Monday, March 20, 2017

Here’s An Example of the Flip-Side of the Warfare Thesis

From the Frying Pan to the Fire

Empirical observations of the world don’t suggest that it arose by natural law and chance events. But that is what evolutionists believe, and so it is always interesting to see where they are coming from. What underlying beliefs or influences drive one to the age-old position of Epicureanism? Why would one believe the world arose by randomly swerving atoms, or randomly mutating genomes? Dennis Venema, co-author of a new book promoting evolution, makes his influences clear from the very first sentence:

Like many evangelicals, I (Dennis) grew up in an environment that was suspicious of science in general, and openly hostile to evolution in particular.

That sentence speaks volumes. Venema is a refugee from creationism and what I call the flip-side of the Warfare Thesis. The Warfare Thesis holds that religion, and Christianity in particular, often conflicts with and opposes scientific advances. It can be traced at least as far back as Voltaire with his 18th century mythical retelling of the Galileo Affair. Many later contributors embellished and established the myth that was eventually labelled the “Warfare Thesis.”

While the Warfare Thesis can be found in the evolution literature, creationists have their own version. In this reverse, or flip-side, the myth is that evolutionists are atheists, pushed to believe in a naturalistic origins because of the rejection of God. To be sure, atheism today has been aided and abetted by evolution’s popularity. But from Epicureanism to Darwinism to Neo-Darwinism and beyond, it is theism, not a-theism, that is doing the heavy lifting.

Why did Richard Bentley charge Thomas Burnet (an Anglican cleric who appealed to Scripture in his popular 17th century cosmogony) with atheism? Burnet was indeed a latitudinarian, but hardly an atheist. Why did Charles Hodge charge Darwin’s new theory as atheism in disguise? Darwin was hardly a mainline Christian but, like Burnet, his 1859 tome on evolution was chocked full of theological discussion and claims about the Creator. Darwin’s strong arguments were based on theism, not a-theism.

The flip-side of the Warfare Thesis is as dangerous as the A side, and it was Venema’s world. As he explains, he was taught that evolution was “pushed by atheists,” that Darwin and his theory “were evil,” and there mere utterance was tantamount to cursing, “and not mildly.” Evolution “was bad,” and “Science and God’s actions, at least in this case, were placed in opposition to each other.”

This flip-side of the Warfare Thesis is dangerous because the ignorance it establishes sets its adherents up for a fall. One simply is in no position to comprehend the deep theology at work in Epicurean and evolutionary thought. Darwin presented his arguments with a patina of scientific jargon, and that formed the template for the genre. Consider this gem from Chapter 6 of Origins:

Thus, we can hardly believe that the webbed feet of the upland goose or of the frigate-bird are of special use to these birds; we cannot believe that the similar bones in the arm of the monkey, in the fore-leg of the horse, in the wing of the bat, and in the flipper of the seal, are of special use to these animals. We may safely attribute these structures to inheritance.

One can read through such passages and almost conclude that Darwin is merely presenting empirical scientific reasoning and conclusions. And so it is with today’s evolutionary reasoning, such as this typical textbook example:

If the 11 species had independent origins, there is no reason why their [traits] should be correlated.

It all sounds so scientific. But of course it is not. This is the great deception of evolutionary thought. And those mired in the flip-side of the Warfare Thesis—believing for certain that evolutionists are nothing more than atheist rascals—lack to tools and knowledge to reckon with it. Venema never had a chance. It was out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Unfortunately his story is all too common.

Venema also discusses another important influence in his thinking: rationalism. And again, it is all too common. Evolutionists tend to place great value in theories. To be sure, theories are extremely important in science. But for centuries, rationalism in its extreme has placed an unhealthy, undue, emphasis on theories, over and above the importance of following the data. Better to have a theory that doesn’t work very well, then to have no theory at all (and no, creationism is not a theory).

Venema makes it clear that rationalism was an important influence for him. At an early age he found biology to be a “dreadful bore compared with physics and chemistry.” Physics and chemistry were appealing because they were about principles. Biology “seemed to have no organizing principle behind it, whereas the others did”. Indeed, chemistry and physics had “underlying principles that gave order and cohesion to a body of facts.”

With a foundation of the flip-side of the Warfare Thesis and rationalism, Venema was an evolutionist waiting to happen.

29 comments:

  1. It's all about religion. Even atheists are theists, vociferous denials notwithstanding.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm not quite following. As far as I can tell, atheism drives people to Darwinism of some sort because they have no other alternative. That then colors their views of all the evidence.

    Is this wrong? Or are you saying that Darwinists have some sort of theistic assumptions? "If God exists (which He doesn't), He wouldn't do x, y, & z."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. geoffrobinson:

      Sure, it is true that an atheist doesn't have much alternative to evolution. But evolution has fueled atheism as well. Be that as it may, atheism is vacuous and has little to contribute. Evolution comes from religious beliefs. Your example is one of many such arguments which evolutionists find to be compelling.

