into the concept of intelligent design since it too is logically accessible (just examine the methodology of any archaeologist or SETI researcher). If, on the other hand, he has only re-stated that the Darwinian methodology can, at most, modify an organism’s pre-existing function, then he is still facing Behe’s challenge from his book Darwin’s Black Box.

Evo (part 1)...

I’ve been hitting evolution a lot lately so I wanted to stay away from it in order to touch on some other topics, but a recent set of articles caught my attention. Evidently there was quite a flap over a book review done by a Harvard Law Review student on Francis Beckwith’s book, Law, Darwinism & Public Education: The Establishment Clause and the Challenge of Intelligent Design. Brian Leiter, a philosopher of law, wrote a scathing review of Van Dyke’s review., to which Beckwith contributes, posted a blog on Leiter’s review titled, Letter and Harvard Law Review. National Review Online has also joined in the fracas, as well as Ed over at Dispatches. My intent here is not to get into that food-fight but to address a link that I saw on one of Ed’s posts related to this topic. He linked to a review of William Dembski’s book, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence. It was written by H. Allen Orr, a professor of biology at University of Rochester. Orr addresses Dembski’s claims that mathematical theorems known as No Free Lunch (NFL) theorems illustrate that specified complexity must originate from an intelligence and not, as Darwinian evolution claims, from natural selection and genetic change. Having not read Dembski’s book and having no grounding in NFL theorems I will forego addressing those issues and deal, instead, with some missteps that Orr makes with regards to his interpretive methodology. I’ve written previously on the issue that ideas have consequences. A corollary to that could be that one’s worldview will structure how they tend to interpret data. My main arguments against evolutionary theory are typically not based on the data, as such, but on how the data is being interpreted. Orr addresses an illustration given by Richard Dawkins of how Darwinism works,
Now it's obvious how we go about making meaningful phrases: we use intelligence and crank them out at will. But how do biologists explain the complexity that resides in organisms? By Darwinism. To get a feel for what this means, consider the following caricature of Darwinism offered by Richard Dawkins and discussed at length by Dembski. Our target will be Hamlet's line, METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL. (Real evolution occurs in a sequence space that uses the four DNA "letters" A, G, C, and T but this is a distinction that doesn't make a difference.) First consider the odds of forming this target sequence by blind chance, i.e., with monkeys at word-processors. Draw a random letter from the alphabet for the first position in the phrase; now another for the second position, and so on. The odds that you've spelled out the phrase METHINKS… are essentially nil: in fact, with twenty-six letters plus a blank space, the odds of getting the word METHINKS alone are already less than one in 280 billion. But now consider the following "evolutionary algorithm." Start with a random sequence as before but i) randomly change each character that doesn't match the target sequence; ii) if a resulting character matches the target keep it and in the next round change only those characters that don't match. So, if we start with SATHINKS, at the next step we'll randomly change only the first two letters; and if those changes yield MQTHINKS, then at the next step we'll randomly change only the second letter. This two-step evolutionary algorithm of mutation plus selection arrives at the phrase METHINKS… with surprising speed.
Note that the odds of getting the phrase METHINKS by chance alone are not zero, but essentially zero. So although it is logically possible to attain the target phrase it is considered, for all intents and purposes, impossible. Also, note that the altered process, the evolutionary algorithm, uses a set of letters in which only the first two letters are off the target, and in which only the first two letters are allowed to change. Further, we should note that the phrase SATHINKS is meaningless (i.e., without function) and, per parameters Orr later describes, would not have any reproductive success. So, what we really need to find out is this: How can Darwinian evolution get from twenty-six letters plus a blank space (no meaning and no function) to METHINKS (meaning and function)? Orr ignores that question, or rather, he believes it is best approached by the concept of fitness function.
Fitness is a measure of quality; high fitness is good and low is bad. (In biology the only kind of quality that matters is how good you are at having kids. High fitness means you have a lot of kids and low means you have few.) A fitness function is just a mathematical function that assigns a fitness value to each possible sequence. In our Hamlet example, the best sequence is the phrase METHINKS…, so the fitness function assigns it the highest value. A sequence that matches METHINKS… at every position but one gets a slightly lower fitness, and one that matches METHINKS… at every position but two gets a yet lower fitness, and so on. A random sequence typically suffers a quite low fitness. If we now pretend that all possible sequences sit in a plane, we could plot their corresponding fitness values above this plane, forming a 3-D plot. Evolutionists thus sometimes speak of fitness "surfaces" or "landscapes." Because evolution always moves from a sequence to another having higher fitness, natural selection can be thought of as moving populations uphill on fitness surfaces. In Dawkins's example this process ultimately arrives at the sequence METHINKS…, which sits atop a fitness peak.
After describing how METHINKS is a target which equates to high fitness, and how evolution always moves from one fitness level to a higher fitness level, Orr then states that Darwinian evolution does not, in fact, have the capability to anticipate a desired outcome or to even specify a long-distance target of any kind.
…Darwinism isn't trying to reach a prespecified target. Darwinism, I regret to report, is sheer cold demographics. Darwinism says that my sequence has more kids than your sequence and so my sequence gets common and yours gets rare. If there's another sequence out there that has more kids than mine, it'll displace me. But there's no pre-set target in this game. (Why would evolution care about a pre-set place? Are we to believe that evolution is just inordinately fond of ATGGCAGGCAGT…?) …Dembski even quotes Richard Dawkins at length, who, it turns out, warned all along that his METHINKS… example is …misleading in important ways. One of these is that, in each generation of selective "breeding," the mutant "progeny" phrases were judged according to the criterion of resemblance to a distant ideal target, the phrase METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL. Life isn't like that. Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distance target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection….In real life, the criterion for selection is always short-term, either simple survival or, more generally, reproductive success.
So if Darwinian evolution uses no prespecified target, then why does Orr use the example in which METHINKS is a target? He uses it because he believes that the concept of fitness function is quantitatively different from that of a prespecified target. You see, the only target allowed by evolutionists is a short-term target, that is, reproductive success. But the rub is that the evolutionist is admitting that the odds of attaining a long-distance target (e.g., complex, functional information such as METHINKS) by chance is zero and, therefore, that it is only a short-term target (e.g., reproductive success) that is accessible by chance. This points to the crux of the problem facing the evolutionist. The problem is they tend to ignore the teeny-weeny fact that the organisms traversing the peaks and valleys of a fitness function are already functional (i.e., they have already attained a long-distance target of complex information). Those without function, such as SATHINKS, should not even have a chance to appear on the fitness function graph. Remember that functional fitness applies to short-term goals and, therefore, would tend to favor stability within an organism’s pre-existing functional boundaries. Nothing in the examples given indicate that additional function or features could be advantageous to reproductive success unless they were added in one fell swoop. Yet such an event would equate to achieving a long-distance target. In order to make the leap of faith from changes that provide functional stability to changes that create functionality the evolutionist must extrapolate the data to render it capable of performing acts they’ve never witnessed or specifically modeled. With regards to extrapolation, Orr states:
…Dembski's anti-extrapolationist view leads him into some formal muddy waters. If, as he oddly continues to claim, the NFL theorems pose a problem for Darwinism, why don't they pose a problem for a little Darwinism? The NFL theorems don't say anything about scale. To say then, as Dembski does, that a little bit of Darwinism is okay (despite NFL) but a lot is bad (because of NFL) is to say something odd. Dembski comes precariously close here to saying that while there's no such thing as a free lunch, you can help yourself to brunch. Last, surely it's the refusal to extrapolate Darwinism from the small to the large scale that needs justifying. If Darwinism can explain small changes in organisms over the last fifty years (antibiotic resistance, say), surely it can explain progressively bigger changes over the last 500, 5000, or 50,000 years. The cumulative effects of mutation and selection aren't going to get smaller. Dembski's anti-extrapolationism seems a lot like saying that, while Kepler's laws might hold on any given day, they don't hold over whole years. Such a position is, I suppose, formally possible but it—and not extrapolation—requires special justification.
Orr’s “if, then” statement is logically incoherent. Listen carefully to what he’s asking of you: You are to believe that, for instance, a land dwelling wolf-like creature can, in time and through mutational change, result in an ocean dwelling whale. You are to believe this extrapolation is justified based on the fact that, say, bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. A whole lot of small changes just gotta add up to some mighty big changes! Right? Typically an evolutionist will then direct us to the fossil record and note that it indicates a progression from simplicity to complexity with the very types of species occurring in the very order that evolution would predict. One problem with this type of reasoning is that it tends to be circular. Remember now, it is the very phenomenon of the fossil record that we are trying to explain. Orr extrapolates that minor changes over short periods of time can produce major changes over long periods of time. This is evidenced, per the evolutionist, by the fossil record. But how can we use the fossil record as evidence to explain the phenomenon we see in the fossil record? What we need is evidence that the natural selection / genetic mutation mechanism can produce the types of changes that evolutionists have extrapolated. Another problem with this type of reasoning is that it ignores, knowingly or unknowingly, the fact that the data could just as well be explained by intelligent action. That’s all for part 1 of my critique.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Enmity to Nature...

