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Dangerous Pseudoscience

Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 0:05
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by the Rev. Graeme Craig, Moderator, Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)

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A variety of false religions, philosophies and teachings are attacking the Gospel today. One of these is modern-day historical science. Both the disciplines of historical biology – that is to say the study of evolution – and historical geology teach much that is mere pseudoscience – assertions that are not genuine science. Despite the claims of many scientists and the media, it can easily be shown that much that passes for historical science is not truly scientific at all but dangerous pseudoscience. It is a danger not only to the Church and individuals, but to science and society at large.

Outside the Church many consider such claims to be utterly bizarre. Within the Church some see them as bringing the Gospel into disrepute or feel the subject is not very spiritual. However, such thinking is shallow and betrays a lack of faithfulness to Jesus Christ, our great Prophet and King. It is a biblical principle that all truth is God’s truth and has its origin in him. He is the God of truth who cannot lie. He has revealed the true origin of the universe in his Word and it is the duty of everyone everywhere to believe and profess it. Moreover, the One who spoke in the Scriptures, has also revealed himself in creation. David could sing “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Psalm 19:1-3. The hand prints of the Creator must therefore be consistent with the Creator’s voice speaking in the Scriptures. Sadly, for many years, there has been a tendency to accommodate Scripture to mainstream historical science, rather than seeing it for what it is, dangerous pseudoscience. Even some of the great heros of Church history have failed us. The result has been disastrous as well as dishonouring to Christ. The truth of God as Creator is being vociferously attacked today by many including Richard Dawkins. It is therefore the duty of the Christian and the Church to resist error. Luther’s words at the time of the reformation are equally applicable today. He said “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest expression every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however, boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace, if he flinches at that point.” We shall therefore consider why today’s historical science deserves to be called pseudo-science and why it is dangerous and must be resisted.

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Much which passes for historical Science is modern-day pseudoscience

What is science?

Today, there is a common perception that science has the ability to answer all of man’s questions. Many speak as if science has exposed God as a hoax. Some even look to it for meaning and morals in life. How foolish. Those who speak this way, betray the fact that they do not really know what science is. This is not surprising, given the failure among many scientists themselves to remember the limits of scientific knowledge or even consider the influence preconceptions can have on the results of scientific thought. The first thing that must be considered is the question, “What is science?” Science has been defined as ‘the use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena’. Thus scientists produce results through observation and experiments which are repeatable. These lead to the production of general laws and theories which are viewed as objective knowledge but are open to falsification. In this way many useful scientific discoveries have been made. It put man on the moon and has provided medicines to protect people’s health. However, when it comes to the study of origins, whether in Biology or Geology, an often-overlooked problem is encountered. Origins has to do with unobservable and unrepeatable past events. During the creation period, there was no one present (apart from the Creator) to observe or record what happened. It was an unrepeatable past event. Thus, while today’s observations may produce general laws about what is happening now and could have happened in the past, they cannot tell us what did happen. To counter this, some scientists speak of the principle of uniformity, which views present-day processes as the key to the past. However, this is a philosophical assumption and is not objective scientific knowledge. Thus evolution as an explanation of origins presupposes various beliefs. When it comes to Geology, the same lack of objectivity is evident. The only objective scientific facts are the location, nature and composition of the rocks and associated fossils. How they got there and their age are matters of  interpretation which depend on the assumptions and presuppositions of the geologist. Geology cannot therefore give objective scientific support to the theory of evolution or speak infallibly about things which no one saw occurring. Thus, despite the claims of many geologists and evolutionary biologists, the assertion that the earth is millions of years old and that “goo to you” evolution has actually occurred, is based on philosophical assumption and dogma, not on objective scientific knowledge. Whilst Christians who take the history of the Genesis narrative seriously readily acknowledge that their investigation of origins are shaped by their belief in a historical, 6 x 24 hour day creation, many old-earth and evolutionary scientists don’t even realise they have presuppositions in the first place.

This does not mean, however, that the study of origins is impossible or that observational science has nothing to say about origins. It can be used to assess whether the historical inferences made by creationists and evolutionists are tenable. When this is done creation is seen to be a much more reliable explanation of origins whilst evolutionary Biology and old-earth Geology are seen to be merely pseudoscience or science fiction.

