mercredi 13 novembre 2013

Simple logic on the title of this blog

Dixit Sarfati:

"It’s a matter of simple logic, called the disjunctive syllogism: either things were made or they were not. If you have a third alternative, please let us know, as well as explain why the law of excluded middle is somehow abolished."

Either cats and dogs were made or they were not made. Either biological life was made or it was not made. Disprove one, you have proven the other.

However, one can argue that "being made" is common for them according to evolutionary and creationist view, or abiogenetic and creationist view, just as "not being made" is common for "cats and dogs do not really exist" and "cats and dogs have always existed", common for "biological life does not exist" and "biological life has always existed".

So it is properly a question of three or four binary disjunctives* about biological life and about difference between cats and dogs:

  • exist or do not exist

    (if exist:)
  • were made or always were

    (if were made:)
  • by conscious design or not by conscious design

    (if made by conscious design:)
  • from pre-existing material or not from pre-existing material.

That being so, there are more alternatives than evolution to knock down before one can say a disjunctive syllogism has established that life with its diversity is there because of creation ex nihilo by a good designer. And the creation ex preexistenti gives quite a few alternatives for the identity of the maker of form but not of matter. None of the Pagan cosmogonies include creatio ex nihilo.

But I guess there is something else the poor benighted atheist really means also when he says confusely "disproving evolutionism does not prove creationism". He means "proving evolution is not possible does not prove that creation ex nihilo is possible". Which of course it would at least by default if there were only two alternatives.

We have different evidence for creation ex nihilo by a wise designer. There is the philosophical one - and there is the Biblical one.

The philosophical one can get complicated. That is why I appreciate that some sites - including CMI - do give reasons for backing up Biblical testimony.

That said, there is pretty good evidence against both abiogenesis (which is why latest research on it is beginning to look elsewhere than "primordial soup", where the same conditions that produce amino-acids of simple lengths in the first place also tend to destroy them) and also common descent of at least mammals (see my work on chromosome numbers).

Saying that biological life or the difference between cats and dogs is illusory boils down to a kind of scepticism close to solipsism. A rainbow can be an illusion of solidity - an illusion made the same way as the paintings in the pointillistic style of imprssionism. Try to go round a small rainbow at a waterfall or at your garden hose sprinkler, it will not look like the object it looked like but seen from another side. It will look as the same side although you know it is a different side - until you chose an angle where it vanishes. And biological life or the difference of cats and dogs is not any more likely to be the kind of illusion where a globe with a very large radius looks flat from the outside because it is within the width of sight so close to flat. Difference in kind of existance or in kind of life are not as simple to mistake one side for other as a difference between two things that look nearly the same.

So, biological life is real and so is the difference between cats and dogs. Otherwise no one can know nothing.

A society which adopts that kind of thinking - which hinduism (of a certain school at least) and buddhism do - in practise leave us with a lot of people knowing what a lot of other people say they cannot know and want to initiate the worthiest ones of the others into realising, whereas others still elaborate on initiation by promising an evasive knowledge despite the general lack of knowledge. It is a society very prone to secret societies.

Saying they were always there would be kind of an option ... except that it comports a difficulty of how items that begin and end can add up to a series without beginning and ending.

So, they were made, i e came into being.

Abiogenesis fails for biological life. Evolution fails for common ancestry of mammals due to chromosome numbers. Blind evolution fails for traits like eyes or wings or certain symbioses (like that between fig tree and certain wasps).

They were then made by design.

But if so, the designer either could bestow life on what had no such, or life was already there. "Annunaki creationism" or "ancient alien astronauts creationism" leads back to the unacceptable infinite succession of finite lives, because they were only there to modify, not really to create. If they were only biological arrivers, they were not suchlike superior to the things they manipulated, as to be able to bestow life. Nor would they elude the problem of abiogenesis, since they would presumably have evolved on another planet from ultimately life "evolving from non-life" unless there too life had been planted by visitors which only takes the problem one step further back - and each step back makes it worse if, as one may think (for instance since hydrogen is consumed making helium all the time***) the universe had a real beginning.

This leaves us with the need for a real creator. With real intelligence. And really able to bestow both existence and life on what had none such before.

And pagan divinities generally do not claim all that. Marduk is not supposed to have created Tiamat or Nergal. He is not supposed to have created earth just like "poof" but laboriously taking the parts of the killed monsters and reusing them. Odin and his brothers are just a repetition of Marduk in that respect. Zeus does not even change Gaia in any way, he is supposed to descend from her.

In contrast:

IN the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. But the earth was unsightly and unfurnished and darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the water. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.

