Re: information creation and promissory materialism (was Especially for Bertvan) #2

Stephen E. Jones (
Fri, 15 Oct 1999 20:41:01 +0800


On Tue, 12 Oct 1999 22:29:29 -0700 Chris Cogan wrote:



>SJ>>Some theists might justly be accused of following a God of the gaps, but
>>I have never heard of one who believed that God was only revealed in the
>>gaps in our knowledge.

>CC>No, but that's the only place He is deemed to be *needed*.

So Chris merely confirms that the "God of the gaps" is a NS invention, not
actually held by TS!

>SJ>>But materialists-naturalists who claim that science will eventually fill
>>any gaps in are really believing in a "science of the gaps":

>CC>Yes, but, considering that this confidence depends only on the premise that
>Existence is naturalistic and causal, and considering the fact that the
>methods of the empirical sciences have found out more (and corrected more
>theologically-based errors) in a hundred years than the theological approach
>did in *thousands* of years, it is no wonder that confidence in this way of
>approaching scientific questions remains high.

Such "confidence" however depends *absolutely* on NS's *philosophical
assumptions*. If matter is all there is (Materialism) and the universe is a
closed system of interlocking cause-and-effect (Naturalism) then NS is on
the right track and its "confidence" is well-placed.

But if matter is *not* all there is (e.g. there is also a supernatural Intelligent
Designer) and the universe is *not* a closed system (e.g. the Intelligent
Designer can and did intervene in natural history), then NS is on the
*wrong* track and its "confidence" is mis-placed.

>SJ>"Some claim that we can never conclude that an event is a miracle
>>because science may find a natural cause for the event in the future ... I
>>think that this position is a question-begging, science-of-the-gaps
>>argument to the effect that since natural causes have been found for a
>>number of phenomena, then natural causes will be found for all of them.
>>I see no reason, however, to accept this argument ... If we have good
>>theological, philosophical or scientific grounds for suspecting that
>>some phenomenon is the result of a primary causal act of God...then I
>>do not see why we cannot do research in light of this conviction and, in
>>principle, obtain confirmation for it in a specific case like the origin of
>>life." (Moreland J.P., in Geivett R.D. & Habermas G.R., eds., "In
>>Defense of Miracles", 1997, p145).

>CC>If there is no reason we cannot do such research, then why hasn't any such
>research ever discovered anything?

This is a complex historical question. Basically it is because TS has been
shut out of science by NS. And this in turn is because: 1) the prime focus
of theists is *theology* whereas the prime focus of materialists is *matter*;
2) the Christian church did not respond well to Darwin-Huxley's
naturalistic challenge in the late 19th century; 3) the desire of most people
to assert their freedom from God (which is a major theme of the Bible)
meant that they would seize eagerly on any half-way plausible NS creation

But now people are starting to realise they might have thrown the baby out
with the bathwater:

"Secularised intellectuals have long been complacent in their apostasy
because they were sure they weren't missing anything important in
consigning God to the ashcan of history. They were happy to replace the
Creator with a mindless evolutionary process that left humans free and
responsible only to themselves. They complacently assumed that when their
own reasoning power was removed from it's grounding in the only ultimate
reality, it could float, unsupported, on nothing at all. As modernist
rationalism gives way in universities to its own natural child postmodernist
nihilism, modernists are learning very slowly what a bargain they have
made. It isn't a bargain a society can live with indefinitely." (Johnson P.E.,
"Nihilism and the End of Law", First Things, March 1993, No. 31.

>CC>What does such a view of miracles add to
>scientific research? If you are studying how electrons behave, will a belief
>miracles help you figure out how they behave?

Probably not. Generally NS and TS have equivalent explanatory power in
the ongoing *operation* of the universe. It is *origin* events that TS has
superior explanatory power over NS.

>CC>If you are doing experiments
>to find a way in which life might have originated, will your belief in
>miracles make for a better experimental design? Will it enable you to better
>choose which experiments will lead to an answer?