In one of the appendices of What We Can't Not Know, by J. Budziszewski, he publishes the conclusion of an article written by Warren M. Hern, MD. The article is titled, Is Pregnancy Really Normal?.
An Alternative View of Pregnancy The foregoing discussion should allow us to abandon the erroneous assumption that pregnancy is per se a normal and desirable state, and to consider instead a more accurate view that human pregnancy is an episodic, moderately extended chronic condition with a definable morbidity and mortality risk to which females are uniquely though not uniformly susceptible and which: • is almost entirely preventable through the use of effective contraception, and entirely so through abstinence; • when not prevented, is the individual result of a set of species specific bio-social adaptations with a changing significance for species survival; • may be defined as an illness requiring medical supervision through (a) cultural traditions, functional or explicit, (b) circumstantial self-definition of illness or (c) individual illness behavior; • may be treated by evacuation of the uterine contents; • may be tolerated, sought, and/or valued for the purpose of reproduction; and • has an excellent prognosis for complete, spontaneous recovery if managed under careful medical supervision. Accordingly, the open recognition and legitimation of pregnancy as an illness would be consistent with the individual self-interest of those experiencing pregnancy, good standards of medical practice, and the continued survival of human and other species.
Budziszewski reprints it because, as he puts it, "ordinary people find it difficult to believe that such things could actually be written." The full text of the article is available at the title's link above. From the good doctor's Abortion Clinic's website we find the following at the end of their mission statement:
As we observe the 25th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision, we know we have done our part to make the meaning of that landmark decision for human freedom a reality for our patients and their families. The true meaning of "family values" is the freedom to choose your own life and values with those you love.

