Friday, February 28, 2014

Rom 1 reply, 47: In light of Gordon Clark's argument in brief, an argument from necessary (thus, eternal) truth to the reality of God as eternally contemplative . . . and, designing . . . Mind

In Faith and Reason, pp. 162 ff, the late Ronald Nash summarises an argument to God by Gordon Clark that apparently traces to Augustine, that we may cite and slightly adapt following bloggist and commenter Ilion (HT):
P1. Truth exists.
P2. Truth is immutable (unchangeable).
P3. Truth is eternal (--> without beginning or end; lasting for ever).
P4. Truth is mental (pertaining to mind or minds).
P5. Truth is superior to the human mind

C6. Truth is God
This and similar arguments have been batted around in academic fora, apologetics exchanges and of course on the Internet. Generally, in a somewhat dismissive cast of mind and heart.

But, I think there is something there and we should not toss out baby with bathwater.

More broadly, I think it is first so that a worldview that sees the Infinite-Personal and Eternal God as foundational reality  is a reasonable faith-point, and is also the best explanation for our existence as minded, morally governed embodied beings -- creatures, really -- in a credibly fine-tuned cosmos of finite age set up for such life in many, many ways.

(To see why I think so, which requires more than a blog post essay to present responsibly, you may want to examine the discussion here on in context.)

Secondly, I think there is a solid core to the above argument, especially if we understand the conclusion to be effectively, 
C6': The Truth Himself is the Infinite-Personal Mind we commonly call God, who eternally contemplates necessary -- thus eternal -- Truth and truths.
Where also, I am ever more and more stirred in a willfully . . . even, defiantly . . .  apostate and selectively hyperskeptical age, by the relevance of the following c. 57 AD remarks from Paul, in Romans 1 (which, BTW, subtly highlights Nero Caesar and other similar elite but utterly corrupted pagans as exhibit no 1):
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, 17 For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.

18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.

19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], 21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and [c]godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves]. 23 And by them the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God were exchanged for and represented by images, resembling mortal man and birds and beasts and reptiles [--> in those days, through idols in temples surrounded by scandalous legends; today, too often in museums, textbooks, glossy magazines etc and presented as indubitably factual  "science"]. . . . 

28 And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind [--> a reprobate or debased mind] to do things not proper or decent but loathsome, 29 Until they were filled (permeated and saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, iniquity, grasping and covetous greed, and malice. [They were] full of envy and jealousy, murder, strife, deceit and treachery, ill will and cruel ways. [They were] secret backbiters and gossipers, 30 Slanderers, hateful to and hating God, full of insolence, arrogance, [and] boasting; inventors of new forms of evil, disobedient and undutiful to parents.

31 [They were] without understanding, conscienceless and faithless, heartless and loveless [and] merciless . . . [AMP]
I know, I know: this passage is even more likely to be contemptuously and dismissively tossed aside in our day. Which is precisely a key sign of the underlying problem: rage that rejects that which is evident . . . in some respects even self-evident . . .  but utterly unwelcome. (Not to mention, a sign of our tendency to refuse to learn lessons from history; in this case, Nero and others of the corrupt and debauched Roman elites in the centre of Paul's rhetorical target-zone in Rom 1. We would do well to consider the saying that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.)

Let us not overlook or forget the note made a week ago, in post 46 in this same series on Rom 1:
Q: can the existence of God be demonstrated beyond all doubt relative to axiomatic premises accepted by all rational thinkers? 
A: Patently, not. Not least, as if one has a valid argument (p1, p2, p3, . . . pn) => q, and an objector is sufficiently hostile to q and is clever, on a major worldviews issue s/he will be almost always be able to argue . . . or, imply . . . not-q , so not-(p1, p2, p3, . . . pn). For instance, consider pi and pj, which are "controversial" and -- we can say or imply -- "question-begging."  So, there, we can now dismiss your "proof."
But of course, the position that rejects (p1, p2, p3 . . . pn) and particularly pi and pj, is itself a position with implications and underlying (often implicit) root-assumptions. Which will inevitably bristle with its own difficulties and cumulatively may be such that the skeptical view becomes selectively hyperskeptical and burdensome to the point where it is an UN-reasonable faith. In short, the cumulative skeptical view, objectively evaluated on comparative difficulties across live option start points, is in my considered view, ultimately untenable though attractive to those of a certain cast of mind. 

By contrast, belief in God, cumulatively, is arguably morally certain knowledge -- especially for those in a community where they can access the life stories of people transformed by encounter with the living God in the face of the risen Christ through the historically anchored gospel. It is worth pausing to again remind us through Strobel's video, The Case for Christ:

With these matters in mind, let us now return focus to the argument from truth to God, using a critical presentation by the blogger Maverick Philosopher as a springboard. But, in the steps of thought that follow, the actual argument is my own:

1 --> Certain truths and associated entities exist as necessarily and self-evidently so, that is there is no possible world in which they do not obtain.

2 --> For instance, the number 2 exists necessarily, without beginning and without ending. To see that, first start from the set that collects nothing, {  }, the empty set, and then follow a chain of reasoning used by some mathematicians to show the root of the natural numbers without reference to any concrete entity . . . though obviously, such are very relevant to a world of concrete entities as well we know since elementary education:
{ } --> 0

{0} --> 1

{0,1} --> 2

{0,1,2} --> 3 

Etc. . . .
3 --> There is no possible world in which such a purely abstract exercise cannot be done, or in which such abstract entities as the number 2 do not exist. 

4 --> That is, we see that there is a domain that is above and beyond the concrete that actually constrains the concrete as we know from elementary arithmetic and wider mathematics that can be derived from these first steps by pure thought. Where, from natural numbers we move to rationals, integers, reals, complex numbers and mathematical operations behind the design of the cosmos, of which the implicit testimony of Physics and cosmology is, we have a highly mathematical fine tuned system of laws, proportions, constituents etc to enable the existence of a cosmos in which Carbon Chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life is possible. (And where, as the role of DNA shows, that world of life uses coded information in order for it to function.)

