Posted by: Terry Hollifield | March 2, 2012

Oxford Experts Say Killing Newborns is Ethical

How does that headline grab you? I wish it were merely for shock value. It is not. That is an actual summary of the ideas put forth by a group of medical ethicists at Oxford University in a recent article in the UK Telegraph. You can follow that link to read the details of the semantic wiggling and philosophical buffoonery that leads to their conclusion, but lets consider the actual title of Telegrapharticle, which is:

“Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say”

Now, I actually agree with that premise. After all, abortion and what the Oxford ethicists call “post birth abortion” clearly kills something… a living, growing something. Further, a living growing something that is human… we would all agree with that. So the obvious question is, “WHAT?” What is it that is being killed? Just using the obvious, what is being killed is a living growing human.  Both in “traditional abortion” and in the newly proposed “post birth abortion” the same type of thing is being killed; a living growing human. So I would agree with the Oxford ethics group in the title of the Telegraph article; killing babies is no different from abortion. That’s the point isn’t it!? That’s what pro-life argumentation has said all along!

Of course in the article the folks at Oxford agree that the newborns are living growing humans… but they say they are not “persons”. My question would be, “What’s the difference?” What is the difference between a human being and a person? I pose that question to you the reader. As food for thought, consider this line of reasoning from the great minds at Stand to Reason ( in their article: Are Humans Persons?

Update – May 1st 2012:

Check out the philosophical and ethical road that led here in this jarring briefing in STR’s Solid Ground publication.


Posted by: Terry Hollifield | June 6, 2011

‘The Signature in the Cell’ Book Review

Regis Nicoll recently posted this incredible article in the All Things Examined column at  The article is a book review of Dr. Stephen Meyer’s new book The Signature in the Cell.  This looks to be a landmark publication in its contribution to the design/evolution conversation. I encourage you to read this insightful review and then exercise the intellectual rigor to examine Dr. Meyer’s evidence for yourself:

The Signature in the Cell


All Things Examined

By: Regis Nicoll|Published: June 3, 2011 5:04 PM

One of the most vexing and long-standing mysteries of science is the origin of life: that is, how did the building blocks of matter (atoms and molecules) lead to the building block of life: the biological cell? As recently as 2008, Richard Dawkins (who believes that everything is the product of evolutionary processes) confessed, “No one knows.”

Up until the nineteenth century, leading scientists generally assumed that an organizing Intelligence was involved. But after the popularization of Darwinian theory, origin-of-life researchers began narrowing their investigative scope to unintelligent causes.

For a time, explaining life as the unplanned effect of natural forces went rather swimmingly. Then, in 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick unraveled the architecture of DNA, the now famous double helix “molecule of life.” Although their discovery solved one thorny mystery of science—how biological information is stored—it led to another, even deeper, mystery: its source.

Fittingly, Dr. Stephen Meyer calls the information in life’s macromolecule “The Signature in the Cell,” the title of his recent bookSignature contains the most compelling evidence, to date, for intelligent design (ID). In the origin-of-life debate, ID is the proposition that certain features in nature are best explained, scientifically, as products of intelligence.

An important contribution to the debate is Meyer’s clarification on what it is that scientists do.

The work of science

It is regularly charged that ID is not “science” because its proponents don’t conduct experiments, have laboratories, or publish in peer-reviewed journals. None of that is true, but even if it were, Meyer writes, “it doesn’t follow that we [aren’t] ‘doing science.’”

Meyer, whose doctorate is in the philosophy of science, notes that many of science’s greatest breakthroughs were made not by experimental researchers but by theoreticians “who taught us how to think differently about what we already knew.”

For example, Albert Einstein developed General Relativity, one of the twin pillars of modern science (the other being quantum mechanics), not by conducting a battery of experiments on a laboratory test bench, but by looking at the world anew, asking unasked questions, and thinking beyond the current paradigm.

Watson and Crick didn’t crack the DNA mystery by their own experimental research but, as Meyer points out, “by explaining an array of preexisting evidence in a new and more coherent way.”

Even Darwin’s theory of evolution, as presented in his On the Origin of Species, “contains neither a single mathematical equation nor any report of original experimental research.” Like Watson and Crick, Darwin sought to explain “disparate lines of observational evidence” with a “novel interpretation of that evidence.” And the same goes for many of the groundbreaking discoveries of Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, and other pioneers of the Scientific Revolution.

