Faulty Paradigms Producing Faulty Science

I want to say a little something about an article that I read in USA Today entitled “People Trust Science. So Why Don’t They Believe It?” The article was interesting on a lot of levels, including the fact that a lot of anti-science is being passed off as actual science, which is precisely the problem.

Just as the masses only see what their paradigms allow them to see, so too scientists are not exempt from being bound by paradigms that unconsciously function as what we would call frames or perceptual filters. Put another way, scientists are not immune from being stuck in cycle epistemological cocoons or stuck in their own linguistic hall of mirrors or stuck in their own echo chambers. Therefore, scientists, like virtually all of us, are subject to misperceiving psychological certainty as though it were some kind of epistemological validity.

Moreover, there is also what I like to call stakeholder interests. These interests affect research in the sciences no less than any other discipline, perhaps even more. Add to that motivated blindness, and the elixir becomes ever more toxic. Once you drink the Kool-Aid, it becomes very difficult to perceive the force of inconvenient data.

The problems with objective science, of course, do not stop there: think shoddy research or sophistry or sensationalism. Worst yet, consider the possibility that scientists — I am thinking now in my mind of Bill Nye and James Watson — they are clearly advancing their own parochial cultural agendas. James Watson, for example, was a Nobel Prize laureate — you probably know this, but he was the co-discoverer of DNA, and very, very famous for that. His so-called scientific objectivity though is very, very colored by his worldview. That is why he has a very eugenic view, particularly when it comes to children. It was James Watson who said because of the limitations of present “detection methods, most birth defects are not discovered until birth.” However, says Watson, “If a child were not declared alive until three days after birth….the doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so chose and save a lot of misery and suffering.” Think of the implications of that? You have a child, you look it over for three days, then say, “I’m going to send that one back.” In other words, “I’m going to kill it.”

Bill Nye the anti-science guy has raised his anti-science rhetoric to a new decibel level. He is now suggesting that people (I think people like Kathy and I, living in the developed world) should be penalized for having extra kinds. Why? Because in his benighted view, we are woeful contributors to climate change. Of course, there is nothing original here. Celebrated Baptist pastor, Oliver “Buzz” Thomas pontificates having more than two children is downright sinful.

In truth, whether one has two or twelve, as in our case, is far less important than whether our children grow up to be selfless producers or merely selfish consumers. I have written about that in different places, including The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition (see especially “How Should Christians Think about Global Warming?”)

Regrettably, both Watson and Nye not only suffer from all of the things I have just mentioned, but I think as well a serious case of Christophobia is in play. Bottom line: make sure you examine your paradigm. We do not think as much about our paradigms as we think with our paradigms. We have to cleanse our perceptual lenses.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Is Intelligent Design Really Science? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Serious are the Consequences of Believing in Evolution? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Objections Overruled: Responding to the Top Ten Objections against Intelligent Design (William A. Dembski and Sean McDowell)

What Is Darwinism? Why Science Clings to a Fractured Paradigm (Phillip E. Johnson)

This blog adapted from the April 28, 2017, and April 28, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcasts.


Luck and Chance: Can they Account for the Origin of Life?

cri-blog-nelson-paul-origin-evidence-beliefHow does a guy like Richard Dawkins, who probably is the most famous scientific materialist on the planet today, how does he get away with saying such things as “the universe could so easily have remained lifeless, it’s an astonishing stroke of luck that we’re here”?

I think if you imagine the logic tree where at the top is a single cell, and Dawkins is well aware of the complexity of single cells. You work your way down that logic tree, and you end up at a bifurcation where one alternative is design and the other alternative is chance. For all kinds of reasons Dawkins does not want to turn off on that branch that goes to design. The only thing remaining to him is what he calls luck.