5 --> In short, we here see the thought world, the mental world, and we also notice that we participate in it. We composed an argument, using symbols, to represent realities and help us reason about their nature. And, the fine tuned physical world in which we live has very strong signs indeed, that it comes from that thought world via exceedingly elegant and clever design. So much so, that for instance, leading astrophysicist, the late Sir Fred Hoyle (a lifelong agnostic!) was famously moved to say:
The "standard" timeline of the cosmos exhibits fine-tuning in
many diverse ways; a fine-tuning that is highly mathematical,
and so rooted in numbers and other strictly mental entities
which points to designing mind as root cause of reality. (And yes,
the fine tuning case for design does not appeal to religious texts
or young earth-young cosmos interpretations; which immediately
takes away the biggest prop for the main sort of objections that
Nye used in his recent debate with Ham, and turns the standard
old cosmos model and the observations behind it into
evidence that must be considered carefully as evidence of design
manifest in fine-tuning. This post adds the issue that the fine tuning
is highly mathematical, which points to mind as the root of reality
From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.  Emphasis added.]
 . . . saying also:
 I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars. ["The Universe: Past and Present Reflections." Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12]

A watch movement (HT: Toff's World)
6 --> By contrast (and applying a point discussed by Maverick Philosopher here), consider a watch, which is possibly accurate or inaccurate (as we evaluate it say by comparison to the stars in their courses, which proverbially are for signs and seasons . . .) but cannot be truthful or deceitful. For, it is simply an object that we, minded creatures construct and use. It has no intentions to speak accurately to reality or else to mislead others that it is speaking accurately to reality, or even to contemplate the meaning of the rotating cogs within and the pointing hands on a dial. The watch COMPUTES, it does not CONTEMPLATE, reason or think. (BTW, by extension, a computer is the same, a glorified adding machine.)

7 --> Thus, we are led to note the distinction between the mental and the material, starting with numbers. Which, all, even the most grossly materialistic, must use and must accept to live . . . and to be scientific.

 8 --> Let us note that in another way: we contemplate, watches do not. We assert, assume or infer truth claims, watches do not.

9 --> Such truth claims, of course are what we mean by "propositions." Not, scratch marks on paper or glyphs portrayed by pixels on an LCD computer screen, or vibrations in the air, but meaningful, intentional claims that certain things are so, are true, are accurate to reality.

10 --> Whether or not we are inclined to dispute such, we must use them, and we must accept certain asserted or contemplated or implied truths such as 2 + 3 = 5 as so, as necessarily so and as necessarily so on pain of patent absurdity if we try to deny them.

11 --> So, we have a concept, necessarily true propositions that are inherently mental objects of thought, and are also self evident, i.e. they must obtain in any possible world, on pain of absurdity.

12 --> This also means, they have no beginning and can have no end, they are eternal. 

13 --> If you doubt this, ask yourself, when did it begin to be true that 2 + 3 = 5, and under what circumstances will this or could this ever fail of being true? Let's remember what we are saying, and how this links to the above on numbers:
|| + ||| --> |||||
14 --> Patently, there is no possible world in which such will not be so, there is no beginning, there is no ending, there are no circumstances that can be constructed under which such will fail to be. Likewise, the broader first and self-evident principles of right reason are like that, as can be seen from contemplating a bright red ball on a table, A, and where that points once we see the resulting world-partition:

. . . That is,

World, W = { A | NOT-A }

So, A is A (Law of Identity), and it is not NOT-A

A and NOT-A exhaust the world

A cannot be at the same time NOT-A (Law of Non-Contradiction)

Something, x is going to be A, or NOT-A, but not neither or both (Law of Excluded Middle)
15 --> All we need to do now is to notice that Truth is the collective body of truths [especially necessary ones], then recall that propositions that express such truths are inherently mental, contemplations or assertions of a mind. 

16 --> While, bearing in mind that we are inherently contingent, having beginnings and having ends -- we cannot be eternal minds. Truth, eternal necessary truth and the eternal mind that contemplates it and seems to have built a world on it, indeed is superior to us and our minds.

17 --> Q: So, what best explains -- notice the context, inference to best rational explanation, not claimed deductive truth proved by chains of logic from propositions accepted by all as axioms -- a world of eternal truths, Truth as a body? A world that is rooted in the Mathematics and logic that stem from such first truths and shows itself fine tuned for life as we experience it?

18 --> A: An eternal mind that contemplates and uses Truth as a whole, indeed is truth as a whole in and of itself.

19 --> Maverick Philosopher's proposition s 11 - 14 sum this up aptly, now that we have got to his 11 by another route that does not try to overburden Occam's razor:
11.  Propositions are thoughts.
12. Some propositions (the law of logic among them) are necessarily existent thoughts. (From 8, 9, 10, 11)

13. Necessarily, thoughts are thoughts of a thinker.
14. The laws of logic are the thoughts of a necessarily existent thinker, and "this all men call God." (Aquinas)
20 --> Where also, of course, we have adjusted Clarke's terms and found grounds to accept P1 - 5, grounding the conclusion that we have 
T1: Unchanging, beginning-less truths as a body, Truth

T2: which are inherently objects of mind, thus
T3: held in and contemplated by an eternal mind that is 

T4: utterly superior to the human mind, where

D4: An eternal mind superior to the human mind that is truthful and eternally holds Truth is the mind of God.

Now, of course, one may wish to raise any number of objections and disputes, perhaps endlessly.

Such is your right, you have a mind of your own.

But it is also our worldview analysis right to ask, what then are the difficulties your view faces in rejecting what has to be rejected to dismiss the above reasoning, and why would one wish to go there in a world full of experiential evidence of the reality of God?

And, also, we have a perfect right to ask: why is it that we are responsible to think as those with an obvious duty of care to seek and live by the truth and the right? (Or have you forgotten that in objecting to the above, you imply that we are in error and must correct ourselves? And, we have a further perfect right to ask and expect a reasonable answer to: what best explains a world in which we are morally governed by duties of care to the truth and the right?)