 

Evolution is pseudoscience

Many biologists assert that all living organisms alive today have evolved from more primitive organisms, and that somehow, billions of years ago, life arose spontaneously of its own self in a ‘primordial soup’. The facts, however, do not support such an idea, but rather point to God’s creative actions. That evolution is mere pseudoscience can be shown from a few strands of evidence.

 

Evidence from Fossils

Despite the exaggerations of evolutionists and the media, there are too many gaps in the fossil record to back up evolution. Under the old-earth timescale, the major animal groups all appear suddenly in the fossil record without any intermediate forms. Over the years, various types of fish have been suggested as evolutionary intermediaries between fish and the first tetrapods, the four-footed land animals.

Coelacanth, Tiktaalik and Panderrichthys, all allegedly dated around 380 million years old, have been suggested as intermediaries because, it was suggested, the multiple digits at the end of the bony part of their pectoral fin was thought to be similar to digits on tetrapod limbs. However, even allowing for a similarity, it is a long way from a few digits on the end of a fin to the sort of limb required for walking.

Moreover, when a live Coelacanth was caught off Madagascar in 1938, it was observed that its so called limbs were actually used for the deft manoeuvring of its fins. The digits had nothing to do with walking. Only wishful thinking could turn it into the missing link between fish and tetrapods. Interestingly, there are many examples of the discovery of living fossils like the Coelacanth – live animals once presumed extinct which have shown no evolutionary development over what is allegedly hundreds of millions of years. This suggests that evolution does not actually happen.

Whether it be tetrapod, horse or human evolution, the fact that fossils can be lined up which look similar to provide a hoped for line of descent proves nothing. There are no missing links, just finished products re-arranged to produce the appearance of lineage and descent. Just because apes have some features similar to humans is no proof of evolution from an ape like ancestor. The changes required are vast. The human knee joint is a masterful piece of engineering enabling the femur and fibula/tibia to lock into place in an upright position. An ape cannot walk upright because it has no such knee joint and is not designed to do so!

 

Evidence from DNA

When it comes to DNA, the amazingly sophisticated genetic code and information at the heart of life, the laws of physics, chemistry and information theory are against its formation without a Creator. Evolutionists are at a loss to even begin to come up with a credible explanation for its origin. They are not being objective scientists when they demand that we accept that DNA arose by chance.

 

Evidence from Mutations

Genetic mutations together with natural selection are allegedly the driving force behind evolution. However, recent research has discovered that such is the nature and frequency of genetic mutations that within a relatively short space of time (100,000 years maximum), the decay and degeneration of our genetic code would lead to the extinction of the human race. In other words, there is no time for evolution to occur. All mutations are essentially damaging, even although they may occasionally provide beneficial side effects. They cause, amongst other things, cancer and ageing. “All multicellular life on earth is undergoing inexorable genome decay because the deleterious mutation rates are so high, the effects of the individual mutations so small, there are no compensatory beneficial mutations and natural selection is ineffective in removing the damage.” Thus “evolutions’s engine, when properly understood, becomes, evolution’s end.”

A recent study in The Open Evolution Journal observed that like computer programs, living organisms have built-in error detection and error correction systems for the copying and transmission of their DNA. These systems are required to maintain the information’s integrity, which would otherwise be eroded by constantly accumulating random mutations. Evolution, however, requires various genetic alterations which the mutation repair mechanisms guard against. Thus for evolution to proceed, mutation protection would have to be switched off, yet if this occurs, errors quickly build up and wreck the system. This “mutation protection paradox” exposes the unjustified pseudoscientific claims of evolutionists, but is no paradox to those who believe in creation.

 

Much historical Geology is pseudoscience

Most geologists claim the earth is 4.6 billion years old and adhere to uniformitarianism, the principle that the observation of present geological processes provides the key to past earth history. However, many of their pseudoscientific theories and explanations are actually contradicted by field observations and laboratory experiments. Three brief examples will show this.

 

Granite Formation

Traditionally it has been assumed that granite melts slowly and then rises through the earth’s crust as a diaper or molten balloon-shaped mass of magma until after a long time it eventually solidifies. Yet writing in 2005 in The Proceedings of the Geologist’s Association Vol.116, old-earth geologist Prof. John Clemens, has shown that magma production, transportation and solidification occurs very quickly, almost instantaneously. He claimed that the idea that the earth is 4.6 billion years old had “a psychological effect of tempting one to consider geological processes as slow and continuous. After all, there is all that time to fill” and concluded that granite production belongs with an increasing number of geological processes that were “catastrophic in their suddenness”. This accords with what young-earth creationists have been saying for years.

