Intelligent Design, Philosophy

The enigma of purpose

The enigma of purpose

If you subscribe to news feeds, read the newspaper, or watch TV, you certainly believe that we humans have been behaving badly. In recent years, we humans have variously blamed other (it is always others) humans for causing: global cooling, global warming, famines, floods, mass extinctions, plagues, deforestation, landslides, earthquakes, and so much more. All of the problems (real or imagined) on planet Earth are apparently our fault, and it’s only supposed to get worse. Naturalist and evolutionist Sir David Attenborough summed up this thinking well: “Humans are a plague on earth,”  he wrote in an article  in the  telegraph.co.uk, 22 January 2013 But this raises a very interesting question: if naturalistic evolution is true, why does it matter that we’re a “plague on earth”?

The idiocy of these media reports (and there are plenty of articles on different websites that criticize them).  Instead, I want to point out the obvious disconnect between the headlines and the evolutionary beliefs subscribed to by many of these same media outlets, their correspondents, and the environmentalists they quote.

If (and it is a big IF) evolution is true and man is nothing more than a highly-evolved primate, the result of random mutations and natural selection over millions of years, then we humans are just another part of nature.  Anything we do is simply nature in action.  If a species becomes extinct because of human intervention, it is just natural selection.  If the burning of fossil fuels causes a runaway greenhouse effect that cooks the planet, it will be a natural occurrence.  If the world is one day obliterated by a nuclear holocaust, it certainly won’t be an unnatural event.  And why not?  In the atheistic, evolutionary worldview, everything is natural.  If atheistic evolution is true, the word ‘unnatural’ can have no meaning!

However, this is not the reality we seem to experience.  We mourn the loss of biodiversity, agonize over the size of our carbon footprint, protest the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and we are rightly horrified by acts of cruelty to animals.  I’m not saying that all humans behave like this, but since many of us do, all of us can.  For some reason, we humans are held to a higher moral standard than the rest of nature.

Evolutionists have to believe humankind has evolved to a point where we can understand the natural process that has made us what we are but, at the same time, the logical ramifications of that same natural process do not bind us.

Ask an environmentalist why they do what they do and they will likely tell you they want to ‘leave the planet in better shape than they found it,’ or something similarly noble.  In his closing remarks for the 2000 BBC Natural History Unit documentary State of the Planet, Attenborough says;  “Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy, inhabitable by all species.” (State of the Planet, BBC Natural History Unit, Part 3, 2000)

Apparently, our mission, should we decide to accept it, is to purposefully plan for the future of planet Earth.  These are admirable intentions!  However, they are not what we would expect given evolution.  As Richard Dawkins makes clear in his book The Blind Watchmaker:

“Natural selection, the blind unconscious automatic process, which Darwin discovered and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life has no purpose in mind.  It has no mind, no mind’s eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all [emphasis added].”  (Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, USA, 1986)

But somehow this blind, purposeless, natural process has managed to produce human beings that have foresight and can purposely plan for the future. Sir David exhorts us to use this foresight to manipulate the natural order so that we can achieve his purposes. In doing so we are often purposefully engaging in behaviour that, whether we realise it or not (and most do not), is exactly the opposite of what we would expect if evolution were true.

Environmentalists work tirelessly to save animals from extinction, even animals such as lions and tigers that potentially compete for food with us.  Animals, which given half a chance, would not hesitate to drive us to extinction.  This is opposite the basic evolutionary narrative where survival of the fittest is supposedly a main driver of behavior.  Apparently, Tennyson’s “Nature, red in tooth and claw” does not apply if the tooth is brushed twice daily and the claw occasionally painted.

Nevertheless, it is in our behavior toward ourselves and our fellow humans that the evolutionary disconnect is both most obvious and, at the same time, most studiously ignored.  We care for our sick, allowing potentially genetically inferior individuals to survive (using up valuable resources) and reproduce (reducing population fitness).  We medically intervene to enable infertile couples to reproduce and pass on their (likely inferior) genes.  At the same time, seemingly, healthy individuals will use contraception to limit their offspring and many will even undergo medical procedures to abort the offspring they have already conceived.