At minimum, theistic faith is a reasonable faith, and indeed arguably cumulatively a compelling one that rises to the level of moral certainty. END

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Matt 24 watch, 238: Cuban American US Senator Marco Rubio on what has been going on in Caribbean neighbours Venezuela and Cuba in the name of Socialist ideology

We need to pay very careful attention to what has been going on in Cuba and Venezuela, and Cuban-American Sen Marco Rubio lays out some chilling facts:

(HT: WK, note Miami Herald article)

Food for sobering thought. END

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rom 1 reply, 46: The William Lane Craig -- Alex Rosenberg debate on Does God Exist? (A summary of why faith in God is a reasonable step, and a typical example of unfortunately ad hominem laced dismissals by contemporary atheists . . . but we can then think about what reasonable faith that God exists means)

The Craig-Rosenberg debate was a year ago but is still highly relevant today:

WK -- BTW, HT! -- has a point-counterpoint breakdown summary worth reading, here

It is helpful to highlight the summary of Dr Craig's opening argument:
Dr. Craig’s opening speech:
The topic: What are the arguments that make belief in God reasonable or unreasonable?  . . . .
Eight arguments:
  1. Contingency argument: God – a transcendent, personal being – is the explanation of why a contingent universe exists. [--> just think, big bang, if you doubt this]
  2. Cosmological argument: God is the cause of the beginning of the universe, which is attested by physics and cosmology.
  3. Applicability of mathematics to nature: God is the best explanation for the applicability of mathematics to nature. [--> This is novel, reflecting Craig's current lines of research]
  4. Fine-tuning argument: God is the best explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe to permit life. [--> try the introduction here]
  5. Intentionality of conscious states: God is the best explanation of the intentionality of our mental states.
  6. The moral argument: God is the best explanation for the existence of objective moral values and duties. [--> try Moral Yardstick 1: it is self - evidently so that it is wrong to kidnap, torture, rape and murder a young child, and that if we see such in progress, we have a duty of care to intervene to stop the monster.]
  7. The resurrection of Jesus: God is the best explanation for the core of historical facts accepted by most ancient historians across the ideological spectrum.
  8. Religious experience: God is the best explanation of our immediate experience and knowledge of his existence. [--> as in, my own life, that of millions today and many more down the ages, have been utterly positively transformed by encounter with the Living God, whom we know as confidently as we know that our Mothers have minds of their own . . . my Mom is NOT a mindless zombie! . . . and that our Moms love us with a love as strong and unyielding as death]
Cumulatively, a fairly strong case.

Now, let's ask:  
Q: can the existence of God be demonstrated beyond all doubt relative to axiomatic premises accepted by all rational thinkers?

A: Patently, not. Not least, as if one has a valid argument (p1, p2, p3, . . . pn) => q, and an objector is sufficiently hostile to q and is clever, on a major worldviews issue s/he will be almost always be able to argue . . . or, imply . . . not-q , so not-(p1, p2, p3, . . . pn). For instance, consider pi and pj, which are "controversial" and -- we can say or imply -- "question-begging."  So, there, we can now dismiss your "proof."
Are we therefore inevitably stuck in deadlock?


This is where the issue of the inevitability of faith in a worldview's foundations (or roots if you will) comes up, the turtles all the way down vs alternatives issue. Turtles, all the way doooown:

So, we face then the following three-pointed worldviews challenge on comparative difficulties:

Where, of course -- as noted -- the finitely remote sets of first plausibles are our diverse faith points.

Are we then locked up to sterile, futile stalemate?


Comparative difficulties analysis allows us to evaluate relative factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power and balance of alternative worldviews. Yes, all worldviews bristle with difficulties, but: 
(a) some simply fail the basic facts test, 

(b) some are manifestly incoherent and 

(c) others are on the road to failure known as "one patch after another to stop the next leak and the next and the next," leading to an ad hoc patchwork.

For instance, providing that one is reasonable, it is undeniable that error exists

This leads to the corollaries that truth exists as what conforms to and accurately describes reality. Knowledge -- even, strong form knowledge as justified, true belief -- also exists. And so, any worldview that does not square with this is in trouble. 

Their name is Legion, starting with various relativistic systems.

Similarly, one can make a case that the cumulative price paid to reject all that one has to reject in order to dismiss the reality of a knowable God whose intervention has transformed millions of lives across time and down to today, lands one in a very tight corner indeed. With the life-story, Passion, death, burial and witnessed resurrection of Jesus as Exhibit A.

Let's take Dr Craig's debate with Shabir Ally, a Muslim advocate as a useful examination, from the perspective of the Islamic challenge to the resurrection of Jesus:

And where of course the now traditional Lee Stroebel video is also helpful:

So, now, what then should we do?

Take our stand on a Reasonable Faith. END

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Matt 24 watch, 237: Declaring war on humanity . . . radical evolutionary materialism-rooted undermining of the uniqueness, moral worth and dignity of humans

Let us watch a sobering, sobering video:

And no, this is not overblown scare-mongering, it is happening around us, we already have had constitutional law in Switzerland influenced by this pattern of thought.

Let us then reflect carefully on what it means to have influential groups more and more influenced ideologically by an inherently amoral worldview, evolutionary materialism -- and where it points. 

(Yes,objectors:  MOST Darwinists and Evolutionary Materialists do not think like this, but the issue is influence, influence that is knocking hard on the doors of both legislatures and courtrooms. And, onwards, potential impact. [Let us not forget that a decade ago, very few Evolutionary Materialism influenced people would have accepted the talking points on "marriage equality" etc and the implications for family and marriage. What a difference a decade makes in an age of manipulaiton by ruthless ideologues with deep pocket and powerful influence.]) 

DV, later. END

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rom 1 reply,45 : Dem bones, dem bonez, dem CAMEL bonez . . . answering a rash of headlines that the Bible has been "contradicted" by archaeological findings of camel bones in S. Israel dating to c. 930 BC

The less familiar Bactrian Camel, which seems to
have been the first domesticated camel, the dromedary
being apparently harder to tame; at least according
to some sources. Wikipedia reports: >> Dromedaries
may have first been domesticated by humans
in Somalia and southern Arabia, around
3,000 BC, the Bactrian in central Asia around
2,500 BC,[14][62][63][64] as at Shar-i Sokhta
(also known as the Burnt City), Iran.[65]
In accord with patriarchal traditions,
cylinder seals from Middle Bronze
Age Mesopotamia showed riders seated
upon camels.[66][67] >> [HT: Wiki]
Over the past several days, publication of findings by Israeli archaeologists Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef indicating -- per finding bones -- local domestication of camels in Israeli sites c. 900 BC, has led to almost gleeful speculation about errors in the Bible. 

As the Christian Post documents:
“Major discrepancy in the Bible” – Huffington Post

 “‘Direct Proof’ Bible Was Written Centuries After Events Described” – International Business Times

“Camel archaeology contradicts the Bible” – The Times of Israel

“Historical ERROR in Bible’s Old Testament, REVEALED” – Fashion Times

“Camels and foot-stamping denialists” – Patheos
. . . and so forth.

Should we lock up our churches as houses of deception, call in the Fraud Squad and put parsons through the third degree  in interrogations? ("Denialists," raising the spectre of neo-nazi holocaust denialism, is particularly nasty.)


This is simply a further wrinkle on a longstanding -- and, on fair comment, overblown -- accusation of anachronism in the Bible. 

