The Cosmos is Yours

In the opening episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Neil deGrasse Tyson presents an incredibly clear and powerful description of the scientific process. He claims that if you “accept these terms, the Cosmos is yours.” I accept!

These terms, Tyson explains, are just a “simple set of rules.

• Test ideas by experiment and observation.
• Build on those ideas that pass the test.
• Reject the ones that fail.
• Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and
• Question everything.”

We will now test four ideas—two from the Bible and two from the materialist. All these ideas will be tested by observation as they cannot be tested by experiment. We will first test the biblical claim that man is “created in the image of God.” Man is unique, but so are other creatures. However, as G. K. Chesterton observed, “It is customary to insist that man resembles the other creatures. Yes; and that very resemblance he alone can see. The fish does not trace the fishbone pattern in the fowls of the air; or the elephant and the emu compare skeletons.” Only a strict materialist does not see the obvious—that we are of a completely different quality than all other creatures. Thus, this idea has passed the test.

Now let us test the materialist idea that human consciousness arose from purely naturalistic processes. For this idea, we find no observations. Physicist Nick Herbert stated “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.” This idea has failed the test.

What about the idea that our universe popped into existence out of Nothing? If we accurately define Nothing as, for instance, “what a sleeping rock dreams of,” then, we can conclude that this idea has absolutely failed the test.

What about the biblical idea that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”? When we consider that everything that had a beginning is always observed to have a cause and since we now know the universe had a beginning, simple logic tells us that the universe must have had a cause. And, since the qualities possessed by this cause describe the God of the Bible, we again find a biblical idea has passed the test.

Therefore, let us begin to build on the two scientifically strong ideas that have passed—the idea that God is the creator and that we have been created in his image. Let us further reject the materialist ideas that have failed—that a universe can come from Nothing and that materialism can account for human consciousness. Join with me and let us question more ideas from the Bible, and question more ideas of the materialist. Then, let us follow the evidence where ever it leads.

Especially, let us build on the idea that overwhelmingly has the most scientific support, with endless supporting observations, the greatest idea ever, that God created the heavens and the earth.

I believe—as already demonstrated by our first four tests—that when we accept the terms presented to us in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, we will find, not only that science and religion are compatible, but that science actually supports what the Bible says. The Cosmos is yours!

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America is a Biblical Nation

This week as the Texas State Board of Education is adopting new history books, liberal academics and activists are claiming that portions of the textbooks overemphasize the biblical religious heritage of our country. These critics are wrong. America was founded on the biblical principles:

  • Truth exists,
  • God exists,
  • Man is created in the image of God, and
  • Man is fallen.

This is an incredibly important discussion to have. For example, read this excerpt from the essay that follows. Here we learn that our government is not broken, as so many today claim, but that it is working exactly as it was designed! And, we learn that the underlying principle that makes it work is the biblical conviction that man is fallen–that man is a sinner.

“Our founding fathers had a clear biblical understanding of the nature of man. They not only understood that man was great—having been created in the image of God, they also knew that man was bad—having a fallen nature. Having this in mind, they designed our Constitution accordingly. Clearly understanding the reality of sin, our founders made it difficult to govern—that is, they made it difficult for tyranny to succeed; they adopted the separation of powers doctrine with its numerous checks and balances. It is not surprising, therefore, that when modern men who do not understand the thinking behind our Constitution gets thwarted in their dreams, they will wrongly conclude our government is dysfunctional. But, for example, when Congress over-reached and passed an unpopular healthcare bill, the control over the House of Representatives switched parties less than one year later. Our Constitution worked flawlessly!”

Not only are these thoughts timely for the Texas textbook adoption, they are incredibly important nationally  as our president is about to take on an unprecedented step of defying our separation of powers doctrine with an executive order on granting amnesty to millions.

Please read the following analysis and see if you do not agree. Thank you.

Don McLeroy

 

America is a Biblical Nation: Let Us Renew America by Reviving her Religious Convictions

 

America is a Biblical Nation

America was founded on her biblical religious convictions; the result has been American Exceptionalism; even as early as 1862 President Lincoln recognized that we were “the last best hope of earth.”  It can be easily demonstrated that religious convictions are the lifeblood of our republic, that they gave it its birth and maintain its health. When you stand in the center of the Jefferson Memorial facing the White House and look up to your right, you will read these words of President Jefferson, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberty of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Our liberty, according to Jefferson, is not the result of our good nature, our intellect or our good intentions; it is the result of a religious conviction that it is a gift from God. Jefferson’s view was the consensus position of our founding fathers. Religiously speaking, they were ethical monotheists; they believed in an omnipotent God who cared about right and wrong.  Interestingly, if alive today, they would probably be labeled “religious conservatives.”