We actively choose lifestyles that limit our likelihood of procreation (celibacy, same-sex relationships, or just choosing never to have children). We encourage our young to delay sexual activity.  We even legislate with the intention of limiting sexual partners (anti-polygamy laws and marriage itself).  What is interesting is those who would advocate for multiple partners will often point to examples in nature to support their belief that monogamy is unnatural.  On the surface, this might seem reasonable, until you realize that in nature the result of multiple partners is more offspring, whereas in humans, more offspring is usually the last thing the practitioners want.

We engage in warfare with the intent of annihilating those who disagree with us while at the same time enacting rules to ensure that this happens humanely.  When we capture an enemy, our focus must immediately change from trying to kill them to treating them with dignity, knowing full well that they would probably not hesitate to kill us given the opportunity to escape.  We often adhere to these rules despite knowing that our enemy likely will not.

So many of our intentions, good and bad, seem anti-evolutionary in their execution.

Evolutionists have devised explanations for this behavior.  But the necessarily contradictory nature of these explanations only serves to reinforce the absurdity of evolution as a scientifically plausible reason for our purposive behavior. As respected chemist and member of the US National Academy of Sciences, Philip Skell pointed out:

“Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive—except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed—except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.”  (Philip Skell, ‘Why Do We Invoke Darwin? Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology’, The Scientist 19(16):10, 29 August 2005.)

Our best intentions are a natural outworking of the fact that man was created in the image of God and given dominion over His creation (Genesis 1:26–30). Our worst intentions are a direct result of Adams rebellion (Genesis 3:14–19). The evolutionary worldview fails to make sense of so many of our intentions because, as the Bible clearly teaches, we are not the result of evolution.

Next time you read or hear of something mankind has supposedly done to jeopardize the future health of our planet, remember that these reports are (in most cases) unwittingly reinforcing the biblical account of Creation and the Fall.

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Education vs Common Core, Intelligent Design, Philosophy

I think therefore I believe I might just be what it is I think

“Cogito ergo sum”  is a Latin philosophical proposition by René Descartes usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am”.  The phrase originally appeared in French as “je pense, donc je suis” in his Discourse on the Method, so as to reach a wider audience than Latin would have allowed.  Many of my generation and younger (I don’t know or want to know the current “hip” description for them- “hippie” was mine I have no idea who “millennial’s,” “X-Generation,” “baby boomers”-Hippies may overlap them) have used that phrase as a reason to deny the existence of a “God”.

They use this phrase, and many more taken out of context of the original writers overall thesis, and use it as the basis of what they wish to believe.  All the science fiction movies and novels have added greatly to the depth of their beliefs so that it is virtually unshakeable.  I like the ones who have used the “Star Wars” “May the force be with you” to generate a level of consciousness that we must all strive to obtain.  So let us explain how incredible wrong they are about René Descartes and his belief about God and why they say it is not so- those few who are capable of debating in intelligent fashion.

René Descartes (1596–1650) is widely regarded as the father of modern philosophy. His noteworthy contributions extend to mathematics and physics.  This entry focuses on his philosophical contributions in the theory of knowledge. Specifically, the focus is on the epistemological project of Descartes’ famous work, Meditations on First Philosophy.  Upon its completion, the work was circulated to other philosophers for their comments and criticisms. Descartes responded with detailed replies that provide a rich source of further information about the original work.  He indeed published the first edition (1641) of the Meditations together with six sets of objections and replies, adding a seventh set with the second edition (1642).

Most individuals ignore the rest of his entire work and concentrate on just that phrase in order to justify their beliefs. However, that is unfair, as that one statement is directly in opposition to his final thoughts and conclusions.  So it behooves me to go through his Meditations and set everyone straight.