Years ago when I was working in England with Bill Dembski and Steve Meyer on intelligent design, we realized that ultimately anyone who wants to can leap into the arms of mother chance. She’s always there waiting with her irrational arms wide open. Frankly, I think in the mystery of faith and in the mystery of the human will, there are plenty of people, very bright people included, Richard Dawkins is no dummy, who will opt for chance when confronted with design. They will say, “Look, we just got lucky, and we’re here.” This is a case of not listening to reason, and in fact turning your back on her, turning your back on wisdom, and saying, “I’m going to choose luck, if the alternative is I have to acknowledge that there was a designer or creator of this universe.”

There is a great scene at the end of C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, book number seven in The Chronicles of Narnia series. There is a circle of dwarves. They are sitting and arguing amongst themselves. Aslan is trying to persuade them to listen to him to keep going up into heaven. Finally, Aslan says to the children I cannot do it, their will, I cannot override their will and their will is so strong that they will not listen to me. It was a terrifying scene when I read it as a kid because I realized that even confronted with Aslan himself, the perversity of the human will can choose something like chance.

It is a puzzle to me because I want to say science ought to be open to all the possibilities no matter what the consequences. Luck is not an explanation. You cannot teach luck in a biology class. Write the word on the blackboard, the class is over.

In essence what you are saying Paul is this: It is not that you cannot believe, it is that many people simply will not believe. I’m reminded of Blaise Pascal who said that God dwells in enough obscurities that if you do not want to find Him you will not, and He dwells in enough light that if you want to find Him you will (Pensees, 7.430).

That’s right. For me one of the most sobering lessons in the New Testament is to look in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and the Gospel of John at how the Pharisees responded to the miracles that they saw right in front of them. You could not ask for better sense data, better evidence that Jesus Himself healing people or casting out demons. But, between what they saw, their heart, and their mind, for the Pharisees, for many of whom there was a disconnect. They would say illogical things like he cast out demons by Beelzebub (Matt. 12:24). Right? Even the direct witness of one of God’s miracles in the person of Jesus healing someone was unable to persuade those Pharisees that this man was who He claimed to be.

I think there is a mystery to faith and there is a mystery on how we respond to evidence. I think scientific evidence is very powerful. It is very compelling. Ultimately, the nature of the human will enter in. I will tell you, after three decades of working in this field, my devotional life matters a lot more to me, because much of the relevant action persuading somebody occurs where we cannot see it. Out of sight in their heart. I love giving people evidence but ultimately I realize there is a lot more to it than just evidence.

—Paul Nelson

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20, NIV)

Learn more on the evidence supporting intelligent design in Origin: Design, Chance, and the First Life on Earth by Illustra Media.

This blog adapted from the November 7, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Are Earthlings Really Extraterrestrials?



Most chemists believe, as do I, that life emerged spontaneously from mixtures of molecules in the prebiotic Earth.

How? I have no idea.

—George Whitesides, professor of chemistry Harvard University

Is there anything in chemistry that scientists hope will actually account for life apart from design?

Well, they are looking. They have been looking for well over a hundred years. But, the point of looking, the point of investigating, is to listen to nature. If I can personify her, to listen to what she is telling us. I think that the clear message from cell biology over the past several decades is this: If you want a cell at all, you need a cell to produce it. All life comes from life is the most reliable generalization that biology offers us.

Really the program of origin of life research is predicated or rests not so much on the evidence because I think the evidence points completely in the other direction, but predicated on the assumption of materialism, or what the film (Origin: Design, Chance, and the First Life on Earth) calls “scientific materialism,” which is the view that to explain anything in biology you can only use natural processes and chance. It is that underlying philosophy that drives origin of life research, and the signal from nature herself is saying, “Hey, maybe it didn’t happen that way.”

One of the things that Origin: Design, Chance, and the First Life on Earth deals with is the whole idea of panspermia. It is dispensed in different varieties the basic notion being that life came to earth via aliens or meteorites. Richard Dawkins considers the notion an intriguing possibility but panspermia—literally seeds everywhere—does little to solve the naturalistic conundrum concerning the origin of life, which were dealing with in the film. While Dawkins is moving in the right direction by entertaining intelligent design, he has not yet arrived at an answer for the origin of life nor can he and this seems like quite a stretch. Your perspective?

