Nicholas J. Matzke’s Analysis On Creationism

Former Public Information Project Director at the NCSE, writes out a blueprint to be passed on to future followers of evolution which has been used as a tactical approach to fight creationism. Let’s begin with this common thread that one hears from those who defend evolution…

“Creationist movements consist of an organized group of creationist authors, speakers, activists, and fans who bandtogether in support of a more or less coherent program. The program typically includes a societal goal, a set of strategies to reach it, and an elaborate, though jerryrigged, apologetic argument constructed out of a hodgepodge of claims about science, history, philosophy, law, and theology. The argument is meant to explain why the creationist view is correct despite near-universal disagreement from the thousands of academics with direct expertise in the relevant fields.”

The disagreement in which he refers to is stacked by governments around the world and goes by a philosophy which Dr. Scott Todd, of Kansas University has told about this very thing in nature magazine..“Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.” So we know numbers of academics disagreeing or agreeing is not relevant to the outcome rather how the information is interpreted. Another example from a previous post concerning a proposal which was elevated to a ‘theory’ not because the majority of academics embraced it but because it was interpreted by using evolution.

As far as relevant fields as Matzke’s points out, Charles Darwin considered himself a geologist not a biologist, yet his relevant field isn’t questioned when he came up with his version of evolution. But I have seen evolutionists knock ideas from those who are critical of Darwinian evolution but not evolution in particular. This co-evolutionist, who used to promote his blog by only writing in popular ones is flawed in his ideas about the origins of life which are unique, he is disregarded for various reasons.

“Figuring out what flavor(s) of creationism you are dealing with is particularly important in secular forums such as academia, public policy disputes, and court cases, in which creationists usually attempt to hide their underlying theology.”

Matzke’s attempt (with the NCSE) to reconcile Christianity and religion with evolution for the sake of special interests evangelizing for evolution is also flawed. Evolution argues against engineering in the designs of nature from a highly advanced Creator, namely God. As far as hiding underlying theology, he’s referring to the modern intelligent design movement which has great arguments against neo-Darwinism but is not the same as creationism.

It’s good for Christians to learn how Christianity is being attacked by a secular philosophy that is at war with your faith.

Thomas Jefferson who is one of the founders of the United States, once said, “I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition.”

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11 thoughts on “Nicholas J. Matzke’s Analysis On Creationism

  1. First:

    1) Blog readership numbers ?

    (2) Your qualifications to discuss any scientific subject, in response to the challenge to Olorin.

    (3) A substantive review of Signature in the Cell, promised for August 2009.

    (4) outstanding question from Upson Downes on mitochondrial Eve

    Also,

    I still want you to refute me on what I show about the bacterial flagellum. . . .

    . . . the flagellum IS NOT EVEN IRREDUCIBLE. — G. Kuwajima was able to remove ONE-THIRD of the 497 amino acids from the flagellum, AND IT STILL WORKED PERFECTLY!!!!! . . . Also, we know that the L and the P-rings can be taken away from the flagellum, and it will STILL work. . . .

    Still waiting for a refutation . . . .

    Failure to refute can be taken as an indirect admission.

  2. Krissmith77, you beat me to is, this time !

    New look for the blog, so who knows, we might get some answers.

    Otherwise we seem to arrive at these conclusions:

    1) very few readers

    2) no qualifications whatsoever

    3) won’t happen

    4) no clue

    5) admission

  3. I’ll renew my new question to Michael, one that doesn’t need any expertise. logic, or even grmmar:

    Michael, why do you deny the existence of dark matter? Especially since dark matter would seem to favor creationism, not vitiate it.

  4. Olorin

    Michael, why do you deny the existence of dark matter? Especially since dark matter would seem to favor creationism, not vitiate it.

    I’m curious. How?

  5. Onr eo f the major arguments for special creation is that you can’t crete something out of nothing.

    SDark matter gives you four times as muuch something to create out of the same amount of nothing that you had before.

