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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Scharnagel Response

This is a response to the Jim Scharnagel letter in The Gainesville Times on May 28, 2008. (Mr. Scharnagel responded to my T-Rex to Chicken article published that was in The Times on May 9, 2008, and published on my website on May 4, 2008. The full text of Mr. Scharnagel’s letter is at www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/article/5972/.) As I respond below, I have placed Mr. Scharnagel’s comments in red text.

In his opening paragraph Mr. Scharnagel states that, “His opening sentence would be considered totally absurd by most middle-school or lower students.” The sentence to which he refers says that, the chicken and the T-Rex both came into being on the same day: day 6 of Creation, along with all other land animals. This of course is in reference to Genesis 1:24, which states: “And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.’ And it was so.”

A child would only find the Creation story “absurd” if he or she had been completely indoctrinated into Darwinian evolutionary thinking. (Of course this is happening at an alarming rate, with most public school systems totally sold out to preaching Darwinian evolution.) However, there are millions of children, young adults, and older adults (including many PhD scientists) who accept the Creation account given in Genesis just as it’s told. In March of 2007 a Gallup poll found that 48 percent of American adults believe God made humans “pretty much in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” A Harris poll in 2005 revealed that 64% of Americans believe that “human beings were created directly by God,” while only 22 percent say humans “evolved from earlier species.”

I highly suspect that if such polls were taken 50 years ago, the numbers favoring Creation over Darwinian evolution would be even greater. Go back 100 hundred years, and it would be greater still. Because of the shortcomings of the Church (in teaching the trustworthiness of Scripture), and the shortcomings of secular education (refusing to look at the vast shortcomings of Darwinian evolution), we are where we are today.

Mr. Scharnagel continues: He states that Tyrannosaurus Rex and a bird domesticated by humans, the chicken, were created on the same day, Day Six, according to Israelite mythology. Can you imagine a chicken surviving millions of years with T-Rex and myriad other carnivorous dinosaurs of various sizes and all of the other carnivorous creatures which appeared during the last 65 million years?” With his “Israelite mythology” comment Mr. Scharnagel reveals the real problem: his apparent disdain for the Bible. It appears that he has chosen to accept the teachings of fallible man over the divine revelation of an almighty God.

This, in spite of the fact that, as biblical scholar F.F. Bruce puts it, “It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain…The number of manuscripts of the New Testament …is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved…This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.” Also, as renowned Jewish archaeologist Nelson Glueck wrote, “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever (contradicted) a biblical reference.”

Also, Mr. Scharnagel was wrong to suggest that my column implied that the chicken and the T-Rex survived millions of years together.  I neither said nor believe anything of the sort. I believe that all of Creation is somewhere around 10,000 years old.

Mr. Scharnagel next implies the ridiculousness of the biblical account of the Flood and Noah’s Ark. As I implied in my column, it requires less faith to believe all the miraculous accounts given in Scripture than to believe that the mighty T-Rex turned into the tiny chicken, or that humans and apes share common ancestors.

Next, Mr. Scharnagel points out: where would enough water come from to cover Mount Everest ‘twenty-two feet and more?’ There is no geological or other evidence that there was ever a flood of such gigantic proportions which would have killed back most of the existing flora and all terrestrial prey species, leaving little sustenance for the survivors for some time.” He raises an interesting point here about where the volume of water to cover the earth came from. Also, in the previous paragraph he raises questions about the size of the Ark. For the sake of space, to answer most of these questions, I will refer readers to the article at the following link: www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/really-a-flood-and-ark.

I would add that there is indeed much evidence for a global flood: the billions of dead things buried in rock layers all over the earth. Also, it would not have been necessary for a global flood to cover Mount Everest since, most likely, Mount Everest, along with most mountains and mountain ranges as we know them today, formed as a result of the flood.

Mr. Scharnagel then says that, It has already been well documented by paleontologists that the dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds.” All that has been “well documented” are statements by evolutionists, like Mr. Scharnagel, declaring as fact that modern birds are descended from “ancient” dinosaurs. There is no real evidence, only much speculation. Many ardent Darwinian evolutionists are even hesitant to accept this part of the theory. There are no transitional fossils (showing dinosaurs changing into birds). And please, let no one try to throw “Archeopteryx” out as an example of a transitional form. As Dr. Alan Feduccia, a Darwinian evolutionist himself, and a world-wide authority on birds at the University of North Carolina, says, “Paleontologists have tried to turn Archeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it’s not. It is a bird, a perching bird. And no amount of ‘paleobabble’ is going to change that.”

