Intelligent Design

Martin Gardner, Fundamentalism, and Adam’s Navel

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The enormously influential mathematics and science writer, skeptic, and encourager of many, Martin Gardner, has died at the age of 95. I came to know Gardner through a mutual friend, the late science writer and skeptic Bob Schadewald (1943-2000), who occasionally visited Gardner at the latter’s home in North Carolina. [Here’s a tiny but relevant fact that shows the surprising reticulations of the science-and-theology debate in America. During one such visit, Gardner gave Schadewald much of the contents of his library, which he found had grown unwieldy. Then, years later, following the devastating fire that destroyed nearly all of YEC paleontologist Kurt Wise’s library, Schadewald packed much of his personal library into boxes to send to Kurt. Schadewald died a few days later, at nearly the same time his books arrived at Kurt’s home in Tennessee. Kurt unpacked the books, carefully wrapped in tissue, in tears, knowing that the person who sent them had just died. So, chances are, at least some of Martin Gardner’s personal library now resides with Kurt Wise. Go figure.] Schadewald told Gardner about this crazy YEC philosophy of science graduate student he knew, at the University of Chicago, and in response, Gardner sent back a letter to me.

He wanted to know if Adam had a navel. (More about that below.)

It is not generally known that Gardner grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in Oklahoma, and indeed entered the University of Chicago as an undergraduate zealous to defend his faith, and to return America to its Christian heritage:

In his adolescent fantasies he saw himself as chosen by the Lord to lead this new awakening. And to carry out this stupendous undertaking he conceived a brazen plan….He would enter the very citadel of the enemy. He would master all the science and modern learning that a great secular university had to offer. Every false and infernal argument would be examined and exposed. He would probe the diseased heart of twentieth century theology, dissect it nerve by nerve, artery by artery.

The passage comes from Gardner’s autobiographical novel, The Flight of Peter Fromm (1973), which Bill Dembski has used as a textbook in seminary courses he’s taught. While Gardner’s fundamentalist Christianity died a long and painful death, his theism never did. See his fascinating and utterly readable The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener (1983), where Gardner vigorously defends his fideistic conception of God, as well as his belief in the efficacy of prayer, and personal immortality.

It’s hard to say where Gardner would have stood in the current New Atheists versus Accomodationists debates. While he loathed woolly-minded, fuzzy and imprecise thinking, suspecting it of concealing (deliberately, perhaps) deep confusions — and such thinking is much on display among many defenders of “theistic evolution” — he also disdained the imperialistic and often inhumane reductionism of scientific materialism. I like to think, if Gardner had been found the strength for another decade, or two, of writing and thinking, he would have drafted a book challenging the New Atheists. Heck, why not. He refused to fit into anyone’s categories.

In the mid-1980s, when Gardner asked me about Adam’s navel, I found the question sophomoric, and told him so. Who cares? In what possible scheme of the universe would the existence of a small indentation (or not!) in Adam’s abdomen make the least bit of difference to anything? Now, almost 25 years later, Gardner’s question makes more sense to me, at least as far as its motivation is concerned.

Critics of intelligent design start their reasoning with a model of God and His rationality. The world as we find it must fit with that model. For Gardner, a rational Designer faces a dilemma in making the first human being, if He is creating him de novo. Navel or no navel? The former possibility entails the deceptive appearance of history; the latter leaves Adam looking somehow odd, facing awkward questions from the kids.

Just the sort of question Gardner delighted in asking.

In honor of his memory, let’s give Gardner the last word, from his chapter (in Whys) on immortality:

Lord, remember me! If God is the creator and sustainer of the universe, if every wave and particle is what it is, does what it does, because God remembers it, then we exist now because God remembers us. And if God remembers us after we die, we may continue to exist. That is all a theist need say to establish in his or her heart the possibility of immortality.

Amen.

89 Replies to “Martin Gardner, Fundamentalism, and Adam’s Navel

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Nelson, the question of if Adam had a belly button is indeed a very important one:,,,

    Human Evolution? – The Compelling Genetic & Fossil Evidence For Adam and Eve – Dr. Fazale Rana – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4284482

    ,,,In that the question goes to the very heart of the Young Earth Creationists argument. For me the primary reason the young Earth position fails is that, besides demanding contortions of universal constants, such as the speed of light, that make me recoil in horror at the prospect that God’s decree of a physical law would have to be amended as such, the young earth position would also demand of its adherents that they accept that God would create with a appearance of age. That is to say that God would willingly deceive us. Needless to say the thought that God would willingly deceive us with the appearance of age beggars the previous horror I had that God should have to amend what he has decreed for a fundamental law in the first place. Seeing that the the evidence now overwhelmingly supports the old earth creationists model,,,

    Dr. Hugh Ross PhD. Lectures on “Creation as Science”
    http://video.google.com/videop.....183645446#

    ,,,And that correct interpretation of scripture does indeed allow for a old earth viewpoint, on top of the fact God exists outside of time (shoot, He created time), I feel that much of Gardner’s inner conflict, could have been adverted if he had not felt the Young Earth position so crucial for his belief.

    So to finish up Gardner’s question to you Dr. Nelson, “Did God create Adam with a belly button or not?”

  2. 2
    Paul Nelson says:

    And the appearance of age for Adam, in Ross’s and Rana’s OEC scenario, is avoided how?

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Actually Dr Nelson, if God were to create Adam with the “appearance of age” as you are holding, in the same way that you are holding he did for the the universe, then Adam would have scars, liver spots, worn teeth,, maybe a balding spot,, etc..etc.. The point being is that Adam “appeared brand new” as far as the effects of time are concerned. thus your objection is without relevance to the point being made.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    semi-off topic, hot off the press, and extremely bad news for evolutionists:

    Odd Geometry of Bacteria May Provide New Way to Study Earth’s Oldest Fossils – May 2010
    Excerpt: Known as stromatolites, the layered rock formations are considered to be the oldest fossils on Earth.,,,That the spacing pattern corresponds to the mats’ metabolic period — and is also seen in ancient rocks — shows that the same basic physical processes of diffusion and competition seen today were happening billions of years ago,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....152520.htm

  5. 5
    johnnyb says:

    I think that the problem is that young-earth creation and divine revelation are intermixed. That is, it is pride and arrogance that says that any answer to any question must be decidable without God’s revelation. It is *only* when you think a question must be decidable without God does it become “deception” when God does something that is only fully interpretable using God’s revelation.

    In the YEC view, General Revelation is *supplemental* to Special Revelation. In the OEC view, General Revelation is *equivalent* to Special Revelation, and in the TE view, General Revelation has *priority* over Special Revelation.

  6. 6
    johnnyb says:

    Just to clarify, I don’t think that everyone fits my general categorization (I certainly know OECs and TEs who think that special revelation is superior to general reveltation), but I think that it’s a generally true statement, especially of the main proponents of the theory.

    For more, you might take a look at my blog post, “Almost Believing in Divine Action”:

    http://www.bartlettpublishing....../entry/281

  7. 7
    Paul Nelson says:

    bornagain77 wrote:

    The point being is that Adam “appeared brand new” as far as the effects of time are concerned. thus your objection is without relevance to the point being made.

    Adult structures in Homo sapiens, such as permanent teeth, normally give evidence of growth patterns indicating a temporal sequence from juvenile to adult.

    It’s not a question of wear and tear, as you argue. If Adam was created de novo as what appeared to be (let’s say) a 25 year old male, his entire body would — to an observer who did not know Adam has just been brought into existence — give the appearance of age.

    Thus, Ross and Rana do not avoid the problem of the appearance of age.

  8. 8
    Nakashima says:

    Mr BA^77,

    Thanks for the link to the article, very interesting look at scientists combining lab work, field work, and fossil study, with mathematics. I’m not sure why you think it is bad news for evolution, perhaps you could explain that?