Famously, Descartes defines knowledge in terms of doubt. While distinguishing rigorous knowledge (scientia) and lesser grades of conviction (persuasio), Descartes writes:

I distinguish the two as follows: there is conviction when there remains some reason which might lead us to doubt, but knowledge is conviction based on a reason so strong that it can never be shaken by any stronger reason. (1640 letter to Regius, AT 3:65)

 

This passage (and others) clarify that Descartes understands doubt as the contrast of certainty.  As my certainty increases, my doubt decreases; conversely, as my doubt increases, my certainty decreases.  The requirement that knowledge is to be based in complete, or perfect certainty, amounts to requiring a complete absence of doubt — an indubitability, or inability to undermine one’s conviction.

In his First meditation he lays out his thesis to the esteemed Dean and Faculty of the Theological Center in Paris: “I have always considered that the two questions respecting God and the Soul were the chief of those that ought to be demonstrated by philosophical rather than theological argument. For although it is quite enough for us faithful ones to accept by means of faith the fact that the human soul does not perish with the body, and that God exists, it certainly does not seem possible ever to persuade infidels of any religion, indeed, we may almost say, of any moral virtue, unless, to begin with, we prove these two facts by means of the natural reason.  And inasmuch as often in this life greater rewards are offered for vice than for virtue, few people would prefer the right to the useful, were they restrained neither by the fear of God nor the expectation of another life; and although it is absolutely true that we must believe that there is a God, because we are so taught in the Holy Scriptures, and, on the other hand, that we must believe the Holy Scriptures because they come from God (the reason of this is, that, faith being a gift of God, He who gives the grace to cause us to believe other things can likewise give it to cause us to believe that He exists), we nevertheless could not place this argument before infidels, who might accuse us of reasoning in a circle.“

Descartes states that he has put off examining the foundations upon which he has built all his false beliefs. But he must now do so, in order to establish firm and lasting truths in the sciences. Examining each of his opinions for falsehood would be tedious; rather, Descartes says that if he can simply show that there is cause for doubt for an opinion, then he can throw that opinion out.  So he states”

“In the first Meditation I set forth the reasons for which we may, generally speaking, doubt about all things and especially about material things, at least so long as we have no other foundations for the sciences than those which we have hitherto possessed. But although the utility of a Doubt which is so general does not at first appear, it is at the same time very great, inasmuch as it delivers us from every kind of prejudice, and sets out for us a very simple way by which the mind may detach itself from the senses; and finally it makes it impossible for us ever to doubt those things which we have once discovered to be true.”

The senses seem like a good place to start, since they often mislead us. But would it not be insane to reject also such deliverances as that we have hands, eyes, etc.? Probably. We have no clear criterion for distinguishing between our waking and sleeping lives. But whatever we dream, Descartes suggests that the constituting elements of them, i.e., ‘simples’, must surely have a basis in reality. The idea is that ‘simples’ are that out of which we form complex ideas (e.g., of a unicorn). So if we find the simplest elements in nature, we will have found the most universal, which then must be true.  The mathematical and physical sciences, then, which don’t depend on composites, might be considered to be indubitable. Can 1 + 2 not be 3? People often make mistakes in the above disciplines. So we can both doubt that God is benevolent and the capacity of our reason to deliver true judgments. Thus, Descartes resolves to throw out all his previous beliefs, and assume that God is maliciously bent on deceiving him. His famous saying is in this Meditation, but I will deal with it later.

He writes on to the Professors:

“In the second Meditation, mind, which making use of the liberty which pertains to it, takes for granted that all those things of whose existence it has the least doubt, are non-existent, recognizes that it is however absolutely impossible that it does not itself exist. This point is likewise of the greatest moment, inasmuch as by this means a distinction is easily drawn between the things which pertain to mind—that is to say to the intellectual nature—and those which pertain to body.”

He asks what is there concerning which he can have not the slightest occasion for doubt? It is that he exists.  This follows, he argues, from the fact that even if he denies that he has a body, or that the world exists, or that he is not being deceived by a malicious God, there is still an object of those denials: himself.  While he can suppose his body to not belong to him, he can’t suppose thinking to not belong to him.  Thus, he knows only that he is a Thinking thing –one who “doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, and that also imagines and senses.”