Like Jefferson, President Calvin Coolidge understood the power of religious convictions. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he reflected:

 “A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features, the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration, not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man, these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.”

A key question is: Will a future president make a similar declaration in 2026 on our country’s 250th anniversary? Already, many secularists insist that the United States is not a Christian nation; they even claim that our nation was not even founded on biblical principles but on secular principles. Frankly, the best way to settle this dispute is to go to the very beginning, to July 4, 1776, to the founding document of our country—the Declaration of Independence. Consider: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Secularism says there is no truth, there is no God and that we just evolved. The Declaration clearly states that truth exists, there is a Creator and that we are created. So, are we a Christian nation? When you define a Christian nation simply as being founded on biblical principles then the answer is an unequivocal “Yes.”

Biblical Convictions Produce Freedom

So why then is there such widespread disagreement about Christianity and freedom today? The fact is too many Americans have been taught a myth that the mixing of religion and politics is a threat to freedom. M. Stanton Evans, in his book The Theme is Freedom: Religion, Politics and the American Tradition (1994), calls this myth the “Liberal History Lesson.” Evans explains that from their earliest education, the lessons our children are being taught are based on the idea that “Our religion and our liberty…have always been in conflict. Freedom, democracy and intellectual inquiry allegedly flourished in the pagan era, only to be crushed to earth in the Christian Middle Ages.” And, “that freedom reappeared when ‘humanist’ scholars of the Renaissance and Enlightenment threw off the shackles of religion of the ancients…” The only problem with these statements is that they are wrong.

It is a historic fact that biblical convictions have produced freedom. Evans proves this point by connecting two obvious facts:

“That biblical teaching was the formative influence in the creation of Europe, and that Europe was the nursery of freedom as we know it, are both established facts of record. Taken separately, these are prosaic statements of common knowledge, hardly worth the trouble of assertion. Put them together, however, and the result is intensely controversial. This is not the linkage, after all, suggested by the usual story; the notion that Christianity equals Europe equals freedom is, indeed, reverse of what should be expected. If Christian doctrine is opposed to freedom, then liberty ought to flourish where Christianity has had the smallest degree of influence, and languish where that influence is the greatest.”

Now consider two more facts. When Nazi Germany rejected Christianity, they became pagan; when Communist Russia rejected Christianity they became atheist. And, both became totalitarian.

I will now take a brief look at three key biblical convictions and the role they have played in shaping history. They are actually simple and obvious truths. When clearly presented, they are acceptable to almost everyone. These convictions are not obtuse theological points but are easily grasped—even by my fourth grade Sunday school students. They are immensely practical and, as we will see, even secular critics unknowingly reason on the foundation which they provide. What we must do is simply teach them to our children—no one else will. Continue reading

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My Response to Jerry Coyne and his Readers on the Resurrection

Reply to “Why Evolution Is Not True”

 

Jerry Coyne, on his popular blog: “Why Evolution Is True” (WEIT) posted about Kenneth Miller’s theistic evolution position—”Catholic biologist Ken Miller talks about God and evolution.” In it, he commented:

Miller adds that he sees Jesus as divine and as “saviour of the world.” That being the case, Varg should immediately have asked him if he thought Jesus was resurrected from the dead. I don’t think Miller would have been on as firm a ground if he had said that that, too, might just have been just a story to underscore Jesus’s “teachings”. For if Miller really thought that, he would be flying in the face of very important Church dogma, and in fact could hardly call himself a Catholic. (If Jesus wasn’t crucified and resurrected, on what grounds do we consider him saviour of the world? And isn’t a denial of the Resurrection a heresy?)

In response to that quote, I sent in a comment that stated “Jesus did rise from the dead; there were over 500 witnesses.” Dr. Coyne then generated a new blog post “Jesus Delusion” featuring my comment. Later that day he posted my reply to “Jesus Delusion” in a new blog post entitled “McLeroy replies about the crucifixion.”

This blog post is my response to Dr. Coyne and the WEIT readers who made almost 400 comments to these two blog posts.

First, I would like to thank and complement the many who took the time to thoughtfully reply to my two comments on the 500 eyewitnesses. Daniel Dennett touts “Sturgeon’s Law” which says that 90% of all comments are rubbish, but here, this is clearly not the case. Most were very serious reflections and reasonable statements and questions.