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Nelson, I have to completely disagree with you by the fact that you yourself indeed hold that God created Adam fully formed. (Did Adam have a belly button Dr. Nelson?) If God had indeed created Adam with wear and tear that could be discerned by a observer upon scrutiny then God would have indeed willingly deceived us when he created Adam, and that is simply unacceptable as a position for a Theist to take for God does not lie nor is He the father of lies. Yet if God had recently created the universe fully formed, brand spanking new, as you hold, we would be able to discern that newness upon scrutiny and would not have to visit such drastic contortions upon our physics nor upon our theology! You objected that Adam would appear old to a casual observer (whoever a casual observer might have been at that time since no other human was around), and that that observer might not thought to have closely inquired where this new human came from, bears no weight to the question if God would willingly deceive us with the “appearance of age”.

    Let’s take your example of a hypothetical observer Dr. Nelson. He meets Adam and says, “Hey, where did you come from?” Adam says, God just created me! Observer says, yeah right buddy. so they argue and argue back and forth about worn teeth, bald spots, and liver spots, and what not, and finally Adam says, “Hey I know how to prove it to you”. and he pulls up his ‘What Would Jesus Do’ tee-shirt and shows the observer that he does not have a belly button. The observer scratches his head and says, “man that is weirder than the wave/particle duality of the double slit.”

  10. 10
    suckerspawn says:

    ba77,

    How does the OEC Adam differ from the YEC Adam?

  11. 11
    Paul Nelson says:

    bornagain77,

    If Adam lacked a navel, God would not — on the various naive theologies presupposed here — be absolved of creating with the appearance of age. The umbilicus-free Adam you describe would still appear to be an adult. You seem not to appreciate that the normal adult phenotype of a human male (or female) is entirely indicative of age (i.e., growth and development)

    As suckerspawn notes, there’s no observational difference between an OEC Adam and a YEC Adam. More to the point, however, no answer to Gardner’s question would have satisfied him. Adam with an umbilicus? Then God is a deceiver. Adam with no umbilicus? God is STILL a deceiver — which is why I refused to answer his question. The real problem is the naive theology Gardner presupposed.

    Nota bene: it is impossible to answer Gardner’s question in any verifiable way. That, all by itself, should give one pause.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Nelson, hopefully together we can personally ask Adam in heaven sometime about his belly button and have a good laugh about the fact we were talking about his navel, or lack thereof, in the first place.

    Paul Colman – The One Thing
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dgrigf-Ca48

  13. 13
    Phaedros says:

    It’s been shown that light can be slowed through different mediums. Is it possible that light can be made somehow to move faster? If so what implications would that have? In other words if light can be shown to be capable of having its speed altered does that mean anything for the assumptions that are made based on that speed?

  14. 14
    tragic mishap says:

    Adam would only have the appearance of age if you view him as an individual. If rather you viewed the creation of Adam as the creation of humanity, then humanity is a life cycle. It’s a circle, and an adult human male is a just a point on the circle and does not automatically imply “age” at all. Of course, if you were looking at it from God’s timeless perspective, “age” doesn’t exist at all.

  15. 15
    tragic mishap says:

    Adam with an umbilicus? Then God is a deceiver. Adam with no umbilicus? God is STILL a deceiver — which is why I refused to answer his question.

    “We treat God as the police treat a man when he is arrested; whatever He does will be used in evidence against Him.” – C.S. Lewis

  16. 16
    tragic mishap says:

    What I was saying before is that it’s a “chicken and egg” question. If you view the egg as being first, then the appearance of a chicken would to you be the appearance of age. But if you viewed it the opposite way, that the chicken comes first, then the appearance of the chicken would to you be the logical beginning and no “appearance of age”. If you were God, which would you perceive as coming first, the chicken or the egg? Hint: God has never been an egg, and he came first.

    It’s really just a matter of perspective.

  17. 17
    anonym says:

    I like to think, if Gardner had been found the strength for another decade, or two, of writing and thinking, he would have drafted a book challenging the New Atheists.

    Gardner apparently chose to reprint “Why I am not an Atheist” from The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener in his final book as his response to the New Atheism. It does have to be said that fideism like Gardner’s, rejecting both empirical and metaphysical arguments for God or religion, is one of the challenges that the New Atheists find easiest to dismiss.

  18. 18
    bevets says:

    I find the suggestion “then God deceived us” when used to support ANY position sophomoric and irreverent.

    David Menton notes that the umbilicus entails much more anatomy than the superficial outward appearance.

    Kurt Wise has suggested looking to the miracles of Jesus. When he created wine — were the grapes ever stomped? If a scientist were to sample the wine, what would his tests tell him about the wine’s age? When he multiplied fish — were all the pieces part of an actual fish that swam somewhere?

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    Well Bevets to probably go much further than I care to on this topic, since we are at least in agreement with the most important fact of all of putting our faith in Christ (can I hear a Amen?), I would only mention in response to your wine example:

    Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.
    —John 2:10

    Thus the wine was without blemish. which is exactly my point with Adam. Shoot I would hold that the wine was the best wine to ever touch the face of earth (My apologies to Mogan David 20/20 and Nighttrain) Whereas I look to the earth and the evidence for an ancient age is simply overwhelming (erosion, ancient meteor impacts etc..etc..), and my expectation of perfection and truthfulness from God is just far too great to be swayed by what I consider very unbalanced YEC arguments, especially when the arguments trespass into physics and demand contortions of universal constants. Seeing as Stephen Meyer himself has probably had long discussions with Dr. Nelson on this very topic, I should have known much better than to try to persuade Dr. Nelson otherwise. Be that as it may, we can at take deep satisfaction in the fact that we share a common salvation in Christ which is by far the most important fact of all to be sure about.

    Hillsong- Lord of Lords – Brooke Fraser
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlqDIfS4O3s

  20. 20
    bevets says:

    bornagain77@19

    How old were the pieces of fish?

  21. 21
    riddick says:

    In Creation and Time, Hugh Ross cites the miracle at Cana as part of his argument.

    “Another biblical example sometimes quoted as evidence for appearance of age is Jesus’ first public miracle: turning water into wine. The text (John 2:7-10) states, however, that the wine Jesus miraculously made had superb flavor, flavor which in this case did not necessarily come from an acceleration of the aging process. Modern methods exist for measuring the true age of a wine, but taste is not one of them.” (p. 54)

    True enough, taste does not determine the age of a wine, but that misses the point. By definition, wine is the result of an aging process. This fact was not lost on the disciples (see v. 11), but it seems to be lost on Ross and ba77.

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    bevets a better question as to a useful apologetic tool would be to ask, What is required, operating within known laws of physics and principles of quantum mechanics, for Jesus to multiply fish?

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    and riddick you suddenly have enough faith for a young earth position? Man I am so glad to hear you finally converted to christianity!!!

  24. 24
    O'Leary says:

    The umbilicus is not an organ. It is the remnant of the placenta, the organ we all lose at birth, so cunningly devised that the cord falls out after some days, leaving only a winding pit (usually).

    If I were to design a man or woman from scratch, I would put one in – not to deceive anyone, but simply so they would look like other folk, for their own good.

    That is, I would never deny that I had designed them from scratch, and would in fact affirm it. But I would insist that they look like other people.

    Otherwise, they would stand out in the shower room crowd, and frankly, that would be a problem.

    In the same way, Eve is usually portrayed as having long hair. She would not have had time to grow it.

    But if it is a cultural feature, as it is in many societies, I would just install it, to prevent any suspicions about Eve’s character.

    (Eve had her problems, but immorality was not one of them.)

    Now, I do not necessarily subscribe to the anthropology outlined above. How humans came to be human is as much of a mystery as ever, one on which Darwinism has shed darkness, rather than light, in my view.

    But the “deceit” thing strikes me as nonsense.

    If God said he was going to make a man and a woman from scratch, I assume he would make persons of adult years who look like the pattern of their species. That would include navels (and long hair), even if the navels were not the outcome of birth and the long hair was not the outcome of many months of patient cultivation.

