The Pence Diversion

Is Pence’s leaving early from the Colt’s game a political stunt or just a diversion?

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Recently the liberal media made a point that Vice president Mike Pence’s leaving early from a Colts’ game when about 20 players knelt for the national anthem was a political stunt. But if it was a political stunt then what was the players’ kneeling? If Pence’s action was premeditated then how was the player’s action? The liberal media frames the stories in a such a way in order to manipulate the masses. The same type of premeditated action is framed, in case of NFL players, as something great and honorable, standing up for what they believe (well, in this case for standing down for what they don’t believe in). As Peter Heck points out, the liberal sports writers “have fallen all over themselves applauding the publicity stunt of players taking a knee during the anthem for weeks now.” But when it’s not in their favor it’s framed in a negative light as a “political stunt.” This way the masses’ attention will be distracted from the fact that, if the NFL players have the right to stand down for our country’s flag then Pence (as well as anybody else) has even more right to not want to see an NFL game where the country’s flag is dishonored. But the media’s pointing to a “political stunt” is a diversion. It’s political manipulation and it’s so Orwellian and so typical of liberals.

Pence said that he left the game “because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our national anthem.” Well, that sounds too good to give it to the conservatives, let’s make it be about being a political stunt. I’m pretty sure that Pence realized that it will draw the public’s attention but his office said that the ticket was bought well in advance because “former Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning was set to be honored at the game.” But regardless when the ticket was bought, the kneeling NFL players also realized very well that their action will draw the public’s attention. Most likely that’s the main reason that they did it in the first place. They didn’t do that before the Kaepernick’s first public display of kneeling down for the anthem. They didn’t do it before this was publicized as an act of protest against the country’s leadership. It’s not that their beliefs changed. It’s just that they found a venue to advertise what they believed—a way which was deeply offensive to Trump’s administration and many Americans. They wanted to make a point—which makes it a political stunt. Therefore, if Pence’s action was a political stunt, the NFL players’ was even more so. If Pence’s action was premeditated, the NFL player’s was even more so. But to the liberal media the former is a disgraceful premeditated political stunt and the latter is a right and an action worthy of praise. Each event in a different light in order to influence the public’s beliefs and views.

Another response to Pence’s action is claiming that it cost taxpayers reportedly $250,000. Sports writer Zac Keefer made the same point. One could easily point out, based on data the Business Insider acknowledges that, considering that $45,000 trip that Pence had to make anyway, and the fact that Republican National Committee will reimburse anyway a part of the trip, the cost becomes much smaller. But the issue is not the cost. If they cared so much about the tax payer’s money they could have also questioned many of Obama’s trips, such as his golf trips. But they didn’t. The whole point is to create a diversion, to distract the public’s attention from the meaning Pence himself claimed for his action (as to not dignify the disrespect for our country’s soldiers, flag and anthem). Such a meaning, in the public’s minds, is damaging to the liberals marketing (the use of NFL player’s kneeling for their advertising) and they employ diversion as a means of damage control. It’s sand thrown in public’s eyes so that they can’t see what the liberal media doesn’t want them to see.

But the most impressive fact is how blind some liberals are. Stephen Holder who called Pence’s action “pre-planned outrage” and “fake outrage,” and “total publicity stunt,” was asked “to clarify whether it qualifies as a publicity stunt when players kneel.” His response was: “Probably to you, because you either aren’t listening to them or don’t care. Good day.” The irony is that in the midst of being blind to his own bias, Holder accuses Tony Katz (who asked the question) of being biased and insensitive. As Peter Heck puts it:

Sorry, but that’s just too funny. I’m guessing Holder doesn’t even realize that the exact same thing can be said about his response to Pence: Holder either isn’t listening to Pence when he explains why he left, or he doesn’t care. The vice president stayed, stood, and honored the flag and anthem while it was performed. He chose not to stay and honor the players who disrespected that flag with his presence at their game – like countless other fans have done as well. This isn’t that difficult to understand.