Biblical scholars differ on the resurrection. I admit that I am only well-read among the conservative scholars and my familiarity with the liberal scholars is limited to the critiques of them by the conservatives. Definitely not the best policy. The only skeptical book I have read is Russell Shorto’s Gospel Truth: On the Trail of the Historical Jesus as he had interviewed me for a major essay in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Just as the scholars differ so do I and the readers. I accept a scholarship that dates the Gospels as written between 40 and 65 A.D. whereas most readers believe they were written 65 to 100 A.D. or later. These later dates allow for conspiracy theories and myths to be more easily developed. I don’t think any reader held the early dating gospel view.

But no matter which scholars are correct, we still have to account for the phenomenon of Christianity and its powerful influence over the last 2000 years and today. And, we have to account for the fact as to why my simple comment about “500 eyewitnesses” could stir up so much interest? Christianity seems to draw a lot more interest than it should. Of course, atheism and evolution do the same for me. I admit that I enjoy following many of Dr. Coyne’s blog posts. I like keeping up with the evolutionists and atheists; I want to understand how the atheist mind thinks and reasons. I believe that Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins are much clearer thinkers about the implications of evolution than Kenneth Miller and other theistic evolutionists. Continue reading

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Why Evolution is Probably False (revised)

Miller and Levine’s Biology (2014) Clearly Demonstrates Why Evolution is Probably False

Texas’ high school biology textbooks—written to standards adopted in 2009—have finally been completed. Back then, Science reported “New science standards in Texas strike a major blow to the teaching of evolution.” (3 April 2009)Two months later, Science—quoting noted evolutionist and textbook author Kenneth Miller—reported:

Miller’s answer [to the standards]… is not to get too excited. The new Texas standards leave plenty of room for authors to explain the robustness of evolutionary theory, he says, and that’s precisely what he and his publisher, Prentice Hall, plan to do. “The advocates of these standards underestimate the strength of the scientific evidence for structures and phenomena that they mistakenly believe evolution cannot account for,” Miller says. “The new wording is an opportunity to make biology texts even stronger.

For example, Miller intends to “introduce more material on the evolution of organelles” within the cell to show that the cell’s complexity is in fact explained by evolution. (12 June 2009) Emphasis added

 One of the supposedly “major blow” standards—Biology 7G—simply requires the students to “analyze and evaluate scientific [evolutionary] explanations concerning the complexity of the cell.” To fulfill this new requirement, Miller followed through on his plan to “introduce more material on the evolution of organelles“—specifically the ribosome.

 Miller and  Levine and the Ribosome

The Assignment

Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine, in their new textbook, Biology (2014), at the end of  Chapter 19 “The History of Life,” have an assignment for the students to “Think Critically and Evaluate” the evolutionary origin of ribosomes.

16. Evaluate Evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell. Ribosomes, which are composed of RNA (rRNA) and proteins, are part of the complex structure of cells. One hypothesis proposes that the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone, and that ribosomal proteins were added gradually. Evaluate the proposed explanation of the evolution of ribosomes based on evidence that has been presented to support it. Emphasis added (Page 565)

Miller and Levine’s Evidence for the Evolution of the Ribosome

Here is the text of the “evidence that has been presented.”

Ribosomes are complex organelles used by all living cells to translate the coded instructions of RNA molecules into the sequences of amino acids that make up proteins. Ribosomes in eukaryotic cells consist of four ribosomal RNA molecules and more than 80 different proteins. The origin of this complex structure has long been a mystery. New research, however, has led to some surprising findings. One of these is that the part of the ribosome where chemical bonds are formed between amino acids completely lacks proteins. This is true of other key places in the ribosome as well, so it is now clear that ribosomal RNA itself carries out the most important tasks in protein synthesis. How should we understand and evaluate this surprising fact? One interpretation supported by the evidence is that the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone. Over time proteins were added to the RNA in ways that improved the efficiency of the process, leading to today’s more complex ribosomes. Emphasis added (Page 557)


Figure 19-18 A prokaryotic ribosome Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) of the large subunit is shown in gray while rRNA of the small subunit is blue. RNA makes up the interior of the ribosome, where protein synthesis takes place. Ribosomal proteins (shown in lavender on the large subunit and purple on the small subunit) and largely confined to the surface of the ribosome. This revealing image was produced in the laboratory of Dr. Harry Noller, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Some Questions for Students

If you are a student, let us tackle this assignment presented by Miller and Levine; let us now “Evaluate the proposed explanation of the evolution of ribosomes based on evidence that has been presented to support it.” We need only ask some questions. You can then decide for yourself how compelling their evidence is for explaining the evolutionary origin of a functioning ribosome? You decide if the authors have demonstrated “the robustness of evolutionary theory?”