All about information

Making the case for ID, Meyer builds upon the seminal work of other ID researchers, particularly mathematician William Dembski. In The Design Inference, Dembski presented a way to distinguish the effects of intelligent agents from those of chance and law.

In a nutshell, products of law (planetary orbits, salt crystals, etc.) exhibit order, regularity, and predictability; products of chance, like the debris field of a tornado, exhibit complexity without order. But products of intelligence exhibit “specified complexity”: that is, arrangements that do not follow any predictable or ordered pattern and yet have information content, whether in the carvings at Mount Rushmore or the letters on this page.

Consider the digital information stored in living cells.

The nucleotide sequences in DNA make up genes that “spell out” instructions for the manufacturing of proteins. The sequences are highly complex and not compressible to a simple expression or algorithm. Furthermore, since, chemically, the bases can attach anywhere along the DNA “backbone,” their precise arrangement is not determined by chemical laws.

In “Did the Universe Create Itself?” I showed (using some very generous assumptions) that the universe is neither old enough nor large enough for the chance production of even the smallest gene. In the parlance of Meyer, the complexity of DNA exceeds the “probabilistic resources” of the universe. And yet the instructional content in DNA is just one tier of biological information in a hierarchal structure.

Meyer points out, “In the same way that words are ordered into sentences and sentences into paragraphs, nucleotide bases are ordered into genes and genes are ordered into specifically arranged gene clusters.” Gene clusters are further arranged into gene “folders” that are “themselves nonrandomly grouped along chromosomes to form higher-order folders.”

And if that weren’t enough, those “superfolders” are arranged by cell type according to specific organs and body plans. The multi-layered architecture of biological information, Meyer explains, “would seem to require considerable forethought, precisely what natural selection by definition cannot provide.”Would seem? A considerable understatement.

The best explanation

Nested levels of instructions and information are characteristic of computer programs. Even Richard Dawkins recognizes this: “The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.” And yet the unaccommodating reality for Dawkins is that the only thing known capable of producing a computer program is an intelligent being.

True, neo-Darwinian processes can lead to small, limited changes in the genome. But those changes are overwhelmingly detrimental, and in the few instances where a benefit is conferred (e.g., antibiotic immunity, pesticide resistance) they are the result of information loss or suppression (i.e., of the genes controlling the digestion of the drug or pesticide), not information gain.

From probabilistic considerations and empirical evidence, the best explanation for the code-of-life is intelligent causation. Of course the Darwinist fold is ever ready with a machination that gives chanceand necessity a “helping hand.” Currently, the favored narrative turns on the “RNA World.”

The RNA World was devised, specifically, to solve the conundrum of which came first, DNA or proteins. Proteins are built from DNA, but DNA needs proteins to process its information. Once it was recognized that certain RNA molecules had protein-like properties, an origin-of-life theory was cooked up, whereby a fortuitous cocktail of primordial chemicals formed RNA molecules that self-replicated and synthesized proteins that produced DNA that, through the omnipotent wonders of natural selection, eventually led to the first biological cell.

Setting aside the probabilistic obstacles against the undirected creation of essential cellular systems, the production of biological information from RNA shares many of the same problems as the production from DNA—difficulty of synthesization, chemical fragility in a hostile pre-biotic environment—not to speak of the extreme rarity of RNA molecules that can self-replicate. Consequently, evolutionary biologist Eugene Koonin admits that “neither the RNA world nor any other materialistic chemical evolutionary hypothesis can account for the origin of life, given the probabilistic resources of the entire universe.”

Answering the critics

Shopworn criticisms of ID include: It invokes an unobservable entity, it is not falsifiable, and it makes no predictions. And Meyer handily rebuts them all.

Reigning scientific theories are rife with entities and processes that are not observable. In physics, researchers infer unseen gluons, gravitons, inflatons, and a host of fundamental particles from observational data. Meyer makes specific mention of the Higgs boson, an imaginary particle thought to produce the material properties of matter. On top of that, there is a whole category of “virtual” (as opposed to “actual”) particles that theorists have concocted to explain otherwise inexplicable phenomena.