Yes. See above re human intelligent designer being necessary for the
success of OoL simulations. TS would predict that only with the
incorporation of Intelligent Design into OoL research will a fully successful
simulation of OoL be possible:

"When it is acknowledged that most so-called prebiotic simulation
experiments actually owe their success to the crucial but *illegitimate* role
of the investigator, a new and fresh phase of the experimental approach to
life's origin can then be entered. Until then however, the literature of
chemical evolution will probably continue to be dominated by reports of
experiments in which the investigator, like a metabolizing Maxwell Demon,
will have performed work on the system through intelligent, exogenous
intervention. Such work establishes experimental boundary conditions, and
imposes intelligent influence/control over a supposedly "prebiotic" earth.
As long as this informative interference of the investigator is ignored, the
illusion of prebiotic simulation will be fostered. We would predict that this
practice will prove to be a barrier to solving the mystery of life's origin."
(Thaxton C.B., Bradley W.L. & Olsen R.L., "The Mystery of Life's
Origin", 1992, p185)

>>BV>As naturalistic explanations are found, theists must
>>>revise their religion (not a bad system), and as naturalistic
>>>explanations reveal more complexity and unexplained
>>>phenomena, science must revise it's theories. (The same
>>>excellent system some theists use.)

>SJ>Generally agree. But despite the propaganda, it is not always "religion"
>>which has to change to accommodate science. As I posted recently, the Big
>>Bang is an example where science had to admit that the Christian
>>theologians who believed the Bible were right all along:

>CC>Of course, there is nothing at all about a Big Bang in Genesis (or
>*anywhere* in the Bible), so it seems extremely unlikely that there is any
>reason that any scientist would have to admit that the Bible was "right all

Chris shows by this how hard it would be to convince a committed
materialist-naturalist. He would only accept that the Biblical picture and the
scientific picture could be reconciled if the Bible actually had the *words*
"Big Bang" in it. And even then he would not accept it because he would
say that Fred Hoyle (who coined the term derisively) probably heard it is
Sunday School!

>CC>In fact, Genesis *flatly* contradicts the Big Bang theory, right in
>the first few verses.

No. The concordance with the Big bang and Genesis is *only* in the *first
verse*, Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the

>CC>Only by the grossest distortion of either Genesis or
>the Big Bang theory, or both, could this possibly be interpreted as "being
>right all along."

Unfortunately for Chris the facts are that *only* Bible believing
JudeoChristian theologians taught that the universe had a beginning:

"Again, I must stress that the speck from which space emerges is not
located in anything. It is not an object surrounded by emptiness. It is the
origin of space itself, infinitely compressed. Note that the speck does not
sit there for an infinite duration. It appears instantaneously from nothing
and immediately expands. This is why the question of why it does not
collapse to a black hole is irrelevant. Indeed, according to the theory of
relativity, there is no possibility of the speck existing through time because
time itself begins at this point. This is perhaps the most crucial and most
difficult aspect of the big bang theory. The notion that the physical
Universe came into existence with time and not in time has a long history,
dating back to St Augustine in the fifth century." (Davies P.F.C., "The Day
Time Began", New Scientist, Vol. 150, No. 2027, 27 April 1996, p32)

And when it was realised that Einstein's theory of relativity and the
astronomical observations pointed to the universe was expanding
atheist/agnostics like Einstein, Eddington, Hoyle and Maddox opposed it:

"Einstein fought the idea of a beginning, but other researchers fought
harder. Why? Consider how much was at stake, how many ideas, theories,
and isms had already been built on the foundation of an infinitely old
universe. If that foundation was removed and replaced by one with
completely different specifications, much or most of what had been built on
top of it would come tumbling down or at least require major
reconstruction...The desire to keep God out of the picture was no hidden
agenda but a clearly expressed one. British cosmologist Sir Arthur
Eddington (18821944) expressed his feelings clearly: "Philosophically, the
notion of a beginning of the present order of Nature is repugnant.... I
should like to find a genuine loophole." "We [must] allow evolution an
infinite time to get started." The battle was on to protect certain belief
systems, especially evolutionism (the belief that inorganic material evolves
into simple cells and later into advanced life without any input from a
divine Being), and to defeat the notion of a beginning, with its obvious
implications." (Ross H.N., "The Creator and the Cosmos, 1994, p51).

"In 1948 three British astrophysicists, Herman Bondi, Thomas Gold, and
Fred Hoyle, circumvented the beginning via ' continual creation". Their
models suggested that creation of matter is an act of nature, even a law of
nature, not a one-time miracle from outside nature. Skipping past any
attempt to explain the expansion of the universe, they proposed that the
voids resulting from expansion are filled by the continual, spontaneous self-
creation of new matter...The champions of this steady state hypothesis
made their theological position clear from the start. Bondi and Hoyle
declared their opposition to the notion that anything could transcend the
realm of nature. Hoyle made no bones about his opposition to Christianity.
To his thinking, `the Universe is everything' and to suggest otherwise is
"crackpot." (Ross H.N., "The Creator and the Cosmos, 1994, p51).