In 1981 Francis Crick, who won the Nobel Prize with James Watson, for their discovery of the molecular structure of DNA, Crick published a book called Life Itself (Touchstone) that I recommend. It is a beautifully written not very long serious sober proposal that life on earth did not originate here but was rather sent here by an alien intelligence.

Now Crick was an atheist. In fact, he was motivated to go into science by his atheism. Although I think he was a far better biologist than he was an atheist.

The thesis of Life Itself is this planet was not hospitable and was never hospitable for the formation of the first cell and maybe there was a planet elsewhere in the galaxy that had better geological or geochemical circumstances. But, portions of that book could have been written by an intelligent design advocate. Crick recognized that the origin of life was a deep puzzle for his materialist worldview but he was unwilling to let go of that materialist worldview, so he looked for what appeared to be a kind of solution strictly within physical universe having life start somewhere else and be sent here looked like it could do that.

This does not really solve the problem at all. Let us go to that other planet and all the same problems crop up again. You still have to explain the origin of information, you still have to explain how all these proteins got together, hundreds of them to get a cell up and running. It is a solution that ultimately is really no solution at all.

—Paul Nelson

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1, NIV).

For further related study, please see the following equip.org resources:

Can Aliens Account for the Origin of Life? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Would Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life Spell Doom for Christianity? (Guillermo Gonzalez)

Did Ancient Extraterrestrials Visit Earth? (Robert Velarde)

Learn more on the evidence supporting intelligent design in Origin: Design, Chance, and the First Life on Earth by Illustra Media.

This blog adapted from the November 7, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics, In the News

About Barack Obama’s Bathroom Edict

Hanegraaff, Hank-Barack Obama’s Bathroom Edict

May 17, 2016

I was thinking today of President Barack Obama’s bathroom edict. Do you remember John F. Kennedy envisioned a man on the moon? Obama envisions a man in a woman’s bathroom.

Think about the paradoxes, in our crumbling post-Christian culture, we’re steeped in a naturalistic worldview; therefore, on one hand, children are told that human beings are mere molecules in motion. In other words, there is no room for a subjective first person point of view. Yet, in an ironic twist, children are now to walk lockstep in the belief that they are not determined gender wise by objective biology but by an individual first person subjective conscious feeling regarding gender. Think about it? It is a mind warp.

Today I was reading an article by David French titled “President Obama’s Transgender Proclamation is Far Broader and More Dangerous than You Think.” He’s absolutely right. French points out that on May 9th Vanita Gupta , head of the Civil Rights Division of Justice, said,

Here are the Facts. Transgender men are men—they live, work, and study as men. Transgender women are women—they live, work and study as women.

In other words, according to the Department of Justice, it is a simple fact that a man can have a menstrual cycle, and a woman can have a penis, and that men can get pregnant.

Then 3 days ago, May 13 the administration threatened

Every single public school in America with the loss of federal funds unless it adopts the administration’s point of view that gender is defined not by biology but instead by personal preference.

French makes a number of points. First of which is that

Teaching biology and human physiology will be hate speech unless it’s modified to conform to the new transgender “facts.” Teachers will have to take great pains to note that chromosomes, reproductive organs, hormonal systems, and any other physical marker of sex is irrelevant to this thing called “gender,” which, “factually,” is a mere state of mind.

At least according to this narrative! Secondly,

Any statements of dissent — from teachers or students — will be treated as both “anti-science” and “discriminatory.”

In other words, it’s against science and it’s discrimination.

The argument that a “girl” with a penis remains a boy will be treated exactly the same as an argument that blacks are inferior to whites or Arabs inferior to Jews.

Third point is,

Public schools will now be even further opposed, doctrinally and legally, to orthodox Christianity.