Lastly, Mr. Scharnagel states that, Since Mr. Thomas, has such a disdain for science because it contradicts his religious beliefs, it would not surprise me if he still believes the Earth is flat and at the center of the universe.” It is disappointing, but not surprising, that Darwinian evolutionists result to personal attacks and insults to make their case. I have no disdain for science (in fact, I have a B.S. in Physics and two graduate degrees in mathematics education), only a disdain for nonsense and foolishness. “Science” is not some mystical “force” (as in Star Wars) which holds all the answers to our questions. Neither is “science” pitted against “religion” in some epic battle. God is the author of truth. The Bible is His revealed word. Anything in “science” or “religion” that contradicts Him is a lie.

Copyright 2008, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Why Not Polygamy?

“Polygamy is the next civil rights battle,” boldly declares the Web site Pro-Polygamy.com. Could this seriously be a “new” front in the war against traditional (biblical) marriage? (Polygamy is almost as old as traditional marriage.) Polygamy is in the headlines again with the recent raid of the 1,700 acre FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints) compound in Texas. This is the same FLDS sect associated with the convicted Warren Jeffs, who is reportedly their “prophet and spiritual leader.”

Jeffs made the headlines in 2006 when he was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. He had unlawfully fled prosecution in Utah on charges that he had forced illegal marriages between his male followers and underage females. He was captured in August 2006 and convicted of two counts of rape as an accomplice in September of 2007.

Regardless of whether polygamy as a civil rights battle gains any real traction, I think it will be fascinating to watch the reaction of the country in the matter. For instance, it will be interesting to see if the city of San Francisco will rush to marry polygamists. After all, the California Supreme Court, in a lawsuit brought by gay marriage supporters, recently struck down that state’s one-man, one-woman marriage law.

“It's about human dignity. It's about human rights. It's about time in California,” San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom proclaimed to a roaring crowd at City Hall after the ruling was issued. He added that, “As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation. It's inevitable. This door's wide open now. It's going to happen, whether you like it or not.” Mayor Newsom’s cheerleading was, of course, in reference to gay marriage. I wonder if he shares the same sentiments when it comes to polygamy.

Which state court will be the first to grant polygamists their “equal rights” under the Constitution? Will those supporting gay marriage hurry to defend polygamy as well? The ACLU already has. “We have defended the right for individuals to engage in polygamy,” ACLU president Nadine Strossen stated in January of 2005.

Many would note that, of course, polygamists have a more significant legal hurdle to overcome than gays. Having been in the public eye of our nation for more than a century, there are laws in all 50 states against it. In many states it’s a felony. However, laws can be changed, or at least overturned by the courts, which is, after all, the favorite method of those who don’t want to bother with legislatures and voters. Why bother with trying to win over a majority of the people when all you need is a handful of judges to give you what you want?

If you think it far fetched that polygamy could gain serious support anytime soon, consider the following: According to the Associated Press, as recently as 1960 every state had an anti-sodomy law, which essentially made homosexual activity illegal. By 2003, 37 states had their statutes repealed by legislatures or blocked by the courts. In November of 2003 the Supreme Court, in a 6 to 3 ruling, overturned theTexas sodomy law, and therefore invalidated similar laws in the 12 states that still had them on their books. The Texas ruling is significant, because it opened the door for challenges to laws that govern other “private” behavior.

The Texas ruling particularly emboldened polygamists. Six months after the ruling, a man and two women sought to overturn Utah’s ban on polygamy. They claimed that their constitutional rights to religious expression, intimate expression, and privacy had been violated. Their lawyer revealed that the basis of his legal argument to overturn Utah's anti-polygamy law was the Texas decision. A judge halted their challenge, but how long will it be before a judge will “interpret” the U.S. Constitution in such a manner that would force states to recognize polygamous relationships, or at least declare that polygamy should not be criminal behavior?

Pro-Polygamy.com sees the Texas ruling as a powerful precedent supporting their position. They are not alone. Along with seeing the Texas decision as important to their cause, the Web site, TruthBearer.org, adds that, “Polygamy is in the Bible. Polygamy is found throughout history. These facts prove that marriage's definition includes plural marriage.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, in an 1878 ruling, declared that polygamy is not protected by the First Amendment. That ruling has had many challenges but has yet to be overturned. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, specifically the 10th Circuit, has as recently as 1985 and 2002 upheld the 1878 ruling. However, before the Texas sodomy laws were overturned in 2003, as recently as 1986 Georgia’s sodomy law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bowers v. Hardwick. (Georgia’s law was overturned in 1998 by its state Supreme Court.) Justice Kennedy, in writing for the majority in the Texas ruling, concluded that the 1986 Georgia decision “was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today.” How long before similar “progressive” thinking gives legal protection to polygamy?

In his dissent of the Texas ruling Justice Scalia wrote, “State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers' (the 1986 Georgia decision) validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today's decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.”