      Delete
  3. Q: What underlying beliefs or influences drive one to the age-old position of Epicureanism?
    A: Self worship. (I'm guilty of that... too often)

    ReplyDelete
  4. geoffrobinson

    "If God exists (which He doesn't)..."
    This is a nonscientific statement which you cannot prove, showing your belief (aka religion).

    ReplyDelete
  5. What do you mean "creationism is not a theory"? It is no less a theory than is evolutionism and IDism. All are explanations about the past based on some presuppositions.

    That Venema allegedly encountered someone who misrepresented creationism is not reason to blame creationism for his atheism.

    "the myth is that evolutionists are atheists, pushed to believe in a naturalistic origins because of the rejection of God."

    It may have changed a bit in recent years with BioLogos gaining such prominence, but historically the main promoters of evolution HAVE been atheists. See http://creation.com/a-whos-who-of-evolutionists

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What do you mean "creationism is not a theory"? It is no less a theory than is evolutionism and IDism.
      Well, you are half correct. According to science, a theory is a hypothesis (or assemblage of hypotheses) that stand the test of time, testing, evidence, etc. Evolution falls into this category. Creationism and IDism, not so much. Or, more accurately, not at all.

      Delete
    2. Philip:

      That parenthetical was meant to represent the rationalism position. Sorry for the shorthand.

      Delete
    3. William,

      "Evolution falls into this category."

      On the surface that may seem so, but in fact it is not true. Evolutionary theory itself is not science but simply a philosophical interpretation of the history of life which appeals to scientific disciplines for its legitimacy. Though the scientific disciplines to which it appeals can be subjected to empirical investigation the theory of evolution itself cannot.

      By definition a scientific theory must be testable, repeatable and observable, none of which is applicable to the historical scientific claims of evolution. One cannot test the supposed evolutionary origin of whales from land dwelling mammals on a repeatable and observable basis.

      Therefore, the claim whales arose via a slow, progressive series of morphological changes which eventually turned a land dwelling four legged mammal into a sea dwelling legless mammal is not empirically scientific. It is nothing more than an interpretation of historical data through the philosophical lens of evolutionary thought.

      How did the dental work go?

      Delete
    4. Nic: "Therefore, the claim whales arose via a slow, progressive series of morphological changes which eventually turned a land dwelling four legged mammal into a sea dwelling legless mammal is not empirically scientific. It is nothing more than an interpretation of historical data through the philosophical lens of evolutionary thought."
      By that argument, the claim that mountain formation is the result small small sequential uplifting of a land mass caused by one continental plate running into another continental plate is not empirically scientific.

      Delete
    5. William,

      "By that argument, the claim that mountain formation is the result small small sequential uplifting of a land mass caused by one continental plate running into another continental plate is not empirically scientific."

      Not at all the same. Plate tectonics is an ongoing process which is observable in real time and is in that way repeatable and testable. That is not the case with evolution. It is not observable in real time, it is not repeatable and not testable.

      Delete
    6. Well, you are half correct. According to science, a theory is a hypothesis (or assemblage of hypotheses) that stand the test of time, testing, evidence, etc.

      Evolutionism cannot be tested. No one knows how to test the claim that eukaryotes evolved by means of blind and mindless processes. That goes for all biological systems and subsystems

      Delete
    7. OTOH ID makes testable claims, IC being one of them.

      Delete
    8. William, you're correct. That's not empirically scientific either. A competing view is that mountain formation is the result of rapid uplifting as a result of catastrophic plate tectonics. You can't empirically test either, although in both cases you can see with is more consistent with the data.

      Delete
    9. By that argument, the claim that mountain formation is the result small small sequential uplifting of a land mass caused by one continental plate running into another continental plate is not empirically scientific.
      Except you can see mountains today in their various stages of formation, this cannot be said for whales.

      Delete
  6. Nic: "Not at all the same. Plate tectonics is an ongoing process which is observable in real time and is in that way repeatable and testable.
    Has anyone seen a mountain form? No. We have seen minuscule uplifts in the crust that we presume will result in mountains over thousands of years. Just as we have seen changes in gene frequency in populations. You are demanding a burden of proof from evolution that you don't demand from plate tectonics or ID

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have never observed that changes in gene frequency can produce the type of transformations required for universal common descent. There isn't any way to test such a premise.

      Also it is your position which claims to have a process of "numerous, successive, slight modifications" (Darwin 1859) so it is up to the people defending it to produce it. ID does NOT make such a claim so it does not have such a burden.

      ID claims to have a step-by-step process fro determining if something was intentionally designed. And we have supported that claim.

      So it appears that William doesn't understand science nor the burden of proof. William also doesn't seem to understand that ID is not anti-evolution

      Delete
    2. William,

      "You are demanding a burden of proof from evolution that you don't demand from plate tectonics or ID."