Children are going to be taught, not only that their churches are factually wrong in their assessment and gender but they’re actually bigoted and hateful, kind of like White Supremacist.

Because the Administration’s edict is tied to funding not even civil disobedience can block the enforcement.

Unless schools can declare their full and complete independence from federal funding, they will continue to face escalating pressure from the federal government to use their classrooms to transform American culture and values.

Think about a remark on May 9th of Attorney General Loretta Lynch. She

Very deliberately compared the DOJ’s aggressive actions to guarantee male access to women’s restrooms (and vice versa) to the fight against Jim Crow. These words were an unmistakable declaration of political war against people of orthodox faith.

When she uttered those words she didn’t just grotesquely exaggerate the plight of the transgender, she minimized the reality the memory of past discrimination.

No one understands this subject in my view as well as Joe Dallas, who has an incredible article, “The Transsexual Dilemma” He points out

Traditionally, if a man felt like a woman yet inhabited a male body, his feelings, not his body, were viewed as the problem. They were considered something to be resisted, modified if possible, and contrary to what was. Currently, what one is is being determined by what one feels—an ominous trend when one considers its implications. It is, in essence, an attempt to define reality by desire, knowledge by intuition.

Then Joe talks about a counseling session with a person named Kim.

“I know I’m a man because I feel like one!” Kim screamed at me as our session continued, leaving me stunned that an intelligent, educated woman subordinated a verifiable truth—her born, inalterable state—to subjective (though strongly held) perceptions.

The only way in which we ultimately change culture is by changing the hearts of people. So many people look at the Presidential race that we have going on right now and I heard one key evangelical voice say that now we have a choice of the lesser of evils and therefore we shouldn’t vote in this election. We should abstain from voting. The truth of the matter is the Presidential candidates reflect our culture. That’s the reality. They always will. We should still be involved in voting because our vote is going to have enormous implications for the years that lie before us as yet.

We have to ultimately recognize our responsibility as Christians to be able to give cogent, clear, concise, and compelling answers to the questions that the culture is asking. We need to learn how to reach rather than repel.

When Christians do not understand how to think clearly about these issues they lose by default. The bathroom edict narrative, as I pointed out, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The minute you start thinking about it you see the ironic twist. You see the self-stultifying statements. The problem is the narrative is repeated over and over with such dogmatism that unless you can respond with gentleness and with respect but clearly the thought is that there is no cogent response on the other side of the ledger.

So we as Christians must learn discernment skills and must take seriously our responsibility to train our children in such a way that they themselves can think. They need to learn discernment skills.

—Hank Hanegraaff

(Adapted from the 5/17/2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast)


Evidence Leading to Doubts about Darwinism

Hanegraaff, Hank-Intervies Thomas Woodward-Doubts Darwinism

Hank Hanegraaff invited Thomas Woodward onto the May 3, 2016 edition of the Bible Answer Man broadcast. The following is a highlight from their discussion.

Hank Hanegraaff: Life and truth matter indeed, and when truth is vanquished, there are dramatic consequences. Think about this. Other than the Bible, Darwin’s magnum opus, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection could well be said to be the most significant literary work in the annals of recorded history. I remember Sir Julian Huxley calling the evolutionary dogma the most powerful  the most comprehensive idea that has ever arisen upon the earth, the most fundamental of all intellectual revolutions, and the father of the intelligent design movement, Michael Denton, saying that the twentieth century could not be comprehended apart from the intellectual revolution that the theory produced. The far reaching consequences of that cosmogenic myth are felt in virtually every field, in every discipline of study, every level of education, and every area of practice. I think the most significant consequence is that it undermines the very foundations of the Christian faith, because if indeed macroevolution is reflective of the laws of science, then Genesis must be reflective of the flaws of Scripture, or so it is thought. If the foundation of Christianity is flawed, then the superstructure is designed to fall.