Here are a few of the questions that could be asked:

Life without ribosomes?

  1. Are there any cells anywhere that do not have proteins? NO
  2. Can you have life as we know it without proteins? NO
  3. Are there any proteins anywhere in a living cell today that was not made by a ribosome? NO
  4. Therefore, can you have life today as we know it without ribosomes? NO

RNA-only ribosomes?

  1. Is there a “pure RNA-only molecular machine” that makes proteins today? NO
  2. Do they have evidence it ever existed? NO
  3. Wouldn’t actual evidence of RNA-only ribosomes be better than speculating “that the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone?” YES
  4. Therefore, is their entire argument based only on speculation? YES

How robust is the single “surprising fact” they do provide?

  1. Even granting that “Ribosomal RNA carries out the most important task in protein synthesis,” what does this “surprising fact”  demonstrate?
    1. Does it explain the origin of the ribosome? NO
    2. Does it explain how the ribosome incorporated the “more than 80 different proteins?” NO
    3. Does it explain the origin of the original four RNAs? NO
      1. Does it explain how they were formed? NO
      2. Does it explain how they joined together? NO
      3. Does it explain how the messenger RNA (mRNA) with the coded instructions found them once they joined together? NO
      4. Does it explain how they were able to reproduce themselves? NO
    4. Since the evolutionary preservation of the initial rRNA-only ribosome is dependent on its operating on a coded mRNA string, does it explain the origin of the coded instructions for the first protein to be coded in the mRNA? NO
      1. Do they have an idea where the coded information came from? NO
      2. Do they know how the mRNA with coded information reproduces itself so it can make a more proteins? NO
  2. Were all the 80 proteins in the ribosome made by a ribosome? YES
    1. Do they know which of the 80 ribosomal proteins was added first? second? third? and so on? NO
    2. Can they add an extra protein today to “improve the efficiency of the process?NO
    3. Do they know the function of the ribosomal proteins? a frame?  a support structure? a chassis? THEY DON’T KNOW.
    4. Can you make a support structure out of pure RNA? THEY DON’T KNOW.
    5. Can RNA without proteins support itself and also make a protein? THEY DON’T KNOW.
    6. If not, how can you have a ribosome without a protein and how can you have a protein without a ribosome? THEY DON’T KNOW.

An Analogy

Consider an automobile. Couldn’t we say that its engine carries out the most important tasks?” How plausible is it then to conclude that the “engine” gradually added a chassis “that improved the efficiency of the process, leading to today’s more complex” automobiles? NOT PLAUSIBLE AT ALL.

 

Conclusion

Remember, if there are no ribosomes there are no proteins; if there are no proteins, there is no life as we know it. But there is life, there are proteins, and there are ribosomes. Science tests ideas by experiment and observation; Miller and Levine have produced neither; they have only provided a just-so story “the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone.” Given this evaluation “based on the evidence” available today, are ribosomes the result of evolutionary processes? YOU DECIDE.

A closing argument:

  1. All life—every single living cell—requires ribosomes
  2. If  you decide that as of today, evolutionary explanations “have not accounted for the origin of the ribosome and have failed the test of science,
  3. Then, the simple conclusion is that evolution itself “cannot account for” life and has failed the test of science.

One final question

According to Kenneth Miller, do “the advocates of these standards underestimate the strength of the scientific evidence for structures and phenomena that they mistakenly believe evolution cannot account for?” 

Or, do the advocates of evolution overestimate the strength of the evidence?

 

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Hobby Lobby decision does not coerce anyone in any way

 

theeagle.com

 

Bryan-College Station Eagle

 

Letters for July 3

http://www.theeagle.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/letters-for-july/article_8c662651-b3ad-57c2-9473-089a7fe00810.html

 

Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 12:00 am

 

 

Our country is deeply divided on moral issues, especially abortion. Resolving the issues without coercion of one side is difficult but that is exactly what the Supreme Court did in the “Hobby Lobby” case.


Had the abortion/contraception mandate by President Barack Obama’s unelected Health and Human Services regulators been upheld, state coercion of some people’s freedom to act on their religious convictions would have been sustained and religious freedom would have been lost.

 

The resulting decision of the court, however, ended up coercing no one. It did deny some people what they wished, but it does not force them to act against any deeply held belief.

 

Thank you, Supreme Court, for keeping our religious freedoms for at least another day.

 

DON McLEROY

College Station

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Ken Miller and Joe Levine’s Scientific Honesty?

Miller & Levine’s Scientific Honesty?