    (Anyone familiar with the habits of women will know how much time they typically spend on their hair. )

  25. 25
    Cabal says:

    O’Leary,

    The umbilicus is not an organ. It is the remnant of the placenta, the organ we all lose at birth, so cunningly devised that the cord falls out after some days, leaving only a winding pit (usually).

    If I were to design a man or woman from scratch, I would put one in – not to deceive anyone, but simply so they would look like other folk, for their own good.

    If I were the designer I would cunningly devise it so nobody would need to have a navel. The fact that he didn’t doesn’t speak well of his capabilities. A human designer would have thought of that and found a solution. All it takes is a just a few base pairs; there are plenty of spares in the genome.

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    Cabal, I am amazed at the atheists capability to readily assume he can design a human body better than God. Have you ever designed a single novel protein in your garage and inserted it into life? Has anyone ever done so anywhere?

    A Man-Made ATP-Binding Protein Evolved Independent of Nature Causes Abnormal Growth in Bacterial Cells
    Excerpt: “Recent advances in de novo protein evolution have made it possible to create synthetic proteins from unbiased libraries that fold into stable tertiary structures with predefined functions. However, it is not known whether such proteins will be functional when expressed inside living cells or how a host organism would respond to an encounter with a non-biological protein. Here, we examine the physiology and morphology of Escherichia coli cells engineered to express a synthetic ATP-binding protein evolved entirely from non-biological origins. We show that this man-made protein disrupts the normal energetic balance of the cell by altering the levels of intracellular ATP. This disruption cascades into a series of events that ultimately limit reproductive competency by inhibiting cell division.”
    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0007385

    Thus cabal since not even one novel functional protein has been generated by man should you not take a bit more humble approach in your grand claims of being a better designer than God?

    And frankly I’m fed up with evolutionists telling our kids how terribly made and worthless they are. Maybe you guys could learn something from this guy cabal.

    The most inspirational video you will ever see — Nick Vujicic
    http://www.tangle.com/view_vid.....cf04df1865

    Attitude;
    Attitude is more important than facts.
    It is more important than the past, than education than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success,
    than what other people think or say or do.
    It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.
    It will make or break a company.a home. a relationship.
    The remarkable thing is we have a choice, every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day.
    We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that other people will act in a certain way.
    We cannot change the inevitable.
    The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.
    I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90 % how I react to it.
    – Charles Swindoll

    Rascal Flatts – Unstoppable [Olympics Mix]
    http://www.tangle.com/view_vid.....83eaad6701

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    Cabal

    “If I were the designer . . . ” only means that you are not the designer in question.

    It says nothing about the credibility of inferring from inductively credible signs of design, to presence of design as best explanation.

    Also, unless you are in a position to know the constraints and to know the purposes, you are in no position to judge the quality of the design. Have you created a reproducing humanoid who does not need a navel, for whatever purpose?

    In short what you have argued boils down to finding an excuse to object rather than dealing with substantial issues on the merits.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: On the behalf of the creationists, the appearance of age is not evidence of deceit on the part of the Creator, especially if there is a context in which there is a testimony from said creator to the true origin.

    That may mean that projections from the present to the remote past as imagined (especially those that impose the agenda that we may not infer on signs of intelligence to the conclusion that trying to reconstruct the past on blind chance and necessity alone) will be inaccurate, but we read the classic Biblical retort, we have been warned about that:

    Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:

    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge
    ?

    3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.

    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.

    5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

    6 On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone-

    7 while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels [a] shouted for joy?

    8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,

    9 when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,

    10 when I fixed limits for it
    and set its doors and bars in place,

    11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt’?

    So, wisdom is to allow all the evidence we may observe to have a voice, including that of empirically reliable signs of intelligence. Further wisdom is to hold our reconstructions of a remote, unobserved past with a due measure of humility, not pretending to a degree of warrant or even certainty that on principles of empirical reasoning, we cannot properly claim.

  28. 28
    Alex73 says:

    Cabal @25:

    If I were the designer I would cunningly devise it so nobody would need to have a navel.

    Feel free to do so.

    The fact that he didn’t doesn’t speak well of his capabilities.

    The fact that you haven’t designed a human yet, nevertheless criticise someone who had because of a superficial feature, doesn’t speak well of you either.

    A human designer would have thought of that and found a solution. All it takes is a just a few base pairs; there are plenty of spares in the genom.

    I think there is a job for you at the J Craig Venter Institute. You just think of everything and can sort all issues using just a few base pairs. When you present your latest improvements on living creatures do give us an invitation to the press conference.

    Alex

  29. 29
    lars says:

    I agree with O’Leary, the “appearance of age = deceit” idea is a load of baloney. People are only deceived by appearance of age if they choose to disbelieve what God explicitly said about his creation of Adam, and rely solely on their own insight.

    If God said, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being,” and people look at man and don’t believe it, how can they accuse God of being deceptive?
    As johnnyb said, ‘It is *only* when you think a question must be decidable without God does it become “deception” when God does something that is only fully interpretable using God’s revelation.’

    God even warned against the self-deception (darkening of heart) that would occur for those who refuse to give him due credit — Romans 1:21-23.

    It would be like Craig Venter publishing about his insertion of a synthetically-copied genome into a living cell. He has broadcast a public message about how it was created. His paper even details how the descendants of the tinkered cell appear normal, that is, they resemble completely-natural cells in most important respects.

    Yet some could decide to ignore his personal revelation and look only at the resulting cells. Not allowing “intervention” as a reality or a valid inference in science, they could instead infer that the cells evolved to have “Craig Venter, PhD” inscribed in their genome due to chance and natural selection over millions of years. (Grand would be the speculations over the functional advantage of parts of that sequence.)

    Then the skeptic sneers at the Venterists… “These cells closely resemble organisms that evolved over millions of years. If Venter did indeed assemble them, why would he do it in such a deceptive way, trying to make everyone think they were completely natural?”

    Rrrgh….
    Why should God pander to people who won’t believe what he says? They make a rule that what God says is inadmissible, then complain that what’s left is misleading.

    Reminds me again of the dwarfs at the end of The Last Battle.
    http://nachfolge.blogspot.com/.....after.html

  30. 30
    bornagain77 says:

    Now seriously cabal would you want this Surgeon, who finds the body to be a stunning work of art, working on you???,,,,

    Dr. Ben Carson – The Humble Faith Of a Surgical Giant
    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religi.....arson/656/

    O would you want someone working on you who thought the human body was actually a cobbled together piece of junk????

    It’s alive!
    http://blogs.sundaymercury.net.....in.jpg.jpg

    —————–

    http://www.offthemarkcartoons......-08-05.gif

  31. 31
    bevets says:

    Cabal@25

    If I were the designer I would cunningly devise it so nobody would need to have a navel. The fact that he didn’t doesn’t speak well of his capabilities.

    But the arguments for evolution that we shall consider are formulated in theological terms, usually explicitly so — a practice plainly inconsistent with methodological naturalism. We aren’t supposed to be able to say anything, scientifically speaking, about God. Whatever we claim to know about God may be true or false, considered theologically or philosophically, but that knowledge isn’t the stuff of scientific explanation. How, then, do so many evolutionary biologists speak with confidence about what God would or would not have done? ~ Paul Nelson

    We are far from understanding the complexity of individual organisms, let alone the entire ecosystem in which that organism lives. What appears to be less than optimal design to us with our limited knowledge may actually be an optimal design when the entire system is considered. Consider the thickness of armor plating on the side of a warship. Since the purpose of such plating is to protect the ship from the puncture of an incoming warhead, it is advantageous to make the plating as thick as possible. Yet the plating on actual warships is much thinner than it could be made. The reason is, of course, that an increase in plating thickness makes the ship heavier, and thus slower. A less movable ship is more likely to get hit more often and less likely to get to where it is needed when it is needed. The actual thickness of the armor on a warship is a tradeoff — not so thin as to make the ship too easily sinkable, and not so thick as to make the ship too slow. We know too little about the complexity of organisms and the environment in which they live to conclude that any one particular feature is actually less than optimal. ~ Kurt Wise

    Given that I freely claim the designer is God, do you understand the futility of an argument that suggests you have understanding that God does not?