In Genesis, camels are mentioned nearly two dozen times, starting with Abraham, who is c. 1800 BC, but a longstanding opinion (with Wm. F. Albright's backing) places domestication of camels to several centuries later in the second millennium BC. 

And so this made its way into the general milieu of somewhat skeptical scholarship's conventional wisdom as a main exhibit on the alleged untrustworthiness of the OT.

But in fact, there is longstanding archaeological evidence to the contrary (including a ~ 3 1/2 foot long cord made of camel hair found in Egypt and "dated around 2500 BC." The scholar Buillet -- writing in his The Camel and the Wheel, in 1975 -- believed the cord is "from the land of Punt, perhaps the possession of a slave or captive, and from a domestic camel"). 

As Glenn Miller summarises from Buillet, 1990, pp. 60 - 64:
  •  A 3.5 ft cord of camel hair from Egypt, dated around 2500 BC. Buillet believes it is "from the land of Punt, perhaps the possession of a slave or captive, and from a domestic camel"

  • The bronze figurine from the temple of Byblos in Lebanon. It is in a foundation with strong Egyptian flavoring, and is dated before the sixth Egyptian dynasty (before 2182 BC). Although the figure could be taken as a sheep, the figure is arranged with items that would strongly require it to be a camel (e.g., a camel saddle, camel muzzle, etc.)

  • Two pots of Egyptian provenance were found in Greece and Crete, both dating 1800-1400 BC, but both in area so far removed from the range of the camel as to suggest its presence in the intermediate areas (e.g., Syria or Egypt) during an earlier time. Both have camels represented, and one literally has humans riding on a camel back.
  • A final piece of strong evidence is textual from Alalakh in Syria, as opposed to archaeological: a textual ration-list. There is a entry for 'camel fodder' written in Old Babylonian. "Not only does this attest the existence of camels in norther Syria at this time, but the animal involved is clearly domestic."
There are in addition various bones and images from the ME region dating up to the period of 2500 - 3000 BC. Where, camels (though a bit ornery) are well suited as pack and riding animals for trade in desert zones.

In that context, the text of Genesis 12 suggests that Abraham acquired camels (as well as donkeys but not horses . . . which does fit well with the times), evidently as a gift of the Pharaoh of his day when he went to Egypt in a famine. And years later, from ch 24, when he wanted to make a sufficient impression to acquire a suitable  bride for his son Isaac, according to the text he sent his senior servant with a train of ten camels (probably a good slice of his stock!), back to Syria. Later on, according to Gen 37:25 - 28, Joseph was sold to camel-using Ishmaelite/Midianite spice traders heading to Egypt, probably along trade routes from Arabia.

On the face of it, such a literary reference (from a source known to generally fit into its times) points to fairly specialised use of camels, and that they were the sort of thing that a king would consider a gift likely to obtain favour.

That is consistent with known domestication and use, without requiring widespread breeding and possession, especially by settled people not living in desert areas.

Eric Lyons of Apologetics Press sums up:
Arguably, the most widely alleged anachronisms used in support of the idea that Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible (a theory known as the Documentary Hypothesis) are the accounts of the early patriarchs possessing camels . . . . According to skeptics (and a growing number of liberal scholars), however, the idea that camels were domesticated in the time of Abraham directly contradicts archaeological evidence. Over one hundred years ago, T.K. Cheyne wrote: “The assertion that the ancient Egyptians knew of the camel is unfounded” (1899, 1:634) . . . . By way of summary, what the Bible believer has been told is: “[T]ame camels were simply unknown during Abraham’s time” (Tobin, 2000).

[However] . . .  skeptics and liberal theologians are unable to cite a single piece of solid archaeological evidence in support of their claims. As Randall Younker of Andrews University stated in March 2000 while delivering a speech in the Dominican Republic: “Clearly, scholars who have denied the presence of domesticated camels in the 2nd millennium B.C. have been committing the fallacy of arguing from silence. This approach should not be allowed to cast doubt upon the veracity of any historical document, let alone Scripture” (2000).
Lyons then continues:
[S]everal pieces of evidence do exist (and have existed for some time) that prove camels were domesticated during (and even before) the time of Abraham (roughly 2,000 B.C.). In an article that appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies a half-century ago, professor Joseph Free listed several instances of Egyptian archaeological finds supporting the domestication of camels [NOTE: The dates given for the Egyptian dynasties are from Clayton, 2001, pp.14-68].
The earliest evidence comes from a pottery camel’s head and a terra cotta tablet with men riding on and leading camels. According to Free, these are both from predynastic Egypt (1944, pp. 189-190), which according to Clayton is roughly before 3150 B.C. Free also listed three clay camel heads and a limestone vessel in the form of camel lying down—all dated at the First Dynasty of Egypt (3050-2890 B.C.). He then mentioned several models of camels from the Fourth Dynasty (2613-2498 B.C.), and a petroglyph depicting a camel and a man dated at the Sixth Dynasty (2345-2184 B.C.). Such evidence has led one respected Egyptologist to conclude that “the extant evidence clearly indicates that the domestic camel was known [in Egypt—EL] by 3,000 B.C.”—long before Abraham’s time (Kitchen, 1980, 1:228).

Perhaps the most convincing find in support of the early domestication of camels in Egypt is a rope made of camel’s hair found in the Fayum (an oasis area southwest of modern-day Cairo). The two-strand twist of hair, measuring a little over three feet long, was found in the late 1920s, and was sent to the Natural History Museum where it was analyzed and compared to the hair of several different animals. After considerable testing, it was determined to be camel hair, dated (by analyzing the layer in which it was found) to the Third or Fourth Egyptian Dynasty (2686-2498 B.C.).
With that backdrop, what then are we to make of say the Times of Israel report:

Camel archaeology contradicts the Bible

Carbon dating, showing animals were introduced to Israel only around the 9th century BCE, conflicts with Genesis account

February 5, 2014, 1:10 am

Camels were first introduced to Israel around the 9th century BCE, centuries after they were depicted in the Bible as Patriarch-era pack animals, new carbon dating of the earliest known domesticated camel bones found in Israel shows.

The research, conducted by Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel-Aviv University, challenges ”the Bible’s historicity.” The discrepancy “is direct proof that the [Biblical] text was compiled well after the events it describes,” according to a statement released by the university on Monday. 

