Taughannock Man, a Day at Taughannock Falls—With Special Guest Appearance by Bob Dylan

“It was a horrible, nasty, vicious piece of work,” hissed Andy Currant about Piltdown Man. But the reason it was horrible, nasty, and vicious is that it made his revered heroes look like fools. Had it been his enemies made to look foolish, he’d be singing its praises to this day, most likely. Scientists steeped in evolutionary thinking confirmed the prehistoric man was genuine. The fraud remained undetected for 40 years.

However, what is truly a horrible, nasty, and vicious piece of work is that nobody told me such dupes were to be found much closer to home—at nearby Cornell University. It took a trip to Taughannock Falls to break free from the blinders they’d all tried to fit me with. In 1879, local scientists, steeped in evolutionary thinking, had chipped a few small pieces loose from “Taughannock Man,” unearthed in by workmen widening a driveway, and had upon analysis declared the petrified man authentic. But it wasn’t authentic. It had been (literally) cooked up just weeks before in a local mechanic’s establishment, and was made of stone dust, eggs, minerals, iron filings and beef blood.

It had then been slipped in sideways though a tunnel. Tree limbs had been twisted about its neck, as though having grown there ages later. The dirt overhead, therefore, literally had been undisturbed for centuries, and this was among the circumstances that caused the Cornell experts to swoon that they, too, had discovered a prehistoric man—and right in their own back yard at that!

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It took the cautious application of alcohol to uncover the ruse. Or maybe the incautious application of it. One of the local good ‘ol boys drank a little too much of it at the tavern and began boasting of how he and his chums had buried the stone giant just to fool the great men.

Fooling the great men does not appear to be the motivation, as it was with Piltdown Man in at least one of the several theories offered as to its creation. Taughannock Man was a straight-up publicity stunt, aimed to drum up business for the expanding Taughannock Hotel. That same year, its proprietor had hired a stuntman to tightrope-walk the adjacent gorge. It was a lavish hotel build next to lavish surroundings. Railroads dropped off visitors at the north and south ends of Cayuga Lake, steamboats took them to a landing point, and stagecoaches took them to the hotel, which—alas—burned to the ground in 1922. If there is one common feature of magnificent historical wood buildings, it is that they burn to the ground,

The main attraction of Taughannock State Park is Taughannock Falls. You can see it from the visitor center on the northern rim of the gorge (built upon the site of the old hotel—a display legend indicates the location of an excavated wall), but for best results, you hike the easy 3/4 mile trail up the gorge from the main park entrance. The cliff walls close in upon you from either side and in due course you are just before the falls and looking up, not down as you would be from the visitor center. The water drops 215 feet, making Taughonnock Falls the largest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. It drops further than Niagara Falls.

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Besides the Park display legend, I found two other sources telling of the Taughannock Man hoax. One is a bland nostalgic piece from the Ithaca Times, gently chuckling at the outrageous old days that could never happen again because we are so much smarter. The other, from lifeinthefingerlakes.com, leaves open the possibility that it could happen all over again because we are just as dumb as we have always been. The bland piece even seeks to cushion the great men from Cornell University, saying their analysis yielded “decidedly mixed results.” But the fingerlakes piece and the park legend both say that they swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

We are just as likely to fall for such pranks again—not the same ones, for we have been forewarned, and it will take a while for that forewarning to wear off—but different ones that we have not been (lately) forewarned against. Pride will blind us. Greed will blind us. Ideology will blind us. Some of today’s realities are yesterday’s conspiracy theories. Are we really to believe that none of today’s conspiracy theories will become tomorrow’s realities?

Gullibility is old and its not going away. Bob Brier, the Egyptologist, tells how pharaohs never recorded their defeats (so, of course, no one else dared to do so either). They only recorded their victories. He relates the exploits of one pharaoh who recorded victory after glorious victory! each one closer to his home base (because he was retreating).

With regard to the evolution theory, the Jehovah’s Witness organization appears to have no problem with “micro-evolution.” It is macro they choke on. Of course, they do not champion either, since that is neither their specialty nor mission, but micro, which is not all that different from animal husbandry, the stuff of what Darwin observed on the island, they can let stand without throwing stones at. It is the “kinds” of Genesis. They even invited Michael Behe over to talk shop.

Taughannock Man, along with the more famous Piltdown Man, is clearly macro. Piltdown is rightly more famous, because with it there was no town drunk to spill the beans within weeks, and the great men were fooled for forty years. However, in an effort to save face, they have declared that they were not fooled at all, they were not that dumb, that they smelled a rat almost from the beginning.

If so, this makes it worse. It replace gullible with fraud, for they said nothing about it. Moreover, it is contemptuous fraud, the sort that rt.com resorts to when reporting on Jehovah’s Witnesses, when whatever reporting they present takes place amidst of backdrop of religious crazies doing truly crazy, bizarre, pugilistic, cultish things that have nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses, as anyone who knows the slightest bit about them will instantly attest. (chapter 13 of this work)  In the case of the evolutionist fraudsters, it is: “Tell the dummies anything you must to keep them on board—who cares if it is true or not.”

Thus it becomes necessary, as it so often is with me, to bring in Bob Dylan with what started as a joke. Explaining a metaphor to Evo-Ann that any child would instantly understand, it reached the point of my posting a tree fallen across the road with the comment that it was blocking “Evolution Row.”

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Sometimes something gets in your head and you knock it around a bit and come up with more. “Evolution Row” is actually not a bad interpretation of the song “Desolation Row.” Take this portion:

At midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew

Come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do

Then they bring them to the factory where the heart-attack machine

Is strapped across their shoulders and then the kerosene

Is brought down from the castles by insurance men who go

Check to see that nobody is escaping to Desolation Row.

Anyone familiar with the Bible, as Dylan is—he did a stint as a born-again Christian; listen to Slow Train Coming, for example, and you’ll see he is thoroughly familiar with scripture—will know who is “all the agents and the superhuman crew.”

At the darkest time, they round up everyone “who knows more than they do.” Well, nobody knows more than does the “superhuman crew,” so it must be a reference to those who think that they they know more than others, who think that are very smart indeed, and that take great pleasure in parading their knowledge before everyone else, quick to disparage anyone in their path, ones who don’t suffer fools gladly—and a fool is anyone who disagrees with them.

Despite their self-heralded knowledge, they are “rounded up” and processed, as though in a “factory.” The knowledge that they take such pride in is nevertheless death-dealing, like a “heart attack machine strapped across their shoulders,” with “kerosene” thrown in for good measure. 

Despite their knowledge being death-dealing—settling for a few dozen years lifespan at best and then eternal blackness—nobody must escape this tripe. “Insurance men” see to it. Nobody will escape from Evolution Row. (Dylan actually wrote “to Desolation Row,” not “from Desolation Row,” but it was probably a typo and I will set him straight when I see him next.) Let us not forget that the evolution teaching (in its full measure—not counting the intelligent design variety) is desolation to the Bible based hope of living forever on a paradise earth.

