examinescience

A personal journey into the world of Science and Human History

Category: About the Project

ExamineScience in 2017

First, an apology about the silence on this blog. As a career Sailor, family man, and freelance writer, I have a lot of competing agendas vying for my time.

Through my research on cystic fibrosis, humanoid development, and the age of the earth, I’ve come to understand certain things that both worry me a little and give me hope. The research worries me because I have always taken the Bible as…well…gospel. I worry a little about what it means for the traditional reading of the text. Liberal Christians won’t have that problem. My research, however, gives me hope in that I think God’s ultimate truth will be revealed both in scripture and in nature. I don’t know how it all works out yet, but I keep thinking about Romans 1:20 as a reference point.

Anyway, I’ve been silent because there’s just so much going on. I was published seven times in 2016. Two of those articles came directly from the work I did on this blog.

The Only Patient in the Hospital (You and Me Magazine- Sept 09, 2016) is an essay about what it’s like to be in the hospital watching my child go through treatments for her genetic disease. It doesn’t deal much with the science of it and certainly not much about evolution vs creation, but it was the backdrop for my research.

Abortion is not valid Genetic Control (Baptist Standard – Sept 28, 2016) is a fact-based essay about the use of abortion to control genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis. In researching the evolution of cystic fibrosis, I came across a study in France about the drop in CF patients due to an increase in prenatal screening that leads to abortion. Honestly it made me sick, so I had to write about it. Believe it or not, a Catholic publication passed up the essay. I’m glad the Baptist Standard gave it life.

There still is no book, though I’ve written parts of two of them. Will they ever see the light of day? I don’t know. They are certainly at a wall. I may go back and see if I can discover some articles from what I’ve written. I’m cautiously optimistic.

I haven’t given up entirely on the project. I have a few books that I’m bringing on deployment with me to continue my research.

Who was Adam – This book explains the creative model approach to human development. The book assumes, among other things, that Neanderthals did exist, so I’m interested on that fact alone. I’m hoping that this book, published by Reason to Believe, a Christian organization, will help me come to terms with some of my concerns.

Genesis and the Big Bang – This book purports that there is harmony between the Big Bang (and thus evolution as a whole) and the creative work mentioned in Genesis. I’m most interested in this book.

The Gap is not a Theory – I’ve been a ruin-reconstructionist in my past and I’m still intrigued by the theory that there is a “gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. I’m not completely sold on its viability, but I’m, as I said, intrigued.

I’ve also invited a friend and atheist to write a post for the blog about the possible connection with creation and evolution, and how believing in evolution doesn’t immediately dismiss God. That should come out in the next few weeks.

So there is plenty of work going on, but it might take awhile to get it all down on the computer screen. Rest assured I’ll be keeping you up to date on research.

Creation, Evolution, and Apologetics Part I

I never wanted this project to be about apologetics. In my opinion, unless a person is already interested in scripture, or completely ignorant of the Bible, arguing (or debating) is just a waste of time. It is idle talk that takes away from the work of the kingdom (II Tim 2:16).

My only real desire for this research project has always been for it to be just that…a research project. I have hoped to bridge the gap between faith and science for me and my kids. You see, I had to know if these two poles were reconcilable for myself, and then I could help my kids see the truth.


Timothy Paul Jones, co-author of Practical Family Ministry, wrote, “Parents need to be trained to equip their children to defend their faith in an increasingly hostile context.”*

As much as I don’t want this project to be about apologetics, it has to be. Of course, that won’t happen until I’ve done the research that proves one thing or the other…and while I’m hopeful that, in the end, this research will prove God created everything (even if I have to reject what I grew up believing in order for it to be true). As I get further along, I hope to show how it’s not only true, but how to defend it in public.

Apologetics means to give a defense. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry  (CARM) defines it at, “Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith.”