Continuing to write:

“In the third Meditation it seems to me that I have explained at sufficient length the principal argument of which I make use in order to prove the existence of God. But no ne the less, because I did not wish in that place to make use of any comparisons derived from corporeal things, so as to withdraw as much as I could the minds of readers from the senses, there may perhaps have remained many obscurities which, however, will, I hope, be entirely removed by the Replies which I have made to the Objections which have been set before me. “

Descartes notes that his being certain of his being a thinking thing, which is a “first instance of knowledge,” reveals what is needed for him to be certain of anything: a clear and distinct perception of what is affirmed. But if it could be that something so clear and distinct could be false, he would not be certain of the thing’s truth. Thus, everything he perceives clearly and distinctly is true.

“In the fourth Meditation it is shown that all these things which we very clearly and distinctly perceive are true, and at the same time it is explained in what the nature of error or falsity consists. This must of necessity be known both for the confirmation of the preceding truths and for the better comprehension of those that follow.” 

Descartes now moves to deduce other truths from those that he has established: that God exists, and that Descartes depends on him for his existence at all moments.  From the previous Meditation, God can never deceive Descartes.  He says that while deception may seem like “an indication of cleverness or power, the will to deceive undoubtedly attests to maliciousness or weakness.  Accordingly, deception is incompatible with God.  Descartes wonders then, if God won’t deceive, why he has endowed us with judgments that seem given to frequent error.

Why, then, does error come about?  Descartes offers that it is because though our intellect is finite, our will is infinite. Errors in judgment are caused by indifference of the will, which occurs when the will affirms or denies despite there being no (good) reason to do either.  A will that is properly inclined by a clear and distinct perception on the part of reason prevents error in judgment.  In concluding, Descartes argues that God does not owe us, who have not merited anything, an infinite intellect, which, besides, is not proper to us.  In addition, though God concurs in our actions, he has responsibility only for the good in our actions; the bad are a result of negation.  We are responsible for our sins, because we can choose to abstain from willing/judging things that we do not understand, and only will/judge things that we perceive clearly and distinctly.

“In the fifth Meditation corporeal nature generally is explained, and in addition to this the existence of God is demonstrated by a new proof in which there may possibly be certain difficulties also, but the solution of these will be seen in the Replies to the Objections. And further I show in what sense it is true to say that the certainty of geometrical demonstrations is itself dependent on the knowledge of God.”

Now Descartes seeks to return to the subject of whether material things exist, which was pushed aside in the first Meditation. A natural starting point is the ideas that we have of objects. He says that he has 4 distinct ideas of extension, which he is able to enumerate parts in and to which he is able to ascribe such properties as size, shape, motion, etc. there are no external objects, he is able to think of triangles at will, and upon their essences, which are not fabricated. He can demonstrate their properties in his mind. He can use the truths of geometry, arithmetic on these objects and find the sine and cosine and they would be correct.  If it follows from the fact that whatever he perceives clearly and distinctly to belong to an idea of something he brings forth, that it belongs to that thing, then it follows that God exists.

As long as Descartes remembers that he clearly and distinctly perceived once that there is a God, who doesn’t deceive, no counterargument can be given that puts doubt on any of his clear and distinct beliefs. But this still leaves out the existence of material objects. Do we perceive them clearly and distinctly, apart from their ideas?

Finally in the Sixth I distinguish the action of the understanding from that of the imagination; the marks by which this distinction is made are described . I here show that the mind of man is really distinct from the body, and at the same time that the two are so closely joined together that they form, so to speak, a single thing.

As long as he remembers that he clearly and distinctly perceived once that there is a God, who doesn’t deceive, no counterargument can be given that puts doubt on any of his clear and distinct beliefs. But this still leaves out the existence of material objects. Do we perceive them clearly and distinctly, apart from their ideas?

Descartes begins his project of determining whether we can know that external objects exist by distinguishing between the imagination and intellect. Imagination is a faculty that we use for picturing what we’re thinking about..  We can think of the earth by imagining in our mind.  But the conceive of the earth as an eight sided octagon takes a bit more understanding of a complex combination of ideas. Thus, Descartes argues, imagination is not essential to our mind. Understanding is. He conjectures that perhaps the imaginative faculty belongs to something distinct from his mind, a body maybe.