By overturning Bowers in the 2003 Texas ruling Scalia adds that, “The Court embraces… the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice.” He concluded that, “This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation.” In other words, morality is now dead, as far as the courts are concerned, and this is the reason that polygamists, gay marriage supporters, and so on, are encouraged.

Copyright 2008, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Which came first, the T-Rex or the Chicken?

The answer: they came on the same day, Day 6 of Creation.

On April 24, the Gainesville Times published a front-page article trumpeting an ancestral relationship between the Tyrannosaurus rex and the chicken. This is what decades of indoctrination in Darwinian evolution will get you: a front page story in your local paper telling you that one of your favorite delicacies is perhaps a descendant of a giant lizard.

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. Darwinian evolution leads to many ridiculous scenarios. After stories like this, I don’t want to hear a single secularist, atheist, liberal theologian, et al, deride any of the so-called “ridiculous” stories told in Scripture. To believe the biblical account of Creation, The Flood, Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, etc. requires less faith than to believe that the ferocious T-Rex eventually turned into the genteel chicken.

Stories detailing the supposed link between the T-Rex and the chicken started appearing in the mainstream media (such as USA Today and MSNBC.com) as far back as April of 2007. On April 12, 2007, USA Today reported, “The discovery of traces of flesh in a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex bone ties the King of the Dinosaurs to modern-day species and… ‘Based on the small sample we've recovered, chickens may be the closest relatives (to T. rex),’ says geneticist John Asara of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.”

On the same day, MSNBC reported, “For the first time, researchers have read what they say is the biological signature of a tyrannosaur — a signature that confirms the increasingly accepted view that modern birds are the descendants of dinosaurs.” This story began in 2003 when paleontologist Jack Horner unearthed a tyrannosaur femur in the cliffs of Montana. When the massive fossil was broken during transport, preserved inside the bone was some of the dinosaur’s soft tissue.

Molecular paleontologist Mary Schweitzer and her colleagues analyzed the soft tissue. They were able to recover what they suspected to be preserved collagen protein from the soft tissue sample, which is the main organic constituent of bone. Many scientists were skeptical that the soft tissue belonged to the T-Rex. These scientists suspected some sort of contamination from another species. However, as the Times article correctly noted, “the research…indicates that the protein from the fossilized tissue is authentic, rather than contamination from a living species.”

What the Times failed to make note of is the reason many scientists were, and still are, skeptical of the soft tissue find. The T-Rex is supposedly about 65 million years old. Soft tissue is not supposed to survive for millions of years. The confirmation that the material was indeed dinosaur soft tissue came as quite a shock to evolutionists. John Asara, a researcher to which the Times article referred, said, “I mean can you imagine pulling a bone out the ground after 68 million years and then getting intact protein sequences? […] That’s just mind boggling how much preservation there is in these bones.”

However, it is not mind boggling if one subscribes to the six-day, biblical model of Creation instead of the Darwinian model, which requires millions and billions of years. Answers In Genesis correctly noted that, “Incredibly, Schweitzer and other paleontologists have fiercely held on to their old-age beliefs, concluding that soft tissue must be able to survive such a long period, rather than admitting that the old-earth paradigm is flawed.”

Also, the Times failed to put into perspective the “close” relationship between the collagen of the chicken and that of the T-Rex. While the sequence similarity between the chicken and the T-Rex was 58%, this compares with a reported 81% similarity between humans and frogs, and 97% between humans and cows. I don’t hear anyone touting “Kermit” or “Flossie” as one of our distant ancestors (although Darwinian evolutionists do believe all life evolved from a single organism).

Last, I find the words of Mike Lacy, UGA poultry science professor, amazingly ridiculous. He was quoted as saying, “Birds are living dinosaurs, which means that chickens are dinosaurs…They are the only surviving dinosaurs.” He added that featherless chickens, “look like those little velociraptors that were in ‘Jurassic Park,’…It’s obvious that they are dinosaurs.”

The very word dinosaur means “terrible lizard,” not “horrible hen.” To state that chickens are obviously dinosaurs, and premise that on mere appearances is utterly foolish. This sounds a lot like the “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” nonsense. This was the fraudulent theory popularized by evolutionist Ernst Haeckel in the 1860s. In it he proposed that the human embryo retraced its evolutionary history, passing through a fish stage, an amphibian stage, a reptile stage, and so on. To support his theory he compared drawings (which were later shown to have been faked) of human embryos at different stages to various animal embryos. The likeness of the appearance of the embryos was supposed to demonstrate the human embryo exhibiting characteristics of its ancestors.

Again, Answers In Genesis says it well when they note, “When it comes to animal similarities, creationists are keen on comparing morphologies and placing animals into clear families that correspond to the created ‘kinds’ of Genesis 1.” In other words, chickens begat chickens, lizards begat lizards, and never the twain did meet.

Copyright 2008, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World