The same goes for Darwin’s theory of evolution. Not only does Darwinism depend on mutational events and transitional forms that have never been observed, but the evolutionary process itself “occur[s] at rates too slow to observe in the present and too fast to have been recorded in the fossil record.”

The disciplines of cryptography, archaeology, and criminal forensics also infer unseen (and intelligent!) causes from their material effects: A detective knows that a body with six bullet holes in the back is evidence of murder, not an accidental shooting; an archaeologist who finds “All Cretans are liars” etched in stone can attribute it to another human being, without a moment’s reflection about animal scratchings or weathering and erosion; similarly, a computer program, whether written in a series of “1s” and “0s” on a sheet of paper, or in a functional chemical sequence along the DNA spine, is evidence of a programmer.

Falsifying ID is simply a matter of successfully demonstrating that “large amounts of functionally specified information,” corresponding to that of the most complex computer codes produced by man, “do arise from purely chemical and physical” causes. If that were done, Meyer cedes, ID would be reduced from the “best explanation” to a possible explanation for the origin of life.

Meyer goes on to predict twelve research results should ID theory be true, including these: No unintelligent process will demonstrate the ability to create complex specified information; so-called “bad designs,” “broken” genes, and “junk” DNA will be shown to have a hidden function or to have been corrupted from their original state; research will further demonstrate the RNA World scenario as implausible; the fossil record will give evidence of large, episodic infusions of information; and “successful” computer simulations of evolution will be shown to be the result of information supplied by programmers.

The Signature in the Cell is a tour de force in origin-of-life research that advances the scientific theory of intelligent design, front and center. It is a “must have” volume for anyone, layman and expert alike, interested in understanding the theory, its development, its considerable scientific bases, and the creative limitations of unintelligent processes.

Regis Nicoll is a freelance writer and a BreakPoint Centurion. His “All Things Examined” column appears on BreakPoint every other Friday. Serving as a men’s ministry leader and worldview teacher in his community, Regis publishes a free weekly commentary to stimulate thought on current issues from a Christian perspective. To be placed on this free e-mail distribution list, e-mail him

Articles on the BreakPoint website are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Chuck Colson or BreakPoint. Outside links are for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply endorsement of their content.

Copyright © 2011 Prison Fellowship. All Rights Reserved

Special thanks to Regis for continued scholarship and work for Christ, and for his allowing the posting of the article on the What&Why blog.

For further reading, browse the brilliant and edgy offerings at one of the resources Regis contributes to-

Posted by: Terry Hollifield | May 12, 2011

A quick note on the fairy tale of evolution…

A brief little segment from a harmless article on the impending cicada invasion provides a great opportunity to illustrate something that a lot of people miss about the theory of evolution.
First, here’s the quote from the article:

Scientists believe this long dormant stage evolved as a means to outlive predators, such as the circada killer wasp and praying mantis, whose own life cycle if a far shorter two years. (You can find the whole article here.)

Notice, this just-so story is not based on any evidence whatsoever.  It is merely an assumption.  In fact, there is not even a way to scientifically test the hypothesis that this is why cicadas have long life spans, much less a mechanism by which a blind random process could plan and develop such a thing. After all, the language “evolved as a means to” indicates intentionality toward an end. But this is by definition contrary to evolutionary theory, yet such language is inescapable when describing the clear design of things.  A cursory reading of so-called evidences of evolution are rife with such depictions.  I am constantly amazed at how such yarn-spinning is passed off as scientific.

Even more troubling, this is the kind of assumptive story that is also often used as evidence of evolution.  Now walk through that with me:

  • Exhibit A is explained by assuming evolution.
  • Exhibit A is therefore also evidence for evolution.

This is, by definition, circular reasoning! Evolution cannot be assumed in order to prove evolution!

Even Wikipedia, which is nearly universally accepting to evolutionary theory let this little blurb sneak through (although not without an “unbalanced” flag) when dealing with the subject of evolutionary psychology and its “just-so” stories:

Critics assert that many hypotheses put forward to explain the adaptive nature of human behavioural traits are “Just-so stories“; neat adaptive explanations for the evolution of given traits that do not rest on any evidence beyond their own internal logic. They allege that evolutionary psychology can predict many, or even all, behaviours for a given situation, including contradictory ones. Therefore many human behaviours will always fit some hypotheses. Noam Chomsky noted:

“You find that people cooperate, you say, ‘Yeah, that contributes to their genes’ perpetuating.’ You find that they fight, you say, ‘Sure, that’s obvious, because it means that their genes perpetuate and not somebody else’s. In fact, just about anything you find, you can make up some story for it.