 

Mud Deposition

For many years geologists have thought that extremely fine clay particles suspended in water are so light, that even if some were to flocculate (clump together), any turbulence in the water would keep them in suspension, preventing their deposition. Thus they assumed very long periods of tranquil water were required for the deposition of mud and shale. However a recent study published in the journal Science Vol.318, 2007 has indicated that mud can actually be deposited from rapidly flowing waters. The lead researcher stated “All you have to do is look around. After the creek on our university’s campus floods, you can see ripples on the sidewalks once the waters have subsided. Closely examined, these ripples consist of mud.” After conducting experiments in a flume tank to simulate natural conditions, they concluded that mud was settling and moving along the bottom of the flume (producing ripples) “at flow velocities that are much higher than anyone thought would have been expected.” Flow rates sufficient to move much larger sand grains still allowed for the deposition of mud layers. It now appears that conventional geologists may have to reappraise their thinking on how many sedimentary rock types are formed. Flood geologists have long challenging the flawed, pseudoscientific interpretations of geologists. Once more the observed evidence favours the geological paradigm of a Noachic flood.

 

Flat Gaps in Sedimentary Rock Layers

Throughout the world there are places, such as the Grand Canyon, where successive layers of sedimentary rock have been laid one on top of another. Often these flat rock bands can be traced over vast areas. According to uniformitarian geologists, these rocks were laid down successively over hundreds of millions of years. One problem, however, is the presence of flat gaps, called paraconformities, in the rock record where sediment representing millions of years is said to be  missing. If sediment was not being deposited, then erosion would be expected to have take place. In some areas, there are clear erosional surfaces and contact between one rock group and another. One example is the Torridonian Sandstone of Northwest Scotland which overlies Lewisian Gneiss. However, in the Grand Canyon there are assumed flat gaps allegedly representing from 10 million to 100 million years, where there is no obvious erosional contact and geologists often have difficulty identifying the boundary between strata which are allegedly of vastly different ages. Despite the fact that there is no evidence of any gap, other than on the basis of uniformitarian assumptions, it does not appear to the geologists that the proposed millions of years never occurred. Many of the flat gaps are not localised but extend over vast areas. The uniformitarian explanation does not work. The evidence, if reinterpreted in terms of a Noachic flood model, fits much better.

 

Much which passes for historical Science is dangerous pseudoscience

A danger to Science

If evolutionary biology and much historical geology are mere pseudoscience, then it follows that they are dangerous. This danger is not only to spiritual things which they contradict, but to science itself.

Firstly, it undermines the rational basis of science. It is not rational to demand that science must conform to unprovable presuppositions. In no other field would this be allowed, yet scientific materialism holds sway under the guise of being scientific. There is tendency to define science as “a process of seeking natural explanations for natural phenomena.” This excludes the possibility of Intelligent Design or a Creator because of its presuppositions. As Dr Scott Todd put it “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.” Nature, 30/9/1999. This is madness. No wonder G.K Chesterton could say that Darwinism is “an attack upon thought itself.”

Secondly, it leads to the arrogant rejection of any scientific endeavour which refuses to accept the presuppositions of scientific materialism. This was admirably revealed in the documentary film Exposed, which revealed the prejudice and at times, persecution meted out to those who reject the prevailing view in favour of Intelligent Design or Creationism. That this should occur to researchers in historical science is not unsurprising, but often those castigated and attacked are involved in fields of observational science far removed from historical science. Those who do this in defence of pseudoscience never consider that it may be their critics’ scientific training that has made them aware of how unscientific historical science is.

Thirdly, it leads to the squandering of precious research resources. If the opening premise of an argument is flawed, truth will never be discovered. For 200 years uniformitarianism has held sway amongst geologists. Over the last fifty years, the creationist movement has exposed much of their reasoning as flawed, pointing out that most of the sedimentary rocks seen today can better be explained in terms of catastrophe, the Genesis Flood. Only recently have unbelieving geologists begun to recognise that some geological features, such as the English Channel, have been formed due to catastrophic flooding. There are many other examples. However, of more concern is the effect of evolutionism. Much biological, medical and even psychological research is conducted on the premise that evolution has occurred. The results will be flawed because the starting point is wrong. For example, the usefulness of the human appendix was ignored for years because it was presumed to be a vestigial organ.