An Assault on Religious Liberty…

Check the February 2004 issue of First Things for an article by James Hitchcock titled, The Enemies of Religious Liberty. In it he outlines the impending damage to the exercise of free religion not necessarily by the courts, but by academics. Consider the first paragraph:
It is common for religious believers to lament the Supreme Court’s barely concealed hostility to the free exercise of religion, at least since the middle decades of the twentieth century. But in the long term, even more damage is likely to be done by the influence of ideas advocated by a cluster of political and legal theorists in the academy. For these writers, religious liberty itself is a pernicious idea.
Whereas, according to Hitchcock, the “no establishment” clause of the First Amendment used to be understood to protect the “free exercise” clause, it is now understood to place restrictions on religious liberty in order to exclude religion from public life. He cites authors such as, Amy Gutmann, Dennis Thompson, David A. J. Richards, Richard Rorty, Stanley Fish, and Cass Sunstein who argues that the government, acting as a “divine instrument” should force the intolerant to be tolerant. Hitchcock continues,
According to Kathleen M. Sullivan of the Stanford University Law School, the “establishment clause” actually establishes a culture from which there can be no legitimate dissent—in which religion is tolerated only “insofar as it is consistent with the establishment of the secular moral order.”
So, what are the consequences of such ideas? Hitchock relates a 1970 Supreme Court decision,
The 1970 Yoder case, in which the Court upheld the right of Amish parents not to enroll their children in public high schools, also focused on these issues. In dissenting in the… case, Justice William O. Douglas got to the heart of the matter in asking whether parents had the right to “impose” their beliefs on their children, or whether on the contrary the state might not have an obligation to expose children to the opportunities of “the new and amazing world of diversity which we have today.” (Douglas believed that 90 percent of people were not even fit to be parents.) Logically this left it at best an open question whether parents possess the right to raise their children in a particular religion.
In past posts I’ve discussed the importance of understanding the concept that authors have intended meanings in the documents they write. In treating a document as living its meaning becomes open to further, subjective interpretation. This is tantamount to re-writing the document. What we are witnessing here are not only assaults on religious liberty, but calculated attempts by deconstructionists to impose their belief system on society.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Does Preschool really help?...

Back in October I did a post on First5 California and their mandatory preschool idea. I wrote:
Have you heard of the California Children and Families Commission? Have you seen the commercials on the tube recently by First5 California? They are the ones that promote the idea that children who attend preschool will be better adjusted socially and do better academically (not only in K-12 but in higher education as well). ...the article titles in the Winter '03 newsletter: “Going to Scale with Pre-Kindergarten: Moving Toward High-Quality Early Learning Opportunities for All California 3- and 4-Year-Olds,” or “In Large and Small Counties, Plans Underway for Universal Preschool”. When addressing the need for “pre-kindergarten” one of the articles states, “As the science of early childhood development tells us, a child’s preparation for school and for life begins not with preschool at age 3, but much earlier, starting with a healthy pregnancy and continuing with nurturing, stimulating experiences through infancy, the toddler years and beyond.” “…recent research findings and a supportive climate of public opinion in California suggest that the time is right for a phased initiative to dramatically improve the accessibility and quality of pre-kindergarten programs for all 3- and 4- year-olds in California. High-quality pre-kindergarten experiences help reduce performance gaps in the first grade, which in turn have been shown to lay the foundation for observed performance gaps in later grades. Recent longitudinal studies have found that children exposed to high-quality preschool show lasting gains on a variety of educational and other dimensions all the way into adulthood…”
Is there data that contradicts these assertions? Yes, there is. Thanks to Donna in our homeschool group for providing a link to and the following article titled, Quotes and References from Early Childhood Testimony. It highlights testimony from the House K-12 Education Finance Committee. Consider these excerpts,
"Once the children enter school there is little difference between the scores of Head Start and control children. . . . Findings for the individual cognitive measures--intelligence, readiness and achievement--reflect the same trends as the global measure. . . . By the end of the second year there are no educationally meaningful differences on any of the measures." "This is not the first time universal preschool education has been proposed. . . . Then, as now, the arguments in favor of preschool education were that it would reduce school failure, lower dropout rates, increase test scores, and produce a generation of more competent high school graduates. . . . Preschool education will achieve none of these results... We simply cannot inoculate children in one year against the ravages of a life of depravation." "To summarize, then, no empirical evidence supports the claims that universal preschool will reduce the number of children who will perform poorly in school, become teenage parents, commit criminal acts, or depend on welfare. Although some projects have had meaningful short-term effects on disadvantaged children's cognitive ability, grade retention, and special education placement, those benefits are short-lived. At the same time, most interventions have concentrated on disadvantaged children, so there is no evidence for universal replicability. In fact, a large body of evidence shows that preschool can have a negative impact on middle-income children."

On Worship...

R. C. Sproul’s March 4th broadcast, Surely God Is In This Place, touches on a subject that has been tugging at me for some time. Is the way we worship relevant? Is the way we act in the sanctuary relevant? Is the sanctuary itself relevant? Sproul says,
“Nothing reveals more clearly what your church believes about the character of God, than how you worship. You can take your confessions, your doctrinal statements, your programs, and roll ‘em up and throw ‘em in the garbage can because they don’t mean anything, in terms of what really is being expressed about the character of God, as in your worship. “Our problem in not an architectural problem, it’s not even a musical problem, …the problem is people are coming to church and have no sense of the presence of God. In fact the basic sense of the American person in our day is a profound sense of the absence of God.”
As we enter the church sanctuary do we respond as if we are in the presence of God? More than likely what we hear upon entering the sanctuary is not silent reverence, but the frivolity of socialization in the form of idle talk. More than likely what we see after the service has started is not a focused attention on God's presence, but the interruptions of people arriving late. More than likely what we see is not a group of Christian disciples showing respect in their dress, but people dressed primarily to derive comfort. Have you ever entered a Catholic church such as one of the California Missions or a cathedral in Europe? How did you feel? What drives that response? Sproul asked the same question to his seminary students. He was surprised at the responses. Typically the response is that one feels a sense of reverence… the need to be quiet… that one is in a holy place.
Now Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to the mountain of God, to Horeb. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from within a bush. He looked—and the bush was ablaze with fire, but it was not being consumed! So Moses thought, “I will turn aside to see this amazing sight. Why does the bush not burn up?” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him from within the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” God said, “Do not come near here. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He also said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. - Exodus 3:1-6 NET
Is God any less holy today?