    Dark energy should be even better. Since it has a constant density, more stuff is being created all the time, saecula saeculorum.

  6. Evolution argues against engineering in the designs of nature from a highly advanced Creator, namely God.

    You have it backwards again, Michael. Evolution is actually the superior technology, not design. If God wanted to use the best approach, one we are only beginning to understand, he would turn to evolution.

    My graduate study was in a field that today would be called “systems theory.” But that was half a century ago, when we worried about whether a system was positive real (i.e., passive), and whether its graph was planar (i.e., realizable in two dimensions). All kinds of things have changed while I was away writing patent applications. One of the most significant is the theory of complex systems—networks of large numbers of parts that interact with each other to produce system-wide behavior.

    Such systems exhibit phenomena that had heretofore been entirely mysterious. Emergent behavior. Self-organization. Tipping points. Chaotic orbits. Some of these qualities have philosophical implications as well. For example, emergent behavior may explain mind/brain dualism. Chaotic orbits may solve the free-will problem. Complex systems arise in many different fields—from statistical physics to to meteorology to biology to economics.

    Laurie Mitchell, a staff researcher at the Santa Fe Institute, experiments with cellular automata.[1] A cellular automaton consists of a large number of cells, each having a small number of very simple rules, and each having communication with certain other cells.[2] One of the systems Mitchell studied had a long row of cells that could be either black or white, and started from a random distribution of black and white cells. Its task was to determine the color of a majority of its cells, and turn all cells to that color. Each cell could sense the color of 3 neighbors on each side, and had a “genome” of what color to turn itself, based upon the configuration of itself and its neighbors. (There are about 250 possible genomes for these constraints.) A few dozen systems with random genomes were run for about 1,000 steps, but after each run of a few dozen systems, their relative “fitness” in reaching the goal were measured. After a few mutations, the best ones ran again, and so on, through 200 or so generations. Fitness levels increased rapidly, then began to level off. At the end, the automaton was very successful in performing its function.

    For comparison, Mitchell and her colleagues designed a number of genomes they thought would be successful. One surprising result of this experiment was that, in terms of both successful completion and efficiency of operation, the evolved genomes beat the socks off the human designs every time.

    The human designs, of course, followed a definite strategy that the designers could write down easily. Another startling result was that the system had evolved rules that took the designers several months to figure out. They simply could not understand the strategy the system was using. This turned out to be a general result—for a given function, systems that evolve tend to be more complex than systems that are designed.

    Another finding that held in general for all of their experimental subjects was that the automaton organized itself into robust patterns in carrying out its goal. In the black/white example system, blocks of black cells and blocks of white cells grew and merged, forming new patterns, until the entire system became either all black or all white, as the goal required

    A general finding was that held in general for the experiments was that the systems generated new information in furtherance of their goals[3] In the black/white example, the boundaries of the black and white blocks transmitted information that governed the fate of other blocks.. The investigators analogized the boundaries of these blocks to the paths and interactions of of atomic particles! The system was using boundaries as information carriers to affect the fate of other blocks.

    .

    Stuart Kauffman[4] has been instrumental in applying these findings to biological structures. He irritates many biologists by maintaining that natural selection plays a secondary role in evolution—that the major driving force is self-organization powered by far-from-equilibrium dynamics.[5] Kauffman concentrates on origin-of-life scenarios. On the biological side, he investigates autocatalytic chemical reactions. On the mathematical side, he has invented “random binary networks” as simplified models. An RBN is a network of interconnected cells. In contrast to cellular automata, each cell may have a different rule, and the “neighbors” of each cell[6] are not fixed in space. More sophisticated networks may drop some of those assumptions. That is, the rules may change over time, and the number and location of neighbors may vary . The “binary” part of the name comes from the restriction that each cell can have only two states—either ON or OFF. Neural networks, for example, are RBNs.

    As simple as these models are, they can mimic many behaviors of complex systems—including genetic systems. They can evolve rapidly, are more complex than comparable designed systems, usually perform better than human-designed systems, organize themselves into strong patterns, and generate and communicate information for attaining their goal.

