What is the nature of reality? Is the universe self-existing and eternal or did it coming into being? Can we attribute the the diversity of life to natural processes, or was their a designing agent involved? Whether people have thought deeply about these questions or not, they all live their lives as if one view or another were true. Is there any way to educate these busy people?
I found an article in CNS News about a new series of short videos that challenge the naturalistic view of origins that dominates society today.
A new YouTube series, Science Uprising, challenges the notion that the smart money is on atheism.
I was part of the creative team behind the project. One of our aims was to reach Generation Z, “digital natives” who get much of their impression of the wider world from the internet, including streaming services like YouTube.
This generation tends to encounter well-articulated arguments for unbelief much earlier than their parents did, and they often encounter those arguments online. Science Uprising is among an increasingly rich body of online video material that pushes back against the flood of anti-theistic online propaganda.
The video series features researchers at the forefront of the intelligent design movement, including Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe and Cambridge-trained philosopher of science Stephen Meyer. But it also feature some top researchers outside this circle, including renowned research psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, leading synthetic organic chemist James Tour, and physicist Frank Tipler. For you physics/cosmology folks out there—yes, that Tipler.
Each Science Uprising video is 6-8 minutes long, fast-paced, and produced by filmmakers with extensive experience in the television industry. David Arabia, whose camera work can be seen on the popular History Channel series Mountain Men, headed up the project.
Each episode begins with a masked host who appears to hack into television and internet feeds around the country to offer a contrary perspective. One moment people in restaurants, classrooms, living rooms, Times Square, etc., are watching science popularizers like Bill Nye and Neal DeGrasse Tyson peddle a vision of man and nature as mere matter in motion. The next moment, the hacker host has replaced them onscreen to question their claims and introduce the episode topic.
In the first episode, released June 3, Carl Sagan famously intones that “the cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be,” then the masked host crackles onto the screen and asks, “How do they know the cosmos is all there is?”
In the second episode, released Monday, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne tells his audience that free will is an illusion since humans are essentially just “robots made out of meat.” The masked host then asks, “Are you and I really robots?”
The point of this hacker framing device isn’t that we live in an Orwellian police state. The United States enjoys tremendous press freedom—a freedom we are taking full advantage of through this video series. The idea, rather, is that if you passively absorb mainstream media and public education in the West, you will get a blinkered sense of what the latest scientific evidence suggests about the nature and origin of humankind and the cosmos.
Subsequent episodes will be released every Monday into July. They explore everything from DNA and genetic mutations to the curious way Earth and the laws of nature appear to be fine-tuned to allow for life. Each video includes one or more experts providing evidence that reality is more than matter, and that the world is charged with purpose and design.
Here is the first video:
And here is the second video:
And here is the third video:
And the fourth video:
If you want to share something on your wall to start a discussion, then these videos would be a good choice. Of course, to be able to debate these topics, you might need to read an article or a book about each topic. But that’s what I had to do, and it’s pretty fun to win arguments and beat up atheists.
Well, a couple of weeks ago I watched lectures from a recent Science and Faith Conference that occurred at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. I also sent the lectures to my STEM women advisors to get their opinions. It was unanimous that Tour’s talk on origin of life research was the best. So let’s see his bio, then we’ll take a look at his lecture.
James M. Tour, a synthetic organic chemist, received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Syracuse University, his Ph.D. in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry from Purdue University, and postdoctoral training in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University.
After spending 11 years on the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina, he joined the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice University in 1999 where he is presently the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering.
Tour’s scientific research areas include nanoelectronics, graphene electronics, silicon oxide electronics, carbon nanovectors for medical applications, green carbon research for enhanced oil recovery and environmentally friendly oil and gas extraction, graphene photovoltaics, carbon supercapacitors, lithium ion batteries, CO2 capture, water splitting to H2 and O2, water purification, carbon nanotube and graphene synthetic modifications, graphene oxide, carbon composites, hydrogen storage on nanoengineered carbon scaffolds, and synthesis of single-molecule nanomachines which includes molecular motors and nanocars.
[…]Tour has over 650 research publications and over 120 patents.
As he explains in the lecture, his research has frequently been used in the private sector to solve real world problems.
Rice University chemist James Tour almost defies description in a video now up of his amazing presentation at Discovery Institute’s 2019 Dallas Conference on Science and Faith.
At one point he asks for a show of hands of fellow synthetic chemists in the (large) audience. It turns out there are a couple and he demands that they stand up and call him a liar if anything he says isn’t true. His message is an alternatively scathing and hilarious indictment of claims from the origin-of-life studies community. Dr. Tour’s work in nanotechnology, an ulta-ultra-painstaking field, provides the backdrop for his demonstration that origins scientists don’t have the slightest idea how the first life was somehow naturally synthesized by blind, mindless forces.