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Haste makes ?...

In Encyclopedias gather dust as research moves online, we read of the impending demise of the hard-copy, multi-volume set of encyclopedias.
At libraries, the volumes sit ignored for days on end as information-seeking patrons tap busily away at nearby computers.
But it's not just the hard-copy sets that are being ignored:
Michael Gray's home computer came pre-loaded with Microsoft Corp.'s reference software, Encarta, but the seventh grader from Milpitas, California, has never used it. He prefers doing research online, where information from a vast array of sources comes quickly, and for the most part, for free.
The article goes on to highlight the benefits of using an on-line database that, in keeping with current events, can be updated quickly. Comparisons are made to looking up an old reference to Martin Luther King vs. seeing and hearing his I Have a Dream speech on-line. The article concludes with,
With so much free online information, including proprietary databases for which libraries pay for the public's use, families like Amy Sahn's say encyclopedias seem unnecessary. Her oldest of two sons, Zach, 10, will soon have more complicated school assignments, but the Redwood City mother thinks the Internet will suffice. "The kids are so computer literate," Sahn said, "that it would seem almost foreign to them to use a book."
I find this troubling. Yes I realize that we are in the information age and that virtually any information I am looking for I can find on the web. But I think we need to teach our children not simply to find information but to absorb it. The point of doing a report on MLK is not that you get to see and hear one of his speeches. Certainly that is an added bonus to your understanding of his history, but the core of a report on MLK should be an understanding of the issues which drove him to give the I Have a Dream speech. Can that occur by simply googling 'MLK' and then doing some fancy cutting & pasting? As part of our homeschooling approach we have purchased a used encyclopedia set (from a library) and are teaching our daughter how use it to do research. The point isn't that she needs the latest information but that she understands how to research information via a book's index, table of contents, etc. It was interesting to see her start a research project recently on whether a single boat could sail around the world. Evidently she had gotten the idea from a book that she had checked out from the library. While she used MS Encarta for some information gathering, primarily consisting of capturing photos, she spent more time digging through the encyclopedias we have. It's unfortunate, but foreseeable, that the hard-copy encyclopedia will go the way of the dinosaur. One hopes, though, that it never becomes foreign to our children to use a book.

Monday, March 15, 2004

The Last Supper...

TimK posted a comment to my post on Communion, Individual Style, wondering "Who do you want to commune with? I'm interested in the basis of a corporate "must have" attitude." The point of my post was to convey the Biblical teaching on the act of partaking in communion of the Lord's Supper. Check the scriptural references to this act, whether it be the original (Matt 26, Luke 22), or that celebrated in the new church (Acts 2; 20; 1 Corinthians 11), or even its precursor (Exodus 12), and you will find that the communion is between the Lord and His followers. There is certainly no mandate against partaking of the communion individually, but whenever it is shown occurring it is as a corporate activity within a corporate gathering. The fact that it is derived from the Passover meal, a communal act, should also serve to show that it was intended to be shared corporately.


Joe @ EO has a three part series on Defending the Wisdom of Repugnance (part 1, part 2, part 3) in which he addresses bioethics and whether or not the "ick factor" should play a role in the decision making process with regards to various ethical issues. He writes, "in this three-part series I hope to show that the emotion of disgust not only has a valid role to play in moral decision-making but that human dignity is put in danger when we reject the "deep wisdom" of repugnance." He states:
Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, the cell biologist who served on the Bioethics Council, is a prime example of one who would disagree:
Leon Kass has suggested that society should make decisions based on what he calls the "wisdom of repugnance." I think this is an unreliable kind of wisdom. Repugnance should serve not as a basis for any decision, but rather as a signal for honest, critical examination of what inspired it. In some instances, repugnance may indeed hint at moral qualms that will withstand the rigors of analytical questioning. But it may also simply reflect habit or custom.
Anyone wondering why Blackburn was removed from the President’s Council for Bioethics has to look no further than that quote. While dissenting voices are certainly needed on the council they should be those that espouse a coherent ethical view. Blackburn, however, would reject any ethical argument if it could not be supported by a rationalist foundation. The problem with this approach is not only that it is antithetical to ethical inquiry but it is also harmful to human dignity and liberty.
It's interesting to also note the inherent flaw in Blackburn's reasoning if, in fact, she would reject any ethical argument that could not be supported by a rationalist foundation. Just where, one wonders, does she have the rationalist foundation for supporting the belief that a rationalist foundation is required to validate an ethical argument? This dovetails into my argument that morality is not derived from our environment, and that anyone who adheres to a purely naturalistic view of the cosmos and to any form of morality must appeal to non-natural (super?) means.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The Disabling of Shock & Shame...

In What We Can't Not Know, J. Budziszewski outlines the effects of the natural process of desensitization, but then explains how such a system can be fooled into accepting now what it would not have previously. Regarding a current fad of toy action figures of pop musicians, he writes:
The Eminem figure from Art Asylum is screaming and swinging a chainsaw, his face distorted with rage and malice. But the best is yet to come: the next Eminem release will include dead woman in a car trunk, memorializing the lyrics and cover of his first album. ...Art Asylum's promotional literature declares that "The traditional jack-in-the-box, once the king of every kid's toy box, is being reinvented for the 21st Century." Its slogan is "Psycho Toyz for Crazy Kidz," and they are, in fact, sold in some toy stores. Then again, why not? As one music critic explains to us, the rapper is merely "one of those charming rogues" - "indubitably dangerous" but "exceptionally witty," thoughtful," and "good-hearted." This by way of comment on another Eminem album, the lyrics of which concern incest with his mother.
We willingly allow perverse behavior to occupy our space, all in the name of art. In so doing, we have moved from considering such behavior as abominable to considering it worth thinking about. What is next?