Anyhow… thanks for letting me vent.

Here a few link to a few articles that flesh this out in a little more detail:

Posted by: Terry Hollifield | May 7, 2011

Killing in the name of…

In a recent post at a frightening portent of the American future was brought to light.  If our legislation continues its current trajectory, killing the elderly, disabled, terminally ill, unwanted, and even unproductive of our society is coming.  This will all be done in the name of “quality of life”, expediency, and cost-effective health care.  Here’s the short post:

Elderly people in the Netherlands are so afraid of being killed by doctors that they carry cards saying they do not want euthanasia. Kevin Fitzpatrick, a researcher with the activist group Not Dead Yet,claimed that relaxing the law in Britain would pose a threat to old and disabled people as it would allow for “moral judgments” that their lives were not worth living. He said it is “nonsensical” to say that we all have a right to die, when what is really being sought is the right to a premature death that not all people in society seek.

A court victory in Britain last year forced the Director of Public Prosecutions to admit that individuals would not be prosecuted for assisting the suicide of terminally ill loved ones in most cases. Supporters of the disabled and the elderly worry that this will make them feel pressured to end their lives. Mr Fitzpatrick wrote on last week: “Disabled people, like others, and often with more reason, need to feel safe. Thus eroding what may already be a shaky sense of safety in medical care poses a further threat to disabled people’s wellbeing, continuing care, and life itself.”~ London Telegraph, Apr 21

Um… Wow!

Take the time to inform and protect you and your loved ones today:

Posted by: Terry Hollifield | March 9, 2011

Rob Bell and “Love Wins”

The new book by Rob Bell called “Love Wins” is causing quite a stir, even before its release to the general public.  The controversy centers around the ideas of universalism (i.e. everyone goes to Heaven) that Bell seems to overtly espouse in the book.  I have not read the book as of yet (I will provide a review by someone who got an advanced copy in just a bit), but the idea that Rob Bell is teaching views that run contradictory to historical, orthodox Christianity should be no surprise to us.  Here is a link to a post I made in 2008 attempting to expose these very things.  The post was (controversially, I admit) called “Rob Bell is Not a Christian”.  Perhaps that title is now less controversial than before?

Bell is one of the most prominent voices self-categorized under the banner of Christianity, but the heresy at the core of his brand of gospel has only become more prominent with the glibly titled “Love Wins”. Here’s the aforementioned review. Thoughtfully constructed and well-informed, it is greatly beneficial to the discussion at hand:

Posted by: Terry Hollifield | November 15, 2010

Responding to Sam Harris’ Bible Contradiction Illustration

The guys at The Resurgence have actually done a fantastic job at with a response. Check it out below, and be sure to visit the Resurgence site for some great resources in the future.

Referring to the claims of the above chart, Fast Company said, “So to anyone who thinks the Bible’s the last word on anything, remember this: It isn’t even the last word on itself.”

Professional skeptic, Sam Harris, commissioned this infographic chart titled “Contradictions in the Bible” through his foundationProject Reason.  It is an impressive form of presentation, but filled with misinformed content.

This is not new. This chart just wraps-up old claims, which havealready been answered, in an awesome piece of design and presentation.

Ignorance or Intentional Misrepresentation

  • The claim that the Bible is full of contradictions is ignorant, at best, of Christian theologies of scripture.  But it seems more like an intentional misrepresentation, which is prejudiced propaganda, of what Christians actually believe about the Bible. The claim by Project Reason is intellectually disingenuous, which is something that fundamentalists do.  Harris knows all this because he wrote a book about it. Ironic, eh?

Christians do not believe that the Bible dropped out of heaven or was dictated to men who scribbled down furiously to catch every word from God. Christians believe that the Bible is both fully inspired by God and fully written by humans. Christians believe that scripture is inerrant in its original manuscripts, not the copies and translation.

Christian doctrines of scripture allows for the human elements of style to be present in the writing process and accounting for the inevitable human error that occurs in textual transmission.

