Texas Citizens for Science Members and Supporters
An Opportunity to Attend this Bible and Modern Science Conference in Houston for FREE!
Only TEN spots available, so act fast!
Just email Center for Christian Apologetics Director Kurt Wise (email@example.com), give him your name, and mention that you are an atheist or Christian member or supporter of TCS and that you would like to request that you be put on the registration list. (See below for the reason for the free offer for ten TCS members.) Mr. Wise only specified atheists, but I told him I hope it is okay to give religious TCS members the same offer if ten atheists don't meet their quota.
To make this more educational and interesting, if any TCS member writes a description or review of the CCA Bible and Modern Science Creationism Conference and sends it to me, I will post it on the TCS website and include some quotes from it and your name in my Houston Chronicle blog. This is a Houston event sponsored by a Houston area Christian Apologetics and Creationist organization, so I plan to write about it in my Houston blog if possible. Since I can't attend, I am asking TCS members and supporters to attend for me, take notes, and write a review. Some very prominent Creationist speakers will be present, so I am interested and you should be, too. This conference is classic American popular culture that is fascinating to me and not to be missed. In your review, please feel free to evaluate the presentations on your knowledge of modern science and to be critical if necessary.
Steven Schafersman, President
Texas Citizens for Science
2008 August 13
The Bible and Modern Science
What Every Christian Should Know
The Center for Christian Apologetics
Saturday August 23, 2008
9:30 am to 5:30 pm
College of Biblical Studies
7000 Regency Square
Just south of Harwin Drive near the intersection of Southwest Frwy 59 and Hillcroft Ave
(see Mapquest map linked on CCA website)
Knowing the truth about Intelligent Design
Dr. William Dembski
Does the universe reveal the handiwork of a Designer? Apart from the Bible, how could we ever know? Does good science lead us to infer design? Dr. William A Dembski, a leading expert in the Intelligent Design movement and author of numerous books and articles including Intelligent Design, The Design Inference, and The Design of Life, brings answers to these very questions. Dr. Dembski is currently Research Professor of Philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.(1)
Why Every Christian Needs to be Informed About Science and the Bible
As Christians, need we be concerned with what scientists say about the universe, life, or even the Bible? Does it matter how old the earth is? Does science pose a threat to biblical Christianity? Are issues where science and the Bible converge relevant to our spiritual lives? Brian Thomas, Science Writer for the Institute for Creation Research, will address these issues and more. Brian (M.S. Biotechnology) has taught science at the university level and is a co-founder of the Center for Christian Apologetics.
Dinosaurs According to History, Science, and the Bible
When did dinosaurs live? Are they in the Bible? Did humans see them? How did they die? A PowerPoint presentation, handouts, and a Q & A will provide answers to such questions about these fascinating creatures. This layman’s level study is designed for youth and adults. Bruce Wood serves as the Communications Liaison for the Institute for Creation Research. Bruce has a B.A. English, B.S. Education (San Diego Christian), and a M.A. Theological Studies (Northwest Baptist Seminary).
Fossils and the Gospel: Death and Life
Dr. Deanna Noyes
The fossil record is a fascinating story of death and life. How does these bones give us evidence to support the Bible? Dr. Deanna Noyes is professor of biology in the college of Natural Science and Mathematics at Dallas Baptist University. She has been teaching at DBU for nine years and also serves as the head of the Natural Sciences major. Her Ph.D., earned in 1997, is from the University of Southern Mississippi. She teaches upper-level Zoology, Ecology, and Botany, as well as Freshman and Honors Biology.
Other speakers will speak. See the website.
The Doctrinal Statement of the Center for Christian Apologetics (CCA) includes this item:
The Creation: The universe, angels, and all living things were created perfect by God. The fact of this event is related simply and accurately in Genesis and is consistent with the most current and unbiased scientific research;
The CCA's blog is "Christ and Culture" at http://www.chron.com/commons/readerblogs/christandculture.html. I discovered this blog by accident, and the current post was by Kurt Wise, Director of the CCA. After I read it, I was disturbed and felt compelled to write a comment. Joe (Freegrace) is one of the blog's other two contributors. The only person whose name I recognized as an IDC proponent was Kurt Wise, but of course all three are. So the Houston Chronicle is truly being fair and balanced by asking me to write for their science blogs and telling me it is okay to criticize organized Creationism and defend evolution education in Texas. It has had Creationists dissing evolution on its blogspace for some time now.
There were several other comments in this thread--one pointing out that the Lewontin quote was edited without ellipses and that the longer quote shows the context better--but I am not including them here.