    .

    As we all know, computers were not initially invented to solve problems, or even to surf the Web. They were conceptual “machines”[7] for investigating the nature of—of what? Of mathematics. But also of human thought. John von Neumann invented two kinds of such machines, both of which are capable of solving any “computable problem.”

    The first computer architecture is the “von Neumann machine.” It is the basis for every programmable computer built today. It is characterized by a central controller that executes a single program. The other components, memory and input/output, are necessary, but passive. That is, a von Neumann architecture features central control. A single executive power guides the function of the entire system.

    The second computer architecture is called “non-von Neumann,” in spite of its origin. This architecture is also capable of solving any computable problem, although it functions quite differently. Instead of a single central controller, it comprises a very large number of autonomous components, each operating according to its own (usually very simple) program of rules), and interconnected together by links that communicate information via (again, simple) signals. The cellular automata and RBNs described above are forms of non-von Neumann (nvN) computers.

    Non-von Neumann computers are rare, primarily because they are extremely difficult to “program” to achieve a desired result in a short amount of time. This is primarily due to the dispersed nature of the components and the difficulty of predicting what any given rule set will do. (You might say that nvN machines work like our brains, rather than like our minds.)

    Whereas it is difficult to design programs for nvN machines, it is easy to evolve them. These machines, although slower to find solutions, often achieve better results.[8] For example, compare free capitalist economies (nvN architecture) with Soviet-style centrally planned economies (von Neumann architecture).

    .

    The point of all this is, which model best represents living organisms?

    Creationists love to compare living organisms to a computer—but they have in mind a von Neumann computer, with a program and a single Central Controller. That is, creationists portray life as having a von Neumann architecture. On the other hand, evolution models biological systems as non-von Neumann machines. Each element (at several different levels) operates according to its own rules, and communicates information with its neighbors, all at a low level, without a central controller.

    Evolution argues against engineering in the designs of nature from a highly advanced Creator, namely God.

    The question then becomes, which path did God choose? The simpler, quicker “engineering” approach used by human designers, or the slower but usually better “evolution” approach? I vote for the latter, because God is smarter than any of us. And he has more time.

    ==============

    [1] One of the two computer architectures invented by John von Neumann–and therefore called a “non-von Neumann architecture.” :-) Studied at length by Stephen Wolfram when he was at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies. Popularized by Oxford mathematician John Conway in his “Game of Life.”

    [2] Does this sound a little like biological cells with signaling capabilities? It should. Or, on a deeper level, genes having interactions with each other? It should. Or, going the other way, like a bee hive or an ant colony? It should. Or, still higher, a human civilization with its social structures? It should. The beauty of systems theory is its generality, applying to vastly different types of systems at many different levels.

    [3] That is, what Stephen Meyer and William Dembski call “specified complex information.”

    [4] Kauffman is a theoretical biologist who became interested in complex system theory. He now holds a 4-year appointment as Distinguished Professor at Tampere University in Finland. His current research project is developing stochastic models of genetic regulatory networks.

    [5] Most chemists, physicists, and biologists focus on systems that are at equilibrium or near enough to be approximated by equilibrium dynamics. Ilya Prigogene was perhaps the first to appreciate that equilibrium dynamics cannot begin to approximate living systems, since they are all too far from that state, by definition. Unfortunately, the math is horrendously complex, and Prigogine did not live to see his ideas to fruition.

    [6] That is, the other cells with which it may communicate.

    [7] Scientists use this word to denote any collection of components that performs a function according to definite rules, whether it be implemented in the materials of human technology, natural elements or molecules, or even as purely abstract entities. (So don’t get all excited by the terminology.)

    [8] And they occasionally do some stupid things, or get locked into poor performance.

  7. Olorin :Onr eo f the major arguments for special creation is that you can’t crete something out of nothing.
    SDark matter gives you four times as muuch something to create out of the same amount of nothing that you had before.
    Dark energy should be even better. Since it has a constant density, more stuff is being created all the time, saecula saeculorum.