Saturday, March 13, 2004

The Epilogue...

As dogman over at The Rough Woodsman alluded to in his comment regarding my Men of Honor post, there is an epilogue to the story of George McGovern's B-24 errantly dropping a lone bomb on an Austrian farmhouse. In 1985, McGovern was interviewed by the Austrian media in connection with a documentary they were doing on Austria in WWII. Knowing that McGovern opposed the war in Vietnam, especially the bombing, and knowing that he had been a bomber pilot in WWII, the reporter asked him if he regretted bombing beautiful cities such as Vienna, Salzburg, and others. He responded,
Well, nobody thinks that war is a lovely affair. is a very savage enterprise. But on the other hand there are issues that sometimes must be decided by warfare after all else fails... ...I don't regret bombing strategic targets in Austria. I do regret the damage that was done to innocent people. And there was one bomb I've regretted all these years.
He then told the story of how their errant bomb destroyed an Austrian farmhouse and, most likely, the family living there. After the documentary aired the TV station received a call from an Austrian farmer. He said that it was his farmhouse that was destroyed because the circumstances surrounding McGovern's description of the events matched precisely with what happened to his house. Per Ambrose,
"I want you to tell him [referring to McGovern]," the man went on, "that no matter what other Austrians think, I despised Adolf Hitler. We did see the bomber coming. I got my wife and children out of the house and we hid in a ditch and no one was hurt. And because of our attitude about Hitler, I thought at the time that if bombing our farm reduced the length of the war by one hour or one minute, it was well worth it."
McGovern was called by the station and told what the farmer had said. He said, "It seemed to just wipe clean a slate."

Friday, March 12, 2004

Rev. Mike on the Great Commission...

Check Rev. Mike's post, The Great Omission from the Great Commission. I posted on this topic back in November, 2003. Check The Great Commission and The Great Commission (cont.).

Sophist's Choice...

In What We Can't Not Know, J. Budziszewski writes an argument for the concept that we all know about right and wrong; moral truths that we just can't not know. He describes, in chapter 8, how entire cultures can ignore, or eclipse, effects of Natural Law. Regarding the Sophist tradition he writes,
...In the fifth century BC, however, a group of thinkers appeared in Greece who maintained that because just circumstances change, there is no unchanging truth. These were the Sophists, paid teachers of rhetoric, whose boast was that they could teach anyone to argue any side of any question.
How does this affect us today? He argues that a warped concept of truth, combined with activism in the courts and higher education, contribute to a cultural eclipse of Natural Law.
Sophism has always been a corrupter of democracies... [they] might seize power, not in the assemblies, but in the courts and the civil service; in this case the assemblies might not have to be wholly corrupted, but only confused enough to go along.
I've been arguing that we need to address how ideas have logical consequences with regards to Post Modern Christianity, Methodological Naturalism, De-Constructionism, and Gay Marriage. Budziszewski further states,
...When the U.S. Supreme Court declared that "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the myster of human life," it was expressing the Sophist charter. In the context in which it was uttered, the purpose of the statement was to justify the liberty to kill unborn babies. Taken at its face, however, such language can justify doing anything you please. It's true that I flew a jet airliner into the World Trade Center, but I was defining my concept of existence. It's true that I raped my neighbor, but I was working out my concept of meaning in the universe as I see it. It's true that I drowned my toddlers, but I was fulfilling my concept of the mystery of human life. If the Supreme Court has not yet drawn these conclusions, it hardly matters. The conclusions will follow from the Court's premises.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

On Style...

A while back I wrote a post titled, What are Thongs? It touched on the way in which the skimpy aspect of women's fashion is finding its way into the church. Touchstone magazine's blog linked to an article by Dennis Prager titled, Why young women are exposing themselves: part one. Prager states,
Thanks to feminist doctrines that pervade education from kindergarten through graduate school, men and women increasingly believe that the sexes are largely identical. Therefore, the arenas wherein women can feel and demonstrate their feminine distinctiveness have narrowed appreciably... In the past, expressing one's femaleness was done through expressing femininity. In addition to the female roles of wife and mother, there were numerous ways of doing so. One was, of course, dress. But in the name of equality and comfort, distinctive female dress -- such as dresses and skirts -- has been largely abandoned... Today, instead of women wearing feminine clothing, they either wear essentially male clothing (such as pants and pants suits) or flesh-baring sexually provocative clothing. Feminine attire -- i.e., clothing that is very female but not very revealing -- is rare.
Recently, in the local paper, there was a reader-commentary by a homeschool mom. In it she commented on her twelve year old daughter and her twelve year old cousin:
These girls are on the brink of adolescence, but they don't fit the "conventional" image of most girls their age. They have a radiance about them that simply glows. Their minds are still innocent, their clothing is modest and their purity is apparent immediately. These qualities are in sharp contrast to current trends among "tweens," such as "freak dancing" at middle school dances (grinding bodies together), a nightmare for school principals everywhere. According to data published in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, 10 percent of girls are losing their virginity before age 13 and 19 percent by age 14. In some middle schools, oral sex has become all the rage, seen as nothing more than a ticket to the "in crowd."
In the world... but not Of. I recently saw a young female in our church wearing skin-tight stretch pants along with an equally tight tank top that seemed to be missing a lot of material. I do not know who this woman is but my inclination is that she is a very young Christian. I hope that some of the mature Christian ladies at church take her aside and lovingly explain to her the inappropriateness of her actions. In part two of his report, Prager states: a service to any woman who is confused by the difference between "cute" and provocative as regards women's clothing, this may help. What you often call cute or attractive, men see only as a sexual come-on. If you wish to dress for sex, you should be entirely free to do so. But if you want love and attention, you have to know the difference between dressing for sex and dressing to be cute and attractive. The more skin men see, the more they think sex, not love. And that includes guys your age, your male teachers, your clergyman, your mailman, and the old man next door.

