This article is one of a series designed to offer a reasoned defense of the true creationist position in response to representations, claims and rebuttals published by “America’s skeptic,” Dr. Michael Shermer.
A college professor for 20 years, teaching psychology, evolution, and the history of science, Dr. Shermer has emerged as one of the most respected voices of reason in this generation. He is the Founding Publisher of “Skeptic” magazine, is a monthly columnist for “Scientific American,” and is currently the Executive Director of the Skeptics Society. He has authored more than 10 books primarily focused on science and reason with multiple appearances on various television shows and documentaries over the years.
In his book, “Why People Believe Weird Things,” Dr. Shermer commits a full chapter to “Confronting Creationists” trying his best to represent (or not) various planks of the “creation” platform and then offering a philosophical, naturalistic rebuttal to each claim. These articles will focus on Dr. Shermer’s representation of the creationist position and respond to his instruction on how to answer their assertions.
The purpose of this short series is not to encourage confrontation with skeptics, but to give answers to those seekers who may be at the same reflective crossroads that Michael Shermer found himself when his faith was challenged by the intellectual flair of naturalistic belief during his graduate training at California State University.
Alleged creationist claim #12 – Something cannot be created out of nothing, say scientists. Therefore, from where did the material for the Big Bang come? From where did the first life forms that provided the raw materials for evolution originate? Stanley Miller’s creation of amino acids out of an inorganic “soup” and other biogenic molecules is not the creation of life.
As part of his elaboration, Dr. Shermer admits, “Science may not be equipped to answer certain “ultimate”-type questions, such as what there was before the beginning of the universe or what time it was before time began or where the matter for the Big Bang came from. So far these have been philosophical or religious questions, not scientific ones and therefore have not been a part of science.”
Rationally speaking then, naturalism – the belief that all things find context in natural causation – is contradictory and illogical. At some point in the inescapable retrospection the question must be asked, “But where did that come from?” Eventually, there comes a point where every answer is religious.
The problem with using Stanley Miller’s experiment as a model for biogenesis is that he started with various material elements under controlled, laboratory conditions and manipulated the application of energy with calculated precision. How does that represent the evolutionary mantra of life’s random, spontaneous appearance from abiotic elements?
Dr. Shermer does offer the disclaimer that, “Stanley Miller never claimed to have created life, just some of its building blocks.” Let’s go ahead and concede that point to Shermer for the moment (even though intelligence was applied to generate the “blocks”). This proposition is like requiring a random, mountain of bricks to somehow become the Biltmore Estate!
The truth is such contemplations are extremely frustrating for naturalists. A typical example of the high-brow evasion at this point in the discussion can be found in Philip Whitfield’s book, Life: Evolution Explained where he assures the readers that “the precise details are not crucial.”
Seriously? That is the foundation of the dogmatic assertions of evolutionary origins? And my axiomatic adherence to a preserved, ancient document full of precise details that find harmonious context within all the scientific disciplines is considered ludicrous?
Another interesting observation is that while Dr. Shermer recognizes that these are “philosophical or religious questions…and therefore have not been a part of science,” the scientific community has not done a very good job of discouraging the promotion of ideological speculation (see Scripturosity article “Intellectual Invention”). From the classroom to the newsstand, science is endorsed as the only rational approach to our existence. In November of 2006, NewScientist magazine published a 50th Anniversary Special Edition with the following message boldly positioned in the center of the cover in large print – “THE BIG QUESTIONS-Life, Death, Reality, Free Will, and the Theory of Everything.” I wonder if anyone other than biblical creationists reads Shermer’s books.
My question to Dr. Shermer would be, “If absolute origins are beyond the capacity of observational science to root out, then why the desperate opposition to specific claims of a supernatural Agent?” Why not, likewise, oppose the message of his “shamans of scientism” who are faithfully “proffering naturalistic answers…providing spiritual sustenance” and meeting the philosophical needs of those rejecting the Sacred Record (see Scripturosity article “Answering Skeptics – Part 7”)? That’s not scientific either.
Perhaps the issue is not about being scientific or even being religious. We say “God” and they say “matter.” Creationists can be scientific and naturalists can be religious. The real objection is highlighted in a prophetic dictation of David found in the opening stanza of Psalm 2.
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
David asked the same question that is under the breath of so many Christians today. The zealous defiance is to the point of absurdity prompting the sincere inquiry, “Why is the opposition so fierce, even to the extent of plotting against sound reason?”
The passage reveals the crux of the resistance in a contrast between Earth’s culture and Earth’s Creator. “His anointed” is a reference to the deliverer who would redeem creation from its Curse (see Scripturosity article “The Gospel Message”). The prophecy unveils the exception of the creature to the notion of accountability or the need to be rescued. “Let us break their bands…and cast away their cords.”
Oh the twisted thinking that turns our Redeemer into our rival.