When it comes to explaining how science works, Ken Miller and Joe Levine are the Jekyll and Hyde of biology textbook authors. In their 2011 on-line textbook for Texas school children, they masterfully explain scientific methodology and then just two years later they deliberately weakened their explanations.

In 2011, they clearly explain how science tests hypotheses by what they call “Experimentation” or “Observational Studies.” They describe “Experimentation” as when “the experimenter caries out a controlled experiment in which just one variable is changed to test its effect on the results.”

“Observational Studies” are explained as testing when “controlled experiments are simply not possible. For example, it would be impossible to perform a controlled experiment to test a hypothesis regarding the origin of the universe.” They go on to state “When experiments are not possible, scientists may gather data by making observations that might tend to support or reject the hypothesis.”

They then explain “Data in the form of both results and observations serves as evidence for scientists to use to test their predictions.” They conclude their discussion of what science is by stating “Only questions that can be tested against collected data and evidence can be analyzed by science.”

A better discussion about how science works and the key role of testing would be hard to find. Congratulations Dr. Miller and Dr. Levine!

However, just two years later, in 2013, Miller and Levine seem to forget about how science tests scientific hypotheses with “Observational Studies.” Their latest textbook explanation of how science works is silent about testing with “Observational Studies”; they only present Texas school children with what they now label as “Designing Controlled Experiments.” There is no mention of the impossibility of testing for the origin of the universe with a “controlled experiment.” While they do mention that sometimes experiments are impossible, they only state it is because it might be impractical or unethical; they do not even state that it may be because a “controlled experiment” actually is impossible!

Why this intentional backwards leap from 2011 to 2013 in explaining scientific methodology? Why deny Texas school children the better more complete explanation from 2011? I do not know their motivation but I do recognize the impact of this dishonest presentation of scientific methodology. It denies Texas school children the very scientific methodological tool they need to analyze and evaluate evolution. Evolution, like the origin of the universe, is tested by “observational studies.” Scientists examine the fossil record and cellular complexity for historic clues or “data” to test the hypothesis that all life is descended from a common ancestor. Personally, given what evolution must explain, I find the evolutionist’s “collected data” simply insufficient. For example, in Miller and Levine’s text, they present NO data to support evolutionary explanations for the complexity of the cell—none! All they present is “just-so” stories and—I presume—hope that the students do not realize that evolution has not been scientifically tested by any evidence.

Miller and Levine recently claimed they were “committed to scientific accuracy and integrity.” What do you think?

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The Limits of Naturalistic Processes

Evolution and the limits of naturalistic processes

 

Evolution’s great claim is that all life is the result of unguided natural processes. But, purely naturalistic processes have difficulty explaining what we see in the world around us. For instance, it is undeniable, except to a few, that something cannot come from nothing (where nothing is defined as what a sleeping rock dreams of), that life cannot come from non-life, and that we, ourselves, have a special immaterial consciousness. This is largely because—as of today—science has completely failed to provide any reasonable naturalistic explanation for the origin of the cosmos, the origin of life or the origin of consciousness. This is not due to lack of effort; science has struggled in vain for reasonable explanations. In fact, the more that is discovered about the cosmos, life and consciousness, the more difficult it is to find a plausible non-supernatural explanation. If the cosmos, life and consciousness actually did arise from strictly naturalistic processes, why are we completely clueless as to how it happened?

And, if purely naturalistic processes have so much difficulty in explaining such simple basic phenomenon, should we not question purely naturalistic explanations for the evolutionary development of life also? Why not? When we are presented with supposedly overwhelming evidence for evolution, let us take a step back and carefully evaluate what we are being told. Given the poor track record of naturalistic processes, we owe it to ourselves to carefully analyze and evaluate the evidence for evolution’s extraordinary claims. I believe that when you do you will find naturalistic explanations for the evolutionary development of life also incredibly weak.

The Bible’s great claim is that all life is the result of God’s creative work. In its opening pages, the Hebrew text clearly states that God “created” the cosmos, life and human consciousness—all out of nothing. The first three uses of the Hebrew word “bara”—translated “created” in the English and usually meaning to create out of nothing—appears in the Bible’s first verse to proclaim the creation of the cosmos; then again in verse 21 to proclaim the creation of “living creatures” and then again in verse 27 to proclaim man as created in “the image of God.” Amazingly, the very first chapter of the Bible presents a reasonable answer to what we see in the world around us –to the three great mysteries of the origin of the cosmos, of life and of human consciousness.

Thus, when the Bible goes on to describe that all life was initially created “after its kind”, why not also evaluate how the evidence supports creationist claims? I believe that when you do, you will find the evidence fits the super-naturalistic claims much better than the purely naturalistic.

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