Two approaches to scientific creationism

After attending an open house at the Creation and Earth History Museum in Santee California, I wrote the following letters to the two lecturers.  They describe the substance of their presentation, and my reaction to how each represent a different approach to reconciling literal Christian beliefs with the secular consensus.   
 ---------------
Joseph W. Francis Ph.D
Joe,

It was a pleasure attending your two lectures yesterday and speaking to you afterward.  I just read your article, Peering into Darwin's Black Box cell division processes required for bacterial life, actually reading isn't the word, since the level of analysis was far beyond my ability to critically comprehend.  What I did notice is that while you pointed out some of the defects in evolutionary assumptions you did not define an alternative explanation. 

There was another speaker at the open house yesterday, John Baumgardner, also possessing a doctorate in a scientific disciple.   It is worthwhile to contrast your differing  approaches, (his described here) how each of you reconcile a personal belief in the literal Genesis "young earth" with mainstream explanations of evolution.  This is vitally important, especially in this country, where such beliefs, while dismissed by the scientific community, are widely shared by the general public.  In a democracy, the people ultimately trump expert knowledge, which in this case has severe consequences for the long term viability of our country.

Having recently renewed my exploration of microbiology, I was taken by the rigor of your presentation of the incredible complexity of life forms, of cells, bacteria, viruses and their amazing interactions. The explosion of knowledge of this organized chaos is far beyond our ability to comprehend, much less to systematize   You choose to approach this by organizing it as a purposeful manifestation of a higher being, of  the work of God as articulated in the bible.  But unlike the approach exemplified by Dr. Baumgardner, there was nothing in your presentation or in your article that required a belief in this biblical explanation.   You did not take the Bible as evidence that refuted current beliefs, but rather argued that the accepted approach to understanding the earliest manifestations of life were far from proven.

As someone who often finds himself outside of the mainstream, I support your willingness to maintain a position that is at variance with your academic peers.   I also congratulate your excluding from your professional endeavors those positions that would require refuting legitimate understanding of your complex field of research. 

Although I personally reject the dogma of organized religion, I do understand the function it serves in those who embrace it.  It is a difficult path that you walk, that you do rather well.  The unappreciated value of your position is a promotion of a deep skepticism of accepted scientific paradigms, eliciting a fluidity of thinking that leads to future breakthroughs that we can't even imagine. 

------------------------------------------


John Baumgardner. Ph.D.
Dr. Baumgardner

I was in the audience for your first presentation on the "Mechanism behind the Genesis Flood"  at the Santee Creation Museum yesterday. (rejecting carbon dating and concluding that billions of years of major tectonic shifts occurred during the 40 days of the Genesis flood)

This morning I did some research on your work, and I am impressed.  As an atheist, I pride myself on my beliefs being based on reason.   Your work goes a long way as depicting some of the accepted principles of paleo-geology and evolution as being a bit short on this. It seems that your opposition is mostly against those who do not rigorously define the degree of evidence for their science.  Much theory in the above fields is acknowledged as hypothetical, tentative explanations that require further research.  Let me quote from your statement in the Los Alamos Debate on origins of life on your web site.

Is there anything in the laws of physics that suggests how such structures (first replicating life forms) might arise in a spontaneous fashion? The honest answer is simple. What we presently understand from thermodynamics and information theory argues persuasively they do not and cannot!

I am with you until the last two words, "and cannot." and would emphasis your words, "what we presently understand."  If you had been writing a few centuries ago there would have been a myriad of research tools, material and intellectual, that you, and everyone else,  would have said were inconceivable; which are now everyday tools of scientific discovery. 

Here is my central objection to your work:   While you rightly demand a rigorous level of proof for the assumptions of mainstream evolution science, you demand no such rigor for your alternative, a literal belief in the Bible.  If the invention of life through random molecular interactions is, as you say, unlikely even to 10 to the minus 100 power, then do you not have some obligation to present a mechanism that would allow a super intelligence to have done this job?   And when you have defined such a mechanism, to then evaluate whether it is of a higher likelihood than the exceedingly low probability of random molecular interaction now posited.

You do write of your personal reasons for becoming a Christian, yet this has no bearing on advancing a scientific theory. This is an explanation for a personal philosophy, a private solution to deep imperatives of human existence, that requires no evidence or even public affirmation.  Your questioning the limits of understanding origins, along with the truisms that have been promulgated and accepted by the public, is both legitimate and valuable.  However, replacing this limited product of the scientific ethos, an ethos that you have embraced in many ways, with a Chirst-Jehova belief is unsupportable.

You make the assumption that the lacunae of science-based explanation is an argument for the Biblical alternative. To this extent, although you gain credibility from your scientific academic credentials, you abandon the principles inherent in such certification in your promotion of your alternative explanation. 

I look forward to an articulated hypothesis for your assertion that a supernatural entity created the world as adumbrated in a historic document called "the Bible."  It should be based on at least the degree of verifiability and evidence that now exists for the accepted premises of evolution and paleo-geolgy,   Since you quote the late biologist Steven J. Gould in your work, perhaps it would be preferable that you accept his explanation of religion and science being "non overlapping magisteria" so that your religious beliefs, which I respect, and your science do not result in a cross contamination of both.

It is most unfortunate that your effort, your use of science to advance a premise that has no scientific support, has the unintended effect on children such as those in the yesterday's audience.  To the degree it is accepted, it hinders their  participation in the great adventure of our age, the scientific quest for understanding the most profound questions of our human existence.

Regards