Men of honor...

In Stephen Ambrose's The Wild Blue, he tracks the lives of the servicemen who flew B-24s over Germany during WWII. The tales of these men and boys, some pilots were just 21 years old, should be told and re-told to our children. For much of the book Ambrose follows the experiences of George McGovern, who piloted a B-24 during 1944 and 1945. Throughout history the image of a soldier has struck terror into civilians across the globe. Apart from a few exceptions, particularly those of the U.S. and the U.K., virtually all people realize that the appearance of soldiers, in time of war, brings with it the accompanied acts of rape and pillaging. Now, to be sure, there are always exceptions to the rule but, as a whole, the appearance of U.S. soldiers during WWII meant that men of virtue had arrived. Consider the thoughts running through McGovern's mind after an incident in which, after a bombing run, one bomb became stuck in the bomb bay. It was impossible to land the plane in that condition without destroying the aircraft, so either the bomb had to be pried loose or the entire crew would have to bail out. The bombardier, a Lt. Cooper, was working feverishly to free the stuck bomb.
Then Cooper yelled something "and all of a sudden the plane jumped and I knew the bomb had been cut loose." They were approaching the Austrian-Italian border. McGovern watched the bomb descend,... "It went down and hit right on a farm in that beautiful, green part of Austria. It was almost like a mushroom, a big, gigantic mushroom. It just withered the house, the barn, the chicken house, the water tank. Everything was just leveled. It couldn't have come in more perfectly. If we had been trying to hit it we couldn't have hit it as square..." McGovern glanced at his watch. It was high noon. He came from South Dakota. He knew what time farmers eat. "I got a sickening feeling. Here was this peaceful area. They thought they were safely out of the war zone... Just a peaceful farmyard. Had nothing to do with the war, just a family eating a noon meal. It made me sick to my stomach."

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Future?...

There is a small, private college near Washington, D.C., which has an enrollment of about 240 students. Of the nearly 100 interns working at the White House, 7 are from this college. It's Patrick Henry College and it is designed for homeschooled children. In College for the Homeschooled Is Shaping Leaders for the Right, we read about the impact that college students with a homeschooled education are beginning to make.
"We are not home-schooling our kids just so they can read," Mr. Farris said. "The most common thing I hear is parents telling me they want their kids to be on the Supreme Court. And if we put enough kids in the farm system, some may get to the major leagues." That is an alarming prospect to some on the left. "Mike Farris is trying to train young people to get on a very right-wing political agenda," said Nancy Keenan, the education policy director at People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, and a former Montana state superintendent of public education. The number of Patrick Henry interns in the White House "scares me to death," she said. "It tells us a little bit more about the White House than it does about the kids."
Yes... it does.


It's interesting that, given my recent posts on the logical consequences of atheistic naturalism, Chuck Colson's Breakpoint has an article on Gregg Easterbrook's, The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse. Colson has been highlighting aspects from the book that describe how our western culture, although the most generally affluent culture that has ever lived, seems to be increasingly depressed. Colson writes,
Easterbrook notes that the period of increased depression was one in which most Western Europeans and many Americans "lost their belief in higher powers or a higher purpose." They took their cues from the likes of Nobel Prize-winning biologist Jacques Monod. Monod wrote that "man knows at last that he is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance." Philosophical materialism, you see, disguised as scientific fact, has contributed to the depression that has gripped the West.
Those who preach that even if there were no God that we should still strive for virtue are simply fooling themselves. One only need respond to them with a simple... Says who? In a Godless cosmos, no one has the authority to answer that question.

Marriage? What's that?...

In my post On Marriage, I explain that if the definition of marriage becomes fluid, then virtually any relationship can be deemed a marriage. I said,
The most troubling aspect of re-defining marriage, though, is that it leads us down a road in which the logical consequences demand that we let any relationship be defined into marriage. If two men can commit to a loving relationship and become “married,” then why not two men and one woman?, or just one woman?, or one man and a child?, or three men, two women and, one chimpanzee? There is no reason this cannot happen because if it’s all about who gets to participate, then the static definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman will have been destroyed and replaced with whatever one wants it to mean.
In a recent broadcast of his radio program, Greg Koukl referenced a post by Frank Beckwith in which Beckwith makes the very same argument. Beckwith goes further though and suggests action that should be taken to call the bluff of the pro-gay lobby:
Here’s the plan. Have about 50 folks go to San Francisco city hall and request marriage licenses, but not for gay marriages, rather, for other sorts of “unions” that are also forbidden by the state: three bi-sexuals from two genders, two men and a goat (or another non-human companion), one person who wants to marry himself (and have him accuse the mayor of “numberism,” the prejudice that marriage must include more than one person), two married couples who want a temporary “wife swap lease,” a man who wants to add a second wife and a first husband in order to have a “marital ensemble," etc., etc. Let’s see if the mayor will give these people “marriage” licenses. If not, why not? If not, then the jig is up and the mayor actually has to explain the grounds on which he will not give licenses to these folks. But what could those grounds be? That it would break the law? That marriage has a nature, a purpose, that is not the result of social construction or state fiat? If so, then what is it and why?
Check Street Theatre in the Bay Area: What Social Conservatives Should Do at Beckwith's blogsite.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

On Methodological Naturalism...

