Saturday, June 5, 2010

Francis Collins, William Dembski and ID the Future

Opponents of creationism often ignore its vast literature rather than strive to truly understand the other side. Francis Collins, founder of BioLogos and Director of the Human Genome Project, quotes Henry Morris with regard to the cultural impact of evolution, but fails to fully interact with his more recent scientific work defying Darwinism. [1] He should have dealt with The Modern Creation Trilogy by Henry Morris and John Morris (1996). In The Language of God, Collins has one reference for his chapter on Creationism (not even a creationist reference), but there are eight references for his chapter on Intelligent Design (ID).
Francis Collins (on the right) thinks that creationists hold that species are static. [2] The kinds God made during Creation Week display only limited variation – this may in general be at the family level (elephants, armadillos, anteaters etc.). Collins exhibits another point of confusion regarding the creationist stance, “… the geologic strata and the fossils within the various layers were created in a few weeks by the worldwide flood.” [3] There are Pre-Flood, Deluge and Post-Flood deposits and the Global Flood lasted about a year. Collins denies the possibility of accelerated nuclear decay, but ignores the results of the RATE team. [4] Even mainstream scientists admit that some isotope decay rates vary. [5] Francis Schaeffer accepted that the radioactive decay rates may not be constant. [6]

Collins runs to Saint Augustine to support his old-earth views. [7] Actually, Augustine held that the earth was about six thousand years old. Collins is also under the impression that creationists insist, “… that every word of the Bible must be taken literally…” which is quite false. [8] He leans toward taking Genesis 2 as poetry and allegory, but the statistical analysis of preterite verbs has shown that Genesis 1:1-2:3 is historical narrative, not poetry. Collins quotes C. S. Lewis in defense of his views, but Lewis showed creationist leanings in his latter years. C. S. Lewis said in 1951, “The point that the whole economy of nature demands simultaneity of at least a v[ery] great many species is a v[ery] sticky one.” That is all basic types of life existed at the beginning, such as insects and the flowers they pollinate. Accepted dating claims that certain insects appeared millions of years before the flowers they pollinate. Collins even denies that Job and Jonah are historical. [9] He is also completely oblivious to the creationist responses to the distant starlight problem. [10] According to Collins, “Young Earth Creationism has reached a point of intellectual bankruptcy” and that biblical creationists are “… effectively committing intellectual suicide.” [11] Collins is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation (open to theistic evolution) and I would refer him to an article in their Journal defending Global Catastrophe by Loren Steinhauer of MIT.
Francis Collins calls William Dembski “the leading mathematical modeler of the ID movement.” [12] Dembski claims that Scripture contains examples of Intelligent Design, “Predictive prophecies in Scripture are instances of specified complexity…” which is the criteria to determine ID. [13] Scripture teaches that God created the world in six regular days (24 hours) about six thousand years ago and the planet was destroyed by a global cataclysm during Noah’s day (kataklusmon, 2 Peter 2:5). Dembski now admits that the Flood was global:

…not only Genesis 6–9 but also Jesus in Matthew 24 and Peter in Second Peter seem clearly to teach that the Flood was universal. As a biblical inerrantist, I believe that what the Bible teaches is true and bow to the text, including its teaching about the Flood and its universality.
When will Dembski accept the young earth view? Soon, I hope and pray. Dembski spoke at this years meeting of the International Society of Christian Apologetics in Fort Worth (see pic above) where a number of creation scientists spoke (S. Austin, J. Morris and N. Jeanson). [14] Dembski did not treat the young earth defenders as “intellectually bankrupt” and attended lectures supporting the Global Flood. If only Francis Collins had such a generous attitude.

William Dembski seems to favor the fixity of kinds, “Actual scientific evidence, both experimental and paleontological, supports only limited variation within fixed boundaries…” [15] He also references The Natural Limits to Biological Change by Lane Lester and Raymond Bohlin. Art Battson may be the most ardent advocate of the conservation and stability of kinds (limited common ancestry [16]) within the ID community. Even ID super-star Michael Behe concedes that the data favors limited variation:

… data available in just the past decade from studies of microbes which occur in nature in truly astronomical numbers, such as the malarial parasite and HIV, demonstrate random mutation to be incoherent, and Darwinian processes capable of only trivial changes to pre-existing systems. … Extrapolating from such data allows relatively precise, firm limits to be placed on what is reasonable to expect of unintelligent processes…
Nancy Pearcey, Senior Fellow with the Discovery Institute, provides similar sentiments, “Is change limited or unlimited? – that simple question is the heart of the creation and evolution controversy … For centuries both laymen and specialists have known that biological change is in fact limited.” [17] Even evolutionist Francis Hitching agrees, “Genes are a powerful stabilizing mechanism and they minimize the chances that new forms will evolve.” [18] Once the fixity of kinds is assumed the only sensible interpretation of the geologic record is via Noah’s Flood. Acceptance of the Global Flood leads to a young earth interpretation.
“ID the Future” is an excellent ID podcast, but what about the real future of ID and its stance on the young earth? Francis Collins predicts the “ultimate demise” of ID and that is has already been refuted and that it is headed “to the bottom of the ocean.” [19] In contrast, Phillip Johnson, the father of ID, has become sympathetic to creationism:

l have met many young-earth creationists and respect their position, whatever the world may think of it. They are dismissively called “Genesis literalists,” but this is a caricature. … Creationists read Genesis not with a wooden literalism but by an interpretive principle that was standard everywhere before the rise of postmodernist innovations such as deconstruction and reader response theory: a text should be read as the author meant it to be read. [20]
He is even willing to consider that certain “constants” may have changed:

All that is necessary to research the lifespans in Genesis 5 is to put aside the philosophical dogma of uniformitarianism and proceed instead on the assumptionthat the basic “constants” of physics may have changed over time. [21]
Is Phillip Johnson ready to accept accelerated nuclear decay and the evidence for a young earth provided by the RATE team? If William Dembski doubts the results of the RATE team he can go to a local coal mine in Texas where he lives and have a sample dated by radiocarbon. I predict that the sample will be dated in the 40K-60K range and not millions of years old; “come, Dembski, come – the game is afoot!” How does Dembski explain bivalves, supposedly millions of years old, with their original ligaments intact! Geologist Andrew Snelling, who’s young earth research was referenced in the July 2004 issue of Sedimentary Geology, has a perfectly reasonable explanation:

The pristine fossils disgorged by these mud springs, still with either their original external iridescence or their original organic ligaments, can’t be 165 million years old! Both the fossils and the strata that entombed them must only be recent. They are best explained as testimony to the global watery cataclysm in Noah’s day about 4,500 years ago.
Will ID evolve into Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC)? Time will tell.  Also, who actually is the Intelligent Designer?   Read the bold new book on Young Earth Science (YES).
“It is written” appears 78 times in Scripture – we must base our thinking in all areas, both academic and practical, on the Bible. Evolution only leads to despair, but God’s Word brings wisdom:

Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Bound in affliction and irons - Because they rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High (Ps. 107:10, 11).

Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” (Deut. 4:5, 6).

1) The Language of God by Francis Collins, (Free Press, New York, NY, 2006), p. 5.
2) Ibid., p. 172.
3) Ibid.
4) Ibid., p. 173.
5) “Half-life (more or less)” by Davide Castelvecchi, Science News, November 22, 2008, Vol. 174, No. 11, pp. 21-23.
6) The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer by Francis Schaeffer, (Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, 1982), Vol. 2: p. 134.
7) Collins, pp. 174, 175, 199, 200.
8) Collins, p. 175.
9) Ibid., p. 209.
10) Ibid., pp. 176-177.
11) Ibid., p. 177, 178, emphasis added.
12) Collins, p. 194.
13) Intelligent Design by William Dembski, (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1999), p. 233.
14) “Taking God Seriously” by Lawrence Ford, Acts & Facts, June 2010, p. 3, we attended this conference.
15) Dembski, p. 250.
16) “Common Ancestry and the Bible – Discerning Where to Draw the Line” by Nathaniel Jeanson, Acts & Facts, June 2010, p. 6.
17) “Everybody Can Know: The Most Powerful Evidence Against Evolution” by Nancy Pearcey, Bible-Science Newsletter, June 1987, p. 7.
18) “Where Darwin Went Wrong” by Francis Hitching, Reader’s Digest, 1982, Vol. 121, No. 725, p. 14.
19) Collins, pp. 194, 195.
20) The Right Questions: Truth, Meaning & Public Debate by Phillip Johnson, (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2004), p. 57, emphasis added.
21) Ibid., p. 147.


Norm Patriquin said...

Inerrant BIBLE? Absolutely...more than anyone imagines. Newly. Detected pattern in Biblical numbers reveals consistent progressive themes in every number. Impossible. ..absolutely, but it exists.

Doug said...

Your strongest blog yet, Jay. Keep up the good work!

SPARC said...

Dembski's Intelligent Design surely is pure creationism already.