The researchers examined ancient copper smelting sites in the Arava Valley, in southern Israel, and discovered that “camel bones were unearthed almost exclusively in archaeological layers dating from the last third of the 10th century BCE or later,” and that “all the sites active in the 9th century in the Arava Valley had camel bones, but none of the sites that were active earlier contained them.” . . .
First, let us ask a basic question: 
how does a discovery that domesticated camel bones were first found in archaeological layers from 930 BC or so on, contradict an account that 800 or 900 years earlier, camels were domesticated in Egypt, were given as a gift to a chieftain visiting Egypt, were used by him for a special journey, and that Midianite spice traders passing through Palestine on the way to Egypt used camels?
Patently, not at all.
Especially, where my Strongs Exhaustive Concordance shows only sporadic mention of camels between Genesis and the period of the divided monarchy. (The first mentions after Genesis & Exodus are against eating camels, viewed as not meeting the Levitical test for a ritually "clean" animal. The most significant reference is of course the one in Judges chs 6 - 7 to a large camel-based, tent-using Midianite army carrying out a devastating invasion of Israel that would probably date to about 1100+ BC. Which is consistent with the view that widespread domestication of the camel dates to about the mid 2nd millennium BC.)

In short, with all due respect, the headline is edvidently exaggerated and too quickly projects a "contradiction" instead of a point where perhaps we need to clarify and refine our understanding.

Indeed, the archaeological report says in its opening words:
The introduction of the dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) as a pack animal to the southern Levant signifies a crucial juncture in the history of the region; it substantially facilitated trade across the vast deserts of Arabia, promoting both economic and social change (e.g., Kӧhler 1984; Borowski 1998: 112‒116; Jasmin 2005). This, together with the depiction of camels in the Patriarchal narrative, has generated extensive discussion regarding the date of the earliest domestic camel in the southern Levant (and beyond) (e.g., Albright 1949: 207; Epstein 1971: 558‒584; Bulliet 1975; Zarins 1989; Köhler-Rollefson 1993; Uerpmann and Uerpmann 2002; Jasmin 2005; 2006; Heide 2010; Rosen and Saidel 2010; Grigson 2012). Most scholars today agree that the dromedary was exploited as a pack animal sometime in the early Iron Age (not before the 12th century BCE) (Uerpmann and Uerpmann 2002; Horwitz and Rosen 2005; Heide 2010). A recent study of Timna Site 30, coupled with a new set of radiocarbon dates, supports this broad conclusion (Ben-Yosef et al. 2012; Grigson 2012) . . .
In short, the article suggests a majority view on dating of camel domestication, and then uses that to implicitly dismiss the OT narratives, which claim to be based on eyewitness observations.

But as we have already seen, there is adequate reason to hold that camel domestication should be dated to perhaps 2500 - 3000 BC or even more. And, we have seen that the Biblical narrative is consistent with relative rarity before the late 2nd Millennium BC, as the first vivid mass use of camels described fits that time frame.

It is worth the while to cite StudyLight's article on camels in ANE archaeology:
Scholars hold different views about the time when domesticated camels first appeared on the scene. In the opinion of Richard Bulliet the taming of camels was practised even before 2500 B.C..F8 According to F.E. Zeuner it started somewhere between 2900 and 1900 B.C..F9

One of the oldest traces of camel domestication was found at Umm an-Nahr, off the coast of modern Oman. 200 bones and teeth of camels were excavated together with objects dating back to about 2700 B.C..F10 Whilst some of this is disputed, for example, "[the] camels at Umm an-Nahr ... were NOT of dromedaries but were of Bactrian (2 humped) camels. Akkadian records also show that the Bactrian camels were domesticated significantly before dromedaries, which were for a long time considered wild and untameable, and were hunted as a source of meat.",F11 it is, nonetheless, a tacit admission in itself that some camels were domesticated by the 3rd millennium B.C.  . . . .  It is interesting to note that the camel is hardly ever mentioned in any Assyrian texts, even though they contain tens of thousands of letters and economic narratives dating from the 2nd millennium B.C..F13

There is a picture of a camel, with a rider on its back, found in the ruins of Tall Halaf in Iraq, which dates back to between 3000 and 2900 B.C..F14

In Byblos, in Lebanon, small Egyptian figurines of camels have been found that date back to around 2500 B.C..F15

From 1900 B.C. onwards the early Nabataeans ran camel caravans between Arabia, Syria, Edom, Mesopotamia and Egypt.F16 Whilst many historians are reluctant to date the Nabataeans due to a lack of extant writing and their secretiveness, nonetheless Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, identified the Nabataeans with Ishmael's eldest son (Genesis 25:13).

In 1912, near Aswan, in Egypt, a rock painting was discovered which showed a man pulling along a camel on a rope, plus seven hieroglyphic characters. On account of the writing Möller dated the inscription to the period of the sixth dynasty (2320-2150 B.C.), and Schweinfurth concurred. However, Croft disagrees regarding the figures as graffiti from the 19th dynasty (1300 B.C.). Even so, this is still well before the supposedly late influx of camels to Egypt in the time of either Alexander the Great, the Romans, or the later Muslim Arabs.
In short, it would be fairer to say there is a debate on the domestication of the camel, with significant evidence that points as far back as c 3000 BC, with further evidence that suggests the Egyptians may have had them as early as 2500 BC or even beyond. All of which would be compatible with the OT narrative we have in hand.

Thus, it is fair comment to hold that the "Bible contradicted" headlines and reports that seem to be cropping up in a rash just now seem to be a bit hasty and exaggeratedly skeptical; on the whole reflecting an all too common attitude nowadays that is overly eager to find fault with Scripture. END

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

C S Lewis on The Magician's Twin . . . a video critique of Scientism

The following video critique of Scientism (science turned into ideology or quasi-religion and means of gaining power) based on C S Lewis's thought, is worth a pause to watch and ponder:

Food for thought, especially as we further reflect on the Nye-Ham debate and its sobering implications. END

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Nye-Ham debate, Feb 4, 2014, on: "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era?" -- a pivotal moment in the civilisational civil war

As the promotional poster to the left shows, Bill Nye "the science guy" and Ken Ham, founder of the leading Young Earth Creationism [YEC] ministry, Answers in Genesis, met in debate live streamed on the Internet, on Tuesday evening, Feb 4, 2014. 

The focal topic was: 
"Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era?" 

. . . and this was taken up in response to Ken Ham's counter-challenge to Bill Nye's public claim in a "viral" web video directed to Creationists, that:
 “[I]f you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.”
 Frankly, this is a shameful, bigotry-laced smear and false accusation that willfully and improperly indicts millions. Nye -- a public spokesman for science and science education -- should have known better.