Keefer, Doyel, and Holder don’t want anyone telling players they have to stand for the anthem. But they’re totally fine with telling the vice president he has to stay for the game. This might be why they write about balls for a living.

The Pence incident is just an example but it is so typical of how liberal media deals with the events they report. I’m not saying that the conservative media doesn’t have bias. More or less, everybody does. I do. You do. But the hypocrisy of the liberal media, their self-righteousness (or, in their language, self-political-correctness), their reframing of the data in such away to manipulate the public opinion needs to be pointed out. (And yes, political correctness is another reframing of terms but that’s for another post.)


PS To the liberal readers: While this is about the media bias (and some are so blind that they don’t even realize how they manipulate the public because they deceived themselves to believe what they are saying before selling it to the public which is worse than marketers which at least are aware of what they are doing) this is also an opportunity to find out your political bias level. This is for liberal readers not because the conservative ones don’t have any bias to test but just that this happens to be a good test for ones and not for the others.

For a liberal reader, there are two elements involved here. One has to do with truth and the other with liberalism.

An unbiased liberal reader will care about truth before about caring about taking sides. It’s sad situation when people’s ability to look at the truth is impeded and their beliefs are manipulated. An unbiased reader will welcome when such manipulation is pointed out and will be glad that it was caught. On the other hand, a biased liberal reader will be upset with the whole blog—after all, it reflects negatively on liberals. He will care more about one’s side than about truth. It’s simply because, to him, it’s about pushing liberalism forward more than pushing the truth forward. Regardless if you like it or not, that’s the difference between the attitude of a biased and unbiased liberal (well, more exactly, between a mostly unbiased and mostly biased liberal). The same difference applies to conservatives to any other kind of bias for that matter.

They say that love is blind. Not only that bias leads to cognitive blindness but also that “love” will be easily saddened and offended and will make the topic a “hot topic.” Just try to say something true and negative to a parent about his or her kids. The more negative it is, the more likely the parent will disagree with you and get upset. An impartial judge will not have much emotional involvement nor interest in any side winning and therefore will not get upset if either side looses. An impartial judge will have a “cool” judgment of the facts. This is exactly what we have here. And where you position yourself in the range between “I’m glad I read this and caught this situation. People should know when they are manipulated by the media” and “I’m upset this makes liberals look bad. These are all stinking lies!” will tell you how strong your bias is. The more upset and defensive you got the more biased you are. That’s simply how it works. The more love, interest and emotional involvement you have with a side of a debate the more biased you are and the more upset you will be when your side will be put in a negative light. After all, they are right, love is blind. When you have a side to protect you will get defensive and emotional. But when you have the truth to uphold then sides don’t matter and you will keep your cool.  This test is not about being liberal or conservative. It’s about you being honest to yourself. You’ve got nobody else to fool or honor here.

Of course, here I assume that the data indeed strongly points out that some liberal media outlets are indeed hypocritical and manipulative, at least in this respect. I find the facts just too hard to deny. But if you think I’m wrong in my assessment please comment below and I’ll be willing to reconsider my point.

Is There Any Acceptable Definition of Free-Will?

Yes, we can talk about free will. No, we don’t need to throw the notion in the garbage bin of meaninglessness.

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Somebody wrote to me a private email pointing out that I wrote an essay on free will (Is Free Will an Illusion? Part 1 – The Origins of Free-Will Denial) and I didn’t even define it. While I have reasons not to define it I agree with him that it would have been better if I did. So I will try to remedy that here.

While defining one’s key terms is good practice and can be even expected when there is any risk of ambiguity, I think that free will is a special case. That’s because we do have an inner, first hand experience of free will. In a way it’s similar to how St. Augustine described time:

What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.