No, I don’t really think Dylan had that in mind. Other stanzas don’t so readily lend themselves to that interpretation. But it’s not a bad interpretation all the same. Dylan often writes in a stream of consciousness and doesn’t necessarily have any underlying message. It’s like decrypting Kafka. The tone is distinct, but the underlying words can be taken any number of ways. He is not inclined to pose as a great man with deep underlying meanings he is cryptically recording for all of humanity if they can but prove their worth by unraveling the message. Naw. He describes himself more like a modern Aaron, who throws stuff into the fire and “out came this calf.” (Exodus 32:24)

To see the Taughannock Giant, if your interest is peaked, you might think you could find it somewhere within Cornell, since it plays a part in that university’s history, even if an inglorious one. However, they red-facededly want nothing to do with it. The baked giant can be seen at the History Center of Tompkins County. Docents there probably retrieved it from Cornell’s dumpster.

 

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One Fine Discussion along Bob Dylan’s Evolution Row

At the daily text discussion, the question was posed: What if you are a young person in school, all your classmates believe in evolution, and you want to defend creation? It was the application supplied to 1 Peter 3:15, “Be] always ready to make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason for the hope you have, but doing so with a mild temper and deep respect.​“

No one present was actually in school. For most the experience was many years behind them. Roy said how when he had been in school, he told the teacher he believed in creation, and the latter replied, “Well, okay, but you still have to learn evolution.” A lot of school is like that—learn answers that may or may not be relevant (or even true) and spit them back later on a test.

Someone pointed to how it is only a theory of evolution, but in the academic world this doesn’t really wash. The only way to prove it would be to go back and observe, and that’s not going to happen, but they still think the evidence is overwhelming.

Neither can you prove creation. All you can do is establish it is reasonable, and perhaps evolution unreasonable. It’s not unreasonable in every single aspect, but in the overall picture it asks you to swallow... “Most people believe in evolution simply because someone they respect told them that it is true,” the text comment said. That about squares with typical experience. I remember a brother who used to lead off with that question when the topic arose: “Do you believe it because you have personally considered all the evidence for and against, or is it more that so many say it is so that you figured it must be.” Usually the answer was the latter.

The friends present are long out of school, long immersed in the real world of day-to-day activity. Evolution has become irrelevant to them, as it is to most people. The scientists may make much of abiogenesis, macro-evolution, and micro-evolution, but these categories are not especially significant to non-scientists, who just lump them all together as “evolution.” Sometimes they even lump in non-living things—the origin of the universe, for example, as “evolution.” They’re not concerned about these categories. Few people are. They’re concerned about categories of things that count in their own lives. One “category,” micro-evolution, is no more than unremarkable animal husbandry, has been around forever, and is what Darwin extended into other areas.

On “macro-evolution,” I sort of like the series, “Was it Designed?” that has run in the magazines for the longest time, and highlights behavior so incredibly complex that you say, “I may be gullible, but I am not so gullible as to think such behavior could come about just by happenstance. Or some other aspect of copying nature. The reason wing tips on airplanes bend up, for example, is that birds have wings that do such, and when engineers ran the numbers they found they save a lot of energy that way.

On abiogenesis—there you pull the mathematicians in, who routinely declare this or that aspect of cell or protein activity so staggeringly unlikely—odds on the order of all the known atoms in the universe—that for all practical purposes it is “impossible.” You would think this would carry more weight with atheists, but it doesn’t. One of them muttered to me (I hadn’t known this) that proponents of “intelligent design” are almost always mathematicians. Of course! Their branch of science runs the numbers and declares it impossible. Freed from these “inconvenient facts,” their non-specialist brethren continue to build castles in the sky, hiding behind a “fallacy of negation” argument they themselves have designed. Roughly, it runs that, “just because I cannot answer your question doesn’t mean what I say is untrue.

But I think if I were back in school again—it has been awhile—I would bypass all such heady things to focus on Bob Dylan, specifically his song Desolation Row. Sometimes something gets in your head and you knock it around a bit and come up with something more. “Evolution” Row is actually not a bad interpretation of the song. Take this portion:

At midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew

Come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do

Then they bring them to the factory where the heart-attack machine

Is strapped across their shoulders and then the kerosene

Is brought down from the castles by insurance men who go

Check to see that nobody is escaping to Desolation Row.

Anyone familiar with the Bible (as Dylan is—he did a stint as a born-again Christian. Listen to Slow Train Coming, for example, and you’ll see he is thoroughly familiar with scripture) will know who is “all the agents and the superhuman crew.”

At the darkest time, they round up everyone “who knows more than they do.” Well, nobody knows more than does the “superhuman crew,” so it must be a reference to those who think that they they know more than others, who think that are very smart indeed and that take great pleasure in parading their knowledge before everyone else, quick to disparage anyone in their path, ones who don’t suffer fools gladly—and a fool is anyone who disagrees with them.

Despite their self-heralded knowledge, they are “rounded up” and processed, as though in a “factory.” The knowledge that they take such pride in is nevertheless death-dealing, like a “heart attack machine strapped across their shoulders,” with “kerosene” thrown in for good measure. 

Despite their knowledge being death-dealing—settling for a few dozen years lifespan at best and then eternal blackness—nobody must escape this tripe. “Insurance men” see to it. Nobody will escape from Evolution Row. (Of course, Dylan actually wrote “to Desolation Row,” not “from,” but it was probably a typo.) Let us not forget that the evolution teaching (in its full measure— not counting the intelligent design variety) is desolation to the Bible based hope of living forever on a paradise earth.

Naw, I don’t really think Dylan had that in mind. Other stanzas don’t so readily lend themselves to that interpretation. But it’s not a bad interpretation all the same. Dylan often writes in a stream of consciousness and doesn’t necessarily have any underlying message. It’s like decrypting Kafka. The tone is distinct, but the underlying words can be taken any number of ways.

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A Watchtower Study to Battle the “False Doctrine” of Evolution

The way it works with humans is we invite people over for a cookout and they all end up sitting on their hands because the gas grill ran out of propane and someone has to go to Home Depot to get some more.

That was my comment on the first portion of last week’s Watchtower Study that had to do with the earth’s built-in recycling. As much as we breathe in oxygen, it doesn’t run out because plants emit it, recycling our carbon dioxide at the same time. Then there is also the water cycle:

All the streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place from which the streams flow, there they return so as to flow again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:7) That’s not bad insight for writing 3000 years old.

Not to mention how my daughter the next day told of of her friend who started raising rabbits and, almost as an afterthought, began collecting their poop for the garden and now the garden is exploding with produce. As for the heavens, they belong to Jehovah, But the earth he has given to the sons of men”—the earth that is so good as recycling—says Psalm 115:6

The study article was on three gifts of God, and how one does well to appreciate them as gifts: “Jehovah has given us “a place to live, he has granted us the ability to think and communicate, and he has answered the most important questions we could ask.”

A secondary goal of the material was that “we will also be better equipped to help those who have been misled by the false doctrine of evolution” which is not how it is usually described—as a “doctrine,” let alone a “false” one. I like how the article did not take the form of “if an evolutionist says this, you can say that,” a form that, in effect, allows them to frame the argument. I like also [not stated in the article] that we are not the people who put dinosaurs on the Kentucky ark. Instead, we are the ones who have acknowledged the days of creation as “epochs” and the total time since Genesis 1:1 as “aeons.”

You don’t let evolutionists frame the argument, as though on the defensive. You frame it yourself. A belief in creation is the default condition. It is the condition that will automatically come up after a reboot. It is evident from Romans 1:20:

For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship...” You don’t have to prove it to people. They perceive it. It is the default condition.

Some things are perceived by anyone of good heart. Ones too smart for their own pants will muddy the waters, but anyone of good heart will unmuddy them. Those not will muddy them all the more. To be sure, it is well to have some material specifically to deal with this, as the Witness organization does, but it ought to be supplemental material for an “as needed” basis, and not universal.