The field hasn’t advanced an inch in 60-plus years. “Everyone’s clueless on this but no one wants to admit it.” Great scientists writing in the highest profile science journals are “lying to you” when they assert otherwise. “Show me the chemistry” of abiogenesis, he says. “It’s not there.”
Jim Tour is without parallel. Truly, I’d love to hear from our materialist critics how they would answer any of this.
At the conference, Tour’s lecture was accompanied by other great lectures on the origin of the universe and also the Cambrian explosion by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer. Jay Richards spoke on fine-tuning and habitability. You can find the links to those lectures on the Discovery Institute YouTube channel.
What we liked about the lecture by Dr. James Tour was that he did not dumb down the content for a church audience. I was sending screen captures of his slides and short video clips to my best friend Dina while I watched it. I was very excited to see someone so accomplished in his research and entrepreneurship being honest with the laypeople in the church. And I loved the church for letting him speak like a scientist. I didn’t understand everything he was saying about the science, but I always understood the point he was trying to make.
Let this lecture encourage to raise your children to focus on science, math, engineering and technology, because you can clearly see the value that we have in Dr. James Tour. We need hundreds more scientists who go to the best schools and make a difference.
I really hope that some of the younger Christians will understand the importance of making scientific evidence for a Creator and Designer more widely known. Learn the areas of science where God’s existence can be detected, and put the time in learning how to make those arguments.
Drew taught Dr. William Lane Craig’s Defenders class for two weeks in a row while Dr. Craig was in Australia. He chose to focus on secularism.
Note: Drew has some problems with the microphone for the first 2.5 minutes of part 1. Be patient.
Part 1 deals with how Europe and America became secular in different ways.
Part 1 topics:
Secularism: the attempt to take values based on religion (e.g. – Judeo-Christian values) out of the public square
Television programs that are targeted to more thoughtful viewers favor secular or liberal worldviews
Consider the sexual revolution – a new set of beliefs about sex are being pushed into the culture
Sex revolution includes: same-sex marriage, pornography, hookup culture, no-fault divorce
The effect of the sexual revolution has been to introduce widespread fatherlessness, which is very bad for children
The sexual revolution is being pushed in the popular culture, but also in the school sexual education programs
You can see where secularism has led to by looking at Europe, which has largely rejected its Christian roots
For example, Germany and Sweden are very aggressive about stamping out homeschooling
They do this because they are trying to push a government-approved set of beliefs and meanings onto children
How bad could it get? You can look at how Orthodox Judaism was persecuted in Russia after the communist revolution
How did Europe become so secular?
Wars in Europe between Protestants and Catholics caused people to think that theistic religion was bad
Secularists first attacked theism philosophically by trying to replace it with deism – the view that miracles do not occur
Secularists then pushed a radical empirism which attempted to reduce religious claims to meaningless irrationality
The Christian church responded by retreating from philosophical and theological claims and focusing on moral claims
That’s how Europe became secular, but how did America become secular?
America became secular because Christianity was transformed from a knowledge tradition to an emotional tradition
Pastors started to move away from presenting Christianity as true and instead presented it as emotionally fulfilling
Pastors emphasized personal experiences instead of philosophical theology and apologetics
European ideas arrived: deism, Darwinism, Bible criticism, etc.
Christianity responded to this by abandoning the centers of learning it had founded (universities) into pious isolation
As the universities became more secular, they turned out the next generation of influencers, including the media
This retreat from intellectual engagement was augmented by a fixation on end-times speculation (e.g. Left Behind)
(Drew talks to Jeremy, a philosophy student at Georgia State University, about whether Christianity is respected in his classes)
How politicians and the media used the Scopes Monkey Trial to marginalize Christianity as anti-science
The perception of Christians in the public square changed – they were viewed as ignorant, irrational and anti-science
Instead of causing Christians to work harder at science, they became even more fundamentalist, and less influential
Christians today are a tiny minority of influential groups, e.g. – scientists, media, etc.
In contrast, secular Jews, who tend to grow up in a culture that values learning, have a much greater influence
Even if Christians try to retreat to the country where they can homeschool, there is no hiding from the Internet
Which organizations are working against secularism today?
Example of what Christians can do: Plantinga’s refutation of the problem of evil
Example of what Christians can do: widespread use of ultrasound to move people to the pro-life view
Example of what Christians can do: Liberty University’s effort to produce Christians who can work in media
A story about William Lane Craig and a secular physicist who had lost her faith
People must have liked what they heard and saw in the first week, because he got a big turnout in the second week.