I used to be afraid of that word because I thought it meant to apologize, and as a young Christian man in a small town in Kansas, I didn’t do that. The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, clears up the issue: “The word, however, derives its meaning from the Greek apologia, meaning a ‘reasoned defence’.”

Here’s why we have to include apologetics, as much as I may reject the notion at first. The world wants me to reject that God created the world and I need to find and defend the answers to that issue.

There is another reason, however, and it’s an unfortunate one. I have to be ready to defend my faith and beliefs from conservative Christians who reject the notion of anything but a 6 day creation and expect me to do the same. So I plan to learn how to do that as well.

Here’s why: the original call for apologetics didn’t come from the church, but from God through the apostle Peter. In 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV), the old man says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

This would seem to include Christians and unbelievers. And why must I be ready, along with my children? Because the attack will come. I can still remember a lecture in my sophomore year of high school where I defended the creation against my biology teacher, who I think acquiesced because of time, not because of my sound theology and logic. Already, my son is bringing home study books dripping with the rejection of Christian faith and filled with evolution. I don’t believe I have prepared him well enough for defending his faith in school.

So the research will continue, and will in time develop into a proper defense, but I promise you sincerely, the defense is to bring Christ to the masses, not to shun or hurt people. We’ll see how it turns out.

*  Practical Family Ministry: A Collection of Ideas for Your Church, Pg 10.

Should a Christian Study Evolution?

I hesitate to even write this post. What if I sound fake? What if I sound like I’m throwing my conservative upbringing aside? What if I’m labeled a heretic and never get to minister in theologically conservative churches again?

Yes, Christians should study evolution. Here’s why: Your kids are in school! My son is in advanced biology. He brought home an assignment a few days ago that detailed a certain aspect of evolution. I talked with him about it, and it became clear that, while he rejected the notion because of what he was taught in church, he was still being fed evolution in the classroom. Our kids may not be able to differentiate the issue enough to know that they actually are the same. Instead of realizing that teachers are trying to tell him his God didn’t create the world, he’s compartmentalizing school and church.

And I don’t know that our church is teaching him this either. Not that it’s really my church’s purpose. I am his father. It is my job. Time to get busy. What I learn over time I will be teaching you.

As an involved father, at least as involved as I can be my navy career notwithstanding, I need to be a part of my children’s learning process. I can’t just say, “Well, it’s not true,” when they bring home an assignment. Why? Because their grade depends on them writing papers and doing projects that support evolutionary theory! So what do I do? I study the issues so I can arm my kids with facts.

Here are a few other reasons we should study evolution:

  1.  Some of it is probably true: I’ll be writing a post in the next few weeks about dating methods
  2. Evolutionary theory can show us how God created the world.
  3. Most importantly, studying evolution and realizing points 1 and 2 can help the conservative church restore humanity to God.

I don’t often agree with the strategy flavor of the week. I don’t think that churches should be marketing themselves (more than simply making themselves known in the community), I don’t think things are really “purpose” driven, or driven in any other way (Gospel, Community, whatever). I think churches should be places where the sick are cared for, the poor are elevated, where women and children are equals, and things like this.

However, after reading some of the book The Next Christians, by Gabe Lyons, I realized an unsettling truth…I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be separate from the world, and from less-conservative (theologically) churches. Lyons calls it restoring the world to a relationship with God, and that’s true. If our faith story starts in a perfect garden, but science doesn’t teach that, then we have an issue. My work on this project seeks to find the truth so we can restore the unbelieving world to a relationship with God.

So we study.

Transition to the next Topic

Your children, as you already know, are inundated with ages of the earth that are astronomically different than most evangelical estimates. This can cause some confusion and leave evangelical children outside looking in socially and educationally in public schools. The goal of this blog is to keep that from happening by arming you with real data in as unbiased a manner as possible.

The central question to be asked in order to combat his issue is this: Can Genesis and evolutionary science reside together? I hope so, but I have concerns that must be addressed. This post attempts to do so while providing a path ahead.