It’s a little bit like how the atheists present the analogy of an intelligent puddle of water that naturally thinks the pothole it occupies was specifically designed for it—that analogy concocted to advance the argument that if the earth was anything but perfectly suited, we wouldn’t be around to talk about it. “Whoa! What a brilliant analogy!” I said. “All that is needed to make it complete is to find an intelligent puddle of water!” Just how hard (and why?) is one going to work at the goal of denying God?

I could barely believe it, when I first came across Jehovah’s Witnesses, that I had actually stumbled across people who believed in Adam and Eve! They didn’t look stupid—or at least no more so than anyone else in aggregate—and yet all my life I had accepted that only the reddest of the rednecks believed in Adam and Eve! It didn’t clear up for some time. Instead, I put it on the shelf, for what caught my interest more was that which formed the third point of yesterday’s Watchtower: “By means of the Bible, Jehovah answers the most important questions we could ask, such as: Where did we come from? What is the purpose of life? And what does the future hold?” It is all a matter of priority. Answers to spiritual questions that scientists cannot even touch supersede thoughts about evolution—put the latter on the shelf and come back to it later.

On the second gift—our brain, and the ability to think—I liked the emphasis on how we can choose how to use it. Make it your aim to screen out negative thoughts and hone in on ones of gratitude, since “researchers have found that people who are grateful are more likely to be happy.”

We will relate to the generation to come the praiseworthy deeds of Jehovah and his strength, the wonderful things he has done,” says Psalm 78:4

“We also do well to imitate Jehovah regarding the things he chooses to forget,” said the article, and verses such as the following were cited:

Do not remember the sins of my youth and my transgressions...O Jehovah.” (Psalm 25:7) If he doesn’t, why should we?

If errors were what you watch, then who, O Jehovah, could stand?” (Psalm 130: 3-4) If he doesn’t why should we?

And: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mathew 6:14-15) In that event, one had better be forgiving.

And as to retraining ourselves, the article stated: “Among all the creatures on earth, only humans have the ability to learn moral lessons by remembering and analyzing past events,” as it gave some verses as to how we can tune our conscience that way. I thought of the contrast of Sam Harris the atheist, describing his worst case scenario of how the AI creation of humans will someday wipe us all out!—not with malice, but as a logical consequence of having inadvertently gotten in its way somehow and thus being squished by like an ant. It’s a great world that he has chosen for himself. He’s welcome to it.

The Watchtower article mentioned how William Boyce used his skills of communication to uncover the grammatical rules of the Xhosa language for the purpose of Bible translation—is all that work ever done for any other reason?—and in so doing he laid the basis for many African-language translations. Xhosa is among the “klic klic” languages that doesn’t even have words. After the meeting, Kim said how she used to go to a hair salon in Buffalo where they speak it. “Does it sound like birds?” I asked, and she said it did not—it was more like a musical instrument, pleasing to listen to.

I checked to find that Boyce, a Wesleyan clergyman, had never before been mentioned in Watchtower publications—they are not much for honoring humans in that quarter. Rummaging over that, I eventually thought of the contrast in Morris Kline’s book, Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge, where he seems miffed about his colleagues back in the day not getting the credit.

“Indeed, the work of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and most eighteenth-century mathematicians was, as we shall soon see more clearly, a religious quest. The search for the mathematical laws of nature was an act of devotion that would reveal the glory and grandeur of His handiwork,” he writes, presently advancing the seeming complaint that, “each discovery of a law of nature was hailed as evidence of God’s brilliance rather than that of the investigator.”

I could be wrong, but I suspect that clergyman Boyce, who lived with the people in Africa that spoke the unwritten language, would not huff about not receiving credit. He would be content to be perceived as bringing his gift to the altar. It certainly is true of Geoffrey Jackson, now of the Witness Governing Body, who saw during his missionary life among the Polynesian peoples, that they had no written dictionary—and so he wrote one himself.

But as for Kline, he writes a brilliant book and then takes the wrong side of it. He harkens back to the preceding Greeks, who “dared to tackle the universe, and they refused any help from gods, spirits, ghosts, devils, and angels, or other agents unacceptable to a rational mind.” That’s the world he prefers. Is it any wonder that some shrink from the Christian message? “How can you believe, when you are accepting glory from one another and you are not seeking the glory that is from the only God?” Jesus says at John 5:44. What is it with Kline and his Greeks—aren’t they the original pedophiles?

 

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One Might as Well Collect Hub Caps

If I would leave the book ‘Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?’ with the householder, he’d look it over and tell me what he thought of it next week, he told me. I did. When I returned, it was for a pleasant conversation right there on his doorstep—we both listened to each other’s points, and neither of us gave an inch. Toward the end, he asked why it was so important anyway? What difference did it make how we got here?

I answered that if God had really created the earth and the life on it, he just might have some purpose for it. He just might not stand by idly to see it ruined. On the other hand, if life evolved from nothing as simply a natural process, then if there was any hope for the planet, it lay in human efforts—“and they’re not doing so well.” The man’s wife, who hadn’t said a word during the entire exchange, suddenly found her moment. “That’s a good point,” she said. For once, the law that your best lines always occur to you too late did not hold true.

The line was incomplete, though. If you trash the Genesis account of Adam and Eve—the first three chapters of the book—you discard more than a chance to see light at the end of the tunnel. You lose almost everything of consequence. You lose any possibility of understanding why it is that humans die. You lose any possibility of understanding why a “loving” God would permit suffering and evil. You lose any possibility of understanding just how the death of Christ could benefit you or anyone else—all that remains is a vague and syrupy, “Jesus died because he loves us.” It doesn’t quite cut it for logic, does it?

There used to be a permanent diorama at the local museum of natural history and science entitled Cabinets of Curiosities. Long ago the place expanded and replaced it with dinosaurs—dinosaurs are snazzy, but who doesn’t have them? Cabinets was much more modest in scale, but what it lacked in size it made up for in insight. The exhibit was a collection of stuffed birds, insects, mammals, shells, minerals, plants, leaves, rocks, and so forth. Explaining it all was a sign:

“Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, Nature was seen as evidence of God’s work and people believed that studying it would bring them closer to the Creator. Darwin’s evolutionary theory, which replaced God’s role in creating species with natural selection, shook society to it’s foundations.”

So people collected these things. They showed them off. They studied them. They were part of the Book of Nature; they revealed things about God. Prominent scientists of that previous age, Newton, Kepler, Faraday, and Hertz, to name a few, thought of their work in much the same light, as bringing to light how God operated. But people gradually adjusted to Darwinian thinking. Little by little, natural things lost their appeal. One might as well collect hub caps.

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Standing Up For Your Beliefs in Class

At the Regional Convention, at least half of the videos were directed at young people. This is good because they are under more peer pressure than most not to 'go along with the crowd.' All young people experience this pressure, but Jehovah's Witnesses youth more than usual because what they stand for is more specific and the degree to which they stand is more determined. Besides, there are many young people who resolve the pressure not to go along with the crowd by going along with the crowd. Sometimes they go so far as to answer the wise words of their mama, "If everyone jumped off of a cliff, would you jump off, too?" with a "That's what I'm talkin about!"