Part 2 deals with practical tips for engaging in the culture.
Topics in Part 2:
The real root cause of opposition to Christianity is from the sexual revolution
For example, moral relativism is so popular in the university, but it is almost entirely driven by sexual liberation
Evangelism and culture-shaping are not the same thing – each requires a different set of skills
Where do people get their information? Public school, news media, late night comedy shows, etc.
Two things for every Christian need to do: 1) Get informed, and 2) Get involved
First: you do not need to be smarter than average. Dr. Craig is a leading scholar because he studies 9 hours a day
Implying that people with influence are “smart” just provides us with an excuse not to try if we are not “smart”
Ordinary Christians need to be willing to give up fun more than they need to be naturally “smart”
Asks Cody: what about that Christian apologist who hung out mostly with internet atheists and then became one
Famous quantum chemist: you’re right, I am not much smarter than most people, I just work a lot harder at it
Drew: to get informed, you should follow good Christian blogs like Apologetics 315 and Wintery Knight
Drew knows Wintery Knight personally and WK is someone who knows apologetics but he also knows other things
WK connects the Christian worldview to lots different things, e.g. = marriage – he can find you the right people and books
(Drew holds up “What is Marriage?” book) This is the best book to argue the same-sex marriage issue
(Drew hold up “The Case for Life” book) This is the best book to argue the pro-life position
Slacktivism: don’t just send people links that you find on the Internet – read the articles and books and then talk about them
(Drew holds up the Lee Strobel “Case for” books) These are the best introductory books on basic Christian apologetics
Audio books are a great way for people to take in the information, and you can get them for free from the library
The Internet is not the best place for arguing about the things you learn – face to face conversations are much better
Biola’s apologetics certificate program is an excellent resource, and it’s all audio lectures so you just listen to them
You can get free apologetics audio from Apologetics 315 and Phil Fernandes
We also need to learn how to how to change the culture and how the other side changes the culture
To really make a difference, then a graduate degree might be for you – especially the M.A. in apologetics from Biola
The university is also very important – Christianity needs to be represented in the university
Influential people like Supreme Court justices come out of the university, which is why we need to be there
The Discovery Institute is doing the most to provide a credible rival to naturalistic science
They have a budget of $4 million dollars and they are punching way above their weight
If every evangelical sent them $20, they’d have a budget of $1.2 billion – what could they do with that?
(Drew puts a check for $20 for Discovery Institute in an envelope and seals it, to show how it’s done)
The Truth Project, which is put out by Focus on the Family – it’s another excellent training resource
When it comes to politics, focus on discussing policy issues, not on pushing particular candidates
If every evangelical Christian just pulled their own weight, it would make a big difference
It all starts by making the decision to take some leisure time to do things that really work
I could not agree with him more on his selections on the marriage debate and the abortion debate. I have bought at least a half-dozen of each of those for people. And I highly recommend getting the Strobel books on audio, especially the Case for a Creator. Love that book. Listen to it a bunch a times and you will start to talk like Lee Strobel.
I listened to all the Biola University lectures before they even had the certificate program, along with the Stand to Reason Masters Series in Christian Thought and about 60 Veritas Forum leture sets. Those things probably did the most for me to become a capable defender of Christianity.
The point he made about giving money to the Discovery Institute is important. In the last month, I sent out $300 to a Ratio Christi chapter for a lecture they gave, and $500 for a Christian group in Canada that put on an apologetics conference.
I think he’s right when he talks about everyone pulling their own weight. I spend about 2-3 hours a day reading and blogging. I donate a portion of my earnings to Christian scholars who study and/or speak at the university. I support Christian students who are doing degrees in philosophy, science and engineering. In church, I don’t anything yet, but I have a network of friends who do things in church, like organize lectures, debates and apologetics book studies. My current pastor is aware of my abilities, and he’s already asked me to help them with an evangelism program they are starting up.
I got started on apologetics by putting in the time on some of the things he mentioned in part 2 of his talk. The basic things to do are reading introductory books on apologetics, especially the ones on philosophy of religion, historical Jesus and physical sciences. If you can’t read, then at least get hold of lectures from Biola University and listen to those, along with Lee Strobel audio books, Brian Auten interviews, William Lane Craig debates. Just put them in the car and listen, and soon you’ll be sounding just like them.
On this episode of ID the Future, the Medved Show hosts the CSC’s Casey Luskin and student Zack Kopplin, a leading activist in the effort to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act. Luskin and Kopplin debate the implications of the Louisiana law for science education standards and whether or not the law promotes the teaching of creationism.