 

A danger to the Church

Were the errors of historical scientists limited to scientific research, the discussion could be left to the scientific community. However, their claims directly challenge theology and therefore the Church. Scripture unequivocally indicates that “It pleased God … for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.” CoF IV.ss1. However, on the basis of a pseudoscience riddled with presuppositions, Christians have been challenged to reject the plain teaching of Scripture in order to accommodate the so called teachings of science. “The Bible is not”, so we are told, “a scientific manual. It only spoke to men in their own times using concepts familiar to them.” Granted this is generally true, the statements are irrelevant. Scripture is the Creator’s revelation to man who knows about creation, not through his own concepts and thinking, but because God has made him to know he is a creature and has explained something of his work in his Word. Many, however, have allowed their view of the authority of Scripture to be subtly undermined in the face of a godless pseudoscience. For them, rather than allowing Scripture to speak for itself, it must be twisted to fit the latest views of science – which themselves are open to change.

This undermining of the authority of Scripture affects more than the opening chapters of Genesis. Throughout Scripture, a literal six-day creation, with a literal Adam and Eve, in a literal paradise is assumed. As R.L. Dabney stated in 1851, “The position to which they consign God’s word is that of a handmaid, dependent for the validity of the construction to be put upon its words, on their (the scientists’) permission. Now this we boldly assert, is intrinsic rationalism…..exalting the conclusions of the human understanding over the sure word of prophecy.” It is little wonder that during the 19th century, the Scottish Church largely capitulated to rationalism and liberalism, when even its great leaders often failed to see this. We are reaping the bitter harvest of their failure. The lesson of that failure is that the Church needs to assert the full authority of Scripture in all that it teaches and asserts, however unpopular this may prove. Whether it be in lifestyle, origins, the place of women in Church and society or how the Church worships, loyalty and love to Christ our Prophet demands complete submission to the authority of his infallible and inerrant Word. Indeed the Church’s welfare demands it; not to maintain its authority will lead to the grieving of the Holy Spirit and the withdrawal of his influence in the Church. Without him, individual Congregations and Denominations will soon cease to exist as true Churches of Christ.

It is also a fact that today in Britain militant atheism is attacking the Church, especially in the area of origins. Only a robust defence of the Scripture doctrine of creation and with it the exposure of historical pseudoscience, will meet the enemy and repel him. All other compromise positions on origins are unsatisfactory, weak and undermine the foundational truths of Scripture.

 

A danger to individuals

If historical pseudoscience is a danger to the Church it follows that it is also a danger to individuals. Those outside the Church are vulnerable to being taken in by pseudoscience and thus failing to see their own danger as sinful creatures accountable to their Maker, Sustainer, Lawgiver and Judge. In evangelism we must be able to give a robust reason for the hope that is within us, showing people where they have come from and where they are heading unless they repent. Paul’s method at Athens must be ours. We must make known the God who is unknown to the present generation and call them to repentance.

Those brought up within the Church are also in danger unless they come to Christ. In the nurturing of our covenant children both everyone involved needs to ensure the Church’s youth are enabled to resist dangerous pseudoscience and the anti-Christian world-view associated with it. For too long our own Church failed. In recent years things have changed, but are equipping our youth as they should be? For how long will parents tolerate handing over their precious children to be taught in a godless secularized education committed to pseudoscience? The sooner the Church and individuals embrace the concept of a thoroughly Christian education, the stronger the Church will become.

 

A danger to society

The pseudoscience that endangers individuals, also endangers society, for no man is an island. .  Evolutionist Daniel Dennett likened Darwin’s evolutionary idea to a “universal acid: it eats through just about every traditional concept, and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view, with most of the old land-marks still recognizable, but transformed in fundamental ways.”  This, it would appear, includes any ethical and moral system it encounters, for behaviour and morality must be read in the light of darwinian evolution.  Such transformed  morality, is, as can be shown, not a real (or objective) morality at all.  Indeed, evolutionism tends to the abandonment of any search for morality and meaning in life, something many evolutionary advocates desire.

There is also a tendency to use it to explain human behaviour and justify immorality (even rape). However, as Phillip Skell noted in The Scientist (29.08.05), “Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centred and aggressive—except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed—except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behaviour, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.”