And the smear is all the worse, for the fact that ever so many are inclined to believe it, making it a willfully continued misrepresentation in the teeth of duties of care to truth, fairness and reasonable respect even across differences of views. 

It is a sad testimony to the deep polarisation and latent . . . or, is that, increasingly emergent . . . rage against God and people who stand up for God that lurks dangerously in our civilisation in our time.

First and foremost, then, people of good will should firmly correct the smear and politely insist that it be retracted and apologised for.

Yes, retracted and apologised for.

Now, if not sooner.

Wrong has been done and toxic bigotry-driven falsehood spread as though it were truth; falsely persuading many that it is truth.

Which, we all know is destructive.

"But, but, but . . . "

Yes, "but . . . " far too many people are ill-informed and bigoted, having been misled to such hostility against "Creationists" that they are willing to entertain any smears against such ignoramuses and fools who are so obviously  
"ignorant, stupid, insane or . . .  wicked . . ."
(That bigotry-laced one liner comes [with but slight ellipsis] from the dean of the lab coat clad atheists, Richard Dawkins; and after years and years, he has not apologised for it either. See the repeated problem here?)

Enough is enough, and it is time to make amends.

Now, if not sooner.

Let some basic, easily shown facts speak.

Dr Ben Carson, distinguished neurosurgeon, author,
Christian spokesman and Creationist, who rose from the
slums to the heights of scientific and medical achievement
For instance, it is obvious to anyone who takes but a moment to reflect accurately from reliable sources on the founding of Modern Science, or on the current achievements of scientists who are Christians and people of other theistic faiths that stand on our world being a Creation, that 
one can hold to Creation as a key plank of one's worldview and become a successful -- or even distinguished  -- scientist, engineer,  computer programmer, technologist or medical practitioner. 
 We can simply call the name Ben Carson as one of the first among a very distinguished list. 

A list that includes Nobel Prize winners, and goes back as far as Kelvin, Maxwell, Faraday, Newton, Boyle, Galileo, Kepler and Copernicus, just to name a few. 

Indeed, let us now hear Newton, in his General Scholium, in effect an introduction to his main scientific work, the Principia of 1688 on; in which he introduced the universal law of gravitation, and the famous three laws of motion -- the very epicentre of the scientific revolution:
. . . This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another.

This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator , or Universal Ruler; for God is a relative word, and has a respect to servants; and Deity is the dominion of God not over his own body, as those imagine who fancy God to be the soul of the world, but over servants. The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect; but a being, however perfect, without dominion, cannot be said to be Lord God; for we say, my God, your God, the God of Israel, the God of Gods, and Lord of Lords; but we do not say, my Eternal, your Eternal, the Eternal of Israel, the Eternal of Gods; we do not say, my Infinite, or my Perfect: these are titles which have no respect to servants. 
The word God usually signifies Lord; but every lord is not a God. It is the dominion of a spiritual being which constitutes a God: a true, supreme, or imaginary dominion makes a true, supreme, or imaginary God. 
And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. 
He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present; and by existing always and every where, he constitutes duration and space . . .  
Every man, so far as he is a thing that has perception, is one and the same man during his whole life, in all and each of his organs of sense. God is the same God, always and every where. He is omnipresent not virtually only, but also substantially; for virtue cannot subsist without substance. In him are all things contained and moved [i.e. cites Ac 17, where Paul evidently cites Cleanthes]; yet neither affects the other: God suffers nothing from the motion of bodies; bodies find no resistance from the omnipresence of God. It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always, and every where. [i.e accepts the cosmological argument to God.] Whence also he is all similar, all eye, all ear, all brain, all arm, all power to perceive, to understand, and to act; but in a manner not at all human, in a manner not at all corporeal, in a manner utterly unknown to us. 
As a blind man has no idea of colours, so have we no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things. He is utterly void of all body and bodily figure, and can therefore neither be seen, nor heard, or touched; nor ought he to be worshipped under the representation of any corporeal thing. [Cites Exod 20.] We have ideas of his attributes, but what the real substance of any thing is we know not. In bodies, we see only their figures and colours, we hear only the sounds, we touch only their outward surfaces, we smell only the smells, and taste the savours; but their inward substances are not to be known either by our senses, or by any reflex act of our minds: much less, then, have we any idea of the substance of God. 
We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [i.e from his designs]: we admire him for his perfections; but we reverence and adore him on account of his dominion: for we adore him as his servants; and a god without dominion, providence, and final causes, is nothing else but Fate and Nature. 
Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [i.e necessity does not produce contingency] All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [That is, implicitly rejects chance, Plato's third alternative and explicitly infers to the Designer of the Cosmos.] But, by way of allegory, God is said to see, to speak, to laugh, to love, to hate, to desire, to give, to receive, to rejoice, to be angry, to fight, to frame, to work, to build; for all our notions of God are taken from. the ways of mankind by a certain similitude, which, though not perfect, has some likeness, however. 
And thus much concerning God; to discourse of whom from the appearances of things, does certainly belong to Natural Philosophy [--> i.e. "Science" as we now call it].
It is therefore no surprise to see that the founding era scientists saw themselves as:
 thinking God's creative and sustaining, cosmos-ordering thoughts after him, as part of their stewardship of creation. 
An approach, that has continued to this day, on the part of many men and women of science, engineering, computing, mathematics and medicine.

 But in our sad day, it seems that the most we could expect in the aftermath of protest at toxic smearing words, was a widespread assumption that Mr Nye's bigoted, ill-informed words were true. 

And, the most we could hope for was his condescending to a debate (one in which the same accusation was repeatedly insisted on in the teeth of counter examples presented live before our faces, and was followed up by remarks to the effect that the list of people of science presented by Ham was a list of "Bad Scientists" working for AiG, his Creationist Ministry [in fact even this last suggestion is not accurate . . . but Mr Nye was letting nothing get in the way of his "No true Scotsman Scientist" fallacy]).  

Where also, many leading Darwinists were publicly counselling Nye that it was a mistake to even go onstage with Creationists.

That is, such advocates of evolutionary materialism rest content that their constantly repeated smear is working, and don't give the time of day that grievous wrong has been done by spreading such toxic false accusations. Never mind, having been corrected on same any number of times.

They plainly have a wanton disregard for duties of care to truth, accuracy, respect and fairness.