Such talks at the convention would feature some Bible character doing something that took guts, and then the modern video application have some young person taking a bold stand based upon consideration of it. I don't remember the specific talk, but I do remember the specific video of a high school girl saying how she was really quite shy but got into the habit of, right from the start, at school's opening intro 'show and tell' session, reveal that she was one of Jehovah's Witnesses and thereafter let it be known, when all the kids are quizzing each other as to what they did on the weekend, that she engages in spiritual activity during much of that time. That is all she did.

"People started coming to me with their problems," she relates. Upon establishing herself as a member of something she thinks works better, all she has to do is be nice, cooperative, friendly, and it is easier for her to stand firm when peer pressure to do something she thinks wrong comes her way. People approached her, she said, and to the extent they did, she was ready to discuss what she had and how she found it had worked for her. Let me tell you, it works way better than haranquing people over religious doctrine, which few in the West care much about anyway, and the ones that do are inclined to do nothing but argue over it.

The Watchtower Study Sunday furthered that basic youth-supporting theme, with paragraphs discussing various situations. When another student approaches her teacher, and you know it is a science teacher because of the ascending apelike creatures on the chart in the background, she does not have to convince him to turn the whole troupe around and march them back into the slime from whence they came; he is not going to do that. All she has to do is tell him that she doesn't buy it. It is undermining to her faith and it is not sufficiently logical to be allowed to do that. To overturn the common sense model seen everywhere else that anything made has a maker and the more complicated the made thing is the smarter the maker must be will take proof more conclusive than what is offered.

Even the teacher, though he may mutter a bit, may be able to live with this because Watchtower publications speak of the six days of creation being "epochs" and the period prior to their commencement being "aeons." Jehovah's Witnesses are not young-earth creationists.

When the Watchtower wants to suggest a biology teacher, always the ascending ape chart is in the background; that's how it is done. It probably is done everywhere, not just in the Watchtower, for that one chart instantly conveys the idea as nothing else does. Icons are everywhere. Sometimes they are not even accurate. When a scientist was impressed with a discussion between he and I and wanted to reproduce it on his own blog, he represented himself with a double-helix. I got stuck with a cross! So I told him Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that Jesus died on a cross but on an upright stake. "I knew that, actually," he said, "but an upright stake makes a ridiculous looking icon." What could I say? I had to bear my cross.

Several videos (back to the Regional Convention) feature Witness youths being put down, sometimes even by the teacher, and thereafter mustering up boldness to ask to address the whole class, always (in the cases shown) winning respect from students and teachers alike.

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Epochs and Aeons

Tack as many zeroes as you want onto Earth's age. Jehovah's Witnesses have no issue with it. A billion years? Ten billion? One hundred billion? More? Not a problem. That's not to say we endorse it, necessarily. But we'll have no issue with it. Let scientists be scientists.

“In [the] beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” reads the Bible's first verse. This is before the series of creative days commence, that period during which the earth fills with life. Whether each of those days are 24 hours in length, or 24 millenia, or 24 seconds.....it make no difference to the age of “the heavens and the earth.” They were created before.

However, as to the days themselves, what say Jehovah's Witnesses as to that? Even many JWs themselves may not be up to speed, for it was once thought that each day lasted 7000 years...it seemed to fit some prophetic patterns. But that view has been abandoned. (A flip-flop!! I can hear Vic Vomodog screaming now.)

Now, however, each day is described as an “epoch.” And the sum total of them: "aeons":

From the Watchtower of Feb 15, 2011 pp 8-9)

“The Bible goes on to describe what God did during a series of creative days. These are not 24 hour days but are epochs…....By means of his holy spirit, during creative days three through six, God created an astounding variety of plants and animals. …....After aeons had passed and God had produced innumerable animate and inanimate works, the earth was no longer “formless and waste.”

This revision of “day” stems from recognition that the Hebrew word need not refer to only the 24 hour variety. Even on the first creative “day,” “God began calling the light Day, but the darkness he called Night,” apparently as the thick clouds enshrouding the earth began to clear, allowing sunlight to reach the surface. So the entire period is a “day,” and also a portion of it is a “day!” Furthermore, after all six creative days are described, the Genesis account refers to all of it as a “day':

This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time of their being created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.    Gen 2:4

Okay? “Day” need not be 24 hours. It can be simply an non specific period of time. Even in English, we've all suffered old-timers carrying on about life “back in my day.” And if scripture doesn't insist otherwise, why squabble when scientists put forth numbers on life's development? We're not anti-science. Science is a powerful tool of discovery. We've nothing against it. To be sure, we don't see it as the be-all and end-all, and when scientists say “jump!” we don't instantly respond “how high?” But we're willing to acquiesce where there's no Biblical conflict. And in the matter of “days”, there is none. Far from being rigid (a frequent criticism), the Witness stand allows for incorporating findings of science.

So it appears with this piece that I might conclude my Sean B Carroll trilogy, the prior two installments of which are here and here. His book impressed me....a book from an evolutionist published post genome mapping. I wonder if our stand on Genesis is good enough for him. Probably not, for he appears to want no trace of God in any evolutionary goings on, whereas we've said  (above) “by means of his holy spirit, during creative days three through six, God created an astounding variety of plants and animals.” But when Sean is muttering about the denyers....yes, yes, I know its a misspelling, but he apparently does it for the silly reasons given here, and I am this close to being equally silly and calling the other guys evolootionists....you know....'loo', the British term for toilet......but I just can't make myself be that juvenile, at least not yet. At any rate, Sean laments the denyers are “those straitjacketed by biblically based interpretations of the age of the Earth.” Like most everyone else, he takes for granted that fundamentalists truly represent the Bible....an assumption that burns me up to no end.

Of course, we're not that way. Straitjacketed, I mean. We're not 24 hour people. We've no problem with epochs and aeons. Ought that not make Sean happy?

Now, it occurs to me that if the Biblical days are as long as scientists say they are, well....that allows plenty of time for the evolutionary goings on that Sean Carroll talks about to go on....with the consequence that evolution, in the main, is a battle that we need not fight. Not that we have to endorse it. But much like the age of the “heavens and the earth,” we need not take much exception to it. As that Feb 2011 Watchtower states, “by means of his holy spirit, during creative days three through six, God created an astounding variety of plants and animals.” That's not very specific as to method, is it? Might the method through which holy spirit delivers be the one scientists describe? Dunno if that is the case, or to what extent, but I do know that if God molded each “kind” like a potter molding clay on a potter's wheel....well.....he could do that in a literal 24 hour day. So what's the point of the epochs and aeons? Frankly, life programmed to adapt via accumulation of genetic change strikes me as no less miraculous than potter-created life.

No one's being dogmatic, here. Science is accommodated to the maximum extent without ignoring Scripture, which we ultimately consider the most reliable guide to life. The 2010 brochure Was Life Created? states: (page 27) ImagesCAVUV1FW Were these original “kinds” of plants and animals programmed with the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions? What defines the boundary of a “kind”? The Bible does not say. However, it does state that living creatures “swarmed forth according to their kinds.” (Genesis 1:21) This statement implies that there is a limit to the amount of variation that can occur within a “kind.” [bolded print mine] Thus, our current view allows for what's described as micro-evolution (within a “kind”) but not macro-evolution (outside of a kind). But “implies” is not an ironclad word, is it? The point is, for the Christian, if the time element for developing life is indeed epochs and aeons, you need not squabble much with scientists who describe it. Let scientists be scientists. We'll teach the Bible.

