"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Friday, February 01, 2008

Books of the Month - February 2008

The first selection for February is by Dr. Werner Gitt.

This book takes a fascinating look at information and attempts to answer two crucial questions: What is information and where does it come from? Does it originate randomly or is it the product of intelligence?

The retired Dr. Gitt is an information specialist and was a director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig), the head of the Department of Information Technology.

Purchase your copy here and here.

The second book of the month selection is "The New Answers Book", with Ken Ham as general editor. The book features contributions by Paul Taylor, Mike Oard, Mike Riddle, Dr. Andy McIntosh, Dr. Bryant Wood, Dr. Tommy Mitchell, Dr. Georgia Purdom, Dr. Jason Lisle, Dr. Monty White, Dr. Terry Mortenson, Bodie Hodge, Dr. David Menton, Dr. Andrew Snelling, and Dr. Clifford Wilson.

The book takes on such topics as:

millions of years
the gap theory
dinosaurs turning into birds
local flooding vs. the great flood
the Ice Age
distant starlight
carbon-14 and radiometric dating techniques
the supposed proofs for evolution.

Purchase your copy here or here.



At 01 February, 2008 16:16, Blogger Lee Ann said...

Have a greet weekend!
Lee Ann

At 09 February, 2008 00:26, Blogger Lui said...

Ken Ham? Jesus Christ. If you still think that the world is younger than the domestication of the dog, then you really need to start reading Dawkins or Gould. Better yet, read Sean B. Carroll. Ken Ham is a nobody in the world of science (deservedly so), and he always will be.

At 09 February, 2008 12:13, Blogger green said...

lui: thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Is there any particular title by Sean B. Carroll that you would recommend, since I've never heard of him?

Perhaps Ken Ham doesn't need to be a "somebody" in the world of science as perhaps you would define it. Seems to me he's fine with that.

I'm guessing that you view everyone in the world of science as a "nobody" who doesn't hold to your narrow-minded atheistic worldview. Please correct me if this assumption is wrong.

At 10 February, 2008 00:15, Blogger Lui said...

From Sean B. Carroll, I recommend his book "Endless Forms Most Beautiful", about the new field of "evo devo", or evolutionary developmental biology.

"Perhaps Ken Ham doesn't need to be a "somebody" in the world of science as perhaps you would define it. Seems to me he's fine with that."

But that's my point. He pretty much has no choice but to be fine with it. I remember a documentary about evolution (I think it was the PBS series) where he was speaking to an audience of Christian conservatives, and part of his critique of evolution consisted of the incredulous appeal: "Was anybody there to see it?" This is nonsense even for a creationist propagandist, because he should know (as should anyone even remotely interested in science) that in a very real sense we were "there": by looking at the evidence and drawing reasonable inferences about the sort of thing that the evidence is consistent with. A detective investigating a murder needn't actually be at the place and time of the murder while it took place, but is that any reason to dismiss all murder charges if we have strong evidence that is consistent with the suspects having committed the murder? Nor, of course, does the detective need to know every step of the narrative. The police sometimes get it wrong, as do scientists, but as more evidence comes in, they can get a clearer picture of what happened in the past. So the charge that evolution is in any way weakened by the scientist not having been there is completely vacuous, and this man should (and I suspect, does) know better. Archaeology is also inferential, as is cosmology. Ham is clearly not using the language of a scientist when he breeds incredulity into gullible audiences. He is doing them an enormous injustice, for they are already in dire need of sound scientific exposition.
Another claim Ham made was that the fossils in the geological strata are what we should expect given a worldwide flood. Nothing could be further from the truth. Creationist flood geology has it that the slower, less swift creatures weren't able to make it to higher grounder before being inundated, while the swifter, faster animals made it to higher ground (and were correspondingly preserved in strata that scientists see as younger); together, this gives the impression of the fossil record showing a progression from simple and slow to faster and more complex. But this has deep problems, like the following: more ancient doesn't necessarily mean slower and simpler. Velociraptor and Deinonychus, for example, are reckoned to have been sophisticated creatures, and certainly much swifter than a lot of the animals that "made it higher ground". We find no pteranodons or gorgonopsids contemporaneous with more recent and slower diprotodons or the the South American giant ground sloth. The correlation of strata to swiftness is weak; what we actually find is ancient, slow animals with ancient, fast animals and more modern slow animals with more modern fast animals. Furthermore, why should most of the fossil species of lower strata have become extinct after the Flood?
He might also have spoken about the supposed absence of transitional forms. In fact, there are many transitional forms. Just off the top of my head, here are a few:

-Archaeopteryx, Caudipteryx, Sinosauropteryx, Microraptor gui with a mosaic of characters from reptiles and birds (Archaeopteryx, despite being touted as "the first bird", actually had far more reptilian than typically avian characters)

-Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, Basilosaurus with a mosaic of characters from land mammals and whales

-Australopithecus afarensis and A.africanus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis with a mosaic of characters from non-human apes and modern humans

-Acanthostega, Icthyostega, Tiktaalik with a mosaic of characters from fish and modern amphibians

The charge that there are no transitional forms is complete and utter fiction, the exact opposite of the truth. In addition, we find today creatures that have a mosaic of features from two groups, like the platypus and the echidna, mammals with some skeletal features of reptiles and egg laying. And of course, there is a whole continuum of differences between various species, all the way from varieties and sub-species, to populations whose members can interbreed with one another to produce less fertile (and others that can produce only infertile offspring or no offspring at all), to species proper, to clearly related genera, and so on. Nature isn't a place of Platonic essences hanging from some Godly sky; it's a place of variation, continuity, contingency and flux. These features of the world - not divinely ordained designs - are the realities on the ground (for an excellent exposition of this, see Stephen Jay Gould's "Full House"). This is common knowledge to ecologists, population geneticists and taxonomists. The richness of life must not be cheapened by forcing it into a narrow framework of created "kinds".

"I'm guessing that you view everyone in the world of science as a "nobody" who doesn't hold to your narrow-minded atheistic worldview. Please correct me if this assumption is wrong."

It's absolutely wrong. Many great scientists are theists, like Ken Miller, Ian Plimer, Simon Conway Morris, and John D. Barrow. They have done great science. Ken Ham isn't seen as a fringe nuisance because of his belief in God, he's seen as a fringe nuisance because he doesn't actually care one whit about science and is only too happy to strong arm it in the furtherance of unalterable dogma. It's no mystery why everything he says is flatly contradicted by all the sciences: he doesn't work within the methodology and spirit of science, but diametrically against it. You have no idea what you're missing out on, the boundless wonder of billions of years of natural history, of biological arms races, of lost dynasties and new beginnings, of warring genes and symbiotic alliances. This is a story more haunting, poetic and interesting than any creation myth, and it has the benefit of being true. And it's what Ken Ham and people of his ilk are robbing you of, because if you take them as legitimate points of reference, you miss out on the truly beautiful explanations that scientists actually use to account for all this glorious wonder (that's why I recommend Dawkins, Gould and Carroll - or try Carl Zimmer too, with his book "Evolution - The Triumph of an Idea"). The added beauty of it all is that it didn't require any conscious agency to effect it; it is the result of natural processes played out in ways that we now have a pretty good grasp on (and this knowledge is put to practical in various fields). The thrill for those interested in science isn't only the beauty of what we have uncovered, it is the prospect of uncovering new surprises and facts about the world. It is real scientists who are engaged in this noblest of enterprises, not fundamentalist preachers who want to take the whole of existence and downsize it into an impoverished, convoluted, unsubtle and parochial travesty. I watched a documentary today by National Geographic called "African Paradise". You can be moved to tears by the Tanzanian wilderness, not because it was authored by a higher intelligence, but for its own power and magnificence, playing by its own rules. To me, that's sacred.

Let the Bible be honoured for the good that it does bestow to us, and as a work of human beings living in their own time and place. Let nature be honoured for her own sake, devoid of our prejudices and self-centred concerns.

At 12 February, 2008 23:46, Blogger Lui said...

It's true, isn't it?

At 13 February, 2008 11:24, Blogger green said...

lui: my lack of response on my part does not in any way make what you've written true. You did rattle off a seemingly impressive argument, however I've lacked the time to sufficiently wade through the muck of your evolutionary propaganda piece by piece.

At 13 February, 2008 23:29, Blogger Lui said...

"Lui: my lack of response on my part does not in any way make what you've written true."

You shouldn't flatter yourself with the view that I in any way rely on your responses to feel vindicated about anything scientific. Regardless of whether you choose to keep your head in the sand or embrace the demonstrable truths I've shared with you (and which Ham and his ilk have probably chosen to keep from you, truth-seeking gentlemen that they are), the question was directed at something you must by now at least suspect is wrong with your beliefs if you have any semblance of honesty.


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