  32. 32
    Toronto says:

    bevets @ 31,

    Given that I freely claim the designer is God, do you understand the futility of an argument that suggests you have understanding that God does not?

    But that is precisely what ID proponents suggest, that they know God well enough that they know he did not use random mutation and natural selection to generate the body plans that we see today.

    A question I often ask is, why is not “possible” for God to have done something that it is difficult for us to understand?

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    It would be funny if it were not so sad . . .

  34. 34
    bevets says:

    But the arguments for evolution that we shall consider are formulated in theological terms, usually explicitly so — a practice plainly inconsistent with methodological naturalism. We aren’t supposed to be able to say anything, scientifically speaking, about God. Whatever we claim to know about God may be true or false, considered theologically or philosophically, but that knowledge isn’t the stuff of scientific explanation. How, then, do so many evolutionary biologists speak with confidence about what God would or would not have done? ~ Paul Nelson

    toronto@32

    ID proponents do not claim to know anything about the designer. They are starting with the object and suggesting the object exhibits traits of a design.

    I am a YEC. I start with the Word of God which tells me that God (designed and) created all of life.

    As for possibilities: It is possible that John McCain could have been elected in 2008. He was not.

  35. 35
    Rude says:

    Did the Creator create with the appearance of age?

    So did he perhaps create man through a long biological build up, procreation with periodic creation (design). I’ve always said that “evolution is evidence”—evidence for design, that is—and if by evolution we understand the traditional meaning: “gradual directional change esp. one leading to a more advanced or complex form; growth; development.” [Notice how Wiktionary doctors it for biology: “The change in the genetic composition of a population over successive generations.” Who could disagree with that?]

    But if God created Adam whole cloth then it would not be deception because he also spoke to them (Gen 1:28): “And God blessed them, and God said unto them…” And as the Targum elaborates at Gen 2:7 (“and man became a living soul”): wahawat b?’adam l?ruach m?mall?la ‘and there was in him a spirit of speech’.

    Well that was my wisdom for the day but now I see that O’Leary beat me to it in 24: “That is, I would never deny that I had designed them from scratch, and would in fact affirm it.”

    Well said!

  36. 36
    anonym says:

    Here’s a 2008 interview with Gardner in which he talks about his religious beliefs and the New Atheism among other things. (One thing it doesn’t mention is his early role in publicising public-key crypography.)

  37. 37
    Ilion says:

    This “problem of the appearance of age” is pseudo-problem, it’s an artifact of a certain wooden literalism … you know, similar to the sort “oldies” are always accusing “youngies” of poessessing. Odd, isn’t it?

  38. 38
    Ilion says:

    Phaedros:It’s been shown that light can be slowed through different mediums. Is it possible that light can be made somehow to move faster? …

    Light that travels faster than the speed of light … despite its title, this particular piece mentions only in passing that light can (apparently) be made to go “faster than the speed of light.”

    Myself, I always wonder whether the old earthers (whether they’re creationists or atheists) are taking relativity into account when they point to the light from stars millions or billions of light-years distant as “proof positive” that the universe *must* be vast ages old. Does not that particular argument assume that earth stands as a “privileged frame of reference?” Does not relativity say that there are no “privileged frames of reference?”

  39. 39
    bornagain77 says:

    this is sort of a cool video:

    Sound Waves
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9GBf8y0lY0

    referenced article:

    Cymatics

    Cymatics is the study of wave phenomena. It is typically associated with the physical patterns produced through the interaction of sound waves in a medium.
    http://www.rexresearch.com/cymatics/cymatics.htm

  40. 40
    bornagain77 says:

    off topic:
    here is a cool electric motor you can show a kid how to make:

    Simple electric Motor
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318344

  41. 41
    bornagain77 says:

    Off topic: Here is a very interesting TED talk on cymatics (creating form through sound)

    Evan Grant: Making sound visible through cymatics
    http://www.ted.com/talks/evan_grant_cymatics.html

  42. 42
    pelagius says:

    Ilion wrote:

    Myself, I always wonder whether the old earthers (whether they’re creationists or atheists) are taking relativity into account when they point to the light from stars millions or billions of light-years distant as “proof positive” that the universe *must* be vast ages old.

    Yes, they do take relativity into account.

    Does not that particular argument assume that earth stands as a “privileged frame of reference?”

    No. For purposes of determining the age of the universe, astronomers use a frame of reference from which the cosmic microwave background (CMB) appears equally red-shifted in all directions. Earth is in a different frame of reference which is moving at 370 km/s relative to the CMB.

    Does not relativity say that there are no “privileged frames of reference?”

    Relativity merely says that the laws of physics remain unchanged in different reference frames. In that sense there are no privileged frames of reference, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be “privileged” by other criteria. For example, the laws of physics are the same for the sun as they are for all of the planets; nevertheless, the sun clearly occupies a privileged frame of reference geometrically in our solar system.

  43. 43
    zephyr says:

    kairosfocus commented above that it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. I agree with the sentiment here, assuming he/she is thinking the same that I am on this front, and not something different!

    Cabal gets taken to task above, but really Cabal’s commentary is just the flip side of the literal Creationist take on the story of Adam and Eve.

    Sigh – anybody out there heard of allegory, symbolism, metaphor? I trawled through the comments waiting for somebody, anybody to point out the obvious, but unless I missed it no. Martin Gardner’s query on Adam’s navel is thus a silly straw man question, but to literal Creationists, it can’t be because they take metaphors and allegories literally, so they bend themselves like pretzels putting round literal pegs in symbolic/metaphoric square holes.

    In fact there is a massive and sophisticated Jewish exigetic commentary on the symbolic meaning in Genesis, recognised by the more sophisticated Catholic and Protestant theologians and philosophers over the centuries. There is much to say here, but really I can’t be bothered too much with knocking my head against brick walls, but a few comments…

    You know those stories in those wonderful Greek myths, Greek heroes like Theseus battling the minotaur in the labyrinth, Perseus battling and slaying the gorgon Medusa, Bellerophon slaying the Chimera with its lion’s head, goat’s body, serpent’s tail, the heroic tasks of Heracles, the centaurs, the numerous otherwordly creatures etc etc – well imagine if atheists were to ask how could there have been a creature that was half bull and half man, it’s an impossible hybrid, how could the Chimera have had the head of a lion and the body of a goat and breathed fire, and there is no evidence of centaurs and sirens in the fossil record, that this was all impossible given what we know of the genotypes of lions and goats and none of them are physiologically capable of breathing fire and it’s impossible for a bull and human to um have offspring, for obvious reasons without getting into their respective genomic differences blabla.

    And then the Creatonists here responded, wait, maybe God or some divine agent, created the Minotaur de novo and the Chimera as well, to test the Greek heroes. We haven’t found their skeletons because they were one-offs and it would be like finding a needle in a haystack and maybe their bodies and bones were destroyed and consumed anyway given they were killed by our heroes and blabla.

    Of course Creationists defending and often enough atheists responding to literal argumentation for allegory and symbolism re Adam and Eve think this symbolism doesn’t apply to Genesis, or that the Greek myths are silly tales for children, what symbolism? The story of Theseus and the Minotaur for one alone is a very profound SYMBOLIC myth as is the story of Achilles and his one point of mortality, his heel and the nature of his death at the hands of the Trojan prince Paris – to give just two examples. Just two. And of course this symbolism doesn’t just apply to Greek (and Jewish) myth. And when I say myth I do not mean it in a pejorative sense, as in false (ie somebody else’s religion rather than your own) I mean it in its proper meaning, the way Joseph Campbell meant it.

    Tell me, what about the talking snake, do you Creatonists really think that the Tree of Life (there are actually two Genesis myths on this front but beyond the scope of my post), the tree of knowledge is a LITERAL tree and that we are talking about a LITERAL apple or fruit? And that God literally created Eve from Adam’s rib? PLEASE PLEASE I beg you – don’t answer this question (I know how you answer it already of course), I am trying to make a point that will not be appreciated I fear by too many. On the story of Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib, this is where a fair bit is lost in translation ie to English, French, and before that Latin and Greek, but it’s a long story to explain what I mean, hardly common knowledge. It’s a Hebrew myth, althoug it is actually pre-Hebraic in many of it’s aspects (Sumerian), the roots of Genesis are lost in the midst of time. Hebrew helps, in fact its indispensable. You want to talk lost in translation?

    Then taking the story of Cain and Abel literally is not possible (well it’s fine if you want to continue to contort yourselves like teenage Romanian gymnasts – see that’s called simile), its symbolic meaning is profound, albeit crudely expressed in parts.

    The Tree of Knowledge is no more literal than the Nordic Yggdrasil tree, the snake that tempts Eve is no more literal than the Gryphon, the centaurs, the Medusa and the minotaur. Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel are ARCHETYPAL characters, like Perseus and Heracles and Achilles.

    You know one of the things that sets man apart (at least in theory) from even the most advanced mammals like dolphins and whales and chimpanzees and apes is rich symbolic thought and conception, the ability to deal with sophisticated abstractions, story telling, and the sophisticated language associated with this (along with poetry and song and art and creative endevours in general), it’s actually a big problem to explain in terms of orthodox Darwinian thinking.

    As I point out above, Creationists don’t consider this little something called SYMBOLISM in the chapter of the Bible where it is MOST applicable (ie the pre-historic creation beginning part – Genesis), they pay no attention to other myths, when not entirely misunderstanding Jewish myths, because they think Greek, Celtic and Native Indian and world myths in general have nothing to teach them, because they are just tales no different to whatever is being sold in the discounted bins at Barnes and Noble (and there are psychological reasons why this is but that’s a whole Pandora’s box…). Or else they think, well those myths can’t be true because they make no sense literally. How could Heracles have battled an impossible monster like the hydra (profound symbolism here) and Perseus have battled a bull-man that couldn’t have existed literally etc? And then without batting an eye these selfsame people interpret obviously equally symbolic Biblical myths literally, but it’s different with the Bible of course is what Creationists tell us! Talk about boxed thinking and irony. Religious myths are either seen as must-be-literal or the flip side false (as many atheists see things), irony is lost on both Creatonists and atheists that there ‘thinking’ here is so alike and two sides of the same coin.

    Ah Jesus spoke in parables, but never mind, apparently it doesn’t apply to the Old Testament (more properly the Tanach) – even though symbolism and allegory and parable is universal in world religions. In fact it is fundamental, and inevitably and necessarily so.

    There are actually very pertinent reasons why Creationists take the story of Adam and Eve literally. In a fundamental sense they have to, by the very fact that they are Young Earth Creationists for the most part (or so it appears)! That is by the very fact that they are YECers, it follows consistently, ie the literal reading of the Seven Days of Creation would a fortiori lead to a literal interpretation of the very next myth in Genesis, that of human creation. So at least Creationists are consistent here, actually on this front it is psychologically inevitable. This consistency (of a literal reading of a symbolic myth) continues naturally when it comes to the New Testament’s considerable symbolism.
    But never mind, that opens up another can of worms…

    God forbid somebody point out the obvious. Sigh. All this on a thread supposedly about Martin Gardner’s passing!

  44. 44
    zephyr says:

    Just a minor but important correction, Gardner’s query on Adam’s navel, is not “silly” as I wrote, since Gardner is making a valid point. It’s only silly if one takes a totally literal or the flip side atheistic it’s-all-silly-made-up stuff approach (which Gardner being a theist did not) and then to respond to Gardner’s query literally. This is like arguing about whether the fruit on the Tree in the Garden of Eden was an apple or maybe it was a fig or a date even, and this kind of argumentation actually proves the point Gardner was making. Such a question on Adam’s navel can only be seen as a straw man question if one is not a Biblical literalist of course.

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    Zephyr:

    I suggest you read here.

    GEM of TKI

  46. 46
    bevets says:

    zephyr@42

    Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience; . . . Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know. ~ James Barr Regius Professor of Hebrew at Christ Church, Oxford

  47. 47
    suckerspawn says:

    The Bible “literally” does not tell us whether or not Adam had a navel. It is fun to speculate, but to state anything with surety is to go beyond that which is written.

    “ Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Exodus 20:8-11

    4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6 (Jesus Christ quoting from Genesis 1 & 2)

    13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. I Timothy 2:13-14

    By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. Hebrews 11:4

    12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. I John 3:12

    Did the New Testament writers consider Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel historical figures?

  48. 48
    Paul Nelson says:

    To all,

    The passage from me, quoted above —

    We aren’t supposed to be able to say anything, scientifically speaking, about God. Whatever we claim to know about God may be true or false, considered theologically or philosophically, but that knowledge isn’t the stuff of scientific explanation.

    — is my presentation of the standard argument for methodological naturalism (MN). But MN does not represent my own understanding of the optimal science / theology interaction. The quote, however, makes it seems that MY view is being presented. In the original complete context, I’m presenting MN arguendo.

  49. 49
    johnnyb says:

    zephyr –

    YECs don’t ignore the symbolism in Genesis, but believe that it results from God acting in ways that are both true and poetic.

    This is also the way that the early Christians and Jews thought of scripture. Early Jewish thought clearly put Genesis – including the early parts – as historical. See, for instance, Josephus’ work, the Genesis Rabba, and others.

    In addition, as many commentators have pointed out, there is not a break in the story between Genesis 11 and the rest of the book. Divine intervention slows down and starts occuring from afar off, but, at least as far as the text of Genesis is concerned, that is simply part of what happened.

    I graduated from a progressive seminary that believes what you do. The problem is that it is difficult to say that Genesis is obviously just allegory when the early commentators were overwhelmingly convinced of its historicity. To say that modern scholarship has found the *original* meaning of the text would mean that the *original* meaning wasn’t understood by the culture and language that created it, and, magically, the modern era, in a completely different time, culture, language, and literature, was able to discover what was *really* meant by the Biblical authors.

    It’s also amusing that they always say that the original culture would have understood it in the same way that they do, but the historical evidence is against them.

    As I said, no one has denied the symbolic meanings. But instead of being the result of human creative history-making, YECs believe it to be primarily the result of God’s divine plan.

    As to the “two stories” of Genesis, the “difference in time order” that is usually used to separate out these accounts is based on an overly-specific reading of Hebrew tenses. Hebrew doesn’t properly have tense (though it has many indicators of tense). There are many places in scripture where the expected tense from the indicators doesn’t match with the narrative. These are always simply redefined with the proper tense. The exception is Genesis, where the original tense is kept against what the narrative would say. The fact is, Hebrew isn’t specific enough tense-wise to make the case.

  50. 50
    bornagain77 says:

    to add weight to the claim that God directly inspired scripture, I found the following very persuasive:

    Eulers Number – God Created Mathematics – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003905

    This related website has the complete working out of the math of Pi and e in the Bible, in the Hebrew and Greek languages respectively:
    http://www.biblemaths.com/pag03_pie/

  51. 51
    bevets says:

    But the arguments for evolution that we shall consider are formulated in theological terms, usually explicitly so — a practice plainly inconsistent with methodological naturalism. We aren’t supposed to be able to say anything, scientifically speaking, about God. Whatever we claim to know about God may be true or false, considered theologically or philosophically, but that knowledge isn’t the stuff of scientific explanation. How, then, do so many evolutionary biologists speak with confidence about what God would or would not have done? ~ Paul Nelson

    Paul Nelson @ 47

    My Post 31 was responding to Cabal @ 25 who was advocating MN.

  52. 52
    davidziegler says:

    Sometimes the debate about exegesis of Genesis ignores larger problems that would have to be resolved if certain views are taken.

    1. The whole redemption story that is central to the Bible is built on the understanding that death, disease, and struggle were a punishment for sin that required a redeemer. To understand all of these as part of the original design, and as the vehicle for how species got here, does radical damage to a biblical view of God and His character. If death is natural, needed, and good, why would Jesus try to interfere with this process?

    2. When evolution is understood as the vehicle that God used to create after the basic elements were put into place, there is no explanation for how humans came to be unique, and created in God’s image apart from all other creatures, which includes having a soul. Was there an exact moment in evolutionary descent when God considered apes to have advanced enough that he sent down a soul? The question sounds silly, but there is reasonable explanation if we feel that the Bible has to be squared with a materialistic view of origins.

  53. 53
    zephyr says:

    In response to bevets’s point at #46 (not directly above). The point you make that the days of Creation in Genesis cannot be interpreted as eons or epochs of any kind, that this modern Bilblical apologetics fails, I agree with you. I don’t care for that kind of thinking either, it’s apologetics and it doesn’t wash with me either.

    You misunderstood the point I was making when I speak of the symbolism of the Genesis Creation myth, so your above criticism (#46) is a straw-man. I didn’t clarify my point here, namely I do not care for the intepretation that the days of Genesis equall epochs (so bevets couldn’t be expected to know) but my post was overlong as it was and I can’t write a book here.

    Symbolism/allegory doesn’t mean interpreting the days of Genesis as epochs/eons, I never said or even implied that it did.

    However this is a common mistake made by both Jewish and Christian theologians and their adherents. Interpreting it symbolically means interpreting it SYMBOLICALLY, having nothing to do with a literal time period, whether that time period is 24 hour days or each day being seen as a a hundred million years or whatever. The latter more modern interpretation is still interpreting the Genesis myth too literally, it is a semi-literal (not completely literal of course) reading of Genesis – just from the other end of the timescale. This is why I think Gerald Schroeder is mistaken with his attempt to reconcile modern Big Bang theory and the age of the universe, relativity of time, ‘quark confinement’ with the Six Days of Creation. Schroeder’s writings here are certainly ingenious and clever, and I recommend reading him in this regard, but I still think it mistaken because it is based on a still too literal rendering of Genesis.

    Seeing the days of Genesis symbolically means just that, nothing more nor less – not as any measurable time periods whatsoever, not as 24 hour days, not as a hundred million years, or any rough measure in that regard, not a Jupiterian day, not time as measured in terms of any relativistic effects, not time (in this sense) as we commonly understand it, or perhaps misunderstand it.

    There is in fact a Jewish tradition that sees the ‘day’ in Genesis Creation exactly this way, symbolically. It is both an ancient tradition that has been added to over the historical eras, and it is a very highly revered tradition, coming as it does from the most learned rabbis and Jewish theologians (just like the Church there are different schools of thought here). The thing is that literal thinking about Genesis runs so deep, that the so-called non-literal belief that the days are epochs is largely not remarked upon, since largely not recognised, as still being a too literal interpretation! and not a symbolic one. In other words, this modern ‘progressive’ view of the Genesis Creation is not a radical symbolic notion at all (even though it is mistaken for one), but an updating/revamping of the Genesis myth to the modern age to make its literal rendering more believable/digestible! That is all. The symbolic meaning is still missed.

    bornagain77 that’s kind of strange that you bring up Euler’s formula, since that is a strange coincidence to me, I have not looked at Euler’s formula in maybe two decades as far as I can remember and just the last two days I have had occasion to look at it very seriously! The reason itself is rather odd, but that’s a whole other thing, on a whole other topic (not unrelated to ID actually, but something out of deep left field)

    Wasn’t it Newton who remarked that God is a mathematician, so it would seem.

  54. 54
    wagenweg says:

    So if God made Adam to appear to be in his 30s let’s say, yet chronilogically is brand new, then couldn’t God also create a universe that appears to be 13.7 billion years old yet is also brand new??

    Just a thought.

  55. 55
    bornagain77 says:

    zephyr, I believe it was Galileo,

    Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.
    Galileo Galilei

    The Underlying Mathematical Foundation Of The Universe -Walter Bradley – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4491491

    The Five Foundational Equations of the Universe and Brief Descriptions of Each:
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....#038;hl=en

    Systematic Search for Expressions of Dimensionless Constants using the NIST database of Physical Constants
    Excerpt: The National Institute of Standards and Technology lists 325 constants on their website as ‘Fundamental Physical Constants’. Among the 325 physical constants listed, 79 are unitless in nature (usually by defining a ratio). This produces a list of 246 physical constants with some unit dependence. These 246 physical constants can be further grouped into a smaller set when expressed in standard SI base units.,,,
    http://www.mit.edu/~mi22295/co.....tants.html

    Michael Denton – Mathematical Truths Are Transcendent And Beautiful – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003918

    Proverbs 8:26-27
    While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primeval dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep,

    Finely Tuned Big Bang, Elvis In The Multiverse, and the Schroedinger Equation – Granville Sewell – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4233012

  56. 56
    warehuff says:

    ba77 @ 50: “This related website has the complete working out of the math of Pi and e in the Bible, in the Hebrew and Greek languages respectively:
    http://www.biblemaths.com/pag03_pie/

    Are you sure about that? I can’t get the math to come out, but it’s early in the morning and I may have made a mistake.

    I did notice that in the sixth colored block from the top, the website clearly states that Biblical PI = 3.1416E16 which is off by about 314 quadrillion.

    The tenth colored block says that Biblical e = 2.718E40 which is off by about 27 billion quadrillion quadrillion. Both these numbers are in “standard form format”, whatever he means by that.

    The eleventh colored block then says that the Biblical value of PI is actually just 3.141554508…, and the Biblical value of e is 2.718312812… and that these add up to 5.859867320… and that this is only 0.000007 off from the true sum of PI and e.

    Are you sure that the author didn’t just hunt around in the Bible for sequences that produced numbers that were close to PI and e and this was just the best that he could find?

  57. 57
    bornagain77 says:

    Warehuff asks:

    “Are you sure that the author didn’t just hunt around in the Bible for sequences that produced numbers that were close to PI and e and this was just the best that he could find?”

    Seeing as it is Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 that produce the results I would say the only one hunting around for “the best he could find” would be you.

  58. 58
    DiEb says:

    @b77:

    This is really silly: The author uses an ad-hoc method to derive a very big number of which the leading six digits are the leading six digits of π when expressed in decimal notation. Shouldn’t the Bible use base 60? Or even better, a representation independent of a base?

    I’m sure that I can use similar methods to derive the value of π from the works of JRR Tolkien.

  59. 59
    DiEb says:

    b77 @ 50:
    not only does the author of this piece rely on decimal fractions – which didn’t arrive in Europe before 800 A.D., he uses the versification of the Bible, too: an human invention of the 7th-11th century (Old Testament) resp. 16th century (New Testament). This would have been a field day for M. Gardner!

  60. 60
    bornagain77 says:

    DiEb,

    You have no basis in your objection. If you don’t like the implications of pi and e being found in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, in the ancient Hebrew and Greek, I really don’t care I will not justify your trivial nitpicking and unfounded bias against scripture. Since you have so much trouble with that example you will really hate this:

    The Precisely Fulfilled Prophecy Of Israel Becoming A Nation In 1948 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041241

    The Signs of Israel’s Rebirth: Lesson 1: The Parable of the Fig Tree
    Concluding Statement: Now it should also be perfectly clear what the parable of the fig tree in the Olivet Discourse means (Matt 24:32-34). As the disciples were walking into the city on Tuesday morning after Palm Sunday, they noticed that the tree which Jesus had cursed the day before had withered and dried up. Later, on Tuesday evening, when the memory of the withered fig tree was still fresh in their minds, Jesus spoke the parable in question. He said that when the church sees the fig tree leafing out again, it will know that “it is . . . at the doors.” The Greek for “it is” can also be translated “he is.” In prophecy, “door” is often a symbol for the passageway between heaven and earth (Rev. 4:1). What the parable means, therefore, is that when the nation of Israel revives after its coming disintegration and death in A.D. 70, the return of Christ will be imminent.
    http://www.themoorings.org/pro.....rael1.html

    Sir Isaac Newton’s Prediction For The Return Of Christ – Sid Roth video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/....._sid_roth/

  61. 61
    DiEb says:

    bornagain77:

    1. To find this kind of numerology in a thread which is a tribute to the memory of Martin Gardner is highly ironic.

    2. Do you have any idea why π was encoded in a way that it was impossible to find it before 800 A.D.? Wasn’t Europe ripe to handle this approximation?

    3. You have no basis in your objection. Oh yes, I have. It’s 10.

  62. 62
    DesignFan says:

    I can’t understand what the issue is if we say God created Adam as a mature human being. Perhaps God formed Adam at an optimum age, say 25 to 30.

    Then again our perception of age and optimum physical and intellectual development may be a bit off because this would have been before the fall of man.

  63. 63
    bornagain77 says:

    Off topic music:

    Funtwo – Cannon Rock – Live at Korean Ambassador’s residence;
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/529769

    Amazing Video of a Song Composed Entirely of 37 Cello Parts
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsavk0FX3Ro

    Amazing Music Machine
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQRvkXzukpk

    Royksopp – Remind Me
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBvaHZIrt0o

    and for fellow vets this memorial day:

    Band of Brothers – Main Title ‘Requiem for a Soldier’ Song
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfVELFsb96Q

  64. 64
    warehuff says:

    ba77 @ 57: There are two general ways of manufacturing information from an innocent text. One way is to run a pseudo-randomizing function against a large amount of text. The Bible Code does this with its equidistant letter sequence function, which generates a long sequence of pseudo random characters which the searcher can than scan for anything interesting. This is how a list of famous rabbis was found, first in a Hebrew Bible text, then in a Hebrew translation of War and Peace, then in an English translation of War and Peace and finally in the text on cereal boxes.

    The other way is to worry a short length of text to death. Try as many possible operations on the letters as you can, searching for anything interesting in the resulting pseudo random outputs. If you spot something interesting, publish. If not, use another algorithm. Adding the letters together doesn’t produce anything? Try multiplying them. Still nothing? Take the product of the letters and multiply it by the number of letters. Just keep trying and eventually you’ll hit something.

    In both cases, it helps to not specify what you’re looking for in advance – just take anything interesting. Your author found PI, but if he’d found the Golden Ratio, I’m sure he would have been just as happy and the results would have been just as impressive. There are hundreds of constants to look for. If you can’t find any, look for saint’s names (famous rabbis has been taken), religious dates, ball scores – eventually you’ll find something.

    Dembski describes the situation when he talks about archers who shoot at the side of a barn and then paint targets around their arrows, where ever they hit. In this case, shoot the arrow then look around where it landed for any knothole or other interesting mark. If you find one, draw a target around it. If not, fire again. Eventually, you’ll hit something.

  65. 65
    bornagain77 says:

    warehuff, your objection is without merit since it is in fact pi and e which is found within Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 respectively. If we were talking of the Bible Code, which I am not defending, you may have had some merit, but as it sits I find the only one “worrying a short length of text to death” to be you.

  66. 66
    bornagain77 says:

    warehuff if you really want to “worry” about something, why don’t you worry about the miracle of Israel becoming a nation again after 2000 years of exile. Especially seeing the fact that the prophecy behind it was fulfilled precisely:

    Luke 21:24
    “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

    The Precisely Fulfilled Prophecy Of Israel Becoming A Nation In 1948 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041241

    Or warehuff, will you again make up any kind of fancy sounding rhetoric that you can in order to deny what is clearly evident? Exactly what is the payoff for you warehuff? Do you have a better deal somewhere than what God is offering you? Please let me know what this great deal is so that I may better understand your sheer insanity.

    notes:

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – The Father Of Quantum Mechanics – (Of Note: Planck was a devout Christian, which is not surprising when you realize practically every founder of a major branch of modern science also had a deep Christian connection.)

    I find it extremely interesting that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its “uncertain” 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that I exist?

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men.
    From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    This is obviously a very interesting congruence in science between the very large (relativity) and the very small (quantum mechanics). A congruence they seem to be having a extremely difficult time “unifying” mathematically into a “theory of everything”.(Einstein, Penrose).

    The Physics Of The Large And Small: What Is the Bridge Between Them?
    Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: This, (the unification of General Relativity and the laws of Quantum Mechanics), would also have practical advantages in the application of quantum ideas to subjects like biology – in which one does not have the clean distinction between a quantum system and its classical measuring apparatus that our present formalism requires. In my opinion, moreover, this revolution is needed if we are ever to make significant headway towards a genuine scientific understanding of the mysterious but very fundamental phenomena of conscious mentality.
    http://www.pul.it/irafs/CD%20I.....enrose.pdf

    “There are serious problems with the traditional view that the world is a space-time continuum. Quantum field theory and general relativity contradict each other. The notion of space-time breaks down at very small distances, because extremely massive quantum fluctuations (virtual particle/antiparticle pairs) should provoke black holes and space-time should be torn apart, which doesn’t actually happen.” – G J Chaitin
    http://www.umcs.maine.edu/~cha.....edel_6.pdf

    Yet, this “unification”, into a “theory of everything”, between what is in essence the “infinite world of Quantum Mechanics” and the “finite world of the space-time of General Relativity” seems to be directly related to what Jesus apparently joined together with His resurrection, i.e. related to the unification of infinite God with finite man:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3993426/

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31 –
    William Dembski
    Excerpt: “In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.” http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

    —————-

    Quantum Consciousness – Time Flies Backwards? – Stuart Hameroff MD
    Excerpt: Dean Radin and Dick Bierman have performed a number of experiments of emotional response in human subjects. The subjects view a computer screen on which appear (at randomly varying intervals) a series of images, some of which are emotionally neutral, and some of which are highly emotional (violent, sexual….). In Radin and Bierman’s early studies, skin conductance of a finger was used to measure physiological response They found that subjects responded strongly to emotional images compared to neutral images, and that the emotional response occurred between a fraction of a second to several seconds BEFORE the image appeared! Recently Professor Bierman (University of Amsterdam) repeated these experiments with subjects in an fMRI brain imager and found emotional responses in brain activity up to 4 seconds before the stimuli. Moreover he looked at raw data from other laboratories and found similar emotional responses before stimuli appeared.
    http://www.quantumconsciousnes.....Flies.html

  67. 67
    Clive Hayden says:

    bornagain77,

    Please let me know what this great deal is so that I may better understand your sheer insanity.

    Moderation is now in effect.

  68. 68
    bornagain77 says:

    Clive Hayden,, and has God failed to provide adequate evidence (Romans 1:20) so that warehuff might be justified in his refusal to be reasonable to any sufficient degree in the course of our debates? Of course not. God has flooded reality with evidence from every angle! So exactly how am I suppose to view his mindset Mr. Hayden?

  69. 69
    Clive Hayden says:

    bornagain77,

    Don’t call other commenters insane.

  70. 70
    bornagain77 says:

    OK Mr Hayden, I’m sorry and I promise I will not call materialists insane anymore. And I am personally apologizing to you warehuff if I offended you with what I said.

  71. 71
    Clive Hayden says:

    bornagain77,

    Thank you, it’s just not conducive to a constructive conversation.

  72. 72
    DiEb says:

    @bornagain:
    1. There are more than 30,000 verses in the bible. This should be enough to construct any number up to four significant digits, especially as the author of http://www.biblemath.com is only interested in the mantissa.
    2. Could you please explain to me why decimal fractions are used? No author prior to the 10th century would have thought of describing π as π ≈ 3 + 1/10 + 4/100 + 1/1000.
    3. The author didn’t explain why he uses his particular method: why not adding the values of the letters, and sum the products of the letters in the words? Why multiplying the numbers with the number of letters resp. the number of words instead of taking the average? There are many different ways to works with the letters – how many did he try before getting interesting results?

  73. 73
    warehuff says:

    ba77, pi and e are not found in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 respectively. Dr. Bluer’s value for pi in Genesis 1:1 is not 3.1416, it is 3.1416 e10+17, or 314,160,000,000,000,000.

    He “reconciles” the humungus difference between his answer and the true value of pi by “stripping the constants of their surplus zeroes.” But those zeros are not surplus! They are the difference between buying a hamburger at McDonalds and getting a bill for three dollars and fourteen cents and getting a bill for three hundred and fourteen thousand one hundred and sixty million million dollars.

    His value for e is off by even more. Instead of 2.718, Bluer finds 2.718 e10+40! That raises your two dollar and 72 cent bill to twenty seven thousand one hundred and eighty million million million million million million million dollars plus tax. The values he comes up with aren’t even on the same planet as the real values of pi and e.

    Besides, the Bible gives a simple and clear cut calculation for the value of pi in 1 Kings 7,23 and 2 Chronicles 4,2 :”He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it.”

    Biblical pi clearly equals a circumference of 30 cubits divided by a diameter of 10 cubits, or 3.

  74. 74
    bornagain77 says:

    Warehuff The following video corrects you on your reading of 1 Kings 7:23 (i.e. pi equals 3 fallacy)

    The Bible and the Value of Pi – Supernatural Design – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikI6Bn-ZutQ

  75. 75
    bornagain77 says:

    The following video reiterates Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 and reveals that the ancient Hebrew sages had a very different view of the Scripture as being the “template” from which God created the universe:

    The Bible, Pi & Logarithms – Supernatural Design II – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrdFrMvjDbg

    Seeing as the universe itself is circular and not infinite as materialists claimed:

    The Known Universe by AMNH
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U

  76. 76
    bornagain77 says:

    Whereas this “circularity” was known of in the Bible thousands of years ago:

    Proverbs 8:27
    “When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep,

    And that the universe is also found to be extremely “flat”:,,,,

    Did the Universe Hyperinflate? – Hugh Ross – April 2010
    Excerpt: Perfect geometric flatness is where the space-time surface of the universe exhibits zero curvature (see figure 3). Two meaningful measurements of the universe’s curvature parameter, ½k, exist. Analysis of the 5-year database from WMAP establishes that -0.0170 < ½k < 0.0068.4 Weak gravitational lensing of distant quasars by intervening galaxies places -0.031 < ½k < 0.009.5 Both measurements confirm the universe indeed manifests zero or very close to zero geometric curvature,,,

  77. 77
    bornagain77 says:

    Refutation Of Oscillating Universe – Michael Strauss PhD. – video:
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4323673

    Evidence For Flat Universe – Boomerang Project
    http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Art.....-flat.html
    http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Art.....megal3.gif

    ,,,,,,,,A “flatness” which is in itself a extremely finely tuned condition, a condition that materialists certainly did not predict then My question, for you to ignore once again, would be, “Given the stunning level of confirmation of “pi” being such a integral part of how the universe is/was built, should you not give a far more charitable reading to the “extra” zeros found for pi and presuppose we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle yet?,,,,,,,,,,

    ,,,,,,,,,,That the universe is also found to be a 4-D “expanding” hypersphere within that circle, and not static as materialists had predicted, a “growth” which seems to keep in line with the fundamental constant “e” used for calculating different rates of growth within “the circle of reality”, should you/we not also be far more charitable in our reading of John 1:1 and presuppose that perhaps we may not have all the pieces of the puzzle yet for why the “extra” zeros are there? It seems to me far more misguided to presuppose that we know everything there is to know so as to say the extra zeros are a definitely a mistake, when in fact we are barely beginning to take “baby steps” to discerning how reality is actually constructed in the first place. I don’t know about you warehuff, but just going from the track record of failed predictions materialists thus far, My money is definitely on the zeros being there for some undiscovered purpose!

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    Gentlemen:

    Without going into the exchange on what pi is etc, a simple reading here will help clarify on the measurement of the vessel in question.

    Remember it is very reasonable the vessel was lipped.

    Reading hyperskeptically to find debater’s objection points is not the frame of mind that is likely to cause one to coherently understand.

    GEM of TKI

  79. 79
    DiEb says:

    @kairofocus
    Reading hyperskeptically to find debater’s objection points is not the frame of mind that is likely to cause one to coherently understand.

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand your comment. Do you think that the findings of http://www.biblemaths.com re the appearance of in Gen 1.1 and John 1.1 have any merit?

  80. 80
    bornagain77 says:

    Thanks kairosfocus for pointing that out; this site has both answers, to the hyper-skeptics, for pi on one page:

    The value of Pi is not correct in 1 Kings 7:23
    http://www.apocalipsis.org/difficulties/pi.htm

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: The onward exchange here, where an objector tried to co-opt the authority of a math answers site to the cause of Bible objections, is an apt further illustration of the problem. Sadly, the way the exchange developed is all too familiar.

  82. 82
    bornagain77 says:

    kairosfocus, here is a fitting song that will most likely never see the inside of a math classroom in discussions of pi’s relation to reality:

    Flyleaf – All Around Me
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN0FFK8JSYE

  83. 83
    DiEb says:

    @bornagain & http://www.apocalipsis.org/difficulties/pi.htm
    While we know about the Babylonian (25/8) and the Egyptian (256/81) approximations as they wrote about it and used it in calculations, is their any instance where the “Solomonic” approximation (333/106) is used – before this ratio was (re?)discovered by Adrian Athonisz in the 16th century?

  84. 84
    bornagain77 says:

    DiEb, and of what possible use would it be for me if I searched around and maybe found an instance of pi being used at the time of Solomon for you to examine? (Even though you have ignored the examples Kairofocus and I have presented right before you) Would not you simply deny the example had any relevance, as you have with the ones presented, and as you have done with far greater evidences presented to you? and would you not just move on to some other superfluous area to raise a doubt about. I believe this particular scripture seems fitting for what you are constantly doing:

    2 Timothy 3:7
    always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.

    DiEb don’t you ever get tired of living in flatland?

    Dr Quantum – Flatland
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWyTxCsIXE4

  85. 85
    DiEb says:

    DiEb, and of what possible use would it be for me if I searched around and maybe found an instance of pi being used at the time of Solomon for you to examine?

    And what use is it to find an approximation of π in the first verse of Genesis? Did God tell us:

    As 333/106 is an approximation for π, so is this text just a paraphrase of what happened…

  86. 86
    DiEb says:

    @bornagain, kairofocus
    I have no problems with interpreting

  87. 87
    DiEb says:

    @bornagain, kairofocus
    I have no problems with interpreting the value of π in 1 Kings 7,23 as rounding to then next integer, or taking into account that there was a brim to the vessel.

    I have a problem with finding secret subtexts which allow for finding approximative values of π – but only if you know the real value beforehand.

    BTW, the method (and the value) to find 333/106 seems to be at least slightly less preposterous than the way 3.1416*10^16 was found….

  88. 88
    bornagain77 says:

    DiEb,
    “I have no problems with interpreting”

    “I see” said the blind man:
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/....._blind_man

  89. 89
    DiEb says:

    @bornagain,
    I posted an uncompleted comment at first, sorry.

    But don’t you have a problem that an approximation of π is encoded into Genesis which was obsolete centuries before it could have been spotted?

    And for your other prophecies: They are less than impressive, as they all were found after the events took place – or hint to events in the far future. None of them is an example of a tested hypothesis, i.e., detected before the event, and then corroborated by the event happening at the promised time in the promised way.

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