This is the same attitude of deep-seated wrong that lies underneath the notorious remarks of Richard Lewontin in his 1997 review of a book by Carl Sagan; which appeared in the New York Review of Books, NYRB. Let me excerpt, as it is an inadvertently utterly revealing statement:
[T]he problem is to get them [the common people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations [--> Notice the undisguised scorn for the attitude that respects and takes God seriously as being irrational to the point of delusion, kindly cf. here on for foundations of a theistic worldview], and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.  [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. (If you have been misled to imagine that the above is "quote mining" -- a favourite ad hominem laced retort by Darwinist advocates to citation of embarrassing quotations, I invite you to read the fuller cite and remarks here, in context.)]
 Seminal Intelligent Design thinker Philip Johnson's reply to Lewontin et al in November that same year, is well merited:

For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them "materialists employing science." And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) "give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose."  

. . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [Emphasis added.] [The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

There is plainly an ugly side to today's lab coat clad atheism, and Mr Nye unfortunately exemplified it before, during and after the debate.

And if you think it is somehow "offensive"  or "rude" for me to plainly point out that wrong is being done and should be corrected, think about the pain unduly suffered by the people who are smeared, derided, lied against and then discriminated against because the smear I am highlighting has been spread far and wide.

In short, it is high time to face this problem and fix it, before it does horrible damage to real people.

We may also wish to (and should) take time to watch the debate and its aftermath of questions and answers, e.g. (HT, ABN)  here:

Also, it may be useful to see how Mr Ham then appeared thereafter with one of his staffers, Dr. Georgia Purdom, to give his perpective on what was achieved by having the debate:

Of course, all sorts of people have weighed in since, all over the web, giving heir own arguments and views on the issues and who "won."

{U/D, Feb 17:} Creationist Ian Juby of the This is Genesis Week video series is noteworthy, as in his view Nye "won" the debate but did so rhetorically and on questionable tactics, rather than the actual merits. So, he responds:

 I think that some such discussion is healthy, but the first thing is that it needs to be firmly put and insisted that
 a toxic false accusation has repeatedly been made by Mr Nye and ilk, and in the teeth of correction was pressed beyond reason and responsibility to truth, fairness and decency, and that an honourable person should admit and retract, then apologise and make amends. 
Only then can a reasonable, civil, mutually respectful discussion be entertained.

When such is finally on the table, I think the following points for reflection will prove significantly helpful:

1 --> Mr Ham and Mr Johnson etc. are right, there is a clash of worldview level assumptions and commitments, leading to unwarranted imposition of a priori evolutionary materialism, which has seriously begged big questions and has seriously warped origins/natural historical science studies.

2 --> If you doubt me, here is the US National Science Teachers' Association (NSTA) Board, on Origins Science education, in July 2000:

The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge. [[NSTA, Board of Directors, July 2000. Emphases added.]

  3 --> The Rev Al Mohler, very properly, therefore wrote the next day:
As the debate began, it was clear that Ham and Nye do not even agree on definitions. The most friction on definition came when Nye rejected Ham’s distinction between “historical science” and “observational science” out of hand. Nye maintained his argument that science is a unitary method, without any distinction between historical and observational modes. Ham pressed his case that science cannot begin without making certain assumptions about the past, which cannot be observed. Furthermore, Ham rightly insisted that observational science generally does not require any specific commitment to a model of historical science. In other words, both evolutionists and creationists do similar experimental science, and sometimes even side-by-side.
4 --> Patently , we did not observe nor do we have generally accepted record of the deep past of origins of the world of life, from those who were there. It is as a simple matter of fact, unobserved and unobservable. What we have is things we believe are traces from that past, which we try to interpret and explain, giving an historical account of what happened through what causal factors and processes.

5 --> Where, ever since Newton proposed the vera causa principle: that we should explain by "true causes," it is a reasonable expectation that if we call into play a candidate causal factor to account for traces from the remote past of origins, we should first show that the factor can and does reasonably produce the type of effect we see from the past. And, that we should expect that we would identify a particular candidate as the uniquely successful explanation only where its superiority in coherently and economically accounting for the relevant traces from the past is unmatched by other candidates.

6 --> That is, it should not be accepted as reasonable practice to exclude potential factors with relevant track record of power to cause relevant phenomena, on ideological grounds, as we see Lewontin and the NSTA et al doing.

7 --> Where, in fact, it is easily shown that functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] such as in the text in this blog post or the code in the programs on the computers which you are using to read this, or even the functional organisation of the computers themselves, are among the many billions of cases that underscore that routinely, such FSCO/I is produced by design. 

8 --> Indeed, it is only produced by design in our observation. For the excellent reason that the atomic resources of our solar system or observed cosmos across any scientifically reasonable estimate of their age, are simply unable to blindly sample more than a very small fraction of the possibilities for arranging a string of 500 - 1,000 or more bits. So, the only reasonable expectation -- on the valid form of the layman's law of averages -- is that we will capture a sample of the bulk of the distribution of possibilities, not very special and restricted zones as the requisites of integrated function impose.

9 --> If you want more, we can make a needle in haystack estimation: 
1,000 bits accounts for some 1.07*10^301 possibilities, and it can be shown that in the lifespan of the observed cosmos, we could have at most 10^150 observations made by the 10^80 or so atoms in that cosmos.
Taking that set and equating it to a single straw, we can then see that the set of all possibilities would take up a cubical haystack billions of times larger than the observable universe.
Observable cosmos, 93 bn LY across, our
galaxy is too small to notice. [HT: Wiki]
Drop our 93 billion light year across observable cosmos in it, and then blindfold yourself.

Then, pick a one straw sized sample at random from anywhere in the overall haystack.
No reasonable person would expect to pick up the observed cosmos or even any one of millions of such cosmi in the haystack, for the same reason just explained:

too much stack, too small a scope of sample.
10 --> And yet, just the minimal genome for a first cell based life form would credibly require 100,000 to 1 million bits of info, dwarfing the search challenge just laid out. The needle in haystack challenge easily explains why we have not seen blind chance and mechanical necessity creating FSCO/I, but we have seen billions of cases of such produced by intelligence.

11 --> Blind chance and necessity singly or in concert is not a vera causa principle credible source of explanation for the FSCO/I rich phenomena of the living cell or of the many dozens of major body plans we see. And until the FSCO/I challenge is decisively answered by observed demonstration that does not turn out to be yet another case of design coming in the back door, blind chance and mechanical necessity can only be allowed to explain minor variations not origin of complex FSCO/I rich systems.