"The Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism in the winter
19921993 issue of their magazine Free Inquiry lined up four physicists to
write articles under the banner "Does the Big Bang Prove the Existence of
God?" The British journal Nature enlisted its physics editor, John Maddox,
to write an editorial titled "Down with the Big Bang."...Maddox predicts
that since young-Earth creationists have "impaled themselves on the hook
of trying to disprove the relatively recent geological record," it will be only
a matter of time before "the impatient creationists will have to retreat to the
Big Bang" to support their belief in creation. Maddox concedes that
creationists' beliefs have "ample justification" in the big bang. For this very
reason he declares the big bang "thoroughly unacceptable" because it
implies "an ultimate origin of our world" whose cause or Cause, lies
beyond the universe." (Ross H.N., "The Creator and the Cosmos", 1994,
third printing, pp75-76)

And when it was confirmed by the COBE satellite in 1992, astronomers
admitted the Big Bang was a confirmation of Genesis:

"George Smoot, University of California at Berkeley astronomer and
project leader for the COBE satellite, declared, "What we have found is
evidence for the birth of the universe." He added, "It's like looking at God."
Theistic pronouncements abounded. According to science historian
Frederic B. Burnham, the community of scientists was prepared to consider
the idea that God created the universe "a more respectable hypothesis
today than at any time in the last hundred years." Ted Koppel on ABC's
"Nightline" began his interview of an astronomer and a physicist by quoting
the first two verses of Genesis. The physicist immediately added verse three
as also germane to the discovery...Geoffrey Burbidge, of the University of
California at San Diego, complains that his fellow astronomers are rushing
off to join "the First Church of Christ of the Big Bang."(Ross H.N., "The
Creator and the Cosmos, 1994, p19).

CC>Stephen, you've been chided several times before by others for your
>apparent inability to actually *understand* what you read.

I have found that the problem usually is in the understanding of the people doing
the chiding!

CC>So, I suggest you get out your good ol' scruffy copy of the Old Testament
>and read the first few verses *very* slowly, very carefully, several times, and
>then compare that with a similar careful reading of a summary of the Big Bang
>theory. You might as well equate the Swan Lake ballet with stampeding

I have read Genesis 1 many times. But now I would ask Chris to get out
his "good ol' scruffy copy of *Enuma Elish*, which is the Babylonian
equivalent of Genesis, and compare what Genesis 1 would be expected to
be like if its writer(s) did not have supernatural guidance:

"When above the heavens had not [yet] been named,
[And] below the earth had not [yet] existed as such,
[When] only Apsu primeval, their begetter, [existed],
[And] mother [mummu] Tiamat, who gave birth to them all;
[When] their waters [yet] intermingled,
[And] no dry land had been formed [and] not [Even] a marsh could be
When none of the gods had been brought forth,
Then were the gods created in the midst of them [Apsu and Tiamat] .
Lahmu and Lahamu [deities] they [Apsu and Tiamat] begat."


"The evil wind, following after, he let loose in her face.
When Tiamat opened her mouth to devour him,
He drove in the evil wind, so that she could not close her lips.
As the raging winds filled her belly,
Her belly was distended, and she opened wide her mouth,
He shot off an arrow, it tore her belly,
It cut through her vitals, it pierced [her] heart.
When he had subdued her, he destroyed her life.
He cast down her carcass [and] stood upon it."


"The lord rested, to look at her dead body, [to see]
How he might divide the colossus [and] create wondrous things
[therewith] .
He split her open like a mussel into two parts;
Half of her he set in place and formed the sky,
He fixed the bar and posted guards."

("Enuma Elish", Tablet I, lines 1-10; IV, lines 93-104, 135-139, in
Unger M.F., "Archaeology and the Old Testament", 1964, pp28-29).

>SJ>"... For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason,
>>the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of
>>ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls
>>himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians
>>who have been sitting there for centuries." Jastrow R., "God and the
>>Astronomers", 1992, pp106-107).

>CC>Yeah, right.
>Despite Jastrow's gloating over the apparent failure of reason to go past
>the Big Bang

Jastrow is an *agnostic* astronomer and he is not "gloating". In the book
he is *regretting* that science cannot go past the Big Bang.