Now all of that is just prologue to something that I want to impress you with, and that is a book by Thomas Woodward. It is titled Doubts about Darwin. It’s a history of the intelligent design movement, a movement that allows truth to lead wherever it will. This book ought to be one of the great classics of literature, and CRI has republished this book because we have a deep and abiding confidence that this book can make a dramatic paradigm shift in the way people think about Darwinian evolution.

If you think I am excited about this subject, I always have been. From the very beginning, I’ve said how one views their origins will ultimately determine how they live their life. So we’re not talking about an apologetic issue here, we’re talking about the apologetic issue. The author of Doubt’s about Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design, Thomas Woodward joins me now. Hi Tom!  

Thomas Woodward: Hi, great to be with you, thank you so much for that very warm welcome…

Hank: You know, I am so delighted that we’ve had the opportunity to republish this book because I do think it is a classic. You’re a professor at Trinity College in Florida, you teach history of science, communication, systematic theology, and the significance of systematic theology, you’re a founder and director of the C.S. Lewis Society, and you lecture in universities around the world, but this book, I think, could be a lasting legacy, because it pointing the finger squarely at doubts about Darwin and why we ought to have them.

Thomas: I think that your opening there is so on target. I mean talk about hitting the nail on the head. This is where the departure from truth hinges. It kind of sprouts from here and heads everywhere. One of the main theorist today has described Darwin’s theory is like a universal acid. It eats through any preexisting major paradigm, theory, concept, worldview, partial or in full, and leaves in its wake a revolutionized worldview, which has at its core this new god substitute—Darwin’s meandering blind process. You know, of course, natural selection we can go into the details, but I think that what really struck me is when I presented some of the accounts of the challengers of Neo-Darwinism to my agnostic professors, at the University of South Florida here in Tampa Bay, they were engaged. Here were scientists, here was a law professor Philip Johnson at Berkley, here were top biochemists who were challenging the theory, and my agnostic professors saying this is really interesting, give us more. They were not theists, they were not interested in, you know, in any kind of defense for the Bible. They were saying, this is genuine, there is something new under the sun, give us more. And they egged me on to write the history. So that’s kind of a strange background but I thank my, you know, kind of secular, skeptical, and agnostic professors for lighting the fire that allowed this book to be written.

Hank: I think what’s important at the very outset to talk about is the terrible price that is paid when you try to counter what is thought of in academia as settled science. You’re telling people look put on a different pair of glasses and what you see will be entirely different as well. So, one of the things that I love about this book and I really commend you for is that you have underscored and underlined and emphasized the people who have taken a hit professionally and personally to follow truth wherever it leads.

Thomas: Well that’s been my focus I would say from the get go as I began to hang out with some of these amazing, spectacular, researchers, and thinkers, many of them scientists, some of the professors at elite universities. They have stuck their neck out. I mean, you talk about the apostles. I’m not saying I’m going to put them in the rank of Peter, Paul and others in the Book of Acts, but these guys in their own way have as you said paid the price. Michael Behe at Lehigh University, you know kind of a quasi-Ivy League school, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Behe has suffered the ongoing shock or dismay, you might say, of having a disclaimer on his own biology department web site or webpage saying we do not subscribe to Michael Behe’s views, they are religious. Of course, that is so painfully and mistakenly absurd because he doesn’t use one religious argument in his book Darwin’s Black Box; it’s all empirically driven, but he labors on and others with him. I mean it’s really a moment of marvel for me to see the courage of these gentlemen.

Hank: I want to quote something that you have written Tom, and have you comment. You say the cultural stakes of the Darwinian design debate are high. The debaters are contending over the fundamental cultural story of human kind, and those who succeed at crafting and telling the most convincing story of origins, hold in their hands supreme cultural authority. If any group, religious or scientific, gains the authority to present its own story, as uniquely true, and then label other stories as mythological, that group functions as the high priesthood of our time. That I think is a powerful statement.