12 --> That is, we already have excellent empirical and logical grounds to hold that FSCO/I is a characteristic sign of design as a key cause of life based on cells, and its major body plans ranging from trilobites to trees, seaweed to whales, and of course people. 

13 --> In short, once the ideological imposition is blocked, design emerges as the candidate to beat.

14 --> But, Mr Nye would say, we do observe the remote past of origins, we simply look out billions of light years away in the stars and do the math, it takes billions of years for the starlight to reach us. Not so fast, again, we are observing traces we believe to come from the past, we are not directly observing the past ourselves. The only star we have been able to make close observations of is our sun. And even then, it is a matter of indirect observations, as the sun is an extremely hostile environment. 

15 --> Besides, if we take the evidence in hand that points to a big bang origin of our observed cosmos some 13.7 BYA, we find that it credibly has a beginning. Which, per vera causa, means, it credibly has a cause, and is contingent. Such already points to a begin-ner as its best explanation.

16 --> Worse, it turns out that the laws, constants, proportions and so on of physics for our observed cosmos are astonishingly fine tuned in dozens and dozens of ways that lay a basis for Carbon Chemistry, watery medium, cell based life. 

17 --> For just one instance, it is set up on fine tuned parameters, so the first four elements are H, He, O and C, with N coming up close behind. That gets us to: stars, the rest of the periodic table, water, organic chemistry and amino acids, thus proteins. 

18 --> No wonder the famed astrophysicist, Nobel-Equivalent prize holder and lifelong agnostic Sir Fred Hoyle went on record as follows:
From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has "monkeyed" with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.Cited, Bradley, in "Is There Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God? How the Recent Discoveries Support a Designed Universe". Emphasis added.]
19 --> This seems to have originally appeared as the conclusion to a talk given at Caltech in 1981 or thereabouts. Earlier in the talk, he elaborated on Carbon and the chemistry of life, especially enzymes:
The big problem in biology, as I see it, is  to understand the origin of the information carried by the explicit structures of biomolecules.  The issue isn't so much the rather crude fact that a protein consists of a chain of amino acids linked together in a certain way, but that the explicit ordering of the amino acids endows the chain with remarkable properties, which other orderings wouldn't give.  The case of the enzymes is  well known . . . If amino acids were linked at random, there would be a vast number of arrange-ments that would be useless in serving the pur-poses of a living cell.  When you consider that a typical enzyme has a chain of perhaps 200 links and that there are 20 possibilities for each link,it's easy to see that the number of useless arrangements is enormous, more than the number of atoms in all  the galaxies visible in the largest telescopes. This is for one enzyme, and there are upwards of 2000 of them, mainly serving very different purposes.  So how did the situation get to where we find it to be? 
This is,  as I see it,  the biological problem - the information problem . . . . 
  I was constantly plagued by the thought that the number of ways in which even a single enzyme could be wrongly constructed was greater than the number of all the atoms in the universe.  So try  as I would, I couldn't convince myself that even the whole universe would be sufficient to find life by random processes - by what are called the blind forces of nature . . . .  By far the simplest way to arrive at the correct sequences of amino acids in the enzymes would be by thought, not by random processes . . . . 

Now imagine yourself as a superintellect working through possibilities in polymer chemistry. Would you not be astonished that polymers based on the carbon atom turned out in your calculations to have the remarkable properties of the enzymes and other biomolecules? Would you not be bowled over in surprise to find that a living cell was a feasible construct? Would you not say to yourself, in whatever language supercalculating intellects use: Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. Of course you would, and if you were a sensible superintellect you would conclude that the carbon atom is a fix.
20 --> Remember, this is a distinguished astrophysicist and lifelong agnostic speaking, not Ken Ham or Henry Morris or Carl Wieland or the like. And, to cap all off, at about the same time as he was testifying in Arkansas in a Scopes II trial in ways that challenged Young Earth Creationism, Hoyle also said this, right there at the holy of holies for astrophysics [host of the famous Mt Palomar 200-inch telescope . . . ], Caltech:
 I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars. ["The Universe: Past and Present Reflections." Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12]
 21 --> But, but, but you are not debating interpretations of Genesis, or disputing fossil dates and the formation of layers of coral limestone.

22 --> Yes, now you know the difference between a design theory inference on the inductive logic of inference to best explanation, and a Biblical Creationist Genesis-based apologetic, especially that which we hear from one of  Young Earth stripe such as Mr Ham.

23 --> In short, debates over Genesis and the like may be interesting [and kindly cf, AiG here and CMI here in the aftermath of the debate . . . ], but are tangential to the core of the matter: 
providing we don't beg questions by imposing a priori materialism, there is abundant and convincing evidence that life is designed, that major body plans including our own are designed, and that all of this happens in a cosmos that shows astonishing fine tuning setting such up. (Indeed, one can hold to common descent, even universal common descent from a common unicellular ancestor and hold that on the patent and decisive signs of design present , such was engineered.)
22 --> What about the Bible interpretation questions? Uncommon Descent's V J Torley observes:
I had a thought recently: had Galileo been able to prove his ideas at his trial in 1633, he would have avoided punishment altogether. What got me thinking along these lines was a passage I recently stumbled across in Pope Leo XIII’s 1893 encyclical, Providentissimus Deus:
15. But he [the modern expositor of Scripture - VJT] must not on that account consider that it is forbidden, when just cause exists, to push inquiry and exposition beyond what the Fathers have done; provided he carefully observes the rule so wisely laid down by St. Augustine – not to depart from the literal and obvious sense, except only where reason makes it untenable or necessity requires; (40) a rule to which it is the more necessary to adhere strictly in these times, when the thirst for novelty and unrestrained freedom of thought make the danger of error most real and proximate. Neither should those passages be neglected which the Fathers have understood in an allegorical or figurative sense, more especially when such interpretation is justified by the literal, and when it rests on the authority of many.
The reference is to Augustine’s De Genesi ad litteram I, viii., c. 7, 13. In other words, had Galileo been able to prove his ideas, the Church would have said, “Fine. In that case, the literal interpretation of these passages cannot be the correct one, after all.”
23 --> He goes on to say that this can only go so far, there are certain points that are simply not so flexible, but I suspect that is a matter that competent interpreters can reasonably handle in both old and young earth paradigms, as there are such schools of thought out there. Science and Scripture can intersect and can -- and do -- clash, but that is not decisive on the issues that are before us.


That issue is first to resolve a false and toxic accusation, then to reasonably address the actual weight of the evidence in front of us on its merits, without question-begging a prioris. END