Here is the sequence of posts and comments:
The Assumptions of Science-Wielding Skeptics
Posted by ktwise at 8/10/2008
Science-wielding skeptics often try to convince us that science is a rational, dispassionate search for completely objective knowledge. Of course, we agree that often it can be and is. However, that is not always the case, especially when it comes to origins. Geneticist Richard Lewontin makes a revealing admission when he says:
"We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." (Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review, January 9, 1997, p. 31- Italics in original)
Now lest I once again be falsely accused of "attacking" science let me say upfront that I appreciate all that science has given us, including knowledge of natural causes that once where attributed to Divine intervention. I appreciate technology, medicine, gas-guzzling SUVs, computers, and my personal favorite - air conditioning. But when it comes to our origins, meaning and destiny the Bible has much to say. Of course, science-wielding skeptics use science to attack the Bible and its affirmation of Divine creation but it remains to be seen whether those attacks are devastating (or even mildly compelling for that matter). If you are interested in knowing more about this subject then consider the upcoming conference, The Bible and Modern Science, featuring Dr. William Dembski, speakers from the Institute for Creation Research, and our own ministry The Center for Christian Apologetics. For more information visit www.answers101.org.
Richard Lewontin is a personal friend of mine. We have discussed science and religion several times. I agree with most of his statement here, but would not have used his extremely forceful and uncompromising language. I think most scientists would agree with me.
Scientific materialism and naturalism are adopted methodologically, so science can be conducted in a rigorous, secular, unbiased, testable, auditable, and successful manner, just as we would want any educational, government, financial, or business institution to conduct its business. Adopting methodological materialism and naturalism does not entail believing in their ontological versions. Science does not automatically and irrevocably reject God. The God concept is rejected for many empirical, logical, and experiential reasons that have nothing to do with science. You must know that 40% of practicing scientists believe in a personal and supernaturalistic God. I admit that this is a low percentage when compared with most groups, but scientists are better educated than most, and the practice of science does lead to more careful and critical forms of thinking.
Your use of Lewontin's extreme quote is meant to confuse readers about science--to convince them that science is somehow against supernaturalistic religion. It is not. The practice of science is separate from individual beliefs about metaphysics. Science is based on epistemologies, not on metaphysics. This tactic is similar to the Creationist pseudo-documentary Expelled, which tried to paint science as an atheistic ideology. Many famous scientists are observant Christians, such as Francis Collins and Ken Miller, but you will never hear about them from Creationism supporters, because Collins and Miller know that Scientific Creationism and Intelligent Design Creationism are bunk. Theistic evolutionists believe in ultimate Creation, not in proximate Creation, for they accept biological origins as natural.
I especially take offense at your use of your free Chronicle blog to advertise your Creationism conference that requires a registration fee to attend. I understand that you do not intend to make a profit, since I sure that Bill Dembski is charging his usual upfront $2,000 honorarium, and even at $25 a person your expected attendance will not be able to cover that. So you no doubt have arranged for some financial sponsorship. Next time, please ask your sponsors for enough money to present the Conference to the public for free, and then I would not criticize you. I might even attend myself.
President, Texas Citizens for Science
I take offense at the way you misrepresent me, it seems to be a blatant attempt at slander. First of all, as stated clearly in my post I am not arguing against science nor implying that Christians can't be scientists. I am simply pointing out that there are some assumptions that some scientists make, such as Lewontin, that predispose them to their conclusions. A knife is a great tool in the hands of a chef but a terrible tool in the hands of a murderer. Nothing wrong with the knife in and of itself.
Second you said, "Science is based on epistemologies, not on metaphysics." Is materialism not a metaphysic? Is naturalism not a metaphysic? I think it is you who are confused sir.
And Mr. Schafersman you are right, we are barely going to cover our expenses (if that), nevertheless, I will have your name on the list if you so choose to come. In fact, I will set aside 10 seats, at no cost, for any avowed atheist that wants to attend the conference. Just go to our website and click on the "Contact Us" page for the email address. Give me your name and state your rejection of God and I will register you for the event.
"I especially take offense at your use of your free Chronicle blog to advertise your Creationism conference that requires a registration fee to attend."
Schafersman...Thanks for your participation. With all due respect, as a fellow chron.com blogger, I would certainly hope that the tone of your interaction on another person's blog would be much kinder and congenial than what I am seeing. Your approach seems very antagonistic and I certainly hope you do not treat Christians who interact with you on your blog in the same way you have treated Kurt. From my perspective, I see little difference from Kurt's simply providing a link for where people can get more information on the topic he is writing on to your coming onto our blog and posting the website of your organization on your post (which is also a form of advertisement). You are welcome to do so but please do not rebuke us for something you yourself are doing. The issue of whether there is a charge for the event is irrelevant. Kurt is just allowing interested party to pursue further information if they are interested (in the same way you are by advertising your organization on our blog). As you know, operating a blog on chron.com is a labor of love and I would hope that fellow bloggers would interact with far more respect for other bloggers than what I saw in your response to Kurt. Once again, I appreciate your interaction even though I am disappointed by the tone.
