Thursday, 14 January 2016

The stone tool saga continues: YECs reject intellectual design

I've made a number of posts on Joel Duff's articles on how the volume of stone tool artifacts is impossible to reconcile with a YEC timeframe. Unsurprisingly, some YECs have attempted to refute this argument, including sadly some from our our own community. In terms of presenting our community in a good light, such obsessive, amateurish attacks on science and contemporary scholarship by these YECs do incalculable harm to our image.

Other YEC attacks on Duff have come from Answers in Genesis, specifically the historian Terry Mortenson, who has claimed that the stone artifacts are in fact rock pieces which purely by chance have become shaped to look like stone tools. The irony of YECs arguing that blind chance magically shaped rocks into stone tools is of course palpable.

Duff's latest article comments both on Mortenson's attempt to deny the obvious in order to preserve human dogma and YEC credibility, as well as the frankly offensive behaviour of YECs who dismiss scholarly and scientific opinion, insisting that they and only they are qualified to comment on reality. The arrogance and hubris exhibited by Mortenson and AiG is breathtaking, but tragically will simply continue to erode Christianity while YEC remains its most visible public face.

The claim that natural forces have shaped countless millions of stones into artefacts is as I mentioned before ludicrous. It brings to mind the story of Moses and the golden calf, and Aaron's claim that "Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf." Just as a golden calf implies the hand of an artisan, so too do the stone tools and artefacts from stone tool formation.

More to the point, the irony of YECs who constantly talk about design and decry 'random chance' denying the former and appealing to the latter is as I said above palpable. Duff notes:
How ironic is it that we have secular scientists seeing evidence of human-produced stone-tool debris  and its influence on landscape patterns, while creationists deny human agency  or as they might call it “design.” Rather, the latter propose that these stone found scattered across the landscape in central Libya are nothing other than a product of natural processes.  Put another way, Dr. Mortenson is suggesting that chance events alone are responsible for the size, shape and pattern of rocks observed in the Libyan Desert.
Dr. Mortenson and Dr. Snelling, who is also referenced in the article, have ample opportunity to see design in these shards of stone and the way they are distributed on the landscape but rather than accept the evidence of  purposeful manipulations via human hands they propose the shards of stone are a result of “chance” events and thus involve no “designer.”   However, dozens of experts on stone-tool production have studied artifacts in this region and concluded that these stones are the product of purposeful actions. How ironic that their conclusions are being questioned by a group that is usually first in line to claim design whenever it has the opportunity.
What I as a Christian find particularly embarrassing about the way YECs such as Mortenson behave is the arrogance required to pontificate on a subject about whey know nothing, dismissing the considerable wisdom and expertise of those who unlike them actually have studied the subject, worked in it for decades, published extensively and are in a position to offer an authoritative opinion. Instead of humbly recognising their limitations, they assume without any justification that their own literal distortion of the Bible is the only possible way in which it can be read, and distort both Bible and nature through this most human of filters. Duff as usual is spot-on:
I have said before, it is evident that Mortenson’s goal is not to convince anyone other than the devoted follower of AiG that they need not worry about stone artifacts.   He will say that all these other scientists, even those that are Christians that work in the field of anthropology, don’t have on the right worldview glasses when they do their research. The non-experts at Answers in Genesis are apparently the only people with the right glasses and thus ability to accurately interpret these stones. These glasses are so powerful that they can determine, even without ever having looked as any of these stones, that they can give us an interpretation that trumps all others not matter how well-researched and supported those conclusions may be.
That to a first approximation applies to the YECs in our own community, whose goal is to protect YEC dogma from scrutiny, even if it means arrogantly assuming that a handful of Christadelphian laypeople are far more informed on palaeoanthropology, geology, history, anthropology, and Biblical studies than the recognised experts in those areas. To an outsider of course, such an attitude will simply destroy any chances of them ever taking our community seriously. They will mark us as fundamentalist cranks and leave us severely alone.

Sadly, as I pointed out in my last post, this YEC attitude in our community often comes paired with the dogmatic assertion that evolution and Christianity are mutually exclusive. Whereas in the past, where access to information was difficult for those without access to university libraries, the Internet now has made this task trivial, which means that the YECs in our community are no longer able to control what our community sees. Unfortunately, when they do discover that YEC is a sterile wicked fraud, the chances of them leaving our community because they have been told (and threatened, sadly) that accepting science means one can no longer be a believer is quite high. It is this direct contribution to loss of faith which is arguably the worst aspect of YEC. Its demise cannot come soon enough.