What about this statement immediately preceding the lines quoted above: Does this progressive appearance of plants and animals imply that God used evolution to produce the vast diversity of living things? No. The record clearly states that God created all the basic “kinds” of plant and animal life. (Genesis 1:11, 12, 20-25) “Evolution”, as Sean Carroll and others like to describe it, strictly excludes all hints of “programming,” and they positively choke on any mention of “holy spirit.” But if you go and retrieve those words from the dumpster into which they've been tossed, you'll do just fine. For today we recognize a strong (and unnecessary) anti-God element among the evolutionists. From the same brochure (Was Life Created?  page 22):

Why do many prominent evolutionists insist that macroevolution is a fact? Richard Lewontin, an influential evolutionist, candidly wrote that many scientists are willing to accept unproven scientific claims because they “have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.” Many scientists refuse even to consider the possibility of an intelligent Designer because, as Lewontin writes, “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

 In this regard, sociologist Rodney Stark is quoted in Scientific American as saying: “There’s been 200 years of marketing that if you want to be a scientific person you’ve got to keep your mind free of the fetters of religion.” He further notes that in research universities, “the religious people keep their mouths shut.”  

Now, I admit, I'm a bit fearful of using these quotes lest grousers suppose I'm implying that the above fellows reject evolution. They don't. “Quote mining” is the charge grousers may level, and who wants to be guilty of that? But I've already dealt with the subject here. I don't know what else I can do. You should never play the God/no-God game with atheists according to their rules, since their primary rule is that you can't move any of your pieces.

But with the acceptance of epochs and aeons, vast areas of conflict between the science camp and the JW camp vanish, and others become largely immaterial. Not all, to be sure. The creation of Adam remains a topic on which I don't yet see grounds for agreement. From that same Feb 15th Watchtower: “Yet, Jehovah had not finished using his spirit for creative purposes. He was about to produce his highest earthly creation. Toward the end of the sixth creative day, God created man. How did Jehovah do so? By using his holy spirit and the elements of the earth.”

Yet if the Watchtower has taken to interviewing guys like Michael Behe, who accepts evolution in the main, but acknowledges it has limits, well.....I mean.....they wouldn't do that if the two hated each others' guts. Our people are not being dogmatic here. They recognize where other views can be accommodated, and are not so presumptuous as to try to instruct scientists on their own turf.

I thought I might be the first to blog such a subject, but no! When googled 'Michael Behe' and 'Awake interview', I find there is a discussion some time ago on “is the Watchtower preparing to accept evolution?” I suppose I should link to it, but I'm not going to. It's a sorehead grouser site, largely populated by those who've abandoned spiritual things upon discovery that God is not Santa Claus....that he does more than just give us stuff, that he has requirements, that the Christian course involves sacrifice and self-discipline, and is not just opening presents, and....gasp!....it involves human organization, which may sometimes decide matters contrary to one's individual preference!.....a violation of freedom and independence!!!! These type of guys exasperate me. Find them yourselves if you must.

Plus, they view any such adjustment in JW viewpoint as a slick marketing ploy. For me any modification of view stems from recent scientific ability to read the genome....to grow fast-reproducing goo and slime, and to track each and every gene involved and spot which ones have reproduced faithfully and which ones have not and what are the accumulated effects of those that did not. It's a major tangible advance for science, and while fundamentalists might ignore it, we don't.

Well, if you were impressed with Sean Carroll's book so much, Mr Sheepandgoats, then why don't you let him dictate everything to you....he makes no allowance for programming or God or holy spirit. The answer is that I've chosen the Christian course represented by Jehovah's Witnesses based upon several lines of reason, present scientific opinion being but one of them.

In the main, it becomes apparent that the greater conflict is not between the Bible (and us) and science. It's between the fundamentalists and science. These religious characters do the same with “day” that they do with trinity and hellfire. They take words and phrases literally....words which in any other context they would instantly recognize as metaphor. If they read of someone shedding “crocodile tears” in a novel, they know exactly what that expression means. If they read it in the Bible, they take it as PROOF that the shedder is a crocodile, since the Bible MEANS what is SAYS and SAYS what it MEANS. They exasperate me to no end, since they make the Bible an object of ridicule to anyone deciding to use the brain God gave us.

 

[edit: 1/20/2012,  see interview between New Republic's John McWhorter and Michael Behe. Sean Carroll & his work comes in for mention, around the 11-12, 22-24 minute marks. He's a nice guy, Behe says.]

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Tom Irregardless and Me                     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Sean Carroll and the Den Yers

He's a smart fellow, Sean Carroll is, author of The Making of the Fittest. Nobody here is saying otherwise. I've said kind things about his  book, ImagesCAJLGK1X for the most part, and may in time say more. But.....hang it all.....how come he can't spell deniers? He takes aim in the latter portion of his book at those who deny evolution, and again and again he misspells the word. It's not d-e-n-y-e-r-s! It's d-e-n-i-e-r-s! Any schoolboy knows this. Why doesn't he?

Check it in your shelf dictionary. Check an on-line dictionary. Check a Scrabble dictionary; if anyone can stretch a word for acceptable spelling variations, it will be a Scrabble player. Google the odd spelling, if you like. It doesn't matter where you check. One who denies something is a denier, not a denyer! Let's be honest. You can't read that word without thinking...... “den'-yer? 'What the heck is that?”

Well, maybe denyer is the British spelling of the term (notwithstanding that Carroll hails from Wisconsin).....I admit I'm grasping at straws. We all know Brits can't spell properly, just as they can't pronounce properly. Or maybe, in that rarefied scientific world Sean inhabits, they have dispensed with plebian spellings, in favor of lofty revisions more appropriate to their scientific status. Or maybe it's a deliberate misspelling....his attempt at tweaking the idiots...those, in his view, who do deny evolution. But that seems a bit mean-spirited, and I don't think he's that kind of guy. Plus, it seems an inside joke that even most insiders would miss. Or.....you don't suppose that Carroll's quirky spelling is just an application of his own theory? Has the 'i' mutated into a 'y'?

None of these hypotheses make much sense. They're all lame. And don't misunderstand.  It's just spelling. It's not that big of a deal. It really isn't. But....blast it all....IT IS! It's like the pebble in my shoe that doesn't seem big at first, but drives me crazy (is that the purpose?) the more I walk on it. Sean Carroll's been to college. And grad school. And doctorate school. How come he doesn't know to spell? And what about his editors? What good are they if they can't catch something so blatant? The Ministry School guidebook counsel keeps nagging at me: if you are incorrect in some detail, no matter how obscure or irrelevant, invariably someone will pick up on it and say “huh......he doesn't know that?” And from there it's just a tiny hop to “Maybe he doesn't know anything else, either.”

When I go to his web page, I see he introduces himself with the same Michael Ruse snippet with which I introduced him: “Of all the scientists in the world today, there is no one with whom Charles Darwin would rather spend an evening than Sean Carroll.” That means he thinks like me (or I like him). I tell you, I come to like this fellow more and more. And evolution books like his written post genome mapping advance their case in a powerful way. Why mess it up with a spelling blunder that any orangutan would get right? This makes no sense at all.

Ah well, Sheepandgoats, get over it. Figure it's a mystery. Like the Trinity. Just accept it.

Okay, I will. Enough said.