Some of the supposed contradictions are because of obvious copying errors. But many of the others are because Project Reason doesn’t seem to know the basics of how to read an ancient text.

Creating Contradictions

  • The claim that the Bible is full of contradictions ignores the variety of genres of literature in the Bible.  Fundamentalists interpret religious texts in only one way—the literal way—and so does Project Reason. You can make up lots of supposed contradictions by interpreting this way. Not interpreting a text with the awareness of the genre lacks the basic principles of reading and interpretation.

The Bible is filled with historic narratives, poetry, songs, apocalyptic literature, promises, stories, commands, wisdom literature, and letters. Interpretation should be influenced by the genre, not some fundamentalist everything-must-be-literal approach that we see in the chart.

Varied Genres
The Bible is varied in its genres and this fact should not be ignored, but frequently is. The Bible is intentionally precise sometimes and vague at other times.  It uses overstatements and understatements as well as making clear propositions and sometimes communicating poetically.

Assuming a modern standard of precision and applying it to an ancient text that purposefully communicates using propositions, vagueness, historical narrative, wisdom literature, poetry, or hyperbole is to build on faulty assumptions and perceive contradictions where none exist.

Intellectual honesty
Since accounts in the Bible are rarely intended to be exhaustive and precise descriptions, it would be intellectually honest to see if differing accounts complement, rather than contradict one another.

But Project Reason would rather ignore this and create contradictions by violating the context of the passages under consideration.

So, what do Christians believe?

Here is a series on past theologies of scripture. But let me offer a summary statement on scripture with which I think most evangelicals would agree:

When all the historical facts, literary genres, and issues of textual transmission are investigated and considered, and when properly interpreted, the Bible never contradicts itself and does not misrepresent the facts.

A more robust explanation of evangelical Christian belief about the trustworthiness of the Bible is found in The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Here is the short statement summarizing the 5 main points.  But be sure to also read the 19 Article of Affirmation and Denial.

Summary of the 5 main points of the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy

  1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
  2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms: obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
  3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
  4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
  5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.

Sam Harris and Fast Company should have researched how we got the Bible, the basic teachings of the Christian doctrines of scripture, and any of the helpful books answering the supposed contradictions in the Bible.

It would have made the cool chart much moreaccurate and precise.

Well ‘ol Stephen Hawking is @ it again.

In an article for Yahoo ( ) about his new book “The Grand Design” Hawking says, “God did not create the universe.” His explanation? … wait for it…

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist…”

So laws of physics are “nothing”? Does there not have to exist a universe for there to be laws of physics? This answers nothing. And “spontaneous generation” is the result of gravity? Gravity is a law governing objects in the universe and is part of the universe itself, so how did gravity bring the universe into existence? Circular reasoning at its finest.

WOW, this is perhaps the brightest atheistic mind in the world, and this fairy tale is all he can come up with?

Posted by: Terry Hollifield | August 10, 2010

Failed Notions of Salvation from Stephen Hawking

In a recent article, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, a man considered by some to be the most intelligent man alive, has again issued a dire warning that the only hope for human beings is to abandon planet earth.  Numerous impending disasters, says Hawking, should prompt us to leave.  They are:

  • The planet is heating up.
  • Earth’s population is expanding at an exponential rate.
  • We are running out of resources faster than we can find sustainable alternatives.
  • We are on the brink of nuclear extinction.
  • It is a foregone conclusion that our aging sun will expand and swallow the Earth in roughly 7.6 billion years

Hawking goes on to say: “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.”

Wow! pretty stark stuff! There are multitudinous things to say here, but the most disturbing thing is that Hawking’s concerns raise several questions that he cannot possibly answer.  He has (again) gotten us worried about the destruction of earth and the extinction of humanity, but cannot really provide a solid answer to the threats he mentions.  This is due to the worldview that Hawking espouses.  See, Hawking is an unequivocal materialist.  As I have discussed in several instances on this blog, materialism is the view that all of reality is ultimately reducible to the physical.  In materialism there is no God, no soul, no mind, and no free will.  Only matter collected in various ways to form sand, brains, Styrofoam cups, and children.  Since this is Hawking’s (and most other prominent physicists that get any real mainstream exposure) view on reality, he cannot answer his own concerns and ultimately his questions self-destruct. Why? Let’s see: For the sake of argument, let’s say that we agree with all of Hawking’s warnings about population growth, resources, nuclear weapons, the sun, and so forth (There are objections in some form to each of them, but we will take them at face value for the sake of argument).