    In that case, we should tell Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International :P

    The only Creationist organization that doesn’t have a problem with it, to my knowledge, is Reasons To Believe.

  8. Reasons to Believe is an old-earth outfit. Why that should matter, I have not a clue.

    Another reason that creationists might wish to embrace dark matter is that it is “mysterious,” that it is like the hand moving over the waters. And, of course, that so-called science can’t explain it; it’s always worthwhile to poke the scientists with a sharp stick.

  9. Thomas Jefferson who is one of the founders of the United States, once said, “I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition.”

    It may seem a little odd for Michael to quote a non-Christian favorably.

    Or does Michael realize that Jefferson was not a Christian? Considering his level of ignorance, it is certainly possible.

    Just in case, then—

    Michael, Thomas Jefferson believed that some force or other had created the universe. However, he did not believe in a personal god, or in the divinity of Jesus. You may (or may not) remember that he kept a Bible with what he believed were the false passages cut out; this Bible was very thin. As to creation, he lived before Lyell and Erasmus Darwin, thus had no alternative as to whether the universe was “created.” Had he lived later, he probably would have held closer to Einstein’s view.

  10. Olorin said, “It may seem a little odd for Michael to quote a non-Christian favorably.”Building a strawman again I see…Your response isn’t relevant to my quote. And to your history lesson, evolution was certainly around during Jefferson’s time…

    Concepts like spontaneous generation has been around since the fourth century B.C. Dr. Jan Batista von Helmont (1579-1644) claimed that life (mice in particular) came from dirty underwear. The procedure was outlined by him as taking a piece of dirty underwear with some wheat in an open mouth jar, and after 21 days the odor changes as a chemical reaction with the wheat begins to happen which resulted in the creation of mice. Even when this hypothesis was falsified, people back then still believed in the concept but not Jefferson.

  11. ,blockquote>
    ”Building a strawman again I see…Your response isn’t relevant to my quote. And to your history lesson, evolution was certainly around during Jefferson’s time…

    Touche on the history lesson. The concept of evolution was extant by Jefferson’s time. What was not available to him was any theory of evolution—any mechanism which could drive it. Without that, evolution remained only a curiosity.[1]

    But you mistake the purpose of my response. Your purpose in quoting Jefferson was to denigrate the theory of evolution.

    In theology, pronouncements from authorities are—well—authoritative. Isaiah’s words are to be followed because he spoke for God. His words are true ipsa causa. No observations, no experiments.

    In science, no one speaks authoritatively in this way. A modern expert in a field, who is in possession of the latest facts, is entitled to have hi opinion in the field of his expertise given weight.[2] That’s why we have expert witnesses in court trials. However, even an expert speaking in his field can be—and frequently is—overruled by later evidence, or by a better theory for explaining existing evidence.

    Michael, you continue to conflate the different foundations upon which religion and science rest.. Science may have experts, but not authorities. In science, evidence trumps anyone’s pronouncement.[3] Therefore, Jefferson’s words, while of historical interest, have no weight in confirming or vitiating any scientific theory. Just as Darwin’s ideas do not.[4] (Sorry, Charlie.)

    ================

    [1] Alfred Wegener faced the same problem with continental drift. He had evidence that pointed toward it, but he could propose only wind and tides as possible mechanisms. And was justifiably laughed at for that. It was not until plate tectonics provided a model that the mainstream paid much attention.

    [2] As Charles McCabe (San Francisco Chronicle) once said, “Any clod can have the facts. It takes an expert to have an opinion.”

    [3] An example of reverse conflation: I am looking into early Gnostic beliefs. One of the major reasons the (proto) orthodox theologians denigrated them was that the orthodox writers were taking as literal narratives the purely symbolic accounts of how the world, and God, came to be. That is, the orthodox incorrectly applied their own framework to the works of the Gnostics.

    [4] Darwin would hardly recognize today’s “Darwinism.”

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