It is beyond doubt that the Eugenics movement which sprang up in the late 19th Century gained an influence it did not deserve through the respectability and authority of science and its promotion by a small cabal of committed darwinists. This gave rise in the 20th Century to the racism and anti-Semitism of the Nazi era. Although the view “that black people were closer in evolutionary scale to apes than white people is seen by scientists as ghastly mistake” its traces remain today. Nobel Laureate James Watson was quoted in The Times in October 2007 as saying “[I am] inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa [because] all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours—whereas all the testing says not really.” This was explained in evolutionary terms. Indeed he spoke of the reasonableness of abortion being used to enable mothers to chose various characteristics of their children, including sexual orientation. This is already happening in children with potentially minor birth defects. The same thinking has apparently motivated some mass killers, including those involved in Columbine High School Massacre in 1999.

G.K. Chesterton said “Darwinism can be used to back up two mad moralities, but it cannot be used to back up a single sane one. The kinship and competition of all living creatures can be used as a reason for being insanely cruel or insanely sentimental; but not for a healthy love of animals … That you and a tiger are one may be a reason for being tender to a tiger. Or it may be a reason for being cruel as the tiger. It is one way to train the tiger to imitate you, it is a shorter way to imitate the tiger. But in neither case does evolution tell you how to treat a tiger reasonably, that is, to admire his stripes while avoiding his claws.”

It is therefore little surprise to note that one author has written of the “the historical fact that Darwinism has been the most significant contributing cause in the de-christianisation of the west.” This is not to deny the natural depravity of man’s heart. However, it must be recognised that the Devil uses various strategies to blind the hearts of men to the truth, and major success in the west has been achieved through the pseudoscience of evolutionism and historical geology.

 

Conclusion

Given such an attack on reason and the Church, individuals and society, there is a need for Christians today to stand against the virulent attacks of dangerous pseudoscience. The Scripture of truth is being attacked vigorously by those who foolishly adhere to historical pseudoscience. The Church herself, has for too long tried to compromise and has allowed the authority of scripture to be undermined in the face of what was perceived to be truth, but is in reality, unprovable assumptions. What is required is not an accommodation of Scripture to the latest fads and assertions of unbelieving pseudoscience, but adherence to the truth and the bringing of every thought into submission to Christ. For the good of perishing sinners, for the good of the Church and for the good of society, we must hold fast the plain teaching of Scripture and reject the oppositions of science falsely so called.

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Moderator: the Rev. Graeme Craig

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Graeme Craig was born in Paisley in 1964 and was educated at Dundee University and the Free Church College, Edinburgh. Prior to being called in 2009 to the key congregation of Stornoway he was minister on the Ardnamurchan peninsula and later in Lochalsh & Glenshiel where he also took responsibility for Genelg and Arnisdale.

In the struggles which engulfed the Free Church in the years prior to 2000 Mr. Craig, although at that time a relatively junior minister, played a pivotal support rôle for those loyal to the constitutional position of the historic Free Church of Scotland, ensuring that those of them who were members of Assembly had ready access to accurate and relevant information. In recognition of the abilities shown during that critical period, when the Free Church divided in January 2000 Mr. Craig was appointed Assistant Clerk of the General Assembly of the Free Church (Continuing).

He is married (1989) to Roberta, a languages graduate from Rathfriland, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, and they have eight children aged from four to twenty.

Perhaps unusually for a minister, Mr. Craig has an honours degree in Geology and, contrary to some public perceptions of geologists, has a special interest in “young earth creationism” and the creation-evolution debate. Very much opposed to the secular, scientific materialism agenda being promoted through the education system and the media, he occasionally writes exposing the folly of such things. He sees many of society’s problems due to the rejection of biblical truth and the acceptance of pseudo-science, pseudopsychology and false relativistic morality. He believes that the Church needs to recover confidence and point this out in world.

In his youth a keen badminton player, he now has little opportunity for it in his busy life. He continues, however to pursue his longstanding interest in singing. With a wry sense of humour he admits to enjoying arguing and being pedantic, characteristics allegedly common among Assembly Clerks.

Mr. Craig comes to the Moderatorial Chair much younger than most, but with a vast range of experience and very wide respect.

Rev. John MacLeod, Senior Press Officer and Principal Clerk of Assembly
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