  1. If Hawking’s worldview (materialism) were true, we would never even have this information.  How could mere matter ever know anything at all? Has it ever been observed that matter can collect itself and form into complex structures, and then ultimately into sentience? The leap from non-consciousness (like mere matter such as rocks possess) to consciousness is a leap that materialism cannot make. Matter cannot ask the questions like “What will happen to humanity?” Matter thinks nothing at all.  Nothing.  And, as Aristotle quipped, “Nothing is what rocks dream about.”
  2. In the materialist worldview, the myth of evolution has been written to explain how matter organized itself into thinking beings over billions of years. This is quite a matter of faith and should be seen for what it is… impossible. But, even if the myth of evolution were true, how could we then trust the calculations of a brain that has been formed by time and chance. If the human brain, which is making these predictions, is only the product of random mutations and accidents, can our own reason be trusted?  There is no justifiable cause to trust human reason if it is the product of time + mistakes + chance.  Further, if this tenuous mass of matter called a brain is the “intellect” behind building the computer models that have made these predictions, how much less can we trust the predictions?
  3. Because Hawking sees no hope for man outside of man himself, he must rely on man. But this only moves the problem. So we colonize another planet and destroy it too. Then another, then another. It only moves the problem and man is ultimately hopeless.
  4. Further, if man is merely matter in motion, does man really have any choice in the problem? If the rock is the gas, is the worm, is the man, what does it mean that man is “swallowed by the sun”?  It would be just a recombination of the matter.
  5. The biggest question that Hawking’s materialist worldview cannot answer is, “WHY?”.  Why even ask the question of man’s extinction in the first place?  One might say, “For the preservation of the human race!” But I would only ask, “WHY?” again.  Why should the human race be preserved? If materialism is true, we would only want to preserve humanity because we have some unfounded reason to think our species is greater than the fly, cockroach, or some other speculative species that would come along after our extinction. In fact, in the evolutionary mythology, the extinction of the human race would only foster a greater more highly evolved organism. Isn’t that the point of the whole grand illusion of the myth?

That is truly bleak.  More bleak than any prediction Hawking’s has offered, is his own presupposition about mankind- materialism.  If materialism were true, humanity would not be free. If materialism were true, humanity would not even be able to ask the questions of freedom, choice, and preservation.

BUT WE DO ASK THESE QUESTIONS!!  Mankind is free, and our existence does matter! Materialism and the evolutionary mythology are the grand Lie. Believing the lie leaves man powerless and in chains. We must understand that we have been created by God; that we have been given sentience, hope, fortitude, love, and courage.  We can then see that our choices matter.  We can understand that humanity is worth preserving. We can see that our planet is a gift placed in our care by it’s and our Creator.  Only in this paradigm do the questions raised by Stephen Hawking even make sense.  And only in this paradigm can we find answers to those questions.

Posted by: Terry Hollifield | May 22, 2010

First Artificial Life Created… Again!?

An article this week from the BBC had this title, “Artificial life” breakthrough announced by scientists. The quotation marks around the words “artificial life” are indeed appropriate, but may go largely ignored.

The article reports that the “artificial life” was created by this process:

  • The scientists “decoded” the chromosome of an existing bacterial cell – using a computer to read each of the letters of genetic code.
  • They copied this code and chemically constructed a new synthetic chromosome, piecing together blocks of DNA.
  • The team inserted this chromosome into a bacterial cell which replicated itself.

I added the bold lettering in this description from the article to point out the fallacy of the claim of creating artificial life.  In reality, nothing was created at all.  Let’s sum up the process: Code from life that already existed was copied by piecing together scraps from other already existing DNA. This was then inserted into yet another cell that was already in existence. So, in the end, information and proteins may have been shuffled around, but nothing was created at all.

Perhaps the quotations around “artificial life” don’t go far enough; it’s just a fallacious claim. Yet those who seek to play God or disprove God will take any little inkling of hope in legitimizing their aspirations… even if it really has no claim at all. It’s just easy to ignore the quotation marks.