We experience time regardless if we understand it or not. (As a matter of fact I find the matter of time fascinating and I did quite a bit of research on it. My conclusion is that there are problems with the concept of time, for example the way that second and meter are defined leads to circular definition as both rely on the equation of velocity c = s/t where c, the speed of light, is given and you have two unkowns, s and t, which render the equation unsolvable—but that’s another topic for another post). In the same way we experience free will and have an intuitive notion of it regardless whether we can properly define it or not or whether we can explain it or not.

Descartes’ famous cogito ergo sum is based on the same direct inner experience. He didn’t need any external proofs that he is in fact doubting or that he is thinking or existing. It was the mere inner experience of it.

But if we can say cogito ergo sum then maybe we can also say “I choose, therefore I’m free.” It is what, after all, Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, did as he describes in Man’s Search for Meaningone of “the ten most influential books in the United States” (of course, some may need to reinterpret here what “influence” means along with what it means that the book has “merit”). He “concludes from his experience that a prisoner’s psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also from the freedom of choice he always has even in severe suffering.” As Frankl says himself:

But what about human liberty? Is there no spiritual freedom in regard to behavior and reaction to any given surroundings? … Most important, do the prisoners’ reactions to the singular world of the concentration camp prove that man cannot escape the influences of his surroundings? Does man have no choice of action in the face of such circumstances?

We can answer these questions from experience as well as on principle. The experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of action. … Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Just as our experience of doubting and thinking prove our own existence (a-la Descartes), our experience of choice may prove our own freedom.

To give another example, you can’t properly define all the words in a dictionary. If you try, you will end up with circular definitions (such as to be means to exist and vice-versa). What do we do then? Throw away the dictionary and give up on communication? No, we simply accept an intuitive notion of some basic terms even though we can’t properly define them. Guess what, everybody else has the same intuitive notion and we have no problem communicating.

The insistence that we should throw away the concept of free will as meaningless has its roots in the logical positivists’ insistence that there are verifiable statements and the rest are unintelligible or pseudostatements. But it is with good reason that logical positivism fell out of favor. As philosopher Thomas Nagel says1 “logical positivism can be eliminated immediately” by applying its claim to itself. This renders it self-defeating. But the same is the situation with free will denial (since it’s related to logical positivism). If you treat the most basic terms in a language as meaningless because can’t establish a “proper definition” for them then you end up with virtually the whole vocabulary being meaningless as all the rest of the terms are ultimately defined in terms of the basic terms. Then the statement “free will is meaningless” is meaningless as well!

That’s, of course, an extreme position that the free will deniers don’t take. Because they are fine with undefined terms and with intuitive notions. But the inconsistency is here: if we find both inner experience and intuitive notions acceptable, then why isn’t the intuitive notion of free will acceptable? Why isn’t a direct, inner experience-based or phenomenological definition of free will acceptable? Things that cannot be properly expressed in words are not few. And things to which language just doesn’t do justice are even more. And “free will” is a prime example.

We can build on this intuitive definition even though not as much as what free will is but more in terms of what it is not (to be done in later posts). However, for the purpose of communication, the intuitive, phenomenological notion does suffice (as we do communicate about time, Descartes’ thoughts and the undefinable terms of a dictionary). The insistence of having a “regular” definition is unwarranted (as it is in other cases I pointed out). After all, free will is not your regular thing. In fact, it’s hard to pick anything more unusual than it. That’s of course if it turns out that it’s not an illusion. If it is, then, well, you can’t really pick anything at all. But at this point, regardless if it is an illusion or not, we can still have a discussion about it. There is no need to throw it in the garbage bin of meaninglessness as though nobody has the vaguest idea what they are talking about. They may not have an explanation but they do know what they are talking about.

This intuitive definition is not an ostensive definition. The problem with ostensive is that requires something external to point to. Free will, however, is an internal experience. An ostensive definition is needed when the other person doesn’t know what you are talking about. However here you have the same experience of free will that I have. The matter is not that you don’t know what I’m talking about. The problem is that you can’t comprehend to your satisfaction what I’m talking about (aka what you are experiencing). Now calling my experience “free will” should suffice to point to the same kind of experience that you have.