Various themes about innate truths are introduced in the Fifth Meditation. Among them concerns the effects of repeated meditation: truths initially noticed only by means of inference might eventually come to be apprehended self-evidently. In the build-up to the passage claiming that the Evil Genius Doubt is finally and fully overcome, Descartes has his mediator say:

“But as regards God, if I were not overwhelmed by preconceived opinions, and if the images of things perceived by the senses did not besiege my thought on every side, I would certainly acknowledge him sooner and more easily than anything else. For what is more self-evident [ex se est apertius] than the fact that the supreme being exists, or that God, to whose essence alone existence belongs, exists?

Although it needed close attention for me to perceive this, I am now just as certain of it as I am of everything else which appears most certain. And what is more, I see that the certainty of all other things depends on this, so that without it nothing can ever be perfectly known”. (Med. 5, AT 7:69)

First, he sensed that he had hands, feet, etc.  Further, he judged what was beneficial and what was harmful, what opportune, what inopportune, by means of his sensation of pleasure and pain.  He also sensed colors, odors, etc., on whose basis he distinguished, say, sky from seas.  Ideas bombarded him constantly, in other words.  Why then did he think there were external bodies?  Because, the ideas they presented were more vivid, more explicit than he could muster through meditation, nor could he not sense them when they were present, or imagine them when they were not.  With regard to his having a body, he sensed, by nature’s teaching, which his body was his, since his will to eat, e.g., was always connected to hunger in his stomach.  In addition, his moods shifted in accordance with the particularity of his sensations.

Because God is not a deceiver, what nature teaches us is probably true.  So, our bodies are tightly joined with our minds, so much so that they constitute one thing. Nature also teaches us that there are other bodies around us.  Descartes clarifies that by “nature” he means only what pertains to our composite minds and bodies, and so what we are allowed to infer on the basis of sense appearance

The full statement that the progressives steal part of is: “What of thinking?  I find here that thought is an attribute that belongs to me; it alone cannot be separated from me. I am, I exist, that is certain.  But how often?  Just when I think; for it might possibly be the case if I ceased entirely to think, that I should likewise cease altogether to exist. I do not now admit anything which is not necessarily true: to speak accurately I am not more than a thing which thinks, that is to say a mind or a soul, or an understanding, or a reason, which are terms whose significance was formerly unknown to me. I am, however, a real thing and really exist; but what thing? I have answered: a thing which thinks.”

When I try to doubt my own existence, I immediately apprehend that I must exist in order to be attempting the doubt.  Similarly (on this interpretation), when I try to doubt God’s existence, or omnipotence, or benevolence — or any other attribute contained in the very conception of an all-perfect being — I immediately apprehend, as Descartes writes, that any such skeptical conception of God “implies a conceptual contradiction — that is, it cannot be conceived” (1643 letter to Voetius, AT 8b:60).

If our schools had only taught critical thinking in high school classes, we might have an entirely different world out thinking of thinking rational beings.  Instead we have a group that when told that Rhett Butler said “Frankly, Ma’am. I don’t give a damn” they now know all about Gone With The Wind and the Civil War.

Didja Know, Intelligent Design

Grand Canyon Research

Grand Canyon: legal battleground?

The Blue Angel Trail along the Grand Canyon

Two days ago Dr. Andrew A. Snelling, of Answers in Genesis USA, sued the U.S. Interior Department. He accuses them, and more particularly the National Park Service, of abridging his Constitutional rights. Specifically, he sought to study key features of the Grand Canyon. And the Park Service will not let him. The case arises from a plain case of scientific obscurantism. But this time the evolutionists, not any creationists, are obscuring the facts.

The complaint

Snelling’s lawyers, Michael Kitchen of Margrave Celmins PC and Gary McCaleb of Alliance Defending Freedom, filed the complaint. ADF released this statement the same day (9 May 2017). Sarah Kramer of ADF also left this blog entry describing the case. One day later, Bob Unruh of WorldNetDaily left this account. In it he asked whether the “grand illusion” concerning the Grand Canyon would soon lose its credence.