 

But it's hard to just get over it because he repeats the error so many times! Carroll likens his book to a full course meal, served in courses (not unlike how Jehovah's Witnesses are apt to describe their meetings as “spiritual meals,” their assemblies as “spiritual feasts!”). His after-dinner dessert conversation, it turns out, consists of a strategy session on how to counter the denyers, some of whom (gasp!) are to be found within his own ranks: “There are some individuals with scientific credentials who doubt or deny certain elements of evolutionary science that are widely accepted by the scientific community; some may even doubt the entire theory,” he observes. “But getting a doctoral degree and making negative arguments are relatively easy – making new, verifiable discoveries is an altogether different matter. The denyers specialize is rhetoric and the mining of quotes, not in laboratory research.   (pg 218)

I'm not so sure I agree with his premise. Even if making “negative arguments” really is “relatively easy,” that does not mean those arguments are not useful. Must everyone be out turning over rocks and growing stuff in petri dishes? Is there not a place for someone to review the conclusions of the discoverers, much as attorneys review evidence collected by the police? They don't just accept police conclusions. Frankly, whenever folks are running herd-like in any discipline, the arguments of those who oppose are always worth looking at closely. You don't just sneer at them because they are the minority.

I'll bet he's taking aim primarily at Michael Behe, king of all the denyers with scientific background, who was even interviewed by Awake! magazine back in September 2006. Behe certainly has “scientific credentials,” and he “doubt[s] or deny[s] certain elements of evolutionary science that are widely accepted by the scientific community.” Behe doesn't doubt that the mechanics of evolution took place, and are taking place still. He has no problem with mutation and gene duplication and fossilized genes. It's hard to have a problem with these since scientists today can grow goo and slime and algae, life forms which reproduce very quickly, and can track each and every gene. They can spot which ones reproduced faithfully, and which ones did not. They can spot which ones build with successive generations, and which ones do not. They can then compare with the genomes of prior life forms and try to piece together how evolution has progressed through generations.

Michael Behe endorses all of this. ImagesCAWYSASV  2nd He simply maintains it doesn't add up to what Carroll and most others say it adds up to, that there's an edge.....the “Edge of Evolution,” per the title of his 2007 book..... beyond which pure Darwinian randomness cannot carry developing life. Follow along on his own blog as he discusses research of the day. It's interesting stuff.

And...man...is he ever castigated for not holding the party line! His book, critics rail, is a blatant attempt to bypass scientific peer review! He takes his case directly to the unwashed masses, unlearned dolts who are in no way qualified to render an opinion! No such objection is made to Carroll's own books, since his represents the majority view. Now, you know I'm going to be sympathetic to Behe's position, since it is much like Jesus' position. Jesus didn't first present his case to religious leaders of his day to secure their prior approval, since he knew their only interest would be to shoot it down. He went over their heads, directly to the common people. And did he ever catch heat from those leaders! Listen to them grouse (and note their contempt for the regular folk):

"Not one of the rulers or of the Pharisees [us] has put faith in him [Jesus], has he? But this crowd that does not know the Law are accursed people."

Look what happens when one of their number....a first-century Behe counterpart?.....breaks ranks:

Nicodemus, …..who was one of them, said to them: “Our law does not judge a man unless first it has heard from him and come to know what he is doing, does it?” In answer they said to him: “You are not also out of Galilee, are you? [a big-city Jerusalem slur against the stupid bumpkins from the rural hills of Galilee]  John 7:48-52

But there's another point Carroll makes, a point that dovetails very well for Jehovah's Witnesses, though not at all for the fundamentalists (which we are not). I'll lead off with it in a future post.

….....................................

By the way, Sean B Carroll is not to be confused with Sean M Carroll, a scientist atheist to the core, even though he doesn't fly the Atheist Scarlet A on his blog, perhaps out of respect for Nathaniel Hawthorne. I don't know if Sean B is atheist or not. He doesn't say. Although both are accomplished science writers in overlapping fields, a more dissimilar looking pair you've never seen.

 

[edit: 1/20/2012,  interview between National Republic's John McWhorter and Michael Behe. Sean Carroll & his work comes in for mention, around the 11-12, 22-24 minute marks. He's a nice guy, Behe says.]

[edit   update here]

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Tom Irregardless and Me                   No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Playing With Dinosaurs

The kid at work thinks I'm old. He addresses me that way. “Hey, old man!” he says. It's all good-natured fun, or at any rate, I may as well let the little snot think I regard it as good-natured fun. I ask him if he's ever seen Fred Flintstone on TV.

“I knew that guy,” I tell him. “Not real well,” I admit. He was pretty old when I was a kid. He lived down the street, and my folks warned me to stay clear because he would barrel along in that foot-motor car of his...he sort of was a public menace as he got older.” [see Yabbadabba man] I used to play with dinosaurs when I was a kid, too. They were great fun. Downright mean as they got older, but not to you if you'd befriended them when they were small and cuddly. So I always did.

Aging's not so bad, because you can remember a lot of things, and can start to put them all into context. Youngsters don't remember anything different from the here and now. Pop says he did some of his best work at 60, an age I haven't touched yet, though I'm pushing it. (pushing it pretty hard, too) And wasn't it Andy Laguna who said he didn't mind getting older, since with each succeeding year, he found more reasons to be grateful to Jehovah? Hangups that you might have once had sort of resolve themselves as you get older. 'You don't really know anything before age 40,' I tell the kid. 'Oh, you can figure out how to use the toilet, and perhaps change the TV stations,' but real smarts don't kick in till later.

I did some calculating once, and figured that, per the Bible's chronology, a youngster who'd met Adam, when the latter was an old guy, might conceivably, when he himself had grown ancient, speak to the adolescent Noah, long before the latter had attained boat-building fame. It's almost as if one could have know Fred Flintstone back then. It may be two links were actually required between Adam and Noah, but it almost seems that it was just one. Of course, most today think those early biblical lifespans of 800-900 years are but nonsense, but didn't I write here and here how it all sort of hangs together?

If you play with this notion for awhile, you begin to appreciate the coherence that might have developed among human society when one might reasonably speak to, not merely his grandparents, but his great grandparents, and great great grandparents, and great great great grandparents, and so forth for several generations out. You'd get deep roots that way. Whatever prior generations had seen or learned, they almost couldn't help but pass it down.

Today, roots are wafer-thin. We've all seen those studies in which the modern child communicates with a parent a mere minutes per day. And where's the rest of the time spent? It used to be TV, usage of which is still pretty heavy, but is now supplemented by no end of other media options. This might not be so bad if these connected one with something of consequence; one might think the internet could greatly expand people, but you know, and I know, that it connects with pop culture and values entirely from the here and now. You can see it in Wikapedia, a source that Winged Migration Man (where is he, by the way?) looked upon without favor; an item of history runs a few paragraphs, whereas review of a pop TV show runs pages and pages per episode. Is it any wonder that young folks readily accept today's conditions today as normal? They've not been exposed to anything else. There's almost no transference from one generation to the next. Didn't I carry on about it here?

Family mealtime was also once a relaxed setting in which perspectives might flow from one generation to the next. Therefore, some years ago the Watchtower began suggesting that family meals ought not be sacrificed to modern life – families ought to strive to eat at least one together. I was surprised, for I hadn't fully realized the custom had fallen by the wayside. In fact, when I first stuck my toe into “evening witnessing,” I didn't want to start too soon after dinnertime, lest I break up such a family meal. But in time I found that only rarely would that happen, no matter when I started. If it did, I would  apologize and withdraw. Common meals are not really that common, today, even in neighborhoods where you might think they would be. And to think that Torre, from the old country, would not call on folks even during the noon hour, a self-prohibition I thought absurd. But he remembered when even that time was sacred, a time reserved for family and friends.