Having said that, I could still go further in describing it. While we all experience the passage of time we can’t directly point to it. It’s an inner experience. But we can give enough external clues to point to the same experience in the other person.

Therefore to spell out this intuitive definition, it’s the experience that the outcome of my choices are actions and not mere reactions. That I can make a difference in my life and I’m not just a spectator to my life. That the possible alternatives that I’m facing are, until the moment of my decision, open-ended and not predetermined. That I’m an agent and not merely a robot.

[Note: Last three paragraphs added on 6/28/2017]

Footnotes:

1

The Last Word by Thomas Nagel, a more complete quote:

It is usually a good strategy to ask whether a general claim about truth or meaning applies to itself. Many theories, like logical positivism, can be eliminated immediately by this test.

Is Free Will an Illusion? Part 1 – The Origins of Free-Will Denial

Investigating what set the stage for free-will denial

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I heard about an add in a newspaper which read: “Free help for the illiterate. Write for details.” followed by the address where the illiterate were supposed to write to. The situation is similar here. The title of this blog might be instead “Good news for those deprived of free will. Read on for more details.” But this blog cannot possibly change anybody’s mind if the reader does not have free will. Life would then be a strictly scripted play and no change from the script would be allowed.

While the vast majority of people believe in free will, there are some which don’t. As one could expect, they are materialists. They believe everything is reducible to matter and, given the insurmountable problem of getting fee will out of matter, they decide that we don’t actually have free will. An example is Sam Harris who, in his book Free Willcalls free will an “illusion.” Sam Harris is one of the “four horsemen” of new atheism along with Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett.

Harris claims’ are not new. This point was made by behaviorists, for example by J.F. Skinner in Beyond Freedom and Dignity back in 1971. Skinner derides the illusion of free will or “autonomous man,” as he calls it. He says “What is being abolished is autonomous man—the inner man, the homonuculus, the possessing demon, the man defended by the literature of freedom and dignity.”

However, the rejection of free will is a modern phenomenon. You would think that this tendency simply outgrew from scientific progress made by neuroscience and other fields such as behaviorism. However, I suggest that these are not enough to explain it. There were two ideological developments of modernism that laid the groundwork for free-will denial. One is indeed related to science. More exactly it’s related to a reductionist and materialist view of science or scientism. It started with logical positivism early in the last century.

Science, however, does not require scientism. Understanding how things work does not require in anyway that everything is reducible to that understanding. Newton, for example, who is often considered the greatest physicist of all time did not think that physics is incompatible with metaphysics. He saw the hand of God beyond the reach of science, especially as it pertains to origins. As a matter of fact he wrote more on theology than he wrote on science. Another example is Einstein who exalts the mysterious, the impenetrable—that which is beyond our limited knowledge of science. He says1:

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science… To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.

In this sense, Einstein say, he is “deeply religious.” While he did not believe in a personal God, he believed in Spinoza’s God who “who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists.” To him, getting to know this harmony did not exclude a mind behind it. On the contrary, it revealed “the mind of God” as he famously said “I want to know God’s thoughts – the rest are mere details.”