Well, Mr. Wise, I apologize if I misrepresented you. I don't think I did, and it would be libel, not slander, if I had. (Also, I would have to claim you were lying, which I did not do and do not believe. Misrepresenting someone is not libelous or slanderous, just ignorant and stupid, and that happens all the time without litigation.)
You stated that when scientists study origins, they sometimes behave differently and espouse an extreme materialism. My claim is that they don't, and your statement therefore constitutes an argument against science. Within science, origins are treated the same as any other natural topic, and Lewontin's description, while couched in somewhat alarmist and inaccurate language, is nothing unusual for science.
I think you are arguing against science when you say that "it is not always the case, especially when it comes to origins," that "science is a rational, dispassionate search for completely objective knowledge." Being an evolutionary scientist myself, I know that my colleagues and I try to be as rational and dispassionate in our research as physicists, chemists, and geologists. We want to get to that "objective truth" as accurately as anyone else. And I would suggest that promoting Creationism in any form--as you do--is definitely arguing against science.
Scientists don't make "assumptions" about nature that "predispose them to their conclusions." Methodological naturalism and materialism are working hypotheses, not assumptions or presuppositions. They are hypotheses that could be falsified during any of hundreds of thousands of experiments and observations during scientific testing. Also, since they are both methodological and hypothetical, they are not the foundation on which science is based. As I said, science is based on epistemologies (logical reasoning, empiricism, skepticism), not on metaphysics. Ontological naturalism and materialism are indeed metaphysics, but science is not based on these versions, which would require ultimate belief. As for methodological naturalism and materialism, I am not sure they are true metaphysics in their hypothetical and methodological form. Furthermore, I am not sure that science is "based" on these methodological versions, either; they are tools or hypotheses, not ultimate commitments (contrary to Lewontin), and could be discarded if proven incorrect. Bridges don't fall, crops fail, and planes crash on the basis of faulty metaphysics, but they would if logic, empirical evidence, and skepticism were wrong.
I made the point that many Christian scientists (such as theistic evolutionists) do not accept the ontological versions but happily use the methodological versions in their work. Phillip Johnson could never understand this. Committed ontological materialists, such as Richard Lewontin, apparently don't either, which is why he failed to use the adjective "methodological."
Finally, Mr. Wise, let me thank you sincerely for your offer of free admission to your Creationism conference in [Houston; I mistakenly wrote Lake Jackson--SDS] for any atheists who might want to attend. If I still lived in Houston, I would certainly be there, since I attended almost every Creationist conference there during 1975-1994. I will communicate your offer to the many atheists in the Greater Houston area and perhaps ten will attend and enjoy the educational experience. Even atheists would want to meet Bill Dembski. He is remarkable person, and I wish I could emulate his focus, concentration, and energy (although wasted, in my opinion, in an unfortunate enterprise).
Freegrace, I don't criticize you for providing links to your website (which I do, too, as you correctly point out), but for advertising a conference for which you charge money. I personally wouldn't use the free blog for that. Kurt Wise was gracious enough to see this point and offer free passage to my presumed "atheist" friends (actually, many of my supporters are Christians who accept science and evolution and despise Scientific and ID Creationism as much as I do; I hope you let some of them in, too, if the quota of ten atheists isn't met). I suppose providing links to information is a form of advertising, but I did have a principled distinction in mind. I'm sorry you disliked my tone. Operating a blog is indeed a labor of love, as you say, and as a fellow blogger I will try to be more cordial to you. Neither you nor I are like PZ Myers, who gets paid for his work, as does everyone on Seed ScienceBlogs. Of course, neither you nor I get millions of hits a week, either.
schafersman...Thanks for your response. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss these matters with you. Stop by again. God Bless...Joe
Joe and Kurt, thank you for your replies, and Joe, thank you for your charity. To be perfectly frank, Richard Lewontin's words were a little inaccurate, since he did not qualify materialism, so the correct philosophical meaning was missing and he sounded extreme. I shouldn't be so quick to criticize someone for missing the point about this who uses only Lewontin's statement as a guide, although I want to point out that there is plenty of other information about this topic elsewhere. Also, I was more upset about Kurt's mistaken evaluation of the scientific use of materialism than about the ad for the Bible Science conference. You should have the right to use whatever links you want to on your own website without criticism from me, so I apologize for that. To be completely candid, Kurt is right: some "science-wielding skeptics" DO "use science to attack the Bible and its affirmation of Divine creation." I only note that, besides science, the Bible stories can be attacked with logic, history, archaeology, and anthropology, and they certainly have. Also, it is not entirely clear how to interpret many Bible stories, including its "affirmation of Divine creation." Surely you don't intend to use authority alone to argue for your interpretations, do you?