Times have changed.

Not long ago I was riding with Tom Weedsandwheat. He had to swerve and brake hard so as not to hit some kid who had stepped out right in front of him, headphones on, pants hanging down, skull empty as a beach ball. “There can never be another generation,” he muttered to me. 

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Tom Irregardless and Me      No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Ryan, Sean Carroll, and the Leprechauns

“Of all the scientists in the world today, there is no one with whom Charles Darwin would rather spend an evening than Sean Carroll.” So says Michael Ruse, author of The Evolution-Creation Struggle. Hmmm....well, how does he know? Maybe if Sean met the Great Man, the latter wouldn't be able to stand him. Sort of reminds me of that passage in Up the Down Staircase where the student gets an F for wrongly interpreting a poem. He protests, but the grade stands. It even stands when he brings the poet himself to class, and the poet says yes..that's exactly what he meant when he wrote his poem. Nonetheless, the incident does change school policy. From that point on, only dead poets are the subject of essays. It's much easier to make assertions after someone has died.

But this is just idle chatter to fill up a paragraph. I've nothing against Sean Carroll. No doubt he's a great guy. Probably, Charles Darwin would indeed salivate over the prospect of meeting him. At any rate, a certain blogger named Ryan read Carroll's book The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution and was effusive in his praise. It moved him to marvel how he himself could ever have failed to march to the evolutionist drumbeat. Once, he had believed creation. But that's all history now. Science has simply come so far. Now it's evolution all the way!

See, scientists today have mapped the genome. They can read the DNA in existing creatures, even the “fossil DNA”. This DNA sequence is found here, and here, but not there. These two beings share x percent of their DNA, those two beings y percent. This critter has a certain sequence of DNA, and so does that critter from a faraway time and place! So like a giant game of Clue, evolutionists run numbers, and make deductions about the development of life.

The evolution theory is now firmly proved, Ryan concludes. “People who believe otherwise are no different in any major respect than flat earth proponents or people who believe in leprechauns.” To be sure, he says, “It is possible that a thinking person could have doubted evolution 100 years ago or even 50 years ago but now those days are past.” Sigh....presumably he, as a foremost example of both thinking person and one-time creation adherent, left the creation camp the last day it was possible for a thinking person to still believe it, and switched off the light on his way out.

I wasn't in the mood. I took him up on his “it is possible that a thinking person could have doubted evolution 100 years ago or even 50 years ago...” That point was not conceded 100 years ago or even 50 years ago, I commented. Then, as now, the mantra was “People who believe otherwise are no different in any major respect than flat earth proponents or people who believe in leprechauns.” We all know it. To these guys, evolution was unquestionable fact the day Darwin stepped off the boat. Will DNA analysis prove to be the silver bullet that, once and for all, establishes evolution? Should I lose my cookies when they claim - this time for sure - to have found the ultimate trump card? I'm not ready to bolt just yet. We've heard that claim many times before.

Still, I haven't exactly read anything by evolutionists lately in their own words. Ooh...wait. Yes I did. I read Carl Zimmer's Evolution: the Triumph of an Idea (2001). (and worked it into a post here) But that was a book on CD. Maybe that's not really reading. At any rate, maybe it's time for another book, especially since the evolutionists say they have new ammo.  What have these guys been up to since decoding the DNA? I picked up Sean Carroll's book, since he is Darwin's favorite.

And......upon reading the book, it seems to me that the biologists have made great strides in an aspect of evolution that Jehovah's Witnesses barely had any problems with in the first place, that of micro-evolution. That is, variation within that vague Biblical term “kind.” The stuff of animal husbandry, and selective breeding. The science behind the proliferation of superbugs, now that overuse of antibiotics has eliminated all the wimpy germs. They've found the workings behind such things, the mechanics of it, and.....does it indeed involve glitches in gene duplication culled by natural selection? Apparently, we are to be so awed by these findings, that we readily extrapolate them in macro-evolution (one “kind” emerging from another “kind”), where the footing is much less firm.

First, we begin with a discussion of the icefish, a significant variation within the fish “kind,” to be sure. These creatures live where it's too cold to exist without a form of antifreeze within their blood. The blood itself is not red, lacking hemoglobin. Then some explanation as to just how mutations occur. Breaking the genetic code has enabled scientists to track these things on a much more intricate level than ever before, and....well....you have to respect that. Then other chapters track, for example, the development of color vision. Here's a discussion of “fossil” DNA, remnants of one time functional genes which have deteriorated due to "use it or lose it" syndrome, their possessors entering new surroundings. And much discussion of the forensic record revealed.

But aren't people mistaking tonnage for proof? Like the time I strove to prove a matter of property ownership to the city, and my lawyer opined that submitted materials simply had to “weigh enough?” All this abundant stuff is consistent with evolution. But that's not the same as proving it, for it is equally consistent with creation. Yet these guys carry on as if every gene they discover is the final coup de grace to creation, as if created life would have Bible scriptures in their genes, and not DNA. Look, wheels are common to all vehicles, yet they were all manufactured. You might, by studying changes in design, figure out, in time, the order of the manufacture, the descent and relationships of various automakers, but you have nothing to suggest they were not manufactured.

But repeat anything often enough and forcefully enough and people begin to think there must be something to it. It's just the way we are. Precious little in this book deals with macro-evolution. And there's nothing at all mentioned, so far as I can see, with regard to the third leg of the evolution Trinity: that of origin itself from non-living materials. It's all micro-evolution, variation within a biblical kind. But there's little to suggest any......oh...wait....Sean addresses it here (pg192):

“Much of the resistance to Darwin's theories was or is based on doubts about the validity of such extrapolations (e.g, not accepting the “adding up” of effects over vast periods of time). To this point in the book I, too, have implied a degree of extrapolation.” Whereupon he devotes some pages, but not too many, to describe parallels of development in vastly different life forms, with the footnote that material about macro-evolution is to be found in another book of his....to be fair, one he has already written, not one he has yet to write. Then there follows on page 215 a certain “coaching” section climaxing in how to answer creationists, in which Carroll discouragingly leaves his research to turn political. Ah, well, he's the author, so I guess he can go anywhere he likes. Besides, he does liken this part to the after-dinner conversation, where the learned ones tilt back in their chairs while the less learned tend to the cleaning up or knitting, and say “now what are we going to do about these infernal creationists?”

You know, I will read that other book eventually. I doubt I'll get to it right away. Alas, I must go to work every day. And carry on my normal routine. And do my best to dodge Mrs. Sheepandgoats when she comes around to inform that this or that aspect of the house is falling down. In the meantime, jihad may strike, or WWIII, or the earth itself may fry from any number of always increasing man-made threats. Or the Great Great Depression might commence, since anyone who knows anything says forces which triggered the late financial meltdown are still firmly in place, entirely uncorrected. Moreover, the good news continues to be preached, of which I have a share, since unfolding calamities are all in accord with the Bible's overall message that human rule can end in nothing but chaos. An intense anti-religious air takes hold among the world's movers and shakers, a natural and Revelation-foretold (Rev 17:16) consequence of centuries of outrages in the name of God. Has anyone other than Jehovah's Witnesses pointed to such a occurrence?