>CC>there is no reason to believe that the difficulty is anything
>more than the result of faulty premises

No. Jastrow points out that the problem is the destruction of *information*
of anything that might have been before the Big Bang:

"Consider the enormity of the problem. Science has proven that the
Universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks, What cause
produced this effect? Who or what put the matter and energy into the
Universe? Was the Universe created out of nothing, or was it gathered
together out of preexisting materials? And science cannot answer these
questions because, according to the astronomers, in the first moments of its
existence the Universe was compressed to an extraordinary degree, and
consumed by the heat of a fire beyond human imagination. The shock of
that instant must have destroyed every particle of evidence that could have
yielded a clue to the cause of the great explosion. An entire world, rich in
structure and history, may have existed before our Universe appeared; but
if it did, science cannot tell what kind of world it was. A sound explanation
may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science
cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist's pursuit of the past
ends in the moment of creation." (Jastrow R., "God and the Astronomers",
1992, p106)

>CC>and that, in any case, it's only temporary.

No. See above. Jastrow points out above that it is *permanent*, because
"the heat... [and] ...shock of that instant destroyed every particle of
evidence". Science will therefore *never* be able to penetrate "the moment
of creation."

>CC>Jastrow, to be not *nearly* as blunt as I'd like to be, is full
>of bull-excrement. He was obviously not qualified to be delving into such

Here are Jastrow's qualifications "to be delving into such topics":

"An internationally known scientist and authority on life in the Cosmos, Dr.
Jastrow is the Director of the Mount Wilson Institute, which manages the
Mount Wilson Observatory in California-the site of the first discoveries
leading to the Big Bang theory. Dr. Jastrow joined NASA at the time of its
formation, and founded and was for 20 years the Director of NASA's
Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Dr. Jastrow was the first Chairman of
NASA's Lunar Exploration Committee, which set the scientific goals for
the exploration of the moon. He is the recipient of the NASA Medal for
Excellence in Scientific Achievement and a member of the Board of
Governors of the National Space Society. Formerly Professor of
Astronomy and Geology at Columbia University and Professor of Earth
Sciences at Dartmouth College, Dr. Jastrow is widely known for his
television appearances in astronomy and space exploration. He has been
host of more than 100 CBS-TV network programs on space science. Dr.
Jastrow's books on astronomy and space have sold more than a million
copies." (Jastrow R., "God and the Astronomers", 1992, inside cover)

Now maybe Chris could post *his* qualifications "to be delving into such

>>BV>Only an agnostic suspects neither side will reach any final, ultimate

>SJ>Bertvan here commits a fallacy. *Neither* "science" nor "religion" claims
>>that its side will reach "final, ultimate truth". The *real* question is
>>about getting relatively *closer* to the "final, ultimate truth".
>>But there is an asymmetry here. If the "final, ultimate truth", is that
>>the materialist is right and the "final, ultimate truth" is that there is
>>nothing but matter in mindless motion and undirected, impersonal physical
>>forces, then it doesn't really matter much about getting closer to the
>>ultimate truth. In that case the universe would be ultimately meaningless
>>and life on Earth a fortuitous accident, which will inevitably be snuffed
>>out never to return at the next turn of the cosmic wheel of fortune.

>CC>Well, *that's* silly. And irrelevant. If you are getting the "meaning"
>of your life out of something like God, then, for *you*, the universe
>would ultimately be meaningless. But, for the rest of us, life goes on, full
>of meaning, God or no God, whether life is a fortuitous accident or not.

What ultimate (and therefore proximate) "meaning" exactly is there in the
universe if it is all destined to end in heat death and it will inevitably be as
though mankind never existed, which is atheism's premise:

"That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they
were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves
and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms;
that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve
an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of: the ages, all the
devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius,
are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the
whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the
debris of a universe in ruins-all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are
yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to
stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm
foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be
safely built." (Russell B., "A Free Man's Worship", in "Mysticism and
Logic: And Other Essays", 1949, reprint, pp47-48)

>SJ>But if the materialist is wrong and the "final, ultimate truth", is that
>>there is in fact an Intelligent Designer who brought into being the universe, life
>>and human consciousness, and who has revealed Himself to man through the
>>Bible, then it most certainly *does* matter about getting closer to that
>>"final, ultimate truth"!

>CC>There is a slight problem here. There may be an intelligent designer who
>nevertheless is *not* revealing himself through the Bible or any other book
>(or by any other means at all).