In my recent polemic that anyone who holds to the evolutionary paradigm and also holds to some form of morality is guilty of being logically inconsistent I touched on the area of how the philosophical implications of methodological naturalism (MN) invalidate the theistic in theistic evolution. Needless to say, my comments ruffled more than a few feathers after I wrote about said implications of attempting to believe that God is the author of naturalistic evolution. The criticisms were very similar to those I received when I criticized the Post Modern Christian movement of doing the very same thing – being logically inconsistent. With regards to my approach, I sought the advice of a couple of fellow bloggers whom I respect, and whose opinions I trust. Basically, they brought up two points: 1) I need to tone down my rhetoric and, 2) I need to improve my argument that if theistic evolutionists follow the tenets of methodological naturalism, then they are unwittingly attaching themselves to the philosophical consequences of metaphysical naturalism. My intent here is not to denigrate anyone but to point out not only the inconsistencies in their worldview(s) but the implications as well. Ron Nash said, in Faith & Reason, “Can the people who profess that world-view in theory also practice what they believe in their daily lives? Can the person consistently live the system he professes?” (emphasis in original) It is in that context that I proceed. In re-thinking the issue in question I decided to take another look at theistic evolution by referring to the book Three Views on Creation and Evolution, edited by Moreland & Reynolds, in which proponents of young-earth creationism, old-earth creationism, and theistic evolution debate their views. Howard J. Van Till represented the theistic evolution viewpoint. Van Till makes a point of separating the definition of atheistic naturalism (AN) from MN:
In his book The Blind Watchmaker, biologist Richard Dawkins asserted that, “although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” I find that statement entirely unwarranted, nothing more than rhetorical bluster. I would say the exact opposite. If the universe is in fact sufficiently gifted to make evolutionary development possible, and if the outcome of that development includes creatures like us who are able to reflect on what it all signifies, then nothing less than the creativity, generosity, and blessing of God could suffice as the intellectually and spiritually satisfying explanation. Dawkins, along with all other preachers of naturalism, has nothing to offer. In his blusterous rhetoric there is nothing for the Christian to fear.
As a fellow Christian I agree with his assessment that AN has nothing to offer. But the criticism he is likely to run into from an atheist is the simple question, Why? Indeed, he is fully aware of this for he writes:
What is the most common rhetorical challenge hurled at Christians by the preachers of evolutionary naturalism? The essence of the most common challenge is this: If there are no gaps in the formational economy of the universe, then what need is there for a creator? The particular way of expressing it will vary from writer to writer, but this is, I believe, the central element in evolutionary naturalism’s attack on belief in a creator. (emphasis in original)
This is how he addresses it:
…I think, …that the most appropriate and effective response to the naturalistic challenge is to say that if there are no gaps in the formational economy of the universe, then that truly remarkable state of affairs should lead a person to recognize the universe as being a thoughtfully conceptualized and fully gifted creation that has been given its being by an unfathomably creative and generous creator. Without the historic doctrine of creation as its foundation, the robust formational economy principle would represent and incredibly improbable state of affairs. Thus, acknowledging the credibility of that principle provides no evidence against belief in a creator as the giver of being. On the contrary, it provides evidence in favor of that belief. By the “creation’s formational economy” I mean a particular set of resources and capabilities with which the creation has been gifted by God, those resources and capabilities that constitute its being. More specifically, imagine making a list of all of the creation’s resources and capabilities that contribute to its ability to organize or transform itself into a diversity of physical structures and life-forms. Think for a moment, then, about how robust the universe’s formational economy must be in order that something like cosmic or biotic evolution could be a genuine possibility. How could it be that not only does a “something” exist in place of nothing, but the “something” that exists is gifted with a set of formational capabilities so astoundingly robust that it is able to have actualized the whole array of its structures and life-forms in time? Could anything less than the creativity and generosity of God suffice? Would it actually make sense to posit, as do the preachers of naturalism, that a universe just happens to exist and that it just happens to have an astoundingly robust formational economy? Does naturalism provide anything even closely resembling an explanation? Is it not now abundantly clear that Christian belief in a creator provides a vastly superior framework in which to find the scientific concept of evolution to be a credible possibility?
It appears that Van Till has painted himself into a corner with his approach towards MN. The way I understand it, his argument rests on the foundation of his feeling that fully gifted creation makes sense. He thereby relies on the subjective to explain the objective. He appears to be stating that the fully gifted creationist appeals to the intricately fine-tuned workings of the universe not as objective evidence of a divine creator, per se, but as some sort of catalyst that drives a reaction of belief in such a divine creator. That he thinks the improbability of the universe having a robust formational economy, all on its own, points towards a creator is strikingly similar to the theory of ID or, shudder, old-earth creationism. There is, in fact, a fine line drawn between what the fully gifted creationist is positing and what the special creationist posits. Yet the logical consequences on either side of this line are separated by a vast canyon that ultimately pits one worldview against another. For on the fully gifted creation side there remains the troublesome question of Why should I believe that there is a divine creator?” The fully gifted creationist believes that the question is best answered by a subjective look at the wonders of the cosmos and then concluding, “How could it be any other way?” Unfortunately there is the issue that ideas have consequences. Anyone who is sincerely examining the tenets of MN must address all its implications, not only within its explanatory realm, but beyond as well. Some adherents to MN posit that it has nothing to say about metaphysical aspects within our world. There is some truth to that statement in that MN does not attempt to explain the metaphysical, but these adherents seemingly miss the point that the tenets of one discipline may affect those of another. That said, anyone questioning the tenets of the fully gifted creation scenario must ask some very tough questions with regards to how MN and the fully gifted scenario are married. Consider the following dialogue between a skeptic (s) and a fully gifted creationist (fgc) in which I write, not to establish a straw-man but, to illustrate my understanding of the topic:
s: “If the natural realm has all the ingredients with which to establish the world around us, and if we are unable to ascertain whether God has intervened, then we are left with a world in which God is unnecessary. Why should I believe in a God?” fgc: “Because the world would be meaningless without Him.” “Yes it would… of course, that assumes that the concept of meaninglessness is valid. If we see that the cosmos is fully capable of producing organization, then why shouldn’t my feelings be a part of that self-generated organization as well?” “But what about the improbability of all this organization happening by chance?” “Improbable or impossible?” “Incredibly improbable.” “So we’re either very lucky or there is a God.” “Exactly my point.” “But you’ve said that the cosmos is fully gifted to produce organization.” “Yes, fully gifted by God.” “But isn’t that arguing in a circle?” “How so?” “You’ve stated that the cosmos is fully gifted by God but that we cannot empirically ascertain any evidence of God fully gifting the cosmos. You then state that the fact that the cosmos is fully gifted is evidence that God fully gifted it.” “No I’ve stated that when one considers that the cosmos is fully gifted to produce organization, despite the improbability of this occurring, then how could it be anything other than God?” “It can because that is precisely the way we observe it to be. Besides, that sounds a lot like the ID argument.” “Well the ID argument relies on special creation by God to intervene in the natural order.” “At least that would give me some type of basis with which to place my faith in God. As it is all you’ve shown me is that there’s no way we can ascertain God’s existence, save for our feeling lousy if we don’t.” “How could “something” exist instead of nothing and how could that something have the capability to produce organization unless it was gifted with it by a divine creator?” “Well I guess we’re back to how I feel about my perception of reality. Tell you what, if it makes you feel better you can certainly go ahead and keep your god. But I’ve read about how he’s treated people and I don’t particularly care for that. I’ll just find my own god, thank you.”
What the fully gifted position tends towards is relegating God to a purely subjective belief rather than an objective reality. How could we ever rationally know that this God exists if we have no way of ascertaining evidence of His existence? Certainly one could choose to believe in a God, but if such a belief is ultimately grounded on mere emotion, then the other fellow’s belief is just as good as yours. Neither belief is right or wrong, for they are both simply mere opinions. Further, by choosing to believe in God simply to feel better runs the risk of coming to grips with the objective fact that one is believing in a fantasy, not unlike believing in Santa Claus. If one wishes to be true to reality, then believing in a fantasy simply to feel better is tantamount to being dishonest with oneself. Better to be fulfilled with the reality of meaninglessness then to fool oneself with the fantasy of false hope. Of course, if the supernatural does exist, then the whole ballgame changes. Adherents to MN state that it only has the power to explain the natural realm and that it makes no truth claims with regards to the supernatural. This is essentially a true statement. Yet it is not the claim of explanatory power with regards to MN that I have a quarrel with, but the philosophical implications that flow from it. Consider if one were to attempt to introduce the supernatural into the equation with regards to the analysis of scientific data. Fully gifted creationists, who certainly believe that the supernatural exists, may cry foul in that they believe that God has chosen not to express Himself in that manner with regards to the natural realm. What about adherents to MN? How would they respond? If I understand their position correctly, they would cry foul and claim that even though the supernatural might exist, MN has no power with which to analyze it. But is MN truly that limited? Consider Ken Miller’s statement regarding the miracle of Jesus’ virgin birth that, “there is the matter of Jesus’s Y-chromosome to account for. But that is the point. Miracles, by definition, do not have to make scientific sense.” What if a sample of Jesus’ DNA was found and analyzed? That the evidence is from a purported supernatural event is irrelevant; that the data may make no scientific sense is also irrelevant, for data is simply that – data. Would the data point towards a supernatural occurrence? Could it? Could there be other examples? Of course. What if evidence surfaced that indicated various species of animals appeared on earth in a short enough time to effectively make their appearance instantaneous. Disregard the standard arguments against this occurrence for the moment, for the point I am making is that if the evidence, as analyzed by MN, pointed towards such an event, what would the adherent to MN conclude? It is at this point that adherents to MN must lay their cards on the table. If they truly believe that MN only explains the natural realm, while still allowing the possibility for the supernatural to exist, then they must allow free inquiry into the detection of the effects of the supernatural upon the natural realm. If they refuse, then we can rightfully charge them with holding to the tenets of atheistic naturalism (AN). Adherents to AN make the assertion that nature is all there is – period. Their line of reasoning accepts the contention that nature can and did produce the organization we see today without any guidance or kick-off from a divine being. In addition to this they admit, as our skeptic friend above did, that life is ultimately meaningless but, unlike our skeptic friend, they embrace the meaninglessness of our reality as simply the way it is. Indeed, by their reasoning, our capacity to reason was derived from the mere consequences of determinism and chance. When MN becomes AN it ceases to imply metaphysical naturalism, and actually becomes metaphysical naturalism. The preachers of AN are those who have taken the logical implications of methodological naturalism and followed its path into metaphysical naturalism. They are the ones who will tend to view anyone who claims to hold on to theistic evolution as the weak-kneed sycophants. Indeed, in an e-mail discussion with Bill Dembski this past week, he clarified for me that he was “attributing that view to people like Dawkins for holding theistic evolutionists in contempt,” and that he himself was not referring to theistic evolutionists in that way. In summary we need to understand that there are many facets to complex subjects such as creationism, evolution, theistic evolution, methodological naturalism, and metaphysical naturalism. Subtle differences in the way terms are used may foster confusion between participants in a debate. At the same time, proceeding ahead with blinders on, content to ignore inter-discipline implications, only entrenches preconceived notions which may or may not be true.