So it will come, reading that second book, but in due time. Meantime, and ironically, Ryan has removed his post from the web, along with his entire blog, so far as I can see. You can no longer pull it up. But I remembered key words, and by googling them, and then googling again the results, I was able to reconstruct the original. Yes, I tracked forensic fossilized google snippets! You can do the same using key words like Ryan, evolution, flat earth, and leprechauns. But only if you are an evolutionist. Fossilized google evidence is not something creation people know how to handle and we don't believe in it for a second.

[edit...Update here.

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Tom Irregardless and Me                     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Darwin's Eye

There was great joy in the atheist world during 2010, where they celebrated the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin! Sigh.....that left Jehovah's Witnesses doubly out in the cold: we don't worship Darwin and we don't do birthdays. Nonetheless, it's a Charles Darwin statement that will be used as a starting point for this post. It's taken from Origin of the Species, chapter VI. Call my recognition a belated birthday present, if you must.

Darwin wrote:

“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”....

Q: If you quote this line, do you really have to add:  “of course, this is not to suggest that Darwin does not believe in his own theory of evolution by natural selection”?

I would never have thought so. I mean, what do you expect his next words to be? “Thus we can see that my entire theory is a load of horse manure. But I'm in this to win the praise of my peers, who for some reason, eat this stuff up. That, and maybe there's a buck to be made. So I'm putting lipstick on this pig. I'm sticking to my guns, even though you know, and I know, that it's all nonsense.”??

No! He's not going to say that! He's going to say something like: “Still, many now-established truths seemed equally absurd when first proposed. Evidence is scanty with relationship to the eye's development....no one's saying otherwise..... but we can expect future researchers to uncover corroborating material.”

That's my prediction (without peeking). In fact, he says almost exactly that:

“When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei ["the voice of the people = the voice of God "], as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certain the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, should not be considered as subversive of the theory.”

Alright, then. Pretty much what I predicted he would say. Any donkey ought to realize Darwin's not throwing in the towel on his own theory by admitting evolution of the eye sounds ridiculous. If you use his quote to suggest he considers himself a charlatan, that's dishonest. But if you use his quote to show he acknowledges some pretty high hurdles exist in proving his theory.....well, what's wrong with that?

Now, statements like that of Darwin appear all the time in evolutionist literature. And Watchtower publications have been known to pick up and run with them, without appending the “of course, so-and-so still believes in his own theory.” So the whiners and grousers have accused them of deliberate misquoting. But Watchtower hasn't done that at all. They've used all such quotes properly. (Though I won't vouch for non-Witness publications, some of which may well use such quotes in misleading ways)

Regarding quotes, you may have noticed that if you quote someone and don't reach the same conclusion he does, he will invariably say you must consider his context. If you do that, and still don't agree, he will want you to expand the context. If you do that, even to the point of quoting the entire article, and still don't agree, he will call you a fool. That's just the way people are.

Whenever the Watchtower quotes an evolutionist, it's understood that he believes his own theory! You don't have to spell that out.  If he says something that sounds far-fetched, and the Creation book picks it up, do you really think the authors wish to imply that he is gleefully lying through his teeth, willfully advancing a fraudulent notion? Of course not! It's obvious he believes his own belief!  Anybody howls dishonesty when their quotes are used to support a conclusion they themselves have not reached. All you have to do when quoting someone is relay their words accurately, as they were stated, without insertions or deletions. If you can't even do that, then you shouldn't allow cross-examination in jury trials....where an opposing lawyer uses a witness's own words to trip him up. It shouldn't be allowed! Just ask the witness what impression he wishes to make upon the court, and leave it at that.

Nonetheless, to placate the crybabies, Watchtower just released new material geared to defending creation at the 2010 District Conventions, and they've taken to pointing out, whenever quoting an evolutionist discussing some glitch in his theory, that “nonetheless, so-and-so still believes his own idea.” I don't think it's ethically necessary. But I see why they did it.


For example, on page 5 of The Origin of Life: Five Questions Worth Asking, (published by Watchtower, 2010), Prof Robert Shapiro of New York University discusses the famous 1953 experiments of Stanley Miller. He says “Some writers have presumed that all life's building blocks could be formed with ease in Miller-type experiments and were present in meteorites. This is not the case.” Shapiro probably says this because evolution textbooks have implied just that for the past 50 years. He further states that the likelihood of a RNA molecule arising from such a mixture “is so vanishingly small that its happening even once anywhere in the visible universe would count as a piece of exceptional good luck.”

And at this point, there is a footnote, explained at the bottom of the page:

*”Professor Shapiro does not believe that life was created. He believes that life arose by chance in some fashion not yet fully understood.”

There! Happy? Don't ask what congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses he attends. He's not one of ours. He's one of theirs.

On the next page, the booklet mentions “researcher Hubert P Yockey, who supports the teaching of evolution, [and] ….. states 'It is impossible that the origin of life was proteins first'” [an order long insisted upon by evolutionary theory, as proteins are building blocks for RNA].

See? Don't lose your cookies. No one's saying he's one of ours. He supports the teaching of evolution, even though he points out the long supported protein-RNA sequence of events is “impossible.” (quote marks mine) There must be some other sequence that is “possible,” he apparently thinks. All that remains is to discover it.

Apparently, both proteins and RNA molecules have to simultaneously appear at the same place and same time....one cannot precede the other.... for their life-forming cooperation to take place. “'The probability of this happening by chance (given a random mixture of proteins and RNA) seems astronomically low,' says Dr Carol Cleland, [who adds] 'most researchers seem to assume that if they can make sense of the independent production of proteins and RNA under natural primordial conditions, the coordination will somehow take care of itself,'” with all efforts to explain that coordination being not “very satisfying.”

And again a footnote. *”Dr Cleland is not a creationalist. She believes that life arose by chance in some fashion not yet fully understood.”

Okay? Again, Watchtower doesn't suggest she one of us. She's not.

At this point, the booklet observes: “Similarly, if scientists ever did construct a cell, (see eighth paragraph of link) they would accomplish something truly amazing – but would they prove that the cell could be made by accident? If anything, they would prove the very opposite, would they not? …..All scientific evidence to date indicates that life can come only from previously existing life. To believe that even a “simple” living cell arose by chance from  nonliving chemicals requires a huge leap of faith. Given the facts, are you willing to make such a leap?”

And on it goes. Other scientists are quoted: Radu Popa, Richard Feynman, Francis Crick, Eric Bapteste, Michael Rose, David M Raup, Henry Gee, Malcolm S Gordon, Robin Derricourt, Gyula Gyenis, Carl N Stephan, Milford H Wolpoff, and maybe some I missed. Each and every time, the publishers point out, usually in separate footnote, that these folks do not believe in creation. They believe in evolution. It's just that each of them have pointed to separate long-held tenets of the belief to observe that....um....it doesn't....ahh....exactly work the way it has long been supposed to. That's not to say they've thrown in the towel. No! They're merely wrung it out and jumped into the fray afresh. It almost seem silly to include so many footnotes...as if catering to the whiners. Still, there's a lot of whiners, and they make a lot of noise. Maybe this will shut them up for a moment or two.

All of those quoted are respected scientists. None of them believe in creation. They all accept evolution, and they'll continue to accept it, more likely than not. That way they get to remain respected scientists. No, they are not in our camp. They are “hostile witnesses,” every last one of them. They say things we latch onto, even though they don't agree with us. But there's nothing wrong with quoting them. Where would Perry Mason, Bobby Donnel, or the Boston Legal crew be if they couldn't cross-examine hostile witnesses? 

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 ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)