That brings me to my final point. I have a Chron.com blog that discusses evolution, education, and Creationism. I don't plan to discuss atheism, not because I don't have the ability (I do), but because I don't have the time or inclination. I am not like Richard or PZ; I am an old atheist, not a New Atheist. Therefore, I would like to recommend that some of the people who write comments in this blog that bedevil Kurt, Joe, and gfigurelli, make a pitch to the Chronicle blog editors for an atheist/humanist/freethought blog to balance Christ and Culture in this area, just as my new blog now balances it with respect to Creationism and science. I took the time to read many of the comments to just a few posts, including this one, and several of you deserve to have your comments online as posts in your own blog. You should develop your own audience in Houston. I know that Houston has a strong freethought community of atheists, secular and religious naturalistic humanists, rationalists, skeptics, freethinkers, non-believers, and unchurched. I founded Houston's first skeptic group and was a co-founder of Houston's first humanist group in the early 1980s. I was a member, for a time before being kicked out, of Houston's atheist group. I was also a humanist member of a UUA congregation that was predominantly composed of religious humanists. All of these people deserve to read a blog that matches their own interests.
schafersman...Thanks so much for your kind response. I sincerely appreciate it. We actually have encouraged several of our atheist readers to begin their own blog. In fact, I recommended one in particular who posted under the name Glucagon to the houstonbelief.com editor. However, he decided that he'd prefer to interact on ours instead.
You are correct. There are extremes on both sides. Too many evangelicals see science as the enemy when it is truly not the enemy. As you've mentioned before, there are many Christians who are scientists. I actually am friends with some. Some devout Christians I know wholeheartedly believe in evolution while others do not. I appreciate your efforts to dialogue with us and I hope that your continued efforts on your website produce fruit. I for one, recognize that my knowledge of science is limited so I look forward to reading your blog even though I am not courageous enough to try to debate on it (although I may ask some questions from time to time). Feel free to join us at any time. Sincerely...Joe Parle
Thanks for your input. I would like to respond to a few of your comments.
"To be completely candid, Kurt is right: some "science-wielding skeptics" DO "use science to attack the Bible and its affirmation of Divine creation."
Thanks for your candor. I think I was clear that not all science is used that way. My main point was simply to point out that for many who do you science that way there is an assumption of materialism to begin with. And quite frankly, as with Lewontin, it is not an assumption of methodological naturalism but unadulterated ontological materialism. With that premise the answer can only be materialism. Thus, it is begging the question and therefore faulty reasoning.
"I only note that, besides science, the Bible stories can be attacked with logic, history, archaeology, and anthropology, and they certainly have."
I have no problem with some attacking the Bible as long as they are willing to be scrutinized themselves. In my experience it has always ended up that the attacker is found wanting and not the Bible, so attack away. Just don't expect us to stand around and not point out that the emperor has no clothes.
"Also, it is not entirely clear how to interpret many Bible stories, including its "affirmation of Divine creation." Surely you don't intend to use authority alone to argue for your interpretations, do you?""
For those who do not take the Bible literally there may be no challenge from science-wielding skeptics, but for those of us who do take it literally there is. We accept the challenge but and respond by simply pointing out that many of the alleged challenges to a literal interpretation, such as evolution, are based on faulty reasoning to begin with. And as for authority, yes I do take it on authority now, but I have made an effort to challenge that authority through reason, historical evidences, science, other religions, etc. In so doing, I have confirmed rather than debunked the authority of Scripture. So when I hear of some alleged evidence against the Bible I am skeptical and wait to hear a response from someone more capable than myself (if I didn't have one come to my own mind). Ultimately, however, I stand with the apostle Paul, that if Christ is not reason my faith is in vain. So fire away. If someone can prove that Christ is not risen I will renounce Christianity (and I have not set it up so that there is no way to disprove it).
Again, thanks for your response and your candor. I hope that you will examine your own thinking to see if you are in fact assuming an ontological materialism rather than what you espouse. I would say that your rejection of I.D. a priori indicates that you are.
And one more thing. The conference is actually in Houston, not Lake Jackson. Let your friends know and tell them to email us if they want to avail themselves of my offer. I am sure we will talk again.
Texas Citizens for Science Last updated: 2008 August 14