Medved: Should teachers be forced to teach creationism in public schools?
Luskin: The Discovery Institute has never advocated that creationism be taught in public schools
Medved: Does the Louisiana law mandate that creationism be taught in public schools
Kopplin: Yes, the bill does because Bobby Jindal said that the bill teaches creationism
Luskin: (Reads the actual text of the law) the law EXPLICITLY STATES that teaching creationism is forbidden
Luskin: Governor Jindal is misinformed about the law, but if you look at the law it says NO CREATIONISM
Kopplin: I don’t care about what the law actually says, I’ll just repeat that Bobby Jindal thinks it’s creationism
Kopplin: Thirty years ago, there was an attempt to mandate creationism, therefore this law is doing the same thing
Medved: Are there any complaints that creationism is being taught in any schools after this law has been passed
Kopplin: No, I don’t know of any, but that’s not because there are none! Maybe there are some that I haven’t heard about yet
Medved: If you are taught something that you think is stupid, then is that automatically a violation of your rights?
Kopplin: Because you cannot allow the progress of science to call the religion of naturalism into question
Luskin: About that Jindal quote – he was talking about what he wanted to pass, not the law that actually passed
Luskin: (reads the text of the law again) The law explicitly says that teaching creationism in the classroom is prohibited
Luskin: Intelligent design is not creationism. Creationism starts with the Bible. Intelligent Design starts with science
Luskin: The law only supports teaching both sides of things that are already in the curriculum
Luskin: ID is not already in the curriculum, therefore, the law does not allow it to be discussed
Medved: Take Stephen C. Meyer’s book on the origin of life, could that be used in the classroom?
Kopplin: I am not very familiar with Meyer’s book, but if it is critical of Darwinism and naturalism, then it should not be taught. I don’t need to read it before I can censor it
Luskin: Meyer’s book advocates for ID, so it should not be taught in science classrooms
Luskin: non-ID science papers that are critical of Darwinism should be allowed in science classroom so students get both sides
Dr. Walter L. Bradley (C.V. here) is the Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor.
Here’s a bio:
Walter Bradley (B.S., Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin) is Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor. He comes to Baylor from Texas A&M University where he helped develop a nationally recognized program in polymeric composite materials. At Texas A&M, he served as director of the Polymer Technology Center for 10 years and as Department Head of Mechanical Engineering, a department of 67 professors that was ranked as high as 12th nationally during his tenure. Bradley has authored over 150 refereed research publications including book chapters, articles in archival journals such as the Journal of Material Science, Journal of Reinforced Plastics and Composites, Mechanics of Time-Dependent Materials, Journal of Composites Technology and Research, Composite Science and Technology, Journal of Metals, Polymer Engineering and Science, and Journal of Materials Science, and refereed conference proceedings.
Dr. Bradley has secured over $5.0 million in research funding from NSF grants (15 yrs.), AFOSR (10 years), NASA grants (10 years), and DOE (3 years). He has also received research grants or contracts from many Fortune 500 companies, including Alcoa, Dow Chemical, DuPont, 3M, Shell, Exxon, Boeing, and Phillips.
He co-authored The Mystery of Life Origin: Reassessing Current Theories and has written 10 book chapters dealing with various faith science issues, a topic on which he speaks widely.
He has received 5 research awards at Texas A&M University and 1 national research award. He has also received two teaching awards. He is an Elected Fellow of the American Society for Materials and the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), the largest organization of Christians in Science and Technology in the world. He is President elect of the ASA and will serve his term in 2008.
Below, I analyze a lecture entitled “Is There Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer?”. Dr. Bradley explains how the progress of science has made the idea of a Creator and Designer of the universe more acceptable than ever before.
1. The correspondence of natural phenomena to mathematical law
All observations of physical phenomena in the universe, such as throwing a ball up in the air, are described by a few simple, elegant mathematical equations.
2. The fine-tuning of physical constants and rations between constants in order to provide a life-permitting universe
Life has certain minimal requirements; long-term stable source of energy, a large number of different chemical elements, an element that can serve as a hub for joining together other elements into compounds, etc.
In order to meet these minimal requirements, the physical constants, (such as the gravitational constant), and the ratios between physical constants, need to be withing a narrow range of values in order to support the minimal requirements for life of any kind.
Slight changes to any of the physical constants, or to the rations between the constants, will result in a universe inhospitable to life.
The range of possible ranges over 70 orders of magnitude.
Although each individual selection of constants and ratios is as unlikely as any other selection, the vast majority of these possibilities do not support the minimal requirements of life of any kind. (In the same way as any hand of 5 cards that is dealt is as likely as any other, but you are overwhelmingly likely NOT to get a royal flush. In our case, a royal flush is a life-permitting universe).