Only by reading the complaint can one grasp the legal and moral issues at stake. In it, Dr. Snelling’s lawyers give the details.

In November of 2013, Dr. Snelling applied for permission to study folding sedimentary structures, from the Paleozoic group of strata. He sought to collect up to sixty half-pound samples from four places in the Grand Canyon. Dr. Snelling had already reserved several Colorado River rafting trips between April and July 2014 to collect the samples.

Everything went fine, until Ronda Newton, the Research Permitting Coordinator, asked for two peer reviews of his research proposal. Dr. Snelling had applied for and gotten permits for earlier research in the Grand Canyon. She asked for these in February of 2014. No one had ever asked for peer reviews of his proposals before. Still, he found three scientists willing to review his proposal.

So then Ms. Newton sent the application materials to two evolutionists. That act started all the trouble.

Two ringers and an empty suit

Karl Karlstrom, PhD, is a professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of New Mexico. In January of 2014 he had published, in the journal Nature, his own article on the Grand Canyon. In it he said the Grand Canyon formed five to six million years ago, when several older structures linked up. Thus he himself broke with convention, which says the Grand Canyon formed 70 million years ago.

One would suppose Dr. Karlstrom would gladly take an interest in a proposal that the Grand Canyon was younger still. Not so. The science did not seem to pose a problem. But Dr. Snelling’s religious views did. So also did the views of the three earlier peer reviewers. Then Dr. Karlstrom suggested to let Dr. Snelling take his samples somewhere else—without saying where else.

Dr. Huntoon gives the game away

Ms. Newman could and should have asked Dr. Karlstrom to clarify the “somewhere else.” She did not. Instead she sent the application to another professor, Peter Huntoon, PhD, of the University of Wyoming. Dr. Huntoon at least had studied those same Paleozoic folds that Dr. Snelling wanted to sample.

Whereas Dr. Karlstrom had made an effort to sound reasonable, Dr. Huntoon did not. He couldn’t get past the creation advocacy angle. He wrote:

[It] is not a question of fairness to all points of view, but rather adherence to your narrowly defined institution mandate predicated in part on the fact that ours is a secular society as per our constitution.

In other words, the National Park Service should never approve any research that questions the secular model of Earth origins. That statement alone shows that science, and especially origins science, are not value-free. Anyone who still thinks so, should ask Dr. Huntoon. Then he specifically suggested the Park Service should deny permits to people representing interests he deemed inappropriate. If his earlier statement did not make his bias abundantly clear, this did.

Any truly objective official should have thrown out Dr. Huntoon’s report on its face. No scientist ever speaks of another as “representing inappropriate interests.” Unless said scientist is an origins scientist, or a dedicated global-warming alarmist. Then he or she does it all the time. Dr. Huntoon set the prize example. And Ms. Newton? She accepted that report, because it told her what she wanted to hear. For good measure, Dr. Huntoon told Ms. Newton more of the same in an e-mail. “Reviewing is fine,” said he, “just not processing the dead-end creationist material.”

The empty suit

Ms. Newton then sought an opinion from Dr. Ron Blakely of North Arizona University. And he said only that “it is difficult to review such an outlandish proposal.” What was so outlandish? What did he find outlandish? Dr. Blakely never said.

The Park Service denies the permit

On 4 March 2014, the Park Service denied the permit. Martha Hahn, Chief of the Science and Resource Management Research Office, wrote the denial. She said only,

it has been determined that equivalent examples of soft-sediment folds can be found outside of Grand Canyon National Park.

Where outside the Grand Canyon? Dr. Snelling asked Mss. Newman and Hahn again and again where to find those “equivalent examples.” And they did not even bother to return his telephone calls. Nor could they, in all honesty, have told him anything different from what he had already found out. To wit: he couldn’t find any “equivalent examples” anywhere except in the Grand Canyon.

Ms. Hahn wanted to make sure Dr. Snelling would not take his samples anyway. So she warned him the Park Service would never let him do research in any National Park if he did. Not only that, but Ms. Newton suggested that Ms. Hahn alert two other persons to watch out for Dr. Snelling or other “folks like this” on the Colorado River.