Thomas: That’s where I think so many people do not realize that if they subscribe to Neo-Darwinism and all its trappings and all its variations, they are embracing, something that has never really since Darwin’s day been supported by empirical evidence, a powerful idea. I can say the same thing about many powerful ideas that can be traced all the way back to Epicurus, Lucretius before Christ. The ideas of evolution has been floating in the air, have been floating in the air for twenty, or twenty-twenty-two centuries  before Darwin came along and came up with this new mechanism. He even admitted, you know, I cannot offer any direct evidence, but I can reasonably extend from what we see going on with animal breeders. Wow, now that’s quite a leap. Animal breeders make minor tweaking. They back and forth, you know, variations of the size, or shape or color of some organ, some wing, some fur on a sheep, but they do not fundamentally change those animals, and yet that’s what Darwin’s theory has to account for. It’s been struggling. It’s been a theory in search of evidence. I like to use that phrase. I got it from Philip Johnson, our common friend. A theory in search of evidence ever since it came out in 1859 and now defenders are turning really, how shall I put it, brittle and defensive and almost vindictive, ferocious at times, if you dare to question their theory, when Darwin himself was really welcoming those kinds of responses or critiques.

Hank: Let me pick up on that because this is one of the points that you make that doubts about Darwin are not relegated to those who doubt Darwin but Darwin himself had doubts about his own theory. In other words, he was open to evidence to the contrary.

Thomas: Yes and I have to qualify that, I think that doubts about—he’s wondering why is the evidence so terrible in so many areas where I want it to be splendid? So in that sense they were bracketed, you know, doubts here doubts there, why is the evidence not supporting me. Of course, the most blatant example is the fossil record, which was dead set against Darwin. He admitted it in his chapter on problems with my theory, admitted it again in his discussion of the geological record, and I think we would say today it is ten to a hundred times worsts than it was in Darwin’s day. The evidence, and we can go into this in more detail, for the expectation of Darwinism verses what we see in the fossil record is an overwhelming loud embarrassment. Darwin said if it could be presented, any complex organ’s existence, this is a quote from his book, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive slight modifications; my theory would absolutely break down. And of course that’s quite a statement. He is opening up himself for testing. I would say based on what we see now in the micro-machinery of a cell, his theory has again overwhelmingly broken down. We can credit that, of course, to Michael Behe, and before him, Michael Denton, and Phil Johnson brought out those points, but this was even evident in Darwin’s day. There were contrary evidence and he was receiving letters all the time from scientists. Well that’s part of the story that’s never told.

Hank: What I’d like you to do is to just take a minute or so and explain the transcendent importance of this particular topic.

Thomas: I would be delighted to tackle that exciting opportunity. Darwin’s theory is the reigning paradigm. It’s not just a theory. It’s a whole worldview. It’s like a broad structured thought that sort of links everybody together looking that the same issues raising the same possibility, but excluding certain possibilities ahead of time, and that’s a betrayal of science. So what we’re dealing with in the Neo-Darwinism period—if there’s an opportunity at some point today or another day I can share about some huge cracks that have opened up in the edifice in the last two or three weeks—but Darwin’s theory is now the reigning like determination of what is to be admitted within the scientific community. If it’s not materialistic, if it deals with intelligent causation, it’s ruled out ahead of time. Well, that’s not scientific at all. Darwin’s theory is the tip of a very bleak kind of situation where science has come under the control primarily of a worldview. A worldview that goes by a couple of different names but naturalism, the worldview of naturalism is probably the most common label. It means that you rule out ahead of time that anything non-material exists such as souls, spirits, God and certainly anything above the universe. As we see this triumphant theory aging and cracking it’s quite an exciting time of history.

Thomas E. Woodward is a research professor and department chair of the theology department at Trinity College of Florida. He is also the founder and director of the C.S. Lewis Society and lectures in universities on scientific apologetics and religious topics. Doubts about Darwin is one of the most significant works of Woodward for out times.

To get your copy Doubts about Darwin of click here.