Examples of finely-tuned constants and ratios: (there are more examples in the lecture)
a) The strong force: (the force that binds nucleons (= protons and neutrons) together in nucleus, by means of meson exchange)
if the strong force constant were 2% stronger, there would be no stable hydrogen, no long-lived stars, no hydrogen containing compounds. This is because the single proton in hydrogen would want to stick to something else so badly that there would be no hydrogen left!
if the strong force constant were 5% weaker, there would be no stable stars, few (if any) elements besides hydrogen. This is because you would NOT be able to build up the nuclei of the heavier elements, which contain more than 1 proton.
So, whether you adjust the strong force up or down, you lose stars than can serve as long-term sources of stable energy, or you lose chemical diversity, which is necessary to make beings that can perform the minimal requirements of living beings. (see below)
b) The conversion of beryllium to carbon, and carbon to oxygen
Life requires carbon in order to serve as the hub for complex molecules, but it also requires oxygen in order to create water.
Carbon is like the hub wheel in a tinker toy set: you can bind other elements together to more complicated molecules (e.g. – “carbon-based life), but the bonds are not so tight that they can’t be broken down again later to make something else.
The carbon resonance level is determined by two constants: the strong force and electromagnetic force.
If you mess with these forces even slightly, you either lose the carbon or the oxygen.
3. Fine-tuning to allow a habitable planet
A number of factors must be fine-tuned in order to have a planet that supports life
Initial estimates predicted abundant life in the universe, but revised estimates now predict that life is almost certainly unique in the galaxy, and probably unique in the universe.
Even though there are lots of stars in the universe, the odds are against any of them supporting complex life.
Here are just a few of the minimal requirements for habitability: must be a single star solar system, in order to support stable planetary orbits, the planet must be the right distance from the sun in order to have liquid water at the surface, the planet must sufficient mass in order to retain an atmosphere, etc.
The best non-theistic response to this argument is to postulate a multiverse, but that is very speculative and there is no experimental evidence that supports it.
Evidence #2: The origin of the universe
1. The progress of science has shown that the entire physical universe came into being out of nothing (= “the big bang”). It also shows that the cause of this creation event is non-physical and non-temporal. The cause is supernatural.
Atheism prefers an eternal universe, to get around the problem of a Creator having to create the universe.
Discovery #1: Observations of galaxies moving away from one another confirms that the universe expanded from a single point.
Discovery #2: Measurements of the cosmic background radiation confirms that the universe exploding into being.
Discovery #3: Predictions of elemental abundances prove that the universe is not eternal.
Discovery #4:The atheism-friendly steady-state model and oscillating model were both falsified by the evidence.
And there were other discoveries as well, mentioned in the lecture.
The best non-theistic response to this argument is to postulate a hyper-universe outside of ours, but that is very speculative and there is no experimental evidence that supports it.
Evidence #3: The origin of life
1. The progress of science has shown that the simplest living organism contains huge amounts of biological information, similar to the Java code I write all day at work. This is a problem for atheists, because the sequence of instructions in a living system has to come together all at once, it cannot have evolved by mutation and selection – because there was no replication in place prior to the formation of that first living system!
Living systems must support certain minimum life functions: processing energy, storing information, and replicating.
There needs to be a certain amount of complexity in the living system that can perform these minimum functions.
But on atheism, the living system needs to be simple enough to form by accident in a pre-biotic soup, and in a reasonable amount of time.
The minimal functionality in a living system is a achieved by DNA, RNA and enzymes. DNA and RNA are composed of sequences of proteins, which are in turn composed of sequences of amino acids.
Consider the problems of building a chain of 100 amino acids
The amino acids must be left-handed only, but left and right kinds are equally abundant in nature. How do you sort out the right-handed ones?
The amino acids must be bound together using peptide bonds. How do you prevent other types of bonds?
Each link of the amino acid chain needs to be carefully chosen such that the completed chain with fold up into a protein. How do you choose the correct amino acid for each link from the pool of 20 different kinds found in living systems?
In every case, a human or other intelligence could solve these problems by doing what intelligent agents do best: making choices.
But who is there to make the choices on atheism?
The best current non-theistic response to this is to speculate that aliens may have seeded the Earth with life at some point in the past.
The problem of the origin of life is not a problem of chemistry, it is a problem of engineering. Every part of car functionality can be understood and described using the laws of physics and chemistry. But an intelligence is still needed in order to assemble the components into a system that has the minimal requirements for a functioning vehicle.