Of course. That's why I said "But if..."

>CC>You have no evidence that, *IF* there is an
>Intelligent Designer, it will be *anything* like the various versions of God
>in the Old and New Testaments.

On the contrary. Since Intelligent Design theory merely aims to
demonstrate the *fact* of design, without saying any more about the
Designer that he is of sufficient intelligence and power to cause the effects
claimed, then ID's Intelligent Designer will *easily* be "like the...God in
the Old and New Testaments".

>CC>In fact, considering the nature of the
>Universe as far as we can tell, we can guarantee that it *won't* be like the
>various Gods of the Bible (who didn't even know that the Earth was round,
>and who knew almost nothing of mathematics, logic, biology, chemistry, and
>physics, etc.).

Chris is getting confused here with what the God of the Bible knew and
how he accommodated His message down to the level of the ancient
human beings "who knew almost nothing of mathematics, logic, biology,
chemistry, and physics, etc".

The really amazing thing is how stunningly *near* to what modern science
has finally revealed is Genesis 1, compared to the gross mythological
accounts of the adjoining Mesopotamian cultures of the same era.

CC>A final point: You quote a lot of people, but seem to have few actual
>independent thoughts of your own.

Apart from the fact that I am *pioneering* an "independent" model of
Mediate Creation, the excerpts from books and journals that I quote have
become my thoughts also. I wouldn't quote them if I didn't believe them.
And I usually preface them with a brief comment.

CC>Is this just because you lack the ability
>to come up with such views yourself

I am a layman and I freely admit that I am dependent on the data that
professional scientists, philosophers and theologians provide. But that is
true of *everybody*. Where did Chris get his data from if it is not from

But the *interpretation* of the data is in the final analysis mine.

CC>or do you think that quoting Jastrow,
>et al, will somehow make your arguments seem more reasonable?

This is a *debate* I supply quotes from scientists like Jastrow as
*evidence* to support my arguments. So do other people on the opposing
side supply quotes to support their arguments. Chris is welcome to argue
against my quotes or provide counter-quotes of his own if he wants.

CC>From my point
>of view, it doesn't help much for you to back up *you*r bad arguments with
>the bad arguments of *other* people (especially when you seem to have gotten
>your bad arguments from them in the first place).

Chris is welcome to his "point of view". But his idea of a "bad argument" is
my idea of a *good* argument! Other people on this List who don't share
Chris' atheist worldview write to me and say they *like* my quotes.

There is a lurker on this List from an Eastern European country, where
books are hard to get, who takes all my quotes and prints them out for his
fellow members of that country's Creation Society.

I assume that when my opponents criticise the very fact of quotes, without
debating their contents, that they are hitting their mark! I never expect my
arguments to convince my hard-core opponents like Chris. My aim is: a) to
argue for the *truth* as I see it; and b) build up my own understanding;
and c) to persuade, if possible, any relatively uncomitted lurkers on this

CC>Further, I've noticed that
>much of what you quote has *remarkably* little substance, like the three
>large quotes above. *None* of them point to any actual facts. All three are
>the kinds of collections of generalities one hears at after-dinner speeches,
>full of rhetoric but short on substance. I, for one, am not impressed by
>this kind of empty blather.

See above. Since Chris is a dogmatic atheist I do not expect him to be
"impressed by" my arguments. I would indeed expect him to regard them
as "empty". The problem, as I say constantly is Chris' atheistic
*worldview* which filters out anything that is contrary to that worldview.

I used to be an atheist once and I can still remember how blind I was.

CC>If you are going to quote people, at least quote
>them when they actually have something to add, such as a specific fact to
>back up your point (or theirs), or some actual reasoning. Please.

So what Chris is asking is for the opposing Creation side of the debate to
present only those arguments that his Evolution side consider to be OK.
Guess who would win the debate under those conditions!

This is in fact what the materialist-naturalists have managed to do in
society. One can see how weak their case is when there is anything like a
level playing field where the creationists can argue back!

Thanks again to Chris for participating in this debate. As I said, in line with
my new policy of trying to keep the frequency of my posts down, I may not
respond to any more posts from Chris on this topic.


Stephen E. (Steve) Jones ,--_|\ Email:
3 Hawker Avenue / Oz \ Web:
Warwick 6024 -> *_,--\_/ Phone: +61 8 9448 7439
Perth, Western Australia v "Test everything." (1 Thess. 5:21)