Dr. Snelling re-files

So Dr. Snelling missed his opportunity. But, trying to be reasonable, he re-filed on 8 February 2016. This time he proposed to collect only forty samples. He also answered every concern Dr. Karlstrom and others had raised. (Remember: at least Dr. Karlstrom did address the science to some extent.)

Again the Park Service delayed the application. This time they demanded more details on the site locations. Dr. Snelling did specify his sampling locations with margins of 100 feet. Other researchers should specify sampling sites with such precision.

Dr. Snelling waited to hear back from the Park Service. And waited. And waited.

Curiously, he did get a permit, but not to take the samples. Instead he must make a dry run to take pictures and get on-site GPS coordinates for every sample site. The Park Service sent the permit on 25 April 2016, but dated it 15 July 2016. The Park Service has never before demanded that any researcher do that kind of dry-run recon. Even the research guidelines for the Grand Canyon do not demand anything remotely like this. Naturally, Dr. Snelling refused. And on 5 July 2016, Ms. Newman (see above) sent an e-mail refusing any sampling permit.

Refusal to answer

Finally, on 22 December 2016, Dr. Snelling called his lawyers. They wrote straight to Christine Lehnertz, the Superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park. In their letter they set forth the legal issues the delay raised. Alliance Defending Freedom have done this before, in three other cases that involve the Grand Canyon.

Believe it or not, Ms. Lehnertz did not answer the letter or even say whether she got it. Dr. Snelling’s lawyers sent another letter on 31 January 2017, with the same lack of result. On 31 March 2017, Representative Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) wrote to Ms. Lehnertz, asking her to grant the permit. She ignored the congressman also.

The issues go beyond the Grand Canyon

Most of these acts took place during the Obama administration. All that has happened during the Trump administration, is refusal to answer letters. Still, the complaint cites Donald Trump’s specific Executive Order on religious freedom.

Dr. Snelling alleges five causes of action:

  1. Abridgment of his freedom of speech, by denying a permit for scientific investigation on obviously specious grounds. The actual grounds amount to viewpoint discrimination. To prove this, Dr. Snelling has the correspondence of Drs. Karlstrom, Blakely, and especially Huntoon.
  2. Interference with the free exercise of his religion, by the same act and on the same grounds.
  3. Denying him due process of law.
  4. Denying him the equal protection of the law.
  5. Breaking the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Scientific process issues

The scientific issues should concern any intellectually honest scientist. Evolutionists always call what they are doing “science,” and what creation advocates do, “pseudoscience.” They point to “statements of faith” like that from Answers in Genesis, while denying they subscribe to any similar statements. Yet three scientists have criticized Dr. Snelling on the grounds of his religious faith. Of the three, only Dr. Karlstrom raised any scientific concerns anyone might call legitimate. (Dr. Snelling answers those concerns.) The other two have disgraced themselves, their discipline, and the entire community of scientists.

Dr. Huntoon has given the worst offense. How dare he deem any avenue of scientific inquiry “inappropriate”? What does he fear? Could he fear that Dr. Snelling might develop evidence challenging the moral foundations of “our…secular society”?

But Dr. Huntoon actually gives a typical offense against religious and academic freedom. He illustrates the intellectual corruption of origins science today. His type of “investigator” doesn’t want to investigate, but to shut down any investigation of the fundamental question of origins. That question is: did the universe, this earth, and life come to exist over billions of years, or mere thousands? Maybe this explains why no one ever accepted the Walter T. Brown Written Debate Challenge.

Worse even than Dr. Huntoon’s attitude, is that of Mss. Newman, Hahn, and Lehnertz. In no other context, and under no other circumstances, would anyone in their positions accept the kind of petty, puerile, and spiteful objections Dr. Huntoon raised. They would mention him, if at all, only to condemn him. Instead Ms. Newman sought him out for the exact kind of opinion he gave. Her colleagues went along with this. That such persons remain in government employ, should concern anyone who cares about freedom of religion or scientific inquiry.