Unfortunately, when those who seek funding, evidence for a materialist worldview that humanity is just molecules in motion, or even “proof” that we are the result of the seeds of aliens… it seems any evidence will do and things that warrant quotation marks are latched onto as legitimate.

When we read articles like this, it’s important to read through and recognize the presuppositions involved with the writer’s and researcher’s perspective.  Diligence here would result in being able to read articles about  “artificial life”, “missing links”, and the like with much greater discernment and clarity.  Maybe soon, quotes wont even be placed around things of this nature.  The false presuppositions made by the researchers will be assumed by the reporters, and this telltale indicator will not be available.  This all requires reading the work (even of people in lab coats or behind lecterns) with a critical mind.

Related Posts:

Posted by: Terry Hollifield | April 14, 2010

Right and Wrong… Are They So Obvious?

How often do you find yourself involved  in the discussion of ethics?  Ultimately, nearly every conversation with any depth at all comes down to some issue of morality.  Christians get frustrated that others don’t share our morality. Postmodernists, Naturalists, and  those of  cultural savvy get frustrated that Christians think ethics are something written on some ancient papyrus.  Here is a very insightful article by philosopher Frank Beckwith.  A practical everyday example of why we seem to talk past one another.

Doing what comes naturally and not knowing it.

By Francis Beckwith

Originally posted on

That is the title of an article I published in The Catholic Social Science Review three years ago.  Here’s an excerpt:

Several years ago when I was on the philosophy department faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, when the school sported a very good basketball team, one of my students, obviously frustrated with the points I was making in class, blurted out the question, “Why is the truth important?” I distinctly remember the befuddled look on her face seconds after I offered the reply, “Do you want the true answer or the false one?”

A few days later, in the same class, another student, taking up the cause of his befuddled peer, claimed, with great confidence, that there are no objective moral norms and that there was no way that anyone, including his professor, could possibly show him otherwise. At that point, I looked at him squarely in the eye, with as stern a facial expression I could muster, and told him, “Please sit down and shut up. I am right and you are wrong. And that’s that.” He was, as one would guess, visibly shaken. There was dead silence in the classroom. His peers, who were obviously displeased with the treatment he received, were not about to come to his defense. They were, rightfully, upset with their professor. But they remained mute. So, I let the moment sink in, for about 15 seconds, though it seemed like an eternity.

I then broke the silence, and asked the shaken student, “Are you upset about something?” “Yes,” he answered, “you treated me rudely.” I replied, “I do not disagree. Am I wrong in thinking that you had a justified expectation that I should have dialogued with you in a way that was respectful?” “No, you are not wrong,” he said, “That is exactly what I expected.” I continued, “It seems to me that your expectation is perfectly justified, and that I was wrong in treating you in the fashion I did. But that expectation relies on the veracity of a deeper truth, that you are the sort of being that is entitled to reasons when matters of moral concern are brought to your attention. I did not give you reasons. I merely asserted my power. What you realized at the moment of offense was the moral truth you have always known: might does not make right.” I paused and again let the silence do its work. For the student knew where the conversation was going. He knew that he had been relying, unwittingly, on the resources of the natural law in order to reject as illegitimate the treatment he had received at the hands of his mean professor. We were like two men at a restaurant sharing a meal while debating the existence of the chef, and one of the men was talking with his mouth full.

This story, I believe, is illustrative of the problems and issues raised in J. Budziszewski’s work on the natural law. As he has aptly pointed out, we live in an age in which many of our fellow citizens, including many of our cerebral and learned colleagues, do not believe there is such a thing as moral knowledge. Yes, they believe there are social norms, even laws, but these rules do not have their source, let alone their justification, in anything outside the flux of unguided nature, historical epochs, and/or social institutions. And yet, these critics of natural law, like my UNLV students, unreflectively rely on a moral law not reducible to unguided nature, historical epochs, and/or social institutions in order to issue moral judgments for the purpose of securing fundamental rights that they believe ought to be incorporated into our social fabric so that justice is increased and past wrongs remedied.

You can read the whole thing here.


To read Terry’s personal thoughts on this subject, check out these previous posts on the What&Why Blog:

A Society in Rebellion

The Postmodern Ethics of Barack Obama

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