      Again, it is not at all the same. First, plate tectonics and gene frequency are not at all analogous. Plate tectonics can be observed to push material upwards creating ridges as such it is not a stretch scientifically to extrapolate over time that higher ridges would be the result.

      In the case of gene frequency all observations demonstrate there is a limit to change over time. Canines always remain canines, equines always remain equines, etc., etc. Therefore, it is a great stretch scientifically to extrapolate that changes in gene frequency will result in all life originating from a single common ancestor.

      Delete
    3. Nic, I have to disagree. Extrapolating changes in gene frequency of time is a reasonable extrapolation. In the time frame of dog domestication we have not witnessed a mountain formed.

      I am off to Frankfurt and Paris with my wife. Hopefully I don't break an ankle walking across a parking lot. :)

      Delete
    4. William,

      "Nic, I have to disagree."

      You don't have to, but you are going to, this I know. :)

      As for dog domestication, they are still dogs, so not exactly a great base from which to extrapolate descent from a common ancestor.

      I hope you have a great trip to Europe. Please be careful and come home safe. There is more to worry about there than slippery parking lots.

      Delete
    5. Nic:
      As for dog domestication, they are still dogs, so not exactly a great base from which to extrapolate descent from a common ancestor.
      And, from the time we first started domesticating dogs, plate tectonics and uplifting have resulted in little more than a small hill. Hardly a mountain.

      I hope you have a great trip to Europe. Please be careful and come home safe. There is more to worry about there than slippery parking lots.
      Thank you for your concern, but the danger is greatly over stated. I have been to Europe many times, in many countries, and the biggest danger I ran in to was to my wallet. A Big Mac in Oslo was $34.

      Delete
    6. William,

      "And, from the time we first started domesticating dogs, plate tectonics and uplifting have resulted in little more than a small hill. Hardly a mountain."

      But as I said before, William, the two scenarios are not analogous. The only factor they have in common is time, nothing else.

      "Thank you for your concern, but the danger is greatly over stated."

      I'm sure it is, but it is more volatile than it used to be, that is for sure. I had a friend on a routine trip to Washington DC who wound up only a block or two away from the Pentagon at the time the plane hit on Sept 11.
      Just be careful.

      $34 for a Big Mac! I don't spend that much when I take the grandkids! But then again, they are not big eaters.

      Delete
    7. A Big Mac in Oslo was $34.

      When? I was there in the 1990s and although it was expensive it wasn't any more so than any other big city.

      This site:

      https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/Oslo

      shows a combo meal is around $12 (1USD = 8.5kr)

      And if you are in Oslo you should be eating the salmon at a waterfront restaurant.

      Delete
  7. William - "Thank you for your concern, but the danger is greatly over stated. I have been to Europe many times, in many countries, and the biggest danger I ran in to was to my wallet. A Big Mac in Oslo was $34."

    To defend William here, he is absolutely correct on the price, but for me it was a Burger King Whopper. The only thing that was a whopper was the price, the burger was small. This was back in June 2006 in the summertime and it was pouring rain the whole four days we were there. The prices here in most of industrial EU are a joke, go to east Europe if you wish better prices. Norway is not part of E.U., but most of their economy is Oil based. If Oil caves they are up a creek. I've never understood the extreme prices there other than the need to pay for all those wasteful welfare entitlement programs. Going there next Weekend, we take our own food now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What type of food are you planning on bringing? There are many restrictions for bringing food into Europe.

      Delete
  8. Nic: "

    Here is someone else's experience in December 2015. There may be a difference in Oslo itself compared to outside of the city. My friends went there and there Hotel room cost $300 a night in Oslo, they stayed two nights. Then next morning the taxi driver made a mistake and took them to the wrong Airport and they missed their flight to London to come back to the State. To get another flight from Oslo to London (which is a nothing flight time-wise) cost them $650 a piece. The prices in Oslo are ridiculous

    Oslo Norway Trip

    ReplyDelete
  9. The worst part was that a bottle of beer cost over $20. The same bottle in Canada is around $5.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2655101/Most-expensive-cities-beer-London-Oslo-hit-wallet.html

      The world's ten most pricey cities for beer...

      1. Oslo (£2.87)
      2. Zurich (£2.46)
      3. Tokyo (£2.45)
      4. Tel Aviv (£1.92)
      5. London (£1.72)
      6. Kuala Lumpur (£1.59)
      7. Sydney (£1.58)
      8. Singapore (£1.55)
      9. Hong Kong (£1.49)
      10. Rio de Janeiro (£1.39)


      Delete
  10. While Dr. Venema's creationist upbringing may have played a role in him becoming an evolutionist I would rather say that it may better be explained by having a worldly nature. Your worldly nature can end you up in all kinds of places if its not dealt with at the cross.

    ReplyDelete