From Brenton's translation of the LXX, Genesis 1:1-3 Or Douay-Rheims, with Haydock comment:

Genesis1:1 In the *beginning God created heaven and earth. 2 *And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved over the waters. 3 And God said: *Be light made. And light was made.

Here is the comment:

Ver. 1. Beginning. As St. Matthew begins his Gospel with the same title as this work, the Book of the Generation, or Genesis, so St. John adopts the first words of Moses, in the beginning; but he considers a much higher order of things, even the consubstantial Son of God, the same with God from all eternity, forming the universe, in the beginning of time, in conjunction with the other two Divine Persons, by the word of his power; for all things were made by Him, the Undivided Deity. (Haydock) --- Elohim, the Judges or Gods, denoting plurality, is joined with a verb singular, he created, whence many, after Peter Lombard, have inferred, that in this first verse of Genesis the adorable mystery of the Blessed Trinity is insinuated, as they also gather from various other passages of the Old Testament, though it was not clearly revealed till our Saviour came himself to be the finisher of our faith. (Calmet) --- The Jews being a carnal people and prone to idolatry, might have been in danger of misapplying this great mystery, and therefore an explicit belief of it was not required of them in general. See Collet. &c. (Haydock) --- The word bara, created, is here determined by tradition and by reason to mean a production out of nothing, though it be used also to signify the forming of a thing out of pre-existing matter. (ver. 21, 27.) (Calmet) --- The first cause of all things must be God, who, in a moment, spoke, and heaven and earth were made, heaven with all the Angels; and the whole mass of the elements, in a state of confusion, and blended together, out of which the beautiful order, which was afterwards so admirable, arose in the space of six days: thus God was pleased to manifest his free choice in opposition to those Pagans who attributed all to blind chance or fate. Heaven is here placed first, and is not declared empty and dark like the earth; that we may learn to raise our minds and hearts above this land of trial, to that our true country, where we may enjoy God for ever. (Haydock)

Ver. 2. Spirit of God, giving life, vigour, and motion to things, and preparing the waters for the sacred office of baptism, in which, by the institution of Jesus Christ, we must be born again; and, like spiritual fishes, swim amid the tempestuous billows of this world. (v. Tert.[See Tertullian?], &c.) (Worthington) (Haydock)---This Spirit is what the Pagan philosophers styled the Soul of the World. (Calmet) --- If we compare their writings with the books of Moses and the prophets, we shall find that they agree in many points. See Grotius. (Haydock)

Ver. 3. Light. The sun was made on the fourth day, and placed in the firmament to distinguish the seasons, &c.; but the particles of fire were created on the first day, and by their, or the earth's° motion, served to discriminate day from the preceding night, or darkness, which was upon the face of the deep. (Haydock) --- Perhaps this body of light might resemble the bright cloud which accompanied the Israelites, Exodus xiv. 19, or the three first days might have a kind of imperfect sun, or be like one of our cloudy days. Nothing can be defined with certainty respecting the nature of this primeval light. (Calmet)

Even if we had not had tradition from which to infer that God made everything there was from nothing according to traditional exegesis of "bara" in the verse, the fact that Genesis does not mention any previous material definitely encourages the exegesis. This makes Genesis the oldest known Theological claim corresponding to our basic conclusion in philosophy. It deserves to be at least tested. And I do not think it fails, on any single account. Next question is whether it is Christianity or the twin religion Judaism/Noahidism which properly follows up the Old Testament. But I write other blogs on that one.°° It is not like seeking for a needle in a haystack.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bibliothèque publique
d'information, Beaubourg
St Brice

* A disjunction need not be binary, of course. It can be ternary or quaternary or "even moreary." Sherlock's ideal was to make it complete by a complete enumeration of alternatives and a complete elimination of all but one of them. That was also the ideal behind St Thomas Aquinas' division of each section in questions and of each question in articles in the Summa.

** See my articles linked to in

Letter to Nature on Karytype Evolution

or, if you speak French, see the article:

Triviū, Quadriviū, 7 cætera : Fission de chromosomes: Diagramme de PZM corrigé - et refuté.

*** See Dom Stanley Jaki, cited in Unwanted Priest by Fr Fryan Houghton.

° When Haydock adds "or the earth's" he is taking into account, but not deciding for, the possibility of Heliocentrism being a fact.

°° The first of these is generally against atheism about the Gospel and about theism. It also takes into account claims raised by both Jews and Atheists. The second is against the claim that Protestantism were somehow the proper inheritor of the Gospel:

somewhere else

Great Bishop of Geneva!

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