We know, in general terms, what evolutionary science tells us about the “creation” of everything. Most notably, it takes a very, very long time and like doesn’t always give way to like. Creation accounts from Genesis, however, suggest that creation was fairly short, certainly not billions upon billions of years, and that God created everything, “after its kind.”

This is the problem: If God created everything, and evolution says everything happened by chance, how could they coexist?

We must always go back to the beginning. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” We can debate timeframes later. The important thing to understand is that it doesn’t allow for macro forms of evolution. “Read literally, this precludes evolution of one “kind” of plant or animal to another.”[1]

Genesis isn’t the only place that this occurs. John 1:1-3 tells the same story, but introduces Jesus as the co-creator with the Father. Here is the passage:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

My concern is that both of these passages, if read literally, remove the allowance of any macroevolution of any kind into the mind of the faithful follower of Christ. It probably doesn’t remove the idea of microevolution, as my daughter’s cystic fibrosis (CF) didn’t create a different kind of humanoid, but just a mutation that is at least hypothesized to defeat tuberculosis.

The Bible says that God created all of the “kinds” of animals, plants, fish, etc on this planet and left no place for the creation of one “kind” from another by chance. If evolution were proven correct, then, it would leave little place for the Bible. At best, it would remain as a testament to an older time of myth. At worst, it would be a relic of ignorant fools.

The example I can’t shake is the Mammoth, which is a cousin to the Asian elephant via some ancient, prehistoric elephant. If AiG and ICR are correct, then the Mammoth and the Asian elephant were together on the ark. Presumably the African elephant as well. Genetics suggest a different story.

I read a good book on this subject called How to Clone a Mammoth, by Dr. Beth Shapiro. It’s an excellent book on cloning, genetics, evolution, and extinction. The problem is that it lays out a good case for how the mammoth and other elephants evolved, and that wasn’t even the goal of the book!

The biggest issue is the genetics connection between the mammoth and the Asian elephant. Geographically, it makes sense that the two are related because Asian elephants could have been a natural southern cousin to the northern mammoths. But the problem is that they’re different species, yet have so much concurrent genetic code that we can use Asian elephants (someday) to clone a mammoth (or something close to it).

I don’t want to be too forward in invoking the dad card here, but we’ve simply got to figure out this stuff. First, does the Bible allow for this sort of evolution? I’m not sure it does. Genesis 1:1+ and John 1:1-3 seem to allow only for God in creating actual species. I don’t think the Bible cares how long we’ve been here, but I do think it wants us to know that He created all of the species.

Unfortunately, naturalists have known for a long time that not all species lived together at the same time. As early as the 1820s, long before Darwin sailed to the Galapagos Islands, naturalists and paleontologists knew that different strata in the geological record had different specimens. More than that, the specimens appeared and disappeared, indicating different creations and extinctions.[2] This idea had sprung up around the same time in England with a fellow named William Smith, who, as a canal digger, realized that different strata along his canals contained very different specimens. While Smith never made a conclusion against faith, and as far as we know stayed true to his religious stance, he did realize that something wasn’t as traditionally taught.[3]

But there were no other creations, at least not without a gap theory, and we’ve looked into that and found that theory lacking, unfortunately, though more research is needed.

So I’m going to turn my attention from cystic fibrosis (as a research project) to the fossil record, particularly with the mammoth, to see if I can find an answer to the issue at hand.

Your comments are welcome below, as is your subscription to this blog, which you can get by clicking HERE.

[1] Larson, Edward J. Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. Random House. New York, NY, 2004. Pg 11.

[2] Ibid, pg 29

[3] Prothero, Donald R. Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters. Columbia University Press, 2007. pg 55.

Choosing the Right Bible for the Journey

If you’re a Christian and you’re like me, you are struggling with the scientific data coming to you. Sometimes it seems like Christianity, and the traditional reading of the scriptures, can be defended fairly easily. Then there are times that make you doubt what you believe. This is normal (at least I hope it is) and you shouldn’t be ashamed to admit it.