Besides this reductionist view of science, a second factor that contributed to the advance of free-will denial is related to humanism. The “forward thinking” and “progress” that was touted (aka, departure from traditional views) proclaimed that humans are essentially good. This, along with dethroning God, was simply a side effect of exalting humans. This implied saving humans from the “fearful grip of religion” and liberating them from the guilt that came with it. In 1972, one years after Skinner wrote Beyond Freedom and Dignity, Karl Menninger, reknown psychiatrist and a founder of the world famous Menninger center of psychiatry, wrote Whatever Became of Sin?—a book that is even more timely now than when it was written. A point made in it is that the word sin “has almost disappeared from our vocabulary, but the sense of guilt remains in our hearts and minds.” But many humanists continued to push hard the “humanist progress” and to remove this sense of guilt and responsibility as well. From “the devil made me do it” to “the environment made me do it,” or “the genes made me do it,” human responsibility has been constantly eroded and people have been declared free of guilt. Therefore the problem is no longer with the person in question but rather with external factors2 which the person doesn’t have control over. These external factors are meant to explain one’s actions and behavior and, along with that, to release one from guilt. Those external factors are now to blame. Bad, guilty humans are incompatible with the positive outlook that humanists have on humans. Thus, instead of raising responsible people, the humanists are inevitably raising victims. Indeed, I-am-a-victim thinking and culture is so prevalent today and it came at the cost of personal responsibility. More and more, the attitude is now: “You cant’ blame me. I’m the victim here—victim of my genes, my environment, my upbringing, and a plethora of other external factors. I have no fault in all this.” This attitude is simple a forerunner of the position that humans have no free will. While the latter may seem radical it’s only a few steps further down the same path of “humanistic progress.”

The two factors go hand in hand. The more science explained why one acted the way it did, the more excuses one has for acting the way one did. Both of them are a drastic departure from the Judeo-Christian worldview which lays at the foundation of the Western culture3 and even especially of the US4. It is in this context that free-will denial arose. And, indeed the assumptions that characterizes these factors (such as scientific reductionism) are required prerequisites of free-will denial. It is only on their foundation that free-will denial begins to make sense. The free-will denier must assume that everything is reducible to science, to the how-things-work description of science. The denier must also assume that the external factors effectively cause and determine one’s actions and behavior and thus, fail to establish responsibility.

In the second part, I’ll discuss the arguments for and against free will.

Footnotes:

1

On the same note Einstein says:

I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.

2

While one may say that genes are not an external factor, their make up is indeed determined by external factors such as parents, environment and natural selection.

4

Even Huffington Post admits: “The United States was founded primarily as a result of people wanting freedom of worship and fairness in government. There is no question that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.”

“I Offered a Prayer to God”

An insightful prayer by an unknown author.

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I asked for strength.
God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for wisdom.
God gave me problems to solve.

I asked for prosperity.
God gave me brawn and brain to work.

I asked for courage.
God gave me dangers to overcome.

I asked for patience.
God placed me in situations where I was forced to wait.

I asked for love.
God gave me troubled people to help.

I asked for favors.
God gave me opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted.
I received everything I needed.

                     — Unknown

If you liked the prayer, here’s another one: And God said “NO”.

14 Fossil Objections to Evolution

It is often thought that fossils support evolution. However, many things about fossils don’t support it.

One of the required homework my daughter, who is in public kindergarten, got recently was a booklet called Where Animals Live. After giving examples of several animals and where they live, the book ends with a page (see the image on the side) which tells the reader where Mandy and Michael live. “What does where people live have to do with where animals live?”, one may wonder. Well, the book explains that right away: “People are animals too.”

I love science. I loved it ever since I learned about it. While it didn’t become a career, it became a hobby and I did a lot of reading and research. I’m also interested in the intersection between science and religion and I’ve presented on the topic of evolution at two science-and-religion conferences (one of the abstracts being published in the CRSQ Journal). I may end up alternating productivity posts with science (and religion) posts. The blog below is partly based on the email I wrote to my daughter’s teacher and the school’s principal.

There are many strong arguments for evolution. The question is not whether or not it works but rather where it stops working. The theory of evolution (TOE), or neo-Darwinism, claims that every single feature of biology (apart for the origin of life itself) is the result of evolution. That is, everything evolved from a single, common ancestor. But there are many very good reasons why that’s not the case. Here I’ll just shortly list the fossil related objections to evolution.

  1. Fossils. Fossilization is an very unusual event. It happens under very special conditions. Primarily, a creature needs to be quickly covered by sediments or mud, before it’s destroyed by scavengers or decay.12 But such events are catastrophic. They happen quickly. This doesn’t align with the slow, gradual processes of evolution but rather with a catastrophic event such as Noah’s Flood. Furthermore, when most fish die, they float and then get scavenged and decomposed. They shouldn’t get fossilized unless there was some catastrophic, fast burial event.
  2. Rapid fossils. There are many examples today where fossils happen today quickly under the right conditions, no millions of years required.3
  3. Soft parts fossils. Not just fossils but there are many soft parts fossils, such as jellyfish or bees. “Despite the rarity, there are hundreds of fossil sites worldwide where soft tissue parts are preserved.”4 Ironically, Darwin predicted that “No organism wholly soft can be preserved.”5. It turns out that they do but under very special circumstances. “Such exquisite preservation require specific environmental conditions, such as anoxic (little or no oxygen) mud and sediment that inhibits bacterial decomposition processes for enough time for mineral exchange, precipitation, and other chemical processes to form casts and films of delicate softer body parts.”6 Such preservation “with soft parts intact [and] often with food still in their guts” and “even raindrop imprints and ripple marks have been found preserved”.7 Such conditions, again, would exist during a major flood with burial and lithification happening extremely quickly not over long ages.
  4. Soft, flexible/stretchy and pliable tissue in dinosaur bones which, according to experts in fossilization, could have not possibly lasted tens of millions of years.8
  5. Not only that original, non-mineralized, proteins were found but also data “support[ing] preservation of multiple proteins and to present multiple lines of evidence for material consistent with DNA in dinosaurs“.9 (my emphasis). However, rigorous studies of DNA decay indicate that it has a half-life of 521 years. That puts an upper limit of 10,000 for DNA.10 Therefore such findings of soft tissue and DNA are at odds with TOE’s time-line.
  6. Out-of-sequence fossils, for example, evidence of flowering plants or bees many millions of years before there were any flowering plants were supposed to exist.11
  7. Fossils caught in the act of eating their prey12 (I even saw a case of one eating another while eating a third) or in the act of giving birth13 or mating14. All these must have been fossilized very rapidly. They don’t last like that for millions of years to fossilize. They can only happen in catastrophic events such as Noah’s flood.
  8. Many polystrate fossils, for example trees fossilized vertically across multiple layers of rock that is claimed to have taken millions of years to deposit. Well, trees just don’t remain vertical for millions of years. Some are even vertical but upside down which again is unexplainable within TOE (but an effect that has been observed in case of major floods).
  9. Often fossils are found together in huge graveyards. There are many fossil shales and Lagerstätte around the world, many with “near perfect fossilization”15 and “exquisite preservation.”16 This is totally unexpected given TOE. Why would why so many different species die together in the same graveyard? However, it makes perfect sense given Noah’s flood.
  10. Not only that fossils are often in huge graveyards but these graveyards contain mixture of creatures living in incompatible environments and climates. Often sea and land animals and saltwater and fresh fish are mixed together. For example, at the Green River Formation of Wyoming, the fossils include deep water fish, crustaceans, mollusks along with birds, mammals, insects and palm trees.17 Or, at Fossil Bluff in Tasmania, thousands of marine creatures, including corals and clams and a whale were buried together with a marsupial possum.17 Or Caves and fissures on the Cote d’Azur have mammals such as rhinos along with whales.18 The Cretaceous Santana Formation in Brazil includes clams, sharks and pterodactyles (flying reptiles or pterosaurs).7 Numerous crevices on the Rock of Gibraltar include many various mammals (from wolf and rabbit to panther and rhino) and marine shells and corals. Or at Mont San Giorgio there are terrestrial reptiles among marine reptiles and fish.7 The same at the Triassic Cow Brand Formation in Virginia which includes terrestrial, fresh water and salt water plants, insects and reptiles.7 There are also multiple places in Britain and Eire. But such mixture of disparate fossils doesn’t make any sense unless there was a catastrophic event that brought all these disparate fossils together in one graveyard.
  11. Consistent exquisite level of preservation on large scale fossil graveyards. Exquisite level of preservation requires catastrophic events (such as quick burial). But such “exquisite preservation” extends to very large fossil graveyards16 which is what the term Lagerstätte refers to.6 Some large bone beds include Ordovician Soom Shale in South Africa which stretches over thousands of square kilometers and the Devonian Thunder Bay Limestone formation in Michigan stretches many hundreds of miles, containing billions of fossils catastrophically buried. Such large bone beds requires not only that there was a catastrophic event but that it was of very large proportions.
  12. Missing links. The missing links are still missing. These fossils object to evolution by there absence. There are very few transitional forms and even those are not indisputable. Darwin’s response in his Origin to this problem was that the fossil record is imperfect. But if it was imperfect it should be equally imperfect. However, we keep finding plenty of the known forms and find none or almost no transitional forms. Consider how many transitions were supposed to have happened and how many transitional forms are claimed by evolutionists. The fossil record is conveniently imperfect only when it comes to transitional forms. But given the slow, gradual process of Darwinian evolution, an organism must have spent a long time in each stage of evolution. Then where are all the transitional forms? Why is there such a scarcity of transitional forms while the other forms are plentiful? This doesn’t go well with TOE.
  13. Living fossils. There are plenty of fossils claimed to be millions and even billions of years that look just like modern ones. The technical term is evolutionary stasis but it is an oxymoron! Evolution is all about change but stasis is the opposite of change. How could an organism not change for so long? How could it not find any improvements for so long? There is a catch-22 situation here. Either a living fossil is highly specialized and optimally fitted to the environment or is not. If it is then it can’t survive major changes in the environment which have certainly happened. If something was to survive unchanged across all such changes it must be a generic, unspecialized organism which is much more resilient to changes in the environment. But in this case there were plenty of improvements and environment specific specializations that the organism should have undergone, given Darwinism. While there were big environment changes across history there were also long periods of relatively stable environment which provided plenty of opportunities for the organism to improve and specialized. Apparently the organism didn’t read the Origin of Species and turned down such changes.
  14. Opisthotonus is very common among fossils. In a press release from US Berkley, this is described as follows: “The peculiar pose of many fossilized dinosaurs, with wide-open mouth, head thrown back and recurved tail, likely resulted from the agonized death throes typical of brain damage and asphyxiation… Virtually all articulated specimens of Archaeopteryx are in this posture, exhibiting a classic pose of head thrown back, jaws open, back and tail reflexed backward and limbs contracted… Dinosaurs and their relatives, ranging from the flying pterosaurs to Tyrannosaurus rex, as well as many early mammals, have been found exhibiting this posture.”19. Almost all the claimed causes of this unnatural position (such as, rigor mortis20, commonly caused by asphyxiation, brain injury19, having fallen into water21, carried out by the current19) make much more sense in the light of a catastrophic flood. This is especially so considering how common opisthotonus is in fossils. Another explanation (besides the ones listed above) put forward is poisoning. While it is conceivable that some herbivore dinosaurs ate a wrong plant and got poisoned, it stretches credulity that such a large proportion of articulated fossils, including carnivore dinosaurs, birds and mammals were all poisoned. All the other explanations are equally unlikely apart from Noah’s flood.

There are much stronger objections to evolution but I saved the best for last and I’ll discuss those in follow up posts.

Note: This was updated and expanded on 6/18/2017.

Footnotes:

15

Lagerstätte (retrieved on <2017-06-18 Sun>)

‘And God said “NO”…’

Profound prayer-poem by an unknown author

girl-15599_640Here’s a the full prayer-poem from which I quoted in the previous blog (The Prayer that Changes Hearts). The author is unknown but the content is profound.


I asked God to take away my pride, and God said “NO”.
He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to give up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole, and God said “NO”.
He said her spirit is whole, her body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience, and God said “NO”.
He said that patience is a by-product of tribulation,
it isn’t granted, it’s earned.

I asked God to give me happiness, and God said “NO”.
He said He gives blessings, happiness is up to me.

I asked God to spare me pain, and God said “NO”.
He said suffering draws you apart from worldly cares
and brings yo closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow, and He said “NO”.
He said I must grow on my own, but He will prune me to make me fruitful.

I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me,
And God said “Ah, finally you have the idea”!

The Prayer that Changes Hearts

Prayer does make a difference. But it’s not as much that God answers our prayers to change us but rather that He uses our prayers to change us.

StockSnap_O3WNR5BS7AThe question I asked in the previous post was how can we tilt the “how can we tilt the balance in this tug-of-war” that’s going on in our human nature (described in an earlier post). If you believe in God like I do, you may mention prayer and God’s help. Many think that prayer connects you to God’s supernatural power. Yes, it’s true but more than that prayer connects God to your failing, broken will power. More than you achieving something (that you pray for) through God it is God achieving something (character, the fruit of the Holy Spirit – Gal. 5:22-23) in you. In God’s eyes the latter is often more important than the former.

God has many good reasons not to display his supernatural power directly (and indeed most don’t claim to see direct miracles left and right). That’s outside the scope of this post but I will illustrate one reason that pertains to our topic. There are things that my two kids (a 3 and a 5 year old) find hard to do but instead of helping them I sometimes have them do those things themselves. Why? It’s because that’s how they learn. That’s how they become stronger and more skilled. The hard way is the best teacher. But God has in mind for us things much more important than what I have for my kids. God doesn’t want the answer to our prayers to be just a solution but rather a character builder. That’s particularly true when the solution has to do with our character and mindset as it’s the case with achieving our goals. Character is more than a solution or some means. It’s the end goal God has for you. It defines who you are. And it has a proper name: Jesus (Phil. 2:5; 3:10; Col. 1:27; Gal. 2:20).

Therefore there are some things God does for you and some things that you need to do for yourself. The saying “God helps those who help themselves” is often used to mean that you only have to rely on yourself. While helping yourself helps, for some goals that’s not enough. I either know or heard of many addicts who could just not help themselves. But some of them did their part in asking God for help and God and did the rest. The same is true for people who couldn’t forgive our couldn’t humble themselves.

Just as God has a part (like in the examples above), you, as a Christian, have a part as well and it includes prayer. James says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8 ESV). Jesus says: “Abide in me, and I in you.” (John 15:4, 7). A few verses later “If you keep My commandments…” (v. 10, 14). In other words, if you do your part I will do Mine. Jesus died for all but not all people are saved. On the contrary, Jesus says that “broad is the road that leads to destruction” (Matt. 7:13). People need to believe (John 3:16) and belief is, in a way, like prayer. God doesn’t take over our free will. He takes us through a process of learning so that, in the end, we freely submit it to God. This happens when we come to the realization that He knows better, He sees farther and He loves more.

In conclusion, yes, praying to change indeed tips the tug-of-war that’s going on in our human nature in favor of mind and long term goals over body and instant gratification. But it’s not as much that God answers our prayers to change us but rather that He uses our prayers to change us. Soren Kierkegaard said that “prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” The best prayer is not the prayer that changes things because, after all, they are just things. The best prayer is the one that changes hearts because, after all, they are more precious than all the things in the world (Mark 8:36). In the next post we’ll see how prayer works and how this change happens. I’ll end with an anonymous prayer, And God Said “No”, which includes the following verses:

I asked God to take away my pride,

And God said “No”

He said it was not for him to take away

But for me to give up

I asked God to grant me patience,

And God said “No”.

He said that patience is a byproduct of tribulation,

It isn’t granted, it is earned.