Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can't we all just agree?

In the interview of Robert Wright* (on his book The Evolution of God), he seems to imply that any exclusive claim is just flat out mean spirited, because it is intolerant. The goal of any religion according to Wright is to "make people better" and this is done by not making any exclusive claims. Wright from the outset defeats his own argument in two ways. First, he assumes that truth does not exist, for if it does, then there is only one way. As stated in a previous blog, truth by its very nature is exclusive and therefore it would also be intolerant.

The second mistake of Wright is that his assumption is self-refuting. Wright seems to claim that taking an exclusive stance is intolerant, but his statement itself is intolerant, for he is telling an individual how things really are from an exclusive position. Wright is claiming it is intolerant to be intolerant, when he, himself, will not tolerate any position but his own. It is self-refuting and like saying, There are no sentences longer than 3 words.

Tolerance assumes that someone is willing to listen to an other's view while at the same time disagreeing. You can't be tolerant without disagreeing. Wright states, "Saying one possesses the unique path to salvation creates potentially deadly friction." What Wright assumes is that disagreement can lead to deadly friction, as if, disagreement is bad. It is not that disagreement is the villain here, it is the heart that is at issue. I can respectfully disagree and not want to destroy anyone, so agreement is not the issue.

Wright's overarching problem is his unwillingness to face up to the truth question. Being tolerant is the proper position to take, but dodging the truth question is the real mark of intolerance (in my opinion).

*interview with Robert Wright in Houston Chronicle Belief section (July 31, 2009)

Exclusive truth

Robert Wright, the author of The Evolution of God claims in an interview that individuals who claim an exclusive view of salvation must forfeit this view in order to lessen friction. He claims that society would be made better if individuals would give up their exclusive views. He states that God would not be concerned if individuals gave up exclusive views.

In essence, Wright is arguing for two points: truth and tolerance. I will argue for exclusive truth in this blog. First, it must be noted that truth by its very nature is exclusive. For you can't have two truths as this would violate the law of the excluded middle. Secondly, it seems that Wright wants to have his cake and eat it too. He, himself, claims that individuals should give up exclusive views of salvation, but he does so by making an exclusive truth claim. He is essentially claiming that truth is found only in non-exclusive truth claims, and in turn, he becomes the one who is exclusive.

Wright cannot get away for the fact that truth by its nature is exclusive. You can run from truth, but you can't hide. He might do better by trying to claim one worldview over another, but by relativising truth he only locks himself in his own cage.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The evolution of God

In Robert Wright's book, The Evolution of God, the primary point is made that God or Gods in all religions have evolved throughout the centuries. In an interview*, Wright contends that Monotheism (belief in one God) and the nature of God changed in the religion of Judaism. It is Wright's belief that Theism (belief in God) is a human construct. In other words, God is an invention of Man. The interview sheds no light to back up his statement of how things are. Perhaps the book sheds light on this statement, but Wright himself needs to be able to defend any truth claim that is being made, and believe me this is a significant claim. If he could give evidence to support the claim that God is, in fact, an invention of Man then the whole game changes. If God does not exist, then life is ultimately without hope, purpose, or meaning. So, why would he even bother trying to say God is an invention of Man, Isn't he essentially trying to give meaning to meaninglessness?

* interview with Robert Wright in Houston Chronicle Belief section (July 31, 2009)
* a review of Wright's book: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/evolution_of_god.html#2g0BlsIq4bMC

The flood of Noah (part 11)

The biblical and scientific evidence against a universal catastrophic flood is virtually an open and shut case. Only when one takes a literal interpretation in the English language could one possibly conclude the flood was universal. The Hebrew is clear that the flood was not universal or global in nature. The use of the word "world" also seems to indicate that Moses was not talking of a global event, but speaking of the flood in the sense of the known world.

The scientific evidence against the flood being global is overwhelming. We do have evidence of a catastrophic event that wiped out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. The evidence that exists for an asteroid impact is clear in the impact site (Yucatan, Mexico area) and the layer which contains iridium (a rare element found in abundance in asteroids) the world over. If the flood were global in nature and relatively recent, wouldn't you expect to find a mountain of evidence for its occurrence? The simple fact is no evidence for a global catastrophic flood can be found anywhere in the rock record.

The flood of Noah does appear to be a local or regional event. Whether or not all mankind was wiped out during this flood is a subject of a different debate. There is evidence of a flood that occurred 7,600 years ago in the region of the Black Sea. Perhaps this local flood is, in fact, the flood of Noah.*

* Svitil, Kathy, Forty days and forty nights, more or less, (Discover, January 1999), p. 69

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Flood of Noah (part 10)

One of the big problems with a world wide flood is the water left behind and erosional features. Where did all the water go? If the flood took place relatively recently then we should see evidence of this in erosional features and in the rock record. The Grand Canyon is often pointed to as the result of the flood, but clearly the canyon was the result of a slow process over time. There is no scientific evidence that the Grand Canyon was the result of a flood.

We do have evidence of a flood in the recent geologic past. This flood, the Missoula flood, flooded the Pacific Northwest of the United States. One of the features that resulted is the Burlingame Canyon. This canyon is 1,500 feet long, 120 feet deep and 120 feet wide. If the erosion rate which quickly carved the Burlingame Canyon during the Missoula flood were equal to the Grand Canyon erosion rate, then one would still have to wait 1.5 million years for the formation of the Grand Canyon. As has been noted earlier, the Grand Canyon is clearly not the result of a flood.

Burlingame Canyon

Another problem with a world wide flood deals with the lack of surface erosional features. If the flood was indeed worldwide and recent (within the last 5,000 years), then there should exist a bevy of evidence supporting the flood. For example, the Missoula flood is clear and can be found all over the Pacific Northwest. It is believed that this flood took place some 13,000 years ago. One of the unique features of the Missoula flood are the abundance of giant ripple marks. If the flood of Noah were universal we should find similar features worldwide, but this is not the case. Also, a flood layer worldwide should be evident, but this too is lacking. The lack of surface erosional features is one more strike against the flood being universal in nature.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The flood of Noah (part 9)

Probably the biggest evidence against the Grand Canyon being flood formed centers around the fossils present in the canyon itself. It is important to note that flood waters always mix the sediment up. It is easy to discern in rock strata (rock layers) when water was moving rapidly(such as a flood) or slowly (such as a lake bed) . The Grand Canyon shows no evidence of mixing, but instead the fossils are sorted in different layers. For example, two brachiopods (marine fossils) are found in the Grand Canyon called eosphirs and olenothyrus. Both are similar in density and size. The differences are subtle in the markings and shape of the shell. These two brachiopods are not found mixed in the Grand Canyon and are separated by 1000 feet of rock.1 If the Grand Canyon is flood formed and the flood was universal we should find evidence throughout the canyon of fossil mixing, but this is not what is present. Instead the fossils that are present show a succession from bottom to top. If Noah's flood caused the Grand Canyon, then why do we see no evidence of mixed fossils?

1 http://www.doesgodexist.org/NovDec03/AmericasCanyonlandsTellOfGodsHandiwork.html

Strata layers of the Grand Canyon. There is no evidence of fossil mixing or that the canyon was the result of a flood. The sedimentary rock layers were all formed slowly over time.

Notice how the fossils are sorted in this diagram. This is exactly what we see in the Grand Canyon. If the Grand Canyon was the result of a flood we should find the fossils highly mixed, but this is not case in any of the layers of the canyon.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The flood of Noah (part 8)

One of the hotly debated issues about the flood of Noah revolves around the geology of the earth. If the flood was global then geologic evidence can be discerned. And, if the flood were global and recent (within the last 10,000 years) then evidence should be easy to discover the world over. The problem is, we have no markings anywhere of a flood that covered the entire earth. There is no universal flood layer.

Many that say the earth was covered by a global flood point to the Grand Canyon as evidence. Was the Grand Canyon, indeed cut by a flood? First it is necessary to say that floods are responsible for carving the earth in a specific way. Floods, especially a flood that covered the entire earth would never meander, unless the water had receded and slowed substantially. Floods usually carve relatively straight paths and would not be responsible for menders, as meanders represent a slow moving water source. Below are photos of what a meandering (winding) stream looks like and also a photo of the Grand Canyon which is an entrenched meander. In other words, the Grand Canyon is not caused by a flood, but is in fact due to a slow (meandering) body of water that carved it way through the rocks over time as the land was uplifted. Next I will consider more evidence to show that the Grand Canyon can not possibly be the result of a flood.

A meandering stream. These streams only form when the water has slowed substantially. Floods are the result of fast moving water as opposed to slow mendering waters.

This is an ariel shot of the Grand Canyon. It is clear that the canyon is an entrenched mender and not the result of fast moving waters from a flood.