You have to have the right tools for this journey. A family doesn’t usually just jump in a car and drive across country (believe me, that would be a disaster). As a military family, we’ve moved plenty of times, and every time we’ve done it, we’ve had to have a plan. Where will we stop? What supplies do we need for the trip? Where are the gas stations and bathrooms along the planned road? Do we have time to make a stop at that cool place to explore? Yes, the questions are plenty.
And if you’re embarking, or have embarked, on a journey like the one I’m on, to discover as much as possible about the truth, you need to have the right supplies. For a long time, I have existed with a study Bible on my iPad. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. More than anything, I like having my notes electronically. That way, through the Olive Tree app, I can access my notes on my iPad, my iPhone, or my MacBook. No matter where I am, I can always get to my notes.

Another reason I have tried not to buy another physical Bible is that I think we, particularly in the western world, are inundated with Bibles while so many overseas are too poor to afford one or don’t have access to one. So as my old KJV Thompson Chain wore out, I held out buying a new one. That one was a gift from my church in my hometown when I graduated from high school, so no shame that it couldn’t last. It’s been 20 years! I do still go to it periodically, but it’s time to retire it.

But I’m an old soul in an aging body, and I still like to turn pages. Even more than that, I like to have research notes handy. That’s why my wife and I both decided it was time for a new Bible. I ordered the ESV Study Bible after reading a great article on choosing a study Bible. I highly recommend the article!

My Review:

The ESV Study Bible is big (4.2lbs)! I usually don’t take it to church because of its size, but I did this weekend and, as I had expected, it was really too big to be toting around. I don’t regret buying it, though. It’s big for a reason. It has more notes than I can hope to absorb and a lot of study guides. All of that information comes for a price though, and it’s size is the price.

Update (August): I’ve started taking the Bible to church more often because, with the lighting system our church has, the overhead lights glare off of my iPad screen. I’m concerned sometimes that I might be blasting my worshipping neighbor with the glare!

Speaking of information, the notes are amazing! As a sailor stationed aboard the USS Hue City (CG 66), it helps immensely. I was able to take the notes on Matthew 6, for example, and teach a class on the Lord’s Prayer to a few fellow sailors. I’ve had a lot of Bibles over time, most of them including some form of notes, and this is the best I’ve seen.

IMG_5383

As the picture to the left shows, the notes come complete with drawings as well. As with many,probably most, study Bibles,  the ESV Study Bible comes with maps also. I found them to be more than adequate. It is the drawings that I find most useful, however.

The notes are listed in order of verse number. Inside the verses themselves is a letter combination system that cross-references other passages with the same theme. Those are found on the inside margins.

Another thing I found particularly useful was the concordance. I’m doing a word study on forgiveness (I’m sure that’s something I’ll blog about at some point) and having such a large listing without going to another source is very helpful. I still plan to go to outside sources like commentaries and my trusty copy of Strongs that my grandparents used to have in Kansas, yet I’m more than pleased with the ESV Study Bible.

I’ve never had a daily reading plan before in a study Bible, and I found it both interesting and helpful. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to mark out the passages as I read them or keep track of what I do another way, but it’s nice to have. As I go through the Bible, however, I think I’ll stay with my daily readings from the Olive Tree app that I use on my iPad and iPhone.

Update (August): Here’s how I’ve started working the electronic and physical copies of my Bible. I have started using the physical book for actual research while using the electronic Bible to record my notes and run searches for words and phrases. When I’m at church, to avoid the glare that my iPad screen produces, I use my iPhone to update the Olive Tree app if the pastor says something I want to keep hold of.

Update (August): This is a blog on creationism and evolution, so how does the ESV Bible handle the issue? Very well, I’m pleased to say. I was concerned about how a relatively conservative group of scholars might work through Genesis 1, but I’m very excited. A full two pages are devoted to the ideas of Genesis 1, including a discussion on the different ideas of how Christians explain the creation. Day-age, the gap theory, and others are all given their due here. Most importantly, the scholars report that none of the five major creation theories are in conflict with Genesis 1. Theistic evolution, however, is not mentioned in that group and therefore must be considered suspect by those scholars (Dr. Miller would be upset I’m sure).

The scholars also discuss the issue of genealogies, which means they have probably accepted the idea that Ussher inadvertently miscalculated his time of creation. Go to that post for specifics on the matter.

I’m very excited about having the ESV Study Bible for this research project because it will give me the ammunition I need as a theologically conservative Christian while encouraging me in the freedom I have in Christ to learn and expand my horizon.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask about the ESV Study Bible, please do so in the comments and I will do my best to answer them as I use the Bible. Thanks!

 

The difficulty of remaining unbiased in Research

I struggled at points in my graduate work because I already had presuppositions about things such as the pretribulational rapture, the role of baptism in the Christian life, and yes, even creation. While I “survived” my graduate work, I did struggle (please don’t look up my GPA!).

That struggle continues as I conduct research in the scientific world of modern evolution science. It started with cystic fibrosis, wherein I noticed a time gap between when cystic fibrosis started to appear and when the causal agent started to appear. My presupposition was that evolution could not have caused cystic fibrosis because its agent wasn’t “available.”

I may or may not be right about that; the research continues. I want to find holes in the evolutionary natural history that only biblical events could explain. That’s my problem. No matter how unbiased I attempt to be, I struggle with my preconceived notions.

I’m certainly not the first person to struggle with this. In the 1700s, natural historians started realizing that the world had to be older than we first thought. Georges Cuvier, the 18th Century French naturalist who conducted a lot of work in the field of paleontology, never left his Protestant roots as he learned more about the development of nature around him. In fact, he remained a Protestant to his death. He reviewed the ideas on evolution at the time (no, Darwin wasn’t the first to think of it), and “found it wanting.”[1] Like Cuvier, I have been reviewing the theory of evolution and have my issues.

And also like Cuvier, I have my biases against evolution. I DON’T WANT IT TO BE TRUE! Is that so wrong? Probably not, but what is wrong is that I claim to want to review the scientific data on its own without my biases so that I can find the truth for my kids. I don’t want them confused in school or ridiculed unnecessarily for beliefs that I have always taken for granted. Yet I struggle hard with these presumptions about evolution and creation which I must get past.

So today we try again. Again we look at science as modern scientists want us to. If anything, I need to see the current scientific study from their perspective, which is the presumption that the theory of evolution is correct and time will give us the answers that we’re seeking (such as in the case of transitional life forms).

I can’t promise that I’ll always be unbiased, but I’m hopeful that I can proceed with the correct mindset. Click HERE to stay on top of the research project.

[1] Larson, Edward J. Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. Random House. New York, NY, 2000, pg 10.

Writing a Book

I think I’m always writing a book, or an article, or a blog post. At any given time, I’m writing SOMETHING! My passion for writing comes from my mom, who encouraged me to write when I was a boy when I couldn’t even spell. She saw in me a desire and fostered it. I’ll always be grateful for mom because of that.

As I conduct more research into the facts and fallacies of evolution, creation, and how it all happened, I’ve decided to expand my plans for recording my journey. Yes, I hope that this blog will help people, but I also hope that perhaps I can help people on a wider scale as well through a book on the subject.

It will take a long time to become a recognized expert on this subject, if I ever become one, so the book isn’t coming out any time soon. Still, I wanted you to know, especially since we’re about to embark on research regarding Neanderthal and other extinct “humans,” that there is a wider end game now. Things are getting more real and I am getting more excited!

Stay tuned for more updates as research progresses.

Methodology for the ExamineScience Project

If you look at many of the organizations defending the traditional (fundamentalist) POV regarding the evolution/creation debate, you’ll most likely notice an apologetic reading of science. What I mean by that is that creation researchers read the evidence in light of what tradition teaches us is the creation story.

Here’s an example: Creation scientists tend to talk about how radiocarbon dating doesn’t work on fossils. They state that scientists must be lying to you if they tell you the earth is millions of years old because radiocarbon dating only works to somewhere around 40,000 years or so (and that’s being very generous for most creationist organizations).

Well, the fact is that radiocarbon dating is only good until around 40,000 years, give or take.[1] Yet the problem for “us” is that we leave it at that. Scientists don’t use radiocarbon dating for objects estimated to be over 40,000 years old. Carbon14 doesn’t have enough half-life to make that work.[2] Instead, scientists use radiometric dating, which measures the known half-life of uranium as it breaks down to lead, which breaks down to potassium.[3]

To be sure, there is still a margin of error. In any dating method you’ll find it, including the 6,000-10,000 year margin creationists allow for. Nevertheless, you’ll find that creation scientists tend to use science only as it fits the traditional reading of the Bible. This must change.

The ExamineScience Project seeks instead to read the modern scientific data in terms of what it provides on it’s own merit. This isn’t the same as giving in to evolutionists. Instead, it is accepting that science tells how God carried out his creative act. This method shows us the role nature plays in telling us about our Creator God (Romans 1:20).

Instead of rejecting science when it doesn’t fit the traditional model of faith, or reading into the scientific record what we want it to say, I’m proposing a methodology that seeks to discover what modern science tells us without any more bias than is absolutely necessary. I do not expect to lose my faith, and I expect that we’ll find our faith strengthened through this process as we come to terms with what the scientific record shows us.

Furthermore, ExamineScience will also evaluate the creation story on its own merit, without trying to read in scientific evidence to make it work. This is, I believe, a good work. I believe it will arm my children for their course work in the lower and high school grades as well as college and beyond. I expect it will ground their faith as well as mine.

So let’s be clear: I am out to get to the bottom of how we all got here and how it all began. We begin with really no assumptions, except that God has revealed himself in nature as well as the written word. The rest is the adventure!

To stay up to date with the ExamineScience Project progress, click HERE.

Notes:

[1] Shapiro, Beth. How to Clone a Mammoth. Princeton University Press (April 6, 2015) p6.

[2] Berra, Tim M. The Earth is Very Old (in Evolution Fact or Fiction). Greenhaven Press, Farmington Hills, MI, 2003. pp107-111.

[3] Ibid.

Welcome to the Examine Science Project

Thank you for stopping by. I am so grateful you’re here! I started Examine Science Project as a personal research endeavor with the following mission:

1. To help my children understand the differences between what we believe and what they are taught in school, and to see if there is any common ground.
2. To help my children understand the genetics that make them who they are.

Here’s why I got started: My daughter has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects several organs in her body, most notably the lungs and pancreas. As of the most current data available, her life expectancy is 41 years. I want to help my daughter understand what makes her cystic fibrosis so deadly and what we’re doing about it. That has led to several hours of research into the supposed evolutionary history of the disease. I want to know if that history is true. I certainly have my doubts.

Theologically, I am a fairly conservative Christian. I would, at times in my life, describe myself as a fundamentalist. For example, I want creation taught in schools as an alternate to evolution. However, this is no agenda to that end. I have neither the political pull nor the money to make that happen. I leave that task to someone else.

Instead, I want to know if the Genesis One reading of creation is defensible. If it is not, then I have a decision to make. I can accept God’s creative act or the one proposed by evolutionary scientists. But I have to know for myself. I can’t remain blind to the facts and theories and let other people debate it any longer. I hope this is your desire as well.

This is the story of my research and my longing to see my daughter cured. My hope is that you also have a longing to really wrestle with this topic as well. Join me today by subscribing to the list and get